Monthly Archives: January 2011

Benefit seen in lower smokeless-products tax

A national study of state tobacco taxes, released Thursday, found that a lower rate on smokeless products could encourage users to switch from cigarettes.

According to the National Center for Policy Analysis, six states — Iowa, Maine, North Dakota, Oregon, Utah and Wyoming — have a higher tax on smokeless tobacco than cigarettes.

In North Carolina, smokeless tobacco is taxed at 10 percent of the wholesale price of a product. By comparison, there is a 45-cent tax on a pack of cigarettes.

The group reported that the national average is a 73-cent tax on smokeless-tobacco products and a $1.45 tax on a cigarette pack.

Analysts say that most tobacco taxes are geared toward recouping the cost to society of health-care expenses related to its use. However, some state-level politicians want to fill budget shortfalls with a larger tax on those products.

“Some states are, in essence, discouraging people from pursuing a lower-risk product by taxing it at a higher rate,” said Pamela Villarreal, a senior policy analyst with the think tank.

The smokeless-tobacco tax issue is pivotal to Reynolds American Inc., which is plowing ahead with its smokeless initiatives as part of what Susan Ivey, its top executive, calls its transformation into becoming a “total tobacco company.”

Legislators representing the Triad said that even though there is a projected $3.7 billion state budget shortfall for 2011, they know of no plans to try to raise the smokeless-tobacco tax this session. Such an effort briefly surfaced in 2009.

According to 2009 data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 4.3 percent of North Carolinians use smokeless-tobacco products, compared with 20.3 percent who smoke.

Villarreal said she based her report in part on recent U.S. and international studies on smokeless tobacco. The group said some smokeless products could be taxed at 10 percent of the tax level on cigarettes. “There are some people who cannot or will not quit smoking,” Villarreal said. “Tobacco taxes should be levied in a way that at least encourages people to make better choices.”

One set of anti-smoking advocates says smokeless tobacco is a gateway for teenagers to cigarettes and discourages users from quitting. The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids says “all products must be taxed at equivalent rates” to keep users from switching brands.

By RICHARD CRAVER
rcraver@wsjournal.com
(336) 413-4729

Cigarette packets to turn ugly under new initiative

New graphic images depicting the negative impact of smoking on health will soon be dominating cigarette packets across the country, according to health officials.

Four images featuring lung and lip cancers and stained teeth will be printed on 50 per cent of one side of each cigarette packet under an initiative spearheaded by the health ministry to highlight diseases related to smoking.

“The warning images will also include a pregnant woman smoking to highlight the risks associated with smoking during pregnancy,” Bassam Hijjawi, director of the ministry’s disease control department, told The Jordan Times over the phone on Sunday.

He added that the unsightly images will be featured on all tobacco products within the next six months, noting that the initiative was delayed by logistical issues.

Last year, the health ministry studied the possibility of enlarging the graphic warning printed on tobacco packets from 30 per cent to 50 per cent.

“Such a move requires a lot of money and effort from tobacco companies … we should be patient,” he said, stressing that such warning graphics have shown significant results in other countries as these images reduce the appeal of cigarettes.

“This is why a lot of tobacco companies have resorted to giving away free leather cases to hide the images,” Hijjawi said, indicating that Jordan was the first country in the region to put warning graphics on cigarette packets.

Under its adoption of the Framework Convention for Tobacco Control (FCTC), in 2006 the Kingdom obliged local tobacco companies to include an image of diseased lungs on cigarette packs as an additional warning against the dangers of smoking.

The image occupies one-third of one side of a cigarette packet, while a written warning against smoking covers a third of the other side.

The FCTC, the first treaty negotiated under the auspices of the World Health Organisation (WHO), was adopted by the World Health Assembly on May 21, 2003 and entered into force on February 27, 2005. It currently has 166 member parties, according to the WHO.

Article 9 of the convention requires state parties to develop and enforce measures to regulate the contents and emissions of tobacco products, while Article 10 stipulates adopting and implementing measures to require tobacco product manufacturers to disclose the contents and emissions of their products to authorities, in addition to making this information publicly available.

By Laila Azzeh
The Jordan Times

Summerville council passes smoking ban

SUMMERVILLE — The town passed its public smoking ban Wednesday, with Mayor Berlin G. Myers breaking a 3-3 tie to exuberant Smokers treated like criminalsshouts and cheers from the audience.

Council members Mike Dawson, Kima Garten-Schmidt and Aaron Brown voted in favor. Council members Walter Bailey, Ricky Waring and Bob Jackson opposed.

Bailey called the ordinance “another nail in the coffin of freedom of choice and individual responsibility.”

But Dawson, who proposed the law, said, “Our freedoms have bounds. We are not free to bring harm to another individual.”

The law, which bans smoking indoors in most businesses, passed after Bailey’s motion to table it failed with a 4-2 vote. Waring joined Bailey voting to table. It had become a moving target, with at least two revisions between first and final reading and Dawson tweaking it as recently as Tuesday to deal with objections.

The council tabled Dawson’s first proposed ordinance in spring 2010. He won more council support and introduced a revised version in December after council members were told that Dorchester County Council also would propose one.

But County Council delayed its first vote earlier this month, with a majority of members indicating that they wouldn’t support it. The vote is scheduled for Feb. 7.

A collection of anti-smoking activist groups has pushed for the local bans and a statewide ban that the S.C. Legislature hasn’t acted on yet.

Representatives and supporters of the activist groups turn out for the votes, arguing for the health and worker safety benefits. Less organized and usually smaller numbers of smoking supporters and business people turn out arguing that it’s a property rights decision that should be left to individual businesses.

Bailey, among some other town and county council members, was concerned that the ordinance is an overreach of government.

Twelve Lowcountry municipalities now have smoking bans; North Charleston and Folly Beach have rejected them. At least five counties across the state also have a ban.

The bans appear to hurt at least a few businesses and help others. Bert’s Bar closed after Sullivan’s Island passed a smoking ban; the owner blamed it partly on a drop in business after the ban. Nearby, Dunleavy’s Pub saw business pick up.

By Bo Petersen, 937-5744.

68 percent of bar employees against smoking ban

TERRE HAUTE — A survey of Terre Haute bar employees found about two-thirds are against a proposed nonsmoking ordinance smoldering before the City Council.

Of 31 bar employees surveyed over the past five days at more than 20 different Terre Haute bars, 21 said they opposed the ordinance, which would ban smoking in all Terre Haute workplaces, including taverns and private clubs.

“I came here from Illinois [which has a comprehensive smoking ban],” said Troy Powell, a bartender at Ambrosini’s in Terre Haute. “I saw how it hurt the bars.” About 70 percent of the customers at Ambrosini’s, a bar and restaurant, smoke, Powell said. “There’s a lot of revenue wrapped up in this decision.”

Supporters of the smoking ordinance say it will protect all workers from the health hazards of tobacco smoke.

While 68 percent of bar employees surveyed said they opposed the smoking ban, 26 percent (eight employees in all) said they favored it.

“I’m definitely in favor of it,” said Stacy Gregg, a bartender at the Ballyhoo Tavern, which is a smoke-free bar near the Indiana State University campus. “Just being able to walk in and breathe, it’s nice, it really is.”

While most bar employees surveyed expressed strong opinions about the proposed ordinance, two – about 7 percent of those surveyed – said they were undecided about the ordinance, which could be voted on Thursday night by the City Council.

There are more than 30 Terre Haute bars listed in the 2010-2011 Yellowbook telephone directory. Some local bars listed in the directory have closed, some are outside of the city limits and some local bars have no listing. Bars outside of the Terre Haute city limits would not be affected by the ordinance.

During the Tribune-Star survey, employees were asked whether they favored or opposed the pending smoking ordinance. A total of 33 employees were surveyed; however, two responses were discarded because the employees were related to bar owners. In four cases, the bar owner was present while the employees were surveyed. Of those, three said they opposed the ordinance and one employee favored it.

