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Cigarette Packages Are About to Look Scary in India

Cigarette packages are about to look scary in India with 85% graphic warning occupying the space on this sort of packages.

However in the coming months we will notice that the packages will be entirely whole of graphic warnings, occupying around 85 % of the real estate on a cigarette package. And the Indian government has made it obvious that it is planning to become tough with companies that doesn’t follow its instructions concerning their rules.

Until these days, about 40 % of the space on cigarette packages was just occupied by health warnings. Yet recently Indian government has reported that it is planning to make present day cigarette packages more terrible. At this point, the graphic warnings on cigarette packages will occupy about 85 % of the entire space on the packages. India has explained that it will adhere to World Health Organization’s most recent recommendations. India’s health ministry has reported that everything has been completed in this regard. He also added that the government has amended guidelines under the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA) via a gazette announcement, setting April 1, 2015, as the timeline and leaving cigarette makers with less than six months for consent.

There is no denying the simple fact that India is attempting to stop the risk. However, it is not alone. Practically identical measures were undertaken by Indonesia several weeks ago. The Indonesian government has set up most strict guidelines to struggle smoking. The development has appeared just before an international report by the Canadian Cancer Society, which rated India at 136 out of 198 countries with regard to the size of graphic health warnings on cigarette packages. Tobacco Institute of India (TII), which represents the interest of cigarette producers that include International Tobacco Company and Godfrey Phillips, reported the suggested warnings are irrational, radical and unrealistic to apply and implement. “The present graphic health warnings at 40% are enough to advise and caution a person. The suggestion to further raise the size of the warnings is totally unwarranted and needless.

Profits of British American Tobacco

British American Tobacco Plc (bats), the largest cigarette manufacturer in Europe, said first-half operating profit rose 3 percent above the price of the offset stagnant traffic.

Adjusted operating profit rose to 2.84 billion pounds ($ 4.4 billion) from 2.76 billion pounds a year earlier, the London-based company said in a statement today. This was in accordance with 2.83 billion pounds average of five analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. Sales were little changed at 7.45 billion pounds.

The make of Lucky Strike brand and Pall Mall cigarettes have increased prices and pushed the emerging markets to offset the increase in state taxes and reduce tobacco use in America. Emerging markets account for 75 percent of BAT and nearly 60 percent of its profits.

“Despite the global economic instability and the adverse impact of exchange rates, British American Tobacco put another good set of results,” chairman Richard Burrows said in a statement.

Cigarette shipments were unchanged in the first half, as growth in sales of Lucky Strike and Pall Mall was offset sluggish conditions in southern Europe and the rise in disposable supplies in the last year in Japan as a result of the earthquake and tsunamis in the region, which hurt local producers of tobacco.

In Brazil, the largest market of BAT in terms of sales, the company raised cigarette prices in April before the tax increase in May, which resulted in a “good profit growth,” which was largely offset by the weakening of the real, the company said.

In Russia, where the market share of BAT, and increased profits for the first six months of the year fueled by higher sales of cigarettes Kent, the government plans to increase excise taxes on tobacco by 40 percent annually until 2015, according to his tax plan.

Robust

“In the absence of a sharp revision of excise taxes and, instead, a steady and regular increase of excise taxes, the price outlook BAT should remain robust in its core markets,” Simon Hales, an analyst at Barclays, said in a July 19 report. “In addition, BAT became more comfortable in making a larger increase in prices to offset the change in the pitch motion of the tax.”

The so-called company brands drives, including Dunhill, Kent, Lucky Strike and Pall Mall, increased volumes of 4 per cent. These brands now account for about one-third of deliveries, compared with 12 percent in 2002, according to Jefferies International analyst Dirk van Vlaanderen.

Australia has adopted a law to come into force on 1 December, which would make the first country to ban logos on cigarette packaging in efforts to combat smoking. BAT, which denies the ban, is the largest seller of tobacco in the country with a market share of 47 percent, according to Barclays Capital. Britain and New Zealand is also considering such legislation.

Last week, Philip Morris International, Inc (PM), the largest publicly traded tobacco company in the world, reported second-quarter profit that beat analysts’ estimates, so that the demand for cigarettes in Eastern Europe. Yesterday, Imperial Tobacco Plc said reducing tobacco supply fell in its third quarter.

British American Tobacco also said it bought 553 million pounds of shares in the period, and increased its interim dividend 11 percent to 42.2 pence. Its shares were little changed at 3308 pence in London yesterday.

House panel warns the FDA from regulating the “premium cigars”

Committee of the Congress moved Tuesday to release the so-called “premium hand-rolled cigars” from oversight by the Food and Drug Administration. Exclusion, relying largely by legislators from Florida, is closely associated with cigar bodies, there will be a direct prohibition on FDA regulation of fancy cigars are sold mainly in the high-end stores of tobacco.

But there is a stern warning in the language accompanying the bill FDA spending, the House Appropriations passed Tuesday: “The Committee recalls, FDA, premium cigars that have unique characteristics and the prohibitive cost and are not sold to children Any attempt. Regulate the cigars should take these items into account. “

This language is concerned about the anti-tobacco crusaders, such as the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. They fear that tobacco companies are using loopholes to apply rules to all cigars, including those that “encompass a variety of non-premium cigar with a sweet taste, low prices and colorful packaging that appeal to young people.”

Some tobacco companies have tried to avoid paying taxes, making small changes to their products that the reclassification of their small cigars instead of cigarettes. In Florida, some stores were maneuvering around a hefty state and federal taxes on tobacco, allowing smokers roll their own cigarettes on-site machines.

“We have seen how companies can manage their products,” said Danny McGoldrick, vice president for research at Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. “Some of the products that used to be cigarettes is now a big cigar.”

Notice FDA is buried in 89 pages of the report language, the text that accompanies the legislation. He does not carry the force of law, but it is often used to communicate the wishes of Congress. Institutions that do not follow the language of the report may have to respond to the committee on why they did not.

Senate Bill Expenditures FDA has similar wording: “The Committee urges the agency to issue the draft regulations and regulations as necessary Committee requests the agency to consider, among other things, the question of characterizing flavors of cigars, in particular, as he did. Both are based in part on legislation sponsored two Florida lawmakers, Republican Congressman Bill Posey, and Sen. Bill Nelson. A spokesman for Nelson said his office has no role in the House action on Tuesday, and that they wrote the laws for premium hand-rolled cigars. Senator Marco Rubio, R-Fla., Is one of the sponsors.

House Bill Posey has the support of 203 people lawmakers from both parties, including almost all of Florida: Republican Reps. Sandy Adams, Gus Bilirakis, Vern Buchanan, Mario Diaz-Balart, Connie Mack, John Mica, Jeff Miller, Rich Nugent, David Rivera, Tom Rooney, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Dennis Ross, Steve Southerland, Allen West and Bill Young. Democratic Reps. Kathy Castor, Alcee Hastings, and Frederick Wilson are also on board.

Florida lawmakers recently moved the party line, to help defeat an amendment to the farm bill that would have stopped federal quota sugar. Nelson and Rubio supported the sugar industry of the state in this fight.

Jenny Haliski, spokesman for the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products, said the agency did not comment on the bill. FDA has the right to regulate the manufacture, distribution and marketing of tobacco products in accordance with the Law on Tobacco Control, adopted in 2009 and that “the movement as soon as possible” to write rules for cigars, which will be open for public discussion, Haliski said.

George Cecala, a representative of Posey, House sponsor of the bill, dropped it, as a matter of consumer choice. Washington is too eager to create a nanny state, Cecala said, “This is an example of people in Washington who do not like the product is trying to remove the freedom of people like it.”

Battle against hookah bars just starting to heat up

This past summer the City of Ottawa teamed with the province to conduct a series of sting operations against businesses that allow indoor smoking of sheesha, the popular flavoured tobacco smoked using a water pipe, or hookah. According to Roger Chapman of bylaw enforcement, Ottawa was only the beginning.

“We’re also in the process right now of putting together a provincewide enforcement committee, or task force, on how to deal with these hookah bars, so there’ll be members from all over the province, enforcement personnel, that will sit on this committee, including police, RCMP, OPP and Ministry of Revenue,” Chapman said.

Chapman said co-operation between the provincial Ministry of Revenue and city bylaw enforcement was what made the Ottawa operations possible, and that co-operation was what the proposed provincial body hoped to replicate.

Smoking tobacco in restaurants and bars is against city bylaws and provincial law, but businesses avoid fines by saying sheesha isn’t tobacco at all, but rather a mixture of herbs. City bylaw officers can’t expose the ruse because they don’t have search and seizure powers. However, the Ministry of Revenue does, and, because selling tobacco as herbs means avoiding tobacco taxes, that constitutes a violation of the Tobacco Tax Act as well.

Over three months, the province and the city conducted joint inspections on 17 establishments, seizing sheesha, testing it in a lab and punishing violators. They admitted to busting four violators in June, but kept mum after that.

