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October, 2011:

New Zealand: Packet helps smokers hide graphic warnings Packet helps smokers hide graphic warnings – TVNZ

Sticky seals in the packets of one brand of cigarettes are helping smokers cover up graphic health warnings.

Graphic images of illnesses like gangrene, mouth cancer and lung disease
must be printed on every packet of cigarettes to cover 30% of the front and
90% of the back of the pack.

ONE News looked at a range of cigarettes from a number of companies. Dunhill
was the only product found with a seal inside the packet that can be stuck
on the outside.

It is labelled “exclusively Dunhill”.

The sticky ‘reloc’ seal is just the size to cover health warnings.

Michael Colhoun of Action on Smoking and Health says nothing about a tobacco
packet is accidental and the sticky seals have been included deliberately.

“This seems to be a brand marketing exercise,” he said.

Manufacturer British American Tobacco says its design is not intended to
undermine the law.

“We do not condone the practice of using one part of the pack designed for a
particular purpose to hide those warnings,” the company said.

It said the seal is simply for keeping cigarettes fresh.

One smoker said the sticker is “sneaky”.

Some smokers said they will continue using the sticker to hide the images.

Quitline says since the graphic images first appeared in 2008, numbers of
calls to its helpline have increased.

But there are websites and even how-to videos dedicated to showing smokers
how to cover the pictures up.

Source: TVNZ

Date: 31 October 2011

Smokers refusing to pack it in

By Qiu Quanlin in Guangzhou and Duan Yan and Cui Jia in Beijing (China Daily)

31 Oct. 2011

Smokers refusing to pack it in

Smoking is not allowed at Guangzhou Railway Station and other government buildings, but it goes on anyway. Enforcement of the year-old regulation is spotty. Provided to China Daily

Smokers refusing to pack it in

If you’re caught smoking against city regulation, what can you do? This man tried offering a cigarette to a Guangzhou official, who said ‘no thanks.’ Zou Wei / for China Daily

Lack of legislation and huge profits make ban hard to enforce, report Qiu Quanlin in Guangzhou and Duan Yan and Cui Jia in Beijing.

The reaction by the elderly gentleman he caught smoking in Guangzhou’s main bus station surprised Chen Weiguang, deputy director of the Standing Committee of the Guangzhou Municipal People’s Congress.

“Do you know that smoking is prohibited in public in Guangzhou?” Chen asked him.

The smoker, unprepared for the question let alone the bevy of inspectors and trailing journalists, reached into his pocket for a pack of cigarettes and handed one to Chen. “Have one?”

Chen laughed at the nervous offer but declined.

Chen was leading an inspection trip on Oct 13, part of a three-day enforcement review the congress had ordered following the introduction one year earlier of a smoking regulation that was once considered the strictest in China. The regulation was the first to ban smoking in government buildings.

However, for anti-smoking advocates, that smoker’s reaction was a dismal and ironic moment in their efforts to cure the addiction to nicotine in a country with more than 356 million smokers. About half of China’s 300-plus cities now limit smoking in public, but ineffective enforcement is typical.

The fundamental reason, these advocates say, is an absence of government resolve because tobacco taxes provide a sizable part of government revenue.

“I think these so-called surprise inspections are just another showcase,” Li Ziliu, Guangzhou’s former mayor, said on Oct 24 at a symposium about Guangzhou’s regulations of smoking. “Tobacco control needs to start with government leaders.”

During one surprise visit to the city government building, inspectors caught staff trying to sneak the ashtray out of an official’s office.

China has no national law for smoking control, and it didn’t meet the Jan 9 deadline to ban smoking in public indoor places, as it pledged to do under the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. The global anti-tobacco treaty came into force in China five years ago.

Improvements have been seen in some cities where smoking regulations were implemented in time for international events, such as the 2008 Beijing Olympics, 2010 Shanghai Expo and the Guangzhou Asia Games last November.

But when the events were over, the rules became loosely enforced, and loopholes have made these regulations ineffective in weaning China off tobacco. Smokers in public places continue to puff away with abandon.

