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September 26th, 2017:

Change of crop bears fruit

For local farmers in Qujing, money does grow on trees since the local government enticed the Joyvio Group to invest in plantations to grow a superfood. Wang Hao, Yang Feiyue and Li Yingqing report in Qujing, Yunnan.

http://africa.chinadaily.com.cn/life/2017-09/26/content_32492426.htm

Yingqing Xu Huayuan is using secateurs to trim blueberry trees in a vast plantation in Yunnan province.

“You can try one of the blueberries that have turned dark blue on the trees. They are sweet,” says the 32-year-old.

Xu is a contract worker on a blueberry plantation in the Qilin district of Qujing city, which is owned by Joyvio Group, the strategic investment arm for food and agribusiness of Legend Holdings.

He has been working at the plantation, which covers 73 hectares, for a year, caring for its 240,000 blueberry trees along with seven others.

His work includes keeping a record of the development of each blueberry tree in the area of the farm he is responsible for, monitoring the changes in temperature and water content on a daily basis throughout the year.

“My life is much easier and more stable now than it used to be,” says Xu, who used to grow tobacco on his 0.7 hectare of land. “I had to dig into my own pockets to buy pesticide and fertilizer, do all the heavy lifting during the harvest, and find buyers,” he says.

His family could make up to 30,000 yuan ($4,500) if there was a good harvest, but would lose it all when the weather wreaked havoc.

The city produces among the best tobacco nationwide, and its output accounts for approximately 9 percent of the total nationwide.

“Tobacco is still a pillar industry. But we are trying to make other sectors, like organic farming, vacation and sport tourism, take up a larger proportion, so that the industrial mix would be healthier, too. Blueberries are our new hope,” says Dong Baotong, the mayor of Qujing.

Tobacco giant wants to eliminate smoking . . .

. . . and pigs might fly

http://www.bmj.com/content/358/bmj.j4443

The Foundation for a Smoke-Free World, an “independent” research funding body fully funded by Philip Morris, launched on 13 September.1 It will provide $960m (£711m; €808m) over 12 years to help “eliminate smoking worldwide.” No benchmarks for this modest task have apparently yet been announced. This largesse is a mere $80m a year from a company with global revenue in 2016 of $26.7bn2 and a marketing budget (in 2012) of $7bn intended overwhelmingly to promote smoking.3

Harm reduction

The long, deceptive, and failed history of tobacco harm reduction has seen filters (including crocidolite asbestos); misleading “reduced carcinogen” brands; and a wide range of breathlessly announced innovations.4 Each of these had their academic touts. None reduced harms from smoking, and the “lights” and “milds” reduced risk fiasco5 arguably kept many smoking who may have otherwise quit. Electronic vaporisers, with their growing consumer acceptability, may turn out to be the real deal. But with less than a decade of widespread use, any verdict on their status as much less dangerous may be decades premature.

The vaporised nicotine industry, including Big Tobacco, is now focused on how it can break down potent regulatory controls on vaporised products and assure consumers about safety.

“Buying scientists”

In the past, Philip Morris has publicised seductive research funding and courted prominent scientists, including US epidemiologist Ernst Wynder, the first proponent of tobacco harm reduction.6 The new foundation’s director, Derek Yach, former leader of the World Health Organization’s tobacco control programme, is acutely aware of why it does this, having written powerfully in 2001 about the industry “buying scientists” to serve commercial objectives and help thwart effective tobacco control.7

Will this be a modern Faustian tale, as many expect, or will Yach have the success with Philip Morris that he heroically failed to experience in trying to turn Pepsi into a health oriented company for six of his post-WHO years?8 Doubtless he will have a predictable coterie of supplicants for the foundation’s money. But the breathtaking arrogance of Philip Morris and Yach shunning WHO’s article 5.3 on industry interference in the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control9 supported by 180 nations will surely steel the resolve of thousands of researchers to continue to shun money obtained from tobacco sales with its unavoidable ethical problems. Nearly 120 health organisations have now called on the company instead to simply stop selling cigarettes,10 what Philip Morris (USA)’s website describes as its “core product.” This is, of course, thoroughly naive, because shareholders would prevent any serious attack on the company’s profitability to which cigarettes are central. Euromonitor estimates that the 2016 global market for combustible tobacco was $736bn while that for e-cigarettes was $12bn.11

If Philip Morris really wanted smoking rates to decline it could announce tomorrow that it will voluntarily introduce large graphic health warnings and plain packaging on all its tobacco products. We know, from countries where it has been forced to do this, that this could happen within 12 months.12 Knowing the impact of price on sales, it could massively increase its wholesale prices to retailers. It could stop all its tobacco advertising and sales promotions.

