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September 29th, 2015:

Leadership by example: saying no to health industry board membership

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Tobacco licence for 7-Eleven shop revoked

The 7-Eleven store at Cineleisure Orchard has been permanently barred from selling cigarettes and other tobacco products – the first time that such action has been taken against an outlet of the major chain of convenience stores.

The outlet’s licence was revoked by the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) on July 31 after an employee was caught selling cigarettes to a minor on Nov 16, 2013 – the second time this occurred at that particular outlet. It was first suspended for six months in 2011 for selling cigarettes to someone under 18 years old.

In a statement yesterday, the HSA said: “Despite its previous conviction, the outlet continued to commit the offence… It will no longer be allowed to sell tobacco products.”

It added that the time lag between the discovery of the errant act and the licence being revoked was on account of the thorough investigations that had to be undertaken.

The Straits Times also understands that the 7-Eleven franchisee had made several appeals against the decision.

Four other retailers – Hwa Soon Heng Mini-Supermarket in Yishun, Tastebud Foodcourt in Queen Street, J Plus Ten Mini Mart in Bukit Batok West, and Nice Minimart in Tampines – were caught in HSA’s enforcement actions from November 2013 to August last year.

Their tobacco retail licences were suspended for six months as they were first-time offenders.

When contacted, 7-Eleven said the employee who had sold the packet of cigarettes to the minor has been sacked. A warning letter was also sent to the franchisee for failing to comply with regulations.

An auto-prompt system has also been rolled out at 7-Eleven’s more than 450 outlets here. Now, when a cigarette packet is scanned at the point-of-sale, staff have to check the customer’s identification card and key in his date of birth.

“If there is no birth date typed into the system, the sale cannot be made,” said a 7-Eleven spokesman. “We want to prevent future lapses.”

The system came about after a review of operating procedures following the 2013 incident. Tobacco sales make up a “significant portion” of revenue at the Cineleisure outlet, she added.

In the last three years, 39 tobacco retail licences have been suspended and 18 revoked.

The HSA reminded tobacco retailers that they are responsible for all transactions taking place at their outlets, as well as for their staff’s actions.

It also reminded licensees to educate sellers to check the age of those who wish to buy tobacco products.

Under the Tobacco (Control of Advertisements and Sale) Act, anyone caught selling tobacco products to persons below the age of 18 can be fined up to $5,000 for the first offence and up to $10,000 for subsequent offences.

The retailer’s tobacco licence will be suspended for six months for the first offence and revoked for the second. But if any outlet is found to have sold such products to minors in school uniform or those below 12 years old, their licence will be revoked at the first offence.

The HSA also encourages anyone with information on the illegal sales of tobacco products to minors to call the Tobacco Regulation Branch on 6684-2036 or 6684-2037 during office hours.

Govt loses about P22.5B in excise and VAT revenues



Hong Kong: More untaxed cigarettes were smoked in the Philippines last year, subsequently increasing foregone government revenues, a study released here Tuesday said.

Data from a Philippine market report, prepared by the International Tax and Investment Center (ITIC) and Oxford Economics, put the volume of 2014 illicit cigarette consumption at 19.9 billion sticks, up 4.1 percent from the previous year. The report is an extract from the forthcoming Asia-16 Illicit Tobacco Indicator 2014, which is set for release in the fourth quarter of this year.

Illicit consumption refers to the use of non-domestic cigarettes —smuggled goods or counterfeit products from another country —and locally made sticks that are both sold without the payment of required taxes.

Philippine-made cigarettes accounted for almost all of illicit consumption, which at 19 billion sticks was 10.8 percent higher. Illicit non-domestic cigarette use, at 900 million sticks, was down 55.3 percent from 2013.

Illicit consumption cost the government an estimated P22.5 billion in lost excise and value-added tax revenues, the report noted.

Experts, however, are hoping for a marked decline in illicit cigarette consumption this year with the implementation of the Bureau of Internal Revenue’s (BIR) tax stamp program.

“In line with the amendment of the National Internal Revenue Code of 1997, it is anticipated that the affixture of tax stamps introduced on December 1, 2014 will ‘further improve tax administration’ and ‘deter mis-declaration of removals’,” the report said.

In Tuesday’s briefing, Oxford Economics Senior Economist for Asia Oliver Salmon noted that the government’s move should be part of a wider campaign to address the illicit cigarette trade problem.

