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August, 2014:



[WASHINGTON, DC] – Eleven Democratic lawmakers from the Senate and the House of Representatives today released a report that shows a dramatic recent increase in the marketing of electronic cigarettes – or e-cigarettes – with extensive resources being dedicated to social media, sponsorship of youth-oriented events, and television and radio advertisements that reach substantial youth audiences. The report, “Gateway to Addiction? A Survey of Popular Electronic Cigarette Manufacturers and Marketing to Youth,” is the first comprehensive investigation of e-cigarette marketing tactics and was compiled using responses from eight e-cigarette manufacturers received by the lawmakers from their investigation into the industry and other publicly available information.

In light of the findings in this report, and following investigative reports recently released by the New York Times and Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, the group of lawmakers once more called on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to promptly issue deeming regulations that would expand the agency’s regulatory authority over tobacco products, including e-cigarettes.

The report was released today by U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), who was joined by U.S. Representative Henry A. Waxman (D-CA), Ranking Member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee; U.S. Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Senate Health Education Labor and Pensions Committee; U.S. Senator John D. Rockefeller (D-WV), Chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee; and U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Jack Reed (D-RI), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR); and U.S. Representative Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ).

The major findings of the report include:

All surveyed e-cigarette companies appear to use various marketing practices that appeal to youth, such as social media outreach, sponsorships of and free samples provided at youth-oriented events, and radio and television advertisements played during events and programs with significant youth viewership.

Six of the nine surveyed e-cigarette companies market e-cigarettes in flavors, like Cherry Crush, Chocolate Treat, Peachy Keen, and Grape Mint, that could appeal to children and teens.

E-cigarette manufacturers have significantly increased marketing spending, more than doubling marketing expenditures between 2012 and 2013. Last year, six leading e-cigarette companies spent a total of $59.3 million on marketing alone.

Six of the eight respondents support some form of regulation, including restrictions on the marketing and sale of e-cigarettes to children and teens.

“Six months ago, with growing public health concerns regarding liquid nicotine and growing e-cigarette use among young people, my colleagues and I reached out to nine leading e-cigarette companies with questions about their distribution and marketing to children and teenagers,” Durbin said. “The answers came back: from candy flavors to rock concert sponsorships, every single company surveyed in this report has employed a marketing strategy that appears to target youth. For years, federal regulations prohibiting tobacco companies from targeting young people have helped to protect a new generation of smokers from getting hooked on nicotine. Now, we must close this new gateway to addiction to protect our children.”

“E-cigarette makers are starting to prey on kids, just like the big tobacco companies,” said Waxman. “With over a million youth now using e-cigarettes, FDA needs to act without further delay to stop the companies from marketing their addictive products to children.”

“This report provides clear evidence that e-cigarette manufacturers are marketing to kids and teens using tactics that would be illegal if these were traditional cigarettes. This should not be a surprise since some of the e-cigarette makers examined are owned by large tobacco companies well-versed in marketing nicotine products to kids and teens,” Harkin said. “The report shows that e-cigarette manufacturers are investing millions of dollars to create a new generation of nicotine addicts—which is shameful and must be stopped immediately. As the Chairman of the Senate committee with oversight of the FDA, I urge the agency to swiftly issue deeming regulations that give the agency the authority to regulate e-cigarettes and to stop these marketing practices that are already illegal for traditional tobacco products.”

“I am deeply disturbed that e-cigarette companies are mimicking tactics that tobacco companies used in the past to glamorize smoking for youth,” Rockefeller said. “Recent reports on rising poison center calls involving e-cigarettes and children under age six is yet another red flag regarding potential health consequences posed by youth exposure to e-cigarette products. No matter what profit may be involved with encouraging young people to use nicotine products, marketing e-cigarettes to kids should be absolutely off-limits.”

