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March, 2013:

Young adult women smokers’ response to using plain cigarette packaging: a naturalistic approach



To explore young adult women smokers’ cognitive and emotional response to using dark brown ‘plain’ cigarette packs in natural settings and whether plain packaging is associated with any short-term change in smoking behaviour.


A naturalistic approach. Participants used plain cigarette packs provided to them for 1 week and for 1 week their own fully branded packs, but otherwise smoked and socialised as normal. Participants completed questionnaires twice a week.


The six most populated cities and towns in Scotland.


301 young women smokers were recruited, with a final sample of 187 (62.1%). To meet the inclusion criteria women had to be between the ages of 18 and 35, daily cigarette smokers and provide a breath sample to confirm smoking status.


Pack perceptions and feelings, feelings about smoking, salience and perceptions of health warnings and avoidant and cessation behaviours.


In comparison to fully branded packaging, plain packaging was associated with more negative perceptions and feelings about the pack and about smoking (p<0.001). No significant overall differences in salience, seriousness or believability of health warnings were found between the pack types, but participants reported looking more closely at the warnings on plain packs and also thinking more about what the warnings were telling them (p<0.001). Participants reported being more likely to engage in avoidant behaviours, such as hiding or covering the pack (p<0.001), and cessation behaviours, such as foregoing cigarettes (p<0.05), smoking less around others (p<0.001), thinking about quitting (p<0.001) and reduced consumption (p<0.05), while using the plain packs. Results did not differ by dependence level or socioeconomic status.


No research design can capture the true impacts of plain packaging prior to its introduction, but this study suggests that plain packaging may help reduce cigarette consumption and encourage cessation in the short term.


UK children see millions of TV tobacco images every week

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Cancer Research UK-13 Mar 2013

Television schedules are exposing children to millions of images of tobacco use, or implied use, every week, new UK research has revealed

Board of Health ups Walpole tobacco sale age to 19

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Wicked Local-3 hours ago

The Board of Health voted unanimously Tuesday night to raise the local age of sale for tobacco products from 18 to 19 years old.

Colorful Way Tobacco Industry May Be Skirting Labeling Rules

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TIME-15 Mar 2013

In 2010, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned the tobacco industry from using descriptors like “light,” “low” or “mild” to label

Tobacco Industry Dodging Product Labeling Rules In Colorful Ways

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The Inquisitr-12 hours ago

Before the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) regulation inhibited tobacco manufacturers in the US from using misleading terminology

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ASA rules Japan Tobacco ads “misleading”

Wed, Mar 13 2013

LONDON (Reuters) – The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has ruled that adverts run by Japan Tobacco’s Gallaher last year were “misleading”, in an increasingly bitter battle between tobacco firms and anti-smoking campaigners over plain packaging.

Gallaher, which owns brands like Silk Cut and Hamlet and was bought in 2007 by Japan Tobacco, ran a series of British newspaper adverts in 2012 arguing against the adoption of plain cigarette packs.

The adverts were challenged by pressure group Action on Smoking and Health and charity Cancer Research UK, who said the adverts made misleading claims, a complaint that the ASA said on Tuesday it was upholding.

Australia ruled last year that cigarettes and tobacco must be sold in plain packets without branding, a move that is being watched closely by Britain and other countries.

Such a move would likely impact hardest on sales of premium brands, where companies are seeing strongest growth.

Britain passed a law in 2008 to ban the display of cigarettes at the point of sale, but held back from insisting on plain packaging.

In its adverts, Gallaher said that “the policy was rejected in 2008 because there was no credible evidence”.

However, the ASA said that readers were likely to interpret that to mean that the government had decided in 2008 to abandon the proposal of plain packaging and not plan to revisit it.

The regulator said that it understood that the government was keeping the measure under review and planned to re-assess it at a later date, though.

“We therefore considered that the claims in the ads that the policy had been ‘rejected’ in 2008 because of a lack of credible evidence gave a misleading impression of the position and action taken at that time by the government,” it said.

