Clear The Air
Why has the insipid Hong Kong Govt not sued Big Tobacco for the massive costs of health care treatment caused by their tobacco consumer product which kills 2 in every 3 of its users ? http://bmcmedicine.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12916-015-0281-z
Yet again in Legco on 17th January 2016 the tobacco company representatives tried their bully-boy tactics, threat to sue all and sundry etc, the same tactics which have already failed miserably in high court and subsequent legal appeals overseas, regarding plain packaging and Health Graphic warnings, claimed loss of tobacco trademarks and intellectual property rights caused by Govts changing the packaging of their ‘Silent Salesman’ advertising carton packaging.
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi on Wednesday sued two tobacco companies that she says are failing to pay millions owed to the state as part of a landmark settlement.
Bondi’s office, which filed the lawsuit in Palm Beach County, asserts that the state is already owed US$45 million and could lose $30 million a year going forward.
Nearly two decades ago, several of the nation’s largest tobacco companies negotiated a multibillion-dollar settlement with Florida to compensate the state for treating sick smokers. The state is projected to receive nearly US$356 million this current budget year in settlement payments.
The lawsuit contends that after R.J. Reynolds sold the cigarette brands of Winston, Kool and Salem to ITG Brands, both companies refused to make payments related to those brands. ITG Brands, the U.S. subsidiary of Imperial Tobacco, acquired the brands when Reynolds and Lorillard merged in 2015.
“The sale of major, pre-existing tobacco brands to another company for billions of dollars does not cause the payment obligations to vanish like a puff of smoke,” said Bondi in a statement. “I look forward to the state obtaining prompt relief.”
Florida filed its lawsuit a day after British American Tobacco announced that it is taking over Reynolds American in a US$49 billion deal.
Neither Reynolds nor ITG Brands responded to phone calls requesting comment.
Pushed by then-Gov. Lawton Chiles, Florida was one of the first states in the U.S. to seek damages from tobacco companies. The state’s lawsuit sought reimbursement for Medicaid costs in the past and future and contended that tobacco companies had engaged in unlawful actions and misleading advertising.
Dear Clear the Air members and interested readers/researchers
This is an urgent request for support for the Hong Kong Government policy on upgrading the 2007 graphic warnings from 50% to 85% coverage of the area, doubling the number, and adding a quitline number – not that far off plain packaging.
Opposition from the vile and heinous child addicting tobacco industry has been intense, particularly as HK is seen as an exemplar for the Asia-Pacific region, with an effect more far-reaching than just the 7 million who live here.
The industry and their paid front groups are bombarding Government and Legislative Council with letters, and it would be very helpful and save lives if you could sign the (sample) letter below and send to Legco before 17th January 20917 when the important meeting will take place to discuss this important health prevention measure.
Send the email, you do not have to be a permanent resident of Hong Kong.
Date: 13th January 20917
Panel on Health Services
Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, China
Re: 85% Graphic Tobacco Pack Warnings in Hong Kong
I/we support the Hong Kong government proposal to upgrade the current graphic pack warnings, to 85% coverage as outlined below.
I AGREE that my submission be made available to the media as per Legco requirements and the public and be uploaded onto the Legislative Council website.
Contact email/verifiable details/:
Briefing paper from the government to Legco:
LC Paper No. CB(2)386/16-17(05)
DETAILS OF THE PROPOSAL
3. At present, the Smoking (Public Health) (Notices) Order (Cap. 371B) stipulates that the health warning should cover at least 50% of the two largest surfaces of the packet or retail container of cigarette, cigar, pipe tobacco and cigarette tobacco in accordance with the prescribed forms and pictures. The existing batch of health warning pictures has been in use since 2007. The Government now proposes to change the prescribed forms of health warnings and the indication of tar and nicotine yields on the packet and retail container of cigarette and relevant tobacco products.
4. We propose to amend the prescribed forms (including specifications) of the health warnings, the size and number of the health warnings and messages for the packet or retail container of cigarettes and tobacco products under the Smoking (Public Health) (Notices) Order as follows –
(a) the area of the graphic health warning shall be of a size that covers at least 85% of two largest surfaces of the packet or the retail container;
(b) the number of forms of health warning will increase from six to
(c) the following health warning message is to be included in the
existing statement “HKSAR GOVERNMENT WARNING” / “香
“QUIT SMOKING FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS” /
“QUITLINE: 1833 183” / “戒煙熱線：1833 183”;
(d) the indication of tar and nicotine yields should be printed on a side adjacent to a typical flip-top lid of a cigarette packet, excluding the portion which forms part of the lid and the two largest surfaces, presented in a conspicuous place of such side of
Clear the Air herewith provides our readers with Tobacco stats for Hong Kong years 2013-2016
The figures tell us that the Hong Kong Government preventative health measures are blatantly NOT WORKING.
The sales of duty paid cigarettes continue to spiral instead of decreasing.