“Any sample that we’ve had tested so far has come back that they contain tobacco,” Chapman said in June.

Councillor Eli El-Chantiry brought up the issue at a recent council meeting. He says people must be made aware if they’re being exposed to tobacco smoke.

“Don’t say it’s herbal or it’s fruit if it’s not,” he said, “because, if a young child goes there and he has asthma, you’re liable.”

El-Chantiry said he had demanded an update on the enforcement campaign, and expected to know soon how successful it had been.

Establishments caught secretly selling tobacco sheesha and letting people smoke it indoors can be subject to fines under city bylaws and the Smoke Free Ontario Act, as well as a hefty re-evaluation on their taxes.

Although Ottawa has far fewer sheesha bars than Montreal, Chapman says they are becoming more popular here, and Ottawa already has the most in Ontario.

“We’re seeing most of it here,” he said. “We’ve talked to our counterparts in Toronto and they’re hearing rumblings of it, but they really don’t have a whole lot of establishments that they’ve had to deal with yet. It’s really in the past year or the past six months that it’s really become a phenomenon in Ottawa.”

Ottawa Public Health says sheesha has become more popular among young adults.

“What we’re finding is that young adults – I think because of the exotic nature of the water pipe, as well as the social nature of sitting around sharing the water pipe – I think that is what’s making young people want to try it,” said Krista Oswald, the supervisor of the tobacco control program.

Oswald said many people had misconceptions about the safety of smoking sheesha.

A 2008 publication by Harvard Medical School said that, because water pipe smokers often inhaled longer and deeper on each puff, a single session could be like inhaling 100 or more cigarettes. The report also noted that smokers often believed sheesha was safer than cigarettes because one was not meant to inhale the smoke, instead drawing the smoke only as far as the mouth, like a cigar, and because the water in the pipe can act as a filter.

Despite this, the report said smokers could still absorb high levels of toxins and carcinogens that may contribute to heart disease, lung cancer, and respiratory disease.

Some sheesha smokers, such as Sean Newby, say it should be their choice to expose themselves to these risks, and, although sheesha bars should be up front about serving tobacco, they shouldn’t be shut down.

“If you’re going to a bar you’re going to drink,” Newby said. “If you’re going to a hookah bar, you’re going to smoke.”
© Copyright (c) The Ottawa Citizen

Plain packs for tobacco the next step

Cigars, cigarillos and loose and chewing tobacco are the next targets in the Federal Government’s plain-packaging campaign.

Health Minister Nicola Roxon issued a consultation paper yesterday explaining how plain-packaging rules for these tobacco products would work.

Legislation requiring plain, olive green packaging for cigarettes is now before Parliament.

The new consultation paper proposes that the packaging tobacco products are sold in would be in the same colour with no company branding or logos.

They would still have dominant and graphic health warnings.

Ms Roxon said the Government wanted the approach to plain packaging to be the same as far as possible across all tobacco products. ”Whether you are talking about cigarettes, cigars or pipe tobacco, all are addictive and all are harmful,” she said.

As many of these products are made overseas, the Government would allow them to be imported without the plain packaging. But they must be covered in the drab colour before they go on sale.

Options include stickers that cover the product’s original packaging, or purpose-made sealed bags or cigar tubes. Cigar bands would have to be removed, replaced or covered with a sticker.

Submissions are open until October 28 and the discussion paper can be found at www.yourhealth.gov.au.

Canberratimes.com.au

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.

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.

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, tobaccoanalysis.blogspot.com, 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.

EU looking to save €100 billion a year?

Respiratory diseases are one of the leading causes of death and suffering in the EU. The challenge Europe is facing in this field goes far beyond public health: lung diseases currently cause an annual cost of €100 billion and threaten the Europe 2020 strategy and the goal to have 75% of the working population employed and productive. Leading worldwide experts1 of ERS, alarmed by the situation, have taken a proactive stance and completed an 18-month reflection process and the result – the European Respiratory Roadmap – is today presented to the European Council, Commission and Parliament. The Roadmap outlines key recommendations and respiratory health priorities for the next decade.

The ERS is therefore today urging the EU to stand by the promises already made by its health ministers last December2 and to urgently take appropriate measures such as:

  • The adoption of a specific EU Action Plan on chronic diseases including respiratory diseases;
  • A significant increased investment in biomedical research and innovation;
  • Accelerated implementation of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control;
  • Strong actions on indoor and outdoor air pollution and climate change;
  • Improving the accessibility to care for those with chronic respiratory diseases.

Professor Marc Decramer, President of the ERS said: “The current annual cost of €100 billion Euros caused by lung disease is not sustainable. We call on the Polish Presidency to ensure effective implementation of the Council conclusions on chronic disease. These actions together with the Roadmap have the potential to radically improve the health of future generations and save billions for Europe’s economy.”

By Brian Ward
brian.ward@ersnet.org
32-484-698-259
European Lung Foundation

Tobacco warnings latest business free-speech case

WASHINGTON – Tobacco companies are the latest of several corporate groups to assert a right to free speech in a high-profile legal battle that could end up in the U.S. Supreme Court.

Reynolds American Inc’s R.J. Reynolds unit, Lorillard Inc , Liggett Group LLC and Commonwealth Brands Inc, owned by Britain’s Imperial Tobacco Group Plc last week sued the Food and Drug Administration for requiring more graphic health warnings on packages and in advertising.

Last year the Supreme Court ruled corporations had a free-speech right to spend freely to support or oppose federal candidates. In June it struck down a law barring use of prescription drug records for marketing and ruled it infringed on commercial free-speech rights of data-mining companies.

The issue of corporate free-speech rights has also emerged in New York, where U.S. credit rating agencies have argued their ratings were opinions protected by the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment safeguarding free speech.

TOBACCO CASE AN EXCEPTION?

“This is not at all a new trend,” said University of California, Los Angeles law professor Eugene Volokh, who teaches free-speech law. He cited rulings on constitutionally protected corporate free-speech rights dating back some 60 years.

“These kinds of claims have been made for decades and have been taken very seriously by courts and have often won in court,” he said.

Still, courts may be reluctant to strike down as unconstitutional the new warnings mandated by a law adopted by Congress in 2009 and signed by President Barack Obama, especially in view of smoking’s known health risks.

While other businesses have won free-speech claims, the tobacco case could be different because of long-standing government regulation of cigarette advertising, the approval by Congress of the new warnings and the government’s interest in telling consumers about smoking’s health dangers.

It could take months, if not years, before a federal judge and then an appeals court decide the case and it ends up at the Supreme Court.

“The courts, including the Supreme Court, are likely to uphold the new warning labels on tobacco products,” said Erwin Chemerinsky, dean at the University of California, Irvine School of Law.

He said last year’s Supreme Court ruling protected corporate speech, but only in the specific context of campaign spending. “I would not generalize from this a protection in areas such as commercial speech,” he said.

In the first change for 25 years, the nine new warnings cover the top half of the front and back of cigarette packs and 20 percent of printed advertisements. They must contain color graphics depicting the harmful health consequences of smoking, including bodies, diseased lungs and rotting teeth.

U.S. District Judge Richard Leon on Tuesday scheduled a September 21 hearing on the request by the cigarette companies for a preliminary injunction to delay the regulations from taking effect in September 2012.

CONSTITUTIONALLY PROTECTED

The companies said in seeking the injunction that the warnings “drown out their constitutionally protected speech about their lawful products and replace it with the government’s emotionally charged anti-smoking message.”

The Obama administration will defend the regulations in court, but has yet to respond to the substance of the lawsuit.

Supporters of the law requiring the new graphic labels, such as Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, said the warnings were mandated by a large bipartisan majority in Congress.

“The new warnings are carefully crafted to be consistent with the First Amendment, strongly supported by the science and serve the compelling goal of reducing the death and disease caused by tobacco use, which kills more than 400,000 Americans and costs the nation $96 billion in healthcare expenditures each year,” he said.

A federal judge in Kentucky last year upheld much of the law that for the first time gave the Food and Drug Administration broad powers over cigarette and tobacco products.

The decision has been appealed to a U.S. appeals court based in Cincinnati, Ohio, which heard arguments last month, but has yet to rule. That case is expected to end up in the Supreme Court.

By James Vicini
Reuters

Tobacco fix to end shutdown may be costly

MINNEAPOLIS — The budget deal that ended Minnesota’s government shutdown comes with a hefty price: It relies heavily on borrowing $640 million against money from the state’s 1998 tobacco settlement, but may cost that same amount in interest — plus a substantial annual revenue loss for years to come.

Still, it allowed Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton and Republican legislative leaders to avoid $640 million in spending cuts or tax increases.

“From the Republican standpoint, it is considered better than a tax increase. I would presume from the governor’s standpoint it makes money available to support critical programs,” said Tom Hanson, who was the state’s finance commissioner under former Gov. Tim Pawlenty. “The downside is it’s money that’s not going to be available in the next biennium … but the spending expectations will probably be there.”

