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September, 2013:

Teens flock to e-cigs, usage more than doubles in one year

More than 75% of teen e-cig users smoke conventional cigarettes too

Manufacturers of electronic cigarettes — or e-cigs — like to say the devices help smokers quit while also dissuading non-smokers from taking up the tobacco-smoking habit.

But data published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest the claims may be a smokescreen. The percentage of U.S. middle and high school students who use e-cigarettes more than doubled from 2011 to 2012, according to the findings from the National Youth Tobacco Survey.

The survey is likely to provide ammunition to critics who say the federal government is not moving quickly enough to regulate the e-cigs. In April, five U.S. Senators wrote to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, urging her agency to issue regulations for the devices. The letter was signed by Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Il.), Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Sherrod Brown (D-Oh.) and Jack Reed (D-R.I.).

The FDA has left no doubt it intends to regulate e-cigs. The only questions are when and how.

“These data show a dramatic rise in usage of e-cigarettes by youth, and this is cause for great concern as we don’t yet understand the long-term effects of these novel tobacco products,” said Mitch Zeller, director of FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products. “These findings reinforce why the FDA intends to expand its authority over all tobacco products and establish a comprehensive and appropriate regulatory framework to reduce disease and death from tobacco use.”

Britian began regulating e-cigs in June, treating them as non-prescription medicine, allowing them to be sold widely by retailers but empowering the government to enforce quality and purity standards.

The CDC survey found that the percentage of high school students who reported ever using an e-cigarette rose from 4.7 percent in 2011 to 10.0 percent in 2012. In the same time period, high school students using e-cigarettes within the past 30 days rose from 1.5 percent to 2.8 percent. Use also doubled among middle school students.

Altogether, in 2012 more than 1.78 million middle and high school students nationwide had tried e-cigarettes.

Lifelong addiction

“The increased use of e-cigarettes by teens is deeply troubling,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “Nicotine is a highly addictive drug. Many teens who start with e-cigarettes may be condemned to struggling with a lifelong addiction to nicotine and conventional cigarettes.”

The study also found that 76.3 percent of middle and high school students who used e-cigarettes within the past 30 days also smoked conventional cigarettes in the same period.

In addition, 1 in 5 middle school students who reported ever using e-cigarettes say they have never tried conventional cigarettes. This raises concern that there may be young people for whom e-cigarettes could be an entry point to use of conventional tobacco products, including cigarettes.

“About 90 percent of all smokers begin smoking as teenagers,” said Tim McAfee, M.D., M.P.H., director of the CDC Office on Smoking and Health. “We must keep our youth from experimenting or using any tobacco product. These dramatic increases suggest that developing strategies to prevent marketing, sales, and use of e-cigarettes among youth is critical.”

No proof

Although some e-cigarettes have been marketed as smoking cessation aids, there is no conclusive scientific evidence that e-cigarettes promote successful long-term quitting, the FDA noted. However, there are proven cessation strategies and treatments, including counseling and FDA-approved cessation medications.

Cigarette smoking remains the leading preventable cause of dis­ease, dis­ability, and death in the United States, responsible for an estimated 443,000 deaths each year. And for every one death, there are 20 people living with a smoking-related disease. To quit smoking, free help is available at 1-800-QUIT NOW or

Hong Kong going backwards on tobacco control Ignoring WHO mPOWER guidelines on excise tax increases

CTA NEW logo mask with text-1

This Government is too tobacco friendly

7,000 smoking related preventable deaths per year

Ignores WHO mPOWER guidelines

Data source : HK Customs and Excise department

Tobacco excise revenue


Preventative tax

Sticks (billion)

Sticks per month



no excise increase





no excise increase





no excise increase





50% excise increase





no excise increase





41.45% excise increase





no excise increase



(projected) 2013


no excise increase



Stick consumption comparison

Cost of tobacco-related diseases, including passive smoking, in Hong Kong 1999

2013 UP 13.48% above 2006 levels

Per annum cost to society

HK$ 73.32 billion

(includes loss of life)

2013 UP 5.28% above 2009 levels

2013 UP 5.65% above 2011 levels

Mortality and smoking in Hong Kong

2013 UP 4.33% above 2012 levels

Download PDF : 2013JulyEXCISETAXEFFECT(1)

Customs smashes illicit cigarette smuggling case in Man Kam To

Customs smashes illicit cigarette smuggling case in Man Kam To

Hong Kong (HKSAR) – Hong Kong Customs yesterday (September 2) mounted a special operation to combat the smuggling of illicit cigarettes through the cross-boundary logistics network and seized about 0.43 million sticks of illicit cigarettes from a cross-boundary vehicle. The total market value of the cigarettes was about $1.1 million with a duty potential of about $0.73 million. In the operation, a 48-year-old male driver was arrested and the vehicle used for conveying the illicit cigarettes was seized.

