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March, 2008:

Olympic Clean-Air Rules Hard For Nicotine Addicts To Bear

New smoking bans challenge an ingrained way of life

Associated Press in Beijing – Updated on Mar 31, 2008

Deputy Sports Minister Cui Dalin told legislators the Beijing Olympics would inspire Chinese to live healthier lives. He then stepped out into a non-smoking hallway and lit a cigarette.

The recent incident illustrates the uphill battle the country faces as it prepares to take what health advocates hope will be a big step against smoking in what is the world’s biggest tobacco market.

A ban on smoking in most Beijing public places, similar to efforts in Hong Kong and major North American, European and Asian cities, is expected to take effect in May, aimed at meeting the mainland’s pledge of a smoke-free Olympics.

The mainland is home to 350 million smokers – a third of the global total. More than 150 cities already have limited restrictions, but the capital would be the first to ban smoking in all restaurants, offices and schools, said health expert Cui Xiaobo, who helped draft the regulations. The restaurant ban may be limited at first.

“There’s no way it will work,” said Jin Xianchun, a co-owner of Little Jin’s Seafood Restaurant, where diners were smoking up a storm.

“Of course it will affect my business … We will try our best to enforce it, but really…,” she said, shaking her head.

Cigarettes are woven into mainlanders’ daily lives. They are an icebreaker, a way of greeting a friend, and a means of bribery. A night out typically means a good meal and cigarettes paired with baijiu, a clear sorghum liquor with a vicious kick.

Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping were heavy smokers, and their favourite brands are as well known as they are: Panda for Deng and Zhonghua (China) for Mao.

Almost 2 trillion cigarettes are sold every year, at prices as low as 1.50 yuan for a pack of 20, complete with a discreet warning on the side of the box that says “Smoking is harmful to your health”. The government estimates 1 million people die of smoking-related deaths annually – projected to double by 2020.

Beijing has had some smoking restrictions since 1995, when the municipal government prohibited lighting up in large public venues such as schools, sports arenas and movie theatres.

The new rules, which the city government is expected to unveil soon, expand the scope to include restaurants, bars, hotels, offices, vacation resorts and all indoor areas of medical facilities, according to a draft released this year.

“The world will be watching Beijing because its success means a big step towards the success of the whole world, given the large smoking population of China,” said Cui Xiaobo, an associate professor at the Capital University of Medical Sciences in Beijing.

Olympic organisers have said they want smoking bans in all hotels serving athletes and all competition venues and restaurants in the Olympic Village by June. Last October, Beijing banned smoking in the city’s 66,000 taxis, threatening drivers with a 200 yuan fine if they are caught.

After a branch of the Meizhou Dongpo restaurant chain banned smoking, revenue dropped by 5 to 8 per cent in the first two months, but picked up as word got out to nonsmokers, deputy manager Guo Xiaodong said.

“Smoke-free restaurant: A mountain forest in the city,” posters in the restaurant say. A man with a pack of cigarettes by his plate grumpily relents when his friend reminds him he can’t light up.

“Some customers didn’t understand why there was a ban in a restaurant – a public place. They think cigarettes and liquor can’t be separated,” Mr Guo said.

In 2005, China ratified World Health Organisation rules urging the country, within three years, to restrict tobacco advertising and sponsorship, put tougher health warnings on cigarettes, raise tobacco prices and taxes, curb second-hand smoke, prohibit cigarette sales to minors, and clamp down on smuggling.

“The problem is there are commercial interests that make it hard,” said Sarah England, who heads the tobacco control department of the organisation’s Beijing office.

She was referring to the state-run tobacco industry, which made 388 billion yuan last year, up 25 per cent compared with a year earlier.

Wales: Support For Smoking Ban – 1 Year On

On the first anniversary of the smoking ban in Wales, figures show that just 79 people have been issued with fines for breaking the law. The Welsh Assembly reports that there have been consistently high rates of compliance in Wales and growing support for the public health legislation, which outlawed smoking in all enclosed public and workplaces.

The latest survey suggests that 84% of adults in Wales support smoke-free public places, compared with 71% before the ban, according to the Welsh Assembly Government.

The Assembly Government is now expected to focus its attention on, and try to promote, smoke-free homes, in a bid to reduce children’s exposure to second-hand smoke.

Dr Tony Jewell, Wales’ chief medical officer, said, “The introduction of the smoking ban in enclosed public places has been a milestone for public health and the single most important measure that the Welsh Assembly Government could take to improve the health of the nation and reduce health inequalities.”

Wales was the first country in the UK to vote in favour of a smoking ban, but because it lacked law-making powers, the legislation was not introduced until April last year – after Scotland and Ireland.

