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March, 2016:

Tobacco point-of-sale advertising in downtown Buenos Aires, Argentina and compliance with the new tobacco advertising restrictions


Despite increased awareness of the health threat posed by tobacco use, Latin America continues to experience high smoking rates. Argentina is no exception, where an estimated 22.1% of adults were smokers in 2012.1 Prior to 2011, few limitations were placed on the advertisement of tobacco products in Argentina, and any restrictions were largely self-imposed by the tobacco companies.2

On 14 June 2011, Argentina enacted the ‘National Law of Tobacco Control: Law 26.687’. This law provides 42 articles that address tobacco advertising, packaging, product composition, sale/distribution, secondhand smoke, and preventive education. Notably, it largely prohibits all forms of tobacco advertisements except for those indoors at the point of sale (PoS) (table 1).3 Unfortunately it is unclear how many convenience stores are compliant with its provisions.


To investigate the compliance with the new restrictions, we surveyed all convenience stores (n=137) found in an 8 by 7 block area of Buenos Aires from July to August of 2014. This area was selected due …

E-cigs firms call for regulation rather than ban

Undersecretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan Siu-chee said last month the government is considering prohibiting the import, manufacture, sale, distribution and advertising of e-cigarettes.

Under the current Pharmacy and Poisons Ordinance, if an e-cigarette contains more than 0.1 percent of nicotine, it is categorized as a Part I poison. E-cigarettes containing nicotine are considered pharmaceutical products, and subject to the ordinance on safety, quality and efficacy.

The Asian Vape Association, formed by 10 e-cigarette companies in Hong Kong, claimed that a complete ban would create a black market and drive e-smokers back to conventional cigarettes.

The group is calling for a “balanced” regulatory approach, such as prohibiting sales to minors, imposing quality control standards, and ensuring that any reduced- risk-related information is substantiated.

“E-cigarettes are devices that do not contain tobacco leaf and have the ability to reduce the harm to smokers caused through heating and vaporizing a liquid solution,” association chairman Nav Lalji said.

Quoting a survey by a research company, Ipsos, from May to June last year, Lalji said nearly nine in 10 adult smokers agreed they should have access to products that are scientifically proven to reduce smoking.

The survey polled 414 Hongkongers aged over 18. Of these, 63 percent agreed that e-cigarettes represent a positive alternative to cigarettes, and 66 percent said they would consider switching if e-cigarettes were legal, met quality and safety standards, and were readily available.

According to a 2014 World Health Organization report, most electronic nicotine delivery system, or ENDS, products have not been tested by independent scientists, but the limited testing has revealed wide variations in the nature of the toxicity of contents and emissions.

“Short-term effects of ENDS use include eye and respiratory irritation caused by exposure to propylene glycol. Serious short-term health problems may occur but are very rare,” the report read.

Asked if he recognized e-cigarettes are somehow harmful to health, Lalji said: “There may or may not be potential risks. But it is definitely less than the [traditional] cigarettes.”

Smoke without fire – Japan becomes test ground for real tobacco e-cigarette

Two tobacco giants are seeing strong demand for their reboots of the e-cigarette in Japan, with Philip Morris International (PM.N) twice postponing a nationwide rollout and Japan Tobacco (2914.T) suspending shipments – both due to supply shortages.

Japan has become a key testing ground for the two companies and their new, real tobacco esmokes as they grapple with shrinking demand for traditional cigarettes in other developed countries.

Philip Morris, the world’s largest tobacco company, has postponed the nationwide rollout of its iQOS to April 18.

“We believe that the success of iQOS commercialisation in Japan will accelerate its global expansion,” Philip Morris Japan president Paul Riley told Reuters.

Japan Tobacco CEO Mitsuomi Koizumi told an earnings briefing in February: “We have very high expectations for growth of the so-called tobacco vapour category in five years or so from now.”

The iQOS is a tobacco stick that is heated just enough to produce an aerosol but not combust. The company is betting the presence of real tobacco will make it more satisfying to smokers than existing e-cigarettes.

The new device, priced at 9,980 yen (£62.5), appears similar to other e-cigarettes in that it is pen-shaped and battery-powered, and is heated to release tobacco vapour.