It said that the adverts must not reappear again in their current form.

Japan Tobacco said it was “disappointed” by the ASA’s ruling.

“Whilst we disagree with the ASA’s decision, we will not use the advertisements in question again,” it said in a statement.

“We also disagree with those who it appears wish to close down this debate and will continue to express our concerns.”

Some media reports have said Britain will introduce plain packaging this year and will announce the measure in May.

Japan Tobacco said it believed no decision has been made.

(Reporting by Rosalba O’Brien, editing by Paul Casciato)

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News for 07 March 2013


Tobacco shares fall on possible UK regulation

Tobacco company shares fell in trading on Wednesday following the news that the UK government may follow Australia’s lead and impose plain packaging for cigarettes.

See also:
– Imperial Tobacco Slides on News of U.K. Plain Packaging Law, Bloomberg
– Tobacco stocks suffer on plain packaging fear, City AM

Source: Yahoo!/AP – 06 March 2013

Lords gather evidence on the proposed revision of the Tobacco Products Directive

The House of Lords Home Affairs, Health and Education EU Sub-Committee conducted enhanced scrutiny of the EU’s proposed revision of the Tobacco Products Directive on Wednesday 6 March.
Source: GovToday – 06 March 2013

U.K. still mulling plain cigarette packaging, official says

The U.K. government is still considering proposals to make plain packaging compulsory for tobacco products, Prime Minister David Cameron’s spokesman said after the Guardian reported that the country will follow Australia in introducing such a law as early as May.

“A process of consultation has been going on,” Jean- Christophe Gray told reporters in London today. “No decisions have yet been taken. On the issue around smoking in cars, there are no plans to change policy in that direction.”

See also:
– Plain packaging could be given green light, Convenience Store

Source: Bloomberg – 06 March 2013

EU: Ombudsman launches investigation into Dalli departure

The European Ombudsman has launched an investigation into the resignation of John Dalli as European commissioner for health and consumer policy, and asked the European Commission to hand over all files relating to his departure.

The investigation follows a complaint made earlier this year by the transparency campaign group Corporate Europe Observatory, which accused the Commission of selectively releasing documents relating to the case and failing to fulfil its obligations under EU transparency laws.

Source: European Voice – 06 March 2013

Fight tobacco marketing, boost vaccinations to curb cancer, says report

Fighting the tobacco industry’s tactics in the world’s poorest countries and ensuring the best vaccines get to those most in need are key to cutting the number of cancer deaths worldwide, according to a report by specialists in the disease published by the journal Science Translational Medicine.

See also:
– Leading scientists sign up to global cancer manifesto, The Guardian
– Measures need to be taken to prevent a billion deaths from tobacco by end of century, Medilexicon

Source: Reuters – 06 March 2013

Mind if I vape?

Millions are “vaping” e-cigarettes and many don’t plan to kick the habit

You’re in a nice restaurant when you look up from your menu and see a fashionably dressed young woman at the next table puffing away on a cigarette. Horrors! Smoking in a restaurant, in this day and age, in violation of who knows how many regulations and ordinances?

But on closer examination you see she is not smoking but “vaping,” enjoying most of the pleasures of smoking without breaking any rules – at least, not yet. That cigarette in her hand is actually an electronic cigarette, an e-cigarette. The smoke is actually water vapor, used to deliver flavored nicotine.

A growing number of smokers are giving up tobacco for e-cigarettes and for the most part, they’re not using them as a way to stop their tobacco habit.

In fact, e-cigarette makers take great pains not to promote these devices as smoking-cessation aids. Were they to do so the products would be considered medicine and fall under the regulation of the Food and Drug Administration. (FDA).

Alternative to tobacco

Instead, consumers are embracing e-cigarettes as an alternative to tobacco cigarettes. They get the same hit of nicotine but avoid the thousands of chemicals found in cigarette smoke.

