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November, 2007:

Smoking Costs Hong Kong Over $5 Billion Every Year

A collaborative research project between University of Hong Kong and University of Queensland

School of Public Health Department of Community Medicine University of Hong Kong

The first comprehensive assessment of the costs of tobacco in Asia

Why is this topic important?

  • Smoking tobacco affects the health of the smoker and those around the smoker
  • This effect on health creates costs which are shared by several groups
  • Knowing the extent of these costs and who pays for them is essential information for policy decision-making

View the complete presentation here:

Tobacco industry uses dangerous additives

Published in The Copenhagen Post on the 26th of November 2007:

Research indicates cigarette makers have increased the risks of smoking by adding chemicals

A new study from the Danish Cancer Society charges the tobacco industry with knowingly adding at least 200 different chemicals to its products in order to make it easier for people to smoke.

Some of the chemicals also increase the addictive power of nicotine, according to Per Kim Nielsen of the Cancer Society.

He added that some of the chemicals are directly harmful to the body.

‘We know that smoking causes cancer. But some of these additives increase the risk of developing cancer,’ Nielsen told public broadcaster DR.

Scandinavian Tobacco, Denmark’s largest producer of tobacco products, categorically denied using additives in order to increase the potency of its tobacco products.

Smoke Free Al Fresco in Discovery Bay

See a letter sent to the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department before this article was written: Water Margin OSA (Outdoor Seating Area) Air Quality and their reply here: Objection Against Outdoor Smoking in Discovery Bay Restaurants

Published in the SCMP on the 25th of November 2007:

Disco Bay eateries feel anti-smokers’ wrath

Barclay Crawford

Anti-smoking campaigners have vowed to continue their action against the popular al fresco dining area Water Margin in Discovery Bay if restaurants do not stop smokers lighting up.

Restaurant owners say lobby group Clear the Air’s stubborn stand – the group has refused to negotiate on the issue and did not inform owners before appealing against their licences – is against the wishes of residents and if successful would see 150 jobs lost.

But the group says it has the law on its side and will keep the pressure on until restaurants ban smoking in outside dining areas.

Clear The Air contacted the Sunday Morning Post after learning that residents had managed to stop restaurants above Kowloon Station opening outdoor dining areas.

The group objected to outdoor seating licences for the Water Margin restaurants to the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department on the grounds that smoking in outdoor venues was “an environmental nuisance” to workers, passers-by, children and non-smoking patrons.

“It’s unacceptable that people should be smoking in that area where there are so many children,” James Middleton, from Clear the Air, said last week. “We will drop our objection if they ban smoking.”

But Greg Walker, the manager of Koh Tomyums, said restaurateurs were considering legal action against Clear the Air.

Mr Walker, who said he was forced to close a Wan Chai restaurant after revenue fell when the government banned smoking indoors this year, said the group was twisting regulations to achieve its aims.

“We really object to the way this has been done. They don’t come to us first, they just complain about our licences,” he said. “We would rather approach this in a low-key way and have patrons ask to move if someone is smoking, or ask the smoker to sit somewhere else. We don’t want social change done on our bill.”

James Norton, a regular at Hemingway’s, said Clear the Air was out of step with the rest of the community in Discovery Bay. “They are zealots and most of us do not welcome their behaviour and actions either here or in the rest of Hong Kong,” he said.

Brewer Fuller Sees Through Haze Of Smoking Ban

Pulished by Reuters on the 23rd of November 2007:

By Alastair Sharp

LONDON, Nov 23 (Reuters) – Fuller, Smith & Turner <FSTA.L>, one of London’s last remaining brewers, said a wet summer and the introduction of a smoking ban had not dented profits, as drinkers stuck with ales and smokers huddled in outside alcoves.

“Pubs without smoking are much nicer places to be,” Chairman Michael Turner told a press conference. “Long term it is going to be very positive for our trade.”

The London Pride brewer posted pretax profit of 12.7 million pounds ($26.3 million) in the 26 weeks to Sept. 29, up 16 percent, on revenue up 3 percent to 93.3 million pounds.

