Bangladesh - FCTC overtaxation hurts tobacco industry country depends on..

April 17, 2009 - Bangladesh remains a poor, overpopulated, and inefficiently-governed nation. Although more than half of GDP is generated through the service sector, nearly two-thirds of Bangladeshis are employed in the agriculture sector.

Bangladesh government has been urged to increase tax on tobacco products to discourage their consumption.

According to reports, about 57,000 people die for using tobacco every year in Bangladesh, while 3.62 lakh become infected. A study found about 80 percent of the drug users in the city addicted to cigarettes. Speakers at a recent seminar urged the government to impose more tax on tobacco products in the upcoming national budget.

Smoking and Tobacco Products Usage (Control) Act, 2005 declaring smoking at public places and public transports a punishable offence. Bangladesh was also the first country to ratify the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) of the World Health Organisation in 2004. But there is no strict enforcement of the above Act. Taking advantage of this, some smokers smoke at public places. Side-stream smoke from a burning cigarette has higher concentration of poisonous substances than the main-stream smoke and is thus, more harmful for the passive smokers. While a complete ban on the use of tobacco will not suit to the present reality of demand and consumption certain corners of building and rooms at workplaces may be earmarked for smoking. Additional tax on the production and sale of tobacco products is likely to discourage the use of tobacco.

Reference: Overtaxation to hurt tobacco industry, Shahidul Huq, The Financial Express, 4/6/2009; Framework Convention on Tobacco Control: Progress and Implications for Health and the Environment Questia Journal article by G. Emmanuel Guindon, Joy De Beyer, Sarah Galbraith; Environmental Health Perspectives, Vol. 111, 2003.

Related news brief: Bangladeshi government will increase taxes on tobacco products..; Marlboro to be Marketed in Bangladesh - One of the Poorest and Densely Populated Countries in the World..

Canada - will higher tobacco prices lead to increase in illicit cigarettes..

April 17, 2009 - Higher tobacco prices make illegal cigarettes even more appealing. The sale of illegal tobacco has reached crisis levels in Canada. One in three cigarettes purchased in Canada is illegal. The numbers reach even more alarming levels in Ontario and Quebec where the problem is most acute. Forty-eight per cent of all cigarettes purchased in Ontario is illegal, while the figure for Quebec is 40 per cent.

Imperial Tobacco Canada, the wholly-owned indirect subsidiary of British American Tobacco p.l.c. (BAT) is Canada's leading tobacco company. Imperial was shocked by the latest in a series of provincial and territorial indirect and direct tax increases on tobacco from the governments of Alberta, Ontario, Manitoba, British Columbia, the Northwest Territories and Quebec that make these provinces even more attractive for Canada's flourishing illegal tobacco industry. (Interesting to note that Imperial Tobacco along with Rothmans Benson & Hedges Inc were involved with cigarette smuggling in the 1990s. September 2008 - Philip Morris International (PMI) completed buyout of Rothmans..)

Imperial Tobacco Canada calls on all levels of government to work together to implement effective and long-term solutions cigarette smuggling problem. Smuggling (illegal, illicit, contraband) denies tobacco company sales income and the government tax revenue income.

Reference: Tax hikes, denial and inaction: Provinces put out the welcome mat to illegal tobacco traffickers, Imperial Tobacco Canada,, 4/17/2009.

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Mississippi - still chance for tobacco tax increase for July 1, 2009 budget..

April 17, 2009 - The 122 House members and 52 senators will return to Jackson in May or June to finish writing a budget for the year that begins July 1, 2009. Legislators were in session almost three months before leaving the Capitol (Jackson) on April 1. They’re on break for several weeks while officials figure out how the federal stimulus package might affect Mississippi government.

Governor Barbour said his budget is based on the assumption that legislators will approve a $90 million annual hospital tax to help pay for Medicaid and that they'll set a cigarette excise tax of 60 cents a pack.

Democratic House Speaker Billy McCoy of Rienzi said the Republican governor's cigarette tax proposal is too low (at present 18-cent-a-pack cigarette tax third-lowest in the nation) and the hospital tax for Medicaid is too high. Lawmakers must agree on the amount of a cigarette tax increase or decide to ditch the proposal so the budget can be finished.

The federal cigarette tax rose on April 1 from 39 cents a pack to $1.01. The dramatic jump made some Mississippi lawmakers more hesitant to increase the state tax.

State cigarette excise tax rates - April 2009.

If all of the nation's Medicaid smokers were to quit immediately, the federal-state health care program would save nearly $10 billion a year nationally. Smokers account for nearly 6 percent of national Medicaid spending, according to a study conducted by RTI International and funded by the American Legacy Foundation.

Related news briefs: Besides federal tax increase - several states want to do the same..; Mississippi - with federal stimulus package passed cigarette tax loses momentum..; Mississippi - tobacco tax increase may pass this time..; U.S. States Considering Tobacco Tax Increase...

Reference: Mississippi cigarette tax negotiations restart next week by EMILY WAGSTER PETTUS, Associated Press, 4/16/2009; McBride touts cigarette tax Lawmaker foresees reduced Medicaid costs by Phil West, Memphis Commercial Appeal, 4/7/2009.


e-cigarettes - FDA approval needed prior to marketing..

April 17, 2009 - e-cigarette basic idea: it looks like a cigarette, delivers nicotine like a cigarette, and even puffs "smoke" like a cigarette (actually water vapor.) But an e-cigarette doesn't have any of the tobacco or additives of a cigarette. It's just a battery-charged cartridge.

In order for any drug or drug delivery device to be marketed in the U.S., it must first be approved by the FDA. To gain FDA approval, the company intending to market a specific drug must conduct clinical tests to demonstrate that the drug is both safe for use and that it works for the purpose for which it is intended. Once clinical testing is complete, the results are presented to an FDA panel of experts for evaluation. If the panel believes the clinical test results demonstrate both safety and efficacy, the drug is recommended for approval.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on March 21,2000 that the Food and Drug Administration has no authority to regulate tobacco products as addictive drugs.

E-cigarettes contain nicotine NOT tobacco so it is necessary to have the product approved by the FDA prior to making it available to the U.S. consumer. The FDA has opened an investigation and has refused to allow e-cigarettes, e-cigars and e-pipes to cross the border because they're considered new drugs that require FDA approval.

FDA spokeswoman Rita Chappelle: "We're concerned about the potential for addiction to and abuse of these products. Some people may mistakenly perceive these products to be safer alternatives to conventional tobacco use."

References: and in part FDA Lights Up "E-Cigarette" Ban Controversy by Matthew Bandyk, U.S. News & World Report, 4/16/2009.

Related news briefs: Canada - to launch an advertising campaign on the problem of tobacco smuggling..; E-cigarettes need to establish efficacy and safety - FIRST...

Click on image to enlarge..; Notice; image and parts of modified text used from advertisment strictly for information purposes and neither image nor text may be copied, transmitted, or printed for any reason.


Australia - increase tobacco tax 50% - 74% of smokers would try to quit..

April 16, 2009 - Almost three-quarters of smokers (74%) say they would try and quit the habit if cigarette prices increased by 50% according to new research released on April 15th. The research, from the Cancer Council Victoria, also reveals 6 out of 10 regular smokers say they would smoke fewer cigarettes if tobacco prices were to go up by 50%.

Increasing price by 50% would see a typical packet of 30 cigarettes retail at around the $20 mark.

