October 2010 - CigarettesReviews.com | CigarettesReviews.com

Monthly Archives: October 2010

Ban on Flavored Tobacco Products Becomes City Law

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg signed legislation on Wednesday to prohibit the sale of most forms of flavored tobacco products in New York City. The new law is more extensive than the federal Food and Drug Administration’s ban on candy- and fruit-flavored cigarettes, which took effect last month.

The City Council approved the bill on Oct. 14. The legislation covers “chocolate, vanilla, honey, candy, cocoa, dessert, alcoholic beverage, herb or spice flavors,” but exempts “tobacco, menthol, mint or wintergreen flavors.”

The city ban includes cigars and smokeless tobacco, while the federal ban is limited to cigarettes. That ban prohibits the sale of cigarettes with “an artificial or natural flavor (other than tobacco or menthol) or an herb or spice, including strawberry, grape, orange, clove, cinnamon, pineapple, vanilla, coconut, licorice, cocoa, chocolate, cherry, or coffee.”

While the city’s adult smoking rate has fallen — a development that the mayor has repeatedly trumpeted as a public health success — the Council said that the proportion of public high school students in the city who said they smoked only cigars and cigarillos had tripled since 2001. Flavored tobacco products are often marketed at the young.

Violators of the new city law may be fined up to $2,000 or have their tobacco-vending license suspended.

The mayor signed two other bills into law on Wednesday.

One seeks to improve safety at construction sites where work has been suspended, by encouraging property owners to come forward with faltering or halted projects and craft a plan to increase safety on their sites, and by making it easier for city inspectors to monitor compliance and for work to resume on these sites once the owners get financing in place. In return for the developers’ participation in the program, the Buildings Department will renew a stalled site’s permit for up to four years.

The other new law requires the Department of Education to report on the implementation of Billy’s Law, a state law created to improve the monitoring of students placed in out-of-state residential facilities.

Decriminalising marijuana – taking the high ground

From the outset of this commentary, let me state categorically that I have never smoked marijuana, and I do not drink alcohol except for the occasional glass of wine at a celebration. I was a heavy cigarette smoker until 1980 when, with great difficulty, I went from over 20 cigarettes a day to none at all overnight.

I am relating all this because, not for the first time, I am arguing that the Caribbean should legalise the growing of marijuana for medicinal purposes and should end laws that criminalise the use of small quantities for recreational and religious purposes.

Every serious and independent scientific study that has examined the matter of decriminalising marijuana has recommended that it should be decriminalised, and now the US billionaire financier and philanthropist George Soros has donated $1 million to a proposal in the election campaign in the state of California in the United States to try to legalise marijuana.

In the Caribbean, there are thousands of people who are criminals because they are, in one way or another, involved in illegally growing, picking, packing and distributing marijuana.

Many of these are farmers or people who worked on farms and who have lost markets for their products such as bananas or citrus because Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM) countries were deprived of preferential access to the European Union market because of challenges by Latin American countries and the United states encouraged by large US-owned corporations that dominated the banana market. They have turned to working the marijuana business because without it, they will not survive. So, they are criminals.

If these countries were growing and exporting marijuana legally, the current financial crisis that many of them face from the loss of markets for agricultural exports would be swiftly corrected.

Marijuana is already California’s biggest cash crop, worth an estimated $14 billion annually – more than the state earns from grapes harvested for its wines. For a time, there were more than 800 dispensaries in Los Angeles – which is more marijuana outlets than coffee shops.

If it is legalised in California, the state’s coffers will swell.

Of course, the attitude to criminalising marijuana is driven by lobbies in the United States – the same country that had prohibited the use of alcohol. Few countries are willing to stand-up and say: “We will examine all aspects of decriminalising marijuana and we will take a decision based on our own national and regional circumstances”. In fact, the converse is true. Every year countries live in fear of the annual report by the United States that points an accusing finger at countries where marijuana is grown or is transited to the US market.

ronald_sanders_300_759685897.jpgBut this is what George Soros say about the issue: “The criminalisation of marijuana did not prevent marijuana from becoming the most widely used substance in the United States and many other countries. But it did result in extensive costs and negative consequences”.

Soros goes on to observe: “Regulating and taxing marijuana would simultaneously save taxpayers billions of dollars in enforcement and incarceration costs while providing many billions of dollars in revenue annually”.

He also makes a point that is substantiated by expert studies that “it would also reduce the crime and violence associated with drug markets and the violations of civil liberties and human rights that occur when large numbers of law abiding citizens are subject to arrest” .

In 2002, a study by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation in Britain indicated that relaxation of the cannabis laws could save police $60 million a year and vastly improve police and community relations, and in a previous commentary on this issue I pointed out that University of the West Indies Professor Alston Chevannes, who chaired a Task Force on Drugs in Jamaica some years ago, noted: “Jamaica would like to decriminalise personal use of cannabis but is afraid of US decertification. Other CARICOM countries would probably like to but can’t for the same reason. An international movement that includes big players like Mexico and Brazil would prevent our small countries from being exposed. If the US can be won, then I reckon the UN would have to come to its senses and reconsider the Conventions”.

This matter of decriminalisation would have to be handled responsibly. The entire process from production to distribution would have to be highly regulated and taxed heavily just as cigarettes and alcohol are heavily taxed. Advertising for its use would have to be severely restricted as happens now with cigarettes and cigars, and education programmes explaining its addiction and discouraging its use should be mounted in a sustainable fashion. And, just as it would be illegal to drink alcohol and drive so it should be to use marijuana and drive. Excessive use of cannabis should also be discouraged in the same way as the excessive consumption of alcohol.

People are not allowed to go to work drunk on alcohol or to be drunk on the job; similar restrictions should apply to marijuana use.

But, at the bottom line, marijuana should be brought into the legal system of regulation and control and education and taxation. If it were to happen, the gang warfare, the spread of illegal weapons, the number of young people in jails – all would be reduced in Caribbean countries.

As Professor Chevannes suggested, no one Caribbean country could contemplate such action on its own, but all of them should – at the very least – mount a study on the matter which should include the likely scenario for Caribbean countries in the future if marijuana continues to be a lucrative, illegal trade that lures our unemployed (many of them young people) into its web.

Incidentally, apart from the vote in California, two other states – Arizona and South Dakota have medical marijuana initiatives on their ballot. A third state, Oregon, will consider expanding its existing medical marijuana law by authorizing state-licensed dispensaries.

Surely if the American states are considering it, so should the Caribbean.

By Ronald Sanders

Cigarette butts mean money

BEIJING, – A campaign to keep the streets in Xianyang, Shaanxi province clean by offering residents cold hard cash for each cigarettes buts in Chinadiscarded cigarette butt they pick up in urban areas has erupted in a dispute, but local leaders are sticking to their principles.

Hou Xi’an, deputy head of the city office in charge of the effort, explained: “We started the drive as part of an effort to make our city more clean and civilized, increase public environmental awareness and warn against the dangers of smoking.”

And Han Baofeng, deputy secretary-general of the city, told China Daily on Wednesday that the campaign will not stop until the end of December.

“We will improve the imperfect measures of the drive and continue our good efforts,” Han added.

The drive, which started on Sept 18, was part of an effort to help Xianyang in the competition for National Health City title. The government will pay locals 0.05 yuan ($0.0075) for each cigarette butt they pick up from city streets.

In the past month, loyal citizens have handed over a total of 7 million cigarette butts to the government and more than 100,000 yuan has been paid out for 2 million of the undesirable things. A shortage of funds has kept the other 5 million butts from being paid for.

The China News Service reported on Wednesday that one person had turned over 7,500 butts at one time. Most of the participants are old people and students.

Unfortunately, some people turned out to be naked opportunists who resorted to fraud by collecting the butts from net cafes, restaurants or even garbage bins to get a reward, the China News Service said.

However, in spite of whatever flaws the drive may have, local people have welcomed it.

Wang Guifu, a 64-year-old man who gathered some 2,200 butts, said it is a good way to encourage locals to keep the city clean and he hopes the drive can continue.

Another local, Zhao Ang, said he saw an old man pick up the cigarette butt that he (Zhao) had just discarded.

“From then on, I stopped throwing anything away in public places,” Zhao said.

However, another local, Wang Chao, argued that the government should not have to pay people to encourage them to act in a civilized way: “It should be a conscious, voluntary action, not about getting paid.”

Shi Ying, deputy head of the Shaanxi Academy of Social Sciences, sees things in a slightly different way. Shi maintains that any government move should be both serious and scientific. “The awards should be improved to deal with the increasing problem and to keep the drive going in a healthy, honest way,” he said.

The city office in charge of the effort has made measures such as the checking of ID cards and certification by sanitation workers when locals hand the collected butts in.

By Ma Lie

New cigarette tax driving more smokers to black market

SEATTLE — Tax hikes are never popular. However, Washington state is relying on a boost in the cigarette tax to help it out of its budget crisis.

A KING 5 Investigation reveals how lawbreakers are undermining that effort, committing their crime on your dime.

The state’s cigarette tax rose by $1 in May, leaving a taste for many smokers that’s as bitter as the cheapest pack of smokes.

With state taxes now totaling more than $3 per pack, would smokers cheat the tax man if they could?

“Yeah, if I knew of a place I’d be there,” said John King after he spent $80 on a carton of cigs at Tobacco Lane in Shoreline.

“I’m just trying to get my cigarettes for as cheap as I can,” said Dallas Provencal, another customer.

That’s what’s fueling a growing black market, documented in surveillance video recorded by the KING 5 Investigators.

Our cameras rolled as people moved cartons of contraband cigarettes in Seattle’s International District. In one scene, two women can be seen lifting a large garbage bag into a car trunk. They accidentally allowed a box of bootleg cigarettes to fall out of the bag where it could be clearly seen on camera.

The KING 5 Investigators also recorded them selling illegal cigarettes for cash to a steady stream of customers.

Black market cigarettes are for sale in other places, too. Provencal bought some from a man selling them out of a backpack.

“I actually bought them at a Seahawks game,” he said. “I saw them there selling them for $5 a pack. I thought, ‘Hey, $5 a pack. You can’t beat that.’”

With our hidden camera, we followed a man who bought a carton of cigarettes from a woman selling at 12th Avenue South and South Jackson Street in Seattle. The man paid $50 cash for a carton of Marlboros. That’s $30 less than store prices. The packaging reveals that the cigarettes are from Vietnam. They’re actual Marlboros that sell for much lower prices overseas.

Owners of legitimate tobacco stores can’t compete with the black market.

