May 2010 - CigarettesReviews.com | CigarettesReviews.com

Monthly Archives: May 2010

Twilight star Kristen Stewart in a bad mood

Kristen Stewart, who is known to be the main star in the Twilight series together with fellow star Taylor Lautner was confirmed to be in Kristen Stewart smokingSydney Australia on Sunday to promote their movie Twilght Saga: Eclipse.

Kristen Stewart 20 years old and who appears to be a conservative person in her movie Twilight series, was seen smoking a cigarette on her hotel balcony in Sydney Australia. Not only was the Twilight star smoking she gave the paparazzi one hell of a dirty finger as a sign saying that she was not impressed with the attention shes having.

After this, Kristen Stewart and Taylor Lautner went out to the seas and had a cruise on Sydney Harbour. After the cruise, a fan approached her for a picture and sorry to the fan but Kristen Stewart refused her request.

After docking, Stewart had another run in with the paparazzi.”She was just in a bad mood because of the photographers. She was swearing at them and tried running into a restaurant, but the door was locked.” the poor fan said.

Well hopefully Kristen Stewart will be in a good mood soon.

Hollyoaks star in no-smoking drive

Hollyoaks actress Saira Choudhry has urged young women to give up smoking on World No Tobacco Day.

The 22-year-old, who plays Anita Roy in the Channel 4 soap, is supporting the campaign, which this year focuses on reducing the growing number of females aged 20-24 who are taking up smoking.

She said: “My Mum Fae is a no-smoking adviser and used to work in a hospital in Manchester. She always told me if I ever smoked she’d take me to the wards with her one day so I could see the effects for myself, which put me off completely.

“It’s really worrying that there is an increase in young women of my age group who are smoking. Apart from the fact it’s so bad for your health, it’s also really ageing and bad for your skin. I reckon you can always tell who is a smoker by looking at their skin.

“I’d say to all young girls who smoke, to give up this World No Tobacco Day and save up their money instead to go on a fabulous holiday or buy some great shoes.” According to The Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation, a national charity which helps people give up smoking, 31% of young women aged 20-24 now smoke.

Eileen Streets, director of tobacco control at the charity, said: “It is estimated that one in two smokers will die from a tobacco-related illness. There is no doubt that people who smoke are playing a game of Russian roulette.

“Smoking more than half a pack a day may cause infertility among women, the early onset of menopause and foetal abnormalities.

“Studies have also shown that the skin of a 40-year-old smoker is as damaged as that of a 60-year-old non-smoker.

“If the health risks alone are not enough of a concern then the financial implications should be. At today’s prices, a 20-a-day smoker will spend more than £37,000 over the next 20 years – that’s the equivalent of 98 pairs of Christian Louboutin classic black heels or eight Hermes Birkin bags.

“It’s not just about saving money though so you can buy some fabulous shoes, it’s about improving and protecting women’s health for today and also for future generations.”

Graphic health warnings on cigarette packs become a reality

In spite of the tobacco industry’s untiring efforts to stall the process for incorporation of pictorial health warnings on cigarette packs and outers, and to somehow have the momentous decision reversed, the Ministry of Health has elevated Pakistan’s international profile by formally launching picture-based health warnings with effect from today (May 30).

The warnings, which were announced in May 2009 by the then minister for health, Mir Aijaz Hussain Jakhrani, will be launched by Minister for Health Makhdoom Shahabuddin at a ceremony arranged to observe World No Tobacco Day. Ours is the 21st country in the world to be implementing graphic health warnings.

Pakistan took a giant leap forward last year by announcing historic measures for tobacco control, the introduction of picture-based health warnings being one of them. Even though these warnings were initially planned for implementation with effect from January 2010 and were delayed several times under pressure from various quarters, notably the tobacco industry, their implementation in Pakistan is doubtlessly a huge achievement that deserves to be acknowledged and appreciated.

Picture-based warnings appear in more than a dozen countries. The number of countries implementing picture warnings has risen from one in 2005 to 23 in 2009. Some of the Eastern Mediterranean Region countries using picture warnings are Jordan (2005); Egypt (2008); Iran (2009) and Djibouti (2009).

The Country Office of the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Pakistan has been encouraging the government to adopt picture-based health warnings that meet the criteria for maximal effectiveness. The subject was first raised during a presentation made in 2008, and then at the first meeting of the Technical Advisory Group in the beginning of 2008. After that, there was no looking back as the need for picture-based warnings was highlighted at every forum, with trainings being arranged for TAG members and the Ministry of Health. The media too played a lead role in having these warnings implemented in Pakistan.

The WHO particularly approves of tobacco health warnings that contain both pictures as well as text and urges countries to have a rotated series of warnings appearing at the same time, rather than just one. Multiple warnings provide more information to the consumer, increase overall impact, and reduce the “wear-out” effect. The first picture-based warning to appear on cigarette packs in Pakistan shows the effects of tobacco use on a patient suffering from mouth cancer, and will be replaced with a new one after a year.

Picture-based health warnings are particularly significant for countries like Pakistan, which are beset with poor literacy rate and inadequacy of resources for public health education. Such warnings are the most cost-effective communication medium available to convince people to quit. At present, a majority of the country’s illiterate population cannot decipher text-based warnings, and as such, remains oblivious of the deleterious consequences of tobacco use. Moreover, it is interesting to note that while picture-based warnings are determined by the Ministry of Health, the cost of the intervention is borne by tobacco companies. Such warnings are synonymous to mini-billboards that work 24/7.

Coming to the size of the health warning, we have examples of countries like Australia, New Zealand and Cook Islands, where the average front-back size of the warning covers 60 per cent of the pack; followed by Belgium and Switzerland (56%), Finland and Kyrgyzstan (52%) and 18 other countries (50%). In Pakistan, these warnings will cover 40% of the front and back of cigarette packs (30% being pictorial and 10% textual).

The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) recommends that these warnings should cover 50% or more of the principal display area but shall be no less than 30% of the principal display area. The key objectives governing the introduction of health warnings are to inform consumers of the harmful effects of tobacco and to reduce consumption.

Studies show that smokers are not aware of or underestimate the health effects of tobacco use. In 1999, before the introduction of picture-based warnings in Canada, only one-third of smokers could recall that heart attacks and emphysema are caused by smoking. In Cuba in 1999, 17% of doctors and 20% of nurses who smoked believed that smoking caused more benefits than harm. In the US in 1995, only 39% of heavy smokers believed they had a higher risk of heart attack and only 49% believed they had a higher risk of cancer.

Real-world evidence from Canada and Singapore substantiates the usefulness of picture-based warnings to influence its consumers to quit. In Canada, 58% of the smokers thought more about the health effects of smoking as a result of the warnings; 44% said the warnings had increased their motivation to quit; and 27% of the smokers smoked less inside of their home as a result of the warnings.

In Singapore, 71% of the smokers said they knew more about the health effects of smoking as a result of the warnings; 28% said they smoked fewer cigarettes as a result of the warnings; and 14% said they avoided smoking in front of children as a result of the warnings.

With picture-based warnings finally becoming a reality in Pakistan, it would be useful for the WHO to support, in due course of time, similar studies to measure the impact of these warnings on smokers and non-smokers alike in this country.

Australian Annual Inflation Gauge Rises to 3.7% on Tobacco

A gauge of Australia’s annual inflation accelerated in May above the top of the central bank’s target range to the fastest pace since October 2008.

Consumer prices advanced 3.7 percent from a year earlier, after gaining 2.9 percent in April, according to an index compiled by TD Securities Ltd. and the Melbourne Institute released in Sydney today. Prices increased 0.5 percent from a month earlier, when they rose 0.4 percent.

Australia’s economic expansion, forecast to almost double its pace in the next two years, is stoking inflation above the central bank’s target range of 2 percent to 3 percent. Governor Glenn Stevens has boosted the benchmark lending rate six times since early October to 4.5 percent and will tomorrow keep the rate unchanged, according to analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.

“The details of this inflation report are worrying,” said Annette Beacher, senior strategist at TD Securities Ltd. in Singapore. “This outcome is not only above the RBA’s target band, but is consistent with an economy that is fully employed, a situation that is only going to tighten going forward.”

Excluding a 25 percent increase in tobacco taxes this month, annual inflation gained 3.3 percent, Beacher said. Gasoline and financial services also boosted the inflation rate in May.

Consumer prices rose 2.9 percent in the first quarter from a year earlier, the most since late 2008, a report by the Bureau of Statistics showed on April 28.

The Melbourne Institute is a research unit of Melbourne University and TD Securities is a division of Toronto-Dominion Bank, one of Canada’s largest lenders. The monthly inflation index measures the prices of 1,000 goods and services.

Cigarette Companies Set Their Sights on Women

Sitting in a crowded cafe, 26-year -old “Astri” asks the waiter to bring her an ashtray before she puffs on her first cigarette of the evening. A group of college girls sitting at the next table recognize her as a celebrity and approach her on the pretext of borrowing her lighter. The girls light up their cigarettes too and start to smoke while chatting loudly about Astri.

“You don’t mind me smoking, do you?” asks the once-famous child star, still a singer today.

Astri first started smoking when she was still a high school sophomore, taking up the habit because most of her girlfriends smoked.

“When I was in college I became addicted to cigarettes,” she said. “I tried to quit but it was so hard. Everybody in my clique was a smoker.”

Astri did manage to quit smoking once, when she was pregnant with her son until the time he turned 2, but relapsed as soon as she decided to go back to work.

“In the entertainment business everybody smokes, from veteran actresses to newcomers,” Astri said. “During shooting breaks we all smoke.”

Though she realizes that as a celebrity mother, smoking sets a bad example for her son and fans, she says she cannot quit and refuses to pretend to be a quitter just to please everyone.

“I have thousands of followers on Twitter and they know that I smoke a lot; my son knows too, and he sometimes drops big hints … He says things like, ‘I think I’m going to die prematurely because my mom won’t stop smoking,’” Astri said.

Astri is just one of tens of millions of female smokers in Indonesia. As smoking has declined in many Western countries, it has risen in Indonesia. Around 63 percent of all men light up and one-third of the overall population smokes, an increase of 26 percent since 1995. Smoking-related illnesses kill at least 200,000 annually in a nation of 220 million.

