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November, 2007:

Combating The Illicit Trade In Tobacco Products

See why a protocol to the WHO-FCTC is needed on Combating The Illicit Trade In Tobacco Products here.

Protocol on Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products



Parties to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) recognize, in Article 15.1, that the elimination of all forms of illicit trade in tobacco products, including smuggling, illicit manufacturing and counterfeiting, is an essential component of global
tobacco control.

Illicit trade in tobacco products undermines high tobacco taxation policy, which evidence shows is one of the most effective ways to reduce tobacco consumption,1 and deprives governments of billions of dollars in taxation, thereby reducing the funding available for public health and other policies. In addition to being a major health problem, illicit trade in tobacco products poses a significant threat to the maintenance of law and order. There is evidence that illicit trade in tobacco products is carried out by organized transnational criminal groups, and that money gained from illicit trade in tobacco products is used for other serious criminal enterprises, including terrorist operations.2

The Framework Convention Alliance (FCA) estimates that the global illicit cigarette trade represents approximately 10.7% of global sales, or 600 billion cigarettes annually, and that losses to government revenue as a result of illicit trade in tobacco products total approximately $US 40 to 50 billion annually.3

Illicit trade in tobacco products is a transnational problem, the resolution of which will require international cooperation. While Parties to the FCTC have already accepted important obligations with respect to illicit trade in Article 15 of the Convention, an effective approach to the problem will require Parties to commit to the implementation of additional measures, including a comprehensive system of international cooperation. The need to supplement the provisions of Article 15 with additional commitments was recognized by the first session of the Conference of the Parties to the FCTC (COP-1), which noted ‘the need to further develop the obligations set out in Article 15 in an internationally binding legal instrument’,4 and decided to establish an expert group to prepare a template for a protocol on illicit trade, to be presented to its second session (COP-2).5

At COP-2, the Parties to the FCTC decided to establish an intergovernmental negotiating body (INB) to draft and negotiate a protocol on illicit trade.6 The decision recognised that the template prepared by the expert group establishes a basis for initiating the negotiations by the INB. As such, it invited Parties and accredited intergovernmental and nongovernmental organizations to provide comments on the template, at the latest three months prior to the first session of the INB. In its capacity as an accredited nongovernmental organization, representing over 300 nongovernmental organizations from more than 100 countries, the FCA submits these comments in support of the template prepared by the expert group.

The content of the template: key elements of a protocol on illicit trade On the basis of a firm recognition that illicit trade in tobacco products ‘significantly contributes to the global death and disease burden caused by tobacco consumption by making cigarettes cheaper, more accessible and more difficult to regulate’,7 the template prepared by the expert group recommends the adoption of a protocol to the FCTC under which Parties agree to implement a comprehensive set of measures – at both the domestic and international levels – to combat illicit trade. Key elements of a protocol, as identified in the template, include:

  • measures dealing with control of the tobacco product supply chain, including tracking and tracing of tobacco products, licensing of participants in the tobacco business, obligations on tobacco manufacturers to control the supply chain for their products, record keeping obligations, anti-money laundering measures, and restrictions on internet sales of tobacco products;
  • measures dealing with criminalization and enforcement, including establishment of offences, sanctions and penalties, search, seizure, tracing, freezing, confiscation, destruction and disposal, enhanced law enforcement capacity, special enforcement techniques, and establishment of jurisdiction; and
  • international cooperative measures, including information sharing, cooperation in scientific, technical and technological matters, cooperation in training, cooperation in respect of investigation and prosecution of offences, mutual legal and administrative assistance, and extradition.

The template also discusses a number of significant measures which may support the core commitments proposed, including public awareness raising and an appropriate institutional framework to support the protocol and its implementation (including financial resources and implementation mechanisms such as reporting and compliance monitoring).

Each of the measures identified in the template prepared by the expert group will be significant in an effective protocol to combat illicit trade in tobacco products. The rationale for the inclusion of each of these measures, and the content which should be considered for inclusion in a protocol, is discussed below.