All 50 states reached settlements with the major tobacco companies in 1998 to recover billions of dollars in costs incurred from treating smoking-related illnesses. Forty-six states signed a master agreement with the industry while Minnesota was one of four states that negotiated separate deals. Minnesota’s settlement was expected to bring the state $6.1 billion over 25 years, with payments continuing into perpetuity.

About 20 states have issued bonds backed by future tobacco settlement revenues to meet more immediate needs, according to Arturo Perez, a financial analyst with the National Conference of State Legislatures. Some states have done so more than once. This will be Minnesota’s first time, although the idea has been floated at the Capitol before, most recently in 2009 when Pawlenty was unable to get support for a tobacco bond issue.

The budget deal calls for $1.4 billion from tobacco bond proceeds and delayed payments to schools. Minnesota gets about $160 million a year from the cigarette makers, so it’s expected to receive about $320 million in the two-year budget period that began July 1. The loss of an as-yet unknown portion of that revenue in future budgets means lawmakers may have to find a way to plug that gap.

“They’re going to have the same debates two years from now,” Hanson predicted. “ … Hopefully the economy will grow and the revenue will grow faster than the obligations for the programs.”

The special session tax bill Dayton signed Wednesday leaves it up to his finance commissioner to work out most details of how to structure the bond sale. The bonds won’t be guaranteed by the state.

As a general rule, said Bill Marx, a fiscal analyst for the Minnesota House of Representatives, the final cost to the taxpayers could be 150 percent to 200 percent of the bonds issued. By that math, a $640 million tobacco bond issue could cost almost $1 billion to close to $1.3 billion.

Graphic cigarette warnings labels, what’s next?

Cigarettes will now come with pictures conveying the dangers of smoking, including a man with a tracheostomy, a corpe of a smoker, and a woman smoking while holding a baby. The Food and Drug Administration has mandated that these new warning labels must be in place by 2012 and hope they will lessen tobacco use. American Cancer Society CEO John R. Seffrin is satisfied with the new labels and says they can “encourage adults to give up their deadly addiction to cigarettes and deter children from starting in the first place.” Time will tell if these warning will make a difference. I know they would scare me, but then again I’ve never smoked and I’m at an age where I’m not affected by peer pressure.

I am just wondering where this will lead. Will they start putting pictures of diseased hearts and clogged arteries on Happy Meals? Perhaps french fries will include a picture of an overweight child looking sad on the sidelines because he can’t keep up with his friends?

I cannot go down the cereal isle at the supermarket without my children asking me for Trix, Lucky Charms, etc. They get excited when they see the toys they can get in the box and my three-year-old daughter thinks the Trix Rabbit is “so funny.” Toys in Happy Meals, cereal boxes with cartoons on them, all aggressive marketing tools aimed at our children to beg mommy to buy their product. I know many will disagree with me on this, but I can’t really blame the company- they’re just targeting their consumers.

Why don’t some healthier breakfast foods catch on to this marketing? Put a prize in the oatmeal box, for crying out loud! How about for every carton of eggs you buy, one egg is the “surprise egg.” Instead of an egg coming out when you crack it, a chicken tattoo is inside. Surprise! I guess this could get kind of messy as your kids search for the prizes though.

In all seriousness, instead of scaring our kids to eat healthy, maybe we should try educating them first. Pediatric obesity numbers have been climbing for years, yet now it’s an epidemic? Can’t we be a little more proactive instead of so reactive? Some schools in our area ban sweets for holiday or end-of-year parties. I highly doubt that the one cupcake little Suzie is having at her party is what’s making her fat. How about educating her about sweets in moderation? Teach her the importance of eating healthy throughout the year to make her heart, muscles, and bones stronger. Ask my son why he likes broccoli and steak and he’ll tell you that it makes him smarter and stronger (than daddy).

The FDA can decide to ban toys in Happy Meals or cartoons on cereal boxes, but it all begins at home. It’s really up to parents to educate their children on choosing healthy foods. Stop blaming the commercials (turn the tv off), the schools (send lunch from home), and the cereal companies (don’t buy the cereal). I also think that banning your child from eating the occasional cookie or ice cream is a bad idea. There’s going to come a time when you’re not around to monitor him and he may not be able to control himself from eating 10 cookies. Sweets are not evil, they’re just meant for special occasions and in moderation. Be active as a family, let your children see you exercise, and make sure you’re eating the same healthy foods you want them to eat. If more parents set an example for their children, both the adult and pediatric obesity rates would go down in this country, guaranteed.

Princess, Carnival and Holland America to ban smoking in cabins

Princess Cruises, Carnival Cruise Lines and Holland America all announced major changes to their smoking policies. Smokers will soon be banned from lighting up in cabins on all the ships of all three lines.

The Princess smoking ban, which also applies to cabin balconies, will become effective on all sailings departing after Jan. 15.

Carnival said its ban on smoking in all cabins would take effect Dec. 1. The line will still allow both cigarette and cigar smoking on cabin balconies.

Holland America said its ban on smoking in cabins, but not on balconies, would take effect on Jan. 15.

Also effective today, Carnival said it was limiting smoking on its ships to dance clubs, designated areas within the casino and casino bar and certain sections on the open decks.

All three lines said they were notifying those passengers already booked on cruises of their new policies.

Officials said the moves reflect changing customer preferences.

Carnival said it modified its policy as a result of recent guest surveys and onboard testing. Holland America said its new policy is “in keeping with the majority of guest preferences today.”

As for Princess, “Our consumer studies now show that smokers are a small minority of our passengers, and that the large majority of passengers value having their primary living space onboard smoke-free,” said Jan Swartz, the line’s executive vice president.
Princess spokeswoman Karen Candy says balconies were included in that line’s new policy “to enhance the onboard experience for the majority of passengers who don’t smoke.”

A fire that blackened 85 cabins on the Star Princess in the Caribbean in 2006 was blamed on a lit cigarette flung off a cabin balcony. The incident led to warnings about the need to carefully dispose of cigarettes.

Swartz said Princess would continue to welcome passengers who smoke on its ships, with smoking allowed in the Churchill’s cigar lounges, a section of the discos and casinos, and a portion of the open decks.

In a statement, Holland America likewise said guests who wish to smoke could continue to do so in designated areas both inside and on outside decks.

After the new cabin bans take effect, passengers caught breaking the rules on any of the three lines will be charged a $250 cleaning fee, officials said.

Princess, Carnival and Holland America are all owned by Miami-based Carnival Corp.

Other lines that ban smoking in cabins and on balconies include Celebrity, Azamara, Regent Seven Seas and Oceania. Crystal bans smoking on stateroom balconies. Royal Caribbean and Disney Cruise Line ban smoking in cabins, but allow smoking on balconies.

Plans to reduce smoking in Israel

After the ministry unveiled a plan to reduce the amount of tobacco use over the coming years, new amendments will be introduced in two weeks.

Amendments that will make it more difficult to smoke will be introduced by the Health Ministry in two months, ministry director-general Dr. Ronni Gamzu said at a session of the Knesset Labor, Social Welfare and Health Committee on Monday.

He was speaking less than two weeks after the ministry unveiled a plan to reduce the amount of tobacco use over the coming years.

The ministry had said it would set up a special unit to reduce smoking that would be budgeted by the Treasury to the tune of NIS 50 million, but the Finance Ministry’s budgets division said the money must be provided by the Health Ministry instead. No discussion of the unit’s budget was raised at the session.

Gamzu said: “We go crazy from the steady smoking rate” that unlike those of many countries, has not declined substantially. “The silent majority” of the 77 percent of the public who don’t smoke want an environment clean of smoke, he said.

Deputy Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman (United Torah Judaism) presented the committee with his No Smoking Report for 2010, which was issued two weeks ago. Among the proposed changes would be prohibiting cigarette vending machines, prohibiting smoking in teachers’ rooms, improved enforcement of laws and raising tobacco taxes.

Committee chairman Haim Katz (Likud) said the government’s enforcement of no-smoking laws “is not serious. The [municipal inspectors] give one-and-a-half fines a day. It’s a joke. If the Health Ministry asks to set down regulations on the matter, it will receive the committee’s support. An order that would completely bar smoking in schools must be promoted,” he said.

Kadima MK Gideon Ezra, who suffers from lung cancer after smoking at least 40 cigarettes a day for most of his life, said he is “paying the price. Children today start smoking already in sixth grade, and that must be halted. I presented a bill to expand the number of hours in which pupils learn about the dangers of smoking. But one must stop torturing smokers. It won’t help. Our legislation is going in the wrong directions.”

Meretz MK Ilan Gillon agreed and called for “educating children. Otherwise it’s a lost battle. I started to smoke before I was 10 years old, and I quit four months ago,” he said.

By JUDY SIEGEL-ITZKOVICH

BAT launches anti-plain packaging campaign

ALI MOORE, PRESENTER: The CEO of Australia’s largest tobacco company said the Government’s proposal of plain packaging for cigarettes will increase smoking rates.

