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Cigarettes to increase by AUD $2.70 a pack

SORRY, smokers.

http://www.news.com.au/finance/money/costs/cigarettes-to-increase-by-270-a-pack/news-story/cc94b9d54eb6d81f94df34808ed8243b

It’s the 1st of September, which means the government is jacking up the price of tobacco to feed its filthy spending habit.

From today, tobacco excise on cigarettes will rise by 13 per cent, from AUD 62 cents to AUD 70 cents per stick, while excise on other tobacco products will rise 17 per cent from AUD $771.60 to AUD $901.39 per kilogram.

That means a 30-pack of Winfield Blues, currently retailing for AUD $32.50, will rise to AUD $35.20 (HKD 219). “That’s a AUD $2.70 (HKD17) price hike that will make poor, addicted smokers worse off,” said Liberal Democrats Senator David Leyonhjelm, describing it as a “huge, cruel” tax rise.

The 13 per cent increase reflects the last six months of wages growth plus the twice-yearly 12.5 per cent tax increase, while the increase in excise on roll-your own includes these factors plus an additional 3 per cent to bring its taxation into line with cigarettes.

The roll-your own changes were announced in the May budget and will be phased in over four annual changes each September. The new measure is expected to claw back additional AUD $360 million in tax over four years, $35 million of which will be paid to the states and territories.

In 2016-17, the government raked in AUD $10.69 billion in tobacco excise.

“In addition, GST is imposed on both the cost of tobacco and the tobacco excise — a tax on a tax,” Senator Leyonhjelm said. “Tax will rise from 66 per cent of the price of cigarettes to 69 per cent. Tax paid by smokers is at least 17 times the cost that smokers impose on other taxpayers via the health system.

“The government bans the sale of e cigarettes that contain nicotine, even though these are 95 per cent less harmful than cigarettes. The extortionate taxation of tobacco, combined with the ban on e-cigarettes and plain packaging rules, have generated a booming black market in untaxed, unregulated tobacco run by organised crime. This supports the pushing of drugs and illegal guns.”

In 2014, the Liberal Democrats confirmed the party had received “tens of thousands” of dollars from tobacco giant Philip Morris in the lead-up to the 2013 election, but Senator Leyonhjelm denied the donation influenced his vocal opposition to plain packaging.

“The Liberal Democrats have been around for about 20 years, and freedom of smokers’ rights was the first issue, and the party only got its first donation [from Philip Morris] last year,” he told The Guardian. “So it’s not like anyone’s mind was changed or anything.”

According to the Cancer Council, tobacco smoking remains the leading preventable cause of death in the country, claiming the lives of 15,500 Australians every year.

Smokers usually pay 45-50 per cent more on their monthly life insurance premiums, according to analysis by comparison website Finder.com.au. A 35-year-old male smoker will pay $80 per month for an $800,000 life insurance policy, compared to a non-smoker who will only pay $40 for the same policy.

“A smoker’s dirty habit can really add up over the course of the year, and it’s just become even more expensive so now would be a great time to quit and potentially save yourself over $10,000 a year,” Finder.com.au spokeswoman Bessie Hassan said.

“It’s not just the price of a packet of cigarettes but also more expensive insurance premiums, and the cost to your health over time that all add up. It’s important to note that insurers usually require you to have given up smoking for at least 12 months before they classify you as a non-smoker, so start today.”

British American Tobacco’s lab has been used by Australian Border Force to test evidence in black market cases

Australian Border Force (ABF) and Commonwealth prosecutors have been relying on evidence provided by Australia’s biggest tobacco company to charge black market traders.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-08-31/tobacco-giants-testing-evidence-for-border-force-cases/8856834

ABF has handed seized tobacco to British American Tobacco (BAT) to be tested in its laboratory, an ABC investigation has revealed.

BAT has analysed the product and then provided documentary or expert evidence which has then been produced in court.

It raises questions about independence and integrity and potentially breaches a major global agreement.

The World Health Organisation treaty limits tobacco companies’ involvement with law enforcement to only what is strictly necessary.

Tobacco companies argue they are being good corporate citizens by helping in the fight against the black market trade, but anti-smoking advocates say they are just protecting their bottom line.

Earlier this week, the ABC revealed big tobacco companies were propping up law enforcement by providing high-level intelligence and paying for surveillance technology.

There is a government agency called the National Measurement Institute that provides analysis for law enforcement.

