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June 15th, 2012:

Expert: Organized tobacco’s days are numbered

Cigarette merchants will be tried for crimes against humanity, says head of Israeli smoking prevention group.
It is inevitable that “the days of organized tobacco around the world are numbered” as exemplified by the declaration of the government of New Zealand, which will be smoke free by 2025 along with a growing number of other countries.”

This was the surprising and optimistic prediction on Wednesday of long-time smoking-prevention lawyer Amos Hausner, the head of the Israel Council for the Prevention of Smoking.

Hausner, the son of Gideon Hausner – Israel’s late attorney-general and prosecutor of Nazi murderer Adolf Eichmann – echoed the famous characterization of the Nazis by describing tobacco sales as the “the banality of evil.”

This phrase was coined by Jewish political philosopher Hannah Arendt in her 1963 work Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil.

Her thesis was that the great evils in history generally, and the Holocaust in particular, were not executed by fanatics or sociopaths – but by ordinary people who accepted their state’s norms and therefore regarded their actions as normal.

Hausner said in Tel Aviv on Wednesday that tobacco companies’ actions also exemplify this because they know their products will kill half of their users, but they continue to make them even deadlier and market them.

“Unlike the Nazis, who were motivated by hate, anti-Semitism and vicious racism, the tobacco companies are motivated by greed,” the jurist said.

Hausner was one of the speakers at the first Israeli Conference on Tobacco or Health, which was held at Tel Aviv University and attended by over 150 people.

As for the “numbered days of organized tobacco,” Hausner said that public opinion surveys in New Zealand show that two-thirds of the public – including many smokers – advocate a “completely tobacco-free country.” Other countries will follow, he said, adding that he hoped Israel would eventually be among them.

A 2011 book with the title comparing tobacco to “a holocaust” called for its abolition, a term that was used in mid-19th century America, when slavery was legal, regarded as economically beneficial and widely supported in the South. But just a few years later, slavery was completely abolished – as if it never happened. The same, said Hausner to much applause, can happen with smoking.

“Today, we are in the midst of an irreversible process that will lead to the termination of organized tobacco,” he said.

“The environment will be completely tobacco-free. This is what people all over the world want.”

“Only last year, a book was published that asked: ‘What will happen if all Americans stopped smoking?’ Many people think this already. The public mind is already set for this process,” Hausner declared.

He added that last month, a small shareholder in a US tobacco conglomerate said when the CEO was about to retire: “Don’t you think that you will be subject to indictments on the basis of your crimes against humanity? Tobacco is killing 5.7 million people every year around the world.”

Hausner commented that instead of just suing tobacco companies for damages – such as the $245 billion judgement against organized tobacco in 1998, which ordered the companies to compensate the 50 US states for the costs of treating tobacco-related diseases – the legal action will focus against “crimes against humanity, of homicide, even the genocide of people by smoking their products.” Thus he predicted that such lawsuits will replace settlements of compensation for financial loses.

Health Ministry director-general Prof. Ronni Gamzu said that despite the slow decline in adult smoking rates in Israel to a little over 20 percent, the percentage of those who smoke must drop to 10% or less.

The country cannot afford to spend huge sums to treat patients harmed by tobacco, he said, and the ministry will take increasingly strict measures to raise tobacco taxes, restrict places where smoking is allowed and limit advertising of tobacco products.

However, Gamzu erred when he declared that “there is not a single newspaper in Israel that does not accept tobacco advertising,” even though he heard from The Jerusalem Post at a No Smoking Day press conference a few weeks ago that it has not run tobacco advertising for many years. The English-language Post also does not use photos of celebrities, models and others who smoke or hold cigarettes. Editor-in-chief Steve Linde confirmed this no-tobacco advertising policy, which the paper’s readers demand.

Gamzu later apologized for his comment that all Israeli newspapers advertise tobacco.

He added that he indeed heard that the Post has followed this policy for many years but “forgot.”

