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December 5th, 2007:

What Do You Think Of The Smoking Ban?

Dec 05, 2007 – SCMP

It is unbelievable and embarrassing to read legislator Tommy Cheung Yu-yan’s claim that it is a human “need” to keep smoking, and that no law should ignore that need. (Talkback, May 14). His letter shows that he is still out of touch with reality, and is simply trying to hold on as long as possible to the support of the threatened tobacco lobby. His main constituency is the catering industry, and part of the reason for his claim that the recent smoking ban is painful to some of his members is because the government has yet again failed to live up to its moral obligations.

Smoke is a pollutant, and it also happens to be cancer-causing, not only to those who smoke but also to bystanders who inhale the exhaust from those who disregard themselves and others in their surroundings. In every city in the world that has – out of moral civic duty – installed a smoking ban, the catering industry has actually benefited.

The majority of the world is non-smoking, yet smokers end up ruining it for the rest of us, and we therefore do not patronise the venues which allow smoking. The catering industry should therefore benefit by catering to the majority. This is not rocket science.

The government’s weak stance to allow exemptions to the smoking ban has caused Mr Cheung’s constituents to lose out because there is not a level playing field.

If the government had done what was right for its citizens, and protected them from pollution and significant health risks, as the smoking ban was meant to do, then every catering establishment would have been equal. In an equal world, they can compete based on the quality of their food and service, which is what their main business is meant to be in the first place.

Customers will not stop eating just because the venues which allow them to carry out their “need” to smoke have been changed. Instead, the majority of the population, which the government seems to keep forgetting, can come out to eat because they can breathe. An economic analysis of these benefits is something Mr Cheung needs to carry out.

K. Lim, Wan Chai

Licensing Scheme For Tobacco Sales in Hong Kong?

Breaking down Big Tobacco

Article Launched: 12/05/2007 08:17:50 PM PST

WHAT’S the No. 1 product sold at your local convenience store? Milk? Beer?

No and no. Guess again. Lottery tickets? Guess again.

OK, give up? It’s cigarettes. Convenience stores in the U.S. last year sold $56 billion worth of cigarettes, accounting for 35 percent of their sales, according to the Center for Tobacco Policy and Organizing’s 2007 State of the Industry Report.

Why are we telling you this? Because the county of Los Angeles is considering establishing a licensing policy for tobacco sellers that strikes at the heart of the convenience stores’ bread and butter. Frankly, the convenience stores are scared to death of such an arrangement because it would lead to a long-overdue tobacco-sales enforcement program that would clamp down on sales to minors.

Considering the cost of tobacco use to residents’ health, local hospitals and taxpayers (Medi-Cal and other entitlements), this figures to be a worthwhile county program. In LA County alone, the health care cost from diseases that are tobacco-related is $2.7 billion. Any drop in sales – especially to minors – would be good for the county and its residents.

Already, some cities police tobacco sales run through convenience stores. Usually, studies show, it sends scofflaws into stores located in county unincorporated areas. The county’s proposed $235-a-year license fee – set for a Dec. 11 vote by the Board of Supervisors – would help shore up this illegal tobacco loophole in unincorporated areas such as Altadena, Rowland Heights, Valinda, Hacienda Heights, etc..

For example, since Pasadena began levying a tobacco sales license fee on stores within its city limits, it has resulted in greater enforcement. Retailers selling cigarettes to minors (that’s illegal, by the way) quickly dropped from 23 percent of retailers in Pasadena to 6 percent. And recently that has gone down to zero, according to testimony given to the county Board of Supervisors from Statice Wilmore who oversees Pasadena’s program.

However, the problem may have moved. According to Day One, a nonprofit group in the west San Gabriel Valley, stings they’ve conducted using underage patrons found convenience store clerks more than willing to sell them cigarettes. The county figures that more than 30 percent of retailers sell cigarettes to minors. Day One’s 15-year-old decoy from Pasadena High School said stores in county areas such as Altadena would ask for her ID, realize she was a minor, but sell her the pack of smokes anyway.

Talk about flaunting the law. This is right up Big Tobacco’s alley: Getting more of our young people hooked on cigarettes.

It’s time to break up the axis of death between Big Tobacco and convenience stores. Because there’s nothing convenient about lung cancer and heart disease.

