September 2011 - |

Monthly Archives: September 2011

How Much Does Smoking Really Cost?

Smoking does more than hurt your health; it does a number on your wallet, as well. A pack of cigarettes now costs more than $5 on average—with some states tacking on additional taxes that raise the price even more. In New York City, local taxes have pushed the cost of a pack to about $10.

Even if you don’t smoke yourself, cigarettes may affect your finances: Between 1997 and 2001, smoking was responsible for $167 billion in annual health-care costs and lost productivity in the U.S. alone.

Sure, quitting can also be costly, depending on which route you take. But once you kick your daily habit, you will likely find your bank account is healthier too. Cutting out cigarettes—whether you light up once or more than a dozen times a day—can save you hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars each year.

Monetary Costs of Smoking

Many people see the high monetary cost of a smoking habit. In fact, estimates range that smoking costs the average smoker around $1500 a year just for the purchase of cigarettes. But there is much more at stake then just the cost of the actual purchase of the cigarettes. There are also smoking medical costs that many people fail to take into consideration when counting the cost of smoking. For example, a smoker who suffers from poor lung condition and other related problems will gain many healthcare bills that he or she would not have had if it were not for the smoking habit.

But there are several hidden monetary costs to a smoking habit. For example, those who smoke pay more for life insurance and health insurance than those who are non smokers. This is due to the fact that those who smoke are at a higher risk of early death than non smokers, and likely to take on the high health care costs of smoking.

Smoking in your home lowers the potential resale value, because most new home buyers are not interested in purchasing a house that smells like cigarettes. The same is true for your car. This is yet another way that smoking costs money!

Smoking Costs – It’s More Than Just Money

While the costs of smoking hit your budget and wallet hard, there are many other costs of smoking beyond the financial losses that it brings to you and your family. Smoking health costs, the social stigma of being a smoker, and the emotional problems that come with addiction are all the costs you need to consider when thinking about your habit.

Baseball seeks ban on chewing tobacco and dip


WASHINGTON — Always a hidebound sport, baseball has accepted interleague play, the wild card and even video replay in the last 20 years.

Now a campaign backed by members of Congress and Commissioner Bud Selig is taking on something that’s been a part of the game’s culture for well over 150 years — chewing tobacco on the field.

Public health groups have gained traction with a classic argument: When ballplayers are seen chewing a wad of tobacco or using dip — products collectively known as smokeless tobacco — they set a bad health example for kids who look up to the athletes as role models.

To which Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Mark Kotsay replies: “I’ve seen the president drink a beer, right? I don’t know. I don’t get all the rules and regulations.”

The problem, anti-tobacco advocates say, is the increasing use of smokeless products by young people and the health risks that go with the habit.

The Centers for Disease Control says that smokeless tobacco can cause cancer, oral health problems and nicotine addiction, and stresses it is not a safe alternative to smoking. Despite the risks, the CDC’s most recent survey found that in 2009, 15 per cent of high school boys used smokeless tobacco — a more than one-third increase over 2003, when 11 per cent did.

The sport’s current collective bargaining agreement expires in December, and Selig, who endorsed the ban in March, has said he will propose it in the new contract. Union head Michael Weiner said in June that “a sincere effort” will be made to address the issue. Neither side would comment on the status of a tobacco ban in negotiations.

“I believe that’ll be a really tough sell,” said Kotsay, a tobacco user.

Nonetheless, Major League Baseball is so keen on scrubbing tobacco from the sport that it asked Sony Pictures to remove scenes depicting its use in the movie “Moneyball,” though the studio declined to do so. In the new film, Brad Pitt plays Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane, and incorporates several of his habits, including dipping.

“That came pretty easily,” Pitt told reporters this week. “I grew up with a little dip.”

Baseball spokesman Pat Courtney said the studio agreed to many of MLB’s suggestions in the film, but decided to keep Beane’s tobacco use as a matter of authenticity, because he used the product at the time the movie is set (Beane has since quit dipping).

Health groups are urging a ban on players using the product any time they’re on camera, including the field and dugout. Several members of Congress have also urged a prohibition, such as Democratic Sens. Frank R. Lautenberg of New Jersey and Dick Durbin of Illinois, and Democratic Reps. Henry Waxman of California and Frank Pallone of New Jersey. Smokeless tobacco already is prohibited in the non-unionized minor leagues.

But some players see the commissioner’s proposal as an infringement on their freedom.

“We’re all adults here,” said White Sox pitcher Jake Peavy. “We should get to make our own decisions. I’m a grown man. I’ve got a mortgage. I can make my own decisions.”

“What’s next?” asked his teammate, Adam Dunn, who dips. “They’re going to have a sugar ban? I think it’s personal choice. I’m not promoting it and I understand kids look up to us. I think we’re grown-ups.”

The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, one of the groups leading the effort for the ban, counters that baseball players have a responsibility beyond themselves.

“What we’re talking about here is baseball players as role models for young adolescents who don’t appreciate the risk, and don’t understand the power of addiction,” said the group’s president, Matthew Myers. “Baseball players are free to do what they want when they’re not at the ballpark, when they’re not on television. Our concern is that their behaviour is affecting another generation of children.” Other health groups pushing a ban include the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Cancer Society and the American Medical Association.

“This is one of the most important places where youth are exposed to seeing people use smokeless tobacco,” said Myers, adding that supporters will make a big push for the ban around the playoffs and World Series.

Not all players are closed to the idea. Washington Nationals closer Drew Storen, the team’s player representative, said he hasn’t made up his mind on the question.

“We are role models for kids,” said Storen, who does not use tobacco. “At the same time, I think as long as it’s not blatant … I can see both sides of it.”

Baseball players have been chewing tobacco since the formative days of the sport in the mid-1800s, when munching on the leaves was something of a national pastime itself. By one estimate, the average American chewed three pounds of tobacco a year, and spittoons were commonplace.

English novelist Charles Dickens, writing about his 1842 tour of the United States, mocked Washington as the “the head-quarters of tobacco-tinctured saliva.” He lamented that “chewing and expectorating” were common all over America: “In the courts of law, the judge has his spittoon, the crier his, the witness his, and the prisoner his; while the jurymen and spectators are provided for, as so many men who in the course of nature must desire to spit incessantly.”

Roberta Newman, a professor with New York University’s Liberal Studies program who has studied baseball’s history with tobacco, said that players soon discovered benefits to chewing: tobacco juice softened gloves, and could be used to doctor baseballs. Indeed, tobacco juice was part of the spitballer’s arsenal until baseball banned the spitter in 1920.

“Tobacco’s a stimulant, it helps you stay alert, it helps keep your mouth wet,” Newman added.

Even when chewing tobacco fell out of favour among Americans around 1890, it persisted in baseball, she said: “Baseball’s incredibly conservative, and unwilling to give stuff up.”

Kenneth Garcia, spokesman for Richmond, Va.-based Altria Group Inc., whose U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Co. subsidiary holds the largest share of the U.S. retail market with brands like Copenhagen and Skoal, said the issue was one for baseball and the players to decide. But he added: “There are organizations and people out there whose perspective is that they’re concerned, and we are too, about the impact that baseball players’ use of smokeless tobacco may have on kids who watch these games.”

Baseball banned smokeless tobacco in the minor leagues in 1993. Recent call-ups from the minors spoke of “Dip Police” who would come through clubhouses and cite players if they saw tobacco at their lockers, subjecting violators to fines.

Washington Nationals pitcher Brad Peacock, who jokingly shuffled a can of tobacco out of site when approached by a reporter, said the minor league ban was effective. “It made me want to stop because I didn’t want to pay that fine,” said Peacock, who was recalled from the minors this month. He said a major league ban on players using tobacco on the field would be fair.

“I definitely don’t do it in front of kids at all,” he said. “It’s a bad habit. I hate it.”

Smoking in films ‘encourages teenagers to take it up’

Teenagers who watch films showing actors smoking are more likely to take it up, new UK research smoking

Experts who made the link by questioning 5,000 15-year-olds say their findings should prompt a change in film certification so that under-18s are no longer exposed to such images.

The Bristol University investigators say a precautionary approach is needed.

But pro-smoking choice campaigners say this is unjustified and nonsensical.

They say there is no proof that what a person views at the cinema or on DVD influences their decision about whether or not to smoke.

Social background

The latest research, published in the journal Thorax, looked at the potential influence of some of the 360 top US box office films released between 2001 and 2005, including movies like Spider-Man, Bridget Jones and The Matrix, that depict smoking.

Adolescents who saw the most films depicting smoking were 73% more likely to have tried a cigarette than those exposed to the least. And they were 50% more likely to be a current smoker.