However, newspapers read by the haredi community – including Deputy Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman – regularly run tobacco advertising, with one ad employing havdala candles to remind readers to light up their cigarettes when Shabbat ends.

Prof. Gregory Connolly, a veteran researcher at the Harvard School of Public Health, said at the conference that tobacco killed 100 million people globally in the last century, with about five million people now dying from tobacco-related causes annually.

The figure will rise to eight million by 2030 until serious action is taken, he cautioned. “It could cost a billion lives in the 21st century,” Connolly said.

He noted that in the last two decades, while local companies like Dubek historically controlled tobacco production and sales in Israel, multinational companies such as Philip Morris have taken over the majority of the industry here, reaping the profits and leaving behind huge damage to the public health at the cost of billions of shekels a year.

Connolly noted that the tobacco industry conducts much research to make cigarettes and other products more addictive to children and adults, adding “pellets of menthol” that give the false impression that they are “lighter and easier to smoke,” as well as selling nicotine-packed, short cigarettes that enable employees to fully consume them before their smoking breaks end.

Statement Regarding Second Release of Global Adult Tobacco Survey Results by Thailand

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Office on Smoking and Health is pleased to share with you the news below.

Statement from CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health

Statement Regarding Second Release of Global Adult Tobacco Survey Results by Thailand

On May 28, 2012, Thailand released its Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) results. In Thailand, GATS was first conducted in 2009 and repeated in 2011.  Many countries conduct surveys to monitor adult tobacco use, but until recently, no one standard global survey for adults has consistently tracked tobacco use, exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke, and tobacco control measures. A factsheet summarizing results from the 2011 Thailand GATS and a second factsheet comparing 2009 and 2011 results can be found here.

Highlights from the 2011Thailand GATS include:

  • ·        Overall tobacco use was essentially unchanged from 27.2% in 2009 to 26.9% (46.6% of men and 2.6% of women) in 2011.
  • ·        Quit attempts in the past 12 months declined from 49.8% in 2009 to 36.7% in 2011 among current smokers.
  • ·        The proportion of adults who noticed cigarette advertising in stores increased from 6.7% in 2009 to 18.2% in 2011.
  • ·        Among men, 30.1% currently smoked manufactured cigarettes and 28.1% currently smoked hand-rolled cigarettes in 2011.
  • ·        Among current smokers of manufactured cigarettes, 10.0% purchased the new inexpensive brands that were introduced in the market by the Thailand Tobacco Monopoly (TTM) following the 2009 tobacco tax increase.

Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of premature disease and death in the world and kills up to half of those who use it. In the 20th century, the tobacco epidemic killed 100 million people worldwide; during the 21st century, it is estimated that it could kill one billion. Containing this epidemic is one of the most important public health priorities of our time.

To effectively combat the tobacco epidemic, CDC and the World Health Organization (WHO) recommend MPOWER, a set of six proven strategies: monitoring tobacco use and prevention policies; protecting people from tobacco smoke; offering help to quit tobacco use; warning about the dangers of tobacco; enforcing bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship; and raising taxes on tobacco. Monitoring the tobacco epidemic is a key step in managing it. CDC oversees GATS, which is designed to produce national and sub-national estimates on tobacco use, exposure to secondhand smoke, and quit attempts among adults. GATS also indirectly measures the impact of tobacco control and prevention initiatives.

Thailand is the first country to repeat the survey.  In 2011-2012, other countries participating in the second phase of GATS include: Argentina, Indonesia, Malaysia, Panama, Qatar and Romania. From 2008-2010, fourteen countries participated in the first phase of GATS: Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Egypt, India, Mexico, Philippines, Poland, Russian Federation, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, Uruguay and Vietnam. As with the other participating countries, results from GATS will assist Thailand in translating data into action through improved policies and programs. GATS is a nationally representative household survey of all non-institutionalized men and women aged 15 years and older using a standard and consistent protocol. Survey data are collected electronically during in-person interviews.

