More and More Tobacco Markets appear in Asia

In Asian countries anti-smoking researchers found a lot of illegal cheap cigarettes advertisings, promotions and sponsorships, and even cigarette firms look to the region for profitable new markets.
Some 60 percent of the world’s population and about 65 percent of young people live in Asia, making it a money-spinning area for tobacco companies who have seen demand fall in developed countries.
Yet despite most countries in the region having ratified a World Health Organization convention on tobacco control, enforcement of advertising bans is patchy, allowing embrasures to be exploited.
Doctor Pankaj Chaturvedi, a Mumbai-based cancer surgeon and member of the Action Council against Tobacco India lobby group, welcomed steps to ban smoking in public places and to outlaw direct advertising by tobacco firms.
But indirect, or “surrogate,” advertising, promotion and sponsorship by tobacco companies for non-tobacco products or events was still a “very big issue” and needed to be implemented, he said.
The practice – such as producing fashion lines under the company name – keeps the tobacco product in the public mind and “legitimises” it, Chaturvedi told AFP at the 14th World Conference on Tobacco or Health.
Chaturvedi called realization and enforcement of laws against obscure tobacco advertising in places like India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Pakistan.
Greater public awareness about the dangers of smoking was needed, while litigation against illegal tobacco advertising would act as a deterrent to firms trying to flout the law, researchers added.
Source: Cigs4us

Cigarette Price Increase

Recently the cigarettes prices were raised. Altria Group Inc raised the price of Marlboro and other cigarettes by 71 cents to 81 cents per pack, in spite of this the cost of the high-end smokeless tobacco brands were lowering.
In February, President Barack Obama signed a law expanding a health program to include 3.5 million uninsured children. The expansion is being paid for by raising the federal tax on cigarettes to $1 per pack from 39 cents per pack. Taxes on cigars and other tobacco products will also rise.
The latest increase comes after Philip Morris, the largest U.S. cigarette maker, raised prices by about 9 cents per pack in February.
The company, which is owned by Altria, is now raising prices by 71 cents per pack on brands including Marlboro, Parliament, Virginia Slims and Esse Slims. Other brands, such as Benson & Hedges and Merit, will see an increase of almost 81 cents per pack.
Altria’s John Middleton cigar business is raising prices by 41 cents per pack for a five-pack of cigars immediately.
Instead of the cigs increases, smokeless tobacco prices will go down. Altria made these changes for to decrease U.S. cigarette markets. For example Altria, which wants its smokeless brands to be seen as a better value versus competitors, is lowering the list price on Skoal and Copenhagen by 62 cents per can and the price of Red Seal by 27 cents per can. However, the lower-priced Husky brand will get an increase of 20 cents per can. Altria is also discontinuing the Rooster brand.
This news could be viewed as a negative for Reynolds American Inc, since the price cut on Skoal and Copenhagen is larger than expected.
Scientists reported that an additional tax added to the cost of cigarettes would bring about a reduction in cigarette consumption and increased tax revenues. It would also help reduce incidents smoking-related illnesses.

Demographic and smoking related characteristics

Nearly all the Chinese sample (95.2%) were of Han ethnicity. Other sample
characteristics are shown in table 1. The respondents were overwhelmingly male, and
most smoked only factory-made cigarettes (93.8%).
As in China, the vast majority of Thai sample were male, while the proportion of male
smokers was about 54% in both Australia and the US, reflecting the low smoking
prevalence among women in China and Thailand. Young people aged 18-24 were
notably under-represented in both the Chinese and the Thai samples. The age
compositions of the Australian and American samples were comparable. Due to the
differences in economic development and educational systems across the four
countries, only relative levels of income and education were used. The Thai sample
had more roll-your-own smokers especially compared to China and the USA, and the
Thais also smoked fewer cigarettes per day.

Measuring awareness of tobacco advertising and promotional activities

In addition to demographic and smoking related information, relevant questions measuring awareness of tobacco advertising and promotional activities were included. At the beginning of “advertising” section of the survey the respondents were asked about the overall salience of pro-smoking cues: “In the last 6 months, how often have you noticed things that are designed to encourage smoking or
which make you think about smoking?” The smokers were then prompted to recall if they had noticed advertisements in a range of specific locations or media, including 5 common to all countries: on TV, radio, posters/billboards, newspapers and in stores.
The measures used from this were either a total of the 5 where advertising was seen,
or a binary, seen-any variable. Noticing at point of sale was also measured in all
countries. There were also questions about awareness of sports and arts sponsorships
(with a combined measure for noticing either); and an index created from responses to
whether a respondent reported noticing any of the following four types of promotion:
free samples of cigarettes, gifts/discounts, branded clothing or competition. Two
overall indices of awareness across all three types of marketing were computed: ‘total
noticing advertising, sponsorship and promotion in any channel,’ and ‘total number of
channels of noticing’. In addition, smokers were asked to indicate whether they agree
with the following statement: “Tobacco companies should be allowed to advertise and
promote cigarettes as they please.” The survey questions were carefully translated and
back translated and checked to ensure conceptual identity of questions across
Data Analyses
The analyses were conducted on weighted data using SPSS 14.0 for Windows.
Differences between samples were assessed using Pearson chi-square tests and
logistic regression models (for categorical variables) and Kruskal-Wallis Test for
count variables. An alpha level of p<0.05 was used for all statistical tests.

