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Ban on display of tobacco products to take effect on Aug 1 as grace period ends

After a one-year grace period, the ban on displaying cigarettes and other tobacco products in stores will take effect on Aug 1, the Ministry of Health (MOH) reminded in a news release on Tuesday (Jul 18).

http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/ban-on-display-of-tobacco-products-to-take-effect-on-aug-1-as-9041262

Retailers must keep the tobacco products in plain, undecorated storage devices, and out of customers’ direct line of sight.

“Existing display cabinets can be modified to one that is permanently fixed, self-closing and opaque,” said the ministry. “Alternatively, new storage units that meet the same requirements can also be constructed.”

Laws to ban the display of tobacco products were passed in Parliament last March, under amendments to the Tobacco (Control of Advertisements and Sale) Bill. It is part of MOH’s efforts to discourage smoking, particularly among younger people in Singapore.

Under the regulations, the point of sale will remain fixed at the cashier, to reduce the accessibility of cigarettes to youths and non-smokers.

In addition, a text-only price list based on a template prescribed by MOH may be shown to customers only at their request.

Retailers convicted of flouting the ban face a maximum jail term of six months, a fine of up to S$10,000, or both. The penalties are double for repeat offenders.

ANTI-TOBACCO : THE PR DAUTZENBERG DENOUNCES THE ACTIONS OF BAT

After the revelations from Reuters about the methods of lobbying from Philip Morris International, it is the turn of British American Tobacco (BAT) to suffer the blowback of its business strategy. And it was Professor Bertrand Dautzenberg, pulmonologist at the Pitié-Salpêtrière hospital in paris and secretary general of the Alliance against tobacco, which denounces the strategy of BAT.

https://sivertimes.com/anti-tobacco-the-pr-dautzenberg-denounces-the-actions-of-bat/54893

In a message posted on Twitter and an article in the Figaro, he denounces the attempt to approach the world leader in tobacco, which has sent a registered letter inviting him to discuss ” new product to reduced harm “, to ” change the software regarding the fight against smoking “.

Disagreement on the substance…

Ploom Japan Tobacco, iQos, Philip Morris, Glo BAT : these new devices are the link between the cigarette and the electronic cigarette. They do not use combustion but still contain tobacco. An electrical resistance heater at a low temperature, which would, inter alia, to delete the inhalation of tar and carbon monoxide, according to the manufacturers.

A statement that the Pr Dautzenberg contests. “The industry we swear that this heated tobacco is less toxic than cigarette smoking, but this is not proven at all, and there must be a little bit of burning still, since they found traces of carbon monoxide in the fumes, he said in Le Figaro. Today, tobacco kills one of its faithful consumers. Even if the tobacco said to be less of a risk” not to kill that one in three or one in ten, or even one in a hundred, it’s still unacceptable. “

The doctor also points out that this type of reflection had been carried out on cigarettes light. A reflection at the time supported by a part of the medical community, before it can be recognized that the risk was ultimately the same. Cigarettes light favored only other cancers of the respiratory tract.

PRISON RIGHTS: SCOTLAND IS ABOUT TO BAN INMATES FROM SMOKING

Scotland is set to ban smoking in its prisons as part of a government drive to slash tobacco use—but an expert has warned it could mean a boom in smuggling, and a greater risk of violence.

http://www.newsweek.com/smoking-scotland-prison-ban-637586

Staff, visitors and contractors are already not allowed to smoke anywhere on Scottish Prison Service (SPS) property. But a 2015 survey found that 72 percent of prisoners smoked, more than three times the proportion of the general population who did so, the BBC reported.

The Scottish government aims at creating a “tobacco-free generation” by 2034. Smoking in enclosed public spaces has been barred since 2006, but prisons have remained an exception.

It aims to end smoking in its prisons by the end of 2018, citing the need to tackle the dangers of secondhand smoke.

Phil Fairlie, chairman of the Prison Officers’ Association Scotland, welcomes the news. “Our members have claimed and argued all along, since the smoking ban was introduced, that they are constantly exposed to very high levels of smoking inside prisons,” he told the BBC.

But stopping smoking in prisons is not without risks and problems.

Alex Cavendish, a former prisoner turned prison expert, tells Newsweek that the demand for contraband tobacco in smoke-free prisoners could lead to a vast black market.

In one prison in Dartmoor, England, which has tested a smoke-free environment, a pack of rolling tobacco could cost as much as £100, Cavendish said. The “huge price differential” between such rates inside the jail compared to shops outside where tobacco was relatively cheap and legal leads to “a temptation to corruption.” A prison officer from the Dartmoor jail was convicted of smuggling tobacco in May this year.

