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December, 2007:

Tobacco Is As Lethal To The Health And As Damaging To Society As Ever

Death and tobacco taxes

Tobacco is as lethal to the health and as damaging to society as ever. Enter the taxman

By Prabhat Jha – Taipei Times – Tuesday, Dec 25, 2007, Page 9

A global killer is ripping through the world’s poorer countries largely unchecked. Within 25 years, it will cause 10 million deaths a year worldwide — more than malaria, maternal deaths, childhood infections and diarrhea combined.

Over half of the dead will be aged 30 to 69, losing about 25 years of life expectancy. The culprit? Tobacco. The same addiction that became the top preventable cause of death in Western countries has made big inroads in developing countries. Smoking killed 100 million people in the 20th century, mostly in developed countries. On current trends smoking will kill about 1 billion people in the 21st century, mostly in developing countries.

In India, smoking triples the risk of death from tuberculosis in men and women and may even contribute to the spread of tuberculosis to others. About 1 million people per year will soon die from smoking in China and India. Perhaps 150 million young adults will be killed by tobacco in these two countries alone, unless there is widespread cessation.

But the death tolls of the past need not become the world’s future. We know how to control tobacco use. Cessation by the 1.1 billion current smokers is needed to lower tobacco deaths over the next few decades. Reduced uptake of smoking by children would save lives chiefly after 2050. Quitting works: even those who stop smoking in their 40s lower their risk of death remarkably, and those who quit in their 30s have death risks close to lifelong non-smokers.

Tobacco tax increases, dissemination of information about the health risks of smoking, smoking bans in public, complete bans on advertising and promotion, and cessation therapies are effective in helping smokers to quit. Tobacco taxes are probably the single most cost-effective intervention for adult health in the world. A tripling of the excise tax would roughly double the price of cigarettes (as has happened in New York City), preventing about 3 million deaths per year by 2030.

Most OECD countries began to take tobacco control seriously in the last two decades, and have decreased male tobacco deaths since. But effective tobacco control measures are not under way in developing countries. Taxes are about 80 percent of the street price of cigarettes in Toronto, but less than 30 percent in Beijing or Delhi. In many countries, tobacco taxes have fallen in real terms. Knowledge of the health risks from smoking is low: 61 percent of Chinese smokers in 1996 thought tobacco did them “little or no harm.”

Opposition from the tobacco industry is an obvious obstacle to tobacco control. Spurious economic arguments against higher taxes have been debunked in the West, but are still commonly repeated in the finance ministries of developing countries. Money not spent on tobacco would be spent on other goods and services. Indeed, even sharply reduced demand for tobacco would not mean unemployment in most countries.

Tax hikes lower consumption and raise revenue in the medium-term: a 10 percent higher tax means about 7 percent higher revenue over the medium term. These funds are a precious resource in fighting poverty. In China, a 10 percent higher price would reduce consumption by 5 percent and raise enough excise revenue to pay for a basic health package for 33 million poor rural Chinese.

Even in the face of smuggling, higher taxes reduce consumption and raise revenue. Smuggling is abetted by the tobacco industry in order to gain market share and scare finance ministers into lowering taxes. But governments can counter it in several ways: local language warnings with a prominent tax stamp on cigarette packs are one example.

Another common argument against tobacco control — that if people are not harming others, governments should not interfere with their individual decisions — is at odds with both common sense and the evidence.

Most smokers become addicted as adolescents or young adults, when shortsightedness and lack of information make rational decisions difficult. In countries with good information about tobacco risks, by the time child smokers become adults, more than 80 percent wish they never started. Recently, no less a person than William F. Buckley has argued that nicotine addiction cannot be dismissed as free choice.

Moreover, recent economic research finds that higher taxes are justified on welfare grounds, because the costs to smokers are huge (even though the external costs to others might be small), and that higher cigarette taxes do not hurt the poor (since the self-control value of higher taxes helps the poor more). Nobel laureate Amartya Sen wisely reminds us that “it is important that the practical case for tobacco control is not dismissed on the basis of an incomplete libertarian argument.”

