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January 10th, 2017:

Vladimir Putin announces plan to ban smoking in Russia by stopping anybody born after 2015 from EVER buying cigarettes

New smokers face being cuffed by police simply for buying a packet of fags

VLADIMIR Putin wants to kick smokers’ butts by introducing the most harshest cigarette laws ever conceived by a government.

The clean living fitness freak loathes people smoking around him and wants everyone in his country to snub out their filthy habit.

Under plans to rid Russia of the demon weed once and for all, anyone born after 2015 would be banned from buying cigarettes.

In fact it will be deemed as bad as buying illegal drugs.

But while Putin‘s measures seem harsh, desperate measures are perhaps called for.

About 43% of the Russian population lights up – down from 60% last year – compared to 19% people smoking in the UK.

Despite tax rises, fags are cheap compared to Western Europe, with a packet of Marlboro Reds costing just £1.10.

Nikolai Gerasimenko, a member of the Russian parliament’s health committee, said: “This goal is absolutely ideologically correct.”

But Mr Gerasimenko also admitted he was uncertain whether such a ban would be enforceable.

Dmitri Peskov, the Kremlin spokesman, told The Times the proposed ban would require serious discussion.

He said that other ministries would need to be consulted before it was approved.

Although Putin is a non-smoker known for his love of judo and topless horseback riding, Sergei Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, is a chain smoker.

The top diplomat once opposed an attempt to introduce a ban on smoking at the UN headquarters in New York.

The smoking ban has sparked debate in Russia, with warnings that the move could lead to a rise in black market cigarettes.

“Counterfeit tobacco could lead to even more harm to people’s health,” said Elena Topoleva-Soldunova, a member of the Russian public chamber, which advises the government on social policy.

Litzman refused all my initiatives for smoking prevention, says chairman of NGO

Litzman refused all my initiatives for smoking prevention, says chairman of NGO

Health minister under fire after Channel 2 investigation shows cash-for-meeting deal by aides.

A four-part investigation on Channel 2 that began Monday night and shows aides to Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman taking cash in exchange for meetings between him and a fictional importer of electronic cigarettes have elicited an angry denial from Litzman.

“This is a smokescreen without one sliver of truth,” Litzman’s office said before the broadcast. “This is a well-scheduled and organized campaign by opposition members and others aimed at bashing and hurting the most respected cabinet minister in Israel.”

In the reaction, Litzman’s office did not deny that he met with journalists posing as potential e-cigarette importers after they paid Moti Babchik, a Ger hassid who writes for the ultra-Orthodox daily Hamodia NIS 3,000 in cash.

Litzman said paying an intermediary to arrange for meetings with him and associate director-general Prof. Itamar Grotto was forbidden and that he would investigate it.

Litzman’s statement said he is always open to everyone who wants to meet him and has fought smoking for many years.

Hamodia regularly carries advertisements for tobacco products. In addition, Litzman’s wife has been a Hamodia employee, working in its archives for many years, according to Channel 2 journalist Haim Rivlin, who led the investigation that is being broadcast throughout this week.

Litzman, a Ger hassid,(Orthodox sect) took credit for the “decline” in smoking when he was an MK, deputy health minister and now health minister, even though the rate has remained steady at around 20% of all Israeli adults.

Amos Hausner, chairman of the Israel Council for the Prevention of Smoking and the country’s most prominent lawyer in legislation to prevent smoking, told The Jerusalem Post that seven months ago, Litzman in fact met with him for 25 minutes – several months after Hausner requested to talk to him about ways of reducing smoking.

“I thanked him for meeting me to discuss smoking prevention.

However, I was very disappointed, as Litzman refused all initiatives I raised in the meeting when Prof. Grotto was present, but the minister did not explain why,” Hausner said, referring to the bill for barring advertising in the press, which Litzman blocked as Knesset member after leaving the ministry.

However, Hausner said that in the Knesset discussion of the bill to bar newspaper ads for cigarettes, as shown in the official protocol, Litzman denied the dangers of smoking.

According to the Knesset protocol, the bill was promoted by then-ministry director-general Prof. Ronni Gamzu, whom Litzman had appointed, and “Litzman shouted at him” in the Knesset over his initiative, Hausner said.

The veteran lawyer charged that while the ministry under Litzman sponsors media ads against junk food and dealing with dementia, “he never made even one ad against smoking.”

