Clear The Air News Tobacco Blog Rotating Header Image

May, 2008:

Cruise Company Extends Smoking Ban

Monday, 12 May 2008 – micebtn

P&O Cruises Australia has extended its ban on smoking to include all indoor areas on its ships from July 2008. Ann Sherry, chief executive of Carnival Australia which operates P&O Cruises, said the move reflected changing social trends and customer feedback.

“The majority of passengers have indicated they’d prefer to cruise in a smoke-free environment,” said Sherry. “Clearly there’s been a shift in community thinking on this issue and we’re keeping pace with that.”

Smokers At Greater Risk Of Mishaps

Source: BBC News, 11 May 2008

A new study has found that smoking while driving is a leading contributor to injuries and motor vehicle crashes, supporting US research which found that smoking causes risk factors for injury including fires, depressed reflexes and non-coordination.

The study done by B N Leistikow, D C Martic and S J Samuels interviewed adults (ages 18 plus) and followed up for vital status after a gap of five years using the National Death Index (NDI). Participants were classified as never smokers (fewer than 100 lifetime cigarettes), ex-smokers, and current smokers (smokers by baseline self report).

The study found that smokers have significant dose-response excesses of injury and death, independent of age, education and marital status. This supports earlier studies suggesting that smoking may be a leading contributor to injuries.

In fact, researchers have suggested that the correlation of smoking and driving should be studied in Asia, Latin America and Africa. Also, smoking-involved crashes may be studied in the same manner as alcohol-involved crashes.

Dr Ashok Seth, chairman and chief cardiologist of Max Heart Institute, says: “This is an interesting study.

Smoking and driving may lead to accidents, and smoking is a distraction, far more distractive than any activity in the car. The accidents may occur as cigarettes are an inflammable object, and lead to fires.

It may make the smoker distracted and spoils his concentration with one hand constantly engaged and moving to drop the ash. Smoking is also believed to release certain hormones which pump up confidence levels, leading to errors.”

Dr Anoop Misra director and head, department of diabetes, Fortis Hospitals said, “Tobacco smoke contains high quantity of carboxy haemoglobin, which replaces normal haemoglobin and transiently decreases oxygenation of brain.”

Smoking impairs certain motor reflexes and has adverse effects on message transfer in brain due to shifts in neurochemicals.

All these would impair any complex motor task as driving. Those who are heavy smokers or relatively new smokers are worst affected. Over long periods, smoking causes permanent damage to neurons and this results in decline of intellectual functions.”

How Peer Pressure Can Prevent Teenagers Smoking

May 9 2008 by Madeleine Brindley, Western Mail

TEEN smoking can be reduced by training popular secondary school pupils to spread anti-smoking messages.

The scheme, which was developed by experts in Cardiff, could reduce the number of teen smokers in the UK by 43,000 every year.

Research into the effect of the Assist (A Stop Smoking in Schools Trial) programme, which is published today in The Lancet, comes as teen smoking rates – particularly among girls – remain high in Wales.

The latest figures suggest that more than a quarter of children under 16 smoke – 27.5% of girls aged 15 and 16 in Wales smoke. It is thought that many children only choose to smoke if their friends already do.

But peer-pressure can also have a positive impact and result in some children deciding to remain smoke-free.

Professor Laurence Moore, director of the Cardiff Institute of Society, Health and Ethics, which developed the Assist programme, said: “A lot of time and effort goes into encouraging children not to take up regular smoking in schools but that generally hasn’t been found to be particularly effective as often kids will do the opposite of what their teachers tell them.

“With the rise in social networking websites, we know that kids are much more responsive to messages they get from their peers.”

The Assist training programme involves initially asking pupils to nominate influential students in their year group.

The most popular – those who are respected by their peers and are considered to be good leaders – were recruited and trained as peer supporters.

They were then asked to have conversations with other students in their year group about the benefits of not smoking over a 10-week period.

The research into the Assist programme was done in 59 schools across Wales and western England among pupils aged 12 and 13 – 30 schools received the Assist training programme while the remainder continued their normal smoking cessation programmes.

The researchers, from Cardiff University and the University of Bristol, found that students were 25% less likely to take up regular smoking immediately after the Assist project had been run in their school; 23% less likely to start regular smoking after one year and 15% less likely after two years.

In schools using conventional smoking-cessation programmes, 21% were less likely to smoke immediately after; 25% after one year and 15% after two years.

The Assist programme will be rolled out to 49 Welsh schools this year .

