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June, 2012:

MP opponents of plain-packaging for cigarettes accepted hospitality from tobacco giant

MPs who signed a letter calling for the Department of Health to abandon a proposal to introduce plain packaging for cigarettes have accepted hospitality worth thousands of pounds from a major tobacco company, it can be revealed.

Cigarettes on display in a shop in Glasgow. Photo: PA

By Cal Flyn

11:43AM BST 28 Jun 2012


Description: Tobacco facts

The open letter, which warns that the new policy ‘threatens more than 5,500 jobs directly employed by the UK tobacco sector’, will be delivered to the health secretary Andrew Lansley tomorrow.

Of the 51 MPs who have signed, six have each accepted tickets and lunch at the Royal Chelsea Flower Show worth more than £1,100 from Japan Tobacco International (JIT), which owns the Silk Cut, Mayfair and Benson & Hedges brands.

They were Brian Binley, Stephen Metcalfe, Therese Coffey, Laurence Robertson, Karl McCartney and Alun Cairns.

Martin Dockrell, director of policy at the campaign group Action on Smoking Health, said: “This is how it works: a couple of MPs take a ‘little harmless hospitality’ from big tobacco.

“It’s all very cosy. Next thing, those MPs are having a word with other MPs and the tobacco company gets its letter to the health secretary. Job done.”

Binley, MP for Northampton South, also accepted two tickets to the opera festival Glyndebourne from the company last spring, valued at £1,132.

He told the Telegraph: “I have not acted immorally. [JIT] made a kind invite that I accepted on that basis.

“From the perspective of freedom, people who smoke are victimised. No-one is doing very much about the 40,000 who die from eating too much every year.”

Metcalfe, Coffey and Robertson also denied that there was a conflict of interests.

Robertson added: “If companies cannot compete through brand loyalty and their packaging, they would resort to competing on price and that would make the matter worse.”

The letter was initiated by the MP Ian Paisley, whose constituency North Antrim contains a JIT-owned tobacco factory in Ballymena.

It reads: “There is no reliable evidence that plain packaging will have any public health benefit,” adding that a standardised packet design could make tobacco smuggling easier.

The letter continues: “This policy threatens more than 5,500 jobs directly employed by the UK tobacco sector… Jobs in design and branding as well as those in manufacturing and printing are all at risk over the proposals.”

Japan Tobacco International has spent more than £23,000 courting MPs in the last eighteen months.

Defence minister Philip Hammond also attended the Royal Chelsea Flower Show last year with his wife as guests of the company.

Crispin Blunt, the under-secretary of state for justice, accepted tickets to watch test match cricket at the Oval in August valued at £695.

There is no suggestion that either Mr Hammond or Mr Blunt have taken any pro-tobacco action as a result of the hospitality they received.

In November, Labour MP Alex Cunningham wrote to the parliamentary standards commissioner after seven MPs who had accepted hospitality from the firm – including Coffey, Metcalfe and Cairns – voted against his Private Member’s Bill banning smoking in cars carrying children.

The commissioner’s office said it had not upheld any complaints on the issue

Chinese national charged with smuggling counterfeit Marlboro cigarettes worth $1M-plus into US – The Washington Post

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — A Chinese national is facing charges that he smuggled more than $1 million worth of counterfeit Marlboro cigarettes into the United States, federal authorities in Rhode Island said Friday.

Lin Xiao Wei is scheduled to be arraigned on Monday in U.S. District Court in Providence. Federal prosecutors say Wei has been in federal custody since June 4, when he was arrested in Miami. He is charged with selling and dispensing a counterfeit tobacco product and fraudulently importing a counterfeit tobacco product.

An affidavit filed in court detailing the accusations against the 32-year-old Wei also alleges he discussed dealing in counterfeit Viagra and claimed that his associates purchased the mold for a soon-to-be released Nike sneaker. The affidavit says because of the purchase, counterfeit versions of the shoe would be available for sale before the sneaker made it to U.S. stores.

A message left Friday for Wei’s public defender wasn’t immediately returned.

Federal agents began investigating Wei, who is also known as Marvin, in February, according to an affidavit signed by John A’Vant, a lieutenant with the Rhode Island state police who also serves on a task force organized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Criminal Investigations.

Authorities used a confidential source who arranged a deal with Wei and met with him in Dubai and Miami, A’Vant wrote.

On Feb. 10, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives used an undercover business entity to wire $56,150 to a bank account in Hong Kong tied to Wei, A’Vant wrote.

