November 2009 - |

Monthly Archives: November 2009

David Beckham Has Secret Victoria Hates – Smoking

Soccer Superstar David Beckham, 34, suffers from exercise-induced asthma and must often use an inhaler to keep his air passages David Beckhamopen during games, yet the LA Galaxy also has a dirty secret – he smokes.

Wife Victoria Beckham, 35, has reportedly banned him from smoking in their LA mansion in an effort to break him of his potentially deadly habit.

But David reportedly sneaks outside to smoke his favorite hand-rolled Cuban cigars, which happen to be illegal in the United States because of a ban on trade with the Communist controlled island.

“He loves the taste. I think he likes the image too. Lots of Hollywood stars smoke them,” a friend to the UK tabloid The Sun.

Beckham is know for his superfit physique, but his stay in Los Angeles to play for the Galaxy and his exposure to Hollywood culture has corrupted him. His favorite cigar the Cohiba, costs $50 each, if you can get them at all.

He’s kept his asthma under wraps, but was recently spotted using an inhaler during a game.

Beckham says his asthma has nothing to do with his smoking, and he reportedly smokes cigars because he considers them less harmful than cigarettes. But that is untrue. Both are known cancer causers, and can exacerbate asthma and lead to emphysema.

“It’s strange to see such an athlete as Becks smoking. But he doesn’t have any other vices,” the friend said.

Wife Victoria, also was a smoker, including cigars, but she quit, and now she doesn’t want her husband smoking around sons Brooklyn, ten, Romeo, seven, and Cruz, four.

“The smoking is just his way of relaxing as he nears the end of his career. There is no doubt he is very fit for his age and takes exceptional care of himself,” said the friend.

The star’s spokesman dismissed his dirty habit, saying it was “not true” to describe him as a smoker.

“He may have had a puff on a cigar once or twice in the past to make a celebration but that is it,” he said.

Smoking ban takes effect Friday

Almost all public places that permit indoor smoking in Topeka will be required to kick that habit beginning at 12:01 a.m. Friday morning.

That is when City Ordinance No. 19315 takes effect banning smoking in public places and places of employment, with limited exceptions, as well as within 10 feet of the main entrances and air handling units of those buildings.

Buildings in which smoking is banned will be required to display a “no smoking” sign at each entrance.

To help building owners meet that requirement, the city this past week on its Web page at placed versions of such signs that may be downloaded, printed out and put up in places covered by the ordinance.

The new rules were sparked by the Topeka City Council’s passage Sept. 29 of a clean air ordinance sponsored by Councilwoman Deborah Swank.

“We have probably done the most important thing we could do to improve the health of this community,” Swank said after the vote.

The ordinance takes effect Friday after notice of its adoption was published in the official city newspaper, the Topeka Metro News, which was followed by the passage of a 60-day period targeted at giving people time for the ordinance to take effect.

Opponents in mid-October began acquiring signatures on a petition seeking to force a public vote on the matter. County officials say opponents of the ban to force such a vote must acquire 5,744 valid signatures of registered Topeka voters within 180 days of the date of the first signature on the petition. Petition drive organizers indicated last week that their most recent tally, conducted Nov. 16, showed they had collected 3,409 signatures.

Meanwhile, the clean air ordinance takes effect Friday regardless of the status of efforts to overturn it.

The measure amends city rules by banning public smoking indoors and at places of employment, except in:

— Private residences, except when used as a child care, adult day care or health care facility.

— Private places, which are locations such as personal homes and motor vehicles where the public isn’t invited or permitted. A privately owned business that is open to the public is not defined as a “private place” under the ordinance.

— Retail tobacco stores that receive at least 65 percent of their revenue from the sale of tobacco products.

— Outdoor places of employment, including bar and restaurant patios, courtyards and outdoor dining areas.

— No more more than 20 percent of rooms in hotels and motels.

The ordinance authorizes the owner, manager or other person having control of a place where smoking is banned to take all necessary steps to prevent it and to put up a “no smoking” sign at every entrance. The ordinance calls for such signs to contain bold lettering of at least one inch in height, with owners also being given the option of putting up signs showing the international “no smoking” symbol.

The ordinance authorizes the police chief or his designee to adopt administrative rules and regulations for administering the ordinance and to accept complaints, issue notices of violations and collect fines from violators.

The ordinance calls for people who smoke in an area where smoking is prohibited to be fined $50 for the first violation, $100 for the second within 12 months of the first and $200 per violation for a third or subsequent violation within 12 months of the first two.

It also sets a fine schedule for violations committed by the owner, manager or operator of public places or places of employment who fail to enforce the ordinance. Those fines are $100 for the first violation, $250 for the second within 12 months of the first and $500 per violation for a third or subsequent violation within 12 months of the first two.

Additionally, a business license or permit issued by the city may be suspended for a third or subsequent violation within a 12-month period.

The city on its Web site this past week encouraged business patrons to report violators of the smoking ordinance to management of the business where those violations occur. The city urged managers who need help handling violators to call police at (785) 368-9551.

But Police Chief Ron Miller said his department will be involved in the enforcement of the ordinance only at the point that businesses need help with those who refuse to comply.

Miller said he doesn’t expect his department to face any insurmountable problems, as its research indicates no significant enforcement difficulties exist in other cities that have approved similar ordinances.

Study tests H1N1 risk from cigarettes

WINNIPEG – Researchers are testing to see whether smokers or children exposed to second-hand smoke are at an increased risk of risk from cigarettesbecoming severely ill from H1N1.

Dr. Sat Sharma, director of respiratory labs at St. Boniface General Hospital, said yesterday that smoking is one potential H1N1 risk factor that has not been studied, and may give researchers another clue as to why the virus causes severe illness in some and relatively mild sickness in others.

Dr. Sharma is part of a team of Manitoba researchers who recently received a federal grant to study how H1N1 attacks the body differently than does seasonal influenza. While scientists know that certain risk factors — among them pregnancy and aboriginal ancestry — put people at a higher risk of severe illness from H1N1, they still do not know why.

Dr. Sharma said researchers will analyze cells from the blood and lungs of Manitobans hospitalized with severe H1N1, along with samples from people who experienced a mild bout of flu in the first or second flu wave.

The tests could allow scientist to determine what protects some people against severe H1N1 and predisposes others to it.

“Smoking appears to be one factor not identified previously,” Dr. Sharma said. “We’ll be looking at that in a lot more detail.”

The study began Oct. 1 and is part of a cross-country research project to learn more about how H1N1 attacks the lungs. Winnipeg scientists are collaborating with researchers in Toronto, Vancouver and Halifax to investigate how the virus works, along with what role genetics and environment play in how it infects the body.

Dr. Sharma and a group of Winnipeg researchers are leading the national effort, in part because of the large number of severe H1N1 cases that surfaced across the province this spring. The clusters of severe H1N1 cases among Manitoba First Nations caught the attention of the World Health Organization. At its peak, 38 Manitobans were on ventilators in intensive care, and seven people died.

Dr. Beni Sahai, senior scientist and virologist at Cadham Provincial Laboratory in Winnipeg, said it is crucial to learn more about the virus because H1N1 is quickly becoming the dominant flu strain. Old strains of influenza die off as new ones emerge, Dr. Sahai said, and H1N1 will soon replace the previous seasonal influenza strain.

While seasonal influenza is typically confined to the upper respiratory tract, H1N1 progresses to the lower respiratory tract in the lungs and causes serious problems, Dr. Sahai said.

By Jen Skerritt, November 27, 2009

In Virginia country, smoke-free zones emerge

RICHMOND – Starting tomorrow, Virginia will join dozens of other states that ban smoking in restaurants, a huge shift for a state whose tobacco habit dates to the Jamestown settlement about 400 years ago.

Strict curbs on lighting up where food and drink are sold were enacted this year by lawmakers in Richmond and in Raleigh, N.C., major tobacco capitals where cigarette makers Philip Morris and R.J. Reynolds have been accustomed to getting their way.

Restaurants in Virginia will be allowed to have a smoking area only if they segregate smokers into rooms with ventilation systems separate from those that heat and cool nonsmoking patrons.

North Carolina’s law takes effect Jan. 2 and will allow smoking on outdoor patios and in private membership clubs, as does Virginia’s law. Unlike Virginia, North Carolina law will not allow any smoking in restaurants.

Virginia restaurant industry lobbyist Tom Lisk expects only about 10 percent of the state’s restaurants to retain smoking areas. “A number of them, because of that requirement in the law to create or construct a separate room, don’t have the wherewithal to do it, so they’re just banning smoking altogether,’’ said Lisk, who last winter opposed the bill.

Some, such as Randall Plaxa, a Williamsburg nightspot owner, decided to go smoke-free well ahead of the deadline. Others, such as the Third Street Diner and the Beatles-themed Penny Lane Pub in downtown Richmond, will move patrons who smoke into upstairs quarters that already comply with the law.

Tobacco taxes vary wildly across Potomac

Virginia, despite joining its counterparts across the Potomac in banning smoking in bars and restaurants, stands apart in its refusal to levy heavy taxes on the sale of cigarettes.