Electronic Cigarettes Inc. maintains a Facebook page where customers can post comments.

“I just celebrated my 11th month as a non-smoker and I have VaporKing E-Cigs to thank for that,” a customer named Anne wrote.

Note that she’s been vaping for nearly a year and apparently doesn’t miss cigarettes. It also sounds like she has no intention of kicking the vaping habit anytime soon.

That’s what makes e-cigarettes such a booming business. Consumers aren’t using them for a few months to ween themselves from cigarettes, then ending their use of the product. They enjoy vaping and apparently plan to keep doing it. After all, vaping is a lot cheaper than smoking.

“I just reordered the Vapor King after losing mine in a move,” a customer named Patrick posted on the Electronic Cigarettes Facebook page. “Ill be paying off my Camaro with the savings and funding my new hobbies!”

Saving money

He’s not exaggerating. A pack of cigarettes can be more than $6 these days, thanks to the heavy federal and state taxes that are designed to discourage smoking. But these taxes also provide a significant revenue stream for governments. At least, until now.

A consumer who once smoked a pack of cigarettes a day but switches to e-cigarettes can literally save thousands of dollars a year. Governments, meanwhile, stand to lose billions.

Another reason smokers are gladly becoming vapers is they are no longer social outcasts, huddled in the cold outside a building getting a quick smoke. With e-cigarettes they can enjoy the ritual of smoking, along with the nicotine rush, in a restaurant, bar or other public place.

Anti-smoking groups

All of this has not escaped the notice of health advocates and anti-smoking groups, who are only now grappling with this new phenomenon. Some have raised questions about the health effects of vaping.

“The FDA is concerned about the safety of these products and how they are marketed to the public,” FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg said recently.

She expressed concern that e-cigarettes can increase nicotine addiction among young people and may lead kids to try other tobacco products, including conventional cigarettes. The World Health Organization said in 2008 that there’s no evidence that e-cigarettes are harmless, but as yet, no solid evidence that they cause harm.

If, in the future, anti-smoking groups present studies suggesting e-cigarettes are harmful, you can expect vapers to present their own research that suggests they aren’t.

Vapers have their own organization, the Consumer Advocates for Smoke-free Alternatives Association (CASAA), which recently began raising money to fund health reseach on e-cigarettes. It doesn’t plan to sit by while the same curbs that were placed incrementally on tobacco are placed on e-cigarettes.

“CASAA will continue to be the leader in political actions to stop state and local anti-THR in the USA, and increasingly we are taking political action at the federal level,” the group said in a statement. “We will also continue to provide education internationally through our websites and other activities.”

Vapers appear to be passionate on the subject. When ConsumerAffairs recently reported on an anti-smoking group’s attack on e-cigarettes, it produced a number of reader comments in defense of e-cigarettes.

“Find out how many people have quit smoking with these,” a reader named Jason posted. “Find out how many lives have been saved by electronic cigarettes. Tell people how well other smoking cessation devices work.”

A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that about 21% of adults who smoke traditional cigarettes had used e-cigarettes in 2011, compared with about 10 percent in 2010.

Overall, about six percent of all adults have tried e-cigarettes, with estimates nearly doubling from 2010. The study is the first to report changes in awareness and use of e-cigarettes between 2010 and 2011.

While the jury is still out in the U.S., several countries, including Australia, Brazil and Canada have banned e-cigarettes while others have placed restrictions on their sale and use.

Borg signals compromise possible on tobacco additives

Borg signals compromise possible on tobacco additives

EU Tobacco Products Directive, Tonio Borg

EXCLUSIVE / The Commissioner for health and consumer affairs has signalled that European tobacco producers may include additives in Burley tobacco, offering East European tobacco producers a compromise that could enable them to continue production.

In an interview with EurActiv, Borg said finding replacement jobs for workers left unable to grow tobacco any more following the introduction of new rules was not the responsibility of his department.

