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January, 2013:

Canadian council to implement responsible investment policy

Photo: Kyle Pearce via Flickr

Thursday, January 31st, 2013 By Alex Blackburne

Vancouver city council looks set to sign a responsible investment commitment, after voting unanimously to uphold the city’s core values through the companies it invests in.

This comes after it was revealed that the firm that manages the state of British Columbia’s public sector pensions was investing billions of dollars into fossil fuels and tobacco stock.

According to the Vancouver Sun, BC Investment Management Corporation invests over $400m (£253m) in Enbridge – whose controversial Northern Gateway bitumen pipeline project is opposed by 60% of people in the region.

This is on top of significant stakes in a number of tobacco companies, including British American Tobacco and Imperial Tobacco.

Canada’s Metro newspaper reported that British Columbian councillor Andrea Reimer was “shocked” when she learnt where the state’s public sector pensions were investing in, forcing her to lead the way in implementing the responsible investment motion.

Reimer said that the council’s ethical purchasing policy and Vancouver’s fair trade status meant the introduction of such a commitment made sense. The city also hosted Eco Fashion Week in October last year.

A number of councils in England and Wales came under scrutiny last year when it was revealed over £2 billion of pension fund money was invested in tobacco.

Many attempted to defend their policies, with Cornwall council saying that its £24m contribution represented just 2% of its total investments. Another, Hackney council, declared that its pension funds had a “duty” to invest in tobacco – something that was questioned in a subsequent report by FairPensions and anti-smoking campaigners ASH.

Vancouver council’s decision comes after socially responsible investment in Canada was reported to have grown by 16% in two years, with $600.9 billion (£380.8 billion) now invested in this way.

Butt out wherever you are: push for world’s toughest smoking ban

Jason Dowling
Published: January 30, 2013 – 3:00AM

SMOKING would be banned in all public spaces in the City of Melbourne, including Bourke Street, City Square and even footpaths, under a radical proposal to make the city healthier and more attractive to visitors while reducing ambiguity for smokers.

The move would make smoking bans in Melbourne some of the toughest in the world.

The ban is being pushed by newly elected councillor Richard Foster, who said reducing the impact of smoking was an important cause for a progressive city such as Melbourne.

”I will very shortly be calling for a complete smoking ban across Melbourne,” Councillor Foster said.

”The ban would extend to any public place that could in no way be considered a private place, so basically anything that is not private land, so that would include alfresco dining areas, outside office blocks, anything like that,” he said.

There had been enough ”tinkering” with laws around smoking. ”We have extended [no-smoking] boundaries around play areas, we have extended boundaries around childcare centres and hospitals, it is about time that we actually made it simpler for smokers and healthier for everybody else … just ban it outright and be done with it,” he said.

The idea already had some support among other Melbourne City councillors. A briefing on smoking ban options would be held for council staff next month.

Cr Foster is hoping to have a trial of the public smoking ban introduced as early as March.

”There are no shortage of complaints about smoke being in the wrong places and interrupting the healthy lives of non-smokers, so that has got to drive something like this,” he said.

”It is really just in the interest in the 80 per cent-plus of us that don’t smoke.”

He said he favoured the Baillieu government extending the public-area smoking ban across the state.

Cr Foster said he was not

expecting a legal challenge to the proposed ban.

”There will be some resistance from some quarters, of course, but by and large I think it has very strong support,” he said.

”There have been surveys done in other council areas indicating wide-ranging support for measures like this, it is just that nobody has gone so far.

”It is about time a large city did.”

Cr Foster said the public smoking ban could help traders in the city.

”This could actually be a real boon for retailers in Melbourne, to be the only place in Victoria, indeed in Australia, where you are far less likely to encounter cigarette smoking when you go do your shopping.”

Quit Victoria, Cancer Council Victoria, the Heart Foundation (Victoria) and AMA Victoria have called for a statewide ban on smoking in outdoor dining and drinking areas.

They also want statewide smoking bans near children’s play equipment, the entrance to public buildings, public transport stops, sporting grounds, patrolled beaches between the flags, pedestrian malls and public events such as music festivals.

The acting chief executive of the Heart Foundation Victoria, Kellie-Ann Jolly, said: ”The proposal to ban smoking in public areas within the City of Melbourne is a step in the right direction for the health of not just Victorians, but the many visitors, both interstate and international, to Melbourne.

”We think councillors and local governments like City of Melbourne should be supported by state legislation to enforce smoking bans in public areas.

