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Yearly Archives: 2010

Ottawa to increase size of tobacco warnings on cigarette package

OTTAWA — New anti-smoking warnings on cigarette packs, to be announced by the federal government Thursday, will feature tobacco warningimages of an iconic Canadian cancer victim and cover a full three-quarters of the packages’ surface, Postmedia News has learned.

The significant increase in the size of the often-stark ads comes after opposition MPs on the House of Commons health committee recently threw their weight behind a long-standing movement to bump up the mandatory ads from the current level of half the packs’ surface panel.

Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq was to unveil the new ads, some of which will feature pictures of Barb Tarbox, who died in 2003 of cancer but who became famous before her death for her high-profile crusade to persuade young people to not smoke.

Aglukkaq’s announcement is timed to encourage smokers to make a new year’s resolution to kick the habit, an official said.

The new ads also will feature a toll-free number for a national helpline for smokers and a website for more information.

Images of Tarbox at a palliative care facility have already been shortlisted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use on its new cigarette-package warnings. A final decision on using her image in the United States will be made in 2011.

Changes to the Canadian warnings on cigarette packs have long been advocated by anti-smoking activists. “Size is extremely important to the effectiveness” of the ads, Rob Cunningham of the Canadian Cancer Society warned recently. “The larger the size, the greater the impact.”

Health Canada’s own extensive surveys, on which it has spent about $3.6 million so far, concluded the old graphic warnings were becoming less effective and larger images were needed. The research also concluded that using images of Tarbox would be effective.

Mandatory warnings that cover 50 per cent of the surface of cigarette packs have been law in Canada since 2001.

For years, the government has planned to increase the size of warnings and was expected to unveil its plans in early 2010. When it delayed, opposition critics and others accused Ottawa of caving in to the tobacco industry, which has argued the government’s efforts would be better spent on fighting contraband tobacco than on retooling package warnings.

The tobacco industry’s “tactics are delay, distract and distort,” Dr. Robert Strang, chief public health officer for Nova Scotia, told the health committee earlier this month.

In August, Health Canada told provincial health officials there wouldn’t be immediate action on new ads.

The following month, Aglukkaq repeated that message to provincial health ministers and added it was important to have a social media strategy to reach young people.

By Christina Spencer

North Carolina Smoking Ban Reaches First Year

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. —After a full year of North Carolina’s indoor smoking ban, many restaurants report business has remained smoking ban NCmostly the same.

Air quality in North Carolina restaurants has improved 89 percent since smoking was banned, state department of public health officials said.

“It’s important because it’s creating a new environment and helping the air which is better for lungs, especially for children,” Destiny Sanders, with the TRU Tobacco Youth Advisory Council in Forsyth County, said.

Steven Hondos, owner of Jimmy the Greek’s restaurant on University Parkway, said his wait staff is healthier, his customers are happier, and business is just as good.

“There are fewer colds because of it, so that’s a good thing. I like the atmosphere a lot better. A lot of people like it better,” Hondos said.

“It seems like the food tastes better, you know,” Charlie Jenkins, customer of Jimmy the Greek’s, said.

More than 70 percent of people going to bars said the law made no difference to them, a state department of public health survey reported.

Despite things remaining normal at the restaurant, Hondos said he wouldn’t have banned smoking if the law hadn’t been enacted, mainly because of RJ Reynolds sitting across the street.

Some state business owners are challenging the law in court. Don Liebes, who owns Gate City Billiards in Greensboro, is one of them, saying he would lose his business if he went completely smoke-free. Liebes allows smoking on special occasions.

An owner of three bars in Greenville is also challenging the law. Only 37 complaints were received by the state in November for establishments still not complying with the law.

Copyright © 2010, WGHP-TV

Tobacco state imposes ban on smoking in restaurants

Despite heated arguments leading up to a proposal to prohibit smoking in bars and restaurants, officials said the state’s indoor smoking ban took effect with few problems this year.

On Jan. 2, customers could no longer light up over dinner or drinks when the Tobacco Road state joined a growing number of states implementing restrictions about smoking in workplaces.

The state legislature passed the law last year amid arguments it infringed on the rights of business owners to make decisions on their own property, while ban supporters contended smoking threatened the health of non-smoking workers and patrons.

Once the air cleared, bar and restaurant owners were required to post no-smoking signs, remove ashtrays and direct customers outside if they wanted to smoke.

Enforcement was based on people making complaints, and it was left up to local health departments to enforce. Businesses violating the ban received warning letters before facing administrative fines.

Across the state this year, more than 1,300 complaints were made involving about 875 businesses, according to state health officials.

They said those complaints tapered off significantly after the initial months.

In New Hanover County, officials haven’t received a complaint since August, said New Hanover County’s health director David Rice.

“It’s gone exceptionally well,” he said, adding the implementation was smoother than he expected.

This year, there were 53 complaints about 25 businesses in New Hanover County. Brunswick County fielded 13 complaints about 11 bars and restaurants, and Pender County saw 20 complaints about six businesses, according to the state’s Tobacco Prevention and Control Branch.
New Hanover County’s board of health became the first in the state to levy a fine on a business owner for not complying with the ban.

The Juggling Gypsy, a Castle Street bar that offers in hookah pipes, racked up multiple violations early in the year.

It paid the first $200 fine, and the health department agreed to drop two other fines after the bars said it switched to non-tobacco products for its hookahs lit inside.

Rice said the county sent out some other warning letters but did not levy any other fines this year.

State officials also said they did not have reports of any other fines being issued in Brunswick and Pender counties.

Jim Martin, director of policy and programs for the tobacco branch, said 20 businesses across the state have received at least one fine this year under the ban.

An air quality study done by the N.C. Department of Public Health showed that concentrations of particulate matter inside sampled bars and restaurants dropped 89 percent after the ban.

By Vicky Eckenrode

Big tobacco case reinstated in Minnesota

The Minnesota Court of Appeals today reinstated portions of a nearly 10-year-old, class action lawsuit against Philip Morris that claims the company fraudulently marketed Marlboro Lights as a safer cigarette.

A U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 2008 cleared the way for class action suits against cigarette companies that manufacture “light” cigarettes. The surprising 5-4 decision paved the way for the state actions. Since then, there have been numerous lawsuits filed around the country with mixed results. Class action suits have been certified in Massachusetts, Minnesota and Missouri. Judges in eight other states have rejected attempts to certify similar classes, according to the Concord (NH) Monitor . A judge in New Hampshire last month certified a similar lawsuit as a class action, in what could be the largest case in that state’s history.

In Minnesota, however, the Court of Appeals ruled the suit cannot proceed against Philip Morris’ owner, Altria. It said the two are different corporations. However the court reversed an October 2009 district court ruling that threw out the claims that Philip Morris “could not be sued for false advertising, consumer fraud, and deceptive trade practices regarding light cigarettes in violation of Minnesota consumer-protection statutes.”

The group filing the suit claims the tobacco company marketed the Marlboro Lights as safer than a typical cigarette. Memos uncovered during the Minnesota tobacco litigation in the ’90s revealed the company knew the claim to be false. The memos acknowledged that consumers who smoked “low tar” or “light” cigarettes, took longer “drags” on them, negating any benefit.

The lower court had also ruled that the settlement negotiated between then Attorney General “Skip” Humphrey’s office and Philip Morris barred the lawsuit. The Court of Appeals today reversed that ruling.

“The Tobacco Settlement does not provide any remedy for individual consumers who claimed to have been injured by Philip Morris’s violation of consumer-protection laws,” the court said in rejecting the tobacco company’s claims (See the entire opinion)

“Now that this important consumer-protection lawsuit can proceed, I look forward to it going to the trial in the near future,” Edward Sweda, the senior attorney for the Tobacco Products Litigation project said.

By Bob Collins

Altria’s future largely rests on Marlboro cigarettes

Question: I’m concerned about my shares of Altria Group Inc. What is the latest outlook?marlboro cigarettes

Answer: It is no secret that the U.S. cigarette industry is in a long-term decline because of the health risks of smoking.

Its sales could be hurt by a Food and Drug Administration mandate for more-graphic health warnings on cigarette packs that takes effect in October 2012. Potential litigation and increased taxation could cut into earnings.

But Altria, which last year earned $3.2 billion on revenue of $23.6 billion, remains a powerful firm that appeals to many investors because of its commanding industry position and regular dividend as well as the unlikelihood that any new tobacco rivals will emerge.

The company dominates the U.S. tobacco business, with 50% of the market. It is No. 1 in the U.S. in sales of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco and is No. 2 in cigars.

Altria’s future depends in large part on its Marlboro cigarettes. The world-famous brand accounts for more than two-thirds of the firm’s operating profit, but in recent years some younger smokers have been attracted to competitors’ products.

The company’s subsidiaries include Philip Morris USA; U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Co., which makes the Skoal and Copenhagen brands; and John Middleton Co., which makes cigars and pipe tobacco. It also owns 27% of SAB Miller, the world’s second-largest brewer.