“It’s growing. Nobody pay sthe taxes,” said Tobacco Lane owner Imran Janoo, whose Shoreline store is already suffering in the bad economy and from a massive street construction project outside his front door.

The illegal trade hurts taxpayers in Washington, too. The Vietnamese smokes have no state tax stamp on the bottom. The stamp is the proof on each pack of cigarettes that the $3 tax has been paid.

The bootleg cigarette market isn’t new. However, there’s evidence it is growing since the new tax hike went into effect.

Data from the Washington Department of Revenue shows that tax stamp sales fell in the months after the May tax increase by an average of three million stamps per month. The state is generating more money because of the new tax, on average $5 million more per month. But the number of tax stamps that cigarette wholesalers are buying, an indicator of legitimate cigarette sales, is down.

That would be great if it meant people like Dallas Povencal were quitting.

“Me and my wife just talked about it,” he said. “It would save us $400 a month.”

Instead of quitting, more smokers are likely cheating.

The Washington state Department of Revenue, the tax collectors, estimates that soon one of every three cigarettes sold in Washington will be untaxed contraband.

Most of them are illegally sold in Washington after being trucked in from neighboring states like Idaho where the tax on each pack is only 57 cents.

But law enforcement sources tell us that sophisticated, international smugglers have also moved in.

The woman who sold us the un-taxed Vietnamese cigarettes is Ahn Nguyen. When approached by the KING 5 Investigators she denied running black market cigarettes.

“I smoke. I don’t sell. I don’t do nothing. I smoke,” said Nguyen, explaining the cash and the cartons of cigarettes she was seen handling.

Shortly after her interview Nguyen was arrested by federal agents and Seattle police for another scheme to cheat taxpayers: food stamp fraud.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms says it is currently involved in an investigation of large scale cigarette trafficking. But due to the sensitive nature of the case, it would not provide any details.

FACT: Shoreline’s Tobacco Lane sells a pack of Marlboros for $8. More than half of that price goes to taxes. $1/pack – federal tax, $3.025/pack – state tax.

What Is George Soros Smoking?

George Soros laid out his case for the legalization of marijuana today in the Wall Street Journal. The billionaire financier’s endorsement raises George Sorosthe obvious question: If marijuana is legalized in California and elsewhere across the United States, will institutional investors get in on the action?

You betcha. If Proposition 19 becomes law, making small amounts of pot legal in California, there already is talk of using the proceeds from resulting taxes to back debt issued by the fiscally troubled state government. Brokerages will be happy to sell the “marijuana bonds” and hedge funds—or pension funds—will be among the logical buyers. It’s probably just a matter of time before quickly growing marijuana-related businesses like Oaksterdam University reach enough scale to go public, or attract private equity funding.

There’s no question that the pot market is large enough to absorb institutional money, and lots of it.

Most studies estimate that the value of the U.S. market is anywhere from $10 billion to $40 billion, according to CNBC, which cautions that the estimates vary based on certain assumptions about usage. Some estimates range up to $100 billion or more.

The pot business is a cash generating machine, thanks to the insatiable demand for the product, which is bound sooner or later to overwhelm prohibition. Its growth rate is probably among the highest in the world for any commodity, and it will only get a boost from legalization.

While it would be unfair to suggest that Soros is backing Prop 19 because he wants a piece of the action, there’s little doubt that institutional investors will rush into the pot business the moment that they can.

That will raise some troubling questions. Where will the talent to run those new legal pot businesses come from? Alcohol, gambling and consumer marketing companies might be a good source. But another obvious source will be drug cartels themselves. Keeping institutional money out of the illicit side of the business could be very tough, too. For that matter, money from the illicit side of the market is bound to flow into institutional accounts as well, creating a new headache for law enforcement agencies.

Tobacco farmers register

HARARE – At least 75 000 farmers are expected to register as growers in the 2011/11 season, up from 52 000 the previous season, Tobacco and Industry Marketing Board chief executive Dr Andrew Matibiri, has said.
So far more than 45 000 farmers countrywide have registered to grow tobacco in 2010/11 agricultural season ahead of the registration deadline at the end of the month. Growers are required to register with the TIMB annually. TIMB has embarked on a mobile registration exercise in tobacco growing regions to ensure that all farmers interested in growing the crop obtained grower registration numbers.
Dr Matibiri said they were projecting that the number of tobacco farmers interested to grow the crop in the next coming season to reach 75 000. “The enthusiasm to grow tobacco is very much there as evidenced by inquiries that we continue to receive. This year we had 52 000 registered growers and in the next season we are projecting that the figure could reach 75 000. To date about 45 387 growers have registered,” he said.
Dr Matibiri said they had also sold enough seed to produce seedlings for over 100 000 hectares compared to 67 000 hectares grown in the 2009/10. Meanwhile, he said sales were still continuing to mop up tobacco deliveries that had not been delivered prior to the closure of the marketing season last month. Tobacco has so far earned the country US$355,276,031 from the sale of 123 295 314 kilogrammes at an average price of US$2.88 per kg. Most of the crop delivered came through the contract system resulting in 80 575 384 kg being sold while 42 719 930 kg was obtained through the auction system.
Last year, tobacco raked in US$168 million from 58 million kg. Since liberalisation of the economy in 2009, the sector has registered an increase in the number of farmers interested in growing the golden leaf.

Philip Morris Favors ‘Sin’ Taxes Extension

MANILA, Philippines – The maker of the popular cigarette brands Philip Morris and Matlboro online, PMFTC Inc., has urged the government to extend the expiring sin tax law by another five to six years instead of restructuring it.

Chris Nelson, PMFTC president explained that the government’s revenues from the existing sin tax law, which allows an excise tax rate hike every two years, have been increasing and also a “success.”

“Why discuss the restructuring when the law is proving to be successful?”

Nelson asked after the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) proposed to restructure the current excise taxes on alcohol and tobacco products.

The current law, Republic Act (RA) 9334, is expiring in 2011, which is sending legislators to scramble for their own House measures seeking to replace the old one.

As a proof of the sin tax law’s success, Nelson noted that excise tax collection on tobacco products surpassed the government’s target of P1.58 billion for September by 80 percent to P2.84 billion.

He also cited that government has collected P22.14 billion in revenues from tobacco products in January to September, which was 16 percent more than the target of P19.01 billion.

“Tobacco industry has given increases every two years. Why not focus on other areas that are declining because of [tax] leakages,” Nelson added. He also reminded that the campaign promise of President Aquino that he would not slap new taxes during his six-year presidency.

The NEDA is now under fire in the House of Representatives (House) for its proposal to impose new taxes, which would entail, among others, the restructuring of excise taxes on alcohol and tobacco products, to “meet fiscal balance in a sustained manner.”

Rep. Victor Ortega said NEDA’s proposal which will result in the adoption of a unitary rate for tobacco products is “highly oppressive” particularly for the tobacco industry, which has been generating income that is even beyond the government’s expected target. (CSL)

Lorillard’s Newport powers strong earnings

NEW YORK, – Cigarette maker Lorillard Inc (LO.N) reported a higher-than-expected quarterly profit as it capitalized on its position as the top seller of menthol cigarettes in the U.S.

The company, the third-largest U.S. cigarette maker, said shipments of its flagship Newport brand, the leading menthol cigarette, rose 2.9 percent, while total U.S. industry cigarette shipments fell 0.8 percent.

Overall domestic shipments rose by 5.8 percent to 9.83 billion.

Most U.S. tobacco companies are facing declining shipments in a domestic market where the number of smokers are decreasing.

Competitors Reynolds American Inc (RAI.N) and Altria Group Inc (MO.N) posted shipment declines of 2.6 percent and 2.4 percent, respectively, last week.

“Newport has just outperformed quarter after quarter for a couple of years now,” said Phil Gorham, a tobacco analyst with Morningstar Inc.

Altria, which makes industry leader Marlboro cigarettes, and Reynolds, maker of the Camel and Pall Mall brands, have been trying to sell menthol cigarettes, but are losing ground in a segment that is doing relatively better in the tobacco industry, Gorham said.

“Newport has the best brand equity and they continue to gain share,” said Charles Norton, a portfolio manager with GNI Capital Inc. “Menthol continues to do well and Newport is gaining share within menthol.”

The continued success of Newport may spur competitors to increase their efforts to gain share in the menthol cigarette market, Gorham said, barring tightened regulation by the U.S. government.

A U.S. Food and Drug Administration panel studying the health affects of the popular flavoring and whether it encourages people to start smoking cigarettes is due to submit a report by March 2011.

Chief Executive Murray Kessler, who took over in September, said that science does not show menthol to be harmful. But the FDA review process could “create some volatility in our stock, down or up,” he said.

Meanwhile, a cigarette-store.biz/info/non-menthol-newport-bestseller-lorillard-says will start shipping in the last week of October.

Kessler said results of an ongoing strategic review would be reported early next year but stressed that “Lorillard is not in need of a course correction.” The review will also look at expanding into the smokeless category, which Kessler oversaw as CEO of Altria’s unit UST LLC and which he said he is “bullish” on.

Lorillard said profit rose 16.6 percent to $274 million, or $1.81 per share, in the third quarter, from $235 million, or $1.44 per share, a year earlier.

Analysts on average had forecast $1.64 a share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

The increase in earnings per share was partly due to a stock buyback.

Sales excluding excise taxes totaled $1.07 billion, higher than the $1.01 billion expected by analysts.

Lorillard’s market share rose 1 percentage point to 12.9 percent in the quarter, including a 0.5 percentage point increase for its Newport brand.

Altria also posted higher-than-expected earnings as its Marlboro cigarettes gained market share. Reynolds American beat expectations through higher pricing.

Shares closed up $1.09 to $85.14 on the New York Stock Exchange.

By Jon Lentz; Editing by Maureen Bavdek, John Wallace, Steve Orlofsky and Bernard Orr

Hookah Bars in New York Would be Banned

smoking hookah
A lawmaker wants to snuff out the growth of the city’s hookah bars – saying herbal smoke from the lounges’ water pipes is just as dangerous as cigarettes.

City Councilman Vincent Gentile (D-Brooklyn) will press this week to extend a smoking ban to include all smoking, including now-legal herbal shisha smoke from hookahs.

Existing hookah bars would be exempt, but new indoor ones would be banned in 2012. The dozens already open would have to register with the city Health Department, and wouldn’t be able to expand or change locations.

Gentile argues that hookah smoke, which contains tar and carbon monoxide, can be just as dangerous as cigarettes.