“It is not directly my responsibility,” he said adding: “If you look at the other side: the cost to health systems and the loss to the economy resulting from tobacco use are huge.”

Borg is the successor to John Dalli, who resigned last year in the midst of an anti-fraud investigation linked to industry lobbying over the revision of the EU’s Tobacco Products Directive.

Nevertheless Borg signaled that one possible area for compromise lay in the issue of additives, which would be curtailed under the new rules.

European states such as Romania, Bulgaria and Portugal retain significant Burley tobacco production.

Burley tobacco needs more additives than Virginia

In August 2011, Hermanus Versteijlen, director of the economics of agricultural markets at the European Commission, told EurActiv that the rules forbidding the addition of sugars and flavours to Burley tobacco could result in comparably large losses to the European market.

“Because the main competitor to Burley – Virginia tobacco – does not lose sugar during the drying process, and therefore requires fewer additives,” Versteijlen explained.

Borg acknowledged in the interview that “there are certain questions which need to be clarified to allay certain fears”.

“For example characterising flavours in tobacco products will be prohibited, but not all flavours or additives will be prohibited. So the fear that certain tobacco would be prohibited because you cannot add to them is not correct,” the commissioner said, directly addressing the fears of burley producers.

“The definitions of [additives] will be determined by experts appointed within the individual member states, and supervised by the Commission. There we can find compromises so long as there is a basic understanding that tobacco should look and taste like tobacco,” he said.

Borg acknowledged that he anticipated resistance to the tobacco directive update, saying “it is criticised by those who say we have gone too far, and by those who want us to go further”.

“We are in the middle of the road, which means it is a reasonable, balanced proposal”, he added, saying that jobs will also be created by the savings resulting from the new rules.

Horsemeat and labelling

On the horsemeat scandal, Borg said: “It is not a health or food safety issue but one of food labeling. It is a serious breach; but it is a labelling infringement.”

Borg said that the Commission would endeavour to complete a report on food labelling – which it had begun conducting before the scandal broke – as soon as possible and before the end of the year.

“The question is whether all other animal products should be labelled for origin, but this horsemeat scandal would have happened just the same because it was a false labelling issue, a fraud,” the Commissioner said.

Borg said tighter penalties for the horsemeat fraud ought to reflect the effects of their actions across the whole single market.

Next steps:

  • 2013: Tobacco directive update to be debated by European Parliament and European Council

Jeremy Fleming

External Links

EU Official Documents

NGOs and international organisations

Electronic cigarettes growing in popularity

About one in five adult cigarette smokers has tried one

If you are a cigarette smoker, would you give up the real thing for one of those electronic jobs? A lot of people have tried them.

A study released the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that about 21% of adults who smoke traditional cigarettes had used e-cigarettes in 2011, compared with about 10 percent in 2010.

Overall, about six percent of all adults have tried e-cigarettes, with estimates nearly doubling from 2010. The study is the first to report changes in awareness and use of e-cigarettes between 2010 and 2011.

Moving to e-smokes

During 2010–2011, adults who have used e-cigarettes increased among both sexes, non-Hispanic whites, those aged 45–54 years, those living in the South, and current and former smokers and current and former smokers.

In both 2010 and 2011, e-cigarette use was significantly higher among current smokers compared to both former and never smokers. Awareness of e-cigarettes rose from about four in 10 adults in 2010 to six in 10 adults in 2011.

“E-cigarette use is growing rapidly,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, MD, MPH. “There is still a lot we don’t know about these products, including whether they will decrease or increase use of traditional cigarettes.”

Is it safer?

Although e-cigarettes appear to have far fewer of the toxins found in smoke compared with traditional cigarettes, the impact of e-cigarettes on long-term health must be studied. Research is needed to assess how e-cigarette marketing could impact initiation and use of traditional cigarettes, particularly among young people.

“If large numbers of adult smokers become users of both traditional cigarettes and e-cigarettes — rather than using e-cigarettes to quit cigarettes completely — the net public health effect could be quite negative,” said Tim McAfee, MD MPH, director of the Office on Smoking and Health at CDC.

