Clear The Air News Tobacco Blog Rotating Header Image

June 1st, 2011:

U.S. judge declines to shut tobacco racketeering case

WASHINGTON | Wed Jun 1, 2011 5:32pm EDT

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A court overseeing an extended battle between the Justice Department and an array of tobacco companies declined on Wednesday to shut the case because tobacco is regulated under a new law.

Judge Gladys Kessler, who had ruled in 2006 that Philip Morris and other tobacco companies were guilty of racketeering because of years of deception about tobacco’s safety, insisted on Wednesday that she retain jurisdiction over the case.

The companies had argued that she had lost jurisdiction because of a 2009 law giving the Food and Drug Administration authority to regulate tobacco.

The companies also argued that being regulated by the FDA would make it less likely they would commit future racketeering offenses.

Kessler staunchly and tartly disagreed, calling their assertions “simply unconvincing.”

“Defendants’ contention that no reasonable likelihood of future RICO violations exists due to the FDA’s regulation is particularly unconvincing when defendants are simultaneously and vigorously challenging, both in a separate lawsuit and in administrative proceedings, many of the provisions of the Tobacco Control Act,” she wrote in Wednesday’s ruling.

The racketeering case, filed in 1999 by the Clinton administration, sought to force the industry to fund a smoking cessation program and other remedies. Under the Bush administration, the U.S. Justice Department dropped demands from $280 billion to $14 billion.

Kessler ruled in 2006 that the companies broke the law and could no longer use expressions such as “low tar” or “light” in their cigarette marketing. But she also said she could not force them to fund a smoking cessation program, and an appeals court agreed.

The Obama administration appealed to the Supreme Court, which ruled in June that tobacco companies could not be forced to pay billions for stop-smoking programs.

“We continue to believe that the FDA is the appropriate agency to regulate tobacco products and we’re considering our appellate options,” said Steve Callahan, spokesperson for Altria Group.

Defendants named in the original suit include Reynolds American’s R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co, Lorillard Inc and Altria, which owns Philip Morris USA Inc.

A representative of Lorillard declined to comment.

The case in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia is no. 99-2496.

(Reporting by Diane Bartz; Editing by Tim Dobbyn)

Maximum CNY 200 fine for littering cigarette butt

06/01/2011, Yancheng Evening News [Jiangsu Province] — This reporter learned on May 31 that the government has introduced the “Yangzhou Public Venue Tobacco Control Provisional Regulations”, which prohibit smoking in nine types of public venues. Littering a cigarette butt at a public venue could incur a CNY 20-200 fine. The Provisional Regulations give passive smokers the right to ask a person to stop smoking in a public venue. They are also entitled to ask operators of venues where smoking is prohibited to stop people from smoking as required by law; and they have the right to report violations to the health administration or other competent supervisory agency.

Tianjin [Municipality] readies new tobacco control regulation: dining establishments must set up independent, airtight smoking room

06/01/2011, (Xinhua News Agency), 53 media hits — This reporter learned from the Tianjin Center for Disease Control and Prevention on May 31 that after taking suggestions from the public in April regarding the proposed Tianjin Tobacco Control Ordinance, the Municipal Legislative Affairs Office, Bureau of Health and Center for Disease Control and Prevention compiled all comments submitted and made revisions to the draft accordingly. The revised draft is now awaiting review by the Tianjin People’s Congress in June. The Tianjin Tobacco Control Ordinance is expected to be formally implemented within the year. According to sources, the bulk of comments from city residents rested on the flimsiness of punitive measures; the contraction of non-smoking sections in restaurants due to the allowance of a smoking section; and the need for greater emphasis on advocacy.

Hangzhou’s tobacco regulations in effect for one year; city resident smoking rate, tobacco sales have both fallen

06/01/2011, [Zhejiang Province], 7 media hits — The results of Hangzhou’s tobacco control survey were released yesterday. The smoking rate among city residents is 24.4% – a considerable drop when compared to the provincial average of 27% reported for 2010. According to figures provided by the Tobacco Monopoly Bureau, tobacco sales between March 2010 and February 2011 were down 27.89% from the same period a year earlier. The most significant drop in sales volume was registered in the CNY 50-100 price range, falling 88%. The largest volume was in the CNY 10-50 price range, but also nosedived 28% during the same period.

Beijing Capital Int’l Airport closes all smoking rooms

06/01/2011, Beijing Youth Daily, 90 media hits — Yesterday marked one month since the Ministry of Health’s indoor public venue smoking ban went into effect. According to the [new] regulations, all indoor smoking sections and smoking rooms must be removed. A Beijing Youth Daily journalist visited a few smoking sections on May 1, reporting that there was no sign of their closing down. Yesterday our reporters split up into teams to do some follow-up, and found that the situation has improved. Beijing Capital International Airport has closed all smoking rooms in all three terminals; some hotels have removed all ashtrays from the lobby and have expressed that they are gradually phasing out smoking rooms. The ChaoYang Theater has converted their smoking room into a lounge. Nevertheless, smoking rooms and smoking sections are still in use at certain office buildings and restaurants.

