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Tobacco companies pursue “safer” cigarettes

A major tobacco company seems serious about the development of a low-risk cigarette, sponsoring of clinical trials with prototypes containing reduced levels of toxic components.

image-05-largeLondon-based British American Tobacco said on Monday that it will begin a 6-month controlled trial “reduced toxicant” cigarettes, in which the effects on the respiratory function will be measured in current smokers.

It follows an earlier, shorter study published last month, which evaluated prototypes for effects on blood bio-markers of exposure to toxicant substances.

The prototypes described in this study contained tars and nicotine at level like conventional cigarettes, but with a reduced content of a variety of nitrosamines, aromatic amines, carbonyls, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.

The new study, the protocol for which was published in Biomed Central Public Health, won’t come to satisfying FDA requirements for marketing reduced-risk cigarettes. The agency said in a guidance document published last year that it would need studies that assess multiple aspects of the overall impact of these products on public health, in addition to the direct impact on the health of the users of the product. They are:

• Exposure to second-hand smoke on the product

• The impact on the overall user habits, such as smoking frequency and intensity of smoking inhalation

• The impact on the consumption of users of other tobacco products

• The likelihood that users will comply with any special instructions for using the

• The likelihood that users will later go on to other, more high-risk tobacco products

• Is the product availability will affect non-smokers or ex-smokers to start smoking or discourage current smokers from quitting tobacco completely

• Whether marketing a product may be affected by “the understanding and perception of consumers”

The regulations allow companies to market cigarettes as simply reducing exposure to harmful chemicals, avoiding the need to demonstrate improved clinical outcomes with respect to the health of users with respect to smoke regular cigarettes.

But the company must still show that the reduction of the impact of “a sufficient degree of probability produce are measurable and significant reduction in morbidity and mortality,” when evaluated in later studies.

These requirements are set out in the legislation in 2009 that gave the FDA authority to regulate tobacco products. This law prohibited the agency from banning cigarettes in whole or in order that the nicotine levels to be reduced to zero. But it did not authorize the FDA to require proof of any allegation that the new tobacco product is less risk to health than the existing ones.

The agency has since established two ways for new tobacco products to enter the market. One allows manufacturers to simply certify that the product is “substantially equivalent” to those that have already been sold. This route was opened last month with a formal FDA clearance of two Newport brand products sold by Lorillard Tobacco, though the agency said that thousands of others have been introduced with preliminary applications.

The second way is akin to FDA premarket approval process for medical equipment that requires rigorous clinical trials. Any tobacco products for which applications for reduced health risks are made have to be approved through this process. No applications have yet been received, agency officials said.

But BAT – producer Kent, Lucky Strike, Pall Mall cigarettes and brands, as well as cigars, loose tobacco and smokeless tobacco products – seems to be prepared to meet the stringent requirements of the FDA. New clinical study, which will be held in Germany, will enroll 260 healthy volunteers, including 140 smokers, 60 former smokers and 60 never-smokers.

Smokers will be randomized to usual, but unlabeled Lucky Silver Strike cigarettes or reduced toxicant product and told to smoke free for 6 months. Blood and urine samples will be collected for analysis of systemic exposure to toxicants, and measures the level of serum creatinine and creatinine in urine.

Cigarettes will come with filters that investigators will collect to measure the frequency of smoking. Participants will keep diaries.

In addition, the spirometry will be performed at baseline and after 6 months for measurement of forced expiratory flow, forced expiratory volume in one second, and peak expiratory flow rate.

Nonsmokers will not use cigarettes in the study, but will undergo spirometry and biomarker studies for comparison purposes.

Stanton Glantz, MD, of the University of California at San Francisco and a prominent anti-tobacco campaigner, said MedPage Today in an e-mail that the study was published neglect an important category of direct health consequences.

“It does not consider important cardiovascular effects that may be both short-term and long-term risk for development of heart disease, in particular, changes in the platelets and vascular endothelial function,” said Glanz.

He also questioned the decision to match the levels of tar in reduced toxicant prototype to those in the conventional product.

“Tar measures many bad things in cigarette smoke and such correspondence may mask biologically significant changes,” he said.

Federal Law attached to the tax roll of NH’s

When it comes to roll your own cigarette machines, federal law finally caught up with the law of New Hampshire, making it impossible for shops to use the machines avoid tobacco taxes.

Greater Nashua heard about this issue since 2009, when the Tobacco Haven in Brookline, at the state border, got into a legal battle with New Hampshire on what is usually called RYO machines. Customers buy sacks of tobacco-free and poured them into the machine, which enabled them to pipe smoking paper.

As a result of cigarettes may not live up to industry standards – Telegraph three employees, who have tried them at the time said they were too weak to be a good smoke – but much cheaper because they avoid many taxes, including payments in escrow account established in 1998 after 46 countries have settled the health benefits, with the major cigarette manufacturers.

RYO machines spread nationally in 2009, after Congress increased the tax on various tobacco products, which leads to a complex situation in which using the so-called “pipe tobacco” cigarettes in the car was much cheaper than using the free “cigarette tobacco” although the difference between the two has been difficult to track.

RYO the company argued that when clients have created their own smokes in the store, they were not “cigarette manufacturers,” and therefore not subject to payments. Many governments, including New Hampshire, do not agree.

In 2010, the roll of own box of tobacco Haven worth about $ 26, $ 7 less than the discount brands, and as much as $ 20 less than name-brand cartons.

The money from the so-called Master Settlement Agreement is collected, a tax of not less than 42 cents per pack of cigarettes. Each year, cigarette manufacturers a total pot of about $ 7 billion, about $ 50 million, which is in New Hampshire. It is used to pay for various health care and anti-smoking initiatives.

The court fight in New Hampshire ended earlier this year when the tobacco Haven agreed to pay “five-figure” amount of the deposit of the state. Shop is closed RYO machines.

On Friday, U.S. President Barack Obama signed a two-year transportation funding bill that included a small fragment, which mainly codified this agreement in the federal law.

All retailers who have a roll of their own cars to cigarettes that are sold to the general public will be treated as manufacturers of tobacco products.

The move was not unexpected. According to media reports, RYO Machine LLC, which made the popular RYO filling stations have closed and the automatic reboot option does not issue any refunds to reset the board, and will not buy cars from stores.

The state tobacco prevention funding is not enough

States have spent only about 3 percent of the billions they received in tobacco taxes and legal settlements over the past ten years to fund tobacco prevention programs, which make it harder to reduce death and disease, caused by tobacco use, according to a report released on Thursday, the federal Centers for Disease Control and disease prevention.

Between 1998 and 2010, states collected almost $ 244 billion in cigarette taxes and settlement money, compared to $ 8.1 billion intended for state efforts to combat tobacco use. These numbers are much smaller than the minimum of $ 29.2 billion, CDC said that were conducted during the same period. While the state average has never spent so much like to CDC, the total dropped sharply in recent years to deal with the state budget deficit that forced layoffs, vacations and reducing essential services. Many of them also raised tobacco taxes to increase revenue and add-on funds provided by the tobacco industry. About 46 million Americans smoke, and more than 3 percent of American adults use smokeless tobacco, according to the CDC. And tobacco-related diseases account for about 443,000 deaths per year in the U.S. if the state had to use most of the taxes and the settlement money for tobacco control and prevention programs, they could achieve more, faster reduction of tobacco use and health-costs care, and reducing tobacco-related illness and death, the report said.

“We understand that there are serious financial difficulties, and that they have difficult choices to make,” CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. “Do not invest in tobacco control is not only penny wise and pound foolish, but it’s also the cost of living.” According to the report, states that spent more than the sum of the programs on Tobacco saw cigarette sales decline by about two times more than in the U.S. as a whole. Smoking prevalence also declined more rapidly, because the anti-tobacco spending increased in states like Arizona, California, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Maine, New York, Oregon, and Washington, the report said. However, other factors such as a ban on smoking could also contribute to these reductions. Frieden said that while the state lacks the means of prevention, tobacco companies continue to spend billions of dollars on marketing. Industry spent $ 10.5 billion to sell their products in 2008, the latest year tracked by the Federal Trade Commission. In the same year, the state anti-tobacco funding totaled about $ 779 million, the report said.