He pointed out that significant tax-led price increases had left the market exposed to the threat of cheap cigarettes from other countries as well as counterfeits of well-known brands.

“As evidenced by this report, significant price increases over the last few years have led to the erosion of the legal market for cigarettes, with the illicit trade filling the gap” Salmon said.

He noted that legal domestic cigarette sales (or tax paid volumes) fell further last year to 82.3 billion sticks. Overall, following the implementation of the new sin tax law in 2013, legal domestic sales were said to have fallen by nearly 20 billion sticks.

University of the Philippines economist Benjamin Diokno, an adviser to the ITIC who reviewed the report, sa id the rise in domestic illicit cigarette consumption had built a compelling case for the BIR’s new Internal Revenue Stamps Integrated System as a means of protecting government revenues

Can we have more tax please?

Tobacco taxes play an important role in cutting smoking rates in New Zealand. Since 2010 taxes on tobacco products have risen 10% every year with an overall average drop in cigarette sales of 23%. With the last scheduled rise in tobacco tax approaching …Can we have more tax please?

“Continuing tobacco tax is the single best thing we can do for health.” Emeritus Professor Robert Beaglehole

Tobacco taxes play an important role in cutting smoking rates in New Zealand. Since 2010 taxes on tobacco products have risen 10% every year with an overall average drop in cigarette sales of 23%.

With the last scheduled rise in tobacco tax approaching quickly, Stephanie Erick, director for Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) New Zealand, agrees with other tobacco control experts. “Tobacco taxes are working for New Zealand, but they end next year” she says. “So we need to continue with taxes – at 20% per year.”

Research shows that continuing tax increases would have multiple benefits to New Zealanders, including health gains, net-cost savings for the health system, and improving fairness between Māori and non-Māori.

Youth and young adults are particularly sensitive to price. If tobacco prices increase, this group is most likely to reduce their consumption. The ASH year 10 surveys reflect this as they show a drop in smoking prevalence among 14-15 year olds.

An American expert on the economics of tobacco control is visiting New Zealand on the 9th of October to support the tobacco control sector’s appeal for excise to be increased and extended beyond January 2016.

Professor Frank Chaloupka from the University of Illinois will join a group of leading tobacco control experts who are urging the government to review its decision not to extend increases in excise tax beyond 2016.

More information on tobacco tax in New Zealand is available from the ASH website:

ASH New Zealand is a registered charity that produces and collects sound evidence to enable policy makers and communities to contribute to a Smokefree Aotearoa New Zealand by 2025.


Settlements With Liquid Nicotine Retailers And Manufacturer To Keep Poisonous Substance Out Of Childrens’ Hands

A.G. Schneiderman Cracks Down On E-Cigarette Industry, Announces Settlements With Liquid Nicotine Retailers And Manufacturer To Keep Poisonous Substance Out Of Childrens’ Hands

Amid Rise in Child Poisoning Reports, Settlements Ensure Prominent Retailers and Manufacturer Will Abide by New York Law Requiring Liquid Nicotine To Be Sold in Child-Resistant Bottles

Schneiderman: We Will Enforce NY Laws Requiring Protective Packaging

NEW YORK – Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced agreements with four liquid nicotine companies whose products were being sold in New York in violation of a law requiring that this form of nicotine be sold in child-resistant packaging. Liquid nicotine, together with other chemical additives, is used in electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, to create the vapor that the user inhales. Liquid nicotine is highly toxic, and ingestion or even skin exposure to very small amounts can lead to serious illness and potentially coma and death, particularly for children. Two of the settlement agreements are with retailers Henley Vaporium and Beyond Vape, companies with retail outlets in New York City, including on St. Marks Place in Manhattan; while the two other companies sell their product to New Yorkers online or through local retailers.

As a result of today’s agreements, the companies will be required to remove from all their distributors and retail purchasers any liquid nicotine sold in packaging that does not meet child-resistant standards. They will also be barred in the future from selling any container not in child-resistant packaging. The retail stores must also train their staff on the requirements of the New York legislation, in particular that bottles containing liquid nicotine be sold in child-resistant packaging, and that any knowledge of bottles being sold without proper packaging be reported to the Attorney General’s Office. The agreements also require the companies to provide proof of testing of containers to demonstrate adherence to poison prevention packaging, to allow exchange of any bottles sold without appropriate protections, and to pay penalties to New York State.