A key distinction is the refills, sold as Marlboro HeatSticks. Most e-cigarettes sold elsewhere use nicotine-laced liquid, which is heavily regulated in Japan. A pack of 20 HeatSticks sells for 460 yen, the same as regular Marlboro cigarettes.

Philip Morris has introduced the products in major cities in Switzerland, Italy and other countries, but Japan is the first country it plans a nationwide release.

The company had originally planned to sell the product throughout Japan on March 1, but postponed the launch to the end of the month due to a potential supply shortage after it saw stronger-than-expected sales in 12 prefectures where it has been test marketing.

The company estimates the market share of Marlboro HeatSticks reached 2.4 percent in Tokyo at the end of January.

Japan Tobacco, which commands about 60 percent of Japan’s cigarette market and is the world’s third-largest tobacco maker, has also got in on the action by acquiring two overseas ecigarette makers in the past two years.

In Japan, it has launched the Ploom TECH, priced at 4,000 yen and sold with 460-yen packs of five capsules. Ploom TECH’s selling point is that vapour generated from a liquid cartridge passes through the capsules’ granulated tobacco, creating a taste the company says is close to the real thing.

“There is definitely a need for products that are smokeless but are still satisfying as cigarettes,” said Masanao Takahashi, director at Japan Tobacco’s emerging products marketing division.

Like iQOS, Ploom TECH’s initial launch in the southern Japanese city of Fukuoka proved so popular that the shipment of the device were suspended after a week due to a supply shortage.

It is currently working on a nationwide launch and is also eyeing a global expansion later this year.

Is America’ First Tobacco-Free Generation Just Around The Corner?

Globally, for the last 50 years we have known that people who smoke cigarettes are more likely to develop and die from certain diseases than people who don’t smoke. In America alone, more than 20 million people have died because of smoking since 1964. However, 2.5 million were also nonsmokers who died, because they inhaled secondhand smoke, which is air polluted by other people’s cigarette smoke. Sadly, it is not only adults who are at risk, as about half of all the children between ages three and 18 years in the U.S. are exposed to cigarette smoke regularly, either at home or in places such as restaurants that still allow smoking.

For decades, the tobacco industry has been encouraging us to smoke through images that make smoking appealing in films and on television. As a result of this marketing by the tobacco industry, more than 3,200 children younger than 18 years old smoke their first cigarette every day in America. Nearly nine out of 10 smokers start before the age of 18, and 98 percent start smoking by the age of 26. Every adult who dies early because of smoking is replaced by two new, young smokers; if current risks hold, one of the two also will die early from smoking.

Many smokers choose to smoke in spite knowing the health risks because they are addicted to the nicotine in the tobacco. It only takes ten seconds for the nicotine from one puff of smoke to reach the brain and this rapid delivery of nicotine from the lungs to the brain is one of the reasons that cigarettes are so addictive. The nicotine causes cells in the brain to release dopamine; one of the main effects of dopamine released in the brain is to create a heightened sense of alertness and contentment. Over time, the brain cells of smokers are changed to expect the regular bursts of extra dopamine that result from smoking. When a smoker tries to quit, these brain changes cause strong cravings for more nicotine.

So, what will it take to be the first tobacco-free generation in America? Is it at all possible? Attempting to create this change is CVS Health, which has launched Be The First, a $50 million, five-year commitment, funded through the company and the CVS Health Foundation, to help deliver the nation’s first tobacco-free generation through education, advocacy, tobacco control and healthy behavior programming. The CVS Health Foundation has partnered with Scholastic, the global children’s publishing, education and media company, to introduce a school-based tobacco-prevention education program that teaches children about the health consequences of tobacco use and why it’s important to never start.

Combustible cigarettes cost less to use than e-cigarettes

Global evidence and tax policy implications



Some scholars suggest that price differences between combustible cigarettes and e-cigarettes could be effective in moving current combustible smokers to e-cigarettes, which could reduce tobacco-related death and disease. Currently, in most jurisdictions, e-cigarettes are not subject to the same excise taxes as combustible cigarettes, potentially providing the category with a price advantage over combustible cigarettes. This paper tests whether e-cigarettes tax advantage has translated into a price advantage.


