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Passive Smoking

Parental tobacco use and child death

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How Much Are You ‘Smoking’ by Breathing Urban Air?

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Measures against secondhand smoke insufficient

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Smoke-Free Car Legislation and Student Exposure to Smoking

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Onam to see tobacco smoke-free zones bloom in the capital city

Ahead of the frenetic festival and wedding season, florists in the city have decided to make their shops tobacco smoke-free. The decision, taken by the Trivandrum Florists Association, seeks to protect the environs of its 600 member families and the health and well-being of thousands of customers.

Passing the resolution – in line with the Indian tobacco control law COTPA’s prohibition of smoking in public places – at its annual Onam gathering on Wednesday, the association also decided to set up statutory warning boards in member shops.

Association President M Vairavan Pillai presided over the function. General Secretary C Sasidharan Nair, Treasurer Haridas, Vice Presidents C Sukumaran Nair, K Radhakrishnan and S Ambika and Joint Secretaries S Sreekumaran Nair, T Suresh Kumar, T Manikantan and J Reena were also present.

Number of children exposed to second-hand smoke halved

The Scottish Government published its national tobacco strategy in 2013.

The proportion of children exposed to second-hand smoke at home has almost halved in the last five years.

An NHS Scotland and Edinburgh University review of the Scottish Government’s tobacco control strategy also found a “downward trend in smoking prevalence”.

It also warned smoking continues to be a bigger problem in more deprived areas.

The Scottish Government’s national tobacco strategy, Creating a Tobacco Free Generation, was published in 2013.

The review found the strategy had a positive impact, with smoking rates among adults now at 20% compared to 31% in 2003.

The proportion of children exposed to second-hand smoke at home fell from 11% to 6% between 2014 and 2015.

Smoking rates in the most deprived areas were found to be at 35%, compared to 10% in the most affluent areas.

Dr Garth Reid, principal public health adviser at NHS Health Scotland said: “The evidence shows the positive impact of tobacco policy, ranging from the display ban which put tobacco out of sight in small shops and supermarkets to the introduction on smoke free NHS grounds.

“Yet, levels of smoking are still highest in Scotland’s most deprived areas, with 35% of people living in the most deprived areas smoking compared to ten percent in the most affluent areas.

“It is clear that further action to reduce inequalities in smoking is necessary if the aim of making Scotland tobacco-free by 2034 is to be achieved.”

Dr John McAteer, senior research fellow at Edinburgh University, said: “One of the aims of the 2013 tobacco control strategy was to reduce second hand smoke exposure among children by 2020.

“The most recent Scottish Health Survey shows that second hand smoke exposure fell from 11% to 6% between 2014 and 2015.

“This equates to 50,000 children having been protected from the harms of daily second-hand smoke exposure at home.

“Scotland has some of the most progressive tobacco control policies in the world, and Scottish smoking rates have fallen from 31% in 2003 to 21% in 2015.”

Raise tax on tobacco and make smokers pay for health costs

I support Gauri Venkitaraman’s plea for bans in public areas where the permeation of cigarette smoke is harmful for passers-by or those trying to enjoy the outdoors (“Smoking in public leaves even non-smokers in Hong Kong facing serious health risks [1]”, July 11).

Non-smokers in proximity risk having their asthma flare up. Curious toddlers could become poisoned by ingesting carelessly discarded butts.

The fire contagion risk posed by still-burning cigarette ends is well known during the height of Australia’s bush-fire-prone sizzling summer and hot summers elsewhere.

Less smoking means fewer discarded butts posing a fire hazard. Another reason to impose smoking bans is to prevent adverse lifestyle role modelling for impressionable children.

From a public health perspective, raising tobacco sales tax is likely to reduce daily cigarette consumption and, more importantly, dissuade adolescents from taking up smoking. The cost disincentive of a higher tax holds the potential to improve the community burden of heart and lung disease that consumes avoidable health-care outlays.

It’s about time smokers who adopt unhealthy life habits subsidised the huge expense incurred in treating the acute exacerbation of chronic lung disease, pulmonary community rehabilitation as well as stents and bypass surgery required to alleviate coronary artery disease. Smokers have an addiction requiring an external agency to help them give up.

Imposing higher taxes on fast food and alcohol offers opportunities to improve public health related to “diabesity” (diabetes plus obesity), alcohol-related trauma and interpersonal violence. If we can extend sales tax disincentives to fast food and alcohol, then claims that a tobacco tax discriminates against smokers cannot be justified.