A spokesperson for ABF said it used the agency “where possible”, but conceded there were times it had relied on the tobacco companies.

“There are instances in which tobacco companies have provided assistance in identifying counterfeit or illicit tobacco and have supplied statements for court proceedings,” the spokesperson said.

The Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions represents the agency in most court matters and, in a statement, said it “relies on evidence obtained from investigative agencies”.

“The identification of suitable experts is normally a matter for the relevant investigative agency … [and] is fully disclosed during the course of any prosecution.”

BAT confirms laboratory services loaned to ABF and others

When contacted by the ABC, BAT confirmed it had loaned its facilities to more than one law enforcement agency.

“That was about establishing whether the products were tobacco products, which is important to know before they can proceed with prosecution,” BAT spokesman Josh Fett said.

“We were pretty happy to help out, because the tobacco black market is huge.”

He said BAT approached law enforcement with the offer, and did not charge them for the service.

“I certainly don’t think there’s any conflict … it’s up to law enforcement agencies whose service they use and in these cases it was us,” he said.

“We have a clear interest in combating and assisting anyone that’s willing to fight criminals selling illicit tobacco in Australia, we don’t have any issue with helping anyone we can.”

Tobacco company ‘drafts warrant request’

The ABC has obtained more documents showing the level of the tobacco giants’ involvement in police operations.

An Imperial Tobacco PowerPoint presentation boasted its company and Philip Morris “assisted NSW Police to conduct raids” at six locations in Sydney in 2015.

PHOTO: The raids purportedly seized $60,000 worth of black market tobacco. (ABC News)

“Our role … provide a brief of evidence to police,” it read.

“Draft warrant request.

“Store seized product.”

PHOTO: Imperial Tobacco analysed the product for police. (ABC News)

PHOTO: Imperial Tobacco analysed the product for police. (ABC News)

Imperial Tobacco emailed the presentation to New South Wales Labor MP Paul Lynch in October 2015.

“I was astonished I must say, I had no idea that the cooperation between a large tobacco company and the police was as intense as it is,” he said.

“This is a relationship that’s way too close.”

He said NSW police needed to own up about the level of cooperation they had with the tobacco companies.

“The police have to be entirely transparent about what exactly they’re doing and upfront about the reality that tobacco companies are making profit out of their activities,” he said.

“Police need to behave as the police and conduct their own investigations, prepare their own briefs and execute their own warrants.

“That’s not a function of the state that should be farmed out to private corporations.”

Police, Imperial Tobacco decline to answer questions

New South Wales police declined to answer the ABC’s questions about the cooperation and declined to specifically comment on the tobacco industry.

They sent a statement saying they regularly worked with many industries.

“Their involvement is non-operational,” the said.

“Just as a member of the community may provide information to law enforcement about crime impacting the community, so too will industry.”

Imperial Tobacco Australia also declined to answer the ABC’s specific questions.

It also sent a statement, in which it says [the industry] will continue to provide intelligence on the black market.

“Imperial Tobacco Australia makes available to relevant enforcement and prosecuting authorities our personnel who hold expert knowledge in respect of tobacco products.

“It is our view that the cooperation of our industry with enforcement and prosecuting personnel is vital to combatting serious and organised crime that is responsible for much of the trade in illicit tobacco.

“The documents you refer to were designed to give transparency and shine a light on this alarming issue.”

Chain-smoking children: Indonesia’s ongoing tobacco epidemic

SOUTH SUMATRA, Indonesia — Surrounded by farmland and plantations in the small village of Teluk Kemang Sungai Lilin in South Sumatra, a boy, just 8 years old, sits smiling with his mother.

But this boy has a tumultuous past and a reputation that precedes him, having undergone a recovery most children will never face.

Six years ago, Aldi Suganda, also known as Aldi Rizal, was a 2-year-old chain smoker addicted to cigarettes, smoking packs each day. “It was hard for me to stop,” he said. “If I am not smoking, my mouth taste is sour and my head feel dizzy.

“I am happy now. I feel more enthusiastic, and my body is feeling fresh,” he said.

He became a global sensation as the “chain-smoking toddler,” with video clips of him puffing excessively on an endless cigarette supply watched by millions around the world.

His mother, Diana, thinks back to that period and recoils at the memory. Her son would get angry, she remembers, and throw tantrums if she withheld cigarettes from him or failed to give him money to obtain them. “He (would) start to smash his head to the wall. He was crazy, hurting himself if he didn’t get a cigarette,” she said.

