Laos - possible smoking ban coming..

August 8, 2009 - Laos (Lao People's Democratic Republic (PDR)) would soon make lighting up more difficult with a ban on smoking in restaurants and inside public buildings, Radio Laos said Thursday, August 6th.

No date was set for implementing the ban in nearly all public places, but it would be soon, the state-run radio station said in a broadcast monitored in Bangkok.

Smoking is common among Laos' 6 million-plus people with both locally made cigarettes and imports available.

In another effort to get people to kick the smoking habit, the Ministry of Public Health started discussing increasing the tax on cigarettes in late 2008. That move was complicated because smuggling is common across Laos' borders with both Vietnam and Thailand.

Prevalence of current tobacco use among adults (>=15 years) (%) female = 15.6 (2005)
Prevalence of current tobacco use among adults (>=15 years) (%) male = 65.0 (2005)
Core Health Indicators the latest data from multiple WHO sources

More on tobacco use in Lao PDR..

Laos to ban smoking in public places
,, 8/6/3009.

Click on image to enlarge, Laos Coat-of-Arms. Stamp image from World Health Day, Campaign Against Smoking, April 7, 1992..

Indonesia - will they ratify the first world public health treaty..

August 7, 2009 - As of July 21, 2009 Indonesia is not party to the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). (A party is bound under international law by the provisions of the FCTC.) Indonesia has signed a convention on tobacco control along with 175 other countries as a sign of commitment to limiting the impact of tobacco and cigarettes on the population, particularly on minors. However, a bill on tobacco control, which if passed will automatically ratify the convention, is now the subject of intense bickering among legislators.

The Indonesia Civil Society for Tobacco Control has demanded the government ratify the World Health Organization's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) to protect Indonesian citizens, especially young people, from smoking-related health risks and death. The group, comprised of 132 politicians, activists and celebrities, accused the government of giving into the cigarette industry by continuing to delay the ratification. Data presented by the group show Indonesia, the only country in Asia that has not ratified the treaty, is the world's third largest consumer of tobacco, with the number of teenagers who smoke increasing by 144 percent between 1998 and 2004 and the total number of smoking-related deaths reaching 400,000 a year. (Indonesia - NGO's (non-government organizations) Demand the Government Ratify WHO's FCTC..)

A full-blown war to block a bill on the control of tobacco products is currently being waged in parliament, with the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle's (PDI-P) Aria Bima forced to try and wrap it up before legislators end their term on September 30, 2009. Despite being re-elected for another term, Aria is worried, because the clout once wielded by his party will be far less substantial in the next House of Representatives. Last April's legislative elections will see the PDI-P occupy 95 of 560 seats at the House, down from 127 seats after the 2004 polls.

Bima: "It seems my duty *to reject the bill* will be more difficult *in the next term*, with only a small number of legislators from our party in the House."

So it is now on Aria and fellow legislators from the National Awakening Party (PKB) and the National Mandate Party (PAN) to kill the bill within the next few weeks, with the President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's Democratic Party, a fervent supporter of the bill, set to dominate the House in the nextlegislative session.

Aria and other opposing legislators claim they seek to block the bill for the sake of tobacco farmers, who will likely suffer the most if the bill is endorsed. "Legislators should think of the farmers, and not just of the negative impact of tobacco," Aria says, adding the country will also suffer potential losses of around Rp 51 trillion (US$ 5.1 billion) in cigarette excise if the bill is passed.

The bill, which basically emphasizes existing regulations on tobacco controls issued by local and central governments, includes pledges to ban children from selling or purchasing cigarettes, setting up no-smoking areas, and limiting cigarette advertising, promotions and endorsements.

It also calls for strict disciplinary measures of five years in prison and/or Rp 1 billion in fines for illegal tobacco producers and other violators.

The most contentious issue in the bill revolves around the possibility of the government imposing a quota on cigarette production and capping the number of cigarette companies in operation.

Opposing legislators also point out the economic implications of unemployment and reduction in national income, which they argue will be more of a financial burden than tobacco-related illnesses.

With huge amounts of money and workers engaged in the tobacco industry, stakeholders are also piping up in opposition to the bill. The country's cigarette companies had a combined revenue last year of more than Rp 80 trillion, and employed more than 600,000 workers directly and 10 million indirectly.

Nasir Djamil, from the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), says legislators were at first eager to deliberate the bill, but have eventually withdrawn their support due to various reasons, including possible pressure from businesses. "Perhaps they're thinking about the tobacco farmers, or maybe it's a conspiracy between them and the tobacco industry," says Nasir, who is involved in the deliberation.

He adds tobacco farmers have visited the House several times to protest the bill.
However, most legislators who support the bill say such protests are engineered by cigarette companies to draw public sympathy.

Hakim Sorimuda Pohan, from the Democratic Party, claims the farmers are being manipulated by cigarette companies. Pohan: "Those farmers are being forced by the cigarette industry, under threat of a loss in orders should they not comply." He adds the bill will affect the companies more than the farmers, saying the latter can easily turn to growing other crops.

Hakim accuses other legislators of selling out to the cigarette industry, which financed their campaigns in the recent elections. "As a result, these legislators can't think objectively," he says, adding he has evidence of the collusion, including cigarette packs branded with party logos that were handed out during campaigning.

Tobacco farmers and workers in Central Java admit the Indonesia Tobacco Farmers Association (APTI) has received support from cigarette companies to lobby the House.
"It's perfectly normal *for the companies to pay the APTI to lobby*," says one farmer, speaking on condition of anonymity. "We have to fight this bill. The companies are rich and have large farms. We have to go along because we work for them on their land." APTI Central Java secretary Wisnu Broto dismisses the allegations, saying farmers and manufacturers stand worlds apart. "Actually, we're fighting for better prices from cigarette companies, so why would they donate anything to us?" he says.

Indonesian Cigarette Producers Association (Gappri) chairman Ismanu Soemiran echoes Wisnu's rationale. "Do the legislators have any evidence that we're financing the farmers to stage protests in opposition to the bill, or to lobby legislators?" he says.

He claims no anti-tobacco activists or legislators have invited Gappri to discussions on the bill.

Legislators supporting the bill say lobbying by tobacco farmers and cigarette producers will intensify during the House's downtime, to kill the bill.

Hakim and Nasir say they will try to buy time until Sept. 30 to push the bill's deliberation into the tenure of the next House, when there are expected to be more legislators in favor of the bill. "The House's makeup will change with new people and spirit," Hakim says. "This will be the best opportunity to pass the bill." (naf)

Key issues in the bill
1. Prohibiting children from selling or purchasing cigarettes.
2. Setting up no-smoking areas.
3. Limiting cigarette advertising, promotions and endorsements.
4. Strict disciplinary measures of up to five years in prison and/or Rp 1 billion in fines for violators.
5. Quota on cigarette production.
6. Capping the number of cigarette companies.

