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March 25th, 2015:

Car smoking ban MSP welcomes backing of Scottish government

The Liberal Democrat MSP behind a bill to ban smoking in cars when children are present has welcomed the support of the Scottish government.

South of Scotland MSP Jim Hume launched the members’ bill in December.

The government said it was “very supportive” of the principles of the bill, but changes could be needed to make it “workable”.

Motorists could potentially be fined £100 for breaching the rule if it becomes law.

Mr Hume lodged draft proposals for a bill last May calling for a ban in Scotland on smoking in private vehicles when children under 18 were present.

He said he was “over the moon” at the news the Scottish government would endorse the Smoking Prohibition (Children in Motor Vehicles) (Scotland) Bill.

The bill is about guaranteeing that children in Scotland can have the freedom to go on and lead healthy lives if they choose to.Jim Hume, Liberal Democrat MSP

He said: “With cross-party support and the support of many third sector organisations, there is every chance that this could be in place in the next year.

“Eighty-four per cent of the 160 responses to my consultation were positive and people from across Scotland have expressed their support for the move.

“The bill is about guaranteeing that children in Scotland can have the freedom to go on and lead healthy lives if they choose to.

“I look forward to working with MSPs from all parties as the bill progresses.”

Public Health Minister Maureen Watt said the Scottish government had considered including the measure in its Public Health Bill, but instead decided to support Mr Hume’s proposals.

She said: “As with any bill, as it goes through the scrutiny process, there may be amendments and improvements to strengthen the legislation and ensure it is fit for purpose.

“But we believe that the underpinning principles are strong, and that is why I am pleased to support it.”

‘Awareness campaign’

Scottish Labour and a wide range of health organisations have backed his proposals.

It is another public-health initiative that can help Scotland move forward with its ambition to achieve a tobacco-free generation in 20 years’ time.Sheila Duffy, ASH Scotland

But the Scottish Conservatives have reservations about how the bill would work in practice.

The party’s health spokesman Jackson Carlaw said: “While Scottish Conservatives support any moves which would protect young people from hazardous second hand smoke we have concerns as to how this would be enforced.

“It would be a better use of resources to conduct a public awareness campaign similar to that which is being proposed by the government in Wales.

“We will be watching this campaign in order to ascertain what lessons may be learned and what approaches may be adopted in Scotland.”

“Education has to be better than legislation but the government prefers gesture politics and the big stick.”Simon Clark, Forest

‘Tobacco free’

Anti-smoking campaigners welcomed the Scottish government’s backing for Mr Hume’s bill. ASH Scotland’s chief executive Sheila Duffy said: “It is another public health initiative that can help Scotland move forward with its ambition to achieve a tobacco-free generation in 20 years’ time.

“It is popular with the public and will bring Scotland into line with upcoming legislation in England and Wales. “We believe it can be effectively enforced and that having the legislation focus on cars with children bypasses concerns over interference in people’s private lives. “Jim Hume must be congratulated for taking the initiative on this proposal and for all the hard work he and his team have done to bring this important measure forward.” But Simon Clark, director of the smokers’ group Forest, said the bill was “legislation for legislation’s sake”.

He said: “Smoking in cars carrying children is inconsiderate. The overwhelming majority of smokers know that and don’t do it. “The very small number that do will carry on regardless because the law will be difficult, if not impossible, to enforce. “Education has to be better than legislation but the government prefers gesture politics and the big stick.”

China needs an all-out fight to curb tobacco consumption

CTA says: someone tell our tobacco company friendly Food and ?Health Minister !

It seems he and his ‘Policy Bureau’ do not get the message.

The way past excise tax increase does not even match inflation and tobacco remains affordable to children.

We deem that Misconduct in Public Office as no preventative health measures are being effectively used to stop children becoming nicotine addicts.

Onus on licensed premises’ owners to stop smoking indoors?

Plain packaging to remove the glitzy pack colors?

Track and Trace Tax stamps on packets?

Ban the import and use of shisha products?

Fines and jail sentences for tobacco executives who fail to control their supply chain and Duty Free products ?

Licensing of tobacco retailers?

Mandatory prison sentences for buying duty-not-paid products?

Increased Tobacco Control Office staffing so they can actually patrol ?

Control on nicotine and tar content and ban flavorings ?

Ban the sale of flavored tobacco such as ‘Peel’ made by HK Tobacco Company Ltd whose owner remains the Protector of the Bauhinia Research Foundation, an arm of Govt ?

Mandate any structure with a roof as a no-smoking area such as parasols in OSA areas, exit of airport arrivals areas? – Smoking is banned

on escalators which have a roof but are not 50% enclosed – what’s the difference ?

Use excise revenue to fund anti tobacco measures instead of pouring more concrete ?

Fire your ‘Policy Bureau’

Do something!


Kamilia Lahrichi says raising taxes on tobacco alone is not enough if China, with its rising income levels, is serious about stamping out smoking

China, the planet’s largest tobacco consumer and producer, is the only nation where tobacco consumption does not fall when the government imposes higher taxes on these products, as incomes are rising faster than the tax hikes. This is creating a serious public health issue.

In general, health pundits consider that taxing tobacco products is one of the most effective measures to control consumption. In high-income countries, if the state raises taxes on such products by 10 per cent, there is usually a 4 per cent drop in consumption, according to experts at the recent 16th World Conference on Tobacco or Health in Abu Dhabi, where health professionals and government officials called for tobacco controls.

