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Monthly Archives: May 2009

Wish List to Help You

If you want to quit smoking it is important to make sure that you are motivated enough. One way to do this is to create a “wish list” that will help you remember all of the reasons why you want to quit. Most smokers know many of the benefits for quitting but sometimes it is important to really push yourself to think of all of the benefits. These benefits include family, health, financial, and even psychological and emotional reasons. As you can see, the reasons for quitting encompass many areas of a person’s life and it is important to realize all of these benefits if you want to be properly motivated.

For some people, one reason may be enough but others may not realize the right reason soon enough or they may need several reasons to quit smoking. If you can figure out all of the reasons that will motivate you to quit before you begin trying then you will have more motivation and willpower. It is important to write these reasons down so that you do not forget them. Be sure to keep the list in places that will help you to remember your reasons at all of the right times.

In order to make your wish list more effective, try rating your reasons for quitting in order of the most important. You may even want to make some short notes on how these benefits will influence your life so that you can think them out fully and decide which are truly the most important.

Here is an example of such a “wish list”:

  1. Family – my wife will enjoy intimacy more and my children will hang around me more. My four-year old daughter told me yesterday that I stink. I will also be helping to keep them healthy.
  2. Health – I will save money on future medical expenses and live longer. I may even be able to know my Great-Great-Grandchildren. Hopefully I won’t have to suffer and my family won’t have to watch me die.
  3. Financial – we can use the money I save on cigarettes for a family vacation next year.
  4. Exercise – I will be able to jog and play soccer, again. This is pretty important since my daughter wants to start playing soccer next season.
  5. Food – I will be able to taste my food again. Thanksgiving is 3 months away and my wife would love it if I could rave over her turkey like everyone else does.

Your wish list can be longer or shorter than this. All that matters is that you are motivated mentally and emotionally to quit smoking.

Just About the Easiest Way to Quit

You already know you have to be ready in your mind to quit smoking. You can quit for someone else, but you most likely won’t stick with it. Believe it or not, just about the easiest way to quit smoking is with hypnosis. You don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars going to a hypnotist and having to spend more money for follow-up sessions.

You can listen to hypnosis audios in the privacy of your home whenever you choose to. It’s easy, fast and works. A doctor on Fox news said they have proven studies that hypnosis is the best way to quit smoking, and for good. It beat out patches, gum and anti-depressants.

Other methods to quit are either way too expensive or they don’t work. Why use the patch, take pills or any of the other ways to quit if it means you are putting more stuff into your body and probably spending a lot of money too. Isn’t the main purpose to quit smoking for improving your health? Hypnosis prevents you from having to put nicotine, such as the patches, in your system.

Just about the easiest way to quit smoking is with hypnosis and by letting your mind be open to it. You really need to be ready to quit and also to be open to the hypnosis method itself. It works and it works quickly, so if you are ready to quit, why not give it a go? If you are almost ready, but not one hundred percent ready, you could get the hypnosis audio and material ahead of time so when it hits you and you want to quit, you will be prepared to listen to your audio at that time. Hypnosis truly is just about the easiest way to quit smoking, and permanently.

Myanmar seeks zero-duty access for tobacco products

Myanmar is asking the Philippines for zero duty access for the exports of tobacco and cigarette products. Similar requests were also filed by Myanmar to Thailand and Malaysia.

The Tariff Commission will conduct a public hearing today on the Myanmar request along with the review of the expiring zero duty rates on imported cement and wheat.

At present, Tariff Commission official said that tobacco and cigarette products are included under the ASEAN Integration System of Preferences and as such ASEAN slapped tobacco with three percent tariff and cigarette at five percent.

The AISP is a scheme where ASEAN 6 gives unilateral import duty exemption to products of export interests to the CLMV ( Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam ).

Tobacco and cigarette products falls under ASEAN Harmonized Tariff Nomenclature Codes 2401.10.10 (Virginia type, flue-cured); 2401.10.20 (Virginia type, not flue-cured) and; 2401.20-90 (cigarette).

Under the ASEAN Free Trade Area, ASEAN tariffs must go down to by next year, but the Tariff Commission said that an executive order would still be issued to formalize the zero tariff on a particular product.

At present, the country imports tobacco leaves to blend with the local tobacco manufacturers. Most of the tobacco leaves, however, are sourced locally.

There are only two local cigarette manufacturing operations in the country the Philip Morris Philippine Manufacturing Inc. and Fortune Tobacco Corp. of tobacco magnate Lucio Tan.

The government has also a pending trade dispute with Thailand over the tariff rate it imposed on PMPMI cigarette exports.

There are parallel negotiations both at the bilateral level and with the World Trade Organizations with the Department of Trade and Industry representing PMPMI in the negotiations. The case, however, has dragged on for several years now.

The issue stemmed from Thailand’s imposition of higher tariff on PMPMI’s cigarette exports to its Thailand affiliate.

The imposition of higher tariff is a big issue because its affiliate in Thailand is required to put up a bond for the tariff differential in a bid to protect its own industry.

Copyright © 2009 Mb

Governments’ Drug-Abuse Costs Hit $468 Billion, Study Says

Government spending related to smoking and the abuse of alcohol and illegal drugs reached $468 billion in 2005, accounting for more than one-tenth of combined federal, state and local expenditures for all purposes, according to a new study.

Most abuse-related spending went toward direct health care costs for lung disease, cirrhosis and overdoses, for example, or for law enforcement expenses including incarceration, according to the report released Thursday by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, a private group at Columbia University. Just over 2 percent of the total went to prevention, treatment and addiction research. The study is the first to calculate abuse-related spending by all three levels of government.

“This is such a stunning misallocation of resources,” said Joseph A. Califano Jr., chairman of the center, referring to the lack of preventive measures. “It’s a commentary on the stigma attached to addictions and the failure of governments to make investments in the short run that would pay enormous dividends to taxpayers over time.”

Beyond resulting in poor health and crime, addictions and substance abuse — especially alcohol — are major underlying factors in other costly social problems like homelessness, domestic violence and child abuse.

Shifting money from hospitals and prisons to addiction treatment and research has never been politically easy, and it is all the harder now because the federal government and most states face large budget deficits and are cutting many key services. But Mr. Califano said that many preventive measures had rapid payoffs in medical and other expenses.

The work of the center and of Mr. Califano, who was a secretary of Health, Education and Welfare in the 1970s, have sometimes drawn fire from conservatives who put more emphasis on law enforcement than drug treatment and, on the other side, from groups who advocate loosening some drug laws and using needle exchanges and supervised addiction maintenance, as some European countries do, to reduce the personal and societal costs.

Ethan Nadelmann, director of the Drug Policy Alliance, a national group advocating legal reforms, said it was misleading for the report to lump together direct costs of tobacco, alcohol and drug abuse, like ill health, with expenses relating to enforcement of marijuana laws and prison. Many of the criminal justice costs, Mr. Nadelmann said, are not an inherent result of drug use but rather of policy choices to criminalize it.

“Still, the punch line of their report, that society should invest far more in prevention and treatment, makes total sense,” Mr. Nadelmann said.

The new report cites the antismoking campaigns of the last several decades as a promising model: education, higher taxes and restrictions on smoking zones have cut the incidence of smoking by close to half, saving billions in costs. It called for similar efforts to curb under-age drinking and excess alcohol consumption by adults, using higher taxes on beer, for example.

Even with tobacco, far more could be done, according to the report, which noted that only a small fraction of the more than $200 billion the states have received since 1998 under the Multi-State Tobacco Settlement had gone to prevention of smoking.

Federal studies show that the best drug treatment programs pay for themselves 12 times over, the report said, because patients who succeed have quick improvements in health and behavior.

The Columbia center called for legislation to require broader coverage of substance abuse treatment by health insurers. Mr. Califano said that as the new Obama administration tried to rein in spiraling health costs, deepening such coverage would be vital.

