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August, 2016:

Japan Tobacco playing catchup as nation takes to vaping in big way

Competition to sate Japanese nicotine addicts is heating up.

Philip Morris International Inc. and Japan Tobacco Inc. have rolled out products that are heated — not burned — in battery-charged devices, seeking to appeal to smokers who want their nicotine fix without the usual smell and smoke. The move, part of the rapidly growing global vaping trend, has created a bright spot on Japan’s otherwise bleak tobacco market.

The approach is winning devotees because it avoids the part of smoking that involves setting tobacco on fire and inhaling the smoky fumes. In fact, demand for the cigarette alternatives — while still tiny compared with the paper-rolled type — has grown faster than manufacturers had anticipated, leaving Japan Tobacco grappling with a supply bottleneck and ceding ground to Philip Morris, the world’s largest tobacco company.

“Our goal for Japan is to switch every consumer we have to this,” said Paul Riley, who joined Philip Morris in Sydney in 1988 and became its Japan unit’s president last September. “For me, it’s like a no-brainer. The biggest thing is we know that smoking kills. If we’ve got an alternative to that, that’s a pretty good reason to switch.”


Sales of electronic nicotine delivery systems are booming. Within a decade, the industry has grown from a single manufacturer in China in 2005 to 466 brands on the market, according to the World Health Organization.

More than $50 billion may be spent annually on the devices worldwide by 2030, WHO says, noting “concern about the role of the tobacco industry in this market” and the potential for the products to serve as a “gateway to nicotine addiction.”

Most of the products haven’t been tested widely enough by independent scientists to gauge any harm-reduction benefits and to determine whether they can help smokers quit. Still, the reduced exposure to toxicants of well-regulated devices by adult smokers as a complete substitution for cigarettes is likely to be less toxic for the smoker than conventional cigarettes or other combusted tobacco products, the Geneva-based WHO said in a September 2014 report.

Companies have seized on that in Japan, where the smoking rate among adults has been falling for decades, dropping below 20 percent in 2014 — the lowest since annual surveys began in 1965. Cigarette sales declined 0.7 percent to $32.1 billion in Japan last year, while vapor-producing products increased fivefold to $4.6 million, according to Euromonitor International.

Japan Tobacco shares have dropped about 14 percent so far this year, in line with the decline of the MSCI Japan Food, Beverage and Tobacco Index.

“Tobacco companies are seeking the chance for new opportunities in the tobacco market in Japan,” said Akari Utsunomiya, a research analyst with Euromonitor in Tokyo.

So-called electronic cigarettes have shown “strong potential,” she said in an email. “The product is seen as extremely hygienic in a country that values both cleanliness, as well as being seen as ‘more healthy’ due to the lack of smoke compared to cigarettes.”

Philip Morris began selling its heat-not-burn vaporizer, called iQOS, nationwide in Japan in April after testing it in selected sites from 2014. Monthly sales in the 10 countries in which it’s sold now top 250,000, with Japan accounting for more than 95 percent.

The ¥9,980 device, which works by inserting a tobacco-containing HeatStick into a cigar-shaped heating device, has more than 6 percent of the broader cigarette market in Tokyo, according to Phillip Morris’s Riley, who expects that share to double in the next year. A pack of 20 Marlboro-brand HeatSticks sells for ¥460 — the same as a traditional pack of 20 Marlboro cigarettes.


Tetsuo Yamamoto, a 40-year-old Tokyo designer, said he took up using iQOS to help him quit his 20-year-long smoking habit. Now, he says he can’t stand the bitterness and smell of paper cigarettes. “I’m relieved as my wife doesn’t complain any more if I take a puff in front of her,” Yamamoto said.

“It’s a game changer,” said Masashi Mori, an equities analyst at Credit Suisse Group AG in Tokyo, who sees vapor-producing products eventually gaining a 10 percent foothold in Japan’s tobacco market. “There is no doubt that iQOS is taking the lead, and it looks like Japan Tobacco is still testing the water from both the production and marketing perspective.”

