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Tobacco Control

Nigeria Takes On Tobacco Giants

By Andrew Walker
Nigeria analyst – BBC News 14th Jan

Nigeria’s government is suing three international tobacco firms for $44bn (£22bn) – the first such case in the developing world – due to start in the capital, Abuja.

It says tobacco manufacturers are putting unacceptable pressure on the country’s health services, and companies are targeting younger and younger people in an attempt to replace former smokers in Europe and America.

British American Tobacco (BAT), Philip Morris and International Tobacco Ltd, deny the claims and say they are socially responsible companies who do not target children.

They question the massive sums demanded by the government and say the case “has no merit”.

But government lawyers are convinced they have a strong case.

E-mails between tobacco firm employees to be shown to the court in the capital Abuja will reveal deliberate attempts to increase the number of “young and underage” smokers and attempts to influence lawmakers to keep tobacco sales unregulated, they say.

Four Nigerian state governments also plan to go to court early in 2008 to argue similar cases.

Cigarette smoking is widespread in Nigeria and BAT recently set up a factory in the West African country.

Campaigners in Nigeria say children are sent positive messages about smoking all the time.

And young people across Nigeria can buy cigarettes from vendors in single “sticks”, which campaigners say makes it easier for young people to pick up the habit.

The World Health Organization estimates that 18% of young Nigerians smoke – storing up huge potential health problems in a country of 140 million people, most of whom are under 20.


“If this case gets to the evidence stage, the companies are dead on arrival,” says Babatunde Irukera, prosecuting the case for the government.

“We expect they will try to delay the case by questioning the jurisdiction of the court. But if they see that they’re in trouble we expect them to try and settle out of court.”

He says they have a dossier of evidence that runs to 3,000 pages consisting of internal company e-mails discussing how to target children and influence lawmakers in Nigeria.

“Documents we have refer to ways of increasing the number of ‘YAUS’ in Nigeria. We have expert testimony that says YAUS means ‘Young And Underage Smokers’,” he said.

The e-mails come from a public depository of evidence uncovered during a series of class-action lawsuits across the US.

Many of those cases have been initially successful, but litigants have seen payouts slashed or kicked out on appeal.

In 2000 a Florida court awarded $145bn damages to hundreds of thousands of smokers, but the case was thrown out on appeal.

The Florida supreme court said making such an award would “result in an unlawful crippling of the defendant companies”.

Poor hospitals

Nigerian public hospitals are chaotic, poorly funded places where equipment is often out of date or broken.

Corruption and inefficiency are also responsible for the overload on the health service.

Tobacco company lawyers may argue there is little evidence that the government has been taking responsibility for its own health services.

“We haven’t got a clue where the government got the amount they are asking for. Much of what they claim doesn’t add up,” said British American Tobacco spokesperson in London Catherine Armstrong.

The company says they have been operating in Nigeria since the early 1900s and has never targeted children.

“It is false to suggest that tobacco companies have had a knee-jerk reaction to falling markets elsewhere in the world,” Ms Armstrong said.

The tobacco firms expect legal arguments to go on for “years and years”, she added.


But anti-smoking campaigners say children are definitely the targets of marketing campaigns.

Cigarette companies sponsor fashion shows and music concerts, said Eze Eluchie of People Against Drug Dependence and Ignorance (Paddi), a Lagos-based organisation.

“They have something called an 18-plus programme, which they say tries to prevent young people from taking up smoking. But when 16- and 17-year-olds see that, it makes them think smoking is grown-up. It’s counter-productive,” he said.

Whatever happens with the court case, the government is already trying to curb the spread of smoking.

Cigarette adverts have been restricted – only allowed on radio and TV after 2200 and billboards have been scrapped.

The authorities in the capital, Abuja, are also considering a smoking ban in public places.

Tobacco-Free Electronic Cigarettes and Cigars

Tobacco-free electronic cigarettes and cigars deliver nicotine and generate concern

John Pauly, Qiang Li and Matthew B Barry

2007;16;357- Tob. Control

Novel cigarette-appearing items have been introduced to the market with the intent, either stated or implied, of reducing toxicants in mainstream and second-hand smoke and/or helping smokers break their nicotine addiction. We report here the introduction to the market of electronic products that mimic a cigar, cigarette or pipe. These articles are unique in that they are the first to have the appearance of conventional tobacco products but contain no tobacco. The products deliver nicotine, at different amounts, but no smoke or tar.

See the full article here: Tobacco-Free Electronic Cigarettes and Cigars

Macau Support for Tobacco Control

High support for tightening restrictions on tobacco: survey

Saturday, 12 January 2008 – Macau Daily Times

A survey showed that 44.8 percent of the Macau people endorsed a stricter control on tobacco, according to a survey released by the yesterday.