In Thailand, GATS was implemented by the Department of Disease Control, Ministry of Public Health, National Statistical Office and Mahidol University. The survey had the support of the Southeast Asian Regional Office of the World Health Organization and the country office.

Funding for GATS is provided by the Bloomberg Philanthropies as part of the Bloomberg Initiative to Reduce Tobacco Use (partners include the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, CDC, CDC Foundation, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, WHO, and the World Lung Foundation). Technical assistance is provided by CDC, WHO, the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and RTI International. Program support is provided by the CDC Foundation.

tobacco news


Trade pact could weaken Australia’s tobacco fight

ABC Online – 1 day ago

There are concerns a new trans-Pacific trade agreement could weaken Australia’s defences against challenges to its planned tobacco

Australia to be hit with 3rd WTO suit – diplomats‎ Reuters UK
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Secondhand smoke tied to more health effects: study

Reuters AlertNet – 15 hours ago

A number of studies have found that non-smokers who regularly breathe in other people’s tobacco smoke have an increased risk of developing 

Secondhand smoke tied to more health effects‎ Fox News
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U.S. surgeon general joins effort to reduce smoking in youths

New York Daily News – 3 hours ago

More than 1200 people die nationwide every day from tobacco use, Benjamin said. Benjamin, who lost her mother to lung cancer due to 

Students to participate in Tobacco Town Hall‎ Fairbanks Daily News-Miner
US Surgeon General brings nonsmoking message to Seattle‎
US Surgeon General In Seattle To Lead Town Hall‎ KUOW NPR
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The Seattle Times



Dusit Thani employees butt out for No Tobacco Day

Pattaya Mail – 12 hours ago

The Dusit Thani Hotel marked World No Tobacco Day when General Manager Chatchawal Supachayanont and hotel anti-smoking campaign

Why is US proposing TPPA tobacco exception?

Friday, 15 June, 2012 – 15:53

“US plans to table a specific exception of tobacco contradict the government’s reassurances that a Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement would not restrict New Zealand’s right to introduce plain packaging or other tobacco control laws”, according to University of Auckland Law Professor Jane Kelsey.

“If the existing treaties are fine, why is the US introducing an exception?”.

Both sides of the tobacco debate have been lobbying intensively throughout the TPPA negotiations, especially in the United States.

The Obama government has been under intense pressure from public health advocates since a recent from the World Trade Organization struck down America’s ban on importing clove flavoured cigarettes from Indonesia.

The US had planned to table an exception specifically targeted at tobacco at the last round of negotiations in Dallas. It backed off after last minute interventions by Big Tobacco and politicians from the tobacco states. The US is now expected to table the compromise proposal before or at the next round that begins in San Diego on 2 July.

In stark contrast to the secrecy that surrounds the negotiations the US trade negotiations have been consulting extensively with a range of public health and industry groups, not just cleared advisers whom the US allows to see the text. While the actual wording has not been released, the content effectively has been.

Despite early excitement, it is clear that the US is not proposing a ‘carveout’ of tobacco from the TPP. This is a new exception, with familiar provisos that tobacco companies will be able to contest. Ironically, it could create even more uncertainty.

In true US style, this exception only addresses issues of concern to the US. It does not apply to the investment chapter, so the special protections that Philip Morris is relying on in its investment disputes against Australia and Uruguay are not affected. Nor is their right to sue the government directly for allegedly breaching those rules”. , said Professor Kelsey.

“I understand that Australia and New Zealand are opposing the US measure – not because it is inadequate but because they cannot afford to concede that there are problems with the rules they has negotiated previously and are trying to defend now”, according to Professor Kelsey.

“The situation is a shambles. The only way to exclude tobacco from the TPP is a provision that reads: ‘Nothing in this Agreement applies to any measures that relate to tobacco’. Will our government do that? No.”

