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December 26th, 2012:

The disappearance of tobacco money | |

to me, Judith, kowm, sophia_chan, christine_wong, Lisa

The Virginian-Pilot
© December 26, 2012

The tobacco industry spends more than US$1 million an hour marketing and promoting its products, according to the U.S. Surgeon General’s Office. The return on investment is gaspingly good – for every American who dies of a tobacco-related disease each year, two smokers age 26 and younger take up the addiction.

The key to the industry’s long-term success, of course, is to continue cultivating recruits, the sooner the better. Nearly 90 percent of new smokers try their first cigarette before age 18.

In 1998, when Virginia, North Carolina and 44 other states signed a historic legal settlement with the tobacco industry, officials nationwide pledged to devote a substantial portion of the revenue to smoking-cessation and -prevention programs. In particular, they wanted to reach teens.

The concept was simple: Americans had subsidized the public health costs associated with smoking for many decades, so it made sense to focus on curbing future costs.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that states devote 15 percent of tobacco revenue to prevention programs, and at first, many states met or came close to that goal.

Florida, a leader in the legal battle against the industry, developed what was arguably the most effective campaign aimed at teens. In a series of edgy commercials, would-be smokers were reminded of the industry’s long history of manipulating people and facts.

The ads apparently appealed to the rebellious nature of teens; state health officials credited the campaign with major drops in smoking rates among middle and high school students. Nationally, a similar pattern was observed – the proportion of students in grades 9 through 12 who smoked fell to 21.9 percent in 2003 from 36.4 percent in 1997, according to the CDC.

Sadly, that’s about when spending on tobacco prevention peaked, according to an analysis by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. The percentage of tobacco revenue spent on tobacco education programs rose a bit in 2008, but the focus has dwindled as recession-strapped states diverted money to other needs.

In the current fiscal year, states are expected to collect close to $26 billion from tobacco taxes and settlement funds but spend only 2 percent of it on prevention and cessation efforts.

North Carolina has eliminated funding for prevention programs. And Virginia ranks 31st nationally, spending just $8.4 million a year – well below the CDC’s recommendations.

In tough times, some worthy programs have to be trimmed. But many young smokers and their loved ones – as well as taxpayers who’ve historically subsidized the health care of ailing smokers – will pay dearly for those cuts.

Lawmakers in Virginia, North Carolina and other states need to revive programs started as part of the tobacco settlement. For taxpayers, the return on investment is significant.

In Washington state, officials found that they saved $5 in hospitalization costs for every $1 spent on education programs in the first 10 years of their efforts.

That’s a healthy sum. And there’s an even bigger return, one that can’t be measured in dollars and cents: Lives saved.

Tobacco packs not displaying warnings to be banned

(Wam) / 26 December 2012

Imported cigarettes and other tobacco products which do not carry a graphic health warning on packs will be totally banned in the UAE from January 1, 2013, said a Saleh Badri, acting Director-General of the Emirates Authority for Standardisation and Metrology (Esma) announced.

Badri said: “The move was in line with the Cabinet’s approval of a mandatory updated UAE standard on tobacco products that was published in the gazette on November 29, 2011.”

The decision will be executed in cooperation with all competent ministries and authorities nation-wide, he added.

Accordingly, all cigarette packs and other tobacco products in the UAE will be required to have a graphic picture showing the ill effects of smoking, he explained.

The Cabinet’s decision was to take effect on August 9, 2012.

Tobacco companies requested enough time to get rid of imported stocks of the products which already are in the local market and the packets of which do not comply with the graphic warning decision, the Esma official noted. Tanzania: Tobacco Farms Drive Major Deforestation in Tanzania

Tanzania: Tobacco Farms Drive Major Deforestation in Tanzania

By Kizito Makoye, 26 December 2012

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Kwihara — Cutting of trees for firewood to cure tobacco over the last few decades has been a major driver of deforestation and worsening extreme weather in Tanzania’s central western Tabora region, experts say.

But efforts to persuade tobacco farmers to adopt other crops is proving an uphill battle, not least because tobacco remains profitable and a major source of income in the region.

