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Dutch cancer assoc. files lawsuit against tobacco producers

Dutch cancer fighting association KWF is suing four major tobacco companies for aggravated assault resulting in death and forgery. According to the association, the tobacco companies deliberately incorrectly inform smokers about the damage smoking actually causes, AD reports.

http://nltimes.nl/2017/03/24/dutch-cancer-assoc-files-lawsuit-tobacco-producers

KWF is filing charges against the largest tobacco manufacturers in the world – Imperial Tobacco Benelux, British American Tobacco, Philip Morris and Japan Tobacco International.

The association is charging the tobacco companies with forgery because KWF believes they intentionally manipulate the mandatory tests that measure the emission of harmful and addictive substances in cigarettes. In this the KWF points to what they call the “sjoemel cigarette” [tampered cigarette]. These cigarettes have little holes that tests show make smokers inhale less harmful substances. But according to the KWF, this is wrong – smokers partly cover the holes with their fingers, thereby inhaling more harmful substances in practice than the tests indicate.

KWF is suing the tobacco companies with two smoking victims Anne Marie van Veen and Lia Breed and the Youth Smoking Prevention foundation.

Court upholds NT$5 million fine on British tobacco company

http://focustaiwan.tw/news/asoc/201702020020.aspx

The Taipei High Administrative Court on Thursday upheld a NT$5 million (US$160,800) fine imposed by Taipei City government on a U.K.-based tobacco company.

Imperial Tobacco received the fine in 2015 for violating the Tobacco Hazards Prevention Act, after the company was found to have invited consumers to try out one of its cigarette products, as part of a marketing survey.

Imperial Tobacco filed a case with the Taipei High Administrative Court challenging the fine.

The court on Thursday ruled in favor of Taipei City government, after determining that Imperial Tobacco did indeed violate the provisions of the Tobacco Hazards Prevention Act.

The case can be appealed.

(By Liu Shih-yi and Y.F. Low)
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Anti-Tobacco Groups Worried About Trump, Congress

Lawmakers considering efforts to weaken FDA’s regulatory power

http://www.medpagetoday.com/pulmonology/smoking/62788

The federal government and most states continued to receive mostly failing grades from the American Lung Association (ALA) for efforts to reduce tobacco use among adults and teens during 2016, despite the enactment of the long-awaited “deeming” rule giving FDA regulatory authority over all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes and cigars.

The failure to require graphic warning labels on cigarette packaging and to move toward banning menthol cigarettes earned federal administrators and lawmakers an “F” grade from the ALA for tobacco regulation, according to the group’s annual State of Tobacco Control report, released late this week.

But despite these shortcomings, anti-tobacco advocates who spoke to MedPage Today say there is no question that regulatory and other actions taken at the state and federal level during the Obama administration’s 8-year tenure helped spur the record decline in tobacco use among adults and teens.

And they expressed concern that many of these hard-fought gains will be rolled back by the new administration and Congress.

“There is no question that what government does makes a big difference,” Matthew L. Myers of Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids told MedPage Today.

“During the last eight years we have seen tobacco advertising restricted through the FDA, there have been sustained (anti-tobacco) mass media campaigns, tobacco taxes have increased and internet sales have been curtailed. All of these things contributed to the dramatic decline in tobacco consumption,” Myers asserted.

Speaking with a group of corporate leaders on Monday, President Trump vowed to do away with 75% or more of government regulations and he repeated his campaign promise of massive tax cuts.

Myers said Trump’s views on specific tobacco regulations and taxes are not known.

“President Trump has not spoken about this, so it is still unclear what position he will personally take,” Myers said. “To date, the physical manifestation of our concern comes from the cigarette and e-cigarette industries urging Congress to curtail funding for successful mass media campaigns and critical regulatory measures.”

The ALA’s Erika Seward said two specific attempts now before Congress to weaken FDA’s regulatory authority over tobacco are of particular concern.

On Jan. 13, Rep. Bill Posey (R-Fla.) reintroduced a bill in the House to exempt premium cigars from FDA regulation. The agency’s deeming rule announced last May extended its authority to cigars, e-cigarettes, pipe tobacco, and hookah. Posey first introduced the legislation in 2015, but it failed to pass under the previous Congress.

