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‘Quitting tobacco can decrease cancer chances eight times’

Increase in tobacco consumption has led to rise in cancer cases among the youth in recent years. “It is most common in people between 25 and 40 years of age,” said Dr Satsheel Sapre, HoD of Head and Neck Cancer Department at Rashtrasant Tukdoji Regional Cancer Hospital (RST).

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/nagpur/quitting-tobacco-can-decrease-cancer-chances-eight-times/articleshow/59814866.cms

Sapre was speaking at an awareness programme organized by RST and Indian Medical Association (IMA) to mark Head and Neck Cancer Day, on Thursday, on the premises of the hospital. “Vidarbha is world capital of tobacco related cancers. Quitting tobacco can decrease chances of cancer eight times,” he said.

“Young people mostly start smoking or chewing tobacco due to peer pressure or perceive it as something glamorous. But smoking causes lung cancer and increases development of unwanted, uncontrolled and abnormal cells,” Sapre added.

Making an appeal about quitting smoking, Sapre said, “Our body does not need tobacco. It only harms our body, still many youths take the suicidal path. According to WHO, one among every eight persons is likely to be affected with cancer before death.”

Talking about symptoms of cancer, Sapre said, “Bleeding from mouth, constipation, change in voice, stink from mouth and fever or cough for more than 15 days can be symptoms of cancer. Patients must visit doctors for fighting cancer, it will not disappear by itself.”

A cancer survivor Shrimad shared his experience. “In 2000, I developed a small lump on my chick, which was due to cancer. I use to chew tobacco but I didn’t lose hope and fought it. Now I am living a normal life. I will suggest everyone not to eat tobacco and never lose hope because you can fight cancer. Doctors are your closest friend against diseases like cancer,” he said.

A small play on banning tobacco, alcohol and smoking was also staged at the programme. It illustrated cancer as the ‘boss’ of all addictive materials that are driving people towards destruction.

Dr BK Sharma, director of RST, and Dr Avinash Wase, president of IMA, were also present at the programme.

UN Reports More People Warned Against Tobacco Use

Despite measures protecting a majority of people from tobacco-related illness and death, the tobacco industry continues to hamper Government efforts to fully implement life and cost-saving interventions, the United Nations health agency reported.

http://www.womenofchina.cn/womenofchina/html1/features/health/1707/4690-1.htm

“One-third of countries have comprehensive systems to monitor tobacco use. While this is up from one-quarter of countries monitoring tobacco use at recommended levels in 2007, Governments still need to do more to prioritize or finance this area of work,” according to the UN World Health Organization’s WHO report on the global tobacco epidemic, which was launched today on side-lines of the UN High-level political forum on sustainable development in New York.

The report shows that some 4.7 billion people – more than 60 per cent of the population – are protected by at least one “best practice” tobacco control measure from the WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC). These measures include no smoking areas and bans on advertising tobacco products, for example.

In the foreword to the report, the head of WHO urged Governments to incorporate all the provisions of the WHO FCTC into their national tobacco control programmes and policies, and to fight against the illicit tobacco trade.

“Working together, countries can prevent millions of people from dying each year from preventable tobacco-related illness, and save billions of dollars a year in avoidable health-care expenditures and productivity losses,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.

The report, funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies, noted that systematic monitoring of tobacco industry interference in government policymaking protects public health by shedding light on tobacco industry tactics.

Such tactics include “exaggerating the economic importance of the tobacco industry, discrediting proven science and using litigation to intimidate governments.”

Douglas Bettcher, director of WHO’s Department for the Prevention of Noncommunicable Diseases (NCDs), said tobacco industry interference in government policy making represents “a deadly barrier to advancing health and development in many countries.

Controlling tobacco use is a key part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The Agenda includes targets to strengthen national implementation of the WHO FCTC and a one-third reduction in premature deaths from NCDs, including heart and lung diseases, cancer and diabetes, according to a press release launching the report.

“The progress that’s been made worldwide – and documented throughout this report – shows that it is possible for countries to turn the tide,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, WHO Global Ambassador for Noncommunicable Diseases and founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies.

Furore over tobacco harm-reduction efforts

Most countries all over the world have banned smoking in public places and the popular advice is, “smoking is dangerous to your health… smokers are liable to die young.”

https://guardian.ng/features/furore-over-tobacco-harm-reduction-efforts/

Researches indicate that most deaths due to smoking result from respiratory diseases such as lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and pneumonia.

In Nigeria, most cities including Lagos have outlawed smoking backed with legislation but poor enforcement has been the pitfall. People still smoke in public places in all the nook and crannies in the country exposing the non-smoker and tender ones to secondhand smoke, which has also been associated with cancer of the lung and other ill-health effects.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the tobacco epidemic is one of the biggest public health threats, killing more than seven million people a year. There are currently one billion smokers worldwide, with nearly 80 per cent of them living in low and middle-income countries, where the burden of tobacco-related illness is greatest.

Indeed, several studies have shown that smoking tobacco is the most harmful way of using nicotine, with the tars and gasses in cigarette smoke being harmful to health, however, many people find it difficult to stop smoking because they find it hard to go without nicotine.

A school of thought suggests that making lower risk products available may help people switch from smoking, ultimately helping avoid the risk of smoking known as “tobacco harm reduction”.

Tobacco harm reduction is a pragmatic approach to reducing the harm of smoking related diseases. People smoke because they are addicted to nicotine and seek a “hit”, but it is the other toxins in tobacco smoke that cause most of the harm. Nicotine can be obtained from a range of products, which vary in their level of harm and addictiveness, from smoked tobacco (that is cigarettes) at the top end of the harm/addiction spectrum, to medicinal nicotine (that is nicotine replacement therapy products) at the bottom end.

A harm reduction approach to tobacco control encourages those smokers that cannot, or are unwilling to, stop smoking, to switch to using nicotine in a less harmful form, and ideally would result in them ultimately quitting nicotine use altogether.

Potential harm reduction products include: Smokeless Tobacco (Snus); E-cigarettes; and Nicotine Replacement Therapy (under construction). The use of safer nicotine products is a rapidly evolving area, with many new non-combustible products emerging. The rapid development and use of these products raises a number of challenging scientific questions about their safety, who uses them and why, and the impact on smoking. These products also raise challenges for governments who seek to understand what kind of policy and regulation is appropriate.

To address these issues, the Global Forum on Nicotine (GFN) 2017 was held last month in Warsaw, Poland.

Reflecting commitment to the development and promotion of evidence-based policies and interventions, the theme of this year’s meeting was “Reducing Harm, Saving Lives”, drawing attention to the potential of safer nicotine products, such as e-cigarettes, oral tobaccos and “heat-not-burn” tobacco products, to reduce the global health burden of smoking.

Participants comprised of policy analysts, regulators and standards experts, academics and researchers, parliamentarians, public health professionals, consumer advocates, and makers and distributors of alternative nicotine products – all with an interest in nicotine and its uses.

This year’s programme examined the rapidly developing science in relation to nicotine use and the changing landscape, including policy responses and the influence of different stakeholders in this. The programme comprised plenary sessions, symposia, panel discussions and poster presentations – including video posters.

Several studies have shown that tobacco harm reduction has been controversial and divisive in public health, in particular where the debate has focused on a possible role for other tobacco products such as Snus, within a tobacco harm reduction strategy. One of the reasons harm reduction is a sensitive topic is that it could involve engaging with the tobacco industry, which has a history of manipulating public debate and public health policy.

Critics posit that to fully understand the harmfulness of potentially reduced risk products and their effectiveness for smoking cessation, tobacco industry investments and research into harm reduction and potentially reduced risk products should be carefully scrutinised. Who has paid for the research, which scientists, organisations and institutions are involved?

In fact, a number of scientists leading the debate on harm reduction and/or potentially reduced risk products are allegedly funded by the tobacco industry. Examples include: Jed E. Rose is director of the Center for Nicotine and Smoking Cessation Research (CNSCR) at Duke University in the United States (US), an institution with a long history of tobacco money. He is the inventor of the nicotine patch, and a nicotine aerosol technology. The Center, his research and his career are closely interlinked with the tobacco industry, more specifically Philip Morris.

The story on Duke University, US, and the Tobacco Industry shows Philip Morris actively promoting the nicotine patch as a quitting strategy, with the research funded by the company and with the endorsement of scientists involved.

A 2012 editorial in the public health journal Addiction suggested we should not be fooled by industry investments in potentially reduced risk products like snus, highlighting that Philip Morris US is currently advertising its Marlboro snus “for when you can’t smoke”, thus encouraging dual use instead of smoking cessation.

Further evidence from the US, where smokeless tobacco is freely available, confirms that smokeless tobacco is being marketed as a tobacco alternative in smoke-free environments. This would suggest that contrary to the industry’s discourse on harm reduction, and the favoured approach by public health experts advocating tobacco harm reduction, the industry appears to have little intention of promoting Snus use as a permanent switch from smoking.

However, the GFN is changing that perception. Chair of GFN, Prof. Dave Sweanor from Canada, told participants at 2017 GFN: “GFN is the only international conference to focus on the role of safer nicotine products that help people switch from smoking. Safer nicotine products include e-cigarettes, oral tobaccos such as Swedish snus, and ‘heat-not-burn’ tobacco products. This is a rapidly evolving area with many new non-combustible products emerging.

