Michigan public smoking ban fizzles..

December 20, 2008 - There will be no statewide ban on smoking in public places -- for now. State lawmakers failed to reach agreement on a ban early this morning, December 19, 2008 leaving anti-smoking advocates bitterly disappointed and a new Legislature to grapple in 2009 with an issue that has wide public support.

In a final, marathon lame duck session that began Thursday morning, the House and Senate could not overcome disagreements over whether to allow smoking in casinos and smoke shops.

“It is a serious disappointment, it’s another signal that Michigan doesn’t quite get it, is not quite ready to step into the 21st Century,” said Rep. Andy Meisner, D-Ferndale, a leading proponent for a smoking ban who acknowledged the issue was dead for this year. “It sends an unfortunate message to the citizens of Michigan that we don’t care about their health, and that there are interests in Lansing that have greater influence than they do.” Meisner said compromise proposals could have passed the House and Senate, but that Democratic and Republican leaders could not agree to allow those votes.

The defeat left smoking ban proponents talking of a 2010 ballot proposal to accomplish it if lawmakers can't. Gov. Jennifer Granholm said she believes the Legislature will conform to "overwhelming" public sentiment next year and pass the ban. But if not, a petition drive is possible. Advocates say 33 other states ban smoking in public places to some degree. They cited numerous studies to argue that a ban would not affect business at bars and restaurants overall.

Reference: Public smoking ban fizzlesby CHRIS CHRISTOFF • FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER, TV20 Detroit, 12/19/2008; Anti-smoking advocates look to 2009 after another bill fails
Those pushing for a workplace ban may pursue more legislation or consider a ballot drive
, Jennifer Mrozowski / The Detroit News, 12/20/2008.

Related news briefs: Will Michigan Pass Smoking Ban Before the End of Year..; Michigan Falls Short Again on Ban in Public Places.. and Michigan Senate Deals Blow To Smoking Ban..; .

WHO -2008 World Cancer Report - global cancer deaths will increase..

December 20, 2008 - The World Health Organization (WHO) released its 2008 World Cancer Report, and the numbers show that developing countries that adopt increasingly Westernized lifestyles and tobacco use are catching up to developed nations in the number of cancer deaths annually.

By 2010 cancer will surpass heart disease, AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis as the leading killer in the world. By 2030 the global cancer deaths are predicted to double. The last time a doubling of cancer rates was seen was between 1975 and 2000.

The report projects that the number of new cancer cases and deaths could more than double in the next twenty years to 27 million people with cancer and 17 million deaths annually.

The burden of cancer is shifting to developing countries such as India, China and Russia, where increasingly a Western lifestyle of smoking, fast and fatty foods and no exercise. Cancer cases and deaths in those countries are expected to see the biggest increases of more than one percent a year.

The types of cancer are evolving too. Japan has doubled or tripled the rates of breast cancer over the last 40 years. China’s breast cancer rates have increased 20 to 30 percent, just in the last decade.

Cervical cancer leads all cancers as the primary cause of cancer deaths in women. Largely preventable and treatable with early intervention, cervical cancer is seen among women in poor regions including many countries of Africa.

Developing countries often do not have the resources to cope with cancer. And as the populations grow and age, the numbers of cancer are expected to rise as well.

Smoking-related cancers such as lung cancer, as well as breast cancer have been increasing up to five percent a year in developing countries.

The export of cigarettes to developing nations, to offset reduced sales in the U.S., are expected to have an impact from the “smoking epidemic” that has yet to been seen. "How can we promote an addictive product that we know causes cancer, emphysema, heart disease, birth defects and other illnesses?" asked Dr. Raymond Scalettar, member of the board of trustees of the American Medical Association criticizing the Bush Administration’s trade policy of fostering exports by U.S. tobacco companies in 1989. "This is not an issue of free trade. It is an issue of public health policy and law."

More than a decade ago, the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (JNCI) predicted that global tobacco-related mortality would rise from 2.5 million to over 10 million by 2050, largely due to tobacco imports and aggressive advertising campaign that target women.

And in developing countries, cancer treatment is just not available for many people. In Africa, many countries also forbid the importation of morphine for pain.

Meanwhile, in the U.S. the rates of some types of cancers have dropped according to a report in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. There were fewer cases of lung, prostate and colorectal cancers among men and women, and among women, lung cancer death rates have leveled off.