The agenda is clear. Governments must take tobacco seriously as a leading killer of adults worldwide. International poverty goals must include tobacco control. Developing countries must not be fooled by the empty economic arguments that paralyzed control efforts in the West for so long. The Gates Foundation can fund action and research. There are hopeful signs: more than 160 countries have signed the World Health Organization’s global tobacco control treaty, and the Caribbean heads of state have recently declared they want to tackle tobacco together.

Between 150 million and 180 million deaths would be avoided before 2050 if the proportion of adults in developing countries who quit smoking increases from below 5 percent today to 30 percent to 40 percent by 2020 (like current quit rates in Canada).

Because control policies deter children from starting, even greater benefits can be expected beyond 2050.

Benjamin Franklin once said: “In this world, nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”

Yet we have a tax that could prevent hundreds of millions of premature deaths. It is time to use it.

Prabhat Jha is professor of health and development at the University of Toronto and director of the Centre for Global Health Research, St. Michael’s Hospital.

Smoking Ban In All Public Places In Iran

Posted on : 2007-12-22 | Author : DPA – Earth Times – News Category : Middle East

Tehran – As of Saturday, Iran will implement a strict smoking ban in all public places, Tehran media reported. According to the new law, smoking is prohibited in all public organizations, hotels, restaurants, tea houses and coffee shops.

Police has been ordered to decisively confront all restaurant owners nationwide with a warning first, then temporary closing and, in case of repetition, permanent closing of their enterprise.

Also forbidden is the offering and smoking of the traditional Persian water-pipe which is a must in Iranian tea houses.

The ban could inflict heavy losses especially for tea houses and coffee shops – there are no bars or pubs in Islamic Iran – but it is expected that the ban would be widely ignored except in hotels where controls are tighter.

A smoking ban for all car drivers nationwide was implemented since last March and although offenders could face fines up to 14 US dollars, the ban was widely ignored by the drivers.

Also selling tobacco products to anyone under 18 would result in confiscation of the vendor’s tobacco products and a cash fine up to 65 dollars. Repeated violations would lead to cash fines amounting to 1,400 dollars.

There are no official statistics on the number of smokers in Iran but it is said that 60,000 Iranians die directly or indirectly due to smoking every year.

Smoking Drops As Tobacco Taxes Rise

By The Associated Press Friday, December 21, 2007

PIERRE — Smoking appears to have declined sharply in South Dakota since the state tax on tobacco was increased substantially a year ago.

Voters who went to the polls in the 2006 general election approved a $1 increase in the cigarette tax, making it $1.53 a pack on Jan. 1. The previous 10 percent tax on cigars, chewing tobacco and other tobacco products was raised to 35 percent.

Tobacco stamps were issued for 37,389,568 packs of cigarettes through November in South Dakota, or roughly 9 million fewer packs than for the same 11-month period in 2006, said Michael Kenyon, who manages the collection of special taxes for the state Department of Revenue and Regulation.

Although some smokers may have crossed state borders to buy cigarettes where the tax is less, tax stamp sales would seem to indicate a 20 percent reduction in smoking this year.

Lewey Kruger, 53, of Lennox and his wife, Barb, quit smoking Jan. 19.

“I quit because they started ripping me off when they raised the tax, and I knew I should quit,” he said.

A smoker since 14, Kruger said he was going through nearly three packs a day until quitting, which he accomplished with the help of a prescription drug.

“I smoked for the first week I was on it, and I only took it for six weeks,” he said. “I had a morning cough all the time, and within a week my cough was gone.”

Kruger, who admits to occasionally smoking a cigar, said he drops into a jar the money he would have spent on cigarettes. He recently turned it in for $1,100.

“I took it to the bank and put it into a special account for cruises,” Kruger said.

The 20 percent reduction in cigarette sales is almost exactly what health groups believed would happen if the tax was raised by $1 a pack, said Jennifer Stalley of the American Cancer Society.

“This is on par with what we expected, if not exceeding our expectations for the number of people who are quitting,” she said. “This is a strong indicator that smokers are quitting or reaching out to get assistance to quit.”