“The first conference was held in 2014 and this year we see the fourth annual renewal. All the conferences to date have been in Warsaw. The conference is funded by registration fees and does not receive any sponsorship from manufacturers, distributors or retailers of nicotine products, including pharmaceutical, electronic cigarette and tobacco companies.”

Sweanor said the programme is developed by an international programme committee and is supported by a Polish Host Committee. Knowledge-Action-Change (KAC) provides the administration for the conference. New data released at the GFN showed low risk nicotine product snus is 95 per cent safer than smoking and has the potential to stop 320,000 premature deaths across Europe each year.

The latest evidence, presented by Peter Lee, epidemiologist and medical statistician, indicates that snus is at least 95 per cent safer than smoking.

Analysis by Lars Ramström, snus researcher in Sweden, shows that if snus were made available in Europe –where it is currently banned with the exception of Sweden –and similar use levels to Sweden were adopted, up to
320,000 premature deaths could be avoided among men every year.

While 46 per cent of deaths due to smoking result from respiratory diseases such as lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and pneumonia, there is no evidence that using snus increases risk of these diseases. Nor does snus appear to increase the risk of other smoking related diseases including heart disease, stroke and a range of cancers.

In addition, the public health benefits of snus versus cigarettes are not only much lower, but the role of snus in both reducing initiation of smoking and increasing cessation of smoking is a key element in defeating the actual cause of tobacco-related ill-health caused by the cigarette.

Current European legislation does not allow snus to be marketed in any European country except Sweden. However, due to strong evidence behind its potentially life saving benefits, The New Nicotine Alliance (NNA), a United Kingdom (UK) consumer group supporting access to safer nicotine products, is calling for its legalization and has joined legal action case against the banning of snus, which has now been referred to the European Courts of Justice.

Gerry Stimson, Chair of the NNA stated, “Snus is a tobacco product that has consistently been proven to be less harmful to health than cigarettes. The ban on snus limits smokers choices of safer alternatives and has a significant negative impact on public health”.

Phillips Morris International (PMI) in its presentation at the Forum noted: “Harm reduction policies are based on the view acknowledged by virtually all public health organizations that tobacco use will continue well into the future. As the United Nation (UN) stated in 2004, even assuming current rates of decline in consumption, ‘the number of tobacco users would still be expected to increase to 1.46 billion by 2025.’

“The recognition that people will continue to smoke has led many public health authorities to the conclusion that developing tobacco products that have a reduced risk of causing disease is a crucial element of tobacco policy. This is contrasted with those groups who take an abstinence-based approach that focuses solely on preventing people from beginning to use tobacco products and encouraging people to quit using tobacco products.

“Following a harm reduction policy does not preclude governments from pursuing the objectives of prevention of initiation and encouraging cessation. On the contrary, most proponents of harm reduction are vigorous supporters of those important goals. As we see it, tobacco harm reduction should complement prevention and cessation efforts — not compete with them.

“Our support of harm reduction follows two paths: one is through our research and development of products with the potential to reduce the risk of tobacco related diseases. The other path is through our support of regulation based on the principle of harm reduction.”

Big tobacco’s push to legalise e-cigarettes needs to be quashed immediately

If Philip Morris truly believed it’s push to legalise e-cigarettes containing nicotine in this country had merit it would be making its case publicly and under its own name.

http://www.canberratimes.com.au/comment/ct-editorial/big-tobaccos-push-to-legalise-ecigarettes-needs-to-be-quashed-immediately-20170713-gxaow8.html

The fact the tobacco giant is using its catspaw smokers’ rights lobby group “I Deserve To Be Heard” to lend the argument the dubious legitimacy of contrived popular support is, in itself, a good reason for the Federal Government to refuse to give this matter any oxygen.

Another is that in the almost 500 years since Spanish merchants introduced tobacco to Europe from the New World big tobacco’s track record of advocating anything in the public interest has been appalling.

It’s a pretty good bet, just on the historical record, that if Philip Morris thinks it would benefit from the legalisation of e-cigarettes there’s likely some sort of downside for the broader society.

Despite the handsome revenues governments rake in from the taxes, levies and charges imposed on what is arguably the most deadly mass consumption product available for public sale, the industry, and its users, always come out ahead.

The costs to other taxpayers from picking up the burden of additional healthcare and lost productivity arising from the chronic illnesses and early deaths caused by consumption on tobacco products far outweigh the revenues that come in.

An estimated 15,000 Australians die of smoking related causes each year at a cost to the community, in terms of health expenditure and economic costs, of $31.5 billion a year. This is almost three times the roughly $12 billion spent on tobacco products in Australia in 2015.

This is not a message big tobacco is keen to spread. Instead, by enlisting proxies from the nicotine-using and “vaping” communities, it is trying to play this as a “free speech” and “freedom of choice” issue.

That is not the case. Public health was, is and must always be, the core issue in the smoking debate. Everything else, as was demonstrated by the industry’s failed bid to overturn plain packaging, is a side show.

Health concerns were behind the many initiatives, including increased prices, that have seen Australian smoking rates fall to less than 13 per cent compared to 1945 when 72 per cent of males and 26 per cent of females smoked.

Today’s battle is not so much to wean the last hard core smokers off the habit as it is to stop young people from taking it up.

This is why e-cigarettes, which could be touted as a “reduced risk” and potentially “cool” way to imbibe must stay banned.

If legalised they would simply serve as yet another gateway towards the use of the traditional product.

Threats, bullying, lawsuits: tobacco industry’s dirty war for the African market

Revealed: In pursuit of growth in Africa, British American Tobacco and others use intimidatory tactics to attempt to suppress health warnings and regulation

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jul/12/big-tobacco-dirty-war-africa-market

British American Tobacco (BAT) and other multinational tobacco firms have threatened governments in at least eight countries in Africa demanding they axe or dilute the kind of protections that have saved millions of lives in the west, a Guardian investigation has found.

BAT, one of the world’s leading cigarette manufacturers, is fighting through the courts to try to block the Kenyan and Ugandan governments’ attempts to bring in regulations to limit the harm caused by smoking. The giant tobacco firms hope to boost their markets in Africa, which has a fast-growing young and increasingly prosperous population.

In one undisclosed court document in Kenya, seen by the Guardian, BAT’s lawyers demand the country’s high court “quash in its entirety” a package of anti-smoking regulations and rails against what it calls a “capricious” tax plan. The case is now before the supreme court after BAT Kenya lost in the high court and the appeal court. A ruling is expected as early as next month.

BAT in Uganda asserts in another document that the government’s Tobacco Control Act is “inconsistent with and in contravention of the constitution”.

The Guardian has also seen letters, including three by BAT, sent to the governments of Uganda, Namibia, Togo, Gabon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia and Burkina Faso revealing the intimidatory tactics that tobacco companies are using, accusing governments of breaching their own laws and international trade agreements and warning of damage to the economy.

Extract – court document

“The Regulations are unlawful in their entirety as a result of procedural impropriety … The warning requirements [on cigarette packets] constitute an unjustifiable barrier to international trade.”

A petition by British American Tobacco Kenya to the country’s high court against aspects of the Kenyan government’s proposed tobacco regulations, 16 April 2015

BAT denies it is opposed to all tobacco regulation, but says it reserves the right to ask the courts to intervene where it believes regulations may not comply with the law.

Later this month, BAT is expected to become the world’s biggest listed tobacco firm as it completes its acquisition of the large US tobacco company Reynolds in a $49bn deal, and there are fears over the extent to which big tobacco can financially outmuscle health ministries in poorer nations. A vote on the deal by shareholders of both firms is due to take place next Wednesday, simultaneously in London at BAT and North Carolina at Reynolds.

Professor Peter Odhiambo, a former heart surgeon who is head of the government’s Tobacco Control Board in Kenya, told the Guardian: “BAT has done as much as they can to block us.”

Experts say Africa and southern Asia are urgent new battlegrounds in the global fight against smoking because of demographics and rising prosperity. Despite declining smoking and more controls in some richer countries, it still kills more than seven million people globally every year, according to the WHO, and there are fears the tactics of big tobacco will effectively succeed in “exporting the death and harm” to poorer nations.

There are an estimated 77 million smokers in Africa and those numbers are predicted to rise by nearly 40% from 2010 levels by 2030, which is the largest projected such increase in the world.

In Kenya, BAT has succeeded in delaying regulations to restrict the promotion and sale of cigarettes for 15 years, fighting through every level of the legal system. In February it launched a case in the supreme court that has already halted the imposition of tobacco controls until probably after the country’s general election in August, which are being contested by parliamentarians who have been linked to payments by the multinational company.

Extract – court document

“[A proposal for a new 2% tax on the industry in Kenya] … is arbitrary, capricious and inaccessible … it will have a significant effect on cigarette manufacturers and importers putting at risk further investment and direct and indirect employment opportunities in Kenya.”

A petition by British American Tobacco Kenya to the country’s high court against aspects of the Kenyan government’s proposed tobacco regulations, April 16th 2015

In Uganda, BAT launched legal action against the government in November, arguing that the Tobacco Control Act, which became law in 2015, contravenes the constitution. It is fighting restrictions that are now commonplace in richer countries, including the expansion of health warnings on packets and point-of-sale displays, arguing that they unfairly restrict its trade.