Fiona Sharkie from Quit: "With tobacco claiming 15,000 Australians lives and costing the community $31.5 billion dollars every year it is critical that proven tobacco control strategies, such as price increases, are implemented as soon as possible. On top of quitting smoking being one of the best things you can do for your health, it is also a great way to save money in tough financial times. A pack a day smoker can save almost $5000 a year by quitting. That’s more than two monthly mortgage repayments on the average Australian home loan.”

Professor Ian Olver from Cancer Council Australia said by increasing the cost of cigarettes, the Australian Government would be adopting an effective measure to 'close the gap' in health inequalities.

"Research illustrates price increases not only reduce the number of people smoking but also the amount smoked by remaining smokers, with greater drops observed among those in economically disadvantaged groups."

More than 60% of current smokers were in favor of a tax increase on cigarettes. Maurice Swanson, tobacco control spokesperson for the Heart Foundation: "Tobacco tax, which has not increased in real terms for a decade, has been shown to reduce smoking rates significantly."

Reference: New data reveals a key way to reduce smoking rates and save moneyCancer Council - Australia, 4/15/2009.


Fitch Ratings - U.S. cigarette sales volume declines..

April 16, 2009 - Price increases driven by higher federal taxes, coming on top of secular declines in consumption, are likely to lead to US cigarette sales volume declines in the high single digits to low double digits, according to Fitch Ratings.

Cigarette manufacturers raised their prices significantly in the first quarter in anticipation of the increase of the federal excise tax (FET), which went into effect April 1, 2009. History of Federal Tax Rate Hikes on Cigarettes..

Based on Fitch Ratings’ estimate of an average retail price of $4.45 per pack of cigarettes at the end of 2008, the cigarette manufacturers’ pricing actions will result in volume declines of 5% to 7%. Given secular volume declines in the low to mid-single digit range, Fitch anticipates 2009 volume declines in the high single digits to low double digits. David Howard, an R.J. Reynolds spokesman has said the tobacco industry expects a 6 to 8 percent drop in nationwide sales.

It may take several months for tobacco consumers to adjust to the new pricing, and volume declines are likely to be greatest in the reporting periods following the price increase, Fitch says.

In the face of the recession, consumers may make a more concerted effort to cutback their tobacco purchases. Price-sensitive consumers are also likely to switch to value or discount brands from higher-priced premium brands, which would impact the tobacco manufacturers with significant premium skews in their product portfolios such as Altria Group, Inc.’s (NYSE:MO) Philip Morris USA and Lorillard, Inc. (NYSE: LO). Reynolds American Inc.’s (NYSE: RAI) R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. may benefit from trading down considering the value brands in their product portfolio, Fitch says.

As consumers adjust to tobacco product pricing and the temporary effects of the floor tax work their way through tobacco manufacturers’ results, credit metrics are likely to weaken. However, Fitch expects volume declines to moderate after the pricing actions have taken place, and large tobacco manufacturers are expected to continue to generate significant cash from operations despite the volume pressure.

Additional information can be found in Fitch’s recent special report, 2009 Tobacco Outlook: Higher Taxes to Further Pressure Cigarette Volumes..

Image from Eric's Spot website.

Reference: U.S. Cigarette Sales Volume: Fitch Sees Drastic Decline, Seeking Alpha, 4/14/2009.


Tobacco use may trigger more stress..

April 16, 2009 - Canadians hoping to blow off economic anxiety with cigarettes could get burned, according to new research linking smoking with significantly higher-than-normal stress levels. Pew Research Center Social & Demographic Trends survey conducted June 16-July16, 2008 among a nationally representative sample of 2,250 adults half (50%) of all smokers say they "frequently" experience stress in their daily lives, compared with just 35% of those who once smoked and have now quit and 31% of those who never smoked.

Rob Cunningham, senior policy analyst for the Canadian Cancer Society: "Many smokers perceive smoking as a way to calm stress, when, in fact, what they're doing is satisfying nicotine cravings and withdrawal. In many respects, smoking — or the delay in having a cigarette — is the cause of stress. Cunningham believes Pew's report supports the need for more educational messages about the link between stress and tobacco use. At the same time, he's not convinced the deepening economic turmoil will necessarily increase smoking rates in Canada, which have remained flat (roughly one in five people) since 2005. "Clearly, a recession is bad news for Canada," says Cunningham. "But less disposable income may be a motivator to quit, or not start."

Debbie Mandel, author of Addicted to Stress, says she's concerned the recession will cause people to "revert to old bad habits of self-soothing," including the use of tobacco products.

Reference: Smoking triggers more stress: Survey by Misty Harris, Canwest News Service, 4/14/2009.


Black Barbershop Health Day - May 2, 2009..

April 16, 2009 - There has been a decrease in cigarette smoking in California since the passing of California's Tobacco Control Program in 1988. Dr. Bill Releford and the founder of the Black Barbershop Health Outreach Program, sees the effects of smoking in the African American community on a regular basis.

There is a serious gap in the ability of tobacco addicts in the African American community to access treatment. African American men suffer disproportionately from preventable diseases and have the lowest life expectancy of any ethnic group. Because of their intense addiction to nicotine (more addictive than heroin), patients often choose smoking over their ability to breathe, or will even sacrifice a foot or leg to amputation. Without increasing their access to treatment, this problem will continue to grow.

Prevention is an excellent and effective long-term solution, but there are thousands of Californians who are suffering from the effects of this terrible addiction, and it is critical that California's policy leaders also bring attention to improving access to treatments that help people quit smoking. True success of California's Tobacco Control Program will be achieved when those addicted to nicotine have the support and resources they need to quit smoking.

Our Black Barbershop Health Outreach Program is addressing the disparities in the African American community head-on by conducting early detection and intervention activities in black barbershops across the country. However, we need the help of policymakers. In the meantime, on May 2, healthcare workers will participate in "Black Barbershop Health Day," conducting preventive testing and disseminating educational material in Los Angeles, Sacramento, Oakland, Vallejo, Fresno, San Bernardino, Riverside, Inland Empire and San Diego. For more information, visit the Black Barbershop Health Outreach website.

Approximately 80% of African American smokers smoke menthol cigarettes. A ban on menthol cigarettes is being pushed by seven former U.S. health secretaries including Tommy Thompson and Donna Shalala. They sent a letter to congress calling for a ban on menthol cigarettes. U.S. - Bill for FDA to regulate tobacco BAN MENTHOL.., Samuel Garten, Ph.D., M.S., M.S. and R. Victor Falkner, M.A., M.S., M.A.L.S.

Reference: African Americans need more help to stop smoking by Bill J. Releford, Los Angeles Times, April 16, 2009.


3rd Smoking Cessation Conference - September 29-30, 2009, USA..

April 16, 2009 - Keeping in mind the success of the last two smoking cessation conferences in the UK (United Kingdom, Britain), the United States conference will be a platform bringing together the pharma, biotech and healthcare organizations to collaborate and improve smoking cessation treatments. Our aim will be to present the developments and success of new products in the pipeline to aid smoking cessation to where the product market is advancing in both mechanism and drug delivery.

Why Attend? Examine potential market opportunities for new anti-smoking products, Discover the directions being taken to implement the dangers of nicotine addiction in secure environments and hard to reach groups, Discuss the potential to improve on current treatments and assess the key drivers for pharmaceutical companies researching into anti-addiction treatment, Analyze the acute and chronic health issues associated with nicotine and its second hand smoke, Gain an insight into the growing global problem of illicit trade in tobacco products.