“New York law is clear: liquid nicotine is highly toxic and must be sold in child-resistant packaging. Today, we are taking action against four companies, and putting others on notice: Stop selling liquid nicotine in anything but child-resistant containers, or we will come after you,” Attorney General Schneiderman said. “As our investigation continues, I urge the federal government to do their part by requiring child-resistant packaging for these products nationwide, and to regulate the marketing and advertising of e-cigarettes.”

“We are deeply concerned about the growing number of calls to poison control centers across the country about liquid nicotine exposures — including more than 1,600 last year involving children under 5,” said Chuck Bell, Programs Director of Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports. “We commend Attorney General Eric Schniederman and his staff for aggressively enforcing New York’s law mandating child-resistant packaging, and getting these highly dangerous, noncompliant products off the market. We agree that a strong national safety standard for these products is urgently needed.”

Liquid nicotine is comprised of nicotine extracted from tobacco. It is used in electronic cigarettes, together with other chemical additives, to create a vapor inhaled by the user. Depending on the concentration of nicotine in the finished product, liquid nicotine can be highly toxic. Ingestion or skin exposure to even small amounts of liquid nicotine can lead to rapid heartbeat, elevated blood pressure, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness, confusion, seizures and possibly coma and death.

In 2014, an 18-month-old boy in Upstate New York died from ingesting liquid nicotine. According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, more than 3,700 exposures to liquid nicotine were reported to poison control centers around the country in 2014 – a sharp increase from previous years. Half of those calls related to the poisoning of children under the age of five by this toxic product.

The agreements come during a period of exponential growth for the e-cigarette industry, with a particularly significant increase in use among minors. A survey by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) reports that e-cigarette use among middle and high school students tripled from 2013 to 2014. According to the CDC, research suggests that nicotine is as addictive as heroin, cocaine, or alcohol.

Of additional concern, manufacturers of liquid nicotine have developed an array of flavors, including fruit and candy flavors with strong and sweet aromas, especially enticing to children. Attorney General Schneiderman’s investigation found that Beyond Vape was selling liquid nicotine without child-resistant packaging with names such as Vaperlicious Passion Peach and Vaporboy Berry Peached Tea and that Henley was selling liquid nicotine without the proper packaging with the name Cosmic Charlie’s Chalk Dust.

In June 2014, the New York Legislature passed a bill, sponsored by State Senator Kemp Hannon and Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal, requiring that all liquid nicotine sold or offered for sale in the state be packaged in child-resistant bottles designed to prevent exposure of children to these liquids. After the law became effective, in late December 2014, Attorney General Schneiderman’s Tobacco Compliance and Health Care bureaus initiated an investigation to gauge compliance with the new statute. Investigators made purchases of liquid nicotine from retailers located across New York, as well as from manufacturers and web-based businesses selling their products to New Yorkers. The investigation revealed that a number of entities were selling bottles of liquid nicotine without any packaging protections at all, in clear violation of the new law, New York General Business Law § 399-gg.

Signatories of the agreements being announced today are retailers that sell liquid nicotine online and in New York City stores: Henley Vaporium, headquartered in Manhattan; Beyond Vape, a California-based seller with three store fronts in New York City, including on St. Marks Place; Rocket Sheep, an e-liquid manufacturer; and ECig Distributors, Inc., a corporation that also does business as,, and, which sells bottles of liquid nicotine to New Yorkers. As part of the agreements, the retail stores must train their staff on the requirements of the New York legislation, in particular that bottles containing liquid nicotine be sold in child-resistant packaging and any knowledge of bottles being sold without proper packaging be reported to the Attorney General’s Office. The training will also include that there are penalties for noncompliance. Total penalties due from the companies under the settlements are $95,000. The agreements also require the companies to provide proof of testing of containers to demonstrate adherence to stringent poison prevention packaging on any bottles offered for sale, and to allow exchange of any bottles sold without appropriate protections.

Last year, Attorney General Schneiderman led an effort by 29 state Attorneys General urging the U.S Food and Drug Administration to issue regulations regarding e-cigarettes, such as prohibiting marketing, advertising and sales to minors, a ban on flavored E-Cigarettes and requiring child-resistant packaging.

