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Smoking Ban

Nigeria Takes On Tobacco Giants

By Andrew Walker
Nigeria analyst – BBC News 14th Jan

Nigeria’s government is suing three international tobacco firms for $44bn (£22bn) – the first such case in the developing world – due to start in the capital, Abuja.

It says tobacco manufacturers are putting unacceptable pressure on the country’s health services, and companies are targeting younger and younger people in an attempt to replace former smokers in Europe and America.

British American Tobacco (BAT), Philip Morris and International Tobacco Ltd, deny the claims and say they are socially responsible companies who do not target children.

They question the massive sums demanded by the government and say the case “has no merit”.

But government lawyers are convinced they have a strong case.

E-mails between tobacco firm employees to be shown to the court in the capital Abuja will reveal deliberate attempts to increase the number of “young and underage” smokers and attempts to influence lawmakers to keep tobacco sales unregulated, they say.

Four Nigerian state governments also plan to go to court early in 2008 to argue similar cases.

Cigarette smoking is widespread in Nigeria and BAT recently set up a factory in the West African country.

Campaigners in Nigeria say children are sent positive messages about smoking all the time.

And young people across Nigeria can buy cigarettes from vendors in single “sticks”, which campaigners say makes it easier for young people to pick up the habit.

The World Health Organization estimates that 18% of young Nigerians smoke – storing up huge potential health problems in a country of 140 million people, most of whom are under 20.


“If this case gets to the evidence stage, the companies are dead on arrival,” says Babatunde Irukera, prosecuting the case for the government.

“We expect they will try to delay the case by questioning the jurisdiction of the court. But if they see that they’re in trouble we expect them to try and settle out of court.”

He says they have a dossier of evidence that runs to 3,000 pages consisting of internal company e-mails discussing how to target children and influence lawmakers in Nigeria.

“Documents we have refer to ways of increasing the number of ‘YAUS’ in Nigeria. We have expert testimony that says YAUS means ‘Young And Underage Smokers’,” he said.

The e-mails come from a public depository of evidence uncovered during a series of class-action lawsuits across the US.

Many of those cases have been initially successful, but litigants have seen payouts slashed or kicked out on appeal.

In 2000 a Florida court awarded $145bn damages to hundreds of thousands of smokers, but the case was thrown out on appeal.

The Florida supreme court said making such an award would “result in an unlawful crippling of the defendant companies”.

Poor hospitals

Nigerian public hospitals are chaotic, poorly funded places where equipment is often out of date or broken.

Corruption and inefficiency are also responsible for the overload on the health service.

Tobacco company lawyers may argue there is little evidence that the government has been taking responsibility for its own health services.

“We haven’t got a clue where the government got the amount they are asking for. Much of what they claim doesn’t add up,” said British American Tobacco spokesperson in London Catherine Armstrong.

The company says they have been operating in Nigeria since the early 1900s and has never targeted children.

“It is false to suggest that tobacco companies have had a knee-jerk reaction to falling markets elsewhere in the world,” Ms Armstrong said.

The tobacco firms expect legal arguments to go on for “years and years”, she added.


But anti-smoking campaigners say children are definitely the targets of marketing campaigns.

Cigarette companies sponsor fashion shows and music concerts, said Eze Eluchie of People Against Drug Dependence and Ignorance (Paddi), a Lagos-based organisation.

“They have something called an 18-plus programme, which they say tries to prevent young people from taking up smoking. But when 16- and 17-year-olds see that, it makes them think smoking is grown-up. It’s counter-productive,” he said.

Whatever happens with the court case, the government is already trying to curb the spread of smoking.

Cigarette adverts have been restricted – only allowed on radio and TV after 2200 and billboards have been scrapped.

The authorities in the capital, Abuja, are also considering a smoking ban in public places.

Is The Smoking Ban Effective?

Do you think the smoking ban is effective?

Jan 12, 2008 – SCMP

But how about taxis?

There is no curb on either drivers or passengers smoking in these small spaces. Hong Kong administrators should note that Japan virtually banned all smoking in taxis whether it be by passengers or the drivers themselves.