“There are some people going there thinking that as long as it’s not tobacco, that it’s not harmful,” Gentile said. “It’s been established that it is harmful.”

He also charged that many of the bars illegally use tobacco.

Inspectors have trouble enforcing the indoor tobacco ban because they can’t immediately tell the difference between tobacco-based shisha and the legal herbal alternative.

Hookah bars have long been mainstays in Middle Eastern enclaves, like Steinway St. in Astoria, Queens, but more have popped up in recent years as hookah smoking catches on with college students, twentysomethings and others.

Some hookah bar owners and patrons blew smoke on Gentile’s idea on Sunday.

“It’s ridiculous,” said Mamua Jeme, 36, of Astoria, smoking at El Khayam Cafe on Steinway St. “Cigarettes are more of a vice. Hookah is a tradition.

“It’s not something you do to be cool. . . . It’s a cultural identity,” said Jeme, who comes from Cameroon, in Africa.

Guillermo Siminiani, 43, of Astoria, said it made no sense to apply the ban to spots where people come specifically to smoke.

“Anybody coming to a hookah place knows what they’re doing,” he said. “It may be harmful, but everyone I know knows what they’re doing.”

At Katra on the lower East Side, manager Edwardo Romano said even if the bill won’t shut down existing businesses, it will hurt them.

“I can’t knock down the wall and double my restaurant? I can’t open up another hookah bar under the same name?” he said. “I’m not here to kill anybody. They come in and they ask for a hookah.”

Anti-smoking advocates welcomed the move.

“We support measures to protect New Yorkers from secondhand smoke,” said Sheelah Feinberg, director of the Coalition for a Smoke-Free City.

So did Radouane Eljaouhari, owner of the East Village Moroccan restaurant Zerza, who took hookahs off the menu last year and said the craze has gone too far. “It started as just a trend, but now I think it’s definitely an addiction,” he said.

Gentile’s bill to crack down on hookahs is expected to be introduced Wednesday.

BY Irving Dejohn and Erin Durkin

Debate rages over health effects of marijuana

WALNUT CREEK, Calif. — The marijuana cigarette, with its pungent smell, became a symbol of the 1960s.

Bill Clinton tried it, but he didn’t inhale. Comedians joked about burned-out dopers with brains altered by a variety of drugs, including pot.

College students and young professionals passed around joints at parties and wondered: Why all the fuss?

Now, four decades later, Californians will decide Nov. 2 whether to legalize recreational use of the drug. Proposition 19 would allow those 21 or older to possess as much as an ounce of marijuana and to grow it in spaces of 25 square feet or less.

Although marijuana has been in use for years, voters will head to the polls with only a hazy understanding of its health effects.

Research has been difficult because the drug is illegal, and the limited studies that have been done often paint conflicting pictures. Among the murky areas:

—Marijuana smoke is laced with carcinogens and can lead to respiratory problems, but no link has been established with lung cancer. Some studies suggest the drug’s active ingredient may even have anti-cancerous properties.

—It can be addictive — one federal survey found that 4.3 million people had a problem with marijuana abuse or dependence in 2009 — but research indicates it may not be as addictive as other drugs or alcohol.

—While people are under its influence, marijuana can impair memory and hinder the brain’s cognitive abilities. Whether such effects are long-lasting is not clear.

—In rare instances, it can lead to psychotic episodes, but whether it can be linked to mental illness in vulnerable people remains an open question.

One of the biggest unknowns is marijuana’s effect on a developing brain. Many experts consider this question particularly important because brains mature until people are in their 20s.

Also open to debate is whether legalizing marijuana would lead to more fatal traffic accidents, especially if people combine drinking with the drug.

All of these uncertainties provide plenty of fodder for those on both sides of the Prop. 19 debate in California.

Some medical professionals view marijuana as clearly less harmful than alcohol.

“It seems to be a rather safe substance with very low potential for addiction and withdrawal,” said Dr. Donald Abrams, a professor of medicine at UC San Francisco and chief of hematology and oncology at San Francisco General Hospital. He recommends marijuana for many of his cancer patients.

“There are 8 million people in the United States that are relatively chronic marijuana users,” he said, “and many of them are highly functioning people that hold full-time jobs and are creative members of society.”

But others see reason for caution.

Alan Budney, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, studies marijuana dependence and withdrawal.

“If you start using it way too much, it starts affecting your life just like alcohol or any other drug does,” he said. “Your relationships suffer. Financially, you suffer. Employment and school-wise, you suffer. All the things that go along with dependence on any drug, I see that as the most chronic problem with marijuana. People abuse it.”

So, how addictive is it?

One well-known study found that one out of every 10 or 11 people who use marijuana will develop an abuse or dependence problem.

That compares to one out of three people who use tobacco, one out of six who drink alcohol, one out of six who use cocaine, and one out of five who use heroin.

This suggests that marijuana is not as addictive as other drugs and alcohol. Budney cautions that if it is legalized and becomes less expensive and easier to obtain, its dependence numbers may rise.

Marijuana comes from the dried, shredded leaves, stems, seeds and flowers of the hemp plant. It is the most commonly used illegal drug in the United States. A 2008 federal survey found that 15.2 million people had used it within the past month.

Most people inhale it in hand-rolled cigarettes, but it also can be mixed into foods such as brownies or used to brew tea.

When smoked, the active ingredient in pot, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, has an almost immediate effect. It passes from the lungs to the bloodstream and travels to organs throughout the body.

In the brain, THC attaches to sites called cannabinoid receptors on nerve cells, changing the way those cells work. These receptors are abundant in parts of the brain that regulate memory, thinking, concentration, movement, coordination, time perception, and pleasure.

Within a few minutes, the heart rate may speed up and even double in some cases. This could pose problems for those with heart conditions, but Budney and others said it usually is a mild reaction that does not lead to serious heart troubles.

One of the biggest concerns is the potential effect on the lungs, particularly since marijuana smoke contains 50 to 70 percent more carcinogenic hydrocarbons than tobacco smoke.

Marijuana joints have no filter and are more loosely packed than a tobacco cigarette. People tend to hold marijuana smoke in their lungs for about 16 seconds, much longer than the three or four seconds for cigarette smokers, said Donald Tashkin, a professor of medicine at UCLA and one of the world’s leading researchers on marijuana and the lungs.

“You smoke marijuana differently from tobacco, so more of the particles have time to deposit,” he said.

Marijuana smokers are at increased risk of developing such respiratory problems as coughing, phlegm and bronchitis, studies have shown.

Tashkin and his colleagues have found evidence of swelling, inflammation and microscopic injury in the lining of the major airways of marijuana smokers. So they speculated that this could lead to lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD.

To their surprise, when they conducted a large study in the Los Angeles area, they found no increased risk for these conditions among marijuana users, no matter how heavily they smoked. Other researchers have replicated their findings.

“So the bottom line is that it doesn’t appear marijuana increases the risk for causing COPD or lung cancer,” Tashkin said. “We also failed to find any risk for head and neck cancer.”

No one knows why marijuana has not been linked to lung cancer, but Tashkin has a theory. He notes that at least 12 studies have shown that THC has properties that may inhibit the development of tumors by limiting cell division and promoting the death of unhealthful cells.

“It’s presumably on the basis of these properties that THC inhibits the production of cancer,” he said. But more research is needed.

Another unclear area involves marijuana’s effect on cognitive abilities. One study found that long-term, heavy pot users one week after they quit using were still impaired in their ability to recall words from a list, but returned to normal by four weeks. Another study found the effect on the brain can build up and deteriorate life skills over time.

When performing a memory task, marijuana smokers “activate either different parts of the brain or more parts of the brain than somebody who is not a marijuana smoker,” said Susan Weiss, chief of the science policy branch at the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

“So what does that mean?” she added. “You could interpret it to mean that the marijuana smokers’ brains are less efficient than somebody who is not a marijuana smoker. Or that there’s some other way that the brain has compensated for being exposed to marijuana. It’s very hard to know how to interpret that.”

Although studies have shown an association between marijuana and schizophrenia, “at this time, it is not clear whether marijuana use causes mental problems, exacerbates them, or is used in an attempt to self-medicate symptoms already in existence,” National Institute on Drug Abuse said.

Among Prop. 19 supporters is Dr. Larry Bedard, an emergency physician who practiced 21 years at Marin General Hospital before retiring. Throughout his career, he said, he saw fewer than 10 patients whose chief complaint related to marijuana. That was minuscule compared to the number of people he saw with alcohol-related problems.

“Marijuana is safer, with the least health consequences,” he said.

In 2008, California hospitals had 181 admissions in which marijuana abuse or dependence was listed as the primary cause, according to a recent RAND Corp. report. In an additional 25,000 hospital admissions, marijuana was listed as a secondary, third or fourth diagnosis.

State officials said they could not readily produce comparable numbers for alcohol-related hospitalizations, but many experts said, like Bedard, that it would be many times more than the marijuana-related cases. However, Rosalie Pacula, co-director of RAND’s Drug Policy Research Center, cautioned that the marijuana numbers may be artificially low because some doctors have been hesitant to code for pot because that can make it tougher to get reimbursement from insurance companies.

Pacula wrote a paper in July concluding that the health care costs associated with an increase in marijuana use, if it is legalized, are likely to be small compared to the expected revenue and criminal justice savings. However, she also noted that as research proceeds, if marijuana is found to be a cause of more significant health problems including schizophrenia and driving under the influence, that conclusion could change.

Studies have shown a much higher percentage of traffic accidents linked to alcohol than to marijuana. After using marijuana, “most people drive slower, so there’s less risk of a fatality,” Pacula said. She added that studies have also shown that combining marijuana use and drinking impedes people’s ability to drive more than does alcohol alone.

“So the question that we really don’t have a definitive answer about is whether alcohol and marijuana are going to get used together, or if they’re going to be used as substitutes,” Pacula said. “People have lots of opinions about that. There’s research that shows both. So that is a big, big question.”

By Sandy Kleffman

Canadian C-stores Demand a Freeze on New Tobacco Regs

TORONTO — Encouraged by recent reports that the Canadian federal and Quebec governments are shifting their focus on tobacco strategy to the problem of contraband, the Canadian Convenience Stores Association (CCSA) applauded the move and reminded officials that their best approach is to stay away from any new regulations or taxation on legal tobacco that would weaken the fight against the manufacturing and distribution of illegal tobacco products.

The association, which represents 27,000 retailers nationwide, is asking the Federal and Provincial governments to adopt a freeze on new regulation or taxation of legal tobacco products until the authorities have significantly reduced the contraband tobacco rate to under 10% for a sustained period.