Reference: 3rd Smoking Cessation Conference,, 4/16/2009.

General Tobacco makes MSA payment in full..

April 16, 2009 - MAYODAN, N.C. -- General Tobacco (GT), the US' sixth biggest cigarette manufacturer with sales of about $300 million has made a payment of $73,876,915 to the Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) in full compliance with its obligations under the agreement. Since joining the MSA in 2004, GT, has contributed more than $546 million under the agreement.

The payment comes as part of GT’s commitment to the multi-state agreement by tobacco companies setting forth strict guidelines for tobacco marketing and advertising, according to a company press release. Since joining in 2004, GT has contributed more than $546 million to the MSA.

GT makes 32 Degrees Menthol Cigarettes, launched in October 2006, that come in four menthol varieties Full, Mild, Light and Max flavor.

Reference: General Tobacco Makes Full Annual Payment to MSA, Convenience Store News, 4/16/2009.

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Arkansas - Border Zone Cigarette Taxation..

April 15, 2009 - Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe signed an $87.8 million tobacco-tax hike into law (Act 180 of 2009, formerly House Bill 1204), on Tuesday, February 17, 2009. As required by the bill, on March 1 the cigarette tax went from 59 cents to $1.15 per twenty-pack. But the same tax rate will not be enforced statewide. In a novel provision, the legislation, Act 180 of 2009, included a lower, variable rate for certain towns and stores located near the Arkansas border.

The new law states that whenever there are two adjoining towns separated by the state line, the cigarette tax in the Arkansas town is required to be equal to the cigarette tax in the adjoining town outside of Arkansas plus 3 cents, as long as the resulting tax rate is not greater than Arkansas's standard tax rate. According to the law, both towns must have a population of 5,000 or more for the town on the Arkansas side to qualify for the reduced tax rate. Similarly, the law provides that the excise tax on cigarettes sold in Arkansas within 300 feet of the state line, regardless of the area's population, be taxed at the bordering state's rate plus 3 cents if the resulting rate is lower than Arkansas's standard rate.

Click on image to enlarge..

Reference: Border Zone Cigarette Taxation: Arkansas’s Novel Solution to the Border Shopping Problem by Mark Robyn, Tax Foundation, 4/9/2009.

Related news brief: Arkansas governor signs tobacco tax increase..; Arkansas Governor's proposed tobacco tax increase..; U.S. States Considering Tobacco Tax Increase...


Nigerian senator believes passage of anti-tobacco bill wil lead to unemployment..

April 15, 2009 - Chairman Senate Committee on Industry, Kamorudeen Adedibu maintained that the anti-tobacco bill (National Tobacco Bill) will be amended in such a way that it will not be to the disadvantage of tobacco companies in the country. Adedibu feels the passage of the bill will lead to at least 400,000 Nigerians being thrown into the unemployment market.

Describing the bill as a "misplaced priority" for the country, Adedibu, who represents Oyo South in the Senate also vowed to mobilise his colleagues in the upper legislative chamber to ensure that the bill is defeated. The bill is actually more than regulation. It is more than that. The bill, if it goes through and Insha Allah, it won't, will render the tobacco companies useless. It is going to increase smuggling and most especially, it is going to stop the necessary means of livelihood for over 400,000 people," the Senator stated.

He also hinted that the Senate should concern itself more with bills that will help people put money in their pockets, put food on their tables, boost education and not bills that will lead to unemployment.

According to him, the bill is currently before the Senate Committee on Health headed by Iyabo Obasanjo-Bello.

Reference:Nigeria: Anti-Tobacco Bill Won't Affect Firms - Adedibu, Gbenga Abegunrin, Daily Independent (Lagos), 4/14/2009.

Related news briefs: Nigeria - Senator claims anti-tobacco bill will lead to 400,000 job losses..; Nigerian Lawsuit Against Tobacco Firms Adjourned Until January 2009..; Nigeria House Passes Anti-smoking Bill..; BAT using illegal tactics to get African youths to start smoking..; British American Tobacco (BAT) - 100 years in Africa..

California - “The No Smoking at State Parks and Beaches Act,”

April 15, 2009 - A ban on smoking (banning cigarettes and other smokeable items such as cigars)at all California state beaches and parks was approved by the senate environmental committee in Sacramento that sets policies. If the bill passes the Assembly and is signed by the governor, it will be illegal to smoke on state beaches throughout California, effective Jan. 1, 2010. The legislation allows law enforcement to fine violators $250 for smoking at a state beach or at a state park. In California, the ban on smoking is expanding to include piers, city beaches, public places such around businesses and may one day reach into individuals shared walls in condos and other such close quarters residential areas.

Marine animals that digest the cigarette butts that flow into the ocean from the beach, are impacted by the waste. It interrupts their ability to eat and digest food. Cigarette butts contain more than 165 chemicals, and are non-biodegradable. It is no longer just cigarette butts litter, more and more moist snuff products such as Grizzly or Camel SNUS come in tobacco pouches that are sucked on and eventually discarded. Tobacco Pouch ready to be discarded. If you thought Cigarette Butts Everywhere Were Bad Wait Until Discarded SNUS Bags...

The California State Senate passed a bill on Friday that would ban smoking at all state parks and beaches — and imposing a $100 fine for anyone caught lighting up on the sand.

Senate Bill 4 still awaits approval from the state Assembly, but seems destined to become law in the Golden State, which prides itself on its more than 400 beaches along over 1,100 miles of coastline — and its repuation as a leader in the green movement.

In fact more than 100 local governments in California already ban smoking on beaches and in parks.

State Sen. Jenny Oropeza, who introduced the bill, says on her Web site that cigarette butts are the most commonly found marine debris in the U.S. and make up 38 percent of all litter found on beaches.The California State Senate passed a bill on Friday that would ban smoking at all state parks and beaches — and imposing a $100 fine for anyone caught lighting up on the sand.

Senate Bill 4 still awaits approval from the state Assembly, but seems destined to become law in the Golden State, which prides itself on its more than 400 beaches along over 1,100 miles of coastline — and its reputation as a leader in the green movement.

In fact more than 100 local governments in California already ban smoking on beaches and in parks.

State Sen. Jenny Oropeza, who introduced the bill, says on her Web site that cigarette butts are the most commonly found marine debris in the U.S. and make up 38 percent of all litter found on beaches.

Many local governments have already banned smoking, including bans in local parks, beaches and piers in Huntington Beach, Laguna Beach, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Malibu, Newport Beach, San Clemente, Santa Monica, Seal Beach and Solana Beach (the first), according to Sen. Jenny Oropeza (D-Long Beach) Web site the sponsor of the bill.

The Ocean Conservancy, which coordinates cleanups worldwide, says cigarette butts are No. 1 littered item on the globe. Cleanup volunteers picked up 3.2 million in 2008 from beaches and inland waterways.

References: Bill to ban smoking on state beaches on the way to the top It's passed its first policy test, now must go through assembly and be signed by governor by Cristina Contreras and Sarah De Mers, Daily Titan, 4/14/2009; Law Bans Smoking at All CA State Beaches, California Beaches Blog, 4/14/2009.

Smokers now more motivated to quit..