Some insurance companies have opposed such a sweeping requirement, arguing that the record of drug treatment is too spotty.

Copyright © 2009 Nytimes

Hookah smoking just as bad for teeth as cigarettes

Water pipes (hookah) might be a safer way to smoke, but they are as damaging to the teeth and gums as the cigarettes.

Hookahs have long been used for smoking tobacco in the Middle East, North Africa and parts of Asia. Hookah lounges are also becoming increasingly popular in the US and other countries. The pipes consist of a long tube attached to a glass or plastic container that holds water in its base, BBC radio reported.

The tobacco, which is flavored with fruits and sugar syrup, is burnt using charcoal. Because the smoke passes through the water before the smoker inhales it, water pipes are believed by some to filter out the harmful substances in tobacco smoke.

However, water pipe smoke contains the same toxins as cigarette smoke. Previous studies have suggested that hookah smoking increases heart rate and blood pressure and impairs lung function.

Researchers from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm studied 262 adults in Saudi Arabia, where hookah smoking is widespread, to find out if hookahs are as tough on the teeth as cigarettes.

Overall, 31 percent smoked water pipes exclusively, while 19 percent smoked only cigarettes. Another 20 percent used both smoking methods, and the rest 30 percent were non-smokers.

The researchers found that about 20 percent of all study participants had signs of gum disease, which is marked by inflammation and redness in the gums in its earlier stages and later, destruction of the bones and soft tissue supporting the teeth, possibly leading to tooth loss. But while only eight percent of non-smokers had gum disease, 30 percent of water pipe smokers and 24 percent of cigarette smokers were affected.

When researchers weighed other factors, such as study participants’ ages, they found that water pipe smokers were five times more likely to show signs of gum disease than non-smokers. Cigarette smokers had a nearly four-times greater risk than non-smokers.

It’s not clear why tobacco smoking promotes gum disease, but it’s highly likely, that it harms the bones that support the teeth. Hence, the findings suggest that tobacco from a water pipe is equally harmful to the teeth as cigarettes.

Copyright © 2009 Dawn

Senate approves bill to ban smoking in bars and casinos

The Senate overwhelmingly agreed to legislation this morning that would expand Louisiana’s smoking ban to include bars and casinos.

The 22-10 vote on Senate Bill 186 by Sen. Rob Marionneaux Jr., D-Livonia, came after lawmakers rejected two attempts to weaken the legislation and sets up a showdown on the House floor, where a similar bill awaits a vote.

Marionneaux said the bill is designed to “put everyone on an equal footing.” Some restaurant owners have complained that current law gives bars an unfair competitive advantage.

Senators turned back an attempt by Sen. John Alario, D-Westwego, to exempt casinos from the ban and another amendment by Sen. Nick Gautreaux, D-Abbeville, to let bars allow smoking.

“We live in America. What do people fight for?” Gautreaux said. “They fight for our freedom of choice.”

Marionneaux said that freedom shouldn’t include the right to make people sick from second-hand smoke. “I know the cost of freedom, but I also know the cost of second-hand smoke,” he said.

Copyright © 2009 Nola

Gombe files N591 billion suit against tobacco companies

THE Gombe State government has dragged five tobacco companies before the Gombe State High Court on charges that they have been targeting minors with their products in the state in the last 20 years with a view to making them addicts.

In the suit before a high court judge, Abdul Hamed Yusuf, the state government is demanding N591 billion from British American Tobacco (Nigeria) Ltd, International Tobacco Limited, British America Tobacco Plc, British America Tobacco (Investment) Ltd, and Philip Morris International.

It is one of several class action suits filed by some states and the Federal Government against tobacco companies operating in the country.

Gombe is asking for N10.1 billion as special damages for negligence, N521 billion as anticipatory damages for future expenses, N50 billion as punitive damage for wrongful conducts and N10 billion as restitution and disgorgement of profit for unjust enrichment.

The case has been adjourned to July 2, 2009 to allow the plaintiff serve all the parties in the suit.

Counsel to the state government, Babatunde Irukera, had prayed the court to grant him four weeks to allow his clients conclude the process of service on all defendants.

Irukera said: “The plaintiff is diligently pursuing service to all the defendants with the help of the ministry. We would, however, pray for an additional four weeks in order to conclude service to all the parties.”

The four defendants present in court raised no objections to the application. But the fourth defendant asked the court to be allowed to file a written application on preliminary objections, a request rejected by Yusuf because all the defendants have not been served and not fully represented in court.

Speaking with The Guardian at the court premises, Mr. Akinbode Oluwafemi of the Environmental Rights Action/Friend of the Earth Nigeria said they were in court to show support for the Gombe State government in the case.

His words: “We are very much in support of this suit. Over the years, we have seen that the tobacco industry cannot be trusted, so there is need for strict control of the manufacturing and sale of cigarettes in this country.”

Also, Co-ordinator, Coalition Against Tobacco (CAT), Toyosi Onaolapo, upbraided the tobacco companies for alleged targeting young Nigerians to make cigarette addicts out of them.

Record deals offered for soccer songs

Since rising band The Nunung Cs successfully popularized a soccer-themed song titled “S’pakbola” (soccer) and ended up with a record deal, possibilities have opened up for other over-18s to follow in the same direction.

Earlier this month, the six-crew pop-dangdut band officially signed a contract with cigarette producer PT Djarum Super which had discovered their original song, “Gila Bola Gila Musik” (crazy for soccer, crazy for music), on Facebook.

“S’pakbola” has now become the official song of the Indonesian Super League, Indonesia’s top-tier soccer championship.

“We are looking for other young and creative song writers to follow The Nunung Cs’ path. So, don’t conceal your song-writing talents. Expose your work to the public,” said Inge Bachrens, ma-naging director of Nubuzz Network, a one-stop music company that bridges young musicians and song writers with the country’s music industry.

Jakarta-based The Nunung Cs crew comprises Kamal (lead vocalist), Awe (keyboard), Budi (guitar), Kudil (guitar), Nanang (guitar) and Fatul (bass).

“Keep in mind that this is not a competition. We (Nubuzz Network) and Djarum Super will review the quality of songs on soccer being uploaded to the site.

“The creative ones may get record deals,” Inge said.

Maman Abdurrahman, a defender of the national team, said, “I’m inviting all soccer fans to create soccer-themed songs.

“When playing a match, I often hear fans singing songs that will instil fighting spirit.”

Copyright © 2009 Thejakartapost

How to Easily Quit Smoking Today!

It is no longer a secret that smoking dangerous to human health. It is however not only injurious to one’s health generally but also one of the most difficult habits to overcome.

Please do not misunderstand me here. I am in no way an apologist for those people who keep smoking because they believe that it is impossible to stop it.

As a matter of fact, they cannot be further from the truth! And I believe that most of such people continue to smoke either because they are not yet ready to give up the smoking habit or they simply lack the information on how to go about it.

It is no longer a secret that most countries in the world are coming up with laws banning smoking in public places. This is not an assault on cigarette producing companies but an informed attempt by responsible governments to protect its valued citizens from the inherent dangers associated with smoking.

A Healthy Nation is a Wealthy Nation!

I do not intend to dabble into reasons why people should give up smoking in this article. I am more concerned about how to help the willing ones to succeed in their quest to give up this dangerous habit.

I have discovered that most successful “quit smoking products are effective mainly because they do not only teach you how to quit smoking but actually kill your appetite for smoking.

Make no mistake about this. I am not talking about hypnotism here. Neither is it what people call “Neuro-linguistic Programming”.

(I have always wondered what linguistic anything has to do with smoking, talk less of neuro-anything).

Anyway, what I am talking about here is simply a number of truths concerning the psychology of smoking that explains why a person and how he or she can overcome this injurious habit. I have arranged these in form of tips for those who honestly desire to quit smoking once and for all.