British singers criticised for taking tobacco money

Joss Stone, Craig David and Lisa Stanfield under fire for appearing at Indonesian music festival sponsored by cigarette firm.

Joss Stone in 2012

8:17AM GMT 01 Mar 2013


Joss Stone, Craig David and Lisa Stanfield have been criticised for promoting the aims of “Big Tobacco” by agreeing to perform at Indonesia’s Java Jazz Festival, which is sponsored by one of the country’s largest cigarette companies.

The event’s main sponsor is Djarum, the country’s third biggest tobacco company. More than 100,000 people are expected to attend the festival in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta and all three British singers are scheduled to perform on a stage promoting one of Djarum’s leading brands.

Research shows that more than 200,000 people a year die in the country from smoking-related disease and Amanda Sandford, research manager for Action on Smoking and Health, told the Independent newspaper: “For decades the tobacco industry has used sponsorship to promote its brands to impressionable young people. Most countries have now banned this and in response, the industry has focused on exploiting the lack of regulation in countries like Indonesia.

“The fact that musicians and entertainers are willing to take Big Tobacco’s money adds to the problem. We call on all entertainers to make a public commitment not to accept tobacco money and to withdraw from any existing contracts.”

David, who last month signed a new deal with Universal records and is due to set out on a world tour, rejected the claims, saying he promoted healthy living and was against smoking but legislation against tobacco was a matter for the Indonesian authorities. The British singers do not have a direct deal with Djarum and the Independent reported that representatives of Lisa Stansfield declined to comment and publicists for Joss Stone did not respond to requests for comment.

Tobacco Firms Save $1 Billion With Kitty Litter in Cigars

By Anna Edney – Mar 1, 2013 1:01 PM GMT+0800.

A dozen tobacco companies have gained from a legal loophole that helped them avoid as much as $1.1 billion in U.S. taxes.

Their secret: Using fillers such as the clay found in cat litter or stuffing the products with more tobacco to tip the scales in their favor. The heavier weight let the companies sidestep a 2,653 percent increase in a federal excise tax, taking advantage of a 2009 law that spared so-called big cigars.

There were 22 companies producing small cigars in the year before the law created the new tax structure, according to data from the Treasury Department’s Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. Twelve of those companies, none of which the government would name, either switched to or increased production of large cigars in the year following the law, the bureau found.

“It shows what length the tobacco companies will go to avoid taxes and regulation that were designed to improve public health without regard to their customers,” Danny McGoldrick, vice president of research at the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids in Washington, said in a telephone interview. “They should equalize the tax to stop the shenanigans.”

The practice has contributed to a doubling in sales of the weightier tobacco products and slowed a decade-long decline in tobacco use. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in an Aug. 2 report blamed sharp increases in adult consumption of pipe tobacco and cigarette-like cigars since 2008 on the 2009 law “that created tax disparities between product types.”

Durbin Legislation

The Government Accountability Office estimated in an April report that “market shifts from roll-your-own to pipe tobacco and from small to large cigars reduced federal revenue by a range of” $615 million to $1.1 billion from April 2009 through September 2011.

U.S. Senator Dick Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, introduced legislation Jan. 31 to close the loophole. The bill would equalize the tax structure so there wouldn’t be an incentive to manipulate products, generating $3.6 billion in new tax revenue over 10 years, Christina Mulka, a spokeswoman, said by e-mail.

The loophole appears to have mainly benefited smaller tobacco companies. Reynolds American Inc. (RAI), the second-biggest U.S. tobacco company, doesn’t operate in that market, David Howard, a spokesman for the Winston Salem, North Carolina-based company, said in an e-mail.

Altria Group Inc. (MO), the largest seller of tobacco in the U.S., said its John Middleton Co. unit had already been selling large cigars with its Black & Mild line before the change in the law. The company didn’t have to make any shifts in how it formulates the cigars, which mostly are wood or plastic tipped and come as singles or in packs of two or five, David Sylvia, a spokesman for Richmond, Virginia-based Altria, said by phone.

