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May 10th, 2010:

China to ban smoking in indoor public places in 2011

china-tobaccoLast updated:  May 10, 2010

Source: Golbal Times

China to ban smoking in indoor public places in 2011 Source: Global Times [16:36 May 10 2010] Comments China is set to implement a ban on smoking in all indoor public places including workplaces and public transport vehicles from January 2011.

Yang Qing, Director General of the Department of Maternal and Child Health and Community Health at China’s Ministry of Health (MOH) says that the ban is being carried out according to the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

The MOH will ban smoking in its offices this month.

One year ago, the ministry said that all its offices and medical facilities would be smoke-free by 2011.

Tobacco funding: time to quit

money-stacks2Last updated: May 10, 2010

Source: ABC Australia

Tobacco companies are not philanthropic institutions. As long ago as 1967 the late Senator Robert Kennedy said, “the cigarette industry is peddling a deadly weapon. It is dealing in people’s lives for financial gain”.

The Australian tobacco industry is dominated by three big companies (or in modern political parlance, three “great big” companies), British American Tobacco, Philip Morris and Imperial Tobacco – all overseas-owned, with decisions made not in Sydney or Melbourne but in London and New York.

These are tough and ruthless multinational corporations, promoting and selling a product that kills one in two of its regular users. They have known for sixty years that their product is lethal. During this time almost one million Australians have died because they smoked – while the tobacco companies have denied and downplayed the evidence, doing their utmost to oppose and delay any action that might be effective in reducing smoking. Around the world their products cause five million deaths a year – a figure which will only increase as their drive into developing countries bears lethal fruit.

The new Chief Executive of Imperial Tobacco, Alison Cooper, was recently reported in the UK media as still refusing to accept that smoking causes cancer. Small wonder that only last week a survey of the reputations of the UK’s largest 150 companies had Imperial Tobacco at 147 and British American Tobacco at a rock bottom 150.

There is massive evidence from once-confidential industry documents now available following litigation in the US that for decades tobacco companies have acted more cynically than even tobacco campaigners might have thought – summarised by a quote from an industry executive – “We don’t smoke this shit, we just sell it. We reserve the right to smoke for the young, the poor, the black and the stupid.”

And as if all this were not enough, the industry has been found guilty of racketeering in the US.

Tobacco companies have only one aim, in London, New York or Canberra. In line with their responsibility to their shareholders, they spend money with the sole purpose of benefiting their interests.

So why would anybody want to take money from this pariah industry?

The Australian Electoral Commission website reports that in recent years both the Philip Morris company and British American Tobacco have been generous donors to the Liberal Party and the National Party. During the year 2008/9 Philip Morris contributed $158,000 to the Liberal and National parties around Australia.

No doubt in addition to direct contributions there is also much indirect funding from groups supporting and representing tobacco companies, but this is much harder to pin down.

The only reason for these contributions is to further the interests of tobacco companies. The website of the British American Tobacco company is quite explicit about political donations: “Such payments can only be made for the purpose of influencing the debate on issues affecting the company or Group…”

A review of tobacco industry political donations in the US, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, concluded that, “tobacco industry monetary contributions are closely related to the way a legislator votes on tobacco issues”, and “The more campaign contributions received by a Congress member, the more likely he/she votes pro-tobacco on tobacco-related bills”.

Political donations are not simply about an intention to buy direct support: they are also about much less tangible benefits gained through indirect support, influence, contacts, access and credibility.

The Greens and Democrats took the lead in refusing tobacco industry funding, followed by the ALP. The other major parties understand the dangers of smoking; they know exactly why tobacco companies want to give them money; it is hard to imagine that they would knowingly take money from drug dealers – and yet they seem content to accept contributions from an industry whose products cause more than 80 per cent of Australia’s drug deaths. Surely there is something awry with the moral radar of anyone who accepts this kind of blood money.

The argument we sometimes hear that this is a “legitimate industry” is old and tired. If cigarettes were a new product they would not be allowed on the market. Our parliaments have decreed that the product is so harmful that it should not be sold to children and adolescents, should not be advertised, and that its sales should be subject to ever-increasing controls. This is no ordinary product, no ordinary industry.