The court actions are brought by BAT’s local affiliates, BAT Kenya and BAT Uganda, but approved at Globe House, the London headquarters of the multinational, which receives most of the profits from the African trade. In its 2016 annual report, BAT outlined the “risk” that “unreasonable litigation” would be brought in to control tobacco around the world. Its response was an “engagement and litigation strategy coordinated and aligned across the Group”.

‘Focus on emerging markets’

At its annual meeting in March, chairman Richard Burrows toasted a “vintage year” for BAT, as profits rose 4% to £5.2bn after investors took their cut – their dividend had increased by 10%. When asked about the legal actions in Africa, he said tobacco was an industry that “should be regulated … but we want to see that regulation is serving the correct interests of the health mission and human mission which should lie behind it”.

Extract – court document

“Your Petitioner alleges and shall demonstrate that the Tobacco Control Act, read as a whole, has the effect of unjustifiably singling out the tobacco industry for discriminative treatment.”

A petition of British American Tobacco Uganda in the constitutional court against the Ugandan government’s Tobacco Control Act

So, “from time to time it’s necessary for us to take legal action to challenge new regulation” which he said was led by “the local board”.

BAT says it is “simply not true that we oppose all tobacco regulation, particularly in developing countries”. Tobacco should be appropriately regulated as a product that has risks to health, it said, but “where there are different interpretations of whether regulations comply with the law, we think it is entirely reasonable to ask the courts to assist in resolving it”. It was opposed to only a handful of the issues in Kenya’s regulations, not the entirety, it said in a statement.

Although most countries in Africa have signed the World Health Organisation (WHO) treaty on tobacco control, none has yet fully implemented the smoking restrictions it endorses.

The WHO predicts that by 2025, smoking rates will go up in 17 of the 30 Africa-region countries from their 2010 level. In some countries a massive hike is expected – in Congo-Brazzaville, from 13.9% to nearly half the population (47.1%) and in Cameroon from 13.7% to 42.7%. In Sierra Leone it will be 41.2% (74% among men) and in Lesotho 36.9%.

In contrast, research showed last year that just 16.9% of adults smoke in the UK; and last month new figures showed UK heart disease deaths had fallen 20% since that country’s indoor smoking ban.

“The tobacco industry is now turning its focus toward emerging markets in sub-Saharan Africa, seeking to exploit the continent’s patchwork tobacco control regulations and limited resources to combat industry marketing advances,” said Dr Emmanuela Gakidou and colleagues at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington in Seattle, publishing an analysis of smoking prevalence around the world in the Lancet in April.

Extract – letter

Uganda’s economy has “benefitted… significantly” from BAT’s tobacco business, employing 200 Ugandans and 1500 extra in the tobacco buying season. “This has helped to alleviate poverty and improve welfare in urban and rural areas …”

Extracts of a letter from Jonathan D’Souza, managing director of BAT Uganda to the chairperson of the Uganda Parliamentary committee on health, 14 April 2014

Africa’s growing numbers of children and young people, and its increasing wealth, represent a huge future market for the tobacco industry. The companies deny targeting children and cannot sell packs smaller than 10, but a new study carried out in Nairobi by the Johns Hopkins school of public health in the US and the Kenya-based Consumer Information Network found vendors selling cigarettes along the routes children take to walk to primary schools.

WHO-congo-smoke

Stalls sell single Dunhill, Embassy, Safari and other BAT cigarette sticks, costing around 4p (5 cents) each, alongside sweets, biscuits and fizzy drinks. The vendors split the packets of 20 manufactured by BAT. “They are targeting children,” said Samuel Ochieng, chief executive of the Consumer Information Network. “They mix cigarettes with candies and sell along the school paths.”

BAT said that its products were for adult smokers only and that it would much prefer that stalls sold whole packets rather than single sticks, “given our investment in the brands and the fact there are clear health warnings on the packs.

“Across the world, we have very strict rules regarding not selling our products to retailers located near schools. BAT Kenya provides support to many of these independent vendors, including providing stalls painted in non-corporate colours, and providing youth smoking prevention and health warnings messages. We also educate vendors to ensure they do not sell tobacco products near schools.”

Links with politicians

The Kenya case, expected to be heard after the elections on 8 August, is seen as critical for the continent. If the government loses, other countries will have less appetite for the long and expensive fight against the wealthy tobacco industry.

BAT has around 70% of the Kenyan market; its Kenyan competitor, Mastermind, has joined in the legal action against the government.

Extract – letter

“If these measures are brought into effect, the economic and social impact will be extremely negative. They could even threaten the continuation of our factory which has operated in Bobo Dioulasso for more than fifty years with more than 210 salaried employees.”

Excerpt from letter from Imperial Tobacco to the prime minister of Burkina Faso, 25 January 2016, concerning new regulations on plain cigarette packaging and large graphic health warnings.

Concerns have been raised about links between politicians and the tobacco companies. “There are allegations of some of them having been bribed in the past,” said Joel Gitali, chief executive of the Kenya Tobacco Control Alliance.

BAT whistleblower Paul Hopkins, who worked in Africa for BAT for 13 years, told a British newspaper he paid bribes on the company’s behalf to the Kenya Revenue Authority for access to information BAT could use against its Kenyan competitor, Mastermind. Hopkins has also alleged links between certain prominent opposition Kenyan politicians and two tobacco companies, BAT Kenya and Mastermind. Hopkins, who says he alerted BAT to the documents before the company made him redundant, claimed BAT Kenya paid bribes to government officials in Burundi, Rwanda and the Comoros Islands to undermine tobacco control regulations. Gitali is concerned about the outcome of the election: “If the opposition takes over government we shall be deeply in the hands of the tobacco companies.”

BAT denies any wrongdoing. A spokesperson said: “We will not tolerate improper conduct in our business anywhere in the world and take any allegations of misconduct extremely seriously. We are investigating, through external legal advisors, allegations of misconduct and are liaising with the Serious Fraud Office and other relevant authorities.”

Extract – letter

“Once the decision to smoke is taken by an adult smoker, the pack provides adult consumers with pertinent information”

British American Tobacco letter to the prime minister of Gabon, 1 January 2012

‘We grow up dreaming we can be one of them’

Tih Ntiabang, regional coordinator for Africa of the Framework Convention Alliance – NGOs that support the WHO treaty – said the tobacco companies had become bolder. “In the past it used to be invisible interference, but today it is so shameful that it is so visible and they are openly opposing public health treaties like the case in Kenya at the moment … Today they boldly go to court to oppose public health policy. Every single government is highly interested in economic growth. They [the tobacco companies] know they have this economic power. The budget of tobacco companies like BAT could be as much as the whole budget of the Africa region.

“Our health systems are not really well organised. Our policy makers can’t see clearly what are the health costs of inaction on tobacco control because our health system is not very good. It puts the tobacco industry at an advantage on public health.”

The sale across the whole of Africa of single cigarette sticks was a serious problem because it enabled children to buy them. “They are extremely affordable. Young teenagers are able to purchase a cigarette. You don’t need £1 for a pack of 20,” he said.

WHO-africa-deaths

BAT has a reputation in Africa as an employer offering steady and well-paid jobs, said Ntiabang, based in Cameroon. “When I was about 10, I was always dreaming I could work for BAT. They have always painted themselves as a responsible company – a dream company to work for. All the staff are well-off. The young people think ‘I want to work for BAT’. They promote a lot of events and make their name appear to young people. We grow up dreaming we can be one of them.”

In Uganda in 2014, BAT managing director, Jonathan D’Souza, sent a 13-page detailed attack on the tobacco control bill, then going through parliament, to the chair of the government’s health committee.

BAT was contracting with 18,000 farmers and paid them 61bn Ugandan shillings for 16.8m kg of tobacco in 2013, said the letter. The economy has “benefited significantly” from BAT Uganda’s investments, it said. “This has helped to alleviate poverty and improve welfare in urban and rural areas,” it says.

Extract – letter

“The draft regulations which you have published deal with a wide range of issues which will have a massive impact not only on the tobacco industry but also on a wider scale on the Namibian economy at large.”

Excerpt from a letter from the general manager of BAT in Namibia to the minister of health and social services, 17 November 2011

BAT Uganda (BATU) agreed tobacco should be regulated while “respecting the informed choices and rights of adults who choose to smoke and the legal rights of a legal industry”. But it cited 11 “areas of concern”, claiming there is no evidence to support a ban on tobacco displays in shops, that large graphic health warnings on packs are ineffective, that proposals on bans on smoking in public places were too broad and that prohibiting smoking under the age of 21 was unreasonable, since at 18 young people are adults and can make up their own mind.

Documents made public by the University of Bath show that BATU had another concern: the ban on the sale of cheap single cigarettes. Adults should be “free to purchase what they can afford”, says an internal leaked paper. BATU also took action against the MP who sponsored the bill. A letter informed him that the company would no longer be contracting with the 709 tobacco farmers in his region. There is evidence that the company also lobbied other MPs with tobacco farmers in their constituencies.

The Tobacco Control Act became law in 2015, and in November last year, BAT sued. Many people choose to smoke, said an affidavit to the court from managing director Dadson Mwaura and it was important to ensure regulation did not lead to “unintended consequences that risk an untaxed and unrestrained illegitimate trade in tobacco products”. BATU’s legal product contributed to the Ugandan economy “in many dimensions”.

The Guardian has seen letters showing that at least six other African governments have faced challenges from the multinational tobacco companies over their attempts to control smoking.

