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February 14th, 2012:

Israeli researchers develop Malaria-fighting tobacco

Israeli scientists at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem have developed genetically altered tobacco plants which contain a natural compound that can fight drug- resistant malaria.

Although cigarettes are known to kill millions of people every year, Professor Alexander Vainstein and his research team have found that tobacco plant can be altered to produce “artemisin,” an active component in malaria treatment, Israel’s 21C news site reported on Sunday. The natural compound artemisin comes from the sweet wormwood plant and can fight drug-resistant malaria, but due to its small quantities and high price, millions of people cannot get access to this remedy.

However, Vainstein and his colleagues spliced the wormwood enzymes that produce artemisin and bred tobacco plants that carry artemisin’s genetical code. Vainstein’s development is being marketed through the Hebrew University’s Yissum Research Development Company. “The technology provides, for the first time, the opportunity for manufacturing affordable artemisin by using tobacco plants,” said Yissum CEO Yaacov Michlin. “We hope that this invention will eventually help control (malaria), for the benefit of many millions of people around the globe, and in particular in the developing world,” Michlin said.

Approximately half a billion people suffer from malaria each year in Africa and East Asia, with a child dying every 30 seconds of this disease. Most of them have no means to purchase medicines to treat the illness.

Bill Seeks To Raise Tobacco Purchasing Age To 21 – – Tulsa, Oklahoma – Coverage You Can Count On

Bill Seeks To Raise Tobacco Purchasing Age To 21

Posted: Feb 15, 2012 5:52 AM Updated: Feb 15, 2012 6:16 AM

posted by: Kevin King – email

Tulsa –
A House committee has approved a bill that would gradually increase the
legal age to purchase tobacco in Oklahoma from 18 to 21.

House Bill 2314 would increase the age from 18 to 19 next year, to 20 in
2014 and 21 in 2015. The bill was authored by Representative Ann Coody of
Lawton, who says it would make Oklahoma the first state to increase the
age to 21.

“The younger someone starts smoking, the harder it is to break the
addiction later in life,” said Coody. “By raising the age restriction on
tobacco purchases, we can deter many young people from ever starting this
bad habit and save them years of health complications.”

The WHO warned last year that tobacco would kill nearly six million people in … It fears the annual tobacco death toll will rise to eight million by 2030.

Public bans lead smokers to light up less at home

Vancouver Sun – 1 hour ago

The WHO warned last year that tobacco would kill nearly six million people in  It fears the annual tobacco death toll will rise to eight million by 2030.

Public smoking bans increase likelihood of self-imposed ‎ Montreal Gazette
Smoking bans in public places may prompt smokers to smoke less‎ Indian Express
Public smoking bans ‘drive down home smoking’‎ Cancer Research UK

Big Tobacco prepares for packaging switch –

February 14, 2012 6:06 pm

Big Tobacco prepares for packaging switch

By Christopher Thompson in London and Neil Hume in Sydney

Australia has one of the lowest smoking rates in the world, at less than one in five people, but it will still be the key battleground for the tobacco industry in 2012.

From the start of December, under the world’s toughest antismoking laws, tobacco companies will have to sell their products in identical drab packaging, without logos but featuring graphic images of smoking-related diseases. Brand names can still appear but in a standard font on the front of every packet.

Big Tobacco has launched an aggressive fight back against the plain packaging law. The curbs on Australia’s $9.5bn-a-year smoking market do not pose much of a threat to profits. But the bigger worry is that, just as the ban on smoking in public places spread from California across the world, Australia’s move could spread to the $161bn cigarette market in the European Union and beyond.

Some analysts even raise the possibility that emerging markets could implement similar laws, giving Big Tobacco even more of a problem.

“Obviously there’s a possibility other countries will follow,” said Michael Prideaux, director of corporate affairs at British American Tobacco (BAT), who described the move to plain packaging as part of “the de-normalisation of tobacco”.

A person familiar with internal discussions at Philip Morris International (PMI), the world’s second biggest publicly listed cigarette company by sales, said: “This is the alpha and the omega as far as tobacco companies are concerned.”

The European Union is considering introducing plain packaging as part of proposed revisions to tobacco regulation expected later this year. In the UK, the Department of Health is due to publish the results of its consultation on plain packaging in the spring.

Battle lines are already being drawn. In the UK Imperial Tobacco, BAT and Japan Tobacco (JTI) have helped form a libertarian-style campaign group called “Hands Off Our Packs”. It urges supporters to say no to “more Nanny State diktats”.

“Our fundamental argument is that people are informed and should be allowed to make an adult choice,” said Paul Williams, head of corporate affairs at JTI. “The ban could make its way to alcohol and obesity.”

JTI, PMI and the Australian arms of BAT and Imperial all launched legal challenges within days of the Australian law being passed last November by the federal parliament in Canberra.

They argue the plain packaging law breaches the Australian constitution, will cost taxpayers billions in lost excise duty, and will be a boon for cigarette smugglers. They say there is no evidence it will lower smoking rates. Australia’s high court is expected to hear the cases in April.

But privately all the tobacco companies are preparing for life after plain packaging. In particular, they are considering how to market different cigarette brands which look alike.

