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November, 2007:

Objection Against Outdoor Smoking in Discovery Bay Restaurants

The following letter was sent in reply to concerns by Clear The Air over smoking in the outdoor seating areas of restaurants in Discovery Bay:

12 November, 2007
Dear Mr. James Middleton,
Objection against Smoking in the Outside Seating Accommodation of Restaurants at Water Margin Complex, Discovery Bay
Thank you for your emails dated 18.8.2007, 19.8.2007, 12.9.2007, 17.10.2007 and 24.10.2007 concerning the captioned.
2.         Both applicants and licensees of the food premises in the Water Margin Complex have intention to apply for Outside Seating Accommodation at the location.  Some applications have been received and under process by our Licensing Section.  Your views have been conveyed to the Licensing Section for information.
3.         Our staff will take out appropriate enforcement action should any contravention of laws witness on the spot.
4.         Your concern on smoking at the captioned location has also been conveyed to the Tobacco Control Office and Environmental Protection Department for parallel action.
5.         For enquiries, please feel free to contact the undersigned or our Health Inspector, Mr. LEE Yuk-chun, at 2852 3142.
Yours faithfully,
(WONG So-fan)
for Director of Food and Environmental Hygiene

The real cost of cigarettes to smokers: $222 a pack

Published by Vanderbilt University on the 11th of November 2007:

The real cost of cigarettes to smokers: $222 a pack;
Vanderbilt professors estimate the economic effect smoking has on smokers

How much does a pack of cigarettes really cost a smoker? While past studies have focused on the cost of cigarette smoking to society, a new report by two Vanderbilt University professors looks at the cost of smoking per pack in terms of the value of the risks to the smoker’s life.

University Distinguished Professor of Law, Economics, and Management W. Kip Viscusi and Professor of Law and Economics Joni Hersch found that each pack of cigarettes a man smokes reduces the value of his life by $222. For women, the results are $94 per pack.

“The data illustrates that smoking dwarfs almost every other risk people take,” Viscusi said. Viscusi is one of the leading authorities on cost-benefit analysis and the author of Smoke-Filled Rooms: A Post-Mortem on the Tobacco Deal.

The study results would seem to differ from Viscusi’s earlier findings that the cost of smoking to society is reduced due to smokers’ earlier deaths. But this study is different because it takes into account the cost to the smokers themselves based on the value smokers put on their own lives rather than the financial costs to society.

Previous research only considered the increased risk of dying at the end of life, whereas Viscusi and Hersch take note that smoking increases a person’s chances of dying at any time in his or her life. And, though it seems counterintuitive, the research finds that the value that a 20-year-old places on reducing the risk of death is actually lower than a 50-year-old’s. Although 20-year-olds have more of their life at risk, they are less affluent than 50-year-olds and consequently value safety less.

Why is the cost lower for women than for men? Viscusi and Hersch said it’s because men typically earn more than women over their lifetimes and have a greater mortality risk from smoking.

While it may be tempting for pundits to use this new analysis as an excuse for higher cigarette taxes, Viscusi said the data serve to reinforce the result that the main costs of smoking are not to society but to the smokers themselves. His past studies of smokers’ risk beliefs show that smokers already overestimate the risk of smoking, but smoke anyway. The question then, said Viscusi, is whether smokers really do like to smoke and also are just more likely to live in the present moment.

Despite the current focus on obesity, Viscusi said the bottom line is still that smoking is one of the worst risks people take with their health.

Dr. Judith Longstaff Mackay

Published in Time Sunday, Nov. 05, 2006

Judith Mackay
By Liam Fitzpatrick

Dr. Judith Longstaff Mackay is a witty and loquacious Englishwoman, who works as a tobacco-control advocate and senior policy adviser to the World Health Organization (WHO) out of her house in a bucolic Hong Kong suburb. Visitors are shown to a living room that, with its working fireplace and comfortable armchairs, seems to spring from the platonic ideal of a family home. As she pours you a glass of iced water it seems ludicrous to think that a leaked tobacco-industry document once named her as one of the three most dangerous people in the world. Even more absurdly, she has been described by a U.S. smokers’ rights group as “a gibbering Satan.” Mackay loves this sort of thing. She keeps a list of all the insults that smokers and tobacco executives have leveled at her over the years.

The tobacco industry has got it wrong, of course. Mackay isn’t merely one of the three most dangerous people. She’s probably the most dangerous. Just last week, financial-media tycoon and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that he will donate $125 million to five tobacco-control groups. The lion’s share is slated to go to the World Lung Foundation, earmarked for programs in developing countries, over half of which are in Asia. As the foundation’s project coordinator, Mackay will determine how that money will be spent. “For many Asian tobacco-control groups, this is the first time they will have had any significant money,” she says. Given what Mackay has achieved with negligible funding to date, it’s tantalizing to imagine what she will do now with real financial clout.

Her biggest triumph so far has been the 2003 Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, drawn up between all 192 member states of the WHO and stipulating restrictions on tobacco ads and public smoking. Mackay was instrumental in persuading states to sign it and in framing its provisions. Prior to this, she spent years advising the governments of China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, Thailand, South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan and Vietnam on tobacco-control policies and legislation. A gifted diplomat, she charms her way to the top, exerting influence where it matters most. She’s also unafraid of artful compromise. “If a health minister tells me that he can’t ban tobacco advertising on TV, then I’ll ask them to ban it between 4pm and 8pm, or whatever. They almost always agree.” As cigarette firms know, there is no more dangerous weapon in the fight to save smokers’ lives than the quiet persuasiveness of Judith Mackay.