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Doctor honoured for fight against tobacco

Cancer specialist U.S. Vishal Rao of Bengaluru has been honoured with the 2017 Judy Wilkenfeld Award for International Tobacco Control Excellence for his role in combating tobacco use. Dr. Rao was presented the award on Wednesday at an event organised by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids in Washington D.C.

http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-karnataka/doctor-honoured-for-fight-against-tobacco/article18443143.ece

His efforts led to a ban on gutka, chewing tobacco and e-cigarettes in Karnataka. However, the State government recently overturned the ban on chewing tobacco.

Dr. Rao is a member of the High-power Committee on Tobacco Control instituted by the government of Karnataka. He is the inventor of a Rs. 50 voice box prosthetic for throat cancer patients whose larynx has been removed.

Speaking over telephone from Washington DC, Dr. Rao said, “The committee gave the award in recognition of the steps taken towards implementing the Cigarette and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition) Act, and how Karnataka led the way. Another was implementation of the ban on gutka and chewing tobacco by the government of Karnataka.”

The Wilkenfeld Award was established in honour of Judy Wilkenfeld, founder of Tobacco-Free Kids’ international program. Dr. Rao is the second Indian to receive the award, the first being Pankaj Chaturvedi of Tata Memorial Hospital in 2013.

Government releases new pictorial warnings for tobacco products

Replacing the existing images, the Health Ministry has released a new set of pictorial warnings for mandatory display on packets of cigarettes, bidis, and chewing tobacco with effect from April 1 this year. Under the new rules, manufacturers will now need to display graphic pictures of throat cancer on cigarette and bidi packets and pictures of mouth cancer on chewing tobacco packets.

http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2017/apr/04/government-releases-new-pictorial-warnings-for-tobacco-products-1589510.html

According to the public notice on the Health Ministry’s website, the government notified the new health warnings on October 15, 2014 and issued a notification dated September 24, 2015 for mandatory display of new health warnings covering 85 per cent of the principal display area on all tobacco products from April 1, 2016.

“As per Rules, during the rotation period of 24 months, two images of specified health warnings as notified in the Schedule, shall be displayed on all tobacco product packages and each of the images shall appear consecutively on the package with an interregnum period of 12 months.

“Further as per notification dated March 24, 2017, all tobacco products manufactured on or after April 1, 2017 shall display the second image of specified health warning,” the notice said. It further said any person engaged directly or indirectly in production, supply, import or distribution of cigarettes or any other tobacco products shall ensure that all tobacco product packages have these specified health warnings.

“Violation of the provisions is a punishable offence with imprisonment or fine as prescribed under section 20 of the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act 2003,” it said.

India is third among countries with the largest pictorial warnings on tobacco products, according to a recent report. The Health Ministry has implemented, from April 2016, large pictorial health warnings occupying 85 per cent of the principal display area of tobacco packs and on all forms of tobacco.

Tobacco Act violations: Health department eyes world record for fines

JAIPUR: The state may soon have the distinction of being the first in the world for booking the maximum number of people for violating the Cigarette And Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA) in a single day.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/jaipur/tobacco-act-violations-health-dept-eyes-world-record-for-fines/articleshow/57418249.cms

On February 28, health department officials penalized 176,693 people for violating the Act, which may have paved the way for state’s entry into world records.

The last day of February is being observed as the No Tobacco Day.

Anyone who was found smoking in public places or selling tobacco products within a radius of 100 yards of any educational institution were penalised by health officials.

In Churu alone, 32,002 people were found violating COTPA, whereas in Jhalawar, 29,762 persons were challaned for flouting the norms. In Jaipur too, 22,009 persons were penalised for violating COTPA, health minister Kalicharan Saraf said.

The department took help from the police, rural development and Panchayati Raj department, education department along with transport and district administrations of respective districts to penalize those violating COTPA.

“The drive was organised to create awareness. We have never aimed at increasing revenue. According to COTPA, we can collect up to Rs 200 for violations. But, we collected even Re 1 as a token fine from many COTPA violators. Our aim was to create awareness of various provisions of COTPA,” Narendra Singh, state consultant, National Tobacco Control Programme (NTCP), said.