Reference: Special Report: Who's trying to kill the tobacco bill?, The Jakarta Post, 8/5/2009.

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District of Columbia - takes from tobacco fund to bridge budget gap..

August 7, 2009 - Washington, District of Columbia council members facing a budget shortfall threatened to raise property and other taxes rather than cut more from the budget. At-large Councilman David Catania, chairman of the health committee, offered additional dollars from the tobacco settlement fund to bridge the gap.

The pot was ultimately drained of nearly $27 million (taking from the tobacco fund: Fiscal 2009: $18.3 million; Fiscal 2010: $4.84, Fiscal 2011: $4 million) Councilman Catania: “No one likes having to use part of these proceeds for gap-closing measures, but the alternative was worse, and that’s why we recommended that we use a portion, not all. There still will be substantial tobacco funds held in reserves for future activities.”

The council also backed a cigarette tax increase, from $2 to $2.50 per pack. The associated revenue, expected to be $9.7 million in 2010, will flow to the general fund. Anti-smoking activists want the D.C. Council to devote new funding for cessation programs after the body voted to hike the cigarette tax and raid the tobacco settlement fund but dedicate the associated revenue to the budget shortfall.

This is not the first time D.C. has redirected its tobacco money. The city converted settlement fund payments into $521 million in bonds in 2001 and used the entire balance to pay off debt.

The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, for example, is warning that the DC Tobacco Free Families prevention and cessation program, first funded three years ago with settlement dollars, will be bankrupt Sept. 30 without additional support.

Ten Yrs Later the 1998 State Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement (MST)..

Reference: Smoking critics irked as D.C. diverts tobacco funds by Michael Neibauer,, 8/7/2009.

Arkansas - escrow accounts Master Settlement Agreement, non-participating manufacturers..

August 6, 2009 - The 8th Circuit affirmed dismissal of a Canadian cigarette maker's lawsuit accusing Arkansas of violating antitrust laws by levying fees on manufacturers based on how many cigarettes are sold there each year.

Grand River Enterprises Six Nations, involved in the manufacture and sale of tobacco products, a Canadian corporation. According to its Statement of Claim, Grand River seeks not less than $310 million to $664 million for damages allegedly resulting from a 1998 settlement agreement bealong with a pair of wholesale distributors, sued Arkansas after it passed a law requiring certain manufacturers to make payments into an escrow account to offset future Medicaid costs related to smoking.

They alleged the so-called Allocable Share Amendment violated antitrust laws because it forced them to raise prices and prevented them from gaining a competitive advantage over other manufacturers and wholesalers. "Although these payments may increase the cost of doing business in Arkansas, they do not amount to an antitrust injury," the St. Louis-based court ruled. The plaintiffs "have not proven that the Allocable Share Amendment amounts to a per se violation of the Sherman Act."

In the mid-1990s, all 50 states and two U.S. territories sued the country's major cigarette manufacturers to recover Medicaid costs related to cigarette smoking. They also sought to impose restrictions on the makers' sales and ad practices. The lawsuits were settled in 1998. As part of the settlement agreement, manufacturers were banned from targeting youth in their advertising and were ordered to make payments to the states for all future cigarette sales. The states, in exchange, agreed not to file future claims.

The agreement allowed manufacturers who were not parties to the lawsuit to join the master agreement within 90 days, making them exempt from having to make future payments with certain restrictions.

Unlike the Participating Manufacturers to the Master Settlement Agreement, Non-Participating Manufacturers (NPMs) like Grand River Enterprises Six Nations, have not been released from State claims. Grand River was not a party to the original lawsuit or the subsequent agreement, and opted not to participate in the master agreement. But the master agreement allows states - including Arkansas - to enact statutes forcing such non-participating manufacturers to place money into escrow each year to settle future judgments based on the number of cigarettes sold in that state.

Grand River Enterprises Six Nations, Ltd. v. Beebe, No. 08-1436, U.S. Eighth Circuit,, 8/4/2009.

Reference: Arkansas Wins Antitrust Ruling Over Tobacco Fees by NICK DIVITO, Courthouse News Service, 8/6/2009.


Ontario, Canada - illegal cigarettes are everywhere..

August 6, 2009 - Royal Canada Mounted Police (RCMP) seized 1.8 million cigarettes -- 9,000 cartons -- from a South London, Ontario storage facility and charge a suspect after being tipped off by city police investigating a report of a suspicious person.

As politicians pointed fingers about the widespread sale of illegal cigarettes, police in London were tallying one of the largest-ever seizures of contraband in the city. The arrest and seizure were made Sunday, August 2nd two days before Ontario Progressive Conservative critic Toby Barrett accused the provincial Liberal government of ignoring illegal cigarette sales and allowing tax evasion. Barrett's attack was fueled by an increase in illegal smoke shacks in the Caledonia area of his riding, which he said the province and police have failed to close. "We see the police taking very little action, whether it be national police, provincial, or Six Nations police," said Barrett. "When they do take action, they are confronted by these people and have to back down." Barrett: 'Half the people in Ontario are not paying taxes when they purchase their cigarettes.'

If convicted, the accused could face a minimum fine of 17 cents per cigarette and a maximum of 25 cents per cigarette, or a total maximum of $450,000.

The illicit tobacco market directly decreases government revenue for health and social programs by hundreds of millions of dollars annually. Ontario smokers pay a provincial tax of 2.65 cents per cigarette, or just more than $5 per carton, which means Sunday's seizure could have represented a tax loss of about $47,700. The federal tax of $1.01 per pack means Ottawa's coffers would have been out $90,900.

Ontario's auditor general said in December the province missed out on $500 million in lost tobacco taxes, and he blamed a lack of political will to deal with the issue.
Premier Dalton McGuinty has blamed the federal government, saying a large part of the problem is centred on aboriginal reserves that are Ottawa's responsibility.

Reference: Bad smokes snuffed Authorities seize 1.8 million cigarettes -- 9,000 cartons -- from a south London storage facility and charge a suspect by JOE BELANGER, London Free Press, 8/6/2009.

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Click on image to enlarge, RCMP handout photo..


Tampa, FL - Hav-A-Tampa Cigar plant will close at the end of August..

August 6, 2009 - The Tampa, Florida area will lose part of its cigar heritage in late August when Hav-A-Tampa shuts its factory near Seffner and lays off about 495 employees, closing a factory that has been operating since 1902.
Altadis USA, which owns Hav-A-Tampa will continue to make the Hav-A-Tampa brand in Puerto Rico, Altadis was acquired by Imperial Tobacco in February 2008.

Florida has long been the hub of U.S. cigar making. In the 1890s, much of the nation's cigars were rolled in Tampa by Cuban immigrants. In the 1960s, another wave of Cubans with cigar expertise opened up smaller shops in Miami after Fidel Castro's communist revolution.