Congress is also considering legislation to grandfather flavored e-cigarettes and other non-traditional cigarette tobacco products, which would allow them to stay on the market.

“This is especially troubling because the Surgeon General has found that these flavors are particularly attractive to kids,” Seward said, noting that flavorings are believed to be a major driver of the more than 10-fold increase in e-cigarette use among high school-age kids between 2011 and 2015.

She added that there is “real concern about what lies ahead for reducing tobacco use and, specifically, whether the FDA’s existing authority will be weakened.”

While President Trump has not yet named a new FDA director, past actions by his pick for Health and Human Services (HHS) secretary have not lessened this fear.

Rep. Tom Price, MD (R-Ga.), was one of the few members of Congress to vote against giving FDA authority over tobacco, and he also voted against continuation of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which is largely funded by tobacco taxes.

As head of HHS, Price would have authority over the FDA, the CDC, the National Institutes of Health, and other major health agencies.

Myers said lobbyists from the e-cigarette industry are working to convince lawmakers to effectively prevent the FDA from regulating the products, as are groups that oppose government regulation on ideological grounds.

On Jan. 17, a coalition of a dozen free-market and anti-tax activist groups opposed to e-cigarette regulation, including FreedomWorks and Campaign for Liberty, sent a letter to Congress urging that all products on the market before the regulations went into effect last August be exempt from key provisions of FDA oversight, arguing that regulation “is depriving smokers of a demonstrably safer alternative (to traditional cigarettes).”

“While everyone’s focus seems to be on the White House, the tobacco industry has made it clear that it intends to urge Congress to dramatically curtail what has been working to reduce tobacco use,” Myers said.”It may feel like we’ve been back this year for a really long time, but it’s still early.”

COSH urges the Government to take full account of public opinions Enact Enlargement of Pictorial Health Warnings Promptly

http://smokefree.hk/en/content/web.do?page=news20170116

Hong Kong Council on Smoking and Health (“COSH”) urges the Government and Legislative Council to enact the enlargement of pictorial health warnings promptly in order to reduce the attractiveness of tobacco, motivate more smokers to quit and deter youth from trying the first cigarette. Mr Antonio KWONG, COSH Chairman remarked, “Results from survey conducted by COSH and two rounds of public consultations organized by the Legislative Council showed that majority of citizens and organizations supported the enlargement of pictorial health warnings to 85%. The Government and Legislative Council should take full account of public opinions and enact the proposed tobacco control measure as soon as possible.”

The Government briefed the legislative proposals to strengthen tobacco control on 18 May 2015, including enlarging the size of pictorial health warnings to at least 85% of the two largest surfaces of the packet, increasing the number of forms of health warning from six to twelve and adding the quitline 1833 183. The date of enactment is yet to be scheduled after more than one and a half years.

The Legislative Council collected views of the public and held special meetings on the enlargement of pictorial health warnings twice. Among the hundred submissions received in July 2015 regarding the increase in the size of pictorial health warnings, more than 80% supported. Besides, over 100 submissions were received for the special meeting of Legislative Council Panel on Health Services to be held tomorrow (17 January 2017), in which around 70% agreed the proposed measure.

The School of Public Health of The University of Hong Kong was commissioned by COSH to carry out the Tobacco Control Policy-related Survey 2016. It was found that public support on enhancing the pictorial health warnings was overwhelming, 79.5% of all respondents agreed to display more threatening messages about the health risks of smoking. About 72.5% of all respondents supported to increase the coverage of the health warnings to 85% while about half of the current smokers also supported. Majority of respondents opted for plain packaging* of cigarettes as well. In addition, COSH has collected over 26,500 signatures from citizens and organizations through street counters and online platform supporting the enlargement of pictorial health warnings since May 2015.

In recent years, many countries have successfully introduced more stringent measures to regulate tobacco packaging. Prof Judith MACKAY, Director of Asian Consultancy on Tobacco Control and Senior Policy Advisor of World Health Organization claimed, “Hong Kong ranked the 72nd in the world regarding the implementation of pictorial health warning and behind many developing countries like Laos, Myanmar and Sri Lanka. Hong Kong should enlarge and strengthen the pictorial warnings promptly in order to reduce the use of tobacco.” World Health Organization called for more countries to enlarge pictorial warnings covering more than 85% and implement plain packaging. “Get ready for plain packaging” was designated as the theme of World No Tobacco Day 2016.