Democratic Republic of Congo: Letter to the president sent in April 2017 by the Fédération des Entreprises du Congo (chamber of commerce) on behalf of the tobacco industry, listing 29 concerns with the proposed tobacco control regulations, which they claim violate the constitution, international agreements and domestic law.

Burkina Faso: Letter sent in January 2016 to the minister of health from Imperial Tobacco, warning that restrictions on labeling and packaging cigarettes risks economic and social damage to the country. Previous letter sent to the prime minister from the US Chambers of Commerce in December 2013 warning that large health warnings and plain packaging could put Burkina Faso in breach of its obligations to the World Trade Organisation.

Ethiopia: Letter sent in February 2015 to the ministers of health and science and technology by Philip Morris International, claiming that the government’s tobacco directive banning trademarks, brands and added ingredients to tobacco breached existing laws and would penalise all consumer retailers.

Togo: Letter to the minister of commerce in June 2012 from Philip Morris International opposing plain packaging, which “risks having damaging consequences on Togo’s economy and business environment”.

Gabon: Letter from BAT arguing that there is no evidence that plain packaging reduces smoking, citing the Deloitte report of 2011, alleging its introduction would put Gabon in breach of trade agreements and promote smuggling.

Namibia: Letter to the minister of health from BAT, warning that planned tobacco controls will have “a massive impact … on the Namibian economy at large”.

Extract – memo

“As a country whose economy heavily relies on exports, Togo can ill afford to anger its international partners by introducing plain packaging.”

Excerpt from memo on plain packaging from chief executive of Philip Morris West Africa to the minister of commerce of Togo, to reiterate its concerns following a meeting, 21 June 2013

Bintou Camara, director of Africa programs at Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, said: “British American Tobacco, Philip Morris International and other multinational tobacco companies have set their sights on Africa as a ‘growth market’ for their deadly products”. Throughout Africa, tobacco companies have tried to intimidate countries from taking effective action to reduce tobacco use, the world’s leading cause of preventable death, he added.

“Governments in Africa should know that they can and should move forward with measures aimed at preventing and reducing tobacco use – and that they do so with the support of the many governments and leaders around the world that have taken strong action to protect public health.”

Cloe Franko, senior international organizer at Corporate Accountability International, said: “In Kenya, as in other parts of the world, the industry has resorted to frivolous litigation, aggressive interference … to thwart, block, and delay lifesaving policies. BAT’s actions are emblematic of a desperate industry grasping to maintain its hold over countries and continue to peddle its deadly product.”

Philip Morris said it is regularly engaged in discussions with governments. “We are approached by or approach public authorities to discuss a range of issues that are important for them and for us, such as taxation, international trade, and tobacco control policies. Participating in discussions and sharing points of view is a basic principle of public policy making and does not stop governments from taking decisions and enacting the laws they deem best.” It said that it supports effective regulation, “including laws banning sales to minors, mandatory health warnings, and advertising restrictions”.

Imperial Tobacco said it sold its brands “where there’s a legitimate and existing demand for tobacco and take the same responsible approach in Africa as we do in any Western territory”. A spokesman said it supported “reasonable, proportionate and evidence-based regulation of tobacco”, including “health warnings that are consistent with global public health messages”. But, it said, Imperial would “continue to make our views known on excessive, unnecessary and often counter-productive regulatory proposals”.

How big tobacco has survived death and taxes

The world’s five major tobacco companies are thriving, profitable and increasing sales, despite many predictions of the industry’s decline

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jul/11/how-big-tobacco-has-survived-death-and-taxes

A casual observer could be forgiven for believing that the tobacco industry – for so long a fixture as permanent as its two main by-products, death and taxes – is itself on its last legs.

In the US, health officials have predicted that smoking rates in America could drop to as low as 5% by 2050, well within the lifetime of someone born today.

Last year, shareholders of UK-based Imperial Tobacco approved a decision to change the company’s century-old name to Imperial Brands, hinting at a move away from traditional cigarettes.

Even globe-straddling colossus Philip Morris International (PMI), owner of brands including Marlboro, has set its stall out for a “smoke-free” future, where nicotine addicts get their fix from vaping and other non-tobacco products.

Yet, for all of these predictions, one thing has remained unchanged: Big Tobacco is thriving, profitable and increasing its sales.

Excluding China, where the market is monopolised by the state, five major companies dominate the global tobacco trade – Philip Morris International (PMI), British American Tobacco, Japan Tobacco, Imperial Brands and Altria (the former US assets of PMI).

Between them in 2016, they shipped 2.27tn cigarettes, more than 300 for every man, woman and child on the planet, racking up combined sales of $150bn (£115bn). Their combined profits reached $35bn (£27bn), allowing investors in those companies to receive dividends of $19bn (£14.5bn).

Of these giants, one of the most powerful is British American Tobacco (BAT), the London-based firm that can trace its history back to 1902.

Run from Globe House, its headquarters next to the Thames river, BAT sells its brands in 200 countries and is market leader in 55 of them.

Far from looking to a future beyond tobacco, BAT is doing perfectly well as it stands.

At its annual meeting in March, chairman Richard Burrows toasted a “vintage year”, as profits rose to £5.2bn ($6.7bn) allowing the company’s shareholders to take a dividend worth an additional 10%.

The rewards were so great because BAT’s sales show no signs of the industry’s much-vaunted decline. The company sold 665bn cigarettes in 2016, nearly 100 for every human on earth and 2bn more than it sold the year before.

Cigarette sales among its so-called Global Drive Brands – Dunhill, Kent, Lucky Strike, Pall Mall and Rothmans – jumped 7% to 346bn.

In the section of its accounts that details non-cigarette sales, which the company terms “next generation products”, there is nothing to see.

The numbers are so small that they are considered immaterial to its financial results and do not need to be disclosed under stock market rules.

Yet the company’s traditional business continues to generate big headlines and bigger numbers. By the end of the year, BAT is likely to have completed a landmark $49bn deal to buy the 57.8% of US tobacco giant Reynolds American that it does not already own. A simultaneous shareholder vote next Wednesday by both firms is expected to agree the deal at Reynolds HQ in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and BAT in London.

If US tobacco sales really are set to fall off a cliff, that would be a monumental strategic misstep.

But while the percentage of Americans who smoke is on the wane, the US remains a market with huge potential.

That’s because the population is rising, meaning that even as smoking rates decline in percentage terms, the actual number of smokers is relatively static at about 45 million people.

US cigarettes are also relatively cheap compared with prices in the UK, leaving some scope for the company to raise prices without losing customers.

Reynolds and BAT will also look to the future by pooling research on smokeless products, hoping to capture that growing market, though that won’t be the big money-spinner any time soon.

And then there is the developing world, where the rate at which governments and public opinion are turning against tobacco differ dramatically from wealthier economies.

tob-increases

A ‘defensive’ stock

BAT increased its revenues in every region bar Asia-Pacific last year, with the developing world doing more than its share of the heavy lifting.

Among the “key markets” listed in its annual report are Indonesia and Egypt – and for good reason.

The World Health Organisation projects smoking rates in Indonesia to increase by 2025, with the number of smokers growing from 73m to 97m based on current trends.

Egypt is another key market where smoking rates are projected to grow, with up to 21m Egyptians forecast to be smokers by 2025, compared to 14m in 2015.

One only has to look at BAT’s roster of investors for evidence of the confidence that well-informed institutions with deep pockets have in the future of cigarettes, even if that future is less bright in the West.

tob-deaths

It’s a list that features nearly every major investment company in the world, testament to the safe bet that tobacco giants such as BAT offer to investors.

Top of the share register is BlackRock, the all-powerful asset manager that has a stake in nearly every major listed company in the world, managing investors’ funds of approximately $5.4tn, more than the economy of Japan.

Some way further down the list is Woodford Investment Management, run by Neil Woodford, a figure held in awe in London for his uncanny ability to make money.

He famously invests a huge chunk of his portfolio in tobacco, explaining that he is not paid to make moral judgments but to make money for clients.

Tobacco is attractive to investors – including councils in the UK – because it is seen as a “defensive” stock, in other words a good place to invest money that you are not prepared to lose.

The shares rarely decline in value even when times are tough and also deliver a steady income from annual dividends.

The huge rewards on offer for investors mean that those who manage the great behemoths of tobacco are also handsomely rewarded.

BAT chief executive Nicandro Durante is no exception. He was handed a package of cash and shares worth $10m (£7.6m) last year, taking his earnings over six years to a cool $44m (£34m).

When fellow directors are included, the 14-strong BAT boardroom enjoyed a combined $18m (£14m) payday in 2016.

There are other perks. Durante gets free tax advice from the company, a personal driver and security for his homes, in London and Brazil.

Both executives and non-executives also have access to a walk-in GP clinic near BAT’s headquarters at Globe House in London, enjoying the benefits of a National Health Service that has been estimated to spend up to $6.5bn (£5bn) a year on smoking-related illnesses.

BAT’s board earn their corn as much for their network of connections as they do for their hard work.

Burrows is a former governor of Bank of Ireland, while senior independent director Kieran Poynter is a managing partner of Big Four accountancy PricewaterhouseCoopers and previously advised the UK’s Treasury.

Its non-executive directors boast a string of similar appointments at multinational companies. Savio Kwan, for instance, was chief operating officer of China’s largest internet business, Alibaba.

tob-deaths-tot

Ann Godbehere ran the finances of Northern Rock after its bailout and also serves on the boards of mining giant Rio Tinto, Swiss bank UBS and insurer Prudential.

