Clear The Air News Tobacco Blog Rotating Header Image

April 5th, 2013:

Obama to use tobacco tax to fund pre-school

April 5, 2013 11:30 pm

Obama to use tobacco tax to fund pre-school

By James Politi in Washington

Barack Obama is planning to raise taxes on tobacco to fund a plan to provide pre-school education to all American four-year-olds, a senior administration official said on Friday, as more details on next week’s White House budget emerged.

“This proposal would give all our kids the best start early in life, and save hard-working families thousands each year in childcare costs,” the official said. It was “fully paid for in this budget by raising taxes on cigarettes and other tobacco products”.

The federal excise tax on cigarettes in the US is $1.01, and was last raised in early 2009 as part of one of the president’s first pieces of legislation to provide health cover for uninsured children.

Obama administration officials have not yet specified how high they would like to see the tobacco tax raised, though it might have to be substantial to cover the cost of the education proposal. Analysts have estimated the plan could cost $10bn or more over 10 years.

The proposal was one of several disclosed by senior administration officials on Friday. Telephone: 020 7404 0242

Anger as tobacco firm contests benefits of plain packaging

Tobacco giant Japan Tobacco International will today launch a public campaign contesting the evidence behind the Scottish Government’s proposals to introduce standardised packaging.

The tobacco manufacturer plans to release correspondence from 2011, obtained by freedom of information, which they claim indicates officials in Whitehall were unsure whether the new law would have an impact on cutting smoking rates.

Since this date however there has been further research and the Scottish Government says there is now “strong evidence” that standard packs will be beneficial in reducing smoking, especially in young people.

Japan Tobacco International was reprimanded by the Advertising Standards Authority earlier this year for an advertising campaign which similarly challenged the evidence behind the proposal.

Source: The Independent, 07 April 2013

‘Business fears’ cast cloud over future of artificial cigarettes

The Times reports that a decision over the regulation of electronic cigarettes will now be delayed. The government’s drug regulator, the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, had been expected to make an announcement this spring but is not currently in a ready position to make this deadline.

A concern that regulation could stifle the fledgling e-cigarette industry in the UK is believed to be one of the reasons a decision is as yet not forthcoming.

Health organisations have called on the government to properly license such products to ensure their safety and to eliminate the large heterogeneity that exists between such products in the current market.

Source: The Times (subscription required), 08 April 2013

Sutton Council invests in tobacco while asking us to quit smoking (same as our MPFA TRUSTEES)

Sutton Council has come in line for criticism after it was revealed that the local authority has money invested in the tobacco industry as part of its pension fund investments.

Public health responsibilities have now transferred to local authorities in England and there have been calls for councils to disinvest any holdings they might have in the tobacco industry.

Amanda Sandford, research manager for ASH, said: “Sutton Council should join the growing band of other local authorities that have pledged to disinvest in tobacco and to place their pension funds in more ethical businesses”.

Source: Surrey Comet, 04 April 2013

Ban cigarettes in cars with kids, fumes MSP Jim Hume

Jim Hume, Liberal Democrat MSP for the Borders, has proposed a members’ bill in the Scottish Parliament to ban passive smoking in cars that are carrying children.

Announcing the decision, Mr Hume criticised the fact that private vehicles remain one of the last remaining places that young children can be exposed to second hand smoke.

Source: The Southern Reporter, 08 April 2013

US: Obama to use tobacco tax to fund pre-school

Barack Obama has announced plans to increase taxes on tobacco in a move that would fund education for all American children of pre-school age.

The fine details of such proposals are as yet unclear but it is expected that the programme would cost $10bn or more over 10 years.

Source: The Financial Times, 05 April 2013
To unsubscribe please go to
For more information ring (020) 7404 0242, email or visit
ASH Daily News and ASH News and Events Bulletin are digests of published news on smoking-related topics.
ASH is not responsible for the content of external websites.
ASH does not necessarily endorse the material contained in this bulletin.

Back from the Cold: Russia Confronts Tobacco

You might have missed it over the winter, but Russia achieved an important public health milestone that deserves applause: It enacted a national law that bans smoking in public places and restricts cigarette sales, joining a growing number of countries in making tobacco control a health priority.

The policy victory was a long time coming.

I recall, working in Russia in the mid- and late 2000s, the sense of gloom that prevailed about the poor health conditions of the population. Indeed, in a report that the World Bank prepared in partnership with the Russian Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization (WHO), we documented that Russians were “dying too young,” the main causes driving this phenomenon, and its enormous demographic, social and economic toll.

It was obvious then, as it is now, that a major culprit of the demographic and health decline in Russia is the widespread use of tobacco, which is linked with the country’s high rates of cardiovascular diseases (some of the world’s highest), many cancers and chronic lung diseases. According to the 2008-10 Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS), there are nearly 44 million smokers in Russia, and almost every Russian is exposed to secondhand smoke in bars and restaurants. One in three Russians is exposed to smoke in the workplace, and it is estimated that smoking claims 330,000-400,000 Russian lives every year.

While Russia ranks number one in smoking rates among countries surveyed, cigarette smoking is the single most preventable cause of disease and death in the country. And the future disease burden will be influenced by the already high rates of smoking in adolescents and young adults of both sexes in the country.

By the late 2000s, the rising cost to public health from smoking could no longer be ignored. From the highest offices in the Kremlin and the State Duma, to the Ministry of Health, regional governments and civil society, a consensus begun to emerge about the need to combat the tobacco epidemic as part of a broader effort to improve the poor health conditions of the population.

The stark reality underlying this shift was that mortality among Russian men had increased by 60% since 1991 — four to five times higher than the European average — contributing to the precipitous decline in life expectancy among males, to a low of 58 years in 2004 from the peak of 65 years in 1964, while women lived 14 years longer.

Although male life expectancy has risen in recent years to 63 years and life expectancy for women is now 75 years, poor health conditions, alongside declining fertility below replacement levels, have led to a significant decline in the total size of Russia’s population, from 148 million in 1991 to 141 million in 2011. Annual productivity loss from smoking-related premature mortality was estimated to reach US$ 24.7 billion, or more than 3% of the GDP, in 2008. Additional losses from morbidity and health care expenditures related to smoking compound this loss.

The growing political and social momentum toward addressing Russia’s high burden of preventable illness contributed to the decision by the Russian government to ratify in April 2008 the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), a global treaty adopted by the 56th World Health Assembly in 2003, which has now been signed by 168 countries covering close to 90% of the world’s population.

And on February 23, 2013, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a long-awaited, comprehensive law that will ban smoking in most public places and restrict cigarette sales in the world’s second-largest tobacco market after China (Russia’s tobacco market was estimated to be worth US$22 billion in 2011). The law, which will ban smoking on municipal transport, at railway stations, in lifts, bus stations and administrative buildings, as well as in health facilities and schools beginning June 1, 2013, will come into full force in 2014, covering other venues such as ships, long-distance trains, train platforms, hotels, cafes and restaurants. It will also ban sales of tobacco products at street kiosks, restrict advertising, and set minimum prices for cigarettes, which now cost less than US$2.

On this year’s World Health Day, celebrated on April 7, the Russian people and the global health community should rejoice. The enactment and implementation of this momentous law puts Russia on the right side of public health history. Its measurable benefit in years ahead will be less ill health and disability, countless lives saved, and a more productive and healthy population.

To paraphrase Boris Pasternak in his timeless novel Dr. Zhivago, perhaps “Mother Russia is on the move, she can’t stand still, she’s restless and can’t find rest” — hopefully until the tobacco curse is overcome.