Clear The Air News Tobacco Blog Rotating Header Image

October 29th, 2012:

Mongolia to pass smoking ban

Submitted by admin on Oct 29th 2012, 12:00am



Michael Kohn in Ulan Bator

In nation where 48 per cent of men are regular smokers, parliament acts to tackle a growing health problem

It’s Friday night at the Grand Khaan Irish Pub and the house band is covering an Eric Clapton song, the waitresses are delivering pints of beer to patrons and thick clouds of cigarette smoke are wafting into the rafters.

It’s a familiar scene in the numerous pubs across this country, as many Mongolians fancy a drag on a cigarette while drinking beer or after a big meal. But it’s also a scene due for change with Parliament’s adoption last week of a strict anti-smoking law.

The new law bans smoking in all public areas, including bars, restaurants, office buildings, playgrounds, parks and apartment stairwells. It applies to common areas in hotels, too, although some hotel floors will still allow smoking.

“It’s tough. I smoke. But I am trying to quit, maybe this will help me do it,” said Grand Khaan patron Dale Choi, a smoker for more than 20 years.

Violators of the law will be slapped with an MNT50,000 fine. (HK$281). Businesses that allow smoking will be hit with an MNT3 million fine, while officials that permit smoking in their official posts will receive a fine of MNT1 million. The law comes into effect on March 1.

Smoking habits in Mongolia are a growing problem, says Tsogzolmaa Bayandorj, a National Officer for non-communicable diseases at the World Health Organisation. According to WHO data collected in 2009, 48 per cent of Mongolian men and seven per cent of Mongolian women smoke regularly.

“The situation has grown worse over the past 20 years due to increased production and importation of cheap cigarettes, mainly from China and Russia,” said Tsogzolmaa.

Young people are particularly susceptible and a target for domestic tobacco companies, he said. In a 2010 survey, 23.3 per cent of Mongolians aged between 13 and 15 admitted smoking regularly.

One provision of the law aims to shield youths from nicotine addiction by banning cigarette sales within 500 metres of any school or university.

Oyungerel Tsedevdamba, a member of parliament, said strict enforcement would be key and outlined a five-month period for police and government to collaborate on proper implementation. “Mongolia is becoming increasingly worried about growing smoking habits among young people and the dramatic increase of lung disease,” said Oyungerel.

Tsogzolmaa said specific data on lung disease attributable to smoking in Mongolia was not available but research indicated non-communicable diseases, such as cancers, were the country’s number one killer.

Around Ulan Bator, there was a mixed reaction to Parliament’s decision, with some offering praise and others criticism.

At the ever-smoky 100 Per Cent Bar, customer Erkhem Oyunbayar called the law a violation of human rights. The owner of the bar, Anaraa Nyamdorj, said his business would be affected because customers would be forced out into the cold weather to smoke cigarettes, rather than stay indoors to drink beer.

“Our climate is harsh. We are under snow for six months of the year, so it’s very tough. Also, smoking and drinking are both part of bar culture, you can’t separate them,” he said.

But at a table nearby, student Enkhbayar Dambadarjaa was mostly pleased with the law.

“I am a smoker but I think the government’s decision is really cool. Cigarette smoke is disturbing, especially on the dance floor or in at a restaurant,” she said. “It’s just going to be hard to go outside for a smoke in winter.”



Smoking Ban



Cigarette affordability in Europe

Tob Control doi:10.1136/tobaccocontrol-2012-050575

Evan Blecher1,

Hana Ross1,

Maria E Leon2

+ Author Affiliations

1International Tobacco Control Research, American Cancer Society, Atlanta, Georgia, USA

2International Agency for Research on Cancer, Lyon, France

Correspondence to Dr Evan Blecher, International Tobacco Control Research, American Cancer Society, Atlanta, Georgia, USA;

Received 19 April 2012

Accepted 10 September 2012

Published Online First 23 October 2012


Objective To analyze trends in excise taxes, real price and the affordability of cigarettes in Europe, and to examine the impact of EU wide tax policies on new member states.

