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February, 2016:

Lad horrifically burned after e-cig bursts into ‘exploding firework’

A BLOKE ended up with second and third degree burns when his e-cig exploded.

NASTY: Alex suffered serious burns to body when the device set alight

NASTY: Alex suffered serious burns to body when the device set alight

Alex Stojadinovic, 26, was severely scorched on his hands and legs when the device combusted as he was in his car.

Alex, a social worker from Bedford, said that his device burst into a “foot long fire” and left him with second and third degree burns to his legs and hands.

“I couldn’t feel my left hand, my trousers were melted to my leg. I was black on my leg and hand,” says Alex.

He was hospitalised for a week and required skin grafts to help repair some of the damage caused.

BURNED: Alex's injuries

BURNED: Alex’s injuries

The horrific incident occurred after Alex was having an evening out with a service user who suffers from Down’s Syndrome.

It was cold so the pair jumped straight in the car, meaning Alex left the e-cig in his pocket rather than taking it out as he usually does.

But as Alex began to drive away, the e-cig exploded.

“We exit the car park and within five minutes I hear a very, very loud hiss coming from my pocket,” says Alex.


PAINFUL: Alex had painful burns all over his legs

“As I look down, it literally burst into a flame and went into a foot-long fire almost like a flare.

“I’m driving at this point and I somehow managed to pull my car over with my right hand but as I was doing that, I tried grab it out with my left,” he added.

At this point, Alex says he didn’t feel any pain and began to drive to the hospital with his worried friend.

He was transferred to Stoke Mandeville Hospital, Bucks, to be seen by a specialist burns unit.

Luckily he is now making a recovery.

Earlier this week, another bloke was out shopping when an e-cig battery exploded in his pocket.

He was also rushed to hospital with serious burns to his leg.

Thai tobacco maker plans cheap cigarettes to offset new tax

BANGKOK (AP) — Thailand’s state tobacco company said Saturday that it would launch a new, cheaper brand of cigarettes to keep smokers from rolling their own or buying illegally imported untaxed ones due to higher prices from a recently imposed tax hike.

The plan announced by the Thailand Tobacco Monopoly was denounced by anti-smoking activists who just weeks ago applauded the tax hike as a useful deterrent to smoking.

Daonoi Suttiniphapunt, director of Thailand Tobacco Monopoly, said the new brand, which will be slightly smaller in diameter than standard brands, will cost about 40 baht ($1.12) a pack and be launched on April 1. Other brands now range from about 48 to 130 baht ($1.34 to $3.64) a pack, she said.

“We are concerned that smokers will choose other alternatives that will severely harm their bodies, such as low-quality hand-rolling tobacco,” she said in a telephone interview. “They don’t use good quality material, they use no filters and there is a lot more residue. … They might put filters in, but in the process … there is usually more residue such as tar and nicotine than in legal cigarettes.”

According to Daonoi, there are 10.5 to 11 million smokers in Thailand.

“Those who have financial limitations, they will go to cheaper and low-quality products because they have no choice,” she said. “Quitting cigarettes is not easy.”

Dr. Ulysses Dorotheo, a program director for the Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance, scoffed at the reasoning for producing cheaper cigarettes.

“All tobacco products are harmful to health regardless of their form or source, whether roll-your-own or manufactured cigarettes, whether legal or illicit,” he said in an email. “It is a farce to believe that tobacco companies are interested in protecting the health of smokers by promoting the access and use of cheap legal cigarettes.”

“Producing cheap cigarettes that are affordable to the poor and the young is a strategy common to all tobacco manufacturers, whether private or state-owned, to keep tobacco products affordable in order to keep poor people addicted, entice young people to start smoking, and ultimately to maintain industry profits,” he said.

His organization previously praised Thai authorities for increasing the price of domestically produced cigarettes this month by 5 to 10 baht (14 to 28 cents), saying it was a good example of trying to improve public health through tax policy.

TTM’s Daonoi said that after the recent tax hike of about 3 percent, tobacco sales fell and the market size shrank by more than 2 percent.

Surprise man recovering from e-cig explosion

SURPRISE, Ariz. – David Garcia said he’d never heard of an e-cigarette exploding before it happened to him.

Garcia said he put a spare set of batteries in his pocket before he got into his car. A few minutes later, Garcia said those batteries exploded and his pants were on fire.

