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CDC Director Brenda Fitzgerald resigns

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Europe’s largest pension fund to drop tobacco and nuclear weapons investments

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Austria’s new government: a victory for the tobacco industry and public health disaster?

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AustralianSuper to quit big tobacco in $900m blow for Philip Morris, British American Tobacco

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Investors Demand Action from Hollywood on Smoking in Youth-Rated Films

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Festival organisers cut deals with tobacco firms, gov’t inspectors step in

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Canadian health groups respond to Philip Morris International’s $1 billion research fund

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Imee Marcos, Ilocos Norte officials apologize to Fariñas over resolutions

The rival politicians from Ilocos Norte eventually patch things up, as Marcos tells Fariñas that they are ‘very, very sorry’ for declaring him persona non grata

After several hours of debate and argument, Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos and provincial board members apologized to the House of Representatives and to Majority Leader and Ilocos Norte 1st District Representative Rodolfo Fariñas for a resolution and a draft resolution which offended lawmakers.

One by one, members of the board present during a Thursday, August 31 hearing into the alleged misuse of tobacco funds in the province, apologized to both the House and Fariñas. Several of the board members were either personal friends or former local government subordinates of Fariñas himself.

The House committee on good government and public accountability had earlier criticized two resolutions – one which was passed and the other, shelved – regarding an ongoing inquiry. One resolution declared Fariñas, former Ilocos Norte governor, persona non grata over the probe.

Another resolution condemned the probe, criticizing the “tyranny” of the House and accusing lawmakers of holding the probe “in aid of [their] political ambition.” This resolution was eventually archived.

The House committee ordered the provincial board members to explain why they should not be held in contempt for the two resolutions.

“I will propose that in their next session, it be withdrawn with apologies. I think we were all inflamed with concern and worry, and as a result, are very, very sorry that this may, in some way or another, offended or interfered in the operations of the House,” said Marcos, who had signed the resolution declaring Fariñas persona non grata.

After their apologies, Fariñas proposed to “just forgive” the Ilocos Norte officials. The crowd, composed primarily of Ilocos Norte officials and House staff, erupted into applause.

Fariñas, however, warned that the House would not be as kind should the incident happen again. “Let this serve as a warning to all other entities to respect also the proceedings of the House because a repetition of such an offense will be dealt with more severely by the House,” he said.

The House, because of a resolution filed by Fariñas, is looking into the alleged misuse of tobacco funds in the purchase of vehicles for Ilocos Norte. During Thursday’s hearing, documents from the vehicle seller and the local government indicated a P195,000 difference between the selling price and the purchase price declared by the local government.

Six Ilocos Norte officials – those involved in the purchase of the vehicles – were detained by the House for nearly two months for refusing to answer questions properly.

Tobacco Industry Makes Strides in Trump’s Washington

President Trump may have promised to “drain the swamp” of lobbyists in Washington, but six months into his administration it seems the swamp is winning.

A new report published in The Guardian exposes how tobacco companies are gaining significant political victories under Trump, due to lobbying efforts and the fact that tobacco business insiders have been appointed to top positions in the president’s administration. Jessica Glenza explains:

America’s largest cigarette manufacturers, Reynolds American and Altria Group, donated $1.5m to help the new president celebrate his inauguration. The donations allowed executives to dine and mingle with top administration officials and their families.

Not long after Trump promised to transfer power from Washington to the American people, a wave of spending in pursuit of influence was unleashed. In the first quarter of 2017, tobacco companies and trade associations spent $4.7m lobbying federal officials. Altria, the company behind Marlboro, hired 17 lobbying firms. Reynolds, makers of the Camel brand, hired 13, according to the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids.

Since then, tobacco companies have been putting points on the scoreboard. Politicians and officials with deep ties to the tobacco industry now head the US health department, the top attorney’s office and the Senate, even as tobacco use remains the leading preventable cause of death.

Agencies in charge of reviewing large mergers let a window slip by in which they might have requested information about a $49bn merger between Reynolds and British American Tobacco (BAT). That merger, expected to be voted through by shareholders next week, will make BAT the biggest listed tobacco company in the world, and puts proceeds from eight out of 10 cigarettes sold in the US into the pockets of two companies: Altria and BAT. …

The Food and Drug Administration has twice delayed legal briefs to defend regulations of e-cigarettes, products cigarette makers say are the future. Summer deadlines for cigar and e-cigarette makers to file applications with the FDA, which regulates the products, have all been delayed by the Trump administration.

And the high-profile attorney Noel Francisco, who once argued for Reynolds that including a quit-line phone number on cigarette packs amounted to government advocacy against smoking, has been nominated for the post of solicitor general, the government’s top attorney.

The companies now securing regulatory wins are also partly responsible for Trump’s victory in the 2016 election. “For Trump’s inaugural celebration, Reynolds American gave $1m. Altria Group gave $500,000,” Glenza reports. “The US Chamber of Commerce, which has been fiercely pro-tobacco in recent years, gave $25,000.”

Prior to becoming president, Trump profited from tobacco companies, Glenza says. His past financial disclosures “show he earned up to $2.1m from tobacco holdings in diversified portfolios,” although he has since claimed (without offering any proof) to have sold his stocks.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and members of Trump’s administration including Vice President Mike Pence have deep ties to the tobacco industry. Glenza shows the links between tobacco company donations and pro-tobacco policymaking.

“Tobacco industry influence in Washington is pervasive, in many different ways,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., a longtime opponent of smoking, tells The Guardian. “As in so many areas, the promise to drain the swamp has been an extraordinary hypocrisy.”

Investing in tobacco firms not banned, LIC tells Bombay HC

Mumbai city news: LIC was replying to a public interest litigation objecting to public sector insurance companies investing in firms manufacturing tobacco products

Investing in tobacco companies indirectly is neither prohibited nor banned by any authority, the Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) said in an affidavit filed in the Bombay high court.

LIC was replying to a public interest litigation objecting to public sector insurance companies investing in firms manufacturing tobacco products.

“Secondary investment in tobacco companies is neither prohibited nor banned by any authority,” says the affidavit filed by Vikas Chaturvedi, assistant secretary (investment operations) of LIC. “LIC is a corporate body and must function on business principles as far as possible. Ninety-five per cent of its surplus goes to policy vendors,” added the affidavit.

It added that the investment was in accordance with the provisions of the LIC Act, the Insurance Act and guidelines laid down by the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority, and other prevailing rules and regulations. “LIC looked at several companies with a good track record for investment options,” said the affidavit, adding, “ITC is one such company.”

The affidavit was filed in response to a PIL by anti-tobacco activist Sumitra Pednekar and doctors attached to Tata Memorial Hospital. Meanwhile, the court allowed Karnataka state branch of Indian Medical Association to assist it by listing the ill-effects of tobacco.