Japan Tobacco began selling its Ploom Tech system in March in about 900 convenience stores and retail outlets in Fukuoka Prefecture as well as via an online store. The pen-shaped, battery-powered device uses vapor from heated liquid to deliver the taste and other properties of granulated tobacco leaves in a capsule.

A week after its release, Ploom Tech shipments were suspended as demand exceeded supply. When deliveries resumed, about 100,000 online orders were received in around 15 days, Executive Deputy President Hideki Miyazaki told reporters in Tokyo in August.


“The market response was tremendous — beyond our expectations — and we are still having to limit our product supply,” said Naohiro Minami, Japan Tobacco’s chief financial officer, on an Aug. 2 conference call with analysts and investors, according to a transcript.

The device costs ¥4,000 and is used in combination with one of three types of tobacco capsule from the company’s best-selling Mevius brand. A pack of five capsules sells for ¥460, ¥20 more than a 20-stick pack of the brand’s traditional cigarettes.

Nicotine-laced liquid — commonly used in e-cigarettes popular in the U.S. — is categorized as a pharmaceutical ingredient in Japan, where it’s strictly controlled. In contrast, vapor-producing products that use tobacco leaves, such as iQOS and Ploom Tech, are viewed as pipe tobacco, while nonnicotine e-cigarettes aren’t regulated in Japan and are available even to minors.


Keiichi Ando sought to catch the emerging vaping wave in Tokyo two years ago, opening a Vaping Ape store in Shibuya, a shopping and entertainment district popular with teenagers.

While none of the more than 150 varieties he stocks contains nicotine, sales have been increasing gradually, Ando said. On a visit to the fog-cloaked shop last week, one customer said switching to vaping helped him quit using tobacco.

Japan Tobacco is already feeling the heat. On Aug. 1, it cut its domestic sales target for paper cigarettes by 1 billion units to 107 billion for the year ending this December to reflect competition from the vaped alternatives after suffering a 7.9 percent slide in the volume of stick sales in July.

With plans to invest “several tens of billions of yen” in tobacco-vaping over the next four years, Japan Tobacco aims to become the market leader, Miyazaki told reporters.

He didn’t say when Ploom Tech would be released nationwide or overseas.

“A lot of our customers are still waiting for Ploom Tech, so we will boost production as soon as possible,” said Masanao Takahashi, director of the company’s emerging products marketing division, in an interview. “They just continue to sell out at shops in Fukuoka.”

Tobacco Watchdog Expands Its Reach: A Primer

What Is The FDA’s Authority?

Since 2009, the Food and Drug Administration, based on authority it gained from Congress, has regulated cigarettes, smokeless, and roll-your-own tobacco. But it has been working to enact a regulation to extend its authority over all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, cigars and pipe and hookah tobacco. That regulation was finalized in May and went into effect on Aug. 8.

What Happens Broadly for These Products?

As of Aug. 8, it became illegal to sell e-cigarettes or cigars to minors, although most states already had adopted such a prohibition. Free samples are also now prohibited. Companies are also no longer allowed to introduce new kinds of e cigarettes or cigars unless they get so-called premarket authorization from the F.D.A. By December, manufacturers must also register with the F.D.A. and submit lists of their products, including labeling and advertisements. Any products introduced since February 2007 are considered “new products” and will have to seek some kind of F.D.A. marketing approval.

What Happens to Cigars?

Certain cigars, like e-cigarettes, may be considered “new tobacco products” and have to undergo a thorough premarket review to determine if they are “beneficial to the population as a whole.” But most other cigars have either been around since before 2007 or will be able to argue they have “substantial equivalence” to cigars on the market before 2007, meaning they also would essentially be grandfathered. The cigar companies argue that even these “substantial equivalence” reviews will be expensive and they fear they will be forced to submit different applications just because a cigar differs in size. As a result, they predict many cigar manufacturers, particularly those smaller businesses that sell hand-rolled products, will be put out of business, and consumers will have less choice. The F.D.A. acknowledges that certain cigars may be removed from the market. But it estimates applications per cigar product for the less onerous substantial equivalence reviews should cost only between $1,500 and $22,787, depending on what type of application is submitted.

What Also Happens to E-Cigarettes?