Knowing that smoking attitudes are influenced by factors such as whether an individual’s parents and peers smoke, the researchers also gathered data about the adolescents’ social background.

Even after controlling for these variables, these teenagers were still 32% more likely to have tried a cigarette themselves, they said.

‘Harmful imagery’

Dr Andrea Waylen, who led the research, said: “We saw a linear relationship between adolescent smoking and the number of films they had seen depicting smoking.

“More than half of the films shown in the UK that contain smoking are rated UK15 or below, so children and young teenagers are clearly exposed.”

She said raising certification to 18 was necessary in the UK and would lower youth smoking rates.

The UK Centre for Tobacco Control Studies has written to the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) asking it to do just this to protect children from “particularly harmful imagery”.

Both U (universal) and PG (parental guidance) film ratings proscribe “potentially dangerous behaviour which young children are likely to copy”. This includes drug misuse but not cigarette smoking.

David Cooke, director of the BBFC, said: “Smoking is a major public health issue and we consulted the public very extensively on it in 2005 and 2009. Their clear expectation is that we should be vigilant, sensible and proportionate in how we deal with the issue.

“Glamorising smoking has therefore been included as a classification issue in our published classification guidelines and we frequently use our extended classification information to draw the attention of parents and others to depictions of smoking in films.


“There is, however, no public support for automatically classifying, for instance, a PG film at 18 just because it happens to contain a scene of smoking. We always look carefully at all research on this and related subjects drawn to our attention.

“Experience suggests, with media effects research generally, that attempts to claim a causal link between a particular depiction and a particular behaviour are often disputed and seldom conclusive.”

Simon Clark, director of the smokers’ group Forest, said: “The idea that films need to be reclassified in order to create a utopian, smoke-free world for older children is not only patronising, it is completely unnecessary.

“Today you would be hard-pressed to find a leading character who smokes in any top 10 box office movie.

“What next? Should government reclassify films that feature fat people as well in case they are bad role models?

“We go to the cinema to escape from the nanny state. The tobacco control industry should butt out and take its authoritarian agenda elsewhere.”

By Michelle Roberts
Health reporter,
BBC News

Tobacco Prices raise in Philippines

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine government raised floor prices of various types of tobacco leaves to provide a fair price for both farmers and buyer firms.

According to the National Tobacco Administration (NTA), the tobacco prices were increased by as much as 51 percent to ensure a 25 percent increase in farmers’ income. This is a result of a recently-concluded tripartite conference attended by the government regulatory agency, farmers, and buyer firms.

“We talked separately with farmers and buyers so there was no need to haggle for the prices (like in the past). We came up with floor prices that are acceptable to both parties,” NTA Administrator Edgardo D. Zaragoza said in a statement issued today.

The new floor prices will take effect in the incoming crop year of 2012 to 2013. The prices of AA grade Virginia tobacco was pegged at P72 ($1.66) per kilo, up by nine percent from the previous year. Prices for other tobacco grades likewise increased.

The Philippines is one of the world’s biggest tobacco growers and produces about 70 million kilograms each year. Most of the country’s tobacco plants are cultivated in the northern region which include the provinces of Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur and Abra.

The floor prices set for tobacco is a significant issue among the over 2 million Filipino tobacco farmers who are clamoring for higher prices in order to get a decent living from growing the crop.

Earlier, tobacco farmers in three Ilocos Region provinces and Abra in the Cordillera Administrative Region proposed to the NTA to raise the price of tobacco leaves up to as much as P128 ($2.95) per kilo for unclassified leaves.

The clamor for higher tobacco price resulted from consultations that the Solidarity of Peasants Against Exploitation (Stop Exploitation) conducted among farmers in the four tobacco- producing provinces.

The farmers’ group said that Ilocano and Abreno tobacco farmers and farm workers usually lose in the unfair trade relations with businessmen and politicians engaged in the tobacco trade.

The farmers said government agencies and local government units offered no help despite getting millions out of RA 7171 and RA 8240.

RA 7171 of 1992 is supposed to help Virginia tobacco farmers and specified that 15 percent of Virginia-tobacco-related government revenue would be set aside for projects that would improve the farmers’ income. These include building farm-to-market roads and management and subsequent ownership of agro-industrial projects. RA 8240 is the Comprehensive Tax Reform Law, which changed from ad valorem to specific taxes those excised from tobacco manufacturing.

A study conducted by Stop Exploitation shows that a farmer spends 157 work-day in a half-hectare farm for a tobacco season and spends P35,000 ($808.31) for production cost. Farmers said that owing to the low selling prices, they have to borrow money from loan sharks.

In a related development, the NTA reported Philippine tobacco production reached 78.5 million kilos in green weight this year, compared to the 74 million kilos produced in 2010.

Total exports could reach 35.1 million kilos, up by about 5 percent from last year’s 33.45 million kilos, while total leaf importation for unmanufactured tobacco was pegged at 80 million kilos dry weight, equivalent to 133 million kilos in green weight.

Most of the country’s unmanufactured tobacco are shipped to the United States, Belgium, South Africa, South Korea and Malaysia, while manufactured tobacco are sent to Thailand, South Korea, Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam.

Cigarette consumption and production continue to fall in Turkey

smoking ban
Both the production and sale of cigarettes started to drop remarkably in Turkey last year and that fall extended through this year, the country’s Tobacco and Alcohol Market Regulatory Agency (TAPDK) data show.

According to information the Anatolia news agency received from the regulatory body, the number of cigarettes produced went down by 23 percent, from 63.4 billion units to 48.8 billion units, in the first seven months of this year over the same period a year ago. Production had already decreased from 132.9 billion units in 2009 to 115.2 billion last year, a reduction of over 13 percent.

The drop in production parallels the reduction in the sale of cigarettes in Turkey. TAPDK data show that the number of cigarettes sold in the country dropped from 107.5 billion units two years ago to 93.3 billion in 2010, a reduction of more than 13 percent in one year. The downward trend continued, albeit at a slower pace, this year. Turks purchased 700 million fewer boxes in the first seven months of this year than the January-July period in 2010.

The reduction in both production and sale of cigarettes is not without reason. A ban on smoking tobacco products in all indoor public areas, including cafes and bars, has been in effect for three years. Turkey had long been a nation of smokers and passive smokers, with no regulations to prohibit smoking in public places, but this changed on May 19, 2008, as a law banning smoking in public venues went into effect.

The ban on smoking includes all educational, health, commercial, social, cultural, sports and entertainment facilities, including the corridors of these buildings. It does, however, allow for specially designed smoking sections in nursing homes, asylums and prisons. The new law is very strict in regards to educational facilities, where smoking is banned even in yards and other open areas.

The law also banned tobacco sales to people under the age of 18. Furthermore, people below this age cannot be employed in tobacco production or sales. Selling individual cigarettes, which is especially common near schools, was also prohibited in a clause that aims to prevent young people from taking up smoking. Only certified places are now allowed to sell tobacco products, and other means of tobacco sales, such as the Internet, are illegal.

Advertising groups join cigarette label opposition

Two advertising industry groups on Friday joined some of the nation’s largest tobacco companies in opposing new graphic cigarette tobacco warningwarning labels that include the sewn-up corpse of a smoker and pictures of diseased lungs.

The groups say the labels infringe on commercial speech and could lead to further government intrusion if unchallenged.

The Association of National Advertisers and the American Advertising Federation filed briefs with the U.S. District Court in Washington in a lawsuit led by R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. and Lorillard Tobacco Co.

The companies sued the Food and Drug Administration last month to block the labels, saying they violate free speech laws, unfairly urge adults to shun their legal products and will cost millions to produce.

A hearing on a preliminary injunction to stop the labels, set to appear on packs next year, is set for Wednesday, with a decision to come as soon as October.

“The new cigarette warnings are expressly designed to be propagandistic rather than informative,” wrote the groups who represent hundreds of U.S. companies and thousands of advertising professionals. “If the government can deputize tobacco companies through their product packaging and advertisements to deliver its message, there is no reason it could not do so for other things — and history shows it will not hesitate to do so.”

Tobacco companies are increasingly relying on their packaging to build brand loyalty and grab consumers. It’s one of few advertising levers left to pull since the government has curbed their presence in magazines, billboards and TV.

In opposition to the lawsuit, the FDA said last week that the public interest in conveying the dangers of smoking outweighs the companies’ free speech rights. It said the cost to the companies to incorporate the new graphics is not sufficient to halt the labels.

The federal agency also argued that Congress gave it the authority to require the new labels because existing warnings dating to 1984 were going unnoticed. It says it drew on the advice of various experts to create the labels, which the FDA said are similar to those used in other countries, including Canada.

