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March, 2017:

Oregon Senate approves raising the tobacco use age to 21

The state Senate has approved raising Oregon’s minimum age for tobacco use to 21.

http://ktvl.com/news/local/oregon-senate-approves-raising-the-tobacco-use-age-to-21

The bill approved 19-8 on Thursday now heads to the House. If the proposal is eventually signed by Gov. Kate Brown, Oregon would be the third state to increase the legal age for buying and possessing cigarettes and other tobacco products from 18 to 21.

Hawaii was the first state to increase the age, followed by California. Dozens of cities and local jurisdictions have adopted the policy over the years, including Oregon’s Lane County.

The proposal would reduce Oregon’s tax revenue from tobacco by $1.76 million in the upcoming two-year budget, adding slightly to the state’s projected $1.6 billion budget shortfall.

The losses, however, could be covered from proposals to increase tax rates on tobacco.

Guam raises tobacco age to 21 come 2018

The legal smoking age in Guam will be 21 next year.

http://www.dailyprogress.com/guam-raises-tobacco-age-to-come/article_29ad8ba9-8df0-5ec5-8df2-51f052eee133.html

A measure lapsed into law this week raising the legal age to use or purchase tobacco products from 18 to 21 stating Jan. 1, 2018, The Pacific Daily News reported (http://bit.ly/2nPFaIb ). Lawmakers unanimously passed the measure March 9 and the governor took no action, meaning the measure automatically became law.

Last year, the Legislature passed a similar bill to raise the legal tobacco age to 21 but Gov. Eddie Calvo vetoed it, saying was a “willful intrusion into the personal lives and choices of our citizens.”

Adelup Director of Communications Oyaol Ngirairikl said Calvo maintains his stance that residents should be free to choose, but acknowledges that the majority of senators voted in favor of the smoking-age measure, making it immune to a veto.

“Guam’s youth smoking rate is the highest in the nation,” said Speaker Benjamin Cruz on Thursday. “And at a time when tobacco kills more people than alcohol, car accidents and illicit drugs combined, how then can we ignore the fact that doing nothing would not only have protected Big Tobacco, but condemned future generations of young people to disease and death?”

According to the American Cancer Society, smoking rates on Guam have declined in recent years to 27.4 percent, but still remain higher than the national average of 17.5 percent.

Health care officials who supported the measure to raise the smoking age cited a March 2015 Institute of Medicine report that projected tobacco use in the nation to drop by 12 percent if the legal smoking age was raised to 21.

Dutch cancer assoc. files lawsuit against tobacco producers

Dutch cancer fighting association KWF is suing four major tobacco companies for aggravated assault resulting in death and forgery. According to the association, the tobacco companies deliberately incorrectly inform smokers about the damage smoking actually causes, AD reports.

http://nltimes.nl/2017/03/24/dutch-cancer-assoc-files-lawsuit-tobacco-producers

KWF is filing charges against the largest tobacco manufacturers in the world – Imperial Tobacco Benelux, British American Tobacco, Philip Morris and Japan Tobacco International.

The association is charging the tobacco companies with forgery because KWF believes they intentionally manipulate the mandatory tests that measure the emission of harmful and addictive substances in cigarettes. In this the KWF points to what they call the “sjoemel cigarette” [tampered cigarette]. These cigarettes have little holes that tests show make smokers inhale less harmful substances. But according to the KWF, this is wrong – smokers partly cover the holes with their fingers, thereby inhaling more harmful substances in practice than the tests indicate.

KWF is suing the tobacco companies with two smoking victims Anne Marie van Veen and Lia Breed and the Youth Smoking Prevention foundation.

Is tobacco bill really necessary?

Last week we learned that President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo verbally rejected a proposal from lawmakers for a new tobacco bill that would increase protection of the industry and production of cigarettes. However, he finally gave written agreement for discussion by government and the legislature about the proposed law.

http://www.thejakartapost.com/academia/2017/03/24/is-tobacco-bill-really-necessary.html

Smoking and the tobacco industry have long been big business here with well documented impacts on national, family and individual economies, health and welfare. Today I call on activists concerned for the people of Indonesia to reject the proposed tobacco law, which threatens the health and well-being of our people. It is in conflict with prevailing laws on health and other fields.

