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June 17th, 2012:

Thailand urged to hasten tax reforms on imported cigarettes

THE TRADE Department on Thursday urged Thailand to hasten reforms on its tax policies covering Philippine-made cigarettes, noting that the May 15 deadline for changes recommended by the World Trade Organization had already lapsed.

Second-hand smoke tied to health effects,75083.asp

People regularly exposed to second-hand smoke may have increased risks of dying from various causes, a long-term study from China suggests.

Researchers found that compared with adults who lived and worked in smoke-free environs, those exposed to second-hand smoke were more likely to die of heart disease or lung cancer over 17 years.

And they were also more likely to die of stroke or the lung disease emphysema – two diseases that have had relatively weaker links to second-hand smoke.

The findings, which appear in the medical journal Chest, cannot definitively prove that second-hand smoke is the culprit. But the researchers were able to account for some other key factors, like a person’s age, education, job, and blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Link between smoke and mortality remain

And the links between second-hand smoke and mortality remained, say the researchers, led by Dr Yao He of Chinese PLA General Hospital in Beijing.

“This is exactly the type of study design you want to see,” said Joanna Cohen, director of the Institute for Global Tobacco Control at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore.

Cohen, who was not involved in the research, pointed out that the study followed people over many years, and it found evidence of a “dose-response” relationship – meaning people’s risks climbed as their second-hand smoke exposure increased.

Those things are considered key in building the case for a cause-and-effect relationship.

Smoke boosts COPD

A number of studies have found that non-smokers who regularly breathe in other people’s tobacco smoke have an increased risk of developing heart disease or certain cancers, including lung tumours.

In the US, the most recent Surgeon General’s report said there was “suggestive” evidence that second-hand smoke might boost people’s risk of stroke and emphysema, also known as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD.

But the evidence was considered insufficient to say there was a “causal relationship,” Cohen noted.

“This type of study,” she said, “is important for adding to evidence of a causal relationship.”

Cohen also said it was “huge” that the information was coming from China. “It’s the country with the most number of smokers,” she pointed out. And, she said, it is trailing other nations in anti-smoking education and tobacco control.

Lung cancer deaths higher

The current findings are based on 910 adults who were followed over almost two decades.

At the start, 44% said they lived with a smoker, while 53% said they inhaled second-hand smoke at work.

Over the following years, 249 study participants died. And the risks of death from heart disease, stroke, lung cancer and emphysema were all two to three times higher among people exposed to second-hand smoke.

Men die of stroke

Among men, for example, 11% of the 271 men exposed to second-hand smoke died of stroke. That compared with 6.5% of the 168 men who lived and worked in smoke-free surroundings.

The numbers of people who died of each specific cause were fairly small, which is a limitation.

“When numbers get small,” Cohen said, “it makes it more difficult to get a precise estimate” of risks.

But she said the results do support evidence that second-hand smoke may boost the risks of not only heart disease and certain cancers, but stroke and emphysema as well.

(Amy Norton, Reuters Health, June 2012)

Read more:

How passive smoking hurts

Second hand smoke affects the brain

Rio Ferdinand criticised over advert linked to Asian tobacco firm

Manchester United footballer was unaware of company’s profits from cigarettes when he starred in adverts

Description: Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand

Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand meets his fans in Jakarta, Indonesia. Photograph: Achmad Ibrahim/AP

Footballer Rio Ferdinand, of Manchester United and England, is at the centre of a row over tobacco advertising after anti-smoking charities accused him of promoting a company that owns one of Asia’s biggest cigarette brands.

Ferdinand, an active supporter of the global children’s charity Unicef, appears in billboard advertisements and YouTube videoclips streamed in Indonesia that promoteGudang Garam International’s internet-based sports channel, Intersport, which broadcasts Premier League football matches and helps to raise the profile of English football in Asia.

GGI is one of Indonesia’s largest tobacco companies and its cigarettes, which are flavoured with spices such as cloves and cinnamon, are particularly popular with children.

A spokesman for the United player insisted that the footballer, a fervent anti-smoker, was not advertising tobacco but the sports channel. It appears that Ferdinand, who is only one of many international football stars to appear in the GGI ads, had been unaware that GGI, a conglomerate, makes a large amount of its profits from tobacco or that his image would be used on billboards which carry the cigarette brand logo. The spokesman said Ferdinand was consulting lawyers about the use of his image in the campaign.

Deborah Arnott, chief executive of the anti-smoking group Ash, said such sponsorship deals were banned in the UK because of concerns that they promoted cigarettes to young people. She called on Ferdinand to dissociate himself from GGI, particularly given his relationship with Unicef.

“Rio talks a good talk about ‘putting children first’ when he tweets for Unicef, but he has to put his money where his mouth is,” Arnott said. “Well over a third of 15-year-old boys in Indonesia smoke and smoking rates among the young have increased sixfold since 1995. Rio is estimated to be worth £40m and to earn more than £100,000 a week; does he really need to do this? I hope now he realises what he’s done he’ll apologise.”

The row has threatened to embroil Ferdinand’s club. Indonesia’s National Commission for Child Protection has written to United’s manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, urging him “to have this unhealthy promotion removed immediately”.

In the YouTube videos, Ferdinand, wearing a red football kit similar to that of United and displaying the GGI corporate badge, describes how “football is everything and everything about football is only on Gudang Garam Intersport”. The final scene cuts to the Gudang Guram Intersport logo, which is then followed by the GudamGarang International logo and a tobacco health warning.

Tobacco firms worldwide are keen to cultivate the next generation of smokers, but their efforts are hampered by blanket advertising bans in Europe. However, no such laws apply in Indonesia, where GGI also operates a website promoting music which anti-smoking groups claim is another attempt to reach young people.

“I don’t believe that it is a coincidence that Gudang Garam chose a Manchester United player to promote their brand sponsorship of Indonesian football, as the iconic Manchester United kit so closely resembles their own cigarette brand colours,” said Andrea Crossfield, the director of Tobacco Free Futures, which is leading the UK campaign for cigarettes to be sold in plain packaging.

“The tobacco industry thrives on marketing to young people through associating their brand with aspirational figures. The World Health Organisation predicts smoking will kill one billion people this century; this is an industry which uses manipulative marketing to hook kids worldwide into a lethal habit that kills one in two of every lifelong smoker – the vast majority of whom start smoking before the age of 18.”

Ian Gray, the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health’s principal policy officer, said role models had a part to play in ensuring children were not encouraged to smoke. “We must be concerned about the prevalence of smoking internationally, particularly in the developing world, where it is a major killer,” Gray toldEnvironmental Health News. “It is particularly galling to see a prominent UK celebrity recognised by young football supporters the world over participating in such a distasteful and ill-advised campaign.”

A spokeswoman for United said: “The contractual agreement between Rio and Gudang Garam Intersports runs to 31 October 2012, at which time all forms of advertising will cease. Both Manchester United and Rio Ferdinand are sorry for this misunderstanding and will endeavour to ensure that it is not repeated in the future.”


Smoking may increase risk of death in older patients – 4 days ago

An analysis of available medical literature suggests smoking was linked to increased mortality in older patients and that smoking cessation was

Quitting smoking at the age of 60 or older could prolong your life ‎ Daily Mail