Design We use a sample of 37 European countries with data from 2004 to 2010. 27 countries are EU member states of which 12 joined in 2004 or 2007 (new members), while 10 non-EU countries are included as a comparison. Data is sourced from the European Commission and the Economist Intelligence Unit.

Results The excise tax burden increased in all new member states between 2004 and 2010 while remaining relatively unchanged in existing member states. In 2010, the excise tax burden was higher in new (mean 63.8%) than in existing member states (mean 59.4%). Although cigarettes were significant cheaper in new member states the difference in affordability was narrower between the two groups. Excise taxes and prices rose aggressively in new member states while the increases in existing member states were smaller. While cigarettes became less affordable in most EU member states there was little difference between new and existing member states. The average annual percentage change in per-capita cigarette consumption was negative in all existing member states and in 9 of 12 new member states between 2004 and 2010, indicating declining per-capita cigarette consumption.

Conclusions Joining the EU results in significant increases in excise taxes and prices, and declines in affordability. Additionally, the structure of taxes, specifically the high excise tax floor resulted in higher taxes and prices

About 40% of the world’s cigarettes are smoked in China.

Updated October 29, 2012, 6:42 p.m. ET

Philip Morris Seeks an Edge in China


Marlboro is the world’s top-selling cigarette, but it has a minuscule 0.3% share of the market in China, where roughly a quarter of the population smokes.


Bloomberg News

About 40% of the world’s cigarettes are smoked in China.

Now, Philip Morris International Inc., PM +0.63%which makes and markets Marlboro outside the U.S., is trying to raise its profile in that enormous Asian nation by moving beyond simple smokes. In one curious effort, it is setting out to develop flu vaccines derived from a type of tobacco plant. In another project, closer to its core business, it is developing less harmful cigarettes, which it would aim to sell all over the world, but especially in China, where about 40% of the world’s cigarettes are smoked but state-owned China National Tobacco Corp. enjoys a virtual monopoly.

In September, Philip Morris said it would be licensing rights from Medicago Inc., MDG.T +1.10%a small Canadian biopharmaceutical company, to develop vaccines for sale in China. The seemingly incongruous move is underpinned and motivated by several different situations. Philip Morris already owns about 40% of Medicago. Philip Morris also has a goal of diversifying into different tobacco-related products.

More important, the vaccine agreement in China has as much to do with cultivating relations with government officials as diversifying into a new business that may or may not take root, highlighting how much of a long-term play China remains for Switzerland-based Philip Morris, the world’s second-largest cigarette company by volume, after China National Tobacco.

“This is one other way they could endear themselves to the Chinese,” said Bonnie Herzog, a global tobacco analyst at Wells Fargo WFC -0.26%.

At a recent investor conference, Philip Morris acknowledged traditional cigarettes from foreign companies will continue to be a hard sell in China, where the government generates tens of billions of dollars in profits from tobacco. Retail cigarette sales in the country topped $160 billion in 2011, roughly a quarter of the global market, according to estimates by Euromonitor, a data service.

“Why would they share their market?” Philip Morris Chairman and Chief Executive Louis Camilleri told investors in June. “To come up with new technology is really the only avenue to get into a place like China.”

Thus Philip Morris’s effort to develop next-generation cigarettes that are less harmful than current versions, with a serving of public health on the side.

There are rising health concerns about cigarettes in China. More than 1 million people die annually in the country from tobacco-related diseases and officials have warned the number could triple by 2030 without action. Health authorities have been pushing to turn more public buildings smoke-free.

Philip Morris is investing hundreds of millions of dollars trying to develop less-harmful cigarettes and executives have described the strategy as a potential “game changer” in China. One version generates smoke at temperatures below combustion, releasing fewer toxins, but aims to mimic traditional cigarettes more closely than alternatives already on the market such as electronic cigarettes.

