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January, 2008:

Philip Morris Readies Aggressive Global Push

Division Spinoff Enables Blitz of New Products; High-Tar Smokes in AsiaBy VANESSA O’CONNELL – January 29, 2008; Page A1 – The Wall Street Journal

LAUSANNE, Switzerland — Sitting in his office overlooking Lake Geneva, Philip Morris International Chief Executive André Calantzopoulos takes a long drag from an unusually short cigarette. Called Marlboro Intense, the product has been shrunk down by about a half inch, and offers smokers seven potent puffs apiece, versus the average of eight or so milder draws.

The idea behind Intense is to appeal to customers who, due to indoor smoking bans, want to dash outside for a quick nicotine hit but don’t always finish a full-size cigarette. Pointing to his lit Intense, the CEO says there are “possibly 50 markets that are interested in deploying it.”

Marlboro Intense is likely to be part of an aggressive blitz of new smoking products PMI will roll out around the globe once the company — now a unit of New York-based Altria Group Inc. — becomes a standalone entity. That change will be set into motion tomorrow, when the Altria board is expected to approve a long-awaited decision to split PMI from Philip Morris USA. The move would free the tobacco giant’s international operations of legal and public-relations headaches in the U.S. that have hindered its growth.

The separate entity, for example, would be exempt from U.S. tobacco regulations and out of reach of American litigators. Importantly, its practices would no longer be constrained by American public opinion, paving the way for broad product experimentation.

By as early as March, PMI could be operating as an independent company — the third most profitable consumer goods concern in the world after Procter & Gamble Co. and Nestlé SA. The move will make it easier for the tobacco behemoth to market an array of new smoking concepts, each targeted to different foreign populations, who, collectively are expected to smoke 5.2 trillion cigarettes this year.

Among the new products in test phase is a hand-held electronic smoking device called the Heatbar, which emits less smoke than a regular cigarette. Another is Marlboro Wides — an extra-thick cigarette whose package flips open from one side. To appeal to customers in some emerging markets, the company is making sweet-smelling cigarettes that contain tobacco, cloves and flavoring — with twice the tar and nicotine levels of a conventional U.S. cigarette.

While smoking rates in developed countries have slowly declined, they have shot up dramatically in some developing counties, where PMI is a major player. These include Pakistan (up 42% since 2001), Ukraine (up 36%) and Argentina (up 18%).

Some antitobacco types are sounding alarm bells that an independent PMI will be a corporation which, from a practical viewpoint, is stateless and answers to no one. “There is a fear that after the spinoff, PMI will become even less accountable than it is today,” says Richard Daynard, a professor of law at Northeastern University, who worked as a consultant on class actions against tobacco companies.

Mr. Calantzopoulos, 51 years old, says such concerns are a “misconception.” He notes that regulatory regimes in Europe, for instance, are harsher than in the U.S., where the most severe restrictions were created in a late 1990s settlement of antitobacco lawsuits by the states.

The World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, an international public-health treaty, has 152 participating countries, including China, Brazil and Pakistan. While it has led to greater regulation in many of the world’s markets, countries such as Indonesia and Russia haven’t signed on.

Given the fast-changing legislative climate around the globe, “manufacturers are needing to spot potential first, act rapidly on a national level rather than on a regional level,” says Zora Milenkovic, head tobacco analyst for the research firm Euromonitor International.

Moving Headquarters

Mr. Calantzopoulos, a former automotive engineer and PMI’s CEO for the past six years, will become president of PMI, reporting to Louis Camilleri, the current chief of Altria. Mr. Camilleri will depart Altria and relocate to Switzerland to run the independent, publicly-traded international tobacco business. Altria, which plans to move its headquarters to Richmond, Va., will consist of the company’s domestic tobacco businesses and a 28.6% stake in United Kingdom-based brewer SABMiller.

PMI stands to rank as the world’s largest nongovernment tobacco company, with sales volume totaling more than four times that of its U.S. sibling. In 2006, PMI had revenue of $48.26 billion, compared with $18.47 billion at Philip Morris USA.

