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June 22nd, 2009:

Most Swedes support ban on outdoor smoking

IceNews – Daily News

By Luna Finnsson

A new survey by Synovate that was commissioned by the Swedish Network of Tobacco Prevention reveals that 73 percent of Swedes support a ban on smoking in the outdoor dining sections of restaurants. This would suggest that Swedes are getting tired of second hand smoke, even within the well-ventilated realm of the great outdoors.

The Local newspaper reports that the Hotel and Restaurant Workers Union (HRF) is demanding the government extend its existing 2005 ban on smoking in all licensed premises. The original ban proved very popular with Swedes, leading the Parliament to establish a goal of expanding this notion against exposure to passive smoking in public by 2014.

Whether it will continue to apply only to public restaurants and bars or extend into the open-air realm of public life has yet to been seen. But the days of smoking in public in Sweden could be drawing to a close, especially since younger Swedes are the ones most in favour of extending the ban.

The survey suggests that a great majority support banning smoking in all public places and on all public transport. Some 86 percent of the respondents, including two-thirds of regular smokers, support the parliament’s 2014 goal. While non-smokers were twice as enthusiastic about the ban, a surprising 40 percent of smokers also back an extension of the ban.

Ireland was the first nation to implement a nationwide ban on public smoking in 2004. But Bhutan has taken it one step further by completely banning the sale and smoking of all tobacco products in public, the only nation on earth to do so.

President Obama Delivers Historic Victory for America’s Kids and Health over Tobacco

Statement of Matthew L. Myers – President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids – June 22, 2009

President Obama today struck an historic blow against the greatest public health menace of our time by signing into law bipartisan legislation that grants the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authority to regulate tobacco products. Coming 45 years after the first Surgeon General’s report linking cigarette smoking to lung cancer, this long-overdue law is the strongest action the federal government has ever taken to reduce tobacco use, the leading preventable cause of death in the United States. This new law will protect our children from the tobacco industry’s predatory marketing, save countless lives and reduce the enormous health and financial burden that tobacco use imposes on our nation. Today is a great day for America’s kids and health.

We thank President Obama for his leadership and strong support of this legislation. This new law is a tribute to the leadership and tenacity of its lead sponsors in Congress, Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and Congressman Henry Waxman (D-CA). We thank them and the many other members of Congress who have played leadership roles, including House Speaker Nancy Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Senator Christopher Dodd (D-CT), who shepherded the legislation through the Senate this year. We also thank and congratulate the more than 1,000 public health, faith and other organizations across the country that came together in one of the strongest coalitions ever to unite behind public health legislation.

The enactment of this new law by itself does not end the long battle against tobacco use, but it is a giant step towards achieving the goal of significantly reducing – and eventually eliminating – the death and disease caused by tobacco. Achieving this goal will require an aggressive and comprehensive effort by all levels of government. We look forward to the FDA effectively implementing this law and using the strong authority it has been given to fundamentally change how tobacco products are manufactured, marketed and sold in the United States. FDA regulation is intended as a critical complement, not a replacement, for the successful work that has been going on at the state and local level. State and local leaders must continue and, in fact, step up their efforts to implement proven measures to reduce tobacco use, including higher tobacco taxes, smoke-free workplace laws and well-funded tobacco prevention and cessation programs.

It is our hope that this legislation will lead to dramatically greater federal activity to help reduce the death and disease from tobacco use. Health care reform provides a critical opportunity to expand national tobacco prevention and cessation efforts. We also look forward to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stepping up its tobacco prevention and cessation initiatives, and the National Institutes of Health playing a leading research role in support of these efforts.

It is also important that the United States provide leadership in the global fight against tobacco use as the tobacco industry increasingly targets developing countries to sustain profits as smoking declines in the U.S. and other developed countries. The U.S. should ratify the international tobacco control treaty, the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, and support efforts to implement it effectively around the world.

Tobacco use kills more than 400,000 Americans each year, sickens millions more and costs the nation $96 billion annually in health care bills. Every day, another 1,000 kids become regular smokers – one-third of them will die prematurely as a result. Yet, until now, tobacco products have escaped the FDA’s common-sense regulations that apply to every other product we consume, from food to drugs to cosmetics. The new law grants the FDA the authority and resources necessary to regulate the manufacturing, marketing and sale of tobacco products. Among other things, it will:

· Restrict tobacco advertising and promotions, especially to children.

· Stop illegal sales of tobacco products to children.

· Ban candy and fruit-flavored cigarettes.

· Require large, graphic health warnings that cover the top half of the front and back of cigarette packs.

· Ban misleading health claims such as “light” and “low-tar.”