No Smoking Area Research Paper

Designated ‘‘no smoking’’ areas provide from partial to no protection from environmental tobacco smoke

T Cains, S Cannata, R Poulos, M J Ferson and B W Stewart

The full research paper can be downloaded here: No Smoking Area Research Paper

Objective: To determine the efficacy of designated ‘‘no smoking’’ areas in the hospitality industry as a
means of providing protection from environmental tobacco smoke (ETS), and whether certain design
features assist in achieving this end.

Methodology: In the greater metropolitan region of Sydney, a representative group of 17 social and
gaming clubs, licensed to serve alcoholic beverages and in which, apart from designated areas, smoking
occurs, agreed to participate. In each establishment, simultaneous single measurements of atmospheric
nicotine, particulate matter (10 mm; PM10) and carbon dioxide (CO2) levels were measured in a general
use area and in a designated ‘‘no smoking’’ area during times of normal operation, together with the
levels in outdoor air (PM10 and CO2 only). Analyses were made of these data to assess the extent to which
persons using the ‘‘no smoking’’ areas were protected from exposure to ETS.

Results: By comparison with levels in general use areas, nicotine and particulate matter levels were
significantly less in the ‘‘no smoking’’ areas, but were still readily detectable at higher than ambient levels.
For nicotine, mean (SD) levels were 100.5 (45.3) mg/m3 in the areas where smoking occurred and 41.3
(16.1) mg/m3 in the ‘‘no smoking’’ areas. Corresponding PM10 levels were 460 (196) mg/m3 and 210
(210) mg/m3, while outdoor levels were 61 (23) mg/m3. The reduction in pollutants achieved through a
separate room being designated ‘‘no smoking’’ was only marginally better than the reduction achieved
when a ‘‘no smoking’’ area was contiguous with a smoking area. CO2 levels were relatively

Conclusion: Provision of designated ‘‘no smoking’’ areas in licensed (gaming) clubs in New South Wales,
Australia, provides, at best, partial protection from ETS—typically about a 50% reduction in exposure. The
protection afforded is less than users might reasonably have understood and is not comparable with
protection afforded by prohibiting smoking on the premises.

Successful Implementation of Smoking Bans

Stop smoking NHS clinics ‘work’

NHS ‘stop smoking’ clinics have been hailed a success after figures showed particular progress in deprived areas.

The study found 8.8% of smokers in poorer areas had quit at the four-week mark, compared to 7.8% elsewhere.

The comparison is particularly relevant as smoking is a key factor in health inequalities with those from deprived backgrounds more likely to smoke.

The Bath University-led team compiled the data from the 1.5m people using the clinics in England from 2003 to 2006.

Smoking cessation clinics, offering counselling and treatment in the form of nicotine replacement therapy, were set up in 1999.

“This study shows that extra NHS cash really has managed to get more people to stop smoking”
Tim Crayford, of the Association of Directors of Public Health

Lead researcher Dr Linda Bault, who worked with experts from Edinburgh University, said: “Our study shows that the NHS stop smoking services are helping to reduce the health gap between rich and poor, which is good news for the overall health of the nation.”

But she added stop smoking services had to be accompanied by the continued successful implementation of smoking bans and rises in tobacco prices to have a wider effect.

The study, published in the Tobacco Control journal, compared data from smokers who accessed services in officially designated disadvantaged areas, called spearhead areas which have received extra funds and cover just over a quarter of the population, and compared them with other areas of the country.

The study found that quit rates were slightly lower for smokers from spearhead areas, at 53% at four weeks compared with 58% elsewhere.

Good news

But it added the services were treating them in larger numbers as a proportion of overall smokers than their more affluent neighbours, 17% compared with 13% elsewhere.

The overall effect was that a higher proportion of smokers in the more disadvantaged areas were successful in quitting.

Although previous research has shown that of those who quit after a month, less than one in four were still not smoking by the year-mark.

Tim Crayford, of the Association of Directors of Public Health, said: “This study shows that extra NHS cash really has managed to get more people to stop smoking. That is good news for the health of the country.

“Better still, the NHS has worked with smokers from deprived communities, and this will reduce health inequalities.”

He called for more money to be put into NHS services after recent predictions show the health service was heading for a £1.8bn surplus this year.

A Department of Health spokeswoman said NHS smoking cessation services had been “highly effective”.

And she added: “Narrowing the inequalities gap is a major challenge, but it is achievable.”

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2007/12/05 02:12:13 GMT