The company couldn't cope with a steep drop in consumer demand brought on by the recession and a large new tax on tobacco products. The tax increase was a result of funding the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), a federal program that provides health insurance to low-income children. It is funded in part by a new federal tax on cigars and cigarettes. Previously, federal excise taxes on cigars were limited to no more than a nickel, said Norman Sharp, president of the Cigar Association of America trade group. The tax increase, which took effect April 1, raises the maximum tax on cigars to about 40 cents, Sharp said. Before the increase was passed, the cigar industry warned that consumption of cigars could fall as much as 30 percent in the year after its passage. It's not clear yet how big of an impact the law is having on sales, Sharp said.

As of July 1, 2009 Florida's new cigarette tax is $1.34 per pack. An equivalent increase applies to smokeless and pipe tobacco, but not cigars.

Reference: Cigar maker closing factory by Michael Sasso, Tampa Tribune, Fla., 6/24/2009.


Iraq - cabinet considers anti-smoking law..

August 6, 2009 - The Iraqi Cabinet has approved a draft bill to ban smoking in public places, a government spokesman said Thursday, August 6th. It's the first such bill in a country where lighting up is virtually a rite of passage for most young men. Smoking is common in many Arab countries, where a pack of cigarettes costs as little as 43 cents and there are few restrictions on where smokers can light up.

The law aims to curb the number of people who start smoking and raise awareness about the dangers of cigarettes, spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said. For passage, the draft still needs approval in parliament, which is in recess until September.
If passed, the Iraqi law would be one of the region's most comprehensive bans, similar to many laws in the U.S. and Europe.

Public places include: government buildings, schools, movie theaters and in public transportation. The media also would be banned from advertising cigarettes.

It also would ban the sale of cigarettes to anyone under the age of 18 and fine anyone who is caught selling with up to 5 million Dinars, or about $4,300.

Al-Dabbagh said the law also would require cigarette companies to put warning labels on packages.

"The Ministry of Health will take over the responsibility of coordinating with other ministries and educational institutions as well as administering programs that will raise awareness of smoking and its dangers," al-Dabbagh said in a written statement.

Baghdad resident Mohammed Hussein, 45, said he considers smoking law to be the least pressing of laws that parliament should consider. "The smoking law is not as important as many other laws with a higher priority for Iraqis," said Hussein, who works at the oil ministry and said he smoked for 25 years before quitting. Hussein: cigarettes are so inexpensive in Iraq "that even a poor boy can buy them."

Ihssan Jaafar Ahmed, the Health Ministry's public health director, acknowledged the ban would be hard to enforce in a country that is emerging from a state of lawlessness. But he said it was an important first step.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) more than 41 percent of Iraqi men and nearly seven percent of women are smokers.

Reference: Iraq: Cabinet considers anti-smoking law by HADEEL AL-SHALCHI, Associated Press, 8/6/2009; Iraq cabinet approves smoking curbs plan, Agence France Presse (AFP), 8/6/2009; Iraq wants to curb smoking in public by HADEEL AL-SHALCHI, The Associated Press, 8/7/2009.

Iraq - related news briefs: BAT Middle East - conference on the illicit tabacco trade..; Iraq - tobacco use increasing amongst youth..; Fred Thompson: Al Qaeda smoking ban pushed Iraqis to U.S...

Iraq ratified the
WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) Treaty on March 17, 2008.


Bulgaria - one third of the tobacco products sold are illicit..

August 6, 2009 - According to a Novinite (Sofia - capital of Bulgaria) news agency) story quoting sources within Bulgartabac one third of the tobacco products sold in Bulgaria are illicit.

The sale of illicit cigarettes has risen steeply in recent months, apparently because of the economic crisis, and shop owners are being offered large numbers of products without excise labels. In a market in Sofia, 10 packs of a well known brand can be bought without an excise label for BGN25 (18.35USD) – or with a label for BGN39 (28.63USD).

The illicit products comprise smuggled cigarettes, and cigarettes that are made locally for export but that are diverted for local sale. It is estimated that if all of the illicit sales were converted to licit sales, Bulgaria would increase its tobacco tax income by about BGN600 (440.3USD) million annually.

More on Tobacco in Bulgaria..

Reference: Bulgaria’s illicit trade booming, Tobacco Reporter, 8/6/2009.

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Saudi Arabia - banning sales of electronic (e) cigarettes..

August 6, 2009 - Saudi Arabia is one of the leading countries that have banned the sale of “e-cigarettes because of the harm the devices cause. The devices have been popular for the past few years following their introduction in China in 2004.

The move comes after the issuance of a warning on the use of these devices by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The head of the Saudi Smoking and Drug Awareness Organisation said their use was still limited and there were no official importers of the devices within the kingdom.

Reference: Saudi Arabia to curb ‘e-cigarettes’ by JABER AL MUSALLAM, Peninsula Oatar's leading english daily, 8/4/2009.

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Russia - cigarette sales slow..

August 6, 2009 - Russia’s cigarette market fell by 3-4 per cent during the first half of 2009, according to an Interfax story quoting the managing director of British American Tobacco (BAT) Russia, Kingsley Wheaton.

Wheaton was quoted as saying the market would decline at the same rate until the end of this year and would start to grow only in the second half of 2010.

BAT Russia's share of the cigarette market during the first six months, at 20
percent by volume and 23 percent by value, was down from that of the first half of last year, 22 percent and 24 percent respectively.

In April 2008 Russia's lower chamber of parliament, the Duma (in the Russian Empire and Russian Federation corresponds to the lower house of the parliament), ratified the World Health Organization's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. The head of the State Duma healthcare committee said the ratio of smokers and non-smokers in Russia is twice as high as that in Western Europe, and 400-500,000 people die of smoking-related diseases in the country every year. (Russian parliament ratifies anti-smoking global convention)

More - Tobacco in Russia..

Reference: Cigarette sales down in Russia, Tobacco Reporter, 8/6/2009.

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North Carolina - tax on a pack of cigarettes to increase 10 cents..

August 6, 2009 - 2009-2010 state budget passed by the legislature calls for a 10 cents increase in the tax on a pack of cigarettes.

The history of the tobacco tax: According to research by the N.C. Department of Revenue, the state's cigarette excise tax increased from 2 cents a pack to 5 cents a pack on Aug. 1, 1991. It increased to 30 cents a pack effective Sept. 1, 2005. And it increased again to 35 cents a pack effective July 1, 2006. Those last two increases occurred under Gov. Mike Easley. Easley proposed raising the cigarette tax another time to 55 cents a pack in his 2008-09 budget, but the legislature balked.

If Governor Purdue signs off on the state budget passed by the legislature the tax on a pack of cigarettes will increase 10 cents to 45 cents a pack.

The tobacco industry has traditionally been one of the most important industries in North Carolina and a backbone of the state's agricultural heritage..

Reference: New NC Budget Raises Taxes, Cuts Spending by Emery P. Dalesio, Associated Press, 8/5/2009.

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U.S. - another housing authority bans smoking..