Several local bar owners have expressed opposition to the pending ordinance. Some are expected to attend Thursday night’s City Council meeting, at which the ordinance could face a vote, at 7 p.m. in City Hall.

The survey did not include employees of private clubs or bars operated by national chains, such as Buffalo Wild Wings or Outback Steakhouse.

Of the bar employees surveyed who opposed the ordinance, a large majority were cigarette smokers.

“I’m a smoker so you know my thoughts on it,” said a bartender at a small neighborhood bar on Wabash Avenue.

The survey took place at bars on the east, north and south sides of the city as well as downtown. In most cases, the names of the employees were not recorded in an effort to promote more candid answers. The survey included 19 bars that currently permit smoking and two bars that have voluntarily gone nonsmoking.

“I think it’s everybody’s choice,” said a bartender at a northside neighborhood bar where many of the customers were smoking Friday afternoon. “I don’t think you’ll find many nonsmoking bartenders,” she said.

“There are plenty of nonsmoking places to work,” said an employee of an east-side bar who is also a smoker. However, she added, some of her friends in the bartending business said they might smoke less under a nonsmoking ordinance.

At a southside neighborhood bar, one bar employee said he strongly favors the ordinance.

“I would welcome it,” he said, adding that he is a former smoker. In fact, “I think it’s going to be good for business” because there are more nonsmokers than smokers, he said.

Other bar employees were not so sure the ordinance would help business.

“I’d be afraid we’d lose a bunch of our customers,” said a bartender at a neighborhood bar on the city’s east side. This bartender, a smoker, said she had worked at a bar that voluntarily went smoke-free and “we lost half of our bar clientele.”

Another bartender on a small Lafayette Avenue bar said she did not believe the ordinance would work well because she would need to step outside to smoke. “That would leave no one to tend the bar,” she said. “So I guess I’m against it.”

The State of Illinois has a ban on smoking at all workplaces, including bars. One bar manager on the city’s south side said her small bar has customers from Paris and Marshall, Ill., who drive to Terre Haute to escape the Illinois law.

Employees at downtown bars were more likely to support the ban. Of the eight favoring the ordinance, six work at bars close to downtown. Among employees in outlying bars, opposition to the ban was nearly unanimous.

“I’m all for it,” said one downtown bartender speaking Saturday. “I quit two years ago. It looks like it’s on fire in here most of the time.”

Jennifer Long, a bartender at Ambrosini’s on Wabash Avenue, said she opposes the ban.

“I’m a nonsmoker, but I still believe smokers have a right to smoke. Most places regulate [smoking] fairly well. It’s not necessary.”

By Arthur Foulkes, (812) 231-4232 or arthur.foulkes@tribstar.com.

Missouri Cigarette Tax Lowest in Nation

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – South Carolina once boasted the lowest cigarette excise tax in the U.S., but that distinction now goes to Missouri. A pack of cigarettes in the Show Me State costs about $5.14 a pack — a strong contrast to about $13 a pack in say, New York City.

Perhaps you can call Missouri the last state standing. Efforts to raise the cigarette tax have been repeatedly shut down at the polls and in the Legislature. And at 17 cents per pack, Missouri “remains determined to keep its cigarette taxes (and beer taxes too) at permanently low levels,” reports Time magazine.

Missouri state Rep. Mary Still isn’t giving up; she’s drafting a bill to increase the state’s cigarette excise tax by 12 cents each year for eight years. However, she’s got her work cut out for her: Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat, is maintaining a no-new-taxes pledge.

And according to the state’s constitution, any major tax increase has to go before voters. “In 2006, a proposal to raise the cigarette tax to 97 cents a pack lost a hard-fought referendum, 51% to 49%. Hospitals and health advocates poured millions into the campaign for the tax; opposition came from the tobacco lobby, gas stations and convenience stores. Posters at minimarts and filling stations across the state called for voters to ‘Stop Tax Abuse’ and vote down a ‘470%’ tax increase,” writes Time.

The magazine continues that opponents of the tax increase maintain higher taxes on tobacco are regressive and hit the lower-class residents the hardest. Also, Missouri’s low taxes benefit the state because of cross-border sales coming from eight neighboring states.

“The anti-tobacco zealots are not trying to reasonably regulate,” Ron Leone, executive director of the Missouri Petroleum Marketers & Convenience Store Association, told Time. “Their goal is prohibition. It’s hard to negotiate with these people. They can’t prohibit it, so they’re trying to kill it by a thousand cuts.”

Leone explains that the federal cigarette tax is $1.01 per pack, and combined with state and local taxes, Missouri smokers pay 46% in taxes on a pack of popular budget brands, while brand names are taxed at more than 30%. “There is no other product on the market that’s overtaxed like that,” said Leone.

Chinese Dealers Start Hoarding Tobacco

BEIJING – Chinese tobacco dealers have started socking away cigarettes ahead of a probably increase in tobacco taxes, the Global Times reports. The State Administration of Taxation (SAT) announced last month that the government would jack tobacco taxes this year to curb tobacco use.

“Wholesale purchases of most cigarettes have soared since September and some of the best-selling brand cigarettes are in short supply,” said one tobacco store owner in Kunming, Yunnan Province.

Raising tobacco taxes is seen by some as the most effective way to control tobacco consumption, but other experts, including some smokers, don’t think tobacco tax hikes work all that well.

Tax rises for tobacco products are believed by some to be an effective method of tobacco control. However, some experts, as well as smokers, have cast doubts over the effectiveness of such a move.

A researcher with the Taxation Research Institute, which has ties to SAT, said cigarette prices were not increased much after the last tax hike because tobacco companies bore the burnt of the increase. In May 2009, China increased its tobacco tax by 56 percent.

Even if the tobacco companies absorb another tax hike, eventually the increase will trickle down to consumers, said researcher Hu Linlin with the China Tobacco Tax Research Group. “The government might apply unyielding administrative measures to raise cigarette prices in order to strengthen controls on smoking,” he said.

On Monday, the Chinese health ministry acknowledged that the country had many miles to go in tobacco control.

Is marijuana better than cigarettes?

It seems that social anti-smoking campaigns have achieved an opposite effect. Many Americans teenagers quit smoking cigarettes marijuanaand turn to smoking marijuana, polls show. Alcohol loses its positions: it finds popularity with 23 percent of respondents.

The statistics frightens specialists. About 6.1 percent of adults smoke marijuana nowadays, whereas the number was smaller in 2009 – 5.2 percent. Marijuana grows in popularity among college students (3.3 percent vs. 2.8 percent in 2009) and 8th graders (1.2 vs. 1 percent in 2009). As for 12th graders, every fifth one of them (21 percent) said that they smoked pot during the recent month, whereas cigarettes are popular with 19 percent of them.

Like cigarettes, alcohol loses popularity with American teenagers. Twenty-three percent of the polled students said that they liked drinking alcohol – it became the lowest index since 1975.

Common people do not seem to be concerned about the situation. Some people even say that smoking marijuana is better than smoking cigarettes, because marijuana does not carry such a large risk of lung cancer. They also say that it would be good for the government to legalize marijuana because cigarettes do not bring as much taxes to the budget as marijuana does.

The adversaries of legal medical marijuana believe that such measures backfired on the government. Over 46,000 students at 396 state-run schools are considered to be drug addicts.

According to Dr. Nora D. Volkow, Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, action must be taken to protect teenagers from the risks inherent in marijuana use at a young age. “These high rates of marijuana use during the teen and pre-teen years, when the brain continues to develop, place our young people at particular risk,” she said.

Nevertheless, 14 American states have already legalized the use of marijuana for medical purposes. Most recently, such laws were approved in Arizona and New Jersey. The senators of the latter went further and gave federal officials a month to elaborate a new strategy to realize the new state-run marijuana program. The senators rejected propositions from NJ governor as too strict and illegal. For example, senator Nicholas Scutari stated that one should not deprive patients of marijuana if it had been prescribed for them.