“As I got into the turn lane, my pocket just combusted and it just lit up like the Fourth of July,” Garcia said. “I called my wife screaming, ‘I’m on fire!'”

Garcia spent a week at the Arizona Burn Center at Maricopa Medical Center recovering from second- and third-degree burns to his leg and hand. Doctors gave him a skin graft on his leg and told him he likely has weeks of recovery.

“It’s a fairly common problem,” Dr. Kevin Foster of the Arizona Burn Center said. “We’ve seen two or three of these cases here in the last couple of months.”

The problem, experts said, is due to the lithium batteries that power the e-cigarettes. Kevin Russell, a manager at Vape Escapes in North Phoenix, said the batteries are covered in plastic to protect them, but that plastic can be damaged or chipped away.

If the metal is exposed, he said, any contact with another piece of metal will cause the batteries to “vent”, or explode. In Garcia’s case, Russell said it’s likely the other piece of metal was the second battery in his pocket.

“If there’s any tearing or damage around the outside of the wrap and metal connects with it,” Russell said, “whether it be an additional battery, a coin or a key, it can cause the battery to short out.”

Garcia’s family have started a GoFundMe account to help with expenses. Garcia said he was supposed to be staying home with their newborn son after his wife’s maternity leave ran out, but now that’s not possible.

Valley man recovering after e-cig explosion

PHOENIX (KSAZ) – Smoking electronic cigarettes, or “vaping” has become a popular substitute for cigarettes.

But one Valley man has a warning for users after he says the battery for his device exploded in his pocket.

The only thing he had in his pocket were two batteries for his e-cig. He spent a week at the Maricopa Medical Center’s Burn Unit, and doctors say he isn’t the first.

“It sounded like you had a pocket full of fireworks going off,” said David Garcia.

Garcia has 2nd and 3rd-degree burns mostly on his right leg. He spent seven days in the hospital, where doctors did skin graphs on his leg, and his fingers were also badly burned. He was driving when something in his pocket exploded.

“It just ignites, it just burst into flames. I knew I didn’t light it or anything; there was no reason for this flame to be 8-12 inches from my leg,” he said.

Garcia got out of his car and removed his shorts which were on fire.

“That is when I noticed it was the batteries, they had fallen out at that time,” said Garcia.

An e-cig battery is also being blamed for an incident at a gas station in Kentucky. The victim also had serious burns on his legs.

“The e-cigarettes are powered by a lithium-ion battery, and that battery can overheat, and then it can explode, and the whole unit can explode,” said Dr. Kevin Foster.

Foster says there’s been an increase in patients with burns from exploding e-cig batteries.

“I can remember 3 of them in the last 3-4 months, and two of them in the last month,” said Foster.

Garcia is now back home but has a message to users of the e-cigs.

“These things aren’t as safe as they say they are, you know I started vaping to quit cigarettes, and it worked for that, since the fire I have quit vaping as well now,” said Garcia.

He is now exploring whether to file a lawsuit against the battery maker.


Tobacco plain packaging has been a remarkable success, and has already saved thousands of lives, according to the Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA) and other groups.

A report released today concludes that the effects of plain packaging are “underestimated” but these positive outcomes are expected to grow.

Plain packaging, which was a first for Australia, was introduced in December 2012 by the Gillard Government. Researchers now believe it has been essential in the decline of smoking rates.

PHAA Tobacco spokesperson Professor Mike Daube, who chaired the Australian government’s expert committee says “it is great news for everyone except big tobacco”.

“We know that smoking in adults and children and cigarette sales are declining, but it is especially rewarding that this meticulous independent analysis attributes part of that decline to plain packaging alone, even within its first three years.”

He adds that the plain packaging legislation has resulted in a stunning outcome.

“Even leaving aside the rest of the decline, and impacts on children, plain packaging alone has been responsible for tens of thousands of adults quitting since its introduction in late 2012.”

PHAA chief executive Michael Moore claims that plain packaging is a proven success.

“It is saving lives even in the short term, and will save many more in the years to come. No wonder the tobacco industry opposed it so desperately. All their arguments have failed, and plain packaging has become one of Australia’s most successful exports.”

“We congratulate all major parties for their continuing support of tobacco control and plain packaging. This is a triumph for public health and for a bipartisan approach to our largest preventable cause of death and disease. There is still work to be done, and the tobacco companies and their allies will do everything they can to keep selling their lethal products. This early outcome shows that the legislation is working, and Australia is winning the war on tobacco.”

