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February, 2012:

The truth from Big

‘‘A phony way to show sincerity, as we all well know’’: tobacco industry lobbying against tobacco control in Hong Kong

Download PDF : ii13.full

nothing changed, it just shows what really goes on

14 feb 2012

Clear the Air says: This pre-2011 Budget newsclip below is an example that the Tsang administration involving Henry Tang and himself has pandered to big business and ignored their responsibilities under the WHO’s FCTC Treaty binding Hong Kong.

The Hong Kong Administration in their 2012 budget made no increase in excise tax on tobacco even though the important U19 age group was shown to have increased its smoking prevalence in 2011 and evidence that HK retail prices were less than half of Australia ,Ireland and New York.

Now 16 days after the 2012 Budget we find that Tsang and his wife were entertained in Macau on the yacht of Hong Kong Tobacco Company Ltd tycoon Charles HO Tsu Kwok in further complete and utter disregard for the FCTC Treaty guidelines on interaction with the tobacco industry  and its obvious conflict of interest.

Ng Yuk-hang
Feb 14, 2011

Anti-smoking activists say government officials breached an international health guideline by meeting tobacco companies ahead of next week’s budget.

They say this violated the World Health Organisation’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which states governments should protect public health policies from the interests of the tobacco industry.

The government is under pressure from doctors, health groups and the anti-smoking lobby to raise the tobacco tax. The consensus seems to be for a rise of at least 75 per cent of the retail price, from 62 per cent. This would add about HK$5 to a pack of cigarettes but still leave them among the cheapest in the developed world.

Public health academics will submit a statement to Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah today in protest at the meeting. They want a full disclosure of what was discussed.

“What is the tobacco industry trying to lobby for ahead of the budget?” asked Professor Judith Mackay, an adviser to the World Lung Foundation and a policy adviser to the WHO. “Since so many health groups have advocated a tobacco tax increase this year, it will be extremely suspicious if tobacco tax is not raised to 75 per cent in the budget. We will then have to look if there were other influences.”

About a dozen members of the Tobacco Control Concern Group – which comprises manufacturers, retailers and newspaper vendors – met government officials on February 8. Officials from three government departments were present: Financial Services and the Treasury Bureau, the Food and Health Bureau and the Customs and Excise Department.

Mackay said it was a violation of Article 5.3 of the convention, which states that “in setting and implementing public health policies with respect to tobacco control, parties should act to protect these policies from commercial and other vested interests of the tobacco industry in accordance with national law”.

According to the WHO’s guideline in implementing Article 5.3, governments should only interact with the tobacco industry when “strictly necessary to effectively regulate the tobacco industry and tobacco products”. Whenever possible “interactions should be conducted in public”.

Mackay said nothing was known about the meeting and she is demanding a full disclosure of the proceedings.

The chairwoman of the Tobacco Control Concern Group, Deanna Cheung Kin-wah, who is a senior executive at British American Tobacco, said there were similar meetings every year. “I have been in this business for 10 years, and every year we would give our opinions on the budget.” She said under the convention, governments were not forbidden to meet tobacco companies, “only we have to do it in a transparent way”.

“The atmosphere of the meeting on February 8 was friendly. It was just a normal dialogue in which we hoped our voices were heard.”

A spokesman for the financial secretary said that during the process of drawing up the budget, the government would listen to opinions from all sides, including political parties, lobby groups and chambers of commerce.

A spokesman for the Food and Health Bureau said it was always the government’s policy to discourage smoking. “The group requested a meeting with the Treasury and so a meeting was arranged. It was just to listen to opinions from different interest groups.”

Between 1990 and 2002 the government raised tobacco tax nine times. In 1991 it raised it by 200 per cent, only to reduce it to 100 per cent two months later. The tax was frozen from 2002 to 2008. In 2009 Tsang raised the tax by 50 per cent “for public health reasons”.

Copyright (c) 2011. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.