Shares of Altria have gained 27% year to date. Its third-quarter earnings rose 28% from a year earlier, boosted by higher cigarette prices and increased sales of smokeless tobacco.

Analysts on average expect Altria’s earnings for the full year to be up 9% from 2009, followed by a 6% gain next year, according to Thomson Reuters. That compares with increases of 14% and 18% projected for the overall tobacco industry.

Wall Street analyst ratings on Altria shares consist of two “strong buys,” two “buys” and eight “holds.”

Why did the bottom fall out of Janus Forty’s shares?

Answer: This mutual fund, which invests in large-capitalization “growth” stocks, has encountered more than its share of problems in recent years, with a poor performance two years ago overshadowing a rebound last year.

The $6.4-billion fund has returned 6.22% in the last 12 months, putting it at the bottom of its category. Its three-year annualized decline of 5.3% trailed four-fifths of its peers. But the fund’s five-year and 10-year returns put it in the top 15% of its category.

“I still recommend Janus Forty as a core holding and see reason for shareholders to stick with it,” said Kathryn Young, mutual fund analyst with Morningstar Inc., who attributes the portfolio’s below-par returns to a focus on “giant-cap stocks.”

Financial services and the tech hardware sector each represent about one-fifth of Janus Forty’s holdings.

The fund requires a $2,500 minimum initial investment and has an annual expense ratio of 1.2%. There is no sales charge on purchases of fund shares.

Andrew Leckey answers questions only through the column. E-mail him at yourmoney@tribune.com.

Tobacco adds fuel to Zimbabwe’s exports

Tobacco production is booming in Zimbabwe as small farmers attempt to cash in on high prices worldwide.African tobacco

Farmers have also been spurred on by Zimbabwe’s adoption of the US dollar following the collapse of its own currency, with 99 per cent of all tobacco grown in the country now exported.

Operators of a farm outside Zimbabwe’s capital Harare are harvesting a fine crop of lush 16 leaf plants to be smoked dry – the Virginia method of flavoring tobacco.

Last year the tobacco sold by growers was worth about $US274 million – this year that figure has reached almost $US500 million.

But despite the country’s booming tobacco industry, smoking remains a luxury few Zimbabweans can afford and very few have taken up the habit.

Andrew Matibiri, chief executive of Zimbabwe’s Tobacco and Marketing Industry Board, says more farmers are becoming involved.

“If you go back 10 years, we had 8,500 growers growing on average about 10 hectares each. This year we had 50,000 growing units growing on average one-and-a-third hectares,” he said.

After president Robert Mugabe’s land reform program kicked off 10 years ago, white-owned farms were seized and land redistributed.

Just who got the large and most fertile farmland remains a deeply contentious issue.

But when it comes to tobacco farming and small holdings, there are many success stories and greater distribution of wealth.

Douglas Mhembere, a war veteran and Mugabe loyalist, has a small holding outside Harare that comprises 160 hectares on which he farms cattle and tobacco.

He has 60 labourers and their families living on the farm.

He had a successful harvest and hopes his next crop, which has just been planted, will be every bit as profitable.

“What I did was, I just said ‘I must just go onto the land and get on my own’,” he said.

Mr Mhembere says that decision has helped change his life.

But in a country where land title is nowhere near decided, one major issue still hangs over Mr Mhembere’s head.

He has no papers for his land, and as a result no way to borrow money from any bank to improve his farm.

Because he has no official lease Mr Mhembere is like a squatter and has no legal rights to the land.

“That is the thing. I don’t have the papers,” he said.

And that remains the situation across the whole of Zimbabwe for all farmers on seized land.

By Ginny Stein
ABC News

Pat Robertson: Stop Locking Up Kids Smoking ‘Couple Puffs of Marijuana’

Right-wing televangelist Pat Robertson, is usually holding court on his show the 700 Club warning his viewers of such things, as the pat robertsondangers of witchcraft and curses on Halloween and how gay marriage can leads us down the path towards pedophilia and bestiality. And he is always ready to blame natural disasters, such as earthquakes on Satan and sinners. So, no one could have predicted Robertson would come out in favor of decriminalizing marijuana. But he has done just that, saying on a recent show that locking our young people up in prison for possessing small amounts of marijuana is counterproductive. You know, when Pat Robertson starts to make sense, the Apocalypse must be near.

While discussing faith-based ministries with youthful drug offenders, Robertson remarked that the tough on crime policies have not been working with respect to marijuana use.

Robertson remarked, “It got to be a big deal in campaigns: ‘He’s tough on crime,’ and ‘lock ‘em up!’” “That’s the way these guys ran and, uh, they got elected. But, that wasn’t the answer.”

“We’re locking up people that have taken a couple puffs of marijuana and next thing you know they’ve got 10 years with mandatory sentences,” Robertson added. “These judges just say, they throw up their hands and say nothing we can do with these mandatory sentences. We’ve got to take a look at what we’re considering crimes and that’s one of ‘em.

“I’m … I’m not exactly for the use of drugs, don’t get me wrong, but I just believe that criminalizing marijuana, criminalizing the possession of a few ounces of pot, that kinda thing it’s just, it’s costing us a fortune and it’s ruining young people. Young people go into prisons, they go in as youths and come out as hardened criminals. That’s not a good thing.”

When even the likes of Pat Robertson, an extremist Christian fundamentalist, supports the decriminalizing of marijuana, then it’s time to stop making criminals out of pot smokers.

Schwarzenegger’s cigar tent goes; bronze bear may stay

When Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger leaves office, he’ll take with him a piece of the Capitol that has become a staple of his time in office: his signature smoking tent.

The tent erected on the Governor’s Office patio served as a frequent location for private meetings of the governor, his aides and legislative leaders.

“As long as I’m at the Capitol, I will be smoking my stogies down there, and I will be having people down there smoking stogies,” Schwarzenegger told Fox News in May 2005.

Now it will be taken down and packed up with the rest of Schwarzenegger’s things before Jerry Brown takes office Jan. 3.

Readers can get an exclusive tour inside the tent by checking out an interactive photo at sacbee.com. Be sure to zoom in and scroll down to the table to see what Schwarzenegger and his guests were enjoying the day Bee photographer Randall Benton stopped by.

As for the 800-pound bronze grizzly bear Schwarzenegger installed outside the Governor’s Office?

Spokesman Aaron McLear said Schwarzenegger is happy to loan the statue to the new administration if Brown wants it to stay under the dome.

Snuffing out smoking culture a pipe dream

smoking pipe

LAWMAKERS in an east China city poised to vote today on the country’s toughest law to ban smoking in offices, restaurants, bars and all indoor public places.

The Regulation on the Control of Harm Posed by Second-hand Smoke, if passed by the legislature of Nanchang City, Jiangxi Province, will be the strictest of its kind in a country with the world’s largest number of smokers and a deep-rooted smoking culture.

The draft regulation had been shelved for months because it proved too controversial.

Public health experts say the legislation is “pivotal” in the tobacco-control crusade and may jump-start a nationwide campaign to provide comprehensive protection for an estimated 740 million people who are exposed to second-hand smoke. The statistics are collected by the Chinese Center for Diseases Control and Prevention (China CDC).

More than 300 million Chinese adults smoke. There are also millions of teen smokers.

“We plan to resume deliberating, and hopefully to pass the bill on Friday,” said Xu Yongli, an official with the Municipal People’s Congress of Nanchang.

The draft regulation requires a total ban on smoking in 11 categories of public places, including offices, schools, medical institutes, public transport, malls, sports venues and Internet cafes once it is enacted.

The ban will be extended to hotels, restaurants, bars, nightclubs, beauty salons, mahjong houses and other entertainment venues from January 1, 2013. Wet markets are also included.

Owners or managers of indoor venues will be fined up to 5,000 yuan (US$758) if their premises are in violation of the ban, according to the draft. Individuals who light up in smoke-free areas will be fined 50 yuan.

The bill came up against vigorous opposition in the city legislature during its first reading in July, with claims that it set “unrealistic” goals for a second-tier city and posed challenges in enforcement, said Chen Tianpeng, deputy director of Nanchang Municipal Health Bureau and a key promoter of the bill.

“This kind of comprehensive ban is unprecedented on the Chinese mainland,” said Huang Jinrong, a Beijing-based lawyer who did extensive research on tobacco control legislation.

China had no comprehensive national-level tobacco control law, said Huang. It partially banned smoking in public venues, public transport, and government offices – mostly relying on local legislation. This year the ministries of health and education imposed comprehensive smoke bans in hospitals and schools.

Health experts argue that “smoke-free” means no smoking at all anywhere inside, and outdoor smoking only in designated smoking areas. A partial ban on smoking indoors, such as setting up a “smoking area,” is not effective to protect non-smokers as potentially harmful particles emitted from a burning cigarette can be carried to all corners of a building.

But like other smoking bans, Nanchang’s legislation faces daunting challenges in its enforcement, Chen Tianpeng said.