Toxic Lies

Today, May 31, marks World Without Tobacco Day. The theme of this year’s celebration is “Gender and Tobacco with an Emphasis on Marketing to Women.” The WHO proposed the theme because women, along with children, have become the new target for the cigarette industry.

“The cigarette market for men is played out. Customer numbers are stable,” Fuad Baradja, head of the education unit at the Indonesian Smoking Control Foundation, told the Jakarta Globe. “The industry is now looking to develop this new market. Our TV stations are bombarding us with cigarette advertisements for women.

“We are being inundated by these advertisements. Cigarette companies are using very attractive images and beautiful, sexy women. They are trying to imply that smoking is cool, fashionable,” Fuad said.

He added that many companies were trying to lure women into smoking by selling low-nicotine cigarettes to create the image that the cigarettes were less toxic than the regular ones.

“Guess what? You’ve been lied to,” Fuad said. “Smoking low-nicotine cigarettes won’t minimize the health risks. It just makes you spend more money.”

The Global Youth Tobacco Survey conducted by the WHO from 2006 to 2009 found that 88.4 percent of Indonesian girls were exposed to cigarette ads on billboards and more than 87 percent of them were exposed to second-hand smoke in public places.

Changing Values

Prasenohadi, a pulmonologist from the University of Indonesia, said that a regular smoker was driven to consume a certain level of nicotine daily.

“When someone is addicted and needs two milligrams of nicotine a day, he or she will smoke twice as many low-nicotine cigarettes to compensate for his or her needs, which means he or she will spend more money on cigarettes,” Prasenohadi said.

“So don’t be fooled by the words mild, light or low.”

Sonny Harry Harmadi, chief of the Demographic Foundation, said that the cigarette industry had had women and children in its sights since the reform era began in 1998.

“Before the reform era, the stigma associated with females who smoked was so strong that a woman could be labeled as ‘wild’ if she smoked,” he said.

Now, Sonny said, Eastern values were no longer as binding in urban areas as in rural ones.

“That is why there are more female smokers in big cities; people in urban areas tend to be more permissive,” he said.

Fuad said smoking posed a greater threat to women than it did to men not only medically but also financially and psychologically because in a household, women usually took on the role of treasurer with the main task being to manage family spending. He said that since children tended to be closer to their mothers than fathers, they would tend to imitate their mothers’ actions.

Falling Sick

Uya, a mother of two in her mid-30s, said she was an active smoker from 1995 to 2001, but quit because her children started to grow up and questioned her a lot about her decision to smoke.

“They said that smoking caused a greater risk of cancer and they asked me whether I had the heart to put them in danger, day in and day out, as passive smokers,” she said. “That struck me and I decided to quit.”

Tricia Dewi Anggraini, an obstetrician, said that women faced greater health risks than men if they smoked. She said that most Indonesian women smoked during their “reproductive” years.

“There then arises the obvious infertility problem,” Tricia said. “They also tend to experience menstrual pain and irregular cycles. They also increase their risk of developing osteoporosis, early menopause, sexual dysfunction and even cervical cancer.”

Tricia said pregnant smokers also endangered their unborn children.

“Smoking will also affect a woman’s looks,” she said. “It damages the skin, the color of the eyes and nails.”

Bon Jovi Quits Smoking Because He Can’t Afford It

Whether Jon Bon Jovi is living on a prayer or not is debatable. But one thing he’s definitely not living on is cigarettes. According toBon Jovi the singer, his 16-year stint as a smoker has come to an end thanks to an unlikely source – a life insurance premium report.

“I tried to get life insurance and the price was so ridiculous,” Bon Jovi said. “It was enough to piss you off and just throw them in the garbage.”

I haven’t seen Bon Jovi’s financial statements, but I can assume due to his success, BJ is pretty wealthy. So if smoking is too expensive for him, then I can’t imagine it’s worth it for everyone else to be getting their nicotine fix. Bon Jovi kicked the habit before the group’s current tour, and says he hasn’t picked them up since.

“I quit because of the hard truth,” the rocker said. And just in case you weren’t sure Bon Jovi was a bad ass, he’s not doing any sort of tapering down with nicotine gum or anything. According to Bon Jovi, he’s spent his last cent on anything involving cigarettes.

“It was cold turkey for me.”

Bon Jovi and the crew are reportedly working on a greatest hits album to be released this year.

RJR closing plant

RJR plant

The phrase “end of an era” tends to be overused and over-sentimentalized.

But it is perhaps a fitting way to react to yesterday’s announcement that R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. will cease cigarette production in its hometown of Winston-Salem by mid-2011.

The company said it is closing its Whitaker Park plant, once the muscle of its manufacturing might, and shifting 540 production and 40 salaried employees to its plant in Tobaccoville beginning this summer.

As part of the consolidation, Reynolds is also closing a plant in Yabucoa, Puerto Rico, eliminating 60 jobs there. It will keep a distribution center open in the country.

“As has always been the case and will continue to be the case, Reynolds Tobacco’s future staffing needs will be based upon the company’s ongoing business performance and volume trends, plus the natural attrition rate among employees,” spokeswoman Jan Smith said.

“The company has told its employees that we should have a clearer picture of future staffing needs by early 2011,” Smith said.

In another move, American Snuff Co. LLC, a subsidiary of Reynolds American Inc., is expanding its smokeless-tobacco processing and manufacturing capacity in Memphis and Clarksville, Tenn.

Susan Ivey, the chairwoman, chief executive and president of Reynolds American, said that the changes will “make our companies more efficient in light of the declining U.S. cigarette industry and growth in smokeless tobacco.”

Philip Morris USA made a similar decision in 2008 when it closed its plant in Concord and moved production to Richmond.

Once a showplace

When Whitaker opened in 1961 — a $32 million, 790,300-square-foot facility — it was considered the world’s largest and most modern cigarette-manufacturing plant. In today’s dollars, the plant would cost $234 million to build, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

At its peak, the plant, named after former Chairman John C. Whitaker, had more than 2,000 workers. For many years, a highlight of touring Winston-Salem was going to Whitaker Park, where many visitors and schoolchildren got their first look at high-tech manufacturing with the cigarette machines.

However, speculation about the plant’s fate began soon after Reynolds opened the highly automated Tobaccoville plant in 1986.

Declines in Reynolds’ cigarette shipment volumes, sales and market share fanned the talk.

Also contributing have been higher excise taxes, more smoking bans, increasing social stigma regarding tobacco products, and reduction in marketing for all but its Camel and Pall Mall brands.

The production shift to Tobaccoville began in earnest in 1998 when Reynolds said it was cutting about 1,000 jobs, including 315 at Whitaker.

Shortly before Reynolds announced in October 2003 that it was buying Brown & Williamson Corp. for $2.6 billion, production at Whitaker was down to one machine and 25 employees making specialty cigarettes going into innovative packaging.

New life was breathed into Whitaker when Reynolds decided to shut down Brown & Williamson’s plant in Macon, Ga., and transfer the bulk of that production to Whitaker.

Andrew Schindler, the chairman and chief executive of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Holdings Inc. at that time, hailed the “reopening” of Whitaker as “a great opportunity for shareholders, for the company, for Winston-Salem and Forsyth County and for North Carolina.”

Perhaps the final nail for Whitaker came in December when Reynolds made a voluntary severance offer to veteran manufacturing employees in response to declining shipment volumes.

About 400 of its 1,800 production workers took the company up on the offer, with the first of them leaving in January. Smith said that about half of those employees have left. Although 100 more are expected to be gone by Sept. 30, some will remain until early 2011.

With that restructuring, Reynolds has made at least 17 job-cut announcements since 1983, going from 15,500 full-time local workers to 2,630 by early 2011.

Smokeless production

Although cigarette manufacturing is leaving the city, Reynolds’ smokeless-tobacco production remains active.

The Taylor Brothers operation of American Snuff, off Stratford Road, was expanded in 2008. It has about 150 employees. Smith said that a production line is being added for moist-snuff pouches there in early 2011.

Reynolds will maintain an operations presence in the Whitaker Park area after the plant is closed.

The company has two facilities there for tobacco processing and flavoring; a small plant nearby where it makes Eclipse nonburning cigarettes; storage and distribution facilities; and the Bowman Gray Technical Center, where the research and development staff is based.

Still, the closing of the Whitaker plant is another hard reminder of the erosion of Winston-Salem’s global manufacturing prominence.

Whitaker opened about a year after Hanes Hosiery Mills Co. launched its $30 million Weeks plant in 1960 — at that time the largest manufacturing facility ever built in North Carolina, at 850,000 square feet.

The Weeks plant also is a casualty of changing consumer and societal tastes, in its instance the sharp drop-off in demand for sheer-hosiery products. It is set to close by the end of this year.

“Whitaker Park has a very rich manufacturing heritage for Winston-Salem,” Mayor Allen Joines said. “It’s another milestone in our economy’s ongoing transition.”

Noel Gallagher on Cigarettes and Alcohol

Noel Gallagher has claimed that the classic Oasis track ‘Cigarettes And Alcohol’ is “social comment”.

Oasis seemed to enjoy an irresistible rise to fame. The band’s debut single ‘Supersonic’ dropped in 1994, with a string of classic releases outlining their quest from rock ‘n’ roll domination.

The band’s third single would enshrine them as arch hedonists. ‘Cigarettes And Alcohol’ was one of the most influential tracks of the 90s, built around a riff half-inched from the classic T Rex single ‘Get It On’.

A shameless evocation of life on the wild side, in the space of three minutes it mentions virtually every drug under the sun. Speaking ahead of the new Oasis compilation ‘Time Flies’ Noel Gallagher claimed that the song was “a proper youth anthem”.

“Right up until the last gigs, that’s when people go fucking apeshit, for that song. It mentions drugs and shagging birds, social comment, boozing and drinking and listening to tunes. You know, what more do you want?!”

Released on June 14th, Noel Gallagher has prepared a series of short films for the new compilation. Continuing, the guitarist claimed that the track became an anthem to fans even before its release.

Referring to an age before the internet, Noel Gallagher explained his surprise at fans knowledge of the track. “On a few occasions I would play the riff and people would start clapping and I’d be like: ‘what are you clapping for? You haven’t fucking heard this before!'”

“It was just going round by word of mouth and we started to get a little following”.