Hausner added that Litzman even opposed barring smoking in playgrounds where children were liable to pick up used butts and smoke them.

The minister prevented legislation that would outlaw smoking in cars where children were passengers, Hausner said, even though closed windows expose them to massive amounts of toxins.

Litzman said a ministry team is working to update legislation to prohibit the sale of e-cigarettes, to which Hausner responded that “nothing has been done to stop e-cigs here.”

As for meeting with anyone in the health field, Litzman did not observe the guidelines of the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control that put strict limits on meeting with tobacco lobbyists and requires publication of such meetings.

During their meeting, Hausner said, Litzman did not accept barring smoking rooms in public places, even though they are being eliminated all over the world. He also said Litzman told him that he is against graphic images of health damage from smoking placed on cigarette packets, arguing that it was “not aesthetic,” and suggested, perhaps in jest, that a “picture of Jerusalem be used instead.”

Hausner said Litzman indeed supported raising tobacco taxes, which actually occurred after his term as deputy minister. But the health minister did not support a recent bill to dedicate 0.5% of the taxes on education on smoking prevention.

“Cigarettes are a business of billions of dollars, so Litzman, so any health minister who opposes basic measures owes the public an explanation why,” he said. “I am still waiting for his explanation, particularly when he claims that he…strongly opposes smoking.”

Graphic Pack Warnings in Hong Kong

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Stubbing out tobacco usage

Myanmar is experiencing tremendous economic growth. With a young, growing population and a liberalised economy, it has been slated as one of 20 “markets of the future” that will offer the most opportunities for consumer goods companies.

Tobacco has been identified as one of Myanmar’s top 20 key industries. Its market size is worth an estimated US$450 million – up there with dairy products and dried processed foods. The compound annual growth rate from 2013-18 for tobacco is 16 percent, overtaking apparel (14pc) and consumer appliances and electronics (15pc).

With market liberalisation, British American Tobacco (BAT) re-entered Myanmar in 2013 a decade after it exited the country. When re-establishing itself in the country, it announced that it will invest $50 million in a tobacco manufacturing factory. BAT already has a significant 22pc market share in the growing cigarette market.

Myanmar currently has over six million smokers. Like other Asian countries, a high percentage – 44pc – of adult men smoke. This number is set to increase given the growing adolescent smoking population.

In 2010 cigarette sales in Myanmar were about 13 billion sticks, but these sales are projected to almost double to 25 billion sticks in 2018. Myanmar’s projection is the highest increase among all ASEAN countries. This is bad news for the public health system given that Myanmar already has more than 70,000 tobacco-related deaths annually. Myanmar also has the lowest Human Development Index among Asian countries with a global ranking of 148 out of 188 and public health expenditure is a low 1.8pc of GDP.

Myanmar is a typical developing country in that the bulk of smokers are from the lower-income category. Cigarettes are also extremely cheap in Myanmar and within easy reach for the poor. The most popular pack of cigarettes costs only $0.57. A survey on smoking indicates that about 40pc of Myanmar’s youths can purchase cigarettes from a store. Even more worrying is that 15pc of non-smoking youths have indicated that they intend to start smoking next year – again the highest percentage in the ASEAN region.

Myanmar has some basic tobacco control measures in place to address the problem. Since ratifying the global tobacco treaty in 2004 – the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) – the country has passed legislation banning all tobacco advertising and making public places smoke-free, but there is still plenty of room for improvement.

Myanmar needs to further increase taxes on tobacco products and put it out of reach for the poor and youths. While tobacco advertising and promotions are banned, there are loop holes that can be exploited. Myanmar faces sleek marketing tactics from transnational tobacco companies who take advantage of government officials’ inexperience.

For example, in 2016 Myanmar passed legislation requiring a pictorial health warning on tobacco packs. Japan Tobacco International placed an announcement in a newspaper in October on how it will be complying with the Health Ministry’s requirements. The announcement showed photos of all its packs with and without the pictorial health warnings – an outright advertisement for its brands.

Penalties for violations are miniscule for wealthy tobacco companies. Even if authorities act against a company for non-compliance of pictorial health warnings, the fine is a paltry $7.95 for the first offence.

This is where civil society groups come into play, they should play a more prominent role in exposing the unethical and exploitative practices of transnational tobacco companies operating in Myanmar.

It is important for Myanmar to keep abreast of ASEAN countries’ achievements on tobacco control measures. Most countries have already banned advertising at points of sale. Brunei, Thailand and Singapore have banned pack displays at retail outlets.