By the numbers

Thirteen months after Guangzhou implemented curbs on smoking in public, after more than 120,000 checks and 4,000 rectification notices, only one person and five companies have been punished for breaking the regulation. Fines totaled 26,550 yuan ($4,176).

Fifteen government departments – including traffic, tourism, health and education – and 2,673 of their staff members are responsible for enforcing the regulation. They are trying to manage an estimated 2.3 million smokers in the city, 21.7 percent of its population older than 15.

Enforcement starts with a warning and escalates to a rectification order, a written requirement to change behavior. If an individual or organization refuses to comply, law enforcement officers can fine individuals 50 yuan and organizations 3,000 to 5,000 yuan. The progression from warning to fine usually takes 40 to 60 days.

“These law enforcement departments are often reluctant to enforce tobacco control regulations, and there is buck-passing among these departments,” said Jin Gensheng, a member of the Standing Committee who is in charge of the anti-tobacco enforcement inspections. “There is only one staff member from the city’s Patriotic Public Health Campaign Office coordinating part-time with these departments.”

That office was at odds with the government when the regulation was drafted last year because it advocates a 100 percent smoking ban in public and work areas. Chen Hanwei, a deputy director in the office, said that unlike the other departments, the office is not empowered to enforce the regulation.

Similarly, in the nearly three years since Beijing required restaurants and bars to provide nonsmoking sections, not a single person or company has been fined for breaking the rule.

Secondhand smoke

Even when current regulations are well enforced, a partial ban of smoking will not protect people from exposure to secondhand smoke, and it is not enough for China to meet its obligations under the tobacco control treaty. In many restaurants and bars, there is no barrier between smoking and nonsmoking areas.

Currently, 740 million people, including 182 million children, are exposed to secondhand smoke, according to China’s Global Adult Tobacco Survey of 2010. Secondhand smoke can increase the risk of heart disease and cancer, and can cause sudden infant death syndrome in children who are exposed or whose mothers were exposed during pregnancy.

“What is the point of having a smoking and nonsmoking area when the whole place is filled with smoke?” Lin Kainan asked. A 32-year-old housewife, she was sitting in a cafe in Beijing’s Chaoyang district, drinking her coffee beneath a thick cloud of smoke on a Saturday afternoon.

“When I was pregnant last year, I read in a book that secondhand smoke could induce miscarriage,” she said, so she asked people smoking near her in restaurants to put out their cigarettes. “Many smokers would stop, but devoted smokers would pick up the ashtray on the table and tell me I was sitting in the smoking section.”

Beijing’s lawmakers have talked for years about banning smoking in indoor public spaces. In fact, when the measure requiring nonsmoking areas was implemented in 2008, health officials set the goal to ban smoking entirely by 2010.

Mao Yu, spokesman and deputy director of the Beijing Municipal Health Bureau, said at a news conference last December that Beijing would be 100 percent smoking-free in public indoor venues, offices and public transportation by the end of 2015. That announcement means the deadline for the goal was pushed back five years.

Cui Xiaobo, a professor at Capital Medical University, said it would be unrealistic for China to implement its part of the tobacco control treaty without national legislation, which wouldn’t be easy in any case.

“I’m afraid that the root cause is still governments’ lack of resolution,” Cui said. “The introduction of tobacco-control law and regulations is bound to affect some of the benefits of some government departments, resulting in some changes.”

Revenue source

Money is at the center of the problem when it comes to resolving to ban smoking in public. Governments are addicted to the economic gains generated by the tobacco industry. However, health experts and economists argue that the medical and social costs of smoking have already exceeded the tax revenues generated by the tobacco industry.

China is both the world’s largest producer and the largest consumer of tobacco, in roughly equal measure. Production has been steadily growing, from 589.9 billion cigarettes in 1978 to about 2.38 trillion last year, according to data from the State Tobacco Monopoly Administration.

Tobacco tax and profits contributed 7.27 percent of the central government’s total revenue last year, according to Professor Mao Zhengzhong, deputy chairman of the China Health Economics Association.