Such markets create new administrative pressures on staff as they become embroiled in a “cat-and-mouse game of trying to stop people doing what is lawful to do on the outside,” Cavendish said.

Black markets also can breed violence when prisoners are punished for not keeping up with debts. Cavendish added: “Prison is a very unforgiving place when it comes to nonpayment of debt.”

Colin McConnell, chief executive of the SPS, said: “This will be a significant challenge. The percentage of people who smoke in prisons is much higher than the community at large,” STV reported.

“I fully understand how difficult it will be for many in our care to give up smoking—that is why we are committed to working alongside our partners in the NHS to provide every support possible to assist them.”

Scottish Health Secretary Shona Robison said, “Smoking remains the biggest single cause of preventable ill-health and premature death in Scotland.

“We have taken wide-ranging action to address this, from our campaigns to take smoking right outside, to measures on tobacco advertising and packaging.

“I endorse this important step by SPS, which will contribute towards our ambition of creating a tobacco-free generation by 2034.”

Why Smoking in Films Harms Children

We want to believe we’re raising our kids to think for themselves, and not to do dumb or unhealthy things just because the cool kids are doing them.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/17/well/family/why-smoking-in-films-harms-children.html

But research shows that when it comes to smoking, children are heavily influenced by some of the folks they consider the coolest of the cool: actors in movies.

“There’s a dose-response relationship: The more smoking kids see onscreen, the more likely they are to smoke,” said Dr. Stanton Glantz, a professor and director of the University of California, San Francisco, Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education. He is one of the authors of a new study that found that popular movies are showing more tobacco use onscreen.

“The evidence shows it’s the largest single stimulus,” for smoking, he said; “it overpowers good parental role modeling, it’s more powerful than peer influence or even cigarette advertising.”

He said that epidemiological studies have shown that if you control for all the other risk factors of smoking (whether parents smoke, attitudes toward risk taking, socioeconomic status, and so on), younger adolescents who are more heavily exposed to smoking on film are two to three times as likely to start smoking, compared with the kids who are more lightly exposed.

Those whose parents smoke are more likely to smoke, he said, but exposure to smoking in movies can overcome the benefit of having nonsmoking parents. In one study, the children of nonsmoking parents with heavy exposure to movie smoking were as likely to smoke as the children of smoking parents with heavy movie exposure.

To Dr. Glantz, and the other people who study this topic, that makes smoking in movies an “environmental toxin,” a factor endangering children.

“There’s no excuse for continuing to have smoking in movies that are rated to be sold to kids, and so the policy objective we have is there should be no smoking in movies that are rated for kids,” said Dr. Glantz, who maintains a website called Smoke Free Movies. “The studios have it in their power to fix this with a phone call.” The rating system needs to start treating smoking like a proscribed obscenity, he said; if it’s in the movie, the movie gets an R rating.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s fact sheet on smoking in the movies estimates that taking smoking out of films rated for children would save 18 percent of the 5.6 million young people alive today who will otherwise die of tobacco-related diseases – a million lives. “There’s nothing you could do that would be so cheap and save so many lives,” Dr. Glantz said.

This has been studied in 17 different countries, he said, and though policies vary widely and cultures are very different, the results are remarkably similar. “You consistently see this two to three times risk in kids who are exposed to a lot of onscreen smoking, all over the world.”

Five years ago, the people who worry about the impact on the young of seeing smoking in the movies thought things were looking good. In movies rated for a young audience (that is, G or PG or PG-13), there had been a steady drop in the number of “onscreen tobacco incidents.” Not only that, but in 2012, convinced by a heavy array of scientific evidence, the Surgeon General issued a report saying explicitly that seeing people smoke in movies caused kids to start smoking: “longitudinal studies have found that adolescents whose favorite movie stars smoke on screen or who are exposed to a large number of movies portraying smokers are at a high risk of smoking initiation.”

But after 2010, despite the accumulating evidence, the rate of cinematic smoking started to rise in those youth-rated movies, according to the new study, published this month in the C.D.C.’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, which looked at incidents of tobacco use in top-grossing movies from 2010 to 2016.

As far as movies rated G, PG, and PG-13, “When we compared 2010 to 2016, there was a slight decrease in the number of movies, but an increase in the number of incidents,” said Michael Tynan, a public health analyst in the office on smoking and health at the C.D.C., and the lead author of the new study. Dr. Glantz is also an author, and he and two of the four other authors have received grants from the Truth Initiative, an antismoking group.

The number of times that an actor used a tobacco product in a top-grossing movie “increased 72 percent among all movies and 43 percent among PG-13 movies,” Mr. Tynan said. In other words, he said, by 2016 there were “more tobacco incidents concentrated in fewer movies.”