Shares in Fuller rose more than 8 percent to 600 pence by 1400 GMT, valuing the company at 194 million pounds.

Fuller said its own-brand sales rose 4 percent, while foreign beer sales declined 2 percent, as many drinkers turned away from lager in the wet summer.

The company estimated it spent 3 million pounds preparing its pubs for the smoking ban by upgrading outside seating and heating, and introducing promotions.


Fuller exports 10 percent of its beer by volume, primarily to North America and Europe, and has seen strong growth in new markets, particularly Russia, China and Japan.

“There is a large demand for good, premium Western brands, and prices aren’t that much of an issue,” said John Roberts, managing director of the beer division, adding the company was also looking to invest in India.

Panmure Gordon analyst Douglas Jack said the results were broadly in line with his expectations, and kept a “buy” rating on the stock and a target price of 840 pence.

“With the strongest balance sheet within its peer group, the company is well positioned to make further acquisitions or buy back equity,” Jack said in a note.

Fuller did not deny such speculation on Friday, with Emeny saying the firm will maintain an acquisition programme that is “dependent on quality pubs being available at suitable prices.”

(Additional reporting by Marc Jones, Editing by Erica Billingham)

Smokers get lung cancer reminder

The Sydney Morning Herald November 22, 2007

Victorian health authorities will recycle a confronting anti-smoking campaign, after new research revealed most smokers did not identify lung cancer as a disease they could develop.

Research from the Cancer Council Victoria shows that despite smoking accounting for 80 per cent of all lung cancer cases, six in 10 smokers did not mention it when asked to name diseases caused by smoking.

The five-year survival rate for lung cancer sufferers is just 11 per cent, and 34 Victorians each week die from the disease, according to the Cancer Council.

The council’s Professor David Hill said deaths from lung cancer had decreased in recent years, though more specific data was not immediately available.

The council and anti-smoking body Quit on Monday relaunched their 23-year-old television advertisement showing a smoker’s lung, represented by a sponge, filling with tar and being squeezed out into a beaker.

Also, the Victorian government announced an extra $5.6 million boost to anti-smoking marketing.

Victorian Premier John Brumby said advertising was proving to be an effective tool in the fight against smoking with 46 per cent of successful quitters listing mass media as a prompt for quitting.

The government aims to reduce Victoria’s smoking rate from 17.4 per cent to 14 per cent by 2013.

Higher targets will be set for disadvantaged groups, including Aborigines, whose smoking rates are higher.

The figures show the proportion of smokers who spontaneously identified smoking as a cause of lung cancer had decreased by 25 per cent over three years.

Quit executive director Fiona Sharkie said “reinventing” the sponge campaign would help deliver the lung cancer message to a new generation of smokers.

“Back in the early 80s there were no distinct trends that we could really identify in smoking rates … about a third of the population were smokers,” Ms Sharkie said.

“But the original sponge ad was a real turning point on tobacco control, it was the first time smokers were shown the effects smoking had on their health in a graphic and uncompromising way.

“And as a result of that, smoking rates dropped significantly.”

Victorian Health Minister Daniel Andrews said the data showed more work was needed to stop people smoking and the extra money announced on Monday would bring the government’s total expenditure on social marketing and Quit campaigns to $10 million.

Non-smokers the big winners when it comes to smoking bans

Medical Studies/Trials
Published: Thursday, 22-Nov-2007

American scientists have found that heart attacks decreased after a smoking ban was imposed but this only applied to non-smokers.

Their study suggests that the major benefit of the ban on smoking in public places is being seen in nonsmokers.

The researchers from Indiana University say even those with no risk factors for heart disease can still experience heart attacks but after a countywide smoking ban was implemented, hospital admissions for such heart attacks dropped 70 percent for non-smokers, but not for smokers.

The researchers conducted the study in order to investigate whether smoking bans led to any changes in hospital admissions for myocardial infarction (MI).

