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December, 2004:

Asian Environmental Tobacco Smoke Consultants Programme

“Care and feeding”: the Asian Environmental Tobacco Smoke Consultants Programme

M Assunta, N Fields, J Knight, S Chapman – School of Public Health, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia

Correspondence to: Mary Assunta – School of Public Health, Room 129A, Edward Ford Building (A27), University of Sydney, NSW 2006 Australia;

Study objective: To review the tobacco industry’s Asian environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) consultants programme, focusing on three key nations: China, Hong Kong, and Malaysia.

Methods: Systematic keyword and opportunistic website searches of formerly private internal industry documents.

Main results: The release of the 1986 US Surgeon General’s report on second hand smoke provoked tobacco companies to prepare for a major threat to their industry. Asian programme activities included conducting national/international symposiums, consultant “road shows” and extensive lobbying and media activities. The industry exploited confounding factors said to be unique to Asian societies such as diet, culture and urban pollution to downplay the health risks of ETS. The industry consultants were said to be “…prepared to do the kinds of things they were recruited to do”.

Conclusions: The programme was successful in blurring the science on ETS and keeping the controversy alive both nationally and internationally. For the duration of the project, it also successfully dissuaded national policy makers from instituting comprehensive bans on smoking in public places.

See the full report on Asian Environmental Tobacco Smoke Consultants Programme.

Tobacco Industry Lobbying Against Tobacco Control In Hong Kong

Tobacco Control 2004;13:ii13-ii21


“A phony way to show sincerity, as we all well know”: tobacco industry lobbying against tobacco control in Hong Kong

J Knight, S Chapman
School of Public Health, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia
Correspondence to:
Dr Jennifer Knight
School of Public Health, Room 129A, Edward Ford Building (A27), University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia;

Objective: To examine the tobacco industry’s efforts to influence public policy and block the legislative process on tobacco control in Hong Kong, 1973 to 1997.

Method: Systematic review of relevant tobacco industry documents made public via the Master Settlement Agreement.

Results: The tobacco industry in Hong Kong has sought to manipulate the policymaking process and delay the introduction of tobacco control legislation in Hong Kong from at least 1973. The industry ensured that each of the government’s initial meagre steps toward tobacco control were delayed and thwarted by drawn out “cooperation” followed by voluntary concessions on issues the industry regarded as minor. By the 1980s the government had became increasingly active in tobacco control and introduced a number of initiatives, resulting in some of the tightest legislative restrictions on smoking in Asia. The tobacco industry was successful in thwarting only one of these initiatives.

Conclusions: Throughout the 1980s and 1990s two factors played a significant role in hindering the tobacco industry from successfully blocking policy initiatives: a growing political imperative, and an active and sophisticated tobacco control movement. Political will to promote public health and a strong tobacco control advocacy presence can enable governments to resist the enormous pressure exerted upon them by multinational tobacco companies.

Abbreviations: B&W, Brown & Williamson; BAT, British American Tobacco; BRB, Broadcasting Review Board; COSH, Council on Smoking and Health; DBs, District Boards; HK, Hong Kong; LegCo, Legislative Council; PRC, People’s Republic of China; RJR, RJ Reynolds; TAHK, Television Authority of Hong Kong, TIHK, Tobacco Institute of Hong Kong

Bhutan Forbids All Tobacco Sales

BBC NEWS – Thimphu valley, Bhutan

Tobacco was already banned in 18 of Bhutan’s 20 districts

A ban on the sale of all tobacco products has come into effect in the remote Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan.

The Bhutanese government ordered shops, hotels, restaurants and bars selling tobacco products to dispose of existing stocks ahead of the ban.

The tobacco ban will not apply to foreign tourists, diplomats or those working for NGOs.

The predominantly Buddhist nation is thought to be the first country in the world to impose such a ban.

All smoking in public places has also been banned.

The moves are part of government efforts to make Bhutan a smoke-free nation.

“We want no pollution and good health for our citizens,” said Bhutanese minister, Jigme Thinley.

Eighteen of the kingdom’s 20 districts had already banned the sale of tobacco products before the deadline.

If any foreigner is caught selling tobacco products to Bhutanese nationals, he will be charged with smuggling

The capital district of Thimphu and the eastern district of Samdrup Jongkhar are the last to impose the ban.

Bhutan’s trade and industry ministry has warned of severe penalties if any person, group or firm is found selling tobacco.

Those who violate the ban will be fined $210 and owners of shops and hotels will lose their business licenses.

The government has decided to impose a 100% tax on all tobacco products brought into the country for personal consumption by Bhutanese.

Foreigners selling tobacco to locals will be severely punished, the authorities say.

“If any foreigner is caught selling tobacco products to Bhutanese nationals, he will be charged with smuggling. Tobacco will be treated as contraband,” Karma Tshering of Bhutanese Customs told the BBC.

Correspondents say smoking was only popular with a small percentage of the Bhutanese population. Chewing tobacco was much more common.

Secondhand Smoke Exposure

Secondhand Smoke Exposure

S.M. McGhee, A.J. Hedley
Department of Community Medicine, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR, China

The smoke from a burning cigarette contains a toxic mix of chemical substances and the IARC has classed secondhand tobacco smoke (SHS) as a Group 1 carcinogen. The evidence of harm to adult passive smokers is mounting including lung cancer and respiratory illness, heart disease and stroke as well as more minor acute respiratory symptoms and irritation. Children are even more vulnerable with domestic exposures before and/or after birth resulting in low weight infants, chronic health problems and more frequent hospital admissions for respiratory disease. There is also evidence of damage to lipoproteins in children although much of the longer term harm has not yet been assessed.

For adults, the workplace has been a common site of exposure but, in many countries, smoke-free workplaces are becoming more common. In the developing world however, SHS remains as occupational hazard, In Hong Kong, non-smoking catering workers had urine cotinine levels which indicated a 3% increased risk of mortality from heart disease or lung cancer compared with a level of 0.1% for the US occupational health significant risk level.

Policy-makers everywhere need to protect non-smokers from this serious threat to their respiratory and cardiovascular health and thus protect their communities from serious economic loss.