Tip #1: Accept that smoking is dangerous to your health, can cut short your life and so needs to be gotten rid of.

Tip #2: Prepare yourself psychologically to be ready to do all it takes to get liberated from this bondage because that is exactly what smoking is – BONDAGE!

Tip #3: Rid your entire immediate environment of items associated with smoking as much as possible. In other words, get rid of items like your old cigarette packs, lighters, matches, ashtrays, and so on.

Tip #4: Ensure that nobody and I mean NOBODY smokes in your house, car, garden and everywhere you have control over. If you have smoker friends who insist on doing their smoking in your house, you will need to choose between your life and them. And I am sure you won’t find it difficult to make the right choice here.

Tip #5: Never, ever doubt your decision and ability to quit smoking. You have made the right decision. Stick to it as if your life depends on it. It actually does, after all.

Tip #6: Get a harmless product as a replacement for cigarettes so that whenever you have a craving to smoke, you simply take that replacement. It could be a bubble gum, a peppermint or something else.

Smokers Habit protected by Special Rooms

Smoking ban is not a good legislation especially for pub goers. They have taken advantage of the chance for to avoid it.
For example a pub landlady, proposed to beat the cigarettes ban by creating a “smoking rooms” at the Cutting Edge pub in Worsbrough, South Yorkshire, for smoking research.
In these rooms, customers would be able to smoke legally if they have a smoking habit. Since creating such rooms, the customers number raise every day, but pub owner Punch Taverns wants her to stop.
Ms. Fenton, pub landlady said that before introducing the smoking room last Friday only some people came into the struggling pub at weekends.
But since opening the so-called “smoking rooms” the number of customers had jumped almost five-fold.
Ms. Fenton reported: “This is something we really had to do, I didn’t have a choice. We have had estate agents bringing people to actually view the property because it’s up for sale.”
But Barnsley Council said it was due to visit the Cutting Edge for to inform Ms. Fenton that she had “misunderstood the importance of this legislation” and for to clarify the smoking research room.
Then the council will then monitor the situation before taking any further action that may be necessary.
The pub’s owner, Punch Taverns, which has put the building on the market, said: “Punch has censured the decision of our licensee to undertake this. We strongly advise them to stop this activity immediately.”
Barnsley Council reported: “Being in a room in which there are smokers, means being exposed to at least 50 agents known to cause cancer and other chemicals that increase blood pressure, damage the lungs and cause abnormal kidney function”.

Should MLB slap a ban on chewing tobacco?

Filip Bondy of the New York Daily News is the latest to think so, writing in this morning’s editions that baseball’s bulging cheeks and dugout juice puddles should be legislated the way of Pete Rose, PEDs and pepper games.

But does baseball really need to institute a ban?

These days, it’s rare that you’ll find anyone — even among those who locate their pouches before a ball, glove or bat — who doesn’t agree that the habit is one of the dirtiest and most dangerous around. By now, the risks of gum disease and cancer are well known and MLB likes to regularly crow about the declining number of players using the wretched stuff. There’s hardly anyone out there who hasn’t at least heard a warning or 12 about its dangers.

Heck, even the players and managers who can’t escape their addiction seem ashamed of their use and acknowledge that it’s wrong by rarely talking about it publicly. Over the past 10 years, I’ve never seen any ballplayer actively glorifying its use and if there’s anyone who looks at the above picture of Lenny Dykstra and takes up chewing tobacco solely because he thinks Nails looks glamorous while doing it … well, that’s Darwinism at its finest, I suppose.

Yet because it’s still legal to chew tobacco and because most players do it on the down low, I generally don’t think that MLB needs to put a ban on the junk. If a player wants to make the decision to destroy his mouth, who is Bud Selig to stop him?

However, I can see the other side. MLB is a private employer and can dictate behavior as little or as much as it wants. Plus, there’s been a minor league ban on chewing tobacco since 1993 — with fines ranging from $100 to $1,000 — so why should the big guys be exempt?

Look, this is a complex issue and one that involves an addiction that I wouldn’t wish on anyone. However, I’m interested to know what you think of the prospect of MLB banning the use of chewing tobacco. Should the league ban its use? Why or why not?

A Hollow Victory Over Big Tobacco

The U.S. government won what has been dubbed a “landmark ruling” over cigarette manufacturers on Friday. The victory appears to be more symbolic than anything else.

Pyrrhic Victory

In what has been 10-year battle so far, the damage to shareholders as the result of this ongoing litigation has been very negligible. The stock prices of U.S. tobacco companies such as Altria , Reynolds American  each yawned off Friday’s ruling finishing virtually flat on the day.

The ruling upheld requirements that will restrict cigarette manufacturers from marketing their products as “light”, “low tar” or “mild”. The battle is not over for either side of this case. Altria has already said that it will appeal this verdict to the Supreme Court. And what may have been the most important development in the case was U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler’s finding that it was not within her power to force the companies to pay $10 billion for a smoking cessation program sought by the government.

Industry Transformation

The legal battle that Altria has had hanging over its head for years, was a contributing factor behind the company’s decision to split-off Philip Morris International last year. The thinking was that the litigation factor had been weighing on the company as a whole, and by splitting off the company’s international operations, shareholders would realize a greater value for their shares as PMI would not have the same degree of legal headaches to deal with.

Although litigation is the most visible challenge that the industry is facing at the present moment, the more pressing issue has been the need to compensate for declining domestic cigarette shipment volumes. The industry has been able to address this challenge so far by relying upon its pricing power as well as shifting its focus to smokeless tobacco which is being viewed as a growth area. In 2006, Reynolds American purchased Conwood to break into this market and Altria bought UST in a $10.4 billion deal this past fall for similar reasons.

Friday’s ruling may have given advocacy groups a reason to celebrate, but significant monetary damage to big tobacco and its shareholders has yet to occur. I don’t see any major reason for shareholders to be alarmed or to dump my shares at this point. In any event, this situation will be an interesting legal saga to stay tuned to.

© Copyright: Stocktradersdaily

Former Tobacco Industry

Education is key for one former tobacco industry scientist. Back in the 80’s Dr. Victor DeNoble worked for Philip Morris, a tobacco company.

Through research, he discovered the detrimental affects of nicotine. So he invented a safer cigarette, but he was fired. Since then he’s made it his mission to teach young people the truth about the tobacco industry.

“What young people don’t realize it that nicotine is a drug, just like any other drug that changes the way your brain work and it’s not some habit. You’re actually changing the way your brain works for year and years of you life,” said DeNoble.

DeNoble visits the Yakima Valley every couple of years to talk with middle school and junior high students, telling his story of testifying in congress against the tobacco industry.

Liberty puts stricter smoking rules on November ballot

Voters will decide whether to scrap Liberty’s recently approved restrictions on smoking for a stricter law that would prohibit smoking in most public places.

In a special session tonight, the Liberty City Council approved an ordinance that places the issue on the Nov. 3 ballot.

The decision is in response to a petition filed by a group of Liberty residents seeking to tighten the current ordinance, which allows smoking in bars, smaller restaurants, bowling alleys and billiard parlors licensed by the city to sell liquor by the drink. It also allows smoking in certain private clubs, restaurants’ outside eating areas and tobacco stores.

The issue going before voters would limit smoking to hotels and motels that permanently designate up to 25 percent of their rooms for smokers, and to private residences not being used as businesses.

The citizens’ petition had enough signatures of registered voters to force the council to either approve the new proposal as is or put it before voters.

Pennsylvania’s panel rules against state schools’ smoking ban

Pennsylvania’s 14 state-owned universities cannot bar faculty members and coaches from smoking outdoors on campus, unless their unions agree to the restriction, a state labor panel ruled.

The ban in question was imposed by the State System of Higher Education in September, when a state law banning most indoor smoking took effect. System Chancellor John Cavanaugh said he interpreted the smoking law to extend to all campus grounds, because some classes are held outside.

The Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties, the union that represents 5,800 faculty members and coaches, filed an unfair labor practice complaint challenging the policy on grounds that any such change is subject to collective bargaining.

In a ruling last week, the state Labor Relations Board sided with the union. It ruled that the university system, like other public-sector employers, cannot impose such a ban on unionized employees without the consent of their collective-bargaining agents.

The system plans to appeal to state Commonwealth Court, spokesman Kenn Marshall said.

“We believe the action we took was still appropriate in accordance with the law,” he said.

So far, system officials have issued only warnings to people who smoke outdoors on campus. No deadline has been set for stepped-up enforcement that could subject scofflaws to fines.

The system includes Bloomsburg, California, Cheyney, Clarion, East Stroudsburg, Edinboro, Indiana, Kutztown, Lock Haven, Mansfield, Millersville, Shippensburg, Slippery Rock and West Chester universities. The universities enroll more than 112,500 students and employ about 13,000 people.

The labor board ruling applies only to unionized employees, and talks with other unions are continuing, Marshall said.

Copyright © 2009 Poconorecord

Cigarette smuggling in RP more blatant now

More than 19 years ago, the assistant director of Hong Kong’s Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) was shocked to hear that his star prosecution witness was brutally murdered, his bloated body found floating in Singapore Harbor.

Tommy Chui, a former director of a Hong Kong cigarette distribution company, was set to testify against his former colleagues and implicate members of the infamous criminal group, the Triad, along with corrupt Customs officials.

That company, Giant Island Ltd. (GIL), was a major distributor of the British American Tobacco (BAT) in China and Taiwan, and was believed to have organized a smuggling network for BAT cigarettes. GIL was reported to have transported cigarettes from Singapore and Subic Bay in the Philippines from freighters to fishing boats in the South China Sea.

Documented by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), the case “reveals the dark underbelly of a billion-dollar business fed by international corporations and operated by organized crime,” its report published in 2001 says.

Links to Manila

Though based in Hong Kong, the operations had links to Manila through a GIL official named Hung Wing-wah, the company’s founder and majority owner, whom Chui had a disagreement with.

After GIL was raided, Hung fled Hong Kong and emigrated to Canada. According to the ICIJ report, Hung is believed to be living both in Canada and the Philippines. He and his partners set up a warehousing operation in Subic, stored British American Tobacco cigarettes there, and had them smuggled into China and elsewhere.

Hung, alias Fei Lo Hung or Fat Hung, is wanted on “suspicion of having conspired with others to offer bribes to senior executive officers of British-American Tobacco Co. (Hong Kong) Ltd. (BAT),” the case brief of the ICAC says.

Between 1988 and 1993, according to the brief, he offered “corrupt payments to a total amount of HK$100 million to ensure continuous supplies of cigarettes to Hung by BAT. The value of the cigarettes amounted to HK$8.5 billion, which were smuggled to the Mainland and Taiwan.”

As of September last year, Hung, now 60, remained on the “Wanted List” of the ICAC and has not been traced here. He remains at large and is proof of how stiff competition and the desire to make huge profits can push cigarette manufacturers to collude with smuggling rings that operate globally.

Collusion

BAT, however, is not the only cigarette manufacturer to be linked with smuggling syndicates. An ICIJ report late last year says that since 2004, even Philip Morris International and Japan Tobacco International (JTI), two major cigarette companies, “have agreed to pay a combined $1.65 billion to the European Community and 10 member-states to settle litigation that would have further exposed their involvement in cigarette smuggling.”

The 2001 ICIJ report says that even governors  of Colombia filed a civil racketeering lawsuit in 2000 accusing BAT and Philip Morris executives of involvement in drug-money laundering through a “black market peso exchange.” This complex system involves the laundering of drug money through “the purchase and importation of such goods as cigarettes and alcohol.”

PMPMI managing director Chris Nelson denies any involvement of his company in such activities, saying that they have been working closely with Subic and the Bureau of Customs (BOC). Manufacturers here, according to BOC insiders, even give out rewards to agents able to apprehend illegal shipments.

Controlled

An industry insider says that the major cigarette companies know what is going on. They supply the smuggling rings “because of volume and sales.” For manufacturers, there are no real risks involved. For the smugglers, “it’s worth the risks.”

The insider adds, “If your competitor allows this guy to buy from them and sneak into Cambodia or sneak into China, wouldn’t you want to do the same? But recently, it has been controlled.”

Philip Morris, according to the source (who is not from the same company), is now preventing its products from being smuggled out by limiting selling quantities to its outlets. If there are sudden spikes in orders of some outlets, these are not accommodated by Philip Morris because they could become avenues for smuggling. “That’s how controlled it is now,” the insider says.

The partnership between manufacturers and law enforcers has yielded results. After the BOC intercepted last January half-a-million locally manufactured Marlboro cigarettes that were about to be smuggled out, another seizure was made in March, also of Marlboro brands imported from Singapore.

The importation of cigarettes requires a permit, without which it is illegal because the Philippines already manufactures its own cigarettes.

The seized imported cigarettes were again mis-declared as personal effects and were found in a 20-footer container van filled with 7,500 reams of Marlboros worth about P5.4 million. This time the interception was made in the Port of Cebu.

Subic Officials’ Nod

No direct collusion between cigarette manufacturers here and criminal syndicates—as seen in Hong Kong—has been established by authorities. The other big players like JTI (brands include Winston, cigarette-store.biz/online/camel, Mild Seven) and BAT (dunhill cigarette, Kent, Lucky Strike and Pall Mall), both itching to enter the domestic market, have not been linked to smuggling groups here.

However, their products can be found in niche markets such as convenience stores, gas stations, and other cigarette outlets without the prerequisite Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) tax stamps.

In February, the Presidential Anti-Smuggling Group seized 130 boxes of imported cigarettes smuggled out of Subic. Also worth P5.4 million, the confiscation made by operatives in Morong, Bataan, yielded boxes of Black Devils (manufactured in The Netherlands by Heupink & Bloemen Tabak B.V.), Kents, and Mild Seven Lights.

Smuggled imported cigarettes available in the local market are easy to spot because besides the missing tax stamps, they do not bear regulatory health warnings or labels such as “for export to the Philippines.”

Loaded in three passenger vans, the imported cigarettes spirited out of Subic evidently indicated collusion between smugglers and Subic Freeport officials. Besides them, according to a member of Congress supportive of higher taxes on cigarettes, collusion exists, too, between marketers and merchandisers.

Corrupt Gate-Keepers

Smuggling here, says the cigarette industry insider, is not done by the players themselves but by wealthy entrepreneurs who have the means to pay off government officials who are supposed to act as gate-keepers. They are also the ones who can afford to keep their cigarettes in warehouses where they await distribution either to the domestic market or beyond.

Smuggling these days can be done more blatantly, with contraband getting past regular channels if the price is right.

The industry source says that years back, for the price of P120,000 to P150,000, container vans got past inspectors without declarations, documentation, and examination. Changes in administration shored up the cost of this privilege from P200,000 to as much as P250,000, the insider alleges.

Because of the sheer volume of container vans that pass through the ports and the need to balance inspections with the need to facilitate trade, the BOC—following a selectivity system—categorizes shipments into either the green, yellow or red lane.

The green lane system was put in place to cover all goods originating from member-countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) to facilitate intra-Asean trade. Customs clearance under this system is more expeditious compared to other products. Shipments that pass through the yellow lane undergo documentary examination.

Red Lanes

Former President Joseph Estrada issued Executive Order 230 in 2000, establishing a “super green lane” which allows for “advance processing and clearance of the shipments of the country’s topmost qualified importers without the benefit of prior physical examination and documentary check on their shipments upon compliance with customs laws, rules and regulations.” The system requires accreditation by the BOC and the creation of a trust fund sourced from service fees charged per shipment.