“A Public Hearing on E-Cigarettes and liquid nicotine I held in May, 2014 as Chair of the Senate Health Committee revealed just how dangerous this liquid, which is often flavored, can be especially to young children” said Senator Kemp Hannon. “As a result of those hearings, I sponsored the law which prohibits the sale of liquid nicotine to minors and requires it be sold in child resistant bottles. I applaud the Attorney General for enforcing the law. It is imperative that retailers of liquid nicotine abide by the law so no other fatalities occur.”

“The reason I introduced and passed the bill into law barring sales of e-liquid to minors and mandating child-resistant packaging was to protect children from gaining access to the toxic liquid and being poisoned by it,” said Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal. “Tragically, some retailers and manufacturers flouted the law and continued selling the product without the required precautions. I am gratified that the Attorney General, recognizing the dangers of liquid nicotine, pursued those who violated the law, and will see that the offending parties comply with it in the future. Liquid nicotine should never be in the hands of children, and following the law to prevent that from occurring must be a top priority for all retailers and manufacturers.”

“More than half the calls to poison control centers regarding liquid nicotine involved children under 5 years old, NYC Smoke-Free applauds A.G. Schneiderman’s Office for taking action to help limit youth access to this dangerous substance,” said Patrick Kwan, Director of NYC Smoke-Free at Public Health Solutions. “Recent studies show dramatic increases in the use of tobacco products like e-cigarettes and hookah by youth, retailers must do more to stop youth exposure and access to marketing, sales and displays of these addictive tobacco products.”

“The American Heart Association commends Attorney General Eric Schneiderman for his efforts to protect young New Yorkers from the dangers of accessible liquid nicotine,” said Sean Scott, Community Grassroots Specialist for the American Heart Association in New York City. “These liquids are often marketed in child-friendly flavors such as mint, chocolate, strawberry, vanilla and apple. While the flavors may sound appealing, liquid nicotine is a toxic substance that requires appropriate protections. This is why New York implemented a law last winter to require child-proof packaging, and why the American Heart Association looks forward to the Attorney General’s next steps to strengthen this policy.”

Dr. Sophie Balk, attending pediatrician at the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore, Professor of Clinical Pediatrics at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and a member of the Executive Committee of the American Academy of Pediatrics Provisional Section on Tobacco Control said, “As a practicing pediatrician, I always try to educate parents about the importance of keeping liquid nicotine out of the hands of young children. Even one teaspoon of liquid nicotine can be lethal to a child, and smaller amounts can cause severe illness. It’s extremely important to have liquid nicotine in childproof packaging and kept out of the reach of children. This New York State law helps to keep our young children away from nicotine, a highly toxic substance.”

American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) New York Metro Government Relations Director Michael Davoli said, “The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network thanks Attorney General Schneiderman for his strong actions to protect New York’s children from the dangers of liquid nicotine and e-cigarettes. The usage of e-cigarettes among teens tripled in just one year. There are harmful chemicals emitted by e-cigarettes. Liquid nicotine itself is extremely dangerous and potentially deadly. The enforcement of this law is critical to saving lives.

The case was investigated by Investigator Michael Yun, and assisted by Investigators Edward Ortiz, Elsa Rojas, Ryan Fannon, and Brian Metz of the Attorney General’s Investigations Division, Investigators Kyle Vitale-O’Sullivan, Zylona Silva and Auditors Mathew Crogan and Kristina Kojomanian, along with Deputy Chief Jonathan Wood, Supervising Investigator Luis A. Carter, and under the direction of Deputy Chief Investigator John McManus. The Chief Investigator of the Criminal Division is Dominic Zarrella.

The case was handled by Assistant Attorneys General Christopher Leung and Joshua Sprague of the Tobacco Compliance Bureau, and Carol Hunt of the Health Care Bureau. The Tobacco Compliance Bureau is led by Dana Biberman, and the Health Care Bureau is led by Lisa Landau. The bureaus are part of the Attorney General’s Social Justice Division, which is led by Executive Deputy Attorney General Alvin Bragg


Long Island Press Releases

Schneiderman: FDA Proposal Falls Far Short Of What Is Needed To Protect Our Youth

(Long Island, NY) Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, together with the attorneys general of Illinois and Indiana, co-sponsored a letter to the Food and Drug Administration today urging the FDA to take immediate action to stem the increasing incidence of liquid nicotine poisoning among children nationwide. The letter urges the FDA to require appropriate warning labels on liquid nicotine, nicotine-containing e-liquids and novel tobacco products such as dissolvables, lotions, gels and drinks. The AGs also urge the FDA adopt or establish standards for child-resistant packaging for liquid nicotine and novel tobacco products. The letter was signed by 33 state attorneys general.