April 15, 2009 - It took a recession and the largest-ever increase in the federal cigarette tax to really motivate smokers to quit. The combination is lighting up the quit-smoking hot lines in Ohio and around the country as more Americans become eager to avoid going broke on a deadly habit.

The combination of a tanking economy and the new federal tax - it jumped 62 cents to $1.01 on a pack of cigarettes - has produced welcomed side effects. The day the increase went into effect a week ago, the Ohio Tobacco Quit line got nearly four times the number of usual calls. For many, the tax was the breaking point, say public health officials, who hope the extra cost will be the incentive many smokers need to finally stop.

With roughly 23 percent of Ohioans still smoking, exceeding the national average of 20 percent, any impetus to reduce the health risk to smokers and those around them is welcome. In the meantime, the money raised from the higher tax will go to expand the federal Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP).

Smokers may grumble that they're being forced to subsidize others but the higher medical costs linked to smoking-related illness have been borne by the rest of us, along with higher insurance premiums. So instead of complaining about the latest tax hike and burning through extra money they don't have, smokers can save themselves from paying a small fortune to puff a pack a day by stubbing out their last cigarette.

Reference: Smokers' double whammy,, 4/13/2009.

Related news briefs: Federal cigarette tax increase will hit the poor hardest..; Smokers living with kids are more likely to try to quit..; Times are Tough Save Money Quit Smoking...


China - Zhongnanhai Cigarettes -NGOs want name changed..

April 15, 2009 - An anti-tobacco non-government organizations (NGO) will submit a petition to the trademark authority today, April 14, 2009, asking it to discontinue the use of "Zhongnanhai" - the name of the central leadership compound - as a cigarette brand. Wu Yiqun, deputy director of the Beijing-based NGO, Think Tank Research Center for Health Development, at a symposium yesterday: "Using the sacred place's name as that of a cigarette brand is misleading consumers."

Zhongnanhai is one of China's famous cigarette brands, worth 7.8 billion yuan (1.1 billion U.S. dollars) in May last year (2008), the company said on its website, citing a report by the Beijing Intangible Assets Development and Research. "Buyers feel the cigarette brand is acknowledged by the central government, and see it as a symbol of high quality and authority," she said.

Legal experts believe using Zhongnanhai as a brand violates the Trademark Law. According to Article 10 of the Trademark Law revised in 2001, names of a central government office location cannot be used as brands, Huang Jinrong, a Beijing-based lawyer, said. But in 2006, the Beijing Trademark Bureau agreed to let the Beijing Tobacco Factory continue to use "Zhongnanhai" from 2007 to 2017 when the latter asked to renew the brand name, he said.

Reference: Chinese NGO wants cigarette brand name snuffed out,, 4/14/2009.


Does Russia own Bulgaria's tobacco monopoly, Bulgartabac..

April 15, 2009 - Bulgaria’s attempts to privatize its state tobacco organization have possibly been dealt another blow.

Russia intends to take back a number of companies abroad that were once the property of the former Soviet Union, including Bulgarian cigarette maker Bulgartabac, Vladimir Kozhin, head of Russia's Presidential Property Management Department, said on Thursday (April 9th). "We are investigating ... and if we find out that the company was once ours, but in a not very legal way has come into foreign hands, we will launch a procedure for its return," Kozhin said. Russia has repeatedly raised the question of Bulgartabac's ownership. The Soviet Union acquired it as reparations after World War II. (RIA Novosti, Sofia news agency, Standart,, Focus - 09/04/09) Kozhin marked that the objects which Russian wants back are many.

Kozhin: “We are convinced Bulgartabac is a Russian enterprise. The Bulgarians believe that ‘it’s all long forgotten’, but we have documents.”

Reference: Russia wants “Bulgartabac” back,, 4/9/2009; Russia renews claims over Bulgaria's Bulgartabac company,, 4/10/2009.

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Florida cigar makers fuming over possible tax increase..

April 15, 2009 - Seventy percent of the cigars sold in the United States are either made in, imported to or sold in Florida.

Tampa's cigar makers and retailers are fuming over a proposal to increase the state's tobacco tax, saying the added cost could snuff out the business they had built up over the past 120 years. The Florida Senate has proposed a bill that would increase taxes on cigarettes ($1.00 per pack) and impose what could be the first tax on cigars made and sold in the state. The Senate is proposing a tax on cigars at the rate of $1 per ounce.

Including the federal tax hike, the cost of the 369 million large cigars expected to be sold in Florida next year would go up 16 percent, from an average of $3.41 to $3.97 each. The 409 million small cigars sold in packs would go from an average of $3.69 to $5.66, up 53 percent.

A tobacco tax to help finance the state's budget could exclude cigars, as lawmakers try to iron out their financial differences before the May 1 end of the legislative session.

The increased tobacco tax has strong bipartisan support in the Senate but resistance is much higher in the Florida House. The House hasn't heard the tax bill and has no tobacco-tax money in its proposed budget. House Republican leaders have so far refused to hold a hearing on it, and plan to pass a budget next week that cuts spending by $500 million and imposes higher "user fees" on drivers, court cases, prisoners, fishers and others.

Senate plans to press ahead, arguing the money is needed to balance its proposed $65 billion-plus budget. "We feel real strongly about the tobacco surcharge," said J.D. Alexander, R- Lake Wales, Senate Ways and Means chairman.

House Finance and Tax Chair Ellyn Bogdanoff, R- Fort Lauderdale: "It's just easy. If you don't smoke, you don't care," said of the tobacco tax, which she has refused to hear in her committee. "But it's still a tax, and it sets the standard that every time the state gets in trouble, it's not going to clean up its own house. It's going to go to the people for more taxes. And there's no guarantee that Gov. Charlie Crist — who so far has offered no support for the tax hike — won't try to veto it if it passes.

Related news brief: Florida - besides tobacco tax increase Senate wants to restrict tax-free sales..; Florida Senate panel backs tobacco tax hike..; Florida tobacco tax hike gets 1st critical vote today.., Tobacco Free Florida Week - 2/27/2009 - 3/7/2009.., Florida's $2.3 billion deficit - increase tax on cigarettes???; States Need Quick Influx of Revenue – Think Tobacco Tax..; Times are Tough Save Money Quit Smoking...

Reference: State tobacco tax ignites a clash in Tallahassee by Aaron Deslatte | Tallahassee Bureau, Orlando Sentinel, 4/11/2009; Cigar makers fired up by tobacco taxes by KEITH MORELLI, The Tampa Tribune, 4/14/2009; Cigar makers rally to head off tax by Keith Morelli
Tampa Tribune - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX, 4/15/2009.


Ireland - cigarette tax abandoned over smuggling fears..

April 14, 2009 - The Irish (Ireland) government backed away from a €2 (1.85GBP, 2.66USD) hike in the cost of a pack of cigarettes because it would have led to a massive increase in smuggling and a loss of revenue potentially climbing from a current loss of €500m (664,250,828.98USD)to €1bn (1,328,480,331.51USD) a year, it is understood.

Tobacco industry sources say that Ireland is already losing at least €500m a year as a result of the highest cigarette prices in the EU. The industry estimates, and the figures have not been challenged, that 20 percent of all cigarettes smoked in Ireland are smuggled. Latest trends show that counterfeits of popular brands, manufactured illicitly in China, are flowing into the country by the container load.
A single container of these cigarettes can net the smugglers up to €1m and represent an even bigger loss in revenue to the Government.