The state takes 30 cents out of every pack of cigarettes, a pittance compared with Maryland and the District and a reminder that the Old Dominion is far from uprooting its tobacco history.

While lawmakers agreed this year to the unprecedented restriction on where someone can smoke — a victory for Gov. Tim Kaine — the General Assembly nevertheless shot down Kaine’s effort to double the cigarette levy to pay for skyrocketing Medicaid costs.

Virginia until five years ago had almost no tax on cigarettes, charging only 2.5 cents per pack. The increase to 30 cents in 2004 was the first since the tax was enacted in 1960.

That levy is the third lowest cigarette tax in the nation — higher than only Missouri and South Carolina — and less than a tenth of Rhode Island’s highest-in-the-nation $3.46 per pack charge, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Maryland doubled its tax to $2 per pack in 2007. The D.C. Council matched that tax in 2008, and this year upped the ante to $2.50 a pack.

Virginia lawmakers’ reluctance to follow suit is no doubt linked to the tobacco industry’s presence in the state. Altria — the parent company of tobacco giant Philip Morris — is headquartered in Richmond and is a major campaign donor. Tobacco ranked ninth last year among the state’s most lucrative agricultural products, bringing in $83 million, according to the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

By: William C. Flook, Examiner
November 30, 2009

WHO to unveil new tobacco epidemic report in Turkey

The World Health Organization, or WHO, will make public this year’s report on Global Tobacco Epidemic at a meeting to be held in tobaccoTurkey in December for its efforts to create a smoke-free environment and its successful implementation of smoking ban in enclosed areas.

WHO report presents every year information from 179 member countries regarding tobacco epidemic and tobacco control policies. The organization releases its annual report every year in a different country or a city which has made significant progress in fight against smoking or become a role model for its combat against smoking.

Last year’s meeting was held in New York that launched a smoking ban in restaurants and bars. London, Dublin, Mexico City, Montevideo and Istanbul were running to host this year’s meeting. WHO decided to have this year’s meeting in Istanbul because of the “%100 Smoke-Free Air Space in Turkey” which is successfully implemented since July 2009 after the smoking ban in enclosed areas.

Turkish health minister as well as WHO officials will take part at the meeting in Istanbul on December 9.

French turn to Belgium for cheap cigarettes

Afew years ago, Adinkerke was a forgotten, dilapidated village of red-brick houses, just inside the Belgian border with France. In thetobacco past four years, however, it has been transformed into a glittering mini-Las Vegas: a village full of garish signs reading “Smokey River”, “Eurobaccy”, “Tobacco Alley”, “Smugglers’ Corner”, and “Coronation Street Tobacco Shop”.

The village stands less than a mile from the long ribbon of dunes and beaches, stretching north of Dunkirk, from which the British Army was evacuated 69 years ago. The opening this month of yet another tobacco shop in the village – a garish cigarette supermarket called Real Tobacco XL – has ignited a new Battle of Dunkirk: a potentially noxious legal row between France and Belgium over the rights of EU citizens to dodge national anti-smoking policies by crossing European borders to buy cheap fags.

The owners of Real Tobacco XL, and four other emporiums along the Franco-Belgian border, flooded northern France earlier this month with advertising flyers for their new shop. They sent a loudspeaker car, towing an advertising trailer, through the streets of Dunkirk promoting the fact that cigarettes were at least €1 a packet cheaper 10 miles away in Adinkerke. The French tobacconists’ association pounced. They had been able to do nothing, under EU law, about the cheap cigarette shops in Belgium. But they could bring a legal action against the Belgian firm for breaking an 18-year-old law which bans all forms of tobacco advertising in France.

“For three or four years, we have had to watch them [the Belgians] opening more shops selling cheap cigarettes, and we could do nothing,” said Patrick Falewee, president of the Dunkirk area tobacco trade association. “Over there they have no system of tobacco licensing, anyone can start a tobacco shop. You just buy an abandoned house in a border village and you start selling cigarettes. Now, at last, we can fight back. They have broken the French law against advertising tobacco and we are going to make sure that they are punished for it. We are going to pursue this case to the end.”

This is much more than a local quarrel. At one time, France took a relaxed view of smoking, partly because tobacco was a lucrative state monopoly. In the past decade, however, successive French governments have adopted a more health-conscious approach and have imposed a series of steep tax increases on tobacco. The 6 per cent tax increase earlier this month has increased the price of a packet of 20 Marlboros – the most popular brand in France – to €5.60 (£5.10). This is about £1 a packet cheaper than in Britain. It is about €1 (90p) a packet more than in Belgium and at least €2 a packet more than in other EU nations, such as Spain, Italy and Luxembourg.

Earlier this year, the British American Tobacco company estimated that more than one in five of all cigarettes smoked in France was bought abroad. Much the same problem exists in Germany, which has very cheap tobacco neighbours in Poland and the Czech Republic. There is a growing trade in smuggled cigarettes in Europe and an equally illegal growth of sales over the internet. But many French and German smokers have discovered the pleasures of perfectly legal, or almost legal, cigarette tourism.

“They come to the shops in Belgium, not just from Dunkirk and Lille but from as far south as Paris and Rouen,” Mr Falewee said. “Legally under EU law they are allowed only five cartons of 200 cigarettes each per car. Of course, they often buy far, far more than that. The Belgian shops do nothing to limit their purchases.”

Over the border in Adinkerke, the Real Tobacco XL supermarket is doing a brisk trade. The shop is at least 50 yards long and 25 yards wide – about quarter of the size of a football pitch – and also sells chocolate and a small selection of drinks. But cigarettes and rolling tobacco are its stock-in-trade. If you don’t mind rolling your own, you can buy a large drum of Louxor tobacco – enough to make 1,200 cigarettes – for €48.55.

Serge, the manager of the shop, declined to talk about the rights and wrongs of the legal case brought by the tobacconists’ association across the border. “The French are making a big hoo-ha about our shops here but the real price difference is not between France and Belgium but between here and Britain. Eighty per cent of our customers here are not French but British,” he said. Was he suggesting that the French were being a little hypocritical? That Calais had been making a living for years from the thirst of Britons for cheap, low-tax booze and the cross-Channel hunger for lower-tax tobacco? Yet, now that the cigarette tax pattern had started to favour Belgium, they were complaining.

Serge grinned and turned to serve another customer. “You are saying that, not me,” he said. Hélène Marcuzzo, 32, from Dunkirk, was loading up her car with cigarettes for herself and chocolate for her two children. “I can buy 200 cigarettes for €46 here, compared with nearly €60 in France,” she said. “I never buy cigarettes at home any more, except in an emergencies. I understand why the French shops are upset,” she went on, “but what about the poor French smoker? They keep putting the taxes up and up. What are we supposed to do?” Give up smoking, maybe? Ms Marcuzzo looked appalled. “Oh, no, no, no, no,” she said. “No, no, no, no.”

Mr Falewee of the Dunkirk tobacconists’ association has another solution to suggest. “It’s very simple,” he said. “We need a proper European health policy, which would harmonise all cigarette taxes in the European Union. As things stand, there is no point in trying to discourage people from killing themselves by raising taxes because they will just clear off somewhere else to buy their cigarettes.”

The European Commission has already tentatively suggested something similar. With taxes on 20 cigarettes currently ranging from the equivalent of 82p in Bulgaria to £4.62 a packet in Ireland, the EU would need a king-size harmonisation. This could be a first test for the ingenuity of the European Union’s answer to Hercule Poirot, the new Belgian President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy.

Contraband cigarettes EU and beyond

*The dramatic differentials in cigarette prices, not merely among EU countries but also between the EU and some countries outside it, have provided money-making opportunities to many others besides the enterprising tobacconists of Dunkirk.

*Since joining the EU in 2004, Poland has been steadily hiking tobacco duty to meet EU targets. As a result, cigarettes are frequently smuggled into Poland from bordering Ukraine, where tobacco is much cheaper.

*In the former Yugoslav republics, the yawning gap between local and EU cigarette prices has prompted the growth of a lucrative smuggling trade across the Adriatic. This, it is claimed, has hugely enriched some of the local post-Communist elites. Milo Djukanovic, the Prime Minister of Montenegro, is fighting Italian accusations that he himself is involved in the trade.

*A study earlier this year estimated that 657bn black market cigarettes are sold across the world annually, costing governments nearly £25bn in lost revenue. And the charity Cancer Research estimates that if the smuggling of cheap tobacco into the UK was eliminated, in the long term 4,000 deaths a year could be prevented.

30 November 2009, Independent

Bulgaria Parliament Approves Cigarette Tax Hike

Bulgaria’s Members of the Parliament voted Thursday to increase the cigarettes tax.

The MPs decided on second reading to establish a BGN 101 excise for 1 000 cigarettes instead of the current BGN 41, while the proportional tax will be 23% of the sales price instead of the current 40,5%. The later will affect mostly expensive cigarette brands.

The first proposal was for a tax of BGN 74 for 1 000 cigarettes and 36% of the sales price.

The tax for tobacco for pipes and cigarettes is set at BGN 100 per kg.