Meanwhile, Liam Gallagher has revealed that his post-Oasis project will be named Beady Eyes, with their debut album due later this year.

‘Times Flies… 1994 – 2009’ is due to be released on June 14th.

Tobacco firms getting around restrictions to target women

Wellington – Tobacco companies are using at least eight ways to persuade women to smoke cigarettes, 10 years after a law women smokingrestricting advertising was introduced, a group of New Zealand researchers said Friday.

The Health Ministry said that while only 1-in-5 adult New Zealanders smokes, half of all indigenous Maori women use cigarettes regularly with negative impacts on children, including infant mortality, premature births, low birth weights, asthma and sudden infant death syndrome.

Researchers from the University of Otago and Whakauae Research for Mori Health and Development released their study ahead of Monday’s World Smokefree Day.

They said tobacco companies used female-oriented cigarette brand names such as Cameo Mild, Vogue Bleue and Topaz and packaging and colours designed to appeal to women.

Foreign fashion magazines contained cigarette advertising directed at women and girls, showing women smoking brands available in New Zealand and continued to use deceptive terms such as “light” and “mild” in online advertisements contrary to a ruling by the watchdog Commerce Commission in 2008, their study found.

The researchers said the use of words like “subtle” and “mellow” to describe brands formerly called “light” in New Zealand and menthol cigarettes were aimed at female smokers who may delay quitting because they believed they were less harmful.

Dr Heather Gifford from the Whakauae group called for tighter marketing controls pending a phase-out of all tobacco sales in 10 years.

Big Tobacco targets the world’s women

A sweeping survey of over a dozen developing countries and their attitudes towards tobacco has found that young women are increasingly being lured into the death trap that is cigarette addiction. Having successfully conquered the global male demographic, the tobacco industry is now shifting its focus to the female market with flavored brands and bright-and-shiny packaging.

I started smoking when I was 15, despite having crazy asthma, probably because kids I knew smoked, my mom smoked, and I was convinced of my own invincibility. I told myself throughout my 20’s that I would quit when I decided to have a baby, because I refused to be one of those girls with the bulging abdomen, a glass of Gallo, and a pillar of ash hanging off the end of my Pall Mall. Now I’m in my early 30’s, with no desire to have a kid, and my best-laid-plan has gone kaboom. My husband and I are on the nicotine patch, and I’ve cut my intake by 75 percent, but that last 25 percent seems like a climb that’s so uphill it’s actually Half Dome.

But I have the benefit of easy access to smoking cessation products, hotlines, free literature and support groups, and, to a lesser degree, skyrocketing tobacco prices to act as a deterrent. The women in the surveyed countries (Bangladesh, Thailand, and Uruguay among them) aren’t going to walk into Costco and buy three weeks of Nicoderm for 30 bucks. And with incredibly high numbers of male smokers in these regions, no national campaigns to guilt people into quitting, and very few restrictions on advertising and marketing, not smoking begins to lose its luster. Because despite the risks, smoking is delicious — nicotine addiction is insidious and persistent and wonderful all at once.

You might have heard about Kelly Clarkson’s run-in with tobacco marketing overseas — an Indonesian company was sponsoring her concert there, and put her face on a huge billboard with a pack of smokes; the U.S. outrage was profound and noisy. But it’s par for the course there, where advertising strategies are both audacious and cloying. We have perfected this kind of pandering in the United States, and the greediest facets of our brand of capitalism seem to have snaked their way into areas of the planet that don’t have the resources to dedicate to prevention.

By Christine Mathias

New rule prohibits tobacco sponsors

New government regulations for smokeless tobacco sponsorships couldn’t have come at a worse time for two teams. Ron Hornaday Jr. must remove Longhorn snuff from his Camping World Truck Series Chevrolet and Greg Biffle must drop RedMan from his Nationwide Series Ford by the end of June.

The Food and Drug Administration will have new rules that will further restrict the way tobacco companies can market their products. As of June 22, cigarette and smokeless tobacco sponsorships can’t be included in any athletic, musical, social, cultural or team-related event.

Kevin Harvick owns Hornaday’s truck. The team learned of the new regulations 18 months ago, but even with a head start it hasn’t been able to find a replacement.

KENTUCKY RACE ON HOLD: The Kentucky Speedway cleared its biggest hurdle in getting a Sprint Cup Series race last month when the track’s original owners dropped their anti-trust lawsuit against NASCAR. But that doesn’t mean the track located between Cincinnati and Louisville, Ky., will get a race next year.

Speedway Motorsports Inc., which bought the track in 2007, will have to make improvements to the 1.5-mile speedway, including adding seats, before it can play host to a Sprint Cup race, the company reported to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Once the work is completed, SMI still has to figure out a way to get a race. NASCAR has insisted it won’t expand the schedule, so SMI’s best option may be to move a race from one of its seven existing facilities.

New Hampshire Motor Speedway might be a prime target since local leaders there are demanding $150,000 from the track for police and emergency services for next month’s race.

BEST, WORST OF BROTHERS: Steve Addington worked with Kyle Busch last year; now he’s Kurt Busch ‘s crew chief. Between the two, he’s happier with the older, more mature Kurt.

“Well, you know, Kyle has his own personality, that’s just Kyle,” Addington said after Kurt Busch’s victory Saturday in the Sprint All-Star race. “… He’s trying. I know he’s trying and trying hard to get to where he stays a lot calmer.”

Kurt used to have a reputation for being a hothead, too. Now he’s under control, gaining the respect and admiration of the rest of his Penske Racing team.

“I think the biggest difference is, you know, being mature and being through the up-and-down seasons,” Addington said.

By Don Coble
May 26, 2010

Talking Tobacco With the FDA

Dr. Lawrence Deyton, director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products, spoke at a tobacco policy conference on Monday. Jeff Stier got a chance to participate in the conference on Tuesday. The topics included smokeless tobacco (snus) as a means of harm reduction, and the FDA’s deliberation of a ban on menthol.

“I was honored to be a discussant on a panel yesterday with Drs. Carl Phillips, Brad Rodu, Joel Nitzkin, Michael Siegel,” says ACSH’s Jeff Stier. “A key point that Dr. Phillips made strongly is that most of what the speakers said would be illegal if someone from the tobacco industry was saying it, due to how strictly smokeless tobacco companies are prohibited by the FDA tobacco legislation from making even truthful harm reduction claims.

“They also talked a bit about menthol because the FDA is starting to focus on ingredients in cigarettes. While it’s true that menthol makes cigarettes easier to smoke, banning it could have the unintended consequence of making homemade menthol cigarettes all the more desirable. The panel tried to emphasize that the most harmful aspect of cigarettes isn’t menthol; it’s the combustion of tobacco.”

ACSH’s Dr. Gilbert Ross agrees: “If you inhale burned matter 20 times a day for 10 years, I predict that you will provoke all kinds of cancers in your body. That’s why smokeless tobacco products are inherently less harmful, and smokeless tobacco companies should be allowed to say that.”

Emerging Tobacco Boom

Out of the 6.8 billion people on this planet, a whopping 1.1 billion consider themselves smokers. And despite what the Surgeon General wants you to believe, that number is rapidly growing. By 2025, an estimated 1.6 billion will be smokers — a 45% increase. Once you drill down to specifics, these stats are even more shocking.

The World Bank estimates that between 82,000–99,000 young people start smoking every day — roughly 85% from mid- or low-income countries, specifically in Asia.

Unfortunately, this trend isn’t likely to slow down in the foreseeable future. As emerging economies around the world begin to see an expanded middle class, tobacco use skyrockets.

In India, one of the fast-growing BRIC countries, 37% of all men smoke bidis, a smaller, cruder type of cigarette. About 60% of all males over age 20 smoke in China. And an incredible 80% of males in Indonesia — the world’s fourth largest population — smoke. Compare that to the 23% of the male population that smokes in the U.S.

Judging by these numbers, smoking isn’t going away anytime soon. Philip Morris Intl brought in $62 billion last year. Its former parent company, Altria, brought in $23.5 billion. And British American Tobacco saw revenue near $22 billion.

The amazing part about this story is how these companies do it – you see, in the tobacco industry there are a number of different niches, each with its own benefits for investors.

With the exception of British American Tobacco, large cigarette manufacturers are only good at two things: rolling a massive volume of cigarettes and selling them. They are usually classified under the tobacco industry, but they shouldn’t be. All these companies do is roll tobacco into cigarettes.

However, there’s not much money in tobacco farming. The industry deals with high costs, large debt loads and extreme risks. A single storm can wipe out an entire crop. That’s all of a farmer’s assets gone in a heartbeat. That’s why these massive corporations stay out of tobacco growing, for the most part.

Missouri cuts field checks on alcohol sales

A $1.3 million cut in funding for the Missouri Division of Alcohol and Tobacco Control will eliminate the agency’s ability to do field enforcement of laws designed to prevent minors from drinking or smoking.

As of June 15, the agency will cut back from 41 to 17 employees, with a single field officer stationed in five district offices, including one in Cape Girardeau, said Mike O’Connell, spokesman for the Missouri Department of Public Safety. The Southeast Missouri region from Jefferson County to the Bootheel currently has three field agents.

As a result of the cutbacks, the field agents will no longer be able to participate in efforts to check whether bars or retailers are selling drinks or tobacco to underage people. Those duties will become the responsibility of local police, which, O’Connell said, have already been handling most of the burden anyway.

The agency will continue to monitor reports from local police about incidents at bars such as fighting, after-hours sales or sales to minors, O’Connell said. Those violations will continue to result in license warnings, revocations or suspensions, he said.

“There is a difference between regulatory enforcement and criminal enforcement,” O’Connell said. “The division shares criminal enforcement with local police, and local law enforcement is doing many of these functions now.”

Cape Girardeau police chief Carl Kinnison said the cuts have been expected because of a severe drop-off in state tax receipts.

Lawmakers cut $1.4 million in state tax money from the agency’s budget, which was $2.9 million in the fiscal year that will end June 30. The alcohol enforcement agency expects to see federal funding increase by $140,000, but that is not enough to offset the cuts.

The cuts follow reductions made several years ago that limited the division’s participation in enforcing liquor and tobacco laws, Kinnison said.

“We have been accustomed to stepping up,” Kinnison said. “The levels of enforcement you counted on from the state before just aren’t there.”