”Heart Foundation Victoria along with Quit, Cancer Council Victoria and the Australian Medical Association Victoria have been working together to lobby the state government to adopt legislation to ban smoking in outdoor dining and drinking areas. We’re hoping this latest push by Cr Richard Foster will help convince them to adopt a new law.”

Quit Victoria manager of tobacco policy Kylie Lindorff said a total ban on smoking in public places was not on its agenda at this stage.

”The main reason is because we think it would be difficult to enforce,” she said.

Ms Lindorff said smoking bans in outdoor dining and drinking areas was Quit Victoria’s priority.

This story was found at:


Download PDF : CompareCig2013World

Activists fume over thought of cigs tax hike

HK Standard

Hiking the tobacco tax further will only worsen cigarette smuggling.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Hiking the tobacco tax further will only worsen cigarette smuggling.

That is the warning from the I Smoke Alliance, 20 of whose members visited the Central Government Offices to present a petition banner carrying the photos of over 1,000 people holding a sign that said “stop tobacco price hikes.”

The group urged the government to respect the rights of smokers and not increase tobacco taxes again in the budget to be tabled next month by Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah.

They also said trade in illicit cigarettes went up after the tobacco tax was raised by 50 percent in 2009 – the first of three consecutive years of hikes – widening the price gap with packs available in the mainland, for instance. A pack of 20 typically costs HK$50 here.

Convener Mer Lee Chor-kwan called the tax hikes unreasonable and slammed the government as narrow-minded.

Lee said: “The tax hike could not reduce the number of smokers, but it turns out there are now more illicit cigarettes on the market.

“Not only are these more hazardous to health, but dealing in them is illegal.”

Raymond Ho Man-kit, convener of concern group Momentum 107, said people are increasingly buying illicit cigarettes online. “Increasing tobacco tax only allows illegal groups to gain big money through selling illicit cigarettes,” Ho said, urging the government to educate the public about quitting instead.

Shirley Chan Sin-yee, a waitress and non-smoker, slammed “unreasonable” tax hikes as an incentive to quit, saying such moves ignore the problem sparked.

She said: “A tax hike will encourage more people to be involved in illicit cigarette trade, just like parallel traders.” WINNIE CHONG

Bernardi denies pro-tobacco ties breach rules

January 28, 2013

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Jessica Wright and Daniel Hurst

THE Liberal senator Cory Bernardi denies he has breached parliamentary disclosure rules by failing to declare his links to a right-wing pro-tobacco group fighting gun controls.

Senator Bernardi insisted he did not have to declare his involvement with the American Legislative Exchange Council because he did not believe it posed a conflict of interest.

Labor and the Greens called for him to be stood down as chairman of the senators’ interests committee, which polices declarations.

The US-based council, which has financial ties with big tobacco companies, lobbied the Gillard government against its plain tobacco packaging laws.

ALEC is also working with the National Rifle Association to block the guns crackdown planned by the US President, Barack Obama.

An ALEC member since 2009, Senator Bernardi was dumped as Opposition Leader Tony Abbott’s personal parliamentary secretary in September after he made a speech to Parliament that warned against legislating for gay marriage on the grounds that it could lead to calls to legalise bestiality and polygamy.

On Sunday, Fairfax Media reported that Senator Bernardi had acted as an international delegate for ALEC and as a member of its International Relations Task Force.

But Senator Bernardi argued his pecuniary register was ”completely up to date”. He said senators were required to disclose officeholder positions, organisations to which donations of more than $300 were made or where membership could result in a conflict of interest.

”None of which applies to my status with ALEC, whose international membership supports federation, free markets and limited government,” he said on Sunday.

However, the rules say senators are required to disclose ”any other interests where a conflict of interest with a senator’s public duties could foreseeably arise or be seen to arise”.

The Greens senator Richard Di Natale said Senator Bernardi was ”unfit to chair” the senators’ interests committee.

In a letter circulated on Sunday, Senator Bernardi claimed he was not contacted by Fairfax Media before the story was published. But Fairfax Media did contact his office and stands by its story.

Mr Abbott is yet to comment.

Read more:

Smokers who quit before 40 live just as long

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Obama DOE Fracked Gas Export Study Contractor’s Tobacco Industry Roots

Weekend Edition January 25-27, 2013

Smoke and Mirrors

Obama DOE Fracked Gas Export Study Contractor’s Tobacco Industry Roots


At first, it was kept secret for months, cryptically referred to only as an “unidentified third-party contractor.”

Finally, in November 2012, Reuters revealed the name of the corporate consulting firm the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) hired to produce a study on the prospective economic impacts of liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports.