The draft lists a dozen government agencies to be responsible for policing the proposed law, including the municipal bureau of health to watch over medical institutes, the food and drug bureau to oversee restaurants, and police to monitor hotels, cyber cafes, and beauty parlors.

Lawmakers worried the different agencies might not enforce the law consistently, Chen said.

“But a unified law enforcement team is impossible,” Chen said. “The municipal government cannot afford to hire a large team of specialized smoke-ban inspectors.”

Hotel managers, restaurant and bar owners, who are included in the proposed ban, also expressed frustration.

“It is very difficult, if not impossible,” said Yang Liangyue, general manager of the Chundu Commercial Hotel. “How can I know if tenants are smoking in their rooms?”
“If ashtrays are not offered, the risk of fire is high because tenants who insist on smoking will simply throw cigarette butts everywhere in their rooms,” Yang said.

Little enthusiasm

Tao Chunsheng, a local police officer, said gathering evidence for violations would be difficult as smokers were likely to finish their cigarettes before police acting on a report could arrive.

Huang said he was “not surprised” at the opposition to the legislation in July, considering the general public and lawmakers showed little enthusiasm for enacting such an advanced tobacco control regulation.

About 30 percent of Nanchang’s 4.64 million permanent residents are smokers. The city’s health bureau estimates that half of the population is exposed to second-hand smoke.

As in every other Chinese city, puffing a cigarette in public is normal in Nanchang and a recognized social activity among men. High-quality cigarettes are popular as gifts. A pack of top-rated Chunghwa cigarettes is almost obligatory if a man is meeting his intended bride’s family for the first time.

A survey conducted by China CDC this year showed more than half of 4,200 people in seven second-tier Chinese cities said their employers treated guests with cigarettes in the past year.

“In general, people are not well informed of the specific harms of smoking and second-hand smoke. This is true everywhere, but especially in China,” Dr. Sarah England, a technical officer on tobacco control with the World Health Organization’s China Representative Office, told Xinhua in an interview in November.

“We need to ‘denormalize’ smoking and to eliminate any kind of social encouragement to smoke,” she said.

Inevitable trend

China ratified the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in 2003, pledging measures to effectively curb tobacco use, including smoke-free legislation, large and clear warnings on the harmful effects of tobacco on cigarette packs, total bans on all forms of tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship, among others.

But implementation has been slow as the government placed the work group overseeing treaty’s implementation in the hands of people with close ties to the tobacco industry, China CDC’s deputy director Yang Gonghuan and other health experts have said.

The work group, led by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, includes many officials from the State Tobacco Monopoly which shares the management group with China National Tobacco Corp, one of the world’s biggest cigarette producers.

Taxes levied on the tobacco industry account for more than 7 percent of the nation’s total tax income. In Nanchang, the tobacco industry’s contribution to the tax income accounts for roughly 8 percent.

But economic and health experts say the costs arising from China’s tobacco use cannot be overlooked. Smoking causes a million deaths and millions of illnesses every year, cutting productivity of the work-force and putting a heavy burden on the country’s health care system.

This burden is growing as the government rolls out its nationwide health insurance reform.

By Xu Lingui and Shen Yang

FDA Continues Push to Regulate E-Cigarettes

WASHINGTON — The Food and Drug Administration is taking another shot at regulating electronic cigarettes. On the heels of a ruling earlier this month rejecting the federal agency’s bid to regulate e-cigarettes, the FDA has filed an appeal with the entire U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

At the heart of the matter is how the FDA should regulate the fairly new industry whose products have caught on with smokers who are looking for an alternative to their daily habit, according to The Wall Street Journal. On Dec. 7, a three-judge appellate panel ruled that the FDA should regulate e-cigarettes as tobacco products unless they are marketed with specific claims that the devices help smokers quit or provide other remedies.

For its part, the FDA argues that e-cigarettes are drug or medical devices that require preapproval from the agency — similar to nicotine gums, patches or sprays. Two years ago the FDA began intercepting e-cigarette shipments from China, sparking a lawsuit by the industry. In January 2010 a district judge granted a preliminary injunction to e-cigarette distributors who sued the FDA; the appellate panel upheld this ruling.

In its Dec. 20 filing the FDA requests that the full appellate court reinstate a stay of the preliminary injunction, pending a request for a rehearing of the case, the Journal reported. In the appeal, the agency also argues that the three-panel’s decision “rests on a clear error of law and will undermine” objectives that were laid out by Congress when it passed legislation that empowered the FDA to regulate tobacco products.


Launch of Dunhill Nanocut 1mg

British American Tobacco (BAT) Korea, one of the foremost producers of cigarettes in Korea, said on Wednesday the launch of Dunhill Nanocut 1mg.
Dunhill Nanocut 1mg
Dunhill Nanocut is a super slim cigarette that BAT Korea released earlier this year in 4mg to positive feedback. The brand has consistently won the hearts and minds of adult smokers and BAT Korea looks to broaden the variety of cigarettes with the 1mg version.

The company said that the debut of 1mg offer would provide consumers with an opportunity to experience the premium super slim cigarette in a milder form with a smooth taste.

“The Dunhill brand is further strengthened with the launch of the Nanocut range, an offering that services a contemporary expression of Dunhill’s over 100 years of heritage and tobacco blending expertise,’’ BAT Korea Marketing Executive Director Guy Meldrum said.

The new product will be available starting next week at 2,500 won a pack.

Actor Jack Black Kicks his Nicotine Addiction

JACK Black has kicked his nicotine addiction after struggling with the habit for 20 years.Actor Jack Black

The Gulliver’s Travels star quit the cigarettes when he welcomed his first son in 2006 — but he became addicted to nicotine chewing gum.

“It’s been like an ongoing on and off thing for like 20 years but I’ve been off the cigarettes for years — ever since I had my boy,” he said.

“The big thing I just recently achieved is getting off the nicotine gum because that’s the real thing.

“If you’re still chewing the gum the nicotine is still in your system – you haven’t done nothing… I’ve powered through and now I deserve massive applause, no gum!”

Jack recently revealed he has made a New Year’s resolution to drop 50lbs and is planning a strict exercise and diet regime to achieve his goal.

“I’m gonna drop fitty. I’m gonna drop fitty pounds,” Black said of his plans for 2011.

“How many quarter-pounders with cheeses is that? I’m gonna drop 200 quarter-pounder with cheeses.

“Push-ups, sit-ups, and a strict diet of … raisins. That’s my plan.”

British American Tobacco Downgraded to a “Neutral” Rating

Equities research analysts at Zacks Investment Research downgraded shares of British American Tobacco from an “outperform” British American Tobaccorating to a “neutral” rating in a research note to clients and investors on Friday.

British American Tobacco plc is a holding company that owns, directly or indirectly, investments in the numerous companies constituting the British American Tobacco Group of companies. Its brand portfolio includes Dunhill, Kent, Lucky Strike and Pall Mall. Dunhill sells in approximately 120 countries. 41 billion Dunhill cigarettes were sold during the year ended December 31, 2009. Kent is sold in more than 70 countries. Lucky Strike’s markets incude Germany, Spain, Japan, France, Italy, Argentina and Chile. Pall Mall offers a range of cigarette and make-your-own products. On June 17, 2009, it acquired 85% stake in Indonesia’s cigarette maker PT Bentoel Internasional Investama Tbk.

Shares of British American Tobacco (NYSE: BTI) opened at 76.68 on Tuesday. British American Tobacco has a 52 week low of $56.00 and a 52 week high of $79.99. The stock’s 50-day moving average is $76.16 and its 200-day moving average is $71.78. On average, analysts predict that British American Tobacco will post $0.00 EPS next quarter. The company has a market cap of $76.556 billion and a price-to-earnings ratio of 17.36.

Michigan smoking ban linked to lower liquor sales?

Liquor by the glass and lottery sales in bars and restaurants declined in the five months after Michigan banned smoking in michigan smoking banworkplaces, but it’s too early to know whether the impact will be deep and lasting, according to a report released Monday from the state Department of Treasury.

Sales tax collections also declined in neighborhood taverns, by 1.57% in 2010 after the ban took effect May 1, the report said, while overall sales tax collections in restaurants and bars were up 2.84%

It appears the smoking ban “may have reduced the activity at taverns,” according to the report. But because the ban went into effect during a period of economic turbulence and its affect on customer behavior is still unfolding, its long-term impact is unknown, the report found.

Advocates for the ban said the report is evidence that concerns about an adverse economic impact from an indoor smoking ban were exaggerated.

“This is far from a ‘sky is falling’ scenario,” said Matt Phelan, of the American Cancer Society. “I think what this shows is that there is no significant (economic) impact from the smoke-free law.”

A spokesman for a Lansing-based trade group that represents hundreds of local taverns disagreed.

“It is completely wrong to say (the ban) is having little or no effect,” said Lance Bioniemi, of the 2,500-member Michigan Licensed Beverage Association.

The smoking ban has been especially hard on smaller establishments that rely heavily on sales of liquor, not food, he said.

