March 2009 - |

Monthly Archives: March 2009

Cigarette prices kick smokers down

Despite the new federal cigarettes tax comes into force next week, smokers have already been suffering form the price increase that came out of blue and lightened their wallets.

The increase that makes up more than 150 percents would provide health insurance for children from low-income families.

However, leading cigarette manufacturers did not hesitate to raise prices for their products.

Philip Morris, Marlboro cigarette and Virginia producer raised the price by 71 cents per pack in order to cover 62-cent-tax increase.
R.J. Reynolds Tobacco followed the main rival’s steps by increasing prices on key brands by 44 cents and removing discounts.

Cigarette manufacturers’ price hikes have made retailers and especially smokers furious because they had to spend more money on cigarettes even before the tax actually comes into effect.

”Paying this price for cigarettes, I feel like I am being robbed by the tobacco companies, ” complained Barbara Schleps, 51, an architect from Sacramento who used to smoke 10 cigarettes each day before feeling that the cigarettes severely lighted up her wallet.

Producer and importers of tobacco products including cigarettes are obliged to pay the excise tax to the federal government. They render their expenses on their wholesale prices directed to retailers who in their turn handle these prices to ordinary customers, adding as well their profits.

At the mean time smaller tobacco companies like the Dosal Tobacco decided to leave the prices for their brands on the same level until April, 1. And they seem to gain much more benefits from this decision, because smokers seeing the incredible prices on their favorite Marlboros and Camels simply switch to less expensive brands, like those that Dosal Tobacco produces.

The chairman of Florida-based Dosal Tobacco that emerged to become the third-largest cigarette manufacturer in the US thanks to its discount brands like 305’s and DTC said that according to sales reports 305s have become the best selling brand in Florida.

He also stated that cigarette industry tycoons hiked the prices driven by greed and the desire to grab as much money as they can in anticipation of inevitable sale declines due to excise tax increase.

In response to the declaration of Dosal Chairman, Philip Morris’ spokesman said that those are simply rival’s intrigues denying that the company has increased the costs three weeks prior to federal tax taking effect in order to collect extra revenues.

He insisted that Philip Morris had to raise prices because they have to deposit money in order to pay the cost of the upcoming taxes for the cigarettes that have already been passed to their distribution system but would come into market after April, 1.

Industry experts estimated that cigarette sales would go down by almost 8 percent.

The forthcoming tax increase would be applied to other tobacco containing products as well. Tobacco for rolling and chewing, snuff, and cigars would also become more expensive pleasures in several days. For example, the excise tax on cigars would jump to 40 cents each cigar from the current 5 cents.

”With current economic downfall people will simply search for existing options: online tobacco stores or tax-free Indian made cigarettes,” complained Aisha Patel, sales manager of Crocodile Bay Smoke shop in Opa-locka.

At the same time many states including Florida are introducing new bills in order to increase state taxes on cigarettes. The reason is simple they need additional revenue to cover budget holes.

Providing that those bills would be approved, the price of Camels in Florida stores would jump to more than $5 per pack.

Smokers have already begun fuming about possible state tax increases. “When do they stop torturing us?” asked Julia Nunez, 35 lawyer while smoking outside her office in Jacksonville. ”If my cigarettes rose to five dollars I would give up for sure,” she said.

Other smokers, such as Miami Dade engineer Don Hirsh, admitted they would simply buy cheaper cigarettes.

Hirsh said he has already bought a pack DTC cigarettes to try them because they cost much cheaper than Kools he has been smoking for 20 years.

Source: Best-tobacco

Cigarette and its Composition

In our days are produced easier than before. For example today’s machines produce 14,000 cigarettes every minute. Today cigarettes are made easier because the complete procedure is highly automated, and computers do a large amount of the work. Computers don’t need to take a smoke break, that’s why they work night and days.

Apart from tobacco, cigarettes contain paper made of cellulose laden with many added chemicals that serve to give it a whiter appearance, prettier ash, and a smoother burn. The paper is sealed with glue and often contains a monogram made of colored ink.

The cigarette filter is in fact a very complicated structure that is made up of four parts. It consists of fibers bound together by glue, but there are also chemical additives that improve the taste and speed up the rate at which nicotine is delivered to the brain.
Also, there are cigarette filters that make cigarette “light” or “ultra-light” brand. These low tars, low nicotine brands are named in this way because they have filters that contain tiny holes in them. The holes allow outside air to be brought in with each puff of a cigarette, thus diluting the tar and nicotine to lower levels.
These new filtered cigarettes were tested to see if they produced lower levels of tar and nicotine. Special machines were designed that could smoke cigarettes and measure the levels of tar and nicotine in the smoke.
And according to machines the holes worked and the filtered cigarettes delivered lower amounts of tar and nicotine. The problem with this method – still used today – is that people don’t smoke like machines.
People have lips and fingers that cover up the holes. Also, people can inhale deeper, take more frequent puffs, and hold the smoke in their lungs longer – which is, in fact, what smokers of “light” brands tend to do.

The International Tobacco Control China Survey

The International Tobacco Control (ITC) China Survey is a prospective face-to-face
cohort survey of adult smokers (at least weekly use) and non-smokers conducted
between April and August 2006 in six cities (800 smokers and 200 non-smokers in
each city: Beijing, Shenyang, Shanghai, Changsha, Guangzhou and Yinchuan). These
cities were selected based on geographical representations and levels of economic
development. Within each city there was a random sample selected using a stratified
multi-stage design. In each of the six cities, 10 Jie Dao (Street Districts) were
randomly selected at the first stage, with probability of selection proportional to the
population size of the Jie Dao. Within each selected Jie Dao, two Ju Wei Hui
(Residential Blocks) were selected, again using probability proportional to the
population size. Within each selected Ju Wei Hui, a complete list of addresses of
households was first compiled, and then a sample of 300 households were drawn from
the list by simple random sampling without replacement. The enumerated 300
households were then randomly ordered, and approached accordingly until 40
smokers and 10 non-smokers were surveyed. Because of low smoking prevalence
among women, one male smoker and one female smoker from every selected
household were surveyed whenever possible to increase the sample size for women.
At most one non-smoker was interviewed per household. Where there was more than
one person in a sampling category to choose from in a household, the next birthday
method was used to select the individual to be interviewed.
The survey interviewers were trained by staff from local Centers for Disease Control.
The average time to complete a survey was about 30 minutes for smokers and 10
minutes for non-smokers. Up to four visits to a household were made in order to
interview the target person. The wave 1 cooperation rates range from 80% in Beijing
and Guangzhou to 95% in Changsha. The response rates range from 39% in Yinchuan
to 66% in Guangzhou. A total of 4763 smokers and 1259 non-smokers were included
Downloaded from on 30 March 2009in the analysis.

Thai participants came from the first wave of the ITC-Southeast Asia (ITC-SEA)
survey which was conducted in January-February 2005. Respondents were selected
based on a multistage cluster sampling procedure. The primary strata consisted of
regions. Respondents were selected from Bangkok and two provinces in each of
Thailand’s four regions. There was a secondary stratification into rural and urban
regions within each province. Subdistricts and communities were selected within
urban and rural districts, with probability proportional to population size, for a total of
125 sampling clusters of about 300 households in the whole country. Households
were selected within each cluster using simple random sampling until the respondent
quota (16 adult smokers) in each cluster was filled. In households with more than one
eligible respondent per quota cell, respondents were randomly selected by using a
Kish Grid. A total of 2000 smokers were surveyed through face-to-face interview.
More detailed description of the ITC-SEA study can be found in Yong et al. 2008.
Both Australia and the USA are part of the ITC-4 Country survey which has been
running annually since 2002. Participants used here were 1767 Australians and 1780
US smokers surveyed in Wave 5, conducted from September to December 2006.
They were interviewed over the telephone and were recruited by probability sampling
methods (random-digit dialling methods from list-assisted phone numbers). A detailed
description of the ITC conceptual framework, methodology and survey rates has been
reported by Fong et al.

China does not have laws on tobacco advertising and promotion

China currently does not have comprehensive laws or regulations on
tobacco advertising and promotion, although it ratified the WHO Framework
Convention on Tobacco Control in October 2005 and promised to ban all tobacco
advertising by January 2011. Much effort is needed to monitor the current situation of
tobacco advertising and promotion in China.

One developing country (Thailand) and two developed countries (Australia
and the USA) were selected for comparison. All four countries are part of the
International Tobacco Control Policy Evaluation Survey project. Between 2005
and 2006, parallel ITC surveys were conducted among adult smokers (at least smoked
weekly) in China (n=4763), Thailand (n=2000), Australia (n=1767) and the USA
(n=1780). Both unprompted and prompted recall of noticing tobacco advertising and
promotion were measured.
Chinese respondents reported noticing tobacco advertisements in a range of
channels and venues, with highest exposure levels on TV (34.5%), billboards (33.4%)
and in stores (29.2%). A quarter of respondents noticed tobacco sponsorships, and a
high level of awareness of promotion was reported. Cross-country comparison reveals
that overall reported awareness was significantly higher in China than in Thailand
(particularly) and Australia, but lower than in the USA.
Conclusions: There was a big gap between China and the better-performing countries
like Thailand and Australia regarding tobacco promotion restrictions. China needs to
do more, both enhanced policy and more robust enforcement.

Cigar-Makers Up In Arms Over Tax Increase

You can still find Cuban immigrants hand-rolling cigars in the storefronts of Ybor City, the section of Tampa, Fla., named after a Havana cigar manufacturer.

At La Herencia de Cuba, Roberto Ramirez is rolling a tobacco leaf wrapper around a torpedo-shaped cigar.

His fingers are stained from more than half a century of cigar-making. Ramirez and his son, Abraham, run the Tampa smoke shop. They’re also wholesalers and are bracing for the largest single increase in the federal tobacco tax, which takes effect April 1. The tax will help Congress pay for a $33 billion expansion of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program.

