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June, 2016:

Do you know what’s in your cigarette that you are smoking?

Researchers reach all segments of the US population, especially those most vulnerable to tobacco product use and its associated health risks.

Do you know what’s in your cigarette? A recent study suggests that most of you don’t! The research found that there is little awareness of the chemical components of cigarette smoke amongst the US adults, even though many of them report having looked for relevant information. Researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill suggest that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) expand its messaging activities so that information about these constituents reaches all segments of the US population, especially those most vulnerable to tobacco product use and its associated health risks.

First author Marcella Boynton said that the majority of the U.S. public wants easy access to information about chemicals in cigarettes and other tobacco products. ‘Surprisingly, the results reveal that groups one might presume to be the least psychologically motivated to look for this information, young adults and smokers, were more likely to say that they had previously looked for this information.’ 27.5 percent adults reported having looked for information on the different components of tobacco products and tobacco smoke, many of which are known to be poisonous or cause cancer. Out of these adults, 37.2 percent were young adults and 34.3 percent were smokers.

Out of non-smokers and older adults, 26 percent reported having looked for information on tobacco constituents. However, with the exception of nicotine, most respondents were largely unaware of which constituents are present in cigarette smoke. Over half of respondents indicated that they would like relevant information to be available on cigarette packs, and 28.7 percent would prefer to access that information online. These results indicate that publication of tobacco constituent information is of interest to the public and could improve public health in the US where tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death and disease, the researchers suggest.

Boynton added that by making tobacco chemical information available to the public and tobacco industry practice more transparent, those seeking this information may be less likely to start smoking and more likely to quit because they will be better informed about the toxic chemicals present in tobacco products. The research team conducted a nationally representative telephone survey among 5,014 US adults aged 18 years and over. The study is published in the open access journal BMC Public Health.

Southeastern states not protected by comprehensive smoke-free laws

Stalled state-level progress since 2010 prolongs regional disparities

Ten years after the Surgeon General’s report on the dangers of exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke, no states in the Southeast have a statewide comprehensive smoke-free law, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published in today’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). A comprehensive smoke-free law is one prohibiting smoking in all private worksites, restaurants and bars.

Comprehensive smoke-free laws prohibit smoking in all indoor areas of worksites, restaurants, and bars. The number of states (including the District of Columbia) with comprehensive smoke-free laws increased from none in 2000 to 28 by June 9, 2016. Despite this progress, only two states (North Dakota and California) have achieved comprehensive smoke-free status since 2010. With California’s removal of exemptions in their smoke-free law on June 9, nearly 60 percent of Americans are now covered by comprehensive smoke-free laws at the state or local level, up from less than three percent in 2000.

In 14 of the 23 states with no comprehensive statewide smoke-free laws, local laws protect some residents. However, nine states lack any local or state comprehensive smoke-free law, including eight that prevent localities from passing smoke-free laws. Local protections vary widely. Local smoke-free laws protect 60 percent of West Virginians and more than 30 percent of Texans, South Carolinians, and Kentuckians. However, local laws protect only 2.4 percent of Georgians and less than 1 percent of people in Arkansas and Wyoming.


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Portland Council boosts minimum age to buy tobacco products

PORTLAND — Mayor Ethan Strimling did not expect that a move to honor former City Manager John Menario Monday would be contentious.

“I thought it would be a sleepy agenda item,” Strimling said of renaming the plaza outside the Temple Street parking garage to John E. Menario Plaza.

But Councilors were unanimous in their support at the meeting for two public health measures that were also taken up.

Menario served from 1967 to 1976, and began his work in city government in 1962. Lobsterman Park, outside the Nickelodeon Theater, will keep its name and iconic waterman statue.

Councilor Jon Hinck was the sole opposing vote.

“One thing that is very apparent is, City Manager John Menario was a great leader,” Hinck said, but Menario’s role in urban renewal projects led to Hinck’s opposition.