Only Norway has higher prices, at around €10 (8.90GBP, 13.29USD) per pack, and it is estimated that over 40 percent of cigarettes smoked there are smuggled, creating the country's organized crime groups.

Since the last big hike in cigarette prices, there has been a major increase in smuggling and in seizures by customs. They are also bringing large quantities into the country from the Canary Islands, where a carton of cigarettes costs only around €12 (15.95USD) compared with €83 (110.29USD) in Ireland.

Tobacco Atlas: Cigarettes are the world’s most widely smuggled legal consumer product. In 2006, contraband cigarettes accounted for 11 percent of global cigarette sales, or about 600 billion cigarettes.

Reference: Cigarette tax abandoned over smuggling fears by JIM CUSACK,, 4/12/2009.

Related news brief: Ireland - may raise tax on cigarettes as part of emergency budget..

Nevada - lawmakers may weaken smoking ban..

April 14, 2009 - The state Supreme Court dealt a blow to anti-smoking forces Monday, 4/13/2009 when it declined to stop lawmakers from weakening Nevada's smoking ban. ( Nevadans voted on November 7, 2006 to enact the Nevada Clean Indoor Air Act in order to protect themselves and their families from the dangers of secondhand smoke. The Nevada Clean Indoor Air Act..)

Last week, the Senate Judiciary Committee endorsed changing the ban, which was enacted in December 2006. The ban prohibits smoking in grocery stores, child care facilities, restaurants and bars that serve food, among other places. Bar owners and slot machine operators, who fought hard against the law before its passage, have pushed for changes. They have said the ban cut their business by as much as 30 percent.

The changes endorsed by the Senate Judiciary Committee last week would allow smoking in bars that serve food, but only if those bars pledge to keep minors out. They could face heavy fines if minors are caught inside.

Health activists contend that because the state constitution prohibits changing or repealing a voter-approved initiative within three years, it is too soon for the Legislature to change the ban. They say that because it went into effect Dec. 8, 2006, legislators could not act to change the ban until after Dec. 8, 2009.

Kendall Stagg, who helped the 2006 ban get passed, petitioned the Supreme Court to stop the Legislature from acting until after that date. But the law, as proposed, would go into effect after Dec. 8, 2009.

The changes might not even pass, as the court noted in Monday's ruling, which would make the issue moot. Tom McCoy, director of government relations for the American Cancer Society's Cancer Action Network, said he was not surprised by Monday's ruling. He said, however, that if the Legislature passes the changes to the smoking ban, his group would consider challenging its constitutionality with the Supreme Court.

Kentucky, West Virginia, and Nevada have the highest annual rates of smoking-attributable mortality in 2000-2004.

Reference: SMOKING BAN: Court snuffs try to stop law change Bill would weaken Indoor Air Act by RICHARD LAKE, LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 4/14/2009.

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Bahrain - King Hamad ratifies tough new anti-smoking laws..

April 14, 2009 - MANAMA (capital and largest city of Bahrain): His Majesty King Hamad yesterday, 4/13/2009 ratified tough anti-smoking laws. The new legislation, already approved by the Shura Council and parliament, bans any planting, manufacturing or reprocessing of tobacco in Bahrain.

Cigarette vending machines are also prohibited. The law declared it illegal to import chewable tobacco-based products, moist snuff and other unlicensed tobacco-based substances.

Smoking at closed public facilities and other amenities is also forbidden. It includes public transport, airports, ports, ministries, government departments, hospitals, health centres, schools, universities, training institutes, industrial facilities and other public places. The ban applies to shops, supermarkets, malls, clubs, restaurants, hotels, cafes, recreation sites, banks and other outlets. Hair salons, lifts, ATM booths and private cars carrying children also fall under the law.

Violators will be fined from BD20 (53.05USD)to BD50 (132.63USD).

Reference: King backs tough new anti-smoking laws, Gulf Daily News, 4/14/2009.

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British smokers turning to cheaper RYO but NOT in the U.S..

/Bahrain_map.jpgApril 14, 2009 - As a result of the economic crisis British (Britain, United Kingdom, UK)smokers increasingly turning to cheaper hand-rolling tobacco (RYO) to get their nicotine fix. In the United States RYO may no longer an alternative. As of April 1, 2009 the federal government changed the price structure so there no longer is an advantage to this method. The old roll your own tobacco tax = $1.09 per pound. Now - the tobacco tax = $24 per pound - a 2400% increase. (Federal tobacco tax to go up in April) Tom Briant, executive director of the National Association of Tobacco Outlets (NATO) thinks RYO in the U.S. will survive but it will be different and sales will drop.

According to Imperial Tobacco, Britain’s biggest cigarette company and the owner of Golden Virginia and Drum, the volume of hand-rolling tobacco sold by the group in the UK rose by 7 per cent to 3,750 tonnes last year and the company believes it is on course for another significant increase in 2009.

While it is difficult to compare the price of ordinary cigarettes with rolling tobacco – because roll-up smokers choose how much tobacco they use in each cigarette – the recommended retail price of a packet of 20 Lambert & Butler, a cheaper brand, is £5.22 (7.78USD). A 12.5gm pouch of rolling tobacco costs £2.99 (4.46USD), while a 25gm pouch costs £5.87 (8.75USD). Part of the reason why rolling tobacco is cheaper is that HM Revenue & Customs (collect the bulk of UK tax revenue) charges less tax on loose tobacco. The average tax take on a packet of cigarettes ranges from between 75 and 90 per cent of the total price, whereas roll-your-own tobacco is taxed at just below 70 per cent.

Reference: Too skint to light up — roll ups make a comebackby Suzy Jagger, TimesOnline, 4/13/2009.

Will the Oregon cigarette butt law pass this year..

April 14, 2009 - Deb Schallert has been on a personal crusade to prevent cigarette litter. Schallert, backed by Oregon Rep. Carolyn Tomei, D-Milwaukie, is behind House Bill 2676. The half-page bill would make it a Class B misdemeanor to knowingly toss a butt, cigarette or cigar. The penalty would be a fine or, perhaps more [appropriately,] consistent, community service that includes clearing property of cigarettes, cigars and filters "unlawfully deposited on the property."

"I see Oregon as an environmental leader, with the beach bill, with the bottle bill," says Schallert, 56. "I'd like to reach a consensus that (tossing cigarette butts) is not OK. If you're the person cleaning it up, you really notice it." Schallert says she's not out to get smokers. She's hoping for the same change in attitude she's seen among dog owners, who she thinks are much more likely to pick up pet waste in parks and on sidewalks than they were 10 years ago.

This is the third time in five years that Schallert has tried for a cigarette butt bill. Tomei said she thinks the bill has a chance this time around. It's scheduled for a hearing Tuesday, 4/14/2009 in the House environment and water committee. Oregon has a law against "offensive littering" but it doesn't specifically call out cigarette butts.

The Ocean Conservancy, which coordinates cleanups worldwide, says cigarette butts are No. 1 littered item on the globe. Cleanup volunteers picked up 3.2 million in 2008 from beaches and inland waterways.

Reference: Small item, big impact: littered cigarette butts in Oregon by Scott Learn, The Oregonian, 4/12/2009.

Related news brief: In Process - Cigarette Butt Litter the Major Polluter..; If you thought Cigarette Butts Everywhere Were Bad Wait Until Discarded SNUS Bags..; Earth Day promoting environmental citizenship - Tobacco A Major Culprit..