The opposition left-wing declared they oppose the tax hike. Kornelia Ninova, MP and spokesperson of the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP), defined the move as a mistake, pointing out the negotiated agreement with the EU is for lower tax and the increase would contribute to wide-spread contraband instead of curbing smoking. According to Ninova, the tax increase will hit hard the Bulgarian cigarette maker “Bulgartabac” which employees 2 000 workers.

She was backed by Aliosman Imamov, from the ethnic Turksih Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS) party, who also said the changes will hurt “Bulgartabac.”

The new duties will increase the price of a pack of cigarettes anywhere between BGN 1,10 and 1,40 making the price of the best-selling cigarettes “Victory” brand BGN 5 instead of the current BGN 3,40.

Business Licenses & Permits Information provided by Singapore Company

Typically application for licenses and permits in Singapore can only be done after successful incorporation of your company; however, in a few instances, application for licenses and permits is done simultaneously with the application for name approval from Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA), from which, the ACRA system will indicate if another approving authority is required to grant licenses or permits.

There are several businesses that will require licenses or permits to operate. Private schools, travel agencies, liquor distributors, moneylenders, banks, childcare centres, importers/exporters, wholesalers and retailers of liquors are some examples of businesses that require license or permits by the Singapore authorities.

We have provided here some info on businesses that commonly require licenses or permits. For more information on how to apply for licenses and permits for your business please email us or call our Business License Specialist at +65 6242 6533.

Financial or Funds Management Services

Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) oversees the issuance of licenses for financial and funds management services. There are essentially three types of licenses:

* Capital Markets Services License for businesses that work with securities.
* Commodity License issued for commodity trading agencies.
* Financial Adviser License for financial firms that provide advisory services to the public.

Educational Institutions

Setting up an educational institution or to provide educational services usually requires one or more licenses to operate. Each of the licenses is issued by a different government authority; it can be the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports and/or Ministry of Education.

Tobacco and Liquor Retails

You will need a separate license to sell tobacco and liquors in Singapore. A Tobacco Retail License issued by Health Sciences Authority of Singapore will permit you to sell cigarettes, cigars and other tobacco products. Each license issued is only for a single retail outlet. If you have multiple retail shops, you will need to obtain licenses for all of them.

There are different types of liquor licenses with each type for specific business activity. A Wholesale Beer License is just for wholesaling of beers and therefore different from a Retail Beer License. Depending on the nature of your business establishment, Asiabiz can assist you in finding the appropriate business license.


All food related businesses are required to have a Food Shop License from National Environment Agency (NEA), which will conduct an inspection prior to issuing a license. There are other licenses that are required based on the food and beverages that will be served in the restaurant.

Travel Agencies

Travel agencies in Singapore that sell tickets for individuals or groups to travel outside of Singapore are required to obtain a travel agent’s license with Singapore Tourism Board (STB).

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‘Bong tax’ proposed to help budget

TALLAHASSEE — It might not solve the state’s budget crisis, but a bipartisan pair of lawmakers think they’ve found another item that should be taxed: the bong.

Sen. Steve Wise, R-Jacksonville, and Rep. Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg, have both filed legislation that would subject a range of pipes often used to smoke crack or marijuana to a 25 percent tax.

The charge would come regardless of whether the pipes are to be used for legal purposes or not — a way to get at so-called “head shops” that often sell the instruments while claiming they don’t know whether the pipes are going to be used for tobacco or something else.

“What we hope to do is get rid of the charade, the hypocrisy,” Rouson said.

It’s something of a personal crusade for Rouson, who can still recite from memory the date he finally broke his own substance-abuse problems. The lawmaker said he’s been clean for more than 11 years after struggling with crack, alcohol and marijuana.

The legislation, supported by the state Office of Drug Control Policy, gained no traction last year at least in part because of fears that it would become a media-driven distraction from the difficult budget issues facing the state, Rouson said.

And while Rouson suggested the revenue could be used to fund drug-treatment programs threatened by the budget crises, those ills are not the main cause for the legislation.

Instead, Wise said, the aim is to increase the cost of peddling the pipes.

“We’re trying to get to the wholesalers and jack up the price big-time,” Wise said.

Bruce Grant, director of the Office of Drug Control Policy, said law enforcement officers often have an almost impossible task in trying arrest those selling or purchasing the pipes or shutting down head shops because anyone involved can simply say the devices will be used to smoke tobacco.

“You can’t prove that someone has broken a law just because they buy a pipe or a bong or something like that,” Grant said.

There were no reported arrests in October 2005 after a large-scale federal crackdown throughout the Jacksonville area, although agents confiscated 15,800 smoking tools said to be worth about $250,000 at 10 local stores.

One area retailer who carries glass pipes and bongs said she didn’t think a 25 percent tax would hurt sales.

“It doesn’t matter what it costs. If someone wants it, they’re going to buy it. It’s not like they can blow the glass themselves,” she said, requesting not to be named.

Critics say that if lawmakers think the new tax will decrease drug use, they’re wrong.

“The idea that it’s going to stop people from smoking … is just ludicrous,” said Ford Banister, past president of the Jacksonville chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. Banister heads the Committee for Sensible Marijuana Policy, which is pushing decriminalization measures in several Florida cities.

Banister said making it more difficult to get the pipes from a store would probably just prompt users to create their own pipes.

“You can make a bong out of an apple, out of a potato, out of pretty much anything you want to,” he said.

Grant didn’t dispute that, but said the measure could at least crimp outlets turning a profit off bongs and its kin. Hookahs, a fixture in some Middle Eastern restaurants, would not be affected by the proposed tax.

“They’re making money selling this paraphernalia to people who then go out and do something illegal,” he said.

By BRANDON LARRABEE – Florida Times-Union
Nov. 27, 2009

Smoking ban starts Dec. 1 in Virginia

Dec. 1 marks the beginning of a new era in the restaurant business in Virginia.

On that day, Virginia’s smoking ban in restaurants, a law passed by the General Assembly during the 2009 session, will go into effect. It bans smoking in all restaurants that are open to the public, with a few exceptions.

According to the Web site of the Virginia Department of Health, which is mandated to assist with the law’s enforcement, the law is meant to protect the health of restaurant employees and patrons from the effects of secondhand smoke, which leads to the deaths of more than 1,000 adults each year in Virginia.

Many restaurants will not have to make any changes in response to the new law. Seventy-four percent of Virginia’s fast-food and full-service restaurants are already smoke free. In Campbell County, 88 percent are already smoke free, while in Pittsylvania County, 76 percent are smoke free.

The ban on smoking includes convenience stores, gas stations, bowling alleys and skating rinks if they prepare and serve food to the public.

Entities exempted from the law include private clubs such as a Moose lodge, outdoor areas of restaurants where the owners allow smoking and hot dog stands.

Restaurants who choose to continue to offer a smoking area must create a structurally separate area for smoking. It must also be separately vented, and one public entrance must be into nonsmoking area.

Gary Hagy, director of the Division of Food and Environmental Services at VDH, said in a recent telephone interview that structurally separate means a solid wall with a door must divide the smoking area from the nonsmoking area.

The Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development, through the localities’ building inspectors, will assist the health department in inspecting the smoking areas to ensure that they are complying with the law. There is a $25 civil penalty for violations.

Hagy suggested that citizens with complaints about noncompliance first call the local health department, which will work with the businesses to ensure compliance.

“We expect the majority of restaurants will think of their neighbors and think of their customers and will comply with the law,” he said.

Like any law that creates a major change in citizens’ everyday life, it has its supporters and detractors. Whatever they think of the new law, though, proprietors of area businesses are prepared to comply with it.

Esteban Morales, manager of El Cazador in Altavista, said the restaurant would be smoke free as of Dec. 1.

“Most people are happy with the new law,” he said.

He said often when the restaurant gets busy and the nonsmoking area is full, many people wait for a space on the nonsmoking side, even when there are tables available on the smoking side.

He stressed that he understands both sides of those affected by the law.

“I’m not against smokers, and I respect that they like to smoke,” he said.

Greg Toren, general manager and chef at Perky’s Restaurant in Altavista, is also ready for Dec. 1.

“We are going 100 percent smoke free,” he said.

Toren is not worried about losing business.

“I think we might gain some business from it,” he said.

Some people have told him they enjoy the food at Perky’s, but choose not to eat there with the smoke surrounding them. He hopes they will now feel comfortable enough to come in and eat.

He plans to close the restaurant for a couple of days in December to wash and repaint the walls and ceilings and do general clean up to get rid of the smell and stains of cigarette smoke.

Nick Tierney, who co-owns Altavista’s Fat Katz with several family members, is not in favor of the new law.

“We think the new law is just government getting too much in everyday life,” he said.

But he added, “We believe in following the law.”

He plans to create separate areas for smoking and nonsmoking by Dec. 1. It’s something that he must do, he said, because 80 percent of his regular clientele are smokers.

Lucinda Davis, owner of One Stop Mart in Altavista, will go completely smoke free Dec. 1.

“I see pros and cons to both sides,” she said.

She said the law is good for those with breathing problems and people who don’t smoke. But she also sympathizes with smokers who come by the store to sit and smoke and socialize. She has not gotten much negative feedback from her customers.