The Australian government now leads the world in action to reduce smoking, complementing strong action in most jurisdictions (other than the Northern Territory, whose lack of interest in tobacco remains a mystery).

It is time for all political parties to refuse tobacco funding, or for legislation that forbids such contributions from companies that still seek to oppose the work and recommendations of governments and health authorities, and whose products cause 15,000 Australian deaths each year when used precisely as intended. Then we can be assured that all parties are making policy on this vital public health issue free of the taint of association with tobacco companies, and free of any suspicion that their policies might be influenced by these disreputable, lethal donors.

Written by Mike Daube

Professor John Britton seeks inquiry into Ferrari tobacco sponsorship

djm0712jy33Last updated: April 30, 2010

Source: Times Online

One of Britain’s most eminent physicians has written to the Department of Health urging the Government to open an inquiry into whether Ferrari is in breach of the EU-wide tobacco sponsorship ban, The Times has learnt.

Professor John Britton, a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and director of its Centre for Tobacco Control Studies, has also written to the BBC asking it to consider whether it is appropriate to screen Formula One racing while the team stands accused of potential subliminal advertising by the European Commission.

The row centres on Ferrari’s use of a red, white and black barcode which is emblazoned on the racing team’s cars and its drivers’ overalls. Both the European Commission and advertising experts argue that the barcode is designed to remind viewers of a packet of Marlboro cigarettes.

Under 2002 law passed in both Britain and in Brussels, it is an offence for a tobacco company to sponsor a sporting event.

In a letter to Mark Thomspon, the Director General of the BBC, Professor Britton, an epidemiogist at the University of Nottingham, said: “I write to ask you whether in your view, broadcasting coverage of the Ferrari car and related branding in the forthcoming Spanish Grand Prix is in full compliance with both UK law, and the BBC charter?”

Formula One teams are preparing to fly to Spain for the start of the European leg of the Grand Prix season next weekend.

Earlier this week, a spokesman for the European Public Health Commissioner said he thought that the barcode constituted potential subliminal marketing. He said that while he did not think it constituted a breach of EU law, he urged the British and Spanish governments to see if it contravened their own domestic legislation.

The spokesman said: “It needs to be checked against the law of the Member State in question (here Spain & UK), which could have more stringent rules than the EU legislation requires.”

To date, the Department of Health and Sir Liam Donaldson, the Chief Medical Officer, have declined to comment.

Philip Morris, the world’s second biggest tobacco firm and the owner of Marlboro cigarettes, extended its financial backing of Ferrari until 2011. It is understood that the ten year deal is worth around $1 billion.

Ferrari has consistently denied that the barcode on the car represents subliminal advertising and insists that it is a design feature on the car which forms part of the vehicle’s “livery”.

Philip Morris also argues that it is “confident” that their relationship with Ferrari is well within the law and that: “The Formula One Grand Prix in the UK does not involve any race cars, team apparel, equipment or track signage carrying tobacco product branding. The same is true for all other Formula One races across the world.”

However, Don Elgie, chief executive of Creston – the media group which owns the advertising agency DLKW -told The Times that he thought the barcode constituted subliminal advertising.

Mr Elgie added: “I think it’s a no brainer. Marlboro may be working within the letter of the law, but not the spirit. Why else would you put a barcode there? It is there to make you think of Marlboro cigarettes. If I was the account director for Marlboro, I would try and do that.”

The British Formula One race at Silverstone is scheduled for July 11.

Subliminal advertising is where a brand is so well-known and powerful that a consumer can be reminded of it by subtle prompts, but without actually seeing the product itself.

A spokesman for the FIA, the governing body for Formula I, said: “Formula 1 advertising and sponsorship must comply within the law of the land.”

However, it is understood that should further questions be raised about the legality of livery, the F1 governing body would have an obligation to look into it further.

A spokesman for the FIA, the governing body for Formula I, said: “Formula 1 advertising and sponsorship must comply within the law of the land.”

However, it is understood that should further questions be raised about the legality of livery, the F1 governing body would have an obligation to look into it further.