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Clear The Air

World No Tobacco Day, 31 May 2016

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.

Scientists trying to cure cancer have pensions invested in tobacco industry

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?

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/05/29/scientists-trying-to-cure-cancer-have-pensions-invested-in-tobac/

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.”

HOW TO REPORT A SMOKING OFFENSE IN HONG KONG

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Enact the amendment to the licence conditions to specifically forbid smoking and make the licensee answerable

Dear Madam,

Thankyou for your pointless reply mentioning licence condition 7, which we have been telling you needs amendment by the addition of one simple sentence.

This would effectively add 13,000 additional enforcement staff to TCO.

We will accordingly publish your reply on our website and encourage all members of the public henceforth seeing illegal smoking offences in licensed premises to report the matter to the police, as a complaint against the licensee under Condition 7 of the liquor licence, instead of Tobacco Control Office.

I am sure the police will welcome your expert advice and workload, so we copied them also.

James Middleton
Chairman
Clear the Air

—————————————————

Sent: 24 May, 2016 04:11 PM

Subject: Re: LiquorLic-Apathy-remainsabject.pdf

Dear Mr. Middleton,

Thank you for your email on 13.5.2016 suggesting amending the licensing conditions for liquor licence to specifically forbid smoking and make the licensee liable for that. Your email has been considered by the Liquor Licensing Board (the Board).

The Board is established under the Dutiable Commodities (Liquor) Regulations, Cap. 109B as a statutory body to consider applications for liquor licences. Where applications for liquor licence are made to the Board, the Board will consider each application on its individual merits and decide on whether or not to grant a liquor licence based on the circumstances and evidence of each case as well as comments and reports from government departments and the Hong Kong Police Force, who is the enforcement agent of Cap. 109B. If the Board decides to grant a liquor licence, it may grant a liquor licence without conditions or subject to such conditions as it thinks fit.

At present, licensing condition 7 for liquor licence stipulates that “The licensee shall not permit any person to occupy or use any portion of the premises for any immoral or illegal purpose.” As the enforcement agent of Cap. 109B, Police will conduct regular inspections and investigate complaints against liquor licensed premises. Whether or not the licensee is in breach of licensing condition depends on the circumstances of the case and the evidence available. Police will take appropriate enforcement actions against the licensee, including issue of advice, warnings or summons, if there is any breach of licensing conditions or the provisions of Cap. 109B. Any breach of the licensing condition(s) by individual licensee should be reported to the Police for investigation and enforcement actions where appropriate.

Under such circumstances, the Board considered that it would not be necessary to amend the existing licensing conditions for liquor licence.

Regarding your complaint against the premises “Sawadee Thai” in Yuen Long for placing ash trays on tables, your complaint has been referred to the Police and Tobacco Control Office for investigation and follow-up actions under their purviews.

Best regards,

Maggie YIU
for Secretary, Liquor Licensing Board

——————————————————————–

Date: 13/5/2016 15:55
Subject: LiquorLic-Apathy-remainsabject.pdf

Liquor Licensing Board
Chairman and Members

Dear Sir,

I refer to our letter to the Liquor Licensing Board , already 5 years ago now, attached.

Almost 7,000 people died per year in Hong Kong from smoking related illnesses.

21% of them were from passive smoking, no doubt including workplace staff.

If people cannot go out to bars and smoke, they will stop.

I would urge you to enact the amendment to the licence conditions to specifically forbid smoking and make the licensee answerable for same.

As an example I go to a restaurant near my home, Sawasdee Thai in Yuen Long.

Despite numerous complaint reports and warnings they actually place ash trays on tables, as do many licensed premises throughout HKG as the licensees are basically bullet proof – only the smoker gets targeted and the Tobacco Control Office has been allocated less than 50 staff per shift to cover HKI, Kowloon, NT, Islands, Marine and Planet HKG, so the chances of being caught in flagrante delicto are negligible, as the massively underfunded TCO only can respond days later to such complaints.

