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February 13th, 2013:

World leaders must ‘take tobacco much more seriously’ to achieve development goals

World leaders must ‘take tobacco much more seriously’ to achieve development goals

February 13, 2013 in Addiction In order to cut premature death rates, the world’s politicians need to focus on “simple measures” like anti-tobacco policies, cutting salt levels in food, and improving access to affordable heart disease drugs, according to experts writing in The Lancet today.

The report focuses on preventing ‘non-communicable’ diseases, or NCDs – i.e. cancers, heart disease, strokes, chronic lung diseases, and diabetes. Rates of these diseases – which are often linked to lifestyle – are set to soar across the developing world in coming decades. According to recent estimates, 34.5 million people died from NCDs in 2010, representing two-thirds of the 52.8 million deaths worldwide that year. In May 2012, the World Health Organisation (WHO) committed to reducing preventable NCD deaths by 25 per cent by 2025. But in order to make this reality urgent action is needed, the panel of international experts said. The key is to regard health not as a “goal” of development, but “an instrument to bring it about,” according to Sir George Alleyne, Emeritus Director of the Pan American Health Organization and contributor to the report. “Any realistic attempt to make human development sustainable must take NCDs into account.” That means regulating the marketing of tobacco, alcohol, and ‘ultra-processed’ food and drinks, said Professor Rob Moodie from the University of Melbourne. “These companies say they’re part of the solution, but the evidence says otherwise. They should have no role in formulating health policy. Put it this way – you wouldn’t let a burglar change your locks,” he added. According to the report, there is growing evidence that multinational food, drink and alcohol manufacturers are adopting similar strategies to tobacco industry to undermine public health policies. They should thus be similarly regulated, argue the authors. Tobacco is the most important preventable cause of cancer, but the disease is also linked to obesity, high alcohol consumption and poor diet. Policymakers also need to focus on equal access to healthcare, including vaccines and drugs – particularly cheaper generic drugs which could “prevent or treat most NCDs”. Hazel Nunn, Cancer Research UK’s head of evidence and information, welcomed the report. “Cancer is often seen as a disease of the richer world, but just over half of the 12.7 million people diagnosed every year live in less developed countries, and this proportion is rising fast,” she said. “This new report is an important and timely reminder to keep non-communicable diseases high on the global political agenda. Just like the other major NCDs, cancer is a social and economic issue as well as a health issue, and requires strong and joined-up action.” “The Framework Convention on Tobacco Control has given policymakers much-needed guidance in setting national anti-tobacco agendas. This new report suggests that the time may be right to mirror this approach in other areas, particularly alcohol and ‘ultra-processed’ food and drinks,” she added. More information: Non-Communicable Diseases Series 2013. The Lancet (2013).… ble-diseasesJournal reference: The Lancet Provided by Cancer Research UK

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Luther Pendragon no longer working with Philip Morris

Luther Pendragon no longer working with Philip Morris

By Lynsey Barber,, 11 February 2013, 05:20PM

Luther Pendragon has told healthcare clients that it is no longer working with Philip Morris after a number of them questioned its work with the tobacco firm.

Philip Morris: No longer working with Luther Pendragon (Credit: PhotoDisc)

Philip Morris: No longer working with Luther Pendragon (Credit: PhotoDisc)

The agency’s work with Philip Morris was thrown into the spotlight by an article in The Lancet, which urged healthcare organisations to cut their ties, last week.

The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry also went public to say it had dropped the agency in December after learning it worked with the tobacco company.

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society head of public affairs Charles Willis told PRWeek: ‘Luther Pendragon have confirmed that they are no longer working with Phillip Morris International.

‘We are happy with this response and with the work Luther Pendragon have carried out with us. The work that Luther have carried out for their other clients has not conflicted with the joint work between Luther and RPS.’

A spokesperson from the National Pharmacy Association also told PRWeek it understood that Luther Pendragon no longer worked for Philip Morris.

Both pharmaceutical bodies were named in a letter to The Lancet from senior healthcare professionals urging healthcare organizations to sever their links with PR companies ‘that work to promote the interests of the tobacco industry.’

It named a number of healthcare organisations as former clients of Luther Pendragon. However some of the organisations named, including the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, National Pharmacy Association and the All Party Parliamentary Group on Pharmacy are current clients of the agency.

Luther Pendragon acts as the APPG on Pharmacy’s secretariat, on behalf of the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee, the National Pharmacy Association, the Company Chemists Association and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society.