Dr. Judith Mackay awarded the British Medical Journal Group's Lifetime Achievement Award..

April 13, 2009 - A Hong Kong anti-smoking campaigner who for a quarter of a century has been a thorn in the side of the tobacco industry in Asia was Sunday, April 12, 2009 celebrating a major international award for her crusading work. Dr Judith Mackay, labeled one of the three most dangerous people in the world in a leaked tobacco industry document in the 1980s, has received the British Medical Journal Group's first ever lifetime achievement award.

She topped a poll of 10 shortlisted candidates including world-famous heart surgeon Professor Sir Magdi Yacoub, pioneering US kidney doctor Dr Robert William Shrier and Indian rural health campaigner Dr Hanumappa Sudarshan. The prestigious publication, which attracted more than 7,000 votes for its poll, praised Mackay for her "tireless and courageous campaigning on behalf of patients and public health." She has been fighting for tougher tobacco controls in Asia since 1984.

The award recognized her as "one of the first tobacco control advocates in Asia" and said she had played a "leading role" in advancing public policy, articulating the harms of tobacco and "exposing the nefarious tactics of the tobacco industry."

She was also instrumental in developing the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, hailedas "one of the most successful international treaties in public health," the award givers noted. World Health Organization consultant and World Lung Foundation advisor Mackay, whose solo mission to cut Asian smoking levels in the 1980s gradually gained international support and recognition, said she was "just overwhelmed" at the award.

Dr. MacKay: "When I started working in tobacco control in Asia in 1984, it was a lonely job, with no career structure and no pay. Few, if any, countries, had even a single person working full-time on tobacco control. I also faced the formidable opposition of the trans-national tobacco companies, who identified Asia as their future," she said. Mackay, 66, said there had since been a "sea-change in attitudes" towards the fight for stricter tobacco controls in the intervening years but made it clear she believes the battle is still far from won.

Related news brief: Third Edition Tobacco Atlas.. Dr. Mackay was the co-author of each edition of the Tobacco Atlas.

Reference: Anti-smoking campaigner is decorated for 25-year Asian crusade by DPA, Earth Times, 4/12/2009.

Thailand - monks sickly from tobacco smoking and/or smoke exposure..

April 13, 2009 - Thailand thought they had enforce a total ban on smoking but they now find out they left out locations where monks can be found. The Public Health Ministry will issue a total ban on smoking in temples nationwide, following the discovery that over 18,000 monk smokers were suffering or had died from chronic diseases such as cancer, tuberculosis, and pulmonary emphysema.

Mekong river monk network's secretary general, Abbot Maha Worawuth Panyawuttho: "We have seen that over the past few years most monks suffered from smoking or exposure to second hand smoke. The campaign to ban smoking in temples will be a good model for communities to give up smoking, as the temple is the community center for practicing religious activities. Giving cigarettes to monks is a bad value for Buddhist society, he added."

The smokefree law passed in November 2002 banned smoking in covered indoor public places, including air-conditioned restaurants but exempted nightclubs and bars. Thailand Joined Developed World With Total Ban On Smoking when it extended its ban on smoking to air-conditioned bars and offices and outdoor markets in February 2008.

Reference: Death of monks prompts ban on smoking in temples by Pongphon Sarnsamak, The Nation, 4/10/2009.

Some other Thailand news briefs: Philippines - Thai cigarette import rules..; Thailand - cigarette and liquor prices are expected to rise once new measures for calculating excise taxes take effect..; Congratulations.. Thailand Joins Developed World With Total Ban On Smoking..; Discouraging Tobacco Use - Horrific Images on the Packaging..

Children in Indiana starting to use smokeless tobacco products..

April 13, 2009 - Another county school system in Indiana concerned that children are obtaining smokeless tobacco products. Most school campuses in Madison County, Indiana are smoke-free, but in recent months, students have found a new way get their nicotine fixes during class. Hancock County, Indiana.

Marlboro recently released Snus, pouches of tobacco that can be placed in the mouth and swallowed (minus the pouch), and Camel is using central Indiana as one of three test markets for its new Orbs, tobacco tablets that can be eaten.

Karesa Knight-Wilkerson, executive director of Healthy, Tobacco-Free Madison County Inc., said either way, students are getting away with having an addictive drug in school. “It’s going to be really hard to detect it,” she said. “If they’re truly addicted and going eight hours a school day without smoking, this is the way for them to get their nicotine. With all these new products coming out, our kids are going to be affected by drugs right there in class.”

Healthy, Tobacco-Free Madison County is reaching out to schools through student volunteers who work with the program. Knight-Wilkerson said students from two local schools told the organization that students at their schools were using Snus. Youth coordinators are targeting all high and middle schools in the county to educate their peers and teachers.

Snus and Orbs both last several minutes, and Knight-Wilkerson fears students will put two or three in their mouths at one time to try to achieve a nicotine buzz. Snus come in packages that look like some gum packages, and Orbs also could be mistaken for candy or gum. Orbs could be especially attractive to children who might get their hands on them because they contain a cartoon camel imprint.

Missy Morris-McKinney, youth coordinator who works with the American Cancer Society and Healthy, Tobacco-Free Madison County, said the tobacco companies know the new products are ones with which children can relate. “Tobacco companies are targeting our youth because they are looking for a replacement,” she said, noting that tobacco kills its users every day. “Kids are more apt to just use something without knowing exactly what’s in it or know what harmful effects it can have.”

Michelle Cook, who heads up Community Hospital Anderson’s tobacco cessation programs, said children who use the new products aren’t aware of what they’re putting into their bodies, and some of the products could have as much as 300 percent more nicotine than a cigarette. Poison Control Centers have been trying to get the word out on problems with nicotine toxicity.

Is it Camel Orbs or Tic Tacs - both are flavored, both look like candy, both have appealing packaging and the orbs comes with the little Camel. YOU DFCIDE..

Reference: New tobacco products have local schools worried by Aleasha Sandley, Herald Bulletin Staff Writer, The Herald Bulletin, 4/10/2009.

A few related news briefs:U.S. - A contradiction H.R. 1261 Youth Prevention and Tobacco Harm Reduction.., R.J. Reynolds Smokeless so safe - not fair to tax.??, U.S. group acknowledged that smokeless-tobacco products are an option for reducing health risks for tobacco users.., Poison Control Centers - Camel Dissolvables - Nicotine Toxicity.., Nasal snuff another harm reduction product.., Why does R.J. Reynolds Tobacco keep on selecting Portland, OR as a test site.., Camel Tobacco Dissolvables - Natl Assoc of Attorneys General - wait and see!!, STOP the Release of Dissolvable Tobacco Products..; We must stop the launch of dissolvable tobacco products..; Reynolds America moving ahead with dissolvable tobacco products..; STOP - the Proliferation of Flavored Tobacco Products..; R.J. Reynolds Dissolvables - it looks like candy.. and Snus News & Other Tobacco Products: STOP - the Proliferation of Flavored Tobacco Products..


Indonesia - district court dismisses request to ratify FCTC..

April 13, 2009 - JAKARTA: The Indonesian Consumer Foundation (YLKI) is planning on appealing to the High Court against a decision at the Central Jakarta District Court dismissing its request for the government to ratify the Framework Convention for Tobacco Control (FCTC). (Indonesia is the only nation in Asia which has not signed or ratified the (FCTC) - the global public health anti-tobacco treaty. As many as 162 countries have ratified the FCTC, which forces countries to significantly raise the price of cigarettes.)