They did this by comparing hospital admissions for MI in Monroe County, Indiana, which has had a public smoking ban in place since August 2003, with those in Delaware County, also in Indiana, which has much in common with Monroe Country but does not have a smoking ban.

Dong-Chul Seo, lead author and an assistant professor in IU Bloomington’s Department of Applied Health Science, says heart attack admissions for smokers saw no similar decline during the study, so the benefits of the ban appear to come more from the reduced exposure to second-hand smoke among non-smokers than from reduced consumption of tobacco among smokers.

The study is the first to examine the effect of public smoking bans on heart attacks in non-smokers.

Previous studies did not distinguish between non-smokers and smokers when examining the effect of the bans or specifically look at non-smokers who had no risk factors for heart disease, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol or previous heart surgery.

Experts say exposure to second-hand smoke for just 30 minutes can rapidly increase a person’s risk for heart attack, even if they have no risk factors because the smoke, which contains carbon monoxide, causes blood vessels to constrict and reduces the amount of oxygen that can be transported in the blood.

The researchers say it is of concern that about half of all non-smoking Americans are regularly exposed to second-hand smoke, even though more than 500 municipalities nationwide have adopted some form of a smoking ban in public places.

The study also compared the hospital admissions in Monroe county before and after the smoking ban was adopted and found there was a 70 percent drop in the number of hospital admissions for AMI among non-smoking patients with no history of heart disease.

The study is published in the latest issue of the Journal of Drug Education.

Cigar Show Air Quality

Published in the New York Times November 22, 2007

At a Cigar Show, an Air-Quality Scientist Under Deep, Smoky Cover


The agitators met a few blocks from the target at a secret location, so as not to call attention to the devices in their bags.

They synchronized their watches. They reviewed the well-rehearsed game plan: If their bags were searched, the first operative, known as “Researcher 1 (female),” would say the device was for an asthma condition. If she was not allowed into the event with the device, she would activate Plan B: go to the ladies’ room and strap it to her body.

The man behind the subterfuge (Researcher 2, male) was Ryan David Kennedy, 34, a scrappy Canadian graduate student with crooked glasses who is studying the impact of tobacco on air quality.

He crossed the border at Buffalo on Monday morning and on Tuesday crashed the giant cigar party and trade show sponsored by the publisher of Cigar Aficionado magazine at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square.

A nonsmoking vegetarian posing as a cigar lover, Mr. Kennedy was nervous. Canadians are, for the most part, known to be earnest, demure and very law-abiding.

“I think I’m being watched,” he said before the event, known as the Big Smoke, which drew hundreds of cigar lovers and peddlers into a ballroom on the hotel’s sixth floor. He said he strongly believed his room at the Marriott had been searched.

Mr. Kennedy, who holds a master’s degree in environmental science from the University of Waterloo in Ontario and is working on a doctorate in psychology there, soon found himself in the belly of decadence. The ballroom was swarming with stogies — Bolivar, Ashton, Don Tomas and a dozen other brands — whiskey, tequila and exotic dancers.

Mr. Kennedy, who has also researched the level of particulate matter produced by smoking tobacco on outdoor patios, and Kerri Ryan (Researcher 1), a friend from college who lives in New York, sneaked their devices in the door. (Mr. Kennedy’s professor used a discretionary fund to cover the costs of the event tickets — $400 each — and other expenses.)

A tiny white plastic tube protruding from each of their bags like a hidden microphone took in the air, which was then measured for particles by the device, known as a Sidepak. The device can log 516 minutes of air sampling before the battery runs out, and is a well-established method for detecting dust and smoke.

Mr. Kennedy measured the particles in the air on Monday to obtain a baseline before the cigar smokers descended. Then on Tuesday he tested the air inside the ballroom and in various places outside the cigar party — at the elevators, in guest rooms and in the lobby. To log enough data on the air, he would need to stand in one place for 5 or 10 minutes and look busy.

