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April 22nd, 2015:

Lawmakers Debate Tough Curbs on Tobacco Advertising

Chinese lawmakers on Tuesday debated tobacco advertising while they reviewed an amendment to the 1984 Advertising Law.

At the ongoing bi-monthly legislative session, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC) is deliberating the Advertising Law bill, which would mean far fewer tobacco ads.

The new draft, tabled for its third reading, forbids tobacco advertisements from transmission via mass media and in public places.

An earlier revision that got a second reading in December prohibited all forms of tobacco advertising except for those posted and displayed in tobacco shops and business-to-business advertising by tobacco producers to tobacco product sellers.

It had listed mass media and public venues where tobacco ads would be banned.

Many lawmakers think the latest amendment as a step forward.

Peng Sen, who wants a full ban on all tobacco ads, said the draft is closer to the comprehensive ban required by the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

China became one of the signatories in 2003.

“I’m still dissatisfied by the use of ‘mass media’ in the article.”

There was heated discussion on ambiguities in the wording of the amendment.

“Tobacco ads are banned in public venues, but what is the definition of a public venue? Does it include tobacco shops?” said Lyu Zushan.

The logic was shared by other lawmakers.

Li Lianning said that a ban in tobacco shops would conflict with consumers’ right to acquire information about products.

“Tobacco shops should be excluded from the ban,” he said.

As the world’s largest tobacco producer and consumer, China faces a smoking-related health crisis, with more than 300 million smokers and another 740 million people exposed to second-hand smoking.

Some lawmakers claim tobacco is still a major source of income for farmers and excessively harsh restrictions would harm their interests.

Tang Shili, deputy director of the people’s congress standing committee in Guizhou, said 70 percent of total tobacco production and 60 percent of the cigarette manufacturing are based in China’s underdeveloped and border areas.

“Harsh curbs on tobacco advertising are well intentioned, but unrealistic,” Tang said.

Princeton becomes 7th N.J. town prohibiting tobacco sales to customers under 21

PRINCETON — Customers under 21 years old will no longer be able to purchase tobacco products in Princeton.

The town’s board of health unanimously adopted an ordinance Monday night banning tobacco sales to a broader population, making Princeton the seventh town in New Jersey to enact such a law.

“The real impact of increasing the tobacco age of sale is putting the legal purchase outside of the social circle of those who initiate,” board member George DiFerdinando said. “It has minimal impact on those who are currently smoking.”

Princeton joins Bogota, Englewood, Garfield, Highland Park, Sayreville and Teaneck in adopting an ordinance that requires customers to be a bit older than the state age requirement of 19 to purchase tobacco products, according to Global Advisors on Smokefree Policy.

The law, which Princeton’s Department of Health will be in charge of enforcing, will go into effect within three weeks.

There are about 20 locations in Princeton where cigarettes are sold and even more where tobacco products such as electronic cigarettes can be purchased. Retailers who violate the law will face a penalty of $250 for the first offense, $500 for the second and $1,000 for the third and subsequent violations.

Eric Blomgren, associate director of government affairs for the New Jersey Gasoline Convenience Store Automotive Association, opposed the ordinance and said small businesses will be “needlessly hurt” by it.

“People under 21 are legally allowed to vote, to marry, to serve in the military, but this says they’re not responsible enough to buy a cigar,” Blomgren said. “They have access to a car. The end result is that these people are still going to smoke anywhere.”

With a cigar sticking out of his top jacket pocket, Jorge Luis Armenteros, founder and president of A Little Taste of Cuba on Witherspoon Street, said he opposed the ordinance. But his luxury cigar shop will obey whatever laws on the books in Princeton because it is a special place to do business, he said.

Many Princeton University students have purchased products in his store to celebrate special accomplishments and events with their families, said Armenteros, noting this year marks his business’ 20th anniversary in Princeton.

“We’re not selling addictive products, per se,” Armenteros said. “We’re sharing special moments that people celebrate.”