Mr. Camilleri has argued that the breakup will lead to a “renewed” focus at PMI. Ahead of the restructuring, Mr. Calantzopoulos has simplified PMI’s decision making to quicken the introduction of new products. Local managers have the “power to decide” which new ideas might have legs in a particular region, he says.

PMI is also streamlining manufacturing. By this fall, it will halt imports of about 57 billion cigarettes annually from its U.S. sister company. Instead, it will begin to get its entire supply internationally, primarily from its own 42 manufacturing centers, the largest of which are in Holland, Russia, Germany, Turkey and Ukraine.

One of PMI’s immediate goals is to harness the huge potential of China’s smoking population, as well as some of that country’s own brands.

After more than three years of negotiations with the Chinese government, PMI is expected this year to begin marketing three home-grown brands. The smokes — selected from hundreds of varieties produced by state-run China National Tobacco Corp. — will be sold in Central Europe, Eastern Europe and Latin America, according to PMI.

The launch is slated for sometime in the next six months. It is part of a December 2005 deal in which Philip Morris agreed to market Chinese brands internationally in exchange for the right to produce its own Marlboro brand at state-owned factories. At the moment, Philip Morris is limited to importing its cigarettes for sale in China and is restricted by stringent quotas.Lighting Up

China National Tobacco, based in Beijing, declined to comment.

With some 350 million smokers, China has 50 million more cigarette buyers than the U.S. has people, according to Euromonitor. Its booming tobacco industry, which the government says generates around $30 billion in tax revenue in 2005, is a pillar of the economy.

China and PMI, says Mr. Calantzopoulos, spent the past year figuring out which of China’s top brands might have the greatest potential for sales abroad.

“The objective is not to sell Chinese brands to the Chinese immigrants. That’s not difficult,” says Mr. Calantzopoulos. “But what we want and they want is to adapt these products in a way that they become appealing” to foreigners.

Chinese smokers, for instance, prefer the stronger taste of full-tar cigarettes, while most Europeans and Latin Americans favor lower-tar cigarettes with blends of different tobacco leaves. Another concern: The packaging of Chinese brands tends to be “flashy,” says Mr. Calantzopoulos.

One of the three brands to be sold abroad is called RGD and is manufactured by Wuhan Cigarette Factory of Wuhan city of Hubei province. It’s a milder version of an existing Chinese brand called Red Gold Dragon. In preliminary marketing materials, China National Tobacco touted it as being “carefully formulated” with Chinese and non-Chinese tobacco leaves, “and flavored by fragrance extracted from the unique natural plants from Central China.” PMI says the positioning has changed, but declines to be more specific.

Many of PMI’s other new products are intended to strengthen and broaden the world’s leading Marlboro brand, whose sales volumes outside the U.S. slid by 0.53% from 2001 to 2006. “It’s in pretty good shape, but we can do much more with the brand,” Mr. Calantzopoulos says.

High Nicotine, High Tar

Recent Marlboro launches include Marlboro Mix 9, a high-nicotine, high-tar cigarette introduced in Indonesia last July. PMI is poised to export the clove-infused Mix 9 to other Southeast Asian markets as soon as this year. Another iteration of the iconic brand, the Marlboro Filter Plus, is being sold in South Korea, Russia, Kazakhstan and Ukraine. It touts a special filter comprised of carbon, cellulose acetate and tobacco that claims to lower the tar level while giving smokers a smoother taste. The short but strong Marlboro Intense, which the CEO lit up in his office, is newly available in Turkey.

A more unusual product, the Heatbar, has a different objective: preparing for the onslaught of smoking bans in some mature markets. But it’s risky — requiring consumers to embrace an odd-looking product that is as far from a Marlboro as a cigarette can be.