LNG is the super-chilled final product of gas obtained – predominatly in today’s context – via the controversial hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) process taking place within shale deposits located throughout the U.S. This “prize” is shipped from the multitude of domestic shale basins in pipelines to various coastal LNG terminals, and then sent on LNG tankers to the global market.

The firm: National Economic Research Associates (NERA) Economic Consulting, has a long history of pushing for deregulation. Its claim to fame: the deregulation ”studies” it publishes on behalf of the nuclear, coal, and oil/gas industry – and as it turns out, Big Tobacco, too.

Alfred E. Kahn, the late “Father of Deregulation,” founded NERA in 1961 along with Irwin Stelzer, now a senior fellow and director of the right-wing Hudson Institute’s Center for Economic Policy.

The NERA/Obama DOE LNG export economic impact study, released in early-December 2012, concluded that exporting the U.S. shale gas bounty is in the best economic interest of the country. The commenting period for that study closes today at 4:30 PM EST.

This conclusion drew metaphorical hisses from many analysts, including prominent shale gas market economist and former Wall Street investor Deborah Rogers, who now maintains the blog Energy Policy Forum. Her critique cut straight to the very foundation of the study itself, stating that “economic model[s] are only as good as their inputs.”

She proceeded to explain,

In fact, it is neither difficult nor unusual for models to be designed to favor one outcome over another. In other words, models can be essentially reverse engineered. This is especially true when the models have been commissioned by industries that stand to gain significantly in monetary terms. Or government agencies which are perhaps pushing a political agenda.

Beyond its history working as a hired gun for the fossil fuel industry, NERA also has deeper historical roots producing “smoke and mirrors” studies on behalf of the tobacco industry. The long view of the firm’s past is something NERA would likely rather see “go up in smoke,” forever buried in the historical annals. But that would be a disservice to U.S. taxpayers since NERA continues to receive government contracts to produce tobacco-era disinformation to this day.

NERA and the “Tobacco Playbook”

Many fossil fuel industry public relations flacks learned the tactics of mass manipulation by reading the “tobacco playbook,” meticulously documented in Naomi Oreskes’ and Erik Conway’s classic book, “Merchants of Doubt.”

Doubt is our product,” a tobacco industry CEO once said of the playbook, “since it is the best means of competing with the ‘body of fact’ that exists in the minds of the general public. It is also the means of establishing a controversy.”

NERA Health “Benefits” of Smoking

The University of California-San Francisco’s Tobacco Archives reveal NERA worked on behalf of the tobacco industry dating back at least to 1986.

A May memo from that year written by then NERA Vice President William B. Shew (who now works at the previously mentioned Hudson Institute as an Adjunct Fellow alongside NERA Founder, Irwin Stelzer) addressed to Arnold & Porter attorney Thomas Silfen says the tobacco industry should aim to explain the so-called health “benefits” of smoking.

Most studies don’t explain “the satisfactions that induce smokers to put up with health hazards,” Shew explains in the memo. “This imbalance would be rectified by looking at the satisfaction derived from smoking.”

At the time of the internal memo’s publication, Arnold & Porter served as national counsel for Philip Morris.

A memo published in 1988 by Silfen posits that Big Tobacco has an obligation going forward to overcome its “long agony over health issues–to get the industry out of the ‘it hasn’t been proven’ trap once and for all.”

Attempt to Defeat L.A.’s Restaurant Smoking Ban

Working alongside public relations industry giant Ogilvy-Mather and the Tobacco Institute, NERA also attempted to defeat the then-proposed smoking ban in Los Angeles County in 1990, the Tobacco Archives reveal.

SourceWatch details that the Tobacco Institute hired Ogilvy ”to provide public affairs consulting services aimed at helping the Instutitute fight cigarette excise taxes, public smoking restrictions and to help with coalition building issues,” proceeding to explain that it helped to “devise ad campaigns to take the public’s focus off the health hazards of secondhand tobacco smoke.”

Among other accolades, Ogilvy helped BP rebrand itself ”Beyond Petroluem,” a propaganda campaign which won the corporation nowinfamous for its Gulf Coast oil disaster the PR Week ”Brand of the Year” in 2001. Critics at the time called it a case of “greenwashing.”

Yet in the end, it was a case of “too little, too late” for NERA, Ogilvy and the Tobacco Institute.

In 1990, San Luis Obispo, CA “became the first city in the world to ban indoor smoking at all public places, including bars and restaurants,” according to the San Francisco Gate. By 1998, California adopted these regulations as the law of the land statewide.