“Tobacco companies will be there to do what they can do, and they have a lot of money to do it,” said Stanton Glantz, tobacco researcher who directs the Center for Tobacco Research Control and Education at the University of California, San Francisco. “You do not need to meet them dollar for dollar; you just need to be there enough to deal with them …. It is easier to sell the truth than lies.” In addition to raising taxes on tobacco products from an average of 39 cents per pack in 1998 to $ 1.44 per pack in 2010, states continue to receive millions of dollars each year from the tobacco industry in a long legal settlement. Tobacco companies agreed in 1998 to settle lawsuits brought several states, smoking-related health care costs by paying them about $ 206 billion for more than two decades, but the settlement does not require the money be used for tobacco control and stop smoking programs. States first received full payment on the settlement in 1999. The largest U.S. tobacco companies, Altria Group Inc – based in Richmond, Virginia, and Skoal smokeless tobacco producer and topcigarettes.biz/cigarette-events/marlboro-cigarettes-best-of-the-cigarettes – pays most of it.

“Today, not all tobacco-generated revenue, states and the federal government than ever before to fund proven efforts that can prevent the use of tobacco to minors,” said Altria spokesman Ken Garcia. “Obviously, there is a big waste opportunity to put on these programs, which will help further reduce underage tobacco use and promote cessation.”

FDA: tobacco companies must disclose levels of hazardous chemicals in products

Tobacco companies are required to report the level of hazardous substances contained in cigarettes, chew and other related products, marking the first time, industry will be required by law to specify the amount of hazardous substances contained in tobacco. Requirement associated with the new guidelines issued prior to the last Friday by the Food and Drug Administration United States.

The Agency has issued two draft guidance documents that implement the provisions of the 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, which gave the FDA power to regulate the tobacco industry. Signature element of the law called for the inclusion of graphic warning labels on cigarette packages and advertisements, the demand of the tobacco industry challenged in court, arguing that violated free speech rights of tobacco companies.

Under the new guidelines, FDA, the tobacco industry will need to provide a precise amount of potentially harmful chemicals in tobacco products. The guidelines also provide guidance to companies seeking to market tobacco products, like the one that reduces the risk of tobacco-related diseases.

“We have found new territory to the tobacco companies to provide accurate information and not mislead American consumers,” said FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg in a statement. “We want to stop such actions, which may cause people to begin or continue to use tobacco products, which can lead to prevention of disease and death.”

Although there are over 7,000 chemicals in tobacco and its smoke, FDA created a list of 93 hazardous and potentially hazardous substances (HPHCs), that tobacco companies will be required to report for each regulated tobacco products sold in the United States released a draft of the guidelines by the FDA identifies 20 HPHCs on which the agency will focus law enforcement efforts during 2012.

Ammonia, formaldehyde and carbon monoxide is one of the components or by-products, which will be subject to new rules this year.
FDA intends to make the information on the number of HPHCs specific products available to the public in April 2013.
Although the 2009 law also gave the FDA the authority to set standards on the level of harmful ingredients in tobacco products, the agency does not use power.

An estimated 443,000 people in the U.S. die from smoking and passive smoking each year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The agency reported tobacco use leads to enormous economic burden, resulting in more than $ 96 billion in medical costs and $ 97 billion in lost productivity every year.

$500 fine for littering beach with cigarette butts

Smoking and leaving your butts stubbed out in the sand on the city’s beach could cost you $500.

That is the fine the City Commission wants to impose in a new litter ordinance it will consider at its Jan. 10 meeting.

The ordinance would not ban smoking. It just prohibits leaving smoking-related litter behind.

After an hour-long workshop with county and state health officials last week, commissioners appeared poised to enact a stiff fine to discourage smoking on the beach.

They stopped short of out-right banning smoking, largely because of a Florida law that currently prevents local governments from enacting smoke-free regulations.

That law did not stop Gulfport, however, which banned smoking last month on its beach, athletic fields and on playgrounds. Violators there face a $97 fine.

Gulfport is also is considering strengthening its litter ordinance to raise those fines $50 to $143 if uncontested and to $188 if contested in court.

The idea for a significantly stiffer fine in Indian Rocks Beach was suggested by City Attorney Maura Kiefer.

“Why not make it a big fine?” Kiefer asked, stressing that the commission has the ability to pass an anti-litter ordinance targeting cigarette butts.

“To me, money talks. It would be a huge deterrent,” Kiefer said.

She also strongly recommended that the city pass a resolution in support of two bills being considered by the state Legislature that would allow municipalities to regulate smoking outdoors.

Residents attending the meeting appeared split on whether to regulate smoking on the beach.

Even some non-smokers were opposed to any new regulations. Others agreed with Kiefer that a large fine would sharply reduce the litter on the beach.

• • •

More than 200,000 cigarette butts were picked up on the beaches during a statewide coastal cleanup campaign last year, according to Deborah Shaffer, program manager for the Pinellas County Health Department.

Cigarette butts, often found within 10 feet of a designated ashtray, make up 20 percent of all litter found on Pinellas County’s 35 miles of beaches. Eighty percent of the butts end up in the Gulf of Mexico, she said.

“The issue is litter, but it is also health,” Shaffer said. “The bottom line is this litter poses a health hazard and costs money.”

Each cigarette butt contains 165 different chemicals and can take up to 20 years to degrade, Lucy Gonzalez-Barr, coordinator for Region 7 of the Florida Department of Health, told the commission.

Carolyn Smith, a volunteer with the Pinellas Tobacco-Free Coalition, said 52 Florida municipalities and counties have enacted ordinances and resolutions regulating smoking on the beaches and public places.

“We don’t care if people smoke, but we do care if our grandchildren pick up filthy cigarette butts,” said Commissioner Terry Hamilton-Wollin, who previously met with residents calling for a smoke-free beach.

She wants another workshop, but the rest of the commission appeared ready to enact the $500 fine for leaving cigarette butts on the beach.

“I am personally interested in some kind of signage with a greater fine,” said Mayor R.B. Johnson, asking Kiefer to prepare an ordinance for consideration at the commission’s Jan. 10 meeting.

“I think there are a lot of people out there who don’t know they (cigarette butts) are not biodegradable — and they do think the beach is an ashtray,” Commissioner Cookie Kennedy said.

She called for signs similar to national anti-litter bug campaigns she remembered from her childhood.

But it was Vice Mayor Phil Hanna who drew the most applause and even laughter for his sign idea.

“I see a real cute picture of a family and all you are seeing are little tushies and it says the only butts allowed on the beach are yours,” he said.

By Sheila Mullane Estrada

tampabay.com

Exhibition Dedicated to the National Day Against Tobacco

On October 24 the exhibition opened in the Green Hall of the RA National Assembly, was dedicated to the National Day Against tobaccoTobacco celebrated on October 12.

Varduhi Petrosyan, Director of the Research and Development Center of the Healthcare Services of the American University of Armenia, has applied to the RA NA Speaker Hovik Abrahamyan, asking to support in organizing the exhibition on anti-tobacco theme in the legislative body, to which the Speaker of the Parliament gladly responded.

The authors of the pictures touching upon the anti-tobacco theme are the juniors of the Fine Arts and Decorative Applied Art Studio-College and Davitashen N 2 Children-Youth Creative Center, who cooperating with the Research and Development Center of the Healthcare Services of the American University of Armenia have expressed their denial attitude to the use of the tobacco in the picture language of their childish fantasy.

Opening the exhibition Ara Babloyan, Chairman of the NA Standing Committee on Healthcare, Maternity and Childhood, has noted that, according to researches, the use of the tobacco more results in illness, disability and mortality of millions of people than the diseases, accidents and violence taken together.