In his deal with the senators, NJ Governor Chris Christie agreed to allow six alternative treatment centers to both grow and distribute the medical marijuana. He had wanted only two growers and four distribution centers. He also said that terminally ill patients would not need to prove they’ve exhausted other treatments before being allowed marijuana, The Associated Press reports.

Both concessions from the governor brought his proposed regulations more in line with the law to allow medical marijuana – but he didn’t give in on other provisions that advocates don’t like.

The battle for medical marijuana continues, and patients are caught in the middle.

Natalia Sinitsa
Pravda.Ru

Effect of possible workplace smoking ban in Springfield

SPRINGFIELD — Should people be able to light up in restaurants, bars or the workplace?

That’s the question voters in Springfield will likely decide come April. While supporters say it’s to better our lives, some worry it could threaten their livelihood.

“This is a wall of our pipe tobacco blends,” explained Christian Hutson, owner of the Just for Him tobacco shop.

Hutson points to a wall where there are dozens and dozens of unique tobacco blends. Many of them are customized right here in the store and sold in town and all over the world.

“I think this week we shipped to France, Croatia, Romania, Russia and Australia,” said Hutson.

Hutson and his employees do the specialized blending.

Business as usual at the tobacco shop; though, could soon be a thing of the past if voters approve a measure in April that would ban smoking in the workplace.

“If my employees can’t smoke tobacco on the job, which is what I pay them to do, then how do we develop our products?” asked Hutson.

The group, One Air Alliance, that collected the necessary signatures and delivered them last month to the city clerk to get the question on the ballot says workers are some of the very people they’re protecting.

“With people that have to go work everyday and be around secondhand smoke for 8 hours at a time, you can wash it out of your clothes, but you can’t wash it out of your lungs or heart,” explained Josh Garrett.

The measure would stop smoking in all private clubs and workplaces including bars, restaurants and tobacco shops.

Proponents say it’s a matter of public health.

“We have a right to breath clean air and that is the one thing that we are talking about here,” said Katie Towns-Jeter, Springfield-Greene County Health Department.

But Hutson says his employees and customers– who come in daily to enjoy a stogie or a pipe– are all adults and should have the right to smoke at his shop.

If the measure passes, Hutson says he will fight it because he’s worried about what will happen to his livelihood. “If I can’t smoke in here, it’s not like 24 hours later I’ll be out of business. I’ll slowly wither away.”

Hutson says nearby cities have invited him to move his shop into their towns, but he would prefer to stay in Springfield where his business has been for nearly 22 years– even before he owned the store.

by Paula Morehouse, KY3 News

Goldman’s: Ban On Menthol Cigarettes Unlikely

Goldman Sachs has published a report on America’s Tobacco industry after attending day 1 of the Tobacco Products Scientific menthol cigarettesAdvisory Committee (TPSAC) hearings that were concerning the impact of menthol cigarettes on public health.

In the report, Goldman writes “Today’s meeting revealed little incremental news. While there remains a potential headline risk as we head into the March 23 deadline of TPSAC’s recommendation, we still believe that a ban or any draconian measure on menthol by the FDA is highly unlikely. In addition, TPSAC also appears to be struggling to come up with any drastic recommendation, given the limited time, lack of finished research, and the risk of a large-scale contraband market. Following are key takeaways from today’s meeting.”

Key issues from the meeting according to Goldman are as follows:

“1. Issues around a black market a significant risk – For one, presenters pointed to the growth of a contraband market in Canada as evidence that a sizable black market could develop in the US in the event of a menthol ban. Second, the complexity of controlling a black market for menthol cigarettes is also daunting as industry experts focused on the ability for smokers to self-mentholate cigarettes or switch to menthol cigars or roll-your-owns. Third, the impact on public health could be negative since contraband cigarettes are often more harmful. The committee had a keen interest on understanding the production/distribution capacity for a black market.

2. Menthol as a “starter” cigarette remains an issue for TPSAC – The cooling effect of menthol and the possible ability to mask the harshness of nicotine are perceived to support the view that menthol is a “starter” cigarette and thus over indexes among youths. This continues to be an issue the committee focuses on, particularly as topics such as cessation, initiation and switching have all led to inconclusive or mixed results.

3. Statistics from the National Cancer Institute a marginal negative – Anne Hartman from the National Cancer Institute gave statistics showing about 40% of menthol smokers planned on quitting if menthol was banned. While this statistic could be construed as a negative to the cigarette industry at face value, we believe there is no evidence that majority of these smokers will end up quitting or even attempt to quit.”

BAT want to buy Colombian Protabaco

ProtobaccoBritish American Tobacco Plc, Europe’s largest cigarette maker, may bid for Productora Tabacalera de Colombia Protabaco Ltda. after Philip Morris International Inc. dropped plans to buy the company.

“We’ve always made it clear if it was up for sale, we would take a look,” Kate Matrunola, a spokeswoman for London- based BAT, said by phone today. She declined to comment further.

Buying Protabaco would strengthen BAT’s position in Colombia after Philip Morris International on Jan. 5 abandoned an agreement to buy the company for $452 million because of “burdensome” regulatory requirements. The New York-based maker of Matlboro online had announced the plan in July of 2009.

“It makes absolute sense that BAT will now aim to acquire Protabaco, given that we believe PMI ran into competition issues,” said Rey Wium, an analyst at Renaissance BJM in Johannesburg. “We always thought it would be a tough one to clear for PMI.”

PMI has about 51 percent of Colombia’s cigarette market, compared with 20 percent for BAT and 13 percent for Protabaco, Wium estimates.

Philip Morris bought Colombia’s biggest tobacco company, Compania Colombiana de Tabaco SA, in 2005.

By Tom Mulier in Geneva at tmulier@bloomberg.net.

Cigarette prices increase in Serbia

British American Tobacco (BAT) cigarettes’ prices will increase between RSD 5 and 20 per package, that company stated on Monday.Increase of cigarette storeBAT sales portfolio prices is a result of changes in business environment, primarily of cigarette excise increase, enforced as of January 1, the statement reads.

British American Tobacco (BAT) cigarettes’ prices will increase between RSD 5 and 20 per package, that company stated on Monday.

New price of a cigarette package cigarette-store.biz/online/viceroy Full will be RSD 90, instead of current RSD 85, while Viceroy Charcoal will cost RSD 100, instead of RSD 90.

cigarette-store.biz/online/pall-mall will be RSD 10 more expansive and will cost RSD 120, and Lucky Strike RSD 20 more, e.i. RSD 150.

Lord, Pierre Cardin, Vogue and cigarette-store.biz/online/kentwill go up for RSD 20, from RSD 150 to RSD 170, and Dunhill will go from RSD 170 to RSD 190.

Increase of BAT sales portfolio prices is a result of changes in business environment, primarily of cigarette excise increase, enforced as of January 1, the statement reads.

Should menthol cigarettes be banned?

menthol in cigarettes

Gregory N. Connolly, a professor of public health at Harvard, has resigned from a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advisory committee that will soon make recommendations on whether to ban menthol in cigarettes, The Wall Street Journal reported Jan. 5.

The Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee was created last year to advise the FDA after Congress passed landmark legislation in 2009 that gave the agency the authority to regulate tobacco. The committee is set to release a report in March on whether the FDA should ban menthol cigarettes, which make up 30 percent of industry sales. Menthol cigarettes make up 90 percent of sales for Lorillard Inc., which manufactures the Newport brand.

Connolly, a tobacco researcher and Harvard professor, was one of four panel members Philip Morris USA tried to remove from the committee last year. The company objected to Connolly because he had testified against the tobacco industry in lawsuits and made “highly inflammatory statements to the media” about menthol cigarettes.

Connolly said, “I didn’t have as many friends as one would like” in the FDA, but denied that his resignation was related to industry pressure. He cited “personal reasons” and said that he could be “more effective off the committee than on it.” According to The Wall Street Journal, he said “that he now will be better able to help ‘FDA get the science right’ on menthol and other tobacco issues.”