Emmanuel Mihambo, a peasant farmer from Usenge village in Tabora has been growing tobacco since the 1980s when his late father acquired a four hectare farm there. Over the years he has watched the forest that once surrounded his village gradually turn into barren ground.

“The situation has changed a lot. Imagine that valley separating Usenge and Ntalikwa village used to be covered by a dense forest. You could often spot wild animals such as antelopes. But all the forest is gone,” he lamented

Today firewood is harder to come by, and a local group calling itself IGEMBE NSABO is urging small-scale farmers to abandon tobacco and turn instead to alternative crops such as sunflower, cotton, groundnut and maize.

The group’s chairperson, Huruma Mwirombo, told AlertNet that the group has been educating farmers on the environmental fallout from tobacco farming, which has over the years decimated thousands of hectares of Miombo forests, the main source of rainfall in the region.

Farmers, however, are reluctant to shun tobacco, the mainstay of the local economy, he said.


Although researchers suggest that it would also be economically viable for a peasant farmer to grow other crops that suit the region’s conditions – including cotton – Mihambo still feels that tobacco is his best bet and the surest way to feed his family.

“I have not tried sunflower or cotton yet. I am not ready to take that risk,” he said.

Continuing deforestation, however, has contributed to the Tabora region experiencing increasingly acute water shortages in recent years as rainfall dwindles,

Mwirombo’s group estimates that over of 124,389 cubic metres of trees are being cut in Tabora region every year for tobacco curing.

He said the group’s research, conducted in several rural villages in Tabora, shows that most peasant farmers are oblivious to the long-term effects of growing tobacco, though they are willing to learn to manage their environment better.

One problem, the group says, is that the government continues to support tobacco growing as an important source of export income, tax revenue and income for farmers.

Victor Mwambalaswa, one local politician, was quoted in the local press as saying “nobody would welcome any efforts to sabotage tobacco farming.” He cited its pivotal role to the economy.

According to the country’s central bank, tobacco’s contribution to the national economy is enormous, with the country earning over $150 million a year from tobacco exports.

But tobacco’s future in the region is increasingly in question. A study titled Shifting Cultivation, Wood Use and Deforestation Attributes of Tobacco Farming, published by Sokoine University of Agriculture in March 2012, suggests that Tanzania loses over 61,000 hectares of forests every year due to tobacco growing.

The study says that the tobacco industry’s high demand for firewood cannot be sustained because of the increasing deforestation of Miombo

According to the study, 75 percent of households in Tabora districts were regular tobacco growers, cultivating an average of 1.3 hectares of tobacco per farmer each season and requiring 23 cubic metres of firewood to cure it.

The lead researcher, Mwita Mangora, argues that the region’s remaining forests will not be able to meet the growing demand for firewood to cure tobacco leaves.

Kizito Makoye is a journalist based in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

Read the original of this report on AlertNet Climate, the Thomson Reuters Foundation’s daily news website on the human impacts of climate change.

Copyright © 2012 AlertNet. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media ( To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.

AllAfrica aggregates and indexes content from over 130 African news organizations, plus more than 200 other sources, who are responsible for their own reporting and views. Articles and commentaries that identify as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica.

Smoking smothers your genes, a new finding indicates

By Karl Gruber / ScienceNOW

Published: December 26. 2012 4:00AM PST

Cigarettes leave you with more than a smoky scent on your clothes and fingernails. A new study has found strong evidence that tobacco use can chemically modify and affect the activity of genes known to increase the risk of developing cancer. The finding may give researchers a new tool to assess cancer risk among people who smoke.

DNA isn’t destiny. Chemical compounds that affect the functioning of genes can bind to our genetic material, turning certain genes on or off. These so-called epigenetic modifications can influence a variety of traits, such as obesity and sexual preference. Scientists have even identified specific epigenetic patterns on the genes of people who smoke. None of the modified genes has a direct link to cancer, however, making it unclear whether these chemical alterations increase the risk of developing the disease.

In the new study, published in Human Molecular Genetics, researchers analyzed epigenetic signatures in blood cells from 374 individuals enrolled in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition. EPIC, as it’s known, is a massive study aimed at linking diet, lifestyle, and environmental factors to the incidence of cancer and other chronic diseases. Half of the group consisted of people who went on to develop colon or breast cancer 5 to 7 years after first joining the study, whereas the other half remained healthy.

