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February 25th, 2010:

Teasing Vaccines From Tobacco

vaccinationFirst published: February 23, 2010

Source: The Wall Street Journal

Swine Flu Epidemic Spurs Military to Join the Hunt for Plant-Based Alternatives

The U.S. Department of Defense, caught off guard by the swift spread of the H1N1 flu virus last year and delays in producing a vaccine, is backing an unusual plan to use tobacco plants to make the vaccine.

Flu vaccines are typically grown in chicken eggs. Although the technique is slow and expensive, vaccine makers have done little to improve on this reliable method for more than 60 years. The urgent need for a better way became apparent last year.

“The response to H1N1 was a disaster,” said Brett Giroir, vice chancellor for research at Texas A&M University System, part of a consortium testing plant-based vaccines for H1N1, or swine flu.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency—which conducts research to protect soldiers from infectious diseases, and also is concerned about the U.S. capability to react swiftly to a bioterrorist attack, among other things—has awarded the consortium $40 million to make an initial 10 million doses of H1N1 vaccine.


Ban on tobacco sponsorships coming to legislature by 2011

No Thanks, Big Tobacco

First published: February 24, 2010

Source: China Daily

No-smoking advocates continue to put pressure on legislators

Anti-smoking advocates including 17 senior legislators and political consultants are urging that laws be passed to ban donations or sponsorships from tobacco companies for Chinese events, such as expos, festivals and athletic events. The measure is expected to be enacted by the top legislature within a year.

“The message will be conveyed to the coming two sessions to fuel the anti-smoking efforts,” said Wu Yiqun, deputy director of the Thinktank Research Center for Health Development, a Beijing-based nongovernmental organization, yesterday.

The two sessions are the annual plenary meeting of the National People’s Congress (NPC) and the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), which usually fall in early March. They are considered China’s most important annual political events.

Wu made the remarks at an anti-smoking seminar attended by 17 NPC deputies and CPPCC members yesterday in Beijing.

Last July, under pressure from anti-smoking advocacy groups including Thinktank, the 2010 Shanghai World Expo organizers turned down a 200 million yuan ($29 million) donation from a local tobacco company to observe the promise of a “healthy and smoke-free Expo”.


£6m smugglers jailed 20 years after East End warehouse raid

contraband tobaccoFirst published: February 23, 2010

Source: East London Advertiser

TWO men behind an international smuggling racket have been jailed today (Tuesday) for nearly 20 years between them for their part in smuggling 11 million cigarettes, five tonnes of hand-rolling tobacco and thousands of litres of wine into Britain.

The contraband thought to have a ‘cut price’ street value of £6 million was stashed in a warehouse in London’s East End which was raided by police and customs officers.

It had been smuggled in through Tilbury and Ipswich in mattresses, glass jars, toilet rolls and barbeque charcoal.

The smugglers used a warehouse in Cable Street in Shadwell for their dodgy consumables to evade £6m import duty.


Prisons end link between inmates’ pay, tobacco prices

smoking in prisonUpdated: February 24, 2010

Source: South China Morning Post

Prisoners’ earnings will no longer rise or fall in line with cigarette prices. The government, which announced the move yesterday, hopes it will curb inmates’ smoking and improve their health.

Four-fifths of adult inmates smoke, and they spend 60 per cent of their prison earnings on cigarettes. Prisoners under 21 are banned from smoking.

Prisoners’ cigarette purchases have already fallen by a sixth in two years. Last year, prison canteens sold 526,645 packets, down from 631,870 in 2008 and 641,625 in 2007.


A New Policy on Tobacco Papers

plosFirst published: February 23, 2010

Source: PLOS Medicine

This past month PLoS Medicine published two original analyses on smoking, the single greatest preventable risk for poor health and death in the developed world, and an increasingly important risk factor in the developing world. The first study, using internal tobacco company documents unsealed through litigation, provides further evidence of the already well-documented strategy of deception used by the tobacco industry to further its commercial activities.

The second study shows the ways in which the tobacco control agenda is distorted by the increasing medicalization of smoking cessation.