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October 31st, 2013:

Tobacco firms oversupply in Europe for smugglers to return products into UK, avoids tax

Tobacco firms like to make loud calls to combat cigarette smuggling, while actively engaging in the highly profitable practice. A prime example has recently been reported in the UK: the strategy is to supply more than what is required to nearby low-tax countries such as Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, where individuals could purchase them and return to the UK for resale. Avoiding the high tobacco tax in the UK keeps the prices of the tobacco products low and affordable, allowing the tobacco industry to retain its market.

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Australian study shows smoking’s damage to health is higher than thought

from Sue Dunleavy for the Australian:

Sax Institute ’45 and up’ study shows smoking really does cut ten years off your life

Smoking will cut at least ten years from your life, the first ever long-term Australian study has found.

And even light smoking – consuming ten or fewer cigarettes a day – will double your risk of death.

Pack-a-day smokers have a fourfold greater risk of dying early, a study of the 200,000 Australians aged over 45 taking part in the Sax Institute’s 45 and Up study has found.

The earlier you quit smoking, the better the outcome, the study found.

Until now health experts have been relying on overseas studies about the effects of smoking; this is the first large scale long term Australian study on tobacco use.

And the results from the Australian study are more alarming, showing two thirds of deaths in current smokers can be directly attributed to smoking.

International studies estimate only half the deaths in current smokers can be attributed to their smoking.

“We all know that smoking is bad for your health, but until now we haven’t had direct large-scale evidence from Australia about just how bad it is,” said the 45 and Up study director, Professor Emily Banks.

The study, supported by the National Heart Foundation and Cancer Council NSW, found current smokers were three times more likely to die than people who had never smoked.

“People don’t realise how damaging even light smoking is for your health – for cancer, heart disease, lung disease and a range of other conditions,” said study co-author Associate Professor Freddy Sitas from Cancer Council NSW.

About eight per cent of the people in the study were current smokers and just over a third were past smokers.

The researchers calculated tobacco related deaths by checking Births, Deaths and Marriages against the names of study participants over a four-year period to June 2012.

Study participants who already had cancer, heart disease and stroke at the beginning of the study were not counted in the calculations.

The study was also adjusted for age, annual pre-tax household income, education, region of residence, alcohol consumption and body mass index.

Within time the researchers hope to be able to reveal what caused the deaths of the patients in the study.

Smoking prevalence in Australian peaked in 1945 for men and 1978 for women, and Australia is now experiencing a “mature epidemic” where the full impact of smoking on health is only just being realised, Professor Banks said.

The Australian Health Survey reported in 2011-12 that eight million Australian adults had smoked at some time in their lives and 3.1 million were current smokers.

Smoking rates have been falling over the past decade from 27 per cent to 20 per cent for males and from 21 per cent to 16 per cent for females.

The 45 and Up Study is following the health and ageing of a quarter of a million Australians and is the largest ongoing study of healthy ageing in the Southern Hemisphere.

It measure not just smoking rates but how obesity, alcohol and other factors impact health.

11 Oct 2013

from ninenews:

Smoking is more deadly than thought: study

A study of 200,000 Australians shows the habit cuts 10 years off the average smoker’s life and is directly linked to two thirds of deaths in current smokers.

This is much higher than previous international estimates of 50 per cent.

The four-year analysis of health records in the Sax Institute’s 45 and Up Study shows even moderate smoking is a major killer.

“We all know that smoking is bad for your health. But until now we haven’t had direct large-scale evidence from Australia about just how bad it is,” says study leader Professor Emily Banks, the scientific director of the 45 and Up study.

“We’ve been relying on evidence from other countries.”

The study, supported by the National Heart Foundation in collaboration with Cancer Council NSW, shows risk increases with the number of cigarettes smoked a day.

The risk of death is doubled even among those smoking an average of 10 cigarettes a day, says study co-author Associate Professor Freddy Sitas from Cancer Council NSW.

The good news, says Prof Banks, is that stopping smoking at any age reduces the risk.

Smoking is the largest single preventable cause of death in Australia and kills 15,000 people a year, says the Heart Foundation’s Dr Rob Grenfell, who worked on the study.

“People need to realise that smoking is a dangerous activity,” he said.

“There’s no safe level of smoking and there’s no such thing as social smoking.”

11 Oct 2013

Speaking against illegal tobacco, for tobacco

Robin Jolly

One of the more vocal voices against the illegal tobacco trade is Robin Jolly, convenor of the organisation Hong Kong United Against Illicit Tobacco (HKUAIT). To a normal reader, Jolly’s position may seem like a strange and ambiguous one: he comments and speaks against cigarette smuggling, but it is always as if cigarette smuggling is a problem of its own; one would be hard pressed to hear him talk about smoking as the problem itself. Part of that is because Jolly’s work at HKUAIT is funded by tobacco giant, Philip Morris, but it would not be quite right to suggest that it is in the interest of the tobacco industry to fight the illegal tobacco trade. Rather, Philip Morris employs multi-pronged strategies for its business survival: genuine Philip Morris products are oversupplied into the black market to keep cigarettes within the purchasing power of consumers, while apparently independent organisations such as HKUAIT attacks cigarette smuggling to distract and confuse public views on the issue of smoking as a health hazard.

In July 2013, for example, Jolly announces his praise for police action on illegal cigarettes, highlighting the criminal aspects of the illegal trade to attract public attention. More recently, he plays with the alarm bells in a letter published in the SCMP, where he passively attacks the government for its increased tobacco control measures (claiming it ‘drives the whole market underground’) and speaks of the illegal cigarette trade as a ‘real problem’ and a ‘menace to society’. Clearer minds would, no doubt, recognize smoking itself as the real problem and the menace to society, although there can be little done about Philip Morris and other tobacco companies continuing to fund Jolly’s organization to send confusing messages to the general public.

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