An FDA spokesman said that Connolly’s “departure will not impede the schedule or progress” of the committee. The committee may recommend banning menthol flavoring in cigarettes, or it may take a softer stance instead, such as suggesting limits on advertising. The FDA does not have to follow the committee’s recommendations and has no deadline to reach a decision.

David Adelman, an analyst for Morgan Stanley, concluded that Connolly’s departure made it less likely that the FDA would ban menthol as an additive for cigarettes. His resignation, Adelman wrote, “removes an individual who was the dominant anti-tobacco voice in the menthol hearings so far.”

A member of the CTP menthol committee asked me, when I presented these facts, if I had any data to support my contention that if menthol were officially banned, unofficial mentholated cigarettes would quickly fill the vacuum. I could only respond by noting that common sense (and some sense of history) dictates that when a $20 billion-plus market is abruptly criminalized, the 13 million menthol smokers who have generated that market will not just disappear.

Clearly, one of three options would hold sway: either menthol smokers will switch to non-menthols; they will find contraband menthol cigarettes (or make their own using easily-obtained menthol flavoring); or they will quit smoking. It is ludicrous to imagine that a significant fraction of menthol smokers will just quit smoking because of the absence of legitimate menthols. Moreover, since menthol smokers actually tend to smoke fewer cigarettes per day than non-menthol smokers, the net result of a menthol ban would very likely be a net increase in cigarette consumption. Some smokers will get the false impression from a menthol ban that non-menthol smokes are somehow safer. And worst of all, youth smoking may well increase as the contraband pushers solicit anyone who can pay.

Because such a ban would predominantly affect black smokers, law enforcement directed against sellers of illegal cigarettes would likely face racial issues — the last thing we need added to the many other complex concerns related to cigarettes. If mentholated cigarettes were in fact more dangerous or toxic than other cigarettes, banning menthol in hopes of getting menthol smokers to quit — or at least to switch to non-menthols — would perhaps be worth the risk of generating a dangerous black market.

But they are not more dangerous. I call upon the CTP and its menthol committee to take a step back and look at the broader picture: would a ban on menthol reduce teen smoking or the total consumption of cigarettes in America? And if not — as I believe the facts indicate — then the risk of unintended consequences of such a ban is too great to take.

Gilbert Ross, MD, is the Medical Director of the American Council on Science and Health, a public health, consumer-education consortium of over 380 scientists and physicians.

American Tobacco officials offer ‘Thank you’ to Red Hat

Durham, N.C. — The city of Durham and the American Tobacco Historic District made a pitch to put a new Red Hat headquarters red hatperhaps within home run range of Durham Bulls Stadium. But the Bull City effort failed.

Red Hat (NYSE: RHT) said it would keep and expand its headquarters in Wake County on Monday. While the specific location has not been identified, Chief Executive Officer Jim Whitehurst said Wake won the recruiting battle for a new office building that will cover 300,000 to 400,000 square feet.

Airlifted to Durham aboard WRAL TV’s helicopter, Whitehurst recently toured the American Tobacco complex, which is owned by Capitol Broadcasting the parent of WRAL TV, WRAL.com and Local Tech Wire.

Casey Steinbacher, chief executive officer of the Greater Durham Chamber of Commerce, and Michael Goodmon, vice president of real estate for Capitol Broadcasting, issued a joint statement thanking Red Hat for considering Durham – and staying in North Carolina.

The statement:

“We at American Tobacco and the Durham Chamber of Commerce are happy that Red Hat, one of the Triangle’s leading companies, will remain in the Triangle.

“We thank Red Hat’s leadership team for inviting us to respond to the company’s RFP and for visiting downtown Durham and considering the hub of innovation that has taken root here – a hub that includes such organizations and resources as Burt’s Bees, Digitalsmith, McKinney, PocketGear, the American Underground, Bull City Forward and, soon, HTC.

“Finally, we salute the Durham community – from its public servants to its marquee companies to its many entertainment destinations – for coming together so seamlessly to pursue Red Hat and other premiere businesses. We have all made a friend in Red Hat.”

E-cigarettes: Are they safe?

Electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, are touted by manufacturers from here to China as safe alternatives to smoking. But the e-cigarettes smokevalidity of such claims is still a bit too hazy for wise consumers to inhale.

The Food and Drug Administration has been engaged in a lengthy battle to regulate the nicotine-delivery products as drug or medical devices, much the way they do nicotine patches and nicotine gum.

But so far, federal courts have sided with manufacturers, who argue that they don’t market e-cigarettes as smoking-cessation devices and therefore should be regulated as tobacco products – and not subjected to stricter FDA safety standards.

E-cigarettes, as The Pilot’s Philip Walzer explained in a recent story, simulate a regular cigarette but don’t emit smoke. The battery-powered devices heat up a nicotine solution into a mist that can be inhaled.

The e-cigarette industry generates about $100 million in domestic sales annually. There are now about 100 distributors in the United States, including a small company in Virginia Beach.

E-cigarettes were first produced in China, and many of the components are still made there – which should be enough to give any consumer pause, considering that country’s notoriously lax oversight of just about everything its factories produce.

In 2009, the FDA ran preliminary tests on two brands of devices marketed by Arizona-based NJoy and Florida-based Smoking Everywhere and turned up disturbing results.

Among other things, the tests found small amounts of diethylene glycol, an ingredient in antifreeze. It’s the same chemical involved in deaths and illnesses around the world a couple of years before; unscrupulous toothpaste makers in China used it as a cheap substitute for the thickening agent glycerine.

Numerous U.S. health groups have issued warnings about e-cigarettes, pointing out that little independent research has been conducted regarding their safety. The American Medical Association, among others, favors FDA regulation of the products as drug-delivery devices.

The stricter regulations would mean clinical trials for manufacturers. But if their products are truly safe alternatives, they shouldn’t have any concerns.

British American tobacco in bid for Colombian firm

LONDON – British American Tobacco PLC, which owns the dunhill cigarette, Rothmans and Benson & Hedges brands of cigarettes, is in talks to acquire a Colombian firm for more than GBP270 million, the Mail on Sunday reported without citing its sources.

BAT is “understood” to be putting together a bid for Protabaco, which has eight brands including Mustang and Premier and is the second-biggest cigarette maker in the country, the report said.

The newspaper cited a BAT spokesman as saying that BAT, which already operates in Colombia, was keen to acquire the business, which employs more than 1,200 staff, after U.S. cigarette group Philip Morris International Inc (PM 56.42, -1.30, -2.25%) pulled out of a bid.

A London-based spokeswoman for BAT told Dow Jones Newswires that the company has previously said it will look at Protabaco if it comes up for sale, but declined to comment specifically on the Mail on Sunday report.

FDA to crack down on vendors selling tobacco near institutions

The Pune division of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is all set to crack the whip on the vendors selling tobacco products within 100 yards of educational institutions.

The move follows a missive from the Union ministry of health and family welfare to the state government on the issue.

Under the Cigarette and Other Tobacco Products Act, 2003, selling of cigarette and other tobacco products within 100 yards of schools and colleges are prohibited.

And the ministry now wants the state government to enforce it vigorously and accordingly the latter has directed the concerned department to enforce it across the state.

According to FDA officials, any vendor found selling cigarette and tobacco items within 100 yards of schools and colleges would be taken to task. The entire stock of the cigarette and tobacco products found in possession of vendors within 100 yards of schools and colleges would be seized.

“The vendor would have to pay fine equivalent to the amount of the stock seized. The court would impose penalty on the erring vendors, who have to pay the fine,” said FDA (Pune division) joint commissioner Sanjay Patil.

However, the big question is how this rule would be effectively enforced as there are thousands of educational institutions spread over the entire district and the FDA is short-staffed. Its responsibility also includes keeping a tab on food adulteration.

“We have 20 other government agencies that are going to help us. The Act empowers heads of schools and colleges to take action against such vendors operating within 100 yards of their premises. And in case they find it difficult, they have been asked to inform us,” Patil said.