Philip Morris has begun discussing its next-generation plans with CNTC and Chinese officials “are extremely interested,” Andre Calantzopoulos, Philip Morris’s chief operating officer, recently told investors. But he estimated the new cigarette products wouldn’t be launched before 2016 or 2017.

The vaccine is perhaps even further off in the future.

Philip Morris said its China flu business hinges on the successful completion of clinical trials and securing regulatory approvals. “We’re definitely talking years,” added a spokeswoman for Philip Morris.

Medicago specializes in producing flu vaccines from Nicotiana benthamiana, a relative of Nicotiana tabacum, the tobacco plant used in cigarettes. It represents one of several plant and cell-based alternatives to chicken eggs, which have been used for decades to make vaccines but are seen as slow and expensive.

China has been among the countries hardest hit by H5N1 over the past decade and was swept up in the H1N1 outbreak of 2009 and 2010, which killed an estimated 280,000 people world-wide, according to a recent estimate.

Under the Medicago deal announced in late September, Philip Morris will pay an initial $4.5 million for the rights to develop Medicago’s pandemic and seasonal influenza vaccines for China.

Medicago produced more than 10 million doses of an H1N1 or swine flu vaccine within 30 days earlier this year in a research project with the U.S. Department of Defense. It also has reported positive results from a Phase II clinical trial for an H5N1 or avian flu vaccine. The China program represents publicly traded Medicago’s first foreign-licensing deal.

Philip Morris began investing in Medicago in 2008, when it acquired a large minority stake in the Quebec-based company for roughly $15 million—pocket change for the cigarette maker.

Both the next-generation cigarettes and the flu vaccines are expected to take several years to come to market, if ever.

Philip Morris got its foot in the door in China in 2005, when it inked a strategic partnership with China National Tobacco, or CNTC. Under that arrangement, CNTC began producing Marlboros under license in China four years ago. Philip Morris also helps distribute CNTC brands outside China, including Poland and the Czech Republic.

But as of last year, CNTC still boasted a 97% market share in its home country, according to Euromonitor International. Marlboro’s 0.3% market share puts it behind more than three dozen CNTC brands including market-leading Hongtashan. China’s biggest foreign brand last year, British American Tobacco BATS.LN -0.26%PLC’s 555, had a 0.5% market share.

Write to Mike Esterl at

Copyright 2012 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved

This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. Distribution and use of this material are governed by our Subscriber Agreement and by copyright law. For non-personal use or to order multiple copies, please contact Dow Jones Reprints at 1-800-843-0008 or visit

Tobacco firm may have breached packaging laws

By Latika Bourke

Updated Fri Oct 26, 2012 11:51am AEDT

British American Tobacco Australia is being investigated over possible breaches of the Federal Government’s new plain packaging laws.

From October it became illegal to manufacture cigarettes for Australian consumption in breach of the new rules, but six brands are already being examined for potential violations.

The investigation began after the ABC alerted the department to the possible breach.

The cigarettes feature three-letter words at the top of each, which the department is investigating to see if they are a form of advertising, which would be banned under the legislation.

In one instance, Benson & Hedges cigarettes are labelled with “LDN”; in another case Winfield cigarettes are stamped with “AUS”.

The department is investigating the appearance of three-letter words at the top of the cigarettes.

Photo: The department is investigating the appearance of three-letter words at the top of the cigarettes. (ABC)

Under the plain packaging regulations, cigarettes are allowed to be branded with an alphanumeric code but it must not represent or in any way be related to the brand or variant of the cigarette.

Professor Simon Chapman from Sydney University says the potential breach does not surprise him.

“They’re probably just testing the waters here to see what they can get away with in the early stages of the new legislation,” he said.

Professor Chapman says tobacco companies will do anything to create a sense of “intrigue” about their products.

“They’re a bit like the Black Knight in Monty Python in The Holy Grail; you cut their legs off, you cut their arms off and they keep on saying, ‘it’s just a flesh wound, bring it on’.”