But in the year since the ban, air quality in pubs has improved by up to 77%, in line with the Scottish experience.

About a third of Wales’ adult smokers – a quarter of the population smokes – said that they were smoking fewer cigarettes.

The Assembly Government expects the health benefits of the ban to be similar to those in Scotland.

Early research findings from Scotland, where smoke-free legislation came into force in March 2006, have been extremely positive. These include a 17% reduction in heart attack admissions and an 86% reduction in bar workers’ exposure to second-hand smoke.

Western Mail, 31/3/08 Smoking Cessation

What Happens When You Quit Smoking?

Nicotine is the addictive substance in cigarettes and it is the reason people experience withdrawal when trying to quit smoking. Learn more about how nicotine affects the body.

Tobacco Cash Behind Cancer Study Shocks Scientists

Associated Press in Milwaukee – Updated on Mar 28, 2008

Revelations that tobacco money was behind a big study suggesting that lung scans might help save smokers from cancer has shocked the research community and raised fresh concern about industry influence in important science.

Two medical journals that published studies by Weill Medical College researchers at Cornell University in 2006 are now looking into tobacco cash and other financial ties that were not revealed. The prominent studies reported benefits from lung scans, which the Cornell team has long touted.

It is a crucial public health issue: dozens of groups, including such anti-smoking crusaders as the American Cancer Society, have given the Cornell team money to see if routinely screening smokers with CT scans can spot the world’s most lethal cancer in time to prevent deaths.

The federal government has also given money – even though scientists have criticised the Cornell study’s design and the government is conducting its own more rigorous study.

Many were stunned to learn on Wednesday that a foundation Cornell had set up and listed in the New England Journal of Medicine in October 2006 as a sponsor of the study actually received US$3.6 million from a parent company of cigarette maker Liggett Group. The tobacco source was reported in a story in The New York Times.

Liggett – whose owner Vector Group was the first to break with other tobacco companies and say that tobacco was addictive and deadly – announced its donation to the Cornell foundation in 2000 in a press release. But the foundation’s funding source was not disclosed to the journal.

On Wednesday, company spokeswoman Carrie Bloom noted in a statement that the company “had no control or influence over the research”.

National Cancer Institute director John Niederhuber said scientists must maintain the trust of patients in research studies, and “any breach of that trust is not simply disappointing but, I believe, unacceptable”.

Any findings from a study tainted by hidden industry ties “will be much less believable”, Sidney Wolfe, director of the Public Citizen’s Health Research Group, said. The problem was avoidable, he added.

“There are plenty of people around who are bright and knowledgeable and don’t have conflicts of interest. We need to look harder to find these people.”

The cancer society’s chief medical officer, Otis Brawley, said the society would not have contributed to the study if it knew “Big Tobacco” was co-funding the work. Still, there was no sign that the study’s findings were tainted, and “it is my belief that something can be learned that can be useful”, he said.

The chief Cornell researcher, Claudia Henschke, did not respond to an e-mail requesting comment. Weill’s dean, Antonio Gotto, said: “The claim that we set this foundation up in order to cover up the money just isn’t true.

“We made a public announcement that we were taking the money from the tobacco company.”

In retrospect, Dr Gotto said perhaps the tobacco cash and patents that Cornell researchers hold on related technology should have been disclosed in Dr Henschke’s journal articles. Instead, one listed only the Cornell foundation.

Catherine DeAngelis, editor-in-chief of the Journal of the American Medical Association, said she contacted Dr Henschke months ago after others pointed out patents not disclosed in a July 2006 study.

Dr DeAngelis said Dr Henschke did not believe the patents were relevant to the research and resisted disclosing them.

“We’d been working with Dr Henschke trying to get her to write a letter of apology – which is our policy – and to take responsibility,” Dr DeAngelis said. “It was not easy to get her to do anything.”

Asked whether she would have published the research if the tobacco funding had been known, Dr DeAngelis said: “Absolutely not. I would have turned down the paper.”

A spokeswoman for the New England Journal, which published the Henschke paper listing the Cornell foundation as a sponsor, one of about 30, said only that the journal was investigating the matter.

The Health of Catering Workers in Hong Kong

Professor Anthony Hedley from the University of Hong Kong, Department of Community Medicine is carrying out a survey on The Health of Catering Workers in Hong Kong.

In the survey, they need the workers to complete a simple questionnaire about their health and workplace. They would also like them to perform a lung function test. At last, they will collect a urine sample from each worker. As an appreciation, each participant will be compensated with a cash payment of HKD100 upon completion of the survey. The health report will be sent to each worker afterwards.

In addition, they wish to recruit 3-4 non-smoking workers (preferably waiter/waitress) in each venue visit.