“No one has given me a hard time about it,” she said.

If a customer in her store lights up, she plans to tell them nicely that they can no longer smoke in her store and explain that it is state law.

For more information about the smoking ban, call the Campbell County Health Department at 434-332-9550 or 434-592-9550, the Pittsylvania County Health Department at 434-432-7232 or visit the VDH Web site at

Amcor Offers EU Remedies in Alcan Packaging Deal

Amcor Ltd., Australia’s biggest packaging company, offered remedies to address European Union regulators’ antitrust concerns in their review of the company’s planned purchase of part of Rio Tinto Group’s Alcan unit.

The European Commission, the EU competition authority in Brussels, said in an e-mailed statement today that it extended its review by 10 working days to Dec. 14. An Amcor spokeswoman in Brussels, who asked not to be identified in line with company policy, said Amcor will make an announcement in due course.

Amcor, based in Melbourne, in August offered to buy part of Rio’s Alcan unit including European and Asian food packaging, global pharmaceuticals and global tobacco units for $2.025 billion. The takeover, Amcor’s biggest, will boost sales 50 percent and make it the world’s largest supplier of packaging to the pharmaceutical, healthcare and personal care industries, according to Deutsche Bank AG.

November 25, 2009,
By Matthew Newman and Brett Foley Bloomberg

Bill to combat e-cigarettes approved by New Jersey Assembly health committee


Legislation proposed to prohibit the sale of electronic cigarettes to minors and include e-cigarettes in the state’s Smoke Free Air Act, which prohibits smoking in indoor public places and workplaces, was unanimously approved Monday by an Assembly panel.

Assemblywoman Connie Wagner (D-Bergen), a co-sponsor, said she’s concerned e-cigarettes are being marketed to children because they offer flavors like chocolate, banana and strawberry and could serve as a gateway to real cigarette use. “These are dangerous devices and I want to make sure our children are protected,” she said. “I’m very concerned that young people who use these things will get hooked on the nicotine and eventually move onto the real thing, opening the door to a lifetime of expensive and debilitating health problems.”

E-cigarettes look like the real thing but don’t contain tobacco. They employ a metal tube with a battery that heats up a nicotine solution. Users breathe in the resulting vapor.

“Electronic cigarettes contain carcinogens and toxic chemicals, with one study even finding they use a toxic ingredient found in antifreeze,” said Assemblywoman Joan Voss (D-Bergen), the other co-sponsor. “We have every reason to be worried about the safety of these products that are easy for youngsters to buy and also contain no health warning like you find on real cigarettes.”

The merged legislation, A-4227/A-4228, was approved by the Health and Senior Services Committee and was sent to the full lower house for a possible floor vote. It would extend the state ban on the sale of tobacco products to those under 19 years of age to e-cigarettes and include e-cigarettes in the New Jersey Smoke Free Air Act, which prohibits smoking in indoor public places and workplaces.


Tobacco giant bid to oust judge

THE NSW Court of Appeal has been asked by British American Tobacco to remove a Dust Diseases Tribunal judge from hearing a landmark claim that smoking and asbestos jointly caused lung cancer.

The company argued yesterday that Judge Jim Curtis should be disqualified because of a pre-trial ruling he made in a similar case in 2006 about its destruction of documents.

The ruling was in an asbestos-tobacco compensation claim brought by a Wollongong motor mechanic, Allan Mowbray, which settled before trial.

It related to British American Tobacco’s so-called ”document retention policy” first raised in a tobacco compensation case brought by a Melbourne smoker, Rolah McCabe.

Judge Curtis denied British American Tobacco the benefits of legal professional privilege in the Mowbray case, saying the company had destroyed prejudicial documents for the purpose of suppressing evidence in anticipated litigation and that it ”dishonestly concealed this purpose by pretence of a rational non-selective housekeeping policy”.

John Sackar, QC, for British American Tobacco, said yesterday that Judge Curtis would have to ”hear the matter all over again” in a case he began hearing in March 2006.

The plaintiff, Donald Laurie, died at the age of 68 in May 2006 and his widow, Claudia Jean Laurie, has continued the case on behalf of her husband’s estate.

Ms Laurie has foreshadowed calling as a witness Fred Gulson, the former in-house lawyer for British American Tobacco Australia Services.

In the Mowbray case, ”Mr Gulson was the man who fingered British American Tobacco on document destruction,” Mr Sackar said.

Under the legal test of ”apprehended bias” Judge Curtis might not be seen by ”a fair-minded lay observer” as bringing an impartial mind to the Laurie case, he said.

British American Tobacco is appealing against Judge Curtis’s refusal in May to disqualify himself, when he said his pre-trial ruling on privilege in the Mowbray case was ”far from” expressed in terms of finality.

”I took pains to recognise that the assertions … as to a document destruction policy remained a live issue for the trial, that the evidence of Mr Gulson had not been tested in cross-examination, and that there may be good reasons why BATAS, in an interlocutory proceeding, did not wish to take issue with, nor call evidence to contradict, Mr Gulson,” the judge said.

Ms Laurie is claiming aggravated damages from the company on the basis that it knew that smoking tobacco products could cause lung cancer, and that it intentionally destroyed documents tending to prove this knowledge to put those documents beyond the reach of litigants.

The other defendants are a former James Hardie subsidiary alleged to have supplied asbestos products to Mr Laurie’s workplaces and the navy, which employed him as an engine-room stoker in the 1960s.

Ms Laurie has previously indicated she might put her case on hold pending the outcome of further legal proceedings relating to document destruction in the McCabe case in Victoria.

November 26, 2009 Smh

Smoking campaign targets football fans

The Department of Health is launching a press campaign in a bid to encourage more male smokers to give up smoking.cigarettes football fans

Set to run across major national newspapers and TalkSport’s weekly magazine in November, the ads are football-themed, with a message that “going smoke free allows you to get more out of your game”.

The straplines take the form of familiar football chants, such as: ‘We’re not smoking, we’re not smoking, we’re not smoking any more.’

There will also be a direct mail pack and locker stickers for 5-a-side venues.

A website will have a range of tools to encourage people to quit smoking, with visitors able to ‘sign’ for Smokefree United and enter a Smokefree United League, which ranks the number of quitters from each football team.

The press campaign was devised by Kitcatt Nohr Alexander Shaw. The target demographic is male smokers in England who work in routine and manual jobs, are interested in football and have children living at home.

“Male smokers provide a unique challenge as traditional health messages often don’t motivate them to quite,” says a DoH spokesperson. “This campaign demonstrates the positive, tangible benefits that quitting smoking offers football fans – be it more money in their pocket or the fitness to have a kick about with their friends and family.”

The campaign follows the TV ads launched by the DoH this month that feature real children talking about their concern for their parent’s health, and encouraging them to give up smoking.

Smoking vaccine takes new approach

Smokers have tried a long list of ways to quit: cold turkey, counseling, gum, patches and more.

Now, a small company is hoping it can make millions of dollars by creating a vaccine for people who want to kick the habit. Nabi Biopharmaceuticals of Rockville, Md., which is in the late stages of testing its experimental vaccine, took a big step toward its goal last week by striking a deal with pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline.

Under the agreement, GlaxoSmithKline will pick up the cost of developing and marketing the vaccine, called NicVax, if Nabi successfully completes the Phase 3 trials now under way.

“GSK is one of the preeminent pharmaceutical companies with worldwide commercialization reach,” Raafat Fahim, Nabi president and chief executive, said in a conference call with investors last week.

For many years, the standard treatment for breaking a smoker’s dependence on nicotine has been patches or gum that contain declining dosages of the substance in an effort to wean addicts off their dependence.

Nabi’s experimental vaccine, a decade in the works, tries a more direct approach: It shuts down nicotine’s access to the brain. Smokers may light up a cigarette while on NicVax, but if the drug works as intended, they won’t feel any of the stimulating effects they crave from nicotine.

NicVax causes the immune system to create antibodies that bond with the nicotine molecule if it enters the bloodstream. The result is a molecule too large to pass along to the brain. In short, the vaccine seeks to make the body immune to nicotine.

If smokers can’t get a buzz from lighting up a cigarette, the thinking goes, there’s no reason for them to continue the habit. Since the antibodies created by NicVax stay in the body for a long period of time, the chances of a smoker quickly returning to the habit are low.

“It breaks the cycle of addiction,” Fahim said.

So far, the vaccine has completed its early and middle rounds of testing. The company plans to have the results of its recently commenced final round in 2011.

“At first blush, it sounds crazy,” said Norman Edelman, chief medical officer of the American Lung Association. After all, creating a vaccine against a small nicotine molecule is a large challenge, he said, “but it’s not beyond the realm of belief.”

Cheryl Healton, president and chief executive of the American Legacy Foundation, a public health nonprofit, said it’s the long-term effects of NicVax as a smoking cure that make it revolutionary. Smokers don’t usually quit successfully on the first try — on average there are eight to 11 failed attempts, she said.

Under the terms of the deal with GlaxoSmithKline, Nabi will receive $40 million initially for the exclusive worldwide licensing rights to the drug. The company stands to make as much as $500 million from the deal with GSK if the company meets a number of developmental and marketing milestones in the coming years. That figure doesn’t include royalties the company would earn if the product makes it to market.