The companies on Friday responded that while the government has authority to mandate them to accurately warn consumers about the dangers of their products plainly and legibly, it “lacks authority to compel manufacturers to replace their product labels and logos with emotionally charged photographs and messages demanding that adult customers stop using their lawful products.”

In June, the FDA approved nine new warning labels that companies are to print on the entire top half of cigarette packs, front and back. The new warnings, each of which includes a number for a stop-smoking hotline, must constitute 20 percent of cigarette advertising, and marketers are to rotate use of the images.

One label depicts a corpse with its chest sewn up and the words “Smoking can kill you.” Another shows a healthy pair of lungs beside a yellow and black pair with a warning that smoking causes fatal lung disease.

Joining R.J. Reynolds and Lorillard in the suit are Commonwealth Brands Inc., Liggett Group LLC and Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company Inc.

Altria Group Inc., the Henrico County-based parent company of the nation’s largest cigarette maker, Marlboro maker Philip Morris USA, is not a part of the lawsuit. The tobacco industry’s legal challenge could delay the labels for years.


Sarah Jessica Parker’s Cigarette Habit Takes Toll on Beauty

Actress Sarah Jessica Parker, who recently premiered in her new film “I Don’t Know How She Does It,” is known for her trim figure. Sarah Jessica Parker smokeBut despite being a workout fanatic, she still smokes cigarettes, putting her health at risk.

Young people take up smoking for a lot of reasons, but by the time they are in their mid-20s, many come to their senses and quit.

Parker smoked for several seasons on her hit HBO Show “Sex and the City,” until protests caused her to write it out of the script. But in real life, she’s still addicted.

Husband Matthew Broderick has worried in public what affect it might have on their kids.

In a 2008 interview, he expressed concern that their son might eventually pick up the nicotine habit because of his parents.

“I used to smoke cigarettes, and I still do, lately,” said Broderick. “I gave that up a long time ago, but every now and then I will fall off for a week.”

Broderick says Parker is “worse than me on that.”

And he says their son, James Wilkie is “already curious. He’ll see a cigarette butt and say, ‘What is that? Why do people smoke?’ I can just see the little budding gene of a smoker in there.”

Smoking substantially raises the risk of contracting cancer of the lungs, throat, pancreas and stomach.

Today, more women die from lung cancer than from breast cancer, according to medical authorities.

Hollywood stars often set examples and are viewed as role models, so its always worse when a celebrity smokes, creating an aura that it can’t happen to them.

But in so many cases, it does happen. Actor Michael Douglas is a prime example.

His father, legendary actor Kirk Douglas is 93, and outside of a stroke in his later years, has lived a long robust life.

With longevity genes like that, Michael, 65, probably thought, he too, could look forward to a similar life span.

But he was diagnosed with stage IV throat cancer last year. He blames it on smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol.

Douglas has an 80 percent chance of beating the disease, and recently said he was cancer free after eight weeks of excruciating treatment.

Late actor Patrick Swayze’s wasn’t so lucky. His pancreatic cancer was also tied to a life of cigarette smoking. He died at 57.

Parker has a toned physique that most twenty-somethings would envy, and she works hard to maintain her slender size 0 figure.

She typically runs fives miles at a time and also does yoga and Pilates. In fact, SJP is so disciplined about exercise that she doesn’t need a workout buddy to push her to hit the gym.

But the signs of smoking can already been seen in her face and skin. Cigarettes have been linked to wrinkles and pre-mature aging and yellowing of the skin.

Cancer is a killer no matter how healthy you are. If you smoke nothing else matters, whether it’s eating better or exercising.

And, it can strike at any time. Here’s hoping she finally quits.

CA lifts ban on tobacco firms’ promotional activities

MANILA, Philippines – On petition of the country’s giant tobacco companies, the Court of Appeals (CA) has nullified a resolution of the Department of Health prohibiting the tobacco industry from conducting promotional activities.

In a 21-page decision, Associate Justice Noel Tijam, of the CA’s Special Eleventh Division, agreed with Philip Morris Philippines Manufacturing Inc. and Fortune Tobacco Corp. that the DOH and the Bureau of Food and Drugs (Bfad) “committed grave abuse of discretion” in declaring that since July 1, 2008, all promotions, advertisements and sponsorships of tobacco products were already under Republic Act 9211, or the Tobacco Regulation Act of 2003.

The CA noted that while Section 22 of the law covering the ban on advertisements “prohibits all forms of tobacco advertisements in the mass media,” it exempts tobacco advertisements “placed inside the premises of point-of-sale establishments.”

The CA decision read in part: “The law being clear in distinguishing promotions from advertising and sponsorship, the public respondent DOH cannot hold a contrary view; much less exercise a carte blanche authority to deny petitioner’s promotional permit applications, as well as those by other tobacco companies. To begin with, it cannot modify supplant or even interpret its clear terms.

“Clearly then, the DOH should not have departed from the expressed provisions of the law. It being clear and unequivocal, it must have been given its literal application and applied without interpretation,” the CA ruled.

On the other hand, Section 23 of the tobacco law allows tobacco promotions with some restrictions such as it should be directed to persons at least 18 years old; all stalls, booths and other display concerning tobacco promotions must be limited to point-of-sale of adult-only facilities; telephone communications concerning promotional offers, programs or events must include a recorded health-warning message; and several other things.

The court also declared that the DOH has no authority to enforce the provisions of law, noting that Section 29 states that an Interagency Committee-Tobacco (IAC-Tobacco) shall have the “exclusive power and function to administer and implement the provisions” of the law.

The IAC-Tobacco is chaired by the secretary of trade, with the secretary of health as vice chairman.

The CA chided the health department for arrogating unto itself the authority vested on the IAC-Tobacco.

“The DOH also unlawfully provided absolute prohibitions on the advertising, promotions and sponsorships of tobacco activities without distinction and, thus, contrary to the tenets of the law. Indubitably, those acts translate to grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction necessitating the issuance of a writ of certiorari,” it said.

Records showed that on November 19 and 28, 2008, Philip Morris sought BFAD permission for two for sales promotions. The BFAD informed the tobacco firm of a DOH memorandum prohibiting tobacco companies, starting July 1, 2008, from holding any form of tobacco promotions in the country.

The PMPI appealed to the DOH to no avail, prompting the tobacco firm to elevate the case to the CA.

Fortune Tobacco joined the fray, saying it had a direct and immediate legal interest in the outcome of the petition.

The appellate court granted Fortune Tobacco’s motion to intervene.

The Court said that while it was not oblivious of the desire of the people to live a healthy life and in a healthy environment, it also recognized the contribution of the tobacco industry to the advancement of the country’s economy.

“Although the intention of the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco is to seek the gradual elimination of tobacco, public respondents DOH and the Bfad cannot speed up the process if, in so doing, they will deviate from or violate the express provisions of the law,” the CA added.

Concurring with the ruling were Associate Justices Marlene Gonzales-Sison and Jane Aurora Lantion.

E-cigarettes lighting up controversy in the sky

Amarillo, Texas – A special cigarette designed to help people quit smoking is lighting up controversy at airports across the country.

Imagine you’re on a plane, when the person next to you pulls out a cigarette and starts puffing away. It’s a reality many travelers are facing because of a little confusion.

They look like regular cigarettes and act like regular cigarettes, but they are actually electronic cigarettes that emit water vapor.

Which is why some passengers are puffing them in-flight, despite the long-time smoking ban on air craft.

But seeing someone almost “light-up” is causing some health concerns for many frequent fliers.

One flier says, “They might put off something in the air that we don’t know about.”

Another traveler says, “If they are invading my space and space is pretty limited on the plane as it is, I would be against that.”

Even this former smoker says it’s a no, “As an ex-smoker, I know it’s not the easiest thing in the world to do, but I will say it’s the best thing I ever did and sometimes you just have to bite the bullet.”

But others say if it’s just water vapor, why not, “As long as it was water vapor coming out and it was harmless, I would not have a problem with it.”

Since smoking isn’t allowed on airplanes in the first place and e-cigarettes are causing some confusion, the Department of Transportation is looking to ban them on the basis that we really don’t know what’s in them.

Sharri Miller a Tobacco Treatment Specialist with the Harrington Cancer Center says, “The FDA has not approved them and they are a regulatory agency that helps keep us safe. When they won’t approve it, that kind of brings up a red flag.”

But Miller says we do know there are ten carcinogens in the cigarette.

She explains, “They have found a substance in antifreeze and they have also found some carcinogens which cause cancer.”

Some say there is also a safety concern since the electronic cigarettes look so similar to regular ones, it could make other passengers think they can actually light up as well.