New Guidelines For Treatment Of Tobacco Dependence Released

Medical News Today | Friday, 9-May-2008

The U.S. Public Health Service today released an updated version of the clinical guidelines for treating tobacco dependence. Treating Tobacco Use and Dependence: 2008 Update contains strategies and recommendations designed to guide doctors and other medical professionals to help smokers quit.

The guidelines, updated for the first time since 2000, call attention to the need for clinicians to understand that there are multiple effective treatment options for tobacco dependence. The guidelines emphasize the benefits of group and individual counseling sessions and the use of medications in helping smokers to be successful in their quit attempt. There is also new evidence of the need to consider tobacco use as a chronic disease and to treat it as such through multiple interventions. The guidelines highlight the need for tobacco dependence treatment strategies to be integrated into the health care system as there is new evidence that health care policies, such as insurance that covers tobacco dependence treatment as a benefit, impact the likelihood that smokers will receive effective treatment and successfully quit smoking.

Tobacco use remains world’s most preventable cause of death, claiming the lives of 438,000 Americans each year and millions more globally. Smoking accounts for at least 30 percent of all cancer deaths and 87 percent of lung cancer deaths. It is associated with an increased risk of at least 15 types of cancer.

There are 45 million smokers in the U.S. and 70 percent of them say they would like to quit smoking,” said John R. Seffrin, Ph.D., chief executive officer of the American Cancer Society. “This updated clinical guideline on the treatment of tobacco dependence provides physicians and other health care providers, administrators and insurers, and smokers themselves, with clear, useful information on how to stop smoking and stay tobacco-free. It is critical that clinicians utilize these guidelines to stay current on the latest information that will help their patients to quit and to do so successfully. The Society is proud to endorse this important resource in the fight to reduce tobacco use.”

The American Cancer Society offers smokers who want to quit a clinically proven, confidential, free telephone-based counseling program, Quitline. Quitline is available in 12 states and the District of Columbia, as well as in more than 100 businesses and health plans nationwide. Since its inception in 2000, Quitline has provided support to more than 320,000 smokers. Studies have shown that more than 40 percent of people who were contacted six months after completing the Quitline program remained smoke-free, putting the Society’s quit rates among the highest in the country. Smokers who are seeking to quit can reach Quitline toll-free at 1-800-ACS-2345 or can log onto to embark on a personal plan to quit.

The American Cancer Society is dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem by saving lives, diminishing suffering, and preventing cancer through research, education, advocacy, and service. Founded in 1913 and with national headquarters in Atlanta, the Society has 13 regional Divisions and local offices in 3,400 communities, involving millions of volunteers across the United States.

Lance Armstrong Speaks Out On Smoking Laws

By Agence France Presse – Posted May. 8, 2008

Seven-time Tour de France winner and anti-cancer advocate Lance Armstrong said Thursday he has discussed banning smoking in public places across the United States with the three White House contenders.

“I’ve asked all the presidential candidates whether America should be smoke-free,” he told a Senate committee hearing on how to tackle cancer.

“The consensus is that it’s better left to the cities and states,” he said, agreeing that state- or community-level bans were “the way to go.”

“Second-hand smoking is something I’m very passionate about,” he told the committee.

“I don’t like to sit next to someone who’s smoking in a restaurant — I raced for 15 years in Europe and I’ve been around enough cigarette smoke to last me a lifetime,” said Armstrong, who overcame metastisized testicular cancer to win every Tour de France from 1999 through 2005.

Since he retired from professional cycling, Armstrong has become a leading advocate in the fight to beat cancer, a disease which, he told the hearing, claims 560,000 American lives a year.

Around one-third of cancer deaths are linked to smoking.

Armstrong said banning smoking, or using other means to make people never start, or kick a tobacco habit, were good preventive measures against cancer.

“We know what works in terms of cancer prevention — targeting tobacco, sun, diet and exercise.

“You now have cities like New York; Austin, Texas that are smoke-free,” Armstrong lauded, before looking to the traditionally smoke-filled pubs, cafes and bars of Europe.
“Ireland has taken steps,” he said.

“For God’s sake, even Paris, France is smoke-free.”

Price-Fixing, Bid-Rigging Will Be The Major Focus

Dennis Eng – Updated on May 07, 2008 – SCMP

Businesses that engage in price-fixing, bid-rigging, carving up markets, and fixing sales and production quotas will be targeted under the government’s proposed competition law, although exemptions will be allowed.

An independent competition commission with investigative powers, and a separate tribunal, will be set up to give the cross-sector law teeth. Civil penalties can be imposed, with fines of up to HK$10 million.

