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October, 2016:

India’s tobacco industry, government face off ahead of WHO conference

By Aditya Kalra

NEW DELHI, Oct 27 (Reuters) – India’s $11 billion tobacco industry has urged the government to take a softer line on tobacco control efforts when it hosts a World Health Organization conference in New Delhi next month, but officials say the government will not bow to “pressure tactics”.

Delegates from about 180 countries will attend the Nov. 7-12 WHO conference on the sole global anti-tobacco treaty: the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). In force since 2005, the treaty aims to deter tobacco use that kills around 6 million people a year.

The industry in India, the world’s third-biggest tobacco producer, wants Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government to soften its stance on what it says are tough FCTC measures that threaten livelihoods among the estimated 46 million people linked to the sector.

In documents obtained by a Reuters reporter under India’s Right to Information law, industry and farmer groups wrote to officials across government asking to attend the conference and be part of India’s delegation, in an effort to protect their interests.

Global tobacco firms have criticised the biennial event for not being transparent, in part because proceedings have in the past not been open to the public, including industry representatives.

The tussle comes at a time when the Indian industry is smarting from measures imposed this year forcing companies to print bigger health warnings on tobacco products.

A tobacco farmers’ group this month questioned the legality of India implementing the FCTC treaty, and asked the Delhi High Court to compel the government to allow farmers to attend the WHO conference. A judge last week asked the government to “consider” the plea, but did not rule on the other requests.

“If we take them in the delegation, the government of India may feel embarrassed,” said one health ministry official, who didn’t want to be named because of the sensitivity of the matter. “We will not act on these (lobbying documents)”.

The FCTC secretariat in Geneva told Reuters it welcomes India’s decision, saying its guidelines state that no country should have delegation members linked to the tobacco industry.

Conference decisions on treaty provisions – designed for eventual implementation at national level by signatories – have a direct bearing on the global tobacco industry that Euromonitor International estimates is worth $784 billion this year.

Topics for debate at the conference include alternative livelihoods for tobacco farmers, e-cigarettes and trade and investment issues.


The nation’s main cigarette industry body, the Tobacco Institute of India (TII), and farmer groups wrote to the agriculture ministry demanding to have their views represented and to be allowed into the WHO conference.

In a Sept. 28 letter, the TII said “there is no obligation on any signatory to the FCTC to comply with or implement any provision of the FCTC”. The WHO, however, says the treaty is legally binding on its member countries.

The ministry also received a near-6,000-page petition signed by more than 100,000 farmers seeking protection from FCTC rules.

The TII – which represents cigarette makers including ITC , which is part-owned by British American Tobacco ; and Godfrey Phillips, the local partner of Philip Morris International – also sent the health ministry a ‘handbook’ detailing how FCTC proposals are a threat to farmers’ livelihoods.

It asked the government to ensure that “unreasonable and impractical” proposals are not adopted at the FCTC conference.

The TII did not respond to Reuters queries on the make-up of the Indian delegation or the legality of the FCTC.

In another letter, a group representing traditional Indian cigarette makers urged Modi to ensure the health ministry does not make any anti-tobacco commitments before or after the conference, fearing the potential impact on those tied to the industry.

The health ministry official said the government would consider farmers’ views, but there was “no soft corner for the industry”.

Smoking kills more than 1 million people a year in India, BMJ Global Health estimates. The WHO says tobacco-related diseases cost the country $16 billion annually.

(Reporting by Aditya Kalra, Editing by Tom Lasseter and Ian Geoghegan)

Flavoring Compounds Dominate Toxic Aldehyde Production during E‑Cigarette Vaping

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CDC: Majority of e-cigarette users also smoke cigarettes

A majority of adults who use electronic cigarettes also smoke traditional cigarettes, according to a federal survey released Thursday.

The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention found that 58.8 percent of adult e-cigarette users in 2015 were also current cigarette smokers and another 29.8 percent were former cigarette smokers.

Older e-cigarette users were more likely to have been cigarette smokers, according to the survey.

Among e-cigarette users 45 years or older, 98.7 percent were either current or former cigarette smokers while 1.3 percent had never been a cigarette smoker before. Among adults ages 18 to 24, 40 percent had never been smokers before.

The data is raising new concerns among health advocacy groups.