Heatbar smokers insert specially-designed cigarettes into the device, a plastic holder resembling an electric toothbrush. They place their lips on the cigarette but when they inhale, the device heats up the cigarette, delivering a flavored aerosol, without causing any tobacco to burn. PMI says Heatbar releases 90% less smoke into the atmosphere than a traditional cigarette. Smokers can either rent or buy the device, which is powered by a rechargeable battery.

The gadget’s prospects are uncertain. Philip Morris USA struck out with a similar product in the late 1990s. Known as the Accord, it was pulled from U.S. store shelves after a test market run in Richmond, Va., failed to generate interest.

In late 2006 PMI opened an intimate wine and coffee bar, Heatbar Tasting Room, to drum up interest in its latest version. One night in late October, business at the Zurich lounge was so slow that nobody showed up over the course of an hour and a half. A lone employee, trained to teach customers the merits of Heatbar, blamed the chilly weather. But surrounding pubs and restaurants were packed with smokers.

PMI shuttered the bar last month, taking down its prominent displays of the device in a range of colors, and of packs of cigarettes that go with it. But late last year, PMI convinced two independent Zurich bars to carry the product. The idea, says a spokesman, is to test Heatbar in pubs and other places where smokers would naturally tend to gather. In December it took Heatbar to Australia, opening another PMI-owned store, New Movement Tobacconist, in Melbourne.

Mr. Calantzopoulos says the device is in the midst of an upgrade that’s easier to use and provides a better taste.

Meanwhile, PMI has shown prototypes of the technology to regulators in Australia, New Zealand and the U.K., among other countries with tough antismoking policies. The idea, says Mr. Calantzopoulos is to engage them in early discussion about any future marketing restrictions on so-called reduced-risk cigarettes.

“It gives us some access to regulators,” he says. “If you don’t have a concrete product out in the market, it is very difficult for regulators to focus” on the issues.

Seeking Attention

At times PMI says it will also launch new products specifically to draw attention to paradoxical regulatory or tax policies.

Internationally, 62% of the average retail price of a cigarette is attributable to taxes, versus roughly 50% in the U.S., according to PMI data. But in certain countries in Europe and elsewhere, tax rates on roll-your-own tobacco products are one-third to one-half the rates on cigarettes, the CEO notes.

That explains PMI’s launch of TBS (“Tobacco Block System”) in Germany, where roll-your-own tobacco is taxed at significantly lower rates.

Smokers use the system — which includes a foot-long machine and compressed blocks of tobacco — to assemble their own cigarettes. After inserting empty paper sleeves into the side of the device, a dose of tobacco shoots inside the shell to create a cigarette.

PMI says it hopes the unusual tobacco kits can expand its market share so it can apply more pressure on the German government to close the disparity in tobacco tax rates.

Future products in the PMI pipeline will feature unusual packaging, a response to limits on cigarette advertising imposed by the WHO antitobacco treaty. Marketing restrictions are a particular challenge to PMI. Roughly half of its cigarettes, and all those bearing the Marlboro name, are so-called “premium” brands at the top end of the price spectrum in their local markets. That makes PMI highly vulnerable to competition from cheaper local smokes.

Without traditional advertising, “your product and your packaging become the key conveyor of what the brand stands for,” Mr. Calantzopoulos says, noting that there’s always an opportunity for gaining market share.

Fancier packs are intended to lure smokers into paying a premium for the company’s brands. One example is the Marlboro Filter Plus, which Mr. Calantzopoulos thinks might work in as many as 50 additional markets. The top third of its pack slides straight up, and then backwards — a sleek design similar to a cellphone.

“If I put in front of you two packs of cigarettes and asked you to choose, you will choose, based on some criteria,” Mr. Calantzopoulos says, adding: “The whole idea” is to give smokers a reason to choose the PMI-made cigarette — “not one made by somebody else.”

–Nicholas Zamiska in Hong Kong and Gordon Fairclough in Shanghai contributed to this article. 