Teen pushed Brookline bylaw raising tobacco-buying age

Essdras M Suarez/Globe Staff

Eric Dumas learned the antismoking lesson at an early age.


BROOKLINE – When Eric Dumas was 4, he asked his father if a man standing nearby was going to die. Taken aback, his father, Rob, inquired why his son would ask such a question. His son’s response: “That person is smoking.’’

“I thought, ‘Oh my God, maybe I have gone too far,’ ’’ Rob said, referring to the “smoking-is-bad message’’ he engrained in his son as a toddler. “But I think I got the message through.’’

The message stuck. Dumas, now 18 and a recent graduate of Brookline High School, persuaded Brookline’s Town Meeting to raise the legal age for buying tobacco products from 18 to 19. The town bylaw change, approved by a 169-1 vote May 25, now needs approval by the state attorney general before the 31 retailers that carry tobacco products in Brookline must stop selling them to 18-year-olds.

Dumas and Brookline High School administrators say they hope increasing the tobacco buyer age will cut down on the number of students who smoke outside while chatting on cement benches across from the school’s main doors.

Sitting in a school hallway after graduation rehearsal last week, Dumas said the outdoor smoking scene was the first thing he noticed when he arrived at Brookline High. Four years later, he says smoking isn’t actually a huge problem at the school – a 2011 survey found 11 percent of the school’s 2,000 students had smoked in the past 30 days. Yet Dumas believes he can help his peers kick the habit.

‘It isn’t something that we should just let grow.’

Eric Dumas On smoking

“It isn’t something that we should just let grow,’’ he said. “It is something you can put a lid on and stop.’’

Attempts to discourage teen smoking are not limited to Brookline.

Needham was the first town in Massachusetts to raise the tobacco buyer age to 19 in 2001. The town then upped the age to 20 in 2002 and 21 in 2003. Dumas hopes Brookline High students will use that model next year as an example and campaign to raise Brookline’s tobacco buyer age to 20.

In early May, Belmont raised its tobacco buyer age to 19 after the Board of Health heard about Dumas’s efforts. Arlington and Watertown officials are also thinking about implementing a similar policy.

Dumas – who played on the football, basketball, and baseball teams – first got involved with antismoking efforts in his sophomore year, when he joined the school’s Peer Leadership program, a class in which 60 students discuss how to discourage smoking and drinking. The class met three times a week at 7:20 a.m. 50 minutes before school starts.

“The fact that these kids are getting up at an ungodly hour shows their commitment,’’ says Hope Schroy, a Peer Leadership adviser.

With Schroy’s help, the students successfully lobbied school administrators to restrict student smokers to one corner of the public property across the street. They also proposed a town article that prohibits Brookline pharmacies from selling tobacco products. As a result, the CVS near the school now carries smoking cessation products instead of cigarettes.

Even town visitors have noticed the group’s efforts, Dumas said. “My friend was telling me the other day he went to CVS, and some guy from Virginia was in front of him and was outraged that he couldn’t buy cigarettes,’’ he said.

In March, the Peer Leaders tackled a new proposal to raise Brookline’s tobacco buyer age to 19, up from the age 18 requirement in state law.The Peer Leaders needed an 18-year-old registered voter to sponsor the petition, and Dumas volunteered.

Until then, smoking had not been a big issue in the Dumas family. No one in the house smokes, and no family members have died from smoking-related illnesses.

When Eric came downstairs one night with a tie on, it caught his father off guard.

“He’s saying, ‘I’ve got to go out tonight,’ and I ask, ‘Where are you going?’ ‘I’m going to Town Meeting.’ I’m like, ‘You go!’ ’’ About 10 Peer Leaders attended the meeting with Dumas.

Alan Balsam, director of Brookline’s Public Health and Human Services, who helped Dumas craft the bylaw, said Dumas’s role as a star player helped draw attention to the tobacco policy. “I think when Eric and his friends speak it resonates with his peers and the community at large,’’ Balsam said.

But not all Brookline students were pleased.