The chair of the group Kevin Barron MP and vice-chairs Baroness Cumberlege and Oliver Colvile MP, had not responded to a request for comment at the time of publication.

Prior to the revelation that Luther Pendragon had ceased working with Philip Morris, a spokesperson for the Association of Optometrists and the Federation of Opthalmic and Dispensing Opticians, also mentioned in the Lancet piece, said while it had worked with Luther Pendragon in the past, ‘it had not in fact for the past two years’.

A spokesperson said ‘We were unaware of the connection and very much support any action to discourage smoking and on tobacco products labelling, especially with regard to ophthalmic public health.’

St George’s Healthcare NHS Trust also said it had not worked with Luther Pendragon since 2010 when it used the agency for a project brief around branding when the trust was merged.

On Friday it responded to enquiries on Twitter questioning its relationship with the agency, saying ‘We always endeavor to ensure that our suppliers uphold the values of the NHS’ and that ‘the trust has no existing plans to commission any services or other support from Luther Pendragon.’

A spokesperson for the trust said it had received a number of enquiries from the public about its work with Luther Pendragon.

NHS Skills for Health, a company licensed by the Department of Business Innovation and Skills also said it had not worked with Luther Pendragon for a number of years.

Philip Morris has been listed as a Luther Pendragon client on the APPC lobby register since 1 June 2012.

Luther Pendragon declined to comment while Phiip Morris confirmed the agency was no longer providing consultancy services to it in the UK

Tobacco smugglers thrive on EU’s eastern border

Published on EurActiv (

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Tobacco smugglers thrive on EU’s eastern border

Published: 12 February 2013

Prohibitive prices of cigarettes and alcohol encourage smuggling, according to participants at a recent conference in Warsaw on smuggling across the EU’s eastern border. EurActiv Poland reports.


The conference ‘Smuggling of goods across the EU eastern border’ took place on 30 January at the European Parliament Information Office in Warsaw.

The event was organised by EurActiv Poland with the support of Philip Morris Poland. It gathered experts from EU and national institutions, think tanks, universities and businesses.

The conference, organised by EurAcitv Poland with the support of the Philip Morris tobacco company, took a look at the draft update of the EU Tobacco Products Directive but expanded the debate to look at wider smuggling issues.

The European Commission proposed larger health warnings on cigarette packets and a total ban on flavourings such as menthol, as part of proposal to update the directive, presented in December. Industry representatives have balked at the draft rules, saying they were illegal.

>> Read: Draft EU rules open door to plain cigarette packs

Cigarette sales in the 27-nation EU have fallen sharply in recent years but – at about 33% – Europe still has a higher proportion of smokers than any other region of the globe, according to data from the World Health Organization.

Speaking at the Warsaw conference, Tadeusz Zwiefka, a Polish MEP from the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP), said the updated directive should be carefully prepared to avoid a further increase in smuggling.

“Instead of contributing to better health of Europeans, the possible rise in smuggling or production of illegal cigarettes from tobacco of unknown origin means that they will be more harmful to health,” he told the participants at the conference.

Moving cigarettes across the eastern border

The EU’s eastern border is the place of choice for cigarette smugglers, who can make easy profits from the price differences with Ukraine, Russia and other Eastern countries. A pack of premium cigarettes costs €5.26 in Belgium, €3.41 in Poland, €1.33 in Ukraine and less than €1.74 in in Russia, and less than €1 in Belarus.

According to data presented by Waldemar Micewicz, head of the Customs Office in Biała Podlaska, in 2010 Polish authorities seized over 700 million illegal cigarettes, the biggest number in the EU.

In the next year Poland was also ranked high in the EU statistics, being surpassed only by UK and Greece.

Micewicz identified many reasons why smuggling is such a common activity. One of the most important is its profitability.

A telling example is also a wholesale price of 500,000 packs, that is, the number that an international road transport, or TIR, vehicle can haul. “In Belarus it stands at €150,000, in eastern Poland – €500,000, in Germany – €1.25 million and in Scandinavia even at €2.5 million,” Micewicz said.

But cigarettes are not smuggled only in trucks. Tomas Kucirek, of the Directorate General for Taxation and Customs Union, said that 50% of smuggling took place via ports and maritime transport.

He added that smuggling of cigarettes brings huge losses to member states. In 2011 they were estimated at €10 billion. ”Smuggling causes losses of revenue and is harmful for producers, retailers and customers,” he said, adding that profits coming from smuggling can be used to finance terrorism.