Cigarette taxes will go from 39 cents to $1.01 per pack, while the tax on cigars will go from a nickel to 40 cents per cigar. That has cigar-makers up in arms.

Ramirez says he supports a higher tax on imports, but says 40 cents is too much for cigars made in the U.S. “To the industry here, it’s going to kill us, because everything here is too expensive,” he says. “Our tobacco, our rents, our payroll — everything is very high.”

A Homegrown Industry

Tampa was once called the “cigar capital of the world.” The city’s proximity to Havana and its humid climate made it ideal for producing cigars.

Cigar City magazine editor Manny Leto says the industry was a force here from the late 1800s until World War II.

“At its peak in the 1920s, there were more or less 100 to 200 cigar factories operating in Tampa at any one time,” he says.

But after a series of setbacks, including the rise of cigarettes and the Cuban embargo, now only a few remain.

At the three-story, red brick J.C. Newman Cigar factory, President Eric Newman runs the company his grandfather started in 1895. On the floor, dozens of workers operate machines that churn out 13 cigars a minute.

Newman says the higher tax will increase his prices by a third and drive down business. He’s worried that he might have to cut his work force.

“This is our life. Shame on Congress, shame on our government for trying to put us out of business. In the days they are offering $25 billion bailouts, we don’t want a 25-cent bailout. We just want the government to leave us alone to run our business the same way we’ve been doing it for 114 years.”

Newman, chairman of the Cigar Association of America, says more than two-thirds of the cigars sold in the U.S. are either made in Florida or imported through the state. He calls it a homegrown industry, just like citrus.

That made supporting the tax increase a difficult vote for Rep. Kathy Castor, a Democrat who represents Tampa.

“I was very concerned when it started off in the U.S. Senate at $10 and then $5 a cigar.”

But she says the 40-cent compromise is worth it to expand children’s health coverage.

“Eventually it worked out because the overriding issue and concern is that children can see the doctor and get the health care they need.”

A Punitive Tax?

But retailers say the tax increase could not have come at a worse time. At Metropolitan Cigars in Ybor City, Cathy Sanchez says the tax will be a strain. She says business is already down about 15 percent.

Customer Pat Collier of Zephyrhills, Fla., calls it a punitive tax aimed at smokers. “This is really just like the tea tax in the Revolution.”

But down the street at the King Corona Tobacco Bar, Hassan Maziad of Palm Harbor doesn’t have much sympathy. “Forty cents, poor people. They’re spending $5 or $10 on a cigar. Forty cents is nothing.”

And besides, he says, higher tobacco taxes might deter people from smoking. That’s what public health advocates are counting on.


Lowest Cigarette Prices Allowed by Law

In response to the April 1 increase in federal excise taxes, Sheetz Convenience Stores in Ohio are guaranteeing the lowest allowed price on cigarettes in the state.

“Ohio sets a state minimum on cigarette prices,” said Louie Sheetz, executive vice president, marketing, Sheetz, Inc., “and if we sold them for less than the state minimum, I’d end up in jail. However, I can promise you that Sheetz customers in Ohio won’t pay a penny more than the state minimum.”

Sheetz, Inc. also has been alerting its customers that the tobacco companies raised prices more than three weeks earlier than the April 1 scheduled increase in the federal excise tax. The tax is increasing as part of President Obama’s funding plan for State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP.) This program helps states provide health care to more than 5 million of the nation’s uninsured children through a matching funds program.

“The cigarette manufacturers think they’re pulling an April Fools trick on their customers,” said Mr. Sheetz. “Consumers were expecting an increase April 1, but the tobacco companies actually raised the prices as early as March 11, which forced us to raise our retail prices. Now, they’re just pocketing that extra money. Add to that the fact that in the past few weeks, they’ve also raised their own prices, and so now they’re taking in an extra seven bucks per carton. In my book, that’s more than an April Fool’s trick. That’s just wrong.”

Sheetz held off on passing on the increases as long as possible because it wanted to protect consumers. Stores posted notices at the counter explaining that manufacturers took the increases early. Mr. Sheetz sympathizes with customers who express grief and anger when confronted with the higher prices.

“I’m angry too,” said Mr. Sheetz. “It was unnecessary for the cigarette manufacturers to raise prices early, and I’m calling them out on it. At least we’re able to guarantee our customers the lowest price on cigarettes in Ohio. That will help.”

Measuring success

Four-week quit smoking rates are the local measure to reflect smoking prevalence as set out in Tier 2 Vital Signs in the NHS Operating Framework. They are also a National Indicator in the Local Area Agreementprocess. They provide a useful performance measure for NHS Stop Smoking Services and a means of tracking service performance against local operating plans.
The use of the four-week point as a measure of clinical outcome (stop smoking success) has been questioned, but if the quality of smoking status data at four weeks is good then longer-term success rates can be calculated with a high degree of accuracy. This is because relapse rates for smoking are predictable and well documented in the research literature.
Where resources allow, longer-term follow-up data can provide a further check of efficacy, especially for sub-populations or specific pilot projects. In general, however, following up service users over long periods of time can become very resource-intensive, as many of them will have changed their address or contact details. NHS Stop Smoking Services are therefore not required to supply this level of data – but they need to ensure that sufficient resources are in place to complete four-week follow-ups, as these provide essential monitoring data.

Show is a look back at heyday of local tobacco

An old tobacco carton can be a valuable thing.

Wayne Biby of Winston-Salem was trying to sell one for $500 at yesterday’s Piedmont Tobacco Memorabilia and Postcard Show and Sale in the Home and Garden building at the Dixie Classic Fairgrounds.

The carton once contained a cigarette brand called Reyno, one of the first cigarettes made by R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., Biby’s former employer.

Thousands of other items could be purchased at the annual show. It was sponsored by the Piedmont Tobacco Memorabilia Collectors Club, which meets in High Point. About 400 people attended the show, organizers said. The items included a Camel mirror, a Wake Forest University lighter, an old postcard featuring the Reynolds Building at night, receipts, rolling papers, pocket tins, plug cutters, and tobacco grinders, tags and pouches.

“It’s a connection to their past,” Biby, a dealer, said about why people collect tobacco memorabilia. “It brings back stories that they heard their parents and grandparents talking about.”

One story in circulation yesterday was about the use of tin tags on plugged tobacco from about 1870 to 1930. According to the story, a drunk tobacco-chewer forgot about the tag one day and ended up with the inside of his mouth cut up.

Dan Locklair, a composer who teaches at Wake Forest University, attended yesterday’s show. He has a passion for pipes and pipe tobacco.

“I needed a break from work,” he said. “I’m fascinated by Reynolds memorabilia. I’m fascinated by all the history of tobacco and always have been.”

The Piedmont Tobacco Memorabilia and Postcard Show and Sale takes place every March. A few years ago, postcards, including many unrelated to tobacco, began to be included in the mix of wares sold as well.

“Postcards and tobacco memorabilia sort of go together,” Biby said. “There are a lot of postcards that advertise warehouses and tobacco.”

About 25 dealers set up shop at the show yesterday, with some earning several thousand dollars, Biby said.

Though most customers kept moving from table to table, a few sat on a sofa in one corner of the building and watched videos of cigarette commercials from the 1950s and ’60s. A ban on such advertising started in 1971.

Providing a venue to buy and sell the memorabilia wasn’t the only reason for sponsoring the show, organizers said.

“We’re trying to preserve the history (of tobacco),” said Michael Wagoner, the club’s president.

Wagoner, 31, of Rural Hall, also sold some of the tobacco memorabilia he began collecting about 25 years ago. He said that the club is not trying to promote smoking.

Near the building’s entrance, a mini-exhibition of tools, photos and documents showed how the making and sale of tobacco have changed over the years.

“We do this as an educational thing, too,” Biby said. “A lot of young folks know nothing about tobacco.”

Source: 2.journalnow

Health Canada Advises Canadians Not to Use Electronic Cigarettes

Health Canada is advising Canadians not to purchase or use electronic smoking products, as these products may pose health risks and have not been fully evaluated for safety, quality and efficacy by Health Canada.

These products come as electronic cigarettes, cigars, cigarillos and pipes, as well as cartridges of nicotine solutions and related products. These products fall within the scope of the Food and Drugs Act, and under the Act, require market authorization before they can be imported, advertised or sold. The sale of these health products is currently not compliant with the Food and Drugs Act since no electronic smoking products have been granted a market authorization in Canada.

In recent months, a number of electronic cigarettes, cigars and pipes as well as cartridges of nicotine solutions and related products have been marketed in Canada, and through the Internet. Most of these products are shaped and look like their conventional counterparts. They produce a vapour that resembles smoke and a glow that resembles the tip of a cigarette. They consist of a battery-powered delivery system that vapourizes and delivers a liquid chemical mixture that may be composed of various amounts of nicotine, propylene glycol, and other chemicals.

Nicotine is a highly addictive and toxic substance, and the inhalation of propylene glycol is a known irritant. Although these electronic smoking products may be marketed as a safer alternative to conventional tobacco products and, in some cases, as an aid to quitting smoking, electronic smoking products may pose risks such as nicotine poisoning and addiction. Please visit the Health Canada website for further information about nicotine and addiction.

While no electronic smoking product has yet been authorized for sale in Canada, Health Canada has authorized the sale of a number of smoking cessation aids, including nicotine gum, nicotine patches, nicotine inhaler, and nicotine lozenges.

Electronic smoking products, including their nicotine cartridges, must be kept out of the reach of children at all times, given the risk of choking or nicotine poisoning. Nicotine is hazardous to the health and safety of certain segments of the population such as children, youth, pregnant women, nursing mothers, people with heart conditions, and the elderly.