Nor does the company’s network of influence end there.

While it does not donate money directly to British political parties, it does funnel cash to influential right-leaning thinktank the Institute of Economic Affairs.

BAT gives the IEA around $52,000 (£40,000) a year, a sum equivalent to about 5% what the organisation pays its staff, some of whom appear frequently in the media to criticise tobacco control legislation such as plain packaging.

Chief among those staff is director-general Mark Littlewood, a former press spokesman for the Liberal Democrats and one-time adviser to David Cameron.

Littlewood has been a vocal critic of tobacco control legislation such as the ban on smoking in pubs, as well as plain packaging.

The IEA has also received funding from Philip Morris International and Japan Tobacco International.

The BAT bosses

Nicandro Durante – chief executive

Nicandro Durante joined Brazilian subsidiary Souza Cruz in 1981, and rose through the ranks over three decades until he was appointed chief executive in 2011.

He had impressed the company’s senior management during a two-year stint as regional director for Africa and the Middle East, key areas of future growth for tobacco companies facing up to declining smoking rates in more developed economies.

Born to Italian parents in 1956 in Sao Paulo, he played football for the city’s Corinthians team in his teens before going into business.

Married with two children, Durante stopped smoking cigarettes in favour of cigars, but has no qualms about tobacco, which he described as a “very ethical” industry in a 2012 interview with the Financial Times.

In 2015, he fielded allegations from a former employee in Kenya that BAT bribed officials for various purposes, including the undermining of tobacco control laws.

BAT denies any wrongdoing. A spokesperson said: “We will not tolerate improper conduct in our business anywhere in the world and take any allegations of misconduct extremely seriously. We are investigating, through external legal advisors, allegations of misconduct and are liaising with the Serious Fraud Office and other relevant authorities.”

In 2016, Durante was handed a package of cash and shares worth $10m (£7.6m), taking his earnings over the past six years to a cool ($44m) £34m.

Richard Burrows – chairman

Addressing BAT’s shareholders earlier in 2017, Burrows toasted a “vintage year”, in which the company shrugged off bribery allegations in late 2015 to record rising profits.

Some investors were less keen on Burrows when he was named chairman in 2009.

Burrows had resigned as governor of Bank of Ireland, leaving the lender in dire straits, with big losses and mounting debt threatening its very survival.

Tens of thousands of the bank’s mortgage customers were plunged into negative equity and the lender eventually needed a state bailout that enraged many Irish people.

As the bosses of rival lenders faced public opprobrium for their stewardship of the country’s banking sector, Burrows got out just in time, landing the chairmanship of BAT in 2010.

But BAT wasn’t concerned by his record in banking, looking instead to his 22 years with Irish Distillers, during which time he was credited with turning Jameson whiskey into an internationally-recognised brand.

The Dubliner, 71, is a non-smoker who is married with four children and enjoys sailing and rugby.

He is also chairman of investment company Craven House Capital, whose assets includes beachfront land in Brazil. He is a non-executive director of Rentokil and Carlsberg.

Kieran Poynter – senior independent director

After a near 40-year career with global accounting giant PwC, which put him among the ranks of the UK’s best-paid accountants, Kieran Poynter joined BAT’s board as senior independent director.

He brought with him valuable connections, having served as an adviser to former UK chancellor of the exchequer Alistair Darling.

Poynter, a Chelsea FC season ticket holder, is a former director of the salubrious Royal Automobile Club, the gentleman’s club on London’s Pall Mall.

He also sits on the board of F&C Asset Management and IAG, the parent company of British Airways.

Ben Stevens – finance director

Ben Stevens looks after BAT’s money, and has spoken about how the company is growing market share and looking for acquisitions in Asia and North Africa.

Part of his role is trying to convince governments not to raise excise duty on cigarettes too quickly, according to an interview he gave with financialdirector.co.uk.

In the same interview, he referred to the need to have a “thick skin” because of the number of people “bashing tobacco companies”.

Stevens gave up smoking nearly 30 years ago, two years before joining the company. But said in 2013 that profits would come from “combustible tobacco” for the near future.

Tobacco: a deadly business – about this series

This series is focused on the damage caused by the tobacco industry, which continues to endanger the lives of millions of the world’s most vulnerable people

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jul/11/tobacco-a-deadly-business-about-this-series

This content is funded by support provided, in part, by Vital Strategies with funding by Bloomberg Philanthropies. Content is editorially independent and its purpose is to shine a light on both the tobacco industry and the world’s most vulnerable populations, who disproportionately bear the brunt of the global health crisis resulting from tobacco consumption.

Although tobacco consumption remains one of the world’s greatest health threats, media coverage has decreased as the sense of urgency to address the issue has waned. This investigative reporting series seeks to renew the focus on tobacco consumption and deaths worldwide, contextualised through the duel lenses of global inequality and health.

All our journalism follows GNM’s published editorial code. The Guardian is committed to open journalism, recognising that the best understanding of the world is achieved when we collaborate, share knowledge, encourage debate, welcome challenge and harness the expertise of specialists and their communities.

Unless otherwise stated, all statements and materials posted on the website, including any statements regarding specific legislation, reflect the views of the individual contributors and not those of Vital Strategies and/or Bloomberg Philanthropies.

“Stop Smoking, Save Lives”

Tobacco in various forms has proved beyond all reasonable doubt to be a killing machine. Despite the information available, the Tobacco Industry continues to succeed by using manipulative tactics to attract both the young and the old.

http://www.businessghana.com/site/news/general/146769/%E2%80%9CStop-Smoking%2C-Save-Lives%E2%80%9D

31st May is World No – Tobacco Day and was used to raise awareness on the harmful effects of tobacco use. The war on curbing smoking for instance continues but globally we are a far cry from winning. The theme for this year is “Tobacco, a threat to development”.

Smoking harms almost every organ of the body and causes ill health. Unfortunately non-smokers who inhale the fumes (passive smoker) are also at risk of the many disease conditions caused by tobacco. Do not be deceived by those who claim that Shisha is a safer alternative. It may actually be more disastrous since several other additives are mixed with the tobacco. Some people even share the pipes bringing into play several other contact diseases.

Tobacco use in various forms puts a strain on many economies as money is channeled into taking care of many illnesses that this killing machine may have caused. The worst news is that many of these people eventually die prematurely or are in no position to contribute actively to the work force.

Growing the plants also requires the use of a lot of pesticides and fertilisers that also end up harming the environment. Whichever way you look at it, messing up with tobacco is a death sentence and it does it slowly causing you pain and raining poverty on you.

STAGGERING FACTS

Secondhand Smoke and Death

This causes an extremely high number of deaths from lung cancer and heart disease so do not look on passively and inhale smoke from someone else

Premature Deaths

The life expectancy of those who smoke cigarette is at least 10 years less than a non-smoker

Quitting smoking before age 40 reduces the risk of dying from smoking-related diseases by about 90%

Do not deceive yourself and start hoping to quit on your fortieth birthday.

Increased risk for death among men and women

There is an increased risk of death from lung diseases such as bronchitis, emphysema, cancer of the lungs, trachea, bronchus

Death from cardiovascular (heart and blood vessel) disease such as a stroke is also very high among both males and females.

Cancers

Virtually no organ in the body is spared; bladder, stomach, oesophagus, pancreas. The list is long and essentially if you can remember a part of the body then it is likely smoking can cause cancer there.

Oral Care

Tobacco surely affects teeth and gum and in addition to discolouration of teeth it may also lead to teeth loss

Fertility and Childbirth

Getting pregnant and carrying the baby to term is a challenge

Affects a man’s sperm and may lead to sterility

Babies may be born before term or are born with very low birthweight exposing them to other disease conditions

Lifestyle Diseases

The risk of Type II Diabetes is high and also smoking makes it difficult to control the condition

It increases risk of high blood pressure and makes its control difficult.

It thickens the walls of blood vessels and narrows their lumen making it difficult for blood to blood and increasing the pressure against the walls of the blood vessel.

We all need to play a role to stop the harmful effects of tobacco use; cigarette smoking, pipe smoking, huffing and puffing on Shisha is not fashionable. It does not make you look “cool” and even if you do not smoke yet fail to advise those you mingle with to stop, you will also be at risk of several diseases.

AS ALWAYS LAUGH OFTEN, WALK AND PRAY EVERYDAY AND REMEMBER IT’S A PRICELESS GIFT TO KNOW YOUR NUMBERS (blood sugar, blood pressure, blood cholesterol, BMI)

Dr. Kojo Cobba Essel

Health Essentials/St Andrews Clinic

(www.healthclubsgh.com)

Dr Essel is a medical doctor, holds an MBA and is ISSA certified in exercise therapy and fitness nutrition.

Thought for the week – “prevention is certainly better than cure BUT when you fall ill seek a cure immediately instead of holding unto preventive measures only.”

References:

www.who.int/tobaco/wntd
CDC – Health Effects of Cigarette Smoking

World No Tobacco Day and Islam’s Position On Smoking, By Murthada Gusau

Servants of Allah! Since smoking became known to Muslims, all of the great scholars who have the capability of Ijtihad (deriving verdicts in new situations) agree to its prohibition. Thus, there is no value for baseless opinions, conflicting with this, provided by self-proclaimed lesser scholars.

http://opinion.premiumtimesng.com/2017/06/02/world-no-tobacco-day-and-islams-position-on-smoking-by-murthada-gusau/

In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful

Verily, all praise is for Allah, we seek His help and His forgiveness. We seek refuge with Allah from the evil of our own souls and from our bad deeds. Whomsoever Allah guides will never be led astray, and whomsoever Allah leaves astray, no one can guide. I bear witness that there is no god but Allah; He is alone without any partner and I bear witness that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger.