According to the treasury’s data, sales tax revenues at family restaurants and cafeterias increased 4.24% in the same period that taverns reported a decline. The sharpest change measured in the report was in lottery games such as Keno. Sales of the club games were relatively flat from the same period a year earlier (up 0.3%) in the months before the ban, but down 13.7% in May-September of this year.

Spain votes for tough smoking ban

Spanish lawmakers have voted to approve a tough new anti-smoking law, meaning that from 2 January, bars and restaurants will be smokers in  Spainno-smoking zones.

Smokers will also not be allowed to light up on television broadcasts, near hospitals or in school playgrounds.

The bill, proposed by PM Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero and his governing Socialist Party, was passed in the lower house by 189 votes to 154.

Bar and cafe owners fear the law will adversely affect business.

Bar complaints

Spain was once famed for its smoke-filled bars, corner cafes and restaurants, but the new law tightens restrictions introduced in 2006 by forbidding smoking in any enclosed public space.

Tuesday’s vote rejected a Senate amendment to allow casinos to have smoking areas. Moves to allow bars to build sealed cubicles for smokers also failed.

While the 2006 anti-smoking law prohibited smoking in the workplace, it came under fire for letting bar and restaurant owners choose whether or not to allow smoking: most permitted it.

The BBC’s Sarah Rainsford in Madrid gauged reaction to the smoking crackdown when it was announced in October

Bar owners have complained that the new legislation will lead to a massive loss of business – bad news for an industry that has already seen a drop of 15% in sales from the recession.

But doctors argue the new legislation will help smokers give up, which correspondents say is vital when 160 Spaniards a day die from smoking-related illnesses, four of them from passive smoking.

Spanish Health Minister Leire Pajin has called on Spaniards to share responsibility for the new law’s success.


King County bans public e-cigarette smoking

The King County Board of Health passed a controversial proposal Thursday that bans the public use of electronic cigarettes, despite electronic cigaretteprotests that the battery-powered, nicotine-delivery sticks emit no second-hand smoke and are often used for harm reduction.

The measure is not a complete ban on e-cigarettes. Rather, it prohibits e-cigarette smoking in the same places where real smoking is forbidden by the state, such as restaurants, bars and workplaces.

But the state’s tobacco smoking ban, adopted in 2006, was based on the fact that second-hand smoke causes cancer and other diseases. The rationale behind King County’s e-cig ban was a fear of eroding “social norms.”

Health officials reasoned that the fake smokes – which emit a less-smelly, combustion-free vapor – are so similar to real smokes that they may cause people to think it’s OK to smoke in public. And that may lead to more nicotine addiction and second-hand smoke, officials said.

“By returning smoking to the public eye, public e-cigarette use threatens to undermine the social norming impact” of the smoking ban, testified Scott Neal, manager of the tobacco prevention program for Public Health — Seattle & King County.

The regulation also prohibits the sale of e-cigarettes, often marketed in bright colors and fun flavors, from minors. It also bans free giveaways and heavily discounted sales of the products.

The Board easily passed those regulations, saying young people needed to be protected from the products, while the federal government figures out what to do with e-cigarettes. Earlier this month, the Food and Drug Administration lost a court fight to ban or regulate e-cigarettes as unapproved drug delivery devices.

But the Board was divided on the public-use ban, with four of 10 members voting for an amendment to drop that portion from the rule. The amendment failed.

Kathy Lambert said it was reasonable to ban sales to youths, but worried about being a “nanny state” in banning public use for adults.

“It becomes kind of a nanny state, like we take the fork away from you on Tuesday if you’ve had too many calories,” she said.

Nick Licata said the public-use ban appears to be based on slim evidence and may set up the county for legal challenges.

“We don’t really know what the impact might be on social norms,” he said. “We’re projecting.”

But Board chairwoman Julia Patterson said the potential for diminishing anti-smoking efforts was great.

“I would like to see us protect those public places and places of employment from the image of someone sitting at their desk with something that looks identical to a cigarette and puffing on it,” she said.

“That is a very powerful subliminal message.”

The proposed public-use ban had caused a storm of protests from e-cig users and makers, who say the products are a “healthier alternative” to smoking, or a way to quit smoking.

One man, who drove from Vancouver, B.C. to testify, said e-cigarettes were the only product that had helped him quit a 40-year smoking habit. The man, who said his name was Gary Addleson, said e-cig users don’t consider themselves as “smoking.”

Rather, they’re “vaping,” he said.

“They became very helpful to me,” he said.

“I don’t want to be forced to have to go outside and stand with a bunch of smokers, and have my smoking desire be triggered again, and have to stand with the second-hand smoke I once caused.”

By Vanessa Ho: 206-448-8003, vanessaho@seattlepi.com

Miley Cyrus sees smoking salvia as no big deal

Miley Cyrus thinks that the video showing her smoking salvia is something not to fuzz about. The Hollywood actress reasoned that Miley Cyrus having funshe was just having fun and attributed the incident to her youth.

Miley…has been saying, she’s just young and having fun … this, according to friends in direct contact with her.

In a video obtained by TMZ, Cyrus can be heard saying she was having a “bad trip” after spotting a lookalike of her former boyfriend, Liam Hemsworth. Reports say that the teenage star was hallucinating after she smoked salvia, a herb known to have psychedelic effect.

It was later discovered that publicity team for Miley tried to cover up the incident by preventing the release of the video. In one reported case, a man from Cyrus’ publicity team exchanged a brand new Macbook Air for one that contains the video. Cyrus had not been doing anything illegal as she was of legal age at the time of the incident and salvia can be legally obtained in the state of California.

Anthony Adams, a former California State Assemblyman, has already called for the outright ban of salvia whicle castigating the former Hanna Montana star as irresponsible, saying she should have not smoked salvia because kids emulate her.

But friends close to Miley say that the star does not care about the controversy sparked by her latest stunt. Cyrus is keeping herself busy working for her project So Undercover with Kelly Osbourne.

Salvia belong to the same family as mint. The herb can be smoked like a cigarette, chewed, or smoked in a pipe or bong as what Miley did. It produces an intense effect similar to marijuana and LSD, which is the reason why sellers say that salvia should only be tried once because of its intense effect. It can be legally obtained in California with some people just walking in at stores asking for “the stuff the Miley Cyrus was smoking.”

The effects of smoking Salvia divinorum are surprisingly strong, brief and intensely disorienting, but without apparent short-term adverse effects in healthy people, according to a new study by Johns Hopkins University.

The National Institutes of Health funded the study in response to concerns about the growing recreational use of Salvia divinorum, commonly known as salvia. It is an herb in the mint family, the university said in a Dec. 7 press release.

The study looked at the effect of salvinorin A, the active ingredient in Salvia divinorum. Four healthy people who were “hallucinogen experienced” smoked varying amounts of salvia for about three months.

Researchers found that salvia’s effects begin almost immediately after being inhaled, are very short-acting — with a peak of strength after two minutes and very little effect remaining after 20 minutes — and get more powerful as more of the drug is administered. No significant changes in heart rate or blood pressure, no tremors and no adverse events were reported.

While no adverse effects were noted in the controlled laboratory environment, the drug’s effects could be disastrous if a person were driving a car while on salvia. Few emergency room visits have been linked to its use, which researchers think is because it wears off so quickly.

Salvia has been used for centuries by shamans in Mexico for spiritual healing. More than a dozen states have banned salvia. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has included it in their list of “drugs and chemicals of concern,” but to date there is no federal prohibition against it, according to Johns Hopkins.

Altria Group to Revamp Management Structure

Altria Group Inc. will reshuffle some of its executives, including its chief financial officer, a move it said will develop leadership Altriacapability and could set the scene for a future succession race.

The tobacco giant tapped David R. Beran, 56 years old, and Martin J. Barrington, 57, as vice chairmen of the company, effective at the start of the new year. The appointments could place Beran or Barrington in line to succeed Chairman and Chief Executive Michael Szymanczyk, 61, although Altria spokesman Brendan McCormick said Szymanczyk “currently has no retirement plans.”

Rather, McCormick said, consolidating responsibility “will help us enhance responsiveness to evolving regulatory and marketplace opportunities.”

Beran is currently the company’s chief financial officer. Replacing him will be Howard A. Willard, 47, who had served as the company’s executive vice president of strategy and business development.

With his new role, Beran will be responsible for the company’s business operations, overseeing the company’s tobacco and wine businesses. Altria’s units include Philip Morris USA, which makes Marlboro cigarettes; John Middleton Co. cigars and pipe tobacco; U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Co., which makes Skoal and Copenhagen, and Ste. Michelle Wine Estates Ltd.

Meanwhile, Barrington will be in charge of innovation, public affairs, human resources and compliance. He will continue to oversee Altria’s relationship with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which gained oversight of the tobacco industry last year.

Altria has a history of promoting from within. Szymanczyk was named chairman and CEO of Altria in March 2008 and had been CEO at Philip Morris USA since 1997. Barrington joined Altria in 1993, Beran in 1976 and Willard in 1992.

