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January, 2014:

Global Mail: Big Tobacco’s Lawsuits Of Mass Destruction

from Michael Sofi, reporting for the Global Mail:

If Big Tobacco’s ongoing legal onslaught against the Australian government is intended to intimidate other countries considering plain-packaging laws, it’s not working. Not according to the architect of Ireland’s incoming plain-pack scheme, at least.

“It makes me more determined,” Irish Health Minister Dr James Reilly tells The Global Mail.

“It indicates to me that the tobacco industry know [plain packaging] is going to work, and that’s why they fear it.”

Draft legislation modelled on Australia’s plain-packaging laws was approved by the Irish cabinet in November, clearing the way for a bill to be introduced into Ireland’s national parliament, the Oireachtas, early next year.

It follows a surprise announcement on November 28 by British Prime Minister David Cameron, of an independent inquiry into the effectiveness of Australia’s laws, with a view to implementing similar legislation in the UK before 2015 national elections. In July this year, PM Cameron had appeared to abandon the tobacco-control measure.


Julia Gillard: Tobacco’s ugly truth must be uncovered

Julia Gillard, former Prime Minister of Australia, writes for the Guardian:

A family friend recently told me the story of her parents, who migrated from Greece to Australia in the 1950s. They settled in rural South Australia, where her father earned his living as a fisherman. A huge storm hit and he went missing for three days. When he finally returned safely, his wife was overjoyed – but the stress of the event did not leave her. In broken English, she consulted the local doctor and asked him about how to settle her nerves. In an age of innocence, he advised her to take up smoking. She died of lung cancer.

Al Gore, who self-effacingly told us in his movie, An Inconvenient Truth, that he was the man who “used to be the next president of the United States”, recalled a similar story. He and his older sister worked summers on the family’s tobacco farm. She took up smoking as a teenager and died of lung cancer. “My father, he had grown tobacco all his life. He stopped it,” Gore said. “Whatever explanation that seemed to make sense in the past just didn’t cut it anymore.”

Australia’s health minister and then attorney general Nicola Roxon introduced plain packaging of cigarettes and then went on to fight an epic legal battle against big tobacco. She won in August 2012. The tears cried were of joy, mingled with relief.

Since 1 December 2012, cigarettes packets in Australia do not sparkle with gold or silver and do not have any other way to catch and please the eye. They’re a uniform drab colour, with most of the box taken up with the most graphic health warnings. Gruesome pictures of disease perhaps better described as real pictures of the ugly truth.

Australian plain packaging for cigarettes. (PA/Guardian)

Evidence is already available: plain packaging works. Smokers are more likely to consider giving up, and they’re also more likely to think the quality of their cigarettes has diminished. Research also shows that when young people look at plain cigarette packs, they believe the product is used by people who are less stylish and sociable, and not as attractive to mimic. This helps break the cycle of attracting young “replacement” smokers progressively taking the place of those older smokers who have quit or, too often, died.


Daily Liberal: Owners of NSW eateries happy with smoking ban

from Kim Bartley, reporting for the Australian Daily Liberal:

With barely a huff or a puff, customers of salad run in Dubbo’s Macquarie Street have accepted owner Sharon Campbell’s decision to ban smoking at outside tables.

The business is among eateries across the Western NSW Local Health District being encouraged to get ahead of new legislation banning smoking in alfresco dining areas from July 6, 2015.

Health promotion officers are reported to be working with businesses and communities to “serve up fresh air in the interests of good taste and healthier lives”.

“Taking smoke off the menu is another positive step in the success story of tobacco regulation in Australia, creating healthier environments, healthier people and a less stretched hospital system,” health district promotion manager Lyndal O’Leary said.

Miss Campbell did not need nudging by the health district.

She came to Dubbo from Melbourne, thinking NSW had already followed Victoria in stubbing out smoking in outdoor dining areas.

When the doors of salad run opened she began dissuading customers from lighting up outside.