“O you who believe! Fear Allah as He should be feared, and die not except in a state of Islam (as Muslims) with complete submission to Allah.” [Surah Ali Imran, 3:102]

“O mankind! Be dutiful to your Lord, Who created you from a single person, and from him He created his wife, and from them both He created many men and women, and fear Allah through Whom you demand your mutual (rights), and (do not cut the relations of) the wombs (kinship) Surely, Allah is Ever an All-Watcher over you.” [Surah al-Nisa’, 4:1]

“O you who believe! Keep your duty to Allah and fear Him, and speak (always) the truth. He will direct you to do righteous good deeds and will forgive you your sins. And whosoever obeys Allah and His Messenger (Pbuh) he has indeed achieved a great achievement (i.e. he will be saved from the Hellfire and made to enter Paradise).” [Surah al-Ahzab, 33:70-71]

As to what proceeds:

Verily the best of speech is the Book of Allah and the best of guidance is the guidance of Muhammad (Pbuh). The worst of affairs are the newly-invented affairs in the religion and every newly invented affair in the religion is an innovation and every innovation is misguidance and all misguidance is in the hellfire.

As to what proceeds:

Servants of Allah! Every year, on May 31, the World Health Organisation and it’s partners mark World No Tobacco Day (WNTD), highlighting the health and additional risks associated with tobacco use, and advocating for effective policies to reduce tobacco consumption.

The theme for World No Tobacco Day 2017 was “Tobacco – a threat to development.” But sadly, the world forgot or refuses to recognise that to protect the human life and health, Islam prohibited tobacco/cigarettes smoking 1438 years ago.

My people! As the world marked this year’s World No Tobacco Day, reports from the World Health Organisation (WHO) stated that Tobacco use kills more than seven million people annually and costs over $1.4 trillion in healthcare expenditure and lost productivity.

Brothers and Sisters! Tobacco was discovered by Spanish sailors on American shores at about 1500 CE (900 AH). Since its discovery, the epidemic of smoking has continued to spread all over the world. In our times, one seldom finds a house not afflicted by it. As early as the Seventeenth Century, the European countries realised the dangers of smoking and fought against it. Laws were ordained in England, Russia, Denmark, Sweden, Austria, and other countries, prohibiting smoking and punishing violators.

Here in Nigeria, it’s reported that the present Nigerian Health Minister, Mr. Isaac Adewole, has announced nine rules and regulations in the Nigeria Tobacco Control Act that would be implemented by the federal government.

And we must thank the former president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Mr. Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan for signing into law The National Tobacco Control Act in 2015.

Health minister, Mr. Isaac Adewole, a Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, was reported to have said that the implementation of the tobacco control Act had been slow because its regulations require the further approval of the National Assembly.

Dear Brothers and Sisters! Nowadays, the Western countries continue their attempts to protect their people from the harms of smoking. They employ the means of the media, ordain laws and regulations, and apply other methods to discourage people from smoking. Because of that, the rate of smokers has declined to a certain degree in those countries.

Servants of Allah! Smoking was introduced to the Muslim countries by the Europeans around 1000 AH. Its spread among the Muslims was similar to that in the West. The unfortunate fact, however, is that in Muslim countries, no similar concrete measures were exerted to protect the people from it. To the contrary, the media continues to advertise smoking and encourage people to use cigarettes. This has caused the epidemic of smoking to continue to spread in those countries to such an extent that it has become hard to control. Smoking has become the rule, and abstaining from it the exception. Often, people look with astonishment and disdain at persons who decline when cigarettes are offered to them.

Today, in some places, offering cigarettes to guests has become among the first rules of hospitality. Anyone who does not offer these to his guests or insist on them smoking would be violating the ethics of hospitality and generosity!

Furthermore, some of those who pretend to represent the Religion are among the worst addicts to smoking. When they are reproached or reminded of their vice, they respond by providing weak excuses to justify this in the name of Islam. They slyly remark that there is no clear Nass (text) prohibiting smoking. Therefore, they conclude, smoking is not prohibited, but is only makruh (disliked), which is a lie. By this, they provide a poor excuse for the ignorant, and establish a very bad example for others.

Such statements have influenced many Muslims, causing them to fall into the snares of addiction to smoking. This is observed all over the world. A striking example is that all American airlines now prohibit smoking, even on most international flights; on the other hand, for some Muslim airlines, sometime one travels in a state of near-suffocation, even on short trips, because of the high number of smokers.

Thus, it becomes incumbent to put together a sermon which provides evidence concerning the ruling of smoking in Islam. I hope that this will benefit our Muslim brothers and sisters; and I ask Allah to accept it from me as a sincere deed for His pleasure.

My respected people! Smoking refers to the action of lighting a cigarette, a pipe, a cigar, a water pipe, or any other object made from tobacco or materials of similar effects. The object is then sucked on with the lips to extract smoke. This smoke is inhaled into the chest and then exhaled from the nose and mouth as a thick white smoke.

“Smoking” is now used to refer to the action of producing this smoke in English, Arabic, and other languages.

Servants of Allah! There are many reasons, any one of which is sufficient to rule smoking as prohibited. Most importantly, it is harmful in numerous ways. It is harmful to the religion, health, environment, family, brotherhood and social relations, property, etc. The following sections will briefly outline some of its harms and evils.

Smoking spoils a person’s acts of worship and reduces their rewards. For instance, it spoils the prayer, which is the pillar of Religion. Allah’s Messenger (Pbuh) said:

“Whoever eats garlic or onion, let him avoid us and our mosque, and stay in his home. The angels are surely hurt by things that hurt the human beings.” (Buhari and Muslim from Jabir and other Companions)

Those with clean and undefiled fitrah (nature) have no doubt that the smell emanating from the mouth of a smoker is worse and more foul than that from the mouth of one who ate garlic or onion. Thus, a smoker is in between two options, either to harm the praying people and the angels with his foul smell, or to miss the prayer in congregation (Jama’ah).

Smoking also spoils fasting. Fasting is very hard for the smoker. As soon as the day is over, he hastens to break his fast on an evil cigarette, instead of sweet dates or pure water. Even if he fasts through the month of Ramadan, a smoker is reluctant to fast on other days. Thus he loses the great reward of those who fast even one day in Allah’s way.

No one can deny the harm of smoking to the human body. The medical evidence for this is well established and overwhelming. Because of this, the law in the United States and many other countries requires the inclusion of warnings on any advertisement pertaining to smoking.

Smoking contains poisonous materials, such as nicotine, tar, carbon monoxide, arsenic, benzopyrene, etc., that the smoker swallows in small proportions. Their harm accumulates with time to result in a gradual killing of the human organs and tissues.

The hazards of smoking to the health are hard to enumerate. Cancer, tuberculosis, heart attacks, asthma, coughing, premature birth, infertility, infections in the digestive system, high blood pressure, nervousness, mouth and teeth diseases, etc., are among the many health hazards that have been strongly linked to smoking.

These diseases may not appear all at once, however a smoker is most likely to suffer from some of them at some point sooner than later, and his suffering increases as he grows older. Furthermore, statistics have established that the lifespan of smokers are, on the average, ten years less than those of other people.

This is sufficient reason to prohibit smoking. Islam prohibits any action that causes harm to oneself or to other people. Allah says:

“Do not kill yourselves, Allah is indeed merciful to you.” (Surah An-Nisa’, 4:29)

And He says:

“Do not cast yourselves, with your own hands, into destruction.” (Surah Al-Baqara, 2:195)

And the Messenger of Allah (Pbuh) says:

“No harm may be inflicted on oneself or others.” (Ahmad and Ibn Majah from Ibn Abbas and Ubadah, and authenticated by Albani)

And he says:

“The feet of a human being will not depart, on the day of Judgement, from his standing before his Lord, until he is questioned about five things: his lifetime – how did he pass it, his youth – how did he used it, his wealth – where did he earn it and how did he spend it, and how did he follow what he knew.” (At-Tirmidhi and others from Ibn Mas’ud and authenticated by Albani)

And:

“Whoever consumes poison, killing himself with it, then he will be consuming his poison in the hellfire, and he will abide in it permanently and eternally.” (Bukhari and Muslim from Jabir)

My people! Smoking is also harmful to the human mind and reason. An obvious demonstration of this is that one who is addicted to it passes through periods of severe craving, making it hard for him to think, concentrate, solve a problem, or do any important matter, until he smokes.

When one smokes, his muscles slacken, and he passes through a brief period of delirium that curtains thought. His digestive system is also affected, causing him frequent nervousness and trembling of the hands. He passes through periods of excitability, irritation, and insomnia.