Stalley was one of those deeply involved in a health coalition petition campaign to get the tax proposal on the ballot.

State tobacco tax revenues totaled nearly $61.4 million through November, Kenyon said. That was an increase of 136 percent, or $35.4 million.

Gail Gray, health and medical services director in the state Health Department, said more than 550 people contacted the agency’s QuitLine in October — about double the usual monthly tally.

“That’s just going up every month,” she said.

Possibly because of New Year’s resolutions, January is always a busy month for the QuitLine, which offers help and free tobacco cessation products, Gray said.

“You can choose a nicotine replacement, whether it’s gum or a patch, or you can choose medications, and they are free, too,” she said.

People seeking medications must get prescriptions from their doctors, but the drugs are free through the QuitLine program, Gray said.

Beginning July 1, the rules were changed to give people up to three chances to go through the program. Previously, only two chances were given.

“We know that quitting smoking is hard to do,” Gray said. “We know it doesn’t always happen the first time. Even with the QuitLine and the products, the quit rate is only 25 percent after a year. But without them, it’s 5 percent.”

Hong Kong Smoking Ban

How do you feel about the smoking ban after a year?

Updated on Dec 20, 2007 SCMP

The “smoking ban” is a farce that panders to the business whims of the Liberal Party.

Any licensed premises wishing to get an exemption can do so until July 1, 2009, by simply filling out a form and applying to our “health department”.

This ludicrous exemption is not only unjust under any sensible, fair competition law, it obviates the total idea of the anti-smoking legislation, which is to protect the health of catering workers forced to breathe the equivalent of a packet of cigarettes a day.

Meanwhile, their employers remain liable under existing workplace health and safety laws for not keeping the workplace safe from dangers to the health of the workers.

The slow-burning side-stream smoke from the tip of a cigarette is four to six times more toxic than the smoke inhaled by the smokers, and this comprises 85 per cent of the cigarette smoke in a room at any one time.

A University of Hong Kong study shows passive smoking kills an average of 1,324 innocent people a year of the 6,000-plus tobacco deaths in Hong Kong.

James Middleton, Clear the Air Hong Kong

The Case For The Plain Packaging Of Tobacco Products

Simon Chapman, School of Public Health, University of Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia. E-mail:

Aims: The Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) requires nations that have ratified the convention to ban all tobacco advertising and promotion. In the face of these restrictions, tobacco packaging has become the key promotional vehicle for the tobacco industry to interest smokers and potential smokers in tobacco products. This paper reviews available research into the probable impact of mandatory plain packaging and internal tobacco industry statements about the importance of packs as promotional vehicles. It critiques legal objections raised by the industry about plain packaging violating laws and international trade agreements.

Methods: Searches for available evidence were conducted within the internal tobacco industry documents through the online document archives; tobacco industry trade publications; research literature through the Medline and Business Source Premier databases; and grey literature including government documents, research reports and non-governmental organization papers via the Google internet search engine.

Results: Plain packaging of all tobacco products would remove a key remaining means for the industry to promote its products to billions of the world’s smokers and future smokers. Governments have required large surface areas of tobacco packs to be used exclusively for health warnings without legal impediment or need to compensate tobacco companies.

Conclusions: Requiring plain packaging is consistent with the intention to ban all tobacco promotions. There is no impediment in the FCTC to interpreting tobacco advertising and promotion to include tobacco packs.

Slowly, China tries to break tobacco habit

Slowly, China tries to break tobacco habit

That won’t be easy where even many doctors still smoke.

By Tim Johnson

McClatchy Newspapers

BEIJING – Smoking has no place at the Olympic Games. But Beijing Mayor Wang Qishan is a reluctant antismoking crusader. After all, he’s a smoker.

He has company at the Olympic Village, where the chief of the Games’ organizing committee also can sometimes be seen through a haze of cigarette smoke.

An astonishing number of China’s cabinet members and sports officials are among the 350 million Chinese whose cigarette habits support a state industry that is generating more taxes in China than any other industry.