The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids said the data shows a large majority of adult e-cigarette users in the U.S. are using e-cigarettes in addition to regular cigarettes, rather than in place of them, and that e-cigarettes may be introducing young non-smokers to tobacco use and nicotine addiction.

“If there is a public health benefit to the emergence of e-cigarettes, it will come only if they are effective at helping smokers stop using cigarettes completely, responsibly marketed to adult smokers and properly regulated to achieve these goals,” Matthew Myers, the group’s president, said in a statement.

“They will not benefit public health if smokers use them in addition to cigarettes instead of quitting or if they re-glamorize tobacco use among young people and attract non-smokers,” he added.

Federal e-cig lawsuits officially transferred to North Carolina from California

A series of patent-infringement lawsuits addressing electronic cigarette technology has made the transition from federal court in California to the Middle District of North Carolina.

The transfer was completed Wednesday.

A federal judge in the Central Circuit of California agreed Aug. 8 to R.J. Reynolds Vapor Co.’s request for the transfer, which cited legal precedents when there are limited, if no, operations of the plaintiff and defendant in the current court.

Reynolds Vapor manufactures Vuse, the top-selling U.S. e-cig product with a 37.3 percent market share, at its Tobaccoville plant.

Reynolds accuses Fontem of filing lawsuits in the circuit court as an inconvenience to defendants.

Fontem Ventures BV and Fontem Holdings BV, owned by Imperial Brands PLC of England, had filed at least three lawsuits against Reynolds Vapor. The lawsuits were filed April 4, May 3 and June 22.

Reynolds said all of its witnesses and resources are in the Middle District, as well as some of Fontem in Charlotte and Imperial’s U.S. operations in Greensboro.

“In the interests of justice and for the convenience of the parties and the witnesses, this case should be transferred to North Carolina,” Reynolds’ attorneys said.

Reynolds said it also would be more convenient for the NuMark LLC cases to be transferred to the Middle District since it is much closer to NuMark, based in Richmond.

NuMark, the e-cig subsidiary of Altria Group Inc., filed its response Wednesday to the latest Fontem lawsuit filed against it.

The Fontem companies are suing for what they call unlawful use of seven patented technologies. They focus their claims on patents for rechargeable e-cigs, cartridge refill packs, batteries and disposable e-cigs. Fontem said it obtained patents on its technology in February 2013.

Reynolds claims it has developed internal e-cig technology.

Fontem accuses Reynolds of patent infringement in its Vuse solo rechargeable digital vapor cigarettes and its Connect power units.

For example, Fontem repeats the legal accusation it made against Lorillard that Reynolds Vapor is in infringement with its cartridge technology, in particular when it says it does not allow another e-cig product to be used with Vuse products.

Fontem is suing for an undisclosed amount of damages because of “irreparable harm” done to the companies, including lost market share and lost profits on infringing sales.

Fontem also has filed lawsuits against the other major U.S. e-cig companies: ITG Brands LLC, which makes blu eCigs; NJoy Inc., Ballantyne Brands LLC of Charlotte, maker of the Mistic brand; and Vapor Corp.

Altogether, the Fontem companies have been a party in 89 complaints just in the Central Circuit court, including 15 that are open. The filings began March 5, 2014, with undisclosed settlements reached in some lawsuits.

Smokers shanghaied

The two airports serving Shanghai, China, will ban smoking inside terminal buildings from Sunday, when all indoor smoking rooms are set to be closed, according to a story in the Shanghai Daily citing a statement by the airport authority.

But the authority has set up new smoking areas outside the terminal buildings at the Pudong and Hongqiao international airports.

Two outdoor smoking areas have been set up at Pudong airport’s T1 terminal, and three have been set up at the airport’s T2 terminal. Hongqiao airport has two outdoor smoking areas at each of its two terminal buildings.

The outdoor smoking areas are said to be located at the ‘remote bays waiting areas’ for domestic and international flights at both airports.

The new ban was in accord with the recommendations of the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control as well as with the city’s new smoking control regulation, an official with the airport authority was quoted as saying.

Shanghai’s railway stations have also shut down all indoor smoking rooms.

Meanwhile, the city’s legislative body is evaluating stricter rules that would extend smoking bans to all indoor public venues, including hotels, restaurants, offices and transport facilities. The new rules have to be further evaluated and revised but are expected to come into force by the end of this year.

