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December 29th, 2007:

France To Introduce Nationwide Smoking Ban

By RIA Novosti (MCT)
Saturday, December 29, 2007 1:56 AM CST

PARIS — France will introduce a nationwide ban on smoking in most public places from January 1, 2008, the French health minister said Friday.

Eleven months after smoking became illegal in offices, schools, hospitals, airports and train stations, Europe’s heaviest smokers, the French will now be banned from smoking in cafes, bars, restaurants, hotels, clubs and casinos.

“The ban has been ready for a year and everyone knows that it is coming into effect. No one can say they were taken by surprise,” said Health Minister Roselyne Bachelot.

However, the minister said the ban will be enforced gradually and police will be in no hurry to impose fines for those caught smoking on the first few days after New Year.

Meanwhile, French cafe owners fear that they will lose clients and their profits could plunge. Owners of France’s 800 shisha bars are particularly concerned by the new law fearing it will lead to mass closures. (Shisha is flavored tobacco smoked through a water pipe — also known as hookah.)

Psychologists also warned that the country with 15-million smokers could face a shock.

France is the latest of the EU member states to ban smoking in public places.

In 2004, Ireland became the first European country to introduce a comprehensive ban, prohibiting smoking in pubs, restaurants and other enclosed workplaces. Ireland’s anti-smoking measures were followed by Italy, Norway, Sweden, the U.K, Denmark and Portugal.

Tobacco Taxes Versus Needless Deaths

Prabhat Jha Updated on Dec 29, 2007 – SCMP

A global killer is ripping through the world’s poorer countries largely unchecked. Within 25 years, it will cause 10 million deaths a year – far more than malaria, maternal deaths, childhood infections and diarrhoea combined. At least half of the dead will be aged 30 to 69, losing about 25 years of life expectancy. The culprit? Smoking tobacco. The same addiction that became the top preventable cause of death in western countries has made big inroads in developing nations. Given current trends, smoking will kill about 1 billion people in the 21st century, mostly in developing countries. In India, smoking cigarettes triples the risk of death from tuberculosis in men and from respiratory disease among women.

We know now that quitting works: even those who stop smoking in their forties lower their risk of death remarkably, and those who quit in their thirties have death risks close to those of lifelong non-smokers.

So cessation by the 1.1 billion current smokers would lower tobacco deaths over the next few decades. Tobacco tax increases, the dissemination of information about the health risks of smoking, smoking bans in public spaces and workplaces, prohibition of advertising and promotion, and cessation therapies help smokers to quit and prevent youngsters from starting. Of these, tobacco taxes are as close to a silver bullet as exists in public health. Indeed, they 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, preventing about 3 million deaths per year by 2030.

Most developed countries began to take tobacco control seriously in the past two decades, reducing male tobacco-related deaths. But effective tobacco control measures are not under way in developing countries. Taxes are about 80 per cent of the street price of cigarettes in Toronto, but less than 30 per cent in Beijing or New Delhi. And knowledge of the health risks from smoking is low: 61 per cent of Chinese smokers in 1996 thought tobacco did them “little or no harm”.

Spurious economic arguments against tobacco control, debunked in the west, are still commonly repeated in the finance ministries of developing countries.

Money not spent on tobacco can be spent on other goods and services. Tax increases lower consumption and raise revenue: a 10 per cent higher tax means about 7 per cent higher revenue over the medium term. These funds can be a precious resource in fighting poverty.

In China, a 10 per cent higher price would reduce consumption by 5 per cent, and raise enough revenue to pay for a basic health package for 33 million poor rural Chinese.

One common argument against tobacco control – that if people are not harming others, governments should not interfere – is at odds with both common sense and the evidence. In countries with good information about tobacco risks, by the time child smokers become adults, more than 80 per cent wish they had never started.

The agenda is clear. Governments must take tobacco seriously as a leading killer of adults worldwide. International poverty goals must include tobacco control. There are hopeful signs: more than 160 countries have signed the World Health Organisation’s global tobacco control treaty, and the Bloomberg and Gates Foundations are stepping up funding for its implementation.

If the proportion of adults in developing countries who quit smoking increases from below 5 per cent today to 30 to 40 per cent by 2020, then 150 million to 180 million tobacco deaths would be avoided before 2050 – half of these in productive middle age.

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 research chair of health and development at the University of Toronto

Experts Aim To Stub Out Tobacco Smuggling

Dec 29 2007 by Marie Levy, Evening Gazette

TEESSIDERS who buy cut-price cigarettes could be smoking mud, dirt and even animal excrement.

The shocking revelation was made as experts in the region joined forces to try to stub out tobacco smuggling in the area.

Hosted by Fresh Smoke Free North East, the 200-strong delegation heard from organisations including the Department of Health and Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs on the extent of the problem and its serious impact on public health.

The summit revealed:

Up to one in five cigarettes and half of all loose tobacco in the North is sold at knockdown prices.

Smokers often think they are smoking genuine “duty free” products, but increasingly are being sold fake and counterfeit products.

The majority of smuggled tobacco is brought in from Russia and Eastern Europe where packets of 20 cigarettes cost as little as £1 but can be sold on in the UK for about £3.

Counterfeit tobacco – where copies of the bigger known brands are made – are even worse for smokers’ health. All cigarettes contain arsenic and heavy metals, but counterfeit cigarettes sometimes contain even higher levels of these poisonous substances, along with floor sweepings – including animal excrement, mud and dirt.

The North-east has become a hub for the illegal trade in contraband tobacco with unprecedented quantities entering the country via Tees Port as well as the region’s airports. Large hauls of tobacco have been found behind panels on vessels, within loads of logs, flowers, and even concrete blocks.

John Kinghorn, HMRC’s head of detection for the North of England, said: “Many smokers think they are getting a good deal but these cigarettes are usually cheap because they are not the genuine article.

“Counterfeit cigarettes are even worse for health than normal cigarettes and it is not easy to tell the difference.”

Ailsa Rutter, director of Fresh Smoke Free North East, added: “We look forward to working with a number of organisations as we develop an action plan to tackle this problem in the North-east.”

Wisconsin Increases Tobacco Tax for 2008

Posted: 4:37 PM Dec 29, 2007 Last Updated: 4:37 PM Dec 29, 2007 Reporter: Amy Pflugshaupt
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One of the most common New Year’s Resolutions People make is to quit smoking and this just might be the year that many tobacco users in Wisconsin keep their resolutions.

On January 1st, Wisconsin will raise the tax on all tobacco sales. The US dollar-per-pack increase means Wisconsin smokers will now pay US$1.77 in taxes on every pack of cigarettes. It’s the 12th highest tobacco tax in the nation and it has many tobacco users saying enough is enough.

Local stores are saying many people are coming in and buying several cartons before the increase takes effect.

The campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids predicts the higher tax will stop nearly 66,000 Wisconsin children from starting smoking, and it will help more than 33,000 smokers quit. The campaign estimates the state will save about US$ 1.5 billion in long-term smoking-related health care expenses.