Smoking is common even at the Health Ministry. Deputy Minister Gao Qiang smokes heavily, and surveys show that more than 50 percent of China’s male doctors and health workers smoke.

“They are under high pressure, stress, so they smoke to get relief,” said Zhi Xiuyi, the nonsmoking chief of the lung cancer center at Capital Medical University hospital.

Under growing criticism from the World Health Organization and other international bodies, China is slowly combating tobacco usage.

It has agreed to put warning labels on cigarette packs by 2009 and prohibit tobacco-related advertising and promotion by 2011. Last month, Beijing banned smoking in the city’s 66,000 taxis.

But the state tobacco monopoly keeps increasing production. It’s on course to crank out more than two trillion cigarettes this year. Smokers snap up packs of White Sand, Red Pagoda, Yellow Mountain, and 400 other national brands, adding to state coffers. The tobacco industry contributes $31 billion a year in taxes.

In March, the deputy chief of the state tobacco monopoly warned antismoking campaigners not to press too hard.

“We take very seriously the health dangers of smoking, but not having cigarettes also impacts stability,” Zhang Baozen, deputy chief of the State Tobacco Monopoly Administration, told state television.

Cigarette taxes provide Beijing with steady revenue. According to the World Bank, 8 percent of China’s central revenues come from taxes on cigarettes, compared with 3 percent in Britain, 1.8 percent in India, and 0.4 percent in the United States.

Yet there are signs that the central government is embracing limited antismoking efforts, wary of being out of step with much of the rest of the world.

Last year, Beijing ratified a World Health Organisation antismoking convention that commits it to curb smoking in public places, such as schools and buses, and further limit cigarette advertising.

Global health advocates are urging China to reexamine the economic burden of health issues tied to smoking.

The WHO says that one million Chinese die every year from diseases related to smoking and that the toll will climb to 2.2 million fatalities a year by 2020 if current rates continue. It says China faces $5 billion a year in smoking-related health-care costs, part of what it calls a “massive tobacco burden.”

Perhaps even more surprising, the World Health Organisation says that one-third of all Chinese men below the age of 30 today eventually will die of smoking-related disorders.

Part of the reason is that Chinese are smoking at a younger age and smoking more per day. In 1984, the average age when people began to smoke was 22.4 years. By 2006, it was 19.7.

As incomes rise, Chinese smoke more often. Average daily consumption has risen from four cigarettes in 1972 to 10 cigarettes in 1992 and to about 15 today.

Smoking is deeply ingrained in Chinese culture – male culture, that is.

In China, 63 percent of men smoke, while only 3 percent of women do. At weddings, the bride normally circles the reception hall, offering cigarettes to each man, a rite said to augur well for her eventual childbearing. Cigarettes are also handed out at funerals. Between courses at banquets, male diners frequently pause for a smoke.

China’s soaring economy is precisely why some antismoking activists see light ahead. They say the state-owned cigarette companies are becoming a smaller portion of total tax revenue for the government, making measures to contain smoking more feasible.

In a move that pleased antismoking activists, China last year ratified the WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which requires it to stiffen bans on advertising and promotion. As a result, Beijing told the television industry to cut down on unnecessary smoking scenes and pledged that the 2008 Beijing Summer Games would be smoke-free.

European Commission and JT International (Japan Tobacco) sign 15-year Agreement to combat contraband and counterfeit cigarettes


14 December 2007

The European Commission, together with 26 participating Member States of the European Union[1], and JT International (JTI) today announced a multi-year agreement that includes an efficient system to fight against future cigarette smuggling and counterfeiting. Through the Agreement, JTI will work with the European Commission, its anti-fraud office OLAF, and law enforcement authorities of the Member States to help in the fight against contraband, including the problem of counterfeit cigarettes. The Agreement includes substantial payments by JTI, which total USD 400 million over fifteen years. “I welcome the conclusion of the negotiations of this important agreement. It is to the advantage of the EU because it protects its financial interests,” said Commission President José Manuel Barroso. “This Agreement represents a further major step forward in the continuing battle against contraband and counterfeit cigarettes,” said Vice-president Siim Kallas, responsible for the fight against fraud. “Contraband and counterfeit products cheat everyone: governments, consumers and legitimate businesses. This new agreement will further enhance the ability of the European Commission and of the Member States to combat the illegal trade in cigarettes, which results in the loss of substantial tax and customs revenues each year. It sends a strong signal to the world that agreements between authorities and industry to fight illegal trade work and bring substantial benefits,” he added.