“As more and more Americans – especially young people – take up e-cigarettes, it is more important than ever that the FDA ensures our children are protected from the dangers of liquid nicotine,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “Child-resistant packaging and health warnings are an essential step to keeping these potentially lethal toxins out of the hands of our children. The FDA must step up and regulate the sale and packaging of these dangerous products before any more kids are harmed.”

According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, in 2014, 3,783 exposures to liquid nicotine nationwide were reported to poison control centers, a sharp increase from previous years. Half of those calls related to poisoning of children under the age of five. In 2014, an eighteen-month-old toddler in upstate New York died from ingesting liquid nicotine.

As the letter states, in recent years “the unchecked growth of the e-cigarette industry has been accompanied by a correspondingly alarming increase in youth use of e-cigarettes…This period of unregulated expansion has corresponded with a rapid escalation in accidental poisonings from exposure to liquid nicotine. Given the apparent growing popularity of “tank”-style vaping devices, which require periodic refilling with liquid nicotine by the consumer and some of which can generate enough heat to create carcinogenic compounds, public health threats from nicotine exposure will increase in the absence of appropriate FDA regulation.”

The letter continues “Clearly, FDA action is warranted: in a recent survey, 87% of adult respondents supported FDA requirements for child-resistant packaging for all e-cigarettes and liquid nicotine refills. In 2014, there were 3,783 reported exposures to liquid nicotine,11 just over half of which involved a child under the age of six.12 As compared to the number of liquid nicotine exposures in 2012, these 2014 figures represent a more than an 800% increase in such exposures. In 2015 (January 1 to June 30), there were 1,732 reported cases of liquid nicotine exposures. Unfortunately, for children, “e-cigarettes now account for roughly 25 percent of nicotine exposures, while in other age groups, ecigarettes exposures have surpassed other tobacco products and account for as many as 65 percent of exposures.”

Liquid nicotine is comprised of nicotine extracted from tobacco plus chemical additives. It is used in electronic cigarettes, which convert the liquid nicotine to a vapor inhaled by the user. According to the latest Surgeon General’s report, nicotine exposure during adolescence adversely affects cognitive function and development, potentially resulting in lasting deficits.

In January of this year, New York passed legislation requiring that liquid nicotine be sold in child-proof packaging; in July, following an investigation, Attorney General Schneiderman announced agreements with four e-liquid manufacturers and retailers whose product was being sold in New York in violation of the new legislation.

The attached letter was signed by attorneys general of the following states, territories and District of Colubmia: Alabama, California, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virgin Islands, Washington, and Wyoming.

New ban restricts sale of e-cigarettes to under 18s

Slough Trading Standards has warned that it will be illegal for shops to sell e-cigarettes to under 18s from Thursday.

The new law applies to products that allow nicotine to be inhaled through a mouth piece, regardless of how they are powered or whether they resemble a traditional cigarette or not.

E-cigarette refills, including liquids and capsules, will also be affected by the ban, although certain medical products will be exempt.

Russell Clarke, senior Trading Standards officer, said: “We will be checking stores to make sure they’re sticking to the new law, which is being brought in to protect children.

“Any store that breaks the law faces a hefty fine of up to £2,500.

“We also have the power to fine adults £90 if we suspect they’re buying e-cigarettes for someone who is under 18.”

Cllr Sohail Munawar, commissioner for social and economic inclusion, said: “E-cigarettes contain nicotine, so it’s only right they have the same age restrictions as traditional cigarettes and tobacco.

“In recent years we’ve done a lot of work with shopkeepers to make sure they ask for proof of age from anyone who looks under 25.

“However, we’re not complacent and we will continue to do our regular checks.”

If you suspect a trader of selling age restricted products to under 18s, report them to trading standards via the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06.

Visit for business advice for traders.

How new rules could kill the vaping boom

If proposed FDA rules are finalized, as expected, most vaping shops will not survive, many say.

When Randy Freer was trying to quit smoking, he wanted to try vaping—battery-operated devices that deliver nicotine by vaporizing liquids. (Some ex-smokers find the combo of the flavors and the ability to dial down the nicotine helps them quit.) But Freer found he couldn’t keep a supply of the vaporizers he liked—they were always out of stock.