See the entire Framework Convention Alliance ‘Comments on the template for a protocol on illicit trade in tobacco products‘ here.

Light Cigarette Lawsuits in the United States: 2007

Many smokers and potential smokers believe that light cigarette brands* are less hazardous to their health than standard brands.1 As a result, millions of smokers have switched to light cigarettes instead of attempting to quit.2 For the same reason, light cigarettes are popular among new smokers, particularly youth.3 The truth, however, is that light cigarettes are not safer than other brands and are just as addictive.4

Have these smokers been misled? In 2001, the National Cancer Institute published an analysis of internal industry documents that appeared to show that the cigarette industry knew the truth about light cigarettes, but kept it secret.5 Further evidence of wrongdoing was revealed by the United States Department of Justice’s lawsuit against the leading cigarette manufacturers.6 Federal District Court Judge Gladys Kessler, who presided over the case, made the follow key findings in August of 2006:

For several decades, Defendants have marketed and promoted their low tar brands as being less harmful than conventional cigarettes. That claim is false. . . . By making these false claims, Defendants have given smokers an acceptable alternative to quitting smoking, as well as an excuse for not quitting.7
. . .
Defendants’ conduct relating to low tar cigarettes was intended to further their overarching economic goal: to keep smokers smoking; to stop smokers from quitting; to encourage people, especially young people, to start smoking; and to maintain or increase corporate profits.8

Believing they were misled, light cigarette smokers have begun to bring lawsuits against cigarette manufacturers. The manufacturers deny any wrongdoing and are vigorously defending themselves in court.

This law synopsis examines light cigarette litigation. Section I provides a brief history of light cigarettes and their marketing. Section II provides an introduction to the ways tobacco litigation advances public health goals. Sections III and IV focus respectively on light cigarette class actions and individual light cigarette lawsuits. Section V discusses some key federalism issues at play in the litigation. Section VI touches on some of Judge Kessler’s findings of fact about the cigarette industry’s marketing of light cigarettes.

Key Points:

  • Cigarettes branded as “light,” “ultra light,” “low tar,” and the like are not designed to deliver less tar or nicotine to the smoker or otherwise reduce harmful exposure to the many toxic chemical compounds in cigarette smoke.
  • Internal industry documents show that cigarette manufacturers have been aware for many years that light cigarettes expose smokers to just as much tar and nicotine as other brands, but still misled smokers and potential smokers into believing otherwise.
  • Class action lawsuits alleging that cigarette manufacturers fraudulently misled consumers into believing light cigarettes are less harmful than other brands have been filed in over two dozen states, but only a few of the class actions have been allowed to proceed to trial.
  • The only light cigarette class action lawsuit to reach trial resulted in a multibillion dollar judgment against Philip Morris, but was overturned by the Illinois Supreme Court.
  • In 2006, a federal judge ruled that leading cigarette manufacturers violated the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act ─ in part because of their light cigarette marketing.

Read the entire document on Light Cigarette Lawsuits in the United States here.

Smokers & passive smokers

  • The death toll from active and passive smoking in Hong Kong is equivalent to 20 aeroplanes each with 350 people crashing each year.

More Proof Secondhand Smoke Damages Lungs

Published by WebMD on the 27th of November, 2007

More Proof Secondhand Smoke Damages Lungs

(WebMD) For the first time, researchers say they have evidence that long-term exposure to secondhand smoke can cause structural damage in the lungs that is indicative of emphysema.

Their study also suggests that the modified magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technique used to detect the lung damage may be able to spot emphysema long before symptoms occur.

The researchers used global helium-3 diffusion MRI to study the lungs of 13 current or former smokers and 45 people who had never smoked. Of the nonsmokers, 22 had heavy exposure to secondhand smoke, meaning they lived with a smoker or worked in a bar for at least a decade. None had symptoms of lung disease.