“Word-of-mouth will become more important,” said Mr Prideaux. “We will have to differentiate on products differently [than in the past] … probably more on taste, to give consumers something they want to talk about.”

There is growing concern among Big Tobacco that price wars could follow.

“Without brands how do you charge a premium?” said Peter Nixon, vice-president of communications at PMI. “We assume brand choice going forwards will be about price … we will see prices going down so we are likely to see revenues going down.”

Last year, PMI published an internal study, seen by the FT, in which it projected the average price of cigarettes falling by up to 19 per cent if plain packaging was implemented as companies compete on price.

The cost would be heaviest in emerging markets, where companies are trying to persuade new middle class consumers to trade-up to premium brands.

Jonathan Fell, an analyst at Deutsche Bank, said that while he was not worried about a reduction in short-term smoking rates, the ability of tobacco companies to achieve premium prices would be questioned.

“It’s clearly something investors will be concerned with if it’s implemented,” he said. “I don’t think there’s massive amount of difference in developed and developing economies in terms of regulation. As countries like Brazil and South Africa have done in the past, they would normally be pretty quick to catch on and implement what others have done.”

Publicly, the companies are confident of winning their court cases in Australia. If the courts force the government to back down, they hope it would set an example to other governments considering plain packaging laws.

Alex Parsons, director of corporate communications at Imperial, said he does not believe there will be an immediate “domino effect”.

“I think others will wait and see how it plays out in Australia,” he said.

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Cutting duty-free cigs no deterrent: BATA

Cutting duty-free cigs no deterrent: BATA

13:23 AEDT Tue Feb 14 2012

One of the world’s biggest tobacco products makers says dropping the
duty-free cigarette allowance for travellers arriving in Australia won’t
deter smokers.  (they hope)

British American Tobacco Australia (BATA) says the federal government
would be financially better off by focussing on stamping out illegal
tobacco sales by organised crime gangs, which costs up to $1.1 billion a
year in revenue. (so BAT can make more profit)

The federal government is believed to be planning to remove the duty-free
exemptions that apply to tobacco sales at Australia’s airports for
in-bound travellers.

The move could deliver the government up to $300 million a year in extra
revenue from tobacco products excises.

But BATA says travellers will buy their tobacco in other countries to
avoid the 70 per cent excise upon return. (??)

“Financially it’s a no brainer,” BATA spokesman Scott McIntyre said on
Tuesday in a statement.

“Rather than targeting the hip pocket of Australian and international
tourists, the government could remove a large income source from
organised crime gangs.”

At present, the tax-free allowance for in-bound travellers over 18 years
is 250 cigarettes, or 250g of tobacco product.

Agreement tipped on duty-free tobacco cuts

THE duty-free status of cigarettes for travellers coming into the country is under threat, with both government and opposition reported to be considering proposals to abandon the tax concession.

The Henry Tax Review recommended that people arriving at airports and other points of entry be allowed to bring in only a single packet of cigarettes free of duty.

However, the government declined to include the measure in its initial response to the review.

A report by the Seven Network says the government and the Coalition are now considering abandoning the concession, which costs the budget about $270 million a year.

A carton of 10 packets of 25 Benson & Hedges costs $79.99 at duty-free stores at major airports, compared with a normal retail price of about $160.

Travellers are allowed to bring in 250 cigarettes duty free, or 250g of cigars or tobacco products.

Neither Wayne Swan nor Joe Hockey would comment last night, but the report said Mr Hockey’s savings taskforce had asked Coalition health spokesman Peter Dutton to make a recommendation on the measure, with the Coalition keen to show it is not beholden to “big tobacco”.

A spokesman for the Treasurer said the government would not comment on budget speculation.

The Heart Foundation, which called for the concession to be abolished in its budget submission, last night welcomed the report.

“Stopping duty-free cigarette sales would help to cut the huge death toll caused by smoking in Australia every year, and put an end to what is in effect a government subsidy for the tobacco industry,” said Robert Grenfell, clinical issues director at the Heart Foundation. “If you smoke, you are at least twice as likely to have a heart attack and three times as likely to have a stroke, so the Heart Foundation welcomes any measure that stops people taking up the habit in the first place or helps smokers to quit.

“There is no rational reason to continue the sale of duty-free cigarettes — not only does it cost the government about $200m a year in lost revenue, it undermines their other tobacco control efforts,” Dr Grenfell said.

The Henry report noted that smoking was more prevalent among low-income and disadvantaged people. Twenty-three per cent of people with education to Year 9 smoke, compared with just 11 per cent of people with university education. The government has stepped up its war on smoking since 2010. Then prime minister Kevin Rudd announced a 25 per cent hike in tobacco excise ahead of the 2010 budget, a move that is expected to swell government coffers by a handy $5 billion over four years.

At the same time, he announced the move to tobacco plain packaging, which has led to the government being challenged by cigarette giants Philip Morris, British American Tobacco, Imperial Tobacco and Japan Tobacco International in the High Court and international forums.

Labor has also moved to restrict internet tobacco advertising, preventing retailers from promoting cheap or tax-free cigarettes online.

Singapore is the only major destination that provides no duty-free allowance for tobacco, while Hong Kong allows only one packet.