David Crow from British American Tobacco Australia launched the industry’s anti-plain packaging campaign today, warning the proposal could lead to a price war and a rise in illegal tobacco use.

The Government and public health advocates have dismissed the claims.

Steve Cannane reports.

STEVE CANNANE, REPORTER: Big tobacco is back into advertising.

DAVID CROW, BRITISH AMERICAN TOBACCO: They’re going to go up on big billboards, so you can’t miss them.

STEVE CANNANE: Today the tobacco industry launched a multi-million-dollar campaign to derail the Government’s plain packaging laws, with predictions of more smoking, not less.

DAVID CROW: And so what you’ll end up is with us fighting on price, smugglers flooding the market with cheap product, which brings pricing down. Remember these sell for five bucks a pack, not 16 bucks a pack.

Cheaper pricing means more smoking, means more kids smoking.

STEVE CANNANE: But the Health Minister disagrees.

NICOLA ROXON: They’ve told us firstly that it wouldn’t be effective. Now it’s so effective that it will damage their profits so much that they’re going to slash their own profits themselves to prove this point.

It really just doesn’t make sense. The tobacco companies are trying to protect their profits, that’s their business. We’re trying to protect people’s lives.

STEVE CANNANE: And the tobacco industry may not be alone in fighting the legislation.

TONY ABBOTT, OPPOSITION LEADER: The Coalition in principle supports all reasonable measures to get smoking rates down. My anxiety with this is that it might end up being counterproductive in practice.

STEVE CANNANE: The tobacco industry says that plain packaging will encourage more illegal tobacco, a market they say already accounts for 16 per cent of all tobacco sales.

STEVE CROW: Sixteen per cent comes from a report that’s in your media pack. It’s been built by Deloittes, a piece of independent research. Let me just point out that…

REPORTER: Was that funded by the tobacco industry?

DAVID CROW: Absolutely, and proudly funded, by the way.

PROFESSOR SIMON CHAPMAN, UNIVERSITY OF SYDNEY: BAT is exaggerating extremely on this. Independent household survey, an Australian Government one, found that 0.2 per cent of Australian adults – not just smokers – used illegal product more than half the time. That’s only about 33,000 people.

STEVE CANNANE: But the tobacco industry says illegal tobacco sales have increased by 150 per cent in the last three years.

DAVID CROW: It’s driven by crime syndicates, it’s driven by the Triads, it’s driven by the underbelly of the smuggling world. These are the guys we know, Interpol knows them, Customs and Excise, the federal agencies in Australia know them, and they fight this war continually.

STEVE CANNANE: But customs authorities have released figures to Lateline that show illegal tobacco seizures have actually decreased in the last three years, from 284 tonnes in 2007 to 279 tonnes in 2010.

And from 94 million sticks in 2007 to 66 million in 2010.

If the tobacco industry’s advertising campaign doesn’t work, the next step is almost certain to be a legal challenge.

DAVID CROW: I think the issue of legal process is down to the Government removing brands and intellectual property from the packs. And obviously, if you remove something from the packs…

REPORTER: So a constitutional challenge?

DAVID CROW: I think it would be, at the end. The issue is we don’t have a bill at the moment so I can’t actually answer that question.

What we have is a view from the Government. As it forms into legislation we’ll make those judgments, and at the end of the day that will be something that happens right at the very end.

STEVE CANNANE: The Government is due to introduce the bill into Parliament in the winter session.

Steve Cannane, Lateline.

Local firm sues Michigan

MCKINLEY HEIGHTS – The owner of a thriving maker of automated cigarette-rolling machines isn’t blowing smoke as he battles a neighboring state’s efforts to snuff out his business.

Phil Accordino said his RYO Machine Rental LLC sued Michigan last week after that state’s Department of Treasury in March warned 300 smoke shop owners that using the machine amounts to illegal manufacturing of cigarettes.

Michigan hasn’t yet taken any enforcement actions against shops that buy the $30,000 machines, then charge customers $6 to $10 to make their own cigarettes, but Accordino still is fuming.

”We filed for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction so retailers in Michigan can continue to operate,” said the former chiropractor whose family ran Cordi’s Cigar Box in Weathersfield on U.S. Route 422, not far from where his factory last month built its 1,000th automated cigarette rolling machine.

Accordino said Michigan officials are defying a federal temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction that his company won late last year from Judge David Dowd in Akron that barred the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau from further regulating in-store cigarette rolling for personal use.

Michigan officials said they took the action because the machines allow customers to make cigarettes using pipe tobacco, which is taxed at a lower rate than cigarette, thanks to a loophole created by Congress.

Smokers can take a box of pre-made cigarette tubes, 8 ounces of tobacco and 15 minutes to produce a carton for less than $30 – much less than retail. Federal tax is $1.01 on a pack of cigarettes, with another $2 added by the state.

The amount of roll-your-own cigarette tobacco produced in 2010 dropped by 14.6 million pounds from 2008, while the amount of pipe tobacco produced has increased by 17.3 million pounds, according to federal regulators.

Accordino said that argument is a smokescreen for the real force behind the action – giant cigarette companies.

”Major cigarette manufacturers are afraid of losing market share,” he said.

Accordino said his machine answers customer needs in a weak economy.

”With the recession and higher gas prices, people will look to save money. They’re willing to do a little more work to save money,” he said.

The 790-pound machines shouldn’t be considered cigarette manufacturing equipment because they’re much slower than those used by big cigarette makers, Accordino said.

“A cigarette manufacturing machine will roll upwards of 20,000 cigarettes a minute,” he said. “Ours may hit about 20. It defies logic to say that our machine is a manufacturing device.”

Accordino compared his machines to grocery stores that let customers grind coffee beans. ”That doesn’t make a grocery store a coffee manufacturer,” he said.

RYO is rolling in sales. Accordino said a year ago the business probably sold 100 machines; it now is selling about 100 machines a month, shipping some as far as Great Britain and Finland.

The business, which builds machines to order, has 32 full-time workers.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Reynolds’ farm worker concessions show evolution of handling conflict

The annual shareholders meeting for Reynolds American Inc. serves as the intersection where capitalism and society meet, and often collide, for the company.

Groups protesting Reynolds’ policies typically buy shares to be able to speak to management.

As Reynolds evolves into becoming “a total tobacco company,” the meeting has gone beyond just reviewing the previous year’s performance to serving as a platform.

In recent years, Reynolds has discussed its stance on tobacco regulation, corporate social responsibility, annual board elections, marketing strategies and innovative smokeless products.

Reynolds has made stunning acknowledgments, such as in 2007 when it said “smoking causes serious disease” and that “no tobacco product has been shown to be safe.”

Overall, it’s a recognition that as fewer Americans smoke cigarettes — and the company’s revenues and workforce decrease accordingly — society and consumers are playing an increasing role in shaping Reynolds’ future.

For example, Reynolds’ decision to back off plans for high-end smoking lounges came after more communities instituted smoking restrictions in public places.

The decision to offer new smokeless tobacco products is Reynolds’ way to “meet the adult tobacco consumer where they are in society today,” said Maura Payne, a spokeswoman for R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.

The latest reflection of societal influences came Friday when Reynolds pledged to move forward on two initiatives related to the working and living conditions of the people who pick tobacco for suppliers.

Reynolds still stands firm behind a stance that since farm workers are employed by growers, not the company, Reynolds could not play a negotiating role.

Still, Thomas Wajnert, the chairman of Reynolds, said the company “understands the concerns to move quickly” on addressing worker conditions.

The first pledge is to use an independent, third-party monitor to assess the working conditions at U.S. tobacco farms that supply product to Reynolds.

The second is company support of a council involving tobacco manufacturers, growers, the N.C. Labor Department, agricultural scientists, farm workers and their representatives, such as the Farm Labor Organizing Committee, and possibly other stakeholders.

According to the N.C. Growers Association, FLOC represents about 2,000 farm workers in North Carolina.

The multi-party approach, previously suggested by Reynolds, also was promoted by Oxfam America in its recent report on the stark conditions facing some workers on state tobacco farms.

“We believe that Reynolds and FLOC can’t address unilaterally these conditions because they are broader than each group,” said Daniel Delen, who became Reynolds’ chief executive and president on March 1.

The reasoning: Without having regulatory and enforcement officials at the table, there may be no effective oversight of the standards on which the groups agree, and no real legal consequences if growers don’t adhere to the standards.

Reynolds has said growers must be certified with the Good Agricultural Practices training program before the company will buy their tobacco. Among the program’s features are guidelines on hiring practices, adequate housing for migrant and seasonal workers and practices on how to use pesticides safely and how to avoid green-tobacco sickness.

“We remain committed to doing our part in addressing the issue,” Delen said. “It’s the right thing to do.”

Stephen Pope, an industry analyst and the managing partner of Spotlight Ideas in England, said the effort to create the council could “cultivate good relations up and down their supply and value chain.”