BOC officials say that most of those in the super green lane category are multinational companies or companies that belong to the Top 100 corporations of the country with outstanding records. They say that random checks are still made on these shipments if intelligence information directs them to do so.

Customs officials, however, say that because cigarettes are classified as “high risk commodities,” these are always channeled to the red lane, where inspections are mandatory. Likewise, whenever shipments come in from countries on the BOC watch list—China, Hong Kong, and Vietnam, among others—they are automatically assigned to the red lane.

Smugglers know this and find means of circumventing customs checks. They either take pains to hide cigarettes in their 20- or 40-footer container vans that may not be as thoroughly checked by customs inspectors or, as previously mentioned, resort to circumlocutory routes so that goods come from countries not on the BOC watch list. They also alter the documentation of their shipments while in transit, or they simply mis-declare contraband cigarettes or bribe customs officials.

Political Pressure

If the goods are mis-declared, the BOC’s X-ray Inspection Unit should be able to spot and detect cigarettes that are being smuggled in. Yet shipments that have been confiscated or apprehended thus far were made not because of X-ray results but because of shared intelligence information. The X-ray unit has merely validated intelligence information that led to the apprehension of illegal cigarette shipments.

Political pressure also pushes some officials to corruption, as commissioners are given quotas or targets they should reach in terms of collections. The collections—according to the industry insider who has friends who also deal directly with some BOC officials—do not necessarily go to government coffers but to the pockets of personalities in power.

Some manufacturers say that they feel the crunch every time new tax measures are poised in Congress. They point out that Republic Act 9334 on excise taxes provides for increases every two years starting 2005. The law is supposed to hold and remain in place until 2011.

Nelson of Philip Morris says that, “If government is sensible, it won’t touch anything on taxes.” Congress has refused to take up new tax proposals on the tobacco industry despite explanations by the finance department that these new taxes can help trim the government’s budget deficit.

An administration out to increase its tax revenues will expectedly train its eyes on the tobacco industry which continues to rake in profits in this part of the world. If the performance of multinational Philip Morris for the first quarter of this year is any indication, good times may still lie ahead. Its market share even expanded in the Philippines despite restrictions on tobacco sale.

No pictorial warning? Beware of the squad

Manufacturers and retailers of cigarettes and tobacco products in the city could be in for a tough time on May 31, World No Tobacco Day,
and the days following.
Starting Sunday, several three-member police squads will be doing the rounds in Chennai, covering petty shops and retail outlets to check whether pictorial warnings against smoking are printed on tobacco packs, mandatory as per specifications provided by the Union health ministry. Each team will comprise a police official, health officer and school headmaster. Violations would attract fines, with or without imprisonment, commissioner of police K Radhakrishnan said here on Monday.

At a function organised by the directorate of public health to flag off the campaign van, Radhakrishnan said that his department would ensure that the rule was followed for the sake of a healthy future. “In my own family I have seen members suffer because of tobacco. They have faced the direct consequences it,” he told reporters.

According to the cigarette and tobacco products (packaging and labeling) rules issued by the Union government, all cigarette and tobacco packs should carry pictorial messages and a revised statuary warning, Smoking kills and tobacco causes cancer’ on 40% of the principal display area ( Smoking is injurious to health’ was the earlier warning that customers have been used to for years).

“If this (instructions) is not followed, the manufacturer can be fined up to Rs 5,000 with or without two years imprisonment. The dealer or seller can be fined up to Rs 1,000 with or without a year’s imprisonment. If the offence is repeated, the fine amount will be raised to Rs 10,000 for the manufacturer with or without five years’ imprisonment, and up to Rs 3,000 for the dealer or seller with or without two years’ imprisonment,” said director of public health Dr S Elango.

So far, more than 9,600 people have been fined for smoking in public places and this has resulted in an income generation of Rs 11.44 lakh for the state government.

Meanwhile, the health department will initiate a week-long signature campaign in the city, where smokers will be asked to make vows that they would quit smoking. “Last time, we asked them to give up the cigarette they were smoking. This time we will ask them to quit the habit,” Dr Elango said. There would also be street plays as well as messages about smoking hazards broadcast from campaign vans. On May 31, the department has organised a rally that will be flagged off by health minister MRK Panneerselvam.

Copyright © 2009 Indiatimes

Addictive Genes can Increase Cigarette Consumption

Some smokers can quit easier than others. Such a situation can be met among pregnant women who smoke during pregnancy. UK researchers found that some pregnant women can’t quit smoking so easier because of a gene.
Researchers wanted to investigate pregnant women because they have a particularly strong motive to break the habit. They want also to explain why many female smokers continue to smoke during pregnancy, despite the dangers to their unborn child.
In a recent study was investigated 2,500 women who smoked before falling pregnant, the “addictive gene” was associated with a lower chance of quitting once began pregnant.
In general, 28% of pregnant smokers quit in the first three months compared with 21% of those with two copies of the gene and 31% without the gene.
They analyzed a particular genetic variant associated with the nicotine receptor because it had previously been found to be associated with how much people smoke once they start.
By the final three months of pregnancy, 47% of women with two copies of the non-addictive gene said they had stopped smoking, compared with only 34% of women with two copies of the smoking addiction gene.
The researchers reported that pregnant women are under an important and social pressure to stop smoking but there are a lot of factors which influence whether they start quitting, including age, education, and whether or not their partners smoke.
A group of researchers plan now to investigate the same genetic variant in people with Chrohn’s disease who are also strongly advised to stop smoking as it makes their condition worse.
Dr. Alex Bobak, a GP in Wandsworth, south London, has a special concern in smoking cessation – he said genes had been implicated in nicotine addiction but that there are many other factors which have an impact, including social circumstances.

New smoking ban unlikely to create more cigar bars

It was a narrow loophole, but some local tavern owners thought they could squeeze through it anyway.

When Wisconsin’s new smoking ban takes effect in July 2010, indoor smoking will be allowed in only one kind of tavern – cigar bars.

And as soon as the Legislature approved that law, even before Gov. Jim Doyle had signed it, tavern owners started calling Milwaukee’s License Division to find out what they needed to do to become cigar bars, city License Manager Rebecca Grill said.

But by then, it was probably already too late to start a cigar bar, and even some taverns that now call themselves cigar bars won’t meet the law’s standards. Only one Milwaukee tavern, and a handful in the suburbs, expect smoking to continue at their businesses once the law takes effect.

The law bans smoking in nearly all workplaces, including restaurants and most bars. Many tavern owners fought the ban, fearing they would lose business if patrons couldn’t smoke.

Yet cigar and pipe smoking – but not cigarette smoking – can continue in tobacco shops and in any tavern that earns at least 15% of its annual gross revenue from the sale of cigars or pipe tobacco, provided the establishment is in existence the day after the law is published. Publication is planned for June 2, meaning cigar bars must be open by June 3 to take advantage of the exemption, said Stephen Miller, chief of the state’s Legislative Reference Bureau.

That would be three weeks after the Assembly and Senate passed the law May 13. Doyle signed it May 18.

But in a practical sense, three weeks would not be long enough for anyone to invest the time and money needed to start a cigar bar, said Joette Barta, co-owner of Nice Ash, a 3-year-old cigar bar in downtown Waukesha.

Cigar sales account for 25% to 30% of Nice Ash’s revenue, Barta said. To reach that point, however, Barta and her husband Jeff have built two walk-in humidors and purchased an inventory of cigars worth $100,000. Just obtaining a cigar dealer’s license took several months of work, she said.

“It’s a huge financial investment,” she said.

Waukesha Mayor Larry Nelson had cited the Bartas’ investment in arguing for lawmakers to exempt cigar bars such as Nice Ash, 327 W. Main St.

In Milwaukee, the main beneficiary of the exemption is Shaker’s Cigar Bar and World Café, 422 S. 2nd St. Owner Bob Weiss says he sees cigars as part of a total cultural experience, offering Caribbean food and drinks such as cognac, scotch and rum that go well with cigar smoking.