Mr. Babloyan has mentioned that in recent years the parliament has had a big contribution to the process of anti-tobacco struggle, making a number of legislative amendments. He has stressed the fact that due to the taken steps during the last four years a group of NA deputies and members of the staff have given up the use of tobacco.

Mr. Babloyan has thanked the NA Speaker Hovik Abrahamyan, noting that in his capacity as NA deputy, Head of the legislative body and citizen, he is becoming the best example for the society by refusing the use of the tobacco and living a healthy way of life.

In his word the NA Speaker Hovik Abrahamyan showed appreciation to the Directorate of the Research and Development Center of the Healthcare Services of the American University of Armenia for the organized exhibition and necessitated that our society gave up the harmful phenomenon of smoking as promptly as possible and live a healthy way of life.

Mr. Abrahamyan has considered important that the NA deputies serve as examples themselves and quit smoking. As the first step the NA Speaker proposed to declare the third floor and the area of holding the sittings in the parliament a non-smoking zone.

Varduhi Petrosyan, Director of the Research and Development Center of the Healthcare Services of the American University of Armenia, expressed gratitude to the NA Speaker for supporting the organization of the exhibition in the legislative body.

Baseball seeks ban on chewing tobacco and dip

baseball_tobacco

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Advertising groups join cigarette label opposition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By: MICHAEL FELBERBAUM
Timesdispatch

Facebook may raise risk of teen substance abuse

A New York research group released a study Wednesday claiming American teenagers who spend time on Facebook, Myspace or riskother social networking sites are five times more likely to use tobacco, three times more likely to drink alcohol and twice as likely to smoke marijuana.

But a San Francisco expert on juvenile justice debunked the study by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University because it did not account for other factors, such as age differences or whether their parents also smoked or drank excessively.

The Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse suggested 12- to 17-year-olds showed a higher likelihood of substance abuse when exposed to photos posted on social networks showing that kind of activity. The study also linked substance abuse to watching “suggestive” teen TV shows like “Jersey Shore,” “Teen Mom,” “16 and Pregnant,” “Skins” or “Gossip Girl.”

But the study was not set up to determine whether social networking causes substance abuse. “Human will – the individual’s decision to use illegal drugs, alcohol and tobacco – always comes into play,” said Steve Wagner of QEV Analytics, a Washington, D.C., research firm that conducted part of the study.

“But what is unmistakable from our research is that time spent on social networking sites is associated with a teen’s risk of substance abuse,” Wagner said. “Moreover, we know that teens who use such sites in a typical day are more likely to have been the victim of cyber-bullying and are more likely to have been exposed to photos of other teens getting drunk or high on drugs than are teens who do not use a social networking site in a typical day.”

The study claimed 70 percent of the teens spent time on a social network “in a typical day.” And 40 percent of all teens had seen photos on social networks of kids “drunk, passed out or using drugs.” Half of the teens saw those photos when they were age 13 or younger.

The center based its conclusions on concurrent surveys of a total of about 2,043 teenagers and 528 parents done in March, April and May. The teen surveys had a sampling error of plus or minus 3.1 percent.

Center chairman and founder Joseph Califano Jr. said in a news release that the study “offers grotesque confirmation of the adage that a picture is worth a thousand words.”

Califano, who was secretary of Health, Education and Welfare during the Carter administration, recommended parents monitor their teen’s use of Facebook and be “involved and engaged in their teen’s lives.”

“Parental engagement is a key factor to lowering teen substance abuse risk, as are frequent family dinners, religious services and consistent messages,” Califano said in an e-mail. “We know from 16 years of surveys and lots of other research that for better or worse parents have more influence over their teen’s risk of substance abuse than anyone else, and it is important for parents to send a consistent and unified message to their teens about drugs and alcohol.”

But Mike Males, a senior research fellow at the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice in San Francisco, questioned whether the research was “fatally flawed” because it appeared to improperly compare results of 12-year-olds against 17-year-olds.

Males said the center’s link of social media use to substance abuse was “silly and trivial.” He said the study did not account for some of the biggest environmental factors in drug and alcohol abuse among teens, especially the behavior of their parents.

“These studies are worse than useless,” he said. “They really hamper discussion of a very important social issue, which is drug and alcohol abuse throughout American society.”

In a statement, Palo Alto’s Facebook said the promotion of illegal drug use was prohibited by its terms of service and is removed when reported.

“Nothing is more important to us than the health and safety of the people who use our service, especially the many teens who use Facebook,” the company said. “We believe safety both online and off is a shared responsibility between teens, parents, teachers, companies, and other members of the community.”

By Benny Evangelista
bevangelista@sfchronicle.com.

U.S. military battles smoking in the ranks

Three improvised bombs exploded last Easter outside a Baghdad government building, and Sgt. 1st Class Malcolm Russell, a California Army reservist deployed in Iraq, was on high alert, his adrenaline pumping.

When calm finally arrived, Russell reached for a pack of smokes, lit up and inhaled. “I’ll never forget that drag, with the hair-raising moments we had. It brought down the stress,” he said.

Russell, 34, has lived the horrors of war, but it is his addiction to cigarettes, he said, that has been the toughest battle of all.

When it comes to quitting, “I’m trying to win the war. Sometimes it feels like I’m losing the battle,” said Russell, who is back home and, two weeks ago, began a smoking cessation class at Mercy General Hospital in Sacramento, Calif., where he oversees security.

The U.S. military has vowed to join the national fight against smoking, saying it is stepping up its efforts to help military personnel kick their tobacco habits.

Earlier this month, the Navy banned smoking inside submarines. It was the latest sign of a cultural sea change within the U.S. armed services after years of condoning the cigarette addictions of generations of enlisted men and women.

Until the Vietnam War, cigarettes were part of military meal rations: a few smokes served with green tins containing breakfast, lunch or dinner.

These days, the anti-smoking message is plastered across bases and websites that urge the country’s 2.2 million warriors to battle their cravings for tobacco, even offering online poker and video games to help soldiers ward off cravings for cigarettes.

Last June, the government’s health plan for military families, TRICARE, launched a telephone help line to dispense anti-smoking advice and counseling.

Under pressure from public health officials and anti-tobacco forces, who say smoking drains military budgets and undermines combat readiness, the Department of Defense has vowed it will eventually go tobacco-free. But the Pentagon has yet to say when.

“There’s been a long history of the tobacco industry integrating itself in the culture of the military,” said Dr. Darryl Hunter, a radiation oncologist who treated military personnel, many of them smokers, for nine years at Travis Air Force Base in California before going to work for Kaiser Permanente.

“Tobacco is the single largest cause of loss of life and health-related expenditures,” said Hunter, who is also an Air Force reservist.

In 2006, military hospitals provided $564 million in services for tobacco-related conditions. The Department of Veterans Affairs spent more than $5 billion in 2008 to treat pulmonary disease, much of it traced to smoking.

While the smoking rate among military personnel has plunged over the years, from 51 percent in 1980 to 30 percent today, it remains at least 10 percent higher than that of civilians.

The proportion of smokers is even higher among military personnel deployed overseas, particularly to such volatile regions as Iraq and Afghanistan, where cigarettes help relieve the stresses of combat and the tedium of duty.

In 2007, the departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs asked the national Institute of Medicine to suggest ways to reduce tobacco use among the enlisted and veterans.

The result was a 2009 report that urged the U.S. military to take the war on tobacco more seriously and produce a comprehensive strategy to curb the use of cigarettes, chew and other tobacco products.

The Navy responded in April by announcing a ban on smoking in submarines.

“Despite our atmosphere purification technology, there are unacceptable levels of secondhand smoke in the atmosphere of a submerged submarine,” Vice Admiral John Donnelly said last year.

Dr. Michael Fiore, a former major in the U.S. Army and director of the Center for Tobacco Research and Intervention at the University of Wisconsin, acknowledged the military’s progress but said it needs to do more.

“Veterans who smoke survive the battlefield,” he said, “only to come back home and die from disease, such as lung cancer, heart attacks, strokes, emphysema — the list goes on.”