People would accuse her of being a bad mother and regularly question her parenting skills, she said. “I am a weak mom. He always threaten me if I didn’t give him money. … I (was) afraid he (was) going to die.”

Aldi is the youngest of three boys born to Diana and her husband, who requested not to be named. But he is far from the only child who picked up the habit across the islands of Indonesia: More than 267,000 children there are estimated to use tobacco products every day.

A childhood habit

Diana believes Aldi’s addiction began with peer pressure and exposure to smokers. He accompanied her each morning to the market where she sells vegetables grown on their land. People there could have taught him to smoke, and he could easily get cigarettes by asking at the market, she said.

In many regions of the world, this might seem unrealistic and like an excuse, but in Indonesia, it’s highly likely. The country has the highest percentage of male smokers globally and among the highest rate of adolescent and child smokers in the world — fueled by lack of control over advertising, relaxed sales and low prices.

Today, Aldi is a healthy young boy who attends school and gets good grades, but to get here, it took years of rehabilitation with the country’s leading child psychologist, Dr. Seto Mulyadi, chairman of the nation’s National Commission for Child Protection. His road also didn’t end with his tobacco cravings. Soon after his recovery, he replaced tobacco with food and began to overeat as a means of compensation, eventually becoming obese.

But a second bout of rehabilitation to tackle this overeating created the healthy, stable young boy sitting beside his mother today.

Mulyadi believes the one benefit of working with children who have an addiction is their mental agility. In Aldi’s case, his age and intelligence meant he responded quickly to his treatment, in which Mulyadi distracted the 8-year-old with running, climbing and playing while slowly reducing the number of cigarettes he smoked each day. But treatment was intense and required Aldi to go to Jakarta for a few months to be with Mulyadi every day.

“He was just 3 years old, and he smoked four packs a day,” Mulyadi said. “(But) I was confident because he is still very young. Psychologically, as a child, he is very flexible and easier to be cured.”

And cured he is — at least for now.

“I don’t want to smoke anymore. I don’t want to get sick,” said Aldi, who now wants to help prevent other children going through a similar ordeal. “Please don’t smoke. Don’t even try it. It’s hard to quit.”

In 2013, more than 57% of men were reported to be smokers in Indonesia and more than 42% of teens ages 13 to 15, according to the Tobacco Atlas, compared with 17% and 8.2%, respectively, in the United States. It’s estimated that more than 217,000 people die from diseases linked to tobacco use each year in Indonesia, including heart disease and respiratory conditions such as emphysema and lung cancer.

With smoking so commonplace and numbers remaining steady or even rising among some groups in recent years, Aldi’s message could go unheard, believes Dr. Lily Sulistyowati, director of prevention and control of noncommunicable diseases at Indonesia’s Ministry of Health.

“I’m very worried about smoking in Indonesia,” she said, especially among teens ages 15 to 19.

No sign of decline

While rates in most countries fell between 2013 and 2016, the rate of smokers under 18 in Indonesia rose from 7.2% to 8.8%.

But more worryingly, among 10- to 14-year-olds, more than 3% were smokers in both 2013 and 2016 — the majority of them boys — and more than 18% of boys and more than 9% of girls 10 to 14 had tried a cigarette, according to Indonesia Basic Health Research data reported in 2013.

The research also found that 1.5% of boys and 1.4% of girls 5 to 9 years old had tried a cigarette.

Sulistyowati believes the problem is worse in rural areas and among poorer populations. “Poor people are spending their money on cigarettes,” she said.

In 2013, the richest fifth of the population used 7.1% of their monthly expenditures on tobacco and betel leaf to wrap tobacco, while the poorest fifth spent 12.5%, according to Indonesia’s Central Bureau of Statistics. The poorest fifth spent similar proportions of their wages on grains and tobacco — 15.5% and 12.5%, respectively — and spent six times more on tobacco than on dairy and egg products.

Rural regions also tend to be populated with people with lower incomes. There, parents’ priorities are working and earning money for their families, which can leave children vulnerable to influences such as smoking while parents are distracted. “(These areas) are a different situation. Parents focus on how to work and get money, not on the health of their children,” Sulistyowati said.

In addition, children begin working young to earn money that they can then spend on cigarettes, said Dr. Aman Pulungan, president of the Indonesian Pediatric Society, who has been monitoring and working on the issue of childhood smoking for decades. “It’s country life,” he said.