The American Cancer Society believes the West must spread what it knows about cancer prevention to the rest of the world by a) promoting the HPV vaccine b) supporting tobacco-control programs and c) promoting culturally sensitive risk-reduction programs. In addition there should be more investment in cancer research and early detection, according to the ACS.

Reference: Exporting Cancer- WHO Global Report On Trends, posted by Jane Akre, InjuryBoard.com, 12/10/2008.

Oregon - smoking ban to expand, prepares for Camel Dissolvables..

December 20, 2008 - Since 2002, the Oregon Smokefree Workplace Law has made most workplaces smokefree. Effective January 1, 2009, a new law will expand the number of indoor workplaces that are required to be smokefree, and prohibit smoking within 10 feet of entrances, exits, windows that open, and ventilation intakes of workplaces and public places.

Oregon health advocates should savor this hard-fought victory, but they will need to get up the next morning and resume the good fight. The tobacco industry is gearing up to trump anti-smoking legislation by peddling new dissolvable nicotine products -- still addictive and risky like cigarettes, but without the smoke. R.J. Reynolds will introduce dissolvable alternatives to cigarettes called Camel Sticks, Camel Orbs and Camel Strips. Camel Dissolvables" head for Portland by The Oregonian editorial board, OregonLive.com, 12/20/2008)

Workplaces and public places that must now be smokefree include but are not limited to:

* Bars and taverns, including bar areas of restaurants
* Bowling centers
* Bingo halls
* Private and fraternal organizations
* Employee break rooms
* Restaurants
* Private offices and commercial office buildings
* Retail and wholesale establishments
* Manufacturing plants and mills
* Truck stops
* Child and adult day-care
* Assisted living facilities
* Movies theaters and indoor entertainment venues
* Hotels and motels (Exception: up to 25% of guest rooms may be designated as smoking rooms by the owner or entity in charge)
* Work vehicles that are not operated exclusively by one employee

That's right - no more smoking in the day care center! There are some exceptions to the new law, but they are few:

* Certified smoke shops
* Cigar bars
* Hotel/motel rooms designated for smokers
* American Indian ceremonies

Employees and the public will be able to report violations of the new law once it takes effect by calling a toll-free number or completing an online complaint form. If your business is caught violating the laws, it can be fined $500/day or $2000 per 30-day period. For more information, including compliance tips, check out the State of Oregon's Smokefree Workplace website.

Reference: Oregon's New Smokefree Workplace Law Takes Effect January 1, 2009, Posted on December 1, 2008 by Dennis Westlind.

Finland - proposal to ban tobacco display, total ban on SNUS..

December 19, 2008 - The Tobacco Policy Working Group of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health restricting the display of tobacco products at retail points and for ending the import of snus (moist snuff).

The Cancer Society of Finland commended the group and summarized the content of the proposal: The removal of tobacco products from where consumers can see them is a reminder that tobacco is not an ordinary consumer product, but one that poses a severe threat of cancer (banning the display of tobacco on open shelves and vending machine sales and criminalizing the sale of tobacco to underaged people). The cancer society hopes that tobacco will become a redundant and pointless product. This would save the lives of some 5,000 people in Finland each year, says Harri Vertio, the general secretary of the Cancer Society. It is natural that the ban on tobacco advertising be extended to include cigarette packs, so that they are not themselves means of advertising brands.

Under Finland's current legislation passengers are allowed to import snuff from Sweden, the only European Union (EU) where snus can be sold, for private use. The Cancer Society of Finland points out that due to the use of snus, men in Sweden are the biggest consumers of tobacco products in Europe. The banning of snus imports is therefore a good thing, because nicotine addiction due to snus use is still relatively minor in Finland.

There have recently been indications that snus is being forced on consumers when there is no spontaneous demand for the product. I am astonished at the negligence shown by politicians on this issue. Snus contains 28 different carcinogens. Why would anyone want to recommend its use in Finland?, says Vertio.

Vertio says that Sweden’s allowance by the EU to continue to produce snus is only on the condition that the product is not distributed to other countries. There is a need at EU level to examine how Sweden is fulfilling its membership obligations.

Dr Matti Rautalahti, who is a specialist member of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health’s working group says that the cancer threat posed by snus has been demonstrated by numerous studies. The most recent of them, published last spring, indicates that snus causes cancer of the mouth and throat. The cancer threat of snus is not a matter of opinion but an established fact, says Rautalahti. Snus triples the danger of mouth and throat cancer. It doubles the threat of cancer of the pancreas. This type of cancer is extremely difficult to treat and carries only a three percent chance of survival after five years.