FDA to crack down on vendors selling tobacco near institutions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Star Scientific seeks OK on modified Snuff Tobacco

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FDA slaps new warnings on cigarette packs

Cancer, lung disease, stroke, emphysema. Typically, any person would be able to connect these words to one culprit: Cigarettes. However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration believes Americans are too uninformed to understand smoking cigarettes is a harmful habit. To further assist citizens in making the healthy choice not to smoke, the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act has prompted a new law to include large graphic images and macabre writing on cigarette packages. Effective on June 22 next year, the images will cover 50 percent of the cigarette pack and portray a series of nine graphic photos illustrating the correlation of cigarette smoking and health related problems, according to fda.gov.

I must admit, I was originally quite fond of this educational promotion and proud of the FDA for stepping up against the big bad art cigarettes warningcigarette companies. However, my opinion soon took a turn after I perused the FDA site to get a better look at what these images actually entail. Some of my favorites include a photo of a toe-tagged man in a morgue, a gentleman smoking out of his tracheotomy tube and a pale-faced, emaciated woman dying from cancer in her hospital bed.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that smoking is harmful, but ultimately, the choice to engage in the habit is the decision of the individual. For the past several decades, cigarettes and their loyal users have been the focus of public scorn. Generally speaking, people who smoke them are socially ostracized. This shouldn’t give the FDA reason to depict such horrific and repulsive images on packages of cigarettes. With this logic, perhaps we should apply the tactic to everything unhealthy and dangerous. Imagine a picture of a gastric bypass surgery or the belly of an obese man on the cover of a McDonald’s hamburger wrapper. I wonder how the public would react if it saw a photo of a rotten liver or fatal car accident covering 50 percent of a wine bottle.

This shock-and-awe system we’ve developed doesn’t work. Where outrage is expected, we only find further desensitization. As slasher films, hip-hop songs and video games have demonstrated, we are no longer alarmed by graphic depictions. In fact, we have become numb to them. I believe the simplest measures are often the most effective. The small black and white lettering on the side of cigarette boxes is enough to inform the public it should steer clear.

Understandably, these provocative and downright disturbing advertisements are aimed to deter teenagers from succumbing to their smoking curiosities. And I’m not a bit surprised: “Every day, 4,000 young people try cigarettes for the first time and 1,000 continue to smoke,” according to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

Sticking a photograph of a dead smoker on the front of a cigarette pack is not the route the FDA should explore. Applying this ideology to other risky activities teenagers are prone to illuminates the obscenity of it all. For instance, teenagers are likely well aware of the dangers of artificial tanning; however, the FDA released studies stating 40 to 60 percent of young girls used a tanning bed within the last year, according to an article by The Associated Press. Regardless, photos of young women dying from melanoma aren’t posted outside of tanning salons, and for good reason.

Risky lifestyle decisions are inevitable; we don’t need the wet blankets at the FDA using grotesque images to get a point across. If it really wanted to hit smokers where it hurts, go for the wallet. I suggest including a small pamphlet illustrating the amount of money that could be saved if one didn’t buy cigarettes daily. Or perhaps enclose the estimated health costs for those who undergo cancer treatments. This advertisement campaign will surely fail; people will find ways around it. Tossing those idiotic cigarette packs in the trash can and throwing the smokes into a fashionable tin might be one way to combat the ridiculous ploy.

By Paige Nordeen
Thedailyaztec

China’s poor tobacco a systemic problem

A Chinese health official has blamed the alleged shoddy quality of domestic tobacco on the “self-policing” system in China’s tobacco industry, Health News reported Wednesday.

Jiang Yuan, vice director of the tobacco control office with the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (China CDC), made the remark in an interview by Health News, after returning from the ninth Asia Pacific Conference on Tobacco or Health hosted in Australia.

According to a report released on the conference, Chinese cigarettes contain about three times the level of lead, cadmium and arsenic, as well as health threatening heavy metals, when compared with Canadian cigarette brands.

Jiang said the finding was not new and it had already been published in 2009 in a British magazine, but was brought at the conference to encourage China to honor its tobacco control pledge.

Jiang said China’s tobacco products were only subject to inspection from within the industry, and inspections results were not disclosed publicly making supervision less effective.

Jiang said, as a member country to WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, China should have contaminants of tobacco tested and results disclosed.

In response to a Canadian researcher’s claim that China may face an unprecedented public health catastrophe caused by tobacco use, Jiang said “It’s no exaggeration.”

He said China has a smoking population of 300 million, and 540 million others exposed to second-hand smoking, and only 16 percent of smokers were willing to quit. Besides, while the smoking population in developed countries has begun dropping, China’s was still swelling and younger people and women were starting to take up the habit.

“Only with tough measures, could China avoid a public health catastrophe,” said Jiang, also calling on China to take the message from the conference as a wake-up call.

Source: Xinhua

Canada freezes big anti-tobacco push

Canada has frozen long-held plans to slap graphic new warning labels on packs of cigarettes, prompting critics to attack what they see as the tobacco industry’s excessive influence on the minority Conservative government.

The federal health ministry spent six years devising the new campaign and agreeing on the details with the country’s 10 provinces, which administer the public healthcare system. Earlier this month, Ottawa told the provinces the plan was on hold.

“Health Canada continues to examine the renewal of health warning messages on tobacco packaging but is not ready to move forward at this time,” a spokeswoman told Reuters on Tuesday.

She also referred to recent law and order measures designed to cut the production and sale of contraband tobacco — a key demand of the industry.

Since 2001, all cigarette packs — which cannot be displayed openly in stores — have carried graphic warning labels covering half the surface of the package, aimed at telling people of the health risks of smoking and getting them to quit.

Anti-smoking campaigners say the labels are tired and need to be upgraded and increased in size.

The official opposition Liberal Party said statistics showed that since the Conservatives took office in 2006, the rate at which Canadians have quit smoking has declined.

“This government is listening to the business lobby, the tobacco lobby,” said legislator Ujjal Dosanjh, who was federal minister of health when the consultations were launched.

“The illegal tobacco traffic … is important. But you can’t take your eyes off this particular problem,” he told Reuters, saying the government could easily fight tobacco smuggling while ensuring the warning labels were more graphic.

Meghan Leslie of the left-leaning New Democrats said the the decision to freeze the anti-smoking campaign and the focus on contraband cigarettes “say to me that this is not about health … this is about industry, at the expense of people’s health, perhaps at the expense of people’s lives”.

“I would have expected that large warnings would be announced by now … the government hasn’t really given a clear reason why and I can’t conceive of a good reason why,” said Rob Cunningham of the Canadian Cancer Society.

Major producers of tobacco sold in Canada include R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co (RAI.N), Japan Tobacco’s (2914.T) JTI-Macdonald unit, Rothmans Benson & Hedges Inc, which is partly owned by Philip Morris (PM.N) and Imperial Tobacco Canada Ltd, a unit of British American Tobacco (BATS.L).

Imperial Tobacco spokesman Eric Gagnon said contraband tobacco costs the industry between C$900 million ($875 million) and C$1 billion a year and undermined a host of regulations, as well as cutting into tax revenues.

Waterpipes are popular, especially with young men

Waterpipes, or hookahs, have long been used for smoking tobacco in the Middle East, North Africa and parts of Asia, and “hookah waterpipeslounges” have been increasingly popping up in the U.S. and other Western countries in recent years. Studies suggest they are particularly popular with college students.

In the new study, reported in the journal Pediatrics, researchers found that among 871 Montreal residents between the ages of 18 and 24, 23 percent said they had used a waterpipe in the past year.

That rate is three times that found in an earlier survey of Canadian adults in the same age group, the researchers say.

It is also similar to what some recent studies in the U.S., Australia and Europe have shown. A 2008 study of students at one U.S. university, for example, found that nearly half had ever used a waterpipe, while 20 percent had done so in the past month.

The current study adds to the picture by showing which young adults may be most attracted to waterpipe smoking: 18- to 20-year old English-speaking men from higher-income homes.

