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February, 2010:

Teasing Vaccines From Tobacco

vaccinationFirst published: February 23, 2010

Source: The Wall Street Journal

Swine Flu Epidemic Spurs Military to Join the Hunt for Plant-Based Alternatives

The U.S. Department of Defense, caught off guard by the swift spread of the H1N1 flu virus last year and delays in producing a vaccine, is backing an unusual plan to use tobacco plants to make the vaccine.

Flu vaccines are typically grown in chicken eggs. Although the technique is slow and expensive, vaccine makers have done little to improve on this reliable method for more than 60 years. The urgent need for a better way became apparent last year.

“The response to H1N1 was a disaster,” said Brett Giroir, vice chancellor for research at Texas A&M University System, part of a consortium testing plant-based vaccines for H1N1, or swine flu.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency—which conducts research to protect soldiers from infectious diseases, and also is concerned about the U.S. capability to react swiftly to a bioterrorist attack, among other things—has awarded the consortium $40 million to make an initial 10 million doses of H1N1 vaccine.


Ban on tobacco sponsorships coming to legislature by 2011

No Thanks, Big Tobacco

First published: February 24, 2010

Source: China Daily

No-smoking advocates continue to put pressure on legislators

Anti-smoking advocates including 17 senior legislators and political consultants are urging that laws be passed to ban donations or sponsorships from tobacco companies for Chinese events, such as expos, festivals and athletic events. The measure is expected to be enacted by the top legislature within a year.

“The message will be conveyed to the coming two sessions to fuel the anti-smoking efforts,” said Wu Yiqun, deputy director of the Thinktank Research Center for Health Development, a Beijing-based nongovernmental organization, yesterday.

The two sessions are the annual plenary meeting of the National People’s Congress (NPC) and the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), which usually fall in early March. They are considered China’s most important annual political events.

Wu made the remarks at an anti-smoking seminar attended by 17 NPC deputies and CPPCC members yesterday in Beijing.

Last July, under pressure from anti-smoking advocacy groups including Thinktank, the 2010 Shanghai World Expo organizers turned down a 200 million yuan ($29 million) donation from a local tobacco company to observe the promise of a “healthy and smoke-free Expo”.


£6m smugglers jailed 20 years after East End warehouse raid

contraband tobaccoFirst published: February 23, 2010

Source: East London Advertiser

TWO men behind an international smuggling racket have been jailed today (Tuesday) for nearly 20 years between them for their part in smuggling 11 million cigarettes, five tonnes of hand-rolling tobacco and thousands of litres of wine into Britain.

The contraband thought to have a ‘cut price’ street value of £6 million was stashed in a warehouse in London’s East End which was raided by police and customs officers.

It had been smuggled in through Tilbury and Ipswich in mattresses, glass jars, toilet rolls and barbeque charcoal.

The smugglers used a warehouse in Cable Street in Shadwell for their dodgy consumables to evade £6m import duty.


Prisons end link between inmates’ pay, tobacco prices

smoking in prisonUpdated: February 24, 2010

Source: South China Morning Post

Prisoners’ earnings will no longer rise or fall in line with cigarette prices. The government, which announced the move yesterday, hopes it will curb inmates’ smoking and improve their health.

Four-fifths of adult inmates smoke, and they spend 60 per cent of their prison earnings on cigarettes. Prisoners under 21 are banned from smoking.

Prisoners’ cigarette purchases have already fallen by a sixth in two years. Last year, prison canteens sold 526,645 packets, down from 631,870 in 2008 and 641,625 in 2007.


A New Policy on Tobacco Papers

plosFirst published: February 23, 2010

Source: PLOS Medicine

This past month PLoS Medicine published two original analyses on smoking, the single greatest preventable risk for poor health and death in the developed world, and an increasingly important risk factor in the developing world. The first study, using internal tobacco company documents unsealed through litigation, provides further evidence of the already well-documented strategy of deception used by the tobacco industry to further its commercial activities.

The second study shows the ways in which the tobacco control agenda is distorted by the increasing medicalization of smoking cessation.


Medical journal bars tobacco-backed research papers

no tobacco sponsorship

First published: February 23, 2010

Source: Reuters

HONG KONG (Reuters) – A leading scientific journal will no longer publish research papers that receive any funding from tobacco companies, its editorial board said on Tuesday.

“While we continue to be interested in analyses of ways of reducing tobacco use, we will no longer be considering papers where support, in whole or in part, for the study or the researchers come from a tobacco company,” the PLoS Medicine (Public Library of Science) said in an editorial.