Reference: Finnish working group proposes total snuff, Nedws Room Finland, 12/18/2008; Cancer Society of Finland lauds ban on snus importsThe Finnish News agency (STT Info), 12/18/2008.

Related news briefs: European Health Commissioner reprimands Astrid Thors for snus liberation campaign..; Aland Islands Dispute Over Sale of SNUS On Board Ships Threatens Finland's Ratification of the EU's Treaty of Lisbon (The Reform Treaty)..; Finnish Ferry Goes Swedish Over Snus Ban.. and EU Takes Finland to Court Again For NOT Banning the Use of Oral Tobacco..


Law Suit Filed Against Philip Morris USA, Inc. - Marlboro Lights..

December 19, 2008 - Law firm files suit against Philip Morris USA, Inc. on behalf of a New York smoker who suffered economic damages as a result of the deceptive marketing of Marlboro Lights cigarettes. Class action status has been requested ‘to benefit all persons in the State of New York who bought Marlboro Lights’. The lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York. (Docket Number: 08-CV-5085).

The lawsuit alleges that, because of misrepresentations made by Philip Morris USA, the plaintiff and members of the class purchased Marlboro Lights cigarettes in order to benefit from a low tar, low nicotine alternative to regular cigarettes, but did not receive those benefits.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday, 12/15/2008 in a 5-4 decision ruled on Monday that a lawsuit involving ‘lights’ cigarettes brought under the Maine Unfair Trade Practices Act, Altria Group, Inc. v. Good, was not barred by federal law.

Murray Garnick, Altria Client Services senior vice president and associate general counsel: "While we had hoped for a dismissal of the Supreme Court case based upon federal pre-emption, it is important to note that the court made no finding of liability. We continue to view these cases as manageable, and the company will assert many of the strong defenses used successfully in the past to defend against this very type of case."

Reference: Parker Waichman Alonso LLP Files Suit Against Philip Morris USA, Inc. on Behalf of a New York Smoker Who Suffered Economic Damages as a Result of the Deceptive Marketing of Marlboro Lights Cigarettes, PRNewswire, 12/18/2008; ‘Lights’ case filed in New York, Tobacco Reporter, 12/19/2008.

Related news briefs: Nik Modi, tobacco analyst with UBS: Supreme Court Case "was a coin flip.."; U.S. Supreme Court Rules Against Big Tobacco..

NY Proposed Budget - calls for 17 cent increase in cigar tax..

December 18, 2008 - Facing a projected $12.5 billion budget shortfall, New York Gov. David Paterson offered a $121.1 billion dollar spending plan Tuesday, December 16, 2008 that proposes many new taxes, includes raising the state cigar tax.

If the 2009-2010 proposed budget were to be approved, New York cigar smokers would be forced to pay 50 cents per cigar - an increase of about 17 cents. The current tax is about 34 cents. This tax increase is predicted to create $10 million in new revenue for the state.

Paterson’s budget also proposes, among other things, a tax rate increase on soda, movie and sporting event tickets, beer and wine, as well as downloaded music. The plan would also cut roughly $9 billion in spending, with projected spending cuts in health care, as well as an actual cut in education.

The proposal, which needs legislative approval, did not include broad-based income tax increases, but relied on smaller ones to raise $4.1 billion from cash-strapped New Yorkers.

Reference: New York Governor Proposes Cigar Tax Hikeby Andrew Nagy, cigaraficionado.com, 12/18/2008; Gov. David Patterson unveils dire New York State budget that includes new taxes. layoffs and cuts by KENNETH LOVETT and GLENN BLAIN, DAILY NEWS ALBANY BUREAU - New York Daily News, 12/17/2008.

U.S. - Children Remain Especially Vulnerable to Secondhand Smoke..

December 18, 2008 - Nearly half of all children in the United States are still exposed to secondhand smoke (SHS, environmental, passive, invountary) each week, according to a new national survey from the American Legacy Foundation®, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Julius B. Richmond Center of Excellence and researchers from Mississippi State University.

The Social Climate Survey of Tobacco found that 42 percent of children are exposed to SHS each week and there are public settings where children could be exposed that are still not smoke-free.

“Children especially deserve smoke-free environments, and all public places where children eat and play should be protected from secondhand smoke,” said Jonathan Klein, M.D., FAAP, director of the American Academy of Pediatrics Julius B. Richmond Center for Excellence. “Adults have the power to make healthier decisions for their children, and there needs to be more done to protect children in homes and cars from the dangers of secondhand smoke,” said Klein.

