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July 2nd, 2009:

Cigarette companies kicked out of tobacco meeting

Frank Jordans, Associated Press Writer

GENEVA –A U.N.-backed meeting on tobacco smuggling has barred cigarette companies from attending for fear they will try to influence delegates, participants said Thursday.

More than 130 countries agreed late Wednesday to expel the tobacco industry from the rest of the weeklong meeting of parties to the 2005 Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which the U.S. has signed but yet to ratify.

Governments are considering a range of measures to crack down on contraband cigarettes, including a ban on Internet sale of tobacco products and a crackdown on smuggling through duty free zones.

“We (the governments) decided not to permit the tobacco industry to enter the meeting because they could interfere in the negotiations,” said Justino Regalado Pineda, the head of Mexico’s National Office for Tobacco Control.

“We have to protect people from their commercial interest to poison the population.”

Philip Morris International, whose representatives sat in on meetings earlier in the week, said it was “disappointed” by the decision.

“It sets a dangerous precedent for the United Nations in what should be a democratic and transparent process,” PMI spokesman Greg Prager said.

British American Tobacco, too, opposed the decision.

“We strongly believe that a successful fight against illicit trade can only come from direct co-operation between regulators, law enforcement authorities and the tobacco industry,” BAT spokesman David Betteridge said.

He said the debate leading to the exclusion was “instigated” by Corporate Accountability International.

The U.S.-based watchdog group said the decision was a victory for public health.

“This action sends a clear message from customs, health and law enforcement officials that it’s not business as usual for the tobacco companies,” the group’s international policy director Kathy Mulvey said.

On the Net:
Framework Convention on Tobacco Control:

Renewed push to ban cigarette branding on packs


PRESSURE is mounting for brand labels to be removed from cigarette packets – a move that the tobacco industry bluffed a previous Labour government out of pursuing, according to anti-tobacco campaigners.

The Public Health Association, the Cancer Council and Heart Foundation yesterday swung behind Family First Senator Steve Fielding’s move to introduce legislation banning brand labels on cigarette packs. “There is no case for allowing any glossy brand promotion for a product that is lethal and addictive,” Senator Fielding said.

The national preventative health taskforce in its report handed to the Government this week is expected to call for the branding ban – which the tobacco industry has fiercely resisted in the past.

A former Labour health minister, Dr Carmen Lawrence, proposed the idea as far back as 1994 but dropped it after the industry claimed that loss of brand rights would breach international trade law and open the way to massive compensation claims.

But it later emerged that tobacco companies had received advice that they had no basis for a legal challenge, the Heart Foundation’s spokesman on tobacco issues, Maurice Swanson, told The Age yesterday. A spokeswoman for Health Minister Nicola Roxon said the Government would look at the branding issue as part of its consideration of the preventative health taskforce report.

Opposition health spokesman Peter Dutton said that while the Coalition was prepared to increase taxes on cigarettes, the ban on branding “is a bridge too far”.

This story was found at:

Business slump greets blanket ban on smoking


Some entertainment venue operators saw business shrink as the clock ticked past midnight yesterday ushering in a blanket smoking ban.

Some entertainment venue operators saw business shrink as the clock ticked past midnight yesterday ushering in a blanket smoking ban.

The two-year grace period for smoking inside bars, nightclubs, clubs, mahjong parlors, massage establishments and bathhouses ended on June 30.

But some customers ignored the ban and were seen smoking inside Wan Chai bars yesterday while others smoked on the sidewalk.

A customer in a Causeway Bay bar said she would continue smoking inside and if the bar staff stopped her she would not go there again.

The Tobacco Control Office received three complaints about smoking inside the six types of premises up until 5pm yesterday, with two in bars and one in a mahjong parlour.

Anyone in breach of the ban is subject to a maximum fine of HK$5,000.

Though empowered to implement the smoking ban, many managers said they would only remove ash trays and would not ask their customers to leave.

The Entertainment Business Rights Concern Group has been appealing to the government to extend the grace period.

Chairman Lillian Chan Yun-lin said there was a significant drop in customers, although no concrete number could be given until they have settled their accounts.

Turnover is expected to be about 20 to 30 percent below the usual. She also attributed the loss to the July 1 demonstration, the last race meeting of the season and people spending the public holiday in Shenzhen.