Fight against counterfeit

The Commission and the EU Member States point to several reasons why they view expanded anti-counterfeit and anti-contraband efforts as requiring significant priority. Among other reasons, the European Community and the Member States are losing hundreds of millions of Euros in unpaid taxes from counterfeit cigarettes. In addition, counterfeit and other forms of contraband create a parallel illegal supply chain that invades and compromises legitimate distribution channels and competes unfairly with genuine products distributed through legitimate channels.

Over the last few years, the incidence of contraband JTI cigarettes has been greatly reduced, but during the same time period, counterfeit cigarettes have become a growing threat to the European Community and the Member States. The Commission has therefore announced that it will build on existing efforts to combat the illegal trade in cigarettes which consist of: – vigorously investigating cigarette counterfeiting in close cooperation with the Member States and law enforcement officials in key locations worldwide; – targeting and interrupting the production of counterfeit cigarettes with the goal of preventing counterfeit cigarettes from being introduced into the European Community; and – recording and pursuing seizures of counterfeit cigarettes in the European Community to identify the source of the product and other relevant information.

Fight against contraband and money laundering: Know your customers and tracking and tracing

The Agreement builds on the efforts of all parties and introduces innovative procedures to combat the diversion of JTI’s products into contraband channels in Europe and around the world. Today’s agreement reflects the reality that success in defeating the contraband and counterfeit cigarettes trade can be aided greatly through a joint agreement whereby major manufacturers like JTI and European law enforcement combine their resources and enhance their coordination in combating contraband and counterfeiting.

The Agreement contains strong provisions, approved by all parties, which provide them with a mechanism for the long-term prevention of any large-scale smuggling of genuine Japan Tobacco cigarettes in the European market. The Agreement requires JTI to build on its existing review process for selecting and monitoring customers, to enhance its capabilities to track and trace certain packaging, and to provide expanded support to European law enforcement in its battle against the illegal trade in cigarettes. Under the Agreement, JTI agrees to continue limiting its sales to volumes commensurate with legitimate market demand. The Agreement also incorporates and builds into a comprehensive contractual framework JTI’s existing compliance programmes.

Historically, a key concern for the European Community has been the introduction of contraband cigarettes into the European Community. For that reason, the European Community has taken vigorous action to address cigarette smuggling. European law-enforcement efforts have resulted over the past several years in the reduction of the amount of cigarettes that enter the EU as contraband. The European Commission has determined that constructive and forward-looking agreements, such as this Agreement with JTI, are useful tools in addressing these issues.

The initiative includes far-reaching product-tracking procedures that will facilitate law enforcement efforts to determine the point at which any genuine product is diverted from the authorised sales channel. Consistent with the Agreement, JTI will mark certain packaging with information indicating the intended market of retail sale, mark “master cases”[2] of cigarettes with machine-scannable barcode labels, and implement other procedures useful for the tracking and tracing of its products.

These obligations embody a far-reaching, joint tracking and tracing initiative which is consistent with the anti-contraband provisions of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and which will underpin the efforts of the EU to promote a strong Protocol to that Convention on the Illicit Trade in Tobacco products.

Obligations under the Agreement

The European Community and the participating Member States will receive substantial payments over a number of years. The amount of JTI’s payments under the Agreement totals USD 400 million over 15 years to the EC and participating Member States.

The Agreement also includes a guarantee by JTI to make payments in the event of future seizures in the European Community of its genuine products above defined quantities. These payments will be made without regard to fault or wrongdoing by JTI. These payments will be available to all participating Member States.