Pub Landlord Charged in UK re Smoking Ban

First pub landlord charged with refusing to enforce smoking ban hit with £10,000 fine

Last updated at 13:34pm on 29th January 2008 – The Daily Mail UK

The first publican to be convicted after challenging the smoking ban is today facing a £10,000 legal bill.

Nick Hogan, 40, was taken to court after repeatedly flouting rules by letting customers light up in his pubs in Bolton, Greater Manchester. He pleaded not guilty, claiming he had “advised” customers about the ban and left them to decide whether to act on it.

But in the first conviction of its kind a district judge condemned Hogan for “flagrant breaches” of the law. Another landlord, from Blackpool, defied the smoking ban but last year admitted the charges in court. A Gloucestershire landlord who pleaded not guilty to defying the ban was acquitted.

The first person to be caught flouting the smoking ban, 47-year-old Gerard Hart, was spotted lighting up in Hogan’s Barristers pub. Today after Hogan was fined £3,000 plus costs of £7,236 he vowed to fight on against the ban.

He said: “I still believe that this legislation is draconian, and I am sure that the fight against it will go on. This was not just about smoking. It was about people’s rights.

“I’m not pro-smoking, but I am pro-choice. I have respect for the law, but I have no respect for an unfair law. I don’t want to break the law, but I feel I’ve been pushed into it.”

He added: “At the end of the day it’s my pub, not the Government’s. I have been asking for my day in court since the ban was introduced. I want to show that this legislation is unworkable and discriminatory.”

He had already held a “mass light-up” in defiance of the ban on the day it came into force – claiming he “wanted his day in court”. Inspectors found letters on tables saying: “The management and staff of The Swan believe you have the freedom to choose whether or not you wish to smoke. If you choose to smoke, it is entirely your responsibility.”

Hogan later asked the inspectors to leave as they tried to give him a warning that he could face a £2,500 fine if he continued to allow people to smoke inside.

Smokers Kicking Habit After Ban


Nearly 165,000 people in England gave up smoking with the help of the NHS last summer, when lighting up was banned in enclosed public spaces. This is a 28% increase in the number of people successfully using the Stop Smoking Services compared to 2006.

Although these findings only relate to those using the NHS service, they are the first figures on quitting to emerge since the smoking ban was introduced.

The Information Centre for Health and Social Care published the data. It covers the period between April and September of 2007.

2005: 142,188
2006: 128,868
2007: 164,711

While the figures do show a significant increase from 2006, in that year the number of quitters had actually declined from 2005.

They also do not take into account those who quit using other methods outside the NHS, and whether these numbers rose or declined.

However they do tally with other available figures. Cigarette sales in the UK dropped by almost 11% in July 2007 compared with the same month the year before, although it is unclear whether this effect lasted. Smoking was on the decline well before the ban. The latest available figures show the overall prevalence of smoking among the adult population fell to 22% in 2006 – its lowest recorded level.

“It’s great news that so many smokers have been able to quit, preventing serious health problems and complications. It’s not easy to overcome a nicotine addiction so it’s clear that the NHS Stop Smoking Service is providing a vital service,” said Public Health Minister Dawn Primarolo.

“And these figures are confirmation that the £56m we invested into the service last year was money well spent.”

According to the ONS, the drug Champix was the most successful in helping people quit.

The highest success rates were reported by the East Midlands, East of England, South East Coast and South Central Strategic Health Authorities (SHAs), while the North East SHA reported the lowest rate, although the difference was not great.

Quitters were defined as those who, by their own account, were still not smoking four weeks after treatment.

According to public health specialists, perhaps as many as 50% of those will however be smoking again six months later.

Dr Tim Crayford of the Association of Directors of Public Health said this does not detract from the benefits of the service. “Even if some do eventually go back to smoking, the fact that others have permanently quit is what’s important. It remains one of the most cost-effective services the NHS can provide.”

Tax Is Best Way To Fight Tobacco

Jan 28, 2008 – SCMP

Any consideration of tobacco tax cannot be viewed from the perspective of profit to industry or government revenue.

