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Australia Questions Philip Morris Packaging Fight

Australia on Thursday accused tobacco giant Philip Morris International Inc. of engaging in “corporate restructuring” to leverage an international-trade treaty to challenge the country’s plain-packaging laws.

Regional unit Philip Morris Asia Ltd., which sells cigarette brands including Marlboro cigarettes brand, applied in November for arbitration from a United Nations tribunal to challenge the Australian government’s plan to ban the use of distinct logos, branding and colors on tobacco packets starting next year. The company claims that the plain-packaging laws breach a trade agreement struck in 1993 between Australia and Hong Kong to protect their respective offshore investments.

The Australian government contended Thursday that the packaging legislation prompted Philip Morris to shift ownership of its Australian business to the company’s Hong Kong arm earlier this year.

“Philip Morris Asia acquired its shares in Philip Morris Australia on Feb. 23, 2011, both in full knowledge that the decision had been announced by the Australian government to introduce plain packaging, and also in circumstances where various other members of the Philip Morris group had repeatedly made clear their objections to the plain packaging legislation,” the Australian government said in a written statement.

In response, Chris Argent, a spokesman for Philip Morris, said “the transfer of ownership of the Australian operation to Hong Kong was undertaken for legitimate business purposes.”

The company and rivals Imperial Tobacco Group PLC, British American Tobacco PLC and Japan Tobacco Inc. have also filed High Court cases in Australia claiming the laws will deprive them of valuable intellectual property.

The legal dispute in Australia represents a key test for the tobacco industry, which in the U.S. is challenging plans to force companies next year to add labels on packs that include images of diseased lungs and a body on an autopsy table.

It is expected that the claims of all four companies, which are pursuing billions of dollars in damages, will be considered by the High Court concurrently in one case commencing next year.

Philip Morris employs more than 800 people in Australia and held about 38% of the local cigarette market in 2010, according to a written statement from the company. With offices in Melbourne, the company makes and sells brands including Marlboro, Alpine, Longbeach and Peter Jackson.

Australia’s new plain-packaging laws take effect in December 2012. Under the laws, tobacco-product names will appear in standard colors and positions in a plain font and size on packets colored a dark olive-brown. Health warnings with graphic images of the harmful effects of smoking will have to make up 75% of the front of the packaging and 90% of the back.


Beautiful Letterhead

Travel traveling:

Antique Old Paper:

Background parchment paper:

Geyser grand canyon:

Smoking rules eased for part of Crown Casino

CROWN Casino has been granted exemptions from smoking bans on four separate floors of the casino complex – despite an election promise by the Baillieu government to review the casino’s special treatment.

Health Minister David Davis recently approved smoking in ‘‘high roller’’ areas on the ground floor and level one of the casino and on levels 29 and 39 of Crown Towers. Former health minister and now Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews approved similar exemptions for the casino last year.

Crown is the only poker machine venue in Victoria where smoking is allowed.

It also enjoys a more favourable tax rate on its 2500 poker machines, is the only venue allowed to operate 24 hours a day and can make larger cash payments from its machines.

In the lead-up to last year’s election, the Coalition promised to examine ‘‘Crown Casino’s exemptions … to ensure that gambling regulation is as consistent as possible’’.

‘‘It is an important principle that, insofar as it is appropriate, gambling regulation be consistent across the state and across various modes of gambling. This is particularly so when considering measures that are designed to address problem gambling,’’ the election promise said. Almost 12 months on from the election, the review of Crown’s special treatment is yet to begin.

Premier Ted Baillieu and Gaming Minister Michael O’Brien have also refused to detail discussions they have had with Crown Casino boss James Packer about poker machine reforms proposed by the Tasmanian federal MP, Andrew Wilkie.

The Baillieu government will not rule out a legal challenge to Mr Wilkie’s poker machine reforms, which could include mandatory cards forcing players to pre-set how much they are prepared to lose or low-intensity poker machines. Mr Packer has been actively lobbying federal and state MPs over the proposals.

Mr O’Brien told The Age the review of Crown’s exemptions would begin ‘‘either the second half of this year or early next year’’.

‘‘There is no doubt that Crown is treated a little differently from other gambling venues; there have been arguments put forward as to why there is good reason for that because of Crown’s mecca as a tourist destination,’’ he said.

‘‘I just think when things have been in place for quite some time it is always useful to have another look at them to see if the reasons you originally introduced them for still apply and if they are still appropriate,’’ he said.

InterChurch Gambling Taskforce’s Mark Zirnsak said it was disappointing the Baillieu government had exempted Crown again from smoking bans.

‘‘I think if employees were to suffer health effects down the track they would be wise to look at their legal options,’’ he said.

He called on the government to review all of Crown’s exemptions.

‘‘It is long overdue to have a review and what’s disappointing here is the same cosy relationship Crown enjoyed with the previous Victorian government appears to continue unabated with the new Baillieu government,’’ he said.

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

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

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

Tattoos, tobacco remain in vogue this summer

With Labor Day weekend and the state fair soon to be in our rearview mirror, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank my fellow megan-foxMinnesotans for helping to contribute to another great outdoor summer festival/gathering season.

This summer, it was my good fortune to have been around for nearly all of the major local summer gathering events, including Rochesterfest, the Olmsted County Fair, the state fair, and all of the free Sunday evening Down by the Riverside concerts.

It was good to see so many folks mingling with one another and enjoying the fresh air and entertainment. It helped dispel the popular notion that the majority of us are too glued to our TVs, laptops and smartphones to enjoy old-fashioned outdoor entertainment and conversation.

What I enjoy most about these popular outdoor events is the opportunity to watch and talk to people. Today, I’m going share some of what I observed during this year’s festival/gathering season by offering the first of what I’m hoping will be an annual “Summer Trends” column. Here goes.

Trends observed during summer 2011:

1. There really is something to this aging population thing. On Thursday, I spent a few hours as “Editor of the Day” in the Minnesota Newspaper Foundation’s museum in Heritage Square at the Minnesota State Fair. A woman who looked to be in her 80s approached me in the museum and asked me, “Do you work here?” I said I did. “Well then, can you help me deflate this beach ball?”

She’d received an inflated beach ball from a business that was using them as promotional give-aways and it was taking up too much room in the bag she was using to collect freebies and brochures.

Try as I might, I couldn’t get the blasted thing deflated. “Well,” the octogenarian fair-goer said with a note of irritation in her voice, “I asked you because you look like you’re the youngest one in here. (The museum is staffed mostly with retirees.) But I guess I’m just going to have to go outside and ask some kid to help me.”

I felt good that she considered me a youngster. That good feeling went away when she questioned my non-youthful ingenuity.

2. Not only are we getting older, but we’re getting bolder. I used to think it was a social faux pas for a 70-year-old woman to wear a bikini top at a crowded public event — or any public event, for that matter. Apparently I’m behind the times.