“We are pleased that both the federal and the Quebec governments have recognized the problems associated with contraband tobacco and its implications on so many facets of society. But one thing is clear: this is the worst time for governments to come up with new laws, regulations and taxes on legal tobacco that could only increase the lure of contraband and undermine the efforts of authorities. Our governments must refrain from the urge to increase taxes until the contraband situation is under control,” said Michel Gadbois, senior vice president of the CCSA.

He added, “There is clearly much work to be done if we expect to meet our target of 10%, especially in Ontario where the government has yet to come up with a plan and does not see the fight against contraband as a priority.”

The CCSA advocates that most new tax or regulation on legal tobacco—like the recent Bill C-32 outlawing flavored cigarillos–is making the illicit market more attractive to smokers. “As history shows us, excessive taxes are the root cause of contraband tobacco, benefiting criminals and depriving governments and legal convenience stores of millions of dollars in income,” said Gadbois.

The group emphasized that the contraband situation is far from being resolved. “Of the 400 illegal smoke shacks and more than 50 cigarette production factories operating in Canada without permits, none has yet to shut down,” he said.

In an effort to put a “face” on contraband, the association is mailing a replica Ziploc baggie of 200 contraband cigarettes to all MPs and MPPs in Ontario and Quebec. “The visual of the baggies is a reminder to our leaders that every day illegal cigarettes are sold in smoke shacks, delivered to kids at school and sold out of the trunks of cars in parking lots in communities throughout their province,” said Gadbois. “Illegal bags of cigarettes like this replica sell for as little as $15 with no age checks or government control. In comparison, a similar quantity of legal cigarettes sold by licensed and tax collecting store owners can cost close to $80. Is it any wonder why we have a growing problem that is affecting our communities on so many levels?”

The replica contraband mailing includes information about the realities of contraband including:

  • Small business bankruptcies: Close to 2,300 family-owned community convenience stores mostly in Ontario and Quebec have closed their doors last year due to the growing black market.Youth access to cheap tobacco: Youth smoking rates are no longer declining with some reports suggesting they are increasing due to the easy access of cheap illegal tobacco.
  • Organized crime: The RCMP has identified 175 different groups involved in the trade of contraband tobacco across the country, most of    hich are operating in Ontario and Quebec. Their dealings often go on to include alcohol, drug and firearm smuggling.
  • Lost government revenue: Governments across Canada lose more than $2.4 billion annually in total government tax revenue.

“Unfortunately, all the government legislation and efforts designed to control and regulate the legal market are rendered useless when contraband becomes readily available in communities across our country. With this mailing, we’re asking our politicians to take serious action and crack down on the illicit trade that impacts us all,” added Gadbois. “We need to see progress on this front…and soon.”

The CCSA has developed a basic mission to promote corporate social responsibility and represent “Responsible Community Retailing” and has developed the We Expect ID world-class age-testing program for all employees in the channel. The CCSA works to promote and foster professional business practices, standards and ethics throughout the C-Store industry and provides training, education and guidance to its members.

Germany agrees tax reform plan, with relief from 2012

Senior members of the German government agreed to a tax reform plan on Sunday to curb the extent of a tax rise for energy intensive companies from 2011 by hiking tobacco duty, the ministers of finance and economy said.

The government officials also agreed on a simplification of the tax system from 2012 which would bring tax relief of 500 million euros ($695.7 million), the ministers said.

The plan, which parliament must debate before it can be adopted, means large corporate energy consumers will not be hit as hard by the environmental tax, known as the “Oekosteuer,” as previously envisaged.

“What we are doing here is a package that should be seen as a whole,” Economy Minister Rainer Bruederle told reporters, stressing that the measures would only be adopted together.

The agreement on the plan follows calls from within Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition for tax relief measures as robust economic growth eases some of the pressure on Germany’s public finances. [ID:nLDE69M06X]

The hike in tobacco taxes should bring additional revenues of 200 million euros next year, rising to 500 million, 700 million and 800 million in 2012, 2013 and 2014 respectively, a government official said. ($1=.7187 Euro) (Reporting by Andreas Rinke, writing by Paul Carrel; editing by Gunna Dickson)

Synthetic Marijuana Easy to Obtain in West Virginia

It’s known on the street as Serenity, K2 and The Greenhouse Effect, but concerned officials know it as trouble.Synthetic cannabinoids

The newest mood-altering trend — essentially synthetic marijuana — originated at Clemson University, where researchers developed synthetic cannabinoids for therapeutic use. Cannabinoids are mixed in with other herbs to create a potpourri-like substance that is then packaged and sold as incense. It is clearly marked on packages as not for human consumption, but some people are smoking it like marijuana.

Users have said the effect is similar to conventional marijuana, but more potent and not as long lasting. It can be purchased from gas stations, tobacco stores and “head shops” and is legal in West Virginia. It is also appealing to users because it is not detectable in standard drug tests while giving the same effect as conventional marijuana.

The Drug Enforcement Administration lists the substance as a drug or chemical of concern but does not regulate it. Neither does the Food and Drug Administration.

The product is legal in West Virginia, but legislation banning the substance has been passed or introduced in several states, including neighboring Kentucky and Ohio. Legislation banning the substance has not been introduced thus far in West Virginia, but officials are starting to take notice.

This year, five “overdoses” involving the product were reported to the West Virginia Poison Control Hotline, according to Dr. Michael O’Neil, who serves as chairman for the West Virginia Controlled Substance Advisory Board. He said the adverse side effects include panic, anxiety and increased heart rate. Although no deaths have been reported in the state, some have occurred in the U.S.

“We do not know the substances’ true toxicity or their severity or dynamics. We do not know what the effect is if the user is taking a prescription drug or mixing it with another drug. There just is not a whole lot of research out there on the stuff,” O’Neil said.

Further heightening the danger is use among children — there is generally no age restriction based on sales. It also is easily available over the Internet.

“I was recently at a teen awareness drug abuse meeting in Lewisburg, and two 12-year-olds just in general conversation could tell me where they could buy it and how they could get it,” O’Neil said.

Jedd Flowers, director of communications for Cabell County Schools, said the county has seen instances of the substance on school grounds. The board of education is scheduled to vote this week to make the substance a level three offense in the county’s student code of conduct, he said.

“Right now, our hands are tied as to how we handle it because it is not in our code how to handle it,” Flowers said.

By making it a level three offense, school administration will be able to suspend a student for possessing or using the substance on school grounds. Currently, the board treats cases involving the products as though they are tobacco-related offenses, Flowers said.

The fact remains synthetic marijuana is a popular choice for users. A clerk for Stoagies Tobacco in Huntington said the location sold 1,064 bags of Greenhouse Effect in September alone.

“It is definitely one of our most popular items that we sell here,” said the clerk who declined to give his name.

One Greenhouse Effect distributor, who asked to remain anonymous due to another job, said the company currently distributes to 130 locations in West Virginia. He said that the tax dollars from synthetic marijuana sales could be a drastic boost to the economy.

He said the company distributed 28,000 1-gram and 3-gram bags in September in West Virginia alone. He said the appeal to users is that they do not have to deal with the stigma of illegal activity associated with buying conventional marijuana.

“Customers have told me they would rather pay a high price to a store than go in a back alley to buy it or wait for a dealer or deal with a dealer period. This is an adult product that can be regulated and taxed properly,” the distributor said.

The distributor acknowledged more research needs to be done on cannabinoid products. He said products such as K2 and Serenity are causing problems for other companies, like his, that only put cannabinoids into their product.

“It is rogue companies like those that are causing problems. Our product is safe. The propaganda out there and shady companies is what is allowing lawmakers to build a case to go to Legislature in January,” the distributor said.

The distributor said the product is safer than cigarettes and should be allowed for sale.

“Cigarettes should be illegal with 300 and something cancer causing chemicals in it. We are spending nearly $30,000 a minute fighting the War on Drugs. It is a lost cause as long as people demand them.”

North Carolina builds on the legacy of the golden leaf

FOR much of the early 20th century, Winston-Salem was the biggest city in North Carolina. Its fortunes, like those of most of North Carolina, centred on tobacco and textiles: in 1940 60% of the city’s populace worked for one of the Hanes textile companies or for R.J. Reynolds (RJR), a tobacco company that was the city’s largest employer. But that was long before Hanes began moving much of its production offshore, and before the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement (under which the tobacco companies agreed in 1998 to pay hundreds of billions of dollars in damages for harming people’s health), the leveraged buy-out of RJR by a private-equity firm, the elimination of federal farm price support for tobacco and decades of anti-smoking advertising.

Today tobacco warehouses and factories still dominate Winston-Salem’s centre. The Bailey Power Plant’s twin redbrick chimneys emblazoned with “RJR TOB CO” loom over the interstate. But the plant no longer belongs to RJR, and it is no longer involved in producing tobacco: it was turned over to the Piedmont Triad Research Park last April, along with 38 acres (15 hectares) of property and a cash donation of $2m. In all, 14 buildings in the science park, representing around 1.3m square feet (121,000 square metres) of space, once belonged to RJR.

Tobacco’s legacy to Winston-Salem is far from being merely architectural. Because it has been such an important cash crop for so long, it is among the most studied plants in the world—Richard Reich, the assistant commissioner for agricultural services in North Carolina’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, calls it “the laboratory white rat” of the plant world. Much of that study, of course, was done by tobacco companies, and Targacept, one of the bioscience companies in the Piedmont Triad Research Park, is among the fruits of that labour. Spun out from RJR in 2000, and headed by J. Donald deBethizy, a former vice-president of R&D at RJR, Targacept is developing a range of drugs that target the body’s nicotinic receptors to treat a range of nervous-system disorders, including depression, schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s.

East of Winston-Salem at a research park in Durham, a Canadian company that genetically manipulates tobacco plants to produce proteins used in making flu vaccines broke ground on its first American facility on October 1st. Medicago hopes to have its vaccines on the market by late 2013; the company believes this method of making vaccines will be cheaper, faster and more effective than the egg-based method currently in use.

In 2009 North Carolina farmers raised 177,400 acres of tobacco with a production value of just over $745m, making it the leading tobacco producer among American states; but the crop is nowhere near as widely cultivated or as valuable as it once was, though agriculture remains important, providing 18% of the state’s income. The hope is that biotech will help fill the hole. The North Carolina Biotechnology Centre, a government-sponsored body working to grow the state’s biotech industry, has a plan to increase the state’s agriculture sector by $30 billion over the next decade. Meanwhile Kentucky Bioprocessing, a biotech company based in another tobacco-producing state, is pursuing research similar to Medicago’s. The future of tobacco may not all go up in smoke.