Recently, some organizations opposed the proposed enlargement of warnings in the pretext that it would lead to a surge in cigarette smuggling activities. A recent study also claimed that illicit cigarettes composed for around 30% of cigarette consumption in Hong Kong. Prof LAM Tai-hing, Chair Professor of Community Medicine cum Sir Robert Kotewall Professor in Public Health, School of Public Health, The University of Hong Kong said, “the public should express reservation on the results of this tobacco industry-funded study. The data collection methods and calculations of the study were unclear using dubious methods.” The tobacco industry and its allies always express strong opposition against tobacco control measures proposed by the Government under the pretext that it will lead to a surge in cigarette smuggling activities. As recommended by the World Health Organization, the most effective measure against smuggling is tight control and aggressive enforcement.

With the Government’s multi-pronged tobacco control policies over the years, the smoking prevalence in Hong Kong has gradually reduced from 23% in early 80s to 10.5% in 2015. In view of the tobacco epidemic in Hong Kong and the international tobacco control trend, we urge the Government and Legislative Councilors to take account of public opinions and implement the enlargement of pictorial health warnings as soon as possible to safeguard public health. The Government should also actively consider adopting plain packaging within 2 to 3 years and develop long-term and comprehensive tobacco control policies including regulating the emerging tobacco products and e-cigarettes, raising tobacco tax substantially, expanding no-smoking areas, increasing resources on education, publicity, smoking cessation services and enforcement to further reduce the smoking prevalence in Hong Kong and protect people from the harms of smoking and secondhand smoke.

*Remarks: Plain packaging standardizes and simplifies the packaging of tobacco products. The pictorial health warnings on the main sides of cigarette pack are expanded. All forms of tobacco branding should be labeled according to the government prescriptions and with simple and plain format. This means that trademarks, graphics and logos are not allowed on cigarette packs, except for the brand name that is displayed in a standard font size, colour and location on the package. The packaging should not contain other colours and should include only the content and consumer information, such as toxic constituents and health warnings required by law. The quitline number should also be displayed at a prominent position. Australia was the first country to introduce plain packaging in 2012. The measure was also implemented in the United Kingdom, France and Hungary in 2016 and will be implemented in Ireland in 2017.

Tobacco stats for Hong Kong years 2013-2016

Clear the Air herewith provides our readers with Tobacco stats for Hong Kong years 2013-2016

sticks

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.

UK court rejects tobacco companies’ appeal on plain packaging

http://in.reuters.com/article/us-tobacco-court-appeal-idINKBN13P1ED

A UK court has dismissed an appeal brought by some of Britain’s largest tobacco companies over the government’s new plain packaging rules.

In its decision handed down on Wednesday, the court dismissed all appeals brought by British American Tobacco, Japan Tobacco, Imperial Brands and several paper manufacturers.

The companies argued that the law, which went into effect in May, unlawfully deprives them of their intellectual property by banning the use of all marketing on packages, including logos, colors and special fonts.

“This is a victory for public health and another crushing defeat for the tobacco industry,” said Deborah Arnott, chief executive of health charity Action on Smoking and Health.

“This ruling should also encourage other countries to press ahead with standardized packaging, now that the industry’s arguments have yet again been shown to be without foundation.”

BAT, the world’s second-biggest tobacco company, called the decision “disappointing” and said it was considering its options carefully.

(Reporting by Martinne Geller in London; Editing by Louise Heavens, Greg Mahlich)

Big Tobacco threatens Supreme Court fight after losing plain packaging appeal

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2016/11/30/big-tobacco-threatens-supreme-court-fight-losing-packaging-appeal/

The world’s largest tobacco companies have threatened to take their battle against the Government’s plain packaging policy to the UK’s highest courts after losing their latest appeal against the branding crackdown.

The court of appeal today upheld legislation that forces all tobacco products to use uniform packaging in a ruling described by anti-smoking groups as a “crushing defeat” for the tobacco industry.