3. Tattoos are not just a passing fad. A decade or so, I thought the practice of using the human body as a canvas for needle art would fall into the cobwebbed basement of popular culture — like fondue, electronic pocket pets or Justin Bieber (we can only hope.) Here we are in 2011 and people are still making statements about themselves in permanent colored ink. I swear, one out of every five people I saw at the county or state fair between the ages of 25 and 50 had a (visible) tattoo.

4. Give-aways are getting skimpier. Think Bank gave away some great stuff before Down by the Riverside concerts, such as T-shirts and glow-in-the dark toys. Maybe it’s the economy, but most of the stuff they were giving away at the county and state fairs this year was pretty useless. My wife took the history tour at the state fair, where you punch a ticket at each of 13 historic sites throughout the massive fairgrounds. You’re informed when you start that if you collect all 13 punches you’ll get a prize. Her prize? Drum roll, please! … A button with the words, “You’re a winner” on it. Please.

5. Tobacco use is still very much in I hate to sound like a broken record (remember those?) on this. Our city employees deserve a ton of credit for making Mayo Park look on Monday morning exactly the way it did on Sunday morning before thousands of people arrived for the Sunday night concerts. Same for the Rochesterfest parade route. And the crews at the state fair do an amazing job of keeping the streets and sidewalks immaculate. But why, oh why, do smokers insist with their actions that butts are not litter. I’ll never understand.

That’s all I have room for right now. Let me know if you’ve spotted any other new trends this summer. I’d love to hear from you.

By Greg Sellnow

Colin Farrell reveals he wrote a letter to his cigarettes

Screen hero Colin Farrell, 35, whose new movie, Fright Night, is out this weekend, describes how he gave up smoking: ‘I wrote a little letter to tobacco. It said the usual – “I remember the first time we met and all that we’ve been through together. That time you helped me through such-and-such a situation…”.’ Sir Elton John tried a similar approach when giving up cocaine in 1990. His ‘letter’ read: ‘I’ve sent planes for you, trains, cars, you are my whore. I love you so much but I can never see you again.’

Colin Farrell

Finding It Hard To Give Up Smoking? Try Doing It Colin Farrell’s Way!

When actor Colin Farrell gave up smoking last year, he did it by writing a break-up letter. Apparently on the Sunday just before his 34th birthday, he spent his whole day alone, smoking with ‘as much awareness’ as he could. He then wrote a break-up letter to tobacco, stating something like ‘I remember the first time we met and all that we’ve been through together. That time you helped me through such-and-such a situation…’

That actually wasn’t the first time the actor has been associated with innovative ways of trying to give up the habit. There were rumours that during the filming of MIAMI VICE, he was wearing a custom made suit lined with nicotine patches on the inside. While agreeing that it is kind of a genius idea, Farrell was quick to deny any truth in that rumour. ‘One would overdose on nicotine poisoning around about Take 1. Can you imagine, “We’ve lost Farrell. Death by cigarette – and he didn’t even inhale,”‘ Colin said.

Menthol Cigarettes May Be Tougher to Quit

Smoking menthol cigarettes may make it harder to quit the smoking habit.menthol cigarettes

A new study shows people who smoke the mint-flavored cigarettes are less likely to be successful at smoking cessation. This effect is especially pronounced among certain ethnic groups.

The results showed that menthol cigarette smokers were about 9% less likely to have quit smoking overall compared with those who smoked non-menthol cigarettes. But in looking at quit rates among certain ethnic groups who smoke menthol cigarettes, Hispanics of Puerto Rican origin were 43% less likely and African-Americans were 19% less likely to quit smoking.

Researchers say the findings support a recent FDA advisory committee’s recommendation that the agency remove menthol cigarettes from the market to improve public health.

“It follows from these results that recent calls to ban menthol flavoring would be prudent and evidence-based,” write researcher Cristine D. Delnevo, PhD, MPH, of the Center for Tobacco Surveillance and Evaluation Research at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey in the Journal of Preventive Medicine.

The FDA is considering the action.

By Jennifer Warner
WebMD Health News

Miley Cyrus lights up the lake and a cigarette

Miley Cyrus smokes a cigarette

Miley Cyrus smokes a cigarette while smoking a cigarette in Orchard Lake, Michigan

She may be famous for being a Disney star, but Miley Cyrus is starting to look markedly different from her Hannah Montana days.

The former Disney star sported a slinky grey bikini which showed off her slender figure and growing number of tattoos as she spent the day with boyfriend Liam Hemsworth at a Michigan lake yesterday.

Miley and Liam

Miley and Liam Hemsworth enjoy a jet ski ride together on the lake

And it seems the actress and singer has also developed a nasty habit as she was spotted lighting up several cigarettes while soaking up the sunshine.

It’s clear that the Hannah Montana star’s relationship with the actor – her co-star in film The Last Song – is firmly back on after the pair split briefly last year.

They were joined by Miley’s friend, former star of reality show The City, Erin Lucas.

‘Lake day with @erin_lucas and our bfs :),’ Miley wrote on her Twitter page yesterday. ‘We already put them do a coffee run but it’s taking WAY tooo long!’

Her new smoking habit comes in contrast to comments she made in her 2009 autobiography Miles To Go, according to the New York Post.

‘I would never smoke,’ she wrote. ‘I always say that for me, smoking would be like smashing my guitar and expecting it to play.

‘I’d never do that to my voice, not to mention the rest of my body,’ she added.

Zippo vs Bic: The lighter wars


Zippo is a private company that does not release specific financial figures such as profit, but it says sales for this year so far are up 18% on last year’s approximate $200m (£124m). Forty per cent of its business comes from the US, which produces 12 million Zippo lighters a year. Sales in India grew 69% last year, while over the past 10 years, China sales have increased 30% year on year.

Sales in the UK last year increased 5% year on year – 80% came from lighters and 20% from its range of lifestyle products.


The Bic group reported sales of €409.9m (£359.5m) for the first quarter of this year, up 6.6%. Bic’s stationery division brought in €127.7m, up 9.4% and spurred by a strong South American market.

Sales of its lighters came in at €122.9m, an increase of 10.3%, thanks to growth in developing markets. And sales of Bic razors totalled €76.7m, an increase of 11.9%, with growth coming evenly from across the world.

While revenues from Bic’s promotional products business of third-party branded items decreased 8.8%, overall gross profit was up 17.7% to €211.2m (£185.2m).

Do we really need smoking warnings?

The Department of Health and Human Services announced last week that starting in September 2012, cigarette packages and advertisements will feature “frank, honest and powerful depictions of the health risks of smoking,” including smoke streaming from a hole in a man’s neck, a set of cancer-ravaged gums, a nicotine-cooked pair of autopsied lungs and a cartoon of a baby born to a smoking mother, gasping for breath.

Got a light?

Several U.S. tobacco companies, proudly holding high the torch of individual responsibility, tried to block the government action, calling the images “nonfactual and controversial” and, what’s more — brace yourself — “intended to elicit loathing, disgust and repulsion.”