Thus, instead of being Allah’s slave, a smoker becomes a slave to his cigarette. He develops a weak control of his sense and reason. The faculty of reason, clear and unobstructed, is one of Allah’s great bounties and gifts in people. He praised it in numerous places of the Qur’an; and He called on people to use it to see the truth and obey Him in a better way. Allah wants of the believer to be strong and capable of controlling the reigns of his desires. He said:

“Allah wants to let you into His mercy, whereas those who follow the desires want you to drift far away (from the right path).” (Surah An-Nisa’, 4:27)

Also, a smoker emits his poison in the faces of his companions, wife, children, and the environment. It is well established that second-hand smoke is almost as dangerous as the first-hand one. Thus, whether they like it or not, a smoker’s associates are forced to inhale smoke and become smokers as well.

In addition to the poisons normally carried in smoke, if a smoker has a contagious disease, such as tuberculosis or influenza, his exhaled smoke and coughing carry the disease to those around him.

Furthermore, a smoker irritates people by the foul smell and poisonous nature of his smoking. If they suffer from asthma or allergies, they are forced to move away from his vicinity. The Prophet (Pbuh) said:

“Anyone who believes in Allah and the Last Day should not hurt his neighbour.” (Al-Bukhari)

Thus, smoking constitutes a definite harm to other people; this is prohibited, as was indicated in the hadith cited earlier.

Also, a smoker is certainly a bad companion to sit with, as is depicted in the following hadith:

“Verily, the example of a good companion and a bad one is like that of a perfume merchant and a blacksmith: As for the perfume merchant, he would either grant you (some perfume), or you would buy (some perfume) from him, or (in the least) you would get a good smell from him. And as for the blower of the bellows (iron smith), you would either get a foul odour from him, or he would burn your clothes.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

Brothers and Sisters! A smoker wastes his wealth on that which harms and has no benefit; he will be asked about his wealth and how he spent it, as has been cited in the hadith earlier. His wealth belongs to Allah, so how would he dare to waste it in disobedience to Him? Allah says:

“And do not entrust to the imprudent ones the possessions that Allah has placed in your charge…” (Surah An-Nisa’, 4:5)

And He says:

“And do not waste (your resources) extravagantly. Indeed the Squanderers are the brethren of the devils.” (Surah Al-Isra’, 17:26-27)

And the Prophet (Pbuh) said:

“Allah hates for you three things: gossiping, begging, and wasting money.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

Furthermore, there are numerous cases of burnt carpets, furniture, vehicles, and even complete houses and establishments that have resulted from this disastrous vice.

Moreover, smoking is a form of moral decadence. It is most spread among low-class immoral people. It reflects the blind imitation of the non-Muslims. It is mostly consumed in bars, discos, casinos, and other places of sin. A smoker may beg or steal if he does not have the money to buy cigarettes. He is ill-mannered with his friends and family, especially when he misses taking his necessary “dose” at the usual time.

Smoking involves the consumption of an evil substance (khabith). It has a foul smell, foul taste, and is harmful to the body. This is sufficient to prohibit it, because Allah says:

“(The Prophet) who will enjoin upon them the doing of what is right, forbid them the doing of what is wrong, make lawful to them the good things of life, prohibit for them the evil things, and lift from them their burdens and the shackles that were (previously) upon them.” (Surah Al-‘Araf, 7:157)

A smoker inhales the smoke that does not give him any nourishment. This is similar to the action of the people of the Hell fire who eat harmful thorny plants. Allah says:
“No food will be there for them but a poisonous thorny plant, which will neither nourish them nor still their hunger.” (Surah Al-Ghashiya, 88:6-7)

A smoker, whether he likes it or not, makes of himself an example for his children and others to follow. He leads them to commit this evil. Actions sometimes have a stronger effect than words. Thus, even if he advises them or forbids them from smoking, his partaking in it provides them with a strong excuse to do so too.

The problem is worse when the smoker is of known piety or knowledge. In such case, his harm becomes more emphasised, because more people take him as a guide and example, and are thus led astray by him. This multiplies his sins and increases his burden.

Also, the majority of good people avoid smoking and stay away from smokers. Therefore, a smoker is forced to stay away from them – at least while he smokes. He puts himself in a selective exile, creating a spiritual distance and hostility between him and good people, and a closeness to evil people. The effects of this become more apparent and acute with time.

Note that this applies equally to any sin that a person commits, small or big.

A smoker despises himself, because he feels that a little cigarette is controlling him. Realising his weakness before desires, this creates in him a feeling of defeat in the face of hardships.

Servants of Allah! Since smoking became known to Muslims, all of the great scholars who have the capability of Ijtihad (deriving verdicts in new situations) agree to its prohibition. Thus, there is no value for baseless opinions, conflicting with this, provided by self-proclaimed lesser scholars.

Brothers and Sisters! In discussing the subject of the prohibition of smoking, there are some important warnings that need to be mentioned:

1. As indicated before, the prohibition of smoking is not restricted to cigarettes, but applies as well to other objects that have similar effects such as cigars, pipes, water-pipes, chewing tobacco or sniffing tobacco, etc.

2. The reasons mentioned above for prohibiting smoking apply as well, and more strongly, to various types of drugs and hashish such as marijuana. These materials have additional problems such as causing drunkenness, death, madness, etc.

3. The prohibition of smoking is not restricted to consuming it, but applies as well to offering it to people, sitting with those who are smoking, or selling it. All of this involves helping people commit sins, which is prohibited, as Allah says:

“Help one another in righteousness and piety, and do not help one another in sinning and transgression. And fear and revere Allah; verily, Allah is severe in punishment.” (Surah Al-Ma’idah, 5:2)

Also, Allah’s Messenger (Pbuh) said:

“Indeed when Allah prohibits something, he prohibits eating its price (i.e. its money).” (Ahmad and Abu Dawud from Ibn Abbas, authenticated by Albani)

My people! Only few of those addicted to smoking are able to stop it. The reasons for this are many, among which are the following:

1. The addictive nature of the poisonous substances contained in it;

2. Smokers are not totally convinced of its prohibition;

3. They do not have a strong determination to refrain from it;

The following are some suggestions to help a person to stop smoking:

1. Rely on Allah sincerely, with full determination not to return to smoking, in compliance with Allah’s command:

“When you decide on a certain course of action, place your trust in Allah.” (Surah Ali-Imran, 3:159)

2. Stop immediately, instead of claiming it is best to do it gradually. The gradual approach is the way of one who does not trust his determination and the will power that Allah has granted him. Let the example be taken from the Sahabah (Companions) who, as soon as Allah’s command reached them regarding alcohol:

“Will you not then desist?” (Surah Al-Ma’idah, 5:91)

They immediately poured out all the alcohol that they had and said, “We desist our Lord, we desist!” They did this despite the fact that alcohol has a greater addictive power over those who drink it.

3. Avoid the bad company of smokers and smoking environments that are full with the smell of smoke;

4. Change your food diet by abstaining from food and drinks that entice the craving for smoke such as spices, meat, tea, and coffee; and eat a lot of vegetables and fruits;

5. Use medically tested and established procedures to help stop smoking, as directed by physicians, such as nicotine patches, nicotine gum, etc.;

6. Expel the secret whispers of Shaytan (Satan) who continuously dictates to the human being that he is weak and incapable of refraining from sinning, as Allah says:

“It is but Satan who instills (into you) fear of his allies; so do not fear them, but fear Me if you are (truly) believers…” (Surah Ali-Imran, 3:175)

And:

“Fight then against the allies of Satan; indeed, Satan’s guile is weak…” (Surah An-Nisa’, 4:76)

Brothers and Sisters! Please, for more information about the prohibition of tobacco/cigarette, check out the following important books:

1. The Ruling of Smoking, by Shaykh Muhammad bin Ibrahim (rahimahullah);

2. The Ruling of Smoking, by Shaykh Abdur-Rahman Bin Nasir as-Sa’adi (rahimahullah);

3. The Ruling of Smoking, by Shaykh Abdul-Aziz Bin Abdullah Bin Baz (rahimahullah);

4. The Ruling of Smoking, by Shaykh Muhammad Bin Salih al-Uthaymin (rahimahullah);

5. Hukmul lslami fit-Tadkhin, by Shaykh Muhammad Jamil Zainu;

6. Hukmud Dini fil-Lihyati wat-Tadkhin, by Shaykh Hasan al-Halabi;

7. Smoking and Its Effects on Health, by Dr. Muhammad Ali al-Barr;

8. The Smoke of the Gods: A Social History of Tobacco, by Eric Burns Temple University Press, 2007;

9. Unfiltered: Conflicts over Tobacco Policy and Public Health, by Eric A. Feldman; Ronald Bayer Harvard University Press, 2004;

10. How Tobacco Smoke Causes Disease: The Biology and Behavioural Basis for Smoking-Attributable Disease: A Report of the Surgeon General, by U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services. United States Public Health Service. Office of the Surgeon General, 2010;

11. The Health Consequences of Smoking – 50 Years of Progress: A Report of the Surgeon General“, by Office of the Surgeon General United States. Public Health Service. Office of the Surgeon General, 2014;

12. At What Cost? The Economic Impact of Tobacco Use on National Health Systems, Societies and Individuals : A Summary of Methods and Findings, by The World Bank International Development Research Centre, 2003;

13. “Smoking Prevalence in the United States: Differences across Socioeconomic Groups”, by Goel, Rajeev K, Journal of Economics and Finance, Vol. 32, No. 2, April 2008.