“Reynolds and its peer group face so many pressures downstream in their value chain as they deal with the consumer and the regulator,” Pope said. “I see any progress as actually being a big statement from them.”

The company, however, remains willing to go only so far with its societal involvement.

For instance, management didn’t jump on the invitation of FLOC organizer Justin Flores to go visit North Carolina tobacco farms in its supply chain. The company again refused to enter into collective bargaining agreements for the farm workers.

“Every day of delay is a day when workers will be needlessly sickened because of the lack of safety equipment or of adequate clean drinking water, when workers will continue to be paid illegal sub-minimum wages, when they will have to endure squalid, unsanitary housing,” Flores said.

“Instead of being able to speak up to change these conditions, they will continue to be silenced by fear. This is an emergency that shames the entire tobacco industry.”

Pope said, “Of course, there will be parties that insist big business goes further and faster. However, sometimes in commerce a sequence of little steps can — given time — be as effective, and not as jolting, as a quantum leap.”

Pope said Susan Ivey, the company’s recently retired top executive, likely was aware of the initiative but probablydidn’t make it a priority. “Delen has the blessing of a clean canvas, and so it is natural that he wants to have an active hand in this.”

The Rev. Michael Crosby, representing the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, said it will be “a huge effort” to get all the pertinent stakeholders on board, including other tobacco manufacturers. “Reynolds has committed itself to making it happen,” Crosby said.

“It’s up to us to keep their feet to the fire.”

By By RICHARD CRAVER
rcraver@wsjournal.com
(336) 727-7376

BAT admits bankrolling newsagents’ tobacco campaign

Cigarettes-in-newsagent

British American Tobacco has admitted bankrolling an organisation of small shopkeepers that led the fight against the coalition government’s plans to force cigarettes to be sold only from under shop counters. Speaking at BAT’s annual meeting in London on Thursday, company chairman Richard Burrows confirmed that the tobacco group had funded the National Federation of Retail Newsagents (NFRN) and attended meetings with the group and its lobbyists Hume Brophy to discuss the campaign against the point-of-sale move.

Their relationship raises questions about Hume Brophy’s tactics when it was lobbying MPs against the plan, as it said it was representing the NFRN and did not disclose BAT’s role.

Activists, among them the Labour MP Kevin Barron and Action on Smoking and Health, have voiced fears over “covert lobbying” of MPs by big tobacco companies. The day before BAT told the Guardian that claims that it was involved in “underhand tactics and the funding of an independent retailer organisation, via a PR agency” were “untrue”.

Andrew Lansley, the health secretary, had refused to deal with cigarette manufacturers over the issue as a World Health Organisation treaty forbids it. He will now be asked whether he was aware of BAT’s role in making representations to MPs.

Waterpipes to smoke tobacco prevalent

BUFFALO, N.Y., April 27 (UPI) — Teens, young adults and even pregnant women worldwide are using waterpipes to smoke tobacco at high rates, University at Buffalo researchers said.

Dr. Elie Akl, an associate professor at University at Buffalo’s School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and School of Public Health and Health Professions, conducted a systematic review involving 38 studies on the prevalence of waterpipe smoking across several countries including — Britain, Australia, Estonia, Lebanon, Pakistan, Egypt, Syria, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen — age groups and genders.

“Waterpipe smoking is a real epidemic in the world and it’s picking up in the United too,” Akl, the lead author for the study review, said in a statement. “The surveys included in this review found an alarming prevalence of waterpipe smoking among middle- and high-school students in the U.S. This was especially true of Arab-American students, who reported waterpipe usage ranging from 12 percent to 15 percent.”

Six percent in Pakistan say they use waterpipes to smoke tobacco, 4 percent to 12 percent in the Persian Gulf region, 11 percent in Australia among Arab-speaking adults and 15 percent in Lebanon. Group waterpipe smoking was 5 percent in Lebanon, 11 percent to 15 percent in Egypt, and in Lebanon, 5 percent to 6 percent of pregnant women also reported waterpipe smoking, Akl said.

The study, published in Biomedical Health Central Public Health, found about 10 percent of university students in the U.S. reported waterpipe smoking.

Vermont Senate Nixes Tax On Cigarettes

The Vermont Senate has rejected a plan to increase the state tax on cigarettes by a dollar a pack. The plan was designed to raise

Sen. Richard Sears

Sen. Richard Sears listens during debate at the Statehouse on Thursday.

$9 million to help balance next year’s budget. The vote was 16 to 14.

The action raises new questions about how the budget shortfall will be addressed.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports:

(Kinzel) Over the past few days, Governor Peter Shumlin has brought a number of senators into his office to urge them to reject the dollar a pack tax increase on cigarettes.

Shumlin says he’s concerned that the state will lose revenue if the tax increase goes into place because Vermont smokers will go to New Hampshire to purchase their cigarettes and smokers from Massachusetts and New York will no longer come to Vermont.

Senate Finance chairwoman Ann Cummings supported the tax increase. She said it would raise new money and discourage smoking in the future.

(Cummings) “In order to get people’s attention you have to have a big hit and a dollar is the minimum hit you can have and we’re working on health care and smoking is a large cause of heart disease, lung disease, just keep going through it and we felt that this was part of our ongoing investment in preventive health care and trying to control the cost of health care so it seemed like a win win.”

(Kinzel) Chittenden senator Phillip Baruth said he strongly supported the tax increase for a number of reasons.

(Baruth) “Because it’s much larger than a tax on cigarettes. We’re talking here not only about closing the budget gap I think that’s important we’re also talking about people not spending their lives buying and consuming a product that they are addicted to.”

(Kinzel) But Bennington senator Dick Sears said projections of new revenue were overblown because the state will lose a lot of cigarette sales.

(Sears) “When else do we propose a 45 percent tax increase on one item? So it will actually give New Hampshire stores a $20 a carton advantage over Vermont and many of you represent communities on the border with New Hampshire I suppose you probably lost a lot of the business anyways but a $20 tax advantage is quite high.”

(Kinzel) And Rutland senator Peg Flory asked her colleagues to remember that cigarettes are a legal product in the state of Vermont:

(Flory) “If it’s going to be legal to have them here why are we raising it by a dollar a pack and letting another state get that revenue? It makes no sense to me. To say we’re doing it for health benefits I think is fooling ourselves.”

(Kinzel) The issue might not be dead for the session because the Governor has indicated a willingness to support a smaller increase in cigarette tax.

For VPR News, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

Sweden Launches New Strategy to Combat Narcotic, Alcohol Problems

The Swedish government Tuesday launched a new comprehensive strategy to deal with alcohol, drugs, doping and tobacco problems together.

“The overall objective is to make Swedish society free from illicit drugs and doping with fewer medical and social damage caused by alcohol and tobacco,” Maria Larsson, Swedish Minister for Children and Elderly, said in a statement.

The goal is to address the overall problem caused by the use and abuse of alcohol, drugs, doping and tobacco.

Statistics show that 15 percent of the total disease burden in Sweden is due to the harmful effects that may be linked to the use and abuse of alcohol, drugs, doping and tobacco.

The strategy is proposed for 2011-2015 and was passed in the parliament at the end of March this year.

The government will invest 260 million kronor (about 40 million U.S. dollars) per year to support effort such as parents whose children take drugs or children who are abused at home.

Targets and monitoring structure consists of seven long term goals including the protection of children and youth, early intervention, care and treatment and guidelines for cooperation with other countries in the EU and internationally.

“Continued efforts are needed to improve cooperation between different authorities and between authorities and organizations,” Larsson said.

The strategy will put a foundation for building a sustainable system of indicators that make it possible to track trends and form the basis for an evaluation of interventions during the strategy period, Larsson said.

The U.S. should learn from Canada’s issue with tobacco

The officials have good intentions. The Black Market is growing rapidly. And smokers are willing to buy less expensive contraband cigarettes. This is the situation today in Canada, and it might become common to the United States very soon.

In several weeks, the United States could ban hot-cigs.biz/menthol-cigarettes-brands, after the federal U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and namely its sub-committee handling menthol issue, is scheduled to issue a recommendation regarding potential ban of mentholated cigarettes. Menthol-flavored cigarettes represent nearly 30 percent of the domestic cigarette market. In case the FDA decides to ban them, nearly 30 percent of the U.S. smokers will remain without their favorite flavor.

The menthol flavoring ban would be somehow similar to the situation when Canadian government approved a two-fold increase in cigarette taxes in an attempt to reduce smoking rates. Shortly after the tax hike, Canada was burdened with a problem of tremendous proportions.

In Canada, every third cigarettes is sold on the black market. In Quebec and Ontario provinces, the share of black market went up from 13 percent in 2006 up to 48 percent in 2010. This experience clearly shows that a huge contraband market can grow rapidly when a government implements high taxes or removes a popular product.
The problems for the law enforcement agencies is growing since criminal activities have developed from individuals engaged in occasional contraband to criminal groups distributing illegal goods by means of a nationwide black market chain.