Where is the Marlboro Man when you need him? Unavailable, alas. Wayne McLaren died of lung cancer, age 51, and may he rest in peace. The poor guy spent his declining months haunting stockholder meetings of the Philip Morris company — now Altria, which sounds a bit less smoky — trying to get its officers to acknowledge corporate complicity in the disease that was killing him. Philip Morris executives were about as forthcoming and apologetic to him as, say, the heads of Fannie Mae, Goldman Sachs, AIG and other exemplars of American capitalism were about their toxic roles in the body economic.

The new warning labels are, on the one hand, “impactful.” As a precocious juvenile delinquent, I started smoking at age 13, filching my mother’s Marlboros, as it happens. Would I have lit up so gleefully if the flip-top box had been adorned with a photograph of a pair of gray, tumor-eaten lungs?

Possibly not, though never underestimate the blitheness of an adolescent determined to be cool. As it also happens, my mother died years later of a smoking-related illness. My father died of emphysema, not from cigarettes, but from cigars.

On the other hand, is it necessary — really — at this late stage to slap grotesque decals on a product that any human being with an IQ above cretinous knows to be lethal?

U.S. Surgeon General Luther Terry’s epic report on the link between smoking and mortality came out in 1964. (I just looked him up and learned that this splendid American’s middle name was Leonidas, presumably derived from the heroic Spartan leader at Thermopylae, who was as dangerous to invading Persians as Marlboros are to smokers today.) Surely by now, anyone reaching for that match knows they’re lighting not just a cigarette, but the fuse of their own longevity.

There are two competing American behavioral archetypes: Uncle Sam and Lady Liberty. Uncle Sam, stern but loving, exhorts us to defend our country and be good citizens. Lady Liberty stands for, well, freedom. The statue embodying her message, rising above the waters of New York Harbor, announces that this is the country where you can be anyone you want, do anything you want — as long as you don’t do it in the street and frighten the horses.

Occupying a middle ground between Uncle Sam and Lady Liberty is what we libertarians call the Nanny State. The Nanny State is the national bossypants, always telling us what not to do. Don’t smoke. Don’t eat so much. Don’t drink. Where are you going on that bicycle? Put on your helmet — now!

A few decades ago, Nanny, not content with merely snatching the Marlboros and Twinkies and soda pops from our little hands, decided that she should also be in charge of the national sense of humor, a phenomenon that became known as Political Correctness. PC is the voice we hear from the back of the room, once the laughter has subsided, saying, “That’s not funny.”

I’m not against the new cigarette labels, but I’m not sure I’m for them. Cigarettes kill — no argument there. So does alcohol. If that pack of Marlboros is going to look like a page from a medical textbook, shouldn’t bottles of Bud carry pictures of car crashes, or cirrhotic livers, or beaten wives? Shouldn’t Big Macs come with photos of contestants from “The Biggest Loser”?

Should French managing directors of the International Monetary Fund be required to wear signs saying: “CAUTION: MAY BE DANGEROUS TO HOTEL MAIDS”? Or, since the cigarette labels will take effect next year at the height of the presidential campaign, shouldn’t the candidates be plastered with the label: “CAUTION: WILL SAY ANYTHING TO GET ELECTED”?

I don’t know about the others, but I could be persuaded by the last two.

By Christopher Buckley

The fairer sex lights up

Lifestyles are indeed changing at a frenetic pace. Where cigars, hookahs and cigarettes were once regarded as symbols that spoke love-are-men-just-jealous-aof man’s machismo, women too have caught up with the trend. Blame it on the ever-changing fashion statements, work stress, women’s liberation or too much of freedom, the accepted fact is – smoking is as much a woman’s domain today.

And women are puffing away without much of a care. “So, what’s wrong? I mean if smoking is bad, it’s bad for both – men and women alike. Then why is there always an eyebrow raised when it’s about girls smoking?” reasons Jyoti Khurana, a chain-smoker who works with a BPO. So even though Jyoti admits the habit is bad, she shares, “the addiction for anyone starts almost the same way. The fact that girls are as independent and high earning, and facing the same stress as men, the reasons for taking smoking too are similar.”

Sharing her account as to what prompted her to pick the butt, Jyoti says, “It was all in fun, or so I thought. Eversince I had joined here, I used to see my colleagues, then friends go down for a smoke everyday. So while I accompanied them in their rounds of ‘smoke break’, I resisted it for quite long. Then it was some three-four months later that I thought I’ll give it a try too and look as cool as my friends. But the mistake I made was that instead of buying online cigarettes, I bought a pack of 20. And that’s just how I realised I had somewhere picked up a liking for it, and slowly an addiction. And like they say, once a smoker, always a smoker.”

So while it was peer pressure and the urge to look “cool” that pushed Jyoti into an addiction, with her lighting as many as 20 butts a day, she clarifies, “Though each smoke does make you feel light in the head and gives you that high, the habit’s got nothing to do with stress. In fact, in my case, I started in my very happy days.”

Priya Jain, a media person, who’s married and a mother of a 13-year-old, confesses her reasons for the addiction, “For me, it was stress and only stress that brought me to doing it. The family I come from, I had never seen my parents drink or smoke, so till I got married and much after that, smoking was as much a taboo for me as it is for many other Indian girls. But it was some five years back, when my daughter was eight and I joined this media house that literally required me to slog through the day that I gave in to this weakness. Smoking, then for me was more like an attempt to stay up and keep active, which unconciously became a habit.

Now, the situation is such that even if I’ve had a tiff with my husband and I’m feeling stressed, I have to take a smoke to get calm.”

But with that she also admits, “I know it’s bad and I’ve even tried taking anti-smoking tablets to quit the habit, but so far nothing has helped. The worst effect that I’m afraid it will have – is that my daughter too may take it up at some point in her life.”

But that’s just how the legacy is passed, feels sociologist Reeta Brara, who delves into the possible reasons for the growing number of women taking to smoking. “This sudden rise of smoking women is all to do with the changing lifestyles and mindsets. Reasons for their picking up the butt vary from wanting to feel at par with the men, peer pressure or peer influence, or simply to feel too evolved and cool. The former is the case with a whole lot of fresh college students taking to it, who can be seen with a drag outside colleges or pubs and clubs that permit smoking. Here the ambience is such that girls know that their smoking could be passed off as some style statement and that no one would even give them a second glance of shock or amazement. Plus, career wise, with girls doing as well as men, enjoying all the possible liberation, independence and good money, the common notion among them is – ‘If boys can, why can’t we?'”

But is that anything to do with stress, like many claim, “Nothing at all. People smoke when they’re happy, sad, celebrating just anything. If smoking was a result of stress or sadness, why would one be tempted to do it when he’s happy?” reasons Brara.