Customer Demand

Prime Time International Co., a closely held tobacco company, sells some of its large cigars and flavored cigars in 20-count packs, similar to regular cigarettes. Closely held Cheyenne International LLC, based in Grover, North Carolina, also specializes in smaller-sized cigars that have a similar look and design of cigarettes.

Jack Wertheim, chairman of Phoenix-based Prime Time, said shifts into the “large” cigar market are about responding to customer demands. The company sells large and small cigars to satisfy customers who prioritize taste and quality and appease those who want a lower-priced product, he said.

Prime Time isn’t saving on taxes, and any savings would be passed to the customer, Wertheim said.

Current rules require a rolled tobacco product to weigh at least 3 pounds per 1,000 to be labeled as a “large” or “premium” cigar, a category where taxes increased just 155 percent.

Nothing Illegal

The Treasury Department said tobacco companies aren’t doing anything illegal by making their products heavier.

“If you meet the definition of a large cigar, then you’re a large cigar,” Thomas Hogue, a spokesman for the tobacco bureau, said in a telephone interview. “There’s nothing in the Internal Revenue code that goes after the specifics on how that weight is achieved.”

Hogue wouldn’t provide the names of the tobacco makers switching to heavier products.

Cheyenne was found to make two kinds of cigars that look like cigarettes yet weigh enough to be taxed as big cigars. One of the two has a regular fiber filter; the other has filters made of white fiber cylinders surrounding a granular clay substance.

X-Ray Tests

Jim Pankow, a chemistry professor at Portland State University in Oregon, published the first measurements of how addictive nicotine is when delivered by tobacco smoke. He agreed to conduct X-ray diffraction tests on the weightier Cheyenne product on behalf of Bloomberg News and found the clay filters were made of sepiolite. The weighty mineral is used for absorption in waste treatment, industrial cleaners and pet litters, according to the European Industrial Minerals Association.

“They’re making products that are classified as cigars that are designed almost exactly like cigarettes,” Pankow said in a telephone interview.

The vast majority of Cheyenne’s cigars that are considered large began marketing in 2007, said Marc Scheineson, a partner at Alston & Bird LLP in Washington who is regulatory counsel for the tobacco company. He didn’t say when the company’s heavyweights hit shelves. He said less than 3 percent of the company’s sales come from little cigars and heavyweights.

The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau reviewed Cheyenne’s products to determine which excise class they fit in, he said.

“You can look at this as a loophole or tax planning or a way to perpetuate job growth or small business continuity,” Scheineson said in a telephone interview.

Filter Choice

British American Tobacco Plc (BATS)’s Kent cigarettes used a similar micronite filter at one point. The London-based company said it moved the cigarettes to charcoal filters long ago.

“The decision regarding whether to use charcoal or micronite filters is simply down to taste and currently, charcoal filters are used in Kent cigarettes in the vast majority of international markets where the product is sold,” Will Hill, a spokesman for the company, said in an e-mail.

Filtrona Plc (FLTR), a maker of cigarette and cigar filters, said its sepiolite-based Cavitec Flavour product is one of many specialty filter types. Altogether they represent about 17 percent of the Milton Keynes, U.K.-based company’s total filter sales globally, Melanie Hulbert, a spokeswoman, said in an e- mail. Filtrona wouldn’t reveal its customers’ names, citing confidentiality agreements.

FDA Oversight

In addition to avoiding some taxes, cigars also sidestep a ban on flavored cigarettes. Cheyenne’s heavyweight products come in wild cherry flavor, while their other cigars can be bought in flavors such as grape and vanilla.

The result is that while cigarette smoking — the leading preventable cause of death in the U.S. — continued an 11-year downward trend, large cigar smoking tripled from 2000 to 2011 and loose tobacco pipe smoking has jumped almost sixfold, the CDC said last year in a report.