We must also raise our voices to point to positive action that the government can take to address some key concerns of the President — an increase in revenues and the welfare of tobacco farmers and workers in the cigarette industry.

A review of some basic facts about smoking and tobacco in Indonesia makes clear the importance of acting promptly.

Among the country’s 255 million people, an estimated 65 percent of adult males are regular smokers, making Indonesia the second-largest cigarette market in Asia after China. Furthermore, in Indonesia the rate of smoking among women has increased rapidly in recent years. This threatens not only the health of these women, but that of their babies and children. Smoking while pregnant increases the risk of miscarriage, low birth weight and respiratory problems in children after birth.

A child growing up with a mother or father or both smoking is at risk in multiple ways. Children’s health may be permanently affected by second-hand smoke in the house. Furthermore children may associate smoking with “being adult” and rush to start smoking themselves leading to early, long-term addiction.

Finally, the households of smokers, particularly low-income families, live with cruel competition for family funds between expenditure on cigarettes and expenditure on good nutrition, clothing, school books and basic medical care. Research shows that it is often the basic needs that lose out — a punishment for the whole family that falls particularly hard on children who are building bones, brains and muscles.

As a pediatrician I would like all parents to be disciplined, caring and active in promoting the best possible life chances for each of their children. Yet science and global experience make clear that the addictive nature of cigarette smoking, peer-group pressure among young people and alluring cigarette advertising makes it easy to start lighting up. Later, smokers find it difficult or impossible to shake the habit.

Therefore I argue not only against the proposed bill.

I also suggest four important actions that could eventually help reduce the threat of smoking to people’s health, thus reducing individual and health expenditure, increase revenue, improve the situation of tobacco farmers and help cigarette factory workers.

First, accede to the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). This global public health treaty aims to reduce tobacco-related causes of ill health and death through cutting legal and illegal supply and demand for tobacco, and protection of health and the environment from tobacco-related damage. Having been adopted by 180 of the 193 UN member states, Indonesia is one of only 13 which is not yet a party to the convention.

Second, increase revenues from tobacco and smoking. The expansion of cigarette production and sales in the proposed bill is presented in terms of expansion of employment opportunities and income for the government.

Yet this increase can be achieved without the bill by increasing the price of a pack of cigarettes (20 sticks), now at US$ 1.40, among the world’s lowest. A significant increase in price will automatically increase revenues from taxes and excises, which benefits the national and regional levels.

Increasing the price would both raise revenue and reduce smoking among the young and the poor -meaning lower treatment costs of tobacco-related diseases.

Third, protect and develop tobacco farmers. Since independence, Indonesia has worked to improve its citizens’ productivity, health services and welfare. There is already a law for the protection and empowerment of farmers (Law No. 19/ 2013). Presidential or other government regulations with special focus could fully meet the needs of tobacco farmers.

Also urgent are special efforts to support farmers wanting to transit out of tobacco farming but without the resources for the startup investment, including training, equipment, seeds etc.

Fourth, protect and attend to the welfare of cigarette factory workers. Similar to farmers, there are laws and regulations that could be used to address their special needs as the industry evolves. And it is clear that even if the cigarette industry expands production in line with the proposed law, it would not expand employment, given the industry’s preference for the speed, efficiency and simplicity of mechanized production.

Layoffs of workers and the shift from hand-rolled cigarettes to mostly mechanized production is already well advanced – 75 percent of kretek (clove-based) cigarettes is now machine rolled. Thus the new law would unlikely provide any significant new employment or support for workers displaced by mechanization.

So is the proposed tobacco bill needed to raise revenues and protect agricultural and factory workers in the industry? No. If we are concerned about the people, their health and well-being, the proposed tobacco bill is clearly unnecessary!

***

The writer is presently leaders’ envoy and board chair for the Asia Pacific Leaders’ Malaria Alliance (APLMA). She served as health minister (2012-2014) and chair of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (2013–2015)

Bright’s Path of Maldon High Street set to ban smoking on premises completely from April 1

SMOKERS will be banned from lighting up in a Maldon town centre street from next month, it has been announced.

http://www.maldonandburnhamstandard.co.uk/news/15174390.Boutique_shops_street_set_to_go_smoke_free_from_April/

Shoppers will no longer be able to smoke outside Bright’s Path, the row of boutique businesses off Maldon High Street, from April 1. Vaping will still be allowed.

