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THE CANADIAN EXAMPLE: TOBACCO COMPANIES CONVICTED OF CONTRABAND

In Canada, in 2008 and 2010, the three major tobacco companies were convicted of contraband and entered civil settlements with federal and provincial governments. The convictions followed guilty pleas and resulted in fines of C$525 million, the largest in Canadian history. Civil payments totalled C$1.175 billion, with fines and civil payments together totalling C$1.7 billion (US$1.3 billion).

These outcomes arose from actions in the 1990s when the three major tobacco companies in Canada exported vast quantities of Canadian made and branded cigarettes tax-exempt to the U.S., knowing that these cigarettes would return to Canada illegally as contraband. The result was that an estimated 25-30 per cent of the Canadian market in 1993 was contraband. At the time, the companies claimed that they were not doing anything illegal.

The contraband situation prompted the federal government and 5 of 10 provincial governments in 1994 to reduce tobacco tax rates (the rates were not fully restored until 2002) . This had a serious adverse impact on smoking prevalence trends, especially among youth. Moreover, government tobacco tax revenue decreased substantially following the reduction in tax rates.

Eventually there were criminal investigations, including Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) searches and document seizures at tobacco company offices. The three companies that were convicted and entered civil settlements were Imperial Tobacco Canada (British American Tobacco subsidiary); Rothmans, Benson & Hedges (Philip Morris International subsidiary); and JTI-Macdonald (now a Japan Tobacco International subsidiary, but previously, in the 1990s as RJR-Macdonald, an R.J. Reynolds subsidiary). Also, Northern Brands International, a U.S. subsidiary of R.J. Reynolds, was convicted in both Canadian and US courts.

Governments recovered only a small percentage of the total revenue lost. In subsequent court filings, federal and provincial governments estimated that more than C$10 billion was forgone. Adding in the lower revenue following the tax rollback, the forgone revenue would be much, much higher.

The Canadian experience shows not only the importance of high tobacco taxes and contraband prevention, but also demonstrates that the tobacco industry has engaged in illicit trade on a massive scale and cannot be trusted.

Rob Cunningham, Canadian Cancer Society

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E-cigarettes aren’t risk-free, but still less harmful than cigarettes

A simple search of ‘Sourcewatch Heritage Institute’ shows who controls their paid for writings.

PHE has egg on its face for its 95% safer faux pas based on a single report from 12 people, as emerging studies show ecigs are anything but safe. Indeed PHE is now at a loss to explain that the longest (10 year) longitudinal study of 200,000 UK adult vapers showed that Ecigs DO NOT WORK FOR SMOKING CESSATION(Beard- West). A similar recent smaller study at Georgia State Uni proved the same. A study by Kulick et al of 50,000 adults in 28 EC countries found ecigs depressed smoking cessation. Franzen et al found ecigs elevated the heart rate for longer than cigarettes. Tang et al of NYU found aldehydes in ecigs are more toxic than nitrosamines in cigarettes & lead to endothelial cell damage, DNA damage of heart & bladder cells. The tobacco industry is in the business of selling nicotine, an addictive psychoactive drug. They want the electronic delivery device to be their new delivery service so they can continue to profit from the demise of others & the continued addiction of youth to nicotine. As shown elsewhere more than 60% of ecig users become dual users thus a double whammy they will never shake. HKG must ban these devices & SCMP should ban such infomercials.

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For many cigarette smokers, quitting the habit is a fantasy. However, there are new alternatives to smoking that could turn that into a reality, unless governments get in the way.

Tobacco harm reduction is the idea that smokers should have access to products that meet their nicotine needs in ways that are less harmful than cigarettes. Smokers should not be limited to a single all-or-nothing option: smoke cigarettes or nothing.

New products, such as e-cigarettes and heat-not-burn products, can deliver nicotine in less risky ways than combustible cigarettes. This doesn’t mean there is zero risk [1], but there is far less risk compared to smoking cigarettes.

In a government-commissioned report, Public Health England estimated that e-cigarettes could be 95 per cent less harmful [3] than tobacco cigarettes. In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration is starting to embrace tobacco harm reduction. The New Zealand Ministry of Health recently announced [4] that vaping and heated tobacco products can be sold in the country.

Japan and South Korea are allowing citizens access to new and innovative alternatives to smoking.

This is not to diminish reasonable concerns, such as seeking to limit the use of these products by children. However, these alternative products can be made available to smokers while addressing any legitimate concerns that might exist. Governments should ensure they don’t throw up needless legal obstacles that would prevent innovative products from being available to their citizens.

Daren Bakst, senior research fellow, Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies, The Heritage Foundation

Source URL: https://www.scmp.com/comment/letters/article/2159806/e-cigarettes-arent-risk-free-still-less-harmful-cigarettes

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