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May, 2010:

How Smokeless Tobacco Became Banned in Hong Kong

smokeless-tobaccoRead here the 1986 original correspondence between the US Congress and the HK Government.

And now a message from the South African National Halal Authority

The South African National Halal Society has handed Clear The Air a poster with the following message:

halal-posterDownload the original print-sized PDF here.

No Smoking Area – Smoking Here is an Offence

kashmir_region_2004The Divisional Commisioner of the region of Kashmir is calling on the High Court to take suitable steps to implement the following, in letter and in spirit, the following:

  • Ban on smoking in public places
  • Ban on sale of tobacco products to persons below 18 years of age
  • Ban on sale of tobacco products within 100 yards of any educational institution

The letters can be downloaded here and here.

Nurses protest at Philip Morris International shareholder meeting

Last updated: May 15, 2010

Source: The Examiner

Tobacco causes 5 million people to die each year, and the number is getting bigger. It could be as high as 10 million per year by 2020. Tobacco is a deadly product that kills half of those who use it. Tobacco causes suffering, disability, and premature death all over the world. For more information visit the World Health Organization.

Protest at Philip Morris International shareholder meeting

Every year tobacco companies report on their profits to shareholders. On May 12th 2010, a group of nurses from around the USA attended the Philip Morris International shareholder meeting in New York. The nurses believe that it is not socially responsible for tobacco companies to continue to market and promote their deadly products. The nurses belong to a group called the Nightingales Nurses, who are nurses around the world speaking out against Big Tobacco. If you would like to support the nurses in their efforts to save lives please visit their website at

For news on this week’s Philip Morris International shareholder meeting visit the San Francisco Chronicle’s business report.

If you smoke and would like to quit please call 1 800 no butts, or visit or

Quitting smoking has immediate benefits to your health:

After one day: The odds of having a heart attack begin to drop.

After two weeks: Lung function increases by up to 30 percent.

After one year: Excess risk of coronary heart disease is cut in half.

After ten years: Risk of lung cancer drops to one-half compared to continuing smokers.

After fifteen years: Risk of a heart attack is the same as someone who never smoked.

Unreported World; Ashes to Ashes

2ee0834824Last updated: May 15, 2010

Source: The Guardian

Jenny Kleeman’s investigation of child labour in the tobacco fields of Malawi is pretty bloody shocking

Jenny Kleeman is in Malawi for Unreported World (Channel 4), investigating child labour in the tobacco-growing industry. In terms of the numbers involved, it’s pretty bloody shocking. Thirty-five children from one primary-school class are absent, off working in the fields or sorting the tobacco leaves (you’d think that would be pretty much the whole class, but there are still around 70 in the room). Children as young as three work up to 12 hours a day, with just one break. One woman working full-time takes home just £18 a year for her family – the cost of three packs of cigs in Britain.

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It’s not nice work, either. They cough from inhaling the dust, and get poisoned by nicotine. Thousands of ordinary Malawians are trapped by the country’s reliance on tobacco.

Thank heaven, then, for Kleeman, ferreting about the place, being a proper journalist, exposing the bad guys. There’s not an enormous amount of light ahead. The tobacco companies keep the prices down, meaning less money for the farmers, and even less for the labourers. The politicians aren’t helping much, either. One was caught employing child labour on his own tobacco farm. The penalty is five years in jail or a £100 fine (that’s not a hard choice, is it?), but this guy got off with a warning. Maybe our lot, with their moats and duck islands, aren’t so bad after all.

Launch of pictorial health warning database

pictorial2_engLast updated: May 14, 2010

Source: World Health Organization

WHO has announced the launch of the pictorial health warnings database at:

The database was developed following a decision by the Conference of the Parties to the WHO FCTC at its third session. It is designed to facilitate the sharing of such pictorial health warnings and messages among countries and Parties.

Based on the COP3 decision, it is the Secretariat that is responsible for all aspects of the copyright and permissions.  Therefore, all requests from countries to use images contained in the database will be facilitated by the Secretariat, rather than TFI.