Antonio Saccone from Department of Risk Analysis at the European border agency Frontex stressed that the scale of the problem is on the rise, giving Latvia as an example. In March-April 2011, 600,000 cigarettes were seized, while in November-December the same year this number rose to 9 million.

Higher prices boost smuggling

According to Marcin Kraszewski of the Polish Chamber of Commerce, the reason behind the increasing smuggling is the prohibitive pricing policy of European states which may lead to the expansion of the black market. That is why this problem should not be considered from the supply side only, but also from the demand side.

This view was supported by Professor Wiesław Czyżowicz from the Warsaw School of Economics. He made reference to the Laffer curve which explains why the prices cannot grow endlessly – at some point the customers will switch to cheaper, smuggled or counterfeited goods.

He also pointed out at another important aspect of the problem, namely the social acceptance of the phenomenon.

New trends in illicit trade

Panellists pointed out that smuggling is not a static activity – it evolves and develops.

Micewicz drew attention to the growing fragmentation of the smuggled quantities. While earlier the average seizure was of 200 packs of cigarettes, now it has dropped to 50 packs.

This was explained by the increasing profitability.

Saccone added also that smugglers are better organised. He described the discovery of a 700-metre tunnel on a Slovak-Ukrainian border. He estimated its ‘cost’ at €1 million.

Not only cigarettes are smuggled

According to speakers, cigarettes are not the only products that are smuggled across the eastern border. Gasoline, alcoholic beverages and stolen cars are all being smuggled into the EU.

Smuggling is not limited to the eastern border. Other European states are also challenged by their leaky borders, speakers said.

Spain and France were named as the countries that are most vulnerable to drug trafficking. Illegal weapons are detected most frequently in Italy, Netherlands, France and Finland.

Bulgaria and Greece were named as the top two countries in terms of smuggling of counterfeited products. Reportedly, the Bulgarian-Turkish border is also the place where the biggest number of attempts of luxury car smuggling was detected.

Panelists pointed out at the need of cooperation and dialogue with third countries – mostly EU’s eastern neighbours – to exchange information about the entities and regulations.


Vygantas Paigozinas, representing the Department of Customs Policy of Lithuanian Ministry of Finance, said his country was increasingly seeking international cooperation to fight smuggling. Task forces were being established, comprising representatives of both national institutions and neighbouring countries. Those helped the exchange of information as well as the cooperation on a regional level.

Another method described by Paigozinas was the installation of automatic number plate recognition systems and scanning equipment. Such equipment was placed not only on the EU external borders but also on the internal ones, aiming at curbing the transit of illegal goods.

Paigozinas called for setting up a special EU fund to help such cooperation, as well as for simple rules for granting such support.

MEP Tadeusz Zwiefka (EPP, Poland) presented legislation currently being prepared by the European institutions.

The first one is the Directive on the Freezing and Confiscation of Proceeds of Crime. It envisages the possibility of freezing assets before the final judgement of the court is issued.

”It is a very bold approach but it seems to be inevitable” – Zwiefka commented. He added that such a solution has been introduced in some countries, e.g. Serbia, and is very effective.

The second project presented by the Polish MEP is the European Investigation Order in Criminal Matters. In Zwiefka’s words, it should simplify the rules of collecting evidence, limit the grounds for refusal of issue and set deadlines for them to be carried out.

Professor Wiesław Czyżowicz from the Warsaw School of Economics suggested a technical solution to fight counterfeit cigarettes– placing signs indicating the legality of the products which would allow tracing the chain form the producer to the consumer.

Millions more spent on tobacco illnesses than quit services

Millions more spent on tobacco illnesses than quit services

The Irish Heart Foundation is calling on the State to start spending more money on quit services as National No Smoking Day is marked today.

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TODAY IS NATIONAL No Smoking Day – and the Irish Heart Foundation is calling on the State to start spending more on helping people quit smoking.

It said that the State spends 100 times more on tobacco-related illnesses than quit services, and that this needs to change.

IHF Head of Advocacy, Chris Macey, said that by putting more resources into quit services, the Government could significantly reduce the daily toll of 14 deaths from tobacco-related illness and the rate of 36,000 smokers who are admitted to hospital each year with tobacco related illness, whilst also saving money on a huge scale.


Currently, tobacco-related illnesses cost the State up to €2 billion a year – €2,000 for every smoker in Ireland. However, the IHF estimates that less than €15 million euro is spent on helping Ireland’s one million smokers to quit. That’s €15 per person.