The group of lawmakers also recommended several steps that regulatory authorities and e-cigarette companies should take to ensure that children and teens are adequately protected from deceptive advertising practices or unsubstantiated claims. These recommendations include:

E-cigarette companies should take immediate action to prevent the sale of their products to children and teenagers. This should include refraining from the use of television and radio advertisements.

E-cigarette companies should terminate marketing campaigns that target children and teens, including product promotion through social media and event sponsorships intended for youth audiences.

The FDA should promptly issue deeming regulations asserting the agency’s authority to regulate e-cigarettes.

The FDA should issue regulations to prohibit the sale of e-cigarettes to children and teenagers by requiring age verification and face-to-face sales, and by limiting purchases through vending machines.

The FDA should implement restrictions on e-cigarette companies marketing to children and teens, and, where appropriate, should work with the Federal Trade Commission to enforce such restrictions.

The FDA should prohibit misleading product claims on e-cigarettes, and should require clear, uniform labels to inform consumers of the health risks associated with their use.

Following a September 2013 Centers for Disease Control & Protection report that showed a dramatic increase in the use of e-cigarettes among children and youth, twelve members of Congress called on nine e-cigarette makers to provide additional information regarding the sale, distribution, labeling, and marketing of their products to children and teens.

Congressional Authors of E-Cigarette Marketing Report Call New CDC Data the Sound of an Alarm

CDC Study Shows that with E-Cigarette Use on the Rise, Adolescents who Smoke E-Cigarettes are Twice as Likely to Intend to Smoke Traditional Cigarettes

Washington, D.C. – With e-cigarette use among middle and high schoolers still on the rise, nine Members of Congress responded today to a new study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showing that adolescents who had used e-cigarettes were more likely to express intentions to smoke conventional cigarettes than those who had not. Previous scientific studies have shown that intent to smoke cigarettes is a valid predictor of future tobacco use. Earlier this week, the World Health Organization released a report calling for a ban on the use of e-cigarettes indoors, an end to flavored e-cigarettes, and immediate regulation of e-cigarette advertising aimed at youth.

Last year, Members released an investigative report that showed a dramatic recent increase in the marketing of e-cigarettes with extensive resources being dedicated to social media, sponsorship of youth-oriented events, and television and radio advertisements that reach substantial youth audiences. More information is available here.

“If last year’s Centers for Disease Control report on the growing number of kids using e-cigarettes was a call to action, then this new CDC data on the marketing of these dangerous devices is the sound of an alarm,” the Members said. “This study is further evidence that the absence of federal regulation has resulted in an explosion of marketing for e-cigarettes and the number of kids and young adults who want to try smoking them. FDA has an existing mechanism to protect children now, and the scientific evidence has never been clearer: strong regulatory action on the marketing of e-cigarettes to children cannot wait.”

The joint statement was released by: U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), U.S. Representative Henry A. Waxman (D-CA), U.S. Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), U.S. Senator Jay Rockefeller, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), U.S. Senator Edward J. Markey (D-MA), U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and U.S. Jack Reed (D-RI).

The report released by the CDC on Monday found that number of middle school and high school students in the United States who have tried e-cigarettes – but not traditional cigarettes – increased three-fold between 2011 and 2013, reaching more than 260,000 youth. Most troublingly, the report found that those youth who have used e-cigarettes are almost twice as likely to intend to smoke conventional cigarettes.

The new CDC report also produced further evidence that that the more young people report exposure to pro-tobacco advertising, the more likely they are to intend to smoke conventional cigarettes. Thirteen percent of students who said they had no exposures to tobacco ads reported intentions to smoke, compared to 25.6 percent who reported the highest levels of exposure to tobacco advertising. This is especially concerning given a recent study published in the journal Pediatrics, which found that the number of children aged 12 to 17 years exposed to e-cigarette marketing increased by 256% between 2011 and 2013.

This report is a follow-up to a CDC report released last year, which showed a dramatic increase in the use of e-cigarettes among children and youth. That report found that use of e-cigarettes had more than doubled in use among high school students since the 2011-2012 school year.