The survey, launched by Macau’s Department of Health, consulted public opinions on the SAR government’s proposed revision of tobacco control laws, including increase of tobacco tax, expansion of no-smoking area, regulations of tobacco advertisements and sales.

Among the proposed regulations, 76.8 percent of the people support the expansion of no-smoking area in the island city of 528, 000 residents, according to the survey.

Feedback from the surveyed also suggested that the government should establish a tobacco supervising office to step up its control over tobacco, and ban smoking in casinos and world heritage sites.

Meanwhile, the survey also indicated that tobacco dealers, souvenir retailers and some restaurant owners were partly or fully against the proposed regulations on tobacco.

Russia Agrees to Tobacco Convention

Friday, January 11, 2008 / Updated Moscow Time Business

Cabinet Agrees to Tobacco Convention

By Anatoly Medetsky – Staff Writer

The Cabinet on Thursday backed further efforts to battle one of Russia’s most unhealthy addictions — smoking — by giving the go-ahead to a total ban on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorships.

The bill approved by the Cabinet in its Thursday session clears the way for Russia to join a UN tobacco control convention requiring members to take these steps within five years of signing on.

Current laws forbid outdoor, radio and television advertising for tobacco, but major international firms that dominate the domestic market, such as British American Tobacco, run ads in glossy magazines, the metro and are heavily involved in sponsorships.

British American Tobacco most recently helped organize an art exhibition at the State Russian Museum in St. Petersburg. Promoters often hand out cigarettes to passersby in busy locations.

Accession to World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control will come if and when the bill is passed in the State Duma and is signed by the president.

Duma Speaker Boris Gryzlov, whose United Russia party holds an overwhelming majority in the chamber, has already signaled his support for the bill.

“I personally don’t smoke,” he said. “I think accession to the convention is absolutely the right thing to do.”

The convention also requires that member countries raise taxes on cigarettes in order to discourage consumption. Russia currently charges a token 3 percent tax on tobacco production, compared with some 50 percent in Western Europe, said Azam Buzurukov, the WHO’s national tobacco-control officer in Moscow. The cheapest cigarette brand costs a mere 6 rubles (25 cents) per pack in central Russia, he said.

The convention binds governments to restrict smoking in public places, a measure that many West European countries adopted over the past year, with the latest bans hitting French cafes, hotels and clubs on Jan.1.

It also tells member states to require producers to remove words like “light” and “mild” from packaging, which should also bear larger health
warnings. In an effort to reduce supply, the document also calls for a crackdown on counterfeit products.

The WHO hailed the government’s decision. “We are positively thrilled,” said Buzurukov. “It would have been great if it had happened even earlier.” According to the WHO web site, Angola and Uganda, for example, both ratified the document last year.

Galina Sakharova, deputy director of the government’s Pulmonology Research Institute, attributed the delay to heavy lobbying by the tobacco industry and a government reshuffle in 2004, a year after the convention was opened.

Russia has attracted significant investment from tobacco companies in recent years as they looked to make up for markets where tight anti-smoking regulations had come into effect, including neighboring Ukraine.

British American Tobacco, a leading domestic producer, said Thursday that it supported Russia’s efforts to enter the convention, but that it expected that government decisions about regulating the industry would be balanced.

“Every country is an individual case, and practical decisions aimed at reducing the effect of tobacco consumption on health may vary
significantly,” company spokesman Alexander Lyuty said in an e-mailed statement.

The government’s health watchdog, the Federal Consumer Protection Service, said in November that 65 percent of Russian men and 30 percent of women smoke. Some 400,000 people died in 2005 from smoking-related illnesses, according to government statistics released last year. In 2000, the government recorded 340,000 such deaths.

US Anti-Tobacco Efforts

U.S. falls short in anti-tobacco efforts – report

Thu Jan 10, 2008 12:00am EST – Reuters
By Maggie Fox, Health and Science Editor

WASHINGTON, Jan 10 (Reuters) – The U.S. Congress and President George W. Bush have stymied efforts to tighten regulation of tobacco and discourage smoking and states have not spent nearly enough to battle cigarettes, the American Lung Association said on Thursday.

The group implied that heavy lobbying and spending by tobacco companies was influencing at least some politicians and urged Congress to give the Food and Drug Administration the authority to regulate cigarettes.

“While many states have failed to make meaningful progress at protecting their most vulnerable citizens, the tobacco companies are spending billions of dollars annually marketing their deadly products,” the report reads.

“A report issued by Common Cause and the Tobacco-Free Kids Action Fund found that the tobacco industry made almost $3 million in Political Action Committee contributions to federal candidates during the 2005-2006 election cycle, including more than $1.7 million in contributions directly to federal candidates,” it adds.