So while the accepted fact is, women are smoking, we ask a health expert of the repercussions that it could have on a female body. “We all know smoking is injurious, but for a woman, even more. The prime reason for it is the fact that woman’s lung capacity is very less compared to men. Hence, the damage to her body from smoking will be far more and faster,” warns Dr Amitav Srivastava, anesthesist and head of anti-tobacco cell, Dufferien Hospital, Lucknow.

The other adverse effects of smoking that Dr Amitav warns of are:

– Threat of lung cancer.
– Blood vessels get damaged that affects the proper circulation of blood leading to complications
– Smoking leads to the production of carcinogen or cancer producing chemicals
– Women smoking during pregnancy are responsible for causing IUCR (Intra Utrine Growth Retardation) in babies, wherein the baby’s health and growth while inside the womb gets affected drastically
– Congenital anomalies in baby after he’s born, that could vary from delivering a baby with a undeveloped liver, stomach, heart or any other body part or organ
– Problem in conceiving babies
– High chances of miscarriages since the blood supply is disturbed in smoking women
– Breast and uterus cancer are one of the most common side-effects of smoking in women
– Disrupted or irregular menstrual cycle
– Oral cancer followed by tar or tanning of teeth and darkening of lips in regular smokers. Stomach cancer is also likely
– Aging process gets faster
– High blood pressure
– Mental stress
– Major loss of appetite
– Acidity
– Lethargy

With that he also clarifies, “And whoever says smoking busts stress, they’re living in ignorance. For biologically, nicotine blocks the receptors in the body, because of which there’s a sense of relaxation for sometime. But that’s very, very temporary and the reason why one is tempted to smoke again and again is to get the same sense of relaxation, soon followed by an addiction. So it’s the one of the worst addictions one is likely to pick up and one of the most difficult to give up too,” says Dr Amitav.

So, keep your hands off the butt, guys!

Cleaning cigarette smells with plants

Even after they’ve been cleaned and repainted, homes where smokers once lived can contain cigarette smells and toxins for months afterward.

Afternoon smokeGeorg E. Matt, a San Diego State psychology professor and the first to examine smokers’ residences after they left, found that “Third-hand smoke is trapped on surfaces like walls and ceilings, and in household dust and carpets left over by previous residents.”

So, how do you clean cigarette smells out of a home? It may come as a surprise but the most effective and natural way to get rid of tobacco smoke odors and pollutants is with plants. How does it work? Plants emit a water vapor, which creates a pumping action that pulls in contaminated air and converts it into food for the plant. It’s an incredible win-win situation provided by Mother Nature: The air is cleaned and the plants are fed. In addition, the humans don’t have to lift a finger to make it happen.

This can be particularly important if you have small children. Residue and particles left behind by smokers contain heavy metals, carcinogens, and even radioactive materials. The toxins in lingering cigarette smoke include toluene, formaldehyde, acetone and ammonia.

The discovery of plants as environmental cleaners
Around the time of the U.S. energy crisis in the ’70s, scientist B.C. Wolverton was studying ways the environment cleans itself naturally.

As builders created indoor environments that were sealed tight to prevent energy leakage, an occurrence dubbed the Sick Building Syndrome became prevalent, with symptoms that included burning eyes and respiratory difficulties.

The syndrome was caused by the synthetic materials and volatile organic compounds (VOC) used in the building process, and the lack of circulation or a natural cleansing process brought about by the earth’s incredible ecosystem.

Wolverton’s work with plants
Wolverton’s first success was finding that swamp plants naturally removed Agent Orange that had leaked into local waters near a NASA test center. Wolverton then turned his attention to cleaning the air. In a 1989 report, he advised, “If man is to move into closed environments, on Earth or in space, he must take along nature’s life support system.” This support system referred to plants.

In his highly-popular book, “How to Grow Fresh Air: 50 Houseplants That Purify Your Home or Office,” Wolverton details which plants remove the most toxins, and the level of maintenance required for each type of plant.

Powerful air-cleaning plants
Peace LilyThe best plants for improving indoor air quality include the philodendron, spider plant, English ivy, peace lily, Chinese evergreen, bamboo palm and golden pothos. Some of the more effective plants to clear out formaldehyde include the Boston fern, dwarf date palm, bamboo palm, English ivy, weeping fig and lady palm.

Gerbera daisies and English ivy have been shown to remove benzene, another toxin in cigarette smoke, while the daisies also get rid of trichloroethylene, which is found in inks, solvents and paint. Chrysanthemums are helpful in removing carbon monoxide from the air, and add a cheerful spot of color to the decor.

Cost effective
Compared to costly manufactured air purifiers, nature’s version of cleaning cigarette smells and toxins is inexpensive, requires no electricity, and adds beauty to your home.

Most of the plants listed require minimal care, and can provide years of purifying action with just a bit of watering, leaf-dusting and pruning. Research also suggests that plants add a psychological perk to a home or office, and that individuals recovering from illness do so faster in the presence of plants.

Titanate cigarette filter could be safer

While current cigarettes are made with a filter created from cellulose acetate which absorbs things like nicotine, tar, and polycyclicTitanate cigarette filter aromatic hydrocarbons, Chinese researchers have discovered that nanomaterials from titanium dioxide (TiO2) can be used to reduce the harmful chemicals.

For many years, researchers have been looking at adding nanomaterials to current cigarette filters and have tried carbon nanotubes and mesoporous silica. These have worked well; however, they are expensive and like are known about possible health risks.

Mingdeng Wei, from Fuzhou University has teamed with colleagues at the Fujian Tobacco Industrial Corporation and has discovered that titanate nanotubes and nanoshets can be used to filter tobacco smoke and greatly reduce the harmful effects. Nanomaterials can be easily synthesized with titanium dioxide at a relatively inexpensive cost. Since TiO2 is currently on the market and found in products such as cosmetics, sunscreens, and even food, there is no possible health risk.

The team created both titanate nanosheets and nanotubes to compare them when added to the tips of cigarettes. Using a machine to smoke them and the use of high performance liquid chromatography and ion chromatography to measure the amount of captured chemicals, Wei and his team discovered that the tubes were twice as efficient as the sheets.

While their research is currently looking at the benefits of the TiO2 nanomaterials with cigarettes, their hope is it could also be used in other filtering devices such as air purification systems and gas masks.

Titanate cigarette filter

Chinese researchers have shown for the first time that nanomaterials made from titanium dioxide (TiO2) can be used in cigarette New pictorial warningsfilters to significantly reduce the amount of harmful chemicals inhaled by smokers. They say it offers a cheaper and safer alternative than using carbon-based nanomaterials and show potential for use in other filtering devices including gas masks and air purification systems.

Current cigarette filters are made from cellulose acetate, which absorbs some of the toxic and carcinogenic compounds present in tobacco smoke, including tar, nicotine, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and tobacco-specific nitrosamines. In recent years, scientists have attempted to improve standard filters by adding nanomaterials, including carbon nanotubes or mesoporous silica, to capture more of these chemicals. But these experimental methods remain expensive and could pose unknown health risks.