August 5. 2009 - Smoke-free apartment buildings are becoming the wave of the future and their numbers are increasing virtually daily. As the serious health effects of environmental tobacco smoke (ETS), or secondhand smoke (sidestream smoke. passive smoking, involuntary smoking), have become better understood, the seepage of ETS into apartments and condominiums has emerged as a growing area of controversy for tenants and building owners alike.

A Report of the Surgeon General of the United States: The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke.. June 27, 2006

Recently, the Housing Authority of Murray, Kentucky adopted a policy that will ban residents from smoking inside their apartments. Faye Dodd, the agency's executive director, said they had considered making the units non-smoking for a few months partly because the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development has been encouraging housing authorities to adopt non-smoking policies. She said 112 housing authorities across the country are currently smoke-free.

However, she said the issue became more urgent in May after a resident fell asleep while smoking and the apartment burned down. Dodd said the Housing Authority is still working out the details with its insurance company, but that the building will most likely have to be torn down and rebuilt.

Dodd said the smoke-free policy was written in June and was approved in July. It will go into effect Sept. 1 for new residents. People already living in the units will be allowed to smoke inside until their current leases run out, but will have to stop if they sign a new lease. They will still be free to smoke outside their apartments, she said. Smoking will be considered a violation of the lease agreement and three violations will be cause for eviction, she said.

Dodd said that the apartments used to have stand-alone air conditioning and baseboard heating, but that the Housing Authority began upgrading to central heating and air in 2004 , with the last unit having been completed in April of this year. She said the system sometimes causes smoke to drift from one apartment to another and that some residents have complained that their neighbors' smoking has caused health problems for children with asthma.

Reference: Housing Authority to prohibit smoking by HAWKINS TEAGUE,
Staff WriterHousing Authority to prohibit smoking


Elkhart, Indiana - smoking ban stands no exemption for bars..

August 5, 2009 - Mayor Dick Moore introduced an amendment that would exempt 21-and-over bars from the ban. I have my doubts that it will pass,” said Moore. “I think the ordinance will stay the same way it is.”

The Elkhart City Council passed the citywide ban in April 2008 by a 9-0 vote. The ordinance forbade smoking in all public places, including taverns, and was tougher than ones in Goshen and St. Joseph County. A late compromise, though, allowed a one-year exemption for bars, and took effect when Mayor Dick Moore signed the ordinance on May 15, 2008. (One year later, smoking ban still a hot topic, by Josh Weinhold,, 5/5/2009)

Since the ban went into effect in May 2009, many bar owners across the city claim their profits have gone "up in smoke." At Hunter’s Place, Frances Hunter says her business is down 50 percent after her one-year exemption from the ban expired in May. "When they gave us the one-year exemption, my business was fine, and as soon as they said no smoking whatsoever, that's when business just went completely off," said Hunter.

Most did not favor this amendment tonight and it was probably the economic downturn to blame for lower profits at bars.

Reference: Elkhart fails to approve smoking ban exemption by TROY KEHOE, WSBT-TV Report, 8/4/2009.

Netherlands - lifted smoking ban for bars with no employees..

August 5, 2009 - Smokers have found some friendly legislative ground in the Netherlands (Dutch, Holland). A series of district court decisions, one most recently handed down in July, has partially rolled back a 2008 smoking ban, allowing customers in thousands of small bars to once again light up at their barstools.

Dutch cities are dotted with these hole-in-the-wall bars, often run by an individual or small group of owners who have no need to hire employees. They are engines of local gossip and connection. Popular lore has it that the "brown bar" moniker was earned due to walls stained by layers of tobacco smoke. The legal reasoning behind lifting the ban was that, since these bars don't have employees, no one is being involuntarily put at risk by exposure to smoke.

The government, meanwhile, has appealed to the Supreme Court. An association representing these small bar owners isn't resting on its laurels or waiting to find out the results of the Supreme Court case. Instead, they've filed a class-action lawsuit against the department of health, saying the smoking ban – which they argue shifted customers to larger establishments – took money out of their pockets.

"They [the department] have to pay something," says Ton Wurtz, spokesman for Red de Kleine Horeca-ondernemer, an association of 1,200 small bars that is fighting the smoking ban. He says current rulings show the law was illegal and that compensation should be forthcoming.

The Netherlands has long had a law banning workplace smoking on its books. But that law made an exception for bars and restaurants – until July 2008. That's when health minister Ab Klink issued new regulations that toughened standards while leaving room for establishments to keep their smoking customers happy: They'd be allowed to have smoking sections, as long as they were fully enclosed and separated from a nonsmoking area.

It was that decision that got the brown bars' backs up. While larger, better capitalized bars adapted to the new law with extensive enclosures – one organization even set up an award to recognize the "most attractive" smoking rooms – the tiny bar owners didn't have the capital, and certainly not the room, to expand. Their customer base started to abandon them, they say.

Then, two brown bars – Cafe Victoria in Breda and De Kachel in Groningen, a college town in the north of the country – beat the ban with separate court cases that were upheld on appeal in different appeals courts on the grounds that the law unfairly targeted smaller businesses.

For now, the health ministry is leaving the little bars alone, hoping for a Supreme Court decision in its favor or, perhaps, new legislative solutions to extend its control over public smoking.

Reference: Netherlands' 'little brown bars' buck antismoking regulations
Small bar owners win court cases against government to allow for public smoking again as an alarmed health ministry appeals
by Joel Weickgenant, Contributor to The Christian Science Monitor, 8/5/2009.

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Smoking Everywhere - e-cigarette distributor..

August 5, 2009 - Smoking Everywhere, a South Florida company, is fighting to be able to distribute electronic (e) cigarettes in the USA.

Why struggle to be grouped with a product vilified for killing millions of people each year? At least for Smoking Everywhere Inc., it's a step up from having its product regulated as a drug. Smoking Everywhere claims that unlike nicotine gums and transdermal patches that the FDA regulates, its e-cigarettes are a safer alternative to smoking, not necessarily a means to quit smoking.

Smoking Everywhere distributes e-cigarettes, which can't be lit and don't have tobacco. They are battery-operated and contain cartridges filled with nicotine, flavor and other chemicals. The steel tube Company representatives will be in Washington, D.C., on Aug. 17 for a hearing in federal district court to challenge the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which wants e-cigarettes labeled as drug devices under its jurisdiction.

The FDA has not approved e-cigarettes as safe and has seized shipments being imported into the country. The FDA announced on July 22 that a laboratory analysis of e-cigarettes found that they contain carcinogens and toxic chemicals such as diethylene glycol, an ingredient used in antifreeze.

The FDA asserts that it's protecting consumers. Right now, it's unclear how e-cigarettes will affect users' health, said Judy Leon, a spokeswoman for the FDA.
In a court filing, the FDA proposes that e-cigarettes fall in the category of drug devices as defined in the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. They are designed, the FDA argues, to help in the treatment of nicotine addiction, which some medical experts have labeled a disease. No matter how the companies market the product, e-cigarettes deliver nicotine, so the FDA has the authority to regulate them, Leon said.