It will be a great day when I can drive a few kilometres and not have to witness a taxi driver with his window wide open spilling cigarette ash, and probably the butt as well, on to our roads or pavements, winding up his window and then driving away.

No wonder most taxi cabins smell filthy.

J. R. Paine, Chai Wan

Do you think the smoking ban is effective?

Jan 12, 2008 – SCMP

The smoking-ban legislation has been in force for a year now and I think it has been ineffective. As I am a non-smoker, I sometimes find it hard to breathe on our streets because there are so many people smoking. The law mostly applies to indoor public places. It does not stop people lighting up on the street, and the number of smokers in Hong Kong has not decreased.

The fact is that non-smokers are exposed to second-hand smoke in our streets, and so they continue to face a health risk.

I would like to see a blanket smoking ban, including outdoor areas. This would help protect non-smokers and might help some smokers kick their habit.

Angel Lau Ho-yan, Tung Chung

Russia Agrees to Tobacco Convention

Friday, January 11, 2008 / Updated Moscow Time Business

Cabinet Agrees to Tobacco Convention

By Anatoly Medetsky – Staff Writer

The Cabinet on Thursday backed further efforts to battle one of Russia’s most unhealthy addictions — smoking — by giving the go-ahead to a total ban on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorships.

The bill approved by the Cabinet in its Thursday session clears the way for Russia to join a UN tobacco control convention requiring members to take these steps within five years of signing on.

Current laws forbid outdoor, radio and television advertising for tobacco, but major international firms that dominate the domestic market, such as British American Tobacco, run ads in glossy magazines, the metro and are heavily involved in sponsorships.

British American Tobacco most recently helped organize an art exhibition at the State Russian Museum in St. Petersburg. Promoters often hand out cigarettes to passersby in busy locations.

Accession to World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control will come if and when the bill is passed in the State Duma and is signed by the president.

Duma Speaker Boris Gryzlov, whose United Russia party holds an overwhelming majority in the chamber, has already signaled his support for the bill.

“I personally don’t smoke,” he said. “I think accession to the convention is absolutely the right thing to do.”

The convention also requires that member countries raise taxes on cigarettes in order to discourage consumption. Russia currently charges a token 3 percent tax on tobacco production, compared with some 50 percent in Western Europe, said Azam Buzurukov, the WHO’s national tobacco-control officer in Moscow. The cheapest cigarette brand costs a mere 6 rubles (25 cents) per pack in central Russia, he said.

The convention binds governments to restrict smoking in public places, a measure that many West European countries adopted over the past year, with the latest bans hitting French cafes, hotels and clubs on Jan.1.

It also tells member states to require producers to remove words like “light” and “mild” from packaging, which should also bear larger health
warnings. In an effort to reduce supply, the document also calls for a crackdown on counterfeit products.

The WHO hailed the government’s decision. “We are positively thrilled,” said Buzurukov. “It would have been great if it had happened even earlier.” According to the WHO web site, Angola and Uganda, for example, both ratified the document last year.

Galina Sakharova, deputy director of the government’s Pulmonology Research Institute, attributed the delay to heavy lobbying by the tobacco industry and a government reshuffle in 2004, a year after the convention was opened.

Russia has attracted significant investment from tobacco companies in recent years as they looked to make up for markets where tight anti-smoking regulations had come into effect, including neighboring Ukraine.

British American Tobacco, a leading domestic producer, said Thursday that it supported Russia’s efforts to enter the convention, but that it expected that government decisions about regulating the industry would be balanced.

“Every country is an individual case, and practical decisions aimed at reducing the effect of tobacco consumption on health may vary
significantly,” company spokesman Alexander Lyuty said in an e-mailed statement.

The government’s health watchdog, the Federal Consumer Protection Service, said in November that 65 percent of Russian men and 30 percent of women smoke. Some 400,000 people died in 2005 from smoking-related illnesses, according to government statistics released last year. In 2000, the government recorded 340,000 such deaths.