Amounts of harmful compounds inhaled by smokers including tar, nicotine, ammonia and hydrogen cyanide can be reduced by the filter
Now, Mingdeng Wei’s lab at Fuzhou University in Fujian province, together with colleagues at the Fujian Tobacco Industrial Corporation, Xiamen, have found that titanate nanosheets and nanotubes can filter tobacco smoke. ‘A great range of harmful compounds including tar, nicotine, ammonia, hydrogen cyanide, selected carbonyls and phenolic compounds can be reduced efficiently,’ says Wei.

Since these nanomaterials can be easily synthesised using titanium dioxide as a precursor under mild conditions, Wei says they are much cheaper to produce than other materials. What’s more, since TiO2 is already widely used in consumer products including sunscreens, cosmetics and food, the team is confident that titanate nanomaterials used in filters do not pose a health risk to smokers by inhalation.

Using standard methods, the team synthesised titanate nanosheets and titanate nanotubes and added them to the filter tips of cigarettes. After machine smoking them and capturing the smoke condensates on filter pads, the team used various methods including ion chromatography and high performance liquid chromatography to measure the amount of different captured chemicals. They discovered that the tube additives were around twice as efficient as the sheets at capturing harmful compounds.

They reckon this difference is related to the intrinsic properties of the two materials – the tubes are composed of crystalline multilayer walls, which resemble a nanoscale chromatography column, while the sheets are sheet-shaped structures. ‘A large number of H+ can exist on the surface or in the interlayer space of the tubes. When the cigarette smoke passes through the tubes, NH3, hydroquinone, catechol and phenol react with H+ via chemical absorption and can be retained on the surface or in the interlayer space of the tubes,’ Wei explains.

‘The results are quite interesting and could be potentially very useful in this area of filtering applications,’ says Dmitry Bavykin who investigates titanate nanomaterials at the Universtiy of Southampton, UK. However, he is unconvinced that the difference in absorption properties of the tubes and the sheets can be attributed to the nanotubes acting like a chromatographic column. ‘In my view, the difference between the tubes and the sheets can be associated with the differences in specific surface area of these materials.’

By James Urquhart

Casino smoking regulations: Follow the rules

Folks who think Atlantic City casinos can regulate themselves must be dismayed by word of the sad job they are doing obeying the Casino Smokingcity’s partial smoking ban.

Four years after the city adopted a partial smoking ban in casinos, apparent violations are common. A Press reporter recently documented them at eight of the city’s 11 gaming halls. They ranged from patrons openly smoking in “non-smoking” areas to a lack of signs designating smoke-free locations.

For a time, Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino and Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort drew their non-smoking plan to include such strange contrivances as having gaming tables themselves be non-smoking, while allowing smoking in the seats around them.

At one casino, two slot machines sitting side by side each bear a sign. One prohibits smoking, the other allows it.

At another casino, one side of a craps table is a smoking area, the other side is smoke-free.

And there seems to be almost no effort to enforce the ban, either on the city’s part or by the gaming halls themselves.

We’ve said before that Atlantic City should ban smoking on casino floors. The health danger to employees who have to work in smoke-filled rooms outweighs the concern that non-smoking sections may be bad for business.

But, at the very least, Atlantic City’s casinos should be working harder to obey existing smoking regulations, especially now.

New Jersey’s answer to the increasing competition our gaming halls face has been an unprecedented level of cooperation between government and the casino industry.

Regulations are being eased. State inspectors are no longer present on every gaming floor and in the counting rooms. The Division of Gaming Enforcement recently adopted an “emergency” rule to allow casinos to do away with pit bosses.

Each such change is accompanied by assurances that the industry will follow all necessary rules and is capable of policing itself.

Unfortunately, it is human nature to cut corners. And the pressure to meet the bottom line can be a powerful incentive for the best-intentioned to look the other way.

Which is why casino operators should be demonstrating their good faith by meticulously following the partial smoking ban, and every other current regulation. The law is the law. If you don’t like it, work to change it.

In the meantime, if casinos want a more relaxed regulatory climate, they need to act more responsibly in the existing climate.

Belgian barkeepers demonstrate against smoking ban

BRUSSELS — More than 800 Belgian bar owners and their supporters demonstrated Saturday against a decision to widen a smoking belgia demonstrationban in public spaces to cover all cafes and the kingdom’s nine casinos from July 1.

The demonstration in Brussels was organised by the federation of cafe owners and restaurateurs, which claims that 4,000-5,000 of the country’s 12,000 cafes are threatened with closure by the new legislation.

Smoking has been banned in work places, restaurants and pubs that serve food since 2009, while temporary exemptions had been granted to casinos and cafes that only serve snacks.

The law had called for the exemptions to end sometime between January 1, 2012 and January 1, 2014, but the Flemish Anti-Cancer League asked Belgium’s constitutional court to strike them down.

The court decided to lift the exemptions but gave establishments until June 30 to “adapt to the general smoking ban.”

The judges ruled that the government failed to prove that pubs would be harmed by a general smoking ban, saying that drawing distinctions between establishments was actually harmful to competition.

The court also stated that the protection of the health of employees and non-smokers should apply to casinos even though they serve a “specific” clientele.

Bar owners fear loss of turnover of up to 50 percent, and warn of a knock-on effect on breweries and other suppliers. They want the option to declare their premises smoking or non-smoking.

Copyright © 2011 AFP. All rights reserved.

Candy Cigarettes’ -a trip back to the 50’s and 60’s

If you were one of those people lucky enough to grow up in the 1950’s and 60’s when life was a real as it seemed, then you have to read Roger Bell’s newest book -Candy Cigarettes’ published by Black Moss Press.

The North Simcoe author’s memoirs open a precious time capsule that will have you laughing, crying and cherishing long forgotten memories and events that you or someone close to you has experienced. Bell has the ability to involve readers in colourful scenarios depicting his most personal childhood situations -a unique literary talent which opens a flood of happy and sad memories for those who remember the era and transition to important life changes.

The series of short, unrelated chapters describing his childhood from the early age of 3 to 18 years of age, take place in Port Elgin Ontario -a small farming and summer tourist town where he grew up. The memoir includes everything from fall fairs, young romances and cherry bombs to bad hockey experiences, an arena and grass fire, the opening of the first 365 day a year general store and the robbery of milk money from the bottles on the front step.

“The town totally changed in complexion from summer to winter and my goal was to capture the town and me before I went to university when everything changed,” said Bell an accomplished poet/writer who has published seven books.

“I wanted to capture what it was like while growing up there and the book finishes when my parents took me to the University of Western Ontario. It was written with no chronological or narrative thrust. One of my earliest memories includes the death of my paternal grandfather James Bell and moments on his farm -an original log farmhouse built in 1842. He lived there until the 1950’s. I write about the sectioned


raisin cookies he sometimes hid in the woodshed for me to find and sitting on his lap playing with his pocket watch. In 1954 I remember the actual storm and saw the damage from Hurricane Hazel, Canada’s Centennial Year in 1967 and a class trip to the west coast.”