These are the next steps for tobacco control in Myanmar. But Myanmar lacks the resources needed for enforcement – particularly staff. It is the only country in the ASEAN region that has not committed national funds for tobacco control efforts. Strengthening tobacco control measures and allocating more resources to enforcement will send a strong message to the public and private sector that the government is serious about protecting public health from the ravages of tobacco.

Tobacco tax hike hits smokers hard

Making tobacco products more expensive to buy is a proven way to prod smokers into giving up the habit, Wairarapa list MP Marama Fox says.

The anti-smoking advocate said Quitline, the organisation that helps New Zealanders give up smoking tobacco products, received more calls when prices jumped up.

At the start of the year the cost of cigarettes rose 10 per cent, a move it will make annually until 2020.

It is a part of a bid to help New Zealand reach its 2025 target – to have fewer than 5 per cent of the population smoking.

“The ongoing impact on families with low income is the incentive to quit…” Ms Fox said.

“The cost to our families, through sicknesses and illness, exceeds the cost of cigarettes.

“If we can ensure our whanau have the right incentive and support to quit, then we can save our families the cost of the burden of illness and disease and the loss of our people through death.”

Ms Fox said she wants to see more voluntary smoke free communities in New Zealand.

She credited stores that refused to sell cigarettes as making “a brave move”.

“A number of vendors around the country have chosen not to go there, they see the benefits in the lives of their families, and they don’t want to be providing cigarettes for our whanau.”

Ms Fox believes we are on track to meet the 2025 goal, which she said has already been achieved in certain areas.

“We are already meeting that target in a number of communities, sadly, not Maori communities overall.

“The numbers of Maori smoking are coming down, it is slower than the rest of the population but it is continuing to decrease.”

Ms Fox said vaping and e-cigarettes should be used as reduced harm measures, encouraging people to ditch smoking cigarettes.

“We want to be careful when the introduction of this comes through… not to be enticing young people into something that looks cool,” she said.

Ms Fox said they should be a “cessation product first and foremost”.

Smoking costs global economy over US$1 trillion a year: study

Smoking costs the global economy more than US$1 trillion a year, and will kill one third more people by 2030 than it does now, according to a new report released on Tuesday.

The World Health Organization and the US National Cancer Institute said in a study that the costs from smoking far outweigh global revenues from tobacco taxes, Reuters reports.

“The number of tobacco-related deaths is projected to increase from about 6 million deaths annually to about 8 million annually by 2030, with more than 80 percent of these occurring in LMICs (low- and middle-income countries),” the study said.

Around 80 percent of smokers live in such countries, and although smoking prevalence was falling among the global population, the total number of smokers worldwide is rising, it said.

Health experts say tobacco use is the single biggest preventable cause of death globally.

“It is responsible for… likely over $1 trillion in health care costs and lost productivity each year,” said the study, peer-reviewed by more than 70 scientific experts.

The economic costs are expected to continue to rise. Although governments have the tools to reduce tobacco use and associated deaths, most have fallen far short of using those tools effectively, WHO said in the report.

“Government fears that tobacco control will have an adverse economic impact are not justified by the evidence. The science is clear; the time for action is now.”

Cheap and effective policies include hiking tobacco taxes and prices, comprehensive smoke-free policies, complete bans on tobacco company marketing, and prominent pictorial warning labels.

Tobacco taxes could also be used to fund more expensive interventions such as anti-tobacco mass media campaigns and support for cessation services and treatments, it said.

Governments spent less than US$1 billion on tobacco control in 2013-2014, according to a WHO estimate.

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Tobacco control can save billions of dollars and millions of lives

Policies to control tobacco use, including tobacco tax and price increases, can generate significant government revenues for health and development work, according to a new landmark global report from WHO and the National Cancer Institute of the United States of America. Such measures can also greatly reduce tobacco use and protect people’s health from the world’s leading killers, such as cancers and heart disease.

But left unchecked, the tobacco industry and the deadly impact of its products cost the world’s economies more than US$ 1 trillion annually in healthcare expenditures and lost productivity, according to findings published in The economics of tobacco and tobacco control. Currently, around 6 million people die annually as a result of tobacco use, with most living in developing countries.