Gabriella Zutrau, 18, said the proposed change won’t stop teens from smoking because seniors will go to Allston to buy cigarettes and give them to underclassmen. “It will look good for the town,’’ she said. “But that’s all it will do.’’

Will Cooper, 16, said he smokes about six or seven cigarettes a week and wasn’t pleased with Dumas’s efforts. He said some of his friends under age 18 are upset about the age increase because they are “hooked on cigarettes and don’t want to wait that extra year.’’

Still, Dumas said there has been no large public outcry. After the article passed at the Town Meeting, he said, he saw only one Facebook post by a student against the proposal.

Tharindu Weeresinghe, a Peer Leader who has been friends with Dumas since fourth grade, worked closely with Dumas on the article. Weeresinghe praised Dumas, who is known among students for his athletic success, for taking on the smoking issue. “Even his success in sports hasn’t changed the person he is. He’s always willing to give a helping hand,’’ Weeresinghe said.

Next fall, Dumas will attend Wheaton College in Norton, where he plans to pitch for the baseball team and study international relations. He envisions a career in law enforcement; his dream job is to work for the FBI.

Joe Campagna, the Brookline High varsity baseball coach, who has coached Dumas since age 7, did not know about his pitcher’s tobacco policy work but said it was not a surprise.

“He’s got a very endearing personality,’’ he said. “Kids respect him on the team.’’

Campagna said he had to drop one of his players this year because the student was caught in violation of smoking.

“I see plenty of kids with cigarettes in their mouth,’’ he said. “It’s pretty disturbing.’’

Study supports use of graphic warning labels on tobacco packs

Smokers are more likely to remember the health risks associated with smoking if the warnings on tobacco packets are accompanied by a graphic image, new research shows.

Scientists at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine recruited 200 smokers who were shown one of two warning label advertisements – one with a graphic image accompanied by a written health warning, and a text-only version.

Eye-tracking technology was used to see how long each person looked at different components of the ads.

Participants were then asked to recall the text on the warning label and write it down to see whether they remembered it accurately.

The researchers found that 83 per cent of people who were shown the graphic warning label correctly recalled the text, compared with just 50 per cent of those who saw the text-only version.

In addition, the longer a person viewed the graphic image, the more likely they were to remember the text.

Dr Andrew Strasser, whose findings are published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, said: ‘Based on this new research, we now have a better understanding of two important questions … – do smokers get the message and how do they get the message?

‘In addition to showing the value of adding a graphic warning label, this research also provides valuable insight into how the warning labels may be effective, which may serve to create more effective warning labels in the future.’

Some experts argue that introducing plain packaging for tobacco products would further enhance the effectiveness of warning messages.ADNFCR-554-ID-801385918-ADNFCR

Health campaign councils invest £167m in tobacco firms

Cigarettes in an ashtray

Council pension funds must adhere to rules on which types of firm they can invest in

Continue reading the main story

Related Stories

Council tobacco shares ‘must go’

Council’s £7m in tobacco shares

Councils across the East of England that are to take on a lead role in NHS anti-smoking campaigns, have invested more than £167m in tobacco firms.

The figure was revealed after a BBC Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request made to county councils about their pension fund investments.

In the eastern region, Hertfordshire has the highest amount of money in tobacco firms with £44.6m invested.

Buckinghamshire has the lowest with £6m of investments.

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“Start Quote

We will research carefully the issues brought up by the pension fund investing in tobacco companies”

End Quote David Finch Essex County Council

Anti-smoking group Ash (Action on Smoking and Health) said it was concerned at the investments.

Martin Dockrell, director of research and policy at Ash, told the BBC: “From 2013, local councils will have responsibility for leading local efforts to reduce the burden of death and disease from smoking, yet many of them are the largest tobacco shareholders in the area.

“Despite what some pension managers would have us believe there is no obligation to invest in the tobacco industry.”