Smoking among children and teens is still a problem in the cities, highlights Silistyowati, but there, people know that the habit is bad for their health and children instead hide their addiction from their parents, she said. “They try it with friends,” she said.

This was the case for Icha, 16, in the capital, Jakarta, who began smoking when she was 13 after a friend offered a cigarette to smoke together. “The first time, I felt dizzy and coughed a lot,” she said. “But later on I (felt) the taste is good.”

Icha now smokes at least one pack of 12 cigarettes each day and says half of her classmates also smoke, some in front of their parents. Her own parents tried to ban her from smoking but after little success now just ask that she try to reduce her habit.

“There is no parental control,” Pulungan said.”They just do it, because no one says no.”

Pulungan added that many parents don’t fully understand the risks associated with smoking and that its prevalence among adults helps that ignorance persist, particularly in rural areas.

Part of the problem, Sulistyowati and other experts say, is the ease of access and pervasiveness of smoking in Indonesian culture.

Marketing and image invasion

“The problem is big,” Pulungan said, adding that smoking has been an issue in Indonesia for more than 40 years. “But it’s getting worse.”

He believes that in addition to peer influence, the root causes of the epidemic include advertising, lack of laws — or enforcement — in public spaces, sponsorship of venues by big tobacco companies and the way cigarettes are sold.

Nonsmoking sections in restaurants are very small, he said. In addition, tobacco companies are still sponsoring sporting and musical events as well as public buildings or clubs. This sponsorship has come down in recent years, he said, but he now believes that hidden advertising is growing — through TV and culture. “(Kids) think if you want to become a man, you have to smoke,” he said.

The issues of advertising and masculinity linked to smoking faced many other countries just a decade or two ago, but while rates across the West declined, companies and efforts to boost tobacco interest transferred to countries where bans and laws did not prohibit their existence, such as Indonesia, Pulungan believes.

In rural areas, “the small shops, grocery shops, are sponsored by cigarette companies, and they can put adverts anywhere,” he said. “No one controls this.” He also mentions sports clubs that have tobacco companies as part of their names.

“Advertising is of more interest to the youth,” Sulistyowati said, adding that companies entice adolescents by associating cigarettes with success and fame. “Schools can get sponsorship” from big companies, she said.

Again, while many countries have had bans against this for some time, Indonesia has no national laws in place — though some municipalities have introduced them, she said, including Western Sumatra.

Of the big six global tobacco companies, Phillip Morris International dominates the market in Indonesia, according to 2013 data from the Tobacco Atlas. The company did not respond to a request for comment.

The Ministry of Health is now working with the Ministries of Education and Communication to help prohibit sponsorship and advertising, as well as the Ministry of Transport to implement and enforce existing smoking bans on public transport.

Almost half of the country’s municipalities have regulations in place for smoke-free areas, said Sulistyowati, and universities have committed to having smoke-free campuses through the Ministry of Education. Graphic health warnings were also introduced on cigarette packets in 2014 to put people off the habit.

But “it all depends on the commitment of the local head, or mayor, of a district,” Sulistyowati said. “Indonesia is a big country,” at more than 1.9 million square kilometers (more than 740,000 square miles).

Easy access and affordability

The final hurdle is the cost and ease with which people can buy cigarettes: They can be bought individually — which makes them more affordable to people with lower incomes — and a pack of 12 can cost as little as $1 at most vendors and kiosks, said Sulitsyowati.

All 34 provinces have had regulations in place since 2012 to prohibit the sale of individual cigarettes, but enforcement has not been that effective.

“They buy one cigarette, not a pack usually … and everywhere you go, you can buy one cigarette, so it’s easy,” Pulungan said. “Shops easily sell them.”

One kiosk vendor in Jakarta, who did not provide his name, said most children buy individual cigarettes from him even though selling them in this form is breaking the law. “Everyone sells cigarettes to them,” he said.

Globally, experts agree that one of the strongest tobacco-control policies has been taxation. The rising cost of the habit, linked to higher taxes, has meant that many can no longer afford to smoke, and those who can smoke provide revenue for anti-smoking campaigns and quitting support services, to name a few options.

“The evidence suggests increasing pricing is the single most effective way to reduce demand,” said Vaughan Rees, director of the Center for Global Tobacco Control at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, in a previous report by CNN.