Reference: Electronic cigarettes set for battle with FDA by Nicole Norfleet, St. Petersburg, 8/5/2009.

A few related news briefs: Oregon - electronic (e) cigarettes sales prohibited until approved by FDA..; Israel bans electronic (e) cigarettes..; New Zealand - 1st trial ever of e-cigarettes..; Another e-cigarette..; Denmark - e-cigarettes can not be sold OTC..; E-cigarettes need to establish efficacy and safety - FIRST..; Health Canada warns against 'e-cigarettes'..

Related news brief: <

Florida - consequences of the $1.00 increase in the cigarette tax..

August 5, 2009 - It’s been a month since cigarette smokers in Florida have been paying more than $6 a pack — and the state says the new $1 tax is on track to net about $1 billion next year.

Amy Baker, coordinator for the Florida Legislature’s Economic & Demographic Research office, said the total in new tax money for July won’t be known until mid-month, but the $899 million predicted for the year in cigarette taxes would more than triple what the state brought in last year on all tobacco products. The state collected $279 million in taxes on all tobacco products last year and generated between $18 million to $22 million per month from taxes on cigarettes alone, Baker said.

That extra buck has many smokers changing, if not quitting their habits, including buying cartons online.

Jim Smith, president of the Petroleum Marketers Association, which represents 5,300 of the state’s 9,200 convenience stores/gas stations, said from his Tallahassee office that the tax is hurting small businesses. The northern border of the state are telling us is that sales here are down 10 to 15 percent,” Smith said, adding that tobacco products account for 34 percent of a convenience store’s sales outside of gasoline.

The reason for the decline doesn’t have much to do with people quitting, Smith suspects. “Certainly some people have chosen not to smoke,” he said. Others, however, are driving across the Florida border to Alabama and Georgia and stocking up. Others are finding Internet sites that offer cartons for as low as $16 compared to the $46 price tag of a store-bought carton, he said.

“People are cutting down. They’re trying to make a pack last longer,” said Sue Burbar, owner of Gas & Shop Food Mart on Hancock Bridge Parkway in Cape Coral. “One of my employees goes outside, smokes a half of a cigarette, puts it out and then finishes the rest later.” Burbar said sales are down 30 to 40 percent.

Beaver, 58, of Fort Myers, has smoked for 45 years. “My smoking habit hasn’t changed, but my living habit has,” she said. “I’m not eating as well as I used to. The only change I’ve seen with my smoking is that I’m now smoking my cigarette right down to the filter.”

Brendan Donohue, the tobacco coordinator at the Lee County Health Department, said it’s too early to determine how many people may have decided to quit after the tax hike, but said it should have a big impact — especially on young people who may not be able to afford to smoke at more than $6 a pack. “If they’re not smoking by 18, we have a good chance at keeping them smoke free for their entire life,” he said.

In the wake of the hike, the department is also changing tactics in curbing smoking. Thanks to a recent $630,000 grant, the Health Department and the Tobacco Free Lee Coalition are targeting hospitals, colleges and universities and encouraging them to be smoke-free. Lee Memorial Health System properties will be smoke-free Nov. 19, Donohue said.

Donohue said the Health Department is offering a quit smoking line — 877-UCANNOW, counseling sessions on the phone, group programs and nicotine replacement therapy.

One place smokers can’t find cheap cigarettes anymore is a Seminole Indian Reservation. Seminole Casino Immokalee closed its smoke shop this spring, said Gary Bitner, spokesman for the Seminole tribe.

Reference: Southwest Florida cigarette sales go up in smoke Gas station business down 30 percent by MARK S. KRZOS,, 8/5/2009.


Kansas - fire safe cigarettes as of July 1, 2009..

August 5, 2009 - In Kansas, fire-safe cigarettes have been the law since July 1, 2009. In Missouri, the most recent state to adopt the standard, the law (signed into law July 10, 2009) takes effect in September 1, 2010. Every state but Wyoming has passed laws that mandate fire-safe cigarettes. Fire-safe cigarettes can be identified by the small initials “FSC” on the packs. (Coalition for Fire-Safe Cigarettes)

Philip Morris plans to phase out conventional cigarettes by the first half of next year. R.J. Reynolds cigarettes could all be fire-safe by the end of this year. (Philip Morris USA may have all fire-safe cigarettes by 1st half of 2010..)

But as fire-safe cigarettes have spread nationwide, complaints from smokers have followed. An online petition calling for the repeal of fire-safe cigarette laws now has more than 7,000 signatures.

Smokers from across the country fill Internet sites with complaints about headaches, coughing fits, nausea and other maladies they attribute to the new cigarettes. They point to a 2005 study from the Harvard School of Public Health that found the smoke from fire-safe cigarettes contained on average 11 percent more carbon monoxide and 14 percent more naphthalene — the ingredient in mothballs — than conventional cigarettes. The Harvard researchers consider the differences negligible, however.

Discontented smokers also claim the new cigarettes are laced with more chemical additives, most notably ethylene vinyl acetate, an adhesive used to glue cigarettes together.

“They’re horrible. I’ve been waking up with headaches, body aches, coughing like I’m hacking up a lung,” said Jamie Bartlett, 21, of Grandview, MO. “I just thought I was getting sick until someone pointed (the fire-safe cigarettes) out to me.”

David Sutton, a spokesman for Philip Morris USA: The new cigarettes have no additional ethylene vinyl acetate or other chemicals. “We don’t add any other ingredients not found in traditional cigarette manufacturing,” Sutton said. “They’re just like traditional cigarettes. I’ve smoked both types of Marlboro Lights product, and they taste the same to me.”

The only difference is in the design of the cigarette paper. Fire-safe cigarettes have two or three rings of thicker paper spaced out along the length of the tube. The rings make the cigarette paper less porous, so less oxygen reaches the burning tobacco. Unless a smoker takes a drag when the cigarette reaches one of the paper rings, it’s likely to go out.

It may take years before we see the full effect of the new cigarettes on fire deaths.
With people smoking less, tobacco-related fire deaths already had dropped dramatically before fire-safe cigarettes were introduced. In 1980, about 1,980 deaths occurred in fires started by lighted tobacco products. By 2005, there were only about 800. New York in 2004 became the first state to switch to fire-safe cigarettes. During a 12-month period in 2002 to 2003, 38 cigarette-related fire deaths were reported in New York. During the same period in 2006-2007, there were 24 deaths.

Reference: Fire-safe cigarettes have smokers doing a slow burn by ALAN BAVLEY, The Kansas City Star, 8/4/2009.