So being the entrepreneurial type, he created his own e-liquids to vape. In 2012, he launched P.O.E.T. (Pursuit of Excellent Taste), a small business based in Seal Beach, California, that sells e-liquids. Three years later, he says his company sells to some 130 stores internationally as well as online, and has $500,000 in annual sales.

But all that could disappear if the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), as expected, finalizes its rules on e-cigarettes and other vaping products. The rules would require federal approval for most flavored liquid nicotine juices and e-cig devices sold in vape shops.

“If that [FDA rule] goes through, it’ll put me back into the job market,” Freer says.

He and practically everyone else in the vaping business. According to one estimate, the approval process would require such an extensive data collection for each item that it could businesses cost $2 million to $10 million, the Wall Street Journal reported.

“Essentially the FDA regulation is a guaranteed death knell for over 99% of the companies in the industry,” says Gregory Conley, president of the American Vaping Association, an advocacy group. That would affect the estimated 8,000 to 12,000 vape shops in the United States and the estimated 1,000 manufacturers and wholesalers of vaping equipment.

Tobacco giants produce the e-cigarette brands, which look like cigarettes and are sold in supermarkets. But, second generation vaporizers—the kind sold by small and mid-sized businesses, like Freer’s — are larger, more like fountain pens, and users can customize them with different flavored e-liquids. They also have bigger batteries and cartridges so they can last longer.

Under the FDA proposed rules, there would be a retroactive premarket review of any e-cigarette or vaping product on the market after 2007, unless they can show the product is “substantially equivalent” to one on the market before 2007. Since the industry has evolved so quickly, today’s products have little equivalence to products on the market before 2007. “It essentially means that the FDA is retroactively requiring all products on the market to submit a new tobacco product application,” says Conley.

Pressure on the vaping industry

The FDA is proposing different compliance dates to give a little leeway for small businesses, so the regulations may not be noticeable to vapers for a couple of years. But there is a lot of pressure to restrict vaping and e-cigarette sales.

All US states except for Maine, Pennsylvania and Michigan have laws that prohibit selling e-cigarettes and vaping products to minors. This year, there were roughly 200 bills introduced across 40 states that addressed some aspect of e-cigarette and vapor product regulation. “The overall theme of this legislation is an effort to fold vapor products into existing laws that apply to combustible cigarettes and other tobacco products,” says Alex Clark, legislative director of the Consumer Advocates for Smoke-free Alternatives Association, an advocacy organization that promotes the right to cigarette alternatives.

The bills include taxing e cigarettes and vaping devices, prohibiting vaping where smoking is banned, prohibiting flavoring and advertising that is intended to appeal to minors, requiring licensing of vaping shops, labeling laws, and child resistant packaging. Jumping on the regulation bandwagon, the National Park Service just announced that it would ban vaping from its parks.

Consumer advocates are pushing for regulations, saying vaping presents major health concerns. In a recent report by the Center for Environmental Health, entitled, “Smoking Gun: Cancer-causing chemicals in e-cigarettes,” the group said it found the majority of e-cigarettes and other vaping products tested contained high levels of cancer-causing chemicals formaldehyde and acetaldehye. The group said it was “concerned about the unregulated marketing of e-cigarettes, and especially sales to teens and young people, while little is known about the health hazards from inhaling e-cigarette smoke.”

Yet many e-cig users say it helps people quit smoking and believe these e-cigs are at least safer than regular cigarettes. They say that taking them off the market will hurt the chances of quitting for millions of current smokers. Dr. Gregory Masters, an oncologist in Newark, Del., recently told WebMD he understands the conflicted public opinion. “I do have safety concerns for e-cigarettes because nicotine is bad for you, and we don’t know all of the risks with e-cigarettes,” said Masters. “I struggle when I get asked by patients, should I use e-cigarettes? I don’t want to condone e-cigarettes as a healthy alternative, but could it be a less dangerous alternative? It could be.”

Laurie Tarkan is an award-winning health journalist who writes for The New York Times, national magazines, and websites. She is the three-time recipient of the National Health Information Awards, and won the Rose Kushner Award for Writing Achievement in the Field of Breast Cancer.

Child Farmworkers Banned From Handling Pesticides, But Not Tobacco

New rules from the EPA include a ban on workers under 18 handling toxic pesticides, although children 16 and younger can still legally work in the fields.