Other key findings include:

* While 75 percent of U.S households prohibit smoking in the home and car, that leaves 25 percent of American homes and cars unprotected.
* More non-smokers prohibit smoking in the home than smokers.
* More than one quarter of smokers report that their child had been exposed to secondhand smoke in their home.
* Among parents who smoke, only 53.5% prohibit smoking in the home and even fewer (22.5%) prohibit smoking in the family vehicle.
* 8.1 percent of US parents report that their child was exposed to SHS in an indoor public place in the past 7 days.

Over the years, studies have concluded that SHS smoke can be just as harmful as cigarette smoking. It is estimated that SHS exposure causes approximately 3,400 lung cancer deaths annually among adult nonsmokers in the United States. Even more disturbing is the fact that young children who are exposed to SHS are at a higher risk of developing asthma, ear infections and cavities. Infants are at a higher risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).

Reference: National Survey: Children Remain Especially Vulnerable to Secondhand Smoke, Despite Nation's Progress in Clean Indoor Air Policies, 12/16/2008.


Adelaide, Australia cigarettes are being sold at high-end clothing stores and hair salons.

December 18, 2008 - CIGARETTES are being sold at high-end clothing stores and hair salons, in a "tricky and desperate" tactic to lure new young smokers.

A Sunday Mail investigation has discovered smoke company Imperial Tobacco is lavishing trendy Adelaide stores with cash incentives (CASH incentives of up to $2000 a year are offered to stores agreeing to sell cigarettes.)and corporate entertainment (BOOZY lunches and even a swish cruise have been held for businesses which sell the brand.) in return for stocking Peter Stuyvesant brand cigarettes in specially designed cigarette dispensers.

Marketing kits distributed by the tobacco giant to fashion retailers describe cigarettes as being safe and fashionable: "It used to be extremely dangerous. Now the only danger is you're not the coolest cat on the block." (SMOKING is promoted as safe and cool in literature given to targeted fashion outlets, FREE cigarettes are handed out to stockists.)

The activities has prompted calls for a State Government crackdown to ban the practice. Tobacco companies are constantly trying new ways to recruit new smokers. How about this one: In South Africa BAT Marketing Tobacco Products Using Text Messaging..

Reference: Imperial Tobacco offers cash incentives for fashion outlets to sell Peter Stuyvesant cigarettes, by Sam Kelton, The Australian, 12/14/2008.

Virginia Governor Kaine Proposes a 30 cent tax increase in cigarette tax..

December 18, 2008 - Virginia Governor Tim Kaine proposal to increase the cigarette tax as part of a larger plan to address the state's expected $2.9 billion buget shortfall.

The governor indicates further taxing cigarettes only helps to pay for the extra health costs associated with the addiction and could actually encourage smokers to quit. Kaine tied the tax on cigarette users to avoiding :even deeper cuts to the states lean Medicaid program." Adding 30 cents tax per pack (now at 30 cents per pack) would "bring tobacco products closer to paying for the costs that they create for Virginia taxpayers."

Virginia's present 30-cent tax is among the nation's lowest, ranking 47th nationally. Doubling it would move Virginia approximately into a tie for 37th place with Wyoming, seemingly inconsequential to a multinational tobacco giant. In 2004, Virginia's legislature approved a tenfold increase of its 2.5-cent cigarette tax, the nation's lowest at the time (raised to 30 cents in 2005).

Kaine continued, "The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that cigarette smoking causes over $400 million per year in Medicaid expenses for Virginia." His tax proposal would generate $167 million. "In other words, Virginians have to pay another $233 million a year in taxes just to support Medicaid costs related to smoking. I believe that the taxes on smoking should pay for the budget costs incurred because of smoking," Kaine said. "And it may, in fact, reduce our health care costs by encouraging some smokers to quit. That, in and of itself, would be a very good thing."

If approved, the new tax would bring the per-pack tax to 60 cents, which the governor said would put Virginia at about half the national average.

Virginia House Speaker William J. Howell and U.S. Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Richmond) came out agressively (sic) against a potential cigarette tax hike Tuesday, calling the increase “an assault on jobs.” Cantor felt the tax escalation (60 cents from 30 cents per pack) could negatively impact jobs at Richmond-based Philip Morris and its parent company, Altria.

Most counties and cities do not have their own cigarette tax rates because they are prohibited by state law, but there are major exceptions such as the cities and counties in Virginia.