“I have only had one person say to me ‘How can you have coffee without a cigarette?’, ” she said.

“My customers can now enjoy their lunch break without having to inhale secondhand tobacco smoke and put up with unsightly cigarette ash and/or butts.”

Miss Campbell said she was “definitely not losing customers” because of the stand.

Owner of salad run in Dubbo, Sharon Campbell, enjoys sitting in the business's smoke-free alfresco dining area. (Louise Donges/Daily Liberal)

The health district reports that businesses “expect to see improvements as a result of this change, as they are catering to an increasing majority of the public who don’t smoke or are in the process of quitting”.

More than 80 per cent of the population do not smoke.

The ban effective from the middle of 2015 represents the “last stage” of amendments to the Smoke-Free Environment Act 2000.

This year the act was amended to stop smoking within 10 metres of children’s play equipment in an outdoor public place; in open areas of swimming pool complexes, and spectator areas of sports grounds or other recreational areas during sporting events.

Smoking is also prohibited at public transport stops and stations, including rail, tram, ferry and taxi, and within four metres of a pedestrian entrance to a public building, such as a shopping centre.

5 Dec 2013


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New statistic model forecasts the effect of tobacco consumption on childhood asthma

published by the Universitat Barcelona:

A scientific study recently published on International Journal of Statistics in Medical Research states that tobacco consumption must be decreased by 15% in Spain, particularly at home, in order to reduce the number of childhood asthma cases. The research is signed by professors Toni Monleón-Getino and Martín Ríos, from the Department of Statistics of the UB, and experts Oriol Vall, Carme Puig, Òscar Garcia-Algar and Antonella Chiandetti, members of the Childhood and Environment Research Group of the Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute (IMIM).

Asthma is the most common chronic illness during childhood and adolescence in industrialized countries. Several factors have been proposed to explain asthma. It affects between 10% and 17% of children and teenagers in Spain. There is no treatment to cure this illness which may decrease considerably patients’ quality of life. Although its prevalence has been increasing over the last 40 years in many countries, no statistical or simulation model existed to forecast the evolution of childhood asthma in Europe.

SCMP: Customs seize smuggled cigarettes worth over HK$10 million

from the SCMP (AFP):

Customs officers apprehend smugglers carrying cigarettes in cross-border transport vehicles

Hong Kong customs seized nearly four million cigarettes, worth over HK$10 million, in a two-week operation aimed at stifling smuggling in the territory, officials said on Saturday.

Authorities arrested seven people aged between 23 and 63 in the operation, which started in mid-December.

“Two cross-boundary vehicles conveying illicit cigarettes were seized and five illicit cigarette storage points were smashed,” a government statement released on Saturday said.

Customs said that almost 90 per cent of the seized cigarettes were found on two vehicles crossing the border from the mainland into the city.

Some of them were found in concealed spaces within containers carried by the vehicles.

“The total market value was estimated at HKD$10 million,” the statement said of the cigarettes.

“It was believed that the suspected illicit cigarette syndicate had been smashed,” the statement added.

A picture released by the government showed packs upon packs of the seized cigarettes being displayed with brands including Marlboro and Chinese manufactured Double Happiness, among others.

Smuggled cigarettes worth nearly HK$10 million were seized by customs in the last major operation in November.

Cigarette smuggling has been on the rise in Hong Kong. A total of about 38 million cigarettes were seized in the first 11 months of last year, compared to 27 million in the same period in 2012.

The territory is prone to cigarette smuggling due to its land border with the mainland.

Under Hong Kong laws, the maximum penalty for smuggling is a fine of HK$2 million and a seven-year jail term.

4 Jan 2013

New e-cig ad pushes the line: Friends don’t let friends smoke but vaping is OK

2014 is expected to be the Year of the E-cig, as manufacturers race regulators to the wire

Friends don’t let friends drive drunk. And now, a new ad campaign tells us they don’t let them smoke either. Ah, but there’s a catch, as the NJoy ad has it: Friends do let friends vape.