In total, the report found that 1.8 million middle and high school students nationwide have tried e-cigarettes, and more than 75% of them were also smoking traditional cigarettes.

In response to the information presented in that report, twelve Members of Congress wrote to nine e-cigarette makers asking for additional information regarding the sale, distribution, labeling, and marketing of their products to children and teens.

Using responses the lawmakers received to this letter from eight e-cigarette manufacturers, as well as other publicly available information, the Members released an investigation report entitled “Gateway to Addiction? A Survey of Popular Electronic Cigarette Manufacturers and Marketing to Youth” that showed a dramatic recent increase in the marketing of e-cigarettes with extensive resources being dedicated to social media, sponsorship of youth-oriented events, and television and radio advertisements that reach substantial youth audiences.

The report found that in just two years, from 2012 to 2013, six of the surveyed companies sponsored or provided free samples at 348 events, many of which were music festivals and motorsport events geared toward young people—including Grand Prix auto racing events.

In April, the FDA proposed a rule that would expand the agency’s regulatory authority to regulate e-cigarettes and other liquid nicotine delivery devices. The proposed rule failed to prohibit marketing to minors, the use of flavors, or online sales of e-cigarettes and other nicotine delivery devices to minors.

Earlier this month, thirteen Members of Congress responded to this rule and called on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to take immediate action to protect young people from predatory e-cigarette marketing and distribution tactics that are straight out of Big Tobacco’s playbook. In the letter, the Members asked the FDA to exercise its existing authority and apply the restrictions imposed on combustible tobacco products to limit youth access to e-cigarettes.

Assessing the impact of plain packaging 1 year postimplementation

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Plain packaging leaves smokers with bad taste

A study by Newcastle medical researchers has found since the introduction of plain packaged cigarettes, many smokers are unable to identify the different brands.

The study took place before and after plain packaging was introduced and involved long-term smokers in the Hunter region.

The University of Newcastle study found the introduction of plain packaged cigarettes impacted smokers’ perception of how they taste.

Research associate Ashleigh Guillaumier says many smokers said all cigarettes now taste the same, showing the power branding has had on consumers.

“After plain packs hit the shelves they were saying that they’d noticed a deterioration in both the taste and the quality of their cigarettes,” he said.

“I think this study really shows the power of the branding and that’s one of the reasons why the tobacco industry fought so hard against the introduction of plain packs in Australia.”

15 Jul 2014

Australia wins first battle in plain packaging trade dispute

July 2, 2014

Australia has had a victory in the first step of the plain packaging challenge being played out in an international investment tribunal.

The Permanent Court of Arbitration has ordered that Australia will be allowed to challenge Philip Morris Asia’s right to contest our plain packaging laws, on the grounds that the company only bought shares in its Australian arm so that it could launch the case.

If Australia wins, it could see the legal challenge wrap up far earlier than expected, at far less cost, as well being a blow to corporations that engage in “treaty shopping”, or buying shares in countries to use trade treaties to their advantage.

Jonathan Liberman, the director of the McCabe Centre for Law and Cancer, said the tribunal had essentially decided to agree to the request to split the case in two because they had accepted that Australia’s objections were, on the face of it, ”serious and substantial”.

Australia believes the fact that Philip Morris Asia only acquired its shares in the Australian company 10 months after the government had announced it would implement plain packaging means it does not rightly fall under a trade agreement we have with Hong Kong.

”The Australian Government argues that an investor cannot buy into a dispute by making an investment at the time when a dispute is either existing or highly probable,” Mr Liberman wrote in an update on the case.

In addition, the government believes Philip Morris Asia made ”false and misleading” claims when it applied to buy Philip Morris Australia and filled in a statutory notice explaining why it was intending to do so.

”It argues that the true purpose of Philip Morris Asia’s investment was to place [it] in a position where it could bring the claim once the legislation had been enacted,” he said.

It was on these two objections that the tribunal decided to split the case, hearing them before any full case was to proceed.