Altria is the third major tobacco company to announce executive changes in recent months. Reynolds American Inc. (RAI) in October named Daniel Delen to succeed Susan Ivey as chief executive, effective in March, with independent director Thomas Wajnert taking over as chairman. Meanwhile, Lorillard Inc. (LO) this summer named Murray S. Kessler president and chief executive, succeeding Martin L. Orlowsky. Ivey and Orlowsky are both retiring.

Shares of the company closed down 4 cents at $24.75 and were up to $24.84 in after-hours trading. The stock has climbed 26% so far this year.

By Melissa Korn and Nathan Becker, 212-416-2271; melissa.korn@dowjones.com

Slow Burn for Newport Non-Menthol

NEW YORK – Convenience store retailers have found initial trial levels of the new Newport Non-Menthol cigarettes to be about Newport Non Menthol Cigarettesaverage, with much of the initial consumer interest attributed to temporary pricing, according to an exclusive CSP-UBS Tobacco Survey.

“Most customers buying Newport Non-Menthol don’t have a strong loyalty to another brand and are trying them because of the price and the Newport name recognition,” one retailer stated. “After the buy down expires, only those customers that have developed a loyalty to the brand will continue to buy them.”

Retailers ranked the trial level at an average of 5.1 on a scale of one to 10, according to the survey, which included 108 retailers representing more than 15,000 convenience stores.

Trial primarily was attributed to the temporary $1.65 buydown, which is set to expire in January. About 76% of respondents said they didn’t feel Newport Non-Menthol would sell as well when the buy-down ends.

As one retailer put it: “Sales will fall when off-invoice is pulled. The drop will be predicated on the amount of discounting removed and when. If moved in line with other Newport discounting, sales will fall by 66% minimum.”

Lorillard declined to comment on the survey. “We do not comment on future marketing and/or promotional plans for any of our brands,” a company spokesman said, adding that it is also too soon to comment on how Newport Non-Menthol is doing as it only entered the market in November.

UBS tobacco analyst Nik Modi, however, explained that now was a good time to begin tracking Newport Non-Menthol sales. “While we realize it’s still too early to make an ultimate assessment on the success of Newport Non-Menthol, we wanted to pursue this survey in order to create a point of comparison for future surveys.”

A majority (89%) of respondents said Newport Non-Menthol users switched from other brands, with the remaining 11% saying they were new customers. Retailers also ranked expectations of initial repeat levels at a little below average, at about 4.4 on a scale of one to 10.

“It appears that it will pull from Pall Mall cigarettes and some of the low-ends for now,” one retailer stated. “It could also pull from Marlboro and Camel, if they keep emphasizing that this is an introductory price on a well-known brand-name extension.”

Most respondents characterized the overall in-store execution of the launch as good (38%) or excellent (16%). “Product was available the day they said it would be; there have been no out-of-stocks or shortages,” one retailer said. “The sales have been very strong, which I expected with the deep discount.”

However, not all retailers were happy with the launch, with 30% rating it fair, and 17% rating it as poor: “Some stores struggled to get reps in upon launch. Many stores had advertising placed in unauthorized positions not following instructions agreed to by the account manager.”

An area of optimism for Lorillard is that it newest cigarette appears to be drawing from other non-menthol brands, such as Marlboro and Camel, and not from the core users of Newport Menthol. Although 78% percent said Newport Non-Menthol was competing with the core Newport product, 77% said they did not believe Newport Non-Menthol was confusing the core Newport customer. “Most trials are not from menthol customers; it is Marlboro and Camel customers trying it,” one retailer said.

“The good news is that Newport Non-Menthol is largely incremental to the Newport franchise with minimal cross-over consumption,” Modi told CSP Daily News.

In late October, UBS tobacco analyst Nik Modi estimated that Newport Non-Menthol could take 0.5% share of the total cigarette category over a 12-month period. Factoring in the $1.65 off-invoice discount, the report estimated that the launch could produce $100 million in incremental sales but remain neutral to earnings.

In late October, Lorillard’s director of investor relations Bob Bannon told CSP Daily News, “As the non-menthol segment of the cigarette industry accounts for approximately 70% of total sales, our recent national launch of Newport Non-Menthol was an opportunistic move designed to leverage Newport’s strong brand equity among adult smokers into this large market segment.”

So what might the future hold for the product? Modi summarized, “The true test will be how Newport Non-Menthol sells once the introductory pricing ends. Retailers don’t seem to think it will, but it’s still very early.”

By Linda Zid

China Kangtai Cactus Joint Manufacturing Agreement with Government Cigarette Manufacturer

HARBIN, China -China Kangtai Cactus Biotech Inc., a vertically integrated grower, China Kangtai Cactusdeveloper, manufacturer and marketer of a variety of cactus-based products in China, has signed a joint manufacturing agreement with China Tobacco Import and Export Shandong Corporation (China Tobacco Shandong), a subsidiary of China National Tobacco Corporation, to manufacture cactus cigarettes under the name of “Tai Shan Sheng Chao.”

The Shandong Province Government authorized the agreement in November. The company will manufacture this new brand using a new paper process technology with China Tobacco Shandong’s subsidiary, Qingdao Cigarette Factory. Plans are to begin full production in February 2011.

Qingdao Cigarette Factory, established by United Kingdom Tobacco Company in 1919, is a well-established tobacco company with high-end technology and advanced equipment. Its parent company, China Tobacco Shandong, founded in 1985, mainly exports and imports tobacco and tobacco manufacturing equipments. In its 25 years of operations it has exported over 216,000 tons of tobacco to 30 different countries and has accumulated over $461 million in revenue.

China Kangtai Cactus CEO Mr. Jinjiang Wang said, “This agreement is a very important breakthrough for our cactus cigarette business. In China, cigarette manufacturing is a government monopoly, which designates only one cigarette brand for each province. We are now the first publicly held company to sign a joint manufacturing agreement with a government-owned cigarette manufacturer. This will enable us to make important progress in growing market share for our products and further enhances our revenue growth potential.”

China Tobacco Shandong General Manager Jianli Bi said, “This agreement creates mutual benefit for both companies. The low-nicotine and non-nicotine cactus cigarette product coincides with the government’s initial step to promote less harmful products to the huge smoking population in China. It is estimated that more than 300 million people in China are regular smokers. Furthermore, we plan to export “Tai Shan Sheng Chao” cigarettes to Russia, South Korea and Japan through our established sales channels. We are confident that cactus-based cigarettes have a promising future to broaden shareholder value for both companies in a long term.”

Hawk Associates
Frank Hawkins or Amy Lin, 305-451-1888

Big Apple vs. Yakama cigarette manufacturer

YAKIMA — The city of New York is suing King Mountain Tobacco of White Swan, alleging the Yakama cigarette manufacturer is illegally selling and distributing untaxed smokes in New York state.

Filed in the U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of New York in New York City, the lawsuit seeks unspecified damages and penalties and asks the court to force King Mountain to comply with state cigarette tax laws.

But King Mountain owners say they aren’t doing anything illegal, and that the city isn’t recognizing their trading rights protected under their tribe’s treaty with the federal government.

In a Tuesday news release announcing the lawsuit, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said tax evasion by King Mountain hurts law-abiding small businesses and costs the state and the city millions of dollars in lost tax revenue.

“New York City has won significant victories in the courts against illegal cigarette sellers within the state, and now we are extending that fight to out-of-state cigarette sellers who flagrantly violate federal laws,” Bloomberg said.

Kamiakin Wheeler, who runs King Mountain with his father, Delbert Wheeler Sr., said the issue is between the tribal retailer — identified as Watkins Sellers in the lawsuit — and the state of New York.

“It has nothing to do with King Mountain Tobacco,” he said. “Everything lies between the retailer and the state — not us.”

Accord-ing to the lawsuit, King Mountain shipped $455,000 worth of cigarettes to Watkins Sellers on the Poospatuck Indian reservation in Mastic, N.Y., west of New York City, between November 2009 and February of this year.

But Wheeler said his company isn’t subject to state taxes when it comes to wholesale cigarettes because the tobacco is grown on tribal land, where the cigarettes are also manufactured.

“It’s just like here. The state has no jurisdiction,” he said.

He said the 9th Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals upheld the tribe in a similar case in 2007. That decision cited the 1855 Yakama Treaty preserving the tribe’s right to travel freely and engage in commerce.

“Their argument really has no grounds,” he said. “We have the right to freely travel and trade under our treaty.”

It’s not the first time the company has faced a lawsuit. Four years ago, cigarette giant Philip Morris sued King Mountain, alleging its labels looked too similar to Marlboro.

The lawsuit was resolved after King Mountain added more color to the label, which features a picture of Mount Adams.

Independently owned by the Wheelers, King Mountain is located on tribal land at the west end of White Swan and licensed by the Yakama Nation. It has been in operation since December 2005.