Download PDF : TsangHoTsuKwoknohilite

Felixstowe/Sudbury: Gang which illegally imported 20m cigarettes is jailed

‘Doran ran Crayford International, a Dubai-based company, and Crayford Creek Properties in the UK. Several years earlier he had sold a waste management company for £79 million.’

Felixstowe/Sudbury: Gang which illegally imported 20m cigarettes is jailed

Saturday, February 25, 2012

1:29 PM

AN INTERNATIONAL smuggling gang which illegally imported 20 million cigarettes disguised as toys has been jailed for a total of nearly 25 years.


The operation was bankrolled by a multimillionaire British businessman, based in Dubai, and required “meticulous planning”, Ipswich Crown Court heard.

The Dubai-manufactured M&J cigarettes had a total black market value of up to £3 million. The gang planned to avoid £3.3 million in importation duty.

They were arrested after investigators placed them under surveillance, and were caught red handed as the cigarettes were shipped through the Port of Felixstowe in November 2009.

Describing the operation, prosecutor Mark Paltenghi said: “An international smuggling operation of this kind would require meticulous planning at every stage. It also required a significant up-front cost.”

He added: “The group decided the cargo should be described as something bulky but innocent. They described the containers as toys.

“They did not use the shortest, direct route between Dubai and the UK because Dubai is not famous for manufacturing toys.

“Instead they used a route some 8,000 miles longer via Hong Kong as this would avoid suspicion.”

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and the Serious and Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) led the investigation.

Mr Paltenghi said Paul O’Meara, described as the “lynchpin”, was responsible for setting up the deal bankrolled by multimillionaire Robert Doran and Patrick Gray, who owned a scaffolding company.

Doran ran Crayford International, a Dubai-based company, and Crayford Creek Properties in the UK.Several years earlier he had sold a waste management company for £79 million.

Gray, who also provided part of the set-up cost estimated at about £200,000, met O’Meara through Doran.

Martin Cleland, Mark Sadgrove, Wayne Stock and Matthew Neale worked as “foot soldiers” under the three men’s leadership, Mr Paltenghi said.

O’Meara, Sadgrove and Neale were arrested after a warehouse in Upminster was raided by officers.

Stock was arrested a short time later while the three other gang members were traced months later.

In mitigation the court heard O’Meara, once a wealthy businessman, had financial problems and “took the wrong route out”.

Along with Doran and Gray, who was a “minority investor”, he admitted the offence at the earliest opportunity.

The seriousness of the final four men’s involvement was far less than that of the three ringleaders, the court heard.

O’Meara, 48, of Sudbury; Doran, 47, of Dubai; and Gray, 53, of Hertford, all admitted conspiracy to evade excise duty.

They were each ordered to serve four years and six months in prison.

Cleland, 45, of Hornchurch; Sadgrove, 39, of Loughton; Neale, 44, of Harlow; and Stock, 38, of Chelmsford, all in Essex, were found guilty of conspiracy after a trial.

Cleland was ordered to serve four years and six months, Sadgrove two and a half years and Stock and Neale two years

No more misleading labels on tobacco products

One of the new graphic warnings for tobacco packaging.

By Joy Fang
my paper
Friday, Feb 24, 2012

Come March next year, the packaging of tobacco products can no longer have six descriptions, including “light”, “mild” and “low tar”, printed on it.

Companies must also implement a new set of graphic health warnings – photos whose use is rotated regularly to maintain the effectiveness of the warnings. The last change was in 2006.

The individual packaging must carry health information, too, instead of tar and nicotine yield levels.

The outer packaging, or carton packaging, must also carry health warnings in text and the new set of graphic warnings, along with notices on age restrictions for sale as well as health information, the Health Promotion Board (HPB) said in a press release yesterday.

Currently, only individual cigarette packs need to include such warnings and labels.

The health information tells consumers about the hazards of smoking, such as how it exposes them to more than 4,000 toxic chemicals, of which at least 60 can cause cancer.

The tighter regulations come in the wake of amendments to the Tobacco (Control of Advertisements and Sale) Act in July 2010, and at a time when a growing proportion of young people smoke.