“The fact that they have decided they were worth hearing first means they think they have a substantial chance of success,” Mr Liberman said. ”If Australia wins on these grounds, it will set an important precedent. It would send a clear message that this kind of ‘treaty-shopping’ behaviour should not be allowed.”

Professor of health policy at Curtin University Mike Daube said if Australia won, even on jurisdictional grounds, it would inspire confidence in other countries.

”It is clearly in the industry’s interests to keep dragging this process on, because the longer it’s going on, the longer they can say it is under review,” he said, adding the company had tried to have all the hearings held in secret.

”We’ve already had the High Court victory, and as soon as a big international decision goes that will send out a pretty big signal.”

Chris Argent, a spokesman for Philip Morris, said it would be inappropriate to respond to Australia’s allegations outside of the tribunal.

But he said the plain packaging laws entailed the destruction of brands.

“Building a brand is a long-term, significant investment that international law protects from arbitrary government action of exactly the sort at the heart of our claim,” he said. “The forced removal of our brands and trademarks by the Australian Government is a clear violation of the terms of the bilateral investment treaty between Australia and Hong Kong, and we believe we have a very strong case for actual damages that may amount to billions of Australian dollars.”

“The transfer of ownership of the Australian operation to PM Asia occurred long before plain packaging was adopted.”

Plunge in smoking attributed to plain packaging

July 17, 2014

Harriet Alexander

A dramatic decline in smoking rates has coincided with the introduction of plain-packaging laws.

The daily smoking rate plunged from 15.1 per cent to 12.8 per cent between 2010 and 2013, according to the largest and longest-running national survey on drug statistics.

Most people are now 16 before they smoke their first full cigarette, up from 14 in 2010, and 95 per cent of 12 to 17-year-olds have never smoked.

Public health experts say the findings of the National Drugs Strategy Household Survey vindicate plain-packaging laws, which tobacco companies recently claimed to have boosted cigarette sales by leading to a price war.

“It’s almost like finding a vaccine that works very well against lung cancer,” said Simon Chapman, a professor in public health at the University of Sydney.

“It’s that big. This will give enormous momentum to the international push for plain packaging right around the world.”

India and France are considering plain packaging laws. Ireland, New Zealand and Britain have legislation before their parliaments.

The survey of nearly 24,000 Australians was conducted between July and December 2013, before the new 12.5 per cent tobacco tax.

“We know that that tax has a lot of influence over consumption so it’s really important that the data was collected before that,” Professor Chapman said.

“The only thing that happened in the 12 months before that was the introduction of plain packaging laws.”

Geoff Neideck of the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, which conducts the survey every two to three years, said the results were continued a longer trend, which has seen smoking rates halved since 1991.

The plain-packaging laws should be seen in the context of changing attitudes and cultural practices, he said.

Sixteen-year-old Gabe Hutcheon said on Wednesday he had no desire to try smoking.

“My granddad died from it, so I’ll go my whole life without smoking,” he said.

“It’s expensive, but I don’t care about that. All the ads show what it can do.”

The price of the the average packet of cigarettes has been in a steep upward trajectory since 2000.

Gemma Jones, 16, agreed, although she doubted whether the plain packaging was a deterrent.

“If people want to smoke they will do it,” she said. “It’s stupid, smells like shit and it kills people.”

The president of the Australian Council on Smoking and Health, Mike Daube, said they were the best results he had seen in his 40-year career in health policy.

The National Preventative Health Taskforce in 2009 set a target of 10 per cent adult prevalence by 2018.

” I think we are now going to beat that, and once we’re below 10 per cent I think we will see an even faster decline as smoking essentially becomes an abnormal behaviour,” Professor Daube said.

He attributed the figures to effective media campaigns, tax increases and bipartisan political approach to reducing smoking, as well as the plain packaging laws.

“The plain packaging has been a crucial factor in the last two to three years,” he said.