By Phil Ferolito
Yakima Herald-Republic

E-cigarettes will be regulated as traditional tobacco products

Syracuse – A smokeless, odorless alternative to cigarettes will not be as strictly regulated as some had hoped. A federal appeals court ruled electronic cigarettes will follow the same rules as traditional tobacco products.

Antonio Massa manages a store that cells electronic cigarettes. He says that they are gaining in popularity. “In the past month, I’d say probably a 500 percent increase in interest,” he said.

E-cigarettes are available in smoke shops, or online. Many people are also turning to e-cigarettes as a way to help them kick the habit of smoking the real thing. According to the president of a brand of e-cigarettes called Blu Cigs, there are an estimated 20,000-30,000 new e-smokers every week.

The biggest draw to e-cigarettes may actually be the price. A small bottle of refill-liquid, which costs about $30, is equivalent to 300 regular cigarettes, which would cost about $150.

“Basically, there’s a battery and an atomizer,” said Massa. “When you breathe in it turns the liquid into vapor and you breathe that in, and that’s how you get your nicotine out of the e-cigarette.”

The FDA wanted to regulate e-cigarettes as a “drug delivery device,” like nicotine gum and nicotine patches. That designation would have required companies to conduct stringent clinical trials to prove e-cigarettes are safe and effective.

Dr. Robert Lenox, from University Hospital, says depending on the brand, you may not know exactly how much tobacco you’re getting, as you would with the gum or patch. “So it’s hard to say how effective or how easy it will be for the patient to control what they’re getting to wean themselves off it,” he said.

E-cigarettes have been found to contain some carcinogenic chemicals and a chemical found in anti-freeze.

“But I think when you compare it to the alternative, basically what the research is saying is it’s a much better choice,” said Massa.

That belief may also be contributing to the popularity.
Copyright 2010 Newport Television LLC All rights reserved

Small Cigarette Packs Invade Bulgarian Market

The international cigarette maker “Marlboro” will introduce on the Bulgarian market cigarette boxes with 10 pieces each, instead of the commonBulgarian Cigarettes Market 20.

The information is listed in the tobacco products registry of the Finance Ministry. The brands “Red” and “Gold” will cost BGN 2.70 compared to BGN 5.20 for the 20-pack.

Philip Morris Bulgaria” told the daily “Dnevnik” they are generally against such practice, but the sales of smaller packages have been very successful in Bulgaria thus the decision to start making them as well.

With the participation of “Philip Morris” in the smaller packaging segment of the cigarette market in Bulgaria, the only companies remaining outside it are now “Imperial” and “Karelia.”

“Dnevnik” cites cigarette makers’ data showing small cigarette packaging is sharply increasing to reach soon 5% of the market, compared to 3% in the beginning of the year, and to just 0.3% in the fall of 2009.

The Bulgarian Bulgartabac “King” brand has the largest share among boxes with 10 cigarettes.

The cheapest 10-cigarette packages are offered by “King” as well – “King’s Tobacco,” by British-American Tobacco – “Viceroy,” and by the Bulgarian “Femina”for the price of BGN 2.20.

Other brands such as British-American Tobacco‘s “Pal Mall” and Japan Tobacco International’s (JTI) “Winston” go for BGN 2.40 and a 10-cigarettes pack of “Camel” sells for BGN 2.50.

JTI is introducing in Bulgaria the “LD” brand with 19-cigarette boxes for BGN 4.

Currently, the cheapest cigarettes are the “Goldfield” brand, sold at the Lidl supermarket chain, for BGN 3.99 for 20 pieces.

At the moment, 18 EU Member States have a ban on smaller cigarette packaging over the opinion they encourage cigarette use.

Romania, Italy, Spain, France and others, mandate 20-cigarette packs while Belgium, Hungary, the Netherlands, Germany, and Greece, among others, allow no less than 19.

Changes in Cigarette Prices Affect Alcohol Consumption

DENVER – Raising cigarette taxes has the unwanted effect of increasing alcohol consumption, including binge and heavy drinking.alcohol consumption

This relationship is an example of what economists call a cross-price or substitution effect. And it’s something policy makers need to be cognizant of, Deborah L. McLellan said at the annual meeting of the American Public Health Association.

She analyzed 6 years of cross-sectional data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s annual Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System surveys carried out in 2001-2006. Interviews were conducted with 1,323,758 adults living in nearly every state in the country.

Her multivariate logistic regression analysis concluded that for every one dollar increase in the cigarette-store.biz/cigarettes-news/new-prices-new-brands-in-our-online-cigarette-store, the ranks of current smokers drop by a highly significant 5%. That’s consistent with the classic economic theory of consumer demand, which holds that raising the price of a commodity decreases consumption.

But the analysis also showed that a one dollar per pack price increase was associated with a 29% increase in the odds of having consumed alcohol during the last month, a 12% increase in binge drinking, and a 10% increase in heavy drinking, defined in the study as more than one drink per day in women and more than two in men.

“I want to be clear that the message here is not ‘Let’s stop increasing cigarette taxes.’ That’s not my message at all. But this study is contributing to other literature out there that’s finding there are substitution effects, so advocates and policy makers and indeed researchers need to prepare for some of these unintended consequences of tobacco taxation policy,” said Ms. McLellan of the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University, Waltham, Mass.

“There needs to be more collaboration between tobacco control advocates and those who work in alcohol prevention. We all know we tend to work in our silos, but people certainly do drink and smoke, and we need to catch up with them,” she added.

The researcher noted that alcohol and tobacco use carry “staggering” human and economic costs. It’s estimated that 438,000 deaths occur annually from tobacco in the United States, and 98,000 because of alcohol. Twenty percent of Americans were smokers in 2006 and 51% were drinkers, including 23% who were binge drinkers and 7% who were heavy drinkers. Twenty-two percent of Americans were co-users.

She declared having no financial conflicts regarding the study, which she is conducting for her dissertation.

By: BRUCE JANCIN, Internal Medicine News Digital Network

Cigarette Price Rise In Spain

Cigarette Price Rise In Spain New tobacco tax and tougher anti-smoking law 2010

The Spanish government recently announced that it was raising a tobacco tax to rise Cigarette Price, in yet another step to stem market concern over the country’s economic stability.

It would allow the government to compensate for an estimated loss of €230 million caused by tax cuts for small and medium-sized companies, Economy Minister Elena Salgado was quoted as saying by the press. The higher tobacco tax would also be in line with Spain’s new and tougher anti-smoking law, the minister said.

Fortuna and Nobel brands now cost 3.75 euros for 20 and Ducados have gone up to 3.85 euros and Marlboro has gone up 40 cents to 4.25 euros a packet and Chesterfield 3.95 euros and L&M cigarettes have risen to 3.65 euroscigarettes price

The law will ban smoking in practically all closed public places from the beginning of next year. Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero week before last announced the tax cuts for small and medium-sized companies, as well as other measures to boost growth and to cut spending.

The measures included placing Madrid and Barcelona airports under private management, privatizing 30% of the state-owned lottery company, and slashing subsidies to the long-term unemployed. The measures were approved by the government on 3 December.

Zapatero had cancelled his attendance at an Ibero-American summit in Argentina to be present at the cabinet meeting, reflecting his concern over Spain’s economic situation. Spain’s unemployment stands at about 20%, the highest in the European Union.

Another big worry for the government is the 11.1% budget deficit, which it intends to cut to 6% in 2011.

Spain had earlier announced spending cuts worth tens of billions of euro, including cuts in public sector salaries, public investment and social spending, along with tax hikes and a pension freeze.

Pending laws prompt BAT to cut earnings outlook

Pending legislation has clouded the performance outlook for local cigarette manufacturers, prompting Kenya’s biggest producer, British American TobaccoBritish American Tobacco, to cut its earnings projections for next year.

BAT Kenya said an amendment to the Finance Bill 2010 introduced in Parliament last week is likely to trigger a price war in the sector, eroding revenues for cigarette manufacturers.

“The amendments made by Parliament will result in industry-wide pressure to reduce prices in order to benefit from lower taxes,” said BAT in a statement, adding that a drop in the company’s revenues could see taxes paid to the government drop by 27 per cent next year.

The World Health Organisation also passed a new declaration last month calling for reduction in sugar-based additives in cigarettes, which it said have an addictive effect on the youth.

Though this new law is yet to be adopted by the Kenya Bureau of Standards, BAT said if adopted locally it will make it harder for the company to sell its products as the variety of tobacco produced in Kenya “is harsh and requires additives to make it palatable.”

BAT is believed to control about 80 per cent of Kenya’s cigarette industry.

Mastermind Tobacco, the other major player in the sector, referred all questions to the company’s human resource manager, Josh Kirimania, who however could not be reached for comment.

In the statement issued on Friday, BAT claimed that it was not consulted during drafting of the amendment proposals by Parliament, and termed the new taxation amendments as “focused on supporting only one industry player.”

The proposed amendments seek to replace the current hybrid excise duty structure — which is based on physical characteristics and retail selling price — with a structure solely based on retail selling price. The move raises duty on some brands by 67 per cent.