The DOT ban would apply to all U.S. and foreign airlines on scheduled flights to and from the United States.

The government is accepting your comments on the proposed ban until November 14th.

Chewing Tobacco’s Brad Pitt Moment

brad pitt
Moneyball is easily the greatest movie ever made about the use of statistical analysis to gain a competitive business advantage. The adaptation of Michael Lewis’s best-selling book, released this month after years of delay, stars Brad Pitt as Billy Beane, the general manager of the Oakland Athletics who upset the game’s establishment by turning to Ivy League number crunchers for help building a team that, in 2002, ran off an American League record 20-game win streak. It’s a big moment for stat nerds. But data analysis isn’t the movie’s only unlikely star. Moneyball is also a rare moment of glory for office tobacco spitters. Along with downing Twinkies, smashing clubhouse equipment, and joyriding his pickup in dirt lots, Beane is seen spewing tobacco juice into a cup.

Brad Pitt packing a lipper is the kind of publicity tobacco companies can no longer buy, at least not legally. In their 1998 master settlement agreement with state attorneys general, U.S. makers agreed to stop paying for product placements in movies and on TV. Even Major League Baseball is trying to wipe out chaw. Commissioner Bud Selig wants to ban tobacco in clubhouses. And the league says it asked Sony to remove the spitting from Moneyball. Sony (SNE) kept it as a matter of “authenticity.” Tobacco watchdogs accept this. “If it’s a real person who actually smoked or used tobacco, that doesn’t need to be adult rated,” says Jonathan Polansky, a consultant to University of California at San Francisco’s Center for Tobacco Control Research & Education. According to Lewis’s book, everyone “except for the Harvard graduates” in the Oakland A’s draft room in 2002 “had a lipful of chewing tobacco.”

Is Brad Pitt enough to make office chew cool? “I can’t see that happening,” says Ross Coomber, a sociologist at Plymouth University who has studied expectoration. Still, the movie could provide an opening for smokeless tobacco. As smoking and spitting get chased from every last workplace, tobacco companies have responded with options such as tablets and Snus—Swedish-style, dry, spitless packets. Smokeless sales volumes, says R.J. Reynolds Tobacco spokesman David Howard, have been increasing by about 5 percent annually even as cigarettes continue to decline. But for Hollywood, no smoke or spit means nothing to see. Spitting, notes Coomber, “is a very macho, aggressive thing.” Snussing? Not so much.

Hookah Tobacco Won’t be Banned in Public Places for Now

Hookah tobacco will not be hookah usebanned in Utah’s bars and clubs after all… at least not for now. In an emergency meeting Tuesday, the legislature’s Administrative Rules Review Committee asked the state health department to hold off on its new changes to the Utah Clean Air Act, saying it didn’t have the authority to make them. Committee Co-Chair Representative Curt Oda says the health department went overboard in saying that lit and heated tobacco are the same thing.

“The code although it does not specifically define smoke in itself — it does talk about smoking — but the question was not in the smoking, it was the difference between lighted, which is in the code, and heated which is in their rule,” he explains.

Utah Department of Health spokesman Tom Hudachko says the department will begin working with the legislature to fix the law, and hopes it can be changed soon.

“We feel like we presented some very sound, peer-reviewed scientific data at the committee meeting that clearly showed that hookah smoke does pose a risk to individuals, the secondhand smoke that’s created from smoking hookah pipes, so we’ll certainly work with the legislature and do what we need to do to clarify the law and protect the public,” says Hudachko.

Representative Oda says a new law could be passed as early as the October 3rd special session.

By Jessica Gail

Maker of Cactus-based Cigarettes Signs Sales Agreements with Two German Companies

HARBIN, China, – China Kangtai Cactus Biotech Inc., a vertically integrated grower, developer, manufacturer and marketer of a variety of cactus-based products in China, announced today that it has signed sales agreements with Apollo Duty Free Shop GMBH and Tobosst Duty Free Shop GMBH, two of the biggest duty-free stores in Frankfurt, to sell Kangtai’s cactus-based “Sheng Cao” cigarettes in Germany.

The company has completed market surveys in Frankfurt and received positive consumer feedback. China Kangtai also invited several German tobacco dealers to help the company improve the taste and smell of “Sheng Cao” to enhance its quality. The company signed the agreements with the two duty-free companies in August and expects new revenue from the German market will be approximately 2.7 million EUR annually (approximately $3.7 million USD). Kangtai has initiated discussions with these two companies about possible sales of cactus powder and neutraceuticals.

Apollo is one of the largest professional duty-free companies in Germany and represents well-known European brands. Apollo’s retail store located at Romerberg serves 100,000 customers annually and has monthly sales of around one million EUR (approximately $1.4 million USD). Tobosst’s retail stores, along the Main River, sell luxury products such as watches, furniture, and tobacco products and have annual revenue over 10 million EUR (approximately $14 million USD).

China Kangtai CEO Jinjiang Wang said, “Expanding our market to Europe is an important step for our company. Besides the expected increase in cigarette revenue, this milestone for our company attests to the high quality of our products and demonstrates that Kangtai’s strong sales and promotion team has great potential to further penetrate the European markets and add new revenue streams that will increase the value of our company.”

About China Kangtai Cactus Biotech, Inc.

China Kangtai Cactus Biotech, Inc. is a leading grower, developer, producer, and marketer of cactus-derived products, including nutraceuticals, nutritious food, health and energy drinks, beer, wine and liquor, extracts and powders, and animal feed. China Kangtai controls over 387 acres of plants and maintains an active R&D group that holds 18 product patents and is seeking another 12. China Kangtai’s high-quality “green” products are sold throughout China via a distribution network that covers 12 of China’s 23 provinces and two of China’s four municipalities. More information may be found at or via e-mail:

SOURCE: China Kangtai Cactus Biotech, Inc.

Irene severely damages tobacco

LAWRENCEVILLE – Tobacco farmers are in the process of assessing the damage caused by Hurricane Irene.

On Friday, Sept. 9 Cynthia L. Gregg, Extension Agent, ANR, said Hurricane Irene brought with it loss of power, crop damage and a large scale clean up task, for all residents. The agriculture producers in the county have been dealing with damage to crops, farm buildings and fences.

“Tobacco was hard hit in Brunswick County. The 2000 plus acres in the fields that had not been harvested were affected b the wind and rain. Producers have been in the fields trying to get the tobacco set back up in order to salvage what they can of the 2011 crop as well as inspecting for damage. The tobacco curing in the barns was also a concern for many producers as they lost electricity and getting generators in place in order to save the curing crop of tobacco,” Gregg said.

Gregg said the soybeans are showing some lodging associated with high winds and rain, which could potentially reduce yields. The full season and double crop soybeans are being monitored closely in order to keep an eye on how the damage will affect the crop. There was damage to the leaves and stems of the plan.

Cotton was affected as well, said Gregg. The cop was flattened with the wind and rain. The crop will be hard to harvest as there will likely be maturity issues.

Gregg said in addition to crops, some farm buildings along with fencing and gates were damage.

Taylor Clarke, Extension Agent, said nearly every acre of tobacco was affected by Hurricane Irene. He said producers were expecting an above average crop of tobacco, making the damage to the crop even harder to bear. Clarke said the excessive wind and rain washed the wax from the plant and knocked plants over making harvesting difficult. He estimated that the loss could be $3.5 to $4 million.

Gregg encouraged producers to the Farm Service Agency at (434) 848-2223 Ext. 2 or the Virginia Cooperative Extension office at (434) 848-2151 if they have questions or need assistance.

By Sylvia Allen

Big tobacco brings in top silk

THE federal government is set to get a taste of the legal might it could eventually face in court as it pushes ahead with its plan to force all cigarettes to be sold in plain packs from mid-2012.

British American Tobacco Australia (BATA) will wheel out one of the nation’s most expensive lawyers tomorrow to front a Senate inquiry examining Labor’s legislation.

Allan Myers QC will join BATA chief executive David Crow in giving evidence regarding a bill that will amend the Trade Marks Act.

The Gillard government hopes the change will protect plain packaging from a legal challenge.

“Allan Myers is one of Australia’s leading lawyers,” BATA said in a statement today.

“We are hopeful the (Senate) committee will listen to his considered opinion about these draft laws which, in our opinion, are simply bad law.”

The lower house passed Labor’s two plain packaging bills last month and they are expected to easily pass the Senate with the support of the Greens.

Big tobacco argues there’s no evidence to suggest the world-first move will actually deliver health benefits.

But a House of Representatives health committee has rejected that argument, finding “criticisms of the evidence base … were insubstantial and, on the whole, superficial”.

