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Tobacco Control

Progress against ‘global tobacco epidemic’ made but not enough

Tobacco treaty has helped cut smoking rates, yet more work is needed

http://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20170325/health-fitness/Progress-against-global-tobacco-epidemic-made-but-not-enough.643389

The WHO warns against tobacco use which kills about six million people a year globally and imposes a huge burden on the world economy.

A global tobacco treaty put in place in 2005 has helped reduce smoking rates by 2.5 per cent worldwide in 10 years, researchers said, but use of deadly tobacco products could be cut even further with more work on anti-smoking policies.

In a study published in the Lancet Public Health journal, researchers from Canada’s University of Waterloo and the World Health Organisation (WHO) found that while progress against what they called the “global tobacco epidemic” has been substantial, it has still fallen short of the pace called for by the treaty.

The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), which came into effect in 2005, obliges the 180 countries signed up to have high tobacco taxes, smoke-free public spaces, warning labels, comprehensive advertising bans and support for stop-smoking services.

Smoking causes lung cancer and is a major risk factor for cardiovascular illnesses such as heart disease and strokes, which kill more people than any other diseases.

The WHO says tobacco kills about six million people a year globally and imposes a huge burden on the world economy. Annual healthcare and lost productivity costs for those made ill from smoking are estimated at around $1 trillion.

The study analysed WHO data from 126 countries – 116 of which are signatories to the FCTC – and tracked and compared the implementation of the five key measures from 2007 to 2014 to look at links between strong policies and smoking rates.

It found that, on average, smoking rates dropped to 22.2 per cent in 2015 from 24.7 a decade earlier. But the trends varied, with rates falling in 90 countries, rising in 24 and remaining steady in 12.

Countries that fully implemented more FCTC measures saw significantly greater reductions in smoking rates, the study found. Overall, each additional measure was linked with a drop in smoking rates of 1.57 percentage points – corresponding to 7.1 per cent fewer smokers in 2015 compared with in 2005.

The study was not a full global analysis, since only 65 per cent of countries had the data needed, but it did include countries from all income levels and regions. The researchers also noted that the lower smoking rates could be influenced by factors other than FCTC policy recommendations.

“The data did not allow a detailed analysis of the impact of individual policies,” said Geoffrey Fong of Waterloo University, who co-led the work.

He called for more studies that are specifically designed to evaluate the impact of all FCTC policies and would “help provide guidance to countries about what policies may offer the greatest benefits”.

Oregon Senate approves raising the tobacco use age to 21

The state Senate has approved raising Oregon’s minimum age for tobacco use to 21.

http://ktvl.com/news/local/oregon-senate-approves-raising-the-tobacco-use-age-to-21

The bill approved 19-8 on Thursday now heads to the House. If the proposal is eventually signed by Gov. Kate Brown, Oregon would be the third state to increase the legal age for buying and possessing cigarettes and other tobacco products from 18 to 21.

Hawaii was the first state to increase the age, followed by California. Dozens of cities and local jurisdictions have adopted the policy over the years, including Oregon’s Lane County.

The proposal would reduce Oregon’s tax revenue from tobacco by $1.76 million in the upcoming two-year budget, adding slightly to the state’s projected $1.6 billion budget shortfall.

The losses, however, could be covered from proposals to increase tax rates on tobacco.

Guam raises tobacco age to 21 come 2018

The legal smoking age in Guam will be 21 next year.

http://www.dailyprogress.com/guam-raises-tobacco-age-to-come/article_29ad8ba9-8df0-5ec5-8df2-51f052eee133.html

A measure lapsed into law this week raising the legal age to use or purchase tobacco products from 18 to 21 stating Jan. 1, 2018, The Pacific Daily News reported (http://bit.ly/2nPFaIb ). Lawmakers unanimously passed the measure March 9 and the governor took no action, meaning the measure automatically became law.

Last year, the Legislature passed a similar bill to raise the legal tobacco age to 21 but Gov. Eddie Calvo vetoed it, saying was a “willful intrusion into the personal lives and choices of our citizens.”

Adelup Director of Communications Oyaol Ngirairikl said Calvo maintains his stance that residents should be free to choose, but acknowledges that the majority of senators voted in favor of the smoking-age measure, making it immune to a veto.