Please find the relevant information (both English and Chinese version) for your reference here.

The attached booklet includes:

  1. Information sheet to the catering workers about details of our survey
  2. Informed Consent Form
  3. Questionnaire
  4. Sign up sheet for the incentive payment
  5. Brochure for off-site interview

The brochures will be distributed to the catering workers who are unable to participate during their work shifts. They have reserved several community centers from 7 districts and would like to invite the catering workers to visit any of these venues after their work shifts :

Community Centres

If you have any questions please contact Ms. Ada Ho at 2819 9901.

Philip Morris Genetically Engineered Tobacco Plants

Cigarette Maker Has Conducted 33 GM Tobacco Tests Since ’05

By Alexis Madrigal EmailMarch 20, 2008 | 4:41:06 PMCategories: Genetics

Tobaccoplant_2 Two days ago, Philip Morris backed NC-State scientists announced they’d genetically engineered tobacco plants to have reduced levels of some carcinogens. Further investigation by revealed that the tobacco giant has applied for 34 field test permits for genetically modified tobacco since May of 2005, according to the USDA field trials database. 33 of the permits were issued.

Over the last three years, the USDA received 117 total applications to test GM tobacco strains, including 19 by North Carolina State University, which received $17.5 million from Philip Morris in December 2002 to map the tobacco genome.

Little can be determined about the types of studies that Philip Morris has run because they’ve labeled the details of their field permit applications, “Confidential Business Information,” sealing them from public scrutiny.

Philip Morris is not alone among tobacco companies in genetically modifying tobacco. Vector Tobacco, which has developed a low-nicotine variety of the crop, has applied for 14 field permits since 2005, although five were rejected. RJ Reynolds has applied for six, and had one denied.

But the scale of the Philip Morris’ genetic engineering program caught even staunch anti-GMO groups off-guard. Bill Freese, of Center for Food Safety, commented, “I’m shocked.”

Many groups that fight genetically modified organisms focus on genetically modified food or “pharming,” or the practice of synthesizing pharmaceuticals in plants. Tobacco, however, is a natural drug crop and falls between the cracks of most watchdog groups. For example, Vector has been marketing cigarettes with genetically modified tobacco under the Quest 1-2-3 brand since 2003, according to an interview the company’s CEO gave to Business Week. Almost no public outcry has resulted.

Free Nicotine Patches Are Given By Ohio Program

Free Nicotine Patches Are Given By Program

Nearly 2 million Ohio tobacco users (of 11.48 million population) can receive two weeks of free nicotine patches when they enroll in the OhioQuits program, the Ohio Tobacco Prevention Foundation’s new, expanded tobacco cessation program.

OhioQuits will provide a combination of free nicotine replacement therapy and expanded cessation coaching options by calling 1-800-QUIT-NOW.

This pairing is one of the most proven-effective methods for successfully quitting tobacco and is recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“We anticipate that the offer of free nicotine patches to those who call 1-800-QUIT-NOW and enroll will serve a much larger number of Ohioans who want to end their deadly addiction to tobacco for good,” said Mike Renner, executive director of the Ohio Tobacco Prevention Foundation.

The new OhioQuits program will also offer Ohioans expanded methods of cessation coaching including telephone based counseling plus individual and group centered face-to-face coaching through five Tobacco Treatment centers and an online option, offered later this spring.

Locally, Tobacco Treatment centers are located at the Cleveland Clinic and Humility of Mary Health Partners’ St. Elizabeth and St. Joseph Health Centers in Youngstown.

Ohioans ready to quit tobacco may call 1-800-QUIT-NOW or visit Calls will be answered 24 hours a day, seven days a week, year-round.

To date, 1-800-QUIT-NOW has fielded more than 130,000 calls and helped more than 27,000 Ohioans.

Illegal Cigarettes

Billions of cigarettes are smuggled each year, equal to about one third of the cigarette market. Cigarettes are the World’s most widely smuggled legal consumer product. They are smuggled across almost every national border and along constantly changing routes.

Read more about illegal cigarettes.

Raise New York Tax On Cigarettes

Editorial: Raise New York Tax On Cigarettes

March 17, 2008 –

If a 100 percent increase in one tax can reduce smoking and help cut the state’s budget deficit – and it can – there’s no good reason for state legislators not to pass it.

Right now, the state tax on a pack of cigarettes is $1.50. On top of that, the City of New York imposes another $1.50, for a total there of $3. A $1.50 increase would put the state back in the forefront of those willing to curb smoking by taxing it more heavily. The last time New York raised the tax was 2002. Since then, many other states have raised theirs.