Mothers offered £650 to stub out tobacco

britney_pregnant_smokingLast updated: May 12, 2010

Source: Times Online

Proposals to ‘bribe’ pregnant women to quit smoking are branded waste of money

Pregnant smokers will get food vouchers worth up to £650 if they agree to give up cigarettes, under a scheme proposed by the Scottish government.

Women who quit will receive grocery vouchers worth £12.50-a-week during their pregnancy and for three months after their child is born.

To qualify, they will have to prove they have given up smoking by taking a weekly breath test at a local chemist, which records carbon monoxide levels.

Ministers believe the initiative could help thousands of women quit every year, saving the lives of children and protecting them against ill health.
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However, critics claim the scheme is a waste of taxpayers’ money when public finances are already overstretched. They say pregnant mothers should give up for the sake of their unborn children rather than for financial gain — and quitting tobacco would save a 20-a-day smoker about £35 a week anyway.

The initiative is based on a pilot scheme in Tayside, which the NHS claims was a success. Half of smokers gave up after a month of enrolling, but the figure fell to 31% after three months and 21% after a year.

The Give it up for Baby (GIUFB) scheme, which was launched in 2007, has been taken up by 400 women and cost £43,496 to run last year.

The Scottish government is also looking at the national rollout of another pilot scheme in Tayside, quit4u, which offers all smokers £12.50 a week in shopping vouchers to quit.

Mark Wallace, the campaign director of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, described the vouchers as “an extremely dubious use of taxpayers’ money”, saying: “At best, the government will be bribing people to do something they should do for the sake of their baby anyway, while at worst some people might smoke a few cigarettes in order to qualify for the scheme.”

However, Sheila Duffy, chief executive of the anti-tobacco charity ASH Scotland, said the scheme had been shown to work. “The GIUFB model provides women with community-based stop-smoking support, as well as a financial incentive to remain a non-smoker,” she said. “I am strongly supportive of rolling this model out across Scotland.”

Alex Salmond, the first minister, said ministers were “actively considering how to roll the GIUFB pilot out throughout the country”.

Shona Robison, the public health minister, added: “We’re working with NHS boards to encourage pregnant smokers — or smokers planning a pregnancy — to quit. It is important to see how good local initiatives such as NHS Tayside’s Give it up for Baby can be scaled up and delivered more systematically. The initial results do seem to suggest that this incentive approach significantly increases the chances of pregnant women successfully quitting smoking.”

Some research suggests income has little to do with a determination to quit. According to a study, 4.8% of women from the least deprived parts of Scotland stopped smoking when pregnant, compared with 4.5% in the most deprived.

Despite a series of public campaigns, only 3% of smokers give up when pregnant. Mothers-to-be who smoke run a higher risk of miscarriage, and their children are more at risk of cot death and health and developmental problems.

A new effective strategy for treating tobacco addiction was developed by researchers from the CAS

22293_webLast updated: May 11, 2010

Source: Eurekalert via Science in China Press

The tobacco addiction epidemic is a major public health problem worldwide. Professor Zhao Baolu and his group from the State Key Laboratory of Brain and Cognitive Science, Institute of Biophysics, Chinese Academy of Sciences set out to tackle this problem. After 20 years of innovative research, they have developed a novel tea filter to treat cigarette addiction and have discovered the molecular mechanism behind the smoking cessation effect. They identified theanine as the active ingredient in the tea filter that inhibits nicotine addiction. Their work entitled “The cessation and detoxification effect of tea filters on cigarette smoke” was published in the X. edition Science of China in 2010.

Cigarette smoking has been linked to many life threatening diseases including heart disease, cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. There are about 1.25 billion smokers in the world and five million die every year because of smoking-related diseases, exceeding many other diseases combined. It is estimated that the global cost for smoking-related diseases is about $200 billion each year, resulting in one of the world’s largest human public health problems. Many methods have been developed for smoking cessation by researchers and clinicians. Despite all efforts, currently available smoking cessation methods produce only modest success rates with frequent relapse. Due to the addictive nature of nicotine, quitting smoking remains an extremely difficult task. Therefore, the need for developing new smoking cessation strategies with better efficacy and fewer side effects is urgent.