Compliance checks are one of the most visible ways of enforcing liquor and tobacco laws. The division or a local agency sends minors into a bar or retailer with instructions to attempt to make a purchase but to not lie about their age or present fake identification.

Cape Girardeau has for several years been using grant money to pay officer overtime and the minors used in the compliance checks, Kinnison said. “We will continue to do some level of enforcement and anything beyond that we are just going to have to work our way through.”

The state agency had used two federal grants, one administered by the public safety department’s Juvenile Justice Program and another funded through the Missouri Department of Transportation, to pay agents overtime hours during sting operations. The money also supported “shoulder tap” enforcement, where agents ask drinkers at bars or special events to show they are 21 or older, and server training programs.

Those programs won’t go away, there just won’t be any state agents involved, O’Connell said. “ATC will work alongside these police chiefs and sheriffs on what is the best way to utilize that money,” he said.

The MoDOT program, with $300,000 available annually, will be in limbo until its rules are redesigned, said program manager Bill Whitfield. The money will now be awarded to local agencies but no decisions on how the money will be distributed have been made, he said.

“It is a little premature to say how that is going to work,” he said.

Kinnison said he needs reassurance that regulatory enforcement will continue as before. The city has been reluctant to revoke or suspend liquor licenses, preferring that the state take the lead.

“If we need to take our own initiative in the city to do that, we will,” Kinnison said.

By Rudi Keller, Southeast Missourian

Propose to Global Ban on American-Style Cigarettes

LEXINGTON, Ky.-Burley tobacco growers in the United States sounded the alarm today on proposed regulations originating out of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) that could lead to a worldwide ban on blended, American-style cigarettes that contain burley tobacco.

The rules were recommended by a Working Group of the FCTC for implementation under Articles 9 and 10 of the treaty, which has 168 signatories. Canada, Norway and the EU are spearheading the effort to eliminate American-style cigarettes from the global marketplace.

“The FCTC’s Working Group on Articles 9 and 10 have declared all out war on growers of burley tobacco,” said Roger Quarles, the president of the Burley Tobacco Growers Cooperative Association, an organization representing burley growers in several tobacco states in America. “If adopted and implemented by the signatories to the FCTC, these overly broad guidelines will decimate burley growers in the United States. This is an issue of fairness, it’s an issue of jobs, and it’s an issue of global health bureaucrats running afoul of common sense.”

Leaders of the Working Group, particularly the delegation from Canada, have attempted to confuse the media and policymakers into believing that its FCTC regulatory agenda is largely focused on ridding the marketplace of tobacco products that have candy or confectionary flavor. Banning these types of products is a laudable goal shared by tobacco growers, and is something that has been accomplished in the United States, France and Australia without imposing undue hardships on the growers of burley tobacco.

“There is absolutely no defensible health reason for the WHO to single out American-style cigarettes,” Quarles continued. “This is nothing more than a blatant attempt to confuse the public and policymakers into believing that American-style cigarettes are somehow more attractive than non-blended cigarettes, which is patently untrue. Some consumers prefer blended; some prefer flue-cured products. Both products taste like tobacco; neither leave a candy-flavored or any other characterizing taste with consumers.”

The proposed guidelines originating from the FCTC extend to all ingredients, and would for all intents and purposes, eliminate blended products from the marketplace. These proposed guidelines are now open to comment from the signatories to the FCTC.

“It is our hope that reason will prevail at the WHO,” Quarles said. “While we agree that steps should be taken to reduce youth smoking by eliminating candy-flavored tobacco products, it would be devastating to the livelihoods of tobacco farmers everywhere in the world if these misguided and overly broad regulations are adopted as part of the FCTC. Therefore we call on the US Administration, congress and other governments around the world to adopt a common sense approach and reject these irrational and potentially devastating guidelines.”

Divine cigarettes used to treat cancer

Many in the medical field might raise an eyebrow upon hearing that cigarette smoke can be good for one’s health, given the numerous findings

divine filters
Australian businessman and former diplomat Murray Clapham (left) holds a bag of “divine filters” while researcher Saraswati looks on.

relating tobacco use to an increase in the risk of cancer.

Yet an Indonesian nanochemistry scientist is treating thousands of cancer patients in her clinic with modified cigarettes.

Seventy-one-year-old Greta Zahar, who holds a PhD in nanochemistry from the Bandung-based University of Padjadjaran, has been researching and developing specially treated cigarettes and cigarette filters, which she dubs the Divine Cigarette and Divine Filter, for more than a decade. She developed a detoxification process called balur (smear) treatment, which uses smoke from Divine Cigarettes as a conduit to capture and

extract poisonous metal such as mercury from the body – a process she believes can be beneficial in treating cancer and several other diseases.

Her clinic, Griya Balur, in East Jakarta, has treated more than 30,000 patients, mostly stage three-to-four cancer sufferers, since 1998, she said. Not all patients can be helped and not all complete the full treatment. However, there are several outstanding cases in which patients in the late stages of cancer have significantly recovered after going on the treatment.

Her findings and treatment method were noted by Malang-based molecular biologist Sutiman B. Sumitro and GP Saraswati Subagjo.

The two changed from skeptics to proponents of Divine Cigarettes and the balur treatment when their spouses recovered from cancer after undergoing treatment with Greta. Since then, they have been working on bringing the science behind the Divine Cigarette and balur treatment up to date, by founding the Free Radical Disintegration Research Center. Saraswati also opened her own balur treatment clinic called Rumah Sehat (Healthy House) in 2007 in Malang.

As expected, it is difficult to take the idea of cigarettes as medical treatment into public discourse, Sutiman said. The idea contradicted the mainstream belief that tobacco use is detrimental to health, he said. Sutiman, a non-smoker, said he needed a super computer to do the research to provide solid evidence. Research funds, however, were lacking, he said.

When Australian businessman and former diplomat Murray Clapham underwent the treatment, he wrote an opinion piece in The Jakarta Post about the possibility of specially treated cigarettes as beneficial to health.

His op-ed received a flurry of comments, mostly disagreeing with his claim and assuming that Clapham was a tobacco lobbyist. In his piece, he related Greta’s findings without specifically elaborating on them. Australia’s Sydney Morning Herald newspaper also picked up the “bizarre” claim as news.Divine Filter

***

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), tobacco use is the single most important factor in the risk of cancer. It is responsible for 1.8 million cancer deaths per year. WHO also states that lung cancer kills more people than any other cancer – a trend that is expected to continue

until 2030, unless efforts to control global tobacco are greatly intensified.

In Indonesia, a country ranked as one of the top three cigarette consumers in the world with a booming tobacco industry, around 70 percent of Indonesian men older than 20 smoke and 400,000 Indonesians die each year from smoking-related illnesses, according to the WHO. Given the harmful effects of smoking, Muhammadiyah, one of Indonesia’s largest Muslim organizations, released an edict that smoking was haram

(prohibited).

The scientists explained they were not challenging the claim that commercial cigarettes were toxic.

They said they were challenging the notion that nicotine and tar had detrimental effects to people’s health. Their hypothesis is that commercial cigarettes are dangerous as they contain traces of mercury, a highly toxic metal.

Using biradical theory, Greta developed Divine Cigarettes and Divine Filters by inserting aromatic “scavengers” – substances that react with and remove particular molecules, radicals, in this case mercury. She produces her own cigarettes and filters for her clinic and has developed 38 types of cigarettes.

Greta said that mercury was safe as long as it remained in the ground, but as mining activities boomed in the 1970s more mercury rose into the air. Mercury, combined with pollution and ozone layer destruction – which creates harsher UV sunrays – becomes dangerously radioactive, she

said.

Greta said that amalgam tooth fillings, containing elements of mercury, and vaccines with mercury-based thimerosal preservatives, were important factors in the risk of cancer and autism in children.

WHO has confirmed that mercury contained in dental amalgam is the greatest source of mercury vapor in non-industrialized settings, exposing

the population to mercury levels significantly exceeding those set for food and air. There are two opposing views from scientists on whether mercury exposure from amalgam fillings causes health problems. One side says that there is not enough evidence to prove it and the other says it does have detrimental effects.

On thimerosal, the WHO’s Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety, concluded that there was currently no evidence of mercury toxicity in infants, children or adults exposed to thimerosal in vaccines.

***

The balur treatment seeks to detoxify the body of mercury, Greta said. Patients lie down on a copper table. Two clinical assistants apply oil solutions to the skin with rubbing and smacking motions to open up the pores. The assistants then fill a large rubber syringe with cigarette smoke, then cover the whole body with smoke. Then they wrap the patient in aluminum foil.

“Usually after three months of treatment, their condition significantly improves. But they still have to be careful,” she said.

***

At her clinic, Greta demonstrated how the smoke entered the body. She filled the rubber syringe with smoke, positioned it on her head and pushed out the smoke so it covered the skin, entering the pores.

She repeated the process on the forearm of patient Ala Sulistyono. The smoke entered Ala’s forearm and left a flaky brown residue.

Nicotine is a chemical compound that is miscible with water and easily penetrates the skin. She said that the smoke could reduce the amount of toxins inside the body into nanoscale and extract them from the body.

***

Ala, who was diagnosed with stage three liver cancer in 2008 and was given around six to eight months to live, said that her health had

significantly improved after following the treatment. It has been 21 months since her diagnosis, Ala said.

She added that the process was not pleasant, but that it worked for her. She continues to have blood tests and CT scans to document her improvement and she sends the results to Sutiman in Malang.

Lung specialist from the University of Indonesia Ahmad Hudoyo said that new breakthroughs in medical treatment should undergo

evidence-based research. He said that they needed to be experimented with on animals and cell cultures before being tried on humans. “If there is no evidence, doctors cannot suggest it,” he said. “What’s important is the research should be transparent and be reviewed by other scientists,” he said.

Sutiman aims to undertake more research on Divine Cigarettes and its possible health benefits, as well as seek funding. He said that

long and thorough research, as well as much more evidence was needed before they could publish their findings in international science journals for peer-review.

Greta, however, was not interested in seeking acknowledgment from international scientists. She said the findings in her 13-year PhD research on bi-radical development had not been given any consideration.