“In states where we see the highest tax rates, we see the lowest prevalence,” he said, highlighting New York City, where former Mayor Michael Bloomberg introduced city taxes on top of state taxes in 2010.

In Indonesia, “the price of cigarettes is very cheap,” Sulistyowati said. “Everyone can buy them.”

Pushing for change

Now, the Ministry of Health is working to align with other ministries as well as international organizations, such as the World Health Organization, to tackle the appeal of cigarettes once and for all. This includes aligning with the WHO’s Tobacco Free Initiative and its strategy to reverse the global tobacco epidemic, known as MPOWER, which features six policies that have been proved to make an impact, such as protecting people from smoke, enforcing bans on advertising, and raising taxes.

The ministry also hopes to provide greater support for people trying to quit smoking and to increase public awareness about tobacco’s harms — as well as push harder for the country to join the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, a global public health treaty formed in 2005 to tackle the global tobacco epidemic. Today, 181 states have signed the convention. Indonesia is not one of them.

With all this eventually in place, Aldi’s message may finally reach those who need to hear it: young children facing the allure of smoking tobacco.

Though cases like Aldi’s seem very rare on the surface, there are similar ones in Indonesia that don’t get serious attention, said Mulyadi, who treated Aldi.

“Aldi was very lucky because in his case, we get a fast response from the government and public. … Local and international media give him big attention,” he said. “Other children are not that lucky.”

The Indonesian government is not strict enough, he said. “As long as cigarette ads are spread out massively on TV, radio, newspapers, outdoor signage, everywhere, the problem of child smokers will get worse and worse.”

Imee Marcos, Ilocos Norte officials apologize to Fariñas over resolutions

The rival politicians from Ilocos Norte eventually patch things up, as Marcos tells Fariñas that they are ‘very, very sorry’ for declaring him persona non grata

https://www.rappler.com/nation/180747-ilocos-norte-imee-marcos-apology-house-farinas

After several hours of debate and argument, Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos and provincial board members apologized to the House of Representatives and to Majority Leader and Ilocos Norte 1st District Representative Rodolfo Fariñas for a resolution and a draft resolution which offended lawmakers.

One by one, members of the board present during a Thursday, August 31 hearing into the alleged misuse of tobacco funds in the province, apologized to both the House and Fariñas. Several of the board members were either personal friends or former local government subordinates of Fariñas himself.

The House committee on good government and public accountability had earlier criticized two resolutions – one which was passed and the other, shelved – regarding an ongoing inquiry. One resolution declared Fariñas, former Ilocos Norte governor, persona non grata over the probe.

Another resolution condemned the probe, criticizing the “tyranny” of the House and accusing lawmakers of holding the probe “in aid of [their] political ambition.” This resolution was eventually archived.

The House committee ordered the provincial board members to explain why they should not be held in contempt for the two resolutions.

“I will propose that in their next session, it be withdrawn with apologies. I think we were all inflamed with concern and worry, and as a result, are very, very sorry that this may, in some way or another, offended or interfered in the operations of the House,” said Marcos, who had signed the resolution declaring Fariñas persona non grata.

After their apologies, Fariñas proposed to “just forgive” the Ilocos Norte officials. The crowd, composed primarily of Ilocos Norte officials and House staff, erupted into applause.

Fariñas, however, warned that the House would not be as kind should the incident happen again. “Let this serve as a warning to all other entities to respect also the proceedings of the House because a repetition of such an offense will be dealt with more severely by the House,” he said.

The House, because of a resolution filed by Fariñas, is looking into the alleged misuse of tobacco funds in the purchase of vehicles for Ilocos Norte. During Thursday’s hearing, documents from the vehicle seller and the local government indicated a P195,000 difference between the selling price and the purchase price declared by the local government.

Six Ilocos Norte officials – those involved in the purchase of the vehicles – were detained by the House for nearly two months for refusing to answer questions properly.

Management overhaul follows BAT’s acquisition of Reynolds America

Tobacco firm British American Tobacco (BAT) said on Thursday it had overhauled its organisational and management structures following the successful acquisition of Reynolds America.

https://www.businesslive.co.za/bd/companies/2017-08-31-management-overhaul-follows-bats-acquisition-of-reynolds-america/

The company has now created three regions to encompass activities, with sub-Saharan Africa now paired with the Americas.

The new structure would enable better, more integrated resource allocation and decision making across geographies and categories, BAT said.