“Water-pipe users may represent a more-privileged group of young people with the leisure time, resources, and opportunities to use water-pipes,” write the researchers, led by Dr. Jennifer O’Loughlin of the University of Montreal.

Waterpipe users in the study were also more likely than non-users to smoke cigarettes, binge-drink or use other drugs, particularly marijuana. Three-quarters of waterpipe users said they had smoked marijuana in the past year, versus 35 percent of non-users.

According to O’Loughlin, many of these waterpipe users may mistakenly view the habit as a “safe” way to smoke.

“The popularity of waterpipes may be due in part to perceptions that they are safer than cigarettes,” she said in a written statement. “However, waterpipe smoke contains nicotine, carbon monoxide, carcinogens and may contain greater amounts of tar and heavy metals than cigarette smoke.”

Waterpipes consist of a long tube attached to a glass or plastic container that holds water in its base. The tobacco, which is flavored with fruits and sugar syrup, is burned using charcoal. Because the smoke passes through the water before inhalation, waterpipe smokers commonly — but mistakenly — believe that the harmful substances in tobacco smoke are filtered out.

Past studies have shown that waterpipe smoking can increase heart rate and blood pressure, as well as impair lung function — though it is still unclear how the habit might affect the long-term risks of heart disease and cancer.

While the potential public-health impact of waterpipe smoking is not yet known, O’Loughlin’s team writes, “more in-depth surveillance of apparently increasing use is required.”

Greater efforts to dispel the perception that waterpipes are safe may also be needed, according to the researchers.

SOURCE: Pediatrics, June 2010.

Cigarette companies object to pictorial warnings

The implementation of pictorial warnings on cigarette packs in the local market has reached a deadlock with manufacturers saying that rotational pictures would mean huge costs.

Manufacturers have said that they would have to incur extra printing costs to have five rotational pictures as warnings on the cigarette packets throughout the year and would force them to increase cigarette prices.

According to the Director-General of Emirates Standardisation and Metrology Authority (ESMA), Mohammed Badri, several manufacturers have objected to the concept of having more than one picture warning. “They are not comfortable with the concept of rotating pictures because of the huge costs involved and have asked for changes in the design,” he said.

The recently passed federal No Tobacco Law stipulates that all tobacco products, including cigarette packets, should display pictorial warnings on 50 per cent of the product before
being marketed.

Though the World Health Organisation requires that the warnings cover 30 per cent of the product, the GCC authority for specifications requires display on 50 per cent of the product.

“The manufacturers are also not agreeing to the 50 per cent display,” said Badri. He said another meeting scheduled for next month would decide what course of action would be taken on this protest. Commenting on the decision of the manufacturers/traders, Dr Wedad Al Maidoor, Head of the National Tobacco Control Committee at the Ministry of Health, said, “This is not up to them to decide.

“The specifications are part of the law and all companies need to abide by the law eventually.”

She said several companies have objections to operating in the local market despite the fact that they have already been complying with such regulations in other parts of the world. “Australia demands that 75 per cent of the packs be covered, and companies do it,” she said. Many of the objections were just delaying tactics.

“The companies are just pressuring the authorities but it will not work,” she added.

A local manufacturer said that adding pictures would mean increasing costs by at least 20 per cent. “We need special colour printers and scanning facilities,” said a representative of a Fujairah-based company manufacturing a brand available locally and for export as well.

He, however, said more than the printing costs, the annually increasing price of tobacco is a source of concern. “Each year, tobacco prices go up by 30-35 per cent and if we are forced to increase even 25 fils per packet a year, the customers will feel the pinch,” said the representative who did not wish
to be named.

He also said that if the law required the changes, they would implement them without delay. “All we want is that the law should be the same for all companies,” he added.

Brooksville backs away from tobacco restrictions

BROOKSVILLE – City council members backed away from a policy that would require all employees to eventually be tobacco free.smoke cigarettes

How strict the policy might extend, however, remains to be seen.

During a public meeting today, Brooksville council members voiced their opposition to various parts of a proposed tobacco policy, citing concerns of how far it went into restricting employees’ habits while outside of work.

While Vice Mayor Richard Lewis and councilman Joe Bernardini both opposed restricting tobacco use in employees’ personal vehicles, councilmen Frankie Burnett and Joe Johnston III went further in opposing the policy — stating it went too far when addressing employees’ tobacco use when off duty.

Under the proposed policy, current employees would have one year to quit using tobacco while new employees would have to sign an agreement that they don’t use tobacco products and won’t start after the start of their employment. Currently new hires in the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office have to sign similar agreements.

Burnett, who admits he smokes, said it’s not the place of government to dictate what an employee does once he or she is off the clock and leaves city property.

“If we do do it, it should be about having a tobacco-free workplace,” Burnett said. “But what an employee does in their own home or cars? No, I don’t agree with that.”

All four councilmen however did support other aspects of the policy, such as making city properties and vehicles tobacco free.

Mayor Lara Bradburn, who is a staunch supporter of creating a tobacco-free policy, said the purpose of the policy isn’t to allow government to dictate what employees can do in their personal lives. Instead, she said the purpose is to promote healthy living, lessen healthcare costs for taxpayers and establish a provision that’s been in effect in the private sector for many years.

“Decreasing healthcare costs for taxpayers is a plus, but the better, overall health of our employees is the biggest gain,” Bradburn said. “I’ll tell you, I don’t like smoking and I don’t like to be around smoking. I watched my mother whither away — and I can tell you she’d be upset with a policy like this.”

However, City Planner Steven Gouldman, who smokes, criticized the proposed policy and said the process to survey employees about the policy was misleading and the data isn’t accurate.

He said most of the data presented was to create a tobacco free workplace. However, hidden in the data he said it creates provisions that affect employees’ personal lives. “The only way most people would even know about this is because it was in the newspaper,” Gouldman said. “I oppose this policy, not just because I’m a smoker.”

He added that a survey of employees is misleading, both the questions to employees and how staff used the results to verify their findings and questioned what other recommendations have been made based off of poor information put before council.

Bradburn agreed and said more data would be collected before council reexamines the issue.

“I think we can agree that there are elements of this data that could be a bit better,” Bradburn said. “I think our folks definitely have some things to work on.”

By JEFF SCHMUCKER
April 19, 2010

Experts warn that new “smoke-less” tobacco products are still dangerous

DULUTH – The tobacco industry is offering new products and finding new ways to attract and keep customers. However, health advocates say the new products are just as dangerous, and the customers are getting younger and younger.

“Most 6-year-olds, if you queried them, they would know who Joe Camel is,” said Michele Hughes of the Douglas County Health Department.

Now, with the introduction of new smokeless tobacco alternatives, there are new ways that young adults can get hooked to nicotine.

“They’re out there as the ‘good guy’ or look, these aren’t quite as harmful, but indeed these are deadly products that lead to a lifetime of addiction and this is an industry that is out for our youth,” said Pat McKone of the American Lung Association of Minnesota.

Many new tobacco products are more appealing to younger customers, with bright packaging, candy flavors and the illusion of a “safer” nicotine delivery source. McKone warns that these products are tricks.

The alternative products include forms of snuff, chewing tobacco, e-cigarettes or snus, which are spit-less tobacco pouches that users place under their upper lip.

“These products are to enable people to keep using nicotine and nicotine delivery systems until they can get out to smoke,” said McKone.

The popularity of these products has increased as more states have adopted smoking bans for workplaces and businesses. Minnesota’s ban is already in place and in July, Wisconsin will follow suit.

“80% of current adult smokers started between the ages of 14 and 15 years old so if we can not get those kids access to tobacco, that’d be very good,” added Hughes

With the continuing push of new tobacco products, health professionals say it’s more important than ever to educate young people.

“They aren’t safer,” said Hughes, “I mean you can ingest them as well and get stomach cancer. Any kind of tobacco has carcinogenic side effects.” In addition to stomach cancer, some of the new products have also been linked to oral and pancreatic cancer.