Some related news briefs: Philip Morris USA may have all fire-safe cigarettes by 1st half of 2010..; Arizona only fire-safe cigarettes sold starting August 1, 2009..; Indiana - fire-safe cigarettes - July 1, 2009..; Lives could be lost - Philip Morris refuses to set date to convert to fire-safe cigarettes..;; Australia - Victoria fires - arson thrown cigarette butt..; U.S.A. Fire-Safe Cigarettes for All 50 States - NOW..; USA States Self-extinguishing Cigarettes Becoming the Norm..; Dummies - Citizens Against Fire Safe Cigarettes..; Cigarettes “fire safe” in Minnesota as of December 1, 2008..; Fire - Safe Cigarettes for all 50 states - NOW.. and Switzerland could join EU requiring sale of only self-extinguishing cigarettes..


India - restaurants take advantage of exclusion in nationwide smoking ban..

August 4, 2009 - On Thursday October 2, 2008 the Indian Health Ministry put in effect a countrywide ban on smoking in public places (including workplaces, hotels, public transport (buses, trains and Metros), airports and railway stations, educational institutions, cafes, theatres, among others). A violation of the law comes with a flat fine of Rs 200 (around $5.00). People could still smoke in homes, on the roads and parks. Airports, hotels with 30 or more rooms, or restaurants with a seating capacity of 30 or more will be allowed to provide separate smoking areas.

Restaurants have taken advantage of this exclusion. Chungwa (Chungwa Chinese Restaurant in Greater Kailash New Delhi) is just one of the few but growing numbers of restaurants and pubs in the National Capital Region (NCR) that have opened designated spaces for smokers after the ban came into effect in October, 2008. TGI Friday's in Saket and Vasant Kunj, Hard Rock Cafe in Saket, Cafe Morrison in South Extension, Tabula Rasa in Saket and Buzz in Gurgaon are some other joints that are saying, "Come on baby, light my fire."

Some restaurants have invested anywhere between Rs 2 and 2.5 lakh (a unit in the Indian numbering system equal to one hundred thousand) in setting up a smoking lounge; Cafe Morrison, for instance, has installed a state-of-the-art smoking exhaust. Hard Rock Cafe's 100 sq ft smoking space has a window and a separate exhaust system. The puffing room at Tabula Rasa has graphic art covers on the walls and bar stools. One corner is dedicated to a cigar humidor.

Restaurants are reaping the rewards. Cafe Morrison's manager Umakant says business went up by 60% after introduction of the smoking room. Chungwa's manager Gaurav Chatwal also says that footfalls have gone up by 20%. "Business has picked up after we constructed our smoking room six months ago,'' says Chatwal, looking at a group of dressed-up youngsters who walk into the restaurant. While half the group waits, the other half moves across the floor to the smoking room.

A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine said India is in the grip of a smoking epidemic that is likely to cause nearly 1 million deaths a year by 2010. More than half of these deaths would be among poor and illiterate people, the study said. It estimated that there are 120 million smokers in India. A Nationally Representative Case–Control Study of Smoking and Death in India...

Reference: Smoking rooms light up pubs, Times of India, 8/4/2009.


New Zealand - health researchers calling on government to ban importation of tobacco..

August 4, 2009 - Health researchers are calling on the Government to ban the importation of tobacco and to halt to the sale of duty free cigarettes on entry to New Zealand.
The call follows a new University of Otago study of street-collected cigarette packs indicates the Government is missing out on at least $36 million dollars of tax because of the consumption of foreign duty free cigarettes and those purchased in other countries. More than 3% of the packs collected were foreign tobacco.

The study's lead investigator, Nick Wilson, says if those packets had been New Zealand products, the tax revenue money could have been used to fund campaigns encouraging people to quit smoking.

Litter study identifies missed tobacco tax revenue, August 4, 2009.

Health researchers need something positive to happen. New Zealand - government may NOT support tobacco display bans...

Dr Wilson says there are about 5000 smoking-related deaths in New Zealand (Population of New Zealand: 4,173,460 (July 2008 est.)) each year and the Government needs to look closely at the issue.

Reference: Call on Government to ban importation of tobacco, Radio New Zealand, 8/4/2009.

New Zealand related news briefs: New Zealand - 1st trial ever of e-cigarettes..; New Zealand - BAT reducing prices discouraging people from quitting..; New Zealand - stop smoking campaigns NOT working..; BAT awarded worst corporation in New Zealand..; New Zealand - government may NOT support tobacco display bans..; New Zealand More Evidence Needed to Ban Tobacco and Cigarette Displays..; More evidence - tobacco displays increase the risk of teens smoking..; Horror photos go on New Zealand cigarette packs..; Country to Eliminate Smoking - The South Pacific nation of Niue; Ireland to ban tobacco displays..; Smokefree NZ within 10 years..; By law, oral snuff cannot (but nasal snuff is allowed) be sold in New Zealand and can be imported only for personal use..


Bulgaria - new government to speed-up Bulgartabac sale..

August 4, 2009 - The energy and economy minister Traicho Traikov said on Monday, August 3rd that the previous governments had missed the right time to privatize the state owned tobacco monopoly Bulgartabac but that the new cabinet could speed up the process. He added that they could even sell the company by the end of the year through a public tender, and under the condition that the new owner would buy out the existing tobacco yield.

Bulgaria's tobacco monopoly may be up for sale.., May 20, 2009.

According to Bulgartabac one-third of the tobacco products in Bulgaria are sold on the black market. The illegal selling of cigarettes has risen exponentially due to the financial crisis, with most shop owners being tempted by the large number of offers of products without excise labels.

In a market in Sofia (capital of Bulgaria), 10 packets of a famous brand can be bought without an excise label for BGN 25 (18.43USD) and with a label for BGN 39 28.75USD).

Reference: One Third of Bulgarian Cigarettes Sold Illegally, (Sofia News Agency), 8/4/2009.

Bulgaria related news briefs: Bulgaria - Fake Victory Light cigarettes..; Bulgaria's tobacco monopoly may be up for sale..; Bulgarian lawmakers vote to ban smoking in all publc places from June 2010..; Bulgarian tobacco company Sofia-BT exports increase by 541 percent..; Does Russia own Bulgaria's tobacco monopoly, Bulgartabac..; EU percent of adults smokers -highest Greece 1 , Bulgaria 2.. - lowest Slovenia..; Bulgaria - 1 in 3 youths smoke / half of pregnant women smoke.., PMI training Bulgarian custom officers to stop cigarette smuggling..; Philip Morris International (PMI) was truly happy they had been back in the Bulgarian cigarette market for a year and had already had 6.8% of market..; WHO FCTC Protocol to Prevent Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products Won't Be Completed Until End of 2010..; WHO Report on the Global Tobacco Epidemic 2008..; Bulgaria Enters 2009 with Cigarette Prices Hike...

Click on Bulgaria's Coat-of-Arms to enlarge..


Nigeria - Customs Service Comptroller-General commended BATN..

August 4, 2009 - British American Tobacco Nigeria (BATN) was commended for its commitment to the development of the Nigerian economy, especially through employment generation and prompt payment of taxes and duties to the government.