Joseph Ting, associate professor, School of Public Health and

Social Work, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia
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Smoking in public leaves even non-smokers in Hong Kong facing serious health risks

Cigarette smoking definitely seems to be on the rise in Hong Kong. I commute to and from work by bus and, of late, the amount of second-hand smoke in the vicinity of bus stops has increased substantially.

There are huge rubbish bins near every bus stop, and people seem to view this as indicating a smoking spot. There have been many instances when I’ve found people smoking while waiting at the bus stops as well. Many times, people simply throw their half-smoked cigarettes in the little receptacle on top of the bins, without stubbing them out. This results in a continuous cloud of cigarette smoke billowing from the many burning stubs on top of the bins.

The other day, I found two schoolchildren hanging around a rubbish bin and one of them was about to surreptitiously pick up one of the burning stubs that someone had tossed away. Kids are, by nature, curious, and burning stubs lying within reach pose the danger of tempting them to try smoking.

Inhaling second-hand smoke is also very harmful and could lead to serious health issues down the line. Humans can be self-indulgent but usually the ill-effects are restricted to that individual. However, when it comes to smoking in public, the ill-effects are not restricted to the smoker. The negative effects of passive smoking has an impact on other people too, an impact that is scientifically proved to be tangible, measurable and, at times, permanent.

Just imposing high tobacco taxes has not really had an impact, as far as pedestrians being forced to inhale second-hand smoke goes. A legal move to increase the size of warnings on the cigarette packs has met with fierce resistance, accompanied by lobbying by tobacco executives and their lawyers.

Many countries have enforced compulsory, graphic health warning signs covering most of the surface area of cigarette packs, along with plain packaging that reduces the effect of branding for drab-looking packs.

The government has laws in place but there needs to be efficient enforcement. When it comes to use of controlled substances like tobacco, there has to be a healthy modicum of respect on the part of users towards the health of non-users, and this is simply not going to be possible as long as effective measures are not enforced.

Gauri Venkitaraman, Lam Tin

Tobacco-growing Cuba marks World No Tobacco Day

Despite its world-famous tobacco crop, Cuba on Wednesday celebrated World No Tobacco Day with zeal, launching anti-smoking campaigns in the media, at schools and in healthcare centers.

“Statistics show that 54 percent of Cuban families, 55 percent of children, 51 percent of pregnant women and 60 percent of adolescents are exposed to this polluting agent.

These figures rank us as the Latin American country with the highest exposure to tobacco smoke in the home,” the daily Granma cited Elba Lorenzo Vazquez, national coordinator of the state anti-smoking program, as saying at a press conference.

Cuba has Latin America’s third highest rate of smokers, with some 24 percent of the population smoking.

The anti-smoking campaign is directed mainly at young Cubans, hoping to prevent them from picking up the habit in the first place, though the government is also promoting programs to help those addicted to tobacco quit smoking.

Laws that restrict smoking have been around in Cuba since the early 1970s. In 1974, the government banned smoking in government offices and institutions, and in 1986, the ban was expanded to other areas.

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared May 31st World No Tobacco Day to raise awareness about the dangers of smoking, which can lead to lung cancer, respiratory diseases and other ailments.

Half of all smokers die prematurely, according to the WHO.

Under the banner “Tobacco — a threat to development,” the WHO released a video that warns “tobacco endangers our health, economies and environment and undermines our effort to build … a more prosperous world for all.”

Still No Tobacco Standardised Packaging Regulations

Imperial Tobacco New Zealand wants to know why the Government still hasn’t released Regulations to implement standardised packaging of tobacco.

Parliament passed the Bill for tobacco products for standardised packaging in September 2016, but Regulations that set out exactly how and when the measure will be implemented still haven’t been released.

Head of Corporate and Legal Affairs for Imperial Tobacco New Zealand, Louise Evans McDonald, says Imperial and tobacco retailers are becoming increasingly frustrated with the delay.

“While we have made our objection to standardised packaging known, we will obviously need to comply with the new law. That is going to be extremely difficult to do if the Government won’t tell us exactly what the new law is.

“Retailers have joined us in calling for at least 12 months lead time until implementation – but that has clearly fallen on deaf ears. The legislation says that we must have standardised packaging in March next year, which is now less than 10 months away.

“We need to see the Regulations immediately so that we can source and prepare packaging materials ready to meet the deadline. If we don’t know what those materials must contain because we don’t have Regulations, then exactly what is the Government going to expect of us and, importantly, of retailers?”


Timeline of key dates:

31 May 2016 – Exposure draft of regulations for consultation
30 June 2016 – Bill’s second reading
8 September 2016 – Bill’s third reading
14 September 2016 – Bill received Royal assent