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March 14th, 2008:

Lawsuit Against Tobacco Industry

N.B. Becomes Second Province To File Lawsuit Against Tobacco Industry

The Canadian Press – 14th March 2008

FREDERICTON — New Brunswick has become the second province to officially file a lawsuit targeting the tobacco industry.

Health Minister Mike Murphy said Thursday the province is committed to holding tobacco companies accountable for the suffering caused by tobacco products.

“The suit is on behalf of people whose health has been harmed by tobacco products, families who have lost loved ones to tobacco-related illness, and taxpayers who have borne the added costs to the health-care system,” he said.

While no one in the government was willing to put a dollar figure to the suit, it’s expected the province will be seeking to recover tens of millions of dollars.

“Numbers, of course, are going to be substantial because we believe the province of New Brunswick has spent millions of dollars in health care for citizens who have tobacco-related injuries or damages,” said T.J. Burke, New Brunswick’s attorney general.

“Tobacco has caused tremendous damage to citizens in the province of New Brunswick, and the government has paid substantial costs in medicare with respect to damages related to smoking activity and we’re going to recover those costs from these tobacco companies.”

News of the lawsuit was welcomed by the president of the New Brunswick Lung Association.

Ken Maybee said thousands of Canadians have died prematurely because of smoking, and people who started smoking at a younger age are now suffering from emphysema and acute bronchitis.

“It is very painful and debilitating to them and very costly to the health-care system,” said Maybee.

He said once a settlement is reached, his group and others will have to be vigilant to ensure a portion of the money is used to fund smoking prevention.

British Columbia was the first province to launch a lawsuit against the industry while Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Newfoundland and Nova Scotia have all taken legislative steps to clear the way for their own.

New Brunswick’s Liberal government announced in December 2006 that it would take legal action, but provincial legislation allowing it to do so was only proclaimed last week.

The province is using a consortium of lawyers, including two U.S. firms that have been involved in settlements at the state level.

Negotiated settlements by the 50 American states totalled more than US$245 billion over 25 years.

Michael Perley, director of the Ontario Campaign for Action on Tobacco, said he expected lawsuits in Canada could be of the same magnitude.

“There’s no reason to believe we shouldn’t achieve the same results here in Canada because the behaviour of the American companies that led to that settlement is no different from the Canadian companies over the same periods of time,” said Perley.

He called New Brunswick’s case “good news,” but said it was long overdue.

Perley said all the provinces should have filed suit 10 years ago. He hoped that New Brunswick’s action would spur other provinces, including Ontario, to take the tobacco industry to court.

Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty has said his government doesn’t want to punish big tobacco and warned there’s “considerable doubt” about the likely success of a lawsuit.

Tobacco Bill Targets Use By Teens

By MICHAEL RISPOLI • Gannett State Bureau • March 14, 2008

TRENTON — Teenagers less than 19 years old would be banned from smoking in public under a bill passed by the Assembly on Thursday.

Last session, lawmakers raised the legal age to buy tobacco products in New Jersey to 19 but hadn’t passed a law prohibiting teens from smoking in public.

Assemblyman Fred Scalera, D-Essex, said the bill would bring tobacco laws in line with alcohol laws that making underage possession illegal.

Currently, Scalera said, “A 10-year-old could be walking down the street, smoking a cigarette, waving to a police officer, and the officer would not be able to do anything.”

The bill, which passed 53 to 20, with three abstentions, would issue a written warning and parental notification for first time offenders. A second offense would require 25 hours of community service and participation in a smoking education program, and subsequent offense would require 50 hours of community service and a $75 fine.

The bill is targeted to curb high schoolers from smoking. Nearly 23 percent of high school students are cigarette smokers, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. The U.S. Health and Human services estimates more than 3 million American children under 18 consume more than 947 million packs of cigarettes combined every year.

Assemblyman Scott Rudder, R-Burlington, tried to amend the bill to exclude 18-year-olds in the military, but his motion was shot down.

More than a dozen students from Nutley High School who came up with the bill in their Advanced Placement government class were present for the vote and received applause for their efforts.

“It’s pretty crazy,” said Rose Stoffers, 17. “I never though I’d be involved in something like this.”

Stoffers said it felt good to be a part of something that is going to positively affect upcoming generations.

Seven hundred students from Nutley High School signed a petition in support of the legislation, which began as a class project.

A Senate version of the bill is in committee, and likely would not be acted upon until the late spring.

The Assembly also passed a bill that would allow state psychiatric hospitals to ban smoking if they offer a cessation program. The Senate passed that legislation, which now heads to Gov. Jon S. Corzine for consideration.

Tobacco Industry Needs To Answer To FDA

3/14/2008 2:30:00 AM – LETTER 03.14.2008

Dear Editor,

Even though tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States, currently no government agency has oversight over the manufacturing and marketing of tobacco products. Tobacco companies are free to add whatever ingredients they want, even if it makes products more attractive to kids, more addictive or even more deadly.