Thailand Joins World With Smoking Ban In Bars

Thailand to ban smoking in bars, restaurants: Health ministry

BANGKOK (AFP) — Thailand will ban smokers from lighting up in bars, restaurants and open-air markets across the kingdom in a bid to curb smoking, the public health ministry said Friday.

The ban will take effect on February 11 and smokers violating the regulation will be fined 2,000 baht (60 dollars) with night club and restaurant owners facing a 20,000 baht fine, a health ministry official said.

Thailand already bans smoking at public places such as government buildings, train stations and hospitals. Hathai Chitanondh, who heads the anti-smoking NGO National Health Foundation, said he would lobby the government to expand the smoking ban to public beaches.

“Thailand is a leading country in this region to aggressively fight against smoking. We have reduced the number of smokers to around 9.4 million” of the 65 million population, Hathai told AFP.

In addition to banning smoking in Bangkok’s bars and nightclubs, the new regulation will also prevent people from lighting up in the popular Chatuchak market, the city’s biggest outdoor market and a major tourist draw, he said.

Although Thailand was long a holdout for smokers, Pavornwan Koonmongkon, president of the 70,000-member Thai Restaurant Association, said she believed the ban would face little resistance.

“Smokers usually cooperate and respect no-smoking rules. This shouldn’t cause any problems. I think it’s a sign of the success of the government’s campaign to raise public awareness about smoking,” she said.

Quit Smoking? Move to California

Date: January 09, 2008

New Year’s Resolution: Quit Smoking? Move to California

Social Pressure May Be More Effective in Encouraging Life-long Smokers to Quit

Sun. Sand. Surf. And no smoking. California’s attitude toward smoking may be the best recipe for success when trying to quit. New research shows that social pressure plays a key role in getting smokers to quit.

By analyzing the smoking patterns of Asian immigrants from countries where smoking is socially acceptable, researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have shown that smokers are far more likely to try to quit when living where smoking is not socially acceptable. And the more these smokers try to quit, the more they succeed.

People say they don’t want to conform but in reality, the desire to conform is strong,” said principal investigator Shu-Hong Zhu, Ph.D., of the Cancer Prevention and Control Program at Moores UCSD Cancer Center, and Department of Family and Preventive Medicine at UCSD School of Medicine. “For a study like this, you have to create a different social norm and then allow people to experience it, so immigrants are an ideal group to study.”

Using data from three previous tobacco studies conducted in California, Zhu’s team looked at smokers who are recent immigrants to California from China and Korea, where smoking is still widely accepted. They found that the California immigrants have a smoking cessation rate much higher than their counterparts in their native countries, where about two thirds of all men smoke, and smoking is a common and expected social interaction.

California provides a radically different setting. The most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) shows that only about 14 percent of California’s adults smoke. With a strong state tobacco control program in place since 1989, most Californians see smoking as socially unacceptable. Smoking has been banned in restaurants and bars statewide for nearly a decade, and more than half the Californians who have ever smoked have now successfully quit, one of the highest quit rates in the nation.

The Numbers

In their study, published in Nicotine and Tobacco Research (November 2007: Volume 9, Supplement 3) researchers note that more than half of all Chinese and Korean immigrants in California who ever smoked have quit. Chinese immigrant smokers in California stop smoking at roughly seven times the rate of their counterparts in China. In Korea, a recent, aggressive tobacco control campaign is starting to boost the quit rate, but Korean immigrants in California still stop smoking at more than three times the rate of their counterparts in Korea.

Anti-smoking Campaigns Work

The researchers attribute this marked difference to the difference in social norms. According to the UC San Diego study, over 82 percent of Chinese and Korean immigrant smokers in California reported that they were familiar with the state’s anti-smoking campaigns through print, television, or radio. This familiarity shows an awareness of the new social norm.

Changing the social norm not only makes more smokers try to quit, it also makes them more likely to keep on trying, even if earlier tries ended in relapse. Repeated tries will ultimately lead to success.