Tobacco Control in China

Banning tobacco advertising and promotion is an important part of the effort to curb the tobacco epidemic. Comprehensive advertising bans reduce tobacco consumption whereas partial bans have little or no effect. Article 13 of the World Health Organization (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) states that each Party to the Convention shall “undertake a comprehensive ban or, restrict tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship on radio, television, print media and, as appropriate, other media, such as the internet”. Some countries have enacted comprehensive advertising bans and positive impacts have been reported. The aim of this study was to compare smokers’ awareness of tobacco advertising and promotion in China, with levels in Thailand and Australia (countries with strong policies), and with the United States (which has weak policies). This provides an indication of China’s relative progress towards eliminating this activity.
In China, it is estimated that over 350 million people smoke. Smoking kills some
one million Chinese each year with economic costs in 2000 estimated at five billion
US dollars. The Chinese government has made some efforts to implement laws
and regulations to restrict tobacco advertising since the 1990s. The 1991 Tobacco
Products Monopoly Law  and the 1994 Advertisement Law
ban direct tobacco advertisements on radio, Television, newspapers and periodicals.
The 1995 Tobacco Advertisement Management Regulations not only prohibit direct
and disguised forms of advertisements on the above media, but also
restrict competitions and programs connected with tobacco companies or their
products brands. However, there are gaps. There are no clear restrictions
on outdoor and Internet tobacco advertisements, and also little restrictions on tobacco
company sponsorships. As a result, a range of marketing activities continue.
China ratified the WHO FCTC in October 2005, promising to ban all tobacco
advertising by January 2011. Like China, both Thailand and Australia have ratified
the FCTC. The US has yet to ratify the FCTC.
In Thailand substantial tobacco control efforts have been made over the years,
including laws and regulations designed to limit access to tobacco products, placing
bans on displaying cigarettes and on various advertising; and enhancing pictorial
health warnings on cigarette packets. The Tobacco Products Control Act
1992 comprehensively banned advertising and promotion, and made most forms of
promotional activities illegal. These restrictions on tobacco marketing have been
reasonably well enforced, despite a reported increase in point-of-sale advertising and
indirect marketing since 1997.
Australia has a well-known record on tobacco control, although smoking prevalence
is still high among its Aborigines.  Considerable progress in banning
advertising has been achieved since federal legislation banning direct cigarette
advertising on television and radio came into effect with the Australian Broadcasting
and Television Act Amendment ACT 1976. Advertising was banned in print media in
1993 and outdoors in 1996. Several states have banned point-of-sale advertising and
have considerably limited the number of packs permitted to be displayed.
Sponsorships of sport and arts were also banned by 1996,but exemptions were
allowed until 2006 for internationally significant events, most notably F1 Grand Prix
motor racing.
The US has fewer restrictions compared to Thailand and Australia. In response to the
first Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking and Health, Congress enacted the
Cigarette Labelling and Advertising Act in 1965, which required health warnings on
all cigarette packages. The 1969 Federal Public Health Cigarette Smoking Act banned
advertising of tobacco from television and radio. The 1998 Tobacco Master
Settlement Agreement has restricted marketing to some extent. However, the
restrictions were not comprehensive, with many marketing channels open. As a result,
the tobacco industry has taken advantage of this and expanded their marketing in
areas where it is allowed. In 1999 the overall tobacco advertising expenditures in the
US was $8.24 billion, an increase of 22.3% compared with 1998; spending in
newspapers increased by 73%, magazines by 34.2%, and direct mail by 63.8%.
According to the Federal Trade Commission the total cigarette advertising and
promotional expenditures remained as high as $14.15 billion in 2004 and $13.11
billion in 2005.

