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February 20th, 2008:

Anti-Smoking Bill Passed in Bahrain

Anti-Smoking Bill Passed

Gulf Daily News – The Voice of Bahrain – Published: 20th February 2008

MPs yesterday approved a tough anti-smoking law that includes fines for people who light up in cars with children on board.

Traders who sell tobacco to children below 14 years could also face up to six months in jail under the new legislation.

It is already illegal to sell tobacco products to anyone below 18 years.

Restaurants that fail to properly separate smoking and non-smoking areas will be fined BD2,000 to BD5,000 and closed for up to two months for repeat offences.

Smokers who light up in closed areas, such as cars with children onboard, buses, malls and other places, would face fines of BD20 to BD50.

The government drafted the law in 1994, but it has still not seen the light.

The new draft is a combination of the original draft and a parliamentary proposed law.

It will now be discussed and voted on by the Shura Council, before being sent to His Majesty King Hamad for ratification.

Drug Cases Up 9% In 2007

Below is an exchange of emails in regards to the total seizure of genuine/counterfeit illicit cigarettes between James Middleton of Clear The Air Hong Kong and J A Moosa of the Excise Statistics and Research Division for Commissioner of Customs & Excise.


Sent: Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Dear James,

Thank you again for your e-mail of 18.2.2008.

Our department does not keep statistics on the total seizure of genuine/counterfeit illicit cigarettes but only individual significant

The total transhipment cigarettes that passed through Hong Kong in 2007 were 22,155.13 million sticks.

Seized cigarettes will be destroyed subsequent to court proceedings.

The origin port is difficult to determine as the seized cigarettes often traversed through a number of countries before their inception in Hong Kong, plus that the shipping documents are often forged.

I hope the above information will be helpful to you.

(J A Moosa)
Excise Statistics and Research Division
for Commissioner of Customs & Excise


Sent: Monday, February 18, 2008

Dear Jeffrey

Many thanks for this information.

Can you tell us which of the illicit cigarettes were genuine product and which were counterfeits ?

This would be most beneficial to the authors of the Tobacco Atlas

Normally 1 x 40′ container contains 960 cases of 10,000 sticks (9.68 million sticks / 40′) so the seizure equates to 11.493 containers or appox one per month.

Does Customs keep statistics of legal transhipments of cigarettes through Hong Kong ? If so what are the numbers please ?

What happens to the seized illicit cargo ?

Of the seized shipments in the port, what is the main origin of the shipments ?

kind regards

James Middleton
Clear the Air


Sent: Monday, February 18, 2008

Dear James,

Thank you for your e-mail of 15.2.2008 enquiring the statistics of illicit and duty-paid cigarettes in 2006 and 2007.

The illicit cigarettes cases effected by the department in 2007 was down 41% when comparing with 2006, whereas the illicit cigarettes seized in 2007 had increased by 39.45 million sticks when comparing those seized in 2006.

It was because there were a number of cases involving substantial amount of illicit cigarettes (under transhipment) intercepted by Customs officers at the container port.

The total illicit cigarettes seized in 2007 were 111.26 million sticks.

The total duty-paid cigarettes in 2007 were 3,495.73 million sticks.

I hope you find the above information useful.

(J A Moosa)
Excise Statistics and Research Division
for Commissioner of Customs & Excise.


Sent: Friday, February 15, 2008

Dear Sir,

I refer to the Government press release below. It states illicit cigarette cases were down 41% but the data provided by SCMP shows 45 million more illicit cigarettes were seized in 11 months of 2007 than the whole 12 months of 2006.

Can you clarify this please ? What was the final illicit cigarette number for 2007 ?

It also shows that even though there was a partial smoking ban in place during 2007, the total duty paid tobacco increased by 12 million sticks between January and November 2007. What was the final figure of duty paid cigarettes in 2007 please ?

kind regards

James Middleton
Clear the Air


Law and Order – – Published on the 1st Feb 2008

The Customs & Excise Department detected 695 drug-trafficking cases in 2007, up 9% over a year earlier. There were 627 arrests, five drug storage and distribution centre closures, and three indoor cannabis plantations shut down.

At a year-end briefing today Customs Commissioner Richard Yuen said the amount of cannabis, cocaine and ice – or methylamphetamine – seized was higher than in 2006, but the amount of ketamine, ecstasy and heroin was on the decline.

He recalled the biggest-ever transnational cocaine trafficking case in which Customs was involved, last July, in which 160kg of cocaine with an estimated value of $110 million was uncovered inside secret compartments in some incoming containers from Panama.

As there has been an upward trend of youth engaging in drug abuse despite a drop in the overall number of drug addicts, Mr Yuen pledged his department would contribute to the work of the Task Force on Youth Drug Abuse and step up measures against cross-boundary drug trafficking and drug abuse.