Around noon yesterday, Customs officers at Man Kam To Control Point intercepted an incoming cross-boundary vehicle declared to have 463 boxes of assorted goods on board.

After X-ray examination and thorough inspection by Customs officers, about 0.43 million sticks of illicit cigarettes were found in 72 carton boxes, mix-loaded with other goods and concealed at the rear of the lorry.

The Divisional Commander (Man Kam To) of Land Boundary Command, Mr Fok Wing-siu, said at a press conference today (September 3), “The operation showed the effectiveness of our enforcement strategy, especially the stepped-up enforcement actions against smuggling activities at source. Customs will continue to undertake stringent enforcement against illicit cigarettes activities in order to protect government revenue.”

Under the Import and Export Ordinance, smuggling is a serious offence. The maximum penalty is a fine of $2 million and imprisonment for seven years.

Members of the public are urged to report suspected illicit cigarette activities by calling the Customs’ 24-hour hotline 2545 6182.

Source: HKSAR Government

Illicit trade of cigarettes costs exchequer Rs20 billion a year

Euromo­nitor and FBR offici­als say market is floode­d with smuggl­ed, non-duty paid brands in absenc­e of law enforc­ement.

Published: September 1, 2013

Study by Euromonitor and FBR official say market is flooded with smuggled, non-duty paid brands in absence of enforcement.


Pakistan has been ranked as one of top three countries in the Asia Pacific region where illicit trade of cigarettes has been increasing due to multiple reasons, including the Federal Board of Revenue’s preference for manual approach to digital mapping. This is causing roughly Rs20 billion a year loss to the national exchequer.

In absolute terms, the amount may not seem big enough to raise concern, but is significant when seen in the context of tax evasion going on under the (loose) noose of the authorities. In financial year 2011-12, the cigarette industry contributed about Rs66 billion to the exchequer on account of excise duties and sales tax, as it remains one of the highly-taxed industries.

Two studies by Euromonitor International – a global research agency – and Directorate of Intelligence and Investigation (I&I) of Inland Revenue Division of the FBR have estimated losses of around Rs20 billion per annum in tax revenue, where 85% is because of tax evasion, due to illicit cigarette trade.

The estimates are based on total production of tobacco, its consumption in cigarette manufacturing, evasion of duties on account of smuggled, counterfeit cigarettes and non-duty paid cigarettes.

In its report on cigarette industry of Pakistan, issued earlier this year, the Euromonitor estimated that Pakistan has lost Rs80 billion worth of duties and taxes in the last five years and is expected to lose another Rs100 billion in the next five years.

The study showed that cigarette sales continued to drop in 2011 as sales of illicit cigarettes rose. A lack of strong enforcement of laws on the part of the government has left the legal market defenceless against illegal players, it continued.

The study said markets across the country are flooded with smuggled cigarette brands, in the absence of any strict enforcement of laws and regulations.

According to Euromonitor International, Pakistan ranked third in illicit cigarette trade in Asia Pacific countries, behind Malaysia and Hong Kong last year.

Ansar Javed, former chairman of the FBR, who also worked to curb cigarette smuggling in his capacity as director general of Directorate of I&I of Inland Revenue, said lack of coordination and lack of transparency in FBR’s affairs was one of the main reasons behind the tax machinery’s inability to crack down on illicit cigarette trade.

He said according to a scientific study by the I&I, tax losses due to cigarette smuggling, counterfeit manufacturing and duty evasions were in the range of Rs18 billion to Rs20 billion per annum.

The solution to the problem was digital mapping of cigarette packaging instead of relying on manual methodologies, said Javed. Parliament has approved a law to allow the FBR to go for digital mapping, but much needs to be done before enforcing the act aimed at curbing the smuggling.

The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) government also worked on a proposal to paste stamps on cigarette packs to identify smuggled, non-duty paid packets for checking tax evasion. However, it could not be implemented.

According to the country’s laws, penalties for the sale of smuggled cigarettes include confiscation of such cigarettes, fine up to Rs50,000, recovery equal to 500% of unpaid taxes and imprisonment up to five years.

According to a top official of the Directorate of Intelligence and Investigations of Customs, both the domestic producers and multinational companies (MNCs) were involved in evading taxes on cigarettes. The MNCs were involved in technical evasion while the local producers were evading duties on counterfeit cigarettes, he added.

He said the Customs does not have the capacity to stop cigarette smuggling on international borders and was trying to curb the menace by raiding on retail shops and warehouses. He said the volume of smuggled cigarettes was less than 5% of the total cigarettes produced, but when compared with consumption of billions of cigarette sticks, the size of evasion becomes abnormally large.

During the second half of 2012, I&I of the Inland Revenue seized millions of untaxed cigarettes. The confiscated cigarettes included both locally manufactured and foreign brands.


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