The fact that the seeming friend of Big T tax revenues, Financial Secretary, received $6.3 billion in tobacco excise tax (aka the white elephant concrete pouring fund) and allocates only $160 million to tobacco related control measures is despicable, as is the Health Bureau and HK Government abject lack of political will to do anything about this mess.

If you will not make a simple amendment to all licenses, then blood is on your hands and remains there for your previous non action.

The licensees currently encourage smoking with no onus on them otherwise, through flawed legislation.

Only Macau and Hong Kong do not place the onus on the licensee to enforce the law.

You can change that without even going to Legco.

Get moving.

Yours faithfully,

James Middleton
Chairman
http://cleartheair.org.hk

Clear The Air on International Tax and Investment Center

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See what the World is doing against Big Tobacco – Not Hong Kong

Clear the Air says:

Our HK Financial Secretary hob knobs with a tobacco front group dinner instead of mandating tobacco tax increases to match inflation and a regular yearly tobacco excise increase as a preventative health measure.

Our apathetic weak willed wet fish Food and Health Bureau does nothing to make the FS abide by FCTC Treaty requirements.

Both border on Misconduct in Public Office for failing in their duty of care to the public health of Hong Kong people and visitors and blatantly ignoring the FCTC Treaty requirements.

Download (PDF, 1.84MB)

Sheila Duffy: Standard designs part of package to tackle smoking

CTA says:

Why is there no Government movement in Hong Kong towards standardised packaging ?

http://www.scotsman.com/news/sheila-duffy-standard-designs-part-of-package-to-tackle-smoking-1-4129839

FROM Friday, cigarettes will be sold in plain packs, writes Sheila Duffy

Plain, standardised tobacco packaging will come in throughout the UK from Friday. It will make the packaging for an addictive and toxic substance more truthful and will prevent tobacco companies peddling the pack images, colours and designs that have helped entice generations of young people to start experimenting with their brands.

Retailers will have a year to sell through their existing stock before plain packs become mandatory.

This is not primarily intended to reduce adult smoking rates, although it might help. For example researchers in Australia, where standardised tobacco packaging has been in place since late 2012, report that smokers say they are less inclined to pick up the sludge green packs with their simple fonts and prominent picture health warnings, and that they say the cigarettes don’t seem to taste as good in plain packs. Reducing adult smoking rates would be a welcome side-effect if it happens here, but it is not the main aim of standardised packaging nor should we expect to see quick results.

Plain packaging is a long-term measure. It aims to disrupt the carefully targeted brand recognition and image-mongering which tobacco companies use to build familiarity and hook the interest of new and mainly young consumers.

Cigarettes are highly engineered products and for many consumers they can easily become habit-forming or addictive, which undermines free choice. Tobacco packaging has long been used as a lure to entice people to try the contents, and to buy into the sizzle of carefully designed and targeted marketing imagery. It’s what profit-making corporations do.

Tobacco companies go much further than marketing in seeking to protect their profits. They have a long and well-documented history of public scaremongering and of seeking to derail or delay public health measures that aim to reduce tobacco use. Tobacco company Japan Tobacco International (JTI) has seeded the media with misleading images of stark, white packs omitting the mandatory picture health warnings, juxtaposed with unfounded claims that illicit tobacco will increase following their introduction. Tobacco company Philip Morris International (PMI) has weighed in with inflated claims about illicit tobacco which fail to stand up under scrutiny.

If you listened only to the tobacco industry and their allies and vested interests, you would think that black market tobacco was booming here. Actually the rates of illicit tobacco in the UK have been declining since the start of the century according to the official figures from HMRC. Illicit tobacco remains a real problem, but not in the way the industry claims. No credible links have been demonstrated between illicit tobacco and either standardised tobacco packaging or tax increases. In fact since 2000 the size of the illicit market in the UK has declined by more than half even though the price of cigarettes has risen significantly over that period.

The Tobacco Retailers’ Alliance (TRA), a tobacco industry funded campaign group, recently posted an article under the Tobacco Manufacturers’ Association’s ‘Friends of the Scotsman’ slot that perpetuated many myths about the impacts of tobacco reduction measures, in particular the predicted effects on small retailers. For those of us who ten years ago lived through the opposition arguments to proposed legislation to remove tobacco smoke from enclosed public spaces, it is all depressingly familiar.