The main reason for the increase is to deter people from buying an expensive and lethal product. Proponents of the tax increase estimate that it will keep more than 291,000 kids from starting this habit – and help a lot of adult smokers to quit, as they say they want to do. In fact, 63 percent of smokers polled last month say they favor the higher tax.

The increase would raise an estimated US$500 million a year, even factoring in the inevitable tax-evasion efforts. Supporters want $50 million of that to go toward tobacco cessation; the rest can help trim the state’s $4.5 billion-plus deficit.

New York used to do a poor job of curbing tobacco. But now advocates rate its cessation programs among the best in the nation. In 2007, the American Lung Association gave the state an “A” on overall tobacco control. But the same report gave New York a “C” for levying too small a tax.

With $50 million from the increased tax, on top of the $86 million the state now spends annually on cessation, New York can become an even stronger leader in avoiding smoking deaths. That’s a distinction well worth achieving.

Anti-Smoking Advocates Say Plan Protects Youths

Anti-Smoking Advocates Say Plan Protects Youths; Pacifica Merchants Balk At Fee

By Alan Fackler, CORRESPONDENT – Article Created: 03/17/2008 02:34:01 AM PDT

PACIFICA — Teenage smoking is a serious problem, and a group of local teens decided to do something about it — much to the consternation of city merchants.

In Pacifica, where retailers in the past were not required to hold local permits to sell tobacco, more than 25 percent of merchants sold tobacco to minors, according to surveys conducted by youth advocates in 2006.

But a new ordinance went into effect March 11 requiring any merchant in Pacifica to pay US$300 annually for a special license to sell tobacco. The new ordinance received major advocacy from teenagers in the Jefferson Union High School District’s Tobacco-Use Prevention Education Program and the Youth Leadership Institute.

Pacifica’s new tobacco ordinance calls for suspending and revoking the licenses of merchants who are caught selling cigarettes to minors. Merchants are also subject to fines.

As of October 2007, 47 other communities throughout California have passed similar ordinances, according to the Center for Tobacco Policy and Organizing.

Becky Sha, a tobacco-prevention coordinator at Terra Nova High School, has been working with students for more than four years to develop and pass the ordinance. “It was a very, very long process, but we believed in what we were doing,” Sha said.

The leadership institute trained various youths to visit stores and attempt to buy tobacco to discover which local merchants weren’t carding youths. The institute did public opinion surveys

that found a high percentage of Pacifica residents supported the prevention of tobacco products to teens, Sha said.
Barbara Louthan, a 17-year-old senior at Terra Nova, is the leader of the local chapter of the district’s tobacco education program. Louthan and other high school students were integral in gathering the information needed to pass the law.

“I got involved with TUPE because I’ve always been against smoking,” Louthan said. “It makes me sad to see kids starting at such a young age.”

Sha said the $300 fee will be collected and used to find and punish merchants who are selling cigarettes to minors.

“This license fee will give money to the police to do random checks three or four times a year,” Sha said. “The police will train kids to do purchase surveys, and have them go in and attempt to purchase cigarettes.”

The presentation was officially brought before the City Council in February, where it was met with an overwhelming amount of support, Sha said.

“These merchants need to be educated and shown what could happen if they sell cigarettes to teens,” Sha said. “You need a license to sell a mattress, how do they not need a license to sell cigarettes?”

The Center for Tobacco Policy and Organizing claims similar ordinances have produced positive results.

In Banning, a city in Riverside County, the youth-sales rate plummeted from 71 percent to 21 percent after a $350 special license fee was passed in August 2006. In Riverside, the sales rate dropped from 65 percent to nearly zero after a $350 ordinance was passed in 2006, according to the center.

But local Pacifica merchants aren’t thrilled with the new law.

“Why is any of this the merchant’s responsibility?” said Stephanie Lang, the owner of a local 7-Eleven. “Last time I checked, this is a free country, and kids know the law, too. Why should the business owners be liable for their actions? That’s just not fair.”

I’m not surprised at all that they’re doing this,” said Julia Pak, co-owner of Pacific Market, a local liquor store. “There’s only a handful of people in this city that sell cigarettes, and I just don’t see how making us pay $300 is going to make a difference. This city is the joke of California.”

Pak said the city was eager to pass the bill “to get Pacifica out of financial trouble” and not out of concern for teens.

“If kids want to smoke, they’ll find a way to smoke. It’s the parents’ responsibility, not ours,” Pak said.

“We’ve received the Responsible Alcohol Merchant Award for two years now,” Pak said. “We shouldn’t have to pay anything.

“They already use undercovers for alcohol,” Pak said. “Now what? Are they going to do the same for tobacco?”

The answer would appear to be yes.