In a sample of 45 countries, the price of combustible cigarettes, disposable e-cigarettes and rechargeable cigarettes were compared.


Comparable units of combustible cigarettes cost less than disposable e-cigarettes in almost every country in the sample. While the e-liquids consumed in rechargeable e-cigarettes might cost less per comparable unit than combustible cigarettes, the initial cost to purchase a rechargeable e-cigarette presents a significant cost barrier to switching from smoking to vaping.


Existing prices of e-cigarettes are generally much higher than of combustible cigarettes. If policymakers wish to tax e-cigarettes less than combustibles, forceful policy action—almost certainly through excise taxation—must raise the price of combustible cigarettes beyond the price of using e-cigarettes.

Vietnamese tobacco firm banned from producing cigarettes of Indonesian brands

Vietnam’s Ministry of Science and Technology has barred a Vietnamese cigarette producer from registering and producing two brands of an Indonesian tobacco company, citing its recent document sent to the Government Office and the Ministry of Industry and Trade.

The document states that the Science and Technology Ministry disapproves of Vietnam National Tobacco Corporation (Vinataba) registering JET and HERO – two products of Sumatra Tobacco Trading Company (STTC) – as the North Sumatra-based firm had objected to such a move.

In July 2015, Vinataba’s leader, via a lawyer, claimed in a proposal to the national office of intellectual property that STTC had not registered the trademarks in Vietnam for the past five years without reason, thus requesting to register the aforementioned, the ministry said.

The Vietnamese company also said it would produce the two types of cigarettes or their equivalents, reasoning that the two brands are contraband goods in Vietnam and STTC is involved in an illegal trade, the ministry added.

But the proposal was denied due to a lack of evidence that proved STTC was involved in smuggling, notwithstanding the fact that smuggling is not a legal ground to force the firm to cancel its trademarks since the products are officially retailed by its partner in Vietnam, namely Southern Airports Services Joint Stock Company.

The Science and Technology Ministry thus “granted no approval to the trademark cancelation proposal by Vinataba.”

A spokesperson of the industry-trade ministry said that Vinataba has little to no chance to register JET and HERO, adding that the firm would produce none of the brands, stating that such products are manufactured only after the trademark registration has been done.

The two brands are not the cause of tobacco smuggling in Vietnam, the Indonesian company asserted.

JET and HERO products account for more than 90 percent of the contraband cigarette market in Vietnam, according to the Vietnam Tobacco Association.

Both of the products breach a number of regulations on tobacco management stipulated by Vietnamese law, the association said.

JET and HERO brands are sold without the picture-based health warning, place and year of manufacture, nor the expiration date.

The toxicity of the two products is also far higher than the rates allowed by the Vietnamese Ministry of Health.

It is estimated that smoking will cause sickness or early death in 2.3 million Vietnamese even if they only smoke one cigarette a day.

Cigarette trafficking occurs at the Vietnam-Cambodia border gates including Svayrieng in Long An Province, Bavet and Moc Bai in Tay Ninh Province, and Ta Mau Kirivong and Xa Xia in Tay Ninh, domestic newswire VietnamNet revealed.

In 2013, 21.9 billion untaxed and illegal cigarettes were smuggled into Vietnam, said a report by Oxford Economics and the International Tax and Investment Center in September 2014.

A 2013 report by the Vietnam Tobacco Association showed that the country consumed a total of 4.174 billion packs of cigarettes in 2012.

Tobacco firm ‘paid bribes’ to wreck health treaty

THE Serious Fraud Office is investigating British American Tobacco (BAT) over alleged corruption after documents and secret tape recordings were passed to its staff in Kenya and South Africa.

The company, whose brands include Benson & Hedges, Dunhill and Lucky Strike, was allegedly involved in bribing politicians and government officials from at least five African nations in a covert campaign to undermine a United Nations public health treaty.

Kenya’s anti-corruption commission said last week it was working with the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) and Britain’s National Crime Agency to investigate alleged “bribery and tax evasion”.