BATA today said the fact that Labor wanted to amend the Trade Marks Act meant Health Minister Nicola Roxon was not confident the Tobacco Plain Packaging Bill would stand on its own two feet.

“Plain packaging is such a risky piece of legislation in so many ways,” company spokesman Scott McIntyre said in a statement.

“Unfortunately, if it passes through the Senate, we’ll be taking the federal government to court to protect our valuable trademarks which are worth billions of dollars.”

Turkey Working on Cigarette Branding Ban Law

Turkey is working on new regulations that would ban brand names, logos and designs on cigarette packaging and replace them with numbered black boxes, Milliyet reported, without saying where it got the information.

The regulations would ban any imagery or text other than health warnings and aims to reduce cigarette usage, the Istanbul-based newspaper said. Smokers would be required to order cigarettes by number, it said.

Health Minister Recep Akdag has asked officials from the World Health Organization and Turkey’s Tobacco and Alcohol Markets Regulation Board, or TAPDK, to coordinate on beginning technical studies toward implementing the new regulations, Milliyet said.

By Benjamin Harvey

Tobacco displays in shops attract Young People

According to a new investigation, funded by Cancer Research UK and published in Nicotine and Tobacco Research, younger cigarettes salesindividuals are more likely to take up smoking if they find tobacco displays in shops attractive and if they easily recall seeing the displays.

Investigators based at the University of Stirling, UK, interviewed approximately 950 non-smoking young individuals aged between 11-16 years from across the UK. Susceptibility to smoking, recall and attraction to tobacco displays in shops were assessed.

In order to determine their susceptibility to smoking, the authors asked if the participants had made a firm decision to not smoke or if they may smoke in the future.

Among the participants, 27% were classified as susceptible. Eight out of ten (81%) reported that they noticed the tobacco displays behind the counter, almost one in five paid close attention to the displays, one in four considered them to be eye-catching and one in eight thought the displays were attractive. They discovered that being attracted to the tobacco displays was positively linked with susceptibility.

Over 70% of participants supported removing shop displays and putting the tobacco out of sight.

Anne Marie Mackintosh, lead researcher, explained:

“Our findings show a link between the smoking susceptibility of young people and tobacco displays in shops. Demonstrating that young people who had never smoked appear vulnerable to the colorful and brightly lit tobacco displays is a real concern and reinforces the importance of putting those displays out of sight.”

In April 2010 across England and Wales, legislation to remove tobacco displays in supermarkets will come into force, and for smaller retail outlets in April 2015.

Jean King, Cancer Research UK’s director of tobacco control, commented:

“Tobacco advertising and marketing has been banned in the UK since 2002, but a loophole has meant that huge walls of tobacco have remained on display in nearly every corner store and shop across the country. Protecting young people from tobacco marketing is vital if we are to stop more young people from starting an addiction that kills half of all long term smokers. This research adds further evidence showing that putting tobacco out of sight is without a doubt the right move to make.”

By Grace Rattue
Medical News Today

What was Showtime smoking?

A recent episode of “Weeds,” a Showtime television series that features a marijuana-selling single mom, raises the question of what would happen if a crooked financial professional managed a federal investigator’s retirement money.

In the show, a hedge fund accountant played by Kevin Nealon gets himself, the hedge fund and the pot-dealing mother off the hook with federal regulators by not-so-delicately reminding Securities and Exchange Commission investigators that their retirement funds are invested in his company’s fund.

“You guys have those federal pension funds tied in with our Mainstay Fund,” the character says. “Five years ago, Uncle Sam bet your retirement plans on our good judgment … if we go down, you go down. … Not only are you going to let the two of us off the hook right here, but you’re going to give your bosses in D.C. a ring to make sure that our firm’s road to success is paved with the fed’s good graces, plenty of deregulation and a laissez-faire sense of letting us do our [damn] jobs.”

The scene casts the SEC investigators as vulnerable twits who decide to ensure that their pensions remain whole by dropping their inquiry.

In reality, the government has structured its defined-contribution plan to make sure that such a scenario remains the stuff of TV scripts.

In fact, government officials hired an outside law firm in the midst of the 2008 financial crisis to review potential risks to assets in the government’s version of a 401(k) plan, its Thrift Savings Plan. The firm concluded that even if there were a failure of Barclays Bank PLC, which then managed most of the investments in the plan, the assets are secured in trusts that can’t be pilfered, said Tom Trabucco, a spokesman for the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board, which operates the plan.

That assurance now applies to BlackRock Inc., which became the investment manager after buying Barclays Global Investors from the British investment bank for $13.5 billion in 2009.

Even if BlackRock itself were to go out of business, the plan’s assets are in a “true trust arrangement,” so no creditor of the firm could claim the assets, and the funds could be transferred to another independent fiduciary, Mr. Trabucco said.

By Liz Skinner

Cigarettes Project Exhibition at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

Cigarettes Tiger Carpet

RICHMOND, Va.—Xu Bing, one of China’s best-known contemporary artists, didn’t think it would be hard to get materials for an exhibit about tobacco in a city whose ties to the leaf run long and deep.

His installation opened over the weekend at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. It explores the history, culture, and links between the tobacco industries in the U.S. and China. Mr. Xu was optimistic about finding 500,000 cigarettes for a 40-by-15 foot “Tiger Carpet”; a 40-foot-long uncut cigarette to be stretched—and burned—across the length of a reproduction of an ancient Chinese scroll; and 440 pounds of tobacco leaves compressed into a cube, with raised letters reading, “Light as Smoke.”

But getting materials wasn’t easy, even in a city so steeped in tobacco it once had an annual festival and Tobacco Bowl. Mr. Xu says the complications he faced reflect the very point of his Tobacco Project: to explore the entangled, contradictory relationship people have with one of the world’s most widely cultivated nonfood crops, an economic engine that the World Health Organization links to the deaths of more than five million people a year.

“There’s both a closeness and a distance,” says Mr. Xu, a 1999 recipient of a MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant who has lived and worked both in the U.S. and China and who currently has an installation in New York made from 9/11 dust.

Altria Group Inc., Richmond-based parent company of Philip Morris USA and a major corporate donor to the VMFA, declined to donate cigarettes or other tobacco materials, according to Mr. Xu and museum staff. Altria has committed more than $1 million through 2013 to sponsor museum exhibits, including a recent successful Picasso show, but “we don’t support every exhibit that comes to the museum,” an Altria spokesman says.

The VMFA spent months searching for a manufacturer to make a long cigarette, a process that involves adjusting equipment to avoid cutting a tube into cigarette lengths. Then the museum faced another problem: The cigarette was made of self-extinguishing paper to conform to fire-safety regulations.

And the curator of Mr. Xu’s “Tobacco Project” had to arrange to have the museum’s heating and air-conditioning system temporarily expel rather than re-circulate air in the building when the long cigarette was burned. Though museum patrons once smoked free cigarettes at exhibit openings, today the museum has a strict no-smoking policy.

“This is definitely one of the most complex projects I’ve worked on,” says John Ravenal, the VMFA’S curator of modern and contemporary art.

Things were somewhat easier for Mr. Xu when he launched his Tobacco Project at Duke University a decade ago. For that exhibit, inspired in part by the Duke family’s prominent role in building a cigarette market in China, a tobacco museum manager connected him with representatives of the Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Co., who gave him flattened cigarette packages and long rolls of narrow cigarette paper, recalls Stanley Abe, a historian of Chinese art at Duke who helped Mr. Xu assemble the exhibit.

Santa Fe Natural Tobacco was privately held then but is now owned by Reynolds American Inc. The Santa Fe company’s “longstanding practice has been to not provide packaging or advertising materials to consumers or members of the public,” a spokeswoman said in an email.

Mr. Xu faced more challenges when he mounted a second installation of the Tobacco Project in Shanghai in 2004. The Chinese government tightly regulates distribution of cigarettes, but Mr. Xu finally got cigarettes that had passed their “use by” date from a distributor.

Included in Mr. Xu’s VMFA exhibit are a live tobacco plant, trading cards with historical advertisements celebrating American and Chinese tobacco brands, and cigarettes imprinted with quotations from Mao Zedong. The installation also features handwritten medical records detailing the final days of Mr. Xu’s father, a smoker who died in 1989 of lung cancer.

The Tiger Carpet’s pattern is created by the orange filters and white columns of cigarettes stood up on end. It’s both a symbol of luxury and colonial conquest in Southeast Asia, Mr. Xu says. “Usually when you see photos of British colonists, a tiger-skin carpet is laid out in front of them, and they’re flanked on either side by natives,” he says.

