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August, 2008:

Yunnan Tobacco Merger To Create Industry Giant

Jasmine Wang – SCMP | Updated on Aug 26, 2008

Two Yunnan-based tobacco companies, Hongyun Group and Honghe Group, agreed to merge yesterday, forming the world’s fourth-largest tobacco firm and the biggest on the mainland, state media reported.

The deal, pending government approval, will form a new entity with annual sales volume exceeding 4.5 million boxes of cigarettes, ranking only behind Philip Morris International, British American Tobacco and Japan Tobacco in the world, China News Services reported yesterday, citing tobacco bureau officials.

“The move is significant to the monopolised industry,” said an analyst at a local brokerage covering mainland companies. “It shows the government’s intention to nurture giants and then encourage them go out as Chinese tobacco brands are not that well known abroad.”

He said creating a giant could boost the price of Chinese cigarettes overseas.

Hongyun and Honghe could not be reached for comment yesterday.

The price of cigarettes on the mainland, which has the world’s largest smoking population, are controlled by the State Tobacco Monopoly Administration whether they are locally made or imported.

More than 80 per cent of the mainland’s 320 million smokers consumed domestic brands, although the market share of global giants was growing, said Mao Zhengzhong, an economic professor at Sichuan University who studies smoking control on the mainland.

Mr Mao said Yunnan was one of the biggest tobacco-producing provinces. It is home to three major tobacco firms, Honta Group, which makes the popular “Hongtashan” brand and was once No1 on the mainland, Hongyun and Honghe.

Established in 2005 after waves of mergers, Hongyun produces more than 3 million boxes of cigarettes under the brands of “Yunyan” and “Lesser Panda” each year through its five plants, according to the company’s website.

Last year, it had turnover of 29 billion yuan with net assets reaching 31 billion yuan.

Honghe, which produces cigarettes under its own name, has an annual production capacity of 1.6 million boxes.

Established in 1985, Honghe generated revenue of 16 billion yuan last year.

Hunan is another major province, where the Baisha Group that owns the popular “He” brand is located.

Make Tobacco Illegal In Australia

Published by Clindall on Aug 22, 2008
Category: Law Reform
Region: Australia
Target: Any concerned individual residing in Australia

The three diseases that cause most deaths in Australia are heart disease, stroke and lung cancer, with tobacco smoking being a major cause for all three of these killers.

It is the largest single preventable cause of death and disease in Australia, as recorded by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, and the world, as said by the World Health Organisation. If tobacco smoking causes so much harm, why should it be “allowed” to kill people in the way that it does?

The adverse effects on health are not only suffered by smokers, but also by non-smokers who still breathe in tobacco smoke. Tobacco can even cause non-smokers to be more at risk of getting diseases such as lung cancer and others linked to smoking. Children are even more sensitive to the tobacco smoke, which can hinder lung development and cause respiratory problems and infections, as well as other illnesses.

I fully support the current initiatives to protect children from the effects of smoking, but why stop there? Isn’t this akin to stopping slavery of children, yet allowing adults to remain enslaved? I suggest that the sale, production and importation of tobacco are made illegal in Australia and eventually, possession as well. This would greatly reduce the number of smokers in our country, as there are many people currently addicted to tobacco that wouldn’t be prepared to keep smoking through illegal means.

We, the undersigned of Australia, call upon the Federal Government to make the sale, production and importation of Tobacco illegal and to eventually make possession also illegal.

Why Some Smokers Become Addicted With Their First Cigarette

Science Daily – August 8, 2008

New research from The University of Western Ontario reveals how the brain processes the ‘rewarding’ and addictive properties of nicotine, providing a better understanding of why some people seemingly become hooked with their first smoke.

The research, led by Steven Laviolette of the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology at the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry could lead to new therapies to prevent nicotine dependence and to treat nicotine withdrawal when smokers try to quit.

“Nicotine interacts with a variety of neurochemical pathways within the brain to produce its rewarding and addictive effects,” explains Laviolette. “However, during the early phase of tobacco exposure, many individuals find nicotine highly unpleasant and aversive, whereas others may become rapidly dependent on nicotine and find it highly rewarding. We wanted to explore that difference.”

The researchers found one brain pathway in particular uses the neurotransmitter ‘dopamine’ to transmit signals related to nicotine’s rewarding properties. This pathway is called the ‘mesolimbic’ dopamine system and is involved in the addictive properties of many drugs of abuse, including cocaine, alcohol and nicotine.

“While much progress has been made in understanding how the brain processes the rewarding effects of nicotine after the dependence is established, very little is known about how the mesolimbic dopamine system may control the initial vulnerability to nicotine; that is, why do some individuals become quickly addicted to nicotine while others do not, and in some cases, even find nicotine to be highly aversive.”

The scientists identified which specific dopamine receptor subtype controlled the brain’s initial sensitivity to nicotine’s rewarding and addictive properties and were able to manipulate these receptors to control whether the nicotine is processed as rewarding or aversive.