Industry Attempts to Derail Plain Tobacco Packaging

Tobacco companies in Australia may be attempting to stall the implementation of plain tobacco packaging through repeated freedom of information requests to the government.
The tobacco industry in Australia may be gearing up to fight the proposed plain tobacco packaging laws in the courts. In a budget estimates committee hearing, a spokeswoman from the Department of Health and Aging advised that there are currently 20 freedom of information requests lodged with the Department in relation to tobacco. Nineteen of these requests have been lodged by members of the tobacco industry, potentially to find evidence to support a lawsuit against the imposition of plain tobacco packaging laws. In a statement released today to the media, Quit Executive Director Fiona Sharkie said this action shows a desperate industry continuing to clutch at straws.

Packaging remains the last bastion of advertising for the industry to market their deadly products. Research shows that young people would see cigarettes in plain packs as not looking good, not tasting good, and would think less of people who smoke cigarettes in those packs. Plain packaging will remove any aspiration, sophistication and glamour and potentially save thousands of lives and stop many children from starting to smoke.

Due to come into effect in 2012, the plain tobacco packaging law is designed to reduce the numbers of people taking up smoking. Since it was first mooted by the National Preventative Health Taskforce, plain cigarette packaging has been a controversial topic. The main objector to the move is the Alliance of Australian Retailers, a lobby group supported by Phillip Morris Limited, British American Tobacco Australia Limited and Imperial Tobacco Australia Limited. The Alliance claims that it supports the reduction of cigarette smoking in the Australian population however it is of the opinion that its members, small retailers, will be hurt economically by the imposition of plain cigarette packaging and has undertaken a wide advertising campaign entitled “If it won’t work, why do it?”. There is no direct evidence that the use of plain packaging will decrease the number of smokers in Australia. However, packaging can be considered to be a form of marketing and promotion and there exists significant evidence to show that marketing and promotion of tobacco products has a direct influence on smoking related behaviours, particularly in adolescents. A 2008 systematic review undertaken by the Cochrane Collaboration concluded that “tobacco advertising and promotion increases the likelihood that adolescents will start to smoke.” CEO of Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) Anne Jones said

The evidence is clear: plain packaging will prevent many people taking up smoking, especially children and teenagers. We’re talking about saving thousands of lives and no-one – outside the tobacco industry – would argue against that.

Health minister Nicola Roxon has confirmed the federal government’s intention to continue with the proposed introduction of plain cigarette packaging.

Best Relative Performance in the Tobacco Industry

Below are the top five companies in the Tobacco industry as measured by relative performance. This analysis was compiled based on yesterday’s trading activity as we search for stocks that have the potential to outperform.

Reynolds American ranks first with a loss of 0.32%; Vector Group ranks second with a loss of 0.54%; and Altria Group ranks third with a loss of 0.6%.

Lorillard follows with a loss of 0.66% and Philip Morris rounds out the top five with a loss of 2.24%.
SmarTrend is bullish on shares of PM and our subscribers were alerted to Buy on July 07, 2010 at $46.97. The stock has risen 21.5% since the alert was issued.

Smokeless tobacco boosts Altria earnings

Altria, the US tobacco group, said its third-quarter profits increased 28 per cent to $1.1bn as its flagship cigarette, Matlboro online, gained market share and sales of smokeless tobacco rose.


Revenue climbed 1.6 per cent to $6.4bn, with cigarettes accounting for $5.7bn of sales, smokeless tobacco $389m, cigars $147m, wine $107m and financial services $30m, the company said on Wednesday.

In spite of the contraction of overall demand for cigarettes, Marlboro’s share of the US retail market rose to 42.6 per cent during the third quarter from 41.9 per cent in the same period of the previous year.

Through internal cost management, Altria increased its operating income for cigarettes by 15 per cent over the prior year. Sales of smokeless tobacco products, including Skol and Copenhagen, rose 10 per cent. Operating income in the category was up 65 per cent.

“We are seeing increased interest among adult tobacco consumers” in smokeless tobacco, said Michael Szymanczyk, Altria chief executive. “We are optimistic about long-term prospects for these kinds of products.”

Mr Szymanczyk said the company’s new merchandising programme for smokeless tobacco products, involving the installation of in-store product displays, could help boost sales.

“The smokeless tobacco category historically has not received the necessary merchandising space in retail stores,” he said.

“By offering fixtures, retailers can improve merchandising, reduce out of stock and help achieve objectives.”

David Beran, chief financial officer, attributed the company’s increased profitability to higher prices for its cigarettes, cost savings and reduced promotional spending.

Overall, the company estimates the cigarette market is declining at a rate of 4 per cent annually, while the smokeless tobacco category is on a 7 per cent growth track.

Altria, which markets Marlboro and other Philip Morris branded cigarettes, raised prices on its US brands by 8 cents per pack in May. The company said the average price per pack of Marlboros in the US was $5.63, while the average pack of cigarettes cost $4.19. The average state excise tax levied on each pack of cigarettes was $1.36.

Cigarette-advertising liberties

The tobacco industry over the years has employed some interesting tactics in an effort to inveigle prospects into using its products, preferably a particular brand.

Cigarette companies have counted largely on image advertising to draw people into their web. The Marlboro Man was created to appeal to men’s macho aspirations, Joe Camel was designed to lure young smokers, and women were the targets of the Virginia Slims “You’ve come a long way, Baby” campaign.

The industry suffered what probably should have been a crippling setback in 1964, when medical proof was discovered that smoking contributed to lung cancer. The industry survived, though, because of the stubbornness of its consumers.

Years later, advertising was banned on television and in radio, and those image ads were left to only print media. Compounding Big Tobacco’s problems were the new image ads that anti-smoking advocates created pointing out the unattractive side of smoking — the smell, second-hand smoke and that cough.

Worse yet for Big Tobacco was that health departments began pointing out the severe health consequences of smoking. Television ads along those lines have been poignant and even disgusting, showing the actual effects of cigarette smoke on internal organs.

Advertising trends these days are a long way from the advertisements of a generation ago. Before that, the ads were even more deceiving. There was little effort back in the 1950s, for example, to adhere strictly to the truth. Reason often gave way to convenience, as well.

An ad by the American Tobacco Co., maker of Lucky Strike cigarettes, was aired on “The Jack Benny Show” on radio back in 1952. Its message sounds ridiculous today, but it probably sold some cigarettes.

This was the ad:

“Here is an important message from the National Tobacco Tax Research Council. Smokers, next time you buy cigarettes, remember that over 800,000 tobacco farm families thank you for contributing to their support, and remember also that you support your government — federal, state and local. When you buy a pack of cigarettes, the federal government gets 8 cents. Most local and state governments get 3 or 4 cents more. That’s better than a 50 percent tax on every cigarette you smoke.

“Yes, in buying cigarettes, over half your packs go for tax.”

The National Tobacco Tax Research Council, if there even was such a group, was thus reporting that smoking was not only good for the families that grew the stuff, you were almost patriotic by puffing away. Governments were realizing important revenue that smokers could feel proud of.

Today, governments impose onerous taxes on cigarettes as an inhibitive measure and budget booster. What the government would lose in tax revenue if smokers quit, it would probably gain in Medicare and Medicaid payments that didn’t have to be made.

The idea of smoking being an altruistic or patriotic habit is, of course, lunacy. Smoking costs all Americans in government health subsidies, though that is nothing compared with what it costs smokers.

Altria’s Profit Rises on Marlboro Prices, Snuff Demand

Altria Group Inc., the largest U.S. tobacco company, reported third-quarter profit that beat analysts’ estimates, helped by higher prices for Marlboro cigarettes and snuff sales.

Net income rose 28 percent to $1.13 billion, or 54 cents a share, from $882 million, or 42 cents, a year earlier, the Richmond, Virginia-based maker of Copenhagen snuff said today in a statement. Analysts surveyed by Bloomberg had projected 52 cents, the average of 11 estimates..

Altria’s Philip Morris USA division raised prices by 8 cents a pack on all of its 18 cigarette brands in May after top- selling Marlboro gained smokers. Marlboro’s share increased 0.7 percentage point to 42.6 percent in the quarter while smokeless tobacco shipments rose 16 percent to 183.9 million cans.

Lower restructuring costs, including the closing of a cigarette factory in Cabarrus County, North Carolina, in 2009, also contributed to profit.

Shipments dropped 2.4 percent to 36.6 billion cigarettes, as higher prices and smoking bans have crimped demand. Marlboro’s volume slipped 0.3 percent to 31.8 billion cigarettes.

Altria raised its full-year forecast for per-share earnings by 2 cents to a range of $1.83 to $1.87 because of tax benefits. On an adjusted basis, it left unchanged its July forecast of $1.87 to $1.91, representing growth of 7 percent to 9 percent. Analysts project $1.89.

Altria advanced 17 cents to $24.92 at 4 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. The stock has climbed 27 percent this year, after advancing 30 percent in 2009.

By Chris Burritt

Greek bars defy smoking ban

defy smoking ban
ATHENS – Greek bar and restaurant owners put ashtrays back on the tables on Monday, openly defying a smoking ban introduced by a government struggling to implement changes across society.

The restaurateurs refuse to apply the ban, which came after several failed attempts, saying it drives Europe’s heaviest smokers away at a time when business is already down because of Greece’s worst recession in decades.

“This ban is the final blow,” Yiorgos Kavathas, general secretary of the Greek restaurant owners federation, told Reuters. “Cafes and restaurants are shutting down. Our union estimates that at least 20,000 will close.”

Most bars and many restaurants have silently ignored the ban, which went into effect on September 1, allowing customers to puff indoors after initially removing their ashtrays.

On Monday they went one step further, openly declaring their refusal to comply despite threats of fines and revoking of licenses.

“This is the worst thing that could happen to a lawmaker and the government which has to enforce the law — the refusal of society to comply with the rules,” Health Minister Andreas Loverdos told Skai radio.

Greece’s government is struggling to change other entrenched practices, including tax dodging, as part of reforms to streamline the state, fight corruption and re-establish the credibility of a country saved from bankruptcy by an EU/IMF bailout in May.

Tax revenues are lagging far behind target despite efforts to capture all money transactions.

Analysts said the smoking ban was a key test of the government’s determination to apply reforms. Roughly 40 percent of Greece’s 11 million population smoke.

“If the government bows to pressure, it does not bode well for everything else they are trying to do,” said Yanis Varoufakis, professor of economics at the University of Athens. “We have a long tradition in Greece of agreeing draconian laws without ever enforcing them.”

