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Smoking costs China $57 billion in 2014: WHO calls for national ban

The economic dividends from China’s tobacco industry are a false economy, which is at odds with government’s vision for China’s future, the World Health Organization (WHO) claimed on Friday.

http://www.ecns.cn/2017/04-16/253586.shtml

“The total economic cost of tobacco use in China in 2014 amounted to a staggering 350 billion yuan ($57 billion), a tenfold increase since 2000,” Bernhard Schwartlander, the WHO representative in China, told a press conference in Beijing.

The increase is a result of more people diagnosed with tobacco-related illness and increasing healthcare expenditure, according to a report jointly released by the WHO and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) at the conference.

“The direct cost of treating tobacco-related diseases in China was about 53 billion yuan and the indirect cost was expected to be 297 billion yuan,” in which the productivity loss from premature deaths was a major concern, according to the report.

Meanwhile, the report said that tobacco represents an economy of the past as China’s tobacco companies do not fit the vision of an innovative, value-added future economy.

“Projected increases in these costs will lead to negative spillovers effects across many sectors, placing increasing challenges to Chinese economy and businesses, in addition to the social welfare and health system,” it said.

Wu Yiqun, deputy director of the Beijing-based Research Center for Health Development, a think tank, told the Global Times earlier that China has huge public support for a nationwide smoking ban, but the timetable to adopt a law has been on the back burner.

“The proposed law has been mainly stymied by tobacco industry officials due to the huge economic interests involved,” Wu said.

The sector handed over 1.1 trillion yuan ($170 billion) to the State in 2015, up 20.2 percent from the previous year, the State Tobacco Monopoly Administration said in 2016.

The revenue from the tobacco industry derives from corporations whose business model is to create dependence on a lethal substance.

China in 2016 adopted the “Healthy China 2030″ blueprint, which says China aims to reduce smoking rates among adults from 28 percent to 20 percent by 2030.

More than 1 million people die of tobacco-related diseases every year in China, and the number is expected to reach 3 million by 2050 if no action to reduce smoking rates is taken. About 44 percent of the world’s cigarettes were consumed in China in 2014, nearly 26 percent higher than that in India, the report said.

China’s Ministry of Finance announced in May 2015 to raise cigarette taxation from the previous 5 percent to 11 percent, which “led to a reduction in cigarette sales for the first time in 20 years,” according to the report.

However, “cigarettes are increasingly affordable as the increase in cigarette prices has been much lower than the average increase in salaries.”

Cancer Activists Push Bill to Hike Legal Age to Buy Tobacco

Over 100 cancer patients, survivors and their families from across Massachusetts are planning to gather at the Statehouse to press lawmakers to support efforts to protect young people from nicotine addiction.

http://www.capecod.com/newscenter/cancer-activists-push-bill-to-hike-legal-age-to-buy-tobacco/

At the top of the agenda is a bill that would increase the legal age to buy tobacco products from 18 to 21.

The legislation would also include e-cigarettes in the smoke-free workplace law and ban the sale of tobacco products in facilities that provide health care, such as pharmacies.

About 95 percent of adults who smoke started by age 21.

More than 140 communities in the Commonwealth have passed regulations raising the purchase age from 18 to 21, including Falmouth, Mashpee, Yarmouth, Brewster, Orleans, Eastham and Provincetown.

The Board of Health in Harwich will hold a public hearing April 11 to discuss a proposed regulation change to increase the legal age to 21. The board could vote on the measure that night.

Wednesday’s visit to Beacon Hill is part of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network’s annual lobby day.

This year, an estimated 37,000 Massachusetts residents will be diagnosed with cancer. An estimated 12,600 will die from the disease.

Bright’s Path of Maldon High Street set to ban smoking on premises completely from April 1

SMOKERS will be banned from lighting up in a Maldon town centre street from next month, it has been announced.

http://www.maldonandburnhamstandard.co.uk/news/15174390.Boutique_shops_street_set_to_go_smoke_free_from_April/

Shoppers will no longer be able to smoke outside Bright’s Path, the row of boutique businesses off Maldon High Street, from April 1. Vaping will still be allowed.