Any e-cigarette introduced since 2007 – essentially all of them –must now receive retroactive market approval by going through an application process to examine whether the “product prompts young people to become addicted to nicotine, reduces a person’s interest in quitting cigarettes, and/or leads to long-term usage with other tobacco products.” Companies have until August 2018 to file their applications that must list all ingredients, components, and additives and include an analysis of the impact their products will have on public health. The F.D.A. estimates these reports will cost in the “low- to mid-hundreds of thousands of dollars,” while industry executives predict they could cost $1 million or more, perhaps putting many companies out of business. Companies then have until 2019 to get approval for e-cigarette products, or they will need to be removed from store shelves. Thousands of vape shops that now mix their own e-liquids, at a minimum, will most likely no longer be allowed to do this, and will instead have to sell preapproved products.

Mayor looking to end Copenhagen tobacco investments

Owned bonds incompatible with city’s smoke-free ambitions

Copenhagen Municipality may be a smoke-free place to work, but it still owns bonds worth 6.5 million kroner in tobacco companies.

But those investments are about to go up in smoke, as the capital’s mayor Frank Jensen is pledging to offload all of the city’s investments in tobacco firms.

“We already have a clear green and ethical investment policy regarding not investing in companies that breach human rights, or earn money from coal and oil,” Jensen told Metroxpress newspaper.

“In my eyes, tobacco bonds are in the same league. So I will see how we can add the tobacco companies to our blacklist.”

Barred and blacklisted

Jensen has already been backed by the city’s deputy mayor for health issues, Ninna Thomsen, who agreed that investing in tobacco was an odd message to send.

Thomsen wants the municipality to blacklist all tobacco-producing companies.

“I am trying to ensure that the next generation will be smoke-free and Copenhagen is trying to become a smoke-free city – and yet we are investing in tobacco,” Thomsen said.

Earlier this year, Jensen announced plans to divest the city’s 6.9 billion kroner investment fund of all its fossil fuel holdings.

NTS probing foreign tobacco firms’ suspected tax dodging

SEOUL, Aug. 30 (Yonhap) — South Korean tax authorities are investigating foreign tobacco companies over suspicions that they evaded taxes on huge profits from a tobacco price hike last year, industry sources said Tuesday.

Citing the need to discourage smoking, South Korea marked up taxes levied on cigarettes by 2,000 won (US$1.79) in January last year, raising the price to 4,500 won per pack.

Cigarette makers are said to have raked in tens of millions of dollars in so-called inventory profit by keeping products shipped out before 2015 in stock and selling them after the tax hike for a huge gain.

According to the sources, the National Tax Service (NTS) has been conducting an extensive tax probe into Philip Morris Korea, which sells the Marlboro brand, and British American Tobacco (BAT) Korea, the vendor of Dunhill cigarettes.

NTS investigators are focusing on suspicions that some tobacco companies, aware of the expected price hike beforehand, pocketed “excessive” profits by stocking up on products and selling them after the tax increase, they said.

“A tobacco price hike can give cigarette companies large profits by enabling them to sell some products in inventory, which were shipped out before a price hike,” an industry source said. “The NIS seems to be investigating their suspected tax evasion or hoarding during the process.”

An NTS official refused to confirm the tax probe, citing an office policy that it can’t “comment on a tax audit into a specific taxpayer.”

Tobacco companies got a lot of flak for their inventory profit last year. Faced with a growing public outcry, South Korea’s sole tobacco maker KT&G Corp. announced in April last year that it would donate 330 billion won for social contribution activities. KT&G spent 80.8 billion won last year and plans to fork out 70 billion won this year.

Some watchers said KT&G may have been spared a tax audit because of its donation.

Philip Morris and BAT Korea complain that it is unfair and discriminatory against foreign tobacco companies for the NTS to exclude KT&G, which they argue reaped the largest inventory profit from the tax hike.

Philip Morris, British American Tobacco under tax audit

PMI, BAT criticized for failing to pay taxes despite huge amount of profits

The National Tax Service (NTS) has launched special audits of foreign tobacco makers here, according to industry sources on Tuesday. The move comes amid allegation that the companies did not pay taxes though they enjoyed tens of billions of won of “inventory profit” after the price hike in January last year.