The Agreement excludes any future lawsuits against JTI for civil claims arising out of past conduct related to the manufacture, sale, distribution or storage of cigarettes. On April, 18 2007, JTI purchased the Gallaher group. The parties have therefore agreed on a framework and a timetable in which JTI will bring former Gallaher entities up to the standards of the Agreement, with a view to bringing them within the full scope of the Agreement.

Other future Agreements

The Commission is always prepared to have discussions with manufacturers who are willing to commit the necessary resources to improve ways to combat illegal trade in their products and associated criminal activity, such as money laundering. Producers also have a responsibility to fight illegal trade in their products, in full cooperation with relevant government authorities. This Agreement should therefore serve as a further model for those cigarette companies that have yet to assume fully such responsibilities.

Secondhand Smoke Causes Disease in Non-Smokers

This admission that secondhand smoke causes disease is published on the Philip Morris USA website here:

Smoking & Health Issues

Secondhand Smoke

Secondhand smoke, also known as environmental tobacco smoke or ETS, is a combination of the smoke coming from the lit end of a cigarette plus the smoke exhaled by a person smoking.

Public health officials have concluded that secondhand smoke from cigarettes causes disease, including lung cancer and heart disease, in non-smoking adults, as well as causes conditions in children such as asthma, respiratory infections, cough, wheeze, otitis media (middle ear infection) and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. In addition, public health officials have concluded that secondhand smoke can exacerbate adult asthma and cause eye, throat and nasal irritation.

PM (Philip Morris) USA believes that the public should be guided by the conclusions of public health officials regarding the health effects of secondhand smoke in deciding whether to be in places where secondhand smoke is present, or if they are smokers, when and where to smoke around others. Particular care should be exercised where children are concerned, and adults should avoid smoking around them.

We also believe that the conclusions of public health officials concerning environmental tobacco smoke are sufficient to warrant measures that regulate smoking in public places. We also believe that where smoking is permitted, the government should require the posting of warning notices that communicate public health officials’ conclusions that secondhand smoke causes disease in non-smokers.

Pregnancy Health Risks Caused by Smoking

This admission of pregnancy issues related to cigarette smoking is published on the Philip Morris USA website here:

Smoking & Health Issues

Smoking and Pregnancy

Women who quit smoking before or during pregnancy reduce the risk of adverse reproductive outcomes.

Women who smoke have more difficulty becoming pregnant and have a higher risk of never becoming pregnant. Women’s smoking during pregnancy increases the risks for pregnancy complications, premature birth, spontaneous abortion and stillbirth.

Babies of mothers who smoked during pregnancy on average have lower birth weights. Low birth weight babies are at greater risk for childhood and adult illnesses and even death. Women who quit smoking before the third trimester (the last 3 months) of their pregnancy are more likely to have babies who are close to normal weight.

Smoking by pregnant women can cause sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). According to the 2004 US Surgeon General’s Report, infants whose mothers smoked before and after birth are at three to four times greater risk for SIDS, and babies exposed to secondhand smoke after birth are at twice the risk.

When mothers smoke during pregnancy, it hurts their babies’ lungs. Infants of mothers who smoked during pregnancy have reduced lung function and may have increased frequency of lower respiratory tract illness. They may also have increased risk for impaired lung function in childhood and adulthood. For pregnant women, smoking could also put their babies at increased risk of asthma and respiratory infections.

Philip Morris says There is No Safe Cigarette

This admission of the fact that there is no safe cigarette based on brand descriptors is published on the Philip Morris USA website here:

Smoking & Health Issues

Low Tar Cigarettes

Philip Morris USA’s Use of Brand Descriptors

Philip Morris USA does not imply in our marketing, and smokers should not assume, that lower-yielding brands are safe or safer than full-flavor brands.

There is no safe cigarette. “Medium,” “mild,” “light” and “ultra light” cigarettes are no exception.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has stated that “smoking ‘low tar’ or ‘light’ cigarettes does not eliminate the health risks of smoking. If you’re concerned about the health risks of smoking, stop smoking … There’s no such thing as a safe smoke.”

As of today, there is no cigarette on the market which public health organizations endorse as offering “reduced risk.” If smokers are concerned about the risks of smoking, quitting is by far their best alternative for reducing those risks.