Cigarettes don’t fit into that picture because their odor detracts from the enjoyment of food, Weiss said. “As a chef, I am not a fan of cigarette smoking at all. Cigars are a different animal.”

The state’s cigar bar definition doesn’t fit Romans’ Pub, a Bay View tavern that has advertised itself as a cigar bar for the past 13 years, owner Mike Romans said. With less than 5% of his revenue coming from cigar sales, “I’m not even close,” he said.

In recent years, many customers have found it less expensive to buy cigars on the Internet and then bring them to smoke in the pub at 3475 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., Romans said. For others, “I kept the cigars mainly as a convenience,” he said.

Romans doesn’t expect to lose business because of the new law. He sees his 31-year-old bar’s main draw as its selection of craft beers. And he plans to outfit his deck as an outdoor smoking area, as allowed by the law.

“I’m going to adjust,” he said.

The law will have differing effects on the two Milwaukee County suburbs that have approved their own smoking bans.

Since July 1, 2006, Wauwatosa has generally prohibited smoking in restaurants, but with exceptions for taverns, combination tavern-restaurants and establishments that can show a “hardship,” which is defined as a loss of gross receipts greater than 10% as a result of complying with the ordinance. The state law will end those exceptions.

Starting July 1, Shorewood will enforce a ban that largely mirrors the state ban that will take effect a year later. Like the state ban, Shorewood will still allow smoking in places such as cigar stores and on outdoor patios of bars and restaurants. But the Shorewood ordinance would be more restrictive in that it does not exempt cigar bars and also bans smoking in village parks. The state law would let the park smoking ban continue.

Milwaukee licensing authorities don’t plan to administer the cigar bar exemption, leaving enforcement to police and the courts, said Grill and Ald. Jim Bohl, chairman of the Common Council’s Licenses Committee.

Romans, who smokes cigars at home, not in his bar, said: “I’m not going to miss the cigarettes. I quit (smoking cigarettes) over 20 years ago, and I’ve taken in enough secondhand smoke.”

Copyright © 2009 Jsonline

Bridge Demolition Means American Tobacco Trail Detours

Users of Durham’s American Tobacco Trail should take note of a temporary detour to accommodate the Apex Street Bridge demolition work that is now underway.

The City of Durham’s Department of Public Works is beginning the next step in completing a new trail connection from the Southside/St. Theresa Neighborhood to the American Tobacco Trail.

The demolition of the Apex Street Bridge is the second component of the project and will take place over the next few weeks. The first step in the project has been completed with the construction of a new ramp connecting the American Tobacco Trail to Apex Street.

Due to the bridge demolition, a detour of the American Tobacco Trail is required between West Enterprise Street and Apex Street and will begin May 27, 2009. The detour will remain in place for approximately four weeks.

Users of the American Tobacco Trail should note that the trail will not be passable from West Enterprise Street south to Apex Street during this period and they will be required to use a detour. American Tobacco Trail traffic between Apex Street and West Enterprise Street will be diverted from the trail to Fargo Street. The newly constructed ramp will serve as an access point for the detour. Signage providing directions to the detour will be posted on the trail.

Copyright © 2009 Durhamcounty

State labor panel reverses ban on outside smoking

Smokers finally scored a victory in Pennsylvania.

The state Labor Relations Board has ruled that government and other public-sector employers, such as schools, cannot ban outdoor smoking on their properties without their unions’ consent. The ruling comes after years of smokers coming out on the losing end of battles over higher cigarette taxes and laws restricting where they can light up.

The ruling handed down last week settled a grievance filed against the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education by its faculty and coaches union. It nullified the campuswide smoking bans put into effect last fall on they system’s 14 university campuses.

The labor board, which reversed a ruling by a hearing examiner, said the university system committed an unfair labor practice against the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties when it interpreted the state’s Clean Indoor Air Act to apply indoors and outdoors and put that policy in place without union approval.

“We’re obviously pleased the full labor board has ruled in our favor,” said Kevin Kodish, a spokesman for the union that represents about 5,800 faculty and coaches.

The campus smoking ban coincided with the indoor smoking ban at public places and workplaces that went into effect statewide Sept. 11.

In announcing his interpretation at that time, system Chancellor John Cavanaugh said the law declared smoking illegal in all public places. He said the law defined a public place as “an enclosed area which serves as a workplace, commercial establishment or an area where the public is invited and permitted and included education facilities.”

Because the universities often conduct classes outside, Cavanaugh said, he determined the entire campus fell under the limitations in the law.

Kenn Marshall, a spokesman for the university system, said system officials plan to appeal the labor board’s decision in Commonwealth Court.

“We believe the action we took was still appropriate in accordance with the law,” he said.

Talks continue with the system’s other labor unions over designating smoking areas on the fringes of campuses or along public thoroughfares that run through campuses, Marshall said. Meanwhile, the smoking ban remains in the educational phase, and Marshall said he knows of no one being cited for violating it.

Unless the labor board’s ruling is overturned, it should put other public employers on notice that “smoking is a bargainable provision, especially if it’s been permitted in the past,” said Christopher Manlove, a spokesman for the state Department of Labor and Industry.

Private employers are exempt from the ruling, he said.

Several midstate employers, including PinnacleHealth Systems and Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, have posted their properties as tobacco-free zones.

PinnacleHealth Systems does not have union employees so it didn’t have to negotiate when it imposed its smoking ban, a spokeswoman said.

At Hershey Medical Center, the decision to go tobacco-free in January 2007 followed discussions that involved representatives from its two labor unions, medical center spokeswoman Megan Manlove said.

Copyright © 2009 Pennlive

New Jersey man pleads to smuggling 16 million cigarettes

A New Jersey man pleaded guilty Tuesday to smuggling nearly 16 million cigarettes he bought from undercover federal agents in Virginia to sell in New York and New Jersey.

Mark A. Frondelli, 48, of Parlin, N.J., admitted as part of a plea agreement in U.S. District Court in Alexandria that he paid more than $2.3 million in cash in 47 separate transactions with undercover agents between November 2007 and August 2008.

Nearly all of the purchases were made in northern Virginia, though some were made in New Jersey and Maryland.

Frondelli bought untaxed cigarettes from the undercover agents and took them for black-market sale to areas like New York City, where required tax stamps add $4.25 to the price of a pack of cigarettes.

Authorities estimate state and local governments were cheated out of about $2.1 million in tax revenue from the illegal purchases.

Mike Campbell, a spokesman for the Washington field office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, said Fairfax County has become a hot spot for cigarette smugglers. As cigarette taxes have increased in some states, so has the profit opportunity for smugglers.

Campbell said one recent case involved an offer to pay for contraband cigarettes with a kilogram of cocaine; another case revealed links to Korean organized crime.

Investigations like that of Frondelli can sometimes take several months and multiple purchases, Campbell said, because investigators are looking to track down others who might be involved in criminal conduct.

“Most every case we investigate doesn’t end with one person,” Campbell said.

Frondelli is scheduled for sentencing on Aug. 7 and faces up to five years in prison. His lawyer, Christopher Amolsch, said his client accepts full responsibility for his actions.

Last year in Kentucky, a federal judge sentenced a Chicago man to 30 months in prison for smuggling 9 million cigarettes from Kentucky to Chicago and New York.

OKs smoking ban, but not in casinos

The Michigan House voted today to ban smoking in workplaces including bars and restaurants, but allow it on gambling floors at Detroit’s three casinos, cigar bars and specialty smoke shops.

The 73-31 vote set up another faceoff with the Senate, which last year voted for a total smoking ban, no exceptions.

The smoking ban remains a hot issue, led by anti-smoking advocates encouraged by smoking bans approved in recent weeks in Wisconsin and North Carolina, a tobacco industry state where a smoking ban was once unimaginable.