· Strictly regulate all health claims about tobacco products to ensure they are scientifically proven and do not discourage current tobacco users from quitting or encourage new users to start.

· Require tobacco companies to disclose the contents of tobacco products, as well as changes in products and research about their health effects.

· Empower the FDA to require changes in tobacco products, such as the removal or reduction of harmful ingredients or the reduction of nicotine levels.

· Fully fund the FDA’s new tobacco-related responsibilities with a user fee on tobacco companies so no resources are taken from the FDA’s current work.

More information on the new law can be found at

Tobacco Tax Raised in Bid to Curb Smoking

Agence France-Presse in Beijing – Jun 22, 2009

China has raised taxes on tobacco by six to 11 per cent in an effort to pad state coffers and curb smoking in the world’s largest cigarette market, according to the government and state press.

Tobacco wholesalers have also been hit with a five per cent levy according to new tax rates that went into effect on May 1 but were announced over the weekend, the State Administration of Taxation said in a notice on its website.

“Efforts to increase the tobacco tax and lift tobacco prices have proven the most effective in reducing smoking among smokers of all income levels,” the China Daily quoted the Chinese Association of Tobacco Control as saying Monday.

“It will prevent young people from smoking and encourage more smokers to quit the harmful habit.”

Tax on more expensive brands of cigarettes went up from 45 per cent to 56 per cent per carton, while the tax on cheaper tobacco saw an increase to 36 per cent from 30 per cent, the administration said.

China is the largest producer and consumer of cigarettes in the world with up to a million people dying of smoking-related diseases each year, the newspaper said. This figure could rise to up to three million by 2050, it added.

The Asian giant has a total of 350 million smokers and a growing army of young people are picking up the habit, it added. Half of all males in the mainland smoke, it said.
The tax administration said the new levies would “moderately improve” revenues, while the China Daily said the move would add up to 30 billion yuan (US$4.4 billion) annually to state coffers.

China’s government has said it expects a record deficit this year due to efforts to fund a 585-billion-dollar stimulus package to offset the global financial crisis.

State revenue, meanwhile, declined 6.7 per cent year-on-year in the first five months of this year, the report said.

Smoking to be banned in cars with kids – The West Australian

The West Australian, June 22, 2009

Places where smoking is prohibited in NSW will soon include cars, if any of their passengers are under the age of 16.

Billboards and print advertisements will start appearing this weekend to remind drivers and smokers of new government regulations aimed at protecting children from tobacco smoke.

The new laws come into effect on July 1.

“The advertisements will hammer home the message that from July 1, drivers and smokers will be banned from smoking in cars when a child or passenger under the age of 16 is present,” Minister assisting the Minister for Health (Cancer) Jodi McKay said in a statement on Saturday.

“Any driver or passenger who is caught violating this new law could attract a $250 on-the-spot fine from NSW Police.”

Stafford Saunders, who co-ordinates a coalition of pressure groups called Protecting Children from Tobacco, says exposure to second hand smoke can greatly increase the risk of childhood asthma.

“(It can also) lead to an increased risk of lower respiratory tract infections such as pneumonia and bronchitis, as well as coughing and wheezing,” he said.

The new laws do not just include banning smoking in cars if passengers are under the age of 16.

In addition, retailers will be required to store all tobacco products out of sight.

Retailers who employ more than 50 people will have six months to comply and other retailers will have 12 months from July 1, 2009.

Fighting Big Tobacco

Mark O’Neill, SCMP – Jun 22, 2009

Mainland Anti-cigarette Campaigners Want to Scrap The State Tobacco Monopoly But Find Little Support for Their Cause

In a rare challenge to one of the mainland’s most powerful institutions, a scholar has proposed the scrapping of the State Tobacco Monopoly Administration and allowing private companies to compete on an equal basis in this lucrative sector. Zou Fangbin, an economics professor at the Guangdong University of Business Studies, says the monopoly discriminates against smokers and tobacco farmers, gives excessive wages and benefits to STMA officials, and encourages corruption and smuggling.

Established in January 1984, the STMA is one of the two biggest cigarette producers in the world, with Altria – the parent company of Philip Morris – in terms of sales revenue.

Its assets are more than double those of Altria, at more than US$76 billion, and it is the country’s biggest taxpayer, providing about 9 per cent of central government revenue.
China is produces and consumes the most tobacco in the world, with 350 million smokers, one-third of the global total. More than a million Chinese die each year – one every two seconds – from smoking-related diseases.

After 30 years of economic reform, a monopoly like STMA is a dinosaur. In other sectors dominated by the state, such as aviation, petrochemicals and telecoms, different state companies compete with one another, and private capital, domestic and foreign, is allowed.
Professor Zou said the current system was unfair to consumers and farmers. Farmers have to pay a 20 per cent tax on their tobacco leaf, while other farm taxes were abolished in 2006. Legally obliged to sell to STMA, they also have no bargaining power.