The government estimates the commission will need about 70 full-time staff and cost between HK$60 million and HK$80 million a year. The tribunal’s annual overheads are expected to be around HK$6 million.

Exemptions and exclusions are to be judged on economic benefits and public interest, like essential medical services. The law does not apply to the government or statutory bodies.

“By setting out a clear and enforceable prohibition against anti-competitive conduct, a competition law can help facilitate a better business environment for companies and protect consumers’ rights for the benefit of all sectors of society,” Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Frederick Ma Si-hang said.

The focus on the four anti-competitive practices does not mean the proposed law excludes other areas, such as joint boycotts, unfair or discriminatory standards and abuse of dominant position.

Mr Ma’s deputy, Linda Lai Wai-ming, said the commission would determine the economic impact on competitiveness in other cases.

Merger rules have been left out of the proposed law for now. Three options for public consideration are: to adopt a “light-handed approach”; to delay adopting a policy until the effect of the competition law is reviewed; or not to include merger rules but to reconsider the issue after a review of the law.

The government has launched a three-month public consultation on the proposed law. A similar one was held in November 2006.

Government policies on competition have come under increasing scrutiny, highlighted in recent years by the potential for price-fixing by major operators of petrol stations.

However, the prospect of an all-encompassing competition law has polarised the business community. Small and medium-sized firms (SMEs) fear it would lead to higher costs and frivolous lawsuits. There is also a risk that a “catch-all” law would unintentionally include firms that would not necessarily be covered by it. The government says measures are in place to address these concerns, including appointing at least one commission member with SME experience.

Jonathan McKinley, principal assistant secretary for commerce and economic development, said: “Generally speaking, SMEs regard competition law as something that is very positive, something that will help them. We have found very few cases where … private action has been taken against SMEs in any of the major jurisdictions we’ve looked at.”

Key proposals

  • A cross-sector competition law to prohibit conduct that reduces competition substantially;
  • Actions such as price fixing, bid-rigging, output restriction and market allocation would be considered serious anti-competitive conduct;
  • An independent competition commission would investigate anti-competitive conduct, determine infringements and impose remedies;
  • A competition tribunal with power to review the commission’s decisions;
  • Commission to cost up to HK$80 million a year; initial operating costs of tribunal about HK$6 million a year;
  • Commission may impose penalty up to HK$10 million; tribunal may impose even higher penalty – up to 10 per cent of company business turnover and disqualification from directorship for five years;
  • Anti-competitive agreements may be exempted if the economic benefits outweigh potential harm;
  • Agreement between firms involving aggregate market share of 20 per cent or less would not be pursued;
  • Victims of anti-competitive conduct to seek compensation privately;
  • Government and statutory bodies exempt from law;
  • Chief executive and Executive Council empowered to exempt certain activities

View on Competition Law

A letter sent by James Middleton of Clear The Air to in response to the Views Sought On Competition Law article posted on the Business and Finance site.

Dear Sir,

Consultation on Competition Law – we read that the current proposals include the usual Government let out.

“Government and statutory bodies exempt from law”

No Government should be and must never be above the Law.
They should be the example, not the exemption.

The Government should ensure its laws and policies are fair and just before enacting them.
If they enact policies which are unfair and anti competitive they should be liable to to tasked accordingly. The same applies to the Race Discrimination laws where they sought to exclude Government from liability and which has been queried on high from afar as well as by local legislators.

A perfect example is the current debacle created by Government to appease the Liberal party with the smoking exemptions for ‘Qualified Premises’.

In the UK in the lead up to their smoking ban last year, the House of Commons report discussed the possible options by way of allowing exemptions to the new laws for specific premises . The public and the Catering Trade unanimously agreed that a level playing field was required whereby all licensed premises would be subject to the ban.

In Hong Kong the Government has unfairly allowed exemptions to premises choosing to bar the entry of U-18s to the licensed premises. This has created an unfair competition between those premises choosing to follow the new anti smoking laws here and those who took the freely available exemption. The proposed use of “A cross-sector competition law to prohibit conduct that reduces competition substantially;” seems prima facie already to have been broken in this example.

The Government should be held responsible for instigating such an unfair trading advantage whilst at the same time ignoring the workers who are being killed by passive smoke. They have usurped their Duty of Care to their workforce and should be held accountable, not exempt from current and any future laws they intend to mess with to suit political compliance.

yours faithfully,

James Middleton
Clear the Air

Views Sought On Competition Law

Business and Finance – 6th May 2008

A three-month consultation on the proposed new competition law for Hong Kong has been launched. Secretary for Commerce & Economic Development Frederick Ma says such a law can help facilitate a better business environment for companies and protect consumers’ rights, for the benefit of all sectors of society.