But like last year, a stalemate looms again between Michigan’s House and Senate over whether to allow smoking in Detroit’s casinos. A state imposed smoking ban would not affect Indian-run casinos.

The casinos argued that a smoking ban would chase customers away and result in a loss of hundreds of jobs in Detroit.

Smoking ban advocates argued that second hand smoke is a serious health threat to workers where smoking is allowed, and that casino employees should be protected by a prohibition.

An amendment to the House bill to make it a total ban without exception was gaveled down by controlling Democrats., as were several others.

Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop, a Republican from Rochester, said last week that Senate Republicans still prefer a total ban, but hinted there may be room for compromise.

Rep. Bert Johnson, a Democrat from Highland Park, whose committee approved the bill last week, challenged Senate to take up the smoking ban, saying today’s vote affirmed strong support for a ban.

He added, however, “We are nowhere near finished with this.”

Rep. Timothy Bledsoe, a Democrat from Grosse Pointe, said it was foolish to send the Senate anything but a total ban because of the hazards of second hand smoke.

Rep. Lee Gonzales, a Democrat from Flint and sponsor of the bill, said even with exemptions, all but a very small number of establishments among the state’s 19,000 bars and restaurants would ban smoking.

“We are putting public health first and preventing thousands of needless deaths,” Gonzales said.

Smoking bans don’t hurt business

Lost jobs in Wisconsin was an argument used against a statewide smoking ban that will go into effect next year. But two other Midwestern states that have smoking bans say they has not significantly affected employment in restaurants and bars.

Before Minnesota and Ohio approved their bans, restaurant and bar owners said they’d lose business if customers weren’t allowed to smoke. But researchers from those states who tracked employment data over three years found job loss was very minimal, not even statistically relevant.

In Wisconsin, opposition to the smoking ban extended beyond restaurants and bars. When Wisconsin lawmakers passed a smoking ban earlier this month, Senator Bob Jauch argued unsuccessfully to allow motels to have smoking rooms. The Democrat represents northern Wisconsin.

“Those along the border will be economically hit and hurt because someone will go to Minnesota,” he said.

Although there are only predictions of what economic impact a statewide smoking ban will have, there are community examples. In Madison, public health officials noted that there was more liquor licenses sold after the city’s ban was enacted in 2005.

Maureen Busalacchi from Smoke Free Wisconsin says clean air laws can actually improve business.

“The population continues to grow of nonsmokers. And these are the environments that most people like. And our surveys show even a majority of smokers support smoke free air laws.”

When Wisconsin’s smoking ban takes effect in 2010 it will apply to all businesses; except for existing tobacco stores and cigar bars.

Copyright © 2009 Superiortelegram

Smoking ban will make life harder for smokers

ISU will be quitting cold turkey when the smoking ban takes effect July 1, and preparations are being made for any problems that result.

Bill Mercier, the director of public safety, said he expects people to comply “voluntarily,” where people would follow this regulation without needing police incentive.

“We don’t really envision us having to enforce this,” he said.

Mercier said if someone did choose to not comply with the smoking ban, the person would first be asked to stop smoking.

If the person continues to smoke, the punishment would “depend on … who they are to the university,” he said.

If the person is a community member, the person would be escorted off campus. Anyone who is involved with the university would be directed towards the appropriate disciplinary entity, Mercier said.

“If it is a student, it would be appropriate to take it to student judicial,” he said.

To help student smokers cope with the ban, the Student Health Center is providing free classes to help students quit smoking, said Aimee Janssen-Robinson, an outreach educator for the Student Counseling Center.

She said, so far, two graduate students have taken advantage of the classes.

Mercier wants students to be aware of where people can and can’t smoke to prevent unnecessary interventions.

He said people smoking on city-street sidewalks are not on campus and therefore not subject to the ISU smoking ban, even if the sidewalk is inside campus.

Mercier also said, since the smoking ban is only a regulation, no one would be arrested for smoking on campus.

SGA President Michael Scott Jr said there will be “smoking islands” available around campus for smokers.

Scott also said he had mixed feelings about the fairness of the smoking ban.

I think fair is very subjective,” he said. “As a non-smoker, I am often the recipient of undesirable secondhand smoke, there will be more comfort walking around campus as a result. Conversely, I can see how a smoker would see this being heavy-handed and an invasion of civil liberties.”

For more information about the free smoking cessation classes, call student health promotions at 237-3939.

Copyright © 2009 Media

Pressure on smokers to delay ban

A quarter of all deputies in Parliament are smokers and they are being lobbied by certain businesses to delay the second stage of the smoking ban, a survey has revealed.

Experts from Hacettepe University Public Health Branch conducted a survey among parliamentary deputies on smoking habits and the prevention of smoking in public places. According to the related law, restaurants, teahouses, cafes and pubs will be added to the already smoke-free places after June 19. Lobbyists, including restaurant and cafe owners, are putting pressure on deputies to delay the implementation of the second stage.

One-third quit smoking
The survey was conducted among 246 deputies. Results showed 22 percent of deputies smoked every day and 4.5 percent smoked occasionally. The rate of deputies who had quit smoking stood at 29.8 percent, while those who had never smoked numbered 43.7 percent. 57.5 percent of those that smoked said they started smoking before they turned 18 while 31.4 percent said they started between the ages of 19 and 24, while 11.1 percent became smokers after 25.

The reasons they cited for taking up smoking were stress, being overworked and pressure. They also cited an exclusive reason based on their profession: the problems the country is facing. The survey showed most of the deputies that smoked began each day with a cigarette, 7 percent lit up within five minutes of waking up.

According to the survey, 62.5 percent of smoking deputies said they increased the amount they smoked under certain circumstances, which were the mainly the same reasons cited for smoking at all. 75 percent said they puffed more when they were stressed. Nearly 8 percent claimed having nothing to do as a reason to smoke more. For some others, if it wasn’t the consumption of alcohol that had them reaching for their pack more than usual it was concern about the country’s problems. Those who started smoking at an early age were more sensitive about their children taking up the habit. 87.5 percent of deputies that smoked said they would try to quit if they found out their children were taking it up.

The report included with the survey results also said every year five million people all over the world died due to smoking-related illnesses. It reported 43.6 percent of Turkey’s population smoked and that there were 17 million heavy smokers in the country.

Copyright © 2009 Hurriyet

Tobacco regulation on track for June

The congressional drive to bring tobacco under Food & Drug Administration control – given new life in the Senate last week –  is poised to approach the finish line in the Senate in June, but not without a bipartisan fight from North Carolina’s two senators.

Sens. Kay Hagan (D) and Richard Burr (R) plan to push a substitute bill that would put the controversial drug under the control of a newly created entity of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services instead of the FDA. The substitute bill by Burr and Hagan has been criticized by critics who say taking control outside the FDA would short-circuit attempts at worthwhile regulation, while Burr and Hagen say HHS is better equipped to regulate the drug.

“FDA doesn’t have the manpower or the staff to do it,” Hagan said. “We’ve got 65,000 people employed by tobacco in North Carolina. I will oppose the bill, but there’s a huge push for regulation right now, and what we’re doing is looking at who would have regulatory approval. To me, I don’t think the FDA is the place for it.”

The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act passed the House by a vote of 298-112 on April 2 — a vote opposed by most House Republicans. Jim Manley, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), said last week that Senate Democrats plan to move forward on their side sometime in June.

The Senate’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee passed the bill on a 15-8 vote last Wednesday.

Matt Myers, president of Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids — a coalition of 130 health-advocacy groups including the American Cancer Society — lauded the vote and called on full Senate passage.
“FDA regulation of tobacco products, the nation’s number one cause of preventable death, is an essential step toward improving health and reducing health care costs in the United States,” Myers said.