– with Eryk Bagshaw

World Health Organisation says Pacific considering cigarette plain packaging

The World Health Organisation says a number of countries across the Pacific are considering following in Australia’s footsteps and introducing plain packaging of cigarettes.

The WHO is set to join governments across the region in a major drive to make the Pacific tobacco free within 10 years.

The WHO Pacific coordinator of non-communicable diseases, Dr Temo Waqanivalu, says the project will be launched in Honiara in two weeks and plain packaging is among the tactics being considered.

“The actual measure itself is something that’s greatly supported and there are a few countries that are ahead of the game, (they) are actually talking of moving there now,” Dr Waqanivalu told Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat.

“They’ve done the graphic warnings on the packets so the next step after that is to actually move towards plain packaging.”

Dr Waqanivalu says increasing the tax on cigarettes and cracking down on the tobacco black market are the keys to reduce smoking.

“If those two happen, well then especially the young smokers, the youth, they’re the first ones who actually going to begin to quit,” he said.

“Economic ministers should really think seriously about assisting… part of that is facilitating increased taxation on tobacco cigarettes.”

The WHO says Cook Islands has been a leader on reducing smoking, having significantly increased the price of cigarettes with plans for further rises.

“Cook Islands is really exemplary of what we are trying to promote across the Pacific and they’ve done exceptionally well.”

But Dr Waqanivalu says the tobacco industry is fighting back.

“We know the tobacco industry is always at work,” he said. “We see them influencing ministries of health.”

Dr Waqanivalu says the WHO’s plans also involve setting up services to help people quit.

30 Jun 2014

Tobacco companies are the source of over 90% of smuggled tobacco in Ireland

Tobacco companies are the source of over 90% of smuggled tobacco in Ireland: Irish Cancer Society

The Irish Cancer Society has applauded the Revenue Commissioners for the drop in the rate of tobacco smuggling into Ireland but is expressing concern at the revealing statistics* that show that Big Tobacco is the source of 90 percent of cigarettes coming illegally into the country.

Contraband cigarettes, which are manufactured by big tobacco companies are being smuggled into Ireland, usually from countries where tobacco prices are lower, and sold on the black market here at a price much cheaper than legally-sold cigarettes.

“The level of contraband cigarettes coming into Ireland strongly suggests that Big Tobacco is deliberately flooding low tax economies with their own brands which then mysteriously find their way into economies such as the UK and Ireland where the price of cigarettes is kept much higher in order to discourage smoking, especially by children”, said Kathleen O’Meara, Head of Advocacy & Communications.

“However, and despite what Big Tobacco is constantly alleging, the amount of counterfeit tobacco, usually manufactured in China or the Middle East, coming into Ireland is negligible compared to contraband cigarettes”, she said.

“Ireland is not a haven for counterfeit tobacco but instead Big Tobacco allows its own brands to come into Ireland illegally, deliberately to recruit young smokers whom they need to replace quitters and those dying from smoking.”

In the UK, investigations by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) have led to a drop in the rate of smuggled contraband cigarettes from 31 per cent in 2003 to 6 per cent in 2010.

“Why then is the rate of contraband cigarettes in Ireland a staggering 91.7 per cent according to Revenue figures?

“We are asking for an investigation into why the level of contraband is so high in Ireland and specifically we want the supply chains of these contraband cigarettes investigated. This has happened in the UK where it has been proven that tobacco companies themselves are complicit in allowing their own brands into illegal supply chains”, said Ms O’Meara.

An investigation into the tobacco industry showed that in Ukraine in 2008, the four biggest manufacturers produced and imported 30 billion more cigarettes than what the local market can consume. This 30 billion then disappeared bound for the black market in Western Europe.

“It’s time for the government to wake up to the double talk of the tobacco industry which on the one hand lobbies hard against price increases, claiming that it encourages smuggling, while at the same time allowing its own product into the illegal markets”, she said.

*Revenue Commissioners, “Cigarette Consumption Survey 2013”, concludes “of the 12% of packs classified as illegal, 11% were classified as contraband and 1% as “illicit whites”. No counterfeit packs were recorded in the survey.”