Stepped-up checks

“We have increased random inspections of cross-boundary vehicles, especially cross-boundary coaches, and will carry out more joint operations with Shenzhen Customs to provide a stronger deterrence against youths engaging in cross-boundary drug abuse,” he said.

On smuggling, the department detected 172 cases last year, down 15.7% on 2006. Of these, 82 involved smuggling across a land boundary while 90 were carried out at sea. Goods seized valued a total of $435 million, and 352 people were arrested.

The most common goods smuggled out of Hong Kong, mainly into the Mainland, were high-end and high-value consumer products such as computer accessories and electronic products and appliances. Usual items smuggled into Hong Kong were cigarettes, counterfeit and infringing articles.

To prevent food smuggling, Mr Yuen said relevant departments – including the Food & Environmental Hygiene Department and Agriculture, Fisheries & Conservation Department – will work closely to ensure food safety.

Surveillance stepped up

A task force has recently been set up to co-ordinate inter-departmental efforts and communication with industries to enhance the effectiveness of enforcement action against food-smuggling activities, he added.

Turning to the protection of intellectual property rights, the Commissioner said there is a rising trend of people using the Internet to market and sell infringing articles. The number of cases climbed 50%, to 27 from 18 in 2006. More than 4 million pirated optical discs were also seized last year.

His department has tightened surveillance and enforcement action and will work closely with auction website operators to identify effective measures to curb such activities. Raids against shops and hawker stalls selling counterfeit goods during festivals will also be stepped up.

Consumer protection

After unscrupulous jewellery and electronic product shops deceived a spate of Mainland tourists last year, Mr Yuen looked forward to this year’s upcoming passing of the Trade Descriptions (Amendment) Bill, to enable Customs to more easily prosecute offenders.

He noted a court fined a jewellery shop involved in such improper sales practices $100,000 last year and sentenced its director to six months in jail.

Illicit cigarette cases were down 41% and those of illicit fuel down 3% over the previous year. The number of public complaints about such cases also dropped, 34% and 15%.

On the overall situation in Hong Kong, Mr Yuen said it remained under control and showed no sign of deterioration from last year. His department will continue to clamp down on illegal activities and step up enforcement.

Nicotine Nation

SCMP David Eimer
Feb 20, 2008

A pall of smoke has been hanging over mainland cities for the past two weeks and, for once, it’s not pollution. Instead, it’s the acrid residue of the millions of fireworks and cigarettes that go up in smoke every Lunar New Year. The tobacco industry gets a massive boost during the holiday season, with cigarettes a favoured gift, and fireworks remain enormously popular despite the many deaths they cause.

In fact, it’s a surprise that more people don’t die from stray rockets. In Foshan last week, 15,000 cartons of fireworks exploded in a blast equal to a 1.1 magnitude earthquake that was felt as far away as Guangzhou. Typically, the explosion was caused by carelessly discarded cigarettes. But fireworks deaths are nothing compared with the 1 million people who die of smoking-related diseases each year. With 350 million smokers on the mainland, that death rate is expected to rise to more than 2 million by 2020.

All of which is at odds with the ethos of the Beijing Olympics. The arrival of the Games in China was supposed to herald a new age in public health, according to Vice-Minister of Health Gao Qiang . At the end of last year, he vowed to use the Olympics to improve public health. Last week, the World Health Organisation called for a concerted anti-smoking campaign.

So far, all authorities have done is ban smoking in the Olympic Village, as well as at the competition venues and the hotels where people involved with the Games will stay. But banning smoking in the Olympic Village is like banning razors in Afghanistan; it is unnecessary. Instead, it’s on the streets of Beijing and other cities that the government needs to concentrate its efforts.

It is true that Beijing’s taxi drivers face fines of 200 yuan if they are caught smoking in their cabs, but, like the much-vaunted 50-yuan fine for spitting, in practice no one gets penalised. Nor has the idea of making restaurants in the capital non-smoking been greeted with enthusiasm. At Beijing’s first smoke-free eaterie, customers have taken to locking the waitresses out of the VIP rooms while they have a quick puff.

Such is the lack of awareness about using the Olympics to spread the non-smoking message that a recent survey showed almost 8 per cent of respondents still think smoking isn’t harmful. It also showed that half of all smokers couldn’t contemplate giving up as they were afraid of offending people who offered them a cigarette at times like the Lunar New Year.

Some would say this ignorance suits the government. After all, the mainland is responsible for one-third of the world’s tobacco production, all government controlled and worth 500 billion yuan a year. But putting revenue ahead of the public’s health is cynical in the extreme. With the Olympics less than six months away, it’s time the authorities put the same effort into combating smoking that they have into building a Beijing fit for the Games.

David Eimer is a Beijing-based journalist