The magazine expressed concern at “the industry’s longstanding attempts to distort the science of and deflect attention away from the harmful effects of smoking.

“That the tobacco industry has behaved disreputably – denying the harms of its products, campaigning against smoking bans, marketing to young people and hiring public relations firms, consultants and front groups to enhance the public credibility of their work — is well documented.”

Its new policy would be effective immediately.

PLoS Medicine is a well regarded journal covering the full spectrum of the medical sciences and belongs to the U.S.-based, non-profit organization Public Library of Science.

According to the Tobacco Atlas produced by the World Lung Foundation and American Cancer Society, there will be an estimated 6 million tobacco-related deaths in 2010 worldwide, rising to 7 million in 2020.


Explosive quotes from the “tobacco wars”


Source: various; links in text

— Narrated by Walter Cronkite, three-part mini-series makes its North American premiere October 21-22, 1999 —

“It has been a shameful track record. I think it’s been one of deception, cover-up, misleading, intentionally misleading the public. And all in the name of profit.”
— Joseph Bumgarner
Former biochemist, RJ Reynolds Tobacco

“There’s no question what the objective of the other side of this debate is … trying to do. Their objective is to put us out of business.”
— Charles Blixt
Vice President and General Counsel,
RJ Reynolds Tobacco Co.

“These are adults. They’ve made a choice and they want to smoke — increasingly, actually. You know, you see people, they just want to smoke.”
— Bob Bexon
Marketing Director, Brown & Williamson Tobacco


TPLP reaction to petitions to US Supreme Court in Govt.’s racketeering case vs. tobacco companies

philip-morris-racketeeringFirst published: February 19, 2010

Source: Northeastern University


February 19, 2010

Contact: Edward L. Sweda, Jr. or Mark Gottlieb
(617) 373-8462 or (617) 373-2026  media @

All Parties Seek Supreme Court Review of Racketeering Trial:  US v. Philip Morris
Review could open door for substantial remedies that would help smokers to quit protect kids from starting –
and could force the cigarette companies to pay hundreds of billions of dollars

Today the Solicitor General of the United States filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari with the Supreme Court of the United States seeking review of a 2-1 pre-trial ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.  That ruling strictly limited the remedies available to the district court judge when she found that the cigarette industry engaged in racketeering in 2006.  The Petitioners largely agree with the dissent in that decision that would permit the District Court more leeway in fashioning an appropriate set of remedies.

The pre-trial ruling for which the United States seeks review rejected the proposed remedy under the civil provisions of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) seeking forfeiture of the cigarette industry’s ill-gotten gains flowing from sales to children.  It also limited other potential remedies that often available to the judiciary unless they were clearly “forward looking” and carefully tailored to prevent future RICO violations.


Holograms Can Defeat Global Counterfeiting Epidemic and Rescue Middle Eastern Governments from Financial Challenges


First published: February 22, 2010

Source: Al Bawaba

As the world continues to grapple with economic challenges, a new method of securing cigarette tax stamps from counterfeiting and falsification could save nations in the Middle East and globally from revenue losses totalling more than $50 billion (US) annually. New specialized holograms used as a foundation of the comprehensive enforcement solution from the EDAPS Consortium, may cut off funds supporting organized crime and terrorism, two consistent beneficiaries of the world’s near trillion dollar counterfeit and piracy plague.

The World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control has determined the estimated 600 billion counterfeited and smuggled cigarettes crossing national borders annually represents $50 billion (US) in lost revenue affecting nations throughout the world.


Smuggling linchpin convicted but no one in Ireland charged

smuggled tobacco

First published: February 22, 2010

Source: Irish Times

THE SMOKE SMUGGLERS: It’s not every day that someone admits to defrauding the Irish exchequer by more than €1.5m, but this isn’t what makes the case of Roman Vidal unique, writes PAUL CULLEN

EARLIER THIS month, a 57-year-old businessman was convicted of involvement in a massive smuggling operation that was uncovered when 7.3 million cigarettes were seized in Dublin Port in January 2006.

But the court in which Roman Vidal received a two-year sentence was not in Dublin or any other Irish city. Instead, he was convicted by magistrates near his home in Miami, Florida, and ordered to pay more than $1.5 million in restitution.

Vidal was the linchpin in a vast smuggling network that spanned three continents and saw cigarettes sourced in the Canaries, shipped to Panama and then transported back to Europe via Miami. His case reveals the extent of cigarette smuggling and the depth of involvement in the trade by criminal gangs here.