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June, 2008:

Tobacco Inspectors Leaving Over Contract Terms

Oriental Daily – 20th June – SCMP

Frontline tobacco control inspectors, who are hired on non-civil servant contract terms, are leaving their posts in the run up to the effectiveness of fixed penalty and joint enforcement of the law by three more authorities from the first half of next year. The Tobacco Control Office admitted that over 20 per cent of inspectors had left in 2007 and 16 replacements had to be hired to fill all 85 inspector posts.

9,851 Summonses For Smoking

19th June 2008 – SCMP

The number of summonses for breaching the smoking ban from January last year to this May was 9,851, with 6,687 issued by the Tobacco Control Office and 3,164 by the police. The ban covers some designated outdoor areas and all indoor public spaces, and offenders face a HK$1,500 fine.

Smoking Ban Near Entrances Of State Buildings

By WWAY – Created 19 Jun 2008

The state senate wants to tighten tobacco restrictions on state owned property.

The senate has approved bills that ban smoking within 25 feet of entrances to state buildings.

Here in Wilmington, UNCW’s campus is one of the largest state properties.

Administrators already implemented the more restrictive policy earlier this month.

Some students told NewsChannel Three today that it is for the best.

Junior Jill Murtaugh said, “It’s nice to go to residence halls and not have to walk through smoke to get through the door. So I really like the fact that they put this new rule in place.”

A recent university survey indicated that 88 percent of UNCW students don’t smoke daily.

Students who smoke called the new rules inconvenient.

Appeal Bid By Absent Tobacco Tycoon Fails

Ruling on bugging of defendant upheld

Yvonne Tsui – Updated on Jun 18, 2008

The appeal court yesterday rejected an application by the director of a tobacco company – who has absconded – to argue in the top court against the continuation of his criminal trial in the District Court.

The challenge was mounted after lawyers cited what they said was a deliberate breach of legal privilege, by anti-corruption officers who bugged the office of a defendant, as grounds for halting the trial. The trial judge rejected that argument, and a subsequent request for a judicial review of that decision was also rejected.

Lu Dayong, 57, former executive director of Nanyang Brothers Tobacco Co Ltd, failed to appear last week at a District Court hearing on his alleged involvement in the illegal smuggling of Double Happiness cigarettes. A warrant for his arrest was issued.

Lawyer Martin Lee Chu-ming SC said outside court that Lu’s failure to appear at that hearing had not affected the application. He said he had been given detailed instructions on the application before Lu absconded.

Mr Lee, who acted for Lu and two other applicants – both co-defendants in the trial – in the judicial review application, argued yesterday that legal privilege should be recognised as an absolute right.

The appeal stemmed from a ruling on May 16 by Mr Justice Michael Hartmann, who refused to grant leave for a judicial review of District Court Judge Joseph Yau Chi-lap’s decision on April 3 not to stay the criminal proceeding.

Mr Justice Hartmann said it would be inappropriate for him to hear the case as Judge Yau had properly exercised his power to decide on the application for a stay of proceedings. He said the merits of the decision should be heard in the Court of Appeal upon a criminal appeal, not in a judicial review.

Upholding that decision, yesterday’s ruling by Mr Justice Michael Stuart-Moore and Mr Justice Frank Stock, of the Court of Appeal, brought an end to the matter.

The criminal trial will continue in the District Court next Wednesday.

Lu – along with Ko Kit, 36, director of Hang Chun Trade Development, and Chan Kai-san, 37, a sales manager for the same firm – had asked for a stay of the criminal proceedings on the grounds that the Independent Commission Against Corruption’s covert surveillance operation “constituted an affront to public conscience” by bugging a conversation between Ko and her lawyer.

Lu and Ko face one count of conspiracy to arrange for Lu to accept an advantage. All three face a charge of conspiracy to defraud and another count of conspiracy to arrange for Lu to accept an advantage.

Ontario Passes Ban On Smoking In Cars With Kids Under 16

The Canadian Press – June 18, 2008

Ontario became the latest Canadian province to ban smoking in a vehicle with a child present Monday after a government-backed private member’s bill passed in the legislature with the support of all three parties.

Smoking in Ontario workplaces and public areas, such as bars and restaurants, is already illegal in Ontario, but the new ban will provide an additional level of protection to children under the age of 16, said Health Promotion Minister Margarett Best.

“This is about protection of our most vulnerable citizens – children who do not have a voice,” Best told the legislature.

Drivers and passengers in Ontario who don’t butt out in cars carrying children won’t be fined more than $250 for each offence, a much lighter fine than originally envisioned by Liberal backbencher David Orazietti’s bill, which set penalties up to $1,000.

Nova Scotia and British Columbia have already outlawed the practice, which critics liken to child abuse. Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick are also considering a similar ban.

Health care groups who lobbied hard for a ban praised the province for taking the right steps to protect children’s health.

“Doctors have been calling for a ban since 2004 and raising awareness about the serious impacts on children of second-hand smoke in cars,” Ontario Medical Association president Dr. Ken Arnold said in a statement.

“The amount of support it has received publicly and from MPPs of all stripes is an indication that more people are becoming educated about the negative health impacts of smoking.”