The plan for appeal was announced by Sudaryatmo, a member of YLKI's legal team fighting this case. Sudaryatmo claimed the lower court based its decision on the fact judges did not consider the matter of a legal nature, so concluded it could not be settled by any court body. "They thought that it was a matter of policy that could only be settled through general elections," he said.

The YLKI filed a lawsuit against the government's tobacco policy after it did not ratifying the UN convention, citing Article 13 of the 1965 law on legal violations committed by the government.

However, the court did not consider the law to be relevant in trying this case, Sudaryatmo said. "The judges admitted that government policy had caused the death of many individuals due to its weak tobacco policy, but said the matter was confirmed to the area of policy," he said. The YLKI stood firm in its stance, he said, on the grounds that the court had the right to deal with any government action that has the potential to harm its citizens.

Reference: YLKI to appeal against tobacco court rulingThe Jakarta Post, 4/11/2009.

Related news briefs: Indonesia - farmers hold rally protest tobacco controls..; Indonesia - tobacco farmers reject Islamic council's edict..; Indonesia - Ulema Council - debate results is split on smoking..; Indonesia - Withdraw Sponsorhip of Another Rock Concert..; Indonesia to increase tax on tobacco products..; Semarang, Indonesia - Cigarette Smoking Areas to be Prepared..; Jakarta, Indonesia - Malls help enforce non-smoking ban..; Indonesia - federal anti-smoking laws in one year - MAYBE..; Indonesia - NGO's (non-government organizations) Demand the Government Ratify WHO's FCTC.; Indonesia to raise cigarette tax by 6 to 7% in 2009..; Surabaya, Indonesia - anti-smoking bylaw 10/2009 - FOR REAL??; Indonesians smoking more than ever before..; Indonesia further rise in the excise tax would hurt the cigarette industry..; Alicia Keys - Jakarta Concert (July 31st) tobacco companies forced to withdraw sponsorship.. and Most Indonesians support moves to ban tobacco advertisements...

Click on each image to enlarge, 2nd image Indonesia coat of arms.


U.S. - Bill for FDA to regulate tobacco BAN MENTHOL..

April 7, 2009 - H.R. 1256, the Family Smoking Prevention & Tobacco Control Act was passed by the House of Representatives. The bill in its present form gives the FDA limited authority to monitor smoking products and ban flavored cigarettes -- such as candy-flavored or spice-flavored smokes -- with an exception for menthol-flavored cigarettes.

Menthol is responsible for the cooling, minty flavor of peppermint and is the most widely used cigarette flavoring. It is the most popular cigarette choice of African-American smokers and under this law, will receive special protection. The reason menthol is seen as politically off limits is that mentholated brands are so crucial to the American cigarette industry. They make up close to 30 percent of the $70 billion American cigarette market. Prior to Barack Obama's presidency Philip Morris USA (PM) support of the bill was needed; it was felt that without PM's lobbying support the legislation might have no chance of passage.

Hoping to lure a new generation of smokers, tobacco companies routinely manipulate levels of menthol so that their cigarettes prove more appealing and less harsh to novice users, Boston researchers reported yesterday. Scientists from the Harvard School of Public Health scoured thousands of pages of industry documents from the 1980s through 2006 and commissioned laboratory tests of cigarettes to confirm a long-suspected link between menthol levels and marketing strategies. A 1987 internal memo from R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., maker of the Salem brand, which uses menthol, summarized the benefits of low-level menthol cigarettes: "Smoother, more refreshing tobacco taste." Such a product, the memo said, would be a "proven winner" among 18- to 24-year-olds. (Menthol the bait to trap smokers, researchers say by Stephen Smith, Boston Globe, 7/17/2008.)

Among blacks who were current smokers 80.4% used menthol cigarettes in the past month (2005-2006). (National Survey on Drug Use and Health Cigarette Use Amongst Blacks 2005-2006) Nearly one-fourth of blacks aged 12 or older were current smokers (i.e. - used cigarettes in the past month). According to the U.S. Surgeon General, African Americans carry the highest health burden for smoking of any ethnic group; African-Americans have more illnesses, have lower survival rates, and die at greater rates than white Americans. More that 45,000 African Americans die from smoking-related diseases every year.

Tobacco-related cancers account for approximately 45% of the incidence of cancer in African-American men and 25% of the incidence in African-American women. The incidence of oral cavity and pharynx cancer in black men exceeds that in white men by 49.1%. The incidence of lung and bronchus cancer in black men exceeds white men by 40.7%. And to a somewhat lesser degree, the same pattern is true for women. Furthermore, African-American smokers (women in particular) have significantly higher lung cancer rates for any given level of smoking. Black men who smoke are 48 percent more likely to develop lung cancer than white male smokers

In addition to mortality, African-Americans suffer greater morbidity than do white Americans. For instance, even though African-American women smoke fewer cigarettes than white American women, African-Americans have lost greater permanent lung capacity.

Cardiovascular disease is the No. 1 killer of African-Americans. Incidents of heart failure before 50 years of age is substantially more common among blacks than among whites. Blacks tend to develop heart failure 20 years earlier than whites, a long-running study shows. African American men were 30% more likely to die from heart disease, as compared to non-Hispanic white men. African American adults were 30% more likely than their white adult counterparts to have a stroke.

We have waited for many years for federal tobacco regulation let's produce the best piece of legislation possible. No longer are special concessions for PM and other tobacco companies necessary for this bill to become law. APRIL 2009 - is Minority Health Month..and it is only fitting that the minorities affected most (e.g., by menthol in cigarettes--Black America) be considered in this bill. Seven former federal health secretaries have signed a letter urging that menthol be banned as an ingredient in tobacco products.

Meanwhile the chief executive of Lorillard Inc., the maker of the number one menthol cigarette in the U.S. - Newport - received a compensation package valued at more than $15.3 million for 2008.

A few related paper: Menthol - More Than a Flavoring in Mentholated Cigarettes..; More - Lorillard-Newport - FDA proposed tobacco regulation..; Congressional Black Caucus - Menthol Exemption..; Black Lawmakers Want to Limit Use of Menthol Cigarettes...

Click on image to enlarge..; California Department of Health.


U.S. - A contradiction H.R. 1261 Youth Prevention and Tobacco Harm Reduction..

March 18, 2009 - This legislation is an alternative bill to H.R. 1256 The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act for the federal government to regulate tobacco. Bill Godshall, executive director of Smokefree Pennsylvania, is lobbying on behalf of the alternative proposal being pushed by U.S. Representatives Steve Buyer (R-Ind.) and Mike McIntyre (D-N.C.). In place of the FDA, the bill would create a new agency within the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) to regulate tobacco products.