“The Institute on Money in State Politics found that tobacco companies and retailers gave over $96 million to state-level candidates, committees and ballot measure campaigns during the 2005 and 2006 election cycle.”

In 1998, states reached a settlement with tobacco companies in which they received $246 billion over 25 years to pay for the costs of smoking-related illnesses.

But anti-smoking campaigners say states have raided these and other tobacco-prevention funds to cover budget deficits, build roads or pay for non-tobacco related projects.


“While the American Lung Association applauds the U.S. Congress for increasing the federal cigarette excise tax by $0.61 to $1.00 per pack, unfortunately it was vetoed by the president and will not take effect,” the report read.

“The increased tax would have resulted in current smokers quitting and fewer children starting to smoke.”

The report praises efforts by some states.

Twenty-one states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have now approved comprehensive smoke-free air legislation,” it reads.

In 2007, seven states — Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, New Mexico, New Hampshire, Oregon and Tennessee — significantly strengthened their smoke-free air laws. Tennessee is the first traditional tobacco-growing state to pass strong restrictions on smoking in public places and workplaces.

But states are slower to raise tobacco taxes — which several studies show can deter smokers. And they also do not spend nearly as much as is recommended on programs to prevent smoking and to help smokers kick the habit, the Lung Association complained.

“More than half of states have not passed comprehensive laws prohibiting secondhand smoke in workplaces and other public places,” the report reads.

“Until the political will can be found to implement the proven and effective policies graded in this report, over 438,000 people each year will continue to die from tobacco-related diseases.”

The Lung Association report accuses tobacco companies of marketing to youths and even to children with new flavored cigarettes and brightly colored packaging.

Nearly 21 percent of Americans smoke — a total of 45 million people, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

(Reporting by Maggie Fox, editing by Todd Eastham)

Chinese Tobacco Economy

Effects of cigarette tax on cigarette consumption and the Chinese economy.

Hu TW, Mao Z. – University of California at Berkeley, California 94720, USA.

OBJECTIVES: To analyse a policy dilemma in China on public health versus the tobacco economy through additional cigarette tax.

METHODS: Using published statistics from 1980 through 1997 to estimate the impact of tobacco production and consumption on government revenue and the entire economy. These estimates relied on the results of estimated price elasticities of the demand for cigarettes in China.

RESULTS: Given the estimated price elasticities (-0.54), by introducing an additional 10% increase in cigarette tax per pack (from the current 40% to 50% tax rate), the central government tax revenue would twice exceed total losses in industry revenue, tobacco farmers’ income, and local tax revenue. In addition, between 1.44 and 2.16 million lives would be saved by this tax increase.

CONCLUSIONS: Additional taxation on cigarettes in China would be a desirable public policy for the Chinese government to consider.

Electronic Cigarette To Be Tested On Smokers In Trial

NZPA | Wednesday, 09 January 2008

Smokers are being asked to trial their habit with an electronic cigarette which delivers nicotine but not the harmful effects of tobacco, in an Auckland University study.

Researchers from the Clinical Trials Research Unit at the university are calling for volunteers from the Auckland area for the trial.

The trial is one of two aimed specifically at smokers that the university is undertaking.

Investigator on the trial Dr Hayden McRobbie said he hoped research would show if the e-cigarette might provide nicotine faster than available nicotine replacement treatments.

The e-cigarette is smoked like a normal cigarette, and even glows at the tip when inhaled, but delivers a measured dose of nicotine similar to other products such as patches and gum.

“On the whole nicotine is not the dangerous element in tobacco smoke.

“However, smokers miss the nicotine when they stop and they often experience nicotine withdrawal symptoms such as cravings.

“By using a product like the e-cigarette nicotine is still delivered and so cravings and withdrawal symptoms are reduced.

“The e-cigarette might be a good way to help people stop smoking as it addresses `the habit’ of smoking whilst still providing nicotine but without the harmful substances in tobacco such as carbon monoxide and tar.”

Dr McRobbie said the trial was for the benefit of smokers.

“We’ve had enough of the finger-wagging.

“At the moment the message is quit or die and we’ve got to give people other ways of stopping smoking and other options.”

While not available in New Zealand, the Hong Kong-made e-cigarette can be bought on the internet for about $200, he said.

The research team is looking for 50 Aucklanders over the age of 18, who smoke mainly factory-made cigarettes, to participate in the study which gets under way at the end of January.

Dr McRobbie also wants smokers who want to quit to take part in a study looking at the changes to their voice as they quit.

“Smoking kills around 4500 New Zealanders every year and causes damage to many parts of the body.