Sources in FDA said vendors doing business near educational institutions have already got a whiff of the imminent crackdown.

“We have received feedback that a section of the vendors operating near the educational institutions have already started measuring the distance of their outlets from schools and colleges and some are shifting to avoid action,” FDA officials added.

FDA (Pune division) assistant commissioner (food) Chadrashekhar Salunkhe said erring vendors would face the music if there is violation of the rule.

“The vendors operating within 100 yards of educational institutions have to either stop selling cigarettes and tobacco items if they want to continue with their business at that spot, failing which they will have to shift elsewhere” he said.

Beyond smoking scenes on China’s TV screens

BEIJING, – Smoking pipes, tobacco threads, cigarettes, and dazzling smoking gestures, which are commonly seen on China’s TV China smokingscreens, have emerged as a clear concern for many supporters of tobacco control.

Xinhua reporters, while monitoring seven Chinese television channels, spotted 49 screen shots of smoking from four TV series being aired from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Jan. 4.

Of those smoking scenes, some last less than one second while others went on for as long as five seconds.

However, these findings were only a small part of the picture.

The China Association on Tobacco Control (CATC), a non-profit organization, issued a report in August 2010 after monitoring 40 domestic Chinese movies and 30 local TV series.

The results indicated that smoking scenes appeared in 31 movies, with an average of 15 screen shots, while smoking scenes were found in 28 TV series, with an average of 85 such screen shots.

Yang Gonghuan, director of the National Office for Tobacco Control, said though smoking scenes on TV could not be fully counted as tobacco advertisements, they could easily mislead adolescents and leave them without a correct understanding as to what harm tobacco is responsible for.

“A decrease in such screen shots will be good for protecting the young from tobacco,” Yang said.

According to a survey by Beijing Municipal Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which was conducted among 11,000 middle school students, over 40 percent of the surveyed students thought that smoking could make actors look mature and charming, while nearly 60 percent of the students supported or did not object to smoking scenes on screen.

What’s is worrisome to many tobacco control activists is that the smoking attitude of the figures on screen could, to some extent, encourage the young to follow the fashion.

The Beijing Municipal CDC survey also showed that 32.87 percent of the middle school students said they would like to try smoking after seeing actors smoke on TV. Further, 60 percent of senior students at vocational high schools reported that they could follow the fashion, especially when the actors who smoke on TV are superstars.

Besides appearing in movies and TV series, tobacco also took another form while appearing on China’s screens.

Xinhua reporters, during their Jan. 4 research, also found some of China’s major tobacco brands, such as Hongta, are promoting their brand images through advertisements that mentioned no tobacco, but only the brand names.

Though tobacco advertisements are banned on China’s radio, TV and print media, China still has no concrete laws and regulations to prohibit tobacco companies from sponsoring activities such as auto racing, Yang said.

Yang said China’s failure to prevent tobacco companies from doing publicity via sponsoring events also kept it far from meeting the requirements of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), which called for tighter measures in such promotions.

The CATC said it has submitted proposals to Chinese authorities calling for creation of films and TV series free of smoking scenes and banning all forms of product or image promotion of tobacco brands.

Organic Tobacco?

To say business is booming would be an exaggeration, but it is true that many American tobacco farmers are beginning to transition to organic growing methods. Given the hard times growers have faced in recent decades—most Americans now revile smoking and farmers in other countries can produce higher volumes for substantially less cost—going organic is one way to keep charging premium prices. While growing organically costs more and yields a slightly less marketable product, farmers can make up the difference and then some since their organic tobacco will command double the price of their competitors’ conventionally grown, chemical-laden variety.

Companies like Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company and Organic Smoke, Inc., for example, are willing to pay this premium for the privilege of marketing the resulting “natural” cigarettes—which also avoid the chemical fillers and even extra nicotine of the standard smoke—as friendlier to the environment. Of course, buyers beware: No cigarette is good for you, whether it contains organic tobacco or not. If you have to smoke, a so-called “natural” cigarette will expose you to fewer toxins overall, but the primary risk still comes from the inhaled carcinogenic smoke of the burning tobacco leaves.

For its part, Santa Fe, maker of the American Spirit brand of “natural” cigarettes, has seen sales increase 10 percent yearly over the last decade to the point where its sales account for about 0.6 percent of the total U.S. cigarette market. During its first year of business two decades ago, Santa Fe bought and processed 4,000 pounds of organic tobacco. In 2008, the company processed two million pounds. Upwards of 100 different farms spread across the U.S., Canada and Brazil now provide Santa Fe with organic tobacco leaf.

Besides buying only organic tobacco and eschewing chemical fillers, the company walks the socially responsible talk, too, powering its facilities with clean energy, extending benefits to same-sex domestic partners, and donating funds and volunteer time to the clean-up of New Mexico’s Santa Fe River.

But what even some of its own customers may not know—you won’t find it on the packaging—is that Santa Fe’s profits are all going toward the bottom line of its corporate parent, Reynolds American, an outgrowth of longtime leading cigarette maker R.J. Reynolds, purveyor of such esteemed conventional brands as cigarettespub.biz/camel, www.cigarettespub.biz/winston and Salem. Reynolds American, which today sells one out of every three cigarettes sold in the U.S., rolled up Santa Fe as part of a major reorganization in 2004 and has been reaping the benefits of the growth in sales of cigarettes made with organic tobacco ever since.

Growing organic tobacco also benefits the burgeoning organic farming business overall: “Organic certification allows the growth of other high-value seasonal crops, which can demand a premium price on the ever-expanding organic market,” Santa Fe’s leaf director, Fielding Daniel, told the trade publication Tobacco Farm Quarterly, adding that growers are heartened by this new and profitable market and worry less about the cost of, and risk of mishandling, synthetic chemicals.

CONTACTS: Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company, www.sfntc.com; Organic Smoke, Inc., www.organic-smoke.com; Tobacco Farm Quarterly, www.tobaccofarmquarterly.com.

Philip Morris want to buy Protabaco

Philip Morris International Inc., seller of Matlboro online overseas, has officially ended its $452 million bid to acquire privately owned cigarette maker Productora Tabacalera de Colombia, or Protabaco, after a filing deadline with regulators in Bogota came and went.

Philip Morris said in a statement that while approval had been granted by the Superintendent of Industry and Trade of Colombia last October, further approval “ultimately proved to be too burdensome.”

Portofolio newspaper, which first reported the story Wednesday, said on its website that Philip Morris had until midnight Tuesday to meet certain conditions and file a request with anti-trust regulators to move forward with the takeover bid. Since it didn’t do so, it or another suitor that may want to buy Protabaco would have to launch a new petition altogether.

An official at the Colombian regulator’s office, who asked not be identified, said a press release on the matter is expected to be released later Wednesday.

The Altria Group Inc. spinoff’s initial takeover bid was rejected by Colombian regulators in June. They said for it to be approved Philip Morris would have to sell Protabaco’s Premier brand and another one of the company’s choice to a local or foreign competitor and offer to manufacture the brands’ cigarettes for the buyer.

The regulator was also requiring Philip Morris to keep the market open for tobacco growers and cigarette retailers.

In the wake of those conditions, Philip Morris said in October it would evaluate whether to move forward.

Protabaco is the second-largest tobacco company in Colombia. The regulator in blocking the acquisition in June said the purchase would hamper competition in the local market since Philip Morris would control almost 80% of the Colombian cigarette market.

In 2005 and 2006, Philip Morris acquired Colombia’s largest cigarette maker, Coltabaco, for a little more than $300 million.

The End of Newports cigarettes?

Last year, the U.S. government banned “flavored” cigarettes. Since then, the real fight has raged on: whether to ban menthol newport cartscigarettes as well. The end of Newports? Can you imagine? The company that makes Newports says: that’s racist!

Lorillard Tobacco makes 90% of its money off of Newports, so a menthol ban would be akin to a bullet in the head of the whole company. The WSJ reports that a government panel (which is somewhat menthol-friendly) will issue recommendations in March that could decide the fate of menthols once and for all.