However, the companies complain that the investigation is unfair because KT&G, the country’s homegrown cigarette maker, also enjoys massive profits but was not included in the special probe.

According to a source close to the matter, Philip Morris International (PMI) Korea, which manufactures Marlboro, and British American Tobacco (BAT) Korea, which makes Dunhill, are under the tax agency’s scope.

Tobacco makers pay taxes when they are shipping products. Since many of the tobacco products which were shipped before the price hike were held in inventory, those sold after the hike generated greater profit for the companies. The NTS is looking into whether the tobacco makers have paid the due amount of taxes and whether any illegalities were involved in generating the profit.

Three tobacco manufacturers, PMI Korea, BAT Korea and KT&G reportedly enjoyed the tax margin worth 150 billion won, 24 billion won and 330 billion won, respectively, from tens to hundreds of billions of won, respectively, after the price of a pack of cigarettes increased by 2,000 won.

Amid controversy, KT&G last year announced a plan for corporate social responsibility projects worth 330 billion, pledging it will return such profits to society. The company spent 80.8 billion won last year and will spend around 70 billion won by the end of this year.

Observers say that KT&G’s move influenced the NTS to launch occasional audits on the foreign companies. Both PMI Korea and BAT Korea finished regular audits in the first half of this year.

However, the foreign tobacco makers say that the government’s decision is unfair.

“Not only the NTS but also the Board of Audit and Inspection has been investigating foreign tobacco makers over the tax margin, but the fairness of such audits is questioned because they were just focusing on foreign tobacco makers,” said a PMI Korea official.

“Due to the nature of the tobacco industry, there is always stock in inventory. To return the tax margin to society, PMI Korea lowered the price of its products by 200 won and absorbed the loss,” she said, adding that PMI Korea has already announced a 21.5 billion won project for social contribution last year.

An NTS official said the tax agency does not affirm an individual company’s tax audit, but added that it launches an audit on numeric analysis.

Gambia to Implement Plain Packaging Law

The Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Dr. Omar Sey, has stated that The Gambia will soon join other World Health Organisation Member States that have already passed laws to implement plain packaging of tobacco products. He said it is time to act and they are ready to act now.

He was speaking on Monday during the commemoration of the World No Tobacco Day held in Banjul. The theme for this year’s celebration advocates for the introduction of “Plain (standardised) packaging” of tobacco products. The plain packaging was first introduced in Australia in 2012 and recently in the United Kingdom, France which was followed by other countries.

As part of the celebration, The Gambia has also won two of the five awards for the World No Tobacco Day 2016 throughout the African region. The WHO presents these prestigious awards to individuals, organisations, and institutions all over the world for their outstanding contributions to tobacco control.

Dr. Sey further said the World No Tobacco Day is commemorated internationally every year on the 31st May in order to underline the risks associated with tobacco use and to advocate for effective policies to reduce tobacco consumption.

According to him, plain packing of tobacco products restricts or prohibits use of logos, colours, brand images and promotional information, noting that it is part of an integrated approach to tobacco control that helps reduce attractiveness of tobacco packaging and eliminate tobacco advertising and promotion.

“As countries seek to embrace the plain packaging of tobacco products, tobacco companies all over the world are on the fight against this great initiative with massive misinformation campaigns,” he added.

“With the strong multi-sectorol team and media houses we have in The Gambia, I have the full assurance that The Gambia can effectively implement the promotion of plain packaging of tobacco products.’’

He added that his Ministry is in full support of the plain packaging and therefore, count on the continued support and collaboration from the media and the multi-sectoral team.

For his part, the WHO Country Representative, Dr. Charles Sagoe-Moses said this annual event is part of the WHO’s global efforts to recognise and honour individuals, organisations and institutions from around the world for their outstanding contributions to tobacco control.

According to him, 28 recipients of this year’s awards consist of individuals, institutions and organisations from the six regions of the WHO, adding that The Gambia alone has won two out of the five awards dedicated to the African region. He noted that the other winners came from Rwanda, Kenya and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

He described the award as a great achievement but hastened to add that they were not surprise as a lot of good work had been done and continues to be done in various aspects of tobacco control (policy formulation and implementation, taxation, legislation, public awareness and action, surveillance and multi-sectoral action) in The Gambia.