The modified MRI detected signs of early lung damage in 67 percent of smokers and 27 percent of nonsmokers with heavy exposure to secondhand smoke, says researcher Chengbo Wang, Ph.D., of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

In contrast, only 4 percent of nonsmokers who had never smoked and had fewer than 10 years of exposure appeared to have signs of early lung damage, he says.

The research was presented here at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).

Modified MRI Detects Lung Damage

Wang tells WebMD that it’s long been thought that prolonged exposure to secondhand smoke can cause lung damage and emphysema, but doctors lacked a way to prove it.

“Previous methods of detection weren’t sensitive enough,” he says.

Helium-3 diffusion MRI offers more detailed images of the lungs than previous techniques, he says.

It works like this: first, helium gas is polarized with a laser; this makes it more visible on MRI.

Then, while lying in a conventional MRI scanner, a person inhales the energized helium. In just six seconds, the scanner collects images showing how the helium gas distributes in the tiny air sacs called alveoli in the lung.

Prolonged exposure to cigarette smoke causes the walls of the air sacs to break down and the air sacs to become bigger and bigger – early signs of emphysema, Wang says.

As a result, helium travels much further in people with enlarged air sacs than in people with healthy alveoli, he explains.

“Using helium MRI, we were able to detect microscopic changes suggestive of emphysema in smokers and people exposed to secondhand smoke,” Wang says.

RSNA spokeswoman Katarzyna Macura, M.D., Ph.D., of Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions in Baltimore, tells WebMD that the modified MRI needs to be studied in larger numbers of people before it’s ready for prime time.

“Accessibility and cost are the two big issues that need to be addressed,” she says. “Before any recommendations can be made, we need solid data and proof that what we are seeing [on the scan reflects lung changes indicative of emphysema].”

Improve Your Health – Quit Smoking

Extracted from the article “Health Dept Airs New Anti-Tobacco Ad Campaign” published in medical news today on the 27th of November 2007:

Quitting smoking is the single most important thing you can do for your health

There are many health benefits to quitting, and they begin just 24 hours after you stop.

In 24 hours
– Your chance of heart attack drops.

In 2 days
– Your ability to smell and taste improves.

In 2 to 3 weeks
– Your circulation gets better.
– You can walk more easily.
– Your lung function improves.

In 1 month
– Your cough, sinus congestion, fatigue, and shortness of breath decrease.
– Your lungs start to repair themselves, reducing the chance of infection.

In 1 year
– Your risk of heart disease is cut in half.

In 5 years
– Your risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, and esophagus drops by about half.
– Your risk of stroke and heart disease begins to decrease

In 10 years
– Your risk of lung cancer is about half that of continuing smokers.

In 15 years
– Your risk of heart disease returns to the level of people who have never smoked.

Ten ways to make quitting easier

1. Prepare yourself.
Make a list of your reasons for quitting and read it often.

2. Pick a quit date.
Get rid of ashtrays and lighters, and throw out all cigarettes.

3. Have a smoke-free car and home.
It is healthier for others and will help you not smoke.

4. Get support and encouragement.
Tell you family, friends, and coworkers that you are quitting and ask for their support.

5. Get a quit buddy.
Ask a smoker to quit with you, or find someone who has already quit who you can talk to for support.

6. Notice what makes you want to smoke.
Alcohol, coffee, and stress can make you feel like smoking. So can seeing others smoke; ask smokers you know not to light up in front of you.

7. Think about using medications.
The nicotine patch or gum, and medications such as Zyban (bupropion) and Chantix (varenicline) greatly reduce your cravings and double your chance of success. Talk to your doctor.

8. Help yourself cope.
Drink a lot of water to help with cravings. Exercise to get rid of stress and improve your mood and health; a fast walk often does the trick.

9. Get your mind off smoking.
Talk to a friend when you feel like smoking. Get busy with a simple task, eat a healthy snack, take a walk, or chew gum. Stay away from places and situations you associate with smoking.

