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December 16th, 2015:

Budget Agreement Protects Kids and Health by Rejecting Tobacco Industry Giveaways

Statement of Matthew L. Myers, President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

Dec. 16 2015

WASHINGTON, DC – The budget agreement reached by congressional negotiators delivers critical victories for America’s kids and health over the tobacco industry by rejecting proposals to greatly weaken FDA oversight of electronic cigarettes and cigars and slash funding for the CDC’s programs to reduce tobacco use. By rejecting these special interest giveaways to the tobacco industry, this agreement bolsters the nation’s fight against tobacco use, the number one cause of preventable death.

The budget agreement does not include a provision, approved by the House Appropriations Committee, to limit FDA oversight of e-cigarettes and cigars already on the market, including many candy- and fruit-flavored products that have been introduced in recent years and proven popular with kids. The agreement preserves the FDA’s ability to review these products and take action to protect our kids.

Now the White House must quickly issue the long-overdue rule extending the FDA’s jurisdiction to all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes and cigars. As the new Monitoring the Future survey confirmed today, youth e-cigarette use has skyrocketed and now exceeds use of regular cigarettes, and teens are using flavored little cigars at the same rate as cigarettes. We cannot afford more delays that allow tobacco companies to continue targeting kids with a new generation of products.

The budget agreement also provides $210 million for the CDC’s programs to prevent kids from smoking and help smokers quit, rejecting a House Appropriations proposal that slashed funding to just $105.5 million (Senate appropriators had provided $216.5 million). The CDC will be able to continue initiatives such as the Tips from Former Smokers media campaign that has proven so successful and cost-effective at helping smokers quit, as well as its assistance to state tobacco prevention programs and state quitlines that help smokers trying to quit.

While the U.S. has greatly reduced smoking, tobacco use still kills nearly half a million Americans and costs us $170 billion in health care expenses each year. It is great news for the nation’s health that the budget agreement rejects tobacco industry efforts to undo this progress.

Most youth use e­cigarettes for novelty, flavors—not to quit smoking

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E-Cigarette Industry Faces Prohibition After Crucial Rider Fails To Make Omnibus Spending Bill

A policy rider that could’ve saved 99 percent of the e-cigarette of from de facto prohibition failed to make it into the House’s omnibus spending bill released Tuesday night.

The rider would’ve changed the Food and Drug Administration‘s (FDA) rules requiring all e-cigarette products released after February 15, 2007, to undergo the costly Pre-Market Tobacco Applications (PMTA) process. This provision was vitally important to vaping businesses and advocates because the cost of the PMTA process for each individual product can run between $2-10 million.

Since e-cigarettes are a relatively new innovation and the industry has grown so rapidly, the vast majority of vaping products would fall under the FDA’s proposed rule. Further, a major portion of the market consists of small, self-proprietary business. As a result, such an enormous tax burden would likely bankrupt 99 percent of the industry.

Small vaping businesses — which typically sell dozens if not hundreds of these products in their stores — will not be able meet this financial burden, putting thousands of jobs at risk and ultimately limiting options for vapers. Indeed, the only companies that would be able to meet this financial and regulatory burden are major tobacco companies that typically stock an extremely limited range of vaping products compared to most e-cigarette shops.

Ironically, the FDA’s regulations, which are intended to safeguard public health, could have the perverse effect of helping the tobacco industry by destroying one of its largest sources of competition — independent e-cigarette companies.

“This deal protects cigarette markets,” said Gregory Conley, President of the American Vaping Association. “Congressional leaders have squandered a real opportunity to benefit both public health and small businesses across the country.”

“Without a change in the 2007 grandfather date, 99.9 percent-plus of vapor products on the market today will be banned. This is nothing more than modern-day prohibition. The FDA’s proposal is an unmitigated disaster and Congress’ failure to act will cost jobs and lives.”

The rider was not only supported by the e-cigarette industry but it also received strong backing from Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) – one of the most powerful advocacy groups in Washington D.C.

In November, ATR president Grover Norquist wrote a letter urging Congress to support the rider saying “it would simply help avoid the looming economic and public health disaster associated with status quo prohibition.”

Ontario delaying ban on using e-cigarettes in public

Banning vaping in stores would drive away customers, advocates say

The province is delaying its plans to ban vaping in public spaces, Ontario’s Associate Health Minister Dipika Damerla told CBC News in an exclusive interview.