Also the National Heart Foundation welcomed the results of the report.

Adding further credence to the results, the report also concluded that “this effect is likely understated and is expected to grow over time,” it said in a media statement today, adding it was another win against so-called “big tobacco”.

The figures come from the Government’s Tobacco Plain Packaging – Post Implementation Review that confirms approximately one quarter of the total decline in smoking rates were attributable to plain packaging since the legislation was introduced in December 2012.

National Heart Foundation tobacco control spokesperson, and President of the Australian Council on Smoking and Health, Maurice Swanson says this report sends a clear message that plain packaging on tobacco products works.

“The report undeniably shows that the legislation is working and has been the catalyst for tens of thousands of adults quitting and saved the lives of many thousands of Australians,” says Swanson

“The legislation was always designed for long-term impact and if these results are merely the start of the journey, a smoke-free Australia could one day be a reality.”

Tobacco Plain Packaging Post–implementation Review – Department of Health

In April 2010 the then Prime Minister announced a decision to require all tobacco products to be sold in plain packaging. The regulation also standardised the appearance of the tobacco products themselves.

A Regulation Impact Statement (RIS) was required but not finalised before the decision. Consequently, under the Government’s best practice regulation process a Post‑implementation Review (PIR) was required.

The measure was fully implemented from 1 December 2012.

A PIR was completed by the Department of Health in February 2016 and was assessed as compliant by the Office of Best Practice Regulation (OBPR). Regulatory costings have been agreed with the OBPR.

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Tobacco industry attacks WHO, but only incriminates itself

The tobacco industry lost the health argument 50 years ago, and in the past decade the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) developed the antidote to reverse the smoking epidemic. However the tobacco industry is stepping up direct attacks, particularly at WHO. Recently the industry took pot shots yet again at WHO and the FCTC Conference of the Parties (COP) in its mouthpiece, Tobacco Reporter. The article, (Snail Mail, Jan 2016) makes several ludicrous accusations against both WHO and the COP but ends up only incriminating itself. We pull quotes from the article and provide our response.

TR: “Most of the besuited classes that turn up at COP7 will have few insights into the lives of the financially impoverished people who tend to make up the world’s smokers.”

SEATCA: In reality the tobacco industry has been making billions in profits from selling cigarettes to financially impoverished people all over the world. Eighty percent of the world’s 1.2 billion smokers are in developing countries. Studies have shown that in the poorest households in many low-income countries, spending on tobacco products often represents more than 10% of total household expenditure. Don’t forget the famous response from the R.J. Reynolds executive when asked why he didn’t smoke: “We don’t smoke that shit! We just sell it. We reserve the right to smoke for the young, the poor, the black and the stupid.”

TR: “People who turn up at COP7 will almost certainly be well-fed and cossetted”

SEATCA: Government officials make up the bulk of the delegates who attend the COP and it seems the industry has no qualms insulting them.

TR: “Wonder whether these smokers really want to trade in what is possibly one of the few enjoyments they have for the few extra years of poverty and struggle …”

SEATCA: Most smokers started smoking when they were still minors and did not know any better. Most smokers (70%) want to quit. What the industry refers to flippantly as “few enjoyments” actually leads to illness for many million smokers. Worldwide, about 6 million people die each year , often painfully, because of smoking. This not only affects smokers – it devastates families, emotionally and financially.

TR: “There are far too many people demonizing smokers…”

SEATCA: The FCTC does not demonise smokers. It does the reverse to help smokers quit. Smokers are addicted to nicotine and exposed to the thousands of harmful chemical compounds in the product. Two out three of the tobacco industry’s long term customers die prematurely because of their smoking, however the industry continues to push this harmful product. FCTC measures are aimed squarely at the industry, protecting non-smokers and supporting smokers to quit.

TR: “… making decisions about cigarette smoking without understanding it.”

SEATCA: There is no misunderstanding because the evidence is in – cigarette smoke contains 7,000 chemical compounds, many of which are carcinogenic.

TR: “People choose to smoke.”

SEATCA: Nicotine addiction is not a choice. Most smokers want to quit but find it hard – the addiction is potent displaying similarities to hard drugs such as cocaine and heroin. For decades, the tobacco industry denied or downplayed the harms of tobacco, and it has engineered its products to enhance their addictiveness. It has fought regulations to protect non-smokers from cigarette smoke, restrictions on advertising, and health warnings to inform the public about the danger of smoking.