We wondered why the words "Youth Prevention" were a part of the name of the bill. It was most likely added to get the attention of lawmakers. The promotion of harm reduction products can only lead to more youngsters tempted to try these tobacco products leading to a life of nicotine addiction. Nicotine has numerous adverse effects but the one most important in an adolescent, is the effect on brain development. The presence of nicotine leads to decline in attention, in particular auditory attention, and at the same time as abnormalities in the structure of the brain that seems to be premature developmental changes. Nicotine binds to a receptor called the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor that's very important in modulating development in both prenatal and adolescent life. (Professor Leslie Jacobsen M.D., Dept. of Psychiatry, Yale University)

There’s a move to promote so-called tobacco harm reduction products as a safer alternative to tobacco smoking. We’re in agreement along with the American Association of Public Health Physicians on the use of smokeless tobacco if distribution could be limited to inveterate tobacco smokers (smokers who are either unable or unwilling to quit). Tobacco companies, with the continual decrease in cigarette sales and with little credibility, are prodding health officials to come forward and support claims about the safety of smokeless tobacco products. Leading U.S. tobacco control researchers and policy experts have been meeting (last meeting August 2007) to have a strategic dialogue on tobacco harm reduction. They have called for policies that encourage current tobacco users to reduce their health risks by switching from the most to the least harmful nicotine-containing products.

Is it possible to limit the distribution of smokeless tobacco products to inveterate tobacco smokers (smokers who are either unable or unwilling to quit)?? We Do Not Think So.

Professor John Britton, Chairman of the Royal College of Physicians Tobacco Advisory Group, a proponent of harm reduction solution has concluded, “It’s their (tobacco companies) job to sell as much tobacco as possible, so they will be targeting non-smokers rather than current ones, that’s the worry.”

Dr. Britton is correct in that tobacco companies have an entirely different goal in mind – they are already targeting a much younger crowd of young adults and any kids they can entice along the way.

Now let's look at how R.J. Reynolds Tobacco (RJR) has promoted Camel SNUS. The tag line is “Pleasure for Wherever Whenever.” Mitch Zeller, a health policy consultant who was director of the Office of Tobacco Programs at the FDA during the Clinton Administration, said the web site for Camel Snus "seems aimed at young adult males to get them to start using products." The site says Reynolds found Snus in Sweden, "home of the world's best meatballs, massage and blondes." Back in June 2006 RJR started the test marketing of Camel SNUS in Portland, OR and Austin TX.

Kylie Meiner, the tobacco prevention coordinator for Multnomah County where Portland is located is convinced that the marketing of Camel SNUS is aimed at young people. One direct mail item she received read “Camel Snus – be the 1st on your block to try it” (Portland Tribune, 11/20/2006). Cathryn Cushing, a specialist with the Oregon's Tobacco Prevention and Education Program, "I see it as a young adult marketing strategy, and we have a lot of hip young adults in this city," Cushing said. And "if it appeals to a 22-year-old, I think you can assume it will appeal to a 16-year-old. Because what do 16-year-olds want to be? Twenty-two" (The Oregonian, 1/7/2007).

Comment from Metroblogging User - Portland, OR: There are only two drawbacks. First, it doesn't take a genius to see what a boon snus would be to underage users. Heck, you could sit in class with some in your mouth, and no one would be the wiser. At least when I was in high school, you had the telltale clumps of 'chaw' in the water fountains to betray the tobacco user, or at least the worn white rings in the back pocket of your jeans. You could probably hide this stuff from teachers and parents pretty easily.

Second, although smokeless tobacco saves you from some of the risk of heart disease and lung cancer, plenty of smokeless tobacco users out there have developed cancer of the mouth or throat, and have had large chunks of their jaws and tongues removed as a result. But that's a hard image to sell to sixteen-year-olds, who are pretty sure that they're immortal ("You Snus, You Lose" posted by PAgent at 1:50pm on January 8, 2007).

RJR has had a number of Camel snus ads in community entertainment newspapers - take a look, you decide who's the target audience. There's been lots of coupon offers - giving away free cans of Camel SNUS. Some additional related news briefs: Experience of a High School Student Using Camel SNUS - from the Kansas City Star, 10/31/2007..; Are adults snoozing while kids are "snusing?".. and Ohio youth are using cigars and smokeless tobacco products and it is a continuously growing problem... At least in the Raleigh, NC area the RJR sales people keep on providing convenience stores with free cans of snus to pass out to customers.

With the new dissolvable products that RJR has started to market you can count on the same happening again but on a much broader scale. (Remember what UST's former salesman Bob Beets, said, "Cherry Skoal (moist snuff) for somebody who likes the taste of candy, if you know what I mean.") Again Portland, Oregon is one of the three test sites - we wondered why??

Each product is marketed in convenient user-friendly dosage form containing amounts of the nicotine to render the user a slave to this addictive substance for many years to come. The Camel Dissolvables Products: flavored Sticks can be placed in the mouth like a toothpick or broken into pieces that are placed between the upper lip and gum, where they dissolve after 10 minutes; Orbs, which is a pellet (like placing a candy in your mouth) that lasts about 15 minutes and edible film Strips for the tongue (like Listerine breath strips), which dissolve after about 3 minutes. Strips will come in fresh mint flavor and Sticks in Mellow; Orbs will be available in both flavors. Click on the image below to enlarge - a comparison of Camel Orbs with Tic Tacs which one is the candy - both are flavored and presented in attractive packaging.

It's impossible to prevent our children from giving these products a try. It only take a few tries for a youngster to soon become addicted to nicotine. We can expect our future leaders - our children to end up as a slave to nicotine never able to reach their full potential.

"Our Highest Priority Has To Be Keeping Children From Beginning To Use Tobacco Products" Dr. Richard Carmona, 17th Surgeon General of the USA. All tobacco products with no exceptions are highly addictive and dangerous to health; as the World Health Organization tells us "Tobacco is Deadly in Any Form or Disguise."

Click on image to enlarge..


Hong Kong - cigarette smuggling soars after tax increase..

April 12, 2009 - Cigarette smuggling trade soars in Hong Kong after tax increase. The tax on cigarettes in Hong Kong was pushed up 50 percent Wednesday, February 25, 2009 to try to curb a worrying increase in smokers. The increase pushes the price of a packet of 20 cigarettes to almost 5 US dollars, still around half the price of cigarettes in Singapore or Australia.

The number of seizures involving smuggled cigarettes has soared 127 per cent in Hong Kong since the government increased the tobacco tax. A total of 287 cases of smuggling, distribution, selling and storing of illegal cigarettes were detected in March, compared with 126 in March 2008, the South China Morning Post said.

However, in a statement, the Customs and Excise Department attributed the rise to stronger enforcement measures introduced because it anticipated a rise in smuggling because of the increased duty. The head of the Revenue and General Investigation Bureau, Chow Chi-kwong, said the department had been closely monitoring illicit cigarette activities at all control points and on the streets after the levying of the new tobacco duty.

In a series of recent operations, customs officers raided 16 illicit storage and distribution centres, arresting 19 people and seizing 1.48 million cigarettes with a sales value of 2.4 million Hong Kong dollars (308,000 US dollars) and a dutiable value of 1.78 million Hong Kong dollars.

Another 67 people were arrested and cigarettes worth 210,000 Hong Kong dollars were seized in 63 cases involving phone delivery services.

On the anti-smuggling side, customs seized five cases containing 9.35 million cigarettes worth about 17.75 million Hong Kong dollars and a dutiable value of 11.26 million Hong Kong dollars.

Chow: "Customs will continue to closely monitor illicit cigarette activities and strengthen manpower deployment to step up enforcement action against any kinds of illicit cigarette activities. Apart from prosecuting the sellers, customs will also spare no effort to take enforcement action against buyers of illicit cigarettes." (dpa)

Reference: Cigarette smuggling trade soars in Hong Kong after tax increase, submitted by Mohit Joshi,, 4/10/2009.