There was also public criticism of Menario for the widening of Spring and Franklin streets while portions of neighborhoods were torn down. In recent years, new plans have been suggested or are being implemented to reverse those decisions.

“We don’t need another space named for an old white man, and that is exactly what we are doing,” former mayoral candidate Tom MacMillan said. He found it more appropriate to name the actual Temple Street garage for Menario.

While standing on his record of service, Menario noted the city was very different when he first went to work in City Hall in 1962, saying conditions were of “deterioration and blight.”

This was especially true of the Old Port, he said.

“Very few people went into that area in the daytime, even fewer went through at night,” Menario said.

Councilors Jill Duson, Belinda Ray and Spencer Thibodeau said his work encompassed more than the fates of Spring and Franklin streets and needed to be viewed in context.

“This man served our city well and implemented decisions made by our council at the time,” Duson said.

Ray noted the council documents contained six pages of achievements under Menario’s tenure.

“He closed the open burning dump in the West End, which deserves recognition.”

Thibodeau and Duson said they would both begin working on naming city spaces for people of color and women, specifically with former state Rep. Gerald Talbot and former Councilor Cheryl Leeman in mind. Talbot was the first African American elected to the Maine House and Leeman served District 4 for 30 years through 2014.

Holm Avenue resident Robert Hains made his first appearance at a council meeting in six months to speak in support of Menario.

“I don’t think there is a finer person than John Menario to start the new process of naming public spaces,” he said.

Councilors unanimous voiced their support for two public health measures. The first amends the municipal employee health insurance policies to include health care services for transgender employees, effective Jan. 1.

A vote to increase the legal age for buying tobacco products from 18 to 21 was also approved and goes into effect in 30 days.

The amendment covering employees was co-sponsored by the entire council and was moved forward by Mayor Ethan Strimling and City Manager Jon Jennings after a meeting with members of the LGBTQ community.

The policy amendment was supported by speakers that included state Rep. Matt Moonen, D-Portland, who is also executive director of EqualityMaine; and Gia Drew, speaking on behalf of the Maine Transgender Network.

Before voting in favor of the amendment, Councilor Justin Costa apologized that the council action had taken so long and asked for more guidance to ensure the LGBTQ community needs are met.

No one spoke in opposition to the tobacco amendment, which covers smoking materials, smokeless tobacco products and vaporizers and electronic cigarettes.

Among those speaking in favor were Casco Bay High School students and sisters Tiana and Sophie Urey. They said the change would help prevent their peers from getting tobacco and developing addictions that could take years to break and possibly have severe health consequences

“My only regret is, we didn’t do this sooner,” Councilor Ed Suslovic said, but he conceded. “I’m not under the illusion this will prevent every teen from accessing tobacco.”

Former City Manager John Menario thanks councilors Monday night in City Hall after the plaza on Temple Street outsiude the parking garage was renamed in his honor.

US high court throws out EU suit, sides with RJRT

The Supreme Court sided with RJ Reynolds Tobacco (RJRT) in throwing out a suit by the European Union originally filed against RJR Nabisco and associated companies for alleged cigarette smuggling, the New York Times said.

The EU and 26 member states contended lost customs and tax revenue amounted to billions of dollars, the newspaper said on its website. The court in a 4-3 decision ruled RJR Nabisco, which ceased operating as a single entity in 1999, could not be sued under the RICO federal racketeering statute for conduct abroad, the Times said.

Supreme Court backs voiding of USD 10 bln judgement

The Supreme Court upheld a decision by the top Illinois state court to void a USD 10.1 billion (EUR 8.9 billion) award against Philip Morris USA, which would have been one of the largest ever for the cigarette maker, Reuters reported.

The appeal was based on a claim that one of the Illinois Supreme Court judges should have recused himself from the case because he received campaign contributions from a group funded in part by Philip Morris, the news agency said. The US high court rejected the appeal without comment.