Jack Bowles, regional director, Asia-Pacific, would be appointed to the newly created role of chief operating officer for the international business, excluding US, BAT said in a statement. This would take effect on October 1.

Ricardo Oberlander, regional director for the Americas, would lead the Americas and sub-Saharan Africa region.

Tadeu Marroco, regional director, Western Europe, would be appointed director for Europe and North Africa.

Johan Vandermeulen, regional director for Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa, would be appointed director for Asia-Pacific and the Middle East.

The tobacco firm has come under pressure recently, after news in August that UK authorities would investigate allegations of misconduct made against BAT over its African activities. That news came after the US Food and Drug Administration said it was considering regulating the level of nicotine in cigarettes to nonaddictive levels.

In mid-morning trade the company’s share price was down 0.11% to R800.33. The company has lost 16.03% in the past three months, but remains up 2.91% so far this year.

Bosnian tobacco company Fabrika Duhana Sarajevo swings to H1 net loss

Bosnian tobacco company Fabrika Duhana Sarajevo [SAJ:FDSSR] said on Thursday it turned to a net loss of 620,700 marka ($376,300/317,400 euro) in the first half of 2017, from a profit of 675,500 marka in the like period of last year.

https://seenews.com/news/bosnian-tobacco-company-fabrika-duhana-sarajevo-swings-to-h1-net-loss-581795

Operating income fell 27.8% year-on-year to 11.7 million marka in January-June, while operating costs decreased 17.8% to 13.8 million marka, Fabrika Duhana Sarajevo said in a statement.

The company operates in Bosnia’s Federation, one of the two autonomous entities forming Bosnia and Herzegovina. Bosnia has one more tobacco factory, Fabrika Duvana Banja Luka, which operates in the other entity, the Serb Republic.

Onam to see tobacco smoke-free zones bloom in the capital city

Ahead of the frenetic festival and wedding season, florists in the city have decided to make their shops tobacco smoke-free. The decision, taken by the Trivandrum Florists Association, seeks to protect the environs of its 600 member families and the health and well-being of thousands of customers.

http://www.evartha.in/english/2017/08/31/onam-to-see-tobacco-smoke-free-zones-bloom-in-the-capital-city.html

Passing the resolution – in line with the Indian tobacco control law COTPA’s prohibition of smoking in public places – at its annual Onam gathering on Wednesday, the association also decided to set up statutory warning boards in member shops.

Association President M Vairavan Pillai presided over the function. General Secretary C Sasidharan Nair, Treasurer Haridas, Vice Presidents C Sukumaran Nair, K Radhakrishnan and S Ambika and Joint Secretaries S Sreekumaran Nair, T Suresh Kumar, T Manikantan and J Reena were also present.

Tobacco Consumption: Going Up in Smoke

In a reassuring move, the Delhi government has warned of legal action against tobacco companies if they violate laws and advertise at outlets selling their products

http://www.indialegallive.com/health-updates/tobacco-consumption-going-up-in-smoke-34241

We all know how tobacco companies sneak in surrogate advertising as they are not allowed to advertise their products. But Philip Morris International (PMI) Inc., the 160-year-old tobacco giant, pushed its top cigarette brands like Marlboro blatantly. It approached small shops and kiosks selling cigarettes and gave them free attractive boards with its advertisement to adorn the front of their shops and paid shopkeepers around Rs 500 as an incentive to break the law. The tobacco major roped in smart, young executives, mainly girls, to gift cigarette packs to youngsters in bars, discos and at parties.

However, after the Cigarettes and other Tobacco Products Act of 2003, which allowed tobacco companies to advertise in shops, was amended, these ads were prohibited. And in mid-August, the Delhi government’s Directorate General of Health Services shot off a stern warning to Philips Morris threatening legal action if it did not remove advertisements from kiosks and other point of sale outlets. The letter asked the company why appropriate punitive action could not be initiated against it and its directors. The letter was sent when the health ministry realised that the tobacco company was violating India’s tobacco control law by advertising at outlets where it was selling its products. It also sent these notices to two other tobacco companies, Indian Tobacco Company Ltd., and Godfrey Philips.

But this was after a series of earlier warnings which were ignored by these tobacco companies. On March 24 this year, the government had told them to get the ads removed. This was largely ignored. Their stand was that the law only stipulated that the ads should not be outside the outlets and did not mention that these could not be carried within the establishments or shops. Last month, the government shot of another letter reiterating the same, but this too was ignored. An internal document of Philip Morris said that the India market had high potential.