Increasing tax is the single most effective way to reduce tobacco consumption – it is an important public health tool to curb smoking in society, especially among the young, and thereby decreasing the diseases and deaths so caused.

As a public health physician, I congratulate Hong Kong for having passed the tobacco control legislation in 2006.

However, the proportion of smokers quitting has not been satisfactory. Tobacco is still the deadliest consumer product sold legally and it promises to kill more than half of its regular consumers. Any standalone controlled measure, even an effective smoking ban in public places, cannot be relied upon for lasting changes.

In 2007, the government did not boost its quit-smoking services to coincide with the smoking ban, thereby losing a golden opportunity for tobacco control. There remains another chance that tobacco consumption in the community can be controlled at no extra cost to the government, and that is to increase tobacco tax.

At present, our tobacco tax policy is shamefully below the world standard. In Hong Kong, tax amounts to less than half of the retail price of cigarettes, while The World Bank proposes the proportion should be two-thirds to four-fifths.

Our tobacco tax policy is backward and uncivilised compared with other world cities, and the best time to increase tobacco tax is now.

Dr W. Y. Wan, director of Public Health Consultancy Network

Make Tobacco Giants Pay

Make Tobacco Giants Pay for causing addicts so much misery – SCMP

J. Garner’s concern (“Radical changes are needed in regulation of cigarettes”, January 20) about the government’s failure to control the epidemic of disease caused by tobacco, does not justify passing the cost on to those who are sick.

They are paying a high price already for nicotine addiction, mostly acquired before their 18th birthday.

The government and the community have other instruments which should be used to prevent tobacco-induced disease and pay for the damage which is caused by the tobacco industry.

First, we desperately need a very large increase in tobacco duty. Cigarettes in Hong Kong are now among the cheapest in the world, relative to our gross domestic product and yet price controls through fiscal measures are proven to be the best preventive medicine by reducing consumption.

Second, we need to develop litigation against tobacco companies either on an individual or class action basis as is happening in other jurisdictions. However, it is unlikely that our major law firms will align themselves against the tobacco industry from which many benefit by lucrative contracts.

Third, the relative scarcity of publicly-funded professional smoking cessation services means they do not begin to match the level of need in the community.

At present tobacco duty pays for less than half of the costs of health care and lost productivity caused by tobacco. If the Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah fails to deal effectively with this problem in the budget next month, then we must accept that recruitment of young people to tobacco dependency will continue to escalate and in turn increase the need for health care. At that point we will all have to pay.

Anthony Hedley, department of community medicine, school of public health, The University of Hong Kong

Tobacco Lobby Told Not To Stand In Way Of Fixed Penalties

Mary Ann Benitez and Loretta Fung
Jan 26, 2008

Tobacco-friendly legislators were told yesterday not to use delaying tactics on a bill to impose a fixed penalty on smoking offences.

The comments came as the Executive Council on Tuesday endorsed the bill for a HK$1,500 fixed-penalty system on lighting up in no-smoking areas.

The bill is expected to be tabled in the Legislative Council for first reading in April or May, after it was discussed by Legco’s health services panel in February or March, sources said.

Secretary for Food and Health York Chow Yat-ngok has already said he expects the bill to be implemented next year.

Council on Smoking and Health chairman Homer Tso Wei-kwok said he hoped a fixed penalty would be enforced as early as possible.

“The sooner the better,” he said. “But it does not look likely. It is beyond my comprehension why it is taking so long.”

He said a fixed penalty was first brought up during the amendment stage in the bills committee that scrutinised the amended Smoking (Public Health) Ordinance.

A source described the bill as “not a big deal”, requiring just a minor change in the law.

But the source said legislators might form a subcommittee to scrutinise the amendment.

“We do not know when a bill can be implemented until it is passed by legislators,” the source said.

Medical sector legislator Kwok Ka-ki confirmed the Executive Council endorsement yesterday, adding that the bill could be introduced to the Legco by next month.