“Guam’s youth smoking rate is the highest in the nation,” said Speaker Benjamin Cruz on Thursday. “And at a time when tobacco kills more people than alcohol, car accidents and illicit drugs combined, how then can we ignore the fact that doing nothing would not only have protected Big Tobacco, but condemned future generations of young people to disease and death?”

According to the American Cancer Society, smoking rates on Guam have declined in recent years to 27.4 percent, but still remain higher than the national average of 17.5 percent.

Health care officials who supported the measure to raise the smoking age cited a March 2015 Institute of Medicine report that projected tobacco use in the nation to drop by 12 percent if the legal smoking age was raised to 21.

Is tobacco bill really necessary?

Last week we learned that President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo verbally rejected a proposal from lawmakers for a new tobacco bill that would increase protection of the industry and production of cigarettes. However, he finally gave written agreement for discussion by government and the legislature about the proposed law.

http://www.thejakartapost.com/academia/2017/03/24/is-tobacco-bill-really-necessary.html

Smoking and the tobacco industry have long been big business here with well documented impacts on national, family and individual economies, health and welfare. Today I call on activists concerned for the people of Indonesia to reject the proposed tobacco law, which threatens the health and well-being of our people. It is in conflict with prevailing laws on health and other fields.

We must also raise our voices to point to positive action that the government can take to address some key concerns of the President — an increase in revenues and the welfare of tobacco farmers and workers in the cigarette industry.

A review of some basic facts about smoking and tobacco in Indonesia makes clear the importance of acting promptly.

Among the country’s 255 million people, an estimated 65 percent of adult males are regular smokers, making Indonesia the second-largest cigarette market in Asia after China. Furthermore, in Indonesia the rate of smoking among women has increased rapidly in recent years. This threatens not only the health of these women, but that of their babies and children. Smoking while pregnant increases the risk of miscarriage, low birth weight and respiratory problems in children after birth.

A child growing up with a mother or father or both smoking is at risk in multiple ways. Children’s health may be permanently affected by second-hand smoke in the house. Furthermore children may associate smoking with “being adult” and rush to start smoking themselves leading to early, long-term addiction.

Finally, the households of smokers, particularly low-income families, live with cruel competition for family funds between expenditure on cigarettes and expenditure on good nutrition, clothing, school books and basic medical care. Research shows that it is often the basic needs that lose out — a punishment for the whole family that falls particularly hard on children who are building bones, brains and muscles.

As a pediatrician I would like all parents to be disciplined, caring and active in promoting the best possible life chances for each of their children. Yet science and global experience make clear that the addictive nature of cigarette smoking, peer-group pressure among young people and alluring cigarette advertising makes it easy to start lighting up. Later, smokers find it difficult or impossible to shake the habit.

Therefore I argue not only against the proposed bill.

I also suggest four important actions that could eventually help reduce the threat of smoking to people’s health, thus reducing individual and health expenditure, increase revenue, improve the situation of tobacco farmers and help cigarette factory workers.

First, accede to the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). This global public health treaty aims to reduce tobacco-related causes of ill health and death through cutting legal and illegal supply and demand for tobacco, and protection of health and the environment from tobacco-related damage. Having been adopted by 180 of the 193 UN member states, Indonesia is one of only 13 which is not yet a party to the convention.

Second, increase revenues from tobacco and smoking. The expansion of cigarette production and sales in the proposed bill is presented in terms of expansion of employment opportunities and income for the government.

Yet this increase can be achieved without the bill by increasing the price of a pack of cigarettes (20 sticks), now at US$ 1.40, among the world’s lowest. A significant increase in price will automatically increase revenues from taxes and excises, which benefits the national and regional levels.

Increasing the price would both raise revenue and reduce smoking among the young and the poor -meaning lower treatment costs of tobacco-related diseases.

Third, protect and develop tobacco farmers. Since independence, Indonesia has worked to improve its citizens’ productivity, health services and welfare. There is already a law for the protection and empowerment of farmers (Law No. 19/ 2013). Presidential or other government regulations with special focus could fully meet the needs of tobacco farmers.

Also urgent are special efforts to support farmers wanting to transit out of tobacco farming but without the resources for the startup investment, including training, equipment, seeds etc.

Fourth, protect and attend to the welfare of cigarette factory workers. Similar to farmers, there are laws and regulations that could be used to address their special needs as the industry evolves. And it is clear that even if the cigarette industry expands production in line with the proposed law, it would not expand employment, given the industry’s preference for the speed, efficiency and simplicity of mechanized production.