The latest blow to cigarette-makers British American Tobacco, Imperial, Japan Tobacco International and Philip Morris International follows their failed court challenge in May this year, one month after the new anti-tobacco legislation came into effect.

Under the new rules all tobacco packaging must be olive green and include large images showing the negative health consequences of smoking as a visual deterrent.

Tobacco companies have repeatedly branded the move unlawful and say it will be ineffective at reducing smoking rates. They will continue to oppose the regulation despite a second legal defeat. The exception to the industry-wide defiance is PMI, which said in May that it would focus on developing its smoke-free products rather than fight the case.

Daniel Sciamma, the UK managing director of Japan Tobacco, said that the company was already considering an appeal to the Supreme Court.

“This commercial vandalism sets a dangerous precedent for other targeted industries, who must be concerned that their brands will now be under threat. We obviously disagree with the court’s decision as it endorses the confiscation of our brands,” Mr Sciamma said.

Meanwhile BAT warned that the court decision “does not necessarily mark the end of the challenge” and a spokesman for Imperial said that it was reviewing the judgement before considering its legal position.

Jefferies analyst Owen Bennett said the impact of plain packaging would weigh most heavily on Imperial and Winston and Camel maker Japan Tobacco, which both rely on the UK for around 15pc of their overall earnings

For Marlboro maker PMI and BAT, the UK market makes up less than 1pc of their business.

Despite the minority exposure to the UK market the tobacco companies still have a strong incentive to fight the clampdown, which could spur similar legislation in other markets.

“Seeing results such as this may actually encourage other markets to follow suit,” said Mr Bennett, adding that should other countries wish to implement plain packaging in the years ahead then the outcome of any challenges would most likely be the same.

Duterte urged to sign EO vs public smoking

http://interaksyon.com/article/134751/duterte-urged-to-sign-eo-vs-public-smoking

An anti-tobacco group is urging President Rodrigo Duterte to sign an executive order banning smoking in all public places across the country to fulfill a promise he made.

“We appeal to our dear president, who we know is an ardent anti-smoking advocate, to please sign the smoke-free Philippines EO now. Each day of delay would bring your people closer to becoming victims of the ills of smoking like me as well as those who are not even smoking,” New Vois Association of the Philippines president Emer Rojas, a former chain-smoker who lost his vocal cords due to cancer, said in a statement.

Rojas said the EO would, in particular, help protect non-smokers from second-hand smoke.

He also said it would help save Filipinos, especially the youth, from smoking-related illnesses. He cited the Tobacco Atlas of 2016, which shows 14.5% of Filipinos aged 13 to 15 and 23.8% of adults smoke regularly.

Records show an estimated 240 Filipinos die from tobacco-related diseases daily.

Aside from banning smoking in public places, Rojas said the EO would be the perfect complement to already existing tobacco control measures, specifically Republic Act No. 10351 (Sin Tax Law) and Republic Act No. 10643 (Graphic Health Warning Law).

Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial earlier said Duterte, who has buergers disease, is more than willing to sign the EO. Buerger’s disease is an ailment linked to heavy smoking.

The EO closely follows the smoking ban implemented in Davao City where Duterte was a long-time mayor.

Major tobacco firms are appealing a landmark $15B ruling they lost

https://www.thestar.com/business/2016/11/21/major-tobacco-firms-are-appealing-a-landmark-15b-ruling-they-lost.html

Three major tobacco firms are appealing a landmark $15 billion Superior Court ruling they lost in June 2015.

Lawyers for Imperial Tobacco, JTI-Macdonald and Rothmans-Benson & Hedges began arguments today during hearings that are expected to last until the end of the week.

The companies were targeted by two separate lawsuits heard at the same time that were filed in 1998 and only went to trial in 2012.

They were sued by people who were addicted to cigarettes and couldn’t quit as well as by those who had suffered from cancer or emphysema.

Some 76 witnesses testified and nearly 43,000 documents were deposited as evidence, including internal tobacco company documents that showed smokers didn’t know or understand the risks associated with cigarettes.

Cigarette companies argued their customers knew the risks of smoking and that their products were sold legally and were strictly regulated by the federal government.

The same cigarette companies are also being sued by the Quebec government in a $60-billion lawsuit aiming to recover health care costs related to smokers.