Vietnam: Zero Duties for Rice, Tobacco–zero-duties-for-rice–tobacco/

Vietnam agreed yesterday to waive all duties on a total of 300,000 tons of rice and 3,000 tons of dried tobacco exported annually from Cambodia to the country, according to a bilateral agreement signed at two back-to-back summits to promote economic cooperation in the Greater Mekong Sub-region.

The bilateral trade enhancement agreement between Vietnam and Cambodia, signed in Hanoi by Commerce Minister Pan Sorasak and the Vietnamese Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh at the 7th Ayeyawady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy Summit (ACMECS 7) and the 8th Cambodia-Laos-Myanmar-Vietnam Cooperation Summit (CLMV 8), also gives special preferential treatment to 39 export items from Cambodia and 29 items from Vietnam.

Soeng Sophary, spokesperson at Cambodia’s Ministry of Commerce, told Khmer Times yesterday that the bilateral agreement between Cambodia and Vietnam had been signed several years ago, but had expired recently.

“So both parties took advantage of these summits to renew it, and at the same time add new items that would be given tariff-free status by two countries,” said Ms. Sophary.

Ms. Sophary, however, clarified that this was the first agreement between Cambodia and Vietnam that included Cambodian rice exports to the neighboring country.

“These rice exports will have to pass through customs checkpoints at the border to crackdown on smuggling and ‘unofficial exports’,” she said.

Ms. Sophary stressed that since Vietnam is one of the leading rice producers in the Mekong region, Cambodia was not expected to export too much rice to its neighbor. However, she said, the agreement was more focused on strengthening diplomatic ties through trade.

“The bilateral agreement has also paved the way for the private sector to be greater involved in trade between Cambodia and Vietnam,” she said.

“Vietnam may not have premium rice like Cambodia, so somehow they need those kinds of premium rice. This is where the private sector can fill in the gap.”

According to the Viet Nam News’ website, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc addressed the opening of the summits.

He reportedly said the CLMV and ACMECS have contributed to important achievements, such as promoting the socio-economic development of each country, helping with the establishment of the Asean Community and aiding peace and stability in the region.

“We are presented with excellent opportunities for the development of CLMV and ACMECS. At these summits, we will discuss new landscapes and together work out ways and means to build dynamic and competitive economies with sustainable and inclusive growth,” Mr. Xuan Phuc was quoted as saying by Viet Nam News.

Macau tobacco law must pass by Aug 2017: health boss

Lei Chin Ion, the director of Macau’s Health Bureau, said on Wednesday his department wants to see the government’s draft of the revised tobacco control bill complete all necessary scrutiny and approval prior to the city’s current legislative term ending in August 2017. If the deadline is missed, the current proposed legislation would fall and the process – which began in July 2015 – would have to start afresh.

Mr Lei added that his department had yet to decide if it supported the idea of allowing the continuation of smoking lounges on the main floors of the city’s casinos. The draft bill originally submitted had envisaged a total ban on all smoking inside the city’s casinos. Investment analysts have noted that casino markets that entirely ban in-casino smoking usually experience a fall in casino gross gaming revenue (GGR), as players are forced to exit the casino in order to indulge their habit.

But a working committee of the city’s Legislative Assembly tasked with scrutinising the bill had in May suggested that with use of the right technical know-how and other safeguards for the health of non-smokers, the retention of smoking lounges might be feasible. Macau has already been buffeted by two years of sustained declines in casino GGR that investment analysts have associated with China’s ongoing anti-corruption campaign. Only in the past three months have there been signs that the market’s casino GGR might be stabilising, a number of senior industry executives have said.

“We are still collecting opinions regarding whether to have smoking lounges inside casinos, and are now studying this subject,” the Health Bureau’s Mr Lei told reporters on Wednesday following a closed-doors meeting of the working committee. Mr Lei doesn’t sit on the body, but as head of the Health Bureau had been invited by lawmakers to attend that day’s committee session.

Bill deadline

“What we strive to do is to see this bill approved before the current legislative term ends [in August] in 2017,” Mr Lei added.

The Health Bureau director declined to comment on the likely date the provisions of the bill would come into force, assuming it is passed before August next year. Aside from the contested issue of casino smoking lounges, the measure proposes more restrictive terms for sales of tobacco products and a ban in Macau on the sale of electronic cigarettes.