Bell is one of the three talented authors speaking at the Midland Library

Spring Readings’ beginning with Richard Zurawski on Thursday April 14th and followed by poet Ellen Jaffe on Friday April 15th , with Bell on Saturday, April 16th -all readings to take place at 7 p.m. at the library. The Three authors will all be introducing their most recent publications including Zurawski’s Media Mediocrity – Waging War Against Science’ and Jaffe’s Feast of Lights’. Both authors will be speaking at the local high schools in the Midland earlier in the day. For information call the Midland Library at 705-526-4216.

Roger Bell is a Tay Township area resident who has lived in the area for 36 years. He moved to Huronia to teach High School English and retired in 2004. Bell started a serious writing career in 1997 after publishing Luke and the Wolfe’ -a BS Poetry chapbook under 40 pages but says opportunity actually got him started with Mythtakes’ in 1984 published by Whizzyfig Press after winning a competition. Black Moss Press has published five books including Real Lives’ in 1997, When the Devil Calls’ in 2000, Henry’s Creatures’ in 2000, Larger than Life’ in 2002, The Pissing Women of Lafontaine’ in 2005 and Bell’s last book You Tell Me’ published in 2009, which is all stories that were told to home and translated into poetry.

Natalie Portman quits smoking weed

natalie portman

Natalie Portman has revealed she has given up smoking cannabis, but she still loves watching “stoner comedies”.

The Oscar-winning actress is appearing in two comedy movies – Your Highness and Best Buds – following a host of performances in tense dramas.

Despite her clean-cut image, Natalie has confessed she has experience of experimenting with drugs and enjoyed using them when she was at Harvard University in the US. However, the 29-year-old pregnant star claims she is now too old to dabble anymore.

“I love stoner comedies. I smoked weed in college, but I haven’t smoked in years,” she told Entertainment Weekly. “I’m too old. I wish I was that cool, but I’m like an old lady now. I’m in bed by 10 pm. I can’t do that anymore.”

In Your Highness, Natalie plays a mysterious warrior who joins a prince and his party-loving brother on his quest to rescue his fiancée from an evil sorcerer.

In Bed Buds, she will play a bride-to-be who decides to ditch her wedding plans and enjoy a marijuana-fuelled road trip with her two friends.

Natalie has spoken about experimenting with drugs and alcohol in the past. She feels she missed out on many teenage experiences because she enjoyed acting success at such a young age.

“OK, so I didn’t really go to high school parties and, yeah, I didn’t touch pot until I was in my 20s,” she previously said. “I didn’t get flat-out drunk until I went to college. But I think that’s a good thing in many ways.”

Kate Moss Storms Runway, Cigarette In Hand

Kate Moss smoking

After a controversy-free 2010, fashion’s bad girl, Kate Moss, is back in the headlines – this time for lighting up on the runway, blatantly ignoring smoking laws.

At Paris Fashion Week on Wednesday, March 9, Kate Moss closed the Louis Vuitton show by striding down the ramp in black shorts and lace-up boots. She accessorized with a lit cigarette. Not only did she flout French laws which bans smoking in buildings, she also chose UK’s National No Smoking Day to make her cigarette habit public.

Never an ideal role model, Kate’s latest stunt has called down the wrath of health campaigners who believe the supermodel could encourage young girls to follow suit and light up. In 2009, Kate was accused of promoting unhealthy eating habits when she said “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.”

Louis Vuitton designer Marc Jacobs has said that Wednesday’s show was all about reflecting a woman’s freedom of expression. A strong political statement to make – and a choice rebel to match, given that Kate is rumoured to smoke upto 30 a day.

Guy Ritchie and model girlfriend expecting child

Guy Ritchie and Jacqui

Guy Ritchie is to become a father for the third time.

The ‘Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels’ director – who already has biological 10-year-old son Rocco and adopted five-year-old boy David with ex-wife Madonna – and his model girlfriend Jacqui Ainsley are expecting their first child together in September and are thrilled at their impending arrival.

A source said: “They have been keen to start a family for a while now. They’re absolutely made up. We expect to hear wedding bells next year.”

To celebrate the news, the couple – who began dating early last year – went on a luxury holiday, where Guy, 42, was determined 29-year-old Jacqui would relax and take it easy.

The source added to the News of the World newspaper: “Jacqui was crying with joy when she found out she was pregnant. They went on holiday because Guy is determined she takes it easy. He won’t let her do anything more strenuous than argue over baby names.”

Guy split from Madonna – who also has 14-year-old daughter Lourdes from a previous relationship as well as adopted six-year-old girl Mercy – in 2008 after almost eight years of marriage.

Lady Gaga makes her smoking runaway debut at Paris

The oddball singer, 24, is used to dressing outrageously and the outfits she modelled on the runway were pretty tame compared to what she wears in real life.

As well as appearing as an ‘unconventional’ bride in a long white dress and geisha-style make up, she also posed in a figure-hugging black PVC dress which showed off her bra.

The star, who wore her hair in long blonde pigtails, smoked and growled as she made her way down the runway to to the sounds of her own music – a new song from her upcoming album Born This Way called Government Hooker.

smoking kiss cigarettes

The other models from the show including Jessica Stam, Coco Rocha and Alek Wek lips-synced to the music and were all dressed like Gaga with peroxide ponytails or devil horn tufts of hair.

Gaga agreed to make her first ever appearance as a catwalk model as a special favour to close pal and stylist Nicola Formichetti, who is Mugler’s new creative director.

‘If I vomit on stage, would you be impressed?’ she asked him just before the show.

She added later: ‘I want people to see me and say, “She’s the Mugler woman.”‘

Gaga joined Formichetti and Thierry Mugler designer Sebastien Peigne on the runway at the end of the show and got a big kiss from the pair.

The singer, who also acted as the official music director for the event, announced the news that she would be making her modelling debut on her Twitter page.

She tweeted: ‘I have a monster fashion announcement are your paws up? I am so excited I might give birth to a machine gun.’

‘I’m making my debut as a runway model, walking in MUGLER PARIS FASHION SHOW 3/2.’


Holding the line on hookah bars

Two years ago, Oregon’s Smokefree Workplace Law removed smoke from some of the last places where smokers felt at home (taverns, bowling alleys and bingo halls). We celebrated the moment. It was a landmark for longer lives and healthier lungs.

At the same time, though, the law made room — appropriately, in our view — for a few nooks and crannies where smoke could legitimately linger.

Ceremonial use of tobacco by Native American tribes is permitted, for instance. So are some state-certified businesses devoted to tobacco sales and sampling, including some cigar bars and smoke shops. Since then, the proliferation of one such shop, the hookah lounge, has health advocates worried.

Hookah bars put a sweet, soft, even multicultural gloss on what is still essentially the injection of poison into lungs. An estimated 15 to 20 of these establishments are doing business in Oregon now, and they’re extremely popular with college-age youth.