Persons importing, advertising or selling electronic cigarette products in Canada must stop doing so immediately. Health Canada is providing information to interested stakeholders on how to apply for the appropriate market authorizations and establishment licences.

Canadians who have used e-cigarette products and are concerned about their health should consult with a health care practitioner.

Source: Hc-sc.gc

‘I love China’ ads are ridiculous

Eyesores on Shanghai streets are common. The worst one is, “I love China.”

It isn’t just that it’s disturbing to the eye, each time I see the slogan, I feel like screaming in rage. Don’t blame me. I just don’t understand why the slogan isn’t offending to most of my countrymen.

Written big and bold on king-size billboards, on buses, inside elevators, the words “I love China” are an insult to the nation. Ironically, the opposite of what they’re meant to suggest.

The slogan is actually a catch phrase used by the Shanghai Tobacco Company for advertising its well-known and rather pricey coffin nail – the Chung Hwa cigarettes. Chung Hwa means China, or the Chinese.

In China, flirting with such a patriotic and seemingly sacred slogan could result in severe consequences – from mass condemnation to a fine or even a jail term.

It could, but it hasn’t yet.

For years, since the slogan has been used to promote the local brand of killer sticks, neither the residents nor the authorities have reacted to the flagrant aggression. Not even after two deputies to the recent municipal people’s congress called the slogan improper, inimical to the anti-smoking campaign and damaging to the city’s World Expo, scheduled for next year.

Instead, officials from the Chung Hwa tobacco company have shamelessly described the slogan as something of a “public service announcement”.

Officials from the local industrial and commercial administration have also defended the slogan, defining it as a corporate promotion ad rather than an endorsement for tobacco.

It is surely not a public service announcement, which is mostly about health and safety. It is a public humiliation announcement.

By using the words “I love China” to promote cigarettes, the Shanghai Tobacco Company is implying that all the 1.3 billion Chinese are puffers or should be puffers. And the 350 million smokers that already exist in China are still too small a group to be proud of. Who cares about the 1 million Chinese who die every year from smoke-related diseases?

The sheer arrogance of the tobacco producer and maximum protection from relevant government authorities is understandable considering the amount of tax the company pays the government each year.

For years, governments at various levels have been addicted to using tobacco revenue to boost local GDP growth and revenue income. This year, the hefty tax, the more the better, will be especially welcome. It’s one reason why anti-smoking campaigns or the ban on smoking in public places have never really been effective.

For Shanghai, which displaced 2,000 families in six months to build an International Convention Center and constructed hundreds of kilometers of the subway in a matter of a few years, implementing a smoking ban is too tough. For, it’s about losing a lot of money.

After many years of half-hearted efforts, Shanghai is still trying to figure out whether its restaurants should have a non-smoking section, its hospitals should be smoke-free or if a new, but listless, regulation on banning smoking in public places should be drafted.

Hypocrisy was rife when some of the “I love China” billboards were removed for two months during the Beijing Olympics last year, but put back up soon after the Games’ closing ceremony. Chances are, the same thing will happen when the city hosts the six-month World Expo next year.

If it does, Shanghai will be fooling the world with its expo slogan, “Better City Better Life.”

We should stop abusing patriotic slogans to promote something as disgusting as cigarettes.

I love China, I really do. But I don’t want it written beside a packet of cigarettes. Cigarettes don’t make my country.

There are other reasons why we love China.

Source: Chinadaily

Muslim smokers worse than cows

Muslims who smoke and try to portray themselves as pious are worse than cows which defecate in the street, a top Malaysian Muslim cleric and politician said.

“…a cow which defecates in the middle of the road, (we) cannot take legal action against it because it has no brain and cannot think,” said Nik Aziz who is the spiritual leader of the country’s Pan-Islamic Party (PAS).

“But human beings, who have brains, for them to do something which is wrong in religion … when they are in an attire which symbolizes Islam, they can be regarded as being more despicable than cows,” he said on Friday, according to Malaysia’s state news agency Bernama.

PAS is one of the three parties in Malaysia’s opposition alliance led by former deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim.

Nik Aziz said that smoking was forbidden by Islam.

Recently, Indonesia’s top Islamic body passed a fatwa or ruling banning smoking. Malaysia’s top Islamic body has also banned smoking.

Despite the ban in Malaysia, where over half the population of 27 million is Muslim, 50 percent of the male population smokes according to World Health Organization data.

Source: Uk.reuters

Monroe passes new smoking rules

The Monroe County commissioners have amended the county’s smoking ordinance to prohibit smoking in vehicles carrying children 13 and younger.

The ordinance won’t officially go into effect until after it is advertised twice in local newspapers. County attorney David Schilling said today he expects that process will take about two weeks.

The ordinance prohibits smoking in a motor vehicle, either at rest or in motion, carrying a person 13 or younger. However, sheriff’s deputies will not be able to stop a vehicle for the sole purpose of determining whether an ordinance violation exists. Those who violate the ban face a Class D ordinance violation, which carries a $100 fine. The ban is enforceable only in the county, not within the boundaries of Bloomington, Ellettsville or Stinesville.

“It’s great that it passed,” Monroe County Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Coalition coordinator Jon Macy said following Friday’s commissioners’ meeting. “I think it’s another step in the right direction toward raising awareness of the negative health effects of secondhand smoke.”

Monroe County Board of Health vice president Margaret Joseph also expressed pleasure at the commissioners’ decision to accept the board’s recommendation, saying, “This is good news for the children of Monroe County.”

Members of the board of health now plan to approach the Bloomington City Council, Ellettsville Town Council and Stinesville Town Council to ask those entities enact similar bans, she said.

Commissioners Iris Kiesling and Mark Stoops voted for the ordinance amendment, while commissioners’ president Patrick Stoffers voted against it.

Stoffers peppered board of health members with questions about the ban during the two-hour meeting, including asking whether it was local legislation that made a difference in similar issues brought up like bicycle helmets or seatbelt laws, asking how much difference there is between exposure to secondhand smoke in a residence versus a vehicle and pointing out only 39 percent of the county’s population lives in unincorporated areas versus 61 percent in the city or other areas. He also pointed out a drive from Spencer to Nashville currently means motorists pass through six law changes in that 35-mile span, making awareness nearly impossible for those drivers.

Just prior to voting no, Stoffers said, “It’s no secret I have skepticism about this. Left to me, my personal preference would be some kind of intense public safety message.”

Stoops likened secondhand smoke to a form of child abuse, and said he’d support using funds collected from violators for education on the issue. Kiesling said the health of local children is “very important,” and also said she hopes for additional education.

This issue drew plenty of public comment at a forum Thursday night and at this morning’s meeting, where some residents spoke passionately in favor of limiting secondhand smoke exposure to vulnerable children while others railed against what was described as another step down a slippery slope of personal rights infringement.
Source: Tmnews

Claims of cigarettes use of young children into Ireland

Anti-smoking groups have expressed outrage at the cigarettes use of young children into Ireland.

Irish Heart Foundation said they believed the Government appeared to act against child abuse and the illicit trade .

This groups were responding to last night’s Prime Time which highlighted the use of young children in the importation and sale of illegal cigarettes into Ireland.

Advertisement John McCormack of the Irish Cancer Society said he believed Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan had ruled out an increase in tobacco prices in the forthcoming supplementary Budget, even though it would yield around €420m without any significant impact on inflation. Mr

McCormack said the minister, in a letter to anti-tobacco groups, cited the excuse of smuggling as a reason not to increase the tobacco tax. Mr McCormack said this was despite compelling evidence to show that such an increase would deter young people from starting and, indeed, encourage smokers to quit.

Croat tobacco firm sees double-digit fall in sales

Croatia’s sole tobacco producer, TDR, said on Thursday it expected a double-digit fall in sales this year due to higher excise duties on local tobacco products, which the government imposed under EU pressure.

Earlier this month the government decided to end the preferential treatment of local tobacco manufacturers and tax local and foreign cigarettes equally, as part of its European Union accession drive.

The measure, under which excise duties on TDR’s products rose 27 percent, will take effect on June 1.

“From April 1, we will increase prices of almost all of our products by 2 kuna to offset higher excise taxes. Without that our revenues this year would fall some 450 million kuna ($81.73 million), or 30 percent down from 2008,” TDR’s Chief Executive Davor Tomaskovic told reporters.

Even with the increase, TDR still expects a double-digit fall, he said.

TDR, one of the most profitable Croatia’s firms, is a part of Adris Grupa ADGR.ZA which is also involved in tourism. TDR’s market share in Croatia is 85 percent, while it takes some 27 percent of the market in former Yugoslavia.

Its shares closed at 184.99 kuna on Wednesday and have not been traded on Thursday.

Tomaskovic complained that, unlike the EU newcomers who fought for adjustment periods, Croatia had decided to harmonise its legislation with the EU several years before it is to become a member, which may have a negative impact on the local market.

“Besides higher prices and lower sales, we’re likely to see an increase in illegal trade and citizens buying cigarettes across the border. Local tobacco growers will also be worse-off as until now we were buying tobacco in Croatia although its prices were 30 percent higher than abroad,” Tomaskovic said.

The price of the most popular TDR’s product, Ronhill, in Croatia will from April amount to 18 kuna. In other former Yugoslav republics, it costs at between 7.50 and 7.80 kuna.

Source:  Croatia’s sole tobacco producer, TDR, said on Thursday it expected a double-digit fall in sales this year due to higher excise duties on local tobacco products, which the government imposed under EU pressure.

Earlier this month the government decided to end the preferential treatment of local tobacco manufacturers and tax local and foreign cigarettes equally, as part of its European Union accession drive.

The measure, under which excise duties on TDR’s products rose 27 percent, will take effect on June 1.