References: Va. governor to propose 30-cent cigarette tax hike, CNNMoney.com, 12/16/2008; Yahoo! Buzz
Cantor steamed over proposed cigarette tax hike
by Allison Brophy Champion, StarExponent.com, 12/17/2008; Howell rips Kaine tax hike (UPDATED AND BUMPED), The Right-Wing Liberal, 12/2008;


States Need Quick Influx of Revenue – Think Tobacco Tax..

December 18, 2008 - At least 29 states plus the District of Columbia face an estimated $48 billion in combined shortfalls in their budgets for fiscal year 2009 (which began July 1, 2008 in most states.) At least three other states expect budget problems in fiscal year 2010.

Rhode Island is facing some tough fiscal and economic times. Its current budget deficit of $357 million is among the largest in the nation (relative to total spending). The budget picture in South Carolina is grim. The State's Comptroller General said recently that corporate income tax collections are down 57 percent, sales tax collections are down by 18 percent, and individual income tax collections are down nearly 3 percent since July 2008. Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear recently stated that internal economic estimates project a revenue shortfall of approximately $294 million in the General Fund in the fiscal year that ends June 30, 2009

Michigan is now facing its most critical financial crisis in decades. The Governor and the legislature are faced with a $3 billion shortfall in 2008. With tax revenues in a virtual free fall, Florida is staring down a budget gap of $3 billion and growing.

Right away legislators want to tackle state budget shortfalls by limiting social programs such as Medicaid funding threatening to leave the state’s most vulnerable populations without access to health services.

How about a tax on tobacco products?? - This is a “win-win” situation for all concerned. As pointed out by Lynn Greaves, VP of the Saskatchewan Coalition for Tobacco Reduction "Tobacco taxation has been the strongest tobacco reduction measure that exists in the world today."

Studies show that every 10 percent increase in the price of cigarettes reduces youth smoking by seven percent and overall cigarette consumption by about four percent.

Bringing the Florida state’s tobacco tax up by a dollar, now 4th lowest in nation, could generate about $1 billion in new net revenue, save nearly 100,000 Floridians from smoking-related deaths, help 123,600 adults quit smoking and prevent 209,000 youth from ever starting. Florida’s Medicaid program incurs an estimated $1.25 billion in costs due to smoking per year.

For the State of Michigan there will be a potential annual savings to Medicaid of $323 million if the smoking rate among Michigan adults was reduced five percentage points (from 21.9% to 16.9%). With a five percentage point reduction in smoking overall future state smoking-caused health care costs would decline by more than $2.5 billion. (Approximately 32.4% of the smoking related health care costs are paid by Medicaid.)

You can’t do wrong with an increase in the tobacco tax. The federal government has spoken: "Tobacco products are not safe and cannot be made safe and there is no medically established public health benefit associated with tobacco" as written by Michael Leavitt, Secretary of Health and Human Services in a letter to Joe Barton, R-Texas the senior Republican on the Energy and Commerce Committee.

The Governor of South Carolina can no longer refuse to support a tobacco tax increase (now has lowest tax in the nation at seven cents per pack) because, supposedly, a financial shortfall could occur because so many people would quit smoking. In this case, eventually the economy will return to normal generating enough tax revenue to restore normal levels.

As a result with an increase in the tobacco tax you get: the generation of more tax revenue, fewer kids considering tobacco use, adults breaking their addiction to tobacco, the cost of caring for people with tobacco related diseases would go down and since cigarette users are poorer as a group these individuals would have more money to care for their love ones. The greatest impact the higher tax will have is preventing our youngsters, our future leaders, from becoming addicted to nicotine. It’s a “win-win” situation for all.

State Budget Troubles Worsen by Elizebeth McNichol and Iris J. Lav, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
South Carolina Governor More Concerned About Election Year 2012 Than Fiscal Year 2009? The Tax Justice Digest, 12/12/2008.
Kentucky Coping With Economy, Tom Hale, Associated Construction Publications, November 4, 2008.
Fix Michigan's Budget Mess Now, Michigan State AFL-CIO eActivist Network,
Cigarette tax hike can help state, Sarasota Herald Tribune, 12/12/2008.
Smoking Facts for the State of Michigan, Michigan Residents 2005.
Tobacco Tax Increase – What’s Wrong with South Carolina??
Bush administration opposes legislation to give FDA authority to regulate tobacco products..