Framing Pictorial Cigarette Warning Labels to Motivate Young Smokers to Quit



The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act requires new pictorial warnings for U.S. cigarette packs, but enactment has been delayed by tobacco industry lawsuits. Research can inform implementation of the pictorial warning requirement and identify ways to optimize their public health impact post-implementation. This study investigated the impact of warning label message framing on young smokers’ motivation to quit, examining cessation self-efficacy, and perceived risks as moderators of message framing impact.


Smokers ages 18-30 (n = 740) completed baseline measures and were randomized to view 4 images of cigarette packs with pictorial health warnings featuring gain- or loss-framed messages. Motivation to quit was assessed after participants viewed the pack images. Linear models accounting for repeated measures and adjusting for baseline covariates examined the impact of message framing and interactions with baseline self-efficacy to quit and perceived risks of smoking.


Loss-framed warnings prompted significantly greater motivation to quit among smokers with high self-efficacy compared with smokers with low self-efficacy. Among smokers with low self-efficacy, gain-framed messages were superior to loss-framed messages. Gain-framed warnings generated significantly greater motivation to quit among smokers with high perceived risks compared with smokers with low perceived risks. Among smokers with high perceived risks, gain-framed messages were superior to loss-framed messages.


A combination of pictorial warnings featuring risk-based (i.e., loss-framed) and efficacy-enhancing (i.e., gain-framed) information may promote better public health outcomes. Research is needed to investigate how strategically framed warning messages impact smokers’ behaviors based on their pre-existing attitudes and beliefs in real-world settings.

Widow’s $27b win rattles tobacco bosses

Even by the standards of American court payouts the US$23.6 billion ($27.5 billion) jury award to Cynthia Robinson, the widow of a long-term smoker, is a jaw-dropping sum.

Robinson filed suit in Florida in 2008 alleging that RJ Reynolds, America’s second-biggest cigarette firm, deliberately hid the addictive nature and health risks posed by its products from her late husband, Michael Johnson.

Reynolds, which makes Camel, Pall Mall, Kool, Winston and other brands, vowed to appeal against what it calls a “runaway” verdict.

“The damages awarded are grossly excessive and impermissible under state and constitutional law,” said Jeff Raborn, vice-president and assistant general counsel for Reynolds. He said the verdict went “far beyond the realm of reasonableness and fairness” and was confident it “will not be allowed to stand”.

Naturally, the victors saw things differently. “The jury was outraged with the concealment and the conspiracy to conceal that smoking was not only addictive but that there were deadly chemicals in cigarettes,” Christopher Chestnut, one of Robinson’s legal team, told the New York Times.

And Chris Hansen, president of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, said the judgment showed “jurors, much like the public itself, did not think the tobacco industry has paid its share for its unconscionable record of public deception, fraud and predatory marketing that has resulted in massive loss of life”.

The verdict is the largest single award dating from a US$145 billion class action verdict against Big Tobacco, rejected by Florida’s Supreme Court in 2006. But that ruling came with a caveat which has been a boon for litigants. The court accepted that smoking caused disease and tobacco firms were negligent. If plaintiffs can prove addiction and that smoking led to death or sickness, they have a case.

Although Robinson’s payout may be reduced on appeal, her win could signal death by a thousand cuts for Big Tobacco. Johnson, a hotel shuttle bus driver, began smoking at 13 and was a chain smoker, repeatedly failing to give up. He died in 1996, aged 36, leaving two children, one of 20 million Americans to succumb in the past half-century, according to the Cancer Society. Despite a 1964 warning by the US Surgeon-General that smoking causes lung cancer, the tobacco industry proved invulnerable against litigants, insisting smoking and cancer were not linked.