“I say that’s a waste of time [seeking acknowledgement from international scientists],” she said. “What’s my purpose? I want to help people. Do I need to announce that everywhere?

“Do we need proof from abroad that this country is special? If people consider you as tempeh, that’s good enough,” she said, lashing out on the Western medical sector’s perception of Indonesian scientists.

“Pak [Su]Timan has assumed a role the international community will accept,” she said of Sutiman’s approach. She said that she only laughed when she heard Clapham wrote an op-ed that provoked many comments. “I say to him, ‘Take that!’ but I also say ‘I am proud of you because you’re brave to set a fire.’”

Prodita Sabarini, The Jakarta Post

Small tobacco-makers get a break

Renegade Holdings Inc. received some breathing room last week — at least for the short term — regarding its cigarette brands.

In a case that could affect at least 520 Triad employees of smaller tobacco manufacturers, a U.S. District Court judge approved a stay Wednesday that prevents the Food and Drug Administration from enforcing a rule it adopted March 19.

The rule does not allow a manufacturer to use a brand name it began marketing after Jan. 1, 1995, if that name is also used as a brand by another company for a nontobacco product.

The FDA planned to begin enforcing the rule June 22. FDA officials could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Examples include Renegade’s Tuscon, Tracker and Barton brands — all registered as trademarks after September 2004. In addition to the cigarette brands, there is an automobile brand named Tuscon, a handheld computer for playing bingo called Tracker, and an alcoholic beverage called Barton.

Such tobacco brands would be considered as “misbranded” by the government, with products subject to seizure and destruction. There also could be civil and criminal penalties against manufacturers and sellers of those products.

“This was a major victory for our little company against the FDA’s heavy-handed control of the industry,” Mike Mebane, the president of Renegade, said yesterday. Seneca-Cayuga Tobacco Co. of Oklahoma joined Renegade in the lawsuit, filed May 7.

Renegade has 140 employees in Mocksville.

Also affected is General Tobacco Co., with 120 employees in Mayodan, and Commonwealth Brands Inc., with about 260 employees in Reidsville.

Congress denied a similar regulatory effort by the FDA in 1996, saying that the agency did not have oversight over tobacco. After the FDA was given that oversight last year, it essentially revived its 1996 regulation.

Renegade said it could face claims of $3.5 million for goods that could be designated as misbranded. It also would be forced to write off $1.2 million in finished goods and raw materials.

“These factors will force Renegade to stop doing business and close its doors,” the company said.

The vast majority of cigarette brands used by Philip Morris USA, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. and Lorillard Inc. debuted before Jan. 1, 1995 — thus they are not subject to the rule.

However, for most manufacturers not participating in the initial Master Settlement Agreement, their brands debuted after that date. The plaintiffs said that the regulation, if permitted, should be enforceable after March 19, 2010, not Jan. 1, 1995, thus not giving the major manufacturers a competitive advantage by limiting, if not eliminating, the product mix of many discounters.

Mebane said that “it would take an impossible amount of time and cost to attempt to obtain the regulatory approvals necessary to introduce a new brand. There are so many road blocks that regulators would erect that I doubt you would ever get one approved.”

The judge requested that the FDA consider amending the rule. If the FDA chooses to enforce the original or amended regulation, it must give Renegade 90 days notice of its action.

Casey Francis, a spokeswoman for Commonwealth, said that the company “would like to think that the industry as a whole will receive a notice of 90 days before the FDA commences on any action.”

“However, it is one month away, and we still have heard nothing.” Francis said.

By Richard Craver
Journalow, May 25, 2010

Health dep’t issues ultimatum to Philippine tobacco firms

THE HEALTH DEPARTMENT has thrown down the gauntlet to tobacco companies over a recently issued order requiring the samples of graphic health warnings tobacco products incorporation of graphic health warnings on cigarette packs.

In a press conference in Taguig City, Health Secretary Esperanza I. Cabral yesterday said the labeling directive, contained in Administrative Order (AO) 2010-0013 issued last May 12, is scheduled to take effect June 9 after publication in newspapers today.

“Tobacco product packages that do not comply with this order shall be prohibited after 90 days from the effectivity of this order,” AO 2010-0013 read. “Non-compliant products must be withdrawn no later than such date.”

“Absolutely no extensions of time to comply with the provisions of this order shall be granted to tobacco manufacturers or any other affected party,” the order read further.

The Philippine Tobacco Institute, in apparent anticipation of the announcement yesterday, said in a statement over the weekend that such an order violates Republic Act (RA) 9211, or the Tobacco Regulation Act of 2003, which set specifications for, among others, printed warnings on cigarette packs. The group cited Section 13 of that law, which said “No other printed warning, except the health warning and the message required in this section…shall be placed on cigarette packages.”

But Ms. Cabral said in a phone interview that AO 13 is pursuant to the Philippines’ ratification in 2005 of the World Health Organization-initiated Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). Thus, she said, FCTC “superceded” RA 9211.

“Our legal department and lawyer groups advised us that we have the mandate to issue this administrative order without violating any law. We expected these objections, but we stand by our mandate,” Ms. Cabral said.

She added that she had consulted with the other members of the Inter-Agency Committee-Tobacco (IAC-Tobacco), which RA 9211 formed to implement the law and of which the Health department is vice-chairman. “I had a meeting with DA (Department of Agriculture) Secretary [Bernie G. Fondevilla] and DTI (Department of Trade and Industry) Secretary [Jesli A.] Lapus and they were very supportive of the administrative order; in particular, because it is based on an international treaty, thus, a law of the land. So we have to comply.” Ms. Cabral said.

Neither Mr. Lapus nor Mr. Fondevilla were immediately available for comment.

The other members of the IAC-Tobacco are the departments of Justice, of Education, of Science and Technology, and of Environment and Natural Resources, the National Tobacco Administration, as well as a representative each of the tobacco industry and of a nongovernment organization involved in public health promotion nominated by the Health department.

In the briefing, Ms. Cabral said the department has drawn up eight picture warning variations for use by tobacco firms.

The pictures, to be alternately used within a 24-month period, will be displayed prominently on each packet or package, occupying at least 30% of the front panel and 60% of the back panel “in a manner that ensures maximum visibility.”

Ms. Cabral showed to media sample images that include a child suffering from asthma, patients suffering from several forms of cancer, an infected foot and a person suffering from heart attack.

Aside from the graphic label, the order also prohibits the use of “misleading descriptors” such as “low tar,” “ultra-light,” “mild,” “extra,” “ultra.”

Also banned are product claims such as “reduced levels” of content, substance and emission, as well a figures for emission yields for tar, nicotine and carbon monoxide.

The order also requires tobacco manufacturers, importers and/or exporters to bear the labeling cost.

As a way to kick the habit, Mr. Cabral said: “We’d love for these companies to pass on the costs of labeling to consumers. It would serve as an additional deterrent to stop them from buying these goods.”

She noted that taxes collected by the government from tobacco products reach P30 billion a year, but this pales in comparison to annual health expenses for smoking-related diseases and ailments worth at least P200 billion.

Executives of tobacco firms could not be reached for comment yesterday. – MGMG

U.S. Supreme Court lets theater smoking ban stand

The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to review what has been called the first state court decision upholding the extension of a smoking ban to theatrical performances.

smoking in theater

“We’re certainly disappointed, but not surprised,” said petitioner Chip Walton, founder of Denver’s Curious Theatre. He’s lost at every judicial level since his four-year campaign began.

Most recently, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled 6-1 in December that the state’s ban on smoking extended to actors onstage. It ruled that public health trumps freedom of expression. Theater companies had argued that smoke that lingers on stage is crucial to set a mood, develop character or establish a time period.

“There are very apparent misconceptions about the role of smoking vis a vis freedom of expression,” said Walton. “Smoking has become such a hot-button issue that I think people have been blinded to the very well-founded argument that we feel we have.”

The Colorado ruling pointed out that of 24 states with indoor smoking bans, 12 have exemptions, or exemptions on a case-by-case basis, for theatrical performances. Walton wonders why a practice that is commonplace in other states, including New York, can be considered criminal behavior in another.

“My hope is that our efforts may perhaps one day be seen as the opening salvo on an issue that gains attention into the future,” said Walton, “because clearly the Supreme Court isn’t ready to hear it at this point in time.”

Attorney General John Suthers, who defended the law in state courts, agreed with the high court’s decision.

“The Colorado Supreme Court’s December decision, upholding the Colorado Clean Indoor Air Act in the context of theaters, was well reasoned in upholding the law,” Suthers said. “Although the Curious Theatre case would have been fascinating to argue at the U.S. Supreme Court, I am pleased that the justices have declined to hear this case.”

No other top state court had ruled on a similar issue at the time of Colorado Supreme Court decision.

The fight, thought to have the potential to affect bans in other states, drew both national attention and support from theatrical and civil-rights groups such as the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression, the Dramatists Guild of America and the American Civil Liberties Union.

Walton said he hoped that despite the rejection by the federal court, his case could be an opening salvo for theaters elsewhere facing similar restrictions.

“Maybe we just started the volley in an ongoing issue that will gain some mom out of our efforts,” he said. “It takes a while to get an issue into the public consciousness.”

By John Moore and Jessica Fender
The Denver Post, 24 Mai, 2010

Retail lobby group “backed by big tobacco”

A lobby group of small retailers protesting the Government’s tobacco price hike is receiving public relations support from Imperial cigarettes butsTobacco, the tobacco giant told a select committee last week.

The Association of Community Retailers (ACR), set up late last month, had earlier rejected suggestions it was backed by tobacco cash and said it was entirely funded from its members.

The ACR shared a postal address with Omeka Public Relations, whose managing director, Glenn Inwood, also represented Imperial Tobacco and Japan’s Institute of

Cetacean Research through another PR company, blogger Keith Ng revealed.

Mr Inwood said earlier this month the ACR received no funding from tobacco companies or himself but purely from members’ subscriptions.

“It’s running off the smell of an oily rag.”

One of the ACR’s coordinators, Denielle Boulieris, told another blogger, Rory McKinnon, earlier this month that the association does not have a relationship with tobacco companies.

But Imperial Tobacco’s New Zealand sales and marketing director, Tony Meirs, last week told a Maori Affairs select committee the company was providing the ACR with public relations resources through Omeka Public Relations.