Since 80% of black American smokers (and nearly half of 12-17 year-old smokers) smoke menthols, Lorillard is taking the sensible step of “buying up a host of menthol-bashing Internet domain names, including MentholKillsMinorities.com, MentholAddictsYouth.com and FDAMustBanMenthol.com.” It’s also paying “several” PR people to push out editorials against the ban—including Charlotte Roy, who targets black news outlets and tells the WSJ that “she doesn’t mention her association with Lorillard” when she speaks to the media.

Despite Lorillard’s intrinsic fuckery, we highly doubt menthols will be banned. Too bold, too cold, too revenue-generating.

New guidelines could changed ingredient in tobacco products

Washington — By late March, tobacco companies must begin telling the Food and Drug Administration about new additives and other cigarettes brandsalterations to most of their products — enabling the agency to weed out ingredients that make cigarettes and other products more addictive or more harmful.

The FDA was directed to collect the information by the 2009 Tobacco Control Act, and on Wednesday the agency offered guidance to the industry about the kind of details it’s looking for.

Tobacco products “are the only mass-consumed products in which users don’t know what they’re consuming,” Lawrence Deyton, director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products, said in a telephone briefing. “No longer will changes be made without anyone knowing.”

Tobacco companies have a history of adjusting levels of nicotine and other additives to make products more appealing.

Companies have until March 22 to file their reports.

“This may be one of the most important actions the FDA takes on tobacco regulation,” said Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. “They’re going to get the chemistry. They’ve never had that before.”

Under the new reporting requirements, companies must notify the agency about any tobacco product introduced into the market or changed in the last four years. And the new or altered products must have “substantial equivalence” to products on the market on Feb. 15, 2007 — the date the tobacco legislation was introduced in Congress — or risk removal from the market.

If manufacturers don’t submit a substantial-equivalence report, they must pull their products from the market by March 23, according to FDA guidelines.

Companies are being asked to disclose the composition of a product before and after an alteration is made so evaluators can isolate the changes and determine the potential for harm.

Companies unveiling products after the March deadline must submit an application and get an FDA market order before selling to the public.

Firms that don’t comply with reporting requirements could face product seizures, injunctions and other penalties.

“No known existing tobacco product is safe,” Deyton said. “These products will not be safer, but we are required by this law to not allow even more dangerous products to cause further harm to those Americans who use tobacco products.”

A recent federal filing indicates about 230 new tobacco products are marketed annually.

The reporting obligation applies to makers of cigarettes, roll-your-own tobacco and smokeless tobacco products. It does not apply to other forms of tobacco or to electronic cigarettes, which are battery-operated devices that deliver nicotine or other substances via inhaled vapor.

David Howard, a spokesman for R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. of Winston-Salem, N.C., said the company was still studying the FDA guidance but had already submitted several reports on products it believes meet the substantial-equivalence test.

“We look forward to working together with FDA on developing an effective, science-based regulatory framework,” said Howard, whose employer makes cigarette-store.biz/online/camel, cigarette-store.biz/online/pall-mall and other brands.

Reynolds, along with Lorillard and Altria Group’s Philip Morris USA, dominate the U.S. tobacco market.

By Andrew Zajac
Copyright © 2011, Los Angeles Times

Historic Jeanie’s Smoke Shop reopens

Jeanie’s Smoke Shop is back in business.

The popular downtown Salt Lake City tobacco store that closed its doors in mid-2010 has reopened under new owners Luay Alawi and Raad Alkamel, who vow to maintain the same look and feel of the historic Utah establishment that dated back to the 1940s.

“We started thinking about reopening Jeanie’s as soon as we saw the ‘for lease’ sign on the building,” said Alkamel, who, along with his partner, owns the nearby Smoke Break Hooka Outlet. “Jeanie’s had been a part of downtown for many, many years, and we didn’t want to see it go away.”

Longtime owner Gary Klc (pronounced Kelch) closed Jeanie’s on June 30, the day before a state tobacco tax hike went into effect. Klc said he couldn’t come up with $125,000 on July 1 to cover the higher tax on his existing inventory, which he described as the largest of any tobacco retailer in the state.

Klc’s late father launched the family business in the 1940s when he bought out the old United Cigars store on State Street. The tobacco store changed its name several times throughout the years — finally to Jeanie’s, in honor of Gary Klc’s mother.

Alawi said he and his partner have a verbal agreement with Klc that allows them to use the Jeanie’s Smoke Shop name for one year. “After that, it will be up to Gary on whether we will be allowed to continue to use it,” he said.

Klc couldn’t be reached for comment.

The store’s new owners said they are working hard to set up the shop the way customers remember.

“Everything is in the same place as it was — the loose tobacco, the cigars and the pipes,” Alawi said. “And when Jeanie’s longtime customers come in, we are asking them what products they want us to carry in the store.”

At least one thing will be different, though.

Arley Curtz of Curtz Handmade Pipes and Pipe Repair, who worked at Jeanie’s for years, said the new store’s owners approached him

Raad Alkamel and Jeanie's Smoke Shop.

Raad Alkamel is one of the new owners of Jeanie's Smoke Shop.

about setting up there again. “I bought all the equipment I was using from Gary, and I’m now working out of my home. So that is something I don’t think I’m going to do.”

Alawi conceded that successfully operating Jeanie’s will be a challenge, particularly since the recent increase in the state’s tobacco tax seems to be leading many Utah smokers to venture out of state to purchase their cigarettes and cigars.

Jeanie’s customer Dennis Lemons, who was waiting for a bus outside the store at 156 S. State Street, said it was a sad day when the shop closed. “It is nice to see that it has reopened. Downtown Salt Lake City can certainly use all the help it can get.”

Alkamel said like many of Jeanie’s longtime customers, he and his partner looked upon the store with fondness and a sense of nostalgia.

“When I came to Salt Lake City in 1994, I bought my first pack of cigarettes at Jeanie’s,” he said.

The Salt Lake Tribune

Camel Dissovable Tobacco Products Pulled from Test Markets

The R.J. Reynolds tobacco company is taking its dissolvable tobacco products off the shelves in its American test markets, Camel Dissovable Tobaccoaccording to a Dec. 17 email from the Ohio-based Drug Free Action Alliance.

The products — Camel Sticks, Strips, and Orbs — were being tested in Columbus, Ohio, Indianapolis, Ind., and Portland, Ore. According to a letter from R.J. Reynolds (PDF), the products were removed for “further refinements.” The company said in the letter it plans to “reintroduce Camel Dissolvables in the future.” It did not specify where or when they might be reintroduced.

Health advocates have opposed dissovable tobacco products for being too attractive to children. The products’ packaging is similar to that used for candy and gum, with flavors the Drug Free Action Alliance described as “kid-friendly.”

According to the Alliance, the annual Monitoring the Future survey showed a significant decline in the use of smokeless tobacco by teens in middle school and high school between the mid-1990s and the beginning of the 2000s.

This year’s results from the survey showed that use is increasing. Among twelfth graders overall, for example, 8.5 percent reported using smokeless tobacco in the past month. When the data is narrowed to males only, the number of users — 15.7 percent — nearly doubled.

By Benjamin Chambers

Dominican premium cigar with corojo wrapper

JM Tobacco Company, makers of the popular value-priced JM’s Dominican lineup of cigars, now brings their new JM’s Dominican, handJM Tobacco premium cigarsrolled in an extra-select Corojo wrapper. The all-tobacco cigar has a Dominican medium-length filler and Connecticut broadleaf binder, the latter giving the cigar a delicate, naturally sweet taste.

Anto Mahroukian, president of JM Tobacco, says the company developed the Corojo over several months, “To bring something new to our loyal customers, who have made JM’s Dominican cigars so successful. The new wrapper brings an entirely different flavor profile, with no tongue bite or bitterness–its strength complements the JM’s present Dominican line, in Connecticut shade, Sumatran, and broadleaf maduro wrappers. The Corojo line is now available from JM Tobacco in boxes of 50 cigars. The eye-catching presentation is the same recognizable packaging as the iconic black-on-yellow JM’s Dominican box art, but with black letters on a red background.

