Clear The Air News Tobacco Blog Rotating Header Image

May 19th, 2015:

Beijing to introduce tough anti-smoking laws amid scepticism over enforcement, conflict of interest

China’s capital prepares to introduce what has been promoted as its toughest smoke-free law, amidst considerable scepticism over enforcement issues and an unresolved conflict of interest.

The WHO says inhaling second-hand smoke is even worse than breathing the air in Beijing on a very polluted day. (Credit: ABC licensed)

China’s capital is preparing to introduce what is being promoted as its toughest smoke-free law, amid considerable scepticism over enforcement issues and an unresolved conflict of interest.

Smoking in all indoor places, work places and public transport will be banned in the city from June 1.

Advertisements will not be allowed in mass media, public spaces, billboards and outdoor areas. All forms of tobacco promotion and title sponsorship will also not be permitted.

Businesses that flout the law will be fined up to 10,000 renminbi (RMB) or around $2,000 and repeat offenders could potentially have their licenses revoked.

“If we can show a very good law can be implemented in Beijing, we believe it will have an impact on how the national law will be formulated because then there will be no reason why we can’t do it in other places,” said the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) China representative Dr Bernhard Schwartlander.

Thousands of health inspectors are being trained to make sure people butt out when they are supposed to.

In a separate move, China’s ministry of finance recently announced a tax increase on the wholesale price of tobacco.

The move will affect the retail price for the first time.

However, the Beijing government faces considerable scepticism over the enforcement of the new law because previous efforts have been widely ignored.

The new price of a pack of cigarettes is unlikely to be a deterrent, as prices for one of the cheapest brands will rise by only 50 cents to 5.50 RMB or around $1.10.

China yet to address crucial conflict of interest

China also has not addressed a crucial conflict of interest, as the State Tobacco Monopoly Administration runs and regulates the country’s cigarette maker China National Tobacco Corporation.

“It’s like the health minister showing up at a cabinet meeting about tobacco control law and the meeting is chaired by Philip Morris,” said Dr Angela Pratt, who heads the WHO’s tobacco-free initiative.

Dr Pratt was once chief of staff to Australia’s former health minister Nicola Roxon.

Most of China’s 300 million smokers — the world’s largest population of smokers — are men but the number of young female smokers is beginning to rise.

An estimated one million people die from tobacco-related diseases a year on the mainland, with lung cancer the number one cause of death among Chinese men.

Laws that are broken in Hong Kong every day – Smoking in public places

Extract from SCMP article:

Although smoking is banned in indoor public spaces, Hong Kong is the only jurisdiction in the world that punishes smokers rather than the premises in which they have lit up. As a result, some bars quietly allow people to smoke, and the habit can only be stubbed out by enforcement officers on ad hoc inspections. When they enter an establishment, smokers can quickly ditch the evidence.

How effective is that? Not too bad. In 2014, the Tobacco Control Office of the Health Department issued 8,027 fixed penalty notices and summonses to smoking offenders, compared to only 242 in 2012. Already in the first quarter of this year, the TCO has issued 2,061 notices and summonses.

Illinois high court hears arguments on verdict in class-action suit against tobacco company

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) – The Illinois Supreme Court has heard oral arguments about whether to let a $10 billion class-action verdict against a major cigarette maker stand.

Former Illinois Gov. Jim Thompson and another Phillip Morris lawyer asked the court Tuesday to strike that verdict.

The verdict that Phillip Morris fraudulently marketed “light” and “low-tar” cigarettes as safer than others came in 2003. The state’s high court subsequently threw it out. But an appellate court last year reinstated the 12-year-old verdict.

The core dispute is whether regulators allowed cigarette makers to label cigarettes “light” and “low-tar.”

Phillip Morris attorneys argued they were given permission to label cigarettes that way. But a plaintiff attorney said regulators didn’t OK that labeling practice and so Phillip Morris engaged in a “massive fraud” by do so

The bad-air days that make me feel ill

I have never been the kind of high-minded person who shouted about the need to protect Mother Nature. I found all the arguments a bit too much. However, I have started to care about these issues because of concern about my health.

I suffer from a nasal allergy and am affected by emissions from car exhausts and from people smoking outside.

On those days when the air quality is really bad, I have difficulty with my breathing and my nasal passages are congested.

I wish smokers would think about other citizens who are affected by second-hand smoke and would not light up in public.

Also, I urge those with private cars to try wherever possible to use public transport.

Think about the health of your fellow citizens and of the planet.

Albury Ma, Tin Shui Wai

Many street smokers put us all at risk

I, like all medical doctors in Hong Kong, mourned deeply the loss of our dear friend and colleague Dr Lo Wing-lok to lung cancer just three years after we lost his wife to the same disease.