But Philip Morris and other tobacco companies have done nothing voluntary to embrace any policy that would accelerate the decline in smoking in populations. So they will do none of this and instead continue to reward staff who increase tobacco sales.

Importantly, Philip Morris has legally attacked potent tobacco control policies like graphic health warnings and plain packaging.13 The tobacco industry has armies of lobbyists whose goals are to defeat, dilute, and delay any policy or initiative that threatens its cash cow.

“Useful idiots”?

So will Yach actively join the world tobacco control community in attacking such activities or will he be historically numbered among prominent “useful idiots,” as Lenin might have called them,14 formerly working in tobacco control, who now attend global tobacco industry meetings to cheer on their tobacco host’s “game changing” while doing nothing about this industrial vector’s daily efforts to promote smoking?

Disturbingly, the main task for tobacco control is now increasingly framed by such quislings as convincing smokers to switch to vaporised products, not preventing and quitting smoking. Some even talk of vaping by children as being “protective” against future smoking.15

Just as car manufacturers now producing electric motor vehicles have not abandoned the production and sales promotion of fossil fuel powered cars, no tobacco company would do the equivalent with its combustible tobacco products. But progressive governments like France, Germany, India, and Norway have set dates after which the sales of new fossil fuel powered vehicles will be banned. Many more will follow.

Over many decades, governments have acted to ban a huge range of unsafe, deadly products (thalidomide, asbestos, chlorofluorocarbons, countless unsafe consumer goods), and exploitative practices (slavery, people trafficking, child labour). With tobacco companies now embracing the rhetoric of the end of smoking, it is time for governments to take the industry at its word and set those dates when combustible tobacco products will be banned.

Footnotes

• Provenance: Commissioned, not peer reviewed.
• Competing interests: None declared.
References
1. ↵
Foundation for a Smoke-Free World. Global foundation launched to accelerate an end to smoking. 13 September 2017. www.smoke-freeworld.org/newsroom/global-foundation-launches-accelerate-end-smoking.
2. ↵
Philip Morris International. Dear shareholder. 2017. http://media.corporate-ir.net/media_files/IROL/14/146476/AR_2017/index.html#letter.
3. ↵
Corporate Accountability International. New report: Philip Morris International global marketing campaign targets teens, violating the law. 2014. www.stopcorporateabuse.org/press-release/new-report-philip-morris-international-global-marketing-campaign-targets-teens.
4. ↵
Parascandola M. Lessons from the history of tobacco harm reduction: The National Cancer Institute’s Smoking and Health Program and the “less hazardous cigarette”. Nicotine Tob Res2005;358:779-89. doi:10.1080/14622200500262584 pmid:16191749.
5. ↵
Wilson N, Weerasekera D, Peace J, Edwards R, Thomson G, Devlin M. Misperceptions of “light” cigarettes abound: national survey data. BMC Public Health2009;358:126. doi:10.1186/1471-2458-9-126 pmid:19426502.
6. ↵
Fields N, Chapman S. Chasing Ernst L Wynder: 40 years of Philip Morris’ efforts to influence a leading scientist. J Epidemiol Community Health2003;358:571-8. doi:10.1136/jech.57.8.571 pmid:12883059.
7. ↵
Yach D, Bialous SA. Junking science to promote tobacco. Am J Public Health2001;358:1745-8. doi:10.2105/AJPH.91.11.1745 pmid:11684592.
8. ↵
Charles D. How one man tried to slim down Big Soda from the inside. National Public Radio 2013. www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2013/01/28/169733003/how-one-man-tried-to-slim-down-big-soda-from-the-inside.
9. ↵
Bialous S, Chapman S, Freeman B, Shatenstein S. Tobacco industry interference with tobacco control. World Health Organization. WHO Tobacco Free Initiative. Conference of the Parties to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, 2008. www.who.int/tobacco/resources/publications/Tobacco%20Industry%20Interference-FINAL.pdf.
10. ↵
Unfairtobacco. Open letter from 115 groups to PMI. 2017. www.unfairtobacco.org/en/open-letter-quitpmi.
11. ↵
He E, Felstead A. Big Tobacco has a death wish. Bloomberg Gadfly. 2017. www.bloomberg.com/gadfly/articles/2017-09-20/philip-morris-and-the-slow-death-of-smoking.
12. ↵
Chapman S, Freeman B. Removing the emperor’s clothes. Plain tobacco packaging in Australia. Sydney. Sydney University Press 2016 p92. https://ses.library.usyd.edu.au//bitstream/2123/12257/7/9781743324295_Chapman_RemovingtheEmperorsClothes_FT.pdf.
13. ↵
Gartrell A. Philip Morris ordered to pay millions in costs for plain packaging case. Sydney Morning Herald. 2017; July 9. www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/philip-morris-ordered-to-pay-australia-millions-in-costs-for-plain-packaging-case-20170709-gx7mv5.html.
14. ↵
Wikipedia. Useful idiot. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Useful_idiot.
15. ↵
Current opinions on teen vaping run the gamut from harmful to protective. http://youthandsocialissues.com/e-cigarette-use-as-a-predictor-of-cigarette-smoking.