Tobacco manufacturers are allowed to stamp their products with an alphanumeric code for the manufacturing and recall purposes, but the legislation says those codes cannot in any way relate to the brands.

The Government has written to British American Tobacco Australia to see if the cigarettes in question were manufactured this month.

If they were and are deemed to be in breach, the company faces fines worth more than $100 million and could also be forced to recall their products.

Professor Chapman says the Government needs to be tough with the tobacco companies.

“I just hope the Government will be really, really serious about this and invoke the steepest possible fines that are available to them,” he said.

They’re a bit like the Black Knight in Monty Python in The Holy Grail; you cut their legs off, you cut their arms off and they keep on saying, ‘it’s just a flesh wound, bring it on’.

Professor Simon Chapman

British American Tobacco Australia has told the ABC it has received no notification from the Health Minister nor the department.

A spokesman said the company would be willing to discuss the issue with the regulator as it did not believe there had been a breach and the company had done nothing illegal.

In September, before the new laws came into force, the Government singled out Imperial Tobacco for its new packaging which complied with the new legislation but for one line written on the inside lid of the packet: “It’s what’s inside that counts.”

The Government described it as a “sick joke” and warned the tobacco companies it would be watching their products carefully when the laws became enforceable.

Government poised to make appointments

Submitted by admin on Oct 29th 2012, 12:00am

News›Hong Kong


Gary Cheung and Joshua But

Former head of HKU’s nursing school in line to become deputy to health chief Ko Wing-man

The government’s third batch of political appointees could be announced as early as this week, with two bureaus expected to name their undersecretaries.

Professor Sophia Chan Siu-chee, former head of the University of Hong Kong’s nursing school, is tipped to be undersecretary for food and health.

Kevin Yeung Yun-hung, currently principal assistant secretary for food and health, is in the frame to become the undersecretary for education. A government source said up to four undersecretaries and political assistants were expected to be named.

Chan began her career as a nursing student in Queen Mary Hospital in the 1970s, before moving into the academic field. She is now research director of HKU’s nursing school.

Chan, an expert in health protection measures, such as tobacco controls, will be the deputy to Dr Ko Wing-man, head of the Food and Health Bureau and an orthopaedic specialist.

Yeung, 49, was the administrative assistant to Secretary for Home Affairs Tsang Tak-sing for more than four years before moving to the Food and Health Bureau in 2010. He could be the first administrative officer to leave the civil service and become a political appointee in Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying’s administration.

He graduated from HKU in 1985 and joined the government in 1992. He earns about HK$130,000 a month as a principal assistant secretary. The Education Bureau has seen a major leadership overhaul in Leung’s government, as former secretary Michael SuenMing-yuen opted to retire and undersecretary Kenneth Chen Wei-on switched to become the new secretary general of the Legislative Council secretariat.

New chief Eddie Ng Hak-kim was heavily criticised for his handling of the National Education controversy in August. It is understood he prefers a deputy who is familiar with government operations.

Michelle Au Wing-tsz, environmental affairs officer of Friends of the Earth, is another favourite for the post of political assistant of the Environment Bureau. Au backed waste reduction and recycling as a green activist.

Meanwhile, a former police officer would likely be appointed the political assistant of the Security Bureau, according to another source. “The relevant procedures for the appointments have been cleared and announcements will be made in due course,” the source said.

On June 30, the government announced its first batch of undersecretaries: Julia Leung Fung-yee for financial services and the treasury and Florence Hui Hiu-fai for home affairs.

On September 12, three more undersecretaries were appointed. They were John Lee Ka-chiu, for security; Christine Loh Kung-wai, for the environment; Yau Shing-mu, reappointed for transport and housing. Caspar Tsui Ying-wai, became political assistant at the Home Affairs Bureau.


Hong Kong Politics

HKSAR Government


Sophia Chan Siu-chee

Kevin Yeung Yun-hung


Source URL (retrieved on Oct 29th 2012, 5:57am):