The almost 700-page monograph examines existing evidence on two broad areas:

• The economics of tobacco control, including tobacco use and growing, manufacturing and trade, taxes and prices, control policies and other interventions to reduce tobacco use and its consequences; and
• The economic implications of global tobacco control efforts.

“The economic impact of tobacco on countries, and the general public, is huge, as this new report shows,” says Dr Oleg Chestnov, WHO’s Assistant Director-General for Noncommunicable Diseases (NCDs) and mental health. “The tobacco industry produces and markets products that kill millions of people prematurely, rob households of finances that could have been used for food and education, and impose immense healthcare costs on families, communities and countries.”

Globally, there are 1.1 billion tobacco smokers aged 15 or older, with around 80% living in low- and middle-income countries. Approximately 226 million smokers live in poverty.

The monograph, citing a 2016 study, states that annual excise revenues from cigarettes globally could increase by 47%, or US$ 140 billion, if all countries raised excise taxes by about US$ 0.80 per pack. Additionally, this tax increase would raise cigarette retail prices on average by 42%, leading to a 9% decline in smoking rates and up to 66 million fewer adult smokers.

“The research summarized in this monograph confirms that evidence-based tobacco control interventions make sense from an economic as well as a public health standpoint,” says the monograph’s co-editor, Distinguished Professor Frank Chaloupka, of the Department of Economics at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

The monograph’s major conclusions include:

• The global health and economic burden of tobacco use is enormous and is increasingly borne by low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Around 80% of the world’s smokers live in LMICs.

• Effective policy and programmatic interventions exist to reduce demand for tobacco products and the death, disease, and economic costs resulting from their use, but these interventions are underused. The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) provides an evidence-based framework for government action to reduce tobacco use.

• Demand reduction policies and programmes for tobacco products are highly cost-effective. Such interventions include significant tobacco tax and price increases; bans on tobacco industry marketing activities; prominent pictorial health warning labels; smoke-free policies and population-wide tobacco cessation programmes to help people stop smoking. In 2013-2014, global tobacco excise taxes generated nearly US$ 269 billion in government revenues. Of this, less than US$ 1 billion was invested in tobacco control.

• Control of illicit trade in tobacco products is the key supply-side policy to reduce tobacco use and its health and economic consequences. In many countries, high levels of corruption, lack of commitment to addressing illicit trade, and ineffective customs and tax administration, have an equal or greater role in driving tax evasion than do product tax and pricing. The WHO FCTC Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products applies tools, like an international tracking and tracing system, to secure the tobacco supply chain. Experience from many countries shows illicit trade can be successfully addressed, even when tobacco taxes and prices are raised, resulting in increased tax revenues and reduced tobacco use.

• Tobacco control does not harm economies: The number of jobs dependent on tobacco has been falling in most countries, largely due to technological innovation and privatization of once state-owned manufacturing. Tobacco control measures will, therefore, have a modest impact on related employment, and not cause net job losses in the vast majority of countries. Programmes substituting tobacco for other crops offer growers alternative farming options.

• Tobacco control reduces the disproportionate health and economic burden that tobacco use imposes on the poor. Tobacco use is increasingly concentrated among the poor and other vulnerable groups.

• Progress is being made in controlling the global tobacco epidemic, but concerted efforts are needed to ensure progress is maintained or accelerated. In most regions, tobacco use prevalence is stagnant or falling. But increasing tobacco use in some regions, and the potential for increase in others, threatens to undermine global progress in tobacco control.

• The market power of tobacco companies has increased in recent years, creating new challenges for tobacco control efforts. As of 2014, 5 tobacco companies accounted for 85% of the global cigarette market. Policies aimed at limiting the market power of tobacco companies are largely untested but hold promise for reducing tobacco use.

Dr Douglas Bettcher, WHO Director for the Prevention of NCDs, says the new report gives governments a powerful tool to combat tobacco industry claims that controls on tobacco products adversely impact economies. “This report shows how lives can be saved and economies can prosper when governments implement cost-effective, proven measures, like significantly increasing taxes and prices on tobacco products, and banning tobacco marketing and smoking in public,” he adds.

Tobacco control is a key component of WHO’s global response to the epidemic of NCDs, primarily cardiovascular disease, cancers, chronic obstructed pulmonary disease and diabetes. NCDs account for the deaths of around 16 million people prematurely (before their 70th birthdays) every year. Reducing tobacco use plays a major role in global efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal of reducing premature deaths from NCDs by one-third by 2030.