The province was all set to ban the use of e-cigarettes in public spaces, offices, businesses and even in vape shops beginning January 1, 2016.

Damerla said her government would proceed with a ban on selling e-cigarettes to minors beginning January 1, “but we will not be proceeding with the piece around where you can and cannot use electronic cigarettes.”

Damerla said the government committed to reviewing regulations around where medical marijuana can and cannot be vaped and “in that context we’ve just made the decision to bring all of the regulations around where you can and cannot vape at once.”

“We hope to bring that regulation into force very quickly and very shortly,” she added.

Aaron Lepcha, who owns Kloud Panda, an e-cigarette supply company, feels banning vaping in stores that sell e-cigarettes would drive away potential customers.

“If people can’t come into a store and try a product and see which one works for them, it’ll be really difficult to get away from tobacco,” Lepcha told CBC.

He explained that “different electronic devices need certain training to use and if people can’t come into a store and try a product and see which one works for them, it’ll be really difficult to get away from tobacco.”

Charlie Pisano, the co-owner of VapeMeet, agreed with Lepcha.

He said people need assistance to use his products safely and effectively.

“You need to be shown the safety features that come with them, how to use the liquid, how to choose the right liquid, and the way this bill is worded, there’s no way they can do that without the shops,” Pisano said in an interview at The Ecig Flavourium at Queen East and Jarvis Street.

He told CBC News most people agree e-cigarettes are a safer alternative to smoking but added that “this precautionary measure that the government is taking stigmatizes the product itself.”

In a statement, Damerla said the province is also “banning the sale of certain flavoured tobacco products and increasing the maximum fines for youth-related sales offences under the Smoke-Free Ontario Act” but emphasized that the government is not banning the use of e-cigarettes.

High School Seniors Now Prefer Marijuana to Cigarettes

Fewer students than last year think that pot is harmful

More students in the 12th grade said they smoked pot every day, compared to those who smoke daily cigarettes, finds a new federal report. It’s the first time since the survey began in 1975 that daily marijuana use surpassed cigarettes.

The “Monitoring the Future” survey released on Wednesday shows that 6% of 12th graders used marijuana every day—about the same rate as last year—while 5.5% of seniors reported smoking cigarettes daily. (That’s a drop from 2014, when 6.7% of high school seniors smoked cigarettes every day.)

Their perceptions of pot also changed; fewer students think it’s dangerous. Almost 32% of seniors said they thought regular marijuana use could be harmful, compared to 36% who felt that way last year. “The sense that marijuana has medicinal purposes and that doctors are prescribing it creates a sense that this drug cannot be so harmful,” says Dr. Nora D. Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse at the National Institutes of Health (the group that funded the research).

Volkow says she is surprised that marijuana rates didn’t rise from 2014, after the past year’s attitude and policy changes surrounding the legalization of marijuana. “All of those factors have led many to predict that there would be an increase in the pattern of use of marijuana among teenagers, and we are not seeing it,” she says. Still, it was one of the only substances in the report that did not decline in usage.

In addition to high school seniors, the survey also looked at attitudes and substance use among American students in grades 8 and 10. In each of the grades, it noted declining usage rates for cigarettes, alcohol, prescription opioid pain relievers, synthetic marijuana and heroin (which hit a record low at 0.3% for 8th graders and 0.5% for 10th and 12th graders.) “These two findings were very surprising,” says Volkow. Experts were worried that since prescription opioids and heroin use have gotten more popular nationally, they might see the same trends in teens.

Over the last five years, daily cigarette smoking among 10th graders has dropped 55%. But the newer nicotine carriers like e-cigarettes are as popular as they were the year before. Yet students aren’t always sure what’s in them, the findings suggest. The majority of teenagers who reported using e-cigarettes said they were only inhaling flavors instead of nicotine, and many said they weren’t sure what they were inhaling. Only 20% said that the last time they used a e-cigarette, they were inhaling nicotine.

Researchers continue to debate the effects of e-cigarettes on the body, and Volkow says there’s skepticism over whether inhaling flavoring on its own is safe. “There’s been evidence that some of these e-cigarette devices release chemicals that are toxic to the body,” she says. “Since there is no control over manufacturing products, the quality of these products vary. I think this is an area that requires investigation to actually assess the potential harmful effects.”

