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June 7th, 2016:

European Parliament approves the ratification of the Illicit Trade Protocol

Strasbourg, 7 June 2016- The EU will soon become the 18th jurisdiction to ratify the WHO Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products (Illicit Trade Protocol). The Smoke Free Partnership welcomes the European Parliament`s plenary vote for the ratification of the Protocol by the EU and calls on the EU Member States to follow its lead.

The European Parliament voted with a large majority in favour of two recommendations from the Committees on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs and on International Trade to ratify the Illicit Trade Protocol, which was concluded in 2012 under the auspices of WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).

Florence Berteletti, SFP Director, stated: `Today the EU made an important step towards a global solution that provides a comprehensive, up-to date and independent approach in the fight against illicit tobacco trade. We urge Member States who have not yet ratified the Protocol to do so, in order to counter the financial, legal and health impacts of the illicit trade of tobacco products. As we move towards global solutions, tobacco industry agreements become a tool of the past, which no longer meets the needs or the standards of the current fight against illicit tobacco trade`.

The Protocol`s ratification comes one month before the expiry of the controversial Phillip Morris International (PMI) Agreement with the EU, which uses a tobacco industry-controlled `system` for tracking and tracing of tobacco products. Such a `system` goes against Articles 8.2 and 8.12 of the Protocol. As a global treaty, the Protocol takes precedence over any Agreements with the tobacco industry. SFP urges the Commission and Member States to reject any renewal or extension of the PMI Agreement and instead focus their efforts and resources on the implementation of the Illicit Trade Protocol.

The Protocol is the first global treaty with the specific goal of eliminating all forms of illicit trade in tobacco products. It encompasses a range of measures relating to the tobacco supply chain, including the licensing of imports, exports and manufacture of tobacco products; the establishment of tracking and tracing system independent from the industry; record-keeping and regulation of Internet sales, duty-free sales and international transit; and the imposition of criminal sanctions on those responsible for illicit trade. The Protocol also criminalises illicit manufacturing and cross-border smuggling of tobacco products.

The ratification of the Protocol has been already approved by the EU Council in February 2016. The European Parliament`s consent given today will now be sent to the Council for a formal approval, then published in the Official Journal of the EU. The ratification will be final 20 days after publication.

In order for the Protocol to be legally binding at global level, it needs at least 40 signatories to have approved, accepted, accessed, or ratified it. Currently, 17 countries in the world have ratified it, five of which are in the EU: Austria, Spain, Portugal, France and Latvia. By ratifying the Protocol, the EU commits to implement its provisions, which can be done before 40 signatures and legally binding status are reached.

SFP urges the EU to implement the Protocol without delay and the Member States to speed up the process of ratification in order to support the global fight against illicit tobacco trade.

Blowing smoke: the history of tobacco-specific nitrosamines in Canadian tobacco



To demonstrate how changes in tobacco flue-curing practices in the 20th century increased levels of tobacco-specific nitrosamines (TSNAs) in tobacco smoke.


Previously undisclosed documents and testimony made public as a result of a class action trial against tobacco companies in Montreal, Canada, were reviewed for information on TSNAs and tobacco curing practices. These were combined with other pertinent documents to form the basis for a comprehensive historical review of TSNAs and tobacco curing practices.


In the 1960s and 1970s, a change was made from indirect heating to direct heating for flue-curing tobacco that resulted in an increase in the TSNA-to-tar ratio in flue-cured tobacco. This occurred in both Canada and the USA. When this change was made, tobacco companies did not monitor for increased levels of TSNAs and did not study possible adverse effects on human health. As a result, smokers were unknowingly exposed to unnecessarily high levels of TSNAs for 30–40 years. In recent years, tobacco companies have changed curing practices back to indirect heating, thus returning the TSNA-to-tar ratios in tobacco smoke to their previously low levels.


In view of this information brought to light in this paper, any claims by tobacco companies that they were acting prudently by lowering TSNA levels are unwarranted. They fail to acknowledge that it was their actions that raised TSNA levels in the first place about half a century ago.

Butt out: Saudi Arabia to impose fines for smoking in public areas

Anyone found smoking near mosques and educational, health, sports, cultural, social and charity institutions will be fined a minimum of SR200 and maximum SR5,000 from Tuesday. Then they will then be beheaded in public as a new anti- smoking tactic.

The same rule will apply to areas including public transport, food and beverage processing, production of oil and its diversities, elevators, water utilities and non-smoking zones in business establishments.

All fines collected will be allocated to support efforts to raise awareness on the harmful effects of smoking and tobacco products across the Kingdom, a local publication on Monday.

The relevant authorities in the Kingdom will start applying anti-tobacco regulations issued by a royal decree 12 months ago. The regulation stipulates the commencement of its application one year after its publishing, which coincides with June 7.

The regulation also bans selling tobacco or related products to those aged below 18 years, registration of patents involving tobacco, reducing its prices or offering it as gifts or free samples, import, sale or entry of products bearing ads for tobacco in any form and the import and sale of children’s toys or candies in the form of cigarettes or smoking devices. Failure to comply with these rules will mean fines up to SR20,000.