“From April 1, we will increase prices of almost all of our products by 2 kuna to offset higher excise taxes. Without that our revenues this year would fall some 450 million kuna ($81.73 million), or 30 percent down from 2008,” TDR’s Chief Executive Davor Tomaskovic told reporters.

Even with the increase, TDR still expects a double-digit fall, he said.

TDR, one of the most profitable Croatia’s firms, is a part of Adris Grupa ADGR.ZA which is also involved in tourism. TDR’s market share in Croatia is 85 percent, while it takes some 27 percent of the market in former Yugoslavia.

Its shares closed at 184.99 kuna on Wednesday and have not been traded on Thursday.

Tomaskovic complained that, unlike the EU newcomers who fought for adjustment periods, Croatia had decided to harmonise its legislation with the EU several years before it is to become a member, which may have a negative impact on the local market.

“Besides higher prices and lower sales, we’re likely to see an increase in illegal trade and citizens buying cigarettes across the border. Local tobacco growers will also be worse-off as until now we were buying tobacco in Croatia although its prices were 30 percent higher than abroad,” Tomaskovic said.

The price of the most popular TDR’s product, Ronhill, in Croatia will from April amount to 18 kuna. In other former Yugoslav republics, it costs at between 7.50 and 7.80 kuna.

Source:  Reuters

Protection for Smokers

THERE HAS BEEN a flurry of outrage at the lax regulation that allowed contaminated peanuts to kill nine people and sicken close to 700. Yet it almost goes unnoticed that cigarettes, the deadliest products sold legally in the United States, are free from oversight. That’s right: The Food and Drug Administration regulates almost everything Americans ingest, including nicotine gum, but not the product that makes that gum necessary. That allows cigarette makers to peddle a noxious mix of chemicals with impunity. Long-stalled legislation that would give the FDA authority to regulate tobacco products would change that. The House shouldn’t hesitate to pass the measure, which could come up for a vote as early as Monday.

Some 400,000 people die in this country each year from smoking-related causes. Yet cigarette makers don’t even have to disclose what is in their products. The legislation would make such disclosure mandatory by creating a new agency within the FDA tasked with regulating tobacco products. Full disclosure would help health officials more accurately assess the dangers of smoking. The FDA would then be able to order tobacco companies to remove harmful additives and to make other changes that could make cigarettes less lethal.

Increased oversight of Big Tobacco would be reason enough to support the measure. But the bill also imposes restrictions on marketing that could help prevent young smokers from picking up the habit. There would be a ban on cigarette billboards and other outdoor advertising of tobacco products near schools. Cigarette makers wouldn’t be able to sponsor sports and entertainment events, and health warning labels would have to cover at least 30 percent of the front and back of a cigarette pack. In addition, tobacco companies would no longer be able to promote their products with misleading labels as “light” or “low tar.” These sensible restrictions are why more than 1,000 organizations — even tobacco giant Altria, the parent company of Richmond-based Philip Morris — support the legislation.

As the bill nears a vote, opponents, including some Philip Morris competitors and tobacco-state lawmakers, are ratcheting up the vitriol. Lorillard, the company that manufactures the menthol cigarette Newport, ran an advertisement in the Wall Street Journal charging that “Congress is forcing this regulation on an agency that seems to be struggling to attend to its most fundamental responsibilities to keep our food and drug supply safe.” This missive ignores the bill’s provision for a user fee to be imposed on cigarette makers to create a tobacco oversight agency; that would allow the FDA to shoulder a new responsibility without impairing its ability to carry out its other missions. North Carolina Sens. Richard Burr (R) and Kay Hagan (D) are also scrambling to protect their state’s tobacco growers. They’ve proposed an alternative bill that would create an agency separate from the FDA to regulate tobacco. The separate agency would get only a fraction of the funding that its FDA counterpart would receive, and it would effectively shield Big Tobacco from meaningful oversight.

Lawmakers shouldn’t let these diversions distract them from the task at hand. The bill before them would save lives, and they should move with haste to approve it.

Source: Washingtonpost

Hookah Smoking more Popular than Cigarettes among Students

Researchers reported that hookah is detrimental as cigarettes are. But students don’t believe that. They said that smoking hookah helps them win stress, and also raise their health concerns.
Hookah originated in India in the court of Mughal emperor Akbar and when British soldiers entered the region, it slowly spread west.
College students found a local hookah lounge that hosts more than 100 flavors of shisha and real fruit bowls. And they decided to taste them all.
Usually students take a break when the weekend nears and the textbooks are put away. In these moments students stress goes up in smoke cigarettes but most of all in smoking hookah.
On college campuses across the country, students are smoking flavored tobacco in order to relax with friends. It is a growing social activity that is convenient and practicable.
One of the college students said: My hookah is my best friend. It is so easy for me to pull out my hookah and smoke after classes outside the dorms. The flavor is what makes it unique, and talking with my friends around the hookah makes for a fun time.
Other students carry their hookahs with them when they have really stressful days, researchers found.
Students believe also that if more people will have a small hookah in their car, than the world would be less stressed and happier.
Although some students opt for a personal hookah, others choose the ambiance of a lounge, where everyone is treated like family.
Originally, hookah was meant to be sucked through a hose and into the mouth, not to be inhaled, in order to savor the flavor of the tobacco. However, many students believe it is meant to be inhaled like a cigarette

Even Recession would not keep people away from smoking

People consider cigarettes as only available pleasure during difficult times.

Despite all the difficulties that American smokers face nowadays like smoking bans, tax and price increases, health complications and tough economic situation, Atlanta State University scientists consider that regular smokers are unlikely to give up their habit.

Recently published “The Tobacco Atlas”, which featured more than comprehensive information regarding tobacco use in many corners of the world, cigarettes regulations and bans, prices and list of health complications related to tobacco, showed cigarette are still popular in spite of all efforts of various organizations.

In times of a sharp downturn in national economy, many people buy products that could distract them from their problems and provide comfort and pleasure, essential in order to overcome stress and depression. Such products always sell very well, and tobacco products are among the leaders in the list of these products.

According to Joshua Martinez, chairman of Atlanta State University’s Department of Public Health and co-writer of “The Tobacco Atlas”, the situation has been rather curious, however it has been established that with the economic situation getting tougher each day and people become jobless and thus depressed, they start seeking for   ‘affordable pleasures’ to calm their nerves.

Mr. Martinez mentioned that the most ironical thing in the aforementioned situation is that the more deprived people become the more simple pleasures they look for.

He added that after the last publication of the “Tobacco Atlas” all the changes regarding cigarettes and tobacco use can be estimated as rather mixed.

The changes that can be assessed as positive include the signing and fast ratification of the Convention on Tobacco Control. This convention developed by the World Health Organization obliges signatories to impose public smoking bans and prevent indirect propaganda and advertisings of smoking and other actions. The convention was signed into law by 163 states with the exception of USA.

Among negative changes Mr. Martinez singled out revenues of various tobacco companies that were as much as $30 billion since 2006.

Source: Topcigarettes

Electronic cigarettes may be a valid way for smokers to cut back

Bill: When I was a kid, the movies made smoking so glamorous. All action stopped while Humphrey Bogart struck a match —

DR. DAVE: — and then paused over the first puff, as if he was pondering the meaning of truth, and how long was eternity.

BILL: What about those awkward teenage years when you wanted to look cool to the girls? Cigarettes gave you something to do with your hands.

DR. DAVE: But, Bill, I thought you never smoked?

BILL: Think of someone in a bar back in the Golden Age of Smoking — a drink in one hand, a cigarette in the other. When I finally got old enough to light up, I couldn’t stand the taste or smell of tobacco. So I was easy to spot — the one guy with a drink in each hand. What brings this to mind is that it looks like nicotine is about to make a comeback.

DR.DAVE: The so-called “electric cigarette”?

BILL: You’ve seen the reports? “The new healthy way to smoke,” they say. They make puffing away sound like a month in Yosemite. You get your deadly daily dose of nicotine, but without any telltale odor.

DR. DAVE: Let me surprise you, Bill: I see a positive, therapeutic future for the electric cigarette. First of all, it doesn’t put out any smoke, tars or carcinogens. It delivers nicotine in an inhalable vapor. For readers who haven’t seen how the e-cigarette works, they can click here for one of the better descriptive video promos.

BILL: Great! I bet every kid reading us is already reaching for one of these fancy oral syringes filled with vaporized nicotine.

DR. DAVE: These are nicotine replacement products, similar to the decades of nicotine gum that preceded them. No teen I know is going to make sure they put the cigarette in an overnight charger, go through the headache of unscrewing and replacing cartridges. How many do you think would shell out $60-plus for the starter kit? If you want to see for yourself, click here for footage on charging and assembling your e-cigarette.

BILL: They have to be re-charged overnight? Doc, the kids I know define “instant gratification” as not fast enough. So you may be right — I don’t think any 16-year-old is going to pay $60 to operate something that delivers its punch tomorrow.

DR. DAVE:  But already addicted smokers — struggling with breaking their habit by chewing nicotine gum — are likely to find this a transition tool that works. Bill, I have no desire to be a shill for e-cigarettes. I am aware there’s a real controversy between the World Health Organization (cautious pessimism) and leaders in the non-smoking crusades such as Attorney David Sweanor or Dr Murray Laugesen (optimistic support). But we have to move people off tobacco products any way we can. In fact, we are rapidly moving towards adding FDA control to the ever-tightening restrictions on minors purchasing tobacco in any form. The newest of these electric vapor products actually focus on their tobacco replacement value. I am also glad to report that the U.S. government has blocked several of these products with spurious health claims from entering our country …

Source: Nydailynews

At last, the UK smoking ban has been amended!

The sheep, the lemmings and the appeasers within the Trade said it could never happen. The government itself along with it’s minions and the entire puritan health industry insisted it was not possible.

But it’s true. It seems that at last the UK smoking ban has been amended to legally allow indoor smoking rooms and lounges, possibly with bar serveries in the same room.