He revealed that their records show that The Gambia is indeed a great and widely recognised champion of global tobacco control efforts, having been among winners of this prestigious award since 2000.

Sambujang Conteh, the Executive Director of RAID-The Gambia, said that the country has registered tremendous achievements on tobacco control. He noted that the WHO’s prestigious award is a clear manifestation of the commitment and dedication of both the Honourable Minister and the inter-ministerial committee on tobacco control. He noted that tobacco use cannot be addressed in isolation.

by Arfang MS Camara

Tears as tobacco sponsor quits Salzburg

The festival has just lost 600,000 Euros a year as a result of the withdrawal of JTI Tobacco.

Hold that news.

You mean Salzburg were still taking money from cancer peddlers? Even though it’s illegal in Austria to advertise tobacco products? And now they’re weeping over lost cancer dollars?

Yes, to all three.

Go figure.

The failed history of tobacco harm reduction

Dark clouds hung over smoking as a likely risky activity long before the watershed case control studies on smoking and lung cancer were published in 1950 by Doll and Hill (on British smokers) and Wynder and Graham (on American smokers).

Early last century Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of the boy scouts movement wrote with sexist prescience:

When a lad smokes before he is fully grown up it is almost sure to make his heart feeble, and the heart is the most important organ in a lad’s body.

Popular expressions such as “smoking stunts your growth” derive from that period.

The commonplace of smokers’ cough had always quietly worried people that filling their lungs with smoke some twelve times per cigarette, sometimes up to 60 cigarettes a day, every day of the year for many years might be a problem.

As far back as the 1920s, Lucky Strike advertised that it was “less irritating” to the throat.

Following a series of widely read articles in the Readers’ Digest on cancer and smoking, filters on cigarettes first began being introduced in the late 1940s and were accompanied by uninhibited claims about risk reduction (“L&M filters are just what the doctor ordered!”). The goal was smoker reassurance. This was the start of a global industry program designed to keep anxious smokers from quitting – and it continues today.

The most outrageous innovation in tobacco harm-reduction was Kent’s micronite filter, which used deadly blue asbestos (crocidolite) between 1952-56 in the United States (see the Kent micronite filter advertisement below).

Decades of litigation followed, with the most recent in Florida with US$3.5m awarded against the manufacturers. I’ve found evidence that Kent with the micronite filter was sold in Australia in 1961, although we don’t know if it still contained asbestos.

An unforgettable demonstration of what gets through cigarette filters can be seen here. Mike Atrix, filming in Sydney, compares the brown stains exhaled into a tissue paper from holding the cigarette smoke in his mouth and also after exhaling it after pulling it into his lungs.

Two things are very obvious: the filter on the cigarette allows obvious quantities of particulate matter (“tar”) through and into the lungs, and the lungs retain considerable amounts of these toxic particles when the smoker exhales.

But the mass migration to filtered cigarettes did nothing to prevent a progressive increase in lung cancer risk among male smokers who began smoking during and after the second world war compared to the first world war-era smokers. A critical review of the evidence that so-called reduced-risk cigarettes lowered tobacco-caused death rates concluded:

that lung cancer risk continued to increase among older smokers from the 1950s to the 1980s, despite the widespread adoption of lower yield cigarettes.

The change to filter tip products did not prevent a progressive increase in lung cancer risk among male smokers who began smoking during and after the second world war compared to the first world war era smokers…

No studies have adequately assessed whether health claims used to market “reduced yield” cigarettes delay cessation among smokers who might otherwise quit, or increase initiation among non-smokers.

There is no convincing evidence that past changes in cigarette design have resulted in an important health benefit to either smokers or the whole population.

Tobacco control policies should not allow changes in cigarette design to subvert or distract from interventions proven to reduce the prevalence, intensity, and duration of smoking.

Between 1968 and 1980, the US National Cancer Institute invested more than $US50m into research on less hazardous cigarettes. But by 2001, it had concluded that there was no evidence that smokers switching to so-called less hazardous cigarettes (lights and milds) had a lower rates of disease or death.