One out of every four movies rated for youth today continues to feature tobacco use, Mr. Tynan said, “and we know this is harmful to youth and causes youth to start using tobacco.”

And the policies that the studios have in place, which seemed to be working as of 2012, are clearly not sufficient, Mr. Tynan said. “The frequency of tobacco use in PG-13 movies is a public health concern.” So what should be done? “One change is to rate movies with tobacco use with an R rating,” he suggested. Other steps that might help would be to have studios certify that there was no paid product placement, and to end the use of any actual tobacco brands on the screen. All of these strategies are supported by the American Academy of Pediatrics, which has issued a statement calling the new study “alarming.”

In a study done back in the ’90s, researchers pointed to some of the differences between who smokes on screen and who smokes in the real world. In the real world, smokers are likely to be “poor people, people with mental illness,” Dr. Glantz said. “If you look at the power players, the rich people, people who are in control, they’re not smoking.” But in movies, it tends to be more desirable or powerful characters, even if they’re the bad guys, and in that way, movie images may reinforce images in cigarette advertising.

And movie images are powerful. In one experiment, young people who were smokers were shown montages of clips from recent movies; the participants were randomized so that some saw clips with smoking in them and some did not. Then they were given a 10-minute break, and the people who saw the smoking images were significantly more likely to smoke during the break than the smokers who had not seen the images.

“Keeping smoking onscreen is like putting arsenic in the popcorn,” Dr. Glantz said. The new study “shows they’ve taken half of the arsenic out,” he said. “Now they need to take the rest out.”

Furore over tobacco harm-reduction efforts

Most countries all over the world have banned smoking in public places and the popular advice is, “smoking is dangerous to your health… smokers are liable to die young.”

https://guardian.ng/features/furore-over-tobacco-harm-reduction-efforts/

Researches indicate that most deaths due to smoking result from respiratory diseases such as lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and pneumonia.

In Nigeria, most cities including Lagos have outlawed smoking backed with legislation but poor enforcement has been the pitfall. People still smoke in public places in all the nook and crannies in the country exposing the non-smoker and tender ones to secondhand smoke, which has also been associated with cancer of the lung and other ill-health effects.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the tobacco epidemic is one of the biggest public health threats, killing more than seven million people a year. There are currently one billion smokers worldwide, with nearly 80 per cent of them living in low and middle-income countries, where the burden of tobacco-related illness is greatest.

Indeed, several studies have shown that smoking tobacco is the most harmful way of using nicotine, with the tars and gasses in cigarette smoke being harmful to health, however, many people find it difficult to stop smoking because they find it hard to go without nicotine.

A school of thought suggests that making lower risk products available may help people switch from smoking, ultimately helping avoid the risk of smoking known as “tobacco harm reduction”.

Tobacco harm reduction is a pragmatic approach to reducing the harm of smoking related diseases. People smoke because they are addicted to nicotine and seek a “hit”, but it is the other toxins in tobacco smoke that cause most of the harm. Nicotine can be obtained from a range of products, which vary in their level of harm and addictiveness, from smoked tobacco (that is cigarettes) at the top end of the harm/addiction spectrum, to medicinal nicotine (that is nicotine replacement therapy products) at the bottom end.

A harm reduction approach to tobacco control encourages those smokers that cannot, or are unwilling to, stop smoking, to switch to using nicotine in a less harmful form, and ideally would result in them ultimately quitting nicotine use altogether.

Potential harm reduction products include: Smokeless Tobacco (Snus); E-cigarettes; and Nicotine Replacement Therapy (under construction). The use of safer nicotine products is a rapidly evolving area, with many new non-combustible products emerging. The rapid development and use of these products raises a number of challenging scientific questions about their safety, who uses them and why, and the impact on smoking. These products also raise challenges for governments who seek to understand what kind of policy and regulation is appropriate.

To address these issues, the Global Forum on Nicotine (GFN) 2017 was held last month in Warsaw, Poland.

Reflecting commitment to the development and promotion of evidence-based policies and interventions, the theme of this year’s meeting was “Reducing Harm, Saving Lives”, drawing attention to the potential of safer nicotine products, such as e-cigarettes, oral tobaccos and “heat-not-burn” tobacco products, to reduce the global health burden of smoking.

Participants comprised of policy analysts, regulators and standards experts, academics and researchers, parliamentarians, public health professionals, consumer advocates, and makers and distributors of alternative nicotine products – all with an interest in nicotine and its uses.

This year’s programme examined the rapidly developing science in relation to nicotine use and the changing landscape, including policy responses and the influence of different stakeholders in this. The programme comprised plenary sessions, symposia, panel discussions and poster presentations – including video posters.