“I believe the majority of legislators will support the bill, and I hope everything can be done in the first quarter,” Dr Kwok said.

Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong legislator Li Kwok-ying, who is chairman of the Legco health services panel, said he believed most members would endorse the fixed penalty. “I understand all political parties will agree to a fixed-penalty system but the details are being discussed,” he said.

But Liberal Party legislator Tommy Cheung Yu-yan, who represents the catering sector, said the fixed-penalty bill should be scrutinised.

“I do not think delaying the enforcement is an issue,” he said.

Penalties for smoking offences were already in place, with fines of up to HK$5,000, he said. “Anything that would arouse public interest should be scrutinised,” he said.

Health services panel vice-chairman Joseph Lee Kok-long was concerned about the tight schedule.

“If the government puts it to the Legislative Council in April, we will only have three months to [discuss it] before the end of our term.”

Professor Lee said the passage of the bill would depend on the amendments. “If it is just a fixed penalty, it will be simple. Otherwise it will be a prolonged discussion,” he said.

The Department of Health will review the manpower strength of the Tobacco Control Office, which has 70 inspectors to enforce the smoking ban.

Global Youth Tobacco Surveillance

Global Youth Tobacco Surveillance, 2000–2007

Problem: Tobacco use is a major contributor to deaths from chronic diseases. The findings from the Global Youth Tobacco Survey (GYTS) suggest that the estimate of a doubling of deaths from smoking (from 5 million per year to approximately 10 million per year by 2020) might be an underestimate because of the increase in smoking among young girls compared with adult females, the high susceptibility of smoking among never smokers, high levels of exposure to secondhand smoke, and protobacco indirect advertising.

Reporting Period Covered: This report includes GYTS data collected during 2000–2007 from 140 World Health Organization (WHO) member states, six territories (American Samoa, British Virgin Islands, Guam, Montserrat, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands), two geographic regions (Gaza Strip and West Bank), one United Nations administered province (Kosovo), one special administrative region (Macau), and one Commonwealth (Northern Mariana Islands). For countries that have repeated GYTS, only the most recent data are included. For countries with multiple survey sites, only data from the capital or largest city are presented.

Description of System: GYTS is a school-based survey of a defined geographic site that can be a country, a province, a city, or any other geographic entity. GYTS uses a standardized methodology for constructing sampling frames, selecting schools and classes, preparing questionnaires, conducting field procedures, and processing data. GYTS standard sampling methodology uses a two-stage cluster sample design that produces samples of students in grades associated with students aged 13–15 years. Each sampling frame includes all schools (usually public and private) in a geographically defined area containing any of the identified grades. In the first stage, the probability of schools being selected is proportional to the number of students enrolled in the specified grades. In the second sampling stage, classes within the selected schools are selected randomly. All students in selected classes attending school the day the survey is administered are eligible to participate. Student participation is voluntary and anonymous using self-administered data collection procedures. The GYTS sample design produces independent, cross-sectional estimates that are representative of each site.

Results: The findings in this report indicate that the level of cigarette smoking between boys and girls is similar in many sites; the prevalence of cigarette smoking and use of other tobacco products is similar; and susceptibility to initiate smoking among never smokers is similar among boys and girls and is higher than cigarette smoking in the majority of sites. Approximately half of the students reported that they were exposed to secondhand smoke in public places during the week preceding the survey. Approximately eight in 10 favor a ban on smoking in public places. Approximately two in 10 students own an object with a cigarette brand logo on it, and one in 10 students have been offered free cigarettes by a tobacco company representative. Approximately seven in 10 students who smoke reported that they wanted to stop smoking. Approximately seven in 10 students who smoked were not refused purchase of cigarettes from a store during the month preceding the survey. Finally, approximately six in 10 students reported having been taught in school about the harmful effects of smoking during the year preceding the survey.