The vast majority of this money goes towards medications. Macey told

We’re not that sure why there is a disparity. The effect is the impact of smoking on health is absolutely massive. If you take it in context, smoking kills more than the next six biggest causes of preventable deaths put together.

He described it as a “health catastrophe on an enormous scale” that is costing a lot of money.

The system is waiting until after the health crisis for the individual happens before it deals with the problem. It is dealing with it too far down the road. All we are saying is some of that spending should be moved forward and if you do that you can save lives on a big scale. The point is smoking cessation services at least double the chances of a person quitting.

According to Macey, most smokers want to quit, but people need support. He said that smoking cessation services around the ocuntry are “patchy”, being good in some places but poor or non-existent in others.

Frontline issue

“What we want is to try and urge the Government to develop standardised services to treat this as a frontline issue,” said Macey.

The suspicion we have is spending on things like smoking cessation is one of the first things to go when cutbacks are made. What we need is we need a recognition of that. We need it to have the same protection that frontline services have.

Macey said that GPs and other health professionals could have a bigger impact on smoking cessation in Ireland, and that money needs to be spent in this area. He said that the system for smoking cessation, which is delivered through hospitals by the HSE, needs to be developed and the network needs to be stronger.

There is also a big role for advertising, and the IHF would like to see more money spent in this area.

If you are thinking about quitting, the National Quitline is run by the HSE and the Irish Cancer Society, at 1850 201 203. The website also contains information on how to quit and where to access support during this time.

Greens slam Future Fund over big tobacco

Greens slam Future Fund over big tobacco

10:07am February 13, 2013


The Australian Greens have again raised concerns about the Future Fund investing in tobacco companies.

The government-owned fund, run by an independent board, has investments of $221 million in 15 tobacco companies, a Senate Estimates hearing was told on Tuesday.

It last purchased tobacco stock in May 2012 in the Czech Republic division of Philip Morris.

Greens deputy leader Adam Bandt said it was “outrageous” taxpayers’ money was being used this way.

“Public money should not be invested in tobacco companies,” he told reporters in Canberra on Wednesday.

Labor backbencher Graham Perrett said he was personally uncomfortable with the fund buying tobacco stock.

“Personally I would love every Australian investment to be a moral investment,” he said.

“That would happen in a perfect world, unfortunately when it comes to return on capital the world ain’t perfect.”

It was important the fund made decisions at arms-length from politicians, the MP said.

“We don’t get Graham Perrett making investment decisions, heaven help us if we did,” he said.

The Future Fund in November announced its governance committee was reviewing tobacco sector investments.

Future Fund’s return to tobacco

Future Fund’s return to tobacco

THE Future Fund has invested in another tobacco company, at the same time as a board committee of the $84 billion fund is conducting a review of its exposure to the sector.

In Senate estimates yesterday, Future Fund managing director Mark Burgess said the new investment, believed to be worth $200,000, was in the Czech unit of Philip Morris.

This had taken the number of tobacco stocks held by the fund to 15, although the value of its exposure to the controversial sector had fallen from $231 million to $221m. Asked by Greens senator Richard Di Natale if he was aware that the Czech Republic was the only country not to have signed the World Health Organisation’s framework convention on tobacco control, Mr Burgess said he didn’t follow each stock in the Future Fund’s portfolio. He said the investments were made at the discretion of the fund’s external managers.

Senator Di Natale also drew the committee’s attention to a study commissioned by the Czech company that found public finances could be boosted by the tobacco industry, despite the harmful impact on the health of cigarette smokers.

The study, he said, had concluded revenue from tobacco taxes was greater than the cost of health care for smokers.

He asked Mr Burgess if the fund’s environmental, social and governance (ESG) policy — which rules out investments in companies making landmines — was actually “pretty useless”.

The Future Fund chief said the board’s ESG committee had announced a review of tobacco investments in November, and the review was continuing.

“We believe (the policy) is world’s best practice,” he said.

Mr Burgess was also questioned about the increase in the fund’s costs from about $50m in 2007-08 to $417m last year.

He said this was due to the increase in the size of the fund from $60bn to $84bn, and the investment of its endowment, which was mostly in cash, in a range of asset classes.

The external managers also had to be paid fees.

In his opening remarks, the Future Fund chief said the question for long-term investors was whether the strong recent returns in markets were sustainable, given the fiscal challenges in the US and other countries.

“On balance, we believe that, in general, markets offer reasonably prospective long-term returns, albeit that considerable uncertainty remains,” he said.

Variable and potentially fatal amounts of nicotine in e-cigarette nicotine solutions

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