One Of The Biggest E-Cigarette Scare Tactics Has Just Been Debunked

One of the key weapons in the anti-vaping armory has been shot to pieces by new data from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

E-cigarettes have been a constant source of controversy among tobacco control activists, with many claiming the industry is using flavors to entice kids to try the nicotine-filled products and get them hooked for life.

Not only would these flavors help to addict minors to e-cigarettes, but some of the more conspiratorially-minded among the anti-vaping lobby say this is merely a stepping stone to get a new generation addicted tobacco cigarettes.

But a new data set from NIDA blows a major hole in this hypothesis. According to NIDA, more than 60 percent of 15-18 year olds vaped just flavorings with zero nicotine last time they used an e-cigarette. Just 20 percent said they used e-cigarettes containing nicotine.

NIDA confirmed a dramatic fall in smoking among 10th graders of 54.9 percent over the past five years. The overall teen smoking rate has been in freefall, dropping to its lowest level in two decades in 2013 at 15.7 percent.

E-cigarette use, however, is on the up, with the number of teenage vapers tripling from 2013 to 2014, reaching 13.4 percent among middle and high school students. In the last month, however, the NIDA data showed a slight fall in e-cigarette use among 10th graders from 16.2 percent to 14 percent.

With e-cigarette and cigarette use moving in opposite directions the claim that vaping is a gateway to smoking is increasingly questionable.

Despite the majority of teen vapers refusing to even dabble in nicotine, the NIDA director Dr. Nora Volkow insists flavored e-cigarettes could still prove harmful as a gateway to other substances.

“The flavors are very appealing and that will make the youth much more receptive to use the same device into the future for other things: delivering nicotine or [marijuana] or you can even use them for alcohol,” Volkow told U.S. News & World Report.

But leading e-cigarette advocate and President of the American Vaping Association Gregory Conley was unimpressed by these claims, telling U.S. News public health activists are getting desperate and were scrambling to find a new line of attack against e-cigarettes.

“Nicotine-free vapor products began to be produced approximately seven years ago because consumers were telling companies that they wished to not only stop smoking but also quit nicotine use.”

“Ms. Volkow should stop and think before making false and demeaning claims about thousands of small business owners who have no connections to the tobacco industry. Federally-funded bureaucrats should not be politicizing important public health issues.”

Canada, Hungary latest additions to global plain packs map


Much has happened since we published the first plain packs map in April 2015.

France has now adopted plain packaging, to start in May 2016, as in Ireland and the UK. Plain packages are free of colours and all other branding, except for the manufacturers’ name written in a uniform plain style.

Canada and Hungary have announced that they plan to adopt the measure, which was pioneered in Australia in 2012. That move provoked a swift reaction from the tobacco industry. Ultimately, the industry lost a lawsuit in the country’s highest court but its challenge of this public health measure, using an international trade agreement, is pending.

Industry lawsuits

Big Tobacco has already announced challenges to the Irish and UK law and we can expect the same in France.

Following are other countries that have announced they intend to adopt plain packaging:

  • Burkina Faso
  • Chile
  • New Zealand
  • Panama
  • Singapore
  • South Africa
  • Turkey

Hong Kong Customs detects two suspected transshipment smuggling cases of illicit cigarettes

Hong Kong (HKSAR) – Hong Kong Customs smashed two suspected transshipment smuggling cases of illicit cigarettes at Tuen Mun River Trade Terminal and Kwai Chung Customhouse Cargo Examination Compound on December 12 and yesterday (December 15) respectively. A total of about 19 million sticks of suspected illicit cigarettes were seized.

Through overseas intelligence exchange and risk assessment, Customs officers inspected two 40-foot containers declared to contain furniture arriving in Hong Kong from the United Arab Emirates. During the inspection, Customs officers discovered a total of about 19 million sticks of suspected illicit cigarettes inside the two 40-foot containers, with a market value of about $52 million and duty potential of about $36 million.

The unmanifested illicit cigarettes were seized for further investigation.

A Customs spokesman said, “The operation showed the effectiveness of our enforcement through a strategy of international co-operation and intelligence exchange. Hong Kong Customs will continue co-operation with other enforcement agencies as well as escalated enforcement actions against smuggling activities at source to combat illicit cigarette syndicates.”

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.

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