In fact, its own research proved the opposite. In 1961 Helmut Wakeham, research director with Philip Morris, said carcinogens were found in “practically every class of compound in cigarette smoke”. Despite this and other internal proof that smoking was lethal, in 1994 the heads of America’s top seven cigarette companies testified to Congress that they believed “nicotine is not addictive”.

This fiction was debunked by whistleblower Jeffrey Wigand, the vice-president of research and development at Brown & Williamson. He revealed the US firm enhanced addiction by adding chemicals to cigarettes and genetically modified tobacco. Wigand’s expose provoked national outrage and 46 states filed suit.

In 1998 they won US$368 billion to recoup smoking-related health costs. The Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) also released 14 million internal industry documents, cached in the Legacy Tobacco Documents Library at the University of California San Francisco. Besides Wakeham’s comments, time bombs include the Sub-Culture Urban Marketing project, or SCUM, targeted at gays, lesbians and homeless people in the 1990s.

“That information, which is egregious, has been used in multiple trials, including the Florida one,” says Chris Bostic, deputy director for policy at Action on Smoking and Health (ASH). He suggests the jury wanted to punish Reynolds “so they would rethink if this was a profitable business to be in”.

Nonetheless, despite legal reversals, including a 2006 US case that convicted cigarette companies of racketeering for their acts of fraud and deception, using laws normally designed to fight the Mafia, and tighter legal restraints, such as the 2009 Tobacco Control Act, which gives the US Food and Drug Administration authority over the industry, Big Tobacco remains very profitable.

In 2012 the industry, dominated internationally by British American Tobacco, Philip Morris, Imperial and Japan Tobacco, had a retail value of US$697 billion, with over 5.8 trillion cigarettes sold worldwide. Many are puffed in Latin America, Africa and Asia as the industry seeks new markets, using World Trade Organisation rules and buyouts to vanquish old state-based monopolies.

And with cigarette sales forecast to decline in the US, the industry is aggressively wooing new customers with electronic cigarettes.

Philip Morris alone has spent US$650 million on “next generation cigarettes”. The FDA has yet to rule if e-cigarettes – reusable metal tubes that heat nicotine and release vapours – are harmful. But anti-smoking groups fear they will “re-normalise” the habit, so kids think smoking is glamorous. A public comment period for FDA rules ends in August, with the earliest date for regulation seen as 2017, leaving states and cities to fill the vacuum with their own ordinances.

Today, 18 per cent of US adults smoke, as some states levy high cigarette taxes and adopt aggressive laws against second-hand smoke. This shift is less evident in the South – home to Johnson – and the Midwest, so that in Kentucky, for example, the adult smoking rate is 30 per cent. And though the MSA bans advertising aimed at “youth”, Bostic says Big Tobacco targets the “young” market.

The “sweet spot” to entice new smokers is 15 to 18 – in nations without public health campaigns, such as Indonesia, it is 5 to 8 – and ASH argues youngsters are incapable of gauging the long-term health impacts.

Meanwhile, the industry spends big – around US$1 million an hour goes on advertising – and courts powerful pals. Each year the industry contributes over US$1.6 million to federal candidates and spends some US$16.6 million lobbying Congress, says ASH. Even more is spent at state and local level, while public relations firms and front groups work to depict the industry in a benign light.

One billion people smoke worldwide. The six million who die each year include five million smokers and 600,000 who breathe their fumes. By 2030 the death toll is expected to reach eight million a year, with 80 per cent in the global south.

And while tobacco killed 100 million in the 20th century it is predicted to kill one billion this century. It is the only legal product that, when used as intended, kills.

“Tobacco use alone costs the world 1 to 2 per cent of its GDP each year,” former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark told the UN this month. Global GDP in 2013 was US$75 trillion, with 1 per cent worth US$575 billion – more than the GDP of all low-income nations.

Countering the industry has become a global chess game. Opponents want to exclude it from the rights that will accrue under the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership and ASH is lobbying the 12 nations involved. While Malaysia has come on board, the US has fought ASH’s proposals.

– AP

Saturday Jul 26, 2014