Related news brief: Tax the hell out of all tobacco products until they disappear..; Kentucky considering increase in cigarette tax..;
Virginia Governor Kaine Proposes a 30 cent tax increase in cigarette tax..


Increasingly Teens Find Smoking A Dirty Habit

December 17, 2008 - The majority of teenagers, smoking is just out of vogue. Many teens say they would rather not date someone who smoked. The majority believe it reflects poorly on your judgment. These are some findings out of an annual survey on adolescent behavior from the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research. Altogether more than 45,000 high school students at 400 schools were interviewed.

The survey also finds:
* Teen smoking rates dropped in 2008, now lower than the 1990s
* 12.6 percent of high school students had a cigarette in the last month compared to 13.6 last year
* 7 percent of eighth-graders are smoking, down from 21 percent in 1996
* 12 percent of 10-th graders are smoking , down from more than 30 percent in 1996
* 21 percent of eighth-graders said they had tried smoking, down from 49 percent in 1996

The survey found that 20 percent of high school seniors smoke, a decline from one-third in 1996.

What does this say about smoking? The study’s principal investigator, Lloyd Johnston, says that teens finally believe smoking is a “dirty habit” that can harm your health, despite the positive media images. “For years and years, the industry pitch was that smoking makes you sexy and attractive to the opposite sex. It turns out the absolute opposite is true. It projects a negative image, for both girls and boys.”

The problem is not of supply either. The survey finds that more than half of eighth-graders said they could obtain cigarettes easily. Declining rates of smoking are not just seen among teens. For the first time since the mid-1960s, the number of Americans who smoke cigarettes has fallen below 20 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In 2007, the prevalence of smoking fell to 19.8 percent, from 20.8 percent in 2006, according to a recent CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).

“While this is good news, deaths related to cigarette smoking are still on the rise,” Matthew McKenna, director of the CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health tells WebMD. Nearly one in five American adults smoke cigarettes and many former smokers are falling back to the habit again. “We believe the decline in proportion is threefold - a response to excise taxes that have made cigarettes more expensive, smoke-free laws and the availability of cessation medications,” McKenna says.

Reference: Increasingly Teens Find Smoking A Dirty Habit, by Jane Akre, InjuryBoard.com, December 16, 2008.


NY High Court Upholds Dismissal Of Cigarette Liability Claim..

December 17, 2008 - The New York (NY) Court of Appeals, upholding the reversal of a $20.5 million verdict, Monday, 12/15/2008 ruled that the estate of a smoker who died of lung cancer could not assert a negligent product design claim against two cigarette makers based on the availability of a safer "light" cigarette.

Writing for a 6-1 majority, Judge Robert S. Smith concluded that the smoker, Norma Rose, who died during the pendency of the appeal, had failed to prove an "essential element" of her products liability claim -- that light cigarettes, which have low tar and nicotine levels, have the same "utility" as regular cigarettes.

The only utility of a cigarette, Smith wrote, "is to gratify smokers" and Rose's lawyers "made no attempt to prove that smokers find light cigarettes as satisfying as regular cigarettes -- indeed it is virtually uncontested that they do not." To have ruled that the availability of light cigarettes rendered regular cigarettes defective in design, he noted, "would amount to a judicial ban" on their sale.

Rose's lawyers had argued at trial that a jury could find that light cigarettes were safer than regular cigarettes, the court said. "It is not necessary in every product liability case that the plaintiff show the safer product is as acceptable to consumers as the one the defendant sold; but such a showing is necessary where, as here, satisfying the consumer is the only function the product has," the court found.

In April 2008 an Manhattan appellate court reversed a 73-year-old lung cancer victim's $3.4 million compensatory damage award against two industry giants and threw out $17.1 million in punitive damages against Philip Morris USA. (Tobacco Companies Win Upset of Damages Award, Noeleen G. Walder, New York Law Journal, April 11, 2008
The jury verdict returned in 2005 was divided into $3.4 million for compensatory damages and $17.1 million for punitive damages.

On Monday, the US Supreme Court ruled that consumers in Maine could sue the Altria Group’s Philip Morris USA under state unfair-trade laws for its advertising of ‘light’ cigarettes.

Reference: NY High Court Upholds Dismissal Of Cigarette Liability Claim by Chad Bray Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES, 12/16/2008; N.Y. High Court Upholds Reversal of $20.5 Million Tobacco Verdict, Daniel Wise, New York Law Journal, December 17, 2008.

NY Governor signs bill to attempt to curb illegal sale of tax-free cigarettes to non-Indian purchasers..

