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August, 2010:

Costs of tobacco

The cost of tobacco to Hong Kong through loss of productivity and medical treatment is HK$ 5.6 billion per year (HKU study). If the value of the loss of life were included the cost to HKG per year is HK$ 72 billion.

The tax collected on tobacco products is attached.

It is easy to see that HKG Government continues to subsidise the tobacco companies.

People should ask why.

Download the Revenue collected from Tobacco PDF here.

Smoking kills, says big tobacco on hacked plain packaging campaign site

Last updated: August 30, 2010

Source: Crikey

Retailers and big tobacco have ended their campaign against plain cigarette packaging, conceding ”colourful packaging does indeed promote smoking.” Or so the website for the alliance of associations and cigarette manufacturers backing the campaign says.

So has the website been hacked? Crikey was sent an anonymous tip off this morning that said: “The Alliance of Australian Retailers Pty Ltd. have quit their campaign against plain-packaging for cigarettes.”

But we couldn’t find anyone — retail associations, tobacco companies or the PR agency responsible for the website — to confirm whether the campaign against the Labor Party’s anti-smoking initiative is continuing.

From 2012, cigarettes will be sold in plain, standardised packages carrying only explicit images and warnings against smoking under a Labor plan angrily attacked by manufacturers and sellers.

As Crikey’s deadline approached the website for the Alliance of Australian Retailers was still declaring on the front page: “The campaign has ended.”

“In the interest of public health and aligning with society’s values, we have decided to end this campaign. All Australian Retailers operate in mixed communities, and we believe the greater good of the non-smoking majority is worth more than that of the smoking minority.

“Current smokers will continue to smoke regardless of packaging. We refuse to give incentive to those that don’t smoke in any form whatsoever – thus we have ended our campaign against plain packaging.”

The alliance includes the Service Station Association, Australian Newsagent Federation and the National Independent Retailers Association. Neither group wanted to speak about the campaign, directing Crikey to Craig Glasby as the “only authorised spokesperson”. He didn’t return calls by deadline.

The campaign is also “supported” by tobacco giants British American Tobacco, Philip Morris and Imperial Tobacco Australia. A spokesperson for British American Tobacco confirmed the campaign is continuing but was “taking a different shape” without wanting to give more details.

Sheryle Moon, executive director of the Australasian Association of Convenience Stores, was leading the campaign as ‘director’ of the alliance, including a disastrous interview with the ABC’s Lateline program earlier this month where she admitted she wished her son would quit “because stopping smoking in the community is a good thing.”

Moon has since withdrawn from the campaign and her association has left the alliance. She told Crikey today the priorities of the action were “slightly different” to that of her association. She says plain packaging and a ban on retail display promotions is “another impost on retailers” but says the focus should be on the growing counterfeit tobacco market.

On its ‘what we stand for’ page, the seemingly hacked alliance website lists a number of diseases and health complications associated with smoking. It goes on to say:

“In recent times we have been hit with an excessive tax hike that has made our businesses a target for theft and only further fuelled the flourishing black market in tobacco products. Yet after reviewing the above diseases and compelling evidence that smoking is a negative strain on society, we have decided that we can bear plain packaging.

“In fact, it will even reduce cigarette companies’ printing costs, thus off-setting some of the tax hike burden.

“We believe that reducing smoking is good for our community. But good policies require more than good intentions. Whilst there is no reliable evidence anywhere in the world that plain packaging will stop people from taking up smoking, or help people to quit, it can’t hurt to try.

“With no credible evidence to support plain packaging, the Alliance has statement for Canberra:

“If it might work, but we’re not sure, and it decreases printing costs, let’s do it.”

Its links page includes references to ‘myths and misconceptions’ about smoking from the Cancer Council of Australia, while the contact page says: “Any comments or queries can be directed to”.

Electronic Cigarette Maker To Stop Deceptive Marketing and Sales To Minors

Company claimed product that includes nicotine contained no carcinogens

Sottera, one of the country’s largest electronic cigarette producers has agreed to stop targeting minors and claiming that electronic cigarettes are a safe alternative to smoking.

“Electronic cigarette companies have targeted minors with fruit-flavored products and misleading claims that their products are safe,” said California Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. “This settlement will stop Sottera from marketing these dangerous and addictive products to kids.”

Brown and Sottera reached the settlement without litigation based on Sottera’s willingness to adopt measures that address Brown’s concerns about the dangers of its electronic cigarettes. In January this year, Brown filed suit against the nation’s other leading e-cigarette retailer, Smoking Everywhere. That lawsuit is proceeding in Alameda County Superior Court.


Electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, are battery-operated devices with nicotine cartridges designed to look and feel like conventional cigarettes. Instead of actual smoke, e-cigarettes produce a vapor from the nicotine cartridge that is inhaled by the user. Sottera and other electronic cigarette makers have claimed in advertisements and other marketing materials that the e-cigarettes have no carcinogens, no tar, no second-hand smoke, and are therefore safe.

However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has determined that electronic cigarettes contain a variety of dangerous chemicals, including nicotine, carcinogens such as nitrosamines and, in at least one case, diethylene glycol, commonly known as antifreeze.

The products are often marketed with advertisements, and flavors like strawberry, chocolate, mint, banana and cookies-and-cream, that are designed to appeal to a youthful target audience.

Ending phony claims

The settlement prohibits Sottera from marketing to minors and from making false or misleading claims about electronic cigarettes. Specifically, the company has agreed that it will not:

• Sell electronic cigarettes to minors. Its website will be age-restricted, and a customer will need to provide a government ID before making a purchase. Retail products will be behind a counter. Any advertising will note the age restriction.

• Sell flavored electronic cigarette cartridges, such as strawberry, mint or bubblegum, that could appeal to minors.

• Advertise its product as a smoking cessation device unless the FDA approves it as such.

• Sell cartridges that contain vitamins unless the company obtains competent and reliable scientific evidence to support an implied health claim.

• Claim that the product is safer than cigarettes, contains no tobacco, no tar, no carcinogens or no second-hand smoke unless there is competent reliable scientific evidence to support the claims.

Sottera also agreed to adopt and implement quality control standards for its products to preclude the presence of harmful substances. The company will regularly be subject to independent audits.

In addition, the company will provide a Proposition 65 warning that its products contain nicotine, a chemical known by the State of California to cause birth defects or reproductive harm. The warning will include additional information about risks associated with nicotine, including that it is addictive and toxic if swallowed. The warning will appear on product packaging, Sottera’s website and at retail sites.

Finally, Sottera will pay $85,000 in penalties and fees.