To buy the half-million cigarettes for the carpet, the VMFA turned to a retired tobacco executive and family friend of Carolyn Hsu-Balcer, a former museum trustee who lured Mr. Xu to the museum. The friend, Marvin Coghill, worked his contacts to negotiate the discount purchase of a brand called 1st Class. He took pains to assure the manufacturer, a unit of Raleigh, N.C.-based U.S. Tobacco Cooperative Inc., that the museum would pay state tax. “I convinced them it wasn’t someone buying and reselling cigarettes,” Mr. Coghill says.

Contacts of Mr. Coghill’s also churned out and donated the 40-foot long cigarette. But it was made with self-extinguishing paper, and Mr. Xu wasn’t sure it would burn well alone. So he burned a nonextinguishing version that he found in China.


Cigarette labels’ effectiveness seriously in doubt

It is endlessly surprising that a newspaper whose very existence is protected by the First Amendment would so quickly brush off those same rights for an unpopular industry such as tobacco without even examining the facts. At the very least we would hope that our local paper would acknowledge that the company is entitled to a fair review of these facts in the court system, even if the News & Record is unwilling to do the same (Sept. 1 editorial, “A warning worth hearing”).

Many who support the emotionally charged new labels for cigarettes that were mandated by the Food and Drug Administration ignore one essential fact. Studies continue to show that graphic warning labels are ineffective. Even the FDA’s own regulatory impact analysis fails to show that the proposed warnings will have any impact on the rates of smoking behavior.

The FDA estimated that the labels would reduce U.S. smoking rates by 0.212 percent. This one-fifth of 1 percent reduction, the FDA concluded, was “not statistically distinguishable from zero.”

Michael Siegel, a prominent tobacco control professor at the Boston University School of Public Health, examined the issue by looking at the FDA’s analysis of the impact of graphic warnings in Canada, which the FDA relied on to justify its new labels. He concluded graphic warnings had no statistically significant impact on smoking rates in Canada. Furthermore, after conducting a series of analyses, Siegel estimated that labels in Canada could have actually increased smoking prevalence. On his blog,, he called the FDA’s analysis “flimsy” and its conclusions “scientifically shaky” that graphic warning labels will reduce smoking prevalence in the United States.

For more than 45 years, cigarettes have been accompanied by Surgeon General’s warnings, and over those years Lorillard never brought a legal challenge to those warnings. But in its announcement, the FDA vastly exceeded the bounds of previous warnings by mandating labels that are not only ineffective but also unconstitutional.

Lorillard as a result filed a lawsuit along with other tobacco manufacturers. Our lawsuit marshals strong legal arguments that the requirement is damaging because it violates the First Amendment. The lawsuit sums it up best: “Never before in the United States have producers of a lawful product been required to use their own packaging and advertising to convey an emotionally charged government message urging adult consumers to shun their products.”

It appears the requirement is the latest step in the government’s plan of “rebranding of … cigarette packs,” as Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, said at a news conference. The message was clear. Once the regulation is in effect, much of the current tobacco advertising and product displays will be replaced by the government’s graphic anti-smoking advocacy.

Certainly the government can require warnings. But in our view it is a clear violation of the First Amendment to require a package for a legal product to serve as a minibillboard to carry the government messages and the government pictures in order to advocate that consumers not buy the product.

It is doubly striking that the FDA wants to go down this unconstitutional road in light of its own studies demonstrating the ineffectiveness of the graphic warning labels.

Michael Shannon is vice president, external affairs of Lorillard Tobacco Co.

Does smoking pot make you skinny?

Smoking marijuana is notorious for bringing on the munchies, but a new study has found that contrary to what you might think, pot smokers are skinnier than their non-smoking peers.

Rates of obesity are lower by roughly a third in people who smoke pot at least three times a week, compared with those who don’t use marijuana at all, reports Time’s Healthland blog.

Researchers looked at the results of two large national surveys of Americans, covering about 52,000 people. In one, 22 per cent of those who did not smoke marijuana were obese, compared with just 14 per cent of the regular marijuana smokers. In the second, 25 per cent of nonsmokers were obese, compared with 17 per cent of regular cannabis users, reports the blog.

The study is published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

Yes, we know correlation doesn’t equal causation, or, as writer Maia Szalavitz puts it, “…the correlation between weed and weight doesn’t mean that marijuana smoking actually causes weight loss.”

Some suggested mediators at work could include religious faith, since highly religious people are less likely to take drugs, but more likely to be obese.

“So, some of the obese people in the national surveys may be religious folk, who might otherwise be heavy marijuana smokers, but are eating too much instead. That could make it look like marijuana is slimming,” she writes.

One nagging question, though, is why marijuana smokers didn’t get fatter by taking a drug that can clearly stimulate appetite – one of the major uses of medicinal marijuana.

One factor may be tolerance: many of marijuana’s effects are reduced in frequent users, as the body adjusts to it, she writes.

“Another may be substitution — the smokers could be seeking comfort by smoking more marijuana, rather than eating more. Or, perhaps other ingredients in cannabis like cannabidiol (CBD) could reduce the appetite-increasing effects of THC in the same way that they reduce its paranoia-inducing properties.”

Bottom line: Here’s hoping this study doesn’t show up as the basis for the next diet fad.

Medical Marijuana Leads to More Pot Smoking

Drug Czar “Gateway” Gil Kerlikowske reminds me of “Baghdad Bob”. Do you remember the invasion of Iraq back in 2003 when Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf, the spokesperson known as “Baghdad Bob”, issued such proclamations as “I triple guarantee you, there are no American soldiers in Baghdad” and “They are retreating on all fronts. Their military effort is a subject of laughter throughout the world”, even as tanks were entering the city on live TV feed behind him?  No matter what unbiased videotaped live evidence you would show “Baghdad Bob”, he would continue to spout the talking points that evidence clearly refuted.

Such is the case with “Gateway” Gil whenever the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) is released.  If drug use goes up, we aren’t fighting the drug war enough.  If drug use goes down, drug war worked and we need more of it.  USA Today presented the 2010 NSDUH numbers today with a headline touting the reduction in methamphetamine use:

National drug survey shows big drop in methamphetamine use

Marijuana is as popular as ever while methamphetamine is falling out of favor, a national drug-use survey has found.

USA Today’s framing of the story is everything we could hope for – marijuana use remains steady and meth use has dropped.  The report continues to tell us we now number 17.4 million regular tokers, defined as people aged 12 and older who have used cannabis in the past month.  That works out to 6.9% of the population… or closing in on as many monthly tokers as Floridians (18.8 million).  In 2007, just 5.8% of the population (14.4 million) was using cannabis monthly, so this could have easily been a “Pot use increased 21% in four years!” frame.

I’m never fond of relating statistics of “12 and older” because NORML believes non-medical cannabis use is solely an adult activity.  However, digging deeper into the data we find that the regular use of cannabis by children aged 12-17 really didn’t change much at all (from 7.3% to 7.4% over the past year).  It’s the college-aged adults among whom marijuana use has increased – from 16.5% in 2008 to 18.5% in 2010.

This is where “Gateway” Gil fires up the Wurlitzer to crank out his same old reefer madness medical marijuana bogeyman tune:

Gil Kerlikowske, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, attributed the uptick in marijuana use to the increase in the number of states that have approved it for medical use. Delaware in May became the 16th state to approve medical marijuana.

“People keep calling it medicine, and that’s the wrong message for young people to hear,” Kerlikowske said.

Who are these people who keep calling cannabinoids medicine?  The US Patent Office?  The Institute of Medicine?  The American Medical Association?  For Gil Kerlikowske, apparently telling young people the truth is the wrong message.  And by young people we mean adults of voting, smoking, drinking, and car rental age.

The problem for “Gateway” Gil’s theory is that people have been recognizing cannabis’s medical properties under state laws since 1996 in California.  The entire West Coast and Colorado have had medical marijuana since 2000.  During that time, we saw teen use drop from 8.2% in 2002 (8 medmj states) to 6.7% in 2008 (13 medmj states).  Now it’s at 7.4% with 16 medical marijuana states, a rate lower than 2004, when there were only 10 medical marijuana states.

“Emerging research reveals potential links between state laws permitting access to smoked medical marijuana and higher rates of marijuana use,” said Gil Kerlikowske, Director of National Drug Control Policy. “In light of what we know regarding the serious harm of illegal drug use, I urge every family – but particularly those in states targeted by pro-drug political campaigns – to redouble their efforts to shield young people from serious harm by educating them about the real health and safety consequences caused by illegal drug use.”