Officials are now collecting and compiling evidences of the mass drive to send the same to the Guinness Book of World Records and Limca Book of Records.

Officials said that in 2016 they had fined over 5,600 people in Jhunjhunu, which was the world record for penalizing COTPA violators in a single day.

The health department conducted a campaign from February 13 against tobacco consumption which continued till February 28. During this period, they organised rallies and street plays to create awareness against tobacco use.

Shisha bars to be banned

The government soon will announced a complete ban on commercial use of shisha to protect the country’s youth, according to the Pakistan Observer.

http://www.tobaccojournal.com/Shisha_bars_to_be_banned.54070.0.html

Shisha sales and hookah use in bars, cafes and lounges would cease. Shisha sales would be banned in bazars, the Observer said. Authority for the expected ban from the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination is contained in the Prohibition of Smoking and Protection of Non-smokers Health Ordinance of 2002, the newspaper said on its website.

Alert: Just 10 Puffs Of an E-Cigarette As Deadly As a Regular Fag

“Quitting smoking is the easiest thing in the world. I know it because I’ve done it thousands of times. Mark Twain

https://www.thequint.com/fitness/2016/12/21/just-10-puffs-of-e-cigarette-are-as-deadly-as-regular-cigarette-vaping-is-not-safer-than-smoking-quit-smoking-2017

Bang on! Science says that 9 out of 10 people who try to kick the butt fail miserably. Perhaps that is why, practically overnight, e-cigarettes have come into their own as the new in thing.

And now an independent study done by USA’s biggest child health body, the American Academy of Pediatrics, finds that e-cigarettes could be the gateway to lifelong nicotine addiction, hinder brain development, give you ‘popcorn lungs’ (an irreversible and fatal condition where the airways are narrowed and weakened) – and all this combined can threaten decades of anti-smoking gains.

If you think that e-cigarettes are an American phenomenon, smoke on this: In the last 3 years, the e-cigarette market has shot up to a $3-4 billion industry and the US contributes to only a quarter of it. In 2014, ITC started manufacturing e-cigarettes in India when most of the Chinese e-cigarette brands were readily available, and obviously, the cigarette giant will not invest millions in a tobacco cessation tool.

Before You Start Vaping, Here’s What You Need To Know

An alarming new study by Swedish scientists found that just 10 puffs of an e-fag can set the heart disease ball rolling, just like a regular cigarette.

It increases the risk of high blood pressure, hardens arteries and makes it harder for people to quit smoking. All this for the popular perception that e-cigarettes are a smoking cessation tool, but contrary to popular perception, it does contain nicotine.

Nicotine is as addictive as heroin, precisely why these vaping devices will never help anyone wean themselves off smoking.

An e-cigarette is a terrible alternative to smoking. In fact, they are much more sinister than tobacco cigarettes – even the World Health Organisation doesn’t buy it.

Nicotine poses several health hazards of varying severity and promotes the growth of tumours.

Dr Pankaj Chaturvedi, Senior Oncologist Surgeon, Head and Neck Cancer Surgery, Tata Memorial Hospital

According to Dr Chaturvedi, e-cigarettes also pose the threat of nicotine poisoning – if you inhale three cartridges in a row, you can die. One cartridge has roughly 11 milligrams of nicotine, three would be over 30, which is a fatal dose. The World Health Organisation says reports of nicotine poisoning have increased manyfold in the US and UK where the popularity of e-cigarettes is soaring.

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Where Does India Stand On E-Cigarette Regulations?

Like with most subjects to do with ‘health’, India does not have a national policy on e-cigarettes yet.

The problem is that e-cigarettes are not mandated by law, and they don’t come under the jurisdiction of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act or fall in the Cigarette and Other Tobacco Products Act. Companies can openly flout the tobacco control provisions, which means they can sell it to kids under the age of 18, skip the gory pictorial warnings on packaging, and openly advertise it.

In 2013, the then Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan called a closed door meeting of public health activists and FDA officials to completely ban the sale and supply of e-cigarettes in the country.