Several studies have shown that tobacco harm reduction has been controversial and divisive in public health, in particular where the debate has focused on a possible role for other tobacco products such as Snus, within a tobacco harm reduction strategy. One of the reasons harm reduction is a sensitive topic is that it could involve engaging with the tobacco industry, which has a history of manipulating public debate and public health policy.

Critics posit that to fully understand the harmfulness of potentially reduced risk products and their effectiveness for smoking cessation, tobacco industry investments and research into harm reduction and potentially reduced risk products should be carefully scrutinised. Who has paid for the research, which scientists, organisations and institutions are involved?

In fact, a number of scientists leading the debate on harm reduction and/or potentially reduced risk products are allegedly funded by the tobacco industry. Examples include: Jed E. Rose is director of the Center for Nicotine and Smoking Cessation Research (CNSCR) at Duke University in the United States (US), an institution with a long history of tobacco money. He is the inventor of the nicotine patch, and a nicotine aerosol technology. The Center, his research and his career are closely interlinked with the tobacco industry, more specifically Philip Morris.

The story on Duke University, US, and the Tobacco Industry shows Philip Morris actively promoting the nicotine patch as a quitting strategy, with the research funded by the company and with the endorsement of scientists involved.

A 2012 editorial in the public health journal Addiction suggested we should not be fooled by industry investments in potentially reduced risk products like snus, highlighting that Philip Morris US is currently advertising its Marlboro snus “for when you can’t smoke”, thus encouraging dual use instead of smoking cessation.

Further evidence from the US, where smokeless tobacco is freely available, confirms that smokeless tobacco is being marketed as a tobacco alternative in smoke-free environments. This would suggest that contrary to the industry’s discourse on harm reduction, and the favoured approach by public health experts advocating tobacco harm reduction, the industry appears to have little intention of promoting Snus use as a permanent switch from smoking.

However, the GFN is changing that perception. Chair of GFN, Prof. Dave Sweanor from Canada, told participants at 2017 GFN: “GFN is the only international conference to focus on the role of safer nicotine products that help people switch from smoking. Safer nicotine products include e-cigarettes, oral tobaccos such as Swedish snus, and ‘heat-not-burn’ tobacco products. This is a rapidly evolving area with many new non-combustible products emerging.

“The first conference was held in 2014 and this year we see the fourth annual renewal. All the conferences to date have been in Warsaw. The conference is funded by registration fees and does not receive any sponsorship from manufacturers, distributors or retailers of nicotine products, including pharmaceutical, electronic cigarette and tobacco companies.”

Sweanor said the programme is developed by an international programme committee and is supported by a Polish Host Committee. Knowledge-Action-Change (KAC) provides the administration for the conference. New data released at the GFN showed low risk nicotine product snus is 95 per cent safer than smoking and has the potential to stop 320,000 premature deaths across Europe each year.

The latest evidence, presented by Peter Lee, epidemiologist and medical statistician, indicates that snus is at least 95 per cent safer than smoking.

Analysis by Lars Ramström, snus researcher in Sweden, shows that if snus were made available in Europe –where it is currently banned with the exception of Sweden –and similar use levels to Sweden were adopted, up to
320,000 premature deaths could be avoided among men every year.

While 46 per cent of deaths due to smoking result from respiratory diseases such as lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and pneumonia, there is no evidence that using snus increases risk of these diseases. Nor does snus appear to increase the risk of other smoking related diseases including heart disease, stroke and a range of cancers.

In addition, the public health benefits of snus versus cigarettes are not only much lower, but the role of snus in both reducing initiation of smoking and increasing cessation of smoking is a key element in defeating the actual cause of tobacco-related ill-health caused by the cigarette.

Current European legislation does not allow snus to be marketed in any European country except Sweden. However, due to strong evidence behind its potentially life saving benefits, The New Nicotine Alliance (NNA), a United Kingdom (UK) consumer group supporting access to safer nicotine products, is calling for its legalization and has joined legal action case against the banning of snus, which has now been referred to the European Courts of Justice.

Gerry Stimson, Chair of the NNA stated, “Snus is a tobacco product that has consistently been proven to be less harmful to health than cigarettes. The ban on snus limits smokers choices of safer alternatives and has a significant negative impact on public health”.

Phillips Morris International (PMI) in its presentation at the Forum noted: “Harm reduction policies are based on the view acknowledged by virtually all public health organizations that tobacco use will continue well into the future. As the United Nation (UN) stated in 2004, even assuming current rates of decline in consumption, ‘the number of tobacco users would still be expected to increase to 1.46 billion by 2025.’