The shopping area features independent businesses for several years such as Mrs Salisbury’s Famous Tea Rooms, Chameleon Jewellery, Sew In Pressed, Rock Hard Candy and newcomer Little Poppets’ Baby Boutique.

Owner Mark Salisbury said statistics showing tobacco sales in the UK were at the lowest in recorded history meant now was the right time for the ban on the privately owned area.

He said: “We’ve been really keen on the idea for some time now, as we have a great deal of outdoor space.

“Our client range has a lot of mothers with young children and families, many of whom are not a fan of the effects of many people smoking when sitting out here.

“This may prove controversial and frustrate some people, but with the summer season approaching we’re going to have more people coming along to sit outside, and when the majority of our clients support the idea, we feel it’s the best time to do it.”

Mr Salisbury also owns the Continental Café further up the High Street which also has an outdoor seating area, where smoking will still be allowed.

He added: “With the news the government brought out the sales are the lowest that they have ever been, we felt if we’re going to do it, it’s now or never.

“The Continental will still allow smoking, and we’re allowing vaping in Bright’s Path, but my wife and I reached the stage where we feel enough is enough and we’re pushing through with it.”

Julie Ciniglio, of Maldon Business Association, welcomed the move.

She said: “I can’t see why this would be anything but a good thing.

“We’re blessed with local independent businesses in Maldon, and the decision to ban smoking like this rests with the business owner and the voice of their clientele.

“There are still a lot of smokers around the town who may have something to say about it, but if they have support from most of their customers then it could prove successful.

“It could even work as an incentive for frequent High Street users who don’t like smoking to go to Bright’s Path more often as a place to get away.”

Oregon Senate approves raising legal tobacco age to 21

The state Senate has approved raising Oregon’s minimum age for tobacco use to 21.

http://www.13newsnow.com/news/politics/oregon-senate-approves-raising-legal-tobacco-age-to-21/425146029

The bill approved 19-8 on Thursday now heads to the House. If the proposal is eventually signed by Gov. Kate Brown, Oregon would be the third state to increase the legal age for buying and possessing cigarettes and other tobacco products from 18 to 21.

Hawaii was the first state to increase the age, followed by California. Dozens of cities and local jurisdictions have adopted the policy over the years, including Oregon’s Lane County.

The proposal would reduce Oregon’s tax revenue from tobacco by $1.76 million in the upcoming two-year budget, adding slightly to the state’s projected $1.6 billion budget shortfall.

The losses, however, could be covered from proposals to increase tax rates on tobacco.

Legal tobacco age will be 21

Come Jan. 1, 2018, only adults age 21 and older will be allowed to legally purchase and use tobacco and e-cigarettes on Guam.

Lawmakers unanimously passed Bill 9-34 on March 9. Without any action from the governor, the measure lapsed into law this week, raising the legal age to use tobacco products from 18 to 21.

Speaker Benjamin Cruz, D-Tumon, issued a statement Thursday on the passage of his measure.

“Armed with facts instead of fear — young people, health care professionals and countless community advocates persisted, and, because of their work, this bill is now law,” Cruz said.

Adelup Director of Communications Oyaol Ngirairikl said while the governor maintains his stance that residents should be free to choose, he also recognizes that a majority of the senators voted in favor of the measure, making it veto-proof.

Last year the Legislature passed a similar bill to raise the legal tobacco age to 21, but Calvo vetoed it, saying the bill was a “willful intrusion into the personal lives and choices of our citizens.”

During session earlier this month, senators amended the bill to double the fines for violators who sell tobacco to those not of legal age to use tobacco products.

Businesses that sell tobacco or e-cigarette products also must update posted notices alerting customers that tobacco products cannot be sold to people under 21 years old.

“Guam’s youth smoking rate is the highest in the nation,” Cruz said. “And at a time when tobacco kills more people than alcohol, car accidents and illicit drugs combined, how then can we ignore the fact that doing nothing would not only have protected Big Tobacco, but condemned future generations of young people to disease and death?”

‘Make a difference’

The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network also applauded the new law.