Layoffs of workers and the shift from hand-rolled cigarettes to mostly mechanized production is already well advanced – 75 percent of kretek (clove-based) cigarettes is now machine rolled. Thus the new law would unlikely provide any significant new employment or support for workers displaced by mechanization.

So is the proposed tobacco bill needed to raise revenues and protect agricultural and factory workers in the industry? No. If we are concerned about the people, their health and well-being, the proposed tobacco bill is clearly unnecessary!

***

The writer is presently leaders’ envoy and board chair for the Asia Pacific Leaders’ Malaria Alliance (APLMA). She served as health minister (2012-2014) and chair of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (2013–2015)

Legal tobacco age will be 21

Come Jan. 1, 2018, only adults age 21 and older will be allowed to legally purchase and use tobacco and e-cigarettes on Guam.

Lawmakers unanimously passed Bill 9-34 on March 9. Without any action from the governor, the measure lapsed into law this week, raising the legal age to use tobacco products from 18 to 21.

Speaker Benjamin Cruz, D-Tumon, issued a statement Thursday on the passage of his measure.

“Armed with facts instead of fear — young people, health care professionals and countless community advocates persisted, and, because of their work, this bill is now law,” Cruz said.

Adelup Director of Communications Oyaol Ngirairikl said while the governor maintains his stance that residents should be free to choose, he also recognizes that a majority of the senators voted in favor of the measure, making it veto-proof.

Last year the Legislature passed a similar bill to raise the legal tobacco age to 21, but Calvo vetoed it, saying the bill was a “willful intrusion into the personal lives and choices of our citizens.”

During session earlier this month, senators amended the bill to double the fines for violators who sell tobacco to those not of legal age to use tobacco products.

Businesses that sell tobacco or e-cigarette products also must update posted notices alerting customers that tobacco products cannot be sold to people under 21 years old.

“Guam’s youth smoking rate is the highest in the nation,” Cruz said. “And at a time when tobacco kills more people than alcohol, car accidents and illicit drugs combined, how then can we ignore the fact that doing nothing would not only have protected Big Tobacco, but condemned future generations of young people to disease and death?”

‘Make a difference’

The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network also applauded the new law.

“We believe it will make a difference in the lives of our youths by helping to spare them a lifetime of addiction from tobacco use, and therefore tobacco-related disease and death,” said Cathy Rivera Castro, the network’s ambassador constituent team lead.

Smoking rates in the island have declined in the last few years, but remain higher than the national average, according to the American Cancer Society. The smoking rate here is 27.4 percent, higher than national average of 17.5 percent, the organization said in its statement. And one in three local high school students uses electronic cigarettes, it said.

Health care professionals who supported Bill 9-34 cited a March 2015 Institute of Medicine report that projected tobacco use in the nation to drop by 12 percent if the legal smoking age was raised to 21.

BNZ to bring in nuclear free, tobacco free investment policy

Bank of New Zealand has developed a responsible investment policy which excludes companies involved in the production of cluster munitions, anti-personnel mines, nuclear weapons and tobacco or tobacco products from its international equity holdings, it said.

http://business.scoop.co.nz/2017/03/23/bnz-to-bring-in-nuclear-free-tobacco-free-investment-policy/

“In the last 3.5 years our funds under management have grown from $1.5 billion to almost $4 billion today, so we’ve undertaken a comprehensive review of our investment business,” BNZ head of wealth and private bank Donna Nicolof said in a statement. In the past BNZ invested in commingled funds alongside other institutional investors.

“One of our key investment beliefs is that risk and return are equally important and we have made the decision to exclude companies involved in the manufacture of tobacco on the basis that there is no safe level of use and engagement with these companies is futile. The regulatory and litigation risks faced by this industry are significant,” Nicolof said.

The investment policy at BNZ, a subsidiary of National Australia Bank, spans all investments it makes on behalf of customers and includes the investments of the BNZ KiwiSaver Scheme.

The move follows investor uproar last year after media investigations found New Zealanders had unknowingly invested $152 million in arms manufacturers and big tobacco companies through their KiwiSaver funds.

Earlier today the opposition Green Party said the government needs to set a clear deadline for when all KiwiSaver providers should have divested from companies involved in the manufacture of cluster bombs, landmines, and nuclear weapons. According to a report by Radio New Zealand four default providers – Australia & New Zealand Banking Group, Kiwibank, Westpac Banking Corp and Mercer – still had passive investments in such companies through global index funds.