“The recognition that people will continue to smoke has led many public health authorities to the conclusion that developing tobacco products that have a reduced risk of causing disease is a crucial element of tobacco policy. This is contrasted with those groups who take an abstinence-based approach that focuses solely on preventing people from beginning to use tobacco products and encouraging people to quit using tobacco products.

“Following a harm reduction policy does not preclude governments from pursuing the objectives of prevention of initiation and encouraging cessation. On the contrary, most proponents of harm reduction are vigorous supporters of those important goals. As we see it, tobacco harm reduction should complement prevention and cessation efforts — not compete with them.

“Our support of harm reduction follows two paths: one is through our research and development of products with the potential to reduce the risk of tobacco related diseases. The other path is through our support of regulation based on the principle of harm reduction.”

Big tobacco’s push to legalise e-cigarettes needs to be quashed immediately

If Philip Morris truly believed it’s push to legalise e-cigarettes containing nicotine in this country had merit it would be making its case publicly and under its own name.

http://www.canberratimes.com.au/comment/ct-editorial/big-tobaccos-push-to-legalise-ecigarettes-needs-to-be-quashed-immediately-20170713-gxaow8.html

The fact the tobacco giant is using its catspaw smokers’ rights lobby group “I Deserve To Be Heard” to lend the argument the dubious legitimacy of contrived popular support is, in itself, a good reason for the Federal Government to refuse to give this matter any oxygen.

Another is that in the almost 500 years since Spanish merchants introduced tobacco to Europe from the New World big tobacco’s track record of advocating anything in the public interest has been appalling.

It’s a pretty good bet, just on the historical record, that if Philip Morris thinks it would benefit from the legalisation of e-cigarettes there’s likely some sort of downside for the broader society.

Despite the handsome revenues governments rake in from the taxes, levies and charges imposed on what is arguably the most deadly mass consumption product available for public sale, the industry, and its users, always come out ahead.

The costs to other taxpayers from picking up the burden of additional healthcare and lost productivity arising from the chronic illnesses and early deaths caused by consumption on tobacco products far outweigh the revenues that come in.

An estimated 15,000 Australians die of smoking related causes each year at a cost to the community, in terms of health expenditure and economic costs, of $31.5 billion a year. This is almost three times the roughly $12 billion spent on tobacco products in Australia in 2015.

This is not a message big tobacco is keen to spread. Instead, by enlisting proxies from the nicotine-using and “vaping” communities, it is trying to play this as a “free speech” and “freedom of choice” issue.

That is not the case. Public health was, is and must always be, the core issue in the smoking debate. Everything else, as was demonstrated by the industry’s failed bid to overturn plain packaging, is a side show.

Health concerns were behind the many initiatives, including increased prices, that have seen Australian smoking rates fall to less than 13 per cent compared to 1945 when 72 per cent of males and 26 per cent of females smoked.

Today’s battle is not so much to wean the last hard core smokers off the habit as it is to stop young people from taking it up.

This is why e-cigarettes, which could be touted as a “reduced risk” and potentially “cool” way to imbibe must stay banned.

If legalised they would simply serve as yet another gateway towards the use of the traditional product.

Big Tobacco Accused of ‘Dirty War’ Against Smoking Prevention in Africa

In the past, Big Tobacco has been accused of covering up the true extent of the health risks associated with smoking, as well as fighting government restrictions. Now, a new investigation suggests that Big Tobacco is using strong-arm tactics to resist regulations in many parts of Africa.

http://www.care2.com/causes/big-tobacco-accused-of-dirty-war-against-smoking-prevention-in-africa.html

The Guardian reports that after reviewing court documents and other materials, it has uncovered a systematic wave of bullying and intimidation by British American Tobacco. And BAT is soon to close a deal that would make it the world’s leading tobacco company.

The exposé highlights attempts made by BAT to defang, or resist outright, regulation and restriction. For example, the company used threats of economic damage to fight higher taxes on cigarettes, a plan that is standard in the U.S. and much of Europe.

The Guardian reports:

In one undisclosed court document in Kenya, seen by the Guardian, BAT’s lawyers demand the country’s high court “quash in its entirety” a package of anti-smoking regulations and rails against what it calls a “capricious” tax plan. The case is now before the supreme court after BAT Kenya lost in the high court and the appeal court. A ruling is expected as early as next month.

The Guardian has also seen letters, including three by BAT, sent to the governments of Uganda, Namibia, Togo, Gabon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia and Burkina Faso revealing the intimidatory tactics that tobacco companies are using, accusing governments of breaching their own laws and international trade agreements and warning of damage to the economy.

But we have seen these tactics before.