A new report released last week by leading public health organizations shows the extent to which tobacco manufacturers take advantage of the lack of regulation over their industry to entice new users. The report shows how the tobacco industry attracts children by adding candy flavorings like strawberry and grape to their products. They also know that smoking is unpleasant for new smokers, so they carefully design the product to make it less harsh by adding sugars and chemicals that numb the throat. They even address how the cigarette should be designed so that the novice smoker can light it more easily.

A lifetime of addiction almost always starts in the teenage years: 90 percent of adult smokers began smoking as teens, so any attempt to limit the national epidemic of tobacco addiction must begin with eliminating the marketing and manufacturing these products to target children

Congress has an historic opportunity to stop the special protection of Big Tobacco and protect Indiana kids by passing bipartisan legislation that would give the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authority over tobacco products and their marketing. While the bill would help protect all Americans, it includes specific provisions to protect our children from this deadly addiction.

The bill’s strong restrictions on advertising and marketing of tobacco products to children include provisions to keep tobacco out of their hands, prohibit candy flavorings in products, and require larger more effective warning labels.

Tobacco products take a significant toll on Hoosiers every year, leading to 9,800 deaths annually and costing Indiana more than $2 billion each year in preventable costs. The legislation before Congress will give us additional crucial tools for preventing the disease and death caused by tobacco products.

Senators Richard Lugar and Evan Bayh, and Representative Brad Ellsworth are co-sponsors of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. They will play a critical role its passage. With their help, Congress can take a major step to protect our children and reduce the terrible toll of tobacco on our community. I want to thank Senators Lugar and Bayh and Representative Ellsworth for co-sponsoring this life-saving legislation and urge them to do all they can to ensure its safe passage in the Congress this year.

President and CEO
American Lung Association of Indiana

Study Finds That Smoking Ban Had No Effect On Revenues

Mar 14, 2008 – 04:05:09 CDT – By SARA KINCAID – Bismarck Tribune

A smoking ban had no effect on restaurant and bar revenue, according to an analysis of tax records by the Bismarck Tobacco Free Coalition.

The analysis showed revenue growth prior to the city smoking ban and revenue continued to increase, even after the ban went into effect. Duane B. Pool, presented the analysis at the coalition’s meeting Thursday.

Pool analyzed tax records from the first quarter of 2002 to the first quarter of 2006. The city smoking ban started in October 2006, which restricted smoking in restaurants and bars attached to restaurants. Free-standing bars, truck stops and hotels could still allow smoking under the ordinance.

Individual businesses were not studied, rather full-service restaurants only were placed in groups of five based on revenue. The five businesses that produced the most revenue were group one, and so-forth, to the five lowest revenue-generating restaurants.

Over the five-year period, revenue increased. Prior to the ban, revenue increased 3.2 percent, and after the ban, revenue increased 7.2 percent, Pool said. The ban did not cause revenue to go up, but it did not hinder the business’ ability to earn money, he said.

“Regulation costs are not being transferred to the business, and the ban is not affecting growth in the industry,” Pool said.

The cause for the increase in revenue is likely the addition of 13 new restaurants in Bismarck. Revenue increased, and the new restaurants also cornered a larger share of the restaurant revenue each year. The new establishments had 14.2 percent of the market share at the beginning of the study and 23 percent of the market share at the end of the study.

The economic analysis was done by Pool. Robin Reich of Colorado State University and Michael Carroll of Bowling Green State University contributed to the analysis.

Cigarettes Should Be Sold In Dull Packaging

Make ciggie packs dull – experts

By Tamara McLean – March 14, 2008 01:32pm – Article from: AAP

CIGARETTES should be sold in dull, homogenous packs stamped only with a brand name and a health warning, a major review by leading Australian public health researchers says.

The report published in the international journal Addiction reveals the full extent to which tobacco companies treasure glitzy packs as their most powerful marketing tool.

“They are quite open about it,” say Professor Simon Chapman and Becky Freeman from the University of Sydney, who trawled through previously private internal tobacco industry documents and trade magazines.

“Now that the law prevents them from advertising, the main game is now via the pack.

“Pack design is now the leading edge of making tobacco products attractive and interesting, particularly to young starters.”

The specialists called for all cigarettes to be sold in plain cardboard packs marked only with the brand and the standard health warnings.

“Prescription drugs are all sold in plain packaging without alluring colours and imagery,” said Prof Chapman, who has been awarded the World Health Organisation (WHO) medal for tobacco control.

“These promote health. Cigarettes kill half their users and should be made as unattractive as possible.”

He said plain packaging may seem a radical policy today, but the same was once said about banning tobacco advertising, sports sponsorship and banning smoking in workplaces.

The change would be possible with federal government endorsement, an extension of the large and now grisly pack warnings.

“Not one cent has been paid by any government to compensate any company for loss of trade mark,” Prof Chapman said.

“International law is plain on this: governments can over-ride all arguments about the sanctity of trade marks and branding by invoking public health concerns.”

The WHO recently forecasted that one billion people will die from tobacco-caused disease this century.

Anne Jones, chief executive of Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), said anti-smoking lobby groups had long backed a move to plain packaging.

“This is an addictive lethal product that is causing 15,000 thousand deaths a year, and the fact that we still glamorise the packaging is terrible,” Ms Jones said.