The team, led by James Flanagan, a human geneticist at Imperial College London, discovered a distinct “epigenetic footprint” in study subjects who were smokers. Compared with people who had never smoked, these individuals had fewer chemical tags known as methyl groups—a common type of epigenetic change—on 20 different regions of their DNA. When the researchers extended the analysis to a separate group of patients and mice that had been exposed to tobacco smoke, they narrowed down the epigenetic modifications to several sites located in four genes that have been weakly linked to cancer before. All of these changes should increase the activity of these genes, Flanagan says. It’s unclear why increasing the activity of the genes would cause cancer, he says, but individuals who don’t have cancer tend not to have these modifications.

The study is the first to establish a close link between epigenetic modifications on a cancer gene and the risk of developing the disease, says Robert Philibert, a behavioral geneticist at the University of Iowa in Iowa City.

Published Daily in Bend Oregon by Western Communications, Inc. © 2011

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Plain pack news

“We take some relief that the (worst) case – mandatory plain packaging – wasn’t proposed,” stated a Morgan Stanley analyst.”

Sandbach MP backs campaign for plain cigarette packaging

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Crewe Chronicle-19 Dec 2012

More than 1,000 Cheshire East residents have also signed up to the Plain Packs Protect campaign, which demands the end of glitzy cigarette

TopNews United States

Bill seeks plain packs for tobacco in India

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Times of India-5 Dec 2012

Australia in a landmark move passed legislation on plain packaging that Plain packaging amplifies the effects of pictorial health warnings

Scunthorpe MP: Sell cigarettes in plain packaging

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ITV News-5 Dec 2012

has called on the Government to “follow the lead of their Australian counterparts” and force companies to sell cigarettes in plain packaging

WHO welcomes landmark decision from Australia’s High Court on tobacco plain packaging act

28/11/2012 20:16:00

Updated statement by WHO Director-General, Dr Margaret Chan

The World Health Organization (WHO) strongly welcomes the landmark decision from Australia’s High Court to dismiss a legal challenge from the tobacco industry, and calls on the rest of the world to follow Australia’s tough stance on tobacco marketing.

Several major tobacco companies challenged Australia’s legislation to require cigarettes and other tobacco products to be sold in plain packaging. But the industry’s attempt to derail this effective tobacco control measure failed. As of December 2012, Australia will be the first country to sell cigarettes in drab, olive-green packaging.

With Australia’s victory, public health enters a brave new world of tobacco control. Plain packaging is a highly effective way to counter industry’s ruthless marketing tactics. It is also fully in line with the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. The lawsuits filed by Big Tobacco look like the death throes of a desperate industry. With so many countries lined up to ride on Australia’s coattails, what we hope to see is a domino effect for the good of public health.

The case is being watched closely by several other countries who are considering similar measures to help fight tobacco.

The evidence on the positive health impact of plain packaging compiled by Australia’s High Court will benefit other countries in their efforts to develop and implement strong tobacco control measures to protect the health of their people and to stand resolute against the advances of the tobacco industry.

Tobacco use is one of the most preventable public health threats. Tobacco products will eventually kill up to half of the people who use them – that means nearly six million people die each year. If governments do not take strong action to limit exposures to tobacco, by 2030 it could kill more than eight million people each year.

The WHO Framework Convention for Tobacco Control entered into force in 2005. Parties are obliged over time to take a number of steps to reduce demand and supply for tobacco products including: protecting people from exposure to tobacco smoke, counteracting illicit trade, banning advertising, promotion and sponsorship, banning sales to minors, putting large health warnings on packages of tobacco, increasing tobacco taxes and creating a national coordinating mechanism for tobacco control. More than 170 countries are Parties to the Convention.