Before you rush off to chuck ashtrays back on the tables there is, inevitably, some bad news. The amendment applies only to the ExCel Centre in London’s Docklands for the duration of next week’s G20 Summit.

A source within the company organising the G20 Summit made the following statement: “Although smoking is banned within work places in the UK and has been a vigorously enforced Labour policy, it is being allowed at the G20 summit – indeed, there is a smoking lounge.”

Clearly these instructions have come directly from Number 10. If the crud hits the fan over this we’ll no doubt be subjected to the usual lectures about the risks of terrorism. In reality there’s an awful lot riding on this Summit, perhaps Brown’s future premiership, where the important negotiations still take place behind the scenes in nostalgic smoke-filled rooms.

And just like a modern day Pub conversation the emphasis of any prospective deal would soon be lost if foreign rulers and key personnel were repeatedly diving outside for a fag.

However what’s not so clear is the precise mechanism by which Brown’s government has been able to set aside the smoking ban, and this is where it gets really interesting.

ASH-UK were understandably spitting blood once they got wind of this betrayal. They don’t care if the global economy disintegrates heralding a dark new order of anarchy, just so long as nu-world pubs ban smoking. ASH have a direct hot line to the Dept of Health and quickly leapt for the Bat-phone.

The Department of Health told them “The simple fact is that the Health Act 2006 does not make any exemptions for diplomats or diplomatic events.”

“The relevant local authority (Newham) is responsible for enforcement for premises within their borough. If there is a breach of the regulations the local authority enforcement officers will need to consider appropriate enforcement action.”

Wh-aaat? They’re ‘aving a laugh aren’t they?

You can just imagine the scene when Newham’s uniformed anti-smoking gestapo strut into the G20 Summit in their polished jackboots:


“I am The Emir of Kuwait.”

“And I’m Osama Bleedin’ Bin-Laden. If I had a quid for every time I’ve heard the old Emir of Kuwait routine. You’re nicked sonny!”

It’s never gonna happen. Special Branch would send these jumped-up little Adolfs packing before they reached the outer perimeter. An anti-terrorism card trumps anti-smoking any day.

However the fact remains that our beloved government must be using some kind of legal mechanism to stay on the right side of their own law. We’ll have to wait for confirmation but it’s being reported that there has been a covert amendment to the smoking ban legislation.

What’s so far held this ban together is that it’s been more water tight than a duck’s rear end. ASH made sure of this, along with the collusion of our own Industry Leaders who fought for the ‘level playing field’ – i.e. the blanket ban with no exemptions for private-members clubs. This made the ban completely unassailable. No exemptions, no amendments, no further discussion.

But it’s all lies. This proves an outright ban is NOT set in stone. They could amend the smoking ban tomorrow at the stroke of a pen. If they can do it for a bunch of foreigners they can do it for us British folk who pay their wages, pamper them with outlandish expenses and lavish them with golden pension pots.

For the moment this is just a crack in the veneer that makes this nasty, socially divisive piece of anti-pub legislation appear to be stronger than it really is. When the industry eventually unites as one alliance to take advantage of the situation we could prise open that crack and tear a giant hole right through it.

Sadly I can’t see any immediate prospect of the Trade uniting.

Try to imagine the power and political clout this industry COULD wield if it came to it’s senses and we got all the customers on board. Yet we allow squalid little groups like ASH to control our affairs, while the temperance league waits in the wings to usher us all meekly into Nu-Labour’s gas chambers.

We approach ignorant government ministers on bended knee, begging bowl in trembling hand, whispering pathetic pleas for a scrap to be generously thrown in our direction. Why, oh why should we be reduced to this?

It’s like the hanging, chain-clad prisoner in Life of Brian – “Crucifixion! Best thing they ever did for us. If nothing else, it’s taught me to respect the Romans.”

What little fight we had is fading while those who believe pubs are better places now all the riff-raff have gone seem to hold sway. They remain convinced that one day a better class of customer is going to walk into our pubs and start flashing the cash.

And what do they suggest will fuel this metamorphosis? More Nu-Labour legislation. Great. The very thing that has brought this once proud industry to it’s knees.

Don’t tell me this pious government meddling is here to stay and there’s nothing we can do about it. Tell that to the Dutch, or the Germans who have proved what can be achieved with just a little courage and solidarity.

So next time the defeatist “let’s just get on with it” brigade tell you the smoking ban will never be amended just remind them it already has.

Source: Thepublican

Since Illinois may offer exemption to smoking ban

Since Illinois’ smoking ban went into effect 15 months ago, the law already has been amended once to clarify enforcement.

Now, Sen. John Sullivan, D-Rushville, is seeking to make it even clearer.

Unlike Iowa, Illinois failed to provide an exception for religious ceremonies in its statewide smoking ban.

“If we can make our case to our members here why we’re doing what it is what we’re doing, there seems to be good support for it,” Sullivan said.

Sullivan said opponents contend that federal law already addresses the religious exemption.

“What we’re saying is the federal law isn’t real clear as to whether it addresses this. It’s open to interpretation,” Sullivan said.

A constituent and member of the Standing Bear Council, Larry Cooper came forward and told him otherwise. In fact, Cooper said he’s been fighting for a religious exemption for more than six months prior to the ban’s enactment.

“Those facilities where the ceremony was being held, they just didn’t feel comfortable. They didn’t want to get into trouble, because they thought the law was somewhat ambiguous,” Sullivan said. “That’s really what has driven the need for clarification.”

When Cooper started fighting for the exemption, like some groups in Iowa, he also called the law unconstitutional.

Cooper, however, pointed to the Freedom of Religion Act of 1978.

“Here the federal government finally gives us the right in 1978 to even practice our religion in the United States, and here they’re already trying to cut it away from us,” Cooper said.

Cooper, a member of the Chickamaka Cherokee tribe, took a copy of the act to the places where he intended to perform a ceremony, and tried to explain, but invariably the owners cited Illinois’ state law.

“We’ve always had to bend,” Cooper said. “The bending is over. I’m not bending for nobody. If they won’t accept us there, we won’t be there.”

He said the Native American tradition always has been that tobacco is a sacred herb, whether it is burned or not.

When Sullivan’s bill came before the Senate Public Health Committee March 11, Cooper and three other supporters of the amendment came to testify.

During that meeting, Cooper said the nine senators on the committee — who all ultimately voted in support of the religious ceremony exemption — acknowledged that the rights of Native Americans were not considered when the bill was passed.

He said one senator said he didn’t realize the bill was so far reaching that it could impact his Catholic religion, known for using incense in ceremonies.

“Smoke is smoke. That’s what it is in Illinois law,” Cooper said.

In fact, under Illinois law, smoke or smoking means “the carrying, smoking, burning, inhaling or exhaling of any kind of lighted pipe, cigar, cigarette, hookah, weed, herbs or any other lighted smoking equipment.”

The proposed legislation would grant an exemption to any recognized religious ceremony, ritual or activity.

Cooper said, however, the American Cancer Society has been fighting that and instead seeking to amend it to specifically address only “Native” religious ceremonies.

Sullivan is optimistic the bill will survive both the full Senate and the House. However, he said the bill must pass the Senate by April 3 to remain viable during this session.

Health board bans smokes

Public health concerns trumped property rights arguments Tuesday as the Teton District Board of Health unanimously approved a countywide smoking ban.

Seven appointed board members listened to about 45 minutes of public comment before approving the measure called the Teton District Smokefree Air Rule of 2009.

Julia Heemstra, program manager for Teton County Tobacco Prevention, and her supporters have worked for more than two years to pass a smoking ban.

“This is landmark,” she said after the meeting. “It sets the highest precedent. The fact that the board of health decided to move forward themselves is incredibly courageous.”

The rule is designed to “protect the public health and welfare by prohibiting smoking in public places and places of employment.” It applies to all public areas, including bars, restaurants, buildings used by the general public, and common areas of hotels, motels and sports arenas.

Among exemptions are private residences, except when childcare is involved, and hotel and motel rooms rented to guests. Private clubs also are excluded, except when the public is invited for an event.

The board also included a caveat for tobacco shops such as Tobacco Row.

A person or business owner violating the rule faces a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $750 or jail time.

The rule takes affect 60 days from Tuesday – the end of May.

The board began pursuing a smoking ban through the health board last fall. Attempts at the Jackson Town Council level had failed because councilors thought an ordinance was unnecessary with so few places permitting smoking. County commissioners lack ordinance authority for such a regulation. The measure was mostly symbolic for pubs and eateries: Only the Virginian Saloon allows patrons to smoke.

County health boards, municipalities and states nationwide have taken up the issue in recent years with mixed results. A statewide regulation died in the Wyoming Legislature last month.

Jackson Councilor Bob Lenz said on Tuesday night that the council didn’t take action on a smoking ban in the past because so many businesses were already smoke-free. He worried about regulating places of employment.

“Aren’t those private?” he said. “I kinda liked it the way the town had it.”

Most of those who spoke Tuesday at the health board meeting supported the rule, but those against it said property owners should be allowed to determine what goes on in their buildings.

“I don’t think it’s the place of the government to make the decision,” said Richard Choate of Tobacco Row.

Virginian complex manager Mike Kraft said businesses should have final say and customers can just avoid the properties if they don’t want to inhale someone else’s smoke.

“They don’t have to come in if they don’t want to,” he said.

Throughout the six-month discussion, the health board argued the rule was designed to improve community wellness.

“I’m so excited the board passed it unanimously,” board member and rule instigator Dr. Brent Blue said. “Tobacco is the single greatest cause of irreversible disease.”

County health manager Terri Gregory provided additional statistics at Tuesday’s meeting. Her staff collected literature and background material for more than a year to support a smoking regulation.