The Health Ministry’s general secretary for public health, Antonis Dimopoulos, said the government was determined to enforce the ban but was holding back on imposing fines because it wanted to persuade people to apply the ban voluntarily rather than force it through sanctions.

“We will continue implementing the ban no matter what,” he told Reuters, adding that the government would review its strategy in December. “This doesn’t mean we will withdraw the ban.”

By Ingrid Melander and Renee Maltezou

Banning Smoking In Car When Children Inside

It is something usual for all buildings to have special legislations against smoking inside, but in Central Ohio City now was enforced a new ordinance that would ban cigarettes smoking in cars when kids are inside them. This is the main cause why between high school government class started new active discussions.

Lauryn Robinson and Logan Justice are still in their teenage years, yet they could be just a few months far from getting an idea that was raised in their Washington Senior High School AP Government class become new regulation in Washington Court House.
The idea of a new law started when the class was thinking of plans for their class group action programs.

“We were just pliable of all sitting around and we’re thinking what without any doubts makes us mad when we drive through town and see a lot of new and old things and someone confess ‘I hate seeing parents smoke cigs in the car with their children.’ So we kind of exactly took that new idea and then ran,” Robinson declared.
They gathered requests, leaded investigation on similar anti-smoking legislations and then showed their sample to council members in May.

Teenagers even mailed a video on the Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights Web site displays how fast the air inside a car with a smoker can become harmful. But according to the American Lung Association, only few minutes of smoking in a car can extend ten times the levels allowed by the EPA for outdoor air pollution.

“I suppose that someone will look at this propose as a way to protect young children who, their parents may not think that they damage their health if they continue to smoke in the car,” argued Washington Court House Council President Dale Lynch.
Health experts declared that smoking in car with kids, it is like enclosing somebody up and blowing toxic water in their face.
However, a lot of inhabitants told that they’re against this proposal, reporting that if they can’t smoke in their car this year, then next year they could not smoke even in their house.

Is E-Cigarette ess harmful nicotine fix

An e-cigarette retailer insists the product is known to help smokers who have the intention to quit smoking.

E-Cig Trading director Allen Foo said: “It works just like a nicotine patch and nicotine gum which is to give user the nicotine fix.

“But, there’s more to smoking than just getting the nicotine fix. There is a certain fixation about smoking: The way you hold the cigarette, the puffing and seeing the smoke coming out of your mouth.

“The e-cigarette offers the same smoking experience: You hold it like a cigarette, you puff it like you do a cigarette, and you’ll see ‘smoke’ coming out of your mouth like a cigarette. Except that it’s not a smoke, it’s vapour.”

Foo said some of his customers have managed to quit smoking two months after switching to e-cigarette.

“Once they get used to the e-cigarette, they get uncomfortable with the smell of regular cigarette fumes. So, they will stop smoking the regular cigarette for good. Following that, they switched to the low-nicotine cartridge and eventually they will stop needing the nicotine fix.”

Foo explained the time taken to quit smoking varies from one customer to another.

“Smokers know smoking is bad for health. But, it’s not the nicotine which makes smoking harmful. Nicotine is like caffeine to a coffee drinker: It’s addictive. The e-cigarette is an alternative for those who need the nicotine fix with minimal damage to their body and those around them.”

The battery-powered, non-flammable device claims to provide a smoking experience without the danger of fire, flame, tar, carbon monoxide and other harmful substances found in a regular cigarette.

Instead of smoke, the device releases vapour, which contains vaporised nicotine and is delivered straight to the blood stream via the lungs, giving the smoker an instant fix.

It is also claimed the odourless vapour allows the smoker to smoke in a closed-environment without causing discomfort to others in the same room.

One e-cigarette user, Philip Oon, said he switched to the e-cigarette because his wife doesn’t allow him to smoke inside the house and would scold him if he does.

“It took me awhile to get used to it and I would smoke up to two cartridges a day. Now, I’ve managed to reduce it to one cartridge a day. One cartridge would cost me RM3 and it saves me RM7 everyday as I often used to smoke a 20-cigarette pack a day.”

Each cartridge is equivalent to 15 to 40 cigarette sticks or 100-150 puffs, depending on the brand and make.

The e-cigarette starter pack cost ranges between RM40 and RM350, depending on the brand and model.

A nicotine-free flavoured cartridge is also available for sisha smokers.

How e-cigarettes work

While a regular cigarette contains over 4,000 harmful chemicals — including 43 cancer-causing (carcinogenic) compounds, an e-cigarette claims to contain only water, nicotine, propylene glycol, and flavouring that emulates the cigarette flavour.

The e-cigarette is made up of three components — the battery, an atomiser (or vapouriser) and the cartridge.

The product works when a smoker inhales at the end of the cartridge whichs hold the nicotine. The atomiser then heats up the nicotine into vapour form. The smoker then inhales the odorless nicotine vapour like they would inhale smoke from a regular cigarette.

An orange LED will light on the other end of the cigarette to imitate the actual smoking experience.

Association of Standards Users: A fag is a fag

Malaysian Association of Standards Users chief executive officer N. Ratna Devi feels Malaysia shouldn’t allow e-cigarettes to be made available here, since The World Health Organisation (WHO) does not endorse the product as a replacement therapy for nicotine or smoking.

Stating Malaysia should apply a similar principle, she said: “This is to ensure the safety of potential users.

“WHO has stated no rigorous, peer-reviewed studies have been conducted showing the e-cigarette is a safe and effective nicotine replacement therapy. The purchase of e-cigarette should be strictly governed.

“Since the component being consumed is nicotine, the Drug Control Authority should play a leading role,” said Ratna, adding that cigarettes of any kind is harmful to health.

A Look Ahead to Altria Group’s Earnings

Altria Group Inc. (MO) is scheduled to announce earnings before the market opens on Wednesday, October 20th. Looking at the analyst consensus, it appears most traders believe MO is going to announce a profit of 52 cents per share.

Comparing the consensus estimate with MO’s profit of 48 cents per share a year ago, you can see that most analysts believe the company performed better this year than it did last year.

As you prepare for MO’s announcement on Wednesday, remember that a profit of 52 cents per share has already been priced into the value of the stock. So if earnings come in at that level, we probably won’t see much change in the price of the stock—unless the company changes its outlook for the future. It’s also important to remember that good earnings don’t always lead to higher stock prices.

MO has gained 37 cents (1.51 percent) during the past week and is currently trading above its 20-day, 50-day and 200-day moving averages.

Investors will also be evaluating other stocks in the Cigarettes industry as MO announces its earnings to see if any of the same factors that are influencing MO may also come to bear on those stocks.

Philip Morris International, Inc. (PM) is the largest company in the Cigarettes industry (based on market cap), and has been doing well recently. During the past year, PM has seen earnings per share (EPS) grow by $3.69. Looking at PM’s recent stock performance, PM has gained $4.06 (7.45 percent) during the past month and is currently trading above its 20-day, 50-day and 200-day moving averages.

British American Tobacco plc (BTI) is also a member of the Cigarettes industry. Looking at the same time frame, BTI has watched EPS expand by $4.48. BTI has gained $4.04 (5.49 percent) during the past month and is currently trading above its 20-day, 50-day and 200-day moving averages.

Reynolds American Inc. (RAI), another industry peer, has gained ground during the past year. RAI has experienced growth of $4.16 in EPS. RAI has gained $3.34 (5.72 percent) during the past month and is currently trading above its 20-day, 50-day and 200-day moving averages.

Indian smoke tax ban continues

BUFFALO — Rulings by two federal judges will continue to prevent the state from collecting taxes on some Indian cigarette sales while tribes continue their legal fight against an issue that has caused tension for decades.

But Gov. David Paterson’s administration said Friday the state is closer than ever to settling the issue after one of the judges confirmed the state’s right to tax reservation cigarette sales to non-Indian customers and said doing so would not infringe on tribal sovereignty.

“It’s time for decades of court battles to come to an end,” Paterson spokesman Morgan Hook said.

U.S. District Judge Richard Arcara on Thursday denied the Seneca and Cayuga Indian Nations’ request for a preliminary injunction against the tax, saying it was unlikely that the western New York tribes could substantiate their claims that it would overburden them and impinge on their sovereignty.

Arcara, in a separate order, granted a delay in the start of collections to give the tribes time to follow through on a promised appeal of his ruling. A temporary order was set to expire Friday.

A Utica judge’s decision in a separate case brought by the Oneida Indian Nation was less favorable to the state.

Unlike his counterpart in Buffalo, Judge David Hurd agreed with arguments that the state’s plans to require wholesalers to pre-charge tribal retailers the $4.35-per-pack tax are unconstitutional and granted a preliminary injunction blocking enforcement against the central New York tribe.

Hurd noted that the Oneida Nation would have $3.5 million tied up in prepaid taxes at any given time because it maintains an inventory of 80,000 cartons.

“The harm from permitting the state to enforce its new tax law will be irreparable to the Oneida Nation,” he wrote.

He also granted the Oneidas’ request to send the case to mediation in hopes of a quicker final resolution.

Arcara, in extending his temporary ban on taxing Seneca and Cayuga sales, cited the possibility of layoffs among the 3,000 employed in 172 Seneca Nation smokeshops and said he did not believe the state would be hurt by the delay.

He also noted predictions by both sides that there could be violence if the tax takes effect and said it was in the public interest to suspend the plan.

The last time the state tried to collect the tax, in 1997, protesters lit tire fires and shut down a 30-mile stretch of the New York state Thruway that bisects Seneca land near the Pennsylvania line. Since then, governors have followed a policy of “forbearance” allowing tax-free sales to continue despite state law saying the tax should be collected.

Seneca President Barry Snyder Sr. said the 7,800-member tribe is disappointed its request for an injunction was denied but will continue to fight the state’s plans. Nation leaders say the state tax would interfere with the tribe’s own internal taxing scheme which generates revenue for health and education programs.

“We are thankful that (Arcara) granted our motion for a stay pending appeal and the state still cannot enforce their unlawful and improper tax scheme against the Seneca people,” Snyder said in a statement late Thursday. “The fight is far from over.”

Seneca and Cayuga attorneys have indicated they will challenge Arcara’s decision in the U.S. Court of Appeals.

The St. Regis Mohawk tribe in northern New York and Poospatucks of Long Island also are challenging the taxation of sales to non-Indian customers in cases pending before Arcara.