If Mr. Kennedy and Ms. Ryan were lurking in one place for too long, perhaps seeming suspicious to security guards, they would say loudly, “We’re waiting for Sally.”

It was easy for Mr. Kennedy to prove his thesis: that plumes of cigar smoke lead to high levels of particulate matter in the air.

Marriott Hotels announced in July that it was making all of its hotels 100 percent smoke-free, but it has made an exception for the Big Smoke.

Opponents of smoking working with Mr. Kennedy said the exception was a glaring violation of the hotel’s own policy.

“The event is really a flagrant contradiction to their commitment to their guests and employees,” said Louise Vetter, president of the American Lung Association of the City of New York and a spokeswoman for the New York City Coalition for a Smoke-Free City. “The dangers of secondhand smoke are indisputable, and in New York City it is law to protect workers from secondhand smoke. We applauded Marriott, but to have this event in New York City and to create an exception — there’s no exception for public health.”

Under the state law, smoking is banned in most indoor places, including the Marriott ballroom (though there is no legal ban on smoking in guest rooms). But the law allows an exception for tobacco promotional events “where the public is invited for the primary purpose of promoting and sampling tobacco products.”

Cigar bars that were open in the city before Dec. 31, 2002, and can prove that they generated at least 10 percent of their gross income from the sale of tobacco products are also exempt; they can extend their registration each year if they continue to meet those criteria and do not expand or change location.

Kathleen Duffy, a spokeswoman for Marriott Hotels, said the company was honoring a longstanding contract with the publisher of Cigar Aficionado, Marvin R. Shanken, and had been the host of the Big Smoke at the Marriott Marquis for at least 10 years.

“We are not going out and booking smoking events at any of our hotels,” she said. “We did announce we would be smoke-free, but with this client we had an obligation.”

She said “we tripled our efforts” to keep the smoke contained, banning smoking outside the ballroom and increasing the filtration in the room, so that the smoke was funneled outside the hotel through air vents.

Under Environmental Protection Agency guidelines, air with fewer than 15 micrograms per cubic meter is considered good quality; air with more than 251 micrograms per cubic meter is hazardous.

Mr. Kennedy’s preliminary findings showed that the average level of particulate matter in the hotel the day before the event was 8 micrograms per cubic meter, 40 micrograms where he was waiting to get in line for the event and 1,193 micrograms inside the ballroom.

About 10 p.m., after one last measurement — “Elevators, 9:44!” Mr. Kennedy said to his assistant — he was bloodshot and stinky, but he declared the experiment a success.

Smoking in Open Air Public Places

Clear the Air contends that under existing Hong Kong laws any person who smokes in any open air public place commits several possible offences in addition to the legal obligations of employers and the occupiers of premises under the Occupational Safety workplace legislation.

Under the Public Health and Municipal Services Ordinance section 2, it is an offence to litter in public where “deposit”, in relation to litter or waste, includes to cast, throw, drop, discharge, scatter or blow such litter or waste; and “litter” includes: any dirt, dust, ashes, paper or refuse; any rubbish or debris; any other offensive, noxious or obnoxious matter; any substance likely to constitute a nuisance.
Smoking causes litter and ash falls to the ground and into the air as the cigarette burns. The smoke is lethal, offensive and obnoxious, and causes a nuisance to non-smokers in public places. Dropping butts causes litter and is an obvious offence.

Under the Air Pollution Control Ordinance section 10, “nuisance” includes an obnoxious event set out in section 10(2)(h) that includes the deposit of dust or particles of any kind; an objectionable odour; irritation of the eye, nose or skin or any other sensory discomfort.
Cigarette smoke in public places is obnoxious to non-smokers, causes the deposit of dust or particles, an objectionable odour to non-smokers and scientifically proven studies show irritation of the nose , asthma attacks and sensory discomfort.

Under the Public Cleansing and Prevention of Nuisances Regulations section 4, no person shall deposit or cause or permit to be deposited any litter or waste on or in any street or public place.
We have yet to see anybody holding a lit cigarette in a portable container to prevent the dust, ash and debris from being deposited in the air, street or public place.