“For everything friends do for each other,” a voiceover says. “This new year return the favor. Friends don’t let friends smoke. Give them the only electronic cigarette worth switching to: the NJoy King.” It concludes with the tagline: “Cigarettes, you’ve met your match.”

Marketers are expecting 2014 to be the Year of the E-cig, as Big Tobacco moves into the business in a big way. And the NJoy ad takes more than a few leaves from Big Tobacco’s playbook.

Most obviously, it glorifies vaping, just as the Marlboro Man, before he succumbed to lung cancer, epitomized the rugged outdoorsish qualities of Marlboros.

It also comes tantalizingly close to making health claims for e-cigs, which could get a not-so-pleasant reaction from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other agencies that regulate advertising, since the clear implication of the NJoy ad is that puffing away on an e-cig is healthier than smoking a traditional tobacco cigarette.

It’s illegal to make health claims that are not substantiated by scientifically sound evidence, which so far is somewhat scant in the case of electronic cigarettes. The NJoy ad is playing the same game Big Tobacco played for years, before broadcast tobacco advertising was finally banned altogether — surrounding its products with happy, healthy, spirited young people.

“We do not advertise e-cigs as a smoking cessation device,” a company spokesman said in a statement to AdAge, an advertising trade journal. “However, a unique aspect of the NJOY video is that we are appealing to the friends & loved ones of smokers — asking them to leverage the fundamental connection and emotional bond of love that bring us all together and strengthens our trust/intimacy. Everyone can identify with the desire to help our friends & loved ones become the best versions of themselves, and goal (especially in the new year!) to strive to be better versions of ourselves.”

Whether that statement cuts much ice with regulators remains to be seen. Probably the exclamation mark won’t help too much.

Big bucks

Just to be clear, the e-cig industry is not in this for its health, or anyone else’s. Big bucks are at stake. E-cig sales are expected to hit $1.7 billion this year, assuming the FDA doesn’t shut the market down or severely curtail it.

The agency has said for more than a year that it is considering new e-cig marketing regulations, possibly including new rules on television advertising, although an outright ad ban may not be in the cards without Congressional action.

Tobacco TV commercials have been banned for 40 years but the tobacco companies worked to build their brand identities before the ban took effect, and most of the major brands have survived to this day on the basis of history, habit and other forms of advertising and promotion.

Big Tobacco — Altria, Reynolds American and Lorillard — have waded into the e-cig market in a big way and are expected to use the same technique to build their electronic brands before the government bestirs itself.

Tired of waiting for the feds, New Jersey, North Dakota and Utah, among others, have already banned vaping indoors. As one of his final acts, former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg signed a similar measure. But the states and cities have no effective way to control national advertising, so the indoor vaping bans are, at the most, petty annoyances to the e-cig industry.

NACS: China Considers Public Smoking Ban

from the US NACS:

Within the next year, lawmakers are expected to enact a national ban on smoking in public places in China, said Yang Jie, deputy director of Tobacco Control Office for the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

“We can see what is happening in the rest of the world,” Yang told The Wall Street Journal, suggesting China will follow smoking cessation trends of other countries.

China, with more than 300 million smokers, is the world’s largest consumer of tobacco.

Changing China’s current cigarette culture will be difficult. Cigarettes are cheap, with many packs costing less than $1. The World Health Organization last year recommended that China triple its tobacco tax to discourage smoking among youths. Additionally, the current deputy director of China’s State Tobacco Monopoly Administration is the brother of China’s premier.

The Ministry of Health previously issued a ban on smoking in 28 types of public places, but it lacks the authority to enforce the ban.

Several cities have already passed smoking bans in public buildings, but enforcement of laws has also been problematic.

17 Dec 2013

Tobacco Industry Interference Index Article 5.3

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Tobacco health warnings in China


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