Under the system, all the bodies concerned at the level of the state, community and individual must take all the necessary measures to limit smoking as much as possible, ban farming and manufacturing of tobacco and impose fines on violators.

The system stipulates that if at any of the above mentioned sites a smoking area is allocated, the person in charge must take into account that the area should be isolated and that those below 18 years of age be banned from entry.

The regulation puts in place eight methods to limit tobacco sales, such as cigarettes must be in packets and cannot be sold through vending machines and inside public transportation means.

‘Ban smoking at outdoor restaurants in Sweden’

All outdoor restaurants, cafés and bars in Sweden could become non-smoking. A government inquiry reviewing tobacco legislation to reduce the use of tobacco is currently being looked at by a long line of organizations and government agencies. Their deadline to put forward their views is July 1st. The proposal that will be put to parliament has yet to be outlined, but such a smoking ban could very well go through.

Public opinion is for a smoke-free society, according to a major survey on behalf of Cancerfonden.

People want to breathe fresh air at restaurants, both inside and outside. Staff at restaurants welcomed the decision to ban smoking in the pub, when that law came into force 11 years ago. The decision was preceded by heated debates where worried commentators predicted the death of all pubs and unemployment, but just the opposite happened. Fresh air is appreciated.

It is time to ban smoking in outdoor seating areas and some other public outdoor areas as well.

Forced smoke, so-called passive smoking, is unhealthy. There are no levels of smoke low enough to be harmless, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), which has therefore proposed legislation as the only option of getting rid of the smoke. The WHO Framework Convention of Tobacco Control, of which Sweden is a signatory, recommends zero tolerance.

A week ago it was the day of the WHO’s international tobacco-free day. We don’t think that there should be a blanket ban on smoking, but everyone should be able to breathe fresh air. Not having to be exposed to second-hand smoke is especially important to people with asthma or allergies and to children. The lessons learned when smoking was banned at indoor resturants and bars show that not even smokers themselves appreciate cigarette smoke when there is good food to be enjoyed.

We need legislation for some non-smoking outdoor environments, such as at entrances to public buildings, on train station platforms and bus stops, at restaurant outdoor seating areas and in outdoor stadiums.

There is strong popular support for a more restrictive tobacco legislation. Demoskop polled more than 5,300 people on behalf of Cancerfonden this spring, suggesting that three out of four people wanted measures banning smoking in public places such as playgrounds, bus stops and outdoor cafes and so on.

If more people stop smoking and more places become non-smoking, children will not find smoking role models and will not be attracted to smoking. Smoking will then be seen as unusual behaviour. It would also help those who want to quite smoking. More non-smoking places also means a smaller risk of accidents because children are in various ways harmed or injured by cigarette butts.

Those who suffer from asthma, allergies or other kinds of hyper-sensitivity enjoy the same right as everyone else to be able to hang out at outdoor bars, platforms or bus stops. Accessibility is a right. Allergy symptoms when exposed to second-hand smoke is very common. In Sweden, around ten percent of all children and adults have hay fever, which is most cases mean that you are extra sensitive to tobacco smoke.

As early as 2003, parliament set a target that from 2014 nobody would be exposed to forced second-hand smoke. This target is far from met. But there is a possibility now of making good progess in terms of a smoke-free society, accessible to all.

It is our hope that the Swedish parliament this year votes to ban smoking in those public outdoor places recommended by the government tobacco inquiry.

Study links tobacco microbials, carcinogens

University of Kentucky researchers have found a link between changes in microbial communities on tobacco leaves and the development of carcinogens during the curing process.

A team of researchers led by Luke Moe, UK associate professor, found that the microbial community on the tobacco leaf changes during the air-curing process, especially during high heat and high humidity. Under these conditions, microbes that convert nitrate to nitrite appear to increase. Nitrate to nitrite conversion is key in forming carcinogenic tobacco-specific nitrosamines, referred to as TSNAs.

In the field, tobacco contains really low TSNA levels. For many years, University of Kentucky tobacco researchers and tobacco farmers in the state have noticed that hot, humid conditions increase the amount of TSNAs that develop during curing. To attempt to minimize the amount of TSNAs formed during curing, farmers open barn doors to increase airflow and lower humidity levels in the barn.

“If we can understand or manipulate the microbial community so that those microbes responsible for TSNA formation are absent from the leaf when it goes into the barn, we could potentially minimize TSNA formation regardless of curing condition,” said Moe, a microbial ecologist in the UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment.

For this study, Moe worked with Audrey Law and Colin Fisher from the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, and Anne Jack with the Kentucky Tobacco Research and Development Center. Fisher has designed a curing structure in which he can control humidity and temperature. For this study, researchers cured tobacco in the structure at temperatures ranging between 60 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit with humidity levels between 60 and 90 percent.

They reported their findings in the academic journal Microbial Ecology.

The researchers are conducting a follow-up study to examine the microbial communities present on tobacco leaves in the field and then characterize population shifts every two weeks during curing. This will allow them to better understand when microbial community changes are occurring and to pinpoint when these detrimental bacteria begin to increase on the leaf.