The Government takes over $6 billion in tobacco excise taxes then throws only crumbs to tobacco control and prevention resources – the $6bn remainder goes to pouring white elephant concrete.
The excise tax is manifestly insufficient for a 1st world country with such a high cost of living. Hong Kong needs to match Australia, New Zealand, UK , Ireland excise tax levels to have a preventative effect.
Hence tobacco remains affordable to youth here whilst Government apathy and lack of political will to act reign supreme. A form of misconduct in public office for their failure of duty of care to the people.
Meanwhile there is no apparent political will to force a legislative change to place the onus on landlords to prevent smoking in their licensed premises (whereas on the Mainland they have such laws).
As long as people can go out and smoke in places of entertainment with negligible chances of being caught, they will continue to do so.
Abysmal state of affairs. The highly paid incumbents would have been fired long ago in a business enterprise.
Public support for combating black market cigarettes hits all-time high whilst public perception of its severity dips
Clear the Air (CTA) says:
The China Ratified FCTC Treaty mandates increasing tobacco excise tax a) in excess of inflation rate and b) at regular yearly intervals to make tobacco unaffordable to youth.
Most youths start smoking and nicotine addiction before the age of 18. Hence it is important they do not start – that would be the death knell for Big Tobacco which callously addicts children in the pursuit of increased profits.
Preventative health measures include tobacco excise taxation, plain packaging of tobacco products to remove attractive colours from the Silent Salesman (pack containers),
placing the onus on premises owners and licensees to stop people smoking in workplaces such as restaurants and bars, COMPREHENSIVE instead of piecemeal public smoking bans and legislation, point of sale display bans and licensing of tobacco retailers, raising the tobacco use and buying age to 21 (frontal lobe development in youth thinking patterns starts to change at that age) and mandating large graphic health warnings printed on the retail packs – these should be rotated at regular intervals.
The FCTC Treaty also requires that any contact with the tobacco industry by Governments should be solely to regulate them and such meetings should be held in public.
Moreover on a regular basis the tobacco industry are supposed under the FCTC legal binding instrument to provide information on what organisations and front groups they have been funding and any forbidden CSR Projects they have entered into.
This heinous industry seeks to addict children as replacement addicted customers for their older customers that are literally dying off.
Two in every three smokers will be killed by their addiction to the nicotine in tobacco.
Recognition of their front groups and those seeking to further the interests of Big Tobacco should be rejected, and they should be publically shamed for fronting for the merchants of death.
Worldwide, Big Tobacco uses the same tactics: they blatantly lie in order to protect their market share: in fact they are the source of smuggling genuine products which they refer to as ‘Transit’ or ‘General Cargo’
RICO convicted Racketeers (Big T) state:
– Tobacco smuggling will increase if excise tax is increased
– Plain packaging does not work
– Graphic warnings do not work, hides their trademarks
– What they do not advertise is they are RICO convicted racketeers
Clear the Air:
CTA: this is a crime prevention matter and handled by HK Customs very well
CTA: Australia has proven the exact opposite and many countries are now following this path
CTA: hundreds of peer reviewed scientific reports prove otherwise. Australian and UK courts overturned their appeals
CTA: FACT ! the US judgment is attached in the file
A survey conducted by Ipsos Hong Kong Limited (Ipsos), an independent opinion research specialist, reveals that whilst public perception of the black market cigarette problem dipped, a record number of respondents believe that increased government action is necessary to combat the illicit cigarette trade.
“Black market cigarettes cannot be eliminated by simply implementing one measure” said Jeff Herbert, advisor to the Hong Kong United Against Illicit Trade (HKUAIT). “In addition to considering stricter penalties and other measures such as strong minimum sentences, and increasing public education, the Hong Kong Government needs to ensure that it does not implement legislation such as drastic tax increases or excessive health warnings as international experience shows that these regulations could possibly reverse the downward trend of illicit cigarettes in Hong Kong.”
According to the latest Oxford Economics “Asia Illicit Tobacco Indicator 2015″ report, illicit cigarettes contributed to 29.1% of total cigarette consumption. However, while still accounting for nearly 1 in 3 cigarettes consumed in Hong Kong, the illicit cigarette trend has seen a gradual decline since recording at 35.9% in 2012.
In an Ipsos survey released today, Ipsos Director Mick Gordon highlighted that “the findings clearly show that approximately 3 in 4 respondents believe drastic increases in tobacco duty, insufficient penalties and sophisticated criminal networks contribute to the problem of illicit cigarettes in Hong Kong”.
“Tobacco duty revision rates, while important, is not the only regulatory measure that should be approached cautiously”, Jeff warns. “As a matter of principle, HKUAIT agrees that tobacco duty needs to be revised periodically. However, any increase should take into account prevailing social and economic conditions, reflected in the Government’s annual Consumer Price Index report”.
In May last year, the Food and Health Bureau issued a letter notifying selected stakeholders that it plans on pushing ahead with a legislative proposal that increases the size of health warnings on tobacco products from 50% to 85%.