“Needless to say, I’m very pleased with the agreement with GlaxoSmithKline, which provides not only for the development and potential commercialization of NicVax, but also for the development of its second-generation nicotine vaccines,” Fahim told investors.

David Moskowitz, an equity analyst with Caris and Co., said the new anti-smoking drug Chantix, which entered the market in 2006, is already worth about $800 million in sales.

“There is a large opportunity in the smoking-cessation market,” he said.

While the percentage of adults who use tobacco has been on a steady decline over the least few decades, recent years have seen that trend flatten out. Last year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 20.6 percent of U.S. adults count themselves as smokers, a figure that’s virtually unchanged since 2004, when it was 20.9 percent.

Nabi isn’t the only firm trying to defeat the smoking habit with this type of vaccine, but it appears to have a head start on the competition, said Stephen Dunn, managing director of life science research at Jesup & Lamont.

An experimental drug from Swiss pharmaceutical firm Novartis and Cytos Biotechnology recently failed a middle round of testing, casting doubts on whether it will reach the market.

By Mike Musgrove

Smoking, lead exposure may raise ADHD risk in kids

Children who are exposed to tobacco in the womb and to lead during childhood are almost eight times more likely to be diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) than children with no such exposures, researchers have found.

The finding was made after researchers led by Dr. Tanya E. Froehlich, of the department of pediatrics at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, analyzed U.S. government data on prenatal tobacco and childhood lead exposure.

All of the data came from the 2001-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which examined a representative sample of 2,600 U.S. children aged eight to 15.

The rate of ADHD in the whole group was 8.6 per cent. But the rate of ADHD was about 17 per cent in kids whose mothers smoked during pregnancy. And the rate was about 14 per cent in kids who had the highest levels of lead in their blood.

Most startling was that among those children who had a joint exposure to lead and prenatal smoking, 28.6 per cent had ADHD, found the study, published in the journal Pediatrics.

Exposure to tobacco alone was linked to a 2.4 times greater likelihood of ADHD, while a high blood level of lead was liked to a 2.3 greater risk. Combined, the tobacco and lead exposure increased the odds of ADHD by eight times.

Even children who were in the highest third of lead levels still had levels lower than what the U.S. government considers “elevated,” the researchers noted.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers levels of 10 micrograms per deciliter “actionable,” Froehlich said. But in the study, children in the upper third had blood lead levels that were only 1.3 micrograms per deciliter or greater; children in the middle group had levels between 0.9 and 1.3 micrograms per deciliter.

It’s not clear why smoking and lead might increase the risk for ADHD, but it has been long believed that ADHD is at least in large part due to abnormalities of dopamine in the brain, and research has shown lead and smoking may alter the brain’s metabolism of dopamine.

While the authors say their study was not designed to evaluate whether smoking and lead exposures caused ADHD, they conclude: “Our findings suggest that reduction of toxicant exposures may be an important avenue for ADHD prevention.”

The researchers conclude that about 38 per cent of ADHD cases among children may be linked to prenatal exposure to tobacco smoke, while 25 per cent could be linked to lead exposure.

Lighting up new business

Opening a retail outlet to sell a product that many people consider harmful might seem risky in the best of times, let alone in a down economy.

But at least four tobacco-related businesses have opened recently in Wichita or are close to doing so.

Jason Webster and Neil Edwards recently opened the Humidor Cigars & Lounge at 8558 W. 21st St.

It’s a spin-off from the smoke shop next door to ABC Discount Wine & Spirits, Webster said. “We kept expanding the humidor and finally we just ran out of space” and moved the cigar part of the business to a separate building. The front half is the retail area; the back half is a cigar lounge.

A Humidor also opened recently at 2221 N. Woodlawn. That one is owned by Rick Daugherty.

Mary and Maher Gerges just opened Shesha Tobacco Shop in Towne West Square.

It’s in a space where another tobacco shop was a few years back and offers a variety of tobacco, including cigars and tobacco for hookah water pipes.

Space at 2821 W. 13th St. is being remodeled for Steve’s Smoke Town, according to signs outside.

Webster said business at the smoke shop has been steady through the years.

But “I see fewer smoke shops than there used to be” around Wichita. “That’s probably helped us maintain some of our business.”

David Flax, who owns four Tee Pee’s Smoke Shops in Wichita and two in Newton, has seen others leave the business and said it would be tougher to open a new store now than it was 15 years ago, when he started.

“There’s so much stuff in the last 15 years that has changed,” he said, mentioning attitudes about smoking, the number of products available, state regulation and the price of cigarettes.

He has seen customers switch to roll-your-own tobacco and electric cigarettes that give the user a dose of nicotine without smoke. And to stay in business, he has to stock those as well as the cigarettes that they can buy anywhere else for the same price.

“You have to have everything the customer wants,” he said, and a customer who can find only two of the three things he wants will shop elsewhere.

Valeria Stanford manages Central Smoke Shop, which has been open about two years. She said the first three months or so were a struggle, “but we’re doing well.”

Customers complain about increasing prices but keep buying, she said.

The shop offers some convenience store products as well as tobacco, she said, but “what’s keeping our doors open is the cigarettes.”

Webster, of the Humidor, said he thinks people — especially younger ones — are looking for inexpensive ways to indulge themselves, and cigars and other tobacco products give them a way.

“I think it’s a younger generation that’s driving our business now,” he said.

With more space for cigars and a lounge in which to smoke them, he said, “we’ll increase our sales enough to hopefully make this thing work.”

November 25, 2009, Kansas

Hawkins gives Kiwanis Club history lesson

Hartsville native and President of Gold Leaf Seed Co. Marion Hawkins gave the Hartsville Kiwanis a lesson in the history of the tobacco industry and his company at the group’s weekly meeting on Thursday at the Hartsville Country Club.

During colonial days, Hawkins said, tobacco was one of the nation’s biggest exports. In the mid 1800s, tobacco was booming when Duke Co. in Durham began making cigarettes. Since early 1900s it’s grown in lower part of South Carolina.

“U.S. tobacco is still sold at a premium. It has a different aroma, smell, and it’s excellent for making cigarettes,” Hawkins said.

U.S. tobacco has a unique quality compared to other places, even when the same variety is planted, he said.

In South Carolina, the majority of tobacco grown is flue-cured. The leaves are cured with heat, and the name comes from the flue in the back of the barn used to cure the tobacco. Flue tobacco makes up 75 percent of cigarettes. The second type of tobacco is burley, which is air-cured. The leaves are darker in color and are used mostly in pipes and snuff.

Today, there are 220,000 acres of flue-cured tobacco in the United States, which represents less than 5 percent of the world market. China and Brazil are now at the top of the market.

“Tobacco is a very unique plant,” Hawkins said.

In 90 days, under normal conditions, it should grow to 35 pounds.

“It’s a weed. No other plant grows that big that fast,” Hawkins said.

In 1900s, at mercy of tobacco companies, farmers would receive 5 cents a pound one year and 25 cents a pound the next. The farmer was at a disadvantage with the major companies.

In 1933, the government instituted price supports for tobacco, and tobacco was graded. From 1933 to 2004, farmers brought tobacco to auction sales that helped farmers hold the price.

Until the 1940s, the United States had 70 percent of the world’s tobacco production. Once the price supports were implemented, the U.S. technology went to Brazil, Canada and other countries.

Over the years, the U.S. flue tobacco acreage dropped from 440,000 acres in 1970 to 220,000 acres in 2004.

“We priced ourselves out of the market,” Hawkins said.

In 2004, tobacco was $1.86 per pound from the United States but only 96 cents a pound in Brazil.

To help fix the problem, farmers received a buyout financed by the major tobacco companies based on their market share in 2004. At the time, $10 billion was to be paid to farmers over a 10-year period to do away with the price supports.

“This opened a closed market,” Hawkins said.

Those with a quota were paid $7 to $10 per pound or around $20,000 per acre. Once the quotas ended, farmers had to get contracts from the major companies.

In 2004, the average age of farmers was 57, and most got out of the business with the buyout, Hawkins said. Now there are fewer farmers, but they’re bigger.

“It’s dropping down to just a few, but they’re very proficient,” Hawkins said. “You can make good money, but you have to have equipment, barns … it’s a lot of investment.”

In the United States today, there are two major companies, but internationally there’s a lot of competition.
“Our acreage has dropped,” Hawkins said. “We had to put emphasis on international sales.”

Tobacco is no longer grown from raw seed in the United States either. It’s done 100 percent in greenhouses.

Gold Leaf Seed sends raw seed to a California company that uses a float system to coat the seed to make them 25 times bigger, large enough to be picked up by machines. The machines place exactly one per slot in divided trays of potting soil.

The seeds can produce plants in 50 days that are ready to go to the field. The greenhouses allow a lot more control over the elements for farmers, Hawkins said.

Gold Leaf Seed Co.’s sales are 90 percent domestic and 10 percent international to countries such as Italy, Spain, Brazil, Argentina and Poland. It employs eight full-time and six part-time workers and has $2 million in annual sales.