14. “Risk Beliefs and Smoking Behaviour”, by Viscusi, W. Kip; Hakes, Jahn K, Economic Inquiry, Vol. 46, No. 1, January 2008;

15. Regulating Tobacco, by Robert L. Rabin; Stephen D. Sugarman; Oxford University Press, 2001;

16. “Cigarette Smoking among Adolescents with Alcohol and Other Drug Use Problems”, by Myers, Mark G.; Kelly, John F, Alcohol Research, Vol. 29, No. 3, Fall 2006;

17. Peddling Poison: The Tobacco Industry and Kids, by Clete Snell; Praeger, 2005;

18. Smoking Prevention: The Impact of Shock and Sap Appeal, by Nickols-Richardson, Sharon M, Journal of Family and Consumer Sciences, Vol. 94, No. 4, November 2002;

19. :The Food and Drug Administration Kicks the Habit-The FDA’s New Role in Regulation of Tobacco Products”, by Yevtukhova, Olga, American Journal of Law & Medicine, Vol. 35, No. 4, October 1, 2009;

20. “Tobacco Abuse in Pregnancy”, by Oliver, Robert J. Md, PhD, Journal of Prenatal & Perinatal Psychology & Health, Vol. 17, No. 2, Winter 2002.

21. Smoking and the Workplace: Issues and Answers for Human Resources Professionals. Contributors: William M. Timmins Clark Brighton Timmins; Quorum Books, 1989;

22. Smoking, Health, and Personality. Contributors: H. J. Eysenck; Basic Books, 1965;

23. The Education-Drug Use Connection: How Successes and Failures in School Relate to Adolescent Smoking, Drinking, Drug Use, and Delinquency. Contributors: Jerald G. Bachman, Patrick M. O’Malley, John E. Schulenberg, Lloyd D. Johnston, Peter Freedman, Doan Emily E. Messersmith; L. Erlbaum Associates, 2008;

24. Theory and Practice of Excise Taxation: Smoking, Drinking, Gambling, Polluting, and Driving. Contributors: Sijbren Cnossen; Oxford University Press, 2005;

25. Smoking, Drinking, and Drug Use in Young Adulthood: The Impacts of New Freedoms and New Responsibilities. Contributors: Jerald G. Bachman, Katherine N. Wadsworth, Patrick M. O’Malley, Lloyd D. Johnston, John E. Schulenberg; Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1997.

Lastly, I ask, Allah to give us the ability to restrain our desires and to willingly submit ourselves to His will.

Oh Allah, the Almighty, make our country Nigeria safe and the other Muslim countries in general, Oh Lord of the universe, jinn and mankind.

Oh Allah, protect our safety, our Iman and our peace in our native lands and rectify those placed in authority over our affairs (our leaders), and don’t hold us to account for that which the foolish amongst us have done, and protect us from trials, the apparent and hidden.

Oh Allah, show us the truth for the truth and help us to follow it, and show us the falsehood for falsehood and help us to stay away from it, and make Iman most beloved to us and beautify it in our hearts, and make disbelief, lewdness and rebellion most hated to us and make us from those who are guided.

Oh Allah, rectify all our leaders, guide them to that which is good for themselves and to that which is good for us. Oh Allah make them a means for our safety, and make them a means for our word (unity) to be one, and make them a cause for our coming together, Yaa Al-Hayyu (Oh The Ever Living, The One who cannot die), Yaa Al-Qayyum (The Self Sustainer), Yaa Saami’ (The Hearer) of the supplication.

Oh Allah, safeguard our country. Oh Allah, bring ease to the Nigerians from that which they face from sufferings. Oh Allah, give us immediate ease. Oh Allah, give us victory with a happy outcome. Oh Allah make ease for the Nigerians from every difficulty and from every suffering, Oh Hearer of the supplication, Oh Reliever from every distress, Oh answerer of the supplication, Oh Helper of the grieving, Oh ever living, Self Sustaining, Oh Hearer of the supplication, Oh Owner of Loftiness and Nobility!

I ask Allah to assist us in living by the Quran and Sunnah. I pray that He lets us recognise the truth for what it is and helps us to follow it, and that He lets us see falsehood for what it is and helps us to avoid it.

O Allah! Guide us and protect us from the causes of ignorance and destruction! Save us from the defects of ourselves! Cause the last of our deeds to be the best and most righteous! And forgive all of us.

Oh Allah! The Sustainer of Mankind! Remove the illness from our President Muhammadu Buhari, cure his disease. You are the One Who cures. There is no cure except Your cure. Grant him a cure that leaves no illness.

I ask Allah, the Mighty, the Lord of the Mighty Throne, to cure President Muhammadu Buhari.

Oh Allah! Our Lord and Sustainer! Grant us good in this world and good in the Hereafter, and save us from the Fire of Jahannam (Hellfire).

I seek protection in the might of Allah and His power from the evil of what President Muhammadu Buhari is experiencing and of what he fear.

Oh Allah! Make every single aspect of our life be for You and in service of Your Creation. Please remove all false intentions that we have.

Oh Allah! save humanity from being its own enemy. Protect Your creation from oppression. Save the people of Nigeria from internal and external oppressors and give them justice. Protect us all from violence, fear and danger, You are our Protector.

Ya Allah! let us love You as You deserved to be loved, and let us fear You as You deserve to be feared, and let us leave this world serving Your creation for Your sake.

Oh Allah! increase us in beneficial knowledge, let this knowledge be with sincerity, not for seeking fame, glory, status, material wealth. Let this knowledge serve Your cause in a way that You accept, and let it benefit humanity.

Oh Allah! please guide our children and all children. They are surrounded by so much temptation and forbidden things. Protect them our Lord from all of the evil influences that are around them. Give them friends who will strengthen their faith and help them stay on the Straight Path. Ameen Ya Rabb!

My respected people! For a Muslim Ramadan is the month in which they can gain maximum blessings and mercy from Allah Almighty and seek forgiveness for whatever sins they have committed. Therefore, prayers, charity, Du’as etc, need to be ensured during the month as these are the means that can help a Muslim achieve the desired objectives.

I pray that Allah Ta’ala allows me and you all to finished this Ramadan with the highest degree of Iman, ameen.

My respected people! Anything good I have said in my today’s Khutbah (Sermon) is from Allah the Almighty, and any mistakes are my own and we seek refuge in Allah from giving wrong advice and from all forms of calamities and fitnah. And I ask Allah’s forgiveness if I stepped beyond bounds in anything I said or I do.

May Allah be praised; and may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon His Messenger Muhammad (Pbuh), and upon his family and Companions.

With this I conclude my Khutbah (Sermon) and ask Allah, the Almighty and the sublime, to forgive all of our sins. So seek his forgiveness, He is all forgiving Most Merciful.

This Jumu’ah Khutbah (Friday Sermon) was prepared for delivery today, Friday, Ramadan 7, 1438 A.H. (June 2, 2017), By Imam Murtadha Muhammad Gusau, the Chief Imam of Nagazi-Uvete Jumu’ah and Alhaji Abdurrahman Okene’s Mosques, Okene Kogi State Nigeria. He can be reached via: +2348038289761

WHO urges government to control tobacco use

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has urged the government to introduce policies to control the use of tobacco because it is a leading risk factor for some serious non-communicable diseases.

The Country Representative of WHO, Dr Owen Kaluwa, who made the call suggested, for instance, the imposition of high taxes on tobacco companies to deter them from going into production.

http://www.graphic.com.gh/news/general-news/who-urges-government-to-control-tobacco-use.html

In the event of the companies paying such taxes, he said, the revenue generated should be used to finance health delivery.

He was speaking at a public forum to mark World No-Tobacco Day (WNTD) in Accra last Wednesday.

Avoid tobacco

Dr Kaluwa said globally, tobacco kills about 7.2 million people every year, over 80 per cent of whom are from low or middle-income countries.

“In Africa, about 146,000 adults aged 30 years and above die every year due to tobacco-related health diseases,” he added.

He said the use of tobacco was a leading preventable risk factor for non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, cancer and chronic lung disease.

“Up to half of all tobacco users will die prematurely from tobacco-related causes, and on average, tobacco users lose 15 years of their lives,” he said.

Mr Kaluwa added that the growing of tobacco had affected agricultural lands in some areas.

Public education

At her turn, a Deputy Minister of Health, Mrs Tina Mensah, said adequate public education was important in dealing with the problem of tobacco use.

She reiterated the fact that tobacco use was dangerous to human health and damaging to national economic development.

“Tobacco-related illnesses and premature mortality impose direct and indirect cost to individuals and government,” she said.

She noted that tobacco production companies tried to influence the young generation to become addicted to smoking, which was a national threat.

She applauded the Food and Drugs Board (FDB) for its intervention in combating the use of tobacco by preventing tobacco companies from advertising their products.

Mrs Mensah said the ministry, for its part, would continue to support the fight against the use of tobacco in the country.

Preventive measures

Outlining some measures that had been put in place to check tobacco usage, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the FDA, Mrs Delese A. Darko, mentioned the prohibition of smoking in public places, advertising prohibition and sponsorship as examples.

She added that packaging, labelling and health warnings on tobacco packages were other ways of preventing and discouraging tobacco consumers from patronising the product.

“These prohibitions have shown to be effective in reducing the demand for tobacco,” she said, adding that public sensitisation and education would, accordingly, be increased to meet the target groups.

“As we get funding, we will continue to do more to inform the public about the harmful effects of the use of tobacco,” Mrs Mensah said.

In connection with the celebration, Smoking Cessation Guidelines and a declaration on WNTD 2017 were launched.