According to HPB, the proportion of smokers aged 18 to 29 jumped from 12.3 per cent in 2004 to 16.3 per cent in 2010.

In total, the proportion of smokers rose from 12.6 per cent in 2004 to 14.3 per cent in 2010, said past news reports.

Other changes announced yesterday include requiring cigarillos, or mini cigars, to be sold in packs of 20, instead of the current packs of 10.

HPB said that this is “to discourage smoking experimentation and initiation with the low number of units per pack”.

Tobacco taxed less than bread: Health24: Smoking: News,72911.asp
The Budget has once again got it wrong when it comes to taxing tobacco, says
the National Council Against Smoking (NCAS), quipping that the tobacco tax
is a “stale policy”. , quipping t, ,…, quipping

The NCAS pointed out in a statement issued today that, considering that the
price of a loaf of bread rose by R1 in 2011, an increase in cigarette excise
duties of 58 cents per pack is “puny”, and that allowing the price of
essential goods like food to increase faster than that of deadly products
like cigarettes, indicates fatal flaws in policy making.

Finance ministry uses ‘dated formula’

According to the NCAS: “The finance ministry mechanically calculates the
level of excise duty on cigarettes using a dated formula that no longer
serves the public good.”

“In 1997, it set the total taxes on cigarettes at 50% of the retail price.
This increased marginally to 52% in 2004. At each Budget, treasury officials
simply look at the recommended retail price of cigarettes and then calculate
by how much the tax has to change to keep the rate at 52%. A hackneyed
method, which fails to optimally tax tobacco so as to increase government
revenues, reduce cigarette smoking and cut future health care costs.

SA tax well below WHO recommendation

The NCAS also drew attention to the fact that tax incidence in South Africa,
at 52% (VAT plus excise taxes), is also well below the World Health
Organization’s (WHO) recommendation that excise taxes should be at least 70%
of the retail price.

The World Bank has concluded that making cigarettes less affordable is the
single best way of deterring young people from starting to smoke and to get
smokers to quit or cut down. Higher taxes also mean higher government

The NCAS recommends that the aim should be to progressively reduce the
affordability of tobacco products by changing the tax in line with increases
in income and inflation.

“We have a crazy situation where the finance ministry is apparently more
concerned about the illicit trade in tobacco than about raising revenue or
reducing tobacco consumption”, says Dr Yussuf Saloojee of the NCAS.

“The government must increase the tax on cigarettes and if the cigarette
companies seriously think that this will increase the illegal trade in
cigarettes then they can always reduce their profit margins to keep prices

– Adapted by Olivia Rose-Innes from an NCAS press release, Health24,
February 2012

Philip Morris International Seeks to Buy Influence over Trade Policy

For Immediate Release: February 23, 2012

Contact: Marie Cocco, 202-296-5469

Philip Morris International Seeks to Buy Influence over Trade Policy

By Sponsoring Exclusive Washington, DC, Event

Government Officials Should Decline to Attend and Protect Health, not Tobacco

Statement of Matthew L. Myers

President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

WASHINGTON, DC – As the United States and other countries negotiate a trade agreement that could impact efforts to reduce tobacco use worldwide, Philip Morris International is trying to buy access and influence by sponsoring an exclusive corporate reception Friday in Washington, DC, that will be attended by top trade and other officials from the countries involved.  We urge government officials not to attend this tobacco industry-sponsored reception and to negotiate a trade agreement that protects public health, not the tobacco industry.  They should protect children and health around the world, not Philip Morris International, a company with a long history of targeting children, deceiving the public and opposing proven measures to reduce tobacco use and save lives.

Philip Morris International – the world’s largest multinational tobacco company – is one of the sponsors of the Governors and Ambassadors World Trade Reception being held at the Willard InterContinental Hotel on Friday evening.  The event is focused on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement, a trade agreement the U.S. is negotiating with eight other countries. Listed speakers and attendees include top U.S. trade negotiators, representatives of the other TPP countries and several U.S. state governors (information about the event can be found at:  This is clearly an opportunity for Philip Morris International to curry favor and lobby trade negotiators.