Princeton resident and pediatrician Stephanie Chorney said she was saddened to hear tobacco products used for celebratory purposes because of their addictive properties and threat to public health.

“It’s really an eye-opening way of looking at things,” she said.

In March 2013, Princeton became the first Mercer County town to ban smoking on town property. DiFerdinando said the goal of the tobacco ordinance is to encourage other towns throughout the county to get on board, making it more difficult for customers under 21 to buy tobacco nearby.

“We’re trying to lead by example,” DiFerdinando said.

A report earlier this month by the Institute of Medicine projected 223,000 fewer premature deaths among those born between 2000 and 2019 if the age of tobacco sales was raised to 21.

Among adults who become daily smokers, about 90 percent smoke their first cigarette before age 19, the report said.

“This will save the lives of the youth who might initiative tobacco use,” DiFerdinando said of the ordinance.

Most states currently set the tobacco purchase age at 18. New Jersey, Alabama, Alaska and Utah are the only ones that set a minimum age of 19 for tobacco sales.

A bill pending in the Legislature would make New Jersey the first state to increase the legal age to 21.

Editor’s Note: The headline and story have been updated to reflect that Princeton is the seventh town in New Jersey to adopt a local ordinance prohibiting tobacco sales to those under 21. Highland Park and Garfield adopted similar ordinances earlier this month.

China’s Top Legislature Reviews Ban on Ads for Formula, Tobacco

The National People’s Congress Standing Committee has started reviewing a draft amendment to the Advertisement Law proposing a ban on baby formula and tobacco advertising, an article in said.

According to the draft, advertisements on drinks, dairy products, and other food advertisements that partly or completely substitute mother’s milk shall be banned from mass media or public venues.

Based on the proposal, advertisers, clients, agents and publishers who violate the rule may be penalized up to 1 million yuan ($163,260).

The United Nations Children’s Fund reported that only 28 percent of infants younger than six months were breastfed in China in 2008, lower than the global average of 40 percent.

The report said that the government promotes breastfeeding as the best source of nutrition for newborns, improving their immune systems and reducing the chance of obesity in adulthood.

Another remarkable change to the 21-year-old Advertisement Law is the restriction imposed on tobacco advertising.

The report said that a revision submitted in December prohibited all forms of tobacco ads except for those in tobacco product shops and advertising done by business-to-business such as tobacco producers to tobacco product sellers. The proposal also listed mass media and public venues where ads would be banned.

The report mentioned a study by the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention in May last year which showed that 6.9 percent of junior school students smoked and 48.5 percent of students between 13 and 15 had seen a tobacco advertisement the previous month. Among children aged five and six, 85 percent could identify at least one brand, according to a survey.

According to the report, since China signed the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in 2003, which requires a comprehensive ban on all tobacco advertising, promotion, and sponsorship, the ban on tobacco has been a hot issue.

The report added that a full ban on tobacco has yet to be enacted in China where it is a major source of income for countless farmers.

Further curb smoking in public areas

We all recognise the harm of smoking. Thousands of lives are lost each year to diseases caused by cigarette smoking and second-hand smoke.

To safeguard public health, the Hong Kong government has taken a number of actions to control tobacco use.

To further protect the public, I would like to suggest that we adopt the measures taken in Shinjuku, Japan, where it is forbidden to smoke while walking on the street.

These controls will also help smokers, who would otherwise be tempted to smoke while running an errand or if they are on their way to some place, to cut down.

I would like to suggest that no smoking should be allowed on open public staircases where we often have to navigate our way around smokers. Further, we can have clearly marked “No Smoking” boundary boxes outside all outdoor MTR entrances and exits, giving enough room for people to comfortably enter or exit without being directly exposed to second-hand smoke.

The exit D of Admiralty MTR station is clearly one spot where this can be applied. In future, these measures could be extended to entrances to recreational facilities and major buildings like stadiums, sports grounds and hotels.