Dr SK Arora, additional director, health, Delhi, and also the state tobacco control officer, told India Legal: “In the last three years, we have been constantly writing to tobacco companies like Philips Morris, Indian Tobacco Company and Godfrey Phillips that their ads on posters and billboards were not allowed as they were violating Section 5 of the Cigarettes and other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA-2003). Our teams used to challan vendors who displayed these ads. But they would again put up the ads after we left as they were paid by the tobacco companies.”

Though the government told the companies that they would be held responsible and legal action could be initiated against them, it made no difference as they said it was not being done by them, but by distributors and vendors. When the Act was amended in 2005, it clearly said that there would be no such ads outside shops.

Though the government told the companies that they would be held responsible and legal action could be initiated against them, it made no difference as they said it was not being done by them, but by distributors and vendors. When the Act was amended in 2005, it clearly said that there would be no such ads outside shops.

Arora added: “So the tobacco companies removed the ads outside the shops, but started putting them inside, arguing that the Act did not mention that they should not be within shops or point of sale counters. Recently, the government clarified there should be no such ads both outside and inside. The tobacco companies are now pleading that they be allowed to advertise within the shop or on counters. We have no fight with these companies as long as cigarettes can be sold legally. But they have to sell them within the legal provisions.”

A source from the health ministry said that as far as Delhi was concerned, most of the ads had now been taken off and if they spotted any new ones, legal action would be initiated. Till the Delhi government carries out its threat of cracking down on violators, it is unlikely they will ever comply with the rules.

This is not the first controversy that PMI has faced. In 2010, the tobacco giant admitted to using child labour at its production facility in Kazakhstan. Human Rights Watch documented 72 cases of children used as forced labour.

India alone has some 100 million smokers. Government data says that tobacco use annually kills over 9,00,000 people. WHO estimates that tobacco-related diseases annually cost India $16 billion. Arora warned: “Tobacco is a leading cause of 40 percent of all cancers, 90 percent of oral cancer, 30 percent of tuberculosis, and 20 percent of diseases like heart attack, diabetes and hypertension apart from other respiratory diseases. While we are rapidly developing curative strategies like setting up huge cancer, diabetics and hypertension clinics, we are not doing enough to work on a preventive strategy to ensure that these diseases do not happen.”

The reach and marketing power of tobacco companies is huge. According to a 2002 study in the American Journal of Public Health, the tobacco industry in the 1990s increasingly sponsored entertainment events in bars and nightclubs where it displayed cigarette brand paraphernalia and advertisements.

Globally, anti-tobacco campaigners have accused PMI of breaking an ethical code when it deliberately targeted new young smokers. Often, cigarettes were given free to those who had just entered the legal age to smoke. The company had earlier aggressively run an advertising campaign in about 50 countries, cleverly targeting the young. Internal documents of the company indicated that those between 18 and 24 years had to be zeroed in. Company executives were specifically told that they must never use the word “promotion or advertising” when they were interacting with sellers or potential users.

In 2013, Germany banned promotional images of Marlboro, saying it encouraged children as young as 14 to start smoking. But other countries did not do so despite the fact that seven anti-tobacco organisations in a report charged that Philip Morris was trying to get a new generation hooked to tobacco. The ads of PMI appealed to teenagers as they used attractive models partying, falling in love, travelling, exploring, being cool and even confused. PMI violated its own ethical code which stated that it would not use images and content that would appeal to minors.

India enacted the national tobacco control law in 2004 before being one of the first countries to ratify WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control treaty. It contains a raft of anti-smoking provisions, including tobacco taxes, warning labels on cigarette packs and advertising bans. India, thereafter, strengthened the law in line with the provisions of the treaty. It was ultimately signed by 181 countries.

A group of cigarette distributors challenged the law. But in 2013, the Supreme Court ordered that the law be implemented. It said advertisement of tobacco products would attract the younger generation and innocent minds who were not aware of the grave and adverse consequences of consuming it.

Delhi has acted strongly, but what about other states? The central government is supposed to monitor and supervise implementation of the Act all over India. Had it done that, all states would have cracked down on tobacco companies the way Delhi has done.

The Tobacco Control Programme has the infrastructure and manpower, but lacks commitment to crack down on the tobacco lobby. An anti-tobacco activist said these companies used to set aside a budget to ensure that monitoring officials were well-inclined towards them.