Unlike cigarette testing machines, which were calibrated to smoke the putative reduced-risk cigarettes in a standardised way, smokers compensated for the lower delivery of nicotine by taking more and deeper puffs per cigarette, smoking more and occluding the tiny ventilation holes on the filters with their fingers.

These holes let air in to dilute the smoke pulled through into the testing machines, providing the tar and nicotine readings that were not those that smokers actually obtained from smoking. Around 78% of Australian smokers bought light or mild-labeled brands before these descriptors were banned by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission as misleading in 2005.

In more recent years, we saw a series of failed attempts by tobacco companies to interest smokers in switching to “reduced carcinogen” cigarettes such as Omni (see the ad below) and products which heated rather than burned tobacco (“Introducing Premier, the remarkable new cigarette that offers you a genuine alternative”), delivering a vapour into smokers’ lungs.

These products have all been abject market failures and because of this, no longitudinal data exist on whether they actually reduced harm in users.

E-cigarettes are the latest kids on the tobacco harm-reduction block, although their users insist they are not tobacco, smoking or cigarettes.

Like all their predecessors, their promoters have graduated from hype school. All good news is megaphoned, and all questioning pilloried as thousands of tiny start-up manufacturers, retailers and their PR agencies try to catch the wave, along with all the major tobacco companies which are now selling both e-ecigarettes and tobacco products.

E-cigarettes have only been in widespread use in early adopting nations for just a few years. Respiratory and heart diseases and cancers caused by tobacco use generally take several decades to manifest, which is why the jury on reduced-risk cigarettes was out for so long before declaring them failures.

Those who insist they are “95%” less dangerous are therefore only making fingers-crossed predictions, much in the same way that the scientific colossus Ernst Wynder (who published the first case control study on smoking and lung cancer) did about his hopes for reduced-risk cigarettes. Wynder was wrong.

The failure of all previous tobacco harm-reduction efforts does not mean that all current or future efforts will also be failures, or worse, slow or reverse the 50-year fall in smoking prevalence. But this history should serve as a dazzling warning light to switch on the bovine excrement detector and remain hyper-vigilant over the often gossamer-thin claims that abound about both their safety and how good they are at getting smokers to switch completely.

For example, efforts to liken the risks of vaping to breathing steam in a shower distract from the emissions containing nicotine, carbonyls, metals, and organic volatile compounds. Moreover, the high concentrations of nanoparticles in vape, despite their small mass, may have a significant toxicological impact because of their increased ability for deep penetration into the pulmonary and cardiovascular systems.

Recent reports of rapid onset changes in aortic stiffness after exposure to vape, of mice exposed to vape with nicotine developing features of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and the suppression of immune and inflammatory-response genes in nasal cells are examples of possible early causes for concern. With vapers taking an average of 200 puffs per day (and up to 610) – some 73,000 deep inhalations each year – vapers’ exposures over many years will be considerable.

There are now more than 8,000 different flavours available through e-cigarette suppliers. The 2016 revised statement on e-cigarettes by the US Flavoring and Extract Manufacturers Association about these chemicals (which have been safety assessed for use in foods and beverages, but not for inhalation) is further cause for concern:

The manufacturers and marketers of e-cigarettes and all other flavored tobacco products, and flavor manufacturers and marketers, should not represent or suggest that the flavor ingredients used in these products are safe because they have FEMA GRASTM status for use in food because such statements are false and misleading.
It would be unequivocally great news if time shows e-cigarettes to be both all but benign and effective at helping smokers quit. Such a benevolent genie let out of the bottle would be good news. But if the genie starts looking like a trojan horse bringing its very own set of health problems down the track, addicting vast numbers of school kids to nicotine who would have never used any nicotine product, and slowing smoking cessation through prolonged dual use of e-cigs and cigarettes, putting it back in the bottle may prove very hard.

That’s why most Australian health agencies are urging the Therapeutic Goods Administration to think very carefully before letting e-cigarettes off the leash.