She cited scientific evidence showing that cigarette smoke is a Class A carcinogen and a surgeon general’s report saying smoking harms all organs of the body.

“The role of public health is to prevent disease and promote public health,” Gregory said.

County health officials posted multiple public notices and extended a public comment period beyond the legally required 45 days. Board members also voted to make slight changes to the initial rule to avoid anticipated public objections. One example was the decision to strike wording that the “need to breathe smoke-free air shall have priority over the desire to smoke.”

Opponents question the constitutionality of the restriction.

“They had their mind set on what they were going do, and it doesn’t matter how many comments came in,” Dave Loy said as he sat at the Virginian Saloon on Tuesday afternoon. “They’re not elected officials – where do they get off?”

Virginian Saloon and liquor store manager Max Anderson said a vote before the public or a decision from the Town Council, representing the public, seemed more fair.

In previous meetings, health board member David Shlim wondered if the board had the authority to vote on a rule because members are appointed rather than elected. He said Tuesday he had changed his mind.

“The fact that the majority is [voluntarily smoke-free] shows how popular the idea is in the county,” Shlim said.

Wyoming statutes allow boards of health to use rules to protect public health, but this is the first time the authority has been used to regulate smoking. Teton County health board attorney Keith Gingery said other states have allowed health boards to proceed with smoking restrictions using similar rule language.

In 60 days, Jackson’s only affected bar will have to change its “The Virginian Saloon is a smoking establishment” sign to “No smoking allowed.”

On Tuesday afternoon, customers paused between drags to argue personal and property rights.

The rule “ain’t protecting me,” Howdy Litzelman said as he snuffed out his butt in a shiny black ash tray. “I’m going to smoke until the day that I die.”

Ralph Spooner asked what happened to Jackson’s Western mantra of freedom and “wide-open America.”

“They advertise the old cowboy way, but when you get here, it’s not like that anymore,” Spooner said. “They’ve taken it all away.”

Source: Jacksonholenews

Jury Verdict for Philip Morris USA in Engle Progeny Case

A Pinellas County jury today ruled in favor of Philip Morris USA in one of the first tobacco lawsuits following a 2006 Florida Supreme Court decision that decertified a class action but allowed former class members to file individual lawsuits.
“The jury reached the correct result and determined that the plaintiff failed to meet the criteria established by this particular court to prevail at trial,” said Murray Garnick, Altria Client Services senior vice president and associate general counsel, speaking on behalf of Philip Morris USA.

Garnick said that this case was the third case tried to verdict since the Florida Supreme Court’s decision which allowed former Engle class members to proceed by relying on findings by the former Engle jury. Approximately 4,000 claims, or roughly half of those filed in the wake of the Florida Supreme Court’s decision in the Engle case, are pending in federal court and have been put on hold pending a federal appeals court review of the constitutional issues that arise from allowing the plaintiff to rely on prior Engle jury findings.

“The jury’s verdict in this case shows that Philip Morris USA still has powerful defenses in these cases even when the trial court misinterprets the Florida Supreme Court’s holding in Engle and allows the plaintiff to improperly rely on a prior jury’s findings that have no connection with the plaintiff,” added Garnick. “Philip Morris USA will vigorously defend each individual Engle progeny case that goes to trial. We continue to believe each plaintiff must prove the essential elements of their claims and that we continue to have very strong defenses to these type of cases,” said Garnick.

Price of cigarettes in South Carolina is increasing

The sting of a new higher federal cigarette tax is burning a little early at most local convenience stores, and the pain to the pocketbook probably is only going to get worse.

Ask Daryl Johnson, who has seen his favorite Newport brand jump more than a dollar to $5.02 – and it’s still more than a week until the 62-cent per-pack federal increase kicks in on April 1.

“I think I might have to stop smoking,” Johnson said while standing inside the BP service station on York Street.

For a one-pack-a-day smoker, that 62 cents adds up to about $4.34 week or about $226 a year.

“It’s going to cause people to pick up another habit or basically start buying them by the carton,” said Johnson, who has been a smoker since he was 16.

Right now, the federal cigarette tax is 39 cents per pack, making the new federal tax $1.01. The additional funds will go to the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, a federal/state insurance program which aims to expand health coverage to children whose families make too much to qualify for Medicaid but too little to purchase private insurance. But that’s likely to be just the first of it for South Carolina smokers.

The state General Assembly is considering a 50 cent per pack increase to 57 cents, and this year it looks like the increase has a good chance of passing. That brings that same pack of cigarettes up to $5.52.

The push to raise the state’s cigarette tax, now the lowest in the country by 10 cents per pack, has been hard-fought over several years. Last year, Gov. Mark Sanford vetoed the increase and promises to do so again if the increase doesn’t have a corresponding tax decrease. Because the House was divided on how to spend the additional money, it couldn’t muster enough votes to override the veto.

Now, both sides of the House think they have a compromise bill that they can agree on, said House Speaker Bobby Harrell.

Harrell, a Republican from Charleston, has modeled the plan after an Oklahoma program that uses the cigarette tax revenue to get matching federal funds. That federal money would be used to give tax credits to small businesses to help provide insurance for low-income people.

The plan proposed last year was objectionable because it expanded Medicare, he said.

The new plan is driven by the private sector and gives tax credits for small businesses to provide health insurance. The business would receive a tax credit, which would cover about 75 percent of its cost of buying the insurance. Employees also could get the credit if their employer opts not to buy health insurance, he said.

The additional 50-cent tax would generate about $150 million a year. That would be matched 2-to-1 by the federal government, which means the benefit to the state is about $450 million a year. The insurance program would apply to people earning 200 percent of the federal poverty level, Harrell said. That’s $21,660 for an individual or $44,100 for a family of four. Those scales could be adjusted.

Harrell said Oklahoma was able to take advantage of the matching funds by applying for a specific waiver. Since the South Carolina plan follows that plan, he is confident the state could get those same funds.

The new plan also provides about $5 million for smoking cessation efforts. The state currently puts no money toward that.

Harrell expects the bill to be approved by the House and the Senate. He doesn’t know if the governor will veto it, but he’s confident there would be the votes to override it.

But whatever happens, smokers will pay the price.

Doris Hightower, the assistant manager of the Circle K convenience store on East Pine Log Road, has been alerting customers who purchase cigarettes in her store for weeks that prices will soon go up. Customer reactions have been mixed, she said.

“It’s kind of crazy; I don’t really understand it,” Circle K customer Jonathan Whiten said of the increase. He said the tax increase probably won’t make him stop smoking, but rather he’ll switch to a cheaper brand.

“Smokers are always the easy targets,” said Darnell Peterson, who said he has smoked for about 10 years. “When it’s time to take away rights or raise taxes, we are always picked on.”

Though Peterson said the increase will make his habit more expensive, he doesn’t plan to quit anytime soon.

“I refuse to let the government run my life,” he said.

Smoking by the Numbers

$4 – a typical price for a pack of cigarettes around Aiken **

$4.90 – average cost with the additional 62 cent federal tax **

$5.40 – average cost if SC adds additional 50 cent state tax

Increased costs for a one-pack-a-day smoker with new federal and proposed 50 cent state tax increase

$1.12 per day

$7.84 per week

$407.68 per year

7 cents – the lowest per-pack state cigarette tax – South Carolina

17 cents – the 2nd lowest per-pack cigarette tax – Missouri

$2.75 – the highest per-pack state cigarette tax – New York

$4.25 – what New York City smokers pay in state and city per pack taxes

$1.21 average state cigarette tax

$32.1 million – amount SC collected in cigarette tax in 2006, the 5th lowest in the country

New cigarette tax means much higher prices

If you smoke cigarettes, you’ve probably noticed in the past few weeks that it’s costing more to light up.

Philip Morris USA raised its prices in February, and retailers are beginning to catch up and pass the costs on to consumers.

Along the Grand Strand, price increases range from $0.75 to more than $1. For instance, a pack of Marlboro Lights costs on average $3.30 a few weeks ago, but now some stores are selling them for as much as $4.92 per pack.

And beginning April 1, 2009, a new federal excise tax will mean an additional $0.62 per pack — bringing that pack of Marlboro Lights, for example, to an estimated $5.53.

Lisa Lewis bought two packs of Marlboro Reds at the BP Food Shop in Conway on Sunday and called the increase ridiculous.

I’m trying to quit so to avoid these high prices she said.

Laura Navarro works at the BP Food Shop and says customers have started taking notice.

They bicker a little bit about how high they’ve gone, she explained.

People like Peggy Larimore were caught off guard.

“It was like a $9 jump from the week before on a carton,” and continued, “I didn’t know what to think. I thought that maybe I need to quit smoking.”

Larimore and others may really feel like quitting on April 1, 2009 when the new federal tax goes into effect — a plan by President Obama to raise money to insure millions of uninsured children.

No matter the cause, it means smokers will pay more, and a lot of them don’t like it.

“They gone up a dollar already. Now they going to go up again sixty more cents on each pack. That’s ridiculous,” said longtime smoker Johnny Williams.

For Williams and others, the recent hike and the new tax to come might mean implementing a new plan: smoking on a budget or not smoking at all.

“But I really don’t want to quit. I enjoy smoking, but I can’t afford to pay the prices,” Williams said.

“Me slowing down is hard, but I’m doing it because I don’t want to pay no higher prices. No, I don’t want to pay higher taxes on cigarettes. It’s ridiculous,” said Lewis.

But the clerk at the BP store says people are still going strong and that she doesn’t expect people to quit completely.

“They might change brands of cigarettes to go to a cheaper pack, but they’re still going to buy cigarettes.”

Will you? Leave a comment on this story and read on for what others are saying.

The price of a cigarettes pack increase

Rick Roberts is a regular buyer of cigarettes at convenience stores in Missouri, but that could change April 1.