Meirs told the select committee the company wanted to support retailers in speaking out about regulations that would damage their business viability, according to a transcript provided to McKinnon.

“This is our way of helping those retailers protect their business against unnecessary regulations that will be ineffective. We’re helping them to develop a voice,” Meirs said.

He told the select committee he did not know the value of the public relations support Imperial Tobacco was providing, and was unable to say whether Imperial Tobacco would be better off if the ACR achieved its aims.

“I don’t know, because whether Imperial Tobacco would be financially better off or not depends on how we compete in the marketplace, how we compete for adult smokers. So it’s just, the two just aren’t linked,” he said.

“I support the position of those retailers wanting to develop a voice, wanting to put their argument forward to protect their businesses from unnecessary regulation.”

ACR founding member Richard Green, who ran a tobacconist business in Palmerston North, told NZPA earlier this month the ACR grew out of the former Stay Displays coalition of retailers, a coalition that formed to fight a proposed ban on displaying tobacco products for sale.

ACR would speak for retailers on a wider range of subjects affecting retailers, such as security, sale of alcohol and confectionary, and was set up with the help of

Mr Inwood, who had also worked on the Stay Displays campaign.

Green said the sole funding for the ACR so far came from its members. It had employed two part time coordinators but it had yet to figure out how they would be funded, as it was still early days.

Increases wholesale prices on smokeless brands

RICHMOND, Va. — Altria Group Inc., the largest U.S. tobacco company, has announced to its trade customers a list price increasesmokeless tobacco of 10 cents per tin on each of its smokeless brands including the recently launched Copenhagen Long-Cut Wintergreen, according to a note to investors by UBS Investment Research analyst Nik Modi.

The list price on Copenhagen Long-Cut Wintergreen goes from $1.45 to $1.55 (a 6% increase), and the base Copenhagen and Skoal list prices go from $2.39 to $2.49 (4% increases). Husky list prices remained the same at $1.55, he said.

“We believe that share gains in MST [moist smokeless tobacco] remain Altria’s priority, as the company has stated on numerous occasions that they are targeting MST growth in-line with the overall category (6% to 7%). Altria’s decision to take price—even on their primary share vehicle in Cope WG—could be a sign that overall MST trends have been better than expected,” wrote Modi.

He added, “We expect Reynolds to follow Altria’s pricing actions in smokeless shortly, with Kodiak and Grizzly.”

Altria raised prices on all 18 of its cigarette brands on May 10. Altria’s Philip Morris USA division will charge wholesalers eight cents a pack more for Marlboro, Virginia Slims and other brands, said David Sylvia, a spokesperson for the company.

Richmond, Va.-based Altria held its 2010 Annual Meeting of Shareholders last week, the company said. Chairman and CEO Michael E. Szymanczyk said Altria used its mission and values framework to manage through last year’s challenging environment. Altria said it expects the first half of 2010 to be more challenging for income growth comparison purposes than the back half of 2010.

And he expressed confidence yesterday that the nation’s largest tobacco company can defend itself against a wave of smoker lawsuits in Florida, added a report by The Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Altria is “bullish” that it can successfully fight thousands of lawsuits filed in Florida against cigarette companies, Szymanczyk said.

“Litigation is part of this business,” he said after one shareholder, lawyer and tobacco-control advocate Edward L. Sweda Jr., asked whether the company would reconsider its practice of refusing to settle lawsuits, considering the scope of the cases in Florida.

About 9,500 individual claims have been filed in state and federal courts since the Florida Supreme Court decertified a statewide $145 billion class-action lawsuit in 2006.

Lawsuits against the company “remain a challenge,” Szymanczyk said. “But if you look at the past decade, the company has had success defending its shareholders’ interests.”

Last week, a Duval County, Fla., jury today ruled in favor of PM USA in a lawsuit filed by the family of a smoker following a 2006 Florida Supreme Court decision that decertified a class action but allowed former class members to file individual lawsuits.

“We believe that the jury correctly decided that the plaintiff failed to prove her case,” said Murray Garnick, Altria Client Services senior vice president and associate general counsel, speaking on behalf of PM USA.

At trial, the court allowed the jury to rely on general findings made in the decertified class action that are totally unrelated to the plaintiff in this case.

“The jury reached the correct result despite the fact that the trial court adopted an unfair trial plan that eliminated any requirement that the plaintiff prove that PM USA did anything wrong to recover damages,” said Garnick. “Each federal trial court that has reviewed the trial plan used in these state cases has found that they violate Florida law and are unconstitutional.”

About 4000 Engle-related claims are pending in federal court and have been put on hold pending a federal appeals court review of the state-law and constitutional issues that arise from allowing the plaintiff to rely on prior Engle jury findings.

The case is Gil de Rubio v. PM USA, et. al.

Of the Florida cases that have gone to trial, verdicts in seven lawsuits have gone against PM USA, according to the Times-Dispatch, citing company’s most recent quarterly report.

Meanwhile, Szymanczyk said Altria is seeking to work with the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) as the agency implements new regulations on tobacco products. Altria supported the legislation passed by Congress last year.

One of the company’s critics at the meeting questioned why Altria, in March, sought to remove four of the 12 members of a scientific advisory board that is studying issues such as the health effects of menthol cigarettes. “It seems there is a contradiction, when the company is trying to get rid of people who are concerned about public health and advising the FDA,” said Reverend Michael Crosby, a priest and tobacco-control activist from Milwaukee.

In its request to the FDA, Altria argued that the four panel members had conflicts of interest, including having served as paid experts for plaintiffs in lawsuits against tobacco companies. The FDA denied the company’s request to remove them from the board, said the report.

“We are participating” in the FDA’s regulatory process, Szymanczyk told about 130 shareholders who attended the meeting at the Greater Richmond Convention Center. “And part of participating involves representing shareholder interests.”

Altria directly or indirectly owns 100% of each of PM USA, U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Co., John Middleton, Ste. Michelle Wine Estates and Philip Morris Capital Corp. PM USA cigarette brands include Marlboro, Alpine, Basic, Benson & Hedges, Bristol, Cambridge, Chesterfield, Commander, Dave’s, English Ovals, Lark, L&M, Merit, Parliament, Players, Saratoga and Virginia Slims.. Moist smokeless tobacco brands include Copenhagen, Cope, Copenhagen Pouches, Skoal, Skoal Bandits, Skoal Pouches, Red Seal and Husky. Cigar brands include Black & Mild, Middleton’s, Gold & Mild and Prince Alberts. F

Tobacco giant backs retail protest

A lobby group of small retailers protesting the Government’s tobacco price hike is receiving public relations support from Imperial Tobacco, the tobacco giant told a select committee last week.

The Association of Community Retailers (ACR), set up late last month, had earlier rejected suggestions it was backed by tobacco cash and said it was entirely funded from its members.

The ACR shared a postal address with Omeka Public Relations, whose managing director, Glenn Inwood, also represented Imperial Tobacco and Japan’s Institute of Cetacean Research through another PR company, blogger Keith Ng revealed.

Mr Inwood said earlier this month the ACR received no funding from tobacco companies or himself but purely from members’ subscriptions.

“It’s running off the smell of an oily rag.”

One of the ACR’s coordinators, Denielle Boulieris, told another blogger, Rory McKinnon, earlier this month that the association does not have a relationship with tobacco companies.

But Imperial Tobacco’s New Zealand sales and marketing director, Tony Meirs, last week told a Maori Affairs select committee the company was providing the ACR with public relations resources through Omeka Public Relations.

Mr Meirs told the select committee the company wanted to support retailers in speaking out about regulations that would damage their business viability, according to a transcript provided to Mr McKinnon.

“This is our way of helping those retailers protect their business against unnecessary regulations that will be ineffective. We’re helping them to develop a voice,” Mr Meirs said.

He told the select committee he did not know the value of the public relations support Imperial Tobacco was providing, and was unable to say whether Imperial Tobacco would be better off if the ACR achieved its aims.

“I don’t know, because whether Imperial Tobacco would be financially better off or not depends on how we compete in the marketplace, how we compete for adult smokers. So it’s just, the two just aren’t linked,” he said.

“I support the position of those retailers wanting to develop a voice, wanting to put their argument forward to protect their businesses from unnecessary regulation.”

ACR founding member Richard Green, who ran a tobacconist business in Palmerston North, told NZPA earlier this month the ACR grew out of the former Stay Displays coalition of retailers, a coalition that formed to fight a proposed ban on displaying tobacco products for sale.

ACR would speak for retailers on a wider range of subjects affecting retailers, such as security, sale of alcohol and confectionary, and was set up with the help of Mr Inwood, who had also worked on the Stay Displays campaign.

Mr Green said the sole funding for the ACR so far came from its members. It had employed two part time coordinators but it had yet to figure out how they would be funded, as it was still early days.

Curious Where Cigarette Tax Money Goes

BOSTON – Smoking is one of the most dangerous and addictive things you can do, and stopping is one of toughest. That’s why getting smokers to quit, and keeping kids from ever starting, is crucial. It is important not only for them, but for everybody who pays higher health costs to care for people with smoking related illnesses.

Despite that, money for anti-smoking programs has gone down in Massachusetts, while state taxes on cigarettes bring in hundreds of millions of dollars.

Cyndy from Mansfield Declared her Curiosity:

I’m curious where the tax money on cigarettes goes?”

Mary from Centerville asked:

“How much is being used for anti-smoking programs?”

The answer is – not much.

HOW MUCH MONEY?

Massachusetts has one of the highest cigarette taxes in the country – $2.51 on every pack. Last year that meant $562 million in state revenue. The big tobacco settlement brought in another $315 million. However, out of the nearly $900 million the state took in from cigarette taxes and settlement funds, lawmakers dedicated only $4.5 million to anti-smoking programs this year.

“Right now the program is funded at less than 1% of what the state brings in in tobacco revenue,” said Russet Morrow Breslau, the head of Tobacco Free Mass, a consortium of health groups.

WHERE THE MONEY GOES

Almost all of that revenue goes into the state’s general fund. Not a penny is earmarked for anti-smoking, so the state’s Tobacco Cessation and Prevention Program is funded at whatever level lawmakers decide.

The last time state cigarette taxes increased was two years ago. The tax went up by a dollar a pack. While that money did not go directly to anti-smoking efforts, it is earmarked to help pay for the state’s health insurance program.