State tax officials had planned to begin collections on Sept. 1 as a way to generate $110 million in revenue this fiscal year and $200 million a year after that. Wholesalers would be required to prepay the sales taxes before supplying Native American stores, forcing them to pass along the charge to tribal retailers, who in turn would have to raise their prices and lose their competitive edge over off-reservation convenience stores.

Cigarette makers sold 24 million cartons of non-native-brand cigarettes to tribes in New York in 2009, with the Senecas buying the most at 10.2 million, the state Department of Taxation and Finance said. Tribes also sell millions of cartons of American Indian brands.

Menthol cigarettes are highly profitable for cigarette companies

More than a year after candy, clove and fruit flavors were banned in cigarettes, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is weighing whether to do the same to menthol.

It’s easy to understand why the law that gave the FDA regulatory authority over tobacco also forbade so many types of flavored cigarettes. Studies show that they attract young people to smoking and keep them inhaling by disguising the otherwise harsh taste and sensation in the mouth and throat. But in that case, why didn’t the law also ban menthol cigarettes, by far the most popular flavoring for cigarettes? Precisely because they’re so popular. Menthol brands account for about a quarter of U.S. cigarette sales; once people start with menthol, moreover, they are unlikely to switch to an unflavored brand. In other words, a ban on mentholated cigarettes has a good chance of cutting into smoking rates — and tobacco industry profits.

Menthol also is the preferred cigarette flavoring among African American smokers, and advertising has been specifically targeted to this demographic. Nearly three-fourths of African American smokers buy menthol brands.

In meetings last week, an FDA advisory committee heard about studies showing that advertisements for mentholated cigarettes were especially common in publications marketed to young people and on billboards in low-income communities. UC San Francisco researchers who had pored through industry documents said company surveys found that smokers wrongly perceived menthol cigarettes to be “light” and therefore less harmful, that they especially appealed to young people, and that the minty taste cools the harshness of cigarette smoke. Separately, a 2009 study found that smokers were able to quit regular cigarettes more easily than mentholated ones.

The FDA’s authority over cigarettes is more complicated than its other regulatory duties, just as our society’s attitude toward smoking is more divided than its view of, say, dangerous pharmaceuticals or unsafe food practices. Americans don’t particularly want a nanny state that tells its citizens whether they may or may not smoke, yet it is also clear that smoking is an addictive and dangerous habit with little to recommend it. If cigarettes were being proposed today as a new drug to treat stress, they would never pass FDA muster. But the law that gave the FDA the authority to regulate tobacco does not allow the agency to ban it. In the interests of public health, and especially to protect young people, it can prohibit certain additives — such as menthol — and can limit, but not ban, nicotine.

The tobacco industry points out that, as far as anyone knows, mentholated cigarettes are no worse for smokers’ health than regular cigarettes. That’s true, but the same is true of other flavored cigarettes. There is just as much reason — and more — to ban menthol as to ban cherry or chocolate flavoring in cigarettes.

Menthol cigarettes make it easier to get started on a health-wrecking habit, and harder to end it. The reason we have waited this long for a ban on mentholated cigarettes isn’t that menthol is inherently different from candy flavoring, but that it has been far more profitable for tobacco companies.

© 2010, Los Angeles Times

We need to take a stand for freedom

It has been a long road to the ballot box for the statewide smoking ban.

From the state Legislature and Gov. Mike Rounds’ desk in early 2009, to a successful petition drive that was overturned when the state threw out thousands of signatures, to a court battle that in late 2009 finally

allowed a public vote to move forward, the 21-month journey is nearing an end.

On Nov. 2, it will be up to South Dakotans to decide whether to snuff out smoking indoors in all public places, including bars, restaurants, video lottery establishments and Deadwood casinos.

Proponents say the ban is necessary to protect thousands of workers and patrons at alcohol-serving establishments from the dangers of secondhand smoke, a known carcinogen according to federal health agencies.

“We have thousands of people who go to work and are breathing secondhand smoke for eight to 10 hours. That can all be avoided,” said Dr. Allen Nord, chairman of the South Dakota Tobacco-Free Kids Network. “No one should have to make a choice between a good job and breathing clean air.”

But opponents, led by a Sioux Falls bar owner, say the ban would trample the property rights of business owners and endanger the state’s revenue from Deadwood casinos and statewide video lottery, which poured $122.5 million into the coffers of state and local governments in fiscal 2010.

“It’s become an issue that’s more about freedom and the rights of people,” said Don Rose, spokesman for Citizens for Individual Freedom, which referred the ban to a vote. “My place is owned by me. You have the choice to go in there, and I have the choice to allow smoking.”

If approved, Referred Law 12 would extend the state’s existing smoking ban to all workplaces, closing a loophole for establishments that serve alcohol. No other places of employment, including public facilities and other private businesses, have been allowed to permit smoking indoors since 2002.

The only exceptions would be for cigar bars that were in business on Jan. 1, 2009, tobacco shops and designated hotel rooms. Violations of the ban would be treated as a petty offense.

“It’s inappropriate for us to

acknowledge the danger of

secondhand smoke for lawyers and accountants but not for the bartender or the video lottery clerk,” said Jennifer Stalley, treasurer for the Yes on 12 campaign.

Opponents see the law’s expansion as a further intrusion into private enterprise. Choice — of property owners to allow smoking in their own businesses, of employees to apply for jobs in smoking establishments and of patrons to enter smoky bars or casinos — is one of their central arguments.

“It’s another move to further infringe on our freedoms,” said Gordon Howie, a former state senator and tea party candidate for governor. “Where will we go next? Will we be told we can’t make our own choices on whether to smoke in our automobiles or in our own homes?”

Rose, who owns Shenanigan’s Pub in Sioux Falls and Tea, said it is simply not the role of government to tell business owners who have invested millions into their establishments how to operate.

“They own their buildings or they pay rent. How can someone come in there and say you own this building, but we’re not going to let you smoke in it?” Rose said. “That’s not right.”

But employers do not have an “unfettered right” to determine the working conditions of their employees either, Stalley said.

“I don’t think it’s realistic that people have a large number of choices where to work. There are not enough jobs to just pick and choose from in South Dakota,” Stalley said.

Clayton Hieb of Rapid City was a smoker for most of his adult life but quit 13 years ago after watching five of his family members die of tobacco-related diseases. The rights of smokers and business owners only extend so far, he said.

“It’s your right to smoke all you wish. I will protect your right to smoke,” Hieb said. “But it’s not your right to interfere with my health or a worker’s health.”

Still, Howie said, no one is forcing anyone to go into an establishment that allows smoking.

“Regardless of how they feel about smoke, we can make choices not to patronize those businesses. And quite frankly, I do, because I don’t appreciate secondhand or firsthand smoke,” he said. “But we need to take a stand for freedom.”


Opponents of the smoking ban also have raised questions about whether secondhand smoke is

really as dangerous as Hieb and others would say.

Rose, who opened his pub in Sioux Falls’ Empire Mall in 1986, said not one of his long-term employees has died of complications of secondhand smoke exposure.

“They’re trying to tell you that secondhand smoke is killing you, and I’m telling you find one person who died from secondhand smoke,” Rose said. “I don’t need to do a study to tell you that.”

But much of the state’s medical community supports the ban.

Health insurance providers DakotaCare and Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of South Dakota and organizations including the American Cancer Society, Black Hills Center for American Indian Health and the 1,900 members of the South Dakota State Medical Association are among its endorsers.

Nord, a primary care physician in Rapid City, said anyone who doubts the danger of secondhand smoke should read for themselves a 2006 report on the subject from the country’s top doctor at the time, Richard Carmona, surgeon general under President George W. Bush.

“There’s no equivocation anymore. There’s no arguing anymore,” Nord said. “Secondhand smoke kills people.”

“The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke: A Report of the Surgeon General” describes secondhand smoke as an “alarming public health hazard” and strengthens conclusions first made by the surgeon general in 1986.

“Secondhand smoke causes premature death and disease in children and adults who do not smoke,” the report said.

According to the report, children exposed to secondhand smoke are at an increased risk for sudden infant death syndrome, acute respiratory infections, ear infections and severe asthma. In adults, secondhand smoke causes “immediate adverse effects” to the cardiovascular system, coronary heart disease and lung cancer.

“The scientific evidence indicates that there is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke,” the report said.

And it isn’t just the surgeon general raising the alarm about secondhand smoke, supporters said.

As part of the Yes on 12 campaign, Hieb, a volunteer, has compiled “Clayton’s Box of Evidence,” which contains thousands of pages of scientific studies that draw similar conclusions. Included are reports from the World Health Organization, National Institutes of Health, British Medical Journal and the International Agency for Research on Cancer.

“Why anyone would deny that is beyond me,” Hieb said. “Any doctor would tell you the same thing. Any health professional would tell you the same thing. It’s a killer.”

In 1992, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency classified “environmental tobacco smoke,” or secondhand smoke, as a Group A carcinogen, its warning for proven cancer-causing agents.

Secondhand smoke, considered as both the smoke being exhaled and the unfiltered smoke coming off the end of a burning cigarette, has been identified to contain more than 4,000 chemicals. Among them are more than 50 known carcinogens, including arsenic, benzene, cadmium, ethylene oxide, polonium-210 and vinyl chloride, according to the National Cancer Institute.

“What I tell people is secondhand smoke is way more dangerous than we ever suspected,” Nord said.


South Dakota would not be the first state with commercial gambling and video lottery to ban smoking. And if the experience of other states — including Colorado, Montana and Oregon — are any indication, South Dakota could lose between 10 percent and 20 percent of its gambling revenue in the first year of a smoking ban.

In fiscal 2010, which ended June 30, video lottery contributed $106.9 million to state aid to education, down $2 million from 2009. Deadwood gambling taxes sent $15.6 million to state, county and local governments, up $983,000 over 2009.

Howie, the former state senator, questioned whether 2010 was the right time to gamble with state revenue. State budget officials have projected that the state could be staring down an $80 million deficit in fiscal 2012.

“This doesn’t seem like the right time to be doing things that would make our economic plight even worse and cause our legislators to have to look at cutting services or increasing taxes,” Howie said.

Proponents acknowledge there could be a “slight” decline in the state’s gambling revenue with a smoking ban, but they argue that disposable income will enter the economy in different ways and that the state will actually save money in health care expenses. In their mind, health concerns trump any others.

“It’s not as clear cut as saying 20 percent out of our pockets, we’re doomed,” Stalley said.

Those in the gambling industry have come out against the smoking ban.

Tom Nelson, executive director of the Deadwood Gaming Association, said there have been dozens of studies in other jurisdictions and the results were the same: Smoking bans hurt revenue.