Describing BATN as a good corporate citizen, the (Federal Government of Nigeria, Federal Ministry of Finance) Customs Services boss Comptroller General Bernard-Shaw Nwadialo said that his command has been impressed with the company's commitment to the development objectives of the Federal Government through its prompt payment of taxes and duties to the government, pointing out that BATN has never defaulted.

He also disclosed that BATN has for some time now been assisting the Nigerian Customs in its job of policing the nation's territorial borders. This, he said followed the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the company and the Nigeria Customs Service. BATN had donated 10 Hilux 4x4 vans to the Customs command to help it in its fight against smuggling across Nigerian borders, especially the fight against counterfeit and fake commodities.

Besides the vans BATN also contributed a lot to the training of officers and men of the command, by sponsoring their participation in international workshops on piracy and smuggling.

According to the Managing Director of BATN, Simon Welford, the partnership with the Nigeria Customs was BATN's own way of contributing to the development of the Nigerian economy, and ensuring that the country attains its aim of being one of the top 20 economies in the world in the near future.

The Nigerian tobacco market is essentially a near-monopoly, with BAT (Nigeria) Ltd holding the lion’s share of sales.

British American Tobacco targeting African Children with cigarettes, by Duncan Bannatyne, the British entrepreneur, philanthropist, best selling author and former actor takes on the company behind Embassy, Pall Mall and Benson & Hedges and asks them why they're targeting African children, in the face of falling smoker numbers in the west - video, approximately 60 minutes (you can return to the news brief at any time).

Reference: Nigeria: Customs Boss Commends BATN's Contribution to Nigerian Economy, Oladunjoye Phillip,, 7/31/2009.

Nigeria - related news briefs: Nigeria - National Tobacco Control Bill - public hearing..; Nigerian senator believes passage of anti-tobacco bill wil lead to unemployment..; 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..

Pakistan - pictorial health warnings on cigarette packs and cartons soon..

August 3, 2009 - Pakistan’s Ministry of Health is expected to issue within a month an order requiring tobacco manufacturers to include pictorial health warnings on cigarette packs and cartons, according to the Pak Banker.

Tobacco companies will have six months to implement the requirement after the issue of the Statutory Regulatory Order.

In May 2009, the World Health Organization (WHO) called for all countries to adopt picture-based warnings on all tobacco packages. WHO - CASE FOR PICTORIAL HEALTH WARNINGS..

Euromonitor: Tobacco in Pakistan..

Reference: Graphic warnings heralded in Pakistan, Tobacco Reporter, 8/3/2009.

Pakistan - related news brief: Pakistan - More, on rollback of the Statutory Regulatory Order on Designated Smoking Areas..; Smuggled Cigarettes Give Boost To Pakistani Militants..; Pakistan - strong tobacco control measures..; Pakistan - Government must withdraw Statutory Regulatory Order..; Bloomberg Grant: Tobacco Reforms in Pakistan...


Germany - beer sales are down smoking ban maybe partial blame..

August 3, 2009 - New data released this week by the Federal Statistics Office showed that sales of beer from January 2009 to June 2009 dropped to their lowest level since the office began keeping track of the numbers back in 1991.

German breweries sold 49,3 million hectoliters (1.1 billion gallons) of beer in the first half of the year. That's down 4.5 percent on the same period last year.

Statistics Office said: "In addition to the weather conditions, the current increases in beer prices and the ban on smoking in restaurants and so on had an essential impact on the trend in beer sales."

Breweries across the country say they don't dare raise prices in an attempt to make up for the lost revenue for fear of ruining sales.

Michael Weiss, vice president of the Federation of German Brewers, told German news agency dpa that it was the worst decline in the industry's modern history. The Czech Republic overtook Germany in per-capita beer consumption years ago.

The Veltins brewery said German beer consumption declined more than five percent in annual terms in the first half of the year, with higher-priced brands like its own worst affected.

Among the premium German brands, Veltins, Warsteiner, Bitburger and Jever reported slumps ranging from 4.6 to 7 per cent. Veltins did not expect any revival till 2012.

Beer sales have been sliding for years. Beer has gradually fallen out of fashion in Germany as people switch to healthy drinks or to other alcoholic beverages such as wine.

Reference: German beer sales slump to a record low, Editor: Sonia Phalnikar, Deutsche Welle, 8/1/2009.

Related news brief: Bavaria - state's parliament loosened regulation on smoking ban..; WHO Report on the Global Tobacco Epidemic 2008..; German sales rise in Germany amid moves to impose smoking ban..


Singapore - new measures to discourage smoking among the young..

August 3, 2009 - The Health Promotion Board (HPB) and the Health Sciences Authority have drawn up proposed measures to discourage smoking and tobacco addiction among the younger set.

These range from heavier fines for underage smoking and giving the Health Minister the clout to ban the sale of certain tobacco products, to barring some places from selling them, as well as lowering permitted tar and nicotine levels.

Four weeks have been set aside for public consultation, beginning today. The trigger for these stricter regulations lies in statistics: The number of smokers aged between 18 and 29 jumped 40 per cent in three years from 2004; significantly, one in four males in this age bracket now smoke.

Nationally, smokers made up 13.6 per cent of the population in 2007, up from 12.6 per cent in 2004. More than 65 retailers were caught for selling to customers under 18 last year, up from 57 the previous year, an indication of the growing problem.

For starters, it has been proposed that cigarettes sold here will have not more than 10mg of tar and 1mg of nicotine, down from the current 15mg and 1.3mg. This change will hit many brands on the market.

Other forms of tobacco and smoking have not escaped the attention of the authorities.
For example, the Middle Eastern shisha, a water pipe through which tobacco is smoked, is catching on among the young for the misleadingly fruity flavors available.

Nicotine substitutes with consumer appeal and which are potentially addictive such as snus and snuff have also showed up on the radar. The HPB's idea is to put these products beyond the reach of experimenting youths so that they do not become addicted to nicotine. The Health Minister will be given the power to stop the sale of these products and also of tobacco derivatives like tobacco gel and candy.

References: Curbing younger smokers by Salma Khalik , HEALTH CORRESPONDENT, The Straits Times, 8/3/2009; Health officials seek public views on proposed amendments to Smoking Act by Channel NewsAsia, 8/2/2009.

Singapore - related news briefs: Singapore - more people were smoking in 2007 than 2004..; Singapore - Smoking increase despite public ban, price hike..; Singapore - Introduction of Tobacco Stamp to combat contraband...


Japan - plaintiiffs have slim chance of winning against big tobacco..

August 3, 2009 - In smoking-friendly Japan - three plaintiffs file lawsuit against big tobacco. One plaintiff is a cancer patient. Another is represented by his widow. The third, has emphysema and rolls into the courtroom on a wheelchair with tubes trailing out of his nose. But precedent suggests they’re likely to lose, and they hope their suit will at least draw attention to the dangers of smoking.