They go to hookah lounges to smoke tobacco from a waterpipe, shared with friends. Let’s stop here and acknowledge that the fad’s popularity may be directly related to the crackdown on smoking in most other Oregon workplaces. That has isolated smokers, driven them outdoors and, in some cases, virtually into hiding. Against this backdrop, the hookah lounge takes on an elevated meaning. Instead of an addictive habit indulged in private, the lounge elevates it to an exotic ritual. (Collecting around the shared pipe stems back hundreds of years to smoking traditions in Egypt, Syria, Turkey and India.)

Likely even as we speak, some young Oregonian somewhere is trying to convince a parent that a hookah habit is a good thing. Nonsense. True, the tobacco is flavored with syrups, smells sweet and is inhaled through water. That means it does not physically sting the way inhaling a cigarette can, making a smoking habit that develops in this way all the more insidious.

No one should be under the illusion that hookah lounges are health-promoting establishments. Still, the fact remains that these are legal businesses. People 18 or older have every right to frequent them. Today, there will be a hearing in Salem on House Bill 2726, which essentially aims to shut hookah lounges down.

The new law would permit only four seats in these lounges. Smoking would be allowed “only for the purpose of sampling tobacco products for making retail purchase decisions.” The clear purpose of this proposed legislation is to undermine the sociability at the very heart of the hookah business model.

This law is not the way to go. It would unfairly target businesses that have invested tens of thousands of dollars. In opening their doors at all, some have already endured regulatory run-arounds amounting to harassment.

Meanwhile, hookah use is increasing, particularly among adolescent girls. It is skyrocketing also wherever hookah lounges are close at hand. Eighteen-year-olds don’t always make the best choices, and wherever they are drawn, kids younger than 18 long to go.

The very names of hookah products (“Skittles,” “Pink Lemonade”) testify to the aspiration to entice the young. There is no question that Oregon needs to keep a close eye on this fad, which has serious implications, globally, for public health.

But health advocates also need to fight fair, with education and targeted enforcement. Oregon should not aim to slam business doors, but to open more minds to the facts.

Spain protest against anti-smoking law

Hotels and restaurants in the northern Spanish town of Palencia closed on Wednesday to protest the country’s tough anti-smoking law which anti smoking protesttook effect this year.

About 100 professionals from the sector also staged a demonstration, some carrying banners saying “If you don’t smoke, we don’t get paid. Let us live” and “Total ban, sector ruined.”

Another said “Zapatero, you should have been a hotelier,” referring to Socialist Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero.

Trade associations said 60 to 70 percent of the hotels and restaurants in the town of around 80,000 people closed for the day.

It was the first major demonstration against the anti-smoking law, one of the strictest in Europe, since it was introduced on January 2.

The new law bans smoking in all enclosed public spaces, including bars, restaurants and nightclubs and makes it illegal to smoke in children’s parks or anywhere on school or hospital grounds.

The hotel and restaurant industry fears the law could cut sales by between five and 15 percent.

Last week, the Spanish Hotel and Catering Association launched an effort to obtain half a million signatures on a petition to demand that parliament change the legislation.

Spain has had an anti-smoking law since January 2006 but the impact was barely noticeable.

It 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.

Cigarette Advertising and Teen Smoking Initiation

A new study out of Germany shows that tobacco marketing entices teens to smoke.

Of the 2,102 public school students in Germany surveyed, 277 young people who had never smoked before took up the habit after viewing tobacco advertising. Those who saw the most ads were 46% more likely to try cigarettes than those who saw no tobacco ads, according to the research.

Study co-author Dr. James D. Sargent, a professor of pediatrics and family and community medicine at Dartmouth Medical Center in New Hampshire, says the findings add weight to the idea of having the U.S. Food and Drug Administration better control tobacco marketing. Although ads for cigarettes are prohibited in the U.S., tobacco companies are still targeting teens with other forms of marketing, critics of the tobacco industry suggest.

Sargent, who has done extensive research on the influence of media on teen behaviors, worked with German researchers to produce the study, published online Jan. 17 in advance of print publication in the February issue of Pediatrics.

Students involved in the study ranged from ages 10 to 17, with an average age of 12.5 years, when the study began. They were shown 12 ads with branding removed — six for cigarettes and six for other products, including candy, cars and cell phones. They were asked to identify the product advertised and recall the brand if they could.

After nine months, 13% of the students who had seen tobacco ads began smoking. The more ads they saw, the more likely they were to start smoking, the study found. Nineteen percent of teens in the high-cigarette ad recall group started smoking compared to 10% in the low-cigarette ad exposure group.

Ads for other products such as cell phones and candies fail to trigger the same psychological mechanisms that make children take up the smoking habit, according to the study.

“Our results support the notion of a content-related effect of cigarette advertisements and underlines the specificity of the relationship between tobacco marketing and teen smoking,” the authors write. “Exposure to cigarette advertisements but not other advertisements is associated with smoking initiation.”

The researchers say tobacco ads work because companies aim their messages at young people, who are particularly susceptible to even subtle meanings, such as hints that smoking is tied to masculinity in the case of males and to thinness, sex appeal and independence for girls.

“Adolescents are in the process of identity formation, when they face emotional instability and social self-consciousness,” according to the study.

Schwarzenegger’s cigar tent goes; bronze bear may stay

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

List of female celebrities who smoke pot

Hollywood culture is going green, that’s for sure — but some star celebs take the trend more literally than others. So far, actually than in some subcultures who approve the use of drugs morally for recreational and medicinal purposes they have nicknamed the town “Hollyweed”.

Take for example this going green list of starlets.

All are taking steps in their lives to reduce their carbon footprint, but more importantly they are open supporters of the “legalize marijuana” movement.

kristen smoking pot

1. Kristen Stewart
The Twilight star has been seen wearing a potleaf bikini, and smoking a glass pipe and a joint in public. In Adventureland, she puffs and bakes weed cookies. Stewart is a Top CelebStoner.

2. Paris Hilton
The notorious L.A. socialite has been photographed puffing in public on numerous occasions. Hilton was arrested for marijuana possession at the World Cup, but the charge was dropped.

3. Mischa Barton
Often photographed smoking joints – at the Cannes Film Festival, in her car, at a club – Barton was arrested for DUI and marijuana possession in 2007. She pled guilty to the DUI, but the pot charged was dismissed.

4. Megan Fox
Twice in interviews the Transformers star has called for the legalization of marijuana. “I’ll be the first person in line to buy my pack of joints,” she says. She recently appeared in Jonah Hex. Fox is a Top CelebStoner.

5. Joss Stone
The British soul singer was photographed smoking a spliff in London. “I smoke cannabis,” Stone says. “I don’t think it’s really a drug. It’s more of a herb. Alcohol is much more harmful.”

6. Sarah Silverman
The standup comedienne and star of The Sarah Silverman Program regularly referenced marijuana in her act and TV show. She likes to say, “It’s 420 somewhere, right?” Silverman is a Top CelebStoner.