H. Shah, Mid-Levels

Source URL (modified on Apr 21st 2015, 5:22pm):

How the tobacco industry refuses to die

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Your letters: Ban tobacco advertising

I am a frequent visitor to Jakarta and while traveling along the road from the airport to my hotel, I saw a huge billboard advertisement for a new brand of cigarette. The art work was unimpressive, but it had a health warning on smoking.

The brand is among the top selling cigarette brands in China and is now spreading its sales globally. China is the world’s largest producer of tobacco, controlling more than 40 percent of the world cigarette market.

Already, tobacco imports into Indonesia are increasing every year, including leaves from China. Now enters the Chinese dragon to clamor for the 63 million Indonesian smokers.

Sadly, the public health community’s valiant effort to protect people, especially children and the poor, from tobacco use has come under attack. The tobacco industry has mobilized farmers to brand health advocates the “enemies of farmers”. The industry claims, without proof, that many millions of tobacco growers and workers will become unemployed. But who is the real enemy of the local tobacco growers?

A few misinformed researchers and individuals have labeled the global tobacco treaty, the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC), as a “western conspiracy” to sell pharmaceuticals.

They are oblivious to the real enemy of the people, which is the dragon-like tobacco industry breathing out a trail of destruction for the medical profession and the Health Ministry to clean up.China ratified the WHO FCTC in 2005 and their tobacco industry didn’t die, instead cigarette sales grew by 20 percent (from 1.88 trillion sticks to 2.32 trillion sticks) between 2005 and 2010.

About 4 million Indonesian children are smoking and children under 10 years addicted to cigarettes are commonplace. Indonesia must do better to protect its people, especially children, from the totally preventable 200,000 deaths every year from tobacco-related causes. Tobacco advertising must be banned nationwide. Indonesia should accede to the FCTC as soon as possible.

Half of young smokers relapse after quitting, HKU project finds

About half of young people who received counselling from a University of Hong Kong smoking cessation project began smoking again within six months – despite having successfully quit in the first month – with slightly more women than men relapsing.

Among the 293 smokers who kicked the habit for a month, some 46 per cent took it back up by the sixth month, according to findings by the smoking cessation hotline Youth Quitline.

Since the hotline was set up in 2005, its operators have provided smoking cessation counselling services to 1,591 smokers aged 25 or younger. The counselling, offered by fellow students, consists of advice on ways to quit, followed by seven follow-up calls over a two-year period.

As added motivation, participants are rewarded HK$300 if they manage to stay smoke-free during the sixth month of their participation, but they must pass tests for carbon monoxide and nicotine percentages within the body. As of the end of January, the hotline had helped 335 people quit.

Young women showed a slightly higher relapse rate, with more than 51 per cent of female participants falling back into the habit within six months, compared to some 44 per cent of men.

While half of those who relapsed reported cravings as their main reason for taking up smoking again, the influence of peers was a close second.

“If friends around them are all smokers, they are more likely to … smoke again,” Dr William Li Ho-cheung, project director of the Youth Quitline, said.

“Women’s smoking is more likely linked to [their] emotions,” Professor Lam Tai-hing, of HKU’s school of public health, said.

“They might smoke when they are happy or unhappy … they might also think if men smoked, why shouldn’t they smoke, too. Sometimes they might want to act rebelliously.”

Despite the high relapse rate, more than half of the participants acknowledged health as their main reason for quitting cigarettes. Some participants reported a lack of physical strength in doing exercises.

Lam said smoking provoked depression, which then made quitting even harder.

However, younger smokers showed a relatively mild dependence on nicotine, as some 65 per cent of them smoked fewer than 10 cigarettes per day.

Still, Lam warned that aggressive measures should be taken to combat smoking among the young. “If people start smoking at an early age, two out of three will die earlier,” he said.

Source URL (modified on Apr 22nd 2015, 12:29am):