This current case began in January, 2005. Since then, co-plaintiff Kenichi Morishita has died of pneumonia and bacterial infection at age 75, leaving 67-year-old cancer patient Koreyoshi Takahashi who has one lung, and Masanobu Mizuno, the emphysema sufferer, a former mechanic who is also 67 and smoked from age 15 to 51. Mizuno: “When I began smoking, about 80 percent of men were smokers. The advertising phrase was, ‘You’re healthy when a cigarette tastes so good.’”

The corporation has argued in Yokohama District Court that it has no case to answer because smokers are free to quit anytime, smoking is legal and cancer has multiple causes. It’s the same defense that gained it victory the last time it was taken to court, in 2003.

In this latest case final arguments over, the judge has promised a ruling January 20.

Even if they win, they're unlikely to dent the finances of Japan Tobacco Inc., a former monopoly still half-owned by the government. The three are asking for a total of 30 million yen ($320,000) from a company with 6.8 trillion yen ($72.8 billion) a year in sales.

Their larger goal, they say, is to gain stronger curbs on tobacco, and legal and social acceptance of a notion that much of the world now takes for granted: that smoking makes you sick. The lawsuit demands sterner warning labels on cigarettes, a ban on cigarette vending machines, and an acknowledgment that smoking is addictive and harmful.

They have a long way to go. There’s little of the concerted discouragement of smoking that has gained momentum in the West. Few bars and restaurants ban smoking. Only last year, to curb smoking among children, did a smart card become necessary to buy cigarettes from a vending machine.

A pack of 20 costs 300 yen ($3), less than a third of New York prices, and about 60 percent of it is tax.

Other countries print dire health warnings in bold letters and add pictures of dead babies, gangrenous feet and crumbling teeth. Here, in small print, they say: “Smoking can be one of the causes for lung cancer.”

Secondhand smoke? “Tobacco smoke has a harmful effect on people around you, especially infants, children and the elderly. When smoking, please be careful of those around you,” the warnings say. Japan Tobacco officials still flatly deny passive smoking is a problem, arguing that the dangers come from burning cigarettes left on an ashtray — not secondhand fumes.

Although the case has attracted little media attention, there are signs that even Japan is beginning to kick the habit. Among adult males, the number of smokers has been falling and now stands at 39.4 percent compared with about 24 percent in the U.S., according to the Japanese Health Ministry and the American Lung Association.

Cigarette ads no longer appear on TV, though Japan Tobacco gets on the air with ads that discourage tossing butts on the street or in trash cans.

There are more smoke-free cabs and areas on train platforms. Some communities have passed ordinances allowing small fines for smoking on streets.

Smoke-free bars and restaurants are enough of a novelty to have spawned a backlash against “smoker-bashing.” In April, a major restaurant chain opened Cafe Tobacco, a Tokyo coffee shop billing itself as a haven for smokers. It has proven popular among customers such as 28-year-old Kousuke Kishi, who takes his coffee with a Marlboro Light. “I don’t want to live an extra year or two by giving up what I love to do,” said Kishi, 28, manager at a consultancy.

Reference: Lonely tobacco lawsuit bucks Big Tobacco in smoker-friendly Japan, Yuri Kageyama, Breakings News 24/7, 8/1/2009.

Japan - some related news briefs: Japan - convenience store sales fell in June 2009..; Japan - tobacco control people upset with smoker-only cafes..; Japan - Tokyo smoking cafes, people with children, those under 20 NOT allowed..; Japan - Kanagawa - bans smoking in public places starting April 2010..; Japan shelves tobacco tax hike for 2009.., Japan - Ruling party plans tobacco tax hike in 2009..; Japan Tobacco Starts Petition To Fight Tax Increase..; How to get most smokers to quit?? - Keep On Raising The Price..; Japanese lawmakers want to triple cigarette prices..; Japanese tobacco giants focus on point-of-sales cigarette purchases..; Japan - photos can be used to fool the age-verification cameras on some vending machines..; Vending Machines - Japanese protecting their children from becoming life-long nicotine addicts...


Ryanair - smokeless cigarettes on short flights..

August 3, 2009 - 1Ryanair is allowing passengers to puff on "smokeless" cigarettes during flights. These “cigarettes” are considered “smokeless” and are promoted as a nicotine fix for people who can't wait until they land for their next fag (cigarette). The airplane cigarettes do not contain tobacco—but they do contain nicotine, and they’ve got a Hollywood-style “water vapor” effect to mime the smoke that would normally trail the cigarette. (The cigarettes use cartridges of nicotine that are inhaled before a water vapor that resembles smoke is breathed out by the user.)

Cabin staff on short-haul services sell the devices - which can be legally smoked in public places - at £6 for a pack of 10. Not surprisingly, they’re not that popular among passengers, perhaps because they sell for about $17 per pack of 10.

Martin Dockrell, from Action on Smoking and Health, said: "Our concern with these products is that there isn't much evidence as to their safety."

References: Ryanair allowing passengers to puff on 'smokeless' cigarettes during flights by Tom Parry, News, 27/07/2009; Ryanair’s Pro-"Smoking” Policy by Bryce Longton,, 7/31/2009.

1Ryanair operates a low-fares, scheduled passenger airline serving short-haul, point-to-point routes in Europe and Morocco.

Australia - precise tobacco-attributed mortality data on death form..

August 3, 2009 - It is estimated up to 19,000 Australians die from smoking-related illness every year. (population of Australia: 21,262,641 (July 2009 - CIA World Factbook))

It's a shocking figure that would be more potent if it was not an estimate, Professor Freddy Sitas from Cancer Council New South Wales (NSW). He is calling for the official notification form completed after a person dies in Australia to include questions about smoking.

'Including questions on the smoking status of the deceased on death notification forms would allow more detailed estimates to be made of tobacco-attributed mortality in Australia,' Prof Sitas says.

'Our current estimates of tobacco killing 15,000 to 19,000 people in Australia per annum are becoming too blunt and imprecise.'

Prof Sitas said the move would provide a 'clearer picture' of how tobacco addiction contributed to deaths from vascular disease, cancer, kidney disease, tuberculosis and ulcers.

Death notification forms are filled out by doctors and funeral directors in consultation with next of kin. Prof Sitas proposes asking whether a deceased person 'ever' smoked and, if yes, the age at which they stopped.

He says recording the smoking status of the next of kin would also be valuable. 'It would provide invaluable, contemporary and precise information to help monitor the current state of the tobacco epidemic and its evolution over time,' Prof Sitas said.

'It would also provide direct local evidence on the benefits of quitting smoking.'

Answering any of these questions would be voluntary, Prof Sitas said, and the changes would require the support of the state and federal Attorneys-General.

PAPER: Smoking questions on the Australian death notification form: adopting international best practice?; Freddy Sitas, Dianne L O’Connell, Konrad Jamrozik and Alan D Lopez, Medical Journal of Australia 191 (3): 166-168, 2009; Full text..

Reference: Call to add smoking status to death form,, 8/2/2009.