JM’s Dominican Corojo is now available in the same eight shapes as the other JM’s Dominicans, and is competitively priced, as are all other JM cigars.

JM’s Tobacco products can be found at these Tampa Bay retailers:

* Got Wine & Smokes – 5201 Eagle Trail Drive Tampa, FL 33634
* Thomas Cigar Co. – 5025 W Knollwood Tampa, FL 33634
* Rockin’ Cards & Gifts – 7451 Park Blvd Pinellas, FL 33781

Star Scientific seeks OK on modified Snuff Tobacco

A small, Virginia-based tobacco company said Tuesday that it will seek the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s approval to sell a star scientificnew moist snuff tobacco as a “modified-risk” product with fewer cancer-causing agents.

If its application is approved, Henrico County-based Star Scientific Inc. could be the first company to win an FDA designation of a tobacco product as potentially less hazardous to health.

“I think (the tobacco industry) is going to be closely watching” the FDA’s review process on this request, said Scott Ballin, a tobacco and health-policy consultant in Washington. He expects other tobacco companies to submit other, novel products to the FDA for review.

Star Scientific said the moist smokeless tobacco product it wants to introduce would have 99 percent lower levels of a class of carcinogens called tobacco-specific nitrosamines, when compared with conventional moist snuff brands on the market.

Star Scientific spokeswoman Sara Machir said the company intends to wait for an FDA decision before introducing the smokeless product, which the company plans to market under the Stonewall brand name and manufacture at a plant in Chase City.

The FDA has said that its review process for any new tobacco product should take less than a year, Machir said.

Under the law passed by Congress in 2009 that granted the FDA authority to regulate tobacco products, the agency may approve some products as less risky than others after a scientific review.

Yet the standards to get a “modified-risk” designation are extremely tough and perhaps impossible to meet, Ballin said.

The law requires the FDA to find not only that the product significantly reduces health risks to tobacco consumers, but that it also would benefit public health overall, taking into account both tobacco users and nonusers.

“It is a substantial burden, but it focuses the attention on the right issue: Will permitting the (reduced-risk) claims reduce the number of people who die from tobacco?” said Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

Machir said there is a “robust body of science” indicating that reduced-toxin smokeless tobacco has the potential to reduce health risks.

Star Scientific had test-marketed a moist snuff product once before, from about 2001 to 2004, but withdrew it to focus on dissolvable tobacco lozenges. The company, which reported sales of about $695,000 in the first nine months of 2010, sells the lozenges under the brand names Stonewall and Ariva.

Star Scientific announced last year that it would petition the FDA for approval to market the dissolvable tobacco brands as modified-risk products. The FDA has not made a decision on those petitions.

A spokesman for the FDA said Tuesday that the agency does not comment on applications for pre-market review of new products.

Star Scientific’s application to the FDA also underscores the tobacco industry’s increasing focus on smokeless products as cigarette consumption declines in the United States.

Unlike cigarette sales, those of smokeless tobacco have been growing, prompting major cigarette companies such as Henrico-based Altria Group Inc. to move into the smokeless business.

That trend has raised concerns among tobacco-control advocates. “Our concern is that the promotion of those brands is leading to more kids using tobacco, not fewer adults smoking,” Myers said.

By JOHN REID BLACKWELL
jblackwell@timesdispatch.com
(804) 775-8123

Illinois would gain $377M by raising cigarette tax

SPRINGFIELD — A report released Monday said the state would gain $377 million in revenue by raising the cigarette tax $1 per pack.dolars

The Illinois Senate passed a $1 per pack cigarette tax increase in April 2009, but since then the House has not taken up the legislation.

In light of the report by economist Frank Chaloupka at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Senate President John Cullerton said in a statement that “a cigarette tax is one of the most important agenda items for the coming year” because it would generate new revenue. The Chicago Democrat also noted the higher tax would reduce Medicaid costs attributed to smoking-related health concerns and reduce people’s desire to smoke.

Cullerton said in his statement that he will continue to urge House members to “immediate action” on the measure.

“If they fail to act,” he said, “I’m committed to sponsor legislation for a significant tobacco tax increase.”

Illinois last raised its cigarette tax to 98 cents per pack in 2002, and it had the 11th highest cigarette tax in the nation. The state now has the 32nd highest cigarette tax, Chaloupka said.

Federal and local taxes also add to the cost of a pack of smokes.

His report recommends raising taxes on all tobacco products — not just cigarettes — along with increasing the tax all at once instead of phasing it in smaller increments. The report also recommends taxing tobacco product inventory to prevent retailers from stockpiling it in anticipation of a tax increase.

Kevin O’Flaherty, advocacy director for the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, said the report’s recommendations differ from the Senate’s legislation. For example, the legislation would not tax inventory or raise taxes on other tobacco products.

“Just given where we are with the budget in the state,” he said, “The state needs to figure out ways of raising revenue. This is a way of raising revenue and at the same time reducing the costs that the state faces and doing something that’s good for public health.”

By Kiera Manion-Fischer: kiera.manion-fischer@lee.net
Pantagraph

Cuba’s tobacco company sues Mich. shop

PLYMOUTH, Mich. — A cigar lounge in suburban Detroit is decorated with paintings and photos of famous people with a stogie: Fidel CastroJohn F. Kennedy, Winston Churchill, even the 1950s Cuban revolutionary Che Guevara.

“We have only one thing in common,” said owner Ismail Houmani, a U.S. war veteran, pointing at a cigar in the fingers of Guevara, a Marxist rebel.

Cuba, however, believes the shop has too much common with its own famous cigar business. Cuba’s government-owned tobacco company is suing Houmani in federal court in Detroit, claiming the name of his four shops, La Casa De La Habana, is illegal because it’s too similar to its own franchised shops, known around the world as La Casa del Habano.

Cuba, of course, can’t do business in America because of a nearly 50-year-old trade embargo imposed after Fidel Castro, with Guevara’s help, turned the Caribbean island into a socialist state. Nonetheless, Cubatabaco claims it still has a right to protect its U.S. trademark even if it can’t export prized Cuban cigars to U.S. shores.

“I love cases like this,” U.S. District Judge Stephen Murphy III told both sides last year. “I find it to be extremely interesting and challenging.”

Houmani’s lawyer, Brad Smith, wonders why Cuba would care about a Michigan cigar lounge. “Small potatoes,” he said in an interview.

Cubatabaco’s lawyer, David Goldstein of New York, said in court that a trademark must be protected or “what I have is a worthless piece of paper.”

In Plymouth, a suburb west of Detroit, La Casa De La Habana has been open about a decade. A climate-controlled humidor displays dozens of cigars, some costing $38 each, from Honduras, the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua. There is walk-in business, but customers also can have their own gym-locker-sized humidor with a nameplate for $100 a month.

There are televisions, leather couches and an espresso bar. In downtown Detroit, Houmani runs a 7,000-square-foot location offering martinis, live music and local handmade cigars stuffed with imported tobacco.

“Over a cigar, you can meet some interesting people — doctors, lawyers, judges, movie actors. They want to sit down and relax,” said Houmani, 42, who immigrated to Toledo, Ohio, from Lebanon when he was 18. “I wanted to create something that’s really unique.”

He said he was thinking about Cuba’s reputation for Latin jazz, rum and cigars when he chose the name La Casa De La Habana, which means “The House of Havana” in Spanish. Houmani notes that “Habano,” the word used in the name of Cuban shops, refers to a Havana cigar.

“I’m not selling or advertising Cuban cigars,” he said.

International agreements allow government-controlled businesses like Cuba’s to register trademarks in the U.S., even when dormant under an economic embargo. Still, Smith said the lawsuit should be governed by a simple rule: “You use it or lose it.”