By Tracee Tolentino & photojournalist Adam Jagunich, FOX 21 News

Cigar store owners say tobacco tax is deadly to business

WICHITA, Kansas — The state taxation committee may vote Thursday on whether to recommend an increase in the tobacco tax.

The tax includes a $.55 tax on a pack of cigarettes but also a hefty tax on cigars.

The Humidor, cigar shop and lounge in west Wichita just opened up in November but owner Jason Webster fears an increase in the tobacco tax may force his entire investment to go up in smoke.

“With the way they have it written right now we would be gone there’s no way to stay in business if this goes through,” said Webster.

The bill would raise the tax on cigars from 10% to 40% enough to force even loyal customers like Joe Rulo to take his business to the internet.

“I would rather not do that, I would rather support my local businesses,” said Rulo.

In addition in July, store owners would have to pay a 30% tax on the retail price of every cigar in stock. For Webster, that would mean writing a check for tens of thousands of dollars.

“We can’t pass that through to the customers,” said Webster. “They won’t pay it. They’ll go on line. The state will lose all of the revenue instead of just a portion.”

Still the state estimates the tax could raise $69.5 million for the state’s strapped budget.

And health advocates argue a tax would reduce smoking rates especially among teenagers.

“When you increase the tobacco tax you increase the chances that someone will quit smoking or simply won’t pick up a pack of cigarettes because they can’t afford it,” said Diane Tinker of the American Lung Association.

She says the tax would save healthcare costs as well.

But business owners like Webster argue customers will only go somewhere else, killing his business and further sickening the Kansas economy.

Webster has sent out a mass e-mail urging all of his customers to contact their lawmakers and voice their concerns.

Bay Area Smokers Beware; a Crackdown Is in the Air

It was a typical photo of teenage mischief, posted on MySpace last fall, featuring four cheerleaders from California High School in San Ramon at a party. The event did not happen on campus or during class hours, but when the coach saw the picture, her reaction was swift: two-week suspensions from the squad.

The girls’ crime: smoking from a hookah — not any illegal drug either, but tobacco.

“The girls admitted to smoking tobacco,” said Eileen Mantz, the school’s athletic director. “This just holds them and their parents accountable.”

Ms. Mantz said the city had begun a new antismoking effort, and San Ramon is not alone. Plans are being advanced elsewhere in the area to up the ante against tobacco by punishing those even tangentially connected with smoking, like movie studios, and in some cases singling out those previously considered victims of cigarette companies.

To be on the California High cheerleading squad, the girls had signed a code of conduct that bans use or possession of “alcohol, controlled substances, steroids” and tobacco. Such contracts are common at schools, but enforcement based on an Internet photo revealed how intense the antismoking mood has become.

Caitlin Kawaguchi, a student reporter at Cal High, broke the story for the school paper, which then grabbed headlines on a national student journalism Web site. The fact that cheerleaders smoked, Ms. Kawaguchi said, was not a sign tobacco is hip on campus. “There’s really not a lot of pressure to smoke,” she said.

Still, two weeks without pompoms is a light sentence compared with what smokers in San Francisco may soon face.

To fight secondhand fumes, San Francisco is considering a ban on smoking outside within 15 feet of building entrances and places like A.T.M. lines and cafes.

In dense neighborhoods, plentiful in a city where buildings adjoin one another, smokers would be kicked to the curb, forced to stand near traffic. Business owners would be required to enforce the new rules and shoo away smokers outside their buildings.

Dr. Mitch Katz, director of the San Francisco Department of Public Health, disagreed that such a policy represented a shift toward punishing smokers, and said it was not a step toward making smoking itself illegal.

“I believe in the Christian doctrine of don’t hate the smoker, hate the smoke,” Dr. Katz said.

He admitted that issuing fines would be problematic, but estimated that 90 percent of smokers would comply with the law.

Supervisor Eric Mar, sponsor of the proposal, said it was clear that attention was shifting to smokers, though he considers it tough love. “That’s exactly what it is,” Mr. Mar said.

Brian Millett, a smoker visiting San Francisco from rural Arcata, said the city’s concern about what passers-by inhaled was specious. “I don’t think it’s any more pollution than is coming out of these cars,” Mr. Millett said.

Smoking has no greater enemy than Dr. Stanton A. Glantz, director of the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at the University of California, San Francisco. The entrance to Dr. Glantz’s office memorializes the timeline of the campaign against one of the world’s deadliest — and preventable — killers.

Dr. Glantz led the way to hold tobacco companies accountable for profiting from smoking, and did the same with Hollywood, helping expose and end product-placement deals that promoted cigarette brands in movies. His current Smoke Free Movies campaign wants films that include smoking to receive R ratings, which might substantially hurt their box office receipts.

“That’s the whole idea,” Dr. Glantz said.

His campaign has also bought full-page ads in Variety and The Hollywood Report to try to undermine “Avatar” in its quest for Academy Awards because of smoking in the film. When asked if his crusade cost the movie a recent Producers Guild award, Dr. Glantz said, “I hope so.”

“You shouldn’t be promoting addiction and death to 7-year-olds.” he said. “The movies are the largest single reason kids start to smoke.”

But Dr. Glantz’s fiery demeanor changed when he was told about the cheerleaders’ punishment. Suddenly, he appeared skeptical. It reminded him, he said, of efforts to prevent minors from smoking by making it difficult for them to buy cigarettes.

“We’ve shown it didn’t work,” he said.

Not every fire, or desire, can be snuffed by laws.

By SCOTT JAMES, Nytimes
February 18, 2010

Tobacco threat contained but not extinguished

Physicians and other public health advocates fighting in the tobacco wars have claimed some major victories in recent months but also have seen reminders of the need to remain vigilant against the onslaught of a committed foe.

Soon after the June 22, 2009, enactment of a landmark tobacco regulation law, some members of Big Tobacco launched the first of an expected series of legal challenges in an attempt to weaken the flanks of the statute. Anticipating this tactic, public health champions stepped up to defend the law and the public it was designed to protect.

The outcome of the first big skirmish in the courts was decidedly in favor of the public’s well-being. A federal trial court in Kentucky ruled in November 2009 that tobacco firms could not use a First Amendment-rights argument to claim that the Food and Drug Administration’s new authority over the industry’s questionable marketing practices went too far. Instead, the court affirmed the argument that the massive threat posed by the No. 1 cause of preventable death in the U.S. made it clear that the government was well within its rights to take a strong stand on behalf of consumers everywhere.

The tobacco companies involved in the lawsuit claimed that better enforcement of laws already on the books before June 2009 would be sufficient. But the government has tried that time and time again, and typically, the tobacco industry showed its willingness and ability to slip out of the grasp of any regulation that came its way. All the while, smoking-related health conditions continued to worsen, more kids got hooked on nicotine, and more people died.

This time around, it won’t be so easy for the cigarette makers to escape their responsibilities.

A January ruling from the same Kentucky district court affirmed that the FDA was on solid ground in requiring larger warning labels on tobacco products and banning the sale of “light” products without prior federal approval. The decision validated some of the most significant elements of the landmark regulation statute and hobbled the ability of tobacco firms to continue misleading consumers.

Even though these were some big wins for public health, complacency is not an option for patient advocates.

The tobacco industry has such a strong economic interest in crippling the new statute that it likely will appeal any court decisions that don’t go its way. But physicians and the legal firepower at their disposal — including the Litigation Center of the American Medical Association and State Medical Societies — have an even stronger interest in protecting the law: the health and lives of their patients. Expect these advocates to continue to fight as long as it takes, even if that road eventually leads to the highest court in the land.

It should be noted that the outcomes have not gone entirely in favor of the public’s health. In the January ruling, the Kentucky district court declined to dismiss the First Amendment challenge to FDA restrictions against marketing cigarettes as safe products simply because the government is regulating them more tightly. The judges also sided with the industry on the issue of restricting color and graphics in tobacco advertising, which have been used to entice many young children to light up their first smokes and fall into addiction.