He was motivated by the news that 13 of the 59 countries that regulate e-cigarettes banned them after compelling scientific evidence that these sticks do more harm than good. But since then, the Health Minister changed and the issue has been put on the back-burner.

A new drug is being freely and openly being sold to people and that drug is nicotine. We don’t know how healthy or unhealthy these are over the long term. But the question is this: if in the next 5 years, we find out these are as deadly as cigarettes for your health, what happens then?

Dr Pankaj Chaturvedi, Senior Oncologist Surgeon, Head and Neck Cancer Surgery, Tata Memorial Hospital

The problem is that Big Tobacco has not revealed exactly what kinds of chemicals there are in the vapour liquid.

And that is concerning.

Health experts don’t trust them. Nobody should trust them. Their only motive is profit. Will you be naive enough to think that big tobacco firms want to help smokers quit?

Study finds high tobacco usage among students

A total of 775 students (336 boys and 439 girls) of two schools in Kannur were subjected to study by the medical college.

http://health.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/diagnostics/study-finds-high-tobacco-usage-among-students/56731360

Thiruvananthapuram: In Kannur, over 70% of higher secondary school students begin tobacco consumption at a tender age of 15, while in rural Thiruvananthapuram tobacco sales near educational institutions is alarmingly high, finds a study, jointly carried out by Regional Cancer Centre (RCC) here and Kannur Medical College.

A total of 775 students (336 boys and 439 girls) of two schools in Kannur were subjected to study by the medical college. While 41% of the sample population got tobacco products from nearby shops, 27% of them got it from friends. According to 79% of students, it was “fairly easy” and “very easy” to obtain these products.

Dr Paul Sebastian and Dr R Jayakrishnan of RCC, who led the study in the rural parts of the state capital, presented a similarly bleak picture.

Nearly 19% of boys between 15 and 18 years use tobacco in any form. Of the 1,114 students of 10 random government schools surveyed, 7.4% were ‘ever users’, persons who have used tobacco at least once during the academic year.

The findings reflected the gravity of the issue and also underscored the expert opinion that called for measures to control the menace, said Shoba Koshy, chairperson of commission for protection of child rights.

Dr Elizabeth K E, president, Indian Academy of Pediatrics said, “The World Health Organisation has termed tobacco a global pediatric concern. Once initiated, it becomes very difficult to come off it; the key is to prevent it at a young age.”

Philip Morris jolted by Indian proposal to ban foreign tobacco investment

Philip Morris International is fighting to keep a toehold in India’s $11 billion tobacco market, as the government considers further tightening foreign investment rules in the sector, according to documents seen by Reuters.

http://in.reuters.com/article/india-philip-morris-marlboro-cigarette-idINKBN15005S

In previously unreported letters from Philip Morris to the trade minister and an influential government think-tank, the U.S.-based company said the “discriminatory” and “protectionist” proposals would represent a blow to its plans to launch new products and make further investments in India.

The two letters dated May and October last year followed local media reports of a possible change in government policy. While the warnings may be part of the firm’s negotiations, they show the level of concern the proposals are causing.

“The proposed ban will impact our future investments in India and also force a review of our overall operations, including tobacco crop purchases,” Martin G. King, Philip Morris’ Asia president, wrote on Oct. 13 to NITI Aayog, India’s most influential government think-tank that has a say in federal policies, including those related to foreign investments.

India banned foreign investment in cigarette manufacturing in 2010, but it still allowed tobacco companies to invest through technology collaboration and licensing agreements. Investments could also be made by forming a trading company.

Over the past year, the government has been considering whether to stop these, in a bid to safeguard public health interests, according to the documents and a senior government official.

The new proposal was being discussed by the health and trade ministries at least as early as April last year, according to a government memorandum dated June 3. Neither ministry responded to requests for comment.

A Philip Morris spokesman said the company had “nothing further to add” when asked about the company’s view on foreign investment.

The final decision on the rules, based on recommendations from various ministries, will be taken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cabinet.

BLOW TO PLANS

Philip Morris entered India in the late 1960s by acquiring a majority stake in the London-based parent of Godfrey Phillips India Ltd. It gradually reduced its stake in Godfrey over the years, in part due to regulatory changes.