Each week, new evidence of the dangerous black market is found. In December, the RCMP stopped the biggest illicit cigarette shipment ever discovered in the county – 10 million counterfeit cigarettes concealed in a container ship. The vessel, coming from China, transported more than 50,000 cartons, worth almost $5 million. Approximately at the same time, Ottawa police agents confiscated approximately 3 million smuggled cigarettes, drugs and several vehicles that transported the illegal products across Ottawa. Police said that only organized criminal groups have financial resources to carry out such activities.
Unfortunately, such events are common for the country. Illegal tobacco is one of the biggest black market goods across the world. In Canada the black market of tobacco is worth billions of dollars.

Since convenience stores’ profits usually depend on sales of tobacco products, the c’ stores across the country have been hit by sale declines. As legal sales were largely replaced by black market sales, many family business closed their doors, unable to compete with lower prices offered by underground market, which uses street sellers and car trucks to sell smuggled cigarettes.
Another issue debated across Canada nowadays is that whether the government’s tax policy has also destroyed its public health objectives. Traffickers don’t care about the age of their clients, selling their smokes to teenagers. Nearly 30 percent of cigarette butts found in schoolyards, are contraband, according to researches.

Therefore, while the U.S mulls over a menthol ban, they should study Canadian example. In case menthol cigarettes are prohibited in the United States, a black market will surely evolve, with illegal cigarettes flowing to smokers, hitting the legal business hard and the economy very hard. In addition, it would definitely not benefit public health, as anti-smoking advocates hope.

Silver, gold and slim cigarettes misleading many smokers

For decades, experts have warned that all conventional brands of cigarette present the same level of risk to smokers, including ‘mild’ slims cigarettesand ‘low-tar’ brands.

However, despite these warnings, a new study has revealed that many smokers in Western countries still believe that cigarettes labelled ‘silver’, ‘gold’ and ‘slim’ are less harmful than others.

Researchers polled over 8,000 smokers from Australia, Canada, the UK and the US.

Approximately one-fifth of those smokers incorrectly believed that ‘some cigarette brands could be less harmful than others’.

False beliefs were highest among the US smokers.

The current study showed that smokers base their perceptions of risk on pack colour, believing that ‘silver’, ‘gold’ and ‘white’ brands are less harmful to smoke than ‘black’ or ‘red’ brands.

The reason for those beliefs may lie in the history of cigarette branding.

Cigarettes used to carry labels like ‘light’, ‘mild’, and ‘low tar’, and in some places they still do.

But in over 50 countries cigarette manufacturers are no longer allowed to use those labels because they are misleading.

In some cases, cigarette manufacturers simply changed their ‘light’ cigarettes to ‘silver’ and ‘gold’ brands — for example, Marlboro Lights has become Marlboro Gold.

A significant percentage of smokers now seem to equate those colours with low-risk cigarettes.

Smokers in the study also revealed false beliefs that slim cigarettes are less harmful, cigarettes with harsh taste are riskier to smoke than smooth-tasking cigarettes, filters reduce risk, and nicotine is responsible for most of the cancer caused by cigarettes.

David Hammond, one of the researchers on the study, said that the study provides evidence for further regulation.

“The findings highlight the deceptive potential of ‘slim’ cigarette brands targeted primarily at young women. The findings also support the potential benefits of plain packaging regulations that will soon take effect in Australia, under which all cigarettes will be sold in packages with the same plain colour, without graphics or logos,” he said.

The study is published in the current issue of journal Addiction.

China Issues Nationwide Restrictions on Smoking

BEIJING — China, the world’s largest tobacco producer and home to a third of all smokers, has issued a national ban on lighting up in china smokershotels, restaurants and other indoor public spaces, the Health Ministry said on Thursday.

The rules, which take effect on May 1 and spell out education provisions about the dangers of tobacco, include restrictions on cigarette vending machines and on outdoor smoking that affects pedestrians.

But there are considerable loopholes. The rules do not cover factories, offices or government workplaces, and, more important, they lack specific penalty guidelines. That detail has prompted shrugs among devoted smokers, many of whom have long since learned to ignore the no-smoking signs in hospital waiting areas, gymnasium locker rooms and elevators.

“Chinese people, including most government officials, are just too in love with their cigarettes to pay attention to such a law,” said Liu Bailing, 28, a bank employee dining beneath a cumulus cloud of smoke at a restaurant here on Thursday evening.

Ms. Liu’s complaint was not without reason. In the nearly three years since Beijing required restaurants and bars to provide nonsmoking sections, most smokers have continued to puff away with abandon.

While acknowledging the challenges of enforcing the new ban, antismoking advocates hailed the measure as a first step to weaning the nation off tobacco, which health officials say kills more than 1.2 million Chinese a year. China has among the world’s highest smoking rates, with nearly one-third of all adults lighting up. (In the United States, about 21 percent of adults were smokers as of 2008.)

“Even if it’s not stringently enforced in the beginning, having a law is an important place to start,” said Wu Yiqun, deputy director of the Think Tank Research Center for Health Development, a nongovernmental group in Beijing.

Two years ago, the authorities raised taxes on cigarettes, and last month the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television issued guidelines that seek to reduce the number of scenes that feature smoking in movies and television shows.

Still, it remains to be seen how effective the newest ban will be, and skeptics might be forgiven their doubts. The Communist Party, after all, has a monopoly on tobacco production, which provides roughly 7 percent of the government’s tax revenue.

By ANDREW JACOBS

F.D.A. to Re-examine Menthol in Cigarettes

A federal advisory panel on Friday said that removing menthol cigarettes from the market would benefit public health in the United fdaStates, but stopped short of recommending that the Food and Drug Administration take any specific actions, like restricting or banning the additive.

The advisory panel’s chairman, Dr. Jonathan M. Samet, a professor of medicine at the University of Southern California, said the committee had found ample scientific basis supporting its finding that menthol cigarettes were more harmful than regular cigarettes, a decision that could provide a legal basis for the F.D.A. to try to limit, phase out or even ban menthol in cigarettes.

The panel found that scientific evidence did not show that individual menthol smokers inhaled more toxins or had an increased risk of disease compared with nonmenthol smokers. But it did emphasize the public health impact, determining that the availability of menthol cigarettes made smoking more attractive to youth, more appealing to African-Americans and others because the flavor was less harsh, and that it contributed to higher rates of smoking among these groups. “Removal of menthol cigarettes from the marketplace would benefit public health in the United States,” the panel’s report concluded.

Menthol was first added to cigarettes since the 1920s to make them less harsh. While Congress banned candy, fruit and spice flavoring in tobacco products, it deferred tackling the difficult issue of menthol to the F.D.A. when it gave the agency broad authority to regulate tobacco products under a new law passed in 2009.

The report issued on Friday by the panel, known officially as the Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee, represents the first salvo in what is expected to be a lengthy test of the F.D.A.’s regulatory muscle when it comes to further restrictions on nicotine and menthol. The F.D.A will review the findings of the panel, and perform a separate research and policy study, Dr. Lawrence R. Deyton, director of the F.D.A. Center for Tobacco Products, said on Friday after the advisory group wrapped up a year of work. “Now it’s up to us to do our job,” Dr. Deyton said, adding that the agency would release a progress report in about three months.

Any government action would be preceded by a proposed rule and another round of public comments and no doubt, litigation. Two tobacco companies filed a lawsuit last month to try to block the advisory committee action or force the F.D.A. to disregard its advice, saying three of the eight panel members had financial conflicts of interest from legal and consulting work against tobacco companies, a claim the F.D.A. denied.

While some antismoking advocates hailed the panel’s findings as the first big step toward recognizing that menthol should be banned, others criticized the committee for not taking a stronger stand that would send a powerful signal to the F.D.A.

Industry analysts said they believed the F.D.A. might take a moderate action at most. Stock in Lorillard Tobacco, the Greensboro, N.C., company that is more than 90 percent dependent on menthol revenue with its leading Newport brand, closed more than 10 percent higher on Friday after the advisory panel issued its report. Menthol accounts for an estimated 27 percent of the $80 billion cigarette market in the United States and 19 million smokers — a disproportionate number of whom are African-Americans, younger and have lower incomes. Menthol is preferred by more than 80 percent of black smokers, about 22 percent of non-Hispanic white smokers and nearly half of 12- to 17-year-old smokers, according to government surveys.

Gregory N. Connolly, a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health, who resigned from the scientific panel in December, said its failure to recommend a phase-out of menthol was “unfortunate” and would harm African-Americans. The new federal law asked the panel to make recommendations, he said.

“This is a huge victory for Lorillard,” Dr. Michael Siegel, a tobacco expert and professor at the Boston University School of Public Health, wrote. He said the committee’s failure to recommend policy “swept the issue under the rug by giving the F.D.A. an out.”

Other health advocates greeted the panel’s findings in a more positive way. “This is the most conclusive scientific finding that menthol cigarettes dramatically increase youth tobacco use and make it more difficult for African-Americans to quit,” said Matthew L. Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. “It creates a scientific record which compels F.D.A. to act.”