As our secretary for food and health, Dr Ko Wing-man, has pointed out, Dr Lo’s great contribution to the Hong Kong community in general and medical community in particular is irreplaceable.

I wonder whether Dr Ko has asked himself why lung cancer could have afflicted the couple. They were both non-smokers and health conscious just like four of my friends who have been diagnosed with late-stage adenocarcinoma of the lung in the last three months.

They too are non-smokers caught in the current cancer epidemic.

Those of us who live and work in the busiest urban areas of Hong Kong or Kowloon cannot help but notice how polluted the atmosphere is with cigarette smoke emanating from crowds of people smoking like chimneys near the many rubbish bins along our streets.

This smoke is difficult to disperse, with our narrow streets and high-rise buildings on each side.

Towards the end of each working day, when we walk home, we all breathe in a heavy dose of cigarette smoke and, worse still, we will all bring along cigarette smoke on our clothes to poison our family.

I urgently appeal to Dr Ko and our government to ban smoking on public thoroughfares and remove the numerous rubbish bins along the streets with immediate effect, for the greater good of public health.

Peter H. T. Wu, Mid-Levels

How Cigarettes And Racing Made Heuer A Household Name In America


“A tough year, 1971.” With these four words, Jack Heuer – then the 38-year-old President of Heuer Leonidas – opened the 1972 case study on his company by the Swiss business school IMEDE.

The Heuer Time and Electronics Corp (HTEC), the American branch of the company, had enjoyed 11 consecutive years of increased sales heading into 1969. By 1970, the U.S. had become Heuer’s largest market, with $1.2 million in sales. However, 1971 was a different story. U.S. sales declined 19 percent (to $952,000) and HTEC suffered a loss of $154,000.

Today’s collectors may imagine that, entering the 1970s, Heuer was enjoying momentum from introducing the world’s first automatic chronographs in 1969. But the IMEDE case study tells the story of a stopwatch company struggling to sell chronographs at all. Despite the introduction of the Autavias, Carreras, and Monacos, Heuer was still selling 10 times as many stopwatches as chronographs.


Priced from $185 to $220, the chronographs were relatively expensive, complicated, and far more difficult for dealers to explain to customers than simpler watches or stopwatches. Jack Heuer thought Heuer’s retailers—primarily specialty retailers of scientific, industrial, and educational supplies, as well as racing, flying, and boating equipment specialists – were afraid of the chronographs. Whether it was the price, the competition, or the complexity, HTEC sold fewer than 500 automatic chronographs in 1971.

Not surprisingly, Jack Heuer closed his recap with another four words – “I’d rather forget 1971.”

Struggling To Sell Cigarettes

But if you think Heuer was having a tough time selling chronographs, imagine the plight of the Brown & Williamson Tobacco Company. Sales of cigarettes had been virtually stagnant since 1964, when the U.S. Surgeon General released his report linking smoking to cancer. And a ban on advertising tobacco on television went into effect on January 2, 1971. Like with Heuer’s stopwatches, Brown & Williamson’s leading brand Kool was selling well, but its number two brand – Viceroy – was in the third position in the full-flavor filter segment, and was sinking fast.

For years, Viceroy’s advertising theme had been balance – “not too strong, not too light, Viceroy’s got the taste that’s right.” A normal ad might depict a woman offering her companion one of her cigarettes, and he, surprisingly, enjoys the taste. The Viceroy was “less masculine than its key competition,” and the brand had a “feminine orientation,” according to internal documents. While the Viceroy couple shopped for flowers, the Marlboro man rode his horse straight into more market share.


Meet The Auto Racer

In 1972 Brown & Williamson decided to change all that. In place of the gardener or the shopper, Viceroy would be the brand of the “Auto Racer,” who would symbolize personal pleasure, physiological satisfaction, tension release, and self-indulgence. A real 1970s man’s man.

To support its Auto Racer campaign, Viceroy became a sponsor of the Parnelli Jones Racing Team, which would field the “Super Team” of Mario Andretti, Al Unser, and Joe Leonard in the Indianapolis 500 and other races. Viceroy’s advertisements would use dramatic photos of handsome racers with dirt on their brows, wearing their racing suits.

Official Brown & Williamson documents read, “This campaign . . . aggressively goes after men. It is advertising that is felt to be unique, memorable and will give Viceroy a needed personality.” Viceroy’s promotions team determined that one of the racer’s symbols was the chronograph, and that a top quality chronograph, sold at a bargain price, would appeal to their target audience: men who enjoy adventure, thrills, and gratification.

The Watch For The Auto Racer

Brown & Williamson contacted Heuer in late 1971 with the idea of offering the Heuer Autavia in a Viceroy promotion. Throughout the 1960s, Heuer was a dominant presence at the racetrack. Its stopwatches, handheld chronographs, dashboard timers, and timing systems were the gold standards in their respective categories.