E-cigarettes are ‘as bad for the heart as tobacco': Nicotine vapour damages blood vessels and raises risk of disease

• Researchers: E-cigarettes are ‘far more dangerous than people realise’
• Study found using either e-cigs or regular tobacco led to similar levels of stiffness in the main artery and/or raised blood pressure

Using electronic cigarettes could be as bad for the heart as smoking tobacco, research suggests.

Scientists found inhaling nicotine vapour damages key blood vessels, raising the risk of heart disease.

The team monitored participants’ hearts while smoking a conventional cigarette for five minutes and using an e-cigarette for half an hour, which they said was the most accurate comparison of typical use.

A trial of healthy men and women, with an average age of 30, found e-cigarettes are ‘far more dangerous than people realise

They found the two activities led to similar levels of stiffness in the aorta, the main artery, which is a major cause of heart problems. Both also raised blood pressure.

The Greek scientists stressed this only revealed short-term damage, and more research is needed into long-term effects.

But they said their trial of 24 healthy men and women, with an average age of 30, shows e-cigarettes are ‘far more dangerous than people realise’.

Their concerns were echoed last night by the British Heart Foundation, which said the devices ‘could not be assumed to be risk-free’. The charity called for more research into the safety of long-term use.

The results, presented at the European Society of Cardiology congress in Rome, will fuel the fierce debate about e-cigarettes.

Most experts agree they are less harmful than smoking tobacco but some are concerned they are still a risk to health.

The World Health Organisation warns they may also be toxic to bystanders.

Scientists found inhaling nicotine vapour damages key blood vessels, raising the risk of heart disease

But Public Health England last year encouraged smokers to switch to e-cigarettes, saying they were ‘95 per cent safe’.

The claim was widely criticised when it emerged it came from scientists funded by the e-cigarette industry.

Study leader Professor Charalambos Vlachopoulos, of the University of Athens Medical School, said the UK had ‘rushed into’ its promotion of e-cigarettes, adding: ‘E-cigarettes are less harmful but they are not harmless. I wouldn’t recommend them now as a method to give up smoking.’

The devices, which contain liquid nicotine that is heated into a vapour and inhaled, avoid the harm caused by tobacco smoke.

But Professor Vlachopoulos said nicotine is the most likely cause of damage to arteries. He is planning another trial using e-cigarettes without nicotine.

Public Health England last night continued to back the devices. A spokesman said: ‘Vaping carries a fraction of the risk of smoking yet many smokers are still not aware.’

Deborah Arnott, of campaign group Action on Smoking and Health, said the study showed if vaping was limited to five minutes too it caused much less damage than tobacco.

The e-cigarette industry’s trade body also played down the research, claiming aortic stiffness is ‘transitory’ and a ‘very poor measure’ of long-term risk.

So what is holding up the commercialization of tobacco by-products?

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO — Tobacco stalk, the most common agricultural waste that tobacco farmers have been discarding for centuries since commercial tobacco farming was introduced in the islands during the dawn of the tobacco monopoly, is in fact a diamond in the rough.

Tobacco stalk has been found to be a good source of pulp for the production of paper. Tobacco paper processing impacts less on the environment and has the potential to penetrate the country’s P30 billion paper industry if given a chance.

However, tobacco paper production remains a handicraft and hand-made industry.

Tobacco scrap has been found to be an effective mollouscide, meaning it is a cheap alternative in controlling farm snails that eat palay at the start of the cropping season.

One research has also shown that tobacco scarp can be used as alternative organic soil conditioner.

However, tobacco scrap has yet to be processed commercially.

Tobacco dust has also been proven by research done by the National Tobacco Administration (NTA) as a boost to local aquaculture and can even jumpstart initiatives for more organic aquaculture programs.

However, tobacco dust has yet to be fully developed for wider use.

So what is keeping these wonderful prospects from reaching full potential?

Local initiatives

In 1998, a research done by Agrupis, S., Maekawa, E. and Suzuki, K. J on the possible industrial utilization of tobacco stalks revealed that tobacco stalks have shown to posses the characteristics of a raw material for pulp and paper application.

“Fiber dimensions, chemical composition, and soda and soda-AQ pulping of tobacco stalks were examined to assess if they were suitable for pulp and paper production.