Zhu points out, “The large difference in annual quit rates is almost completely explained by the difference in proportions of smokers trying to quit. In China, for example, the quit rate is low because a very low proportion of smokers try to quit each year. In California, by contrast, a very high proportion of Chinese smokers try to quit each year. More tries means more success. Cessation aids like nicotine patches, gum, and so on, contribute only in a minor way to these smokers’ dramatically higher quit rate because few of these immigrants use them.”

What does the UCSD study mean for tobacco control? Social norm change is more powerful than people may have realized, said Zhu. Passing new laws and mounting media campaigns is not only a cost effective plan, but will also have dramatic, population-wide impact, the report concludes.

The study, supported by the National Cancer Institute, was conducted by a team of California healthcare professionals, including: lead investigator Shu-Hong Zhu, Ph.D., UCSD; research fellow Shiushing Wong, Ph.D., UCSD; Chih-Wen Shi, M.D. assistant adjunct professor, Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, UCSD; Hao Tang, M.D., Ph.D., California Department of Health Services; and Moon Chen, Ph.D., M.P.H, University of California, Davis.

The Data

Data for the study came from three tobacco surveys conducted in California. Two focused specifically on Asian populations:

The 2003 California Chinese American Tobacco Use Survey (Carr et al., 2005a) and The 2003 California Korean American Tobacco Use Survey (Carr et al., 2005b).

Both surveys recruited respondents by randomly telephoning numbers from purchased lists of households with Chinese and Korean surnames. A professional survey research service, Strategic Research Group, Inc. used a computer assisted telephone interviewing (CATI) system and trained telephone interviewers to screen people at random from the telephone lists.

The third source of data for this present study was the 2002 California Tobacco Survey (CTS), a population-based, random-digit-dialed survey conducted in English and Spanish, every 3 years, for evaluation of the California Tobacco Control Program (Gilpin et al., 2003).

For more detailed information on the study, please visit:

Smoking Fine May Rise In Hong Kong

Source: | 01-08-2008 10:06

Hong Kong plans to increase the initial fine for smoking violations to 1500 HK dollars, or 190 US dollars, three times more than the previous minimum level.

A year ago, the Hong Kong SAR government expanded its smoking-ban in public places, including KTVs and restaurants.

The new proposal is intended to prevent more people from smoking in public places. It is likely to come before the city’s Legislative Council later this year. If passed, the new regulation will take effect in 10 months.

A year ago, the Hong Kong SAR government expanded its smoking-ban in public places, including KTVs and restaurants. By the end of last year, over 3000 smokers had been fined for violations.

Bars Keep Right To Host Smokers

Bars keep right to host smokers ( SCMP 6 Jan)

Mary Ann Benitez – Jan 06, 2008

A year after smoking was banned in public places, only one of 1,300 entertainment establishments granted exemption from the law until mid-2009 has lost that status.

Post 97 in Lan Kwai Fong lost its exemption 10 days ago after the Tobacco Control Office (TCO) deemed it to be a restaurant, meaning the ban should apply.

Six types of venues can apply to be exempt from the ban until July 1, 2009: bars that do not admit anyone under 18, mahjong clubs and parlours, commercial bath houses, massage establishments and nightclubs.

Since late 2006, the Tobacco Control Office said it had received about 1,500 applications for exemption, of which more than 1,280 were granted.

Delisted establishments may appeal to the Appeal Board within 14 days of losing their exemption.

Post 97 said it would not appeal. Its sister bars, La Dolce Vita and Club 97, are exempt from the ban.

Jamie Higgins, general manager of Post 97, was frank: “We are a restaurant, and we are not entitled to allow people to smoke. That is the law, in fact we were lucky to get away with it for as long as we did.”

He said that despite knowing the venue was a restaurant, they still applied for an exemption.

“Under the new law, so many restaurants and bars were applying for it, so we thought it would be easier to apply for it and then decide later on,” he said.

Mr Higgins added: “If anything, what the smoking ban will do is to bring us back more business at the weekend because children weren’t allowed to come to the restaurant because people were smoking.”