Ronnie von Gunten, then executive vice president of HTEC, reflects, “They [B&W] knew of our dominant position in motorsports timing, and must have assumed that we had this same strength in selling chronographs. As you might expect, we were not inclined to correct this picture.”

Viceroy would offer a special version of the Autavia automatic chronograph for $88 with the end flap from a carton of Viceroy cigarettes. At this time Heuer was producing two versions of the Autavia, one with a black dial and minute/hour bezel (Reference 1163 MH) and one with a white dial and tachymeter bezel (Reference 1163 T). Both models were priced at $200.

For HTEC, the proposal from Viceroy seemed too good to be true. Brown & Williamson sought assurances that Heuer could deliver 16,000 chronographs over the seven-month life of the promotion, a volume that would have more than doubled HTEC’s revenues. Hans Schrag, HTEC’s vice president and technical manager, asked Jack Heuer how they could possibly make money selling chronographs at such a low price. Heuer responded confidently, “Don’t worry. I know what I’m doing.”

Heuer realized that even if he only broke even on the watches, the company would benefit enormously from the Viceroy promotion. In 1971, Viceroy had spent $12.3 million on advertising and sales promotion, and its magazine advertising allowed the brand to reach 70% of the U.S. adult population an average of more than three times per month. With the launch of the Auto Racer campaign, this budget would increase to $13.9 million for 1972. Heuer’s advertising budget was less than one-half of one percent of these amounts, with its placements limited primarily to specialist magazines.

Viceroy would place advertisements showing the Heuer logo and the Autavia chronograph in leading national magazines. Point-of-purchase displays – featuring a life-size Auto Racer – would bring the Heuer Autavia to hundreds of supermarkets and convenience stores. Heuer would become a household name.

The Viceroy Is Different, But The Same

However, Heuer found itself on a tightrope as it prepared for the Viceroy promotion launch. Brown & Williamson required assurances that Heuer would maintain the $200 retail price on the Autavias through the end of 1972. Maintaining this price left Heuer’s dealers in a difficult position, as they were already struggling to sell the $200 Autavias. Introducing $88 competition certainly wasn’t going to help.

Heuer assured its dealers that the Viceroy Autavia would be different from the standard Autavias they were offering. In place of the polished steel hands, the Viceroys would have brushed steel hands with red accents (inserts and triangular tips). The four numerals (3, 6, 9, and 12) were replaced by 12. The minutes/hours bezel of the standard black Autavia was replaced by the tachymeter bezel used on the white “Siffert” Autavias.

Heuer even went one step further, calling the Viceroy an “economy” model. Armed with this label, the dealers were supposed to be able to convince their customers that their $200 main-line Autavias were far superior to the $88 Viceroys.

But, other than these three cosmetic differences, the watches were identical. So much so, in fact, that Heuer began offering these identical watches through the dealer channel, only with the standard black-dialed Autavias bearing the minutes/hour bezel.


Success (At Least For Heuer)

Brown & Williamson issued a press release on May 15, 1972, launching Viceroy’s Heuer chronograph promotion, and within three weeks advertisements offering the $88 Viceroy Autavia appeared in the major national magazines: Life, Time, Newsweek, U.S. News and World Report, and Sports Illustrated all bore ads. Advertisements in men’s magazines continued through the summer, and the last advertisements for the promotion ran in August 1972, with placements in Playboy, Penthouse, Car and Driver, and Road and Track.

The $88 Autavia was a bargain and sales were strong, at least by Heuer’s standards. Whereas Heuer might expect to sell fewer than 500 automatic chronographs per year in the United States, during the first four months of the promotion the Viceroys were moving at a rate of almost 900 chronographs per month, according to B&W. For Heuer, this was almost a year of sales every two weeks.

Surprisingly, the Heuer dealers were thrilled as well. While it may have been challenging to sell the Autavias, the increased awareness of the Heuer brand and the racing imagery boosted sales of other chronographs. Recalls Jack Heuer, “If a dealer complained that it could not sell the Autavias because of the $88 Viceroys, we offered some simple advice – sell the other Heuer chronographs.”

Soon Heuer discontinued the standard black-dialed Autavia, and the Viceroy made its way into the dealer channel. Heuer maintained the $200 list price, keeping its promise, but reduced the wholesale price so dealers were able to offer discounts. Still, the white dial automatic Autavia, known now as the “Jo Siffert,” retained its original wholesale margins and price, making it a much more costly alternative.

The Viceroy Is Dead, Long Live The Viceroy

The Viceroy promotion expired on December 31, 1972, and von Gunten estimates that Heuer sold approximately 5,000 of the Viceroy Autavias during the seven month promotion. While the campaign was a flop for selling cigarettes, it did one hell of a job moving chronographs.