The shopping area features independent businesses for several years such as Mrs Salisbury’s Famous Tea Rooms, Chameleon Jewellery, Sew In Pressed, Rock Hard Candy and newcomer Little Poppets’ Baby Boutique.

Owner Mark Salisbury said statistics showing tobacco sales in the UK were at the lowest in recorded history meant now was the right time for the ban on the privately owned area.

He said: “We’ve been really keen on the idea for some time now, as we have a great deal of outdoor space.

“Our client range has a lot of mothers with young children and families, many of whom are not a fan of the effects of many people smoking when sitting out here.

“This may prove controversial and frustrate some people, but with the summer season approaching we’re going to have more people coming along to sit outside, and when the majority of our clients support the idea, we feel it’s the best time to do it.”

Mr Salisbury also owns the Continental Café further up the High Street which also has an outdoor seating area, where smoking will still be allowed.

He added: “With the news the government brought out the sales are the lowest that they have ever been, we felt if we’re going to do it, it’s now or never.

“The Continental will still allow smoking, and we’re allowing vaping in Bright’s Path, but my wife and I reached the stage where we feel enough is enough and we’re pushing through with it.”

Julie Ciniglio, of Maldon Business Association, welcomed the move.

She said: “I can’t see why this would be anything but a good thing.

“We’re blessed with local independent businesses in Maldon, and the decision to ban smoking like this rests with the business owner and the voice of their clientele.

“There are still a lot of smokers around the town who may have something to say about it, but if they have support from most of their customers then it could prove successful.

“It could even work as an incentive for frequent High Street users who don’t like smoking to go to Bright’s Path more often as a place to get away.”

Workers urged to ask smokers to stop smoking in their homes during visits as part of East Cambs District Council’s new anti-smoking policy

Tough new anti smoking rules within East Cambridgeshire Council – including a ban on electronic cigarettes and making workers get their manager’s permission for a smoking break- are ready to be implemented.

http://www.elystandard.co.uk/news/workers_urged_to_ask_smokers_to_stop_smoking_in_their_homes_during_visits_as_part_of_east_cambs_district_council_s_new_anti_smoking_policy_1_4932524

With two people a week in the district dying from smoking related diseases, the council is determined it will lead by example with its compulsory ‘smoking at work’ policy.

Spencer Clark, open spaces and facilities manager, will tell the regulatory and support services committee the refreshed policy supports the council’s duty of care.

“This smoking policy will apply to all staff, elected members, visitors, contractors and others who enter any premises or vehicles used as workplaces by the council,” he says.

“The legislation applies to all council enclosed buildings, related areas and council owned vehicles”.

Mr Clark said the smoke free workplace policy is to “guarantee a healthy working environment” and protect the current and future health of staff members and the public.

Any council employee found breaching the new guidelines will face disciplinary action.

It also asks employees who visit smokers in their homes as part of their duties to ask them to consider refraining from smoking. Managers may also be asked to complete risk assessments before visits to protect employees from exposure to second-hand smoke.

Smoking in workers’ private vehicles is also strongly discouraged and those workers who do smoke must do so off-site and must get their line manager’s permission,

All visitors, contractors and deliverers must also abide by the new policy.

All premises owned and occupied by the council – including staff car parks – will be covered by the smoking ban. Those buildings owned by the council – such as E-Space North and South – which have multi tenanted offices will also be brought into the non smoking in the grounds policy.

The policy is in line with the council’s aim to reduce the number of smoke-related deaths in the district and “guarantee the right of everyone to breathe in air free of tobacco smoke.”

Statistics from Public Health England have revealed that there were 97 smoke-related deaths in East Cambridgeshire in 2016.