The WHO is fulfilling its responsibility to support 180 governments’ obligation to implement the FCTC to reduce tobacco use and reverse the smoking epidemic to save lives. An industry that continues to peddle a product that kills has lost the basic concept of humanity.

Shame on the tobacco industry for exploiting the poor and taking pot shots at the WHO and the COP.

MEPs split on tobacco deal with PMI

Several members of the European Parliament proposed to EU commissioner Kristalina Georgieva on Thursday (25 February) that there should be an extension of the 12-year tobacco agreement with Philip Morris International (PMI) when it expires in July, while others called on her to let the deal lapse.

“Going back in history, the parliament was very supportive of signing the agreement for a reason, because at that time we had nothing,” Georgieva told MEPs at a plenary session.

“Now the parliament is not so supportive, there are diverging views. Why? Because we have better tools to fight illegal smuggling. But we don’t quite have them just yet.”

The EU and member states signed an agreement with PMI in 2004, which made them partners in the fight against cigarette smuggling and counterfeiting, and included the tobacco multinational transferring around €1 billion over a 12-year period.

Since then, the EU has also signed similar agreements with the three other major tobacco firms, but the PMI one is the first to expire, on 9 July.

But the EU has also adopted a tobacco products directive that covers many aspect of the agreement, and it has also signed up to a World Health Organisation treaty that discourages cooperation with the tobacco industry.

“We have new tools today. The world has changed,” the Bulgarian commissioner said.

However, it will still take three years before the directive is in force, and an estimated six years before the WHO treaty is in place.

“Now the question is whether or not between today and the time when we have the directive in place – 2019 – or the time when we have the protocol enacted in 2022 – we still need a legally binding instrument to fight illegal trade,” she said.

Bridging deal

Some MEPs advocated for a bridging deal, while others said that the agreement should not be renewed.

“Nobody is saying the existing agreements are perfect, in fact they are far from perfect,” said centre-left British MEP Derek Vaughan. But he advocated for an extension “at least as interim measure before the WHO protocol is put in place”, adding that the new deal should be more transparent.

Dutch MEP Dennis de Jong said his group, the far left GUE, is against a renewal.

“The most important argument is that WHO rules require any appearance of a conflict of interest should be avoided. We should not become dependent on money that has blood sticking to it,” said De Jong.

Divided house

While many MEPs were critical of the commission, there was no clear agreement on the deal – even members of the same group were expressing different views.

Georgieva said the commission would “take this debate into account so we can make an informed decision in the near future, in the next weeks”.

But with the house divided and no clear majority either way, the commission will have little difficulty to pursue its own desired path and to point to the “divergence” in opinions in parliament.

The MEPs will vote on a non-binding text about the PMI agreement in the second week of March during their session in Strasbourg, which should show a clearer picture of the opinion of the parliamentarians.

But Georgieva did not answer the question from one MEP if the commission would await the results of the resolution before making up its mind.

When this website put the same question to the European Commission, a spokesperson only referred back to what Georgieva had (not) said.

The long-awaited assessment

The debate in Brussels took place a day after the commission published its long-awaited “technical assessment” of the PMI deal. The document said that, although there was no causal relation that could be proved, the evidence suggested the PMI deal had helped to reduce cigarette smuggling.

It questioned whether the agreement was still relevant today, but noted that it is up to the college of commissioners to decide whether or not it should be renewed. However, it contained few solid arguments for the commission to base such a renewal on.

“I’m sorry, but I do not believe that there are sufficient elements [in the assessment] to renew the existing agreement,” said Green Belgian MEP Bart Staes. His colleague from the centre-right group, Graessle, however said she “could use the same arguments and reach another conclusion”.

In any case, most MEPs agreed they have had to wait far too long for the 31-page report, for which some MEPs have been asking since 2014.

“When the commission ignores the parliament’s request for over two years and turns up [with the report] just before the debate, that is just an example of how real power lies with the commission rather than with the parliament,” said the British eurosceptic MEP Jonathan Arnott, of the UK Independence Party.

“A student could have done this work in less than six months, whereas the commission took 18 months,” said French Green MEP Jose Bove.

But according to Georgieva, it took so long because of the nature of the research. Trying to clarify the causal relation a single agreement had on an illicit activity such as cigarette smuggling is a methodological nightmare.