Dorothy K. Hatsukami, a panel member and professor from the Tobacco Use Research Center at the University of Minnesota, said scientific literature showed smokers who started younger were more likely to have trouble quitting and to die from smoking. “This is the population that’s particularly vulnerable to the effects of menthol cigarette smoking,” Dr. Hatsukami said.

Jonathan Daniel Heck, Lorillard’s principal scientist and a nonvoting panel member, disputed the advocates’ views, arguing that there was no evidence that menthol promoted youth smoking or made it harder to quit. Lower quitting rates by black smokers may be caused by socioeconomic or genetic factors, not menthol, the Lorillard report said.

Industry analysts cited a variety of reasons they believed the F.D.A. would not ban menthol. Nik Modi of UBS said governments could lose billions in tax revenue if menthol smokers switched to buying in underground markets. State and federal governments collect about $43 billion a year in cigarette excise taxes, UBS said.

According to Moody’s Investor Services, prohibiting menthol cigarettes would cut overall sales by up to 10 percent. David Adelman of Morgan Stanley Research predicted that the F.D.A. would probably seek more research, including studies of the unintended effects of such a ban, like the creation of a big underground market. He, too, anticipates a “more moderate” finding by the agency than that of the scientific panel on the public health effects, pointing out the lack of evidence suggesting that menthol harms individual smokers more than nonmenthol cigarettes.

And Mr. Modi wrote earlier this month, “F.D.A. does not want to see Big Tobacco in court.” The advisory panel’s chairman, Dr. Jonathan M. Samet, a professor of medicine at the University of Southern California, said the committee had found ample scientific basis supporting its finding that menthol cigarettes were more harmful than regular cigarettes, a decision that could provide a legal basis for the F.D.A. to try to limit, phase out or even ban menthol in cigarettes.

The panel found that scientific evidence did not show that individual menthol smokers inhaled more toxins or had an increased risk of disease compared with nonmenthol smokers. But it did emphasize the public health impact, determining that the availability of menthol cigarettes made smoking more attractive to youth, more appealing to African-Americans and others because the flavor was less harsh, and that it contributed to higher rates of smoking among these groups. “Removal of menthol cigarettes from the marketplace would benefit public health in the United States,” the panel’s report concluded.

Menthol was first added to cigarettes since the 1920s to make them less harsh. While Congress banned candy, fruit and spice flavoring in tobacco products, it deferred tackling the difficult issue of menthol to the F.D.A. when it gave the agency broad authority to regulate tobacco products under a new law passed in 2009.

The report issued on Friday by the panel, known officially as the Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee, represents the first salvo in what is expected to be a lengthy test of the F.D.A.’s regulatory muscle when it comes to further restrictions on nicotine and menthol. The F.D.A will review the findings of the panel, and perform a separate research and policy study, Dr. Lawrence R. Deyton, director of the F.D.A. Center for Tobacco Products, said on Friday after the advisory group wrapped up a year of work. “Now it’s up to us to do our job,” Dr. Deyton said, adding that the agency would release a progress report in about three months.

Any government action would be preceded by a proposed rule and another round of public comments and no doubt, litigation. Two tobacco companies filed a lawsuit last month to try to block the advisory committee action or force the F.D.A. to disregard its advice, saying three of the eight panel members had financial conflicts of interest from legal and consulting work against tobacco companies, a claim the F.D.A. denied.

While some antismoking advocates hailed the panel’s findings as the first big step toward recognizing that menthol should be banned, others criticized the committee for not taking a stronger stand that would send a powerful signal to the F.D.A.

Industry analysts said they believed the F.D.A. might take a moderate action at most. Stock in Lorillard Tobacco, the Greensboro, N.C., company that is more than 90 percent dependent on menthol revenue with its leading Newport brand, closed more than 10 percent higher on Friday after the advisory panel issued its report. Menthol accounts for an estimated 27 percent of the $80 billion cigarette market in the United States and 19 million smokers — a disproportionate number of whom are African-Americans, younger and have lower incomes. Menthol is preferred by more than 80 percent of black smokers, about 22 percent of non-Hispanic white smokers and nearly half of 12- to 17-year-old smokers, according to government surveys.

Gregory N. Connolly, a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health, who resigned from the scientific panel in December, said its failure to recommend a phase-out of menthol was “unfortunate” and would harm African-Americans. The new federal law asked the panel to make recommendations, he said.

“This is a huge victory for Lorillard,” Dr. Michael Siegel, a tobacco expert and professor at the Boston University School of Public Health, wrote. He said the committee’s failure to recommend policy “swept the issue under the rug by giving the F.D.A. an out.”

Other health advocates greeted the panel’s findings in a more positive way. “This is the most conclusive scientific finding that menthol cigarettes dramatically increase youth tobacco use and make it more difficult for African-Americans to quit,” said Matthew L. Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. “It creates a scientific record which compels F.D.A. to act.”

Dorothy K. Hatsukami, a panel member and professor from the Tobacco Use Research Center at the University of Minnesota, said scientific literature showed smokers who started younger were more likely to have trouble quitting and to die from smoking. “This is the population that’s particularly vulnerable to the effects of menthol cigarette smoking,” Dr. Hatsukami said.

Jonathan Daniel Heck, Lorillard’s principal scientist and a nonvoting panel member, disputed the advocates’ views, arguing that there was no evidence that menthol promoted youth smoking or made it harder to quit. Lower quitting rates by black smokers may be caused by socioeconomic or genetic factors, not menthol, the Lorillard report said.

Industry analysts cited a variety of reasons they believed the F.D.A. would not ban menthol. Nik Modi of UBS said governments could lose billions in tax revenue if menthol smokers switched to buying in underground markets. State and federal governments collect about $43 billion a year in cigarette excise taxes, UBS said.

According to Moody’s Investor Services, prohibiting menthol cigarettes would cut overall sales by up to 10 percent. David Adelman of Morgan Stanley Research predicted that the F.D.A. would probably seek more research, including studies of the unintended effects of such a ban, like the creation of a big underground market. He, too, anticipates a “more moderate” finding by the agency than that of the scientific panel on the public health effects, pointing out the lack of evidence suggesting that menthol harms individual smokers more than nonmenthol cigarettes.

And Mr. Modi wrote earlier this month, “F.D.A. does not want to see Big Tobacco in court.”

By DUFF WILSON
Nytimes

FDA to start regulating tobacco products

THE Department of Health (DOH) is all set to start regulating the contents of tobacco products via the reinforced Food and Drug fdaAdministration (FDA).

In a press conference, FDA Director Dr. Suzette Lazo revealed that the Republic Act 9711 Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) has given the agency the power to standardize the contents of tobacco products.

“We did not regulate tobacco before (but) because of health implications of tobacco and the DOH has the responsibility to safeguard public health and make its effects preventable… It is going to do this thru the FDA,” said Lazo.

“We will comply with our mandate,” she added.

The health official failed to explain further their new mandate on tobacco regulation saying they are still going through the IRR but added that the law also gives the FDA powers to hold in contempt those that don’t follow their prescribed orders.

“Maybe we will look in the nicotine levels or any substance that would want people to smoke more,” said Lazo.

Smoke-related illnesses, such as lung cancer and heart diseases, have been identified as one of the more avoidable diseases.

It can be recalled that the DOH and some advocacy groups have been pushing for the implementation of the Administrative Order No. 2010-0013 requiring graphic health information on all tobacco packages.

This was, however, blocked by several tobacco manufacturers saying it does not conform to the guidelines set by the Tobacco Regulation Act (TRA) of 2003.

The use of graphic warning signs in compliance with the provisions of the World Health Organization-initiated Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), wherein the Philippines is a signatory.

Cigarettes to be sold under shop counter in UK

Tobacco companies may also be forced to sell their products in plain wrappers in a further attempt to stop young people taking upcigarettes sale the unhealthy habit.

But industry groups and some politicians said the Government’s proposals, announced on No Smoking Day, smacked of the nanny state and would increase the burden on shopkeepers.

David Cameron told MPs during Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday that he opposed any moves to go further by banning smoking in cars or in front of children.

“I’m not sure whether it’s possible to legislate in this area. We need a change in attitudes.”

Mr Cameron also highlighted the fact that he was a smoker until recently, saying: “I certainly support No Smoking Day and, unlike in some previous years, I hope to meet its requirements in full.”

The Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, and the junior health minister, Simon Burns, are among the 10million smokers in Britain – providing £11billion in VAT and duty to the Treasury each year – although numbers have fallen to just 21 per cent of the population from 45 per cent in 1974.

England already has some of the strictest anti-smoking laws in the world, after advertising was banned in 2002, smoking was banned from pubs and restaurants in 2007 and graphic warnings were introduced to cigarette packets the following year. Cigarette vending machines will be outlawed this October.

Labour passed further legislation to ban shop displays of tobacco products that was also due to be introduced this autumn.