Interpretation: The findings in this report suggest that interventions that decrease tobacco use among youth (e.g., increasing excise taxes, media campaigns, school programs in conjunction with community interventions, and community interventions that decrease minors’ access to tobacco) must be broad-based, focused on boys and girls, and have components directed toward prevention and cessation. If effective programs are not developed and implemented soon, future morbidity and mortality attributed to tobacco probably will increase.

Public Health Action: The synergy between countries in passing tobacco-control laws, regulations, or decrees; ratifying the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control; and conducting GYTS offers a unique opportunity to develop, implement, and evaluate comprehensive tobacco-control policy that can be helpful to each country. The challenge for each country is to develop, implement, and evaluate a tobacco-control program and make changes where necessary.

View the full report here:  Global Youth Tobacco Surveillance

Poles Buy Less Cigarettes, Legally

25.01.2008 13:28

The sale of tobacco dropped to 69.8 billion cigarettes in Poland in 2007, i.e. 2.5 billion less than in the previous year, the National Association of Tobacco Industry has revealed.

It looks as if Polish smokers are beginning to turn away from cigarettes, at least those purchased legally.

An increase in the excise duty that has contributed to a significant rise in tobacco prices and antismoking campaigns in the Polish media seem to be the main reasons for the change of attitudes among 9 million habitual smokers in Poland.

By 2009, tobacco prices in Poland will go even further up when the country will have to be fully compliant with the EU requirements regarding excise duty on tobacco (at least 64 EUR per 1000 cigarettes).

The news is bad for tobacco manufacturers in Poland. In 2006, out of seven tobacco producers only 2 were profitable, according to Puls Biznesu.

The Polish State Treasury is one of few winners in the situation. In spite of the sharp drop in tobacco sales, in the 11 months of 2007, the budget recognized 11.8 billion zlotys in revenues compared with 10.4 billion in the previous year. In 2008, the profit is expected to grow by additional 2.3 billion zlotys.

Puls Biznesu warns that the high tobacco prices will result in an increased number of cigarettes smuggled to and sold illegally in Poland. Estimates show that the share of smuggled cigarettes in the total national tobacco consumption has reached 30 per cent. In 2007, the Polish Customs seized more than 503 million illegal cigarettes, mainly on the eastern border.

FREE Smoking Cessation Counseling Service

Message from Department of Nursing Studies

Wanna quit smoking but need help quitting? Have you tried to quit but can’t quite knock the habit? The Department of Nursing Studies is now offering a FREE smoking cessation counseling service for youth, young adults, and women! We care about your health and will do our best to help you quit. If you have friends that smoke, feel free to introduce them too. All personal information will be kept confidential.

Youth Quitline

Trained peer counsellors will help you quit and answer your questions via telephone.

If you are:

1. A 12-25 year-old smoker
2. Want to quit smoking
3. Can communicate in Cantonese

We will

1. Provide counselling service up to 5 times via telephone
2. Provide a basic body check-up to quitters after 6 months
3. An incentive will be given to those who come to the body check.

Please call 2855-9557 to make an appointment.


Senior trained nurses will help you to quit through either a face-to-face interview or telephone interview at your convenience.

If you are:

1. Over 18 years old, female, and a smoker
2. Want to quit smoking
3. Can communicate in Cantonese

We will:

1. Provide quitting techniques specially designed for women
2. Provide Nicotine Replacement Therapy and a basic body check-up

Please contact Miss Tracy Cheung at 2819-2692/ 6752-6266 to make appointment.

For more details, please visit

Professor Sophia Chan
Department of Nursing Studies
The University of Hong Kong

Cigarettes Leave Deadly Path By Purging Protective Genes

ScienceDaily (Jan. 24, 2008) — A University of Rochester scientist discovered that the toxins in cigarette smoke wipe out a gene that plays a vital role in protecting the body from the effects of premature aging. Without this gene we not only lose a bit of youthfulness — but the lungs are left open to destructive inflammation and diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and lung cancer.