Consumers, equally, have to pay the high prices set by the STMA and have no choice. “Most smokers are addicted to cigarettes. The market is not flexible,” said Professor Zou.

“If there is a state monopoly in a sector, it will have a great opportunity for profit. STMA is like that. The money goes into the pockets of powerful officials, and excessive wages and benefits for STMA employees, and offers the chance for corruption. Corruption and unfair distribution of income are sources of great discontent among people.”

Such a monopoly and rule by administrative decrees lead to inefficiencies and limit competition. They also promote smuggling, of foreign cigarettes into China and domestic brands that are exported tax-free and then imported.

Officials of STMA’s head office in Beijing declined comment.

The STMA empire has more than 500,000 employees in more than 1,000 companies across 33 provinces. It is using its wealth to consolidate its member firms into conglomerates that can be internationally competitive.

In 2007, it set up an international division, to acquire foreign companies and set up new factories abroad. It exports about 15 billion cigarettes a year.

The slogan on its website is: “Raising the interests of the state and of the consumer.”
The site carries news items about improving the environmental awareness of its employees, donations by its companies to charities, successes in combating fake products, and improvements in technology and product security.

One report describes a 15-year strategy that runs until 2020, to improve the efficiency, safety and technical quality of its plants, to increase its competitiveness and maintain a healthy and stable development. It presents itself as an institution that expects to flourish for decades to come.

Chen Xieming, a business consultant in Shanghai, said that while Professor Zou’s proposal had economic merits, the government would not follow it.

“Beijing regards tobacco, like munitions or printing money, as sectors that must remain state monopolies. The money it generates is vital to the central government, which takes 80 per cent of tobacco tax, with 20 per cent going to local governments,” he said.

“Foreign models that collect tax from the sale of cigarettes are not applicable, since taxes are so hard to collect in China. Only by a monopoly of the entire process can Beijing guarantee the income.

“The interests involved are too powerful. Even among reformists within the government, there is no lobby to end the monopoly. As the Chinese saying goes, `If you cut the source of a person’s revenue, it is like killing his parents.'”

Judith Mackay, a Hong Kong doctor who has been campaigning against the tobacco industry for more than 25 years, said it was good that someone had proposed ending the STMA’s monopoly, especially if it led to debate.

“There are many pros and cons with regard to a nationalised or private tobacco industry. Traditionally, the national monopolies tend to advertise and promote less and are less aggressive about denying the health hazards or of opposing national tobacco-control action. But these distinctions are being blurred: for example, the Chinese tobacco companies sometimes advertise, where they can,” she said.

One of the best-known anti-tobacco campaigners in the mainland is Yang Gonghuan, deputy director of the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention in the Ministry of Health.
“The issue is not the monopoly but the separation of the government from the tobacco producers, as demanded by the World Health Organisation,” she said.

“How can someone supervise an industry in which he has a financial stake?”
She referred to article five, section three of the WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which Beijing has signed: it took effect on January 1.

It states: “In setting and implementing their public-health policies with respect to tobacco control, parties shall act to protect these policies from commercial and other vested interests of the tobacco industry in accordance with national law.”

In other words, the commercial and regulatory arms of the industry must be separate. China is the only one of the 164 signatories to the convention to have such a state monopoly.

For Dr Yang and other anti-tobacco campaigners, the key issue is public health, rather than the monopoly.

In its latest report on tobacco, published on May 31, Dr Yang’s centre said the STMA was not implementing regulations set out by WHO convention.

“Scientific evidence has shown that warning pictures on cigarette packets are one of the most effective ways to control the spread of tobacco, and more effective than traditional health education. Each year China produces 100 billion packets. If each had a health warning, this would be the biggest propaganda to control smoking,” it said.

Article 11 of the convention says pictures should be used as part of the health warnings on packets.

But packets on the mainland carry no picture and the health warning is in small letters, half in Chinese and half in English, a language most smokers do not understand. Packets of the same brand sold in Hong Kong or abroad do carry a picture warning.

“A survey of 16,000 smokers in 20 provinces found that 70 per cent do not understand the risk to health from smoking and do not want to quit,” the report said. “They are willing to give nicely wrapped cigarettes as gifts, a percentage that rises to 80 per cent among sick people and those who work in the government.

“Even among people who live in cities and are well educated, and including doctors, many do not understand the health risk posed by smoking.

“Therefore, using the platform of the cigarette packet to design an effective warning is an extremely important method of conveying the risk.”