Human tests using a newly developed tea filter were conducted at the Addiction Branch of Beijing Military Region General Hospital. A total of more than 100 male smokers participated in this study. The results from the first trial showed that the participants’ average daily cigarette consumption decreased by about 43% and 56.5% after using the tea filters for 1 and 2 months, respectively. The results from the second trial showed that the participants’ average daily cigarette consumption decreased by about 48%, 83% and 91% after using the tea filters for 1, 2 and 3 months, respectively. The average daily cigarettes consumed by the participants decreased from about 24.5 per day to about 3 per day at the end of 3 months of treatment. In addition, most participants indicated that sputum and their smoking-related symptoms were reduced compared with the control group. Physical examinations of the participants did not reveal any apparent side effects.

The mechanism of action (MOA) studies indicated that theanine in the filter exerted an inhibitory effect similar to the nicotine acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) inhibitor. In addition, theanine could significantly inhibit the nicotine-induced increased expression of nAChR and the increase of the neurotransmitter dopamine (DA) released in mouse brains. The toxicological studies showed that the tea filters could significantly reduce the carcinogenic materials such as tar, free radicals, nitrosamine, benzo[a]pyrene, benzo[a]anthracene, chrysene and total polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) generated in cigarette smoking. Animal studies also revealed that tea filters could significantly reduce the acute toxicity, mutagenicity, lung damage and carboxyhemoglobin (COHb) levels in the blood caused by cigarette smoking.

Different cigarette filters have been developed with the purpose of reducing harmful chemicals such as tar and nicotine in tobacco smoke. However, a smoker may smoke more cigarettes using these filters, inhale more deeply or decrease the time between puffs to compensate for the desired nicotine intake, leading to exposure to equal or greater doses of the toxic and cancer-causing substances present in cigarette smoke. Therefore, smoking using these filters is not an alternative for lowering the risk of smoking-related diseases. Smoking cessation methods, such as nicotine replacement therapy, nAChR partial agonists and antagonists, have been shown to help some smokers quit, but they also have high relapse rates and are perceived as being inconvenient. They are not easily accepted by the smokers psychologically, affecting the efficacy of their smoking cessation.

The novel tea filter treatment might avoid the pitfalls mentioned above and effectively promote smoking abstinence. Because it uses the smoking process to help quit smoking, it is easily accepted by smokers, with less psychological obstacles and side effects. When a smoker is smoking using the tea filter, the inhibitors of the nicotine receptor in the tea filter are absorbed through the respiratory system and travel to the brain where they exert cessation effects. This smoking cessation process appears as a spiral process. The smokers get progressively less dependent on nicotine in each smoking cycle, and eventually exit the cycle and quit smoking (as shown in the Figure).

Implementation and promotion of this work will change individuals’ smoking statuses and global smoking statistics, and challenge the concept of smoking addiction. It will make a great contribution towards reducing smoking-related diseases, public health burdens and pollution.

The development and discovery of this tea filter was a collaborative effort involving many researchers, medical doctors and clinicians from different institutes, universities and hospitals. This research project was partially supported by a grant from the National Natural Science Foundation of China and a 973 grant from the Department of Science and Technology of China. It is an important breakthrough in the recent history of tobacco cessation research. The researchers suggested that their work needs to be practiced and examined in a larger population and the mechanisms behind the nicotine cessation effects of tea and theanine should be further studied. These efforts will have significant impact on the control of cigarette smoking and the reduction of smoking-related diseases globally.

China to ban smoking in indoor public places in 2011

china-tobaccoLast updated:  May 10, 2010

Source: Golbal Times

China to ban smoking in indoor public places in 2011 Source: Global Times [16:36 May 10 2010] Comments China is set to implement a ban on smoking in all indoor public places including workplaces and public transport vehicles from January 2011.

Yang Qing, Director General of the Department of Maternal and Child Health and Community Health at China’s Ministry of Health (MOH) says that the ban is being carried out according to the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

The MOH will ban smoking in its offices this month.

One year ago, the ministry said that all its offices and medical facilities would be smoke-free by 2011.