* Portley Hill depot, Littleport, is the only council owned property that will be allowed to retain a designated smoking area.

Commentary: Smoking is an archaic habit with no place in modern society

The move to raise the legal age for smoking gives a much needed boost to Singapore’s efforts at reducing the prevalence of smoking among youths.

http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/commentary-smoking-is-an-archaic-habit-with-no-place-in-modern/3584938.html

Shocking as it sounds, many doctors used to smoke.

The groundbreaking study which first confirmed the link between smoking and lung cancer was carried out on British doctors in the early 1950s. UK Medical Research Council member Sir Richard Doll, who conducted the study chose doctors as his research participants because many of them smoked, and it would be easier to observe what happened to them as a result of smoking.

Within three years of observation, 37 died from lung cancer. All were smokers. The number of deaths rose to 70 after five years. His work provided strong evidence of the dangers of smoking and laid the groundwork for future public debates about smoking

Since then, governments around the world have put in place policies and programmes to stop people from picking up the habit and help smokers kick theirs. For instance, the United States introduced the tobacco advertising ban and tax in the 1960s.

Singapore became the first Asian country to ban tobacco advertising in 1971, followed by the banning of smoking in various public places. The Singapore Government has also dramatically increased the excise tax on tobacco since 1983.

The impact of such combination of measures was visibly evident. The proportion of smokers among male Singaporeans aged 18 and above declined from 42 per cent in the late 1970s to 24.3 per cent in 2010, and the per capita consumption of tobacco decreased from 2.36 kilograms to 0.77 kilograms in a short span of 30 years. The incidence of lung cancer also halved from around 60 per 100,000 in the 1980s to 30 per 100,000 today.

Nonetheless, the decline in the proportion of smokers has since hit a plateau over the last ten years, hovering around 23 to 24 per cent in males, and 3.5 to 4 per cent in females, and has not budged since. What this effectively means is that the number of new smokers now equal those who have died from or quit the habit. To lower the proportion of smokers, more aggressive efforts will be required to prevent Singaporeans from picking up the habit.

WILL RAISING THE MINIMUM LEGAL AGE REALLY HELP STEM THE HABIT OF SMOKING?

Senior Minister of State for Health, Dr Amy Khor, announced recently on Thursday that the legal age for smoking and buying tobacco products will be raised from 18 to 21.

This will be a much needed boost to Singapore’s efforts at reducing the prevalence of smoking among youths.

Raising the minimum legal age (MLA) makes it harder for them to get tobacco products either directly or through their social networks. More importantly, it contributes toward de-normalising smoking.

95 per cent of smokers in Singapore had their first puff before age 21. Increasing the legal smoking age to 21 reduces youth exposure to tobacco products during their adolescence – a critical stage of life where they are more susceptible to peer pressure, where their psycho-social maturity, including sensation seeking, impulsivity, and future perspective taking, are still not fully developed.

Detractors may question the rationale for raising the MLA.

Some critics argue that raising the legal smoking age is simply delaying initiation into the habit. But the fact is that those who do not pick up smoking by age 21 are unlikely to ever begin. There is evidence that the younger the adolescent is when he starts smoking, the higher the level of nicotine dependence, and the greater the probability of him becoming a long-term, heavy smoker.

Others may make invidious comparisons. After all, if an 18 to 20 year old can legally marry, drive, consume alcohol or serve national service, why is he not allowed to smoke?

Tobacco smoking is clearly very different from and far outweighs the aforementioned activities when it comes to fatalities. It is deliberately designed to be addictive and is known to cause disease and disabilities in both the smokers, as well as those breathing in secondhand smoke. There is no moderate level of consumption at which tobacco smoking is safe – for the smoker and those around him. It is a unique product that kills its user when used as instructed.

Another objection is that raising the MLA may lead to the emergence of a black market peddling tobacco products to underage smokers. To deal with that, law enforcement efforts can be intensified, and harsher penalties imposed on the sellers. For instance, New York City stepped up its enforcement and increased penalties for supply of illegal tobacco products when it raised the MLA.