Those who plant, tend, and harvest the food American families put on their tables will now enjoy more of the safety measures that already cover workers in most other jobs. The Environmental Protection Agency announced Monday that the country’s two million agricultural workers will get new protections from toxic pesticide use.

“The same rules that have protected other American workers from dangerous cancer- and birth-defect causing pesticides are finally going to protect farmworkers under the new EPA regulations,” said United Farm Workers (UFW) President Arturo Rodriguez. “It’s been a long time coming, but it has come today.”

The rules, last updated two decades ago, include increased safeguards for whistleblowers, new record-keeping requirements, additional postings of information on hazards and rights, and an age minimum of 18 years for workers that apply pesticides in the fields.

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said the changes will reduce risks of injury and illness for those working on farms, in forests, greenhouses, and nurseries, which result in sick days, lost wages, and medical bills.


Rodriguez called the updated rules “momentous” and a dream realized for the farmworkers who fought for their rights in the days of UFW founder César Chávez, citing Chávez’s question, “What good does it do to achieve the blessings of collective bargaining and make economic progress for people when their health is destroyed in the process?”

But while the new prohibition on children under 18 handling pesticides is undoubtedly good news for the country’s youngest farmworkers, labor activists argue that many will continue being exposed to another serious health risk: nicotine, from the tobacco fields where plenty of children still work each day.

For seven years, the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC) has been putting pressure on Reynolds American, maker of cigarette brands including Camel and Newport, to end child labor in its supply chain and give workers collective bargaining rights. Now, they’re planning to call for a boycott of the company’s products, as Chávez did with grapes in Delano, California in the 1960’s. Monday’s EPA announcement coincides with the 50th anniversary of that early fight for basic labor protections.

In 1938, a ban on child labor under the Fair Labor Standards Act brought children out of factories and into classrooms. But today, under federal law, children 12 and older may legally work on farms for unlimited hours, so long as their schedules don’t conflict with school.

Since the 1938 law excluded agricultural workers from many rights and workplace standards, both adult and child farmworkers today lack legal protections for collective organizing, as well as complete coverage under wage and hour regulations.

Despite this obstacle, and in part because of it, farmworkers have taken up methods outside of conventional unions — workers’ centers, committees, and supply-chain-based strategies — to change their labor conditions. Without legal protection from retaliation for banding together, these worker groups often appeal to consumers and corporations to take action to improve standards.

Young FLOC members, including teenage farmworkers, delivered more than 20,000 signatures to Reynolds’ Washington, D.C. office in August, calling on the company to sign an agreement to improve wages and housing for tobacco farmworkers and to end the company’s employment of workers under 18. Bryan Hatchell, a spokesperson for Reynolds American Inc., said in an email the petition had been received.

“Growers may employ 16- and 17-year-old workers only with written parental consent, and only after they have received appropriate safety training,” Hatchell wrote, and “R.J. Reynold’s Grower Contracts prohibit the use of child labor” by those under 16 years of age.

One worker who helped deliver the petition, Saray Cambray Alvarez, now 14, has worked in tobacco fields since she was 6. She became a face for child and teen workers exposed to risks of nicotine poisoning last year, with her photo on the front page of the New York Times.

“If they raised wages, we wouldn’t have to be out here,” Alvarez said, in advance of the petition’s delivery. “The reason children work in the tobacco fields is that their parents don’t get paid enough.”

A detailed 2014 study by Human Rights Watch documented the underlying economic reasons for the persistence of child labor in American agriculture today. The report found that children, some younger than 10 years old, routinely work 50 to 60 hour weeks harvesting tobacco, exposed to nicotine and (prior to the new EPA regulations) pesticides, to supplement their parents’ sub-subsistence earnings.

The paper’s authors interviewed 141 child tobacco workers, ages 7 to 17, in North Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia, the country’s four largest tobacco-producing states. They found that the children and teens were disproportionately relatives of migrant and immigrant workers, rather than members of family farms. (Farm owners and their family members are exempt from the new EPA regulations.)

Jane Buchanan, a co-author of the report, said that little has changed since the watchdog group released their findings last year. Some companies and growers’ associations, trade groups that set voluntary standards in the industry, have raised their minimum age for workers to 16, but enforcement of these standards, without federal law deeming the work hazardous, can be lax, she said.