“Gateway” Gil continues in the official SAMSHA press release to confuse correlation with causation to blame medical marijuana for greater marijuana use rates:

Yes, Gil, and that link would be that states with greater rates of marijuana use are more likely to pass marijuana law reforms.  The medical marijuana states had greater rates of use before they passed their laws and passing their medical marijuana laws didn’t increase the rates of use in those states by any greater amount than non-medical states.  Furthermore, use among teens dropped in most of those medical marijuana states following the passage of their medical marijuana law.

By Russ Belville

Hope of eradicating chewing tobacco menace

COIMBATORE – With the Union Health Ministry categorising pan masala and gutka as banned food products because they contain tobacco, there is fresh hope among cancer specialists and public health officials that incidence of cancer caused by these items will come down.

Almost a year ago, the city witnessed an intensive drive by public health department officials against these items that were categorised till then as tobacco products.

But, the sale of these items continued as the number of food inspectors in the health department of the local body was inadequate for the task of covering the entire city.

“The drive should have been effective even while treating pan masala and gutka as mere tobacco products. The word tobacco itself is enough to warn of risk to health and warrant a ban on production,” says Director of Sri Ramakrishna Institute of Oncology and Research P. Guhan.

“If the Government’s approach will continue to be what it has been so far, the categorisation as a food product will not make the ban effective. What needs to be done is to ban production and not just sale,” he says.

Dr. Guhan, however, feels that if the spirit of the fresh approach is a total ban and will be matched by action on the ground, there is hope of weeding out the menace of cancer caused by chewing tobacco.

The Food Safety and Standards Act seeks to brand pan masala and gutka as unsafe food because they contain tobacco. The Act will serve its purpose only if there is ban on production of an unsafe item.

As for a ban only on sale, Dr. Guhan says the experience so far show that shopkeepers find many ingenious ways to sell these products. “What causes pain is that young boys take to this habit and end up with oral cancer at a productive age,” he laments.

Though efforts are taken by cancer hospitals to create awareness among the people on the risks, there is not enough will on their part to shun these products. “It is shocking that sachets of pan masala items are offered along with betel leaves after lunch at weddings,” he says.

In addition to the risk of oral cancer, pan chewing is a nuisance, he points out. If chewing is a major public health problem, spitting the juice in public places should also be treated as one.

A health department official in the Coimbatore Corporation says both these problems will be rooted out if the production itself is banned.

Director of Comprehensive Cancer Centre at Kovai Medical Center and Hospital V. Kannan says that in addition to the latest move by the Government, a law banning spitting of tobacco juice in public places must be in force, just as the one that prohibits smoking in public places.

“The harm done by use of tobacco and its products should be probably added to school textbooks,” he suggests.

Health qualification degree holders (doctors, nurses, pharmacists, etc.,) get educated at a greatly subsidised tuition fee by the government for their graduate and post graduate studies.

There should be a yearly progress report from each doctor on the service they have done to society in eradicate tobacco use.

By K. V. Prasad

Ben Affleck Takes Up Smoking Again


Ben Affleck had been a smoker for almost twenty years. He had described the habit as “part of who I was”. But he decided to try to quit, and for a very good reason; he was about to become a dad for the first time. He told Oprah that, “I finally decided to quit smoking when I was gonna have a child. That was the thing that sort of put it over the top for me.”

After going through hypnosis he quit, and I’m sure then he thought it was for good. He once said, “my last cigarette was on November 10th, 2005… I feel a huge difference in my health now that I don’t smoke. I feel like I’m in better shape than I was five years ago.” But that is all in the past, and now the dad of two, who is expecting his third with wife Jennifer Garner, gave in to the nicotine gods.

Ben was spotted smoking on the set of his new film Argo. And it wasn’t part of the role, he was smoking between takes. Check out photos of Ben smoking here. Hopefully he just fell off the wagon a little and won’t be going back to his full time smoking ways.

Tobacco firms don’t want kids to smoke

Philip Morris USA, U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Co. and John Middleton do not want kids to be able to buy or use any tobacco products. We support our retail partners’ efforts to educate store clerks that it’s not OK to sell tobacco products to kids. And we encourage states to enforce their laws and hold store owners and clerks accountable for selling tobacco to minors.

Our companies supported the 2009 law giving the FDA the authority to regulate tobacco products, reduce underage tobacco use and enforce retailer compliance with laws limiting access to tobacco products by minors. Under federal law, it’s illegal to sell tobacco products to minors.

Additionally, we support the enactment of state legislation that would prohibit the purchase or possession of tobacco products by minors or the use of false identification by a minor during an attempt to purchase tobacco products. Oregon has such laws on the books, and they should be enforced.

Government, public health, parents and tobacco companies share the goal to eliminate underage tobacco use. We hope that the tobacco industry, the federal government and the states can work together to keep tobacco products out of kids’ hands.

Paige Magness
Director of corporate responsibility, Altria Client Services
Richmond, Va.

How smoking can cost you a fortune in property

Smoking is less publicly acceptable than ever. Every street corner seem to be filled with furtive smokers cowering from the rain and from public view, cast out of their warm corners by those who refuse to be affected by their habits.

The reaction to smokers can cost them their comfort and their conversation. However, it can also seriously damage their finances to when they come to rent a property.

Anti-smoking sentiment

People planning to rent a property don’t like to see signs of smokers. A survey by property website found that 8% would not live in a property previously occupied by a smoker and 40% would think twice about renting somewhere previously occupied by a smoker.

As a result 60% of landlords would never let a smoker in. If they do decide to let to a smoker, 50% would charge higher rents, with extra cleaning charges on top. Jennifer Warner from said: “It is no surprise that in today’s ultra-competitive rental market, landlords are coming down hard on smokers, penalising them with higher rental charges and in many cases refusing to let properties to smokers at all.”

The dangerous solutions
In most instances, therefore, casual smokers will simply deny the habit. Some 39% of smokers said they would not tell a potential landlord if they were a smoker.

They will tell themselves they will not smoke at the property, and will sign up for a smoke-free property. It’s only at that point that the corners will be cut, and thousands of smokers can be found at open windows, breathing their toxic fumes into the garden in the vague hope they won’t be found out.

Of course, this may seem innocent enough, but it’s a dangerous business. At the very least if the landlord discovers you will be out on your ear. But more seriously, if the property was to be damaged, you would end up paying for it. A third of landlords confirmed they had held back deposit money to cover the cost of cleaning or repairing homes that have been smoke damaged in the past. If the damage is more severe, or if the smoke caused a fire and you have declared yourself non smoking, you could find yourself liable for unimaginable costs.

And you cannot escape the cost by saving up and buying your own property. Because you will simply see the value of your property destroyed by your smoke. For those who would consider buying a property from a smoker, almost one-in-four buyers would expect a discount.

The answer, therefore, would seem to be either to buy a warm coat and get used to the outdoors, or to give up – which is far easier said than done. But what do you think? Do you mind smokers smoking in your home? Would you rent your property out to a smoker? Let us know in the comments.

By Sarah Coles

Indonesian government is against a US ban on importation of clove cigarettes

The Indonesian government has welcomed the World Trade Organization’s ruling against a US ban on the importation of clove cigarettes, calling for shipments to resume.

The global trade body ruled on Friday that the United States was imposing discriminatory trade rules in banning the sale of kretek — Indonesian clove cigarettes.

Gusmardi Bustami, the director general of international trade at Indonesia’s Trade Ministry, said on Sunday that the ruling made it clear that the US had engaged in trade discrimination.

“With this ruling, the US must admit that they were wrong for their discriminatory trade rules. I don’t see any reasons why we can’t resume selling kretek cigarettes to the US,” Gusmardi said.

The US Food and Drug Administration in September 2009 banned cigarettes with fruit, confectionery or clove flavors, arguing they encouraged young people to smoke.

That resulted in a ban of imports of kretek the following year. But menthol cigarettes were not banned, and the Indonesian government said the US was protecting domestic sales of menthol cigarettes and that it intended to keep kretek out of the market.

“Our study concludes that clove and menthol are equally harmful to health, therefore, the ban was discriminatory,” Gusmardi said.

In its ruling, the WTO panel found that clove and menthol-flavored cigarettes are “like products.”

Gusmardi said that kretek is used by fewer than 1 percent of young smokers and accounts for less than 1 percent of total cigarette sales in the US. Meanwhile, menthol was consumed by 43 percent of young smokers and made up almost 25 percent of total cigarettes sold in the country.

The ruling was not entirely favorable for Indonesia. The WTO rejected its second claim, that the ban was unnecessary. The WTO found that the ban was a legitimate approach on the basis that it was aimed at reducing smoking among young people.

But Gusmardi questioned the ruling, saying that having cigarettes available does not mean kretek manufacturers were targeting young people.

“The problem with smoking is that it’s more of a habit-forming problem rather than one of the product being widely available,” he said.