Time away from the machines means less money going into them, and for whatever reason, smoking and gambling just go together in people’s minds.

“The gaming industry is an entertainment industry. They go out to relax,” Nelson said. “You take away one of those elements and people tend to stay home.”

Significant losses could result in layoffs, Nelson said.

“There will be a lot of cutbacks in employment, because that’s where the cutbacks can be made,” he said. “You can’t cut your mortgage. You can’t cut your light bill.”

In Colorado, which banned smoking in 2008, the state’s gambling taxes were down $13 million, or 12 percent, in the smoking ban’s first full year, according to the Colorado Division of Gaming.

In fiscal 2010, tax collections appeared to rebound to near pre-smoking ban levels, up $12.8 million over fiscal 2009.

Lois Rice, executive director of the Colorado Gaming Association, said much of the recovery can be attributed to changes that were already in motion when the ban went into effect. In July 2009, bet limits were raised to $100 from $5, casino hours were expanded to 24 hours and craps and roulette were added.

“It lessened the pain,” Rice said.

Casinos have also tried to

accommodate smokers with outdoor smoking lounges that are heated and have televisions and other comforts, Rice said. Some are configured to make it impossible for smokers to leave the premises without first passing through the casino floor again.

“The anti-smoking lobby was trying to convince legislators that nonsmoking gamblers would replace those smoking gamblers and there wouldn’t be a significant impact to revenue. However, that was not the case,” Rice said. “We were never able to capture a new market of nonsmoking gamblers.”

South Dakota’s video lottery industry has stayed largely quiet on the smoking ban. Larry Mann, a lobbyist who represents video lottery interests and led the petition drive, declined to comment for this story.

In 2009, Montana and Oregon saw losses that mirror those in states that allow casino gambling.

Montana’s smoking ban was extended to bars and taverns on Oct. 1, 2009, and in fiscal 2010 the state’s video gambling revenue was down $9.7 million, or 16 percent, according to the state Department of Justice’s Gambling Control Division. There, the state receives 15 percent of gross machine income; South Dakota receives 50 percent.

“We need some more experience with it, but the implementation of the smoking ban will have an impact,” Rick Ask, who administers the program in Montana, said.

But Ask agreed with Oregon Lottery officials that it was impossible to separate whether it was the economy or the smoking ban that led to the losses.

Oregon’s smoking ban went into effect Jan. 1, 2009. In fiscal 2009, Oregon’s video lottery revenue fell to $786.7 million, down 12 percent, a loss of $108 million. In fiscal 2010, revenue fell another $79.8 million. The Oregon Lottery owns video lottery terminals and receives

75 percent of gross machine income.

Chuck Baumann, spokesman for the Oregon Lottery, said other games, including Powerball and scratch cards, have also struggled. Oregon’s unemployment rate is currently among the nation’s highest, which he said consequently affects discretionary income for nonessential expenditures.

“It’s too hard to figure out,” Baumann said of a breakdown of economic and smoking ban losses. “There are too many variables. You can’t separate it.”

Contact Emilie Rusch at 394-8453 or emilie.rusch@rapidcityjournal.com.

Banning the smoking break

smoking break

There is a push on in some industries to ban smoking breaks. Some might say it’s a good idea – good for productivity and good for people’s health. But others might say it’s heavy handed. After all, if people are smoking outside and away from others, who cares?

It’s bad enough that smokers are being forced to huddle in corners outside the building. I don’t smoke but I can see the argument that it actually impinges on their civil liberties because it puts them in a very uncomfortable space.

Earlier this year, the issue was raised when the Health Department banned people from taking cigarette breaks.  The departmental memo makes it quite clear to smokers that they are on the outer. “While no departmental employee will be permitted to smoke during the working day, smoking before or after these hours, or during the lunch period, is permitted. However, to ensure that as a department we project an appropriate professional image I also propose that no employee be permitted to smoke within 15 metres of any premises occupied by the department at any time.”

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The decision was condemned by civil libertarians but Simon Chapman, the professor of public health at the University of Sydney says that’s just “soft nonsense” because when  you add it all up, smokers would be taking 216 hours a year when they head out on a break. “With 90 per cent of smokers regretting having ever started smoking, many smokers are in fact grateful for policies that limit their smoking … I love good coffee. Should I be able to leave the building and walk 50 metres to my nearest cafe any time I want at my employer’s expense? What about exercise ”addicts” or mild claustrophobics? Why limit compassion only to smokers?”

As reported here, there are some who believe it’s polarising smokers and non-smokers with the non-smokers resenting the number of breaks being taken. Take, for example, a call centre where people might duck out for a 15 minute smoke. Management will look the other way. But when non-smokers want to take five minutes out, they will have management breathing down their necks. It’s not fair.

Some specialists say one way around the problem is to create statutory breaks for smokers. Not a bad idea but it won’t work. Why? Because some smoke more than others. Some might smoke two or three cigarettes a day, others might have two packs. How do you create a statutory break period with that sort of variation?

It’s a trend and discussion that seems to be gathering momentum with some organisations overseas forcing smokers to clock off when they duck out. In Europe, they’re even talking about banning smoking in all public places.

Lawyer Peter Vitalie has told Smart Company that more employers now see several 15 minute breaks a day as something that undermines productivity and that they could easily ban it. “There is nothing stopping an employer asking a candidate if they smoke and how often,” he says.”You can put into a contract that staff are not to smoke during office hours. You can also fix the time of people’s breaks and request that in their break they do not leave your premises. There is no law that says you can’t discriminate against smokers.”

Maybe. But then, smokers would say they have rights too.

Synthetic pot banned in Oregon

The Oregon Board of Pharmacy will make it illegal starting Friday to sell or possess synthetic cannabis.

The products, sold as incense under names including Spice, K2 and Yucatan Fire, have flown under the radar of law enforcement until recently. Smoking the incense has sent dozens of people to hospitals nationwide.

Tests of the products by the Drug Enforcement Administration have detected small amounts of chemicals similar to active ingredients in marijuana. The pharmacy board decided to list the synthetic cannabinoid chemicals as schedule 1 controlled substances, which gives police the authority to prosecute people for sale or possession. Officials said they will post more details Friday.

The pharmacy board acted after several Oregon lawmakers expressed concern that use of synthetic cannabis incense is on the rise. At least six states have banned the sale of the incense. Poison control centers nationwide say they’ve received more than 1,500 calls related to the synthetic marijuana products.

Labels don’t list any ingredients, including ones that could be toxic. “And we have no idea how it’s going to affect the individual,” Dr. Rob Hendrickson, associate medical director of the Oregon Poison Center, told The Oregonian earlier this year.

Most patients who have shown up in Oregon emergency rooms displayed symptoms similar to taking too many stimulants, including high blood pressure and tremors, Hendrickson said.
Joe Rojas-Burke, The Oregonian

Big Tobacco’s Response to FDA’s Menthol Queries

A Food and Drug Administration (FDA) official investigating the use of menthol in cigarettes expressed dissatisfaction with the responses from tobacco companies, Dow Jones Newswires reported Oct. 7.

Earlier this year, the FDA sent out a broad information request to about 100 tobacco companies in an attempt to learn more, in part, about the use of menthol in cigarettes and how menthol cigarettes are marketed. While responses to some parts of the request were mandatory, some were voluntary.

A senior medical advisor at the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products, Corinne Husten, said in a scientific advisory committee meeting that the industry had not met an Aug. 26 deadline to submit brand-specific information on nicotine and menthol levels from the past ten years.

Jonathan Daniel Heck, a representative of Lorillard Tobacco Company, stated that he thought the industry had responded to all of the FDA’s requests, both mandatory and voluntary. Husten later clarified that although “brief summaries” had been provided by some companies as of Oct. 6, no company had provided “health and research” documents on menthol levels.

A spokesperson for Philip Morris USA’s parent company, Altria Group Inc. said that Philip Morris had responded to all of the FDA’s requests for information about menthol.

The FDA banned all other flavorings in cigarettes last year because of concerns that they made smoking more attractive to teens and children. Now it is investigating whether menthol makes it easier to take up smoking and harder to quit. The tobacco industry contends that there is no evidence to show that menthol increases the likelihood that someone will start smoking.

The FDA’s report is due next March. It has the authority to limit the amount of menthol that can be used in cigarettes, or ban it outright. Because menthol cigarettes are popular in the United States — they make up about a third of the $70 billion domestic cigarette market — there is some concern that a ban would spawn a large black market for the flavored cigarettes.

Roll-your-own cigarette machines shut down

Area smokers looking to save a few dollars by using what are commonly known as roll-your-own cigarette machines may be out of Roll-your-own cigarette machinesluck, at least for a while.

A Sept. 30 ruling by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau found that shops with these types of machines should legally be considered a manufacturer of cigarettes. As such, they are required to file for a permit and to follow other government regulations.

In the meantime, roll-your-own machines throughout the country are being shut down. One local business is already feeling the sting.

“It’s bad news for us and our customers,” said Cindy Kurzinger, manager of Discount Tobacco and Beverage, located on Lake Shore Boulevard in Mentor.

Kurzinger said Discount Tobacco and Beverage is one of two businesses with roll-your-own machines in Lake County. The business is planning on opening a second store in Willowick by the end of the month.

“(The roll-your-own machine) was going to be a big part of the second store,” Kurzinger said.

Now Discount Tobacco and Beverage will have to wait two or three months as it works to meet all the requirements to get a manufacturer’s permit and get its machines back up and running.

Kurzinger said customers often prefer using roll-your-own machines to buying an already produced carton because it saves them significant money.

An Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau study found most stores charge between $16.02 and $25.50 per carton of roll-your-own cigarettes.

To compare, Kurzinger said a carton of Marlboros currently costs about $55.

Tom Hogue, spokesman for the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, said the organization has not changed its definition of what constitutes a “manufacturer,” but it has recently determined that businesses with roll-your-own machines do fit into that category.

“This is not a change,” Hogue said. “We looked at how this activity fits into existing law and if businesses choose to continue to do it, there is a correct way to do so.”

Hogue said applications for a manufacturer’s permit can be found on the organization’s website. He said the length of time it takes to get the application approved is dependent on how quickly the businesses can prove they meet all requirements.

“Business can read all the qualifications in detail on our website,” Hogue said.

He said the goal of the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau is to make sure there is no potential tax liability from the roll-your-own machines.

“We’re just trying to let people know what the law is,” Hogue said, “That way they can know what they’re getting into and make their own decision.”

By Max Reinhart