Under the Air Pollution Control Ordinance section 2, “air pollution” means an emission of air pollutants which either alone or with another emission of air pollutants is prejudicial to health; or is a nuisance.
The lethal dangers to health of tobacco smoke are documented and scientifically proven beyond contest , the smoke is a major nuisance and air pollutant and highly prejudicial to health of innocent persons nearby.

Under Chapter 132X Section 10 Food Business Regulations it states: ‘Every person engaged in any food business shall, while so engaged, take all such steps as may be reasonably necessary to protect the food from risk of contamination or deterioration, and in particular, without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing, no person shall- (a) so place, or cause, suffer or permit any other person so to place, any open food as to involve any risk of contamination’
Allowing smoking in restaurants whether open air or otherwise will allow the highly toxic micron sized chemicals in cigarette smoke to contaminate any served open or loosely covered food.

A summary of a recent Stanford University study on Outdoor Tobacco Smoke is attached herewith for your study.
“Our results demonstrate that Outdoor Tobacco Smoke can be high during periods of smoking in locations where persons are near active smokers.
Therefore, it is possible for OTS to present a nuisance or hazard under certain conditions. Examples of scenarios where OTS levels might be high include eating dinner with a smoker on an outdoor patio, sitting at a table next to a smoker at a sidewalk cafe, sitting next to a smoker on a park bench, or standing near a smoker outside a building.

Children who accompany a smoking parent or guardian may experience substantial exposure.

Outdoor restaurant or pub workers who spend a significant portion of their time within a few feet of active smokers are also likely to receive relatively large total OTS exposures over the course of a day, possibly exceeding the EPA 24-hr health standard for fine particles.
If one is upwind from a smoker, levels most likely will be negligible. However, if the smoker’s position changes or one spends time downwind from a smoker, then moving to a distance of 2 m can reduce the likelihood of experiencing elevated particle exposure because of OTS. Future studies should measure OTS levels for dynamic situations with multiple smokers, including continuous measurements of personal OTS concentrations or biomarker levels for workers in outdoor locations.

Support for health-based OTS bans may lie in a potential acute effect on susceptible populations.
Short term OTS exposures might be life threatening for high risk persons, because the human cardiovascular system is very sensitive to secondhand smoke.(31)
A recent before-and-after smoking ban study showed a decreased chance of myocardial infarction when a ban was in place,(32 ) which suggests that there is an acute risk associated with SHS exposure for persons at increased risk of coronary heart disease or with known coronary artery disease.(33)”

Real-Time Measurement of Outdoor Tobacco Smoke Particles
Neil E. Klepeis, Wayne R. Ott, and Paul Switzer
Stanford University, Stanford, CA

Kicking The Habit

OBSERVER: Kicking The Habit

Financial Times – Published: Nov 21, 2007

Richemont’s plan to quit smoking came too late for one of its directors.

The Swiss luxury goods conglomerate this week announced it was considering divesting its stake in British American Tobacco, but not before the group’s ties to “Big Tobacco” proved too toxic for Anson Chan, the former chief secretary of Hong Kong who is running in a high-profile December election to become a legislator.

Chan, who was only elected to Richemont’s board this September, was questioned by local media about her corporate ties on the campaign trail.

Richemont announced her resignation last Wednesday, saying Chan thought being on the board would be incompatible with her role as a legislator – that is, if she wins.

No word yet on whether Chan, who was the only Asian and one of two women on the board, would return if Richemont manages to kick the habit.

Second hand smoke – what is the risk to your health?

“Public health officials have concluded that secondhand smoke from cigarettes causes disease, including lung cancer and heart disease, in non-smoking adults, as well as causes conditions in children such as asthma, respiratory infections, cough, wheeze, otitis media (middle ear infection) and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. In addition, public health officials have concluded that secondhand smoke can exacerbate adult asthma and cause eye, throat and nasal irritation.”

Source: Philip Morris International website