It is understood that officials are also examining claims that payments were made by a BAT intelligence unit in London to a network of people in Africa, including police officers, to disrupt the activities of commercial rivals

Hong Kong Customs detects suspected sea-smuggling case

Hong Kong (HKSAR) – Hong Kong Customs detected a suspected case of smuggling and seized suspected illicit cigarettes, suspected duty-not-paid motor spirit and manufactured fireworks, valued at about $120,000 in total with duty potential of about $80,000, from a motorised sampan in the southern waters of Hong Kong yesterday (March 25).

Yesterday afternoon Customs officers intercepted a suspicious motorised sampan in the southern waters off Cheung Chau. A total of about 40 000 sticks of suspected illicit cigarettes, 150 litres of suspected duty-not-paid motor spirit and 26 kilograms of manufactured fireworks were found on board. One man and two women, aged between 55 and 69, on board were arrested and the motorised sampan was also detained.

The case is still under investigation.

Under the Dutiable Commodities Ordinance, anyone involved in dealing with or possessing illicit cigarettes or motor spirit commits an offence. The maximum penalty on conviction is imprisonment for two years and a fine of $1 million. Under the Dangerous Goods Ordinance, anyone involved in possessing manufactured fireworks commits an offence.

The maximum penalty on conviction is imprisonment for six months and a fine of $25,000.

Membersofthe public are urged to report any suspected smuggling activities to the Customs’ 24-hour hotline at 2545 6182.

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Barcelona open doors of Camp Nou stadium to fans for Johan Cruyff memorial

“A one-time heavy smoker who gave up after double heart by-pass surgery in 1991, Cruyff revealed in October last year that he had lung cancer.”

Smoking kills famous people, rich people, poor people alike.

Two in every three smokers will die from smoking related illnesses.

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Barcelona fans will flock to the cavernous Camp Nou stadium on Saturday to pay their final respects to football legend Johan Cruyff, the man who engineered some of the club’s greatest triumphs.

Cruyff, 68, died on Thursday after a battle with lung cancer.

The Spanish giants said a memorial space at the famous ground will open to the public throughout the day where fans can leave messages to their former star and coach.

Workers were building the installation on Friday, with a sign bearing the words “Thank you, Johan” on the front of a tribune bearing a photo of the Dutchman.

I knew nothing about football before knowing Cruyff Pep Guardiola

Fans as well as tourists had already placed tributes at the entrance to the ground on Friday, including roses and lollipops.

Cruyff often patrolled the touchline sucking on a lollipop which became his prop after he stopped smoking cigarettes.

On Friday night, the Netherlands’ international against France in Amsterdam was halted in the 14th minute as a mark of respect.

A huge portrait banner showing Cruyff and his familiar Dutch orange number 14 shirt was hauled across one end of the ArenA stadium in his home city as fans and players applauded.

A seat covered with flowers and a number 14 shirt was left empty in the VIP stand at a game which saw the Dutch slip to a 3-2 defeat against the hosts of the Euro 2016 tournament this summer.

It was the first time that an international has been halted for such a gesture.

“It was special,” said France coach Didier Deschamps. “A great man like Johan Cruyff deserved such a tribute and the stadium responded to him.”

In Cruyff’s childhood home area in the Amsterdam working class Betondorp (Concrete Town) neighbourhood, fans laid hundreds of flowers and other tributes.

“He was a god. He was football and he was the Netherlands,” a teary Peter Heysteeg, 52, said.

Leading football figures also highlighted the importance of Cruyff’s impact.

“I knew nothing about football before knowing Cruyff,” said Pep Guardiola, the Bayern Munich coach who played under Cruyff at Barcelona and later became its most successful coach.

“He helped us to understand football … and he encouraged you to trust your instinct, your nose. To make decisions,” Guardiola told Catalan radio station Rac1.

“He revolutionised football and, in particular, he embodied everything about Barcelona’s playing philosophy,” said Joachim Loew, coach of the German team who won the 2014 World Cup.

Pictures of Cruyff in his favourite shirt covered front pages around the world on Friday.

“Dutch Master” said the Dutch tabloid Algemeen Dagblad with a picture of a young Cruyff in full flight in the Ajax Amsterdam colours.

“Immortal” said De Telegraaf daily which also reported that Cruyff’s cremation was held on Friday although that was not confirmed by his family.

“Heaven has a new playmaker,” headlined the British tabloid, The Sun.