A container of 180,000 open pollinated variety tobacco seeds retails to farmers for $250 with the hybrid version costing $360. That container can produce 25 acres of plants.

“There’s no other crop that the seed is as cheap as tobacco,” Hawkins said.

One acre of tobacco can produce 2,000 pounds of dry leaf that makes 400 to 600 million cigarettes. On average in the early 1990s, tobacco generated $46,000 per acre in state and federal taxes. As cigarette taxes climb, so do government revenues from the tobacco industry.

Gold Leaf Seed licenses varieties of tobacco seed to be competitive. The company ships seed by UPS and FedEx daily. In the four state area, Hawkins said, if he receives the order by 3 p.m., he can get the seed to you the next day.

“Our marketing strategy is to keep a low inventory,” Hawkins said.

Hawkins purchased his tobacco business from Norfolk King in 1995. At the time, the company, after several mergers, had 85 percent market share of flue-cured tobacco.

To those who may want to purchase Hawkins’ seed and make their own cigarettes, he warned, “I’m selling only one ingredient to cigarettes.”

Hawkins was born in Byrdtown, graduated from Hartsville High and Clemson University, and has been in agriculture his entire life. He lives in Hartsville with his wife Greta and three children.

Cigarette makers plan to stage rally

The Indonesian Cigarette Industry Community Forum (Formasi) has pledged to stage a demonstration to protest a government plan to increase excise from cigarette products in 2010, arguing that the move is unjust.

“We plan to propose a judicial review with the Constitutional Court on the planned implementation of the 2009 Finance Ministry regulation on tobacco product excise,” Formasi secretary Johanes Paulus Suhardjo told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday.

The plan to take legal action was made after forum members walked out of a meeting with the Customs and Excise Directorate General in Jakarta on Monday, which was intended to familiarize the sector with the new regulation, Paulus said.

The regulation, issued Nov. 16, 2009 also regulates retail prices of cigarettes, a change which the forum says will burden small-scaled cigarette producers.

The forum will also call for a judicial review of the 2008 Finance Ministry regulation on cigarette excise, which was issued in December 2008 and came into effect in February 2009, he said.

Formasi had also chosen to take legal action after learning that the proposal to increase cigarette excise in 2010 had not been made with approval from either the association of Indonesian cigarette factories (Gappri) or the association of Indonesian light cigarette producers (Gaprindo), but from large-scale tobacco industries, Paulus said.

“The Gappri chairman corrected the Customs and Excise director general’s statement yesterday, explaining that his organization had never proposed an increase in the cigarette excise in 2010. The government must change the decision,” he said.

Formasi’s 512 members, Paulus said, would face bankruptcy if the excise was increased next year, resulting in possible mass layoffs of more than 35,000 workers in the sector.

In 2009 the excise increased 30 percent on 2008 levels, and the government plans to increase 2009 excise levels 62.5 percent next year, he said.

Separately, Malang Industry and Trade Agency head Sjakur Kullu said his office could do nothing to help the 300 cigarette factories in the region, arguing that the regency administration was in no position to change state fiscal and financial policies.

The regency administration also had no plan to anticipate possible impacts of the implementation of the 2010 excise hike.

“We will just direct them to convey their arguments to the Finance Ministry, the House of Representatives and other competent parties,” Sjakur said.

“It is completely up to the central government. We don’t want to be involved,” he said.

However, Sjakur said he hoped the central government would listen to the small-scale cigarette industries, adding that they would be the hardest hit by the new excise.

Sjakur acknowleged that there could be possible layoffs following the increase of the excise next year.

“Just wait and see what happens after the regulation is introduced,” he said.

Small-scale tobacco industries in the regency need to improve their management to prepare themselves for competition with larger producers, Sjakur added.

The statements raised concerns among cigarette producers in the region, since the regency administration was seen to be washing their hands of the case, despite it receiving Rp 26.3 billion from tobacco excise annually, some of which was contributed by small industries.

Malang regency is home to 374 small, medium and large cigarette companies, which employ around 32,000 workers.

Wahyoe Boediwardhana, THE JAKARTA POST, November 25, 2009

Prices good as Danville tobacco market opens

Buyers were paying good money Monday for most of the tobacco at Farmers Warehouse at one of the first auctions of the year, but some say there’s still concern that prices could drop and hurt local farmers.

Warehouse owner Jerry Rankin said last week that an excess of tobacco on the open market this year could hurt profits for local tobacco farmers, despite this year’s crop being one of the best in several decades.

On Monday, the first tobacco bales were auctioned out of Rankin’s warehouse. On the high end, bales sold for about $1.75 per pound; on the low end, tobacco was going for about $1.35 per pound.

Last year, the average price of open-market tobacco at Farmers was about $1.55. Rankin said while much of the tobacco currently in the warehouse is of superior quality, several rows were not handled properly by farmers, leading to house-burned, high-moisture tobacco.

The poorly handled tobacco brought the lowest prices and will impact the official overall average price. Without the rows of high-moisture tobacco, the average would probably wind up somewhere around $1.68, he said.

Weather a factor in quality

While poor handling may have impacted the quality of some of the tobacco on the warehouse floor, what concerns Rankin is the tobacco that hasn’t made it to the warehouse yet. Continual rain in late June made it impossible for farmers who had not already planted their tobacco to get it into the ground until July.

“A tremendous amount of acreage went in the field after the Fourth of July,” he said. “It got dirty, it got bruised by the east winds — there’s just a number of things that went wrong.”

A large amount of rain in October and several frosts spell bad news for tobacco planted in July — much of it could even be un-marketable, Rankin said. Buyers could spend less now, thinking they’ll be able to buy more later.

“If they want tobacco, they’d better be putting their name on it now,” he said.

Local farmer Jason Elliott is one of the farmers who planted his tobacco before the late June rains. When he began to strip his tobacco, he realized it still had pretty high moisture, so he waited to let it dry out more. His tobacco crop has not been sold yet, but he expects it to sell in the upper range, somewhere between $1.60 and $1.70 per pound.

“You can make money at $1.60, $1.70 a pound, but you’ve got to keep costs down,” he said.

Elliott said tobacco used to sell for a lot more — more than $2 per pound. But once companies started essentially paying farmers not to grow tobacco, the price dropped.

Elliott said he doesn’t know any farmers who didn’t plant until July, but he estimated about 20 percent of farmers wait until July every year. Beyond the bad weather, Elliott said how much farmers care about their tobacco is an issue. Some farmers are moving away from family-based farming and just not showing much interest in their crops anymore, he said.

“There’s no pride in tobacco anymore,” he said.

About one-third of the 1 million pounds of tobacco on the Farmers warehouse floor sold Monday. Two more auctions are scheduled in the coming weeks to sell the rest of it.

November 24, 2009

Brandon mulls tobacco ban

Ashtrays atop dining tables and inside lobbies may go away in Brandon if the city’s aldermen pass a smoke-free ordinance.

Aldermen are considering an proposal that will bar smoking inside most public spaces, such as restaurants and public buildings.

“It would make a healthier community and a healthier city,” Alderwoman Yvonne Bianchi said.

Mayor Tim Coulter said an ordinance is being drafted, and the city hopes to have it completed by mid-January for a vote. If such a proposal is passed, it would be the first of its kind in any Rankin County city.

Coulter has asked aldermen for their opinions on the matter.

“I’m ready to go forward with this,” said Bianchi, who has written to Coulter about her position.

Coulter said many citizens have come forward requesting a ban of smoking in public places.

Tawni Lovorn, of Mississippi Tobacco Free Coalition of Rankin, Scott and Simpson counties, said her group has done presentations to a handful of municipalities in those three counties. Pelahatchie is studying the issue, and she said she’s pleased Brandon is considering such an ordinance.

“This is a great example of city leadership taking on a controversial issue in order to protect the health of the citizens and visitors of Brandon,” Lovorn said.

“Brandon would be the first of all the cities this coalition serves to go smoke-free, and we feel that it will help other cities do so, as well.”

Such an ordinance prevents numerous health risks, Lovorn said.

“Tobacco use remains the single-largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the United States,” she said. “Each year in Mississippi, smoking accounts for an estimated 5,250 premature deaths, including 550 deaths among nonsmokers as a result of second-hand smoke. Sixty-nine thousand Mississippi kids now under 18 will ultimately die prematurely from smoking, according to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.”

Thirty-two cities in Mississippi are smoke-free, Lovorn said.

Rankin County approved a measure last year barring smoking and tobacco use in county buildings and county-owned vehicles.

Although it raised some eyebrows at first, Board of Supervisors President Greg Wilcox said the measure was important.

“At first, we had people questioning, but people understand that in public facilities like that, it’s a smokers’ prerogative to smoke,” he said. “Nonsmokers don’t have a say-so unless we make some rules and regulations. We make sure people don’t get second-hand smoke in public facilities.”

A Mississippi State University study released this month showed Starkville’s smoke-free laws have improved the health of residents. It showed a 27 percent decrease in heart attacks among the city’s residents since 2006, when the city adopted its smoking ban.