The money was a half payment for a 20-foot container of counterfeit Marlboro cigarettes, A’Vant wrote. In total, the government paid more than $136,000 for the cigarettes, shipping and customs fees, the affidavit said.

The cigarettes were shipped from China in a container that claimed to hold 696 cartons of leather products that were bound for Rhode Island, according to the office of Rhode Island U.S. Attorney Peter F. Neronha.

The container arrived on April 27 in Miami, where federal agents found 17 pallets of cigarettes inside labeled as Marlboro, A’Vant wrote. Investigators sent a sampling of cigarettes to the parent company of Marlboro cigarettes manufacturer Phillip Morris International Inc. of Richmond, Va., for testing. The testing found that the cigarettes weren’t real Marlboro cigarettes, A’Vant wrote.

Wei arrived in New York on May 28 and later met with the confidential source and an undercover law enforcement officer in a hotel room in Miami on June 3, A’Vant wrote.

During the meeting, which was recorded without Wei’s knowledge, Wei said he was visiting the United States for the first time and was concerned about being discovered by the FBI, A’Vant wrote.

During the conversation, the undercover officer discussed buying more counterfeit cigarettes as well as counterfeit Viagra from Wei, A’Vant wrote. By the time Wei arrived in the U.S., federal agents had already wired him $9,450 to purchase about 900 counterfeit Viagra tablets, according to the affidavit. Wei told the officer he had previously shipped counterfeit Viagra to the U.S. and London, A’Vant wrote.

During that same meeting, Wei also said his associates spent $200,000 to purchase the mold of a Nike sneaker that was about to be released and planned to make a counterfeit version of the shoe available before it went up for sale in U.S. stores.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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Traditional thinking on tobacco investing goes up in smoke

Traditional thinking on tobacco investing goes up in smoke

A report released today casts serious doubt over the assertion that pension funds are ‘duty bound’ to invest in tobacco.

The report follows an investigation by The Independent which found that councils across Britain have at least £1.3 billion of employee pensions funds invested in tobacco. (1) (2)

With tobacco sales declining for the first time in 2010 and savers continuing to have ethical concerns with how their money is invested, the report exposes misconceptions surrounding investors duty to have tobacco as part of their portfolio.

The report, by FairPensions and ASH (Action on Smoking and Health), challenges the long held view that investors have a legal duty to maximise financial returns through investments such as tobacco and calls for a more nuanced understanding of investors’ fiduciary duties.

Tobacco investments, previously thought of as safe havens, have come under increasing scrutiny for their ethical and financial shortcomings.

No longer a financial safe haven

With global tobacco sales falling and analysts predicting that smoking could disappear entirely, the report questions whether tobacco is a prudent long term investment. Shareholders in tobacco companies may be particularly concerned by the raft of regulations that are set to affect the industry over the next few years.

Martin Dockrell, Director of Policy and Research at ASH said:

“So far tobacco companies have pulled off the trick of boosting profits in the face of falling sales and that has kept share prices high. But it can’t go on forever, and the problem is not just falling sales. All around the world the big tobacco companies face a perfect storm of tougher regulation and higer taxes while more governments sue for billions of dollars in health care costs.”

Developing countries are increasingly regulating the sale of cigarettes and over 170 countries have signed up to the WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). China, which accounts for 40% of worldwide tobacco sales, banned smoking in public places in May 2011.

In the developed world regulations are becoming ever more burdensome on tobacco companies and sales are falling every year. Australia is set to become the first country to introduce plain packaging from December 2012.

With Goldman Sachs downgrading Imperial Tobacco from neutral to sell in November 2011 and countries across the world looking for tax rises to plug their deficits, the report suggests that tobacco may not be the long term safe haven that investors used to rely on.

Hiding behind a legal smokescreen

The report also explodes the myth that pension funds are not permitted to take the ethical concerns of pension savers into account when considering tobacco investments. It suggests that pension fund managers may be hiding behind a smokescreen that has been created to avoid serious consideration of non-financial matters. With some councils already omitting tobacco from their portfolios, the report suggests that pension funds can indeed pull their investments if the move doesn’t significantly damage returns.

Christine Berry, Policy officer at FairPensions, said :

“It’s simply not true that the law requires pension funds to ignore their members’ ethical views. It’s time to move on from this tired old myth: savers who care about where their money is being invested have the right to expect a considered response to their concerns.”

Professor Lindsey Davies, President of the Faculty of Public Health, said:

“Under the government’s plans to reform the NHS, directors of public health will be employed by local councils. That means that it will be the responsibility of the town hall, not just the local hospital, to provide anti-smoking services. The very organisation that is supposed to be taking the lead in protecting our health could be using public money to invest in tobacco. This is a clear conflict of interest that will undermine councils’ credibility and the public’s trust in the health services they receive. We would urge all councils to use the many alternative, and more ethical, forms of investment for their pension funds that still maximise financial return.”