“If you’re going to increase prices on cigarettes and tobacco products you need to use that money to help people quit smoking,” said Breslau.

A number of years ago the state did just that. For example, in 2000 Massachusetts spent $54 million on anti-smoking programs. Back then the state was a national model. But tough financial times caused the legislature to use that money for other needs.

“You can’t balance the budget on the backs of smokers,” Breslau said.

FLUCTUATING FUNDING

Funding for the state’s anti-tobacco program fluctuates. It was down to about $2 million a few years ago, and then increased bit-by-bit until it went up to nearly $13 million last year. But the recession and lowered income tax collections caused the legislature to cut $8 million to this year’s $4.5 million level.

“We are doing everything we can with our limited resources to provide them the help they need,” says Lois Keithly, PhD, the head of the state’s Tobacco Cessation and Prevention Program.

FUNDING TO REBOUND?

She points out that the state’s smoking rate has come down and is hopeful that by using their reduced resources wisely they can keep the rate from going the other way. Keithly also said she hopes that funding will increase along with an improved economy.

“We’re hopeful that when the funds become more available that we will be first in line to get additional funds,” she said. “I’m not sure there’s a better investment.”

That’s a feeling shared by Breslau.

“Our hope is that incrementally we increase funding to the program over the next several years. We’re not looking for all the money that comes into the state to go to the tobacco control program.”

Breslau estimates that a $25 million budget would create a strong program, but that’s $20 million more than is being spent today.

By David Wade
May 21, 2010

Tobacco contracts cut: Less supply needed with U.S. demand down

tobacco farmer
CYNTHIANA, Ky. – After years of faithfully supplying leaf to tobacco giant Philip Morris International, farmer Jess Burrier received a postcard thanking him for his contributions and telling him his service wasn’t needed this year.

“They were very courteous, but a Dear John letter’s still a Dear John letter,” said Burrier, who has seen the amount of tobacco he grows under contract shrivel from about 600,000 pounds two years ago to 20,000 pounds this year with another leaf buyer.

Kentucky, the nation’s top producer of burley tobacco, a common ingredient in cigarettes, could lose a fourth of its contracts this year, said Will Snell, a University of Kentucky agricultural economist specializing in tobacco. Many contracts also have been lost in North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia as smoking continues to decline in the U.S.

U.S. farmers also are seeing more competition from overseas as worldwide burley production has grown in the past two years, Snell said. And, a 2009 federal law giving the Food and Drug Administration broad power to regulate tobacco has added to cigarette makers’ uncertainty, making them even more conservative about purchasing, he said.

The cutbacks mean farmers who’ve lost contracts might not be able to pay mortgages, and rural communities could lose jobs and income as farmers have less money to spend.

Some top tobacco companies acknowledged cutting contracts but wouldn’t say by how much.

“When volumes go down, you don’t need as much leaf across the board to manufacture the product,” said David Sutton, a spokesman for Altria Group Inc. – parent of Philip Morris USA, the nation’s top cigarette maker, which produces the Matlboro online. But even with cutbacks, he said Altria will buy leaf valued at more than $100 million this year from thousands of Kentucky burley and dark tobacco farmers.

R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. spokesman David Howard said the nation’s second-largest cigarette maker, whose brands include Camel and Pall Mall, is buying less burley through contracts because U.S. cigarette sales have dropped with higher excise taxes and smoking restrictions.

“We are simply doing what any business would have to do, and that’s keeping supplies in line with demand,” Howard said.

Philip Morris International, which is no longer tied to Philip Morris USA, also is buying less Kentucky burley this year, company spokeswoman Monica Montero confirmed.

The amount of contracted tobacco may plunge by 40 percent this year in Breckinridge County in western Kentucky, said Carol Hinton, the county’s agricultural extension agent. The reduction could cost growers about $2 million overall, based on a conservative 2,000-pound-per-acre yield, she said.

“Every day, people were calling saying, ‘I lost my pounds,’ ” Hinton said. “It was a month there that was just true heartache for people.”

In North Carolina, the biggest tobacco state, contracts for flue-cured tobacco, another cigarette ingredient, are down about 10 percent from last year, said Peter Daniel of the state Farm Bureau.

North Carolina farmers have known this would be a lean year since December, when Phillip Morris International closed a receiving station in Lenoir County, the heart of eastern North Carolina tobacco country. That left farmers stuck with about 25 million pounds of tobacco, although Japan Tobacco Inc. later bought some of it, Daniel said.

In Tennessee, some producers with contracts say it’s increasingly difficult to live with the terms.

John Rose, 45, a tobacco farmer in northern Middle Tennessee who has a Phillip Morris International contract, now must take his burley to Glasgow, Ky., a four-hour round trip, after a nearby receiving station closed.

Some Kentucky farmers without contracts still lean toward planting tobacco, which they could sell at a limited number of auctions.

“That really scares me,” said Gary Carter, the ag extension agent in Harrison County. “It’s an unknown. They’re going to be at the mercy of whatever someone wants to give them.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported in late March that farmers in all the burley states combined intended to plant 97,800 acres, 4 percent less than a year ago.

Burrier, 52, said he’ll scale back from 110 acres of tobacco last year to 12 acres. Just two years ago, he planted 200 acres on his farm just outside Cynthiana, about 30 miles northeast of Lexington.

“This is the least amount of tobacco that I have ever raised on this farm,” said Burrier, who traces his family’s tobacco-growing heritage back a century.

The small contract won’t pay his mortgage, and the money he invested in tobacco setters and sprayers will largely go to waste. In the fall, he’ll only need two of his 15 tobacco barns for curing leaf; he’ll rent a few others to farmers who snagged larger contracts.

Still, Burrier doesn’t hold any grudges with Philip Morris International. Having prepared for this day, he has a sod business and grain production to fall back on, although he likely won’t earn as much without the tobacco contract.

“Philip Morris (International) is doing what they should do as a business,” Burrier said. “They’re taking care of their stockholders. If they did any differently, they wouldn’t be in business.”

By BRUCE SCHREINER
Knoxnews, May 22, 2010

Altria to raise prices on smokeless tobacco brands like Copenhagen

RICHMOND, Va. – Cigarette maker Altria Group Inc. plans to raise prices on its U.S. smokeless tobacco brands like Copenhagen, Skoal and Red Seal.

For most brands the increase will be 10 cents a can, which cost on average $4.15 each at retail.

Bill Phelps, a spokesman for the Richmond, Va., company, said Friday the company is always evaluating its strategies, when asked the reasons for the price increase.

Earlier this month, the company’s Philip Morris USA announced it would raise its price of 8 cents a pack on most cigarette brands, such as Marlboro brand. Packs of Marlboro have an average retail price of $5.42, he said.

Stifel Nicolaus analyst Christopher Growe said in a note earlier this week the price increase for cigarettes was above his estimates.

“We believe this pricing is fully justified in the context of the strong market share performances of the premium brands of late,” he said, citing Marlboro.

He said sales volume likely won’t be affected even though consumers are still challenged by economics and tax increases on cigarettes.

Growe rates the stock a “buy” with a $22 target price.

Shares of Altria rose 20 cents to $20.87 in late trading Friday.

Meeting of the Tobacco Constituents Subcommittee of TPSAC

DATE: May 12, 2010

FROM: Director, Center for Tobacco Products, FDA

TO: Tobacco Product Constituents Subcommittee of the Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee (TPSAC)

SUBJECT: June 8-9, 2010 Meeting of the Tobacco Constituents Subcommittee of TPSAC

Thank you for your participation in the upcoming meeting of the Tobacco Product Constituents Subcommittee of the Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee (TPSAC), June 8-9, 2010. This will be the first of two Subcommittee meetings where information regarding harmful and potentially harmful constituents in tobacco products and tobacco smoke will be presented and discussed. The findings of the Subcommittee will be presented at a future meeting of the TPSAC for review, discussion and recommendations to the Agency regarding establishment of an initial list of harmful and potentially harmful constituents in tobacco products and tobacco smoke. For the initial list the Subcommittee will focus on consideration of substances previously identified as harmful on example lists developed by some countries, the Hoffmann analyte list, and the World Health Organization (WHO) including the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). Subsequent to the establishment of an initial list of harmful and potentially harmful constituents in tobacco products and tobacco smoke, FDA intends to undertake a comprehensive examination of constituents in tobacco products and tobacco smoke, and develop criteria to revise the list as appropriate.

The June Subcommittee meeting will focus on several example lists (listed below), the criteria (as available) used in developing these lists, and availability of established methodologies to quantify the substances on these example lists. The Subcommittee is tasked to evaluate this information and determine what criteria are most appropriate for the initial list FDA is required to establish, to develop an initial list of harmful or potentially harmful constituents using the example lists as a basis for discussion, and begin to identify established methodologies that could be used to quantify the constituents identified as appropriate for the FDA list. Discussion of methodologies will be continued, as needed, at the second Subcommittee meeting.

Enclosed is the background package for the June Subcommittee meeting. This memo summarizes the contents of the background package and, most importantly, the key issues for discussion at the meeting.

Key issues for discussion during the meeting:

Synthesize the information from the example lists to determine what criteria are most appropriate for establishment of an initial list of harmful and potentially harmful constituents as required by section 904(e) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act;

Develop an initial proposed list of harmful and potentially harmful constituents.

Begin to discuss and develop a list of established methodologies for the constituents on the initial list of harmful and potentially harmful constituents.
We look forward to your expert comments about harmful and potential harmful constituents in tobacco products and tobacco smoke.

Reynolds tobacco tops list for board diversity

The most diverse corporate board in North Carolina is at a company that sells tobacco, which has long been thought of as a Reynolds American Inc.male-dominated industry.

But Reynolds American Inc., based in Winston-Salem and run for the past six years by chief executive Susan Ivey, has a board where half the members are women are minorities. That’s a far higher percentage than most other N.C. companies, according to a study released today by the UNC School of Law.