A resident of McClure, Ill., Roberts makes the weekly drive across the Bill Emerson Memorial Bridge into the Show Me State to purchase tobacco.

But he is contemplating quitting and blames it primarily on a cigarette tax increase set to go into effect next month.

The new federal tax increase will mean Roberts and smokers throughout the United States will pay 159 percent more tax on a pack of cigarettes. The current tax is 39 cents per pack, but after March 31 that increases to $1.01. Money generated from the additional revenue will fund health care for low-income children.

“People have the right to not breathe the secondhand smoke, but I think it’s ridiculous that they assume that I also have no rights when it comes to smoking,” said Roberts, who already switched to a cheaper brand of cigarettes to offset the cost. “I think with the excessive taxes on cigarettes, smokers are paying more than their fair share.”

Local convenience store managers said they’ve already raised their prices because their suppliers began applying the increase earlier in the month. And while they’ve heard numerous complaints from their customers, the managers agreed that kicking the habit will be hard on smokers.

“The customers complain, but they will still buy,” said Dana Abel, manager of D Mart convenience store in Jackson. “Some of them have come in to purchase a cheaper brand, but most won’t switch. If those people decide to quit, it won’t be because of a tax increase.”

Michael Marston, manager of Winks convenience store in Cape Girardeau, said he has noticed more customers purchasing the cheaper brands.

“I don’t like to see a big increase in taxes on anything, whether it’s cigarettes or alcohol,” Marston said. “I don’t think it’s right to target one specific item that people buy.

“Though it’s an addictive habit, it will be difficult for the tax to stop people from quitting,” he said. “I think if the government really wanted to make people stop they’ll have to raise the prices much higher.”

Bill Phelps, spokesman for Altria, parent company of Phillip Morris USA, said his corporation opposes the tax increase and encourages displeased consumers to contact their legislator about the issue. Of Missouri’s five members of the U.S. House of Representatives who voted for the State Children’s Health Insurance Program bill that authorized the tax, Jo Ann Emerson was the only Republican from the state to vote for the legislation, which passed in January. Twelve of Illinois’ 18 representatives voted for the bill’s passage.

“We’re not the ones who set the price for retailers, and that surprises a lot of people,” Phelps said. “We sell to the wholesaler, who then sells to retailers, who then set the price for the consumer.”

Bruce Domazlicky, director of the Center for Economic and Business Research at Southeast Missouri State University, doubts the tax increase will have a significant effect on the economy, though he said illegal bootlegging of cigarettes could eventually happen. For bootlegging to occur, he said, the increase would have to have a fairly significant effect on individual smokers’ budgets.

He said that because Missouri is ranked 49th among state tax rates, he said the sharp increase could affect more smokers’ budgets and cause them to quit. Missouri’s state tax is 17 cents per pack while Illinois’ 98-cent state tax is 28th highest. Ill. Gov. Pat Quinn is proposing raising the state’s tax on cigarettes by $1 per pack to help generate additional revenue in efforts to decrease the state’s $11.5 billion budget deficit.

“Government seems to like to tax cigarettes, especially since much less than a majority of people actually smoke them anymore,” Domazlicky said. “I would assume that if the tax rate gets high enough that even more people will decide to quit, which will cut into the anticipated revenue from the tax increase. I would hope some of the increased tax revenue is put into smoking cessation programs to help those smokers who would like to quit.”

Ronald Williams, an assistant professor in the Department of Health, Human Performance and Recreation at Southeast, said that while he understands smokers’ frustration, he believes the tax increase is a small price to pay to save the state money on smoking-related illnesses and deaths.

“Smoking-related illness, not to mention those associated with secondhand smoke, cause a tremendous burden on the public health and health-care systems in the U.S.,” Williams said. “This method of taxation is simply a method to help reduce a percentage of that burden. The overall outcome is, hopefully, a better quality of life and lessened health care costs for all of us.” Lauds the Benefits of Humidors

Cigars are perishable products, and if not stored properly, cigars will dry out, become brittle, and lose their ability to provide exquisite smoking pleasure. To keep cigars at their peak freshness and flavor, they must be stored in a humidor, says, a leading online distributor of brand name, premium cigars from around the world.

When smoking cigars that are improperly stored, some of the following problems can occur: uneven or too rapid burn, harsh or bitter taste, broken wrapper, difficulty lighting or keeping the cigar lit, mold, or tiny holes in the cigar.
“Proper cigar storage is crucial,” said David Cagan, general manager of “You wouldn’t leave your hard earned money lying around, or leave your car unlocked in a bad neighborhood. You protect the things you value, so why would you leave your cigars lying on your desk?”
Cigars shouldn’t be stored in the original cigar box because they require a critical element: proper humidity. In order to properly store a cigar, a fine balance must be maintained between the humidity and temperature at which they are stored. It is commonly agreed that 70% humidity and 70 degrees Fahrenheit is the best environment for long-term consistency.
All humidors require three essential components for maintaining humidity: a humidification unit attached to the inner lid of the humidor that includes housing; a substance to hold the moisture; and a hygrometer which allows you to check the humidity level of your humidor at a glance.
Humidors should also have durable hinges to ensure low-friction functioning for many years, and be well sealed and close tightly so that very little humidity may escape from the humidor. The basic construction of the humidor should ensure that high humidity inside the humidor will not result in deformations of the humidor case or lid and that the humidors will still close neatly after years of usage.
When using a humidor for the first time, it’s important to allow it time to “season.” This could take anywhere from a few days to a week or more depending on the size of the humidor. With brand new humidors it is helpful to use a sponge saturated in distilled water and “bathe” the inside walls of the humidor, followed up with a dry wipe to remove any water drops. Check the humidifier and hygrometer in the humidor until the humidity level reaches between 65-70%. carries, sells, and promotes all major brands of premium cigars, from the world’s bestselling brands to hard-to-find boutique lines. High volume sales, fast turnover rates, and longstanding relationships with cigar manufacturers around the world enable to offer one of the most extensive collections of premium cigars at discounted prices, making it the premier online destination for cigar aficionados and beginning smokers alike.

Cigarette prices hit smokers’ pockets

Scientists believe that federal tax hikes and tobacco industry price increase would contribute to thousands smokers kicking up their habit; At the same time many economists consider that price hikes would lead to bankruptcy of many small businesses and that would leave thousands of people jobless in the difficult time of recession.

On the threshold of tax hike which comes into force on April Fool’s Day, many bitter jokes like “Save a kid, smoke a cigarette,” or “If you want to be a hero, buy a carton” can be heard anywhere, since the majority of smokers are trying to find at least one reasonable explanation on their question – why all the administration’ plans have been put upon their shoulders.

It gets more and more expensive to smoke these days. For example, if you are an Iowa resident, undermining your health by smoking would cost you $2.36 for a single pack in just taxes after new tax enters into effect on April, 1. It is even more expensive to smoke in New York.

The federal government claimed that they had decided to increase the cigarette tax to $1.01 for each pack in order to collect the revenue for funding additional Children’s Health Insurance Program. According to this program, it would provide health insurance for more than 4 million children who did not get health insurance- Medicaid since their parents earn too much to qualify for Medicaid.  It is supposed that the tax would help to collect more than $32 billion in four years. However, it seems that those Washington smart-heads forgot to count how much smokers would give up being simply unable to pay these larger-tan-life prices for cigarettes.

Price hurts.

In the situation when the majority of states have imposed indoor and public smoking bans, and with the recent rather difficult economic situation, the cigarette tax hikes and constant price increases would definitely give rise to the desire to give up smoking and buy cheap nicotine replacement gum than expensive cigarettes. Every smoker would find himself in the situation where he would have to choose either to quit or to pay enormous prices.

The desire to give up smoking appears to a wise and healthy solution for both body and wallet. And here the reverse side of the coin emerges, since there may be simply not enough wealthy smokers who would pay in order to contribute to compensate an underfunded children’ health insurance program.

Winners and losers.

As regards the losers, at this point everything is rather clear. The biggest losers are the smokers who would have to pay or give up and those uninsured children who would never get a health insurance because thousands of smokers would quit leaving the Healt Insurance Program without funding.

The question is more complicated with the winners. However, they can be found too. It is distributors of electronic cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, and nicotine replacement therapies.

Those companies who distribute so-called e-cigs online have already earned hundred thousands on their products, because many people believe that electronic cigarettes are healthier and safer alternatives of conventional cigarettes, the fact that various health organizations led by World Health Organization have denied.

Therefore, the only conclusion that comes to mind is that our government should not punish but hail smokers, who would pay instead of government for the treatment of sick kids.

Taxes light up cigarette prices

Rising cigarette prices mean lighting up in Massachusetts will lighten smokers’ wallets, too.

The federal tax on cigarettes, now 39 cents a pack, will rise to $1.01 beginning April 1. Cigarette manufacturers such as Philip Morris U.S.A. and R.J. Reynolds have already increased the price-per-pack of their products to accommodate the higher tax.

The higher price could hit Massachusetts smokers hard, as the state already has the nation’s third-highest excise tax on cigarettes: $2.51 per pack, which grew by $1 last year.

The R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., maker of Camel, Kool, Winston and other brands, implemented a price increase March 16 that boosted the cost of its products an extra 41 cents to 78 cents, depending on the brand. Altria, the parent company of Philip Morris U.S.A., raised prices by 71 cents per pack on its brands, such as Marlboro, on March 9.

Representatives from both companies said the increase was made in anticipation of the upcoming federal excise tax hike because they have to pay that tax on their products.

David Howard, an R.J. Reynolds spokesman, said the tobacco industry predicts a 6 to 8 percent drop in cigarette sales nationwide due to rising costs. He said R.J. Reynolds would expand its efforts in smokeless tobacco products and work to attract adult smokers from competitors.