A trademark expert at the University of Michigan law school believes Cubatabaco has a strong case for infringement.

“Cuba’s got reason to hope that it will be able to enter the U.S. market within the foreseeable future,” Jessica Litman said. “Its mark is pretty valuable, and the potential for confusion seems real.”

The judge has urged each side to settle the dispute out of court. Houmani concedes he may have to change the name of his business, although he would prefer to keep “La Casa” in it. He has much admiration for Cuba’s cigars, despite the lawsuit and that country’s communist government.

“It’s the best tobacco in the world because of the soil. It’s God’s gift to the Cubans,” said Houmani, who has smoked Cuban cigars during trips to the Middle East. “As cigar makers, we don’t look at political affiliations.”

By ED WHITE
Bloomberg

Top Tobacco Ccompanies with Relatively Low Debt

Below are the five companies in the Tobacco industry with the lowest Debt-to-Capital ratio. The debt-to-capital ratio is an important measure of how a company is financing its operations along with some insight into its financial strength, relative to other companies in its industry.

Reynolds American ranks lowest with Debt-to-Capital ratio of 38.28%; Universal ranks next with Debt-to-Capital ratio of 40.76%; and Altria Group ranks next lowest with Debt-to-Capital ratio of 70.17%.

Philip Morris follows with Debt-to-Capital ratio of 74.03% and Alliance One International rounds out the group with Debt-to-Capital ratio of 74.82%.

SmarTrend currently has shares of Reynolds American in an Uptrend and issued the Uptrend alert on July 21, 2010 at $28.05. The stock has risen 16.3% since the Uptrend alert was issued.

Navy stamps out smoking on submarines

The life of a Navy submariner is famously tough.

Packed in a cramped metal tube, they have no contact with home while deep under the water. No e-mails. No phone calls. It’s not uncommon to go 45 days without seeing the sun.

But at least they could smoke.

Now the submarine community faces a major cultural change. Starting today, the Navy is banning cigarette smoking on subs while they are under way.

The new policy, which aims to protect the health of nonsmokers, means that submariners such as Jared Devillier will have to survive for long stretches without a puff.

Devillier, a 21-year-old sailor on the San Diego fast-attack submarine Albuquerque, has quit cigarettes before. Plenty of times. He’s really only an occasional smoker. The last time he took a drag?

OK, about 25 minutes ago.

“There’s something about work that drives you to want to do something besides just work. At home, I’m fine,” said Devillier, a sonar technician. “There’s no other outlet at work where you can do something totally stress-free. You can’t just play Ping-Pong, or go shoot hoops or do whatever people do.”

No more quick trips to the engine room, often one of the designated smoking spots on a sub. No more standing in line, waiting to be one of the three people allowed to light up at the same time.

The new policy came about because a 2009 Navy study found that air-filtration systems on submarines couldn’t fully subtract what cigarettes put in the air. Other submariners were being forced to become secondhand smokers.

Sailors on other kinds of Navy ships can still smoke.

“This environment where our sailors are breathing air that’s recirculated makes it unique,” said Cmdr. Christy Hagen, spokeswoman for the Navy’s Submarine Force Pacific in Hawaii. “The policy was necessary in order to protect the health of all submariners.”

About 4,000 of the 13,000 sailors serving on submarines are smokers.

That means roughly one out of every three or four sailors aboard San Diego’s six fast-attack submarines will have to change their Winston ways.

Since the ban was announced in April, the Navy has tried to help these folks extinguish the habit. Each sub sent sailors to be trained on how to teach the rest of their shipmates to stop. Say-no-to-smoking meetings are held regularly on the boats.

And hospital corpsmen assigned to subs are dispensing free nicotine patches and gum to smokers who want it.

Submariner Orlando Apodaca, 29, has been smoking since he was a teenager in El Paso, Texas.

Knowing the ban was coming, he went to the military clinic. The doctors offered him prescription medicine to help curb the craving. But he can’t take it, as submariners aren’t allowed to ingest drugs that affect the mind.

So Apodaca, who has been serving on subs for almost 12 years and is now assigned to the Ashville, is going to white-knuckle it while the vessel is submerged.

He has only eight years to go until he is eligible for a retirement paycheck. He can always smoke in port.

“I just think of the long run: retire, and I get paid for sitting on my butt all day long,” Apodaca said. “So you know what? I’ll deal with whatever they throw at me. It’ll be over eventually.”

Submariner Caleb Scarth, who keeps his Camels in the leg pocket of his Navy uniform, will switch to chewing tobacco exclusively. He already carries, next to the smokes in his pocket, a little plastic bottle for spitting out the juicy discards.

Scarth believes that, amid the pressures of a deployment, he’s going to need the quick, blissful punch of nicotine.

“Because of the way the chemical works, it just gets in your head. And it’s just like, ‘Yeah.’ And everything goes away,” said Scarth, a 25-year-old fire control technician.

Nick Church, 27, a former smoker on the Ashville, said he understands why his buddies light up — to fight the tension and boredom below the sea surface.

“I don’t think anyone else understands what it’s like to go silent for 40 to 50 days,” said Church, another fire control technician. “Unless you’ve done it, you don’t know how to even explain it to somebody.”

In addition to the smoking ban, the submarine community was recently rocked by another policy change when the Navy announced in April that women will be allowed to join the “silent service” on some subs.

The first female submarine officers are in training and are expected to join their ships in December.

Despite the no-smoking change, none of the submariners say they are ready to abandon ship.

“I’ve got way more pride in my job than that,” Scarth said.

By Jeanette Steele

Spain’s smoking ban begins

Madrid – Spain’s reign as the last Western European haven for smokers ended Sunday as a new law came into effect banning smokingprohibido fumar in enclosed public places.

Those caught smoking indoors or even in some open spaces like playgrounds will now have to pay a 30 euro ($40) fine and as much as 100,000 euros ($134,000) after being caught three times. Restaurant and bar owners failing to impose the new law will pay between 60 euros ($80) and 100,000 euros for each violation.

In Madrid’s historical centre, bars and restaurants were packed for breakfast and for lunch on Sunday in spite of the new rule. But no customers were smoking. In cold but sunny weather, cafes with outdoor terraces, where smoking is permitted, were doing brisk business.

“We have a lot of customers today, but it’s only the first day and we have to see what will happen,” said the Txacolina bar manager, Pedro Ayllon. “But I don’t think the new law will hurt us.”

He welcomed the new law after seven years working in smoke-filled bars.

At the nearby Taberna del Capitan Alatriste restaurant, manager Antonio Pino said lunch reservations were normal for a Sunday.

“It’s a fair law as it’s the same for everyone, so there will be fewer problems,” he said.

Until now, Spains anti-smoking law banned smoking in the workplace, on public transport and in shops. But it allowed owners of bars, restaurants and cafes to decide whether to ban smoking or not. Most, faced with a drop in business, naturally chose to permit their customers to light up.

A statistical battle

The debate over the issue here has become a statistical battle. Anti smoking groups say at least 1,000 lives will be saved every year without any negative economic impact, while bar and restaurant owner associations say they will lose $8 billion a year and more than 100,000 will be laid off.

A series of anti tobacco laws that allow most establishments to choose whether or not to ban smoking started going into effect four years ago. Yet they have all but been ignored. In fact, some regional governments, including that of Madrid, opposed central government efforts, allowing for numerous exceptions.

But the new law that went into effect today closed all loopholes and smokers have been all but banned.

“This is horrible,” says Natalia, a Madrid resident who didn’t want her last name used. “They couldn’t have done this at a worse time, with the [economic] crisis and all. I’m not going to quit smoking over this, I can guarantee you, but I won’t go out to eat or to bars as much.”

Health concerns

Spain has its fair share of smokers, something the country’s health ministry has been increasingly concerned about.

Almost 35 percent of Spaniards older than 16 are regular smokers, a record in the European Union, according to government figures. Some 40 percent of women between 15 and 25 are addicted, a threefold increase in 20 years.