“Most people are aware that smoking causes lung cancer, but less know that smoking can damage the organs such as the vocal cords, causing the vocal cords to become thick and boggy – resulting in a deeper voice.

“By studying smokers’ voices as they quit, we hope to see whether this change is reversible.”

If researchers detect a change in voice quality they may also be able to use technology to monitor the outcome of stop-smoking studies making it easier to test new ways to help smokers quit, he said.

Raise Smoking Age to 21

Raise Smoking Age to 21, says doc

09/01/2008 08:50 – Morning Advertiser

The smoking age should be raised to 21 – that’s the view of a leading cancer specialist in Dundee.
The age for purchasing tobacco was only raised to 18 in October last month but already campaigners are pushing for more.

Dr Jayant Vaidya also wants increased tax on cigarettes and a ban on vending machines.
“Most people start smoking before they are 21, and after they are 21 they are wise enough to realise that it’s not in their interest to smoke,” he told the BBC.

It is a very addictive drug, it contains 4,000 poisons and it has been shown very clearly that when you start young, you start causing all the damage in your body at a young age as well, and it’s very difficult to stop.

Bars Keep Right To Host Smokers

Bars keep right to host smokers ( SCMP 6 Jan)

Mary Ann Benitez – Jan 06, 2008

A year after smoking was banned in public places, only one of 1,300 entertainment establishments granted exemption from the law until mid-2009 has lost that status.

Post 97 in Lan Kwai Fong lost its exemption 10 days ago after the Tobacco Control Office (TCO) deemed it to be a restaurant, meaning the ban should apply.

Six types of venues can apply to be exempt from the ban until July 1, 2009: bars that do not admit anyone under 18, mahjong clubs and parlours, commercial bath houses, massage establishments and nightclubs.

Since late 2006, the Tobacco Control Office said it had received about 1,500 applications for exemption, of which more than 1,280 were granted.

Delisted establishments may appeal to the Appeal Board within 14 days of losing their exemption.

Post 97 said it would not appeal. Its sister bars, La Dolce Vita and Club 97, are exempt from the ban.

Jamie Higgins, general manager of Post 97, was frank: “We are a restaurant, and we are not entitled to allow people to smoke. That is the law, in fact we were lucky to get away with it for as long as we did.”

He said that despite knowing the venue was a restaurant, they still applied for an exemption.

“Under the new law, so many restaurants and bars were applying for it, so we thought it would be easier to apply for it and then decide later on,” he said.

Mr Higgins added: “If anything, what the smoking ban will do is to bring us back more business at the weekend because children weren’t allowed to come to the restaurant because people were smoking.”

The TCO said: “We collect intelligence on non-compliance from various sources and upon receipt of such information, will investigate each and every case accordingly.”

Legislators have said the smoking ban is difficult to enforce because the TCO lacks inspectors.

Yesterday, anti-tobacco lobbyists wrote to legislators urging them to press the administration to “rescind these ludicrous politically motivated smoking exemptions”.

James Middleton of Clear the Air said there should be no exemptions. “To do otherwise is signing the death warrants of the staff and is encouraging our youth to smoke,” he said.

Smoke-Free Policy Legislation Failure

The Editor
South China Morning Post

Dear Sir

Paul Surtees (Talkback 31 Dec) provides an excellent summary of the frank failure of the current smoke-free policy legislation to protect large numbers of people from tobacco smoke. The catering industry ,while not fully supportive of the policy, did ask the government to at least give them a level playing field. They didn’t get it and since then the Department of Health has expended considerable resources trying to deal with manoeuvres to by-pass the legislation.

One way of doing this is simply to change the venue’s name to include the word “bar”. Others pretend they can be non-smoking at certain hours of the day or days of the week when they want to attract different clientele, including families and offer children’s menus. At the same time they defend their exempted status with spurious arguments about the proportion of their revenue from alcohol sales. All this is understandable given the vagaries of the Bill and the unequal constraints placed on their ability to compete for custom.

The government will privately argue that covert deals with vested interests were needed to push through the tobacco control Bill. In doing so they abrogated their duty of care to the workforce and with over 1300 exemptions subjected thousands of workers to irreversible harm to their heart and lung function. The government ignored the overwhelming global evidence that second-hand smoke kills and that comprehensive smoke free policies ultimately benefit the hospitality sector.

Paul Surtees rightly looks to make the policy more effective, but the government is now looking at proposals by The Hon. Tommy Cheung Yu Yan and British American Tobacco to create smoking rooms in catering venues. Nothing could be more
damaging to the industry, workers, patrons and the health care system of Hong Kong.

Anthony Hedley
School of Public Health
University of Hong Kong