The FOIA request shows Suffolk’s pension fund has invested £42.3m in tobacco companies including £18.3m in the giant British American Tobacco, the world’s second largest cigarette maker.

Norfolk has invested £25.9m in cigarette firms while Northamptonshire has invested £14m and Essex £9.1m.

Cambridgeshire figures show the county council administered pension fund, which also includes district council’s pensions, has invested £25.3m in tobacco firms.

Mr Dockrell said ethical investment rules means fund managers are permitted to say they will only “invest in tobacco when they can prove that there is no other investment that can match the value”.

‘Global business’

David Finch, deputy leader of Essex County Council, said: “We will research carefully the issues brought up by the pension fund investing in tobacco companies.

“We will take the findings to the pension investment board for it to make a decision on whether the fund continues to invest in tobacco firms, in the light of Essex County Council taking on public health duties next year.”

Continue reading the main story

“Start Quote

Placing constraints on fund managers could [leave us not getting] the best return on our pension investments”

End Quote David Lloyd Hertfordshire County Council

Frank Downes, chairman of Buckinghamshire County Council Pension Fund Committee, said: “As with most local authorities we don’t invest directly ourselves, but we employ the expertise of fund managers to do so on our behalf.

“This is a global business and they invest in bonds, equities and other asset classes, but they are aware of sensitivities in local authority pension fund investments, hence our very low investment in this class.”

A spokesman for Norfolk County Council said: “While Norfolk Pension Fund is administered by the county council, this is on behalf of over 130 employers, 26,000 contributing employees, and 43,000 pensioners and deferred members.

“Administration of the fund is overseen by a pension committee, which is charged with overseeing strategies to obtain the best return on investment for members and employers while maintaining an appropriate level of investment risk.

‘Investment principles’

“Any change in investment policy would be a matter for the Pension Committee, but their decisions would have to be compatible with the duties placed upon them to ensure that the fund is properly managed to protect the interests of employers and members.”

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How common is pension fund investment in tobacco?

Ian Gwinnell is a pensions and investment expert who is the director of financial services company All Counties Financial.

He said pension funds investing in tobacco firms is commonplace although more and more people are choosing to take an ethical stance and avoid investing in certain types of companies.

He said: “A number of companies choose not to take a moral approach to investing but a few years ago there was an uproar about funds investing in these (tobacco) companies and as a result a number of ethical investment products were created.

“Tobacco firms don’t make a bad return – they are blue chip companies and their profit margins and turnover far exceed anything close to them.”

But he added investors tended to only ever put a small percentage into tobacco firms because it is important to build a diverse portfolio across a number of different industries.

David Lloyd, Hertfordshire County Council cabinet member for resources, said fund managers are expected to make “sound investment decisions”.

“[This is] to secure the best long-term returns for the pension fund,” he said.

“Placing constraints on the fund managers who act on the council’s behalf could put us in a position where we do not get the best return on our pension investments.”

A spokeswoman from Northamptonshire County Council said the £14m represented only 1% of the pension fund.

“The pension scheme is operated within a set of clear investment principles which includes guidance on socially responsible investment,” she said.

“However, it’s important to be aware that there is a legal duty to maximise income for the pension fund.”

Cambridgeshire county councillor Steve Count, who chairs the Cambridgeshire Local Government Pensions Fund Committee said: “I called for the Cambridgeshire Local Government Pension Fund to look into ethical investment.

“After careful consideration of the financial implications and legal advice the committee, made up of representatives of the 174 employers, decided not to remove our funds from the tobacco industry.

“If we had decided to alter our strategy we would run the risk of losing millions of pounds, that ultimately would have had to be paid for by tax payers.”

Suffolk county councillor Peter Bellfield, chairman of the Suffolk Pension Fund Committee, said: “We do acknowledge the issues around public health however, ultimately, restricting choice for the fund managers limits their abilities to do their jobs. Suffolk’s approach is entirely in line with many other areas around the UK.”

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