Ahead of the 2010 ban on investments into cigarette manufacturing, Philip Morris formed a new wholesale trading company with Godfrey and an investment firm.

Under the current arrangement, Godfrey manufactures Marlboros while Philip Morris’ trading firm helps promote them.

That part of its operations would not necessarily be impacted by the foreign investment changes being considered, as such changes usually do not apply to previous arrangements.

However, if the new rules were implemented, Philip Morris’ future investment plans in India would be in jeopardy, as any form of new investment or collaboration would be outlawed.

Those plans, the company says, include the possible launch of its heat-not-burn electronic cigarette called iQOS, an alternative product which Philip Morris sees as a key step towards a smokeless future that could also bring health benefits to India.

Godfrey did not respond to a request for comment.

India is a key market for Philip Morris.

Even before the company contemplates introducing alternative products there, demand is strong for conventional cigarettes that still account for most of the company’s $74 billion in global annual revenues.

The number of male cigarette smokers, aged between 15 and 69 years, almost trebled in India to 40 million between 1998 and 2015, according to BMJ Global Health estimates. Another 48 million smoke traditional hand-rolled cigarettes, called beedis.

Marlboro faces stiff competition from premium brands of India’s largest cigarette maker, ITC Ltd, which is part-owned by British American Tobacco (BAT) as well as several state-run firms.

Still, its market share has doubled between 2012 and 2015 to 1 percent, data from Euromonitor International show.

LOBBYING DRIVE

Outlining the firm’s importance to India’s economy, Philip Morris said in its letters that it spent $460 million on tobacco leaf over the previous five years and more than $200,000 on corporate charities each year.

It says it has employed more than 90 people in its India unit.

The company does not give country-by-country figures for revenues or market share.

Philip Morris’ King wrote to the trade minister in May, saying the reported proposals would “dent India’s credibility as a reliable investment destination.” He also said the move would unfairly favour the domestic industry.

“It is discriminatory in its application since it will provide undue leverage to the domestic industry at the expense of international products,” King wrote.

ITC, which has a market share of almost 80 percent, did not comment on the proposed new policy.

King’s letter was redirected by the trade ministry to the federal health ministry for further comment.

The health ministry rejected the company’s arguments, citing India’s obligations under an international tobacco control treaty and domestic laws.

The health ministry said allowing foreign tobacco money was against public health interests and would only lead to expansion and promotion of the sector.

“There should be a comprehensive ban on foreign collaboration in any form,” the health ministry wrote on July 27, adding wholesale trading in tobacco should be banned as well.

Philip Morris wrote again in October to argue its case, this time to NITI Aayog, the think-tank.

It said an investment ban could “raise significant concerns” about India’s compliance with its obligations under international trade and investment treaties.

(Additional reporting by Manoj Kumar; Editing by Mike Collett-White and Paritosh Bansal)

Tobacco stocks up in smoke as govt mulls FDI ban

http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/markets/stocks/news/tobacco-stocks-up-in-smoke-as-govt-mulls-fdi-ban/articleshow/55455794.cms

Shares of cigarette companies plummeted up to 20 per cent on Wednesday amid reports that the Union Cabinet is likely to consider a proposal to completely ban foreign direct investment (FDI) in the tobacco sector.

Reacting on the news, shares of Godfrey PhillipsBSE 6.81 % hit the lower circuit and closed 20 per cent down at Rs 918.80 on Wednesday. Shares of other tobacco companies such as ITCBSE 0.72 % and NTC IndustriesBSE -5.14 % slipped 4 per cent and 0.65 per cent, respectively. The benchmark BSE Sensex closed almost flat at 26,298.

The Commerce and Industry Ministry has forwarded the final note on this issue to the Union Cabinet for consideration, sources told PTI.

At present, FDI is permitted in technology collaboration in any form, including licensing for franchise, trademark, brand name and management contracts in the tobacco sector. However, it is prohibited in manufacturing of cigars, cigarettes of tobacco and tobacco substitutes.

The proposal, if approved, may be a setback for domestic cigarette manufacturers, according to the report.

The ban would also eliminate the possibility of indirect flow of overseas funds to the sector. FDI into the country grew by 29 per cent to $40 billion in 2015-16.