By identifying the Sirtuin (SIRT1) gene’s role in pulmonary disease, scientists also hope to find ways to restore it and jump-start lung healing. They’ve begun testing the powerful antioxidant resveratrol, which is extracted from red grape skins, to develop a treatment to target SIRT1 and reverse lung damage, or at least enhance the way standard COPD therapies work.

“This novel protein will allow us to program our body’s immune-inflammatory system against lung damage and premature aging. The hallmark of this discovery is that we may be able to provide remedies to millions of smokers who would like to quit but cannot kick their addiction, and millions of former smokers who, despite quitting, remain at risk for illness as they age,” said Irfan Rahman, Ph.D., associate professor of Environmental Medicine and an investigator in the University of Rochester’s Lung Biology and Disease Program.

Approximately 23 million Americans have COPD, which is induced by inflammation and results in progressive breathlessness. By the year 2020, it is expected to be the third leading cause of death worldwide; today at least 9 percent of the elderly population is estimated to suffer from debilitating lung conditions.

Rahman has spent years studying how the 4,700 toxic chemical compounds in cigarettes assault lung tissue. He also focuses on why some people seem genetically predisposed to develop lung diseases while others are more fortunate, despite being smokers.

SIRT1 plays a pivotal role in the puzzle. It belongs to a class of genes that regulate chronic inflammation, cancer and aging. When SIRT1 is highly active, or over-expressed in mice, worms and fruit flies, their life spans are greatly increased. Recent studies also show that SIRT1 plays a positive role in stress resistance, metabolism, apoptosis and other processes involved in premature aging. However, environmental stress such as cigarette smoke or pollution can decrease production of SIRT1 in the lungs.

In collaboration with Vuokko L. Kinnula, M.D., at Helsinki University Hospital in Finland, Rahman’s team studied the levels of SIRT1 in the lungs of nonsmokers and smokers with and without COPD. Thirty-seven patients from Helsinki who were undergoing either a lung resection for suspected cancer or a lung transplant, volunteered to provide tissue samples for the study. Researchers confirmed that SIRT1 was significantly lower in smokers who had COPD and in smokers who did not have disease, compared to nonsmokers.

The next step was to investigate what pathways lead to the depletion of SIRT1. Researchers found that Sirtuin also plays a role in regulating the entire chemical signaling system that protects the lungs from smoke and pollution. They investigated how SIRT1 relates to another key protective molecule, Nrf2, a transcription factor. Just as in the case of SIRT1, an airway deficient in Nrf2 is weak and inflamed and more prone to conditions such as COPD, researchers found.

Nrf2 was also important because it directly regulates several antioxidant genes such as gluthathione (GSH), the most abundant cellular antioxidant responsible for detoxifying the airways. Therefore, the pathway from SIRT1 to Nrf2 ultimately leads to the depletion of GSH, exacerbating the organ’s aging process.

“You can be 45 years old and look great on the outside, but if you are a smoker or former smoker, your lungs can easily be 60 years old because of the chemical assault,” Rahman said.

Other University of Rochester research teams are investigating the Nrf2 pathway and various ways to boost fundamental genetic changes in the body that would arm it with amplified natural antioxidants. The result could be the development of a target for new drugs that would protect us from age-related diseases such as cancer and emphysema.

Although he was not involved in the study, James D. Crapo, M.D., a leading expert in the field of lung disease and a professor of Medicine at the National Jewish Medical and Research Center, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver, said Rahman’s novel finding opens new doors. “This is certainly an important breakthrough in understanding the persistent lung damage and inflammation that occur in patients with COPD, and therapies can now be directed towards this protein.”

The research was published in two separate studies, in the American Journal of Respiratory Critical Care Medicine, appearing online Jan. 3, 2008, and in the American Journal of Physiology, appearing Dec. 27, 2007.

The Environmental Health Sciences Center of the University of Rochester, which is partially funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), supported the research. In addition, the University of Rochester has filed a patent to protect the identification of a novel molecular target to treat the progression of COPD and emphysema by inducing the Sirtuin1 gene.