10. Stay away from that first cigarette.
Having even one can make you start up again. Cravings will decrease the longer you don’t smoke. If you can quit for 3 months, you’ll likely quit for good.

London’s economy boosts Capital Pub Company

Published in The Publican on the 27th of November 2007:

By Hamish Champ

No sign of a spending downturn in the city, says David Bruce

Despite fears of a downturn in consumer spending nationally, London’s ‘micro economy’ helped boost Capital Pub Company’s (CPC) trading in recent months, the group said today.

CPC’s chief executive David Bruce said the managed pubco was “lucky to be in the micro economy that is London. We’ve seen no evidence of a consumer downturn nor, with our pubs’ outside facilities, any problems relating to the smoking ban”.

He was speaking as the AIM-listed pub operator announced that turnover for the six months to September 29 had grown 36 per cent to £9.2m, with pre-tax profits, excluding profits on disposals, rose 19 per cent to £970,000.

Underlying earnings per share grew 11 per cent to 3.65p, while the interim dividend rose five per cent to 1.05p.

Acquisitions and “improved performance in the existing esate” were behind the figures, Bruce said.

On current trading Bruce said: “In spite of the poor weather, our national football team’s recent performances and the smoking ban we’ve seen no declines in either our food or drink volumes.”

CPC acquired four freehold pubs during the period for a total cost of £10.1m, plus it exchanged contracts on another freehold site for £2.2m.

It also recently exchanged contracts with Broken Foot Inns on a leasehold site in Kingston-upon-Thames, the Boaters Inns, for £450,000, which it expected to refurbish at a cost of £200,000.

“There’s a possibility we can persuade Kingston Borough Council to sell us the freehold [of the Boaters] one day,” Bruce said.

He said the group expected the pub to generate net sales of £200,000 per annum, giving a return on capital of around 30 per cent.

CPC aimed to double the size of its current 27-stong estate “in the medium term”, he added.

Population Attributable Fractions And Costs Of Passive Smoking

Sarah M McGhee from the Department of Community Medicine, School of Public Health, University of Hong Kong has come up with the following statistics in relation to passive smoking and the associated health effects and costs involved in this presentation on: Population Attributable Fractions And Costs Of Passive Smoking.

Smoke Pollution at Water Margin, Discovery Bay

This letter was sent by Nigel Bruce, a member of  Clear The Air Hong Kong, to Lewis Ho and cc’ed to Douglas Louden of Hong Kong Resorts International Ltd in reference to smoking in Discovery Bay’s Water Margin Complex.

Dear Mr. Ho,

You will have seen the article in Sunday’s SCMP. The article omits to mention that an average of 60% of Water Margin tables are outdoors, and rather underestimates the number of Discovery Bay citizens who are fed up with dining through a pall of someone else’s smoke. As I have mentioned, the attraction of the Water Margin lies in its outdoor view and ambience – we know we can sit indoors to escape smoke pollution.

I happen to be a Clear The Air member who has been seeking discussion rather than confrontation, and who has written to you twice to seek clarification on HKRI’s environmental policy re. the combination of smoking and dining it allows to continue on such a large scale.

But I have yet to receive a reply.

I refer in particular to my question:

Also, when you say: “Having said that, however, we would encourage the individual restaurants to allocate non-smoking areas within their leased premises on a voluntary basis so that both the smoking and non-smoking population can enjoy the superb Water Margin outdoor experience”, does this mean that you have not actually entered into any discussions with your tenant restaurants about their smoking policies?

The restaurants in the Water Margin seem to be offering to discuss compromise (as well as taking legal action against Clear The Air!) – why then does Management not take a lead and open discussions with them, as you suggest they might in your reply of 16th October?

Kind regards,

Nigel Bruce

Definition of Tobacco

Definition of Tobacco


Tobacco is the only legal consumer product and known toxic air contaminant that kills its addicted users and innocent bystanders as collateral damage when used as directed by its makers.