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June 13th, 2008:

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.