Hong Kong Mahjong Club spokesman Chris Cheung Ka-ning said there were hardly any customers playing in the afternoon. Some who did come had smoked despite the ban, with staff warning them about breaking the law.

He said some complied and stubbed out their cigarettes, but they could not stop those who insisted on smoking.
But Lan Kwai Fong’s Allan Zeman supports the ban.

“In Hong Kong, we talk about going green and pollution all the time. It’s time to take a stand,” he said.

Zeman does not think he is going to lose any business, saying the smoking ban will create a level playing field which will draw more non-smokers to bars and pubs.

Clear the Air Says: for the record Sing Tao News and the HK Standard
newspaper are owned by Charles Ho Tsu Kwok who also owns Hong Kong Tobacco Company Ltd

Ban too much of a drag for bar staff

Ng Yuk-hang and Dan Kadison, SCMP

Smokers defy threat of HK$5,000 fine as law leaves smouldering ill will

Staff at bars, massage houses and mahjong parlours were reluctant to ask their frequent customers to butt out on the first day of full enforcement of the smoking ban yesterday.

Some customers continued to puff away despite the risk that they might be fined up to HK$5,000 when found lighting up in bars, nightclubs, pubs, mahjong parlours, massage establishments and bathhouses.

“It was deadly embarrassing. [The frequent customers] are normally friendly to us, but once we talk about the smoking ban they would make a stern face at me,” Anita To Miu-yu, executive secretary of the Hong Kong Bars and Karaoke Rights Advocacy group, said.

While outlets could no longer provide ashtrays, some came up with other methods to facilitate their customers. Hong Kong Licensed Massage Association chief executive Jimmy Chow Chun-yu said he would not stop his clients from smoking and would give them a glass of tea. “They can do whatever they want with the glass,” he said. “If we try to stop them and get injured because of this, it will be so unfair. We do not want to get into trouble.”

He said he would leave enforcement to the inspectors of the Tobacco Control Office.

In a mahjong parlour in Tsim Sha Tsui, an employee named Ms Ho said she had health problems because of prolonged exposure to second-hand smoke. “Now that the air is clearer it should be better for my health,” she said.

Meanwhile, owners and managers were uncertain whether sales had been burned by full enforcement of the smoking ban. Both Ms To and Mr Chow said the effect could only be seen after a week.

“Customers at a few tables left sharply at midnight to protest against the ban,” Ms To said.

“It is possible that they would not come back anymore.”

She added that the industry was heavily affected by swine flu and the financial meltdown. In April and May, bars were 30 to 40 per cent full, she said.

Last week, a Department of Health spokesman called on venue managers to be co-operative in the final phase of the ban.

“Venue managers are authorised to require any smoker to stop smoking in the no-smoking areas,” the spokesman said. “They can request those [who] refuse to produce proof of identity and address for follow up; or ask them to leave the no-smoking area.”

Still, only offenders caught smoking – not venue managers or landlords – can be fined.

The Tobacco Control Office received three complaints between midnight and 5pm yesterday, a spokesman said.

Two complaints were bar-related and one involved mahjong premises, he said.

The office had the resources to cope with hundreds of complaints every week and it investigated every grievance lodged through its 2961 8823 hotline, Ronald Lam Man-kin, head of the office, said last week.

From 2007 to the end of June, tobacco control inspectors handed out more than 13,000 summonses, Dr Lam said. Smoking inside bars, nightclubs, clubs, mahjong parlours, massage establishments and bathhouses became illegal in Hong Kong at midnight yesterday.

Those venues now join the city’s other smoke-free locations, which include restaurants and offices and other workplaces.


Clear The Air says: The Government must realise they do not have enough Tobacco Control Officers

and follow overseas’ jurisdictions that ‘require’, not ‘authorise’ the venue managers to enforce the anti

smoking ban – if they do not they are fined. If they are caught twice they lose their venue licences.

Liquor licensees are already legally ‘required’ rather than ‘authorised’ not to serve alcohol to drunk

persons under their licence conditions and the smoking requirement could be included in their licence conditions as an addition , for example under Condition 7 of a liquor licence ; this requires the licensee

to prevent the premises from being used ‘for any illegal purpose.’ This should be changed by the

addition of 7 words to :

7. The licensee shall not permit any person to occupy or use any portion of the premises for any immoral or illegal purpose including smoking or carrying lit tobacco products.

This is the easiest and most efficient way to make rogue premises comply.