Starting as early as the 1970s, health warnings about cigarettes began to grab national attention. At that time, tobacco companies used every advertising and legal mechanism they could to prevent further regulation and to avoid plain packaging. As a result, some 70 years after the health dangers of cigarettes came to light, we are only now restricting tobacco in a way that seems appropriate to its risks.

While tobacco companies are in retreat in the West, African, Latin American and now Asian markets have become key areas of interest. As well as exploiting labor in these regions, tobacco companies now want to ensure that their products last long after the West has rejected cigarettes.

For its part, British American Tobacco has always claimed to abide by strict codes of conduct. The company has defended its use of the courts as a means to clear up ambiguous interpretations in local regulation and to ensure international regulations are being followed where appropriate.

British American Tobacco maintains that it does not oppose regulation per se and believes that reasonable restrictions on tobacco are warranted as, tobacco is a harmful product.

However, campaigners have long said that BAT falls short of that standard. Many African nations have signed on to the World Health Organization’s treaty on tobacco control, but that status still needs to be ratified, meaning that no uniform policies exist. Sub-Saharan Africa in particular has shown its vulnerability to manipulation by outside businesses with money.

The Guardian exposé highlights this clearly in one extract regarding tobacco regulation in Kenya:

Extract – letter
“If these measures are brought into effect, the economic and social impact will be extremely negative. They could even threaten the continuation of our factory which has operated in Bobo Dioulasso for more than fifty years with more than 210 salaried employees.”

Excerpt from letter from Imperial Tobacco to the prime minister of Burkina Faso, 25 January 2016, concerning new regulations on plain cigarette packaging and large graphic health warnings.

The Sunday Times has previously reported on an investigation which found that BAT sold cheaper, highly addictive cigarettes to Africans in the 1990s. The company also allegedly marketed smoking without sufficient health warnings.

BAT may dispute such claims or suggest that these are simply past infractions. However, more recent reports claim that people affiliated with BAT have attempted to bribe African officials to advance tobacco products in sub-Saharan Africa and to avoid certain regulations.

As of 2016, these allegations — made both by former BAT employees and by outside investigators — even prompted lawmakers in the U.S. Congress to call for a full investigation to determine whether BAT breached any laws due to its involvement in Africa.

Overall, tobacco use remains low across Africa. A major “Lancet” study published in 2010 puts cigarette smokers at about 14 percent of the total population — far below that seen in the Americas. However, data suggests that the rate of smoking uptake is rising at an alarming rate — by as much as four percent per year.

Will the Guardian’s revelations prompt further action against British American Tobacco? That remains to be seen, but we must do everything we can to help African nations get the full facts on tobacco’s health impacts and resist Big Tobacco’s strong-arm tactics.

Tobacco Industry Makes Strides in Trump’s Washington

President Trump may have promised to “drain the swamp” of lobbyists in Washington, but six months into his administration it seems the swamp is winning.

http://www.truthdig.com/eartotheground/item/tobacco_companies_trump_administration_20170713

A new report published in The Guardian exposes how tobacco companies are gaining significant political victories under Trump, due to lobbying efforts and the fact that tobacco business insiders have been appointed to top positions in the president’s administration. Jessica Glenza explains:

America’s largest cigarette manufacturers, Reynolds American and Altria Group, donated $1.5m to help the new president celebrate his inauguration. The donations allowed executives to dine and mingle with top administration officials and their families.

Not long after Trump promised to transfer power from Washington to the American people, a wave of spending in pursuit of influence was unleashed. In the first quarter of 2017, tobacco companies and trade associations spent $4.7m lobbying federal officials. Altria, the company behind Marlboro, hired 17 lobbying firms. Reynolds, makers of the Camel brand, hired 13, according to the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids.

Since then, tobacco companies have been putting points on the scoreboard. Politicians and officials with deep ties to the tobacco industry now head the US health department, the top attorney’s office and the Senate, even as tobacco use remains the leading preventable cause of death.

Agencies in charge of reviewing large mergers let a window slip by in which they might have requested information about a $49bn merger between Reynolds and British American Tobacco (BAT). That merger, expected to be voted through by shareholders next week, will make BAT the biggest listed tobacco company in the world, and puts proceeds from eight out of 10 cigarettes sold in the US into the pockets of two companies: Altria and BAT. …

The Food and Drug Administration has twice delayed legal briefs to defend regulations of e-cigarettes, products cigarette makers say are the future. Summer deadlines for cigar and e-cigarette makers to file applications with the FDA, which regulates the products, have all been delayed by the Trump administration.

And the high-profile attorney Noel Francisco, who once argued for Reynolds that including a quit-line phone number on cigarette packs amounted to government advocacy against smoking, has been nominated for the post of solicitor general, the government’s top attorney.