“Importantly, our findings may explain an individual’s vulnerability to nicotine addiction, and may point to new pharmacological treatments for the prevention of it, and the treatment of nicotine withdrawal,” says Laviolette. The research was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Canadian Psychiatric Research Foundation.

Tobacco Cure

SCMP | 4th August 2008

Stanford University researchers have developed a cancer vaccine using tobacco leaves that triggers the body’s immune system, can be tailored to a person’s tumour type and has no significant side effects. It has cured cancer in mice, but the researchers haven’t yet proved that the immune response it sparks in people is sufficient to do the same. However, of 16 patients recently diagnosed with incurable follicular B-cell lymphoma who were given the vaccine, none experienced major side effects and 13 developed an immune response. Plant-based vaccines can be developed faster and cheaper that those using animal or human cells, don’t carry the same risk of infection, and the antibodies produced may trigger a stronger immune response, AFP reports.

Anti-smoking Advert ‘Understates’ Real Costs

Mary Ann Benitez – SCMP | Updated on Aug 03, 2008

A government-funded anti-smoking advocacy group has been criticised for understating the health-related cost of tobacco in its promotional campaign.

The Council on Smoking and Health’s latest radio advertisement, calling on people to quit smoking, is causing concern for anti-smoking lobbyist Clear the Air.

“Smoking costs the Hong Kong economy HK$5.3 billion each year. This is what it costs for the health care, medical expenses and productivity losses,” the advertisement says. “Quit smoking now for a better return.”

The council said the HK$5.3 billion estimate came from a study conducted by the University of Hong Kong’s community medicine department in 2005.

The advertisement was part of the Smoke Free Hong Kong Campaign launched in May.

James Middleton, of Clear the Air, said the council should have used a higher figure which the HKU study had also suggested.

“This selective choice of information for the public service announcement is based on information from a University of Hong Kong research report. [The announcement] needs to be redone to reflect the actual costs to Hong Kong society,” he said.

The widely reported HKU study found that the total cost of active and passive smoking was HK$5.3 billion a year. It took into account the cost of health care, residential care and lost working time.

It also said: “If we add the value of attributable lives lost but deduct productivity loss due to premature death to avoid double counting the value of a lost life, the annual cost would be US$9.4 billion [HK$73.36 billion].

Council chairman Homer Tso Wei-kwok defended the agency’s decision to use the HK$5.3 billion a year health-related cost of smoking because no one could put a value on life.

“Life is priceless. That figure does not take into account the cost of lives. We only talked about the medical and other burdens,” he said, adding it was also the figure mostly used by the media at the time. “We are talking about an advocacy message.”

Meanwhile, the Department of Health said it would take 10 more months for the fixed-penalty scheme for smoking offences to be implemented.

The bill was passed on July 2.

From January 1 last year to the end of June this year, the Tobacco Control Office issued 7,322 summonses.

Exposure To Environmental Tobacco Smoke And Health Effects Among Hospitality Workers In Sweden

Larsson M, Boëthius G, Axelsson S, Montgomery SM. – The Department of Respiratory Medicine, Orebro University Hospital, Orebro, Sweden. | Aug 2008

TOPIC: Exposure to environmental tobacco smoke and health effects among hospitality workers in Sweden–before and after the implementation of a smoke-free law.

OBJECTIVES: This study attempted to identify changes in exposure to environmental tobacco smoke, as well as symptoms and attitudes among hospitality workers after the introduction of extended smoke-free workplace legislation.

METHODS: A total of 37 volunteers working in bingo halls and casinos (gaming workers) and 54 bars and restaurant employees (other workers) in nine Swedish communities participated in the study. Altogether 71 of 91 persons (14 daily smokers and 57 nonsmokers) participated in both the pre-ban baseline survey and the follow-up 12 months after the ban. Exposure to environmental tobacco smoke, smoking habits, respiratory and sensory symptoms, and attitudes towards the ban were recorded, and spirometry was carried out.

RESULTS: The frequency of reported respiratory and sensory symptoms was approximately halved among the nonsmokers in both occupational groups after the introduction of the ban. Initially 87% had exposure to environmental tobacco smoke that was over the nicotine cut-off level chosen to identify possible health risk ( <0.5 microg/m3) while, after the ban, it was only 22%, a relative risk of 0.25 (95% confidence interval 0.15-0.41). The risk decreased in both occupational groups, but gaming workers experienced the highest pre-ban exposure levels. Attitudes towards the legislation were largely positive, particularly after the ban. However, there was no notable change in lung function, and there was no notable reduction in the number of cigarettes consumed by smokers.

CONCLUSIONS: The introduction of smoke-free legislation was associated with a substantial reduction in respiratory and sensory symptoms, as well as reduced exposure to environmental tobacco smoke at work, particularly among gaming workers.