Altria, the parent company of Philip Morris USA, welcomed the decision, which ends proceedings begun in 2000. PM USA was accused of deceiving Illinois smokers with claims of “light” cigarettes. The Illinois high court twice overturned a lower court award, first in 2005 and again in 2015.

Perceptual and experiential factors in switching to e-cigarettes

Exhaled aerosol particles e-cigs & cigarettes

Ask the Lawyer: What are the basics on suing tobacco companies?

Q Just what is the main theory against the tobacco companies now since it’s so well-known that smoking can cause harm?

— S.F., Wilmington

A Lawsuits against the tobacco companies date back more than 50 years, but allegations have changed as more information has come forward. Early reports linking cigarettes to cancer are found in the 1950s. Legal theories included product liability, negligent advertising and negligent manufacture. In the 1980s, in the landmark case of Cipollone v. Liggett, the plaintiff and her family alleged that cigarette manufacturers knew smoking caused lung cancer and was addictive, but did not warn consumers. Rose Cipollone’s husband was successful at trial, but the case was reversed on appeal. At that point, the tobacco companies were doing well in defending themselves.

In the 1990s, some plaintiffs began having at least limited success. Among other things, documents were leaked showing some cigarette companies were aware of tobacco’s addictive nature. Then, in February 2000, a California jury found against Philip Morris to the tune of $51.5 million in a case involving a smoker who had inoperable lung cancer. About the same time, more than 40 states sued the tobacco companies under consumer protection and antitrust laws.

More recently, decisions have at least opened the door for class actions. And individual lawsuits face arguably less difficult challenges given the increased awareness of the dangers of smoking. But tobacco litigation often involves complex legal theories, detailed scientific analysis and tenacious defense counsel. Claims may include failure to warn, fraud, negligence and product liability.

Q I see where the family of Tony Gwynn, the great San Diego Padres baseball player, has sued the tobacco industry for wrongful death. They contend his salivary gland cancer was associated with his many years of using smokeless tobacco. A bunch of players still seem to use the stuff. Is there any warning that has to be put on it?

— W.A., Redondo Beach

A Examples of smokeless tobacco are chewing tobacco, moist snuff and snuf. Under the federal Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Act, the package and advertisement must include one of the following warnings:

• This product can cause mouth cancer

• This product can cause gum disease and tooth loss

• This product is not a safe alternative to cigarettes

• Smokeless tobacco is addictive

Packages of smokeless tobacco must have the warning on the two principal sides, and cover at least 30 percent of each side. As to advertisements, the warning has to cover at least 20 percent of the area of the ad. These warning labels were required beginning in June 2010.

As to Tony Gwynn, I don’t know enough of the facts at this point, but his use of smokeless tobacco well preceded June 2010, when the act’s warnings became required.

Ron Sokol is a Manhattan Beach attorney with more than 30 years of experience. His column appears on Wednesdays. Email questions and comments to him at or write to him at Ask the Lawyer, Daily Breeze, 21250 Hawthorne Blvd., Suite 170, Torrance, CA 90503.

Study finds nicotine levels in e-cigarettes higher than label reflects

E-cigarettes have become a new trend among many teenagers and younger adults, and a new study says that labeling for these products could be incorrect.

About 50 percent of e-cigarette liquid labels aren’t accurately reflecting the nicotine levels found in the product, according to a recent study by the North Dakota Center for Tobacco Prevention and Control Policy.

The center says that in some cases products were almost 175 percent higher than labeled.

“When consumed in large amounts, e-cigs can cause health issues, dizziness, jitteriness. You know some people are very sensitive to nicotine and it can cause problems if they’re getting more than they think they are,” says Jeanne Prom, ND Center for Tobacco Prevention and Control Policy.

Starting in August, the Food and Drug Administration will ban the sale of e-cigarette and tobacco products to those under the age of 18. This is already a ban in North Dakota.