1) The true figure is likely to top £2bn, with individual local authorities investing up to £125m each.

2) Camden has the largest proportion, 3.7 per cent of its pension fund is in tobacco, while West Yorkshire has the single largest value amount of £125m. Many other local authorities, such as Berkshire, have no direct investment in tobacco but have invested in global tracking funds such as the FTSE 100, of which tobacco companies make up 2 per cent.

The report: ‘Local Authority pension funds and investments in the tobacco industry’ can be accessed here


Matthew Butcher (FairPensions): 0207 403 7806

Martin Dockrell (ASH) : 020 7739 5902 or 07889 725 984

Liz Nightingale (Faculty of Public Health): 020 7935 3115

Registered Charity number: 1117244

© 2009 Fair Pensions

Rare sleep disorder that causes violent kicking and punching tied to smoking, pesticides

June 28, 2012 3:17 PM;contentBody


(CBS News) A rare, violent sleep disorder in which people violently kick, punch or thrash in their sleep may be more common in smokers and people exposed to lots of pesticides, new research suggests.

The sleep-kicking disorder is actually called “REM sleep behavior disorder.” According to WebMD, people typically lose muscle tone (paralysis) during the rapid eye movement (REM) stage of sleep – but that doesn’t occur in people with the disorder, causing them have movements (sometimes violent) that can seriously harm the person or their sleep partner. It is estimated to affect only 0.5 percent of adults.

“Until now, we didn’t know much about the risk factors for this disorder, except that it was more common in men and in older people,” study author Dr. Ronald B. Postuma, a sleep researcher at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) in Montreal, said in a press release. “Because it is a rare disorder, it was difficult to gather information about enough patients for a full study. For this study, we worked with 13 institutions in 10 countries to get a full picture of the disorder.”

The study, published in the June 27 issue of Neurology, involved 347 people who had the disorder and another 347 people who didn’t. A closer look found people with the disorder were 43 percent more likely to be smokers. Other risk factors that emerged for people with the disorder were that they were 59 percent more likely to have had a previous head injury that caused a loss of consciousness. Sixty-seven percent were more likely to have worked as a farmer and more than twice as likely to have been exposed to pesticides through work. People with the disorder also had on average a year and a half less of education. The study didn’t find a cause-and-effect link between these risks, only an association.

WebMD reports that 55 percent of people with the disorder have it from unknown causes, while 45 percent of cases are linked to withdrawal from alcohol or sedatives or antidepressants. The disorder may also occur in association with other neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s disease, but REM sleep behavior disorder often starts years before patients are diagnosed with the other conditions.

Dr. Shelby Freedman Harris, director of the behavioral sleep medicine program at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City, told HealthDay the condition can be treated by a neurologist with medication such as the muscle relaxer clonazepam (Klonopin) and with changes to the sleep environment that reduce the risk of injury.

Customs smashes illicit cigarette smuggling case in Lok Ma Chau

Hong Kong (HKSAR) – Hong Kong Customs today (June 27) smashed an illicit cigarette smuggling case at Lok Ma Chau Control Point. On board a cross-boundary lorry, a total of 86 boxes containing around 1.05 million sticks of duty-not-paid cigarettes were found. The total value is about $2.6 million with a duty potential of about $1.8 million.

In the operation, a 47-year-old man was arrested and the lorry was also seized.

At about 6.45am this morning, Customs officers at Lok Ma Chau Control Point intercepted a logistics lorry. Upon X-ray inspection, 1.05 million sticks of duty-not-paid cigarettes were found while the driver was arrested immediately.

Under the Import and Export Ordinance, smuggling is a serious offence. The maximum penalty is a fine of $2 million and imprisonment for seven years.

Customs will continue to take stringent enforcement against cigarette smuggling activities to protect government revenue.

Members of the public are urged to report any suspected illicit cigarette activities to the Customs’ 24-hour hotline  2545 6182.

Source: HKSAR Government

Caught selling cigarettes to student, 14 – well in Hong Kong none of the local retailers is required to have a licence to sell death and addiction

The New Paper

Thursday, Jun 28, 2012

The Health Sciences Authority (HSA) has revoked the licence of one errant tobacco retailer, and suspended the licences of five more for selling tobacco to underage customers.

Kutub Sultan Trading at Commonwealth Avenue West was caught by HSA inspectors, selling cigarettes to a 14-year-old in school uniform on Feb 17.