The bill — primarily pushed by HELP Committee Chairman Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) would set new FDA regulations on nicotine. Federal officials would gain new power to regulate the ingredients, marketing and disclosure requirements of cigarettes, for example, including the power to ban advertising that seeks to downplay the drug’s effect, such as companies that advertise cigarettes as “low-tar,” or “mild.”

The bill is also an attempt to circumvent a March 2000 Supreme Court ruling that struck down a Clinton administration attempt to regulate tobacco. On a 5-4 vote, justices at the time said the FDA was “overreaching” in attempting to regulate tobacco without congressional approval.

“It is plain that Congress has not given the FDA the authority that it seeks to exercise here,” wrote Justice Sandra Day O’Connor in the majority opinion joined by Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist and Justices Antonin Scalia, Anthony M. Kennedy and Clarence Thomas.

But the bill won’t go down without a fight. Democrats say they have the necessary 60 votes to pass the bill, but Burr said he will lead opposition.

“FDA’s core mission is to prove the safety of every product that they regulate — except for tobacco, which we know is dangerous and kills people,” said Burr. “So what do you do, ask FDA to ignore their core mission when it comes to tobacco but apply it on everything else?”

Burr said he and Hagan do not disagree with the need for increased regulation.
“But where you put it is important,” Burr said.

Copyright © 2009 Thehill

World No Tobacco Day

In order to bring attention to the dangers of tobacco, May 31st is World No Tobacco Day, WNTD. The World Health Organization, WHO, has been shining the spotlight on the harmful effects of tobacco use and various tobacco company practices since 1987. In 1988, a resolution was passed dedicating May 31st World No Tobacco Day. Countries and communities around the world participate in the annual event in order to stomp out tobacco use.

The theme for 2009 is “Tobacco Health Warnings” which highlights the effectiveness and importance of images and picture Photo: World No Tobacco Day Poster / WHOwarnings when warning people just how dangerous tobacco use can be. And as they say, a picture IS worth 1000 words!

According to the WHO:

* Nearly half of all smokers will die from a tobacco related disease.
* Everyone exposed to second-hand smoke is affected in some way.
* More than 5 million people die every single year from the effects of tobacco.

Copyright © 2009 Examiner

Tax cut for small business

It took some digging for lawmakers to unearth money to cut taxes for small businesses.

But they found enough in a bill to help doctors repay loansto cover partof the $172 million tax cut for about 40,000 small businesses.

On Monday, the Senate Finance Committee approved House Bill 4765, which would exempt from the state’s margins tax businesses that generate less than $1 million in annual revenue.

But the tax cut is contingent upon the passage of House Bill 2154 to provide some of the money to offset the cut.

The full Senate will consider both bills this week.

HB 2154 changes the way the state taxes smokeless tobacco, basing the tax on weight rather than price. The revised tax is expected to bring in $105 million in 2010-11.

Under the measure that cleared the House, the money raised by that change was to be directed to a physician loan repayment program for people who work in areas with a shortage of doctors.

That program needs $22 million in the 2010-11 budget, so a chunk of the tobacco money would be available to make up for part of the business tax cut. The remainder of the tax cut would be covered by general revenue.

Sen. Kevin Eltife, R-Tyler, raised concerns about enacting a significant tax increase for one purpose and then using the money for another.

He said he could support the tax increase for the loan program if he were certain the money would go to it.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Steve Ogden, R-Bryan, said the loan repayment program would be the first priority for the money and that the program would not be shortchanged.

José Camacho is executive director of the Texas Association of Community Health Centers, which has been working closely with lawmakers on the loan repayment plan. Camacho said he was satisfied that the program would be fully financed and had no objection to the rest of the money going toward the tax cut.

Laura Stromberg, a spokeswoman for the Texas chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business, said the key is getting the tax cut.

“The only question that we’re going to ask is: ‘Did the Legislature vote with or against small business?’ ” Stromberg said.

Copyright © 2009 Statesman

A crise in France’s cafés?

If there is any part of France that is supposed to be thick with crowded, lively cafés, it is the Left Bank in Paris. This is where Jean-Paul Sartre and other postwar philosophers held court, where artists and writers drank and smoked and argued, and where travellers sampled a bit of traditional French life. “The café is the people’s parliament,” Balzac said.

The cafés of course are still here, but there are far fewer of them and the ones that remain can be strangely empty.

A spot called Le Nesle is one of them. Given its location, on the rue Dauphine near Saint-Germain, just in from the Pont Neuf, you would think it would be stuffed with Parisians and foreigners even though the décor is not particularly elegant. Yet on this fine, cool spring evening, there are only three customers, one at the bar, two taking turns rattling the Monster Bash pinball machine in the corner.

The owner, a tall, slim, 50ish blonde named Chauvin Marc, knows the cash register will not brim with euros when she leaves tonight. “The young are quitting the bars because of the smoking ban,” she says. “It’s also because of the [economic] crisis.”

She looks out the window. “The street is a little sad.”

Ms. Marc is not alone. All across France, cafés and bars are closing by the thousands and their mortality rate seems to be accelerating because of the recession, changing drinking and dining habits, and the stress induced by the money culture.

Work beckons and the French don’t linger at cafés, bars and restaurants like they used to.

The smoking ban, introduced early last year, did a lot of damage, say café and bar owners. Penelope Semavoine, a young Parisian who works in public relations, notices that the cafés are particularly empty in the winter. “The cafés I go to are still full, but only in the summer, when the smokers can pull a chair outdoors,” she says.

For café and bar owners, the pain will not end with the smoking ban and the recession. Starting in July, the legal drinking age in France will rise to 18 from 16 (in Italy and Germany, the legal drinking age is 16). The National Federation of Cafés, Brasseries and Discothèques says the lower drinking age will simply push teenage drinkers away from the bars and into the streets.

The French café society has been in trouble for at least two generations. In 1960, the country boasted 200,000 cafés. By 1995 the number had shrunk to 50,000. A study published that year said 6,000 cafés were closing every year. In response, a chain of discount cafés opened and festivals were launched to promote cafés.

The efforts appear, at best, to have only slowed the speed of the closings. By last year, according to the café federation, only 41,500 were still open for business, with an average of two closing a day.

A study published last autumn by Euler Hermes SFAC, a French credit insurance company, found that the bankruptcy rate among cafés rose 56 per cent in the first half of 2008, in good part because of the smoking ban. Traditional French restaurants fare poorly, too, with almost 1,800 going under in the same period, a increase of 25 per cent from the same period in 2007. The deepening of the recession in the second half of this year will likely produce even more victims.

The recession seems to have turned a bit of everyday life into a luxury. If you’re standing at the bar of a Parisian café, you will pay €1.10 to €1.30 for a coffee (about $1.75 to $2.05, and some 20 to 30 per cent more than Italian prices). At a table, however, the price will almost double because you’re renting the real estate. That’s not cheap, some Parisians say. Office vending machines charge as little as 30 euro cents for a coffee; office cafeterias charge 80 euro cents. As a result, fewer employees are making the effort to go downstairs and out the revolving door for their morning caffeine fix.

Jacques Hubert-Rodier, a writer at the French national business daily Les Echos, has another explanation for the thinning crowds at French cafés – substandard coffee, at least in his opinion. “You know, a café in 70 per cent to 80 per cent of the cases in Paris is not that good,” he says.

He might be right. How else to explain the proliferation of Starbucks in France? Next to the Odeon Métro station near Saint-Germain, in the traditional heart of Parisian café territory, a sleek, gleaming Starbucks can be packed. In Italy, where good coffee is cherished, there isn’t a single Starbucks.

Having hit the café business with the smoking ban and the lower drinking age, the French government is finally taking pity. Starting in July, the value-added tax (VAT) on restaurant and café bills, which is already built into menu prices, is to fall to 5.5 per cent from 19.6 per cent. Whether the struggling owners will pass all the tax savings to the customers is an open question. If they don’t, French cafés may face an even bleaker summer.

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