Philip Morris International is sponsoring this event just as TPP negotiations are scheduled to resume next week in Melbourne, Australia.  Tobacco companies are working aggressively to ensure that this agreement helps them open new markets for their deadly products, despite the devastating toll in lives and health.

The U.S. and other countries should reject Big Tobacco’s lobbying and protect public health by excluding tobacco from the benefits of the TPP and other trade agreements. Trade agreements are intended to promote and expand trade in beneficial products.  Tobacco products are uniquely lethal, not beneficial. In fact, they are the top cause of preventable death in the U.S. and worldwide.  Tobacco products killed 100 million in the 20th century and are projected to kill one billion people in the 21stcentury unless nations take urgent action to protect health.  Freer trade in tobacco products directly conflicts with the goal of saving lives by stemming this global epidemic.

Philip Morris International’s own actions show exactly why tobacco products should be excluded from the TPP and other trade agreements.  In recent years, Philip Morris International has sued Australia, Uruguay and other countries to overturn measures to reduce tobacco use, claiming they violate trade and investment agreements.  Excluding tobacco products from trade agreements will protect countries’ authority to enact such measures, as countries are obligated to do by the international tobacco control treaty, the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

Tobacco companies also have a long history of using trade agreements to force open new markets in low- and middle-income countries, sharply increasing tobacco use and related death and disease. Philip Morris International’s most recent fourth quarter report underscored the harmful results, as its sales rose by more than 10 percent in Asia. Philip Morris International and its subsidiaries have engaged in harmful marketing that targets youth, including sponsoring concerts by pop stars and even placing billboard advertisements in Indonesia last year that touted cigarettes as “a cool friend” worth dying for.  At Philip Morris International’s annual meeting last year, the company’s CEO irresponsibly played down the addictiveness of cigarettes, claiming “it is not that hard to quit.”

Trade agreements should not promote or increase use of tobacco products, and they should not prohibit any nation from using its sovereign authority to protect public health by taking action to reduce tobacco use.  The United States and other nations should reject the influence of Philip Morris International and other tobacco companies and protect health, not tobacco.

Caroline Renzulli
International Communications Associate
Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
1400 I Street, NW
Suite 1200
Washington, DC 20005
Phone:  202-296-5469

Direct: 202-481-9344

Fax:  202-296-5427

No more “light” and “mild” cigarettes…,,,

Updated 01:23 PM Feb 23, 2012

SINGAPORE – From March next year, words like “light’, “low-tar” and “mild” will be banned from the packaging of tobacco products, while a new set of graphic warnings will replace current ones.

Also, the maximum tar and nicotine yield levels in cigarettes will be reduced, and current labels indicating tar and nicotine yield levels on cigarette packaging will be replaced with new ones that inform smokers of chemicals other than tar and nicotine in a cigarette.

These are among the changes that will come about following the amendments in 2010 to the Smoking (Control of Advertisements and Sale of Tobacco) Act.

Explaining the changes, Health Promotion Board (HPB) CEO Ang Hak Seng said: “There is no evidence that ‘light’ and ‘mild’ cigarettes are any less harmful. Yet many smokers, who want to quit the habit but found it challenging, tend to switch to cigarettes with these descriptors, because they think these cigarettes are less harmful.”

A survey by the HPB in 2009 found that 63 per cent of smokers believed that “light” cigarettes were less harmful than “regular” cigarettes compared to 28 per cent of smokers who indicated no difference between the two.

“It is, therefore, imperative that Singapore bans such misleading descriptors. The ban on misleading labelling will affect about a quarter of the cigarette brands currently sold in Singapore,” said the HPB.

The maximum tar and nicotine yield levels in cigarettes will be reduced from 15mg and 1.3mg to 10mg and 1.0mg respectively, with the HPB stressing that these are not “safety” limits and “no level of toxicity and addictiveness can be deemed to be safe in cigarettes”.

The graphic health warnings on individual cigarette packs will also be extended to outer packaging such as carton packaging.