It is time to act before matters go up in smoke.

Number of children exposed to second-hand smoke halved

The Scottish Government published its national tobacco strategy in 2013.

https://stv.tv/news/scotland/1396750-number-of-children-exposed-to-second-hand-smoke-halved/

The proportion of children exposed to second-hand smoke at home has almost halved in the last five years.

An NHS Scotland and Edinburgh University review of the Scottish Government’s tobacco control strategy also found a “downward trend in smoking prevalence”.

It also warned smoking continues to be a bigger problem in more deprived areas.

The Scottish Government’s national tobacco strategy, Creating a Tobacco Free Generation, was published in 2013.

The review found the strategy had a positive impact, with smoking rates among adults now at 20% compared to 31% in 2003.

The proportion of children exposed to second-hand smoke at home fell from 11% to 6% between 2014 and 2015.

Smoking rates in the most deprived areas were found to be at 35%, compared to 10% in the most affluent areas.

Dr Garth Reid, principal public health adviser at NHS Health Scotland said: “The evidence shows the positive impact of tobacco policy, ranging from the display ban which put tobacco out of sight in small shops and supermarkets to the introduction on smoke free NHS grounds.

“Yet, levels of smoking are still highest in Scotland’s most deprived areas, with 35% of people living in the most deprived areas smoking compared to ten percent in the most affluent areas.

“It is clear that further action to reduce inequalities in smoking is necessary if the aim of making Scotland tobacco-free by 2034 is to be achieved.”

Dr John McAteer, senior research fellow at Edinburgh University, said: “One of the aims of the 2013 tobacco control strategy was to reduce second hand smoke exposure among children by 2020.

“The most recent Scottish Health Survey shows that second hand smoke exposure fell from 11% to 6% between 2014 and 2015.

“This equates to 50,000 children having been protected from the harms of daily second-hand smoke exposure at home.

“Scotland has some of the most progressive tobacco control policies in the world, and Scottish smoking rates have fallen from 31% in 2003 to 21% in 2015.”

Scottish anti-smoking strategy shows ‘positive impact’

The Scottish government’s efforts to reduce smoking in Scotland are working, according to a new report.

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-41095421

The review, conducted by the University of Edinburgh and NHS Health Scotland, said the tobacco control strategy had shown a “positive impact” over the past five years.

However, the report’s authors cautioned that smoking continued to be a bigger problem in more deprived areas.

The aim is to have a “smoke-free generation” in Scotland by 2034.

The report concluded progress had been made across all three areas of tobacco policy: prevention, protecting people from second-hand smoke and helping people stop smoking.

Reviewing the strategy, the authors highlighted that:

  • Tobacco products in supermarkets and shops had been moved out of sight
  • Number of children exposed to second-hand smoke in home was cut from 11% to 6%
  • Smoke-free NHS grounds policies have been introduced

The review also said there had been a reduction in cigarette brand awareness in young people, which was attributed to products being moved from view.

Dr Garth Reid, principal public health adviser at NHS Health Scotland, said: “The evidence shows the positive impact of tobacco policy, ranging from the display ban which put tobacco out of sight in small shops and supermarkets to the introduction on smoke free NHS grounds.

“Yet, levels of smoking are still highest in Scotland’s most deprived areas, with 35% of people living in the most deprived areas smoking compared to 10% in the most affluent areas.

“It is clear that further action to reduce inequalities in smoking is necessary if the aim of making Scotland tobacco-free by 2034 is to be achieved.”

When the strategy was published in 2013, the number of adults smoking in Scotland was already falling, but NHS Health Scotland said it was still the single most preventable cause of ill health and premature death in the country.

There are more than 13,000 deaths – a quarter of all deaths – and 56,000 hospital admissions related to smoking every year, according to the body.

Dr John McAteer, senior research fellow at the University of Edinburgh said: “One of the aims of the 2013 tobacco control strategy was to reduce second-hand smoke exposure among children by 2020.

“The most recent Scottish Health Survey shows that second-hand smoke exposure fell from 11% to 6% between 2014 and 2015. This equates to 50,000 children having been protected from the harms of daily second-hand smoke exposure at home.

“Scotland has some of the most progressive tobacco control policies in the world, and Scottish smoking rates have fallen from 31% in 2003 to 21% in 2015.”