If passed into law, it would see consumers pay more for brands such as Safari, which will attract duty of Sh30 per pack.

Sportsman and Sweet Menthol will see their duties go up from Sh30 to Sh50 per packet.

Revenue losses

BAT said that the company will either have to increase prices on these brands commensurate with the tax increase or reduce retail selling prices so that the cigarettes attract duty at a lower rate.

“This could translate to revenue losses to the government estimated at Sh2 billion; a reduction of 27 per cent from the Sh7.4 billion forecast for 2010 to Sh5.4 billion in 2011,” said the company.

The government has adopted levying punitive “sin taxes” as a measure for discouraging cigarette smoking.


Smoking in Casinos

Paul McIntyre is smiling at the Global Gaming Expo, belying the fact that he is embedded deep behind enemy lines.Smoking in Casino

From his 10-foot-square booth sandwiched between displays of gambling tables and slot machines, McIntyre — representing the nonprofit groups Kids Involuntarily Inhaling Secondhand Smoke and Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights — is pressuring casinos nationwide to ban smoking. He is sitting at a long table covered with stacks of fact sheets about smoking and colorful brochures showing smiling casino and restaurant workers. Bookending the table are two giant posters, including a photo of a young female casino dealer.

This is the final frontier for anti-smoking advocates — the casino industry’s premier trade show, which wrapped up in Las Vegas last month — and not an entirely welcome place to be.

Few stop at the booth. Those who do usually have something to say.

“People expect to smoke and gamble when they come to Vegas,” said Joe Marth, a young man whose Arkansas company makes casino surveillance cameras. A stone’s throw away, he has been eyeing the booth all day and comes over for a closer look.

“It’s not going to happen,” he says when asked about the prospect of banning smoking in casinos.

“That’s what they said about airplanes and restaurants,” McIntyre responds, smiling.

Because McIntyre believes victory is inevitable, he views his booth as a kind of peace offering. His brochures do not demand so much as request that employers ban smoking “because it’s the right thing to do.”

In his compact quarters, McIntyre may be more of a modern-day Gen. Custer, leading his small battalion to the slaughter.

The belief in the right of Nevada gamblers to smoke, protected by the state Legislature and enshrined in its courts despite a national backlash against smoking, is stronger than ever in the recession. Casino operators are unwilling to risk the potential loss of revenue if players were forced to step outside for a smoke. But there is a broader fear of the unknown. As gambling spreads worldwide, Nevada’s “live and let live” culture is not just a catchphrase but an increasingly valuable outlook distinguishing Las Vegas from other tourist destinations, they say.

McIntyre is here to tell casinos the other side of the story: The public is increasingly averse to smoking. Smoking policies lead to messy lawsuits, legal bills and expensive settlements. Even Macau’s smoky casinos — which host chain-smoking Chinese and generate more gambling revenue than anywhere else on the planet — are going smoke-free, he argues.

Then there is the case of Vincent Rennich, a nonsmoking former casino dealer who lost part of a lung to cancer and won a $4.5 million settlement this month from his employer of more than 25 years, the Tropicana Atlantic City. Settlements have also been paid out by casinos to workers in Indiana and Louisiana.

Wynn Las Vegas has lost Round 1 of a lawsuit by casino dealer Kanie Kastroll, charging the casino with breaching a common-law duty to provide a safe workplace.

In court filings, Wynn offered the same argument Nevada casinos have successfully made for years: They can’t be liable for allowing customers to smoke in places where Nevada law specifically permits smoking.

That position “ignores the potentially intricate interrelationship between this statute and common-law duties” to employees, U.S. District Judge Lloyd George wrote in a September order denying Wynn’s motion to dismiss the case.

The order follows a precedent established in employer secondhand smoke lawsuits more than a decade ago, and more recently in the casino industry, “to hold companies responsible for the effects of workplace smoking,” Kastroll’s Chicago attorney Jay Edelson said.

“We are seeing the courts being receptive to the plight of workers,” Edelson said. “One of the most basic rights of employees is that they work in safe conditions.”

Meanwhile, government scientists fire off reports detailing the health risks of secondhand smoke. Last week’s report by U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin, for example, concluded that inhaling even small amounts of tobacco smoke can immediately damage human cells and, over time, lead to cancer.

Such developments have so far fallen on deaf ears in Nevada, where well-funded health advocates avoid pressing the issue with casinos, which drive the state’s economy, leaving such confrontations to isolated activists that have gained little public support. Health groups lack any coordinated, full-frontal plan to attack smoking in casinos.

Although McIntyre initiates friendly conversations indoors, an unaffiliated anti-smoking advocate gets a rough reception outside the exhibit hall.

That’s where convention security and police are swarming around Stephanie Steinberg, the Colorado-based founder of Smoke-Free Gaming and a more confrontational opponent on smoking.

The petite Steinberg isn’t much of a threatening presence. But her oversize posters — “What happens in a casino stays in your lungs,” one says — are tantamount to a guerrilla attack on the state’s chief industry.

Bicycle cops are telling her to move from the sidewalk in front of the convention center to the corner of Paradise Road and Convention Center Drive. She protests before moving, preferring that her signs be seen versus her being hustled into a patrol car.

Steinberg has no intention of paying $5,900, like McIntyre did, for a booth at the convention. In fact, her posters appear to be garnering more attention than McIntyre’s more demure brochures.

McIntyre — a former public relations manager for the California Restaurant Association who fought smoking bans before his industry switched sides in the 1990s — says the soft sell works better with business than threats.

“No one should have to choose between their job and their health,” he says. “They will come around.”

That seems unlikely as casino managers pass by, shaking their heads.

McIntyre says he’s seen it all before.

“A few years ago, a guy at the nightclub and bar show (in Las Vegas) flipped the bird. Or they’d chew me out and run away. But by last year, the attitude had become so much more tame and civil that I thought, ‘There are too many people agreeing with me.’ ”

Most restaurants and bars nationwide are smoke-free — the result of state and local smoking bans passed in the wake of health warnings and litigation. With some exceptions, U.S. casinos remain safe havens for smokers.

Which means McIntyre and his booth will be back next year, glad-handing and smiling his way through a tough, but perhaps softened, crowd.

By Liz Benston

Researchers Call E-Cigarettes Unsafe as U.S. Court Weakens FDA Regulation

A federal court has ruled that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) can only regulate e-cigarettes as tobacco products and not as e-cigarettes smokedrug-delivery devices, even as new research cast doubt on their safety.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit said in its ruling that the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act does not give the FDA the authority to regulate e-cigarettes under the same rules as nicotine gum or the nicotine patch, the Associated Press reported Dec. 7.

The ruling prevents the FDA from requiring e-cigarette manufacturers to conduct stringent clinical trials to prove the product’s safety and effectiveness as an aid to quit smoking. The court said that the FDA did have the authority to regulate e-cigarettes as tobacco products.

The ruling was criticized by public health groups who have warned that e-cigarettes are unproven as stop-smoking aids, contain hazardous substances, and suffer from haphazard quality control and safety issues.

Matthew L. Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, said the ruling will permit “any manufacturer to put any level of nicotine in any product and sell it to anybody, including children, with no government regulation or oversight at the present time.”

Researchers question e-cigarette safety

Meanwhile, new research suggests the electronic nicotine delivery devices may be unsafe, according to a Legacy Foundation press released published Dec. 7 on PR Newswire.

Investigators at the Schroeder Institute for Tobacco Control and Georgetown University’s Lombardi Center lab-tested different brands of e-cigarettes. They found that the amount of nicotine delivered varied greatly, depending upon the maker of the device, the cartridge used, and “even from puff to puff.”

“This inconsistency suggests poor quality control measures, which contributes to the list of unknowns about [e-cigarettes] and adds to the public health community’s skepticism surrounding the products,” said the study’s lead author, Nathan Cobb, MD, Research Investigator at the Schroeder Institute.

Cobb and his colleagues said that although manufacturers claim that e-cigarettes may reduce the harm associated with cigarette smoke, the devices also present risks not associated with tobacco.

The researchers found that e-cigarettes delivered three to five times less nicotine than advertised, but the “juice” bottles used to refill them could contain over 1.5 grams of nicotine – a lethal dose – in packages that were not child-resistant.

Cobb said, “The variation in design and poor quality control emphasizes that they should not be on the market until and unless regulation to ensure device safety has been established.”

The study, “Novel Nicotine Delivery Systems and Public Health: The Rise of the ‘E-Cigarette,'” appeared in the December 2010 issue of the American Journal of Public Health.

Meanwhile, researchers at the University of California conducted a separate study of e-cigarettes and concluded that they are unsafe to sell, HealthDay reported Dec. 7.

The investigators bought six different brands of e-cigarettes online and assessed their safety. Among other findings, they reported that most e-cigarette cartridges leaked nicotine onto users’ hands; that cartridge labels rarely included expiration dates, health warnings, or information about what was in them; that cartridges with no nicotine content “looked identical to those that claimed to have higher nicotine content … once removed from their packs and wrappers”; and that safety features often malfunctioned.