Prior to the two-month summer recess of the Legislative Assembly – a break that ended on October 15 – a majority of the relevant working committee had shown support for the retention of smoking lounges on casino main floors, the committee’s president Chan Chak Mo told reporters on May 26.

The working committee’s support for smoking lounges is on condition that second-hand smoke can be kept away from casino staff, and from guests that don’t smoke, Mr Chan said at the time.

Smoking on casino main floors in Macau is currently only allowed in airport-style enclosed smoking lounges that do not contain any gaming tables or slot machines. Casino operators have been required to get approval for such facilities. Having a cigarette while gambling is at present still allowed in Macau casino VIP rooms.

Speaking to reporters after meeting the government on Wednesday, committee president Mr Chan noted that the majority of his working committee had not changed its stance regarding the retention of smoking lounges inside casinos. He further noted that his committee is to discuss the subject with government officials in the next meeting. That meeting is yet to be scheduled.

“There is a deadline to it [the government’s study of the retention of smoking lounges],” Mr Chan noted on Wednesday.

“Because this year is the final year of our legislative term [the fifth term of the Legislative Assembly], this means if this bill cannot be approved before August 15, 2017, it will have to be scrapped,” the legislator stated.

Florida Jury Awards Nearly $29 Million in Damages in Smoker’s Death

On October 25, a Florida jury awarded $20 million in punitive damages against R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. in a trial over a chain smoker’s lung disease death. The jury added to the $8.8 million in compensatory damages awarded a day earlier.

Jurors awarded widower Alan Konzelman about $10 million more than he had sought, Law360 reports. He was awarded $8.8 million in compensatory damages for his pain and suffering over his wife’s death. He had asked for $5 million plus about $300,000 for his wife’s medical expenses. He had asked for $14 million in punitive damages and received $20 million.In closing arguments last week, Konzelman’s attorney told jurors how the sailor’s wife of 29 years died of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The attorney explained that Konzelman loved his wife “deeply” and spent every possible moment with her. “They had an amazing and adventurous life . . .They sailed, they got married, they had fun together . . . And they had a right to grow older together.”

An attorney for R.J. Reynolds argued that Elaine Konzelman knew smoking was dangerous and her husband and four children had long been urging her to quit. The attorney said she kept smoking despite warnings on cigarette packs and public health campaigns, according to Law360.

This case is one of thousands arising from the landmark Engle class action against tobacco companies. Dr. Howard Engle, a lifelong smoker, was one of the plaintiffs in the class action lawsuit. They said they had been turned into nicotine addicts by a tobacco industry that did not warn them of the health risks of the habit. The Florida Supreme Court decertified the class in 2006 and overturned a $145 billion verdict, but it allowed up to 700,000 people who could have won judgments to rely on the jury’s findings to file lawsuits of their own. Among the conclusions, the jury found that smoking causes certain diseases and that tobacco companies hid smoking’s dangers.

In a case decided in December 2015, an attorney said changes in practices made by tobacco companies were not voluntary, but were the result of a series of government lawsuits and a 2009 act of Congress that put the tobacco industry under the regulatory power of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). But the changes came too late for Elaine Konzelman and many like her. The attorney in the 2015 case said “there is no evidence whatsoever that the tobacco companies have done anything to mitigate what they’ve done in the past. . . If they have changed, they probably don’t put down in writing every thought that they have anymore.”

Study finds perception of e-cigarette harm growing among US adults

The proportion of American adults who perceive e-cigarettes to be equally or more harmful than traditional cigarettes has tripled over the last few years, highlighting the need for more accurate public health messaging, according to a study led by tobacco researchers in the School of Public Health at Georgia State University.

“Although the impact of long-term use of e-cigarettes on health is still unknown,” the study stated, “the available scientific evidence indicates that e-cigarettes are less harmful than combustible cigarettes, and that smokers switching to e-cigarettes could benefit from a decrease in health risks related to smoking combustible cigarettes.”

Researchers looked at data from the Tobacco Products and Risk Perception surveys from 2012 through 2015 to examine changes in how adults in the United States perceived the relative harm and addictiveness of e-cigarettes. The surveys were conducted nationally in 2012, 2014 and 2015 by the Tobacco Center of Regulatory Science (TCORS) at the School of Public Health. Nearly 16,000 adults completed the surveys.