NERA Offers Philip Morris Advertising Analytics

In 1992, tobacco giant Philip Morris hired NERA to analyze whether cigarette advertisements made an impact on consumption habits. This came during a time when the industry faced sharp scrunity for whitewashing the dangerous health impacts of smoking in its ads.

Given this premise, it’s no shock NERA concluded that the concerns about the effectiveness of Big Tobacco’s advertising charm offensive were overblown.

“The issue of whether cigarette advertising has had any effect on cigarette consumption per adult in Western countries over the last several decades remains uncertain,” NERA explained in the lenghty report now posted on the Tobacco Archives. “However, it seems clear that advertising has had at most a minor effect, if any, on consumption per adult.”

NERA/Philip Morris’ War on OSHA and Maryland Workplace Smoking Regs

Later, in 1994 and 1995, the Tobacco Archives also reveal that NERA served as a contractor for Philip Morris (now owned by Altria Group), taking the fight to an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) proposal to implement regulations for smoking on the job.

OSHA proposed banning smoking everywhere within the workplace except for in small, desiginated and isolated lounges.

Dr. Albert L . Nichols authored a Dec. 1995 NERA economic study contracted out by Philip Morris which critiqued OSHA regulations. That study predictably concluded that OSHA’s regulations were “draconian” in nature, suggesting OSHA relied on “patently ludicrous” economic assumptions.

While NERA/Philip Morris waged its battle against OSHA, NERA also devoted itself to fighting back against Maryland’s state-level workplace smoking regulations.

A Feb. 1995 Associated Press article quotes Nichols saying that cigarette sales in Maryland “could fall by $27 million” on an annual basis if the regulations are implemented.

Much to NERA’s chagrin, a month later, the proposed regulations became Maryland state law.

Should Firm with Big Tobacco Roots Be Trusted?

The Sierra Club is skeptical of the Obama DOE’s choice of NERA as the contractor to perform the fracked gas LNG export study. The Club just filed a Freedom of Information Act request to ascertain exactly how the Department went about choosing NERA for its “study” that will play a large part in shaping the future of global energy markets.

“Deciding to export the U.S. gas supply is a major public decision,” Deb Nardone, director of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Natural Gas Campaign, said in a press release. “We deserve a full and fair conversation about it. That’s why we deserve to know how and why DOE picked this anti-environmental, pro-corporate consultant for this crucial report.”

With easily apparent deep-seated roots dating back to the halcyon days of Big Tobacco, the DOE’s NERA selection begs the question: Can one view the NERA/Obama DOE economic findings on LNG exports as anything but a deeply cynical PR ploy?

Steve Horn is a Madison, WI-based freelance investigative journalist and Research Fellow at DeSmogBlog.

US: Two major new studies on smoking and mortality

Two new US studies examining smoking and mortality are published today in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The findings from one of the studies indicated that the relative risk from dying of a smoking related death has grown substantially for women and is now at a level almost identical to that of men. For men, their risk of dying has plateaued and is sustained at the high levels previously witnessed in the 1980’s.

The second study, utilising data from the US National Interview Survey between 1997 and 2004, revealed that people who smoke take at least a decade off their overall life expectancy.

However, the research also found that stopping before the age of 40 eliminated 90% of the overall risk of a smoking associated death.

The conclusions from these American studies are almost identical to that of similar research conducted last year by researchers from Oxford.

Commenting on the finding in women to the BBC, lead researcher of the Oxford Study, Prof Sir Richard Peto, said: “If women smoke like men, they die like men.”

Source: USA Today, 23 January 2013
Smoking could be reduced by standardised packaging of tobacco products says study
The introduction of tobacco in standard packaging would see a significant reduction in the number of adult smokers in the UK, a new study has postulated.

The researchers also believe that the number of children trying smoking for the first time would be reduced from 27% to 24%.

The study was conducted by the University of Cambridge and harnessed the expert opinion of academics from the UK, Australasia and North America to try and gauge the potential impact of standardised packaging.

The research is published in BMC Public Health today.

Source: News Medical, 24 January 2013
Spain: Implementation of smoke-free legislation reduces the number of acute myocardial infarctions by 11 percent
A Spanish study has found that the incidence of acute myocardial infarctions in the country’s province of Girona has decreased by 11% since the introduction of smokefree legislation.

A public smoking ban was introduced in 2006.

The study, published in PLoS ONE, found that the decrease was especially prevalent in women and those aged between 65 and 74.