Two cities in neighboring Madison County – Ridgeland and Flora – have adopted smoking bans, and Madison has a voluntary ban since its restaurants opted to go smoke-free on their own. Jackson and Clinton also have smoke-free ordinances.

“(The study results) do not surprise me at all since smoking is so bad for your health,” Ridgeland Mayor Gene McGee said. “I really believe that the smoking ban in Ridgeland will have a very positive effect on our citizens.”

Justin Fritscher, November 25, 2009

No PM tobacco contracts for Georgia, Florida

Many growers remain undecided as to how they’ll approach tobacco production in 2010, especially considering that some have seen bad crops in recent years.

The future of tobacco production in Florida and Georgia — hammered already in recent years by decreasing demand and poor crops — took another blow recently when Philip Morris USA announced it no longer would be purchasing tobacco from the two states.

Philip Morris USA officials held a meeting on Oct. 14, in Alma, Ga., with more than75 growers from Georgia and Florida attending. Growers were informed of the decision by Philip Morris USA to “no longer offer contracts for the purchase of tobacco in Georgia after the 2009 season.”

Growers who are operating on a one year contract will not be offered a new contract for 2010. Growers who hold three or five-year contracts will continue to be able to produce and sell tobacco until the completion of their contracts, if they have met the requirements of their contracts and continue to have contracts in good standing.

The location of a buying point for the remaining production after 2009 was in question with the current receiving station not currently under contract for use. Three other Philip Morris USA buying points located in Lumberton, N.C., Wilson, N.C., and Danville, Va., will continue to buy tobacco from growers in those areas.

Since that meeting in Alma, there have been no updates from Philip Morris USA, says J. Michael Moore, University of Georgia Extension tobacco specialist. “Growers and grower groups are working with other concerns that might have an interest in purchasing Georgia tobacco,” says Moore, adding that he has heard talk of a possible interest form JTI, Japan Tobacco International Leaf Services, which is establishing a burley and flue-cured processing plant in Danville, Va.

JTI Leaf Services, which is the international tobacco unit of Japan Tobacco, Inc., produces two of the top three worldwide cigarette brands — Winston and Mild Seven. Its other brands include Camel and Benson & Hedges. JTI recently announced it plans to spend $19.5 million to build the plant, creating 39 full-time jobs and 150 seasonal jobs when fully operational.

Nothing is for certain at this point, says Moore, and it’s too early to tell what Philip Morris USA’s competition might do. The three other buyers of Georgia and Florida tobacco include R.J. Reynolds Tobacco, Alliance One International and U.S. Tobacco Cooperative.

“North Carolina had a tremendous crop this year with an abundance of tobacco left over. Some companies are saying they won’t buy above what they contracted for, but some are buying at a cut-rate price,” says Moore. “Storage facilities could be filled to capacity going into next season which will affect demand. We hope other companies will step in and buy Georgia tobacco.”

Many growers remain undecided as to how they’ll approach tobacco production in 2010, he says, especially considering that some have seen bad crops in recent years.

“Even before the Philip Morris USA announcement, one producer — after having three bad crop years in the last five — decided to sell his barns and equipment and put in more than 100 acres of blueberries. They figured they could produce blueberries with less labor and fewer headaches than they could produce tobacco. More growers will probably consider whether or not to continue in tobacco production if they don’t get any contract offers through January,” says Moore.

Philip Morris USA was purchasing 40 to 50 percent of Georgia’s tobacco crop, he says. Georgia tobacco sales totaled $69.56 million in 2008.

This year’s crop was hammered by, among other things, tomato spotted wilt virus.

“Thirty to 35 percent of the state’s plants showed symptoms of the disease, and yield reductions were in the 15-percent range. That was over and above the damage incurred by not getting the crop transplanted on time due to excessive rain during the spring. Once the crop was transplanted, an additional flooding rain damaged it further, causing more losses.”

Coffee County is the largest tobacco county in Georgia, producing about 2,000 acres of it each year. That county’s Extension director, Eddie McGriff, says, “We figured something was up because they were grading tobacco hard this year. A lot of quality tobacco they were down grading, and we were concerned about that.”

Nov 23, 2009
By Paul L. Hollis

Illinois smoking ban: Some bars give smokers a sanctuary

The air was hazy and the ashtrays were full on a recent night at the Crowbar Inc. tavern on the Southeast Side, despite Illinois’ nearly 2-year-old indoor smoking ban.

Patrons say they like it that way. They’re even willing to pay a little extra to light up.

Owner Pat Carroll said his customers — smokers and nonsmokers alike — contribute to a “smoking fund” canister that often sits on the bar, to subsidize the fines he’s incurred for flouting the law.

Carroll said he’s been ticketed twice and paid at least $680. He fears that if he forbids smoking, his cigar-and-cigarette crowd would switch to bars that permit smoking just a few blocks away in Indiana.

“So guess what, everybody can smoke in here,” he said, fingering a lit cigarette balanced on an ashtray. “I’m not losing my customers.”

The Tribune and WGN-TV found patrons smoking at several Chicagoland bars, defying the Smoke-free Illinois Act that has prohibited smoking inside public places since Jan. 1, 2008.

Bar patrons and owners seen smoking indoors had varying explanations for ignoring the law. At Boem Restaurant in Albany Park, where one visit found the room filled with smoke, the bar’s owner said the place was booked for a private party, which exempted it from the law. But it doesn’t, officials say.

The public can lodge complaints against establishments that skirt the law, triggering a site inspection. Violators face fines that can grow steeper with each infraction, starting at $250 for a business and $100 for an individual smoker.

“We think it would become very expensive to continue to rack up fines,” said Kelly Jakubek, spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Public Health. “That would become very burdensome.”

Health officials say smoking-ban scofflaws are the exception and that indoor smoking in public has drastically decreased over the last two years. Jakubek added that she hopes Indiana and other states that allow indoor smoking in public places pass a ban similar to the one in Illinois, evening the field for competitive business owners such as Carroll.

“There are always some bad apples out there who will try to get around the law,” said Tim Hadac, spokesman for the Chicago Department of Public Health. “If you look at the big picture, compliance is widespread.”

For example, in Chicago, which has its own smoking ban similar to the state law, an accused violator gets several warning letters, then an inspection. Last year, there were 603 complaints and 24 inspections, which led to nine tickets. So far this year, those numbers were down to 286 complaints and 18 inspections, resulting in four tickets, Hadac said.

He said data showed warning letters generally spurred compliance.

Soon “it will be as socially unacceptable and even unthinkable to smoke in a bar or restaurant as it currently is in a movie theater,” he said in an e-mail.

Katie Lorenz of the American Lung Association in Greater Chicago said she was disappointed that some bars weren’t complying; she added that the secondhand smoke harms employees and non-smoking patrons. “This is a health issue, and it affects every single person who happens to be in the bar,” she said. “What’s in the best interest of everyone is to not inhale those toxic fumes.”

Sabrina Lockett, a veteran restaurant worker with asthma, said she lost a friend to cancer, and he didn’t smoke. She said she regretted that all bars don’t follow the law. “I wished it was passed sooner,” she said, saying the law may have saved her friend’s life.

But some smokers say they’ll support any tavern that gives them sanctuary. Laura Pugh said she contributes $5 a month to Crowbar’s smoking fund, considering it akin to membership fees at a private club. If she couldn’t smoke there, Pugh said she’d probably go to a bar in Indiana.

“I respect Illinois law,” she said. “However, I feel that if an Illinois bar wants to allow smoking, there should never be a problem if it’s willing to abide by the fine.”

By Angie Leventis Lourgos and Jackie Bange, Chicago Tribune
November 25, 2009

UGA tests outside smoking risks

Smoking bans have made the air healthier in bars and restaurants, but may have made the air just outside the establishments more hazardous, University of Georgia researchers have found.

Nonsmoking diners and imbibers sitting in outdoor patios or sidewalk seating areas connected to the bars or restaurants are picking up doses of secondhand smoke, the scientists found.

In fact, nonsmokers who volunteered to sit in the outdoor seating areas had levels of a tobacco byproduct in their bodies up to 162 percent higher than when they first sat down, said Luke Naeher, a professor in UGA’s environmental health science department.

Collaborating with researchers in the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Northeast Health District, Naeher and other UGA researchers measured levels of a substance called cotinine.

Naeher’s research team assigned 20 nonsmoking volunteers to spend six evening hours in one of three outdoor areas for the study – outside a downtown Athens bar, outside a restaurant near downtown or outside UGA’s main library.

“We’re looking at real-world settings,” Naeher said.

After six hours, the volunteers gave a saliva sample, which the researchers tested for cotinine, a nicotine byproduct often used as an indicator of tobacco exposure.

Volunteers who hung out where smokers gather outside a restaurant saw their cotinine levels more than double. Nonsmokers outside a bar had their cotinine increase by even more, up to 162 percent.

The study is published in this month’s issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene.

Few restaurant or bar patrons are exposed to six hours of secondhand smoke at a stretch – but workers could be, Naeher said.

Cotinine unexpectedly even went up in the library group, by an average of 16 percent – possibly because one of them passed by a smoker as the volunteer walked downtown to give researchers a saliva sample, Naeher said.