Printed and online marketing material for the devices also made factually inaccurate claims. For example:

  • “Be careful to avoid inhaling any significant quantity of fluid. Although it gives you a slight tingling sensation, it is not harmful.”
  • “Within two weeks your lung capacity will increase by 30 percent … Wrinkles in your skin will become less noticeable.”

Investigators concluded that “regulators should consider removing [electronic cigarettes] from the market until design features, quality control, disposal and safety issues have been adequately addressed.”

The study, “Electronic nicotine delivery systems: is there a need for regulation?” was released online December 7, 2010 in Tobacco Control.


Lancaster setting new ground in tobacco regs

LANCASTER — The town will be the first in the United States to cap the number of permits to sell tobacco and nicotine-based products come February 2011 when newly-approved Board of Health regulations go into effect.

Last week, Board of Health members unanimously approved two sets of regulations, one spelling out in detail the different kinds of “nicotine delivery products” that retail stores can sell and how they can sell them; the other regulation outlining the prohibition of smoking in work places and public places and the definitions of what those places mean.

Joan Hamlett, of the Tobacco Control Alliance, has been assisting the board in drafting the new regulations.

“Of the 34 communities that we cover, the number of retailers have been decreasing, and that’s a good sign, but we want to make sure that businesses are not selling to kids,” she said.

There is “conclusive evidence” that more than 80 percent of all smokers begin smoking before the age of 18, according to studies by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and it has also been found that in 2000 69 percent of middle school aged children who smoked at least once a month were not asked to show identification when buying cigarettes.

The Board of Health’s statement of purpose in the regulations say, “it is the intention of the Town of Lancaster Board of Health to regulate the access of tobacco products,” because of that evidence and because it has been proven that “nicotine is as addictive as cocaine or heroin…and that access by minors to tobacco products is a major problem.”

The town now has two outlets for tobacco products and will be capping the number of permits allowed to three. The stores must prominently display signs that no person under the age of 18 will be sold tobacco products and that photographic identification must be shown and verified for any person under the age of 27.

“Nicotine delivery products” will also include E-cigarettes, and any article or product made of tobacco substitutes or which contain nicotine, except those prescribed by a licensed physician for smoking cessation or medical purposes.

Tobacco products cannot be sold in vending machines or by educational institutions (such as, in bookstores) or in health care institutions (hospitals, clinics, health centers, pharmacies, drug stores, doctor or dental offices) or by a retail establishment that provides pharmaceutical goods and services.

Violations will be cause for fines and if repeated, revocation or suspension of the retailer’s permit.

Regulations prohibiting smoking in workplaces and public places will also go into effect Feb. 1, 2011 and include private clubs (charitable, philanthropic, civic, social, benevolent, educational, religious, athletic, recreation, etc. including lodges, veterans’ organizations, established religious places of worship or instruction), all municipal properties (not including public roads or sidewalks) and vehicles, smoking bars, nursing and rest homes, and retail tobacco stores.

The new regulations can be viewed at the Board of Health office.

By Lynne Klaft

Vietnam smoking ban

Nguyen Thanh Binh, a journalist based in Ho Chi Minh City, says with sense of irony that he is virtually unaware of any smoking ban.smoking ban in Vietnam

“When the ban came into force a year ago, everyone kept talking about it. But since then we’ve seen no enforcement or sanction, so what’s the point of observing it?” said the 25-year-old scribe who smokes 15 cigarettes per day on average.

A Vietnamese government decree effective January 1 this year prohibits smoking indoors in public places. But little headway has been made since.

“We have to admit that enforcement and compliance are [still] poor,” said Pham Hoang Anh, Vietnam director of HealthBridge Canada, an international NGO which seeks to work with partners worldwide to improve health and health equity through research, policy and action.

“[It is] due to the weak level of sanctions, unclear enforcement mechanisms, low public awareness of the regulation and of the hazards of secondhand smoke, and high social acceptability of smoking.”

Expats are none the wiser about the ban.

“Australia banned smoking in bars while I was living in Vietnam. Moving back home and having to leave your drink with a security guard was very strange but it did inspire a kind of camaraderie amongst the smokers,” said an Aussie expat in Hanoi who declined to be named.

“Here [in Vietnam] that’s less necessary as most expats already know each other. I’ve never seen the smoking ban enforced. No one even knows there is one.”

The Global Adult Tobacco Survey 2010, the international standard for systematically monitoring adult tobacco use and tracking key tobacco control indicators, shows that currently around 15.3 million people actively smoke in Vietnam and an estimated 46.8 million are exposed to secondhand smoke.

“[These facts] provide strong evidence that the tobacco epidemic continues throughout the country,” said Jorge Alday, a spokesperson for New York-based NGO World Lung Foundation.

Smoking caused around 40,000 deaths in Vietnam in 2007, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates. This figure could surge to 70,000 by the end of 2030 if drastic measures are not taken, the UN agency warns.

Internationally, second-hand tobacco smoke kills upward of 600,000 people every year, nearly a third of them children, according to the first-ever global assessment published last month in the British medical journal The Lancet.

Big brother

It is not just the ban that has been ineffective.

Anti-tobacco groups have criticized tobacco companies for capitalizing on legal loopholes in Vietnamese laws to launch aggressive marketing campaigns to promote the habit and the product.

Vietnam ratified in 2005 the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, an international treaty which requires countries to restrict tobacco publicity. Vietnamese laws also ban direct and indirect advertising, sponsorship and promotions, even at sales outlets.

Under the regulations, cigarette companies are not supposed to display more than one pack of a cigarette brand at any sales point. But companies and retailers have circumvented this rule by displaying different varieties of the same brand like menthol, lights or regular, anti-tobacco groups say.

They add that this strategy will lead to brands creating a variety of flavors or types so that, as in Vietnam, certain brands can dominate a large section of the display, while using just one pack of each kind.

As for indirect promotions, Alday of the World Lung Foundation says, “In Vietnam as in many other places, direct advertising has been replaced by more subtle promotional techniques such as corporate social responsibility projects. Examples include funding education or youth projects across the country or even providing disaster relief.”

Anh of HealthBridge Canada adds, “The aim of these activities is to manipulate the public’s attitude toward their reputation and send the message that they are looking out for the public’s best interest.”

Vietnam’s amended Trade Law 2005 bans all forms of sponsorship by tobacco companies. But the law stopped short of completely prohibiting sponsorship of philanthropic activities.

So far this year, British American Tobacco–Vinataba (BATVJ), a joint venture between the London-based British American Tobacco company and the Vietnam National Tobacco Corporation, has been in the news for providing five Vietnamese provinces with 22.5 million seedlings totaling VND1 billion ($51,300). BATVJ is also being investigated for cooking its books between 2006 and 2008, police in the southern province of Dong Nai, where the joint venture is based, said in October.

The Vietnam National Tobacco Corporation (Vinataba) had also, through media channels, announced pledges of VND5 billion to support poverty alleviation efforts in Bac Ai District in the south-central province of Ninh Thuan.

But the Bac Ai District government said in a recent report that they had received nothing from Vinataba and asked the state-owned tobacco giant to honor its “corporate social responsibility.”

Anti-tobacco groups have urged Vietnamese legislators to clearly define advertisement to prevent any circumventing ploys by the tobacco industry.

The government has been drafting a comprehensive tobacco control law since 2008 but the bill is set to be submitted to the National Assembly, Vietnam’s legislature, for reviewing and passing early next year.

“There are plenty of gaps that can be filled in this issue… Vietnam should follow the WHO guidelines on the protection of public health policies from commercial and other vested interests belonging to tobacco industry,” said Anh.

Vietnam plans to impose heavy environment taxes on tobacco from 2012 onwards. Currently, cigarettes are taxed at 32 percent. With a tax increase of 20 percent, retail prices would increase by about 10 percent and government tax revenues will go up by VND1.9 trillion, the WHO estimates.

“The tobacco epidemic has had severe health and economic consequences for individuals and the society,” said Nguyen Thi Xuyen, deputy minister of Health. “To protect Vietnamese from tobacco use’s related burdens, the Ministry of Health has strongly supported policies for implementing the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.”

‘What will be, will be’

Journalist Binh said he is not afraid of any health consequences of tobacco. This gung ho attitude towards smoking impacts worries anti-tobacco groups the most. They say that as long as there is little awareness of the health dangers, smoking will remain socially acceptable.

According to the Global Adult Tobacco Survey 2010, 47.4 percent of Vietnamese men currently smoke. At a conference in HCMC last week, the Tumor Hospital filed a report pointing out that the southern economic hub records around 6,000 new cancer cases every year. So far this year, the hospital has admitted over 14,000 cancer patients compared with 13,200 last year. Lung and liver cancer accounted for the highest percentage among the male patients, the hospital report said.

But Binh said he saw no reason to worry. “What will be, will be. I have been smoking in all the places that I used to smoke.

“The ‘ban’ here is [almost] nothing. As far as I can see, changes are too subtle to be noticed.”