Heuer’s production of the Viceroy Autavia continued for over a decade. With abundant supplies of left over parts, it only made sense to continue. In late 1972 the Viceroy Autavia moved from the original reference 1163 case to the larger reference 11630 case, and in 1984 made its final move to the reference 11063 case. This 12-year-plus run was the longest for any dial/hand combination in Heuer’s history. You can find more on these references here.

The Viceroy took the Heuer chronograph from a limited market at the racetrack to a much broader audience. Von Gunten notes the irony that, “It took a deep discount promotion with the number three cigarette brand for the American public to see the Heuer chronographs and for these watches to find their place in jewelry and retail stores. When we were struggling in the early 1970s, we always thought that the perfect watch at the right time would give Heuer the place it deserved in the U.S. market. We never saw it coming, but 40 years later, we can say that watch was the Viceroy.”

Randomised clinical trial of snus versus medicinal nicotine among smokers interested in product switching



An essential component of evaluating potential modified risk tobacco products is to determine how consumers use the product and resulting effects on biomarkers of toxicant exposure.

Study design

Cigarette smokers (n=391) recruited in Minnesota and Oregon were randomised to either snus or 4 mg nicotine gum for 12 weeks. Participants were instructed to completely switch from cigarettes to these products. Urine samples were collected to analyse for carcinogenic tobacco-specific nitrosamine metabolites (4-(methylnitrosamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanol and N′-nitrosonornicotine and their glucuronides) and nicotine metabolites (total cotinine and nicotine equivalents) levels.


Of the 391 participants randomised, 52.9% were male, the mean±SD age was 43.9±12.5 years, baseline number of cigarettes/day was 18.0±6.5 and Fagerstrom Test for Nicotine Dependence score was 5.1±2.0. The mean±SD number of snus pouches used/week at week 6 prior to tapering was 39.1±24.0 and nicotine gum pieces used was 37.6±26.3. Dual use of cigarettes and these products were observed in 52.9% and 58.2% of those assigned to snus and nicotine gum, respectively, at week 12. The end of treatment biochemically verified (carbon monoxide, CO <6 ppm) 7-day avoidance of cigarettes was 21.9% in the snus group and 24.6% in the nicotine gum group. Toxicant exposure in the nicotine gum group was significantly less when compared to snus.


Snus performed similarly to nicotine gum in cigarette smokers who were interested in completely switching to these products, but was associated with less satisfaction and greater toxicant exposure than nicotine gum.

Trial registration number NCT: 00710034.

EU agreement with big tobacco hides smugglers behind smokescreens

Nessa Childers, MEP for Dublin, criticised the European Commission’s ongoing negotiations to renew an agreement on smuggling with the tobacco industry.

A founding member of an MEP working group set up to fight the interference of the tobacco industry in public policy making, Ms. Childers fears that the renewal of the secretive agreement does not properly address illicit trade, depriving the public purse of compensation for tax losses.

The original agreement came about over a decade ago on foot of a settlement of a lawsuit launched by the Commission and a number of EU countries against tobacco giants Philip Morris International, R.J. Reynolds and Japan Tobacco International over a number of offences related to cigarette smuggling, which cost these companies billions of Euros.

Speaking from Strasbourg this week, where the Commission addressed the European Parliament on the matter, Ms. Childers said:

“The Commission is making a serious mistake by entertaining contacts with the tobacco industry to renew these agreements, which are due to lapse next year.

“The initial agreements were born from a settlement to a case where the Commission accused three tobacco manufacturing giants of no less than being part of a global scheme to smuggle cigarettes, launder the profits of narcotics, fix prices, bribe officials and conduct illegal trade with terrorist groups.

“Yet these companies have been put in charge of monitoring counterfeiting in tobacco smuggling seizures. They pay the authorities whenever these are found to be genuine so, unsurprisingly, they have found only 0.5% of seized shipments in 2012 to be genuine.

“This state of affairs is a mockery of enforcement and, to make matters worse, never has a sample been analysed by an independent laboratory, and we know very little of the specifics behind this scheme.

“The Commission has been officially asked by Parliament to conduct a proper assessment of this scheme back in 2012 and this should have happened by now.

“So, not only has the fox been put in charge of the henhouse, but we also have no know idea about what is going on inside, and meanwhile we are mulling over extending its safekeeping role.

“What is more outrageous, is that while these talks are going on, these very same big tobacco companies are challenging the Tobacco Products Directive in the European Court, including its requirement for an EU-wide supply chain track and tracing system.”

“We should be working on how to ratify and implement the WHO Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products, which the Commission rightly wants the Council to do, rather than waste time with this farce.”