Of course, even with these efforts, it is impossible to entirely curtail a black market. However, future generations of youths will be discouraged from smoking, disease will be averted and lives saved albeit with this negative “side effect”.

ADOPT AN APPROACH THAT IS SYMPATHETIC, EDUCATIONAL AND SUPPORTIVE

In meting out consequences for underage smokers, we ought to bear in mind that they too are victims of Big Tobacco advertising strategies directed at the aspirations of impressionable youth.

Our best defence would be to adopt an approach that is sympathetic, educational and supportive of their efforts to quit the habit. To successfully curb smoking initiation in our youths, we would do well to ensure adequate enforcement of the MLA on retailers who sell tobacco to minors.

The debate over the Government’s move to raise the minimum legal age is a reminder that no single silver bullet to reduce smoking prevalence exists. The MLA is only but one of the existing and additional future measures for effective tobacco control. Singapore has banned electronic cigarettes which tobacco companies intentionally market as “safer” to youths. They also claim that heated cigarettes are safer but studies have shown that they have the same nicotine content as traditional cigarettes.

There are other measures that we can consider in the fight against smoking. First, there is evidence that increasing the size of graphic health warnings (GHW) on the cigarette packaging prevents youth smoking initiation, boosts motivation to quit, reduces smoking among adults and sustains smoking cessation. Expanding the size of the GHW is a highly cost-effective control measure that we should consider implementing.

Second, several countries like Australia, France and UK have augmented their GHW with standardised packaging. Also known as “plain packaging”, this requirement removes all branding elements such as colour, image, trademarks, logos and text, and only allows the brand name to be printed in a standardised font, size and location on the pack. This reduces the appeal of the pack, weakens any branding power each product might have, and strengthens the impact of the GHW.

Australia was the first nation in the world to adopt plain packaging in 2012. Even though the health impact of the policy will take years to be fully seen, a post–implementation review published in February 2016 reported that the policy has reduced smoking and exposure to tobacco smoke, and is expected to continue doing so.

Third, price and taxes are effective tools for tobacco control. According to the World Health Organisation, a 10 per cent increase in tobacco prices will reduce consumption by about 4 per cent in high-income countries. We should raise tobacco taxes further as part of our suite of enhanced control measures, if we think that smoking remains a serious issue even after the MLA has been raised.

Last, internationally, there is a movement to go beyond conventional tobacco control strategies and adopt fundamentally different strategies that aim to eliminate smoking altogether. These are broadly classified as “Endgame Strategies”. Singapore should begin thinking about eliminating smoking completely. We would not be the first country to endorse and adopt this approach. New Zealand, Finland, Canada, Sweden and France have all endorsed the goal of achieving a smoke-free society in the next eight to 23 years.

Smoking was introduced commercially in the 1880s. It is an ancient and archaic habit, and has no place in our modern and progressive society.

Professor Chia Kee Seng is Dean of the Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health at the National University of Singapore.

Japan’s tobacco lobby seeks to head off indoor smoking ban

Push for country to adopt global norms opposed on grounds of existing outdoor prohibition

https://www.ft.com/content/785b1b46-ffdd-11e6-96f8-3700c5664d30

A Japanese plan to ban indoor smoking in public places before the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, bringing the country in line with most of the developed world, is facing fierce resistance from the country’s powerful tobacco lobby.