“We believe it will make a difference in the lives of our youths by helping to spare them a lifetime of addiction from tobacco use, and therefore tobacco-related disease and death,” said Cathy Rivera Castro, the network’s ambassador constituent team lead.

Smoking rates in the island have declined in the last few years, but remain higher than the national average, according to the American Cancer Society. The smoking rate here is 27.4 percent, higher than national average of 17.5 percent, the organization said in its statement. And one in three local high school students uses electronic cigarettes, it said.

Health care professionals who supported Bill 9-34 cited a March 2015 Institute of Medicine report that projected tobacco use in the nation to drop by 12 percent if the legal smoking age was raised to 21.

BNZ to bring in nuclear free, tobacco free investment policy

Bank of New Zealand has developed a responsible investment policy which excludes companies involved in the production of cluster munitions, anti-personnel mines, nuclear weapons and tobacco or tobacco products from its international equity holdings, it said.

http://business.scoop.co.nz/2017/03/23/bnz-to-bring-in-nuclear-free-tobacco-free-investment-policy/

“In the last 3.5 years our funds under management have grown from $1.5 billion to almost $4 billion today, so we’ve undertaken a comprehensive review of our investment business,” BNZ head of wealth and private bank Donna Nicolof said in a statement. In the past BNZ invested in commingled funds alongside other institutional investors.

“One of our key investment beliefs is that risk and return are equally important and we have made the decision to exclude companies involved in the manufacture of tobacco on the basis that there is no safe level of use and engagement with these companies is futile. The regulatory and litigation risks faced by this industry are significant,” Nicolof said.

The investment policy at BNZ, a subsidiary of National Australia Bank, spans all investments it makes on behalf of customers and includes the investments of the BNZ KiwiSaver Scheme.

The move follows investor uproar last year after media investigations found New Zealanders had unknowingly invested $152 million in arms manufacturers and big tobacco companies through their KiwiSaver funds.

Earlier today the opposition Green Party said the government needs to set a clear deadline for when all KiwiSaver providers should have divested from companies involved in the manufacture of cluster bombs, landmines, and nuclear weapons. According to a report by Radio New Zealand four default providers – Australia & New Zealand Banking Group, Kiwibank, Westpac Banking Corp and Mercer – still had passive investments in such companies through global index funds.

“It’s time for the government to get tough on investment companies that are dragging their feet on ethical investment,” said Green Party co-leader James Shaw.

Smoking rate continues to decline, survey shows

The latest Canadian Community Health Survey shows a 0.4 percentage point annual decline in the smoking rate and a nearly nine per cent drop since 2000-2001, the Canadian Press reported.

http://www.tobaccojournal.com/Smoking_rate_continues_to_decline_survey_shows.54156.0.html

Some 17.7 per cent of the population 12 years and older smoke daily or occasionally in 2015, compared with 18.1 per cent the year before, the news agency said. The rate was 26 per cent in 2000-2001. About 5.3 people smoke, of which about 3.8 million are daily smokers, Canadian Press said. Male smokers at 20.4 per cent represented a larger group than females at 15 per cent of the population in the latest survey.

FCTC cut smoking 2.5 per cent over 10 years; study

A decade of tobacco control efforts by the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) has reduced the global smoking rate by 2.5 per cent, according to an evaluation by the International Tobacco Control Policy Evaluation Project.

http://www.tobaccojournal.com/FCTC_cut_smoking_2_5_per_cent_over_10_years_study.54157.0.html

Although the international treaty, an adjunct of the World Health Organisation, has made substantial progress in combatting use of tobacco products, implementation of FCTC measures has fallen short of its objectives, according to the study. “While the progress of WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control has been remarkable, there are still far too many countries where domestication of the treaty and its implementation has fallen short,” said Dr Geoffrey Fong, a study author from the University of Waterloo, Canada. “One important cause of this is the tobacco industry’s influence, particularly in low- and middle-income countries.”

Conducted with assistance from WHO, the study analysed data from 126 countries and determined the smoking rate in those countries declined on average from 24.7 per cent in 2005 to 22 per cent in 2015. FCTC obligates 180 signatory countries to raise tax on tobacco products, create smoke-free public spaces, implement warning labels on packaging, ban advertising and support stop-smoking services.