The TCO said: “We collect intelligence on non-compliance from various sources and upon receipt of such information, will investigate each and every case accordingly.”

Legislators have said the smoking ban is difficult to enforce because the TCO lacks inspectors.

Yesterday, anti-tobacco lobbyists wrote to legislators urging them to press the administration to “rescind these ludicrous politically motivated smoking exemptions”.

James Middleton of Clear the Air said there should be no exemptions. “To do otherwise is signing the death warrants of the staff and is encouraging our youth to smoke,” he said.

Smoking in Cars Hazardous

Smoking in cars more hazardous than previously thought 2008-01-04 05:56:55

LOS ANGELES, Jan. 3 (Xinhua) — Smoking inside a vehicle is more dangerous to health than previously thought, health experts said on Thursday.

Smoking inside vehicles makes the air 10 times more toxic than the federal government says is hazardous for breathing, said Kimberly Belshe, secretary of the California Health and Human Services Agency.

She was making the remarks in downtown Los Angeles while launching a campaign to ban smoking inside cars.

The city of Los Angeles enacted a newly enacted state law unveiled on Thursday, which bans drivers from lighting up in the presence of children.

“Our efforts to address the dangers of secondhand smoke in California began over a decade ago,” said Belshe.

“Today, our state continues to be a leader by ensuring that children and youth traveling in cars are not exposed to secondhand smoke,” she said.

Under the “Smoke-free Cars with Minors” law, a violation is punishable by a 100-dollar fine.

Children who are exposed to secondhand smoke have a greater risk of asthma attacks, ear infections, bronchitis and pneumonia, according to state health officials.

Long-term exposure has been linked to heart disease and lung cancer in adults.

“Infants and children are especially susceptible to the harmful effects of secondhand smoke,” said Mark Horton, director of the California Department of Public Health.

“Smoking in a car, or any confined space, increases the level of pollution inhaled by children and adults, thereby increasing the likelihood of suffering from the negative health effects of secondhand smoke.”

In 1994, smoking was banned in California workplaces. Four years later, smoking was banned in bars.

Editor: Yan Liang

Cigarette Consumption Up Despite Smoking Ban in Hong Kong

Smokers puff 12m more each month after ban

Cigarette consumption up despite limit on smoking areas

Scarlett Chiang and Mary Ann Benitez – SCMP Jan 02, 2008

A year after the smoking ban was introduced in most public places, more than 12 million more cigarettes a month are being smoked in the city.

According to the Customs and Excise Department, the city consumed an average of about 289.67 million cigarettes per month last year, or about 14.5 million packs, while the average monthly consumption in 2006 was 277.65 million. Census figures for the end of 2006 showed the city had about 840,000 smokers.

Medical sector legislator Kwok Ka-ki said the increase showed the smoking ban was not motivating people to quit smoking. “I think the smoking ban can prevent second-hand smoke in public places,” he said, “but to motivate people to quit, the government still has a long way to go.”

Anti-smoking campaigner James Middleton of Clear the Air said the partial smoking ban had “no chance of success as long as [people] can continue to smoke in bars and restaurants that are granted these pathetic deferral exemptions”.

Mr Middleton said it was “business as usual for the tobacco companies and smokers alike”.

But the Tobacco Control Office insisted the ban was working.

Smoking is not allowed in indoor workplaces, restaurants, sports stadiums, parks and playgrounds or on beaches. But six types of establishments, including bars, nightclubs and mahjong parlours, have been given exemptions until June 30, 2009.

Anthony Hedley, chair professor of the department of community medicine at the University of Hong Kong, said the city’s growing population could account for the rising figures but added that so long as the prices of cigarettes stayed low, consumption would remain high.

“The price of cigarette and tobacco duty has not increased for seven years,” he said.

“The low price is the biggest driver of consumption. I am convinced this is because of long-term negotiations between the government and tobacco companies.”

The Tobacco Control Office has issued 3,360 summonses, including 998 at amusement game centres, 565 at food premises, 336 at markets, 315 at shops, 259 in shopping malls, 236 in parks, 139 on backstairs and 512 at other indoor public places.