December 16, 2008 - Legislation signed by the Governor of New York David Patterson makes cigarette manufacturers and stamping agents accountable for sales of untaxed cigarettes by Indians to Non-Indians.

Under Article 20 of the New York State Tax Law, cigarettes sold by Indian retailers to non-Indians must be taxed. The bill signed by Governor Paterson today will prohibit cigarette manufacturers from selling unstamped cigarettes to stamping agents who have not provided them with a certification, under penalty of perjury, that the cigarettes will not be resold in violation of Article 20. Agents must provide the Tax Department with any certification they give to a manufacturer.

To the extent that the tax is undermined, our efforts to fight smoking are also undermined.”

“This law has not been adequately applied for far too long giving non-Indians easy access to tax-free cigarettes both on the reservations and over the internet,” said Governor Paterson. Although cigarettes sold by agents to retailers for re-sale to non-Indian purchasers must bear tax stamps, the State has, for many years, adopted a policy of non-enforcement, and unstamped cigarettes continue to be sold by agents to Indian retailers who sell them to non-Indians at discount prices.

The New York State Department of Taxation will have 60 days to issue a certification form and prepare to receive the certifications that will be submitted. Governor Paterson signed bill A11258A/ S 8146-B at a ceremony in Utica.

The Assembly held off sending the bill to Paterson, who hoped that he’d be able to negotiate a deal with the Seneca Indian tribe. However, the negotiations did not yield an agreement. Paterson has said before that he believes this issue will end up in court, and said at a public leaders’ meeting in November, when pressed by Republicans to sign the bill, that the state may not see revenue for some time.

Reference: Paterson signs indian cigarette law by Irene Jay Liu, timesunion.com, 12/15/2008.

Nik Modi, tobacco analyst with UBS: Supreme Court Case "was a coin flip.."

December 16, 2008 - Nik Modi, tobacco analyst with UBS Investment Research, New York, said in a research note that heading in, the Good case "was a coin flip." He added that "the FTC argument (that because the FTC authorized 'lights' phrases, the industry is not liable) was not the strongest argument and that the decision was close to a 50/50 probability either way."

He said, "However, today's U.S. Supreme Court decision did not affect the industry's primary argument against class-action lawsuits: that no two smokers within a class are truly alike in terms of how they interpreted cigarette labeling or marketing or its health impact. This argument has worked for the industry in de-certifying the overwhelming majority of lights class action cases, and worked in the Engle and Price class actions.... While the headlines on the decision would lead one to expect a slew of new class-action lawsuits against the industry, we note that class actions against tobacco are not substantially more attractive today due to: 1.) the primary argument that no two smokers are truly alike, and 2.) the limitations set from past precedents on punitive damage awards."

Three Maine residents sued Altria Group Inc. and its Philip Morris USA Inc. subsidiary under the state's law against unfair marketing practices. The class-action claim represents all smokers of Marlboro Lights or Cambridge Lights cigarettes, both made by PM USA. The lawsuit argues that the company knew for decades that smokers of light cigarettes compensate for the lower levels of tar and nicotine by taking longer puffs and compensating in other ways.

A federal district court threw out the lawsuit, but the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said it could go forward.

Reference: SCOTUS (Supreme Court of the United States) Greenlights 'Light' Suits PM USA: "We continue to view these cases as manageable" , CSP Daily News, 12/16/2008.

View of Court Documents..

U.S. Supreme Court Rules Against Big Tobacco..

December 16, 2008 - In a surprise 5-4 decision this morning, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that federal law does not preempt a state lawsuit brought by Maine smokers claiming that Altria, parent company of Philip Morris, fraudulently advertised health benefits of "light" cigarettes. Justice John Paul Stevens wrote the opinion, which runs against the Court's recent trend finding in favor of federal preemption of state lawsuits against businesses. Joining Stevens were Justices Anthony Kennedy, David Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer. Justice Clarence Thomas dissented, joined by Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. and Justices Antonin Scalia and Samuel Alito Jr. Thomas warned that the majority opinion will trigger "an untold number of deceptive-practices lawsuits across the country."`

The suit, filed under the Maine Unfair Trade Practices Law, alleges that Altria misled consumers into believing that "light" cigarettes which contain less tar were less dangerous than regular varieties to smoke. The suit says the companies knew smokers typically make-up the difference in tar by taking longer or deeper puffs. Similar suits are pending in other states, exposing the tobacco industry to a new avenue of attack by smoking opponents.