In China’s largest tobacco-producing province, Yunnan, tobacco tax contributed 92.08 percent of local government’s revenue in 2009 and 77.81 percent in 2010, Mao said. Actual tobacco tax revenue rose from 64.2 billion yuan to 67.8 billion yuan, but the government’s overall revenue rose more significantly.

The tobacco industry has always said that declining tobacco consumption would lead to economic losses. “They claimed that China should not urge its people to stop smoking through price increases and legislation,” said Yang Gonghuan, deputy head of the Chinese Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In 2005, more than 1.2 million Chinese died of smoking-related diseases. Health experts have predicted that, if left unchecked, smoking-related deaths will reach 3 million a year by 2050. That warning comes from “Tobacco Control and China’s Future”, a joint assessment prepared and reviewed by Yang and a group of public health experts and economists that was published in January.

Economic burden

Research from several Chinese economists has indicated that the world’s largest tobacco industry is not contributing to China’s economic growth but is hurting it.

Using 2005 figures as an example, Professor Li Lin of Peking University estimated that direct and indirect costs of smoking – including healthcare and lost work productivity – totaled nearly 300 billion yuan, while the tobacco industry generated 240 billion yuan in taxes and profits.

Professor Mao’s research found that in 2008, China’s economic burden of smoking was as high as 320.57 billion yuan.

Economists agree that increased taxation is one of the most effective ways to curb tobacco use, but only if it is reflected in the retail price of cigarettes.

China raised its tax on cigarettes in May 2009, resulting in increased government revenue. However, some cigarettes that had been taxed at a higher rate were downgraded to a lower rate, so their taxes declined under the adjustment.

“It looked like we had a big win in the battlefield, but the victory is not as sweet as we thought it would be,” the CDC’s Yang said. She thinks this approach, of minimizing the practical effects of the tobacco tax, might be wasting the anti-smoking efforts. “There is still a long way to go in the fight against tobacco.”

Smokers refusing to pack it in

(China Daily 10/31/2011 page1)

CU Study on HK Men after quitting

Background: The rate of decline in lung cancer risk after smoking
cessation among male population and the importance of the magnitude
of the early decline were not sufficiently defined in the earlier
studies. We evaluated the detailed duration-response relationship
between years since smoking cessation and lung cancer risk across
major histological types in a population-based case-referent study.
Methods: We recruited 1208 consecutive incident cases of primary
lung cancer among Chinese males from the largest oncology center
in Hong Kong during 2004–2006, and 1069 male community
referents frequency-matched in 5-year age groups. We performed
unconditional multiple logistic regression and generalized additive
model incorporating smoothing spline to model the potential nonlinear
effect of years since cessation on lung cancer.
Results: All histological types of lung cancer were strongly associated
with current smoking. We observed a rapidly decreasing odds
ratio of lung cancer (50%) across all major histological types of
lung cancer (except for the large cell type) within the first 5 years of
quitting; the odds ratio continued to decrease but at a slower rate in
the subsequent years.
Conclusion: The substantial benefits obtainable within a short
period of 5 years’ abstinence should convey an encouraging message
to chronic smokers, clinicians, and public health workers.
Key Words: Lung neoplasm, Histology, Smoking cessation.
(J Thorac Oncol. 2011;6: 1670–1676)

Background: The rate of decline in lung cancer risk after smokingcessation among male population and the importance of the magnitudeof the early decline were not sufficiently defined in the earlierstudies. We evaluated the detailed duration-response relationshipbetween years since smoking cessation and lung cancer risk acrossmajor histological types in a population-based case-referent study.Methods: We recruited 1208 consecutive incident cases of primarylung cancer among Chinese males from the largest oncology centerin Hong Kong during 2004–2006, and 1069 male communityreferents frequency-matched in 5-year age groups. We performedunconditional multiple logistic regression and generalized additivemodel incorporating smoothing spline to model the potential nonlineareffect of years since cessation on lung cancer.Results: All histological types of lung cancer were strongly associatedwith current smoking. We observed a rapidly decreasing oddsratio of lung cancer (50%) across all major histological types oflung cancer (except for the large cell type) within the first 5 years ofquitting; the odds ratio continued to decrease but at a slower rate inthe subsequent years.Conclusion: The substantial benefits obtainable within a shortperiod of 5 years’ abstinence should convey an encouraging messageto chronic smokers, clinicians, and public health workers.Key Words: Lung neoplasm, Histology, Smoking cessation.(J Thorac Oncol. 2011;6: 1670–1676)