Meanwhile, a recession and lower sales will likely cut the state’s take from cigarettes. The Department of Revenue has reduced its estimate on cigarette tax revenue by $15 million, said spokesman Bob Bliss.

In fiscal 2008, the state generated about $437 million from the excise tax on cigarettes, and following last year’s state tax hike, that figure was originally expected to grow by $175 million. Bliss said that estimate is down to $160 million now, and they are looking at whether to reduce that further.

“Bottom line, we have revised downward … what we estimated we would collect,” said Bliss.

Some health advocates say the higher prices might make smokers cut back. Thomas Karr, the American Lung Association’s manager of national policy in Washington, D.C., said for every 10 percent increase in the cost of cigarettes, there is about a 7 percent reduction in use among young people, and about 4 percent for adults.

“It really does help prevent youth from starting” to smoke, said Karr.

Massachusetts has seen declines in the rates of teen smoking: Daily smoking declined from 26 percent of high schoolers in 2001 to about 18 percent in 2007, according to a survey of more than 3,000 high schoolers conducted by the state’s public health and K-12 education departments.

Smoking is also at its lowest level ever for adults, at about 16.4 percent, in Massachusetts, said Scott Keays, a public policy manager with the American Lung Association’s office in Waltham.

Although Massachusetts charges high taxes for cigarettes, none of that $700 million annual revenue goes directly to support anti-smoking measures.

“Whenever there’s a tax (increase) on cigarettes, the people who it helps the least are people who pay into the system” by buying cigarettes, Keays said.

Of the taxes on a pack of cigarettes, $1.51 goes to the state’s general fund, and the remaining $1 is directed toward health care reform, said Department of Public Health spokesman Thomas Lyons. The current federal 39 cent tax goes to the U.S. Treasury, but the April 1 increase is earmarked for the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, he said.

The Tobacco Control program, which is at $12.5 million now, has its own budget line item, but that program could be cut to about $7.5 million next year, he said.

“It’s unfortunate that cuts have to be made,” said Lyons, who noted that a proposed sales tax on alcohol and other products would be devoted to a state wellness fund, which would include the tobacco program.

The Lung Association’s Keays criticized the Tobacco Control Program’s funding.

“It’s appalling … they do a great job with what they have, but they could be doing a lot more,” said Keays.

Meanwhile, local businesses say they’ll be hurt by cigarette costs, and have already seen sales drop in the past year. Business owners said customers are lured by lower prices in neighboring states such as New Hampshire, which charges a $1.33 excise tax on cigarettes.

Another option is online cigarette retailers: Some Web sites offer name-brand cartons of cigarettes – each containing 10 packs – for under $12.

An informal poll of area businesses found that a single pack of Marlboro cigarettes already ranges from $7.40 to $8.10 in price, including tax.

At the Framingham Convenience Store on Concord Street, owner Saad Sourial said his cigarette sales have dropped 30 percent since the excise tax went up and the economy worsened over the past year.

“It’s hurting my business,” he said, later adding, “People tell us they are going to New Hampshire for their cigarettes.”

At the Hopkinton Convenience Store, clerk Jennifer Bennett said customers will continue buying cigarettes, despite the cost increases.

“People are always complaining about cigarette prices. They’re expensive,” said Bennett.

In Milford, Main Street Market owner Trush Eatel estimated cigarette sales are down half from what they were a year ago. He said many customers are pooling their money for trips to New Hampshire, where one person buys cartons of cigarettes and brings them back home.

“Other states are benefiting from the income … we’re losing business,” said Eatel.

The appeal of New Hampshire could be significant, since Massachusetts customers can pick up booze and cigarettes at the same time, said Tara Bhatt, owner of Marlboro Country Convenience. “Sales have gone down already … it’s already hurting us,” said Bhatt, who estimated cigarette sales dropped 30 percent at her store.

Pamela Barberio, a Framingham State College student who smokes, said climbing prices have her rethinking the habit.

“Since the first cigarette price increase a couple of weeks ago, I decided that close to $8 a pack was too much. … My boyfriend and I have both decided together to quit completely,” said Barberio.

Sen. Lautenberg wants to snuff out electronic cigarettes

Sen. Frank Lautenberg wants to ban a smoking device that several House Republicans have trumpeted for helping them quit smoking.

The battery-operated device, known as an electronic cigarette, looks like a normal cigarette, but contains no tobacco and instead of smoke emits a nicotine vapor when the user inhales. Reps. Cliff Stearns, Duncan Hunter and Collin Peterson have all been spotted using the device on Capitol Hill.

But the device, which is sold over the Internet and at select mall kiosks, needs to be tested by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) before it is deemed safe for general use, Lautenberg wrote in a letter to the FDA on Monday.

“Manufacturers and retailers of these products claim that e-cigarettes are safe, and even that these products can help smokers quit traditional cigarettes,” he wrote.

“However, there have been no clinical studies to prove these products are effective at helping smokers quit, nor have any studies verified the safety of these products or their long-term health effects.”

Stearns shot back at Lautenberg on Monday, saying that there is no evidence that the device is harmful.

“Before the FDA takes any immediate action, it should put forward scientific evidence that these products are harmful or unsafe,” he said in a statement.

“These e-cigarettes are smokeless and do not produce carcinogens. The nicotine in e-cigarettes is controlled in a capsule that can help in smoking cessation by allowing the user to reduce gradually the nicotine level, hopefully to zero.”

Stearns has sent electronic cigarettes to House Minority Leader John Boehner and President Obama to help them quit smoking. He’s been seen using the device in the Speaker’s Lobby, where Speaker Nancy Pelosi banned smoking two years ago. Her office did not respond to a request for comment by press time.

A longtime opponent of smoking, Lautenberg authored the law that banned smoking on airplanes and a law that banned smoking in federal facilities that serve children.

Cigarette tax hike takes effect soon

Smokers and chewers could discover on April 1 that the health of their pocketbooks may be at risk with the increase of federal taxes on their favorite tobacco products. The recent expansion of a federal children’s health program could insure as many as 11 million youngsters, but the almost $33 billion piece of legislation will have tobacco consumers footing the bill.

On April 1, a 61-cents-per-pack increase will be added to cigarettes, bringing the total federal tax to about $1, from 39 cents. Consumers also will see tax increases on other tobacco products, including a jump of more than 30 percent for large cigars, an increase of about 7 cents for moist snuff and a spike of nearly $1.50 on roll-your-own tobacco.

Although New Mexico now imposes a tax of about 91 cents per pack of cigarettes, recently-introduced legislation aimed to further increase the state tax. The bill, sponsored by state Rep. Roberto Gonzales, D-Taos, was tabled in the House Taxation and Revenue Committee and never voted on.

About 17.3 percent, or 24,027, of Doña Ana County’s residents are smokers, according to research conducted by the state Department of Health’s Tobacco Use Prevention and Control Program based on 2006 population figures.

“That accounts for 8 percent of the smokers in the state, said David Tompkins, spokesman for the program. The county’s smoking prevalence rate is lower than the state average of almost 21 percent, likely, he said, because “Doña Ana County

has had strong comprehensive clean indoor air policies in place longer than the state.”

This figure could further decline with the implementation of a higher federal tax on tobacco products, according to research by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

“Price definitely has a huge effect on people’s decision to quit smoking,” Tompkins claimed.

“We’re definitely pleased to see things moving in that direction,” he added of the tax hike.

According to the U.S. Surgeon General, raising cigarette taxes is one of the most effective tobacco-prevention strategies, with the increases leading to “substantial long-run improvements in health.” Tax hikes may also decrease the youth cigarette demand by up to 15 percent.

However, despite the benefit of more New Mexicans deciding to quit the habit, Tompkins said, “If people quit, some agencies funded with that tax money would be harmed.”

Revenue from the state tax is distributed to the County and Municipality Recreational Fund, the University of New Mexico Cancer Research & Treatment Center and the Rural County Cancer Treatment Fund, according to Tompkins.

To aid in the continued funding for such programs, Tompkins said he is in favor of increased state taxes on tobacco products.

“It’s a pretty smart bill,” he said of the state legislation introduced in the recent session.

New Mexico is ranked No. 11 for funding tobacco prevention programs in the 2009 fiscal year, according to a study by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

All Tobacco Use Prevention and Control programs, including (800) QUIT-NOW, the state’s cessation assistance hot line, are funded by a settlement several states won against tobacco companies to recover costs associated with the consumption of tobacco products.

Other tobacco products are taxed at about 25 percent of the total value by the state, he said.

New Mexico began receiving payments through the Master Settlement Agreement in 2000.

Despite the potential cost to state programs, Mark Smith, spokesman for Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company, producer of Natural American Spirit cigarettes, said, “The consumer will bear the brunt of it.”

“It’s the highest tax on any consumer good,” he said. “Unfortunately, smokers are a group of individuals that have been unfairly singled-out.”

More commonly known brands such as Camel and Marlboro could be more affected by the tax hike than the smaller, Santa Fe-based company, Smith said.

Because consumers of Natural American Spirit cigarettes are typically “from high-education, high-income groups” Smith said they are less likely to quit smoking the brand simply because of price.

Local tobacco retailers were likewise optimistic.

“There will probably be a decline (in sales), but not as much as people think, said Onola Corradini, a clerk at Bradley Petroleum, 1260 El Paseo Road. “Smokers are smokers, and while they might cut back by a pack or so a week, they’ll stay with it.” A smoker herself, Corradini said she, like many consumers, uses coupons manufacturers issue online to purchase her favorite brand at a cheaper price.

“It sucks, said Dennis Murphy, 51, while handing over $5.09 for a pack of Marlboro 100s from the gas station. “I remember when cigarettes were 35 cents a pack,” said Murphy, who has smoked since he was 11 years old. “It’s a nasty habit, but they (tobacco companies) catered to us kids when I was young, telling us, “Come to where the flavor is.'”