Mr Ma said the Government is looking forward to receiving the public’s views on the proposed framework before finalising the Competition Bill for introduction to the Legislative Council in the 2008-09 legislative session.

“Introduction of the new law will help us to more effectively implement our competition policy, which is aimed at enhancing economic efficiency and the benefit of consumers through promoting sustainable competition,” Mr Ma said.

Rights protected

“By setting out a clear and enforceable prohibition against anti-competitive conduct, a competition law can help facilitate a better business environment for companies and protect consumers’ rights, for the benefit of all sectors of society,” he added.

Mr Ma said during the last public consultation exercise on the way forward for Hong Kong’s competition policy, there was general support for the introduction of a cross-sector competition law.

“However, we recognise that some stakeholders, particularly business-sector representatives and small and medium-sized enterprises, had concerns that such a law should not create extra compliance costs or lead to excessive litigation. To this end, the public consultation paper has specifically set out a number of proposals to address their concerns,” he added.

The consultation paper covers key elements that will form the basis of a competition law, including the proposed regulatory structure, types of conduct that will be prohibited, penalties that will apply for infringing the law, the right to take private action, and criteria and mechanisms for granting exemptions and exclusions from the law’s application.

Key elements

The new competition law has proposed:

* to set up a Competition Commission, which would operate independently from the Government, to investigate anti-competitive conduct, determine whether law infringements had occurred and impose remedies as appropriate;

* to set up a separate Investigation Committee within the commission to maximise checks and balances; and

* to set up an independent Competition Tribunal to review the commission’s decisions.

The commission would require an annual budget of up to $80 million and the initial cost of operating the tribunal would be about $6 million a year.

The law will set out general prohibitions against anti-competitive agreements between competing undertakings and abusive conduct by undertakings with substantial market power. Three options for merger regulation have been proposed in the consultation paper for stakeholders’ comments and discussions.

Under the new law the commission should have the authority to grant exemptions for agreements where it considers these would not cause any net economic harm. The Chief Executive-in-Council should have the power to exclude the relevant activities from the law’s application where broader public-policy considerations apply.

The new, cross-sector competition law would not apply to the Government or statutory bodies. The penalties for infringement would be civil in nature, with fines of up to $10 million imposed by the commission. The commission could apply to have the tribunal impose more serious penalties, including higher fines with a cap of 10% of total turnover during the period when the infringement occurred and disqualification from holding a directorship or a management role in any company for up to five years.

More details about the proposed new law can be found here. The consultation will end on August 5. People can air their views by writing to the bureau at Level 29, One Pacific Place, 88 Queensway, faxing 2877 5650 or emailing

Mr Ma said views willl be taken into full account when finalising the Competition Bill.

Restaurant Tobacco Bans Influence Teen Smoking

Study: Restaurant tobacco bans influence teen smoking

By STEVE LeBLANC – 6th May

BOSTON (AP) — A Massachusetts study suggests that restaurant smoking bans may play a big role in persuading teens not to become smokers. Youths who lived in towns with strict bans were 40 percent less likely to become regular smokers than those in communities with no bans or weak ones, the researchers reported in the May issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

The findings back up the idea that smoking bans discourage tobacco use in teens by sending the message that smoking is frowned upon in the community, as well as simply by reducing their exposure to smokers in public places, said Dr. Michael Siegel, of Boston University School of Public Health, and the study’s lead author.

“When kids grow up in an environment where they don’t see smoking, they are going to think it’s not socially acceptable,” he said. “If they perceive a lot of other people are smoking, they think it’s the norm.”

Siegel and his colleagues tracked 2,791 children between ages 12 and 17 who lived throughout Massachusetts. There were no statewide restrictions when the study began in 2001 but about 100 cities and towns had enacted a hodgepodge of laws restricting smoking in workplaces, bars or restaurants.

The teens were followed for four years to see how many tried smoking and how many eventually became smokers.

Overall, about 9 percent became smokers — defined as smoking more than 100 cigarettes.

In towns without bans or where smoking was restricted to a designated area, that rate was nearly 10 percent. But in places with tough bans prohibiting smoking in restaurants, just under 8 percent of the teens became smokers.

The study found that having a smoker as a parent or a close friend was a factor in predicting whether children experiment with cigarettes. But strong bans had a bigger influence on whether smoking grew into a habit, reducing their chances of becoming smokers by 40 percent.

“There is really no other smoking intervention program that could cut almost in half the rate of smoking,” Siegel said.