On Wednesday the Department of Health said it was committed to putting cigarettes under the counter but delayed the introduction of the ban until April 2012 for large shops and supermarkets, and April 2015 for smaller newsagents and tobacconists.

The Tobacco Control Plan for England strategy also said ministers had an “open mind” on whether or not to introduce plain packaging rules in an attempt to reduce smoking rates still further, particularly among teenagers and pregnant women.

Professor Dame Sally Davies, the chief medical officer for England, said: “I strongly support the ending of tobacco displays in shops.

“I also welcome the commitment by the Government to look further at tobacco packaging and to consider whether a requirement for plain packaging might bring additional public health benefits, all of which keep up the essential momentum needed to create a truly smokefree future.”

Health charities and medical experts urged ministers not to delay the measures.

Professor John Britton, chair of the Royal College of Physicians Tobacco Advisory Group, said: “Smoking kills more than 80,000 people each year in England, which is more than alcohol, obesity, road accidents and illegal drugs put together. We cannot underestimate the harm caused by smoking and urge the government to reconsider delaying the display ban.”

But James Lowman, chief executive of the Association of Convenience Stores, said: “We are disappointed that Government is pressing ahead with a tobacco display ban imposing £40 million of costs on small retailers.

“There simply isn’t the evidence to suggest that the measure will reduce smoking amongst young people.”

Nigel Farage, the UKIP leader who is also a smoker, said: “Our puritan political class wants us to stop smoking completely.

“It could end up doing to corner shops what the smoking ban did to country pubs – put them to the wall.”

By Martin Beckford

Graphics and Logos on Cigarette Packs to Be Burnt Into Ashes in Britain

In a bid to boost the number of people who are willing to bid adieu to their smoking addictions, the British government is strongly cigarettes packadvocating the proposal that will mandate cigarette manufacturers to remove all the graphics and logos from their products.

If this proposal gets common approval, the cigarette packets in Britain will contain nothing except the statuary warnings.

The announcement for the implication of this law will be made official on the coming Wednesday, which will be observed as ‘No Smoking Day’ all across the nation.

A spokesman for the Government asserted that the department was quite worried about the reducing number of quitters.

Stating the number of quitters, he further added, “The latest figures show that in 2008-9 smokers made up 22% of the population of the UK. Although that is lower than the 1996 figure of 26%, the long term pattern suggests that the numbers of people quitting is slowing down”.

The step is a follow-up of various measures of Government to encourage people get rid of this addiction. The previous measures include price hike in the cigarette packets, ban on their advertisements and a complete prohibition on lighting up of cigarettes in public places.

Following the footsteps of Britain, the Government of Australia and the European parliament in Brussels have also vowed to take similar steps.

By Jonathan Sanders

World watches Australia’s tobacco fight

The world is watching as Australia goes into battle with big tobacco over making cigarette packets plainer, uglier, and uncool.

Later this year, the Federal Government is hoping to force all cigarettes to be sold in plain packaging.

The latest tobacco products directive in the European Union is now being revised, and researcher Dr Crawford Moodie from Scotland’s Stirling University says if plain packaging is successful in Australia, other countries will follow.

“Really, the eyes of the world will be on what happens in Australia,” he said.

Once plain packaging takes effect, colours, brands, logos and promotional text on cigarette packets will all be banned.

The packet will be covered by a graphic health warning and it will probably be coloured brown.

Public health experts believe it will make cigarettes less appealing to young people and curb smoking rates, which currently stand at 17 per cent.

The latest Citigroup research suggests on present trends smoking will die out in Australia by 2030, only two years before Sweden, and a whole decade ahead of the UK.

Public health Professor Mike Daube says he hopes the commercial sale of cigarettes will come to an end in the next decade.

“I think we’re going to see a time where cigarettes can only be obtained from certain sales outlets, and possibly over time only with some kind of sign off that these people are registered smokers,” he said.

Big tobacco fight

Big tobacco will vigorously fight against this move.

A large-scale campaign by the cigarette companies is already underway.

The director of corporate and regulatory affairs for British American Tobacco Australia, Mark Connell, says it will end in the courts.

“We will defend to the end. It means unfortunately an argument in the courts to defend our rights to keep our brands and trademarks,” he said.

British American Tobacco has 45 per cent of the cigarette market in Australia.

Mr Connell says plain packaging will diminish their ability to compete against other brands.

“We want our consumer that decides to smoke, knowing the risks, when they purchase the product, we want them to purchase our product,” he said.

He says he does not believe smoking should be eliminated.

“At the end of the day we are a legal company, we’re selling a legal product.”

Political support

Labor stopped accepting political donations from the cigarette companies in 2004.

Coalition parties last year received nearly $300,000 from the tobacco industry.

It is something that sits uncomfortably with previous Opposition leader Brendan Nelson.

He says during his time in politics, plain packaging was never on the agenda, but he is a passionate supporter of the policy and has been advocating for it since the 1990s.

Background Briefing reveals Dr Nelson was reprimanded by senior Liberal Party figures after calling on his colleagues to refuse tobacco sponsorship of the Liberal Party’s annual conference in 1998.

Peter Wilkinson, director of PR agency the Wilkinson Group, used to be a 60 Minutes reporter and says Dr Nelson told him in a private conversation that he was put in the “naughty corner” because of his stand.

“[He] was told very firmly told not to misbehave by speaking out of turn,” he said.

Dr Nelson does not deny Wilkinson’s recollections, but says commenting now on whether he was reprimanded would compromise his current position as a diplomat.

Dr Nelson says tobacco’s most frustrating tactic was the use of third-party endorsers.

“I wasn’t debating the chairman of Philip Morris, or the CEO of the tobacco institute. I’d have the debate with the chairman of the rugby league or the coach of the under-nines,” he said.

He says he expects retailers to take up the fight on behalf of the cigarette companies.

Last year during the federal election, the Alliance of Australian Retailers (AAR) launched a campaign against plain packaging.

But it came to an abrupt end when leaked documents revealed big tobacco was funding the alliance and a PR group was pulling the strings behind the scenes.

Retail revolt

Background Briefing reveals the AAR has reformed and will launch its second round of anti-plain packaging campaigning within a matter of days.

AAR spokesperson Craig Glasby says the policy must be stopped.

“It’s an ongoing campaign and we’re committed to continuing until the policy is overturned,” he said.

Mr Glasby says they are about to publish advertisements in regional papers and release a research paper to prove that small businesses will be damaged if plain packaging is introduced.

He also hopes to meet with Federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon and the Prime Minister to discuss his concerns.

The campaign this year will focus on the tensions between small retailers and the big supermarkets such as Coles and Woolworths.

Mr Glasby hopes local communities will find it easier to sympathise with hard-working small businesses rather than the two big giants.

“This is actually not a fight against anybody but Coles and Woollies. They’re our real enemy because they don’t fight fair,” he said.

Woolworths emailed Background Briefing a statement in response, saying the AAR is a front group for big tobacco and its concerns should be disregarded.

“Obviously the alliance is a thinly veiled front for BATA (British American Tobacco Australia) with all their resourcing and funding behind it,” he said.

British American Tobacco has confirmed they will fund the AAR’s campaign this year.

“I don’t have figures, we will be supporting them substantially.”

View of the New Anti-Tobacco Campaign

ALBANY, NY – New York convenience store owners expressed dismay at the new taxpayer-funded media campaign announced today by the Community Partnerships for a Tobacco Free New York bemoaning tobacco displays and signage in licensed outlets.

“Sorry to spoil their conspiracy theory, but displaying cigarettes on the wall behind our counter doesn’t compel kids to smoke any more than displaying toothpaste on our shelves compels them to brush their teeth,” said James Calvin, President of the New York Association of Convenience Stores.

In their press release, the Community Partnerships for a Tobacco Free New York lamented, “It is not an accident that tobacco products are displayed in the most prominent location in stores…88% of stores statewide display tobacco products directly behind the counter.”

“That’s correct,” Calvin said, “because these same anti-tobacco crusaders lobbied for and passed a State law in 2002 requiring us to display tobacco behind the counter. Where do they want us to put it now – on the ceiling?”

While the release said the Community Partnerships were funded by the New York Tobacco Control Program, it failed to disclose that that program is publicly funded. “In other words, at a time when our State is in a $10 billion hole and hemorrhaging jobs, these folks are spending your tax dollars to badger retail businesses for displaying, inside their own privately owned premises, in accordance with state law, legal products they are licensed by the State to offer for sale to adult customers,” Calvin said.

“Most convenience store operators are responsible business people,” he continued. “As parents and citizens, they share the community’s commitment to preventing youth access tobacco. Through training, stringent policies and ID procedures, and supervision, they have helped dramatically reduce the incidence of underage sales in New York State over the past 10 years, as the state Health Department will attest.”

“We appreciate the work the public health community has done to reduce tobacco consumption over the years. But the virtue of that cause does not entitle them to spend your money publicly harassing responsible neighborhood retailers,” said Calvin.