The companies now securing regulatory wins are also partly responsible for Trump’s victory in the 2016 election. “For Trump’s inaugural celebration, Reynolds American gave $1m. Altria Group gave $500,000,” Glenza reports. “The US Chamber of Commerce, which has been fiercely pro-tobacco in recent years, gave $25,000.”

Prior to becoming president, Trump profited from tobacco companies, Glenza says. His past financial disclosures “show he earned up to $2.1m from tobacco holdings in diversified portfolios,” although he has since claimed (without offering any proof) to have sold his stocks.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and members of Trump’s administration including Vice President Mike Pence have deep ties to the tobacco industry. Glenza shows the links between tobacco company donations and pro-tobacco policymaking.

“Tobacco industry influence in Washington is pervasive, in many different ways,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., a longtime opponent of smoking, tells The Guardian. “As in so many areas, the promise to drain the swamp has been an extraordinary hypocrisy.”

The Guardian view on big tobacco: stop the spread

Companies like British American Tobacco are using the same tactics they used in the global north to delay legislation in the global south

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jul/12/the-guardian-view-on-big-tobacco-stop-the-spread

Global corporations work hard to persuade the public of their commitment to corporate social responsibility. British American Tobacco, for example, declares on its website that “as the world’s most international tobacco group, we are in a position to take the lead in defining and demonstrating what a socially responsible tobacco company should be”. It goes on to set out five core beliefs that underpin its “high standards of behaviour and integrity”. The evidence that the Guardian is publishing this week – at the start of a two-year project intended to show just how the global tobacco industry works – suggests that the distance between the words and the deeds of this huge and powerful company is about the size of the distance from the developed to the developing world.

A generation of campaigners in western Europe and north America are familiar with the devious tactics that are now in play in Africa and Asia. The wickedly slow pace of change from 1949, when the link between smoking and cancer was first established, to the introduction of plain packaging in the UK nearly 70 years later, owes everything to the sustained campaign the industry fought against regulation that would limit the harm of smoking. It was fought in the public domain, in carefully placed reports that undermined medical research or questioned the impact of proposals like plain packaging. And it was fought privately, in privileged access to politicians, sometimes indirectly by other interested parties. The most notorious example was the Ecclestone affair in 1997, when a Labour pledge to ban tobacco advertising at all sports events was suddenly and inexplicably withdrawn. It soon emerged that the Formula One boss, Bernie Ecclestone, had donated £1m to Labour, and that there were hopes of more to come.

In the course of those 70 years of delay, millions of people will have taken up smoking and a significant number will have suffered and died because of it. Now the tobacco companies are fast exporting the insidious tactics that worked for so long in the markets of the global north to new ones in the global south. More than half of BAT’s sales are now in emerging markets.

Take the increasingly prosperous East African country of Kenya: its government signed the World Health Organisation’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in 2004, before it was officially adopted. Yet nearly 15 years later, multinational tobacco firms are still fighting to delay the introduction of anti-smoking laws. As one recent study found, the slower the process of legislation, the greater the scope for tobacco company influence. The WHO reports how companies sponsor sporting events for children, for example, and hand out cigarettes in shopping centres regardless of people’s age. Already, proportionately more Kenyan children are smoking than adults.

It’s not all about the companies. Part of the story is the low priority given to public health: in a country of 45 million people like Kenya, the anti-smoking budget is $45,000. But these are places where tobacco can do business. Tobacco taxes are vital revenue, so the tobacco companies claim that regulation will erode the tax base and provide new opportunities for the black market. And part of it is corruption, the purchase of influence.

As Bath University’s Tobacco Tactics website details, big tobacco’s attempts to delay the introduction of laws to limit the harm of tobacco across Africa follow a familiar pattern: the companies influence politicians, they intimidate tobacco farmers, and they use unrestrained advertising to promote smoking. The companies insist they are only ensuring that legislation is proportionate. These are weasel words. Their tactics are well-funded, well-rehearsed and slick. They worked for years in the old markets. But if tactics can be exported, so can campaigns. BAT is about to become one of the FTSE 100’s top three companies. Reputation matters. Shareholders have leverage – and they should prepare to use it.

Nairobi’s smoking culture – in pictures

In east Africa, the tobacco industry, including British American Tobacco, has been putting pressure on local governments over some of the regulations attempting to curb smoking.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/gallery/2017/jul/12/on-the-tobacco-road-david-levene-in-kenya

BAT says it is not against all regulation, but from ‘time to time’ needs to challenge it. BAT Kenya is currently taking a legal case to the country’s supreme court over some regulations.