Japanese smoking rates fell from 27.7 per cent of adults in 2003 to 18.2 per cent in 2015. But the nation’s remaining smokers, who are still able to pursue their habit inside restaurants, bars and workplaces, enjoy a level of freedom long ago stripped from counterparts elsewhere in the world. Nearly 50 countries have imposed blanket bans on indoor smoking and early drafts of the health ministry’s proposed revisions to Japan’s Health Promotion Law cite the success of legislation in the UK, France, and elsewhere. However, 231 municipalities in Japan, including in Tokyo and other major cities, have since the mid-2000s prohibited smoking in the street. The bans are largely in the name of hygiene and aesthetics, but with more than half an eye to passive smoking. The “manners” drive has created the often bizarre situation where smokers sitting on terraces outside restaurants or bars are obliged to come indoors to light up. Japan Tobacco, the world’s fourth-biggest cigarette maker by sales, which is 33.35 per cent owned by the state, has seized on this oddity in an effort to dilute the blanket ban on indoor smoking initially proposed by the health ministry.: Pragmatism on nicotine could save lives Encouraging safer alternatives to smoking can help end epidemic It is not fair to cite the success of smoking bans in places like the UK, continental Europe and the US, said a JT spokesman, because most Japanese smokers do not have the same option of going outside. JT’s argument appears to have borne fruit. On Wednesday, when the health ministry unveiled a revised proposal, the demands were heavily watered down from earlier versions, allowing exemptions for Japan’s thousands of bars and restaurants occupying less than 30 square metres of floor space. Finance minister Taro Aso, whose state portfolio includes the JT stake, last month expressed doubts over the harmful effects of smoking, referring to “various people” who question the link between smoking and lung cancer. Such views are echoed by Japan’s tobacco lobby, which has the support of an estimated 100 parliamentary members of the ruling Liberal Democratic party.

Other groups aligned against the health ministry on its indoor smoking ban plans include a bar and restaurant industry fearful that business would be devastated. JT approaches the debate from a stated position that it does not believe the case has been proved that second-hand smoking is a cause of diseases such as lung cancer. The World Health Organization has meanwhile awarded Japan’s existing efforts to prevent passive smoking the lowest rating available and the Japanese government’s own research suggests that as much as 40 per cent of people eating or drinking out are exposed to passive smoking. On the subject of imposing an indoor smoking ban to clean up Japan’s image ahead of the Olympics, JT said the event should instead be used to publicise the success of the country’s “smoke segregation” policies that divide smoking and non-smoking zones inside buildings.

Shanghai expands public smoking ban

Shanghai widened its ban on public smoking Wednesday as China’s biggest city steps up efforts to stub out the massive health threat despite conflicts of interest with the state-owned tobacco industry.

http://www.digitaljournal.com/news/world/shanghai-expands-public-smoking-ban/article/486881

Nearly a quarter of adults in the commercial hub of 24 million people are smokers, according to the state-run People’s Daily newspaper, citing data from the Chinese Association of Tobacco Control.

Shanghai has had a limited ban on public smoking since 2010, but the regulation covered only certain spaces such as schools and libraries.

The new rule expands the restrictions to all public indoor areas and some outdoor ones.

In June 2015 Beijing municipality adopted the toughest anti-smoking legislation in the country, banning smoking in offices, restaurants, hotels and hospitals.

The southern city of Shenzhen introduced similar rules in 2014.

China has long said it plans to ban smoking nationwide. In November, government health spokesman Mao Qunan indicated measures would be rolled out across the country by the end of last year.

But the measures, which have been available for public comment since 2014, still have not been put into effect.

Anti-smoking measures pose a dilemma for China.

On one hand, smoking has created an enormous burden on the public health system — leading to as many as one million deaths in 2010, according to a 2015 study in medical journal The Lancet.

On the other, the state-run tobacco industry provides the government with an enormous source of income: 1.1 trillion yuan ($160 billion) in taxes and profits in 2015, according to the most recent figures, up 20 percent year-on-year.

China’s tobacco regulator shares offices and senior officials with the state-owned China National Tobacco Corp — a near-monopoly and by far the world’s biggest cigarette producer.

The China representative of the World Heath Organization, Bernhard Schwartlander, said Tuesday in a statement that “the tobacco economy has all but stopped progress on a national smoke-free law”.

“Largely because the tobacco industry in China, which has a vested interest in maintaining an economy based on the production and use of tobacco, dominates the official government body meant to curb tobacco use,” he said.