Still, there are reasons to be optimistic that public health advocates will prevail in protecting effective FDA regulation. As things stand, none of the challenges to the bill so far has targeted the heart of the statute: the affirmation that the FDA has the authority to regulate tobacco. Instead, the threats have been coming from the sides, on unrelated free-speech and marketing issues.

That said, a well-delivered blow to the flank is a well-established and highly effective maneuver. Recent events show that some members of Big Tobacco know this tactic well. Fortunately, so do advocates for the public’s health.
American Medical News.
Februar 15, 2010

FDA concerned dissolvable tobacco appeals to kids

The Food and Drug Administration is saying in letters to two tobacco companies that flavored, dissolvable tobacco products _ that the agency compares with candy and says contain a lot of nicotine _ could be particularly appealing to kids and young adults.

The FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products wrote to R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., maker of Camel cigarettes, and the smaller Star Scientific Inc. on Monday voicing concern over smokeless products that are consumed like breath mints but made from finely milled tobacco.

“CTP is concerned that children and adolescents may find dissolvable tobacco products particularly appealing, given the brightly colored packaging, candy-like appearance and easily concealable size of many of these products,” Dr. Lawrence Deyton, director of the Center for Tobacco Products, told the companies.

Deyton said regulators are worried the products’ nicotine content and rapid dissolution could cause nicotine dependence and addiction and be especially dangerous to children and young adults.

He asked the two best known makers of dissolvable tobacco products to provide their research and marketing information on how people under age 26 perceive and use the products.

Exercising new power to regulate tobacco that the FDA was granted in June, Deyton also requested research on misuse of the products, including potential accidental nicotine poisoning.

Regulators also want a summary of user demographics, including at what age “tobacco-naive consumers” start using the products.

The products are available in few markets and account for a small share of the tobacco industry.

Star Scientific, based in Petersburg, Va., markets its Ariva and Stonewall tablets in wintergreen, coffee and tobacco flavors. The first versions appeared about nine years ago.

R.J. Reynolds, which is owned by Reynolds American Inc. in Winston-Salem, N.C., is test-marketing dissolvable tablets, strips and a toothpick shape under the names Camel Orbs, Camel Strips and Camel Sticks in mint and other flavors.

The Orbs last about 15 minutes, the strips dissolve in five minutes or less and the sticks, which are slightly bigger than toothpicks, last 15 to 20 minutes.

The FDA is seeking the information as its Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee prepares to study the issue later this year.

Reynolds spokesman David Howard said that company is reviewing the FDA’s request and plans to help regulators evaluate the products.

“Our products are made for, and marketed to, adult tobacco consumers,” Howard said. He said dissolvable items are sold on the same shelves as other tobacco products and carry the same warnings and age restrictions.

Star Scientific, which has been involved in a patent dispute over some of the technology behind its dissolvable products, disagrees with the FDA’s characterization of them and looks forward to speaking with regulators, spokeswoman Sara Troy Machir said.

“The challenge that we have faced in attempting to meet the needs of adult smokers … is to develop a product that is palatable to the customer while at the same time not making it attractive to the non-tobacco user,” she said

Machir said flavors are added to the products to make them taste less harsh.

Tobacco companies are focusing on cigarette alternatives _ such as cigars, snuff and chewing tobacco, as well as other forms of nicotine replacement _ for future sales growth as demand for cigarettes continue to decline.

Cigarette litter hotline gets a makeover

An anti-littering campaign that nearly flickered out two years ago has been revived with a makeover that allows for better tracking of motorists who toss cigarettes out of their cars.

The Cigarette Litter Hotline also has expanded from San Diego County to Orange, Riverside and Imperial counties.

“Once established, this really is a model that can be rolled out regionally, statewide and even in other states,” said Ken David, a spokesman for the local chapter of the nonprofit Surfrider Foundation, which operates the program with volunteers.

The group took over the hotline in July 2008 after county officials discontinued it, said local Surfrider chairman Manase Mansur.

Cigarette butts are regarded as the most-littered item in the world and are found on beaches by the hundreds of thousands nationwide. During rainstorms like those that battered the region this week, they are swept by storm drains to the ocean, where they harm sea life. They also can cause fires if they are tossed into dry brush.

Surfrider announced its upgrades yesterday. The improvements allow the California Highway Patrol to more easily send warning letters to people who have been anonymously reported to a toll-free number. The system relies on residents spotting “litterbutts” and calling in a license plate number along with the time and place of the incident.

The new electronic reporting program developed by Surfrider replaces the time-consuming process of tracking calls with paper records and handing them to the CHP, which then issued the warnings.

“We’ll be able to have more accurate information and send out more letters than we were able to before,” said CHP officer Mary Bailey in San Diego.

CHP doesn’t issue citations to people who are reported on the hotline, but officers do hand out tickets if they see people flicking butts from cars or trucks. Penalties can include a fine up to $1,000 and eight hours of community service picking up litter. Tossed cigarettes that cause fires may lead to felony charges.

“We need the eyes of the public to identify smokers that are endangering public safety by tossing lit cigarettes from vehicles,” said Chief Gary Dominguez of CHP’s Southern California division.

The hotline started in 2004 as a cooperative effort between county health officials, the local chapter of the American Lung Association and others. It averaged about 1,100 calls a month for at least three years, in part because concerned motorists programmed the old phone number into their cell phones to make reporting easier.

“People are very passionate about this,” said Debra Kelley, a top official at the lung association office in San Diego. “I think it’s the whole concept of careless, irresponsible smokers … who think the world is their ashtray. It’s just an affront.”

The hot line closed in mid-2008. Surfrider adopted the program and quickly opened up a new line.

“Once it became apparent that there were no more government funds, our Surfrider executive committee said this is just too important of an issue and too important of a tool to let it drop,” Mansur said.

He said the county had been spending about $50,000 a year on the program but he expects Surfrider can run it for about half that cost using volunteers and the new reporting system.

The number of calls dwindled to about 700 recently while Surfrider slowed its advertising and upgraded the system. Mansur expects calls will increase now that the program is back in the public eye, and he’s looking at installing a voice transcription system that will speed processing.

Kelley thanked Surfrider for taking over the program. “We were one of the parents of the baby and we gave it up for adoption,” she said. “It’s in a happy home now.”

Push for cigarette-like warnings on mobiles

A move by legislators in the US state of Maine to require brain-cancer warnings on mobile phones is expected to trigger a worldwide response, the Australian industry has said.

A Democrat state representative, Andrea Boland, wants new mobile phones to carry health warnings like those on cigarettes and is pushing ahead with the legislation despite a lack of scientific consensus.

The Australian industry expects a wave of concern when the legislation is debated this month.

Ms Boland said she understood that radiation from mobile phones increased the risk of brain cancer, especially for those under 18, and her opinion was reinforced by a 2006 study by the Swedish National Institute for Working Life showing a correlation between brain tumours and heavy mobile phone use.

“The main thing is that the warning labels get on there, and when people go to purchase something they have a heads-up that they need to really think about it,” Ms Boland said.

“This is a big important industry, and it’s a small modification to assure people that they should handle them properly.”

Randal Markey, the manager of communications for the Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association, said it was understandable that people would have concerns about mobile phones because of their experience with health controversies such as tobacco and asbestos.

“We do not expect everyone to accept our assurances about mobile phone safety,” he said.

“Our industry relies on the expert opinion of international health agencies for an overall assessment of health and safety issues.

“There is no established evidence that radio frequency exposure within internationally accepted safety limits causes adverse health effects.”

The World Health Organisation’s Interphone study, a decade-long investigation into the health implications of mobile phone use, remains unpublished.

In 2005 WHO said studies had found “no convincing evidence of an increased cancer risk” from mobile phones or their towers.

Mr Markey said if people were concerned, there were practical steps that could reduce exposure including using a hands-free kit or loudspeaker, text messages and limiting the length or number of calls.

In Australia there are more than 22 million mobile phones.

In the 11 months until November, more than 8.35 million handsets were brought into Australia – down slightly on 2007’s record 9.3 million – and although some were slated for distribution around the Pacific, most were for sale here.