As of November 30, about 1,300 people had been convicted, paying fines from HK$50 to HK$1,500.

Christine Wong Wang, head of the Tobacco Control Office, said: “The majority of the public, including some smokers, have shown appreciation of the statutory smoking ban, and voluntary compliance remains by and large the established norm.”

Federation of Restaurants and Related Trades vice-chairman Lock Kwok-on said restaurant business was hurt in the first six months of the ban but had steadied as customers became accustomed to it and more considerate in the second half of the year.

Many customers now were willing to step outside to smoke when told of the ban.

Dr Wong said the main aim of the ban was to protect people from second-hand smoke, but it may also have motivated more smokers to quit.

A smoking cessation hotline (1833183) set up by the Department of Health to counsel smokers had handled at least 5,800 calls since January last year – about 70 per cent higher than the previous year, she said.

But Dr Kwok said the department’s promotions were not enough to counter increased tobacco marketing towards teenagers since the introduction of the ban.

“A tobacco company will offer free delivery if you buy only two packages,” he said.

“Who needs delivery services to buy two packages of cigarettes? It must be targeting teenagers who cannot get them in a shop.”

It’s Time To Build On Smoking Ban’s Success

LEADER Jan 02, 2008 SCMP

The year-old public smoking ban has, without doubt, saved lives by reducing people’s exposure to second-hand smoke. But as a society, we have not made much headway in encouraging smokers to quit or discouraging others from taking up the deadly habit. The ban, therefore, has only been a partial victory for public health in Hong Kong.

As we report today, tobacco imports for local consumption rose slightly last year compared with the 12 months before the ban was introduced in January last year. Customs seizures of smuggled cigarettes also shot up. Much work lies ahead if we are to reduce the number of smokers in the city and the cost to public health services. Still, what the anti-smoking ban has already achieved deserves recognition and celebration. It has overcome the resistance and scepticism of the food services industry. Many restaurateurs who originally complained about a drop in business from smoking customers now acknowledge that business has returned to normal; many say their establishments now attract non-smoking customers who tended to avoid them in the past. Their experience will, it is hoped, convince operators of massage and mahjong parlours, nightclubs and bars to comply with the law when their exemption from the ban expires on June 30 next year.

But the ban’s most important result is no doubt the number of lives that have been saved from diseases caused by the inhalation of other people’s smoke. Though the ban is only a year old, that number should be significant.

According to the US surgeon general, there is no safe level of exposure to second-hand smoke, which increases the risk of a heart attack by 30 per cent for non-smokers. This is on top of other smoke-related diseases they may develop from exposure.

Two new authoritative overseas studies, cited by the Hong Kong Council on Smoking and Health, find that the number of heart attack admissions to hospitals dropped considerably just one year after a public smoking ban was imposed. Nine hospitals in Scotland experienced a 17 per cent drop in heart attack admissions a year after a ban was introduced in March 2006. New York State hospitals had, in general, an 8 per cent decline in admissions in 2004 after an anti-smoking law was introduced the year before. There is no reason to doubt something comparable has been achieved in Hong Kong with our own smoking ban.

But we need to do more. Food and Health Bureau officials should move quickly to streamline the ban’s enforcement by replacing the current summons system with a fixed penalty. This has widespread support among lawmakers, and its prompt passage by the Legislative Council is virtually guaranteed. What’s more, it will save the courts time and resources in having to handle summonses for smoking violations.

An unfortunate side effect of the indoor smoking ban is that it has pushed more smokers to light up in the streets. This has caused many people to complain frequently about having noxious fumes blown in their faces. In many overseas cities, people are banned from smoking outside main entrances to buildings and other public facilities. A similar ban should be considered in Hong Kong. Some established office buildings have already set aside smoking corners to stop smokers from causing a nuisance at entrances.

As a liberal society, we cannot outlaw smoking, but we should certainly do our best to ban the noxious practice where we can and frown upon it when we can’t.