Age was also a factor. Smoking bans had a greater effect on younger teens than on older teens.

The researchers said it’s not clear whether strong bans would have the same effect in other states since local towns adopted their restrictions as part of an aggressive anti-smoking campaign throughout the state.

A statewide workplace smoking ban that included restaurants went into effect in mid-2004. Since then, high school smoking rates in Massachusetts have continued to decline, from about 21 percent of students in 2005 to about 18 percent in 2007.

Many restaurant owners fought the ban, saying it could drive away diners, according to Janine Harrod, director of government affairs for the Massachusetts Restaurant Association, which represents 2,000 restaurant owners.

While some restaurants were hurt initially, the effects have eased over time since the ban applies to everyone, she said.

Bill Phelps, a spokesman for Altria, parent company of cigarette-maker Philip Morris USA, said the study shows that the reasons teens take up smoking are complex.

“There is no single reason why young people engage in risky behaviors like smoking,” he said. “We believe that there should be a multifaceted approach to address youth smoking.”

At least 23 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico require most public places and workplaces, including restaurants and bars, to be smoke free, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Another nine states ban smoking in workplaces but have various exemptions for restaurants or bars.

“We already have more than enough evidence why we should pass these smoke-free laws, but certainly this study should help push them along,” said Danny McGoldick of the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids.

South African Govt To Amend Tobacco Act To Promote Healthy Lifestyles

Date: 05 May 2008
Title: Govt to amend Tobacco Act to promote healthy lifestyles
By Vivian Warby

Cape Town – The Health Portfolio Committee is to hold hearings on amendments to the Tobacco Control Act to further enhance the control of tobacco products and promote healthy lifestyles.

Addressing a Social Cluster briefing on Monday, Health Minister Manto Tshabala-Msimang said amending the Bill was part of the Department of Health’s “healthy lifestyles” campaign, which seeks to encourage South Africans to adopt and practice healthy lifestyles as part of decreasing the burden of disease facing the country.

The hearings, which will take place on Wednesday and Thursday, seek to amend the Act to be in line with the international standards set in the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

The amendment Bill she said included “strengthening sections which prohibit advertising, promotion and sponsorship, and the regulation of smoking in public places.”

Minister Tshabala-Msimang said the amended Bill would also introduce picture-based health warnings as well as the removal of misleading descriptions such as “mild” and “light” which carries a fine of R1 000 000.
“The Bill increases the penalties so that they become a real deterrent against contravention of the Act.

“The fine for the owner of a public place or employer who fails to ensure that there is no smoking in a smoke free area has been increased from R10 000 to R50 000,(HK$ 55,000) ” the minister said.

The penalty for selling tobacco products to a minor (under 18 years) has been increased from R10 000 to R50 000.

Also included are new offences such as failing to protect employees from tobacco smoke pollution, selling tobacco products in a health institution and retailer not complying with point of sale conditions.

The penalty for advertising and promotion has been increased from R200 000 to R1 000 000.

This was part of the department’s approach in dealing with comprehensive health care which looks at health promotion, reduction of communicable and non-communicable diseases and the unnatural causes of death such as accidents and injuries.

Besides the amendments to the Tobacco Control Act in its drive toward healthier lifestyles for all South Africans, the department was also increasing the number of health promoting schools from 3500 to at least 5000 schools.

These schools have initiated the programmes to prevent tobacco use, development of food gardens and sports participation.

Speaking about malaria meanwhile, the minister said the department was encouraged by the fact that Limpopo and Mpumalanga had already covered over 85 percent of malaria risk areas with indoor residual spray for malaria vector control while KwaZulu-Natal was currently at 82 percent.

She said developing and implementing malaria health promotion activities in the three affected provinces was underway.

“In line with the call by the President in the State of the Nation Address, we are working on reducing the TB defaulter rates from 10-7 percent through the establishment of TB tracer teams and the training of 3000 health personnel in the management of this disease.

“A total of 72 TB tracer teams have been established in all the nine provinces,” the minister said.

Each team comprises a healthcare worker, two community health workers and a data capturer. In addition, 122 healthcare workers were trained on MDR-TB management in the past two months.”

On HIV and AIDS, the minister said treatment, care and support intervention was gradually gaining momentum in line with the department’s commitment to deal with this challenge.

“As at February 2008, our figures show that at least 456 000 had been initiated on antiretroviral treatment and 39 759 of these are children in all 407 facilities accredited to provide this service.

“We now have 86 percent of the sub-districts having at least one service point accredited to provide comprehensive care to people living with HIV and AIDS.” – BuaNews