And cigarillos will have to be sold in packs of 20 instead of the current 10

The HPB said a briefing session was held this morning to communicate the amendments to the tobacco industry. The tobacco industry has until March next year to implement these changes.


Copyright 2012 MediaCorp Pte Ltd | All Rights Reserved

Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC)

The WHO FCTC was developed in response to the globalised tobacco epidemic. It is an evidence-based treaty that reaffirms the right of all people to the highest standard of health and has become one of the most rapidly and widely embraced treaties in United Nations history.

Meetings with Tobacco Industry Representatives: 2011 – Present

As a Party to the treaty, New Zealand is also required to observe complete transparency in its dealings with the tobacco industry (article 5.3). As part of this requirement, the Ministry of Health intends to maintains records of all of its meetings with tobacco organisations and their representatives. This practice has been in place since 2011; all records are below.

4 November 2011: Meeting with Philip Morris (New Zealand)

Purpose: To discuss the implementation of the Smoke-free Environment (Controls and Enforcement) Amendment Act 2011 particularly in relation to the removal of tobacco displays in shops.

Meeting attendees: Brendon Baker, Antje Heymanns (Ministry of Health), Brett Taylor, Christopher Bishop.

28 October 2011: Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). Date: Meeting with Imperial Tobacco New Zealand

Purpose: To discuss the implementation of the Smoke-free Environment (Controls and Enforcement) Amendment Act 2011 particularly in relation to the removal of tobacco displays in shops.

Meeting attendees: Brendon Baker, Matthew Everett, John Stribling (Ministry of Health) Paul Klouwens (Tracer Interiors – at the request of the Ministry of Health Paul Warham, Pat Wylie, Cathy Edwards, Brendan Walker (Imperial Tobacco)

28 October 2011: Meeting with British American Tobacco New Zealand

Purpose: To discuss the implementation of the Smoke-free Environment (Controls and Enforcement) Amendment Act 2011 particularly in relation to the removal of tobacco displays in shops.

Meeting attendees: Brendon Baker, Matthew Everett, John Stribling (Ministry of Health) Susan Jones, Janice Thein (British American Tobacco New Zealand).

Calls for more smoking bans in Victoria

22 Feb 2012

Victoria is under pressure to ban smoking in outdoor dining areas after NSW unveiled plans for new restrictions.

Smoking in outdoor dining areas will be banned in NSW from 2015 and in playgrounds, sports grounds and swimming pools as soon as possible.

Quit Victoria executive director Fiona Sharkie called for a smoking ban in outdoor dining areas and further restrictions on lighting up in outside drinking venues, such as beer gardens.

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“Now we see it is only Victoria and South Australia that haven’t made these type of moves,” she said yesterday.

“We have been talking to the health minister about that.”

A recent Cancer Council Victoria survey indicated 70 per cent of the 4500 respondents supported a ban on smoking in outdoor dining areas.

“It’s something that clearly the public are saying that they would like to see happen,” Ms Sharkie said.

The body representing local councils, the Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV), delivered an outdoor smoking framework to the government late last year calling for a ban on smoking in outdoor dining areas.

MAV president Bill McArthur said several local councils had introduced rules banning smoking in public places, such as playgrounds and outdoor eating areas, and there should be consistency across the state.

“(We need) a policy right across Victoria so that there is no confusion and it keeps us up to pace with what’s happening in other states,” he said.

Health Minister David Davis is due to meet with the MAV soon to discuss the proposed ban.

“The state government is very committed to lowering smoking levels and that’s a longer term project for Victorians,” Mr Davis told reporters.

“We support the council trials that are in operation. We are assessing the merits of the different approaches adopted by different councils.

“In this area it’s very important to take steps that have broad support and do so in a way that is guaranteed to get the outcome that’s required.”

Cancer Council Victoria chief executive Todd Harper said tobacco smoke was a health hazard particularly for people working in smokey environments.

He said further restrictions on smoking were also crucial to protect children.

“The more children are exposed to adults smoking around them the more they start to see smoking as a normalised behaviour,” he said.


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