According to the study, which is part of the school’s Director Diversity Initiative, N.C. companies are lagging the Fortune 100 when it comes to putting women and minorities on their boards. The study, which examined the 50 largest companies headquartered in North Carolina, found that 12 percent of the corporate board members were women, and 7 percent were minorities. Each of those measures are up about 1 percentage point from the last survey, in 2006. But they’re below the average for Fortune 100 companies, which have about 17 percent female board members and about 15 percent minority board members, the UNC study said. UNC gave kudos to the 16 N.C. companies whose boards were at least one-quarter women or minorities, with Reynolds at the top of the list. Charlotte-based Piedmont Natural Gas Company Inc., Family Dollar Stores Inc., SPX Corp., Bank of America Corp., Polymer Group Inc. and Goodrich were also recognized.

Eleven of the N.C. companies had no women or minorities on their board, including five that are based in the Charlotte area: EnPro Industries Inc., Sonic Automotive Inc., Polypore International Inc., Cato Corp. and Speedway Motorsports Inc.

UNC’s Director Diversity Initiative also holds training programs on board diversity and maintains a database of potential board candidates.

By Christina Rexrode
May. 20, 2010

Senecas defend right to sell tax-free tobacco

WEST SENECA – After a ceremony this morning to commemorate a 168-year-old treaty, Seneca Nation officials defended their right to sell tobacco products tax-free despite new federal legislation banning tobacco shipment by mail.

Tribe council chairman Richard E. Nephew acknowledged tobacco is not the greatest commodity to try to build an economy around but said the Treaty of Canandaigua and Buffalo Creek Treaty clearly define the nation’s right to do so.

“We’re not defending tobacco use,” he said after the ceremony at the Burchfield Nature and Art Center. “We’re defending our right to have an economy in our territory. The Canandaigua Treaty promises us fair use enjoyment of our land. We take that to mean govern ourselves, the right to prosper, the right to engage in activities that benefit our people.”

The Buffalo News reported last week that members of the Seneca Nation held a large banner along President Obama’s route during his visit to Buffalo criticizing him for signing the legislation.

Leslie Logan, communications director for the Senecas, recalled traveling to Washington to attend Obama’s inauguration in the hope that Indians everywhere had “a new and different president.” But when Obama signed the anti-tobacco legislation that affected the Senecas more than any other native community, Logan said, she felt “disappointed and dismayed.”

Seneca and state and local officials gather each year at this site along the Buffalo Creek to commemorate the 1842 treaty, which the tribe honored in 2004 by placing a stone and plaque (pictured above) along the creek. This morning’s event included speeches and the Faithkeepers School Singers and Iroquois Legion Drums.

“We come here every year to tell the world that we remember the pacts with state and federal government and to help remember those important guarantees,” said Nephew.

By Joseph Popiolkowski
Buffalonews, May 20, 2010

Altria bullish on lawsuit outlook

Altria Group Inc.’s top executive expressed confidence yesterday that the nation’s largest tobacco company can defend itself Altriaagainst a wave of smoker lawsuits in Florida.

He also defended the company’s recent attempt to remove four members of a mostly government-appointed scientific board that will advise the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on its new regulatory authority over tobacco products.

Henrico County-based Altria is “bullish” that it can successfully fight thousands of lawsuits filed in Florida against cigarette companies, Michael E. Szymanczyk, the company’s chairman and chief executive officer, said at the company’s annual meeting yesterday.

Altria is the parent company of cigarette maker Philip Morris USA, smokeless tobacco maker U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Co., cigar manufacturer John Middleton Inc. and wine producer Ste. Michelle Wine Estates.

“Litigation is part of this business,” Szymanczyk said after one shareholder, lawyer and tobacco-control advocate Edward L. Sweda Jr., asked whether the company would reconsider its practice of refusing to settle lawsuits, considering the scope of the cases in Florida.

About 9,500 individual claims have been filed in state and federal courts since the Florida Supreme Court decertified a statewide $145 billion class-action lawsuit in 2006.

Lawsuits against the company “remain a challenge,” Szymanczyk said. “But if you look at the past decade, the company has had success defending its shareholders’ interests.”

For instance, Philip Morris said Wednesday that a jury in Duval County, Fla., returned a verdict in favor of the company in a lawsuit filed by the family of a smoker. Of the Florida cases that have gone to trial, verdicts in seven lawsuits have gone against Philip Morris USA, according to the company’s most recent quarterly report.

Yesterday, a jury in Fort Lauderdale ordered R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., the No. 2 U.S. cigarette company, to pay $29.1 million to the widow of a Florida man who started smoking at age 13 and died of lung disease in 2008 at age 80.

Szymanczyk said the company is seeking to work with the FDA as the agency implements new regulations on tobacco products. Altria supported the legislation passed by Congress last year.

Yet one of the company’s critics at the meeting questioned why Altria, in March, sought to remove four of the 12 members of a scientific advisory board that is studying issues such as the health effects of menthol cigarettes.

“It seems there is a contradiction, when the company is trying to get rid of people who are concerned about public health and advising the FDA,” said Rev. Michael Crosby, a priest and tobacco-control activist from Milwaukee.

In its request to the FDA, Altria argued that the four panel members had conflicts of interest, including having served as paid experts for plaintiffs in lawsuits against tobacco companies. The FDA denied the company’s request to remove them from the board.

“We are participating” in the FDA’s regulatory process, Szymanczyk told about 130 shareholders who attended the meeting at the Greater Richmond Convention Center. “And part of participating involves representing shareholder interests.”

JOHN REID BLACKWELL
TIMES-DISPATCH, May 21, 2010

Age is in the eye of the filmgoer

Russell Crowe

Russell Crowe stars in a scene from "Robin Hood."

“Robin Hood,” one of the biggest movies in America right now, is all about how Robin got his start. He begins as an archer, and by the finish, he has just begun his life in the Sherwood Forest. He has assembled his men, but he has not yet stolen anything from the rich or given a scrap to the poor. Everything is ahead of him. And he’s played by Russell Crowe, who is 46 years old.

Now go back to 1976, to “Robin and Marian.” Robin Hood returns from the wars, his glory days behind him. He’s beginning to feel his advancing years, and Maid Marian lives in a convent. Everything, or just about everything, is behind him. And he was played by Sean Connery, who was 45 years old.

We’re seeing this more and more in movies, not actors playing younger than they are, but rather actors playing their age — middle age — as a time for beginnings. Look at the “Sex and the City” women, who are in their 40s and 50s playing women in their 40s and 50s, yet their whole atmosphere is young, and their whole story is one of constant renewal. There’s no sense of settling down or turning from the world.

Jennifer Aniston is in her 40s and doesn’t pretend otherwise, and yet she still appears in comedies of courtship that, a generation ago, would have been the province of women 10 years younger. And Matt Damon, who turns 40 this year, still has the aura of a young man going out for his first job interview.

Part of this is simply perception. Baby boomer and Generation X’ers are getting older, and so we look at people in their 40s as young. And because there are a lot of us, we get to set the cultural agenda. It seems unfair that people who, in their youth, made their middle-aged parents feel like Methuselah (and made everyone over 30 feel over-the-hill) should never get our comeuppance. But there’s no denying the strength of numbers.

Yet if it were merely a matter of perception, wouldn’t the stars of yesteryear also look young to us when we look back on their films? That would stand to reason, but we know this isn’t the case. Look at Clark Gable in “Command Decision” (1948). At 47, he looked like an old man. Look at Ava Gardner in her early 40s in “55 Days at Peking” (1963) or “The Night of the Iguana” (1964). The beauty lingers, but really only as a shadow. The glow is gone, and she could be 10 years older.

To be blunt, Gable and Gardner looked like they’d already spent decades smoking and drinking, and their lives were beginning to show up on their faces. The same could be said for Lana Turner “Peyton Place” (1957). She was still attractive, but while still relatively young (36), she had already made the turn into middle age.

So this phenomenon goes beyond perception. Today’s stars have a younger aura because they tend to take better care of themselves. Many are still smoking, but they have less of a predilection for pickling themselves in alcohol. They’re also working out. Crowe, who has struggled with his weight over the years, got into excellent shape for “Robin Hood.” A generation or two ago, no one, except for the occasional cult-of-the-body star, ever thought about lifting weights.

There’s yet a third reason screen actors are maintaining an aura of youth into middle age: Attitude. There’s a refusal to get old — to some degree it’s a refusal to become mature — that’s just part of our present culture. Katharine Hepburn wasn’t an alcoholic, but at 44 she was practically an old lady in “The African Queen” (1951). Meanwhile, look at Tom Cruise as a Senator in “Lions for Lambs” (2007). The first time you see him, you think, wait, he’s too young to be a Senator. But Cruise was 45 then, the same age as John F. Kennedy during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Actually, there’s something to be said for the very adult, been-to-hell-and-back quality that JFK exudes in “Crisis,” Robert Drew’s behind-the-scenes documentary of the Kennedy administration. You don’t see that quality today, not on screen or in our public life, which brings us to the downside of middle age today: Adulthood just isn’t what it used to be. In fact, when I see movies like “Sherlock Holmes” or “The Losers,” I wonder if we’re not lost in some “Peter Pan” hell, in which adult characters can behave like children, and yet no one seems to notice.

Let’s be fair to the past. Ava Gardner may have been practically an old woman at 41. But in “The Killers,” at 23, she was more of an adult than most of our current actresses will ever be. Gable may have been an old fat guy at 47, but at 31, in “Red Dust” (1932), he was a man. Not a young man. A man. He was a year younger than Ashton Kutcher is today.

Kirsten Dunst is 28 — the same age as Greta Garbo in “Queen Christina” (1933) — and yet she’s still an ingénue. At 32, Hilary Swank tried to act the femme fatale in “The Black Dahlia” (2006) but seemed like a girl playing dress up. Meanwhile, Jane Greer — perhaps the sexiest, slinkiest and scariest film noir heroine of them all — was only 22 when she filmed “Out of the Past” (1947). And Jean Harlow was only 26 when she died. She was a woman from her first appearance on screen.

Perhaps it takes a Depression or a World War II to put miles on people’s spirits and make them seem older. By comparison, later boomers and Generation X’ers have lived their lives in unchallenging times. I’m not complaining — that’s a good thing — who needs calamity? Who needs to feel or act old a minute before it’s necessary?

Yet I wonder: Maybe we’re seeing in our buoyant, middle-aged stars a representation of our own consciousness — the unclouded consciousness of a people who have evaded life’s deepest and most meaningful lessons. That would even be worse than aging, to go through life and miss the point.