Download full PDF : CU Yu Lung ca decreased sharply 5 years post smoking cessation chinese men

Cigarette firm violates tobacco law co-branding with F1


Marlboro-Ferrari ad

A Marlboro-Ferrari ad at a shop in New Delhi.

The Formula 1 event in India has come as a great opportunity for brand promotion by various companies. But health activists are not taking kindly to the co-branding of one of the participating teams with a leading cigarette brand. Such association, they say, violates the Indian anti-tobacco law.

Godfrey Phillips India is promoting its cigarette brand ‘Marlboro’ by demonstrating its association with a popular team participating in the event – Scuderia Ferrari.

This violates Section 5 (3) (a) of the anti-tobacco law, which prescribes that ‘no person shall, under a contract or otherwise, promote or agree to promote the use or consumption of cigarettes or any other tobacco product’, voluntary group Hriday pointed out in a complaint filed with the Delhi tobacco control cell.

Under a new campaign called ‘Feel the passion’, the company is inserting messages about Ferrari in cigarette packs. “Such ads and inserts are a violation of the law. The message is basically to promote the brand surreptitiously,” said Monika Arora of Hriday.

Serbia: Subotic Receives 6 Years In Cigarette Smuggling Case

Oct. 29, 2011

The Serbian Special Court for the Fight Against Organized Crime today sentenced Serbian businessman Stanko Subotic to six years in prison for abuse of office for overseeing his company’s smuggling of cigarettes into Serbia from Macedonia and Hungary.  The court sentenced Subotic’s nephew, Nikola Milosevic, to four-and-a-half years behind bars and former director of the Federal Customs Administration Mihalj Kertes to four years both for aiding and abetting the abuse of office.

Eleven other accomplices received shorter sentences ranging between 10 months and three and a half years.  Two of the suspected associates were acquitted.

According to the verdict, Subotic, his employees, and complicit state authorities used MIA, a company he set up in 1991, to illegally earn €33.6 million through smuggling cigarettes in 1995 and 1996.

Although both the indictment and verdict detail Subotic’s cigarette smuggling operations, he and his associates were actually tried and convicted of abusing their positions in a private company under a seldom used law dating from Serbia’s days as a constituent republic of the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.  While the verdict says that Subotic and his group are guilty  of “abusing their positions in a private company to smuggle cigarettes,” they were not directly convicted of the crime of smuggling cigarettes.  The distinction will likely save Subotic a future extradition or problems in other countries because no country recognizes such a charge.

Subotic was arrested at a Moscow airport three and a half years ago on an Interpol warrant issued by Serbia, but released shortly thereafter by Russian officials who said the charges were based on an obsolete law.  Both Subotic and Milosevic were tried in absentia.

The court also demanded that he pay a €750,000 fine in addition to serving out his prison sentence.  His six year penalty is in the mid-range of mandatory punishments for abuse of office, which range between two and 12 years.

Subotic’s colleagues, who got lesser sentences, smiled through the armored glass when their penalties were pronounced, shooting each other grins and thumbs up signs, signifying that they were pleased with the relatively short time periods they will be spending behind bars.  Some of them have already spent a year in prison, so four of the convicted parties were released from custody.

The verdict details the way in which the syndicate bought cigarettes in cash, primarily from Macedonian producer Makedonijatabak, and then smuggled them into Serbia, storing them in warehouses and then selling them without paying customs taxes.