On a year-to-date basis, most of cigarette-related companies have been outperforming the benchmark equity indices. Stocks such as Golden TobaccoBSE 1.58 % and VST IndustriesBSE 4.29 % have risen 33.36 per cent and 33.32 per cent to Rs 65.55 and Rs 2268.25 till November 15 from Rs 49.15 and Rs 1701.30, respectively, on January 1.

 

WITH MIXED PROGRESS, NATIONS REVIEW WAR VS. TOBACCO INDUSTRY

http://macaudailytimes.com.mo/mixed-progress-nations-review-war-vs-tobacco-industry.html

In Nepal, health warnings cover 90 percent of cigarette packs, while Australia requires those packets be wrapped in drab, plain paper. Indonesia’s new ban on outdoor advertising brought down tobacco billboards depicting smiling, smoking youths. And India wants scary photos of rotting lungs and mouth tumors covering packets sold in the country.

Still, national drives to discourage smoking and cut back tobacco sales haven’t done enough, campaigners say. Smoking-related deaths are still rising worldwide, with 80 percent of them expected to occur in developing country populations by 2030.

“Most people in the United States think tobacco is over and done with, but it’s still the largest preventable cause of disease on the planet” killing 6 million people a year — or one person every six seconds, said John Stewart, deputy campaigns director at the Boston-based lobbying group Corporate Accountability International.

Starting Monday, representatives from at least 178 countries are meeting for five days in the Indian capital to discuss how they can further the fight against smoking and push back against tobacco company lobbyists.

Since they set down stiff regulations and guidelines in a landmark 2003 treaty called the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control — the first and only global treaty dealing with public health — most of the 180 signatories have ratified it and passed laws restricting tobacco advertising or sales.

Still, many governments remain entangled with powerful tobacco companies, while industry lobbyists continue attempts to stymie efforts to implement anti-smoking laws through bribery, misinformation and even suing national governments for lost profits, campaigners say.

“The tobacco industry is definitely feeling the heat,” Stewart said. “They’ve got their back against the wall.”

Indian courts are currently grappling with 62 lawsuits filed by tobacco companies or cigarette makers challenging laws requiring that 85 percent of all cigarette packets be covered with photos of medical horrors.

In Japan, a 10-percent hike in taxes on cigarettes has led to a 30-percent decline in smoking. But the country still has some of the lowest tax rates on cigarettes among industrialized nations, while its finance ministry owns 33 percent in Japan Tobacco.

The anti-tobacco campaign has had some success. It is widely accepted, at least among national leaders, that smoking causes cancer, cardiovascular and respiratory disease, along with a host of other harmful health impacts.

That awareness still has not trickled down to national populations, though. And campaigners say tobacco interests have shifted their focus to poorer, less educated populations in the developing world.

India — among the first to ratify the anti-tobacco treaty in 2004 — is still considered one of the biggest battlegrounds in the fight against the tobacco industry, public health specialists say.

Despite harsh laws passed more than a decade ago banning smoking in public and sales to children, smoking is still common across the country. A government survey in 2010 showed nearly 35 percent of adults were either smoking or chewing tobacco.

Meanwhile, more than 1 million Indians die each year from tobacco-related diseases that cost the country some $16 billion annually, according to the World Health Organization.

“The revenues that the government earns from tobacco taxes are far less than the billions that are spent on health care,” said Bhavna Mukhopadhyay of the Voluntary Health Association of India, a public health organization.

“Public health and the health of the tobacco industry cannot go hand in hand,” she said, noting that campaigners are now pushing for countries to make tobacco companies and their shareholders civilly and criminally liable for the harm done by tobacco.

Part of the trouble in India is “the Indian consumer is spoilt for choice,” she said, with cigarettes sold alongside chewing tobacco and cheap, hand-rolled smokes known as bidis.

The easy availability and wide choice means many smokers get hooked at a young age. Some are initiated early through the common, cultural practice of chewing something called gutka, which combines tobacco with spices, lime and betel nut and is widely sold as a mouth freshener.

Putting pictorial warnings on cigarette packets is an attempt to educate people about the risks.