“There have been very fair comments made that it has taken the Commission time to complete the assessment. Just listening to us in this chamber, the divergence of views, the difficulty of questions that are being asked, this is why it has taken us so much time,” said Georgieva.

Incidentally, many of the points in the assessment, have been made by previous publications, including in EUobserver’s reporting.

This Is What Happens When an E-Cig Explodes in Your Pocket

An Owensboro, Kentucky man was sent to the hospital for second-degree burns last weekend, when his e-cig battery exploded like a firework in his pocket. And he hasn’t been the only one with such luck.

Surveillance footage from a Shell gas station’s security camera caught the incident on tape Saturday morning. The man was about to pay at the register, when a Roman candle-like blast burst from his pants and sent sparks flying. He ran out onto the sidewalk, wrestled off his pants, and was then blasted by a gas station attendant with a fire extinguisher.

It’s not the first time an e-cigarette battery has been reported to explode. Just a couple weeks ago, a Texas man also suffered serious burns with a spare e-cig battery went boom in his pants pocket. He, too, was at a convenience store, when the battery blew up and fused part of his jeans to his leg. Yet another man earlier this month in Texas suffered burns, his first degree, when a vape battery blew up in his pants.

We’ll have to see if e-cig batteries, like hoverboards, will soon be banned from subways, planes, colleges, and anywhere else that isn’t keen on sudden explosions. The cause of the e-cig blasts is still unclear.

Tobacco industry ‘should be sued by government’ over smokers’ health costs

Clear the Air says:
When can we expect this insipid SAR Government to stand up for its citizens’ rights and sue Big Tobacco in Hong Kong for the costs of health care caused by their wretched product ?

Don’t hold your breath.
It seems the Financial Secretary, aka the Almighty, prefers the Profits Tax income from the enhanced addictive drug peddling murderers instead.

Australian Council on Smoking and Health says new research showing smokers’ mortality rates is ‘a national catastrophe’

The Australian government should sue the tobacco industry after landmark research found Australian smokers have a three times greater chance of dying today than a lifelong non-smoker, the president of the Australian Council on Smoking and Health says.

Up to 1.8m of Australia’s 2.7m smokers are likely to die from their habit if they continue to smoke, losing an average of 10 years of life expectancy, the first Australian large-scale study on smoking and mortality, published in the international journal BMC Medicine, found.

The study findings highlighted the extreme hazards faced by the 13% of Australians who smoked, an author of the study and director of the University of Melbourne’s global burden of disease group, Professor Alan Lopez, said.

“Australia still has a smoking problem,” he said. “Saying Australians are getting fatter, and shifting the focus towards diet and obesity should not mean we forget about tobacco, which is still a major public health problem.”

The research was led by Sydney’s Sax Institute using data from their 45 and Up study. Researchers linked health information from 204,953 study participants aged 45 and over from NSW, with data from the register of births, deaths and marriages.

Previous research from the Sax Institute found pack-a-day smokers had a fourfold risk of dying early, while the risk of death for lighter smokers was more than doubled.

The president of the Australian Council on Smoking and Health, Mike Daube, said the study revealed smoking as a “national catastrophe” because even though Australia had among the lowest smoking rates in the word, its effects were widespread.

“That smoking will kill 7.5% of Australians means it deserves a massively increased focus, and we need to keep increasing taxes on tobacco, step up public health campaigns and limit the number of outlets that sell it,” Daube said.

“It is time for the Australian government to follow what the US did about 20 years ago and sue the tobacco industry for costs incurred because of smoking, and force them to make internal documents public.

“That would bring in tens of billions of dollars which would help the budget, and enable stronger action on smoking.”

Known as the Master Settlement Agreement, the 1998 court action involved 46 US states and several of the largest US tobacco companies. The tobacco industry was forced to pay the states more than US$200bn in compensation and make public previously secret documents.

The chief executive of the Public Health Association of Australia, Michael Moore, said the research confirmed smoking as Australia’s most preventable cause of death and disease, killing even more people than previously believed.

It meant politicians and policymakers must do “everything possible” to encourage smokers to quit, he said.

“We cannot stand by and see yet more generations of Australians dying, often painful deaths, because they smoked,” he said.

“Public health leaders campaign on smoking not because of any moral fervour, but because it kills people. Now we know that it kills even more than we had thought. That is cause for deep concern and a call for strengthened action.”