“This legislative proposal is particularly worrying because we can foresee the direct effect it has on the illicit tobacco trade”, adds Patrick Wong, Executive Director of HKUAIT. Several stakeholders, including HKUAIT, have argued that the illicit trade of cigarettes will further proliferate if the proposed 85% graphic health warning is implemented alongside a requirement to insert tar and nicotine levels on side panels. Viewed together, available space for tobacco manufacturers to print security and authentication features is further reduced, resulting in a less secure supply chain and an environment that facilitates illicit trade.
The 85% health warning debate continues at the Legislative Council’s Panel on Health Services (Panel). Members of the public are invited to submit their views online (up to 10 January 2017). A special meeting of the Panel to discuss this issue has been scheduled for 17 January 2017.
This survey was commissioned by HKUAIT and conducted by Ipsos in December 2016. More than a thousand Hong Kong adult citizens participated in this survey. Over the last 4 years, HKUAIT has commissioned similar surveys to gauge the public’s perception of the illicit cigarette problem and how it may affect the lives of Hong Kong citizens.
Clear the Air says:
The rest of the world is starting to follow the WHO directive, except here, where the clocks are winding back instead of forward.
Hong Kong Health Bureau officials, having learned the Ombudsman is chasing their lack of effort and political will, have now decided they will press for
– Oops not plain packaging-
they will (following 3rd world country India who already did it) press instead for an 85% graphic health warning (replacing outmoded 50% current) on the packet, but the whole idea is to take away the glitzy colors which Big Tobacco uses on its ‘Silent Salesman’ packet, its remaining legal advertising gullible youth attractant fly paper
Whiskers middle class citizen food truck promoting Tsang took in HKD 6.297 bn last year in excise tobacco tax to the concrete pouring fund, and doled out a meagre HKD 160 million for tobacco control whilst HK continues to subvent the costs of smoking related health care as tobacco executives with impunity continue to smuggle (not control their supply chains) their own brands to get more market share =more deaths = defeat tobacco control existing flimsy methods.
Earlier, last month on May 20, France and Britain each began the implementation of plain packaging under new laws. Ireland is also preparing to introduce the measure this year; Hungary and Norway are in the process of developing laws to implement plain packaging; Singapore is undertaking a public consultation with a view to introducing plain packaging; and several other countries, including New Zealand, South Africa and Turkey, have either expressed an intent to implement the measure or are in the policy development process. Canada follows Australia’s lead and has sued Big Tobacco and won, CAD 15 billion for recovery of health care costs – why not here ?
Get ready for plain packaging
Plain packaging of tobacco products can save lives by reducing demand for tobacco products, and is recommended in the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. “Plain packaging reduces the attractiveness of tobacco products. It kills the glamour, which is appropriate for a product that kills people,” says WHO Director-General Dr Margaret Chan.
CLEAR THE AIR SAYS:
HOW MUCH MONEY HAS HK GOVERNMENT IN TOBACCO RELATED INVESTMENTS?
HOW MUCH MONEY HAVE MPF TRUSTEES’ DO-AS-YOU-WISH GOVT UNREGULATED UNETHICAL FUNDS IN TOBACCO RELATED INVESTMENTS?
HOW MUCH MONEY HAVE HK UNIVERSITIES IN TOBACCO RELATED INVESTMENTS?
Scientists funded by are among thousands of academics with pensions invested in the tobacco industry, it has emerged.
The pension fund for university staff owned £211 million in British American Tobacco as of March 2015, its fifth biggest equity holding.
Cancer Research UK ensures that its employees’ pension funds free of tobacco industry investments.
Many people would be shocked to learn that their pensions are invested in tobacco company sharesGeorge Butterworth, Cancer Research UK
However, the charity funds many full-time academic posts at British universities whose pensions are invested through the Universities Superannuation scheme (USS), worth £49 billion in 2015.
Universities UK, which represents vice-chancellors and principals, said the USS was a responsible investor, but public health campaigners argue it is not possible to reform the tobacco industry and have called on investors to dump their holdings.
The tobacco investment has come as a shock to many researchers, academics and staff, many of whom have spent their working lives searching for cancer cures.
George Butterworth, Cancer Research UK’s tobacco policy manager, said: “The tobacco industry’s deadly products are responsible for one in four cancer deaths.
“Many people would be shocked to learn that their pensions are invested in tobacco company shares – especially those striving to develop cures for diseases caused by this lethal industry.
“To help make it easier for organizations’ pension schemes to opt out of tobacco shares, we’re now funding the UK arm of Tobacco Free Portfolios to encourage investment funds to divest form tobacco stocks.”
However, Universities UK defended its pension strategy.
“USS, as part of its investment duties, takes into account wider social, ethical, and environmental and governance issues, so long as that ensures that the assets of the scheme are invested in the best financial interest of members and their beneficiaries,” said a spokesman.
“USS is also a responsible and engaged investor.
“They have for example, undertaken engagement with tobacco companies on marketing approaches and regulations around e-cigarettes.”