Previous studies have shown that restaurant and bar smoking bans reduce the incidence of heart attacks and respiratory illness among people inside the establishments.

But researchers don’t know the health impacts of outdoor secondhand smoke.

“The question is, is it an environment that warrants concern or further study?” Naeher said. “The answer is, we don’t know yet.”

The researchers aren’t quite ready to declare outdoor cafes a new health hazard for those that may inhale secondhand smoke there – including children, restaurant and bar workers, and pregnant women and their unborn children.

But secondhand smoke contains numerous carcinogens, and scientists believe there is no safe level of exposure, Naeher said.

“We feel like it’s something we need to be taking a look at,” said Lou Kudon, one of the authors of the study. Kudon is program manager for the Athens-based Northeast Health District, which includes Clarke and nine other area counties.

Next, the researchers will measure levels of a chemical called NNAL, a known carcinogen, in nonsmokers who spend time in outdoor places where people smoke.

Don’t Be Fooled by E-Cigarettes

Some of your patients or their at-risk family members who are having a hard time quitting smoking may ask you whether electronic cigarettes are a safer alternative. According to a recent laboratory analysis conducted by the FDA, the answer is, “Probably not.”

Electronic cigarettes, also called “ecigarettes,” are battery-operated devices that generally contain cartridges filled with nicotine, flavor, and other chemicals. These ingredients are turned into a vapor that is then inhaled by the user.

The agency’s Division of Pharmaceutical Analysis evaluated samples taken from the cartridges of 2 brands of electronic cigarettes. The researchers found that one sample contained diethylene glycol—a toxic chemical used in antifreeze. Several other samples revealed the presence of carcinogens, including nitrosamines. According to the FDA’s Division of Drug Information, these tests indicate that these products contained detectable levels of known carcinogens and toxic chemicals to which users could potentially be exposed. The results of this limited testing are the only information the FDA has to go on regarding the levels of nicotine or the amounts or kinds of other chemicals in ecigarettes, because the devices have not been submitted to the FDA for evaluation or approval.

In other smoking-related news from the FDA, the agency has officially established the Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee (TPSAC) as part of the implementation of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act—the legislation that gave the FDA regulatory control over the manufacturing, marketing, and distribution of tobacco products. The 12-member TPSAC will consider such matters as the impact of the use of menthol cigarettes on public health and the effects of altered nicotine yields from tobacco products.

Delicia Yard
November 23, 2009

Caffeinated Alcohol Companies, TTB at Odds with FDA

CHICAGO, IL – Makers of caffeinated alcoholic beverages have begun responding to U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) letter looking in to whether it is permissible for them to add caffeine to their drinks, the reports.

Charles Murray, CEO of Shotpak Inc., maker of Gravity Vodka, said that he has “little doubt that Gravity is safe and complies with all government requirements necessary for its sale in the future,” adding that his company’s “50ml StandUp pouch has the caffeine equivalent of about half a cup of coffee or about one-third of what is allowed.”

Earlier this month, FDA Deputy Commissioner Dr. Joshua Sharfstein said that the FDA has not approved caffeine for use in alcoholic beverages. However, this has created some friction with the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), the agency in charge of compliance for formulas for alcoholic beverages.

“The TTB isn’t too happy about the FDA stepping into their territory,” wrote Wine and Spirits Daily. “Traditionally the FDA governs food and non-alcoholic beverages, while the TTB oversees beverage alcohol. The FDA says it has jurisdiction because the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act gives it authority over ‘articles used for food or drink’ and thus includes alcoholic beverages.”

According to the FDA, a 12-ounce soft drink may contain a maximum of .02% caffeine, or 68mg. However, that 68mg excludes “natural” caffeine levels, so guarana, yerba mate and coffee-based drinks conceivably could contain more. Also, drinks labeled as “dietary supplements” contain fewer restrictions. All of this spells confusion and frustration for caffeinated alcohol beverage producers.

Noting this, the brewmaster for Mobius Lager, a caffeinated beer containing taurine and ginseng, called the latest FDA action “bureaucratic” and “ridiculous,” adding that his company is formulating a formal response to the FDA. He said that his product is certified with the TTB, as are all products targeted by the recent FDA letter.

Grass Valley to reconsider licensing tobacco retailers

A proposed ordinance regulating stores that sell tobacco will be back before the Grass Valley City Council Tuesday.

The council first discussed the issue at its Sept. 22 meeting, but voted unanimously to send the proposal back to city staff to work out a schedule for fines for those who sell tobacco to minors.

While retailers were supportive of the idea to limit the sale of tobacco products to those under the age of 18, many had balked when faced with the prospect of additional fees for a city license.

Police Chief John Foster said in September that a fee for licensing would allow his department to spend the money and staff time necessary to perform yearly inspections of the more than 35 tobacco retailers in Grass Valley.

Customers must be 18 to purchase tobacco products in California, though Grass Valley leaders say there’s little enforcement against those who violate the law. The Nevada County Tobacco Use Prevention Youth and Adult Coalition performed a use survey in 2008 in which underage youths attempted to purchase tobacco from 28 stores in the Grass Valley city limits; two stores sold products to minors.

The proposed ordinance would take effect Jan. 31, 2010 and the annual license fee would be set at $100.

The ordinance would prohibit a license from being issued for a period of one year following the revocation of a license and sets a minimum of one compliance check a year that will be modeled after the state Alcohol Beverage Control Board program. More detailed information was added to the ordinance to clarify penalties and suspension time frames.

If passed, Grass Valley would join Nevada City with a retail tobacco ordinance; Nevada City passed its ordinance in 2006.

An infill study for the commercial portion of the Glenbrook basin also is on the council agenda.

The city is using a Planning and Technical Assistance grant of $35,000 and nearly $9,000 in program income funds to pay for the study, which is intended to determine future development and job creation opportunities in the area.

Key areas of the basin will be studied for their potential to absorb additional development. The consultant will conduct stakeholder interviews and hold two public workshops.

The council is expected to approve a contract agreement with Berkeley-based consultant Wahlstrom & Associates to complete the study for $33,250.

The study will kick off in January, with public workshops scheduled in June. The study is to be completed and presented to the council in August 2010.

The city council meets at 7 p.m. today in council chambers, Grass Valley City Hall, 125 East Main St.

By Liz Kellar, Theunion

Increase the tobacco tax

Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama recently told the Diet that an increase in the tobacco tax should be considered from the viewpoint of improving people’s health. He has instructed the government’s Tax System Council to study the matter. A tobacco tax increase is long overdue; we hope Mr. Hatoyama’s effort will succeed.

The World Health Organization says, “Tobacco is the single largest preventable cause of cancer in the world today. It causes 80 to 90 percent of all lung cancer deaths, and nearly one-third of all cancer deaths in developing countries.” Smoking not only accounts for about one-third of all cancer cases but also increases the incidence of heart diseases and cerebral infarction.

The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, effective February 2005, calls on its 164 signatories to raise taxes on tobacco products as a way of reducing tobacco consumption.

Cigarettes in Japan are much cheaper than in other parts of the developed world. For example, Japan imposes a tobacco tax of ¥174 on a 20-cigarette pack, compared with an equivalent tax of ¥400 to ¥500 imposed in Europe and North America.

Every year since 2006 the health ministry has proposed raising the tobacco tax. But the Liberal Democratic Party’s Research Commission on the Tax System quashed the proposal because it feared that an increase would be unpopular with voters and negatively impact tax revenue. The change in government, however, has breathed new life into the drive to increase the tax.

A health ministry survey shows that 36.8 percent of men and 9.1 percent of women regularly smoked in 2008. The rate for men was the lowest since the survey began in 1981. In five years, the overall rate went down by 5.9 points to 21.8 percent, while the rate for men dipped 10 points. In addition, of those surveyed, 28.5 percent of male smokers and 37.4 percent of female smokers indicated that they want to quit smoking.

A steep cigarette tax hike would induce many to quit smoking. The revenue should be used to promote measures to help smokers kick the habit, improve medical services and assist those among the nation’s 12,000 tobacco farmers who would like to switch crops. The government could also discourage use of tobacco by banning smoking in public places nationwide, including restaurants.

University of Kentucky Expands Ban on Smoking

The University of Kentucky has officially placed an expanded ban on smoking and tobacco across its entire campus, stating that a smoke-free policy has various health benefits and should be implemented and followed especially in places where there are all types of people, at any given time.

The newly expanded ban includes outdoor areas and applies to, in addition to cigarette smoking, chewing of tobacco, pipes, cigars and snuff. The new development has come as a shock to many residents of a place which leads the country in production of burley tobacco and records some of the highest smoking rates across the nation.

“Going tobacco-free may not be the easiest thing to do, it may not be the most politically popular thing to do, but in my mind it’s the right thing to do for this campus”, saidUniversity of Kentucky President Lee Todd. The goal of the ban is to make the entire university smoke free within the next year.

UK is not the only campus in the nation which is looking at making smoking a thing of the past, University of Louisville also placed restrictions on smoking starting Thursday, and only few areas of the campus are now open to smokers. Pikeville College is also aiming at making its campussmoke free by fall, as was confirmed on Thursday.