The results showed that the morphological characteristics of tobacco stalks were similar to those of non-woods and hardwoods,” the research said.

Author Jed Yabut said that the pulp and paper industry contributes about P30 billion per year in domestic sales value to the economy, or saves the country $700 million per year in foreign exchange from imported paper and board.

He added that as of 2012 the local paper industry directly employs about 6000, personnel, mostly skilled workers and technical professionals, and contribute value to the economy by sustaining the livelihood opportunities of about 1.2 million workers in the wastepaper collection, sorting, and hauling sub-sectors.

If pulp from tobacco stalk would transcend its current state as a handicraft product in can very well contribute in the wider paper market.

Currently, paper produced from tobacco is hand-made using processes of bio-mechanical pulping and non-conventional bleaching, which produce less impact on the environment. NTA is the only known supplier of tobacco hand-made paper as of press time. The NTA, in the past years, have trained farmer-leaders from four tobacco-based cooperatives from Pangasinan, Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur. The idea is to help farmers earn more through creating cottage industries.

Hand-made tobacco paper is mainly used for all-purpose cards, stationeries, invitations, gift wrappers, bags among others.

But imagine if tobacco paper is industrialized further. Around† 156 kg of tobacco stalks per would yield 60 kg or pulp this means almost 0.3 cubic metres of wood could be saved from forests from being converted to paper.

Though more research is needed on whether tobacco paper can compete in the commercial paper industry on an industrialized level, the prospects still are too tempting to ignore.

Impact on local industries

A research of James, et al. from PhilRice-Batac demonstrated the use of tobacco scrap before and after transplanting to control harmful snail populations in rice fields. The field test was done in seven municipalities of Ilocos Norte.

The research revealed that weekly use of tobacco scraps significantly reduced the population of golden kuhol from 60 to 90 percent.

“The affected area was minimized by 80 percent and damaged hills by 84 percent. Where farmers’ practice and no treatment were employed, an average 23.39 percent and 4 percent reduction in population were observed, respectively,” the research said.

Rice plants treated with tobacco scraps had better crop stand, greener leaves, and taller plants, the study added. The study also showed that fields treated with tobacco scraps produced the highest yield per hectare (7.37 t/ha) compared to farmers’ practice (6.38 t/ha) and no control (6.19 t/ha).

The country’s aqua-culture has also found a promising use for tobacco dust as it has been proven effective as molluscide against snails and other fish pond pest but also enhances the growth of the “lablab”, a pond fish-food.

Again, tobacco dust leaves no residue and is a perfect organic alternative in aquaculture farms. According to the NTA, tobacco dust acts swiftly to protect fish and its eggs from predatory snails and other creatures that exist in ponds and fish pens.

The NTA conducted field testing in fishponds in Bulacan, Pampanga, Bataan, Pangasinan and Ilocos Sur confirmed the validity of the scientific studies on tobacco dust and its benefits.

More initiative for investment, government funding

Hipolito Carlos, a former tobacco contract grower, said that initiatives for tobacco by-products have been seriously pursued by research done by the NTA and private entities.

“The immediate objective was to help local tobacco farmers earn more. While we should commend NTA for all it has done to discover the potentials of tobacco by-products we should also ask government to seriously consider the wider perspective of creating bigger industries on these by-products,” Carlos said.

He shares the opinion of other businessmen in saying that such by-products could even benefit more tobacco farmers and even create bigger industries if there are investments coming in from the private and government sectors.

Carlos said investment on tobacco by-product industries, from the government and private sector, will not threaten the conventional use of tobacco for cigarette production and instead will produce off-shoot industries that can complement the industry. More industries depending on the different parts of tobacco would mean more farmers cultivating high-quality tobacco and more farmers benefiting from more industries.

Carlos said that there is a need for a shift to industrial and commercial approach rather than the small town cottage industry perspective.

For the people involved in the various research and promotion of tobacco by-products, it is not a question of whether or not these products will see their full potential in the wider commercialized market. Rather, it is a question of when government and the private sector investments and developments would come in. They earnestly hope that it will be soon.