Worryingly, wages in China are expected to rise further, thereby giving more purchasing power to the 300 million Chinese smokers. In addition, packets of cigarettes are much more affordable in China than in many other places. Some Chinese brands cost as little as HK$3.70, compared with HK$17 in South Korea, HK$41 in Japan and HK$75 in Singapore last year.

Although China has ratified the international treaty on tobacco control, imposing high taxes on cigarettes alone does not make sense, given that the State Tobacco Monopoly Administration and the China National Tobacco Corporation – the largest cigarette producer on the planet – monopolise cigarette production in China.

From the state’s standpoint, decreasing the number of smokers would hit economic growth: state-owned businesses employ hundreds of thousands of Chinese and generate state revenue.

Not surprisingly, Euromonitor International has forecast that the number of cigarettes sold in China will rise at about 14 per cent per year.

As a result, tobacco consumption rates and related diseases are skyrocketing in China. An estimated one million Chinese die every year from tobacco-related diseases; the highest number in the world and one-sixth of the annual global toll.

“It is important that China takes appropriate action to reduce tobacco consumption,” said World Health Organisation director general Margaret Chan Fung Fu-chun in Abu Dhabi. In fact, it is vital, given that the number of smokers has ebbed across the globe.

On the bright side, the Beijing authorities passed a law last year to ban smoking in public places in the capital. It will take effect in June. China is also considering regulations to prohibit indoor smoking, limit it in outdoor public places and curtail the advertising of tobacco products across the country.

The government also needs to implement other policies, such as including graphic warnings of the health risks on cigarette packs, in order to enhance Chinese people’s knowledge of tobacco-related diseases.

A 2009 WHO study found that only 38 per cent of smokers in China knew that smoking can lead to coronary heart disease, while just 27 per cent knew that it can cause a stroke.

Thus, it’s vital for the Chinese government to enforce these policies outside its large cities in order to curb smoking habits.

Kamilia Lahrichi is a foreign correspondent and the recipient of the 2014 United Nations Foundation’s “Global Issues” Journalism Fellowship. [1]

Source URL (modified on Mar 25th 2015, 1:09pm):

Secret Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) – Investment Chapter

WikiLeaks releases today the “Investment Chapter” from the secret negotiations of the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) agreement. The document adds to the previous WikiLeaks publications of the chapters for Intellectual Property Rights (November 2013) and the Environment (January 2014).

The TPP Investment Chapter, published today, is dated 20 January 2015. The document is classified and supposed to be kept secret for four years after the entry into force of the TPP agreement or, if no agreement is reached, for four years from the close of the negotiations.

Julian Assange, WikiLeaks editor said: “The TPP has developed in secret an unaccountable supranational court for multinationals to sue states. This system is a challenge to parliamentary and judicial sovereignty. Similar tribunals have already been shown to chill the adoption of sane environmental protection, public health and public transport policies.”

Current TPP negotiation member states are the United States, Japan, Mexico, Canada, Australia, Malaysia, Chile, Singapore, Peru, Vietnam, New Zealand and Brunei. The TPP is the largest economic treaty in history, including countries that represent more than 40 per cent of the world´s GDP.

The Investment Chapter highlights the intent of the TPP negotiating parties, led by the United States, to increase the power of global corporations by creating a supra-national court, or tribunal, where foreign firms can “sue” states and obtain taxpayer compensation for “expected future profits”. These investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) tribunals are designed to overrule the national court systems. ISDS tribunals introduce a mechanism by which multinational corporations can force governments to pay compensation if the tribunal states that a country’s laws or policies affect the company’s claimed future profits. In return, states hope that multinationals will invest more. Similar mechanisms have already been used. For example, US tobacco company Phillip Morris used one such tribunal to sue Australia (June 2011 – ongoing) for mandating plain packaging of tobacco products on public health grounds; and by the oil giant Chevron against Ecuador in an attempt to evade a multi-billion-dollar compensation ruling for polluting the environment. The threat of future lawsuits chilled environmental and other legislation in Canada after it was sued by pesticide companies in 2008/9. ISDS tribunals are often held in secret, have no appeal mechanism, do not subordinate themselves to human rights laws or the public interest, and have few means by which other affected parties can make representations.

The TPP negotiations have been ongoing in secrecy for five years and are now in their final stages. In the United States the Obama administration plans to “fast-track” the treaty through Congress without the ability of elected officials to discuss or vote on individual measures. This has met growing opposition as a result of increased public scrutiny following WikiLeaks’ earlier releases of documents from the negotiations.

The TPP is set to be the forerunner to an equally secret agreement between the US and EU, the TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership).

Negotiations for the TTIP were initiated by the Obama administration in January 2013. Combined, the TPP and TTIP will cover more than 60 per cent of global GDP. The third treaty of the same kind, also negotiated in secrecy is TISA, on trade in services, including the financial and health sectors. It covers 50 countries, including the US and all EU countries. WikiLeaks released the secret draft text of the TISA’s financial annex in June 2014.

All these agreements on so-called “free trade” are negotiated outside the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) framework. Conspicuously absent from the countries involved in these agreements are the BRICs countries of Brazil, Russia, India and China.

Read the Secret Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) – Investment chapter