Standardised tobacco packaging will not stop existing adult smokers buying their usual brands at their usual retail outlets, but it should make the packaging less of a brand accessory or statement for young people. It will work alongside covered-up point of sale displays by putting tobacco branding out of sight and out of mind in our society.

There is no reason why it would increase the illicit tobacco trade, and no evidence that it has done so in Australia. Those working in enforcement say that they will have no problems detecting illicit tobacco just as readily with the new packaging.

Most of all, standardised packaging is truthful packaging. It signals to the next generation that this is a product that damages people’s bodies and their lives. The images of tumours, rotten teeth, infertility and early death represent the contents far more accurately than the previous bright colours and stylish designs. These picture health warnings will also increase in size from Friday. I am wondering where the tobacco companies plan to spend their vast marketing and promotional budgets next.

• Sheila Duffy, Chief Executive, ASH Scotland

CTA says Forbid Smoking and Make the Licensee Answerable for Same

Liquor Licensing Board
Chairman and Members

Dear Sir,

I refer to our letter to the Liquor Licensing Board , already 5 years ago now, attached.
Almost 7,000 people died per year in Hong Kong from smoking related illnesses.
21% of them were from passive smoking, no doubt including workplace staff.

If people cannot go out to bars and smoke, they will stop.
I would urge you to enact the amendment to the licence conditions to specifically forbid smoking and make the licensee answerable for same.

As an example I go to a restaurant near my home, Sawasdee Thai in Yuen Long.
Despite numerous complaint reports and warnings they actually place ash trays on tables, as do many licensed premises throughout HKG as the licensees are basically bullet proof – only the smoker gets targeted and the Tobacco Control Office has been allocated less than 50 staff per shift to cover HKI, Kowloon, NT, Islands, Marine and Planet HKG, so the chances of being caught in flagrante delicto are negligible, as the massively underfunded TCO only can respond days later to such complaints.

The fact that the seeming friend of Big T tax revenues, Financial Secretary, received $6.3 billion in tobacco excise tax (aka the white elephant concrete pouring fund) and allocates only $160 million to tobacco related control measures is despicable, as is the Health Bureau and HK Government abject lack of political will to do anything about this mess.

If you will not make a simple amendment to all licenses, then blood is on your hands and remains there for your previous non action.

The licensees currently encourage smoking with no onus on them otherwise, through flawed legislation.
Only Macau and Hong Kong do not place the onus on the licensee to enforce the law.

You can change that without even going to Legco.
Get moving.

Yours faithfully,

James Middleton
Chairman
http://cleartheair.org.hk

Download (PDF, 1.97MB)

Hong Kong Customs detects suspected case of smuggling illicit cigarettes by ocean-going vessel

Clear the Air says: how many such containers actually make it through undetected?
What brand and origin were the seized items ?
Genuine DNP product or counterfeit?

http://7thspace.com/headlines/526895/hong_kong_customs_detects_suspected_case_of_smuggling_illicit_cigarettes_by_ocean_going_vessel.html

Hong Kong (HKSAR) – Hong Kong Customs detected a suspected smuggling case of illicit cigarettes at Kwai Chung Customhouse Cargo Examination Compound on May 9. About 8.8 million sticks of suspected illicit cigarettes were seized.

Through risk assessment, Customs officers inspected a 40-foot container declared to contain towels arriving in Hong Kong from Sri Lanka. During the inspection, Customs officers discovered about 8.8 million sticks of suspected illicit cigarettes with a market value of about $24 million and duty potential of about $17 million.

Investigation is ongoing.

Hong Kong Customs will continue to carry out stringent enforcement action against all illicit cigarette activities.

Under the Import and Export Ordinance, smuggling is a serious offence. The maximum penalty is a fine of $2 million and imprisonment for seven years.

Members of the public are urged to report suspected illicit cigarette activities by calling the Customs’ 24-hour hotline 2545 6182.

See what the World is doing against Big Tobacco

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