 

Tobacco lobby holding back smoking ban

On Wednesday, Shanghai becomes the latest municipality in China, following Beijing and Shenzhen, to launch a 100 percent smoke-free policy in public places and work spaces. Some 60 million people-more than the population of many countries-living in these cities can now enjoy smoke-free public places.

http://www.ecns.cn/2017/03-01/247303.shtml

While we congratulate Shanghai on joining Beijing and Shenzhen as global leaders in tobacco control, we must also ask: How is it that only three cities in China have adopted comprehensive smoke-free policies? What is standing in the way of the rest of the 1.3 billion citizens having the right to smoke-free indoor air in their workplaces and factories, and in restaurants and shopping areas?

President Xi Jinping has announced his vision for China’s future. First, he announced the Chinese Dream; then he called for the Chinese economy to reinvent itself, led by industrial innovation; and last summer, he announced his Health China 2030 initiative, a bold declaration that made public health a precondition for all future economic and social development.

As evidenced in this remarkable series of policy announcements, Xi’s vision for China is one in which economic growth enhances, rather than sacrifices, individual well-being.

Unfortunately, there remains a glaring obstacle to realizing the Chinese Dream and Healthy China 2030 vision-an obstacle which has resisted the considerable efforts of China’s public health authorities, advocates and citizens: the tobacco economy.

Tobacco represents an economy of the past. China’s tobacco companies do not fit the vision of an economy driven by innovative, value-added manufacturing and a strong service sector. Its very reliance on Chinese smokers undermines efforts to build a healthy China by 2030.

We celebrate the smoke-free laws in Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen. But they are among the wealthiest cities in China, which raises the question of inequality. Smoke-free indoor air should not be a luxury for the wealthy, rather an entitlement for all Chinese citizens who are working hard to realize the Chinese Dream.

Why is this not happening? The reason is largely because of the short-sighted economic interests that are not aligned with the President’s vision.

The small but successful tobacco tax adopted in 2015, which reduced smoking and increased government revenues, should be drastically increased so that the tobacco companies pay more tax and farmers start growing alternative crops.

Instead, there is continued resistance to further tobacco taxes and stronger advertising restrictions. Most concerning is that progress has all but stopped on a national smoke-free law.

To those who doubt whether rural governments are capable of implementing a comprehensive smoke-free law, I would point to the hundreds of millions of people China pulled out of poverty in three decades-a much tougher implementation challenge, achieved through strong government leadership and coordinated action at all levels.

Xi’s vision for China’s future is clear. The country’s leadership should pass comprehensive legislation against tobacco to ensure all Chinese citizens, not just those in the wealthiest cities, can breathe smoke-free air indoors.

Local leaders like those in Shanghai are taking bold decisions to ensure the health of citizens. And even in the absence of national legislation, they are breathing new life into the Chinese Dream to make Xi’s Healthy China 2030 vision a reality and relegate the tobacco economy to a place it deserves-in the past

Slovenia adopts plain packaging

Congratulations to SFP Coalition Partners No excuse Slovenia and Slovenian Coalition for Public Health, Environment and Tobacco Control for their tireless advocacy to support this legislation in the last year.

http://www.smokefreepartnership.eu/partner-news/item/slovenia-adopts-plain-packaging

On 15 February the Slovenian Parliament adopted the draft law proposed by the government without a single vote against. Plain packaging is expected to enter into force in 2020.

Briefly, the new Slovenian Tobacco law includes:

– Plain packaging (65% coverage with health warnings and quitting information)
– Introduction of license for selling tobacco products,
– Total display and Tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship (TAPS) ban
– Prohibition of selling tobacco products with aromas and other additives
– Prohibition of smoking in cars with a minor present
– Prohibition of smoking indoors including E-cigarettes
– Mystery shopping/test purchasing by underage,
– Measures of prevention of illicit trade

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.