The study results are published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine in an article titled “Changing Perceptions of Harm of E-Cigarettes among U.S. Adults, 2012-2015.” The study’s lead author is Dr. Ban Majeed, a postdoctoral research associate with TCORS in the School of Public Health.

According to the survey, 35 percent of adult smokers perceived e-cigarettes to be equally or more harmful than combustible cigarettes in 2015—a sizeable increase over the nearly 12 percent who reported that perception in 2012. Also, the proportion of adult smokers who thought e-cigarettes were addictive more than doubled from 25 percent in 2012 to nearly 57 percent in 2015. Similar trends were seen in non-smoking adults.

“The findings underscore the urgent need to convey accurate information to the public, especially adult smokers, about the available scientific evidence of the harm of e-cigarettes compared to combustible cigarettes,” the study stated.

“Our public health messages should accurately convey to cigarette smokers that switching completely to e-cigarettes would reduce their risks even if e-cigarettes are addictive and not risk-free,” said one of the study’s authors, Dr. Michael Eriksen, dean of Georgia State’s School of Public Health and a globally recognized expert in tobacco control.


When e-cigarettes first made their appearance on the market, they were greeted with enthusiasm and relief by smokers and non-smokers alike. Anyone who expressed skepticism or a desire to learn more about the potential health hazards of this miracle product was met with harsh resistance. New information out of Harvard University has emerged, however, which incontrovertibly links e-cigarettes to lung disease. Apparently, the heavy focus on removing the combustion element of smoking overshadowed the other health hazards posed by the use of this device.

The discovered danger lies in the chemical flavourings used in e-cigarettes – more specifically, Diacetyl, a flavorings chemical that, according to Harvard, can lead to severe respiratory disease. The chemical is found in more than 75 percent of flavoured electronic cigarettes, alongside two other related and potentially harmful compounds used to produce flavours that appeal to a variety of young people, like cotton candy.

This is quite disturbing, particularly given the fact that there are currently more than 7,000 varieties of flavoured e-cigarettes and e-juices (the nicotine containing liquid used for refillable devices) available on the market.

The Harvard press release emphasized that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not tested e-cigarettes for safety and their potential health effects, and, what’s worse, they are not currently regulated.

We are dealing with chemicals that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the flavouring industry itself have warned workers about because of their association with the respiratory disease bronchiolitis obliterans, also known as “popcorn lung.”

“Recognition of the hazards associated with inhaling flavoring chemicals started with ‘popcorn lung’ over a decade ago. However, diacetyl and other related flavoring chemicals are used in many other flavors beyond butter-flavored popcorn, including fruit flavors, alcohol flavors, and, we learned in our study, candy-flavored e-cigarettes.” – Lead author Joseph Allen, assistant professor of exposure assessment sciences.

The study tested more than 50 types of flavoured e-cigarettes. Each e-cigarette was then placed into a closed off chamber attached to a lab-built device which drew air through the e-cigarette for eight seconds at a time. The air stream was then analyzed by researchers and they found at least one of three harmful chemicals detected in 47 of the 51 flavours tested.

“Since most of the health concerns about e-cigarettes have focused on nicotine, there is still much we do not know about e-cigarettes. In addition to containing varying levels of the addictive substance nicotine, they also contain other cancer-causing chemicals, such as formaldehyde, and as our study shows, flavoring chemicals that can cause lung damage,” said study co-author David Christiani, Elkan Blout Professor of Environmental Genetics.”

As more research on e-cigarettes becomes available, it becomes increasingly clear that there are associated dangers which must be acknowledged. At this point, I think we can safely describe them as an uncontrolled experiment on consumers. And the Harvard study above isn’t the only one making noise; a study done by The German Cancer Research Center found that e-cigarettes and their emissions are not safe and that they contain cancer causing substances like volatile organic compounds, acetone, formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, benzopyrene, and silicate, along with various other metal particles.

What Else Can You Do To Quit Smoking?

Aside from developing a true desire to quit smoking, which is the necessary and usually most difficult first step in making any significant lifestyle change, there are a number of steps one can take to quit. GreenMedInfo has put together a great list of options, including the research and evidence that goes with their efficacy.