E-Cigarettes Increase Vital Signs and Arterial Stiffness

By HospiMedica International staff writers

https://www.hospimedica.com/critical-care/articles/294770869/e-cigarettes-increase-vital-signs-and-arterial-stiffness.html

Significant increases in blood pressure (BP), heart rate, and arterial stiffness are seen in the first 30 minutes after smoking electronic-cigarettes containing nicotine, according to a new study.

Researchers at the Karolinska Institutet (KI; Solna, Sweden) recruited 15 young, healthy volunteers (average age 26, 59% female) who were seldom smokers–smoking a maximum of ten cigarettes a month–and who had not used e-cigarettes before the study. Study participants were randomized to use e-cigarettes with nicotine for 30 minutes on one of the study days, and e-cigarettes without nicotine on the other day. The researchers measured BP, heart rate, and arterial stiffness immediately after smoking the e-cigarettes, and then two and four hours later.

The results showed that in the first 30 minutes after smoking e-cigarettes containing nicotine, there was a significant increase in BP, heart rate, and arterial stiffness; no such effect was seen on heart rate and arterial stiffness in the volunteers who had smoked e-cigarettes without nicotine. Importantly, arterial stiffness increased around three-fold in those who were exposed to nicotine containing e-cigarettes. The study was presented at the European Respiratory Society International Congress, held during September 2017 in Milan (Italy).

“The immediate increase in arterial stiffness that we saw is most likely attributed to nicotine; the increase was temporary. However, the same temporary effects on arterial stiffness have also been demonstrated following use of conventional cigarettes,” said senior author and study presenter Magnus Lundbäck, MD, PhD. “Therefore, we speculate that chronic exposure to e-cigarettes with nicotine may cause permanent effects on arterial stiffness in the long term.”

“The marketing campaigns of the e-cigarette industry target current cigarette smokers and offer a product for smoking cessation. However, several studies question the e-cigarette as a means of smoking cessation, and there is a high risk of double use, where people use both e-cigarettes and conventional cigarettes,” concluded Dr. Lundbäck. “Furthermore, the e-cigarette industry also targets non-smokers with designs and flavors that appeal to a large crowd, even the very young, and that carry the risk of a lifelong nicotine addiction.”

Electronic cigarettes consist of a cartridge containing a liquid with a nicotine concentration of 11mg/ml and a battery powered heating element that evaporates the liquid, simulating the effect of smoking by producing an inhaled vapor that is less toxic than that of regular cigarettes. They were first developed by Herbert Gilbert in 1963, but the dawn of the modern e-cigarette is attributed to Chinese pharmacist Hon Lik, who introduced them as a smoking cessation device in 2004.

Smoking ban expanded to include outdoor areas of universities, private-hire cars

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Xiamen’s new public orders to take effect Oct. 1st, 2017

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