7. Cameron Diaz
This Hollyweed favorite was spotted smoking a joint with her BFF Drew Barrymore in Hawaii in 2007. She’s currently starring in Knight and Day. Diaz is a Top CelebStoner.

8. Mary-Louise Parker
As Nancy Botwin on Weeds, Parker elevates public awareness of marijuana’s place in every part of society. Weeds returns for Season 6 on Aug. 16. Parker is a Top CelebStoner.

9. Lily Allen
The British pop singer has never been shy when it comes to being photographed in public with marijuna or talking about drugs.

10. Adrianne Curry
You know this reality-TV star from America’s Top Model, The Surreal Life and My Fair Brady. She’s an MPP supporter and a Top CelebStoner.

Johannes Heesters has given up smoking for love at age 106

Johannes Heesters

Actor Johannes Heesters quits smoking – at age 106

“I did it for love, for my wonderful wife,” Heesters, who is better known as “Jopie” in Germany where he has spent most of his 90-year career, told the German entertainment magazine Bunte. “She should have me as long as possible.”

Dutch-born Heesters, who will turn 107 on Sunday, has been married to German actress Simone Rethel, 61, since 1992. Heesters said he quit smoking three weeks ago.

Heesters, who in 2008 apologized for his cooperation with the Nazi regime, is known for his roles in the film “Die Fledermaus” (1946) and the German film “The Moon Is Blue” (1953).

Number of smokers grows lighter

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Is it possible that we’re nearing the end of tobacco road?Chines smokers

In the nearly half-century since the U.S. surgeon general proclaimed that smoking cigarettes will lead to cancer and early death, our view of smoking has been steadily spiraling downward.

So today, on the 35th Great American Smokeout, some health officials might hope we’re nearing the end of our longtime affair with smoking, pointing to a steadily declining line on a graph as proof.

The fact is, about a third fewer Americans smoke today, about 21 percent, than in the late 1970s (34 percent), according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In other words, we’ve come a long way.


Certainly, tobacco use is far from over. Some studies figure that there are still some 1.2 billion smokers throughout the world — one-third of which are in China.

However, these days, few question that cigarettes kill. Nearly one of every five deaths in the United States is related to smoking, the American Cancer Society says. They kill more Americans than alcohol, car accidents, suicide, AIDS, homicide and illegal drugs combined.

The Smokeout, sponsored by the Cancer Society since 1976, is the annual event in which health officials and cancer-prevention groups encourage smokers to quit for at least one day, hoping that it might challenge them to stop permanently.

“The single most important thing you can do to reduce your risk of cancer — by 33 percent — is to stop smoking,” said Alexandra Vukoder of the Cancer Society’s office in Cleveland. “We are all hoping for the day, even if it seems far off, when smoking is no longer an issue.”

Clearly, we’re no longer the nation where not so long ago there were cigarette lighters in every car, ashtrays on every restaurant table and where smokers were expected — welcomed, even — on airplanes, in hospitals and in schools.

No, we’re now almost completely a culture where cigarette, cigar and pipe smokers are just no longer accepted. There’s actually a Facebook page titled “I hold my breath when I see a smoker come near me.” More than 30,000 people have clicked on the “like” button.

And frankly, the smokers among us aren’t really even among us — at least not publicly. They’re on the fringes in Ohio and many other states.

This, not even a half-century from the time when cigarette smoke hung in the air inside any office building or business. And no wonder: Cigarettes were cheap at 46 cents a pack.

Ask anyone of the smoking generations about their first job and they’ll often as not tell you stories of how workers smoked at their desks in the early days of haze. Or watch an old movie. Heck, even Santa Claus turns in for the night in a smoke-filled room in the original “Miracle on 34th Street.”

Now, smokers have to pay more than 10 times what their parents paid for the same pack of cigarettes. They’re left to cluster in their own hazy, leperlike colonies several hundred feet from the door of most buildings.

“There’s no doubt that there’s a lot of stigma attached to using tobacco products now,” Vukoder said. “Even so, the smoking rate in Ohio is still 23 percent, and we’d be satisfied for the Great American Smokeout if we can get a few of those to commit to give up smoking.”

Vukoder’s modest expectations for incremental gain in the long-running war against a product some 5,000 years old shouldn’t be surprising.

“I call the Great American Smokeout a ‘rehearsal,’ ” said Iyaad M. Hasan, a certified nurse practitioner and director of the Tobacco Treatment Center at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. “It’s not easy to quit, but if we can get people to look at their life without tobacco for one day, maybe we can help them.”

The worst thing to happen to smokers might seem like exile as communities and companies consider even more-restrictive rules for tobacco users. The Cleveland Clinic’s recent decision to rescind job offers for applicants who test positive for nicotine is an example.

But the best thing to happen in the last decade or so is that real help is available, Hasan said. That’s the real difference today, not that smokers are isolated.

“The culture change came first, but when the Smokeout began 35 years ago, smokers didn’t have the choices for cessation treatment they have today,” Hasan said. “It’s no longer just ‘cold turkey and good luck.’ There’s even the chance of a vaccine down the road.”

A vaccine? Certainly that could be the most deadly development yet for tobacco — ashes to ashes, in the end?

Not likely.

“We’ve seen a lot of attempts through the years to stop people from doing something that they enjoy doing, but as long as there is a market for something, someone is going to produce it,” Roger Quarles, president of the International Tobacco Growers Association, said by telephone Wednesday.

Quarles was in Uruguay to meet with officials from the World Health Organization about proposed restrictions on tobacco additives for flavored cigarettes and cigars.

“I think even health folks realize that even though they’ve put smokers outside and they’re going to put more graphic warnings on the labels, that people will do what they want to do in free countries,” Quarles said.

He said that even though U.S. percentages have dropped from 34 percent to 21 percent since 1978, population growth has meant that there are just as many smokers as ever.

“They’ve made smoking more inconvenient for people, but I don’t see smoking going anywhere.”

Of course, no one would be surprised to hear a leading tobacco advocate say that.

But Hasan and Vukoder also cautiously admit they face a still-strong opponent that may never be eliminated — even with the declining percentages and the clear changes toward an anti-smoking culture 3 1/2 decades since the first Smokeout.

“Tobacco is hooked up to so many mental, habitual and emotional links that it’s very hard for people to see there’s hope to get past it,” Hasan said. “We know there is, but they can’t always see they’re being controlled by it.”

Vukoder agreed and said that as long as smoking is still cool for teens (and until recently as long as tobacco companies could market mint chocolate chip flavored cigarettes and the like) and legal, people will still choose to smoke.

“Here’s the bottom line, though: We care about smokers or we wouldn’t do these things,” she said. “The world has changed a lot over the last 35 years and it may seem like smokers are the enemy, but they’re not.

“We’re the ones trying to help smokers — and everyone around them — from the effects of the smoke that can kill them.”

By Michael Scott