“The idea was that even an illiterate person, or a child, would understand the message about the health risks from smoking,” said Monika Arora of the Public Health Foundation of India, who runs an anti-smoking campaign aimed at young Indians. Nirmala George, New Delhi, AP

Significant new developments for global tobacco control

http://www.asiantribune.com/node/89729

Dr. Vera Luiza da Costa e Silva, the Head of the Convention Secretariat, of the Seventh Conference of the Parties (COP) to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) which concluded on 12th November 2016, in Greater Noida, New Delhi, said addressing the final ceremony, “The long hours of debate and planning has produced a strong road map for global tobacco control for the future. Despite all the hard work by the Parties it is sad to see the interest, yet again, being promoted in the room.

It is determined to undermine and distract us from our goal – to fight against the tobacco epidemic that not only damages health and kills people, but also impoverishes those living in low- to middle- income countries.”

Several significant decisions were adopted in the course of the six-day session and during an intense week of discussions delegates addressed the longest agenda of any COP, indicating the enthusiasm of Parties and the growing role of tobacco control within areas of development and human rights, as well as public health.

The decisions reached, shaping the future of the Convention, is set against the stark reality that without strong tobacco control measures tobacco will kill about 1 billion people in the 21st Century. By 2030, over 80 percent of the world’s tobacco-related mortality will be in low- and- middle income countries.

Parties continue to be concerned, as expressed at COP7, by the tobacco industry’s persistent attempts to infiltrate and manipulate the workings of the Convention and the outcome of COP7. Noting with concern that the tobacco industry’s tactics at the international level affects implementation of the Convention at a country level, COP7 urged Parties to intensify multi-sectoral actions and cooperation to address strategies of the tobacco industry to undermine or subvert tobacco control. It calls on Parties to remain vigilant of tobacco industry efforts to undermine the implementation of WHO FCTC.

The decision on electronic nicotine delivery systems and electronic non-nicotine delivery systems (ENDS/ENNDS) invites Parties that have not yet banned the importation, sale and distribution of ENDS/ENNDS to consider either prohibition or regulating such products.

Parties called for further unbiased, commercially independent and scientifically-based research to ascertain the overall health impact and long-term public health risks of ENDS/ENNDS. Some Parties expressed concern at the use of health claims as a marketing tool for ENDS/ENNDS. There was also consideration that all the different devices and delivery systems should be regulated under national legislation in the same way as drugs or tobacco products, while others called for them to be banned outright. Further evidence-based scientific research is to be prepared.

The decision encourages Parties not growing tobacco to not start. It urges Parties to adopt a whole-of-government approach and participation with stakeholders to promote alternatives to tobacco growing and avoid tobacco industry obstruction in programmes meant for welfare and diversification of tobacco growing and workers and the protection of the environment, as appropriate in the national context.

Dr Vera Luiza da Costa e Silva told delegates during the closing ceremony, “We have an obligation to protect vulnerable members of the tobacco production chain – the farmers. But we do that not through encouraging more growing, as the tobacco industry does, but through the development of solid, sustainable alternatives that will promote a better future for farmers and their families.”

The Parties recognize scientific evidence has established that tobacco consumption and exposure to tobacco smoke causes death, disease and disability. The Parties adopt the report of the expert group, including a specifically designed toolkit, as a mechanism of assistance to those Parties that may require assistance in developing civil liability. It encourages Parties to consider options, including developing their legislation or liability procedures, as appropriate, and increasing their international cooperation in order to strengthen implementation of Article 19 of the WHO FCTC.

The Parties have requested further research on evidence on tobacco use and tobacco control and its consequences among girls and women, as well as boys and men, with special attention to vulnerable groups, in respect to social determinants of health.

The Parties recognize that tobacco control is related to a number of Sustainable Development Goals and targets including those related to the environment and human rights. The Parties requested the Convention Secretariat to strengthen the treaty relationship with other international agencies and frameworks, enhancing synergies towards common global health and development goals.

The Impact Assessment report, presented to COP7, reveals how implementation of the WHO FCTC is gaining force around the world. Where it is applied prevalence drops and so does demand for tobacco.