Premier Dalton McGuinty once dismissed a province-wide ban as a slippery slope that infringed too much on people’s rights, but changed his tune in March and threw his government’s support behind the private members’ bill., a smokers’ rights group financed in part by the tobacco industry, has raised concerns that the ban will eventually extend to private homes, but McGuinty said that’s not under consideration.

Government officials cite studies which show that kids are exposed to up to 27 times the toxins when they’re in enclosed spaces like a car, which can worsen asthma and lead to other respiratory illnesses.

The province will launch a campaign to better educate the public about the dangers of smoking in vehicles with children, but hasn’t yet determined how much it will spend, Best said.

“We expect the budget will not be a big budget because we expect that there’s going to be a very high percentage of compliance with this piece of legislation,” she said.

But police will be expected to enforce the law once it takes effect, which will only make their jobs more onerous, said Opposition Leader Bob Runciman.

“There will probably be very little enforcement of this, in terms of checking cars and that sort of thing,” he said. “So I think education would be a critical part of this. It has to be.”

Ontario Provincial Police have said the ban won’t be difficult to enforce, as it already inspects for seatbelts and child car seats.

The ban should have also extended protection to teens until they’re 19, when they’re legally allowed to buy cigarettes, said NDP health critic France Gelinas.

“You send this message that, ‘We know there are a lot of kids between the ages of 16 and 19 that smoke. It’s a problem we’re not ready to tackle, therefore we’re going to put the cutoff at 16 years old,”‘ she said.

“That’s the wrong message to send.”

Heart Attack Admissions Fall By Up To 40% Since Smoking Ban

The Times – June 16, 2008 – Will Pavia

The number of heart attack patients being admitted to emergency wards has fallen sharply in more than half of England’s hospital trusts since smoking was banned in public places.

The figures, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, are an early indication of the impact of the smoking ban on heart disease rates in England. Some hospitals have seen the number of cases fall by 41 per cent since last July.

The British Heart Foundation said that it showed the ban was the “most significant public health initiative this century”.

Studies in Scotland and Ireland, which introduced a public-smoking ban in 2006, showed hospital admissions for heart attacks falling by 17 and 14 per cent respectively. Comparable evidence has come from France and Italy.

These drops in the rate of heart attacks have been attributed to a large number of people stopping smoking, and far fewer people being exposed to airborne toxins through passive smoking.

The Government has not yet published figures documenting the effects of the ban in England. But NHS records show that there were 1,384 fewer heart attacks in the nine months after the legislation was introduced than in the same period a year earlier.

The figures, obtained by the Daily Mail, show admissions for heart attacks from 114 trusts: 66 saw a drop in admissions compared with the same period the year before. The most striking figures came from Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust, where there was a 41 per cent fall, or 418 fewer cases.

In the remaining 48 trusts, the number of admissions remained the same or increased slightly.

The Department of Health welcomed the figures as “good news” but added that it was too early to attribute falls in heart attack rates to the new legislation.

Rates of heart disease were falling before smoking in public was banned in European countries, and various factors, including mild weather, can contribute to a fall. Nevertheless, the health benefits of stopping smoking are well established. A year after a person quits smoking, the risk of a heart attack falls to half that of a smoker.

Nicholas Boon, of the British Cardiovascular Society, said: “When you place these figures with the research in Scotland, Ireland, France and Rome, it is consistent with the observation that the ban has been followed by improvements in heart attack rates.”

Cigarette Taxes and Media Campaigns Reduce Smoking

New Study: Cigarette Taxes and Media Campaigns Reduce Smoking

Statement of Matthew L. Myers – President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

Washington, D.C. – A new study published online today by the American Journal of Public Health provides important new evidence that cigarette tax increases and mass media public education campaigns can significantly reduce smoking. These proven measures are a part of a package of cost-effective solutions for reducing tobacco use, called the MPOWER package, that the World Health Organization has recommended every nation implement. This new study adds to the overwhelming body of evidence that these solutions work and should spur governments to take urgent actions to protect the health of their citizens from tobacco use, the world’s leading cause of preventable death.

The study, conducted by a team of Australian researchers, examined the impact of several tobacco control policies on adult smoking rates in Australia over a 10 year period. The study found that government action can effectively reduce tobacco use. Key findings include:

· Higher cigarette prices resulting from tax increases led to rapid reductions in adult smoking rates, even when controlling for other factors. According to the study, increases in the cost of a pack of cigarettes created measurable declines in smoking rates.

· Well-funded and sustained tobacco control media campaigns significantly reduced smoking rates. The study concludes that media campaigns must be adequately funded to ensure sufficient exposure to the public and must be sustained over time.

The results of the study demonstrate that raising the price of tobacco by increasing tobacco taxes will reducing smoking, but an even greater impact can be achieved by using some of the revenue from the tobacco tax to fund a sustained media campaign.