The indictment shows that Subotic was aided and abetted by state officials including Mihalj Kertes.  According to the charges, the former customs director gave orders to his employees not to record Subotic’s trucks containing the illicit cigarettes in their border logs.  Serbian prosecutors also said that the former police chief of Novi Sad, Serbia’s second largest city, told local police subordinates who discovered the contraband not to investigate it. The former chief, Miodrag Zavisic, received a penalty of one year in prison.

According to the indictment, an armed security group also protected the smuggling operations.

Subotic owns businesses based in Serbia, Denmark, Russia, Montenegro and Greece, as well as tracts of land in France.  In 2006, Polish magazine Wprost named him the 86th wealthiest man in Eastern Europe, with an estimated wealth of €650 million.  His wealth is said to have declined sharply, but no one knows his current net worth.

Government of Cuba on Tobacco Plain Packaging: Proposed approach to non-cigarette tobacco products

Download (PDF, 144KB)

MARQUES’ submissions to Australia’s Public Consultation on Plain Packaging of Tobacco Products

Download (PDF, 161KB)

Imperial Tobacco Australia Limited Submission regarding the Consultation Paper Tobacco Plain Packaging: Proposed approach to non-cigarette tobacco products

Download (PDF, 144KB)

British American Tobacco Australia Limited Submission in response to the Consultation Paper Tobacco Plain Packaging: Proposed approach to non-cigarette tobacco products

Download (PDF, 257KB)

More pay on way, but it’ll be eaten up by inflation

South China Morning Post – 26 Oct. 2011

Clear the Air says : in the Government’s own words= inflation should be therefore included in tobacco tax increase calculations and application.

Most bosses plan rises, and they will average 5pc, but with prices up 8pc employees will be playing catch-up

The good news is that many Hong Kong employees can expect pay rises next year of about 5 per cent.

The bad news is that a 5 per cent increase is not enough to keep up with inflation.

Ninety-two local companies, with a total of 69,260 employees, were polled from July to September by the Hong Kong People Management Association and Baptist University’s Centre for Human Resources Strategy and Development.

Sixty-six firms said they planned increases, on average, of 4.5 per cent for frontline staff and 5.1 per cent for supervisors. For the former group, next year’s 4.5 per cent rise will be less than this year’s 4.9 per cent average.

Employees in higher ranks, including general staff, supervisory or technical staff and managers, will get 5 per cent, 5.1 per cent and 4.9 per cent, respectively – about 0.7 per cent more than this year’s raises.

Yet prices in July were 7.9 per cent higher than in the same month last year. Inflation slowed in August and September, but remains above 5.7 per cent year on year.

Alan Wong Hoi-ming, vice-president of the People Management Association, said inflation was only a minor factor for employers when considering pay rises.

“When companies adjust salary levels, the top factors to be considered are the performance of the company and individual staff. Seniority and inflation are of less importance.”

The European debt crisis is destabilising the global market, making employers more conservative when it comes to pay, the association says.

Lee Cheuk-yan, a lawmaker from the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions, said an 8 per cent pay rise was necessary for workers to keep pace with inflation.

“Hong Kong bosses are ignoring the quality of life of their employees … I hope they are not using the debt crisis as an excuse for not raising salaries high enough,” he said. Lee also said the government should push for an increase in the HK$28-an-hour minimum wage next year.

Dr Felix Yip Wai-kwong, senior lecturer in Baptist University’s department of management, said rising operating costs, especially rents, were a drag on companies.

In some sectors, salary rises will exceed the average range. Thanks to the booming number of mainland shoppers, middle- to high-ranking staff in the retail industry are projected to see the highest salary increase, 6.5 per cent, next year. Frontline staff in non-governmental organisations can expect 5.8 per cent.

After the implementation of the minimum wage in May, security guards secured the biggest increase in earnings this year – 11.5 per cent on average.

However, they are likely to get the lowest rise next year – 3.4 per cent.

The association’s president, Pauline Chung Hei-ching, said frontline staff would get a smaller rise next year, as many of them saw a big increase due to the minimum wage.

Twenty-eight of the companies surveyed had to raise salaries over the past year to comply with the minimum wage law, but none had fired staff to cut costs, the association said.