Tobacco funding: time to quit

money-stacks2Last updated: May 10, 2010

Source: ABC Australia

Tobacco companies are not philanthropic institutions. As long ago as 1967 the late Senator Robert Kennedy said, “the cigarette industry is peddling a deadly weapon. It is dealing in people’s lives for financial gain”.

The Australian tobacco industry is dominated by three big companies (or in modern political parlance, three “great big” companies), British American Tobacco, Philip Morris and Imperial Tobacco – all overseas-owned, with decisions made not in Sydney or Melbourne but in London and New York.

These are tough and ruthless multinational corporations, promoting and selling a product that kills one in two of its regular users. They have known for sixty years that their product is lethal. During this time almost one million Australians have died because they smoked – while the tobacco companies have denied and downplayed the evidence, doing their utmost to oppose and delay any action that might be effective in reducing smoking. Around the world their products cause five million deaths a year – a figure which will only increase as their drive into developing countries bears lethal fruit.

The new Chief Executive of Imperial Tobacco, Alison Cooper, was recently reported in the UK media as still refusing to accept that smoking causes cancer. Small wonder that only last week a survey of the reputations of the UK’s largest 150 companies had Imperial Tobacco at 147 and British American Tobacco at a rock bottom 150.

There is massive evidence from once-confidential industry documents now available following litigation in the US that for decades tobacco companies have acted more cynically than even tobacco campaigners might have thought – summarised by a quote from an industry executive – “We don’t smoke this shit, we just sell it. We reserve the right to smoke for the young, the poor, the black and the stupid.”

And as if all this were not enough, the industry has been found guilty of racketeering in the US.

Tobacco companies have only one aim, in London, New York or Canberra. In line with their responsibility to their shareholders, they spend money with the sole purpose of benefiting their interests.

So why would anybody want to take money from this pariah industry?

The Australian Electoral Commission website reports that in recent years both the Philip Morris company and British American Tobacco have been generous donors to the Liberal Party and the National Party. During the year 2008/9 Philip Morris contributed $158,000 to the Liberal and National parties around Australia.

No doubt in addition to direct contributions there is also much indirect funding from groups supporting and representing tobacco companies, but this is much harder to pin down.

The only reason for these contributions is to further the interests of tobacco companies. The website of the British American Tobacco company is quite explicit about political donations: “Such payments can only be made for the purpose of influencing the debate on issues affecting the company or Group…”

A review of tobacco industry political donations in the US, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, concluded that, “tobacco industry monetary contributions are closely related to the way a legislator votes on tobacco issues”, and “The more campaign contributions received by a Congress member, the more likely he/she votes pro-tobacco on tobacco-related bills”.

Political donations are not simply about an intention to buy direct support: they are also about much less tangible benefits gained through indirect support, influence, contacts, access and credibility.

The Greens and Democrats took the lead in refusing tobacco industry funding, followed by the ALP. The other major parties understand the dangers of smoking; they know exactly why tobacco companies want to give them money; it is hard to imagine that they would knowingly take money from drug dealers – and yet they seem content to accept contributions from an industry whose products cause more than 80 per cent of Australia’s drug deaths. Surely there is something awry with the moral radar of anyone who accepts this kind of blood money.

The argument we sometimes hear that this is a “legitimate industry” is old and tired. If cigarettes were a new product they would not be allowed on the market. Our parliaments have decreed that the product is so harmful that it should not be sold to children and adolescents, should not be advertised, and that its sales should be subject to ever-increasing controls. This is no ordinary product, no ordinary industry.

The Australian government now leads the world in action to reduce smoking, complementing strong action in most jurisdictions (other than the Northern Territory, whose lack of interest in tobacco remains a mystery).

It is time for all political parties to refuse tobacco funding, or for legislation that forbids such contributions from companies that still seek to oppose the work and recommendations of governments and health authorities, and whose products cause 15,000 Australian deaths each year when used precisely as intended. Then we can be assured that all parties are making policy on this vital public health issue free of the taint of association with tobacco companies, and free of any suspicion that their policies might be influenced by these disreputable, lethal donors.

Written by Mike Daube