To effectively reduce tobacco use, the WHO recommends that nations implement a package of six cost-effective solutions called MPOWER:

· Monitor tobacco use and assess the impact of tobacco prevention and cessation efforts;

· Protect everyone from secondhand smoke with laws that require smoke-free workplaces and public places;

· Offer help to every tobacco user to quit;

· Warn and effectively educate every person about the dangers of tobacco use with strong, pictorial health warnings and hard-hitting, sustained media campaigns;

· Enact and enforce comprehensive bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorships and on the use of misleading terms such as “light” and “low-tar;” and

· Raise the price of tobacco products by significantly increasing tobacco taxes.

Tobacco taxes are one of the single most effective ways of reducing tobacco use, with studies showing that every 10 percent increase in the price of cigarettes reduces overall cigarette consumption by 4 percent and youth smoking by 7 percent. In addition, the WHO has found that consumer mass media campaigns are effective in educating the public on the dangers of smoking, countering the tobacco industry’s marketing and promotional tactics, and reducing tobacco use.

According to the WHO, tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in the world today and will kill one billion people worldwide this century unless nations act now to save lives. Tobacco use already kills 5.4 million people a year and the epidemic is worsening, especially in the developing world where more than 80 percent of tobacco-caused deaths will occur in the coming decades. However, this epidemic is entirely preventable if nations urgently implement proven solutions.

More information:

The Cancer Council Victoria:

MP Introduces Bill To Ban Youth Smoking

ABC News – June 13, 2008

Nationals’ MP Damien Drum is pushing to change Victoria’s smoking laws.

He introduced a bill into State Parliament yesterday to make it unlawful for people under the age of 18 to smoke and buy or sell cigarettes.

The proposed legislation would also ban marketing tobacco to young people.

Mr Drum says about 90 per cent of smokers started when they were teenagers.

“Whilst the smoking rates are coming down they’re not coming down fast enough,” he said.

“We’ve got something like 50 young Victorians everyday are starting smoking, it’s just far too many.

“Half of those are going to become committed full-time smokers.”

Mr Drum says the proposed legislation has been formed after years of discussion and research.

“Well currently there’s no restriction on youth at all, there’s no minimum age for them to smoke, there’s no offence if they continue to try to obtain cigarettes by purchasing them,” he said.

“The onus currently is on the retailer to not supply them.

“So what we’re going to do is share that responsibility between the youth themselves.”

One Cent Up, 60,000 Smokers Down

By Sarah Wotherspoon – June 13, 2008 – Herald Sun

RAISING the price of a packet of cigarettes by as little as one cent a stick could result in at least 60,000 fewer smokers. And increasing exposure to anti-smoking ads could also drastically slash the smoking rate, an Australian-led study has found.

The research, to be published in the American Journal of Public Health today, found price increases and media campaigns were the most effective ways to reduce the uptake of smoking and encourage people to quit.

Study co-author Prof David Hill said the results showed the Government needed to consider greater investment in tobacco control to achieve gains in public health.

“An increase in the real price of cigarettes and mass media campaigns broadcast at sufficient levels of exposure at regular intervals are critical for reducing population smoking rates,” he said.

“The public health gains from reducing tobacco use are huge and indisputable, but we will not see population-level change from irregular tobacco control activity. Ongoing exposure to mass-reach interventions, such as price increases and mass media campaigns are required.”

The study used monthly survey data from Australia’s five largest capital cities to assess the impact of anti-smoking ads and other policies on adult smoking rates.

Quit executive director Fiona Sharkie said cigarettes were cheap compared with food, petrol and even a night at the movies, and the tobacco tax had not increased in almost 10 years apart from CPI increases and the GST.

“The study essentially provides the Government with a blueprint on the best ways to reduce smoking, and it will certainly be invaluable information for the new National Preventative Health Taskforce, who are currently considering ways forward to address tobacco use in Australia,” she said.

Smuggling Trial To Go On Without Suspect

Chandra Wong – Updated on Jun 13, 2008 – SCMP

A district court judge presiding over a HK$50 million cigarette-smuggling case has decided to go ahead with the trial of two co-defendants even though a third, the former chairman of a tobacco manufacturer, has absconded.

District Court Judge Joseph Yau Chi-lap yesterday exercised his discretion to resume the trial, which started last October, without the presence of Lu Dayong, 60, former chairman of Nanyang Brothers Tobacco Company.

The judge issued an arrest warrant for Lu and confiscated his HK$3 million bail on Tuesday after he failed to appear for a hearing.

The judge also refused a request to either step down from the trial or hold a separate trial for the co-defendants, Lu’s girlfriend Ko Kit, 39, director of Hang Chun Trade Development, and Chan Kai-san, 40, sales manager of the same firm.

Cheng Huan SC, for Ko and Chan, said his clients had prepared their case on the understanding that Lu would call expert witnesses to counter the government forensics accountants’ findings concerning Lu’s bank accounts. The judge said Lu’s disappearance would not influence his handling of the case.

Ko and Chan are free on bail of HK$700,000 and HK$500,000, respectively.

Lu and Ko have pleaded not guilty to a joint charge of conspiracy to arrange for Lu to accept an advantage. Lu, Ko and Chan have pleaded not guilty to joint charges of conspiracy to defraud, and conspiring to arrange for Lu to accept an advantage.

The case involves Hang Chun’s suspected involvement in the illegal smuggling of Double Happiness cigarettes to the mainland.