The WTO concluded by asking the US to bring its restrictions into conformity with international trade rules. Both parties have 60 days to appeal the ruling.

Gusmardi said Indonesia would not appeal, saying the ruling made it clear the US had discriminated against Indonesia’s clove cigarettes.

Before the ban, Indonesia was the biggest exporter of kretek to the US, accounting for 99 percent of the clove cigarette market there, with annual sales totaling $100 million.

Menthol cigarettes are almost produced entirely in the US. Gudang Garam and Djarum are Indonesia’s two biggest exporters of clove cigarettes to the nation.

By Faisal Maliki Baskoro

JT seeks sale of government’s stake, against raising tobacco tax

TOKYO – Japan Tobacco Inc. issued a statement Tuesday seeking the sale of the government’s stake in the company while expressing opposition to a possible rise in the tobacco tax.

Although JT is hoping to be fully privatized to enhance its management freedom, it is the first time for the company to seek the move in writing.

The government currently owns 5 million JT shares, equivalent to 50 percent of the company’s outstanding stock. JT said the government would be able to secure around 1.7 trillion yen in revenue by selling its entire stake.

There have been calls within the ruling Democratic Party of Japan for the government to sell its JT shares to secure funds for rebuilding the country in the wake of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

Finance Minister Jun Azumi said on a TV program Monday night that the government may consider selling some of its JT shares, while expressing readiness to sell its shareholding in subway operator Tokyo Metro Co. to secure funds for reconstruction.

Apparently in connection with remarks made Monday by Health, Labor and Welfare Minister Yoko Komiyama calling for a rise in the tobacco tax, JT said such a move “will clearly not achieve a sustainable increase in tax revenue, as it will accelerate a sales volume decline.”

Komiyama said the price of a 20-cigarette pack should be raised by 100 yen annually to at least around 700 yen to help protect human health by discouraging smoking. Her comments came as the government remains divided over whether to increase taxes to raise funds for reconstruction in northeastern Japan following the devastating disaster in March.

Concerning Komiyama’s remarks, Azumi said Tuesday he believes it was her “personal opinion,” while Komiyama herself toned down her comments, saying the issue is for the Finance Ministry, which is in charge of tobacco administration, and the government’s tax commission to decide.

The government last increased the tobacco tax in October last year — by 3.5 yen per cigarette — as part of a price hike that boosted the cost of a 20-cigarette pack of the popular brand Mild Seven from 300 yen to 410 yen.

Meanwhile, on Azumi’s remarks about selling the government’s shareholding in Tokyo Metro, Tokyo Vice Gov. Naoki Inose asked the Finance Ministry for an explanation, saying there was no prior consultation with the Tokyo metropolitan government, which holds a stake of around 47 percent in the subway operator.

“If (the government) were to sell the shares, it should bring the matter up for discussions,” Inose said, referring to ongoing talks between the metropolitan government, the state and Tokyo Metro aimed at integrating the management of Tokyo Metro and the metropolitan government’s Bureau of Transportation, which runs a separate subway system in Tokyo.

Morgan Stanley adds Imperial Tobacco to Best Ideas list

Morgan Stanley has added Imperial Tobacco Group (LON:IMT) to its “best ideas” list, stating that the company has “ample scope for cigarettes packcost cuts to add leverage to robust and improving top-line trends”.

The decision came a fortnight before the FTSE 100 tobacco company, whose brands include buy Davidoff cigarettes and West, is set to release a trading update for the financial year to end September.

According to Morgan Stanley, IMT offers exposure to the tobacco industry’s attractive attributes, including strong pricing power, improving sales volumes and limited pressure from input costs, at a “depressed valuation” compared to its peers.

The bank, which currently rates IMT as “overweight”, said last month that IMT is trading at an “undeserved” 25 percent discount to sector peers.

The undervaluation was blamed on the market’s underestimation of IMT’s cost efficiency and savings potential. Morgan Stanley analysts argue that IMT could achieve further savings in the full year 2012 on top of synergies resulting from its acquisition of Spanish tobacco company Altadis in 2007.

Back in July, IMT reported that its overall operational and financial performance had been in line with expectations with volumes across its key brands going up, while noting the negative impact on profits from a price war between tobacco companies in Spain.

IMT has said the Spanish price war would reduce its adjusted full year profits from that country by up to £70 million.

Morgan’s latest bullish note on IMT pushed the stock up 29 pence (1.4 percent) to 2,069 pence in early trade in London. IMT currently has a market cap of £20.98 billion.

Tobacco Company Versus Academia

Researchers at the University of Stirling in Scotland are embroiled in a fight against tobacco giant Philip Morris International, the maker of Marlboro cigarettes, over data University researchers collected on children’s and teens’ attitudes toward smoking and cigarette packaging. The company has submitted two Freedom of Information (FOI) requests for access to all the raw data collected by Stirling’s Centre for Tobacco Control Research, which includes interviews with over 5,500 youngsters aged between 11 and 16.

“They wanted everything we had ever done on this,” Gerard Hastings, the institute’s director, told The Independent. “These are confidential comments about how youngsters feel about tobacco marketing. This is the sort of research that would get a tobacco company into trouble if it did it itself.”

Philip Morris International had originally submitted a request for the information anonymously through a London law firm in September 2009, but was rejected on account of the anonymity. However, the Scottish information officer in charge of the case has ruled the University must respond to the two latest requests, The Guardian reports.

Although the identity of the studies’ participants will remain confidential, Hastings fears that handing over the data will have several negative repercussions for the Centre’s world-renowned research on tobacco use. For example, it might discourage future volunteers from participating and sharing personal information with the researchers. It might also make researchers in other institutions weary of sharing their data.

“Our funders will have to think carefully about the further funding of our research,” Hastings told The Independent. “I don’t think for one moment a cancer charity is going to take kindly to paying us hundreds of thousands of pounds to give aid and succour to a multinational tobacco corporation.”

By Cristina Luiggi

Russian keep puffing but protest at youth-oriented tobacco ad

Many Russians see Alexey Navalny, a campaigning lawyer, as a champion of hopeless causes. But when the blogger turned his guns on Donskoy Tabak, Russia’s leading tobacco maker, he met widespread support even from hardened smokers.

In a web post Navalny accused Donskoy Tabak of encouraging young girls to smoke by illustrating its Sweet Dreams cigarette packs with trendy bimbettes swinging through Rome, Paris and New York. Donskoy Tabak denied the charge, but withdrew Sweet Dreams from the market after facing a storm of protest – much of it unprintably rude – from Russian chat rooms.

“Let them push their products on existing clients, but forcing them between the lips of young people should be totally banned,” blogged one self-confessed smoker.

Navalny sees the powerful tobacco company’s climb down as a “rare victory for social opinion in Russia” that sadly did not go far enough.“If this was Europe or the US, Donskoy Tabak would be torn apart,” he blogged.

However, the furore does show that attitudes to tobacco addiction are beginning to change in Russia where thousands of people are smoking themselves to death.

While in US and Europe many have kicked the habit, more than half of adult males in Russia and 16 per cent of females are smokers, according to official data. Despite the introduction of mandatory health warnings on cigarette packs in 2009, the number of smokers puffing more than 20 fags a day is still rising. Tobacco addiction is taking a heavy toll on the nation’s health with 400,000-500,000 Russians dying each year from smoking-related diseases, many of them working-age men.

As part of a sweeping public health campaign, the Kremlin is drafting some of the most draconian anti-tobacco laws in the world that hit at cigarette retailers and smokers alike. Selling tobacco in small shops or outlets near schools and hospitals would be be forbidden and smoking in public places banned altogether. Smokers who take refuge on the stairways of buildings for a quick puff before going home would have to apply for permission from other residents before lighting up.

Planned higher tobacco duties, raising the minimum price of a packet of cigarettes to Rbs61($2) – three times the cost of Sweet Dreams – would help boost government tax earnings and reduce public health spending. Galina Maslennikova, one of the authors of the law, said the number of smokers in Russia will fall by 10 per cent – to 15 per cent after the law comes into force saving up to 30,000 lives a year.

In theory the new laws are bad news for cigarette makers, including Phillip Morris, British American Tobacco and Japan Tobacco, which have reaped large profits in Russia since the Soviet tobacco monopoly was dismantled in 1991.

But many observers say it will take years to change the image of smoking and persuade traditionally fatalistic Russians to give up. Gennady Onishchenko, Russia’s chief sanitary doctor, slammed the packaging of Sweet Dreams as unethical last month. Cigarette packs should carry pictures of cancerous lungs to “illustrate the mass poisoning the population is suffering,” he says.

By Isabel Gorst