Every year, more than 6,000 Kenyans are killed by tobacco-linked diseases, part of what the WHO calls the ‘biggest public health threats the world has ever faced’.

Campaigners say the industry is developing its African market and sees new potential customers as populations and prosperity grow there.

David Levene spent some time documenting the country’s smoking culture in Nairobi, noticing the prevalence of cigarette brands in daily life. This collection is gathered from his walks through the city

Facts from Tobacco Atlas

Smoking in public areas in highly restricted in Kenya. These two men sit back in one of central Nairobi’s smoking zones, as designated by the country’s ministry of health. Photograph: David Levene for the Guardian

Smoking in public areas in highly restricted in Kenya. These two men sit back in one of central Nairobi’s smoking zones, as designated by the country’s ministry of health.
Photograph: David Levene for the Guardian

Meru, Kenya - Over the past 50 years, Africa has seen a significant increase in tobacco farming. Many farmers suffer from green tobacco sickness, which shares symptoms with nicotine addiction and withdrawal. It’s simply caused by being in consistent contact with the plant, as nicotine can be absorbed through the skin especially when wet. Tanzania, Kenya’s southern neighbor, earns $50 million per year from tobacco but spends $40 million for tobacco- related cancers alone. Photograph: David Levene for the Guardian

Meru, Kenya – Over the past 50 years, Africa has seen a significant increase in tobacco farming. Many farmers suffer from green tobacco sickness, which shares symptoms with nicotine addiction and withdrawal. It’s simply caused by being in consistent contact with the plant, as nicotine can be absorbed through the skin especially when wet. Tanzania, Kenya’s southern neighbor, earns $50 million per year from tobacco but spends $40 million for tobacco- related cancers alone.
Photograph: David Levene for the Guardian

Approximately 176 million adult women worldwide are daily smokers and 37 women die every week in Kenya due to tobacco related complications. Photograph: David Levene for the Guardian

Approximately 176 million adult women worldwide are daily smokers and 37 women die every week in Kenya due to tobacco related complications.
Photograph: David Levene for the Guardian

A vendor sells single sticks in central Nairobi’s Uhuru Park. Most Kenyan smokers prefer this to buying whole packs, given the cost.Manufacturers are not allowed to produce cigarettes in packs of less than 10, and they say they want customers to purchase full packs, and that they work with vendors to encourage them to sell them this way.The World Health Organization estimates that people in low-income countries can spend as much as 10% of household income on tobacco products.Uhuru Park is also a key spot for Nairobi’s bourgeoning skate scene. Photograph: David Levene for the Guardian

A vendor sells single sticks in central Nairobi’s Uhuru Park. Most Kenyan smokers prefer this to buying whole packs, given the cost.Manufacturers are not allowed to produce cigarettes in packs of less than 10, and they say they want customers to purchase full packs, and that they work with vendors to encourage them to sell them this way.The World Health Organization estimates that people in low-income countries can spend as much as 10% of household income on tobacco products.Uhuru Park is also a key spot for Nairobi’s bourgeoning skate scene.
Photograph: David Levene for the Guardian

Excises taxes are still the most effective controls against tobacco. In Kenya, they make up 35% of retail price, similar to the US’s 38%. One of the elements of government plans that BAT Kenya is fighting in the court is a new tobacco industry tax.Clear adverts may be outlawed, but still, Kenyans know what is being sold. These red boxes are instantly recognizable. Photograph: David Levene for the Guardian

Excises taxes are still the most effective controls against tobacco. In Kenya, they make up 35% of retail price, similar to the US’s 38%. One of the elements of government plans that BAT Kenya is fighting in the court is a new tobacco industry tax.Clear adverts may be outlawed, but still, Kenyans know what is being sold. These red boxes are instantly recognizable.
Photograph: David Levene for the Guardian

The afternoon sets on Enterprise Road in Nairobi’s industrial zone. Photograph: David Levene for the Guardian

The afternoon sets on Enterprise Road in Nairobi’s industrial zone.
Photograph: David Levene for the Guardian

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A smoker in a Nairobi smoking zone Photograph: David Levene for the Guardian

A Nairobi smoking zone Photograph: David Levene for the Guardian

A Nairobi smoking zone
Photograph: David Levene for the Guardian

Nairobi, Kenya Photograph: David Levene for the Guardian

Nairobi, Kenya
Photograph: David Levene for the Guardian

The combined revenues of the world’s 6 largest tobacco companies in 2013 was USD342 Billion, 85% larger than the Gross National Income of Kenya Photograph: David Levene for the Guardian

The combined revenues of the world’s 6 largest tobacco companies in 2013 was USD342 Billion, 85% larger than the Gross National Income of Kenya
Photograph: David Levene for the Guardian