Turkish Cigarette Makers Seek a Legal Ban on Enlarged Graphic Warnings

In July, Turkey banned smoking in public places, becoming just the 7th country throughout Europe to approve anti-smoking policy.
The legislation was highly opposed by both smokers and bar owners, and even led to one death, when a bar owner was killed after he had asked one of the customers to put out his cig.

However, Turkish authorities attempting to consolidate their regulatory authority over tobacco industry obliged local cigarette producers to place graphic and written health warnings on cigarette packs covering more than 60 percent of the area of packs. The ordinance has been expected to become valid on January 1, 2010. However, the local cigarette makers had no intention to give up and comply with the upcoming law.
Mahmud Kadaglu, Chairman of the National Health Committee has declared that major tobacco companies, Philip Morris International and British American Tobacco have agreed to submit a collective suit to the Council of State (the Supreme Court in Turkey) to reduce the obligatory size of the graphic health warnings.

The plaintiffs suggest that the obligation of placing that the requirement of putting graphic images on cigarette packs in an effort to lower smoking rates by showing the severe health complications related to smoking will hurt competitive landscape in the industry. The mandatory size of new warnings is at least 65 percent of the packs, according to the cigarette-makers, what would oblige them to remove the logos of their products from the packages as there would be no space for those logos. The plaintiffs also claim that the latest regulation violates their commercial free speech rights, established by World Trade Organization and ratified by Turkey.

The NHS Chairman said that have invited doctors from all spheres of medicine, to take part in the lawsuit as witnesses. He said that tobacco giants have required a delay in execution of the law as long as the case is pending in the Council of State, and added that the latest legislation is not an infringement of international trade laws, mentioning that they are confident that the Council of State will reject the law suit or rule in favor of National Health Committee.

Mahmud Kadaglu as well declared that the health warnings covering at least 65 percent of the packs do not violate WTO standards, according to which it is permitted to cover at least 50 percent of the packs area.
He said it is inadmissible that the plaintiffs are willing to bereave Turkey of its right to protect the health of its residents whereas other nations successfully implement such policies without any difficulties and obstacles from tobacco companies.
According to numerous studies, placing graphic warnings of health consequences of smoking is an effective strategy and helps reduce smoking rates by approximately 5 percent.
The first hearing regarding the lawsuit would be held next week in Istanbul.

Pa. cuts funding for tobacco prevention programs

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Pennsylvania has cut state funding for tobacco prevention programs by 45 percent in the past year, dropping from 26th to 34th in the nation in funding programs to prevent kids from smoking and help smokers quit, according to a national report released Dec. 9 by a coalition of public health organizations.

Pennsylvania spends $19.0 million a year on tobacco prevention and cessation programs, including $17.7 million in state funds and the rest from a federal grant. This total is just 12.2 percent of the $155.5 million recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Last year, Pennsylvania ranked 26th, spending $33.2 million on tobacco prevention.

Other key findings for Pennsylvania include:

• In the past year, Pennsylvania has cut state funding for its tobacco prevention program by 45 percent, from $32.1 million to $17.7 million. This is one of the largest cuts of any state.

• Pennsylvania this year will collect $1.43 billion from the 1998 tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes, but will spend just 1.3 percent of it on tobacco prevention programs.

• The tobacco companies spend $533.9 million a year to market their products in Pennsylvania. This is 28 times what the state spends on tobacco prevention.

The annual report on states’ funding of tobacco prevention programs, “A Broken Promise to Our Children: The 1998 State Tobacco Settlement 11 Years Later,” was released by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, American Heart Association, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Lung Association and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

“Pennsylvania has taken a big step backward this year and is one of the most disappointing states when it comes to funding programs to protect kids from tobacco,” said Matthew L. Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. “Pennsylvania’s leaders need to step up the fight against tobacco by increasing the tobacco tax and restoring funding for tobacco prevention. Even in these difficult budget times, tobacco prevention is a smart investment that reduces smoking, saves lives and saves money by reducing tobacco-related health care costs.”

In Pennsylvania, 17.5 percent of high school students smoke, and 16,100 more kids become regular smokers every year. Each year, tobacco claims 20,000 lives and costs the state $5.2 billion in health care bills.

Eleven years after the 1998 state tobacco settlement, the new report finds that the states this year are collecting record amounts of revenue from the tobacco industry, but are spending less of it on tobacco prevention.

Key national findings of the report include:

• The states this year will collect $25.1 billion from the tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes, but will spend just 2.3 percent of it — $567.5 million — on tobacco prevention programs. It would take less than 15 percent of their tobacco revenue to fund tobacco prevention programs in every state at CDC-recommended levels.

• In the past year, states have cut funding for tobacco prevention programs by more than 15 percent, or $103.4 million.

• Only one state — North Dakota — currently funds a tobacco prevention program at the CDC-recommended level.

• Only nine other states fund prevention programs at even half the CDC-recommended amount, while 31 states and DC are providing less than a quarter of the recommended funding.

The report warns that the nation’s progress in reducing smoking is at risk unless states increase funding for programs to prevent kids from smoking and help smokers quit.

The United States has significantly reduced smoking among both youth and adults, but the CDC’s most recent survey showed that smoking declines among adults have stalled.

Currently 20 percent of high school students and 20.6 percent of adults smoke. Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in the U.S., killing more than 400,000 people and costing $96 billion in health care bills each year. Every day, another 1,000 kids become regular smokers — one-third of them will die prematurely as a result.

States cut funding for tobacco prevention

RICHMOND, Va. — States cut funding for state tobacco prevention programs more than 15 percent this year, pushing it further than ever below federally recommended levels, according to a report that a coalition of public health groups is releasing Wednesday.

The states will spend $567.5 million of their own money and $62 million in federal grants on programs to prevent tobacco use — about 17 percent as much as the $3.7 billion the federal Centers for Disease Control recommends, the report says.

Thirty-four states and the District of Columbia trimmed funding for such programs this year. New York cut the most at $25.2 million, or 31 percent, the report said.

“All the states are struggling to figure out how they’re going to keep services whole in their states, and there are no easy places left to look,” said Debra Miller, director of health policy for the Council of State Governments.

States will collect more than $25 billion in a combination of tobacco taxes and legal settlements from the tobacco industry this fiscal year. They will spend about 2.3 percent of that on programs to prevent or stop tobacco use, the report says.

Released by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and several other groups, the report says smoking-related health care costs $95.9 billion annually nationwide.

Tobacco companies agreed in 1998 to settle lawsuits several states brought over smoking-related health care costs by paying them about $206 billion over more than two decades.

The largest U.S. tobacco company, Altria Group Inc. — based in Richmond, Va., and maker of Skoal chewing tobacco and top-selling Marlboros — pays a majority of that. Spokesman David Sutton said states should use more of the settlement money for youth smoking prevention and health-related initiatives.

Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, said states on average have never spent as much the CDC would like, but the total has declined dramatically in recent years.

Only one state — North Dakota — is meeting its CDC recommendation for this year, $9.4 million. Tennessee trails the list, spending only $1.5 million for prevention, compared with the $71.1 million the CDC recommends.

Task Force for tobacco control in Assam

Guwahati: A task force comprising personnel of Guwahati Municipal Corporation and Assam Tobacco Control Cell has been constituted to stop tobacco consumption in the state.

GMC’s chief health officer Dr Banajit Choudhury today said the task force would visit public establishments like hotels, restaurants, discos, bars, libraries, cultural halls, public buildings etc. for monitoring and compliance of the smoke free law.

It has also been decided to advertise in newspapers about the ban on sale of tobacco products to and by minors, sale of tobacco products within 100m of educational institutions and ban on prominent advertisement of tobacco products.

The GMC would select some educational institutions to create awareness in the first phase, Choudhury said adding raids would be conducted near some educational institutions for violation of the law and issue anti tobacco message in Property Tax forms and receipts.



October 14, 2009 Dnaindia