Sales of large cigars more than doubled to 1 billion units a month in September 2011, from 411 million when the law took effect in January 2009, the GAO said. At the same time, small cigar sales dropped to 60 million from 430 million.

The FDA, which was given the authority by Congress in 2009 to regulate tobacco, primarily cigarettes, is now looking to broaden its rules.

The agency is “moving as expeditiously as possible to release for public comment a proposed rule to regulate additional categories of tobacco products,” Jennifer Haliski, an agency spokeswoman, said in an e-mail.

The FDA is scheduled to release a proposed rule by April, the federal Office of Management and Budget, which oversees all regulation development, said on its website.

To contact the reporter on this story: Anna Edney in Washington at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Reg Gale at; Jodi Schneider at

Tobacco cuisine on display at Cuba Cigar Festival

Submitted by Anonymous on Mar 1st 2013, 7:16am

News›Hong Kong

PETER ORSI (Associated Press)

HAVANA (AP) — Tobacco: It’s what’s for dinner.

A team of Croatian chefs whipped up a pungent meal Thursday, infusing the flavor of the tobacco leaf synonymous with Cuba into baked stone bass filets, bread and butter, a rich demi-glace sauce, even ice cream.

The result was a tangy heat that one taster likened to ancho chili powder, and a powerful finish with all the nicotine kick of a chubby Montecristo cigar.

“Wow, buzz city!” said Gary Heathcott, a public relations worker from Little Rock, Arkansas, who also writes for Smoke magazine. “The first buzz I ever received from biting into fish.”

Grgur Baksic, owner and executive chef of the Gastronomadi dinner club in Zagreb, led the demonstration before a standing-room-only crowd of aficionados at a Havana convention center as part of Cuba’s 15th annual Cigar Festival.

It’s a six-day bash that brings together hundreds of cigar sophisticates from around the world, and culminates Saturday night with a gala and auction of humidors worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.

A dozen cameras following their every move, Baksic and two other chefs carefully wrapped the bass filets in tobacco and banana leaves, with a sprinkling of garlic and honey to draw out the smoky flavor.

As the mild white fish baked for about a half hour, they demonstrated how stirring tobacco sauces into butter can create a sharp spread for bread and crackers, and used a torch to dry out liquid-infused tobacco salt that can be employed in just about any dish.

“It’s like how you can put chili on a sweet or a sour, you can put honey on a fish and on a fruit and on a meat,” Baksic said. “Something that is good is always good. You cannot make a mistake.”

Baksic said Thursday’s demonstration was the result of two years of trial and error. He said they unsuccessfully tried American, European and African tobacco varieties before settling on Cuban tobacco, which he called the finest in the world. The chefs warned tasters not to eat the leaves themselves, which would be hard on the stomach.

Why tobacco?

“Why rosemary? Why chili? It’s about variety,” Baksic said. “We are a little bit crazy. Our company are gastro-explorers, so we are always looking for what … is not normal for other people.”

Some at the demonstration found the ice cream, a creation by Italian chef Bruno Luciani, overwhelming. What started out as a smooth, milky sweetness soon set throats on fire.

“I think they (nonsmokers) might find it a bit strong, and also they might actually get high,” said James Suckling, an American food, wine and cigar critic living in Hong Kong. “So probably in small doses they might find it amusing.”

Suckling, like other cigar aficionados sitting on a 16-member tasting panel, gave the meal good reviews, however.

“At first I didn’t really get much flavor and I thought it wasn’t up to much,” he said. “But then I started tasting the fish … and it has a very spicy, almost intense black-pepper taste. And then you get the nicotine and it’s like you’ve been chewing tobacco.”

Heathcott put it more succinctly: “It grabs you by the throat.”


Peter Orsi on Twitter: [1]

Source URL (retrieved on Mar 1st 2013, 7:43pm):


Cost biggest reason to quit smoking

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