“It’s time for the government to get tough on investment companies that are dragging their feet on ethical investment,” said Green Party co-leader James Shaw.

FCTC cut smoking 2.5 per cent over 10 years; study

A decade of tobacco control efforts by the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) has reduced the global smoking rate by 2.5 per cent, according to an evaluation by the International Tobacco Control Policy Evaluation Project.

http://www.tobaccojournal.com/FCTC_cut_smoking_2_5_per_cent_over_10_years_study.54157.0.html

Although the international treaty, an adjunct of the World Health Organisation, has made substantial progress in combatting use of tobacco products, implementation of FCTC measures has fallen short of its objectives, according to the study. “While the progress of WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control has been remarkable, there are still far too many countries where domestication of the treaty and its implementation has fallen short,” said Dr Geoffrey Fong, a study author from the University of Waterloo, Canada. “One important cause of this is the tobacco industry’s influence, particularly in low- and middle-income countries.”

Conducted with assistance from WHO, the study analysed data from 126 countries and determined the smoking rate in those countries declined on average from 24.7 per cent in 2005 to 22 per cent in 2015. FCTC obligates 180 signatory countries to raise tax on tobacco products, create smoke-free public spaces, implement warning labels on packaging, ban advertising and support stop-smoking services.

Calls to stub out tobacco deals

http://www.thestandard.com.hk/section-news.php?id=180992

Several legislators yesterday called on the government not to extend further concessions to the tobacco trade that is trying to further delay implementation of bigger graphic health warnings on cigarettes to the detriment of public health.

The government proposed in May 2015 to enlarge the size of health warnings to cover at least 85 percent of the packet or retail containers of cigarettes, saying the existing six graphic health warnings which cover half of packets or containers have been in use since 2007.

The Food and Health Bureau has made four concessions to meet the industry’s concerns, including using any background color to show nicotine and tar content and for the English version of the health warning to remain at 50 percent of the surface area of the lid of a drum-shaped container.

Undersecretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan Siu-chee told a Legislative Council health services panel yesterday that the government will also extend the adaptation period from six months to 12 months upon gazetting of the amendment order of the smoking ordinance.

Tourism-sector lawmaker Yiu Si- wing said: “The government is conceding, giving in to the tobacco sector’s pressure.”

The Labour Party’s Fernando Cheung Chiu-hung: “Public health should come first. Especially as I have had some personal health problems, I understand the value of health.

“I understand from the grassroots that smoking is a relief for them from stress but the government should not concede anymore. It has already conceded enough.”

Peter Shiu Ka-fai, of the wholesale and retail sector, questioned whether the government would have evidence to show that bigger warnings would mean “people will stop smoking?”

Wong Ting-kwong, of the import and export sector, said he is a smoker and that bigger warnings will still affect second- and third-hand smokers as “the smoke isn’t less.”

The panel also discussed the Hong Kong Code, a voluntary code aimed at protecting breastfeeding and to impose restrictions on formula milk marketing practices that give misconceptions about the nutritional value of products for children up to 36 months old.

Chan told the legislators: “We consulted the Department of Justice and the code is not breaching the competition law as this is voluntary.”

Stamps mandated for tobacco products

The Tax Authoritiy (AT) has introduced a “control” stamp on tobacco products and plans the same for alcohol to reduce revenue loss from illicit trade, the AIM news agency reported.

http://www.tobaccojournal.com/Stamps_mandated_for_tobacco_products.54149.0.html

All imported and domestically manufactured products must bear the stamp to be sold legally, said AIM, the Agência de Informação de Moçambique. Amelia Nakhare, AT chairperson, said the new stamp would have a significant impact on government revenue and the country’s fiscal organisation, AIM said. She reportedly announced the new stamp during a visit to the British American Tobacco factory in Maputo, where cigarettes bearing the new seal were being manufactured.

Treasury consults on tax treatment of heated tobacco products

The Treasury is consulting on the tax treatment of heated tobacco products, which are being promoted as a new innovation in the tobacco market. In these products processed tobacco is heated (but not burned like conventional tobacco) to produce, or flavour vapour. Heated tobacco is not a separate category in its own right in current legislation, so a consultation on their tax treatment aims to help maintain the integrity of the duty system going forward.

The consultation scope does not include e-cigarettes, which do not contain tobacco.

The consultation closes on 12 June 2017.