For further information, please contact:

Glenn Thomas
Communications Officer
Telephone: +41 22 791 3983
Mobile: +41 79 509 0677

Plain cigarette packs would cut Plymouth’s 1362 child smokers

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This is Plymouth-4 Dec 2012

Plain packaging on cigarettes could cut the number of children Australia became the first country to legislate the plain packaging and

Ellesmere Port and Neston MP Andrew Miller calls for plain cigarette

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Ellesmere Port Pioneer-5 Dec 2012

Health charities in the UK want the Government here to introduce similar legislation as research has shown plain packaging would reduce

Plain tobacco packaging ‘vital to discourage children’

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Daily Echo-12 Dec 2012

SOUTHAMPTON MP Alan Whitehead is calling for the introduction of plain packaging for cigarettes and tobacco.

Pretty packets like silent salesmen to teens

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Blackpool Gazette-10 Dec 2012

“The introduction of plain, standardised packaging would mean a victory for our children’s health and a defeat for the tobacco industry

Govt urged to introduce plain cig packs

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Irish Health-4 Dec 2012

Ash Ireland has urged the Irish Government to take the lead of its Australian counterpart and introduce plain packaging on cigarettes

BJD MP to table Bill on plain pack of tobacco

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The Asian Age-26 Nov 2012

Plain packaging legislation seeks to remove extraneous colours, embossing and misleading elements on tobacco packs, thus eliminating

EU to outlaw cigarette packet branding by ‘the back door’

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under the EU’s single market rules to go further by copying an Australian law imposing plain packaging, which completely removes branding

Tobacco control plan criticized as ‘weak’

China Daily

Tobacco control plan criticized as 'weak'

Anti-tobacco campaigners have criticized the government’s 2012-15 tobacco control plan as a “weak and futile” attempt to curb the habit.

The plan was jointly issued on Friday by eight government agencies, one of which was the State Tobacco Monopoly Administration, or China Tobacco Corp. China holds a State monopoly on the tobacco industry.

Other government agencies included the ministries of industry and information technology, health and finance.

Under the plan, for at least three years, cigarette packages will not have graphic warnings that depict the physical effects tobacco can have on the body.

“Countries and regions worldwide have been putting graphic labels on cigarette packs, and China is lagging far behind the rest of the world in this,” said Wu Yiqun, deputy director of the Think Tank Research Center for Health Development, a Beijing-based NGO committed to tobacco control, who described the plan as “weak and futile”.

The center released its own report on tobacco and smoking control in China on Tuesday, calling for awareness of the obstacles the anti-smoking lobby faces.

The graphic warnings show people who open a cigarette pack exactly the risks they will take, said Jiang Yuan, who heads the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s tobacco control office.

As of 2013, cigarette packages will have graphic labels in 63 countries and regions, covering more than 40 percent of the world’s population, according to the World Health Organization.

In Australia and Uruguay, graphic warnings take up at least 80 percent of cigarette packs.

By contrast, by 2015 China’s cigarette packets will only have labels with characters under the plan. Anti-smoking information, such as the phone numbers of hotlines to quit smoking, is likely to be printed on the packs.

To help curb smoking, tobacco product taxes and prices will rise.

At present, the tax rate for cigarettes is about 40 percent of the retail price, compared with the 65 to 70 percent world average, according to Wu.

Only Cambodia and Congo have a lower rate than China worldwide.

Currently, China has more than 300 million smokers, including 290 million men, and at least 1.2 million people die from smoking-related diseases each year on the mainland, official statistics indicate.

Because of lax regulations on smoking in public, about 740 million non-smokers are affected by secondhand smoke.

The plan will reduce the passive smoking rate to less than 60 percent by 2015, from the current 72.4 percent.

The tobacco tax continues to be a major source of income for the government, and the industry provides more than 20 million jobs, according to the plan.

The tobacco industry contributed 498 billion yuan ($79.8 billion) in taxes in 2010, accounting for approximately 6 percent of total government income that year, official statistics show.

“The tobacco industry plays a role in increasing government income and creating jobs,” said the plan.

More than 80 percent of the nation’s tobacco leaf production and over half of cigarette-making is located in underprivileged areas on the mainland, which rely heavily on the tobacco industry for socioeconomic development.

It will take some time to develop a substitute for tobacco industry, the plan said.

“We have to consider the realities while implementing tobacco control,” said Zeng Guang, chief epidemiologist at the China CDC, and a volunteer in tobacco control campaigns.