Reference: Altria Case Deals Blow to Efforts Reining In Lawsuits by JESS BRAVIN, The Wall Street Journal, 12/15/2008; Supreme Court Rules Against Big Tobacco, The Blog of Legal Times, 12/15/2008.

View of Court Documents..

Related news briefs: U.S. Supreme Court 2008-2009 term, Altria v Good (07-562); Different U.S. Supreme Court Case - California: Justices turn down smokers' lawsuit against tobacco companies..; Different U.S. Supreme Court Case - Maine: U.S. Supreme Court Declares Maine Online Tobacco Sales Law Null..; Florida: Racial slur causes mistrial in Florida tobacco case..; Cigarette Makers Face Thousands of New Florida Suits..

Canadian Cancer Society calls for federal ban on flavored cigars..

December 15, 2008 - Canadian Cancer Society calls for federal and provincial legislation to curb the use of tobacco products among Canadian youth, including banning flavored cigarillos.

For example Prime Time Little Cigars.

According to the 2006-07 Youth Smoking Survey, 35 percent of teenagers, in grades 10 to 12 have tried cigars, cigarillos and little cigars, with the majority being male.
The survey also revealed that 48 per cent of teenagers say they have tried cigarettes. The survey, funded by Health Canada, compiled statistics on teenage smoking habits from 71,000 students in grades 5 to 12 in 467 schools across Canada.

Health Canada reports that the sale of cigarillos has grown since 2001, when about 50,000 cigarillos were sold, to 80 million sold in 2006.

When is a cigar not a cigar? When it is a cigarette disguised to slip through an excise tax loophole - Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada.

Reference: Cancer society calls for ban on cigarillos
Canwest News Service - The Windsor Star, 12/15/2008.

Related news briefs: Ontario to outlaw candy flavored cigars..; Ontario poised to ban flavored cigarillos..; Canada: a bill introduced to snuff out drive to recruit young smokers..; Still sucking our youngsters in.. and Quebec - Teens Switch from Cigarettes to Cigarillos...


European Health Commissioner reprimands Astrid Thors for snus liberation campaign..

December 15, 2008 - Androulla Vassiliou, European Commissioner for Health, has advised Finland’s Minister of European and Migration Affairs Astrid Thors (Swedish People's Party) to adhere to the tobacco directive adopted by the European Union (EU).

As reported by Helsingin Sanomat (biggest subscription newspaper in Finland) on Tuesday, December 11, 2008 Thors had bought ten boxes of snus for her “friends and acquaintances” during a stop-over in Sweden on her way home from Brussels, where she had been on an official journey. Vassiliou points out that Sweden has promised not to introduce snus on the market in any other member states. According to Vassiliou, this applies to the Finnish territorial waters as well. Large quantities of snus are sold on cruise ships sailing between Sweden and Finland. The Commissioner has given a very strict reply to Thors who would like to deregulate the sales of snus in the EU area.

A committee on tobacco policy set up by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health to review a potential reform of the Tobacco Act is reportedly also planning to tighten the law further. The committee will submit its final report to Minister of Health and Social Services Paula Risikko (National Coalition Party) on December 18th.

The marketing of snus as a less harmful substance than cigarettes is an outright distortion of the facts, says Harri Vainio, the Director General of the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health. ”There are no reasons to introduce on the market a new tobacco product that is popular among young people, even those below 15 years. It is an early way to become addicted to nicotine”, Vainio points out.

Directive Adopted by the EU: Under EU regulations dating back to 1992, the sale of this kind of smokeless tobacco (snus) is prohibited in all other Union member states with the exception of Sweden. The Swedes campaigned hard before entry into the EU to make their exemption from the ban a condition of joining.

Reference: Health Commissioner reprimands Astrid Thors for snus liberation campaign Experts: Snus causes addiction and cancer, HELSINGIN SANOMAT

Related news briefs: Aland Islands Dispute Over Sale of SNUS On Board Ships Threatens Finland's Ratification of the EU's Treaty of Lisbon (The Reform Treaty)..; Finnish Ferry Goes Swedish Over Snus Ban.. and EU Takes Finland to Court Again For NOT Banning the Use of Oral Tobacco..

In Process - NY Cayugas can't sell tax free cigarettes..

December 14, 2008 - The New York (NY) State Supreme Court judge rules the Cayuga Indian Nation does not have sovereign rights to sell tax-free cigarettes at its stores in Union Springs and Seneca Falls.