Emergency Committee for American Trade on Tobacco Plain Packaging Bill 2011

Download (PDF, 439KB)

Commoditising tobacco products through plain packaging will harm public health, violate treaties, and does not meet the test of “evidence-based policy”

Download (PDF, 428KB)

Plain packaging and channel shift

Download (PDF, 428KB)


MPs say no to tobacco donations

The Age – Michelle Grattan – ‎33 minutes ago‎

1 June 2011

THREE Liberal backbenchers have called for the party to refuse donations from tobacco companies after Opposition Leader Tony Abbott announced the Coalition would not oppose plain packaging. Dr Mal Washer, who had threatened to cross the floor if the 

Abbott swings in on tobacco reform Sydney Morning Herald

Tony Abbott retreats on tobacco packaging The Daily Telegraph

Abbott out of puff on plain cigarette packet laws The Australian

Bill eyed to disclose hazardous tobacco ingredients

Korea Times – Kim Tae-jong – ‎1 hour ago‎

The government is seeking to revise a bill regulating the tobacco industry to oblige cigarette makers to disclose the names and quantities of various hazardous and cancer-causing ingredients and additives on cigarette packages. 

Smoking could kill 8 million a year by 2030: WHO Reuters

Smoking, going, gone on World No Tobacco Day ABC Local

Tobacco consumes 1 million lives annually Times of India

Tobacco-related cancer cases rising in Kolkata

MSN India – ‎1 hour ago‎

Kolkata, May 31 (PTI) Tobacco-induced cancer cases are on the rise in the city, growing at over seven per cent in the last 10 years, according to a recent study. The study, conducted by the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose Cancer Research Institute here, 

Tobacco Use: It’s A Fatal Addiction Times of India

Gujarat, India have high rates of head and neck cancer Daily News & Analysis

Cancer patients to urge President to ban tobacco Mid-Day

China advised to “put a brake” on tobacco industry

Xinhua – Wang Guanqun – ‎3 hours ago‎

BEIJING, May 31 (Xinhua) — Chinese policymakers should consider putting a brake on the growth of the country’s tobacco industry, which produces one third of the world’s cigarettes, a prominent economist and policy advisor has said. 

Tobacco control group fears state budget cuts Fond du Lac Reporter

China should use state monopoly for tobacco control:WHO

Cancer Council’s plain packaging push

B&T Marketing & Media – Miro Sandev – ‎9 hours ago‎

The Cancer Council has fired off the latest salvo in the cigarette plain packaging advertising stoush, re-launching a satirical TVC in a bid to paint the tobacco industry as “misleading” and “deceptive”. 

Plain Packaging of Tobacco in Australia under Scrutiny TopNews New Zealand

BAT Wins Australia Court Hearing on Plain Cigarette-Packaging Legislation Bloomberg

World No Tobacco Day 2011 – Tobacco Marketing Is ‘Out Of Fashion’, Australia Medical News Today (press release)

MPs say no to tobacco donations

1 June 2011

THREE Liberal backbenchers have called for the party to refuse donations from tobacco companies after Opposition Leader Tony Abbott announced the Coalition would not oppose plain packaging.

Dr Mal Washer, who had threatened to cross the floor if the Coalition voted against the bill, said it was bad for the party to be accepting money from companies that cause so many health problems.

He thought a number of Liberals would be embarrassed by the party doing so, and urged that a motion go to the Liberal federal council saying this funding should be rejected.

Liberal MP Alex Somlyay said his party should not take money from tobacco companies because 15,000 Australians a year died from smoking related conditions. Russell Broadbent, from Victoria, said accepting the donations should have been ended during John Howard’s time ”and I’m confident Tony Abbott will end it while he is leader”. Labor already bans funds from tobacco companies.

In 2009-10 British American Tobacco ($147,045) and Philip Morris ($145,035) were among the big business donors to the Coalition, although they split their donations into small parcels of money.

Mr Abbott announced the decision on the packaging legislation at the joint parties meeting – and on World No Tobacco Day. He said the opposition would move to ensure the legislation ”really does bring smoking rates down” but if this failed it would not oppose. Even before announcement the legislation had enough support from the cross benches to pass.

Previously the opposition had said it had to wait for the detail of the legislation – which has been released in draft form – but this position became untenable due to open divisions in the ranks.

The shadow cabinet considered the political damage when it met on Monday. At yesterday’s Coalition party meeting, some attacked the idea of a ”nanny” state while others, in favour of the legislation, focused on public health issues.

Health Minister Nicola Roxon welcomed the opposition decision but said ”they certainly had to be dragged kicking and screaming”. Ms Roxon said the government would consider any ”sensible” amendments.

”The truth is here big tobacco have not won their campaign to try to hijack the debate in the Parliament, and Australia will be world leaders when we introduce this law, to come into effect January 1 next year,” she said.

Cancer Council Victoria and Quit congratulated the Coalition, with Cancer Council Victoria CEO Todd Harper saying ”research shows [the reform] will make smoking less desirable, especially to young people”.

British American Tobacco Australia said yesterday it was pleased a full Federal Court would hear its appeal against the government’s refusal to make public its legal advice on plain packaging
Read more: