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June 11th, 2016:

Manchester: Crackdown sees smokers fined £4,000 for dropping cigarette butts

A major £15m crackdown in the city centre launched in November 2014 has seen more than 4,000 fines handed out to litterbugs, with thousands of pounds handed to the council.

Among those fined, 23 smokers have been fined a total of £4,000 for dropping cigarette butts.

They had all failed to pay a standard £80 fine within two weeks, which would have allowed them to escape prosecution.

Most were fined around £200 – and all but one had to also pay court costs of £118 and a victim surcharge of £20.

The vast majority of those found guilty faced a total bill of more than £300. The total owed to the council and the courts following the bumper magistrates session was £7,312.

Just three people appeared at Manchester magistrates’ court , with the remaining 20 failing to attend and being found guilty in their absence – or pleading guilty by post.

A major £15m crackdown in the city centre launched in November 2014 has seen more than 4,000 fines handed out to litterbugs, with thousands of pounds handed to the council.

And hundreds more have been hauled before the courts after refusing to pay on-the-spot fines.


A dedicated team of litter-busters work seven days a week looking out for people flouting the rules.

Most notices are issued on Market Street, High Street and Piccadilly Gardens.

As part of the crackdown, council bosses have installed nearly 700 new litter and recycling bins in the city centre.

Manchester council’s executive member for neighbourhoods, Nigel Murphy said: “These cases demonstrate that we take littering on our streets extremely seriously.

“Illegal littering will not be tolerated in Manchester and those caught should expect to be punished.

“As these successful prosecutions demonstrate, some smokers apparently don’t think that discarded cigarette butts count as litter, but in fact, they make up a huge amount of the litter we have to collect from Manchester streets.

“Changing people’s behaviour is important in tackling this issue and enforcement is only one part of our long-term campaign to reduce littering in Manchester.

“We work with a range of partners, including local businesses and community groups, to encourage city centre visitors and residents to have a more responsible attitude to litter.

“With more than 700 litter bins in the city centre – all of which have an ashtray attached – there’s no excuse for people to drop their waste in our streets.”

‘World’s ugliest colour’ used on cigarette packets to put smokers off

The shade, described as a “drab dark brown”, was found through a process of seven studies involving 1000 smokers

New plain cigarette packaging in the UK, Ireland and France will bear a colour deemed the ugliest in the world by researchers in Australia.

Pantone 448 C, also known as ‘opaque couché’, is the shade chosen as most likely to put smokers off, a group of academics and market researchers decided after three months of research.

Marketing agency GfK Bluemoon, who headed the project, conducted seven studies with more than 1000 smokers to design the most unappealing packaging possible, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

The ugly brown colour has been associated with dirt, tar, and even death, without any positive adjectives, say the researchers, who were commissioned back in 2012.

“It had as its aim the antithesis of what is our usual objective,’’ said market researcher Victoria Parr.

‘‘We didn’t want to create attractive, aspirational packaging designed to win customers […] Instead our role was to help our client reduce demand, with the ultimate aim to minimise use of the product,” she added.

Pantone 448 C, also known as 'opaque couché'

Pantone 448 C, also known as ‘opaque couché’

The new packets, in Pantone 448 C with off-putting photographs, were rolled out in the UK on 20 May.

France and Ireland have also adopted the decision to end attractively-branded cigarette packets, which was pioneered by Australia in 2012.

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The sale of the plain packets is set to become compulsory in the UK from May 2017.

One in five adults is said to smoke in the UK and according to the British Medical Association, smoking costs the NHS £2.7 billion each year.

Comprehensive ban sought on tobacco ads, promotion in China

Public health and tobacco control activists called for a comprehensive ban on all forms of tobacco advertising and promotion in the nation’s advertisement law, which is being revised.

In the publicized draft amendment to the current law, which took effect in early 1995, media including radio, TV, movies, newspapers, websites and magazines are banned from advertising tobacco products.

“That leaves loopholes for the tobacco industry sneaking into emerging new media platforms like WeChat,” said Liang Xiaofeng, deputy director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, on Monday.

Other new forms of advertising include napkin boxes in restaurants, playing cards and seat covers in airplanes.

Wu Yiqun, deputy director of Think Tank, an NGO that is committed to greater controls on tobacco and smoking, agreed with the call for a comprehensive ban. “The method of listing media platforms should be abandoned. Instead, all forms of tobacco advertising should be banned in the new version of the law,” Wu said.

That’s in line with the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which took effect in China in 2006 after the government ratified it in 2003, Wu said.

The convention requires a comprehensive ban on all tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship. It also demands signatory countries to introduce legislation to ensure the implementation of the convention’s legal obligations.

However, in China’s current draft amendment, “the ban is somewhat partial”, Wu noted.

Tobacco advertising is not banned in public areas such as shopping malls, supermarkets, Internet bars and public restrooms, she added.

So the tobacco industry is “intruding into these places”, she said, citing tobacco product retailers in particular.

“They do a lot of on-site promotions like new product tasting,” she said.

That is not covered in the draft amendment at all, said Xu Guihua, deputy director of the Chinese Association on Tobacco Control.

A recent survey conducted by China CDC found that nearly 49 per cent of Chinese students ages 13 to 15 reported having seen tobacco advertisements in recent months.

Additionally, 2 per cent said they have received free cigarettes distributed by tobacco companies, mostly at retailers, the CDC said.

Xu noted that so far, 41 countries worldwide had introduced an advertising and promotion ban for tobacco retailers.

Liang Xiaofeng said: “Young people are particularly susceptible to tobacco advertising. Therefore, banning tobacco advertising helps prevent the young from taking up smoking.”

A study conducted in 22 countries indicated that a comprehensive advertising ban would help reduce tobacco consumption by at least 6.3 per cent.

North Korea’s anti-tobacco drive up in smoke as Kim keeps puffing

North Korea’s anti-smoking campaign has failed to persuade young leader Kim Jong-un to quit the habit. Photo: Reuters

North Korea’s anti-smoking campaign has failed to persuade young leader Kim Jong-un to quit the habit. Photo: Reuters

A North Korean anti-smoking campaign has apparently failed to persuade young leader Kim Jong-un to quit, despite his late father’s warning that “a cigarette is like a gun aiming at your heart”.

During a public campaign to lower the country’s high rate of smoking, Kim was seen without a cigarette for more than 80 days, sparking speculation that he may have kicked the habit.

But a photo in the North’s top newspaper, the Rodong Sinmun, last week of Kim smiling and holding a burning cigarette while visiting a children’s camp in Pyongyang seems to have dampened such expectations. There have been plenty of photos of Kim lighting up in the past.

He smoked when he inspected a ballistic missile plant, visited construction sites, toured a hospital and attended various sports competitions and art performances.

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He puffed away on an underground train and even in front of his pregnant wife.

The North’s state media have been hailing Pyongyang’s “hectic” anti-smoking campaign, which has been staged nationwide over the past month. Korean Central TV recently aired a documentary series focusing on health risks from smoking, with one female interviewee saying: “People who smoke first thing in the morning are disgusting and harmful to others”.

Kim’s father Kim Jong-il and grandfather Kim Il-sung were also heavy smokers. Both died of heart attacks.

“A cigarette is like a gun aimed at your heart,” Kim Jong-Il said in early 2000, when he appeared to have kicked the habit. But he lapsed in 2008 and died three years later.

Columbia considering proposal to increase enforcement of tobacco laws

COLUMBIA — Columbia became the first city in Missouri with a law prohibiting the sales of tobacco to anyone under 21 years old when it passed its Tobacco 21 policy in December 2014. But city officials say the law by itself did not do enough to curb the sale of tobacco to young people.

Now the city wants to crack down on illegal sales by requiring businesses to obtain a retail license in order to sell the product. If the proposed ordinance is approved by the Columbia City Council after being reviewed by the Board of Health, a business caught selling tobacco to a person under 21 could have its license revoked. Draft legislation of the ordinance was approved unanimously at Monday’s City Council meeting.

Second Ward Councilman Michael Trapp championed the proposed legislation at the meeting. He cited research by the MU Tobacco Control Resource Center showing that local licensing laws reduce rates of tobacco sales to youth by 30 percent.

“If we’re going to see a real impact from Tobacco 21, we’re going to have to enforce it, and in order to enforce it, we’re going to have to have an enforcement regime,” Trapp said. “Licensing could add teeth to that.”

Since the Tobacco 21 ordinance went into effect, 9.8 percent of tobacco retailers had violations during the U.S. Food and Drug Administration compliancy checks.

Compared to the rest of Missouri, Columbia has had lower rates of violations, but the city had one of eight stores nationally that faced a 30-day ban on selling tobacco. The Food and Drug Administration found in October 2015 that Break Time at 110 E. Nifong Blvd. repeatedly sold tobacco to minors.

Former First Ward Councilwoman Ginny Chadwick originally proposed the Tobacco 21 policy in the hopes of reducing the likelihood of creating lifelong smokers by cutting off access to tobacco for young people. According to a 2012 study by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 80 percent of adult cigarette smokers began smoking before the age of 18.

Chadwick said she hoped Tobacco 21 would be enough to curb smoking among Columbia’s young people and that businesses would comply with the city law.

“Not only were they not complying with Columbia’s law, they were breaking the federal law of selling to under-18-year-olds,” she said.

However, most convenience stores in Columbia do follow the law and don’t sell tobacco to people under the age limit.

Beth Niekamp, the shift leader at Break Time on Grindstone Parkway, said they already refuse to sell to people under 21 and confiscate any fake IDs. She said the only times they run into problems are when people come in from out-of-town and aren’t familiar with the city’s law.

“I don’t think a retail license would affect us much, because we already strictly enforce the law,” Niekamp said.

If the city passes the ordinance, Niekamp said she would definitely purchase the license.

Chadwick and Jenna Wintemberg, an instructor with the MU Department of Health Sciences and a member of Tobacco Free Missouri, originally presented the idea for retail licensing to the Boone County Department of Health and Human Services in August 2015.

Chadwick said the license would not only fund the compliance checks but also give the city public data of where the retail outlets are located.

“What we know about the tobacco industry is it targets youth and low socio-economic groups,” Chadwick said. “The highest prevalence rates are in those at-risk demographics, and so to know where tobacco retailers are, we can know exactly how many tobacco outlets there are in the state and exactly how close they are to schools.”