Source: Medical Xpress, 23 January 2013

Experts believe plain packaging of tobacco products would cut smoking

Public release date: 23-Jan-2013
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Contact: Genevieve Maul
University of Cambridge

Study examined likely impact on smoking rates in adults and children

Experts believe that plain packaging of tobacco products would cut smoking, a new study has found. Tobacco control experts from around the world estimate that two years after the introduction of generic packaging the number of adult smokers would be reduced by one percentage point (in the UK – from 21 to 20%*), and the percentage of children trying smoking would be reduced by three percentage points (in the UK – from 27 to 24%*). The Cambridge research was published today in the journal BMC Public Health.

Because Australia, the first country to implement plain packaging, only did so in December of last year there is no quantifiable evidence as of yet. Therefore, scientists have used the next best option, the expertise of internationally-renowned tobacco control specialists from around the world.

For the study, 33 tobacco control experts from the UK (14), Australasia (12) and North America (7) were recruited. Professionals in these regions were targeted because these countries are currently considering (or have recently implemented) plain packaging for tobacco products. They were then interviewed about how plain packaging – packaging without brand imagery or promotional text and using standardised formatting – might impact the rates of smoking in adults and children.

The experts estimated that plain packaging would reduce the number of adult smokers by one percentage point (on average) two years after the introduction of plain packaging.

Professor Theresa Marteau, Director of the University of Cambridge’s Behaviour and Health Research Unit, who led the study, said: “Currently, approximately 10 million** adults in Britain smoke. A one percentage point decline – from 21% of the population to 20% – would equate to 500,000 people who will not suffer the health effects of smoking.”

More impressively, they believe that generic packaging would reduce the percentage of children trying smoking by three percentage points (on average) two years after plain packaging is introduced.

Dr Rachel Pechey, first author of the study from the University of Cambridge’s Behaviour and Health Research Unit, said: “Given that the majority of smokers first try smoking in adolescence, the impact on children is of particular importance. Nicotine dependence develops rapidly after lighting up for the first time, even before the user is smoking once a week.”

The tobacco control experts indicated that plain packaging would reduce the numbers of children trying smoking because they expect younger people to be more affected by less appealing packs, less brand identification, and changes in social norms around smoking. This ties in with previous research that has described three ways in which plain packaging may reduce smoking rates, particularly among youth – by reducing the appeal of packs, by increasing the salience of health warnings and by standardising pack colour.

Pechey added: “Despite the consistency of experts’ predictions that plain packaging would reduce smoking rates, many participants felt that the two-year time frame we used was insufficient and did not allow for the full impact of the packaging. This suggests generic packaging could have a greater impact over a longer term period, as the impact on young people starting smoking feeds through into the adult smoking statistics.”

Professor David Spiegelhalter from the University of Cambridge Centre for Mathematical Sciences added: “Expert elicitation methods can guide policy makers by quantifying uncertainty where no direct evidence exists.”

The UK government recently conducted a public consultation on the possible introduction of a plain packaging policy for tobacco products (from April to August 2012). It is estimated that treating diseases caused by smoking costs the NHS £2.7 billion a year.***


For additional information please contact:

Genevieve Maul
Office of Communications
University of Cambridge
Tel: direct, 44-1223-332-300
Mob: 44-7774-017-464

Notes to editors:

1. The paper:

‘Impact of Plain Packaging of Tobacco Products on Smoking in Adults and Children: An elicitation of international experts’ estimates’ was published online by BMC Public Health.

2. External statistics:

* UK smoking prevalence rates used in the study from: Smoking and drinking among adults, 2009: A report on the 2009 General Lifestyle Survey (Adults); Smoking, Drinking and Drug Use among Young People in England in 2010 (Children)

Smoking prevalence rates for North America were: Adults: 17.5%; Children 21.6% (Tobacco Use in Canada: Patterns and Trends, 2011 Edition) and for Australasia: Adults: 18% (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. 2010 National Drug Strategy Household Survey report); Children: 21.1% (Australian secondary school students’ use of tobacco, alcohol, and over-the-counter and illicit substances in 2008)

**2010 General Lifestyle Survey, ONS; see


3. Funding:

The Behaviour and Health Research Unit (BHRU) is funded by the Department of Health Policy Research Programme as the Policy Research Unit in Behaviour and Health (PR-UN-0409-10109). The Department of Health had no role in the study design, data collection, analysis, or interpretation. The final version of the report and ultimate decision to submit for publication was determined by the authors. The research was conducted independently of the funders, and the views expressed in the paper are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the Department of Health.

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Copyright ©2013 by AAAS, the science society.

Biomarkers of secondhand smoke exposure in automobiles

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