Next week, Alvarez will meet with Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez to discuss remaining work to be done to end child labor in agriculture. But given that lawmakers haven’t prevented child labor with regulations so far, FLOC “isn’t holding its breath” for the the Department of Labor or federal government to act meaningfully now, according to Vice President Justin Flores.

“Child labor in tobacco farming will only be eliminated when there is a mechanism in place for workers to negotiate conditions with their employers,” said FLOC President Baldemar Velasquez.

This winter, FLOC plans launch a boycott of major convenience store chains that sell Reynolds’ product and account for a large percentage of its consolidated revenue, according to Velasquez.

The tactic is similar to those used by Chávez in Delano. Other farmworker groups, such as the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, based in Florida, have also successfully negotiated labor conditions with growers after mobilizing consumers to boycott chains and products in the recent past.

“Laws alone will not solve the problem,” Velasquez wrote earlier this summer. “The only effective remedy for ending this cycle has been to extend to farmworkers the same basic labor rights enjoyed by other sectors. Given that opportunity, the workers themselves will bargain away the precarious wages and job insecurity that drive poverty, hunger, and child labor.”

10 years after ban, smoking continues in 70% of public places

A smoking ban has been in place since 2005 in the capital city, but cigarette smokers still puff in 70 percent of public places where smoking is prohibited, the results of recent research showed.

The research, carried out between 2014 and 2015 at 1,550 places in Jakarta by the Jakarta Smoke Free Coalition, said 1,085 places ignored the smoking ban.

Jakarta Smoke Free Coalition coordinator Dollaries Riauaty Suhadi said on Tuesday that the researchers found people smoking in schools, offices, restaurants, houses of worship, healthcare centers, hotels, shopping malls and other indoor facilities where smoking is prohibited under the city bylaw on air pollution control.

During the data collection, the researchers found various indications that certain places still allowed people to smoke, including cigarette ash, ashtrays and cigarette smoke odor.

“All those indicators showed that there were still violations against the smoking ban regulations because in those places, smoking is prohibited,” said Dollaries as reported by

The smoking ban is stipulated in City Bylaw No. 2/2005 on air pollution control, which is elaborated in Gubernatorial Regulation No. 75/2005 on smoking ban areas and Gubernatorial Regulation No. 50/2012 on the supervision, monitoring and law enforcement of smoking ban areas.

Under the bylaw, violators face six months in jail or a Rp 50 million fine.

Japan Tobacco set to acquire Reynolds American unit for $5bn

The acquisition of Santa Fe Natural Tobacco would be JT’s largest since it bought UK’s Gallaher for $11.4bn in 2007 Reuters

Japan Tobacco is in final rounds of talks to buy Reynolds American subsidiary Santa Fe Natural Tobacco for about $5bn (£3.29bn, €4.45bn). The deal is expected to be finalised this week.

Besides helping JT increase sales in domestic and overseas markets, the acquisition is in line with its recent initiative to focus on cigarette operations, as reflected by its exit from the soft-drink business in Japan this year. In February, Mitsuomi Koizumi, president, had said that 2015 would be the company’s “year of investments,” including increased stakes in other types of tobacco products such as e-cigarettes.

The Santa Fe deal will give the Japanese cigarette manufacturer access to marketing rights for the Natural American Spirit brand currently sold in the U.S., Japan and Europe.

Santa Fe reported $658m in sales and operating income of $337m for 2014. This highly profitable New Mexico-based company was founded in 1982. Its relatively new Natural American Spirit brand, marketed as made with additive-free tobacco, is popular among younger smokers and has become a premium brand in Japan. It is expected that JT will aggressively market this brand and position it behind its two other key brands — Winston and Camel.

JT, a former state monopoly, was privatized in 1994. In the 1980s the Japanese government opened the domestic market to foreign competitors, after which JT started expanding offshore aggressively through acquisitions. Another reason for JT’s acquisitions is a shrinking population and a stagnating smoking rate in its home market.

In the past, JT has actively acquired businesses not only in the tobacco space but also in the food and pharma sectors, both in its home country and overseas. These include the non-U.S. tobacco business of RJR Nabisco in 1999 for $7.8bn and Britain’s Gallaher Group for $11.4bn in 2007.

JT eventually wants to become the world’s largest cigarette manufacturer with brands such as Winston, Camel and Mevius, overtaking leader Philip Morris International and second-ranked British American Tobacco.