Its licence was revoked and it was fined S$2,000 in court.

Five more tobacco retail outlets were suspended from Monday for six months.

The sellers working at these outlets who were found guilty of the offence were also individually fined.

The outlets were in Choa Chu Kang, Tampines, Chai Chee and Bedok North.

Under the Tobacco (Control of Advertisements and Sale) Act, anyone caught selling tobacco products to persons under 18 is liable on conviction to a fine of up to S$5,000 for the first offence.

The tobacco retail licence will also be suspended for six months for the first offence.

However, if any outlet is found selling tobacco products to underage youth in school uniform or those below 12 years old, the licence will immediately be revoked, even for the first offence.

This article was first published in The New Paper.

Law should not punish landlords for illegal smoking in bars

SCMP letter from a part owner of the Railway tavern (smoking bar) in Tai Wai He ‘forgets’ the licensee should be on the premises when open

Jun 27, 2012

Allan Dyer’s suggestion that bar owners should be held responsible for illegal smoking in their premises is too extreme and would be totally unjust (“Smoking bans are not enforced”, June 20).

Provided that a bar licensee and staff have advised customers that it is against the law to smoke inside their premises, they have adequately fulfilled both their legal and social obligations.

Just as Mr Dyer admits in his letter, determined smokers often turn abusive and violent when challenged for ignoring this ban.

Bar workers are neither policemen nor tobacco control officers.

It is unfair to suggest that these lower-paid employees should also take on the role of law enforcers.

Likewise, it is unjust for the licensee to be held accountable for breaches of this law within his premises, provided he has not actively encouraged this misbehaviour.

He cannot be in attendance 24/7. It would be far too extreme to threaten a bar owner with the loss of his investment, probable bankruptcy of his business and the consequential termination of employees’ contracts because some third party has chosen to break the law.

What precisely is Mr Dyer expecting a barman to do when confronted by a customer who purchases a drink and then just lights up, ignoring the signs and advice that smoking in the premises is illegal? Is he supposed to leave the bar service area unattended, ignore his other duties and involve himself in a possible fight with the offender? And why pick only on small-business bar owners Mr Dyer? That’s another injustice in itself.

Why not take your suggestion to its logical conclusion and make the directors of major property companies responsible for the illegal smoking which goes on in the toilets of their malls and office blocks?

Next, Mr Dyer could have the directors of public and private hospitals struck off the Medical Council of Hong Kong’s doctors’ list because patients have been found smoking in fire exit staircases.

This is only a start. I could provide far more potential injustices if he persists.

No, Mr Dyer, illegal smoking is a criminal offence and dealing with it is the duty of policemen and other relevant law enforcement officers in accordance with priorities.

P. A. Crush, Sha Tin

Green light for smoking ban in cars carrying young children

SMOKING in cars carrying children as passengers will be banned under new laws being introduced by the Government.

Health Minister James Reilly is taking up the proposal as part of a wider effort to discourage people from smoking altogether.

However, the plans are at a very early stage and it is not yet known how the new law will be policed. There is no definite timescale for its introduction either.

A government spokesman also said last night he did not expect it would be a penalty points offence to be caught smoking in a car with a child present.

The initial idea came from Independent senator John Crown, who tabled a motion in the Seanad with fellow Independent Jillian van Turnhout and Fianna Fail‘s Mark Daly.

The senators initially planned that the ban would be enforced by gardai through fines that start low but rise for multiple offences, but the final system will be decided by the Government.

At its weekly meeting yesterday, the Cabinet agreed amendments to a private members’ motion on the issue in the Seanad.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny also confirmed in the Dail that the Cabinet had given the green light for the new laws to be drawn up.

Dr Reilly’s spokesman said Prof Crown should be credited for the idea, and said that the minister was more than happy to take it up and bring it into law.

“In its present form, the bill is deficient, so there are amendments that have to be made,” the spokesman said.

“It is not about restricting the rights of smokers, but it is about protecting the rights of children.”

Dr Reilly has also said he was examining banning smoking in parks and on beaches in a bid to discourage children from taking up the habit.

– Fiach Kelly Political Correspondent

Irish Independent

‘Male Smokers’ Damaged DNA Passed On To Offspring’

Although it is known that women who smoke during pregnancy put themselves and their unborn babies at risk for several health problems, new 

Smoking fathers pass on damaged DNA to their children raising the ‎ Daily Mail
‘If dad-to-be smokes DNA damage may pass to kids’‎ Halifax Evening Courier
Men who smoke pass on damaged DNA to their unborn children‎ domain-B