Swedish Match Hires Motorbike Champ Rickardsson for East Europe

Swedish Match AB, the Swedish maker of smokeless tobacco, hired former world speedway champion Tony Rickardsson to head its eastern European operations, marrying two of Sweden’s favorite pastimes: snuff and motorcycle racing.
The 39-year-old Swede, who won six motorbike speedway world titles between 1994 and 2005, will join the Stockholm-based company in October after driving for his own team in the Porsche Carrera Cup car racing series, Swedish Match said today.
As area manager of the company’s eastern European region, Rickardsson will be responsible for selling Cricket lighters, Korona matches and Macanudo cigars in countries such as Russia and Ukraine. Swedish Match, which has sponsored his racing career since the start of 2002, is seeking to expand beyond Scandinavia, where it gets 42 percent of revenue.
“Tony will continue to add value and grow this strategic area, representing good potential and high importance for our business,” said Hakan Soderberg, chief operating officer of Continental Europe for Swedish Match International.
After winning the world speedway championship for the last time in 2005, Rickardsson retired from race riding in 2006. Speedway racers take their brakeless motorbikes around an oval track four times, in a contest that lasts about a minute. The sport, which also takes place on ice on motorbikes equipped with spikes, is popular in Scandinavia and Poland.
Source: Bloomberg

Smoke break gets more expensive with tax boost

However they satisfy their nicotine cravings, tobacco users are facing a big hit as the single largest federal tobacco tax increase ever takes effect Wednesday.
Tobacco companies and public health advocates, longtime foes in the nicotine battles, are trying to turn the situation to their advantage. The major cigarette makers raised prices a couple of weeks ago, partly to offset any drop in profits once the per-pack tax climbs from 39 cents to $1.01.
Medical groups see a tax increase right in the middle of a recession as a great incentive to help persuade smokers to quit.
Tobacco taxes are soaring to finance a major expansion of health insurance for children. President Barack Obama signed that health initiative soon after taking office.
Other tobacco products, from cigars to pipes and smokeless, will see similarly large tax increases, too. For example, the tax on chewing tobacco will go up from 19.5 cents per pound to 50 cents. The total expected to be raised over the 4 1/2 year-long health insurance expansion is nearly $33 billion.
Smokers are mulling their options.
Standing outside an office building in downtown Washington last week, 29-year-old Sam Sarkhosh puffed on a Marlboro Light. His 8-year-old daughter has been pleading with him to quit, he explained, and he has set a goal to give up smoking by his 30th birthday.
“I’m trying to quit smoking, and it could help,” said Sarkhosh, an information systems specialist. “I don’t think it will stop me from buying cigarettes every now and then, but definitely not as often.” A friend who smokes Camels went out and bought four cartons in advance, he said.
The tax increase is only the first move in a recharged anti-smoking campaign. Congress also is considering legislation to empower the Food and Drug Administration to regulate tobacco. That could lead to reformulated cigarettes. Obama, who has agonized over his own cigarette habit, said he would sign such a bill.
Prospects for reducing the harm from smoking are better than they have been in years, said Dr. Timothy Gardner, president of the American Heart Association. The tax increase “is a terrific public health move by the federal government,” he said. “Every time that the tax on tobacco goes up, the use of cigarettes goes down.”
About one in five adults in the United States smokes cigarettes. That’s a gradually dwindling share, though it isn’t shrinking fast enough for public health advocates.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says cigarette smoking results in an estimated 443,000 premature deaths each year, and costs the economy $193 billion in health care expenses and lost time from work. Smoking is a major contributor to heart disease, cancer and lung disease.
Public health officials are urging individual doctors and staff at telephone “quit lines” in every state to make the most of the tax increase by reaching out to smokers. But it’s unclear how deeply the tax will cut into tobacco consumption.
Eric Lindblom, research director for the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, says he expects a drop of at least 6 percent to 7 percent among young smokers.
Philip Gorham, who tracks the tobacco business for Morningstar, the investment research firm, said he expects an overall drop of 4 percent to 5 percent this year. What happens after that is less certain, especially as the economy recovers.
“I would expect a road bump this year,” said Gorham. “But these companies will still be extremely profitable. I still think they will make their return on capital by wide margins in the long run.”
Philip Morris USA, the largest tobacco company and maker of Marlboro, is forecasting a drop, but spokesman Bill Phelps said he cannot predict how big. Philip Morris raised Marlboro prices by 71 cents a pack early this month, and prices on smaller brands by 81 cents a pack. Other major companies followed suit.
The pricing moves raised eyebrows. “That’s nothing more than greed,” said Kevin Altman, an industry consultant who advises small tobacco companies. “They weren’t required to charge that until April 1. They are just putting that into their pockets.”
Responded Phelps: “We raised our prices in direct response to the federal excise tax increase, and people who are upset about that should find out how their member of Congress voted, and contact him or her.”
Some policy analysts have questioned the wisdom of boosting tobacco taxes to finance health care for children. They argue that the fate of such a broad program should not depend on revenues derived from a minority of the adult population, many of whom have low incomes and are hooked on a habit. The tobacco industry is also warning that the steep increase will lead to tax evasion through old-fashioned smuggling or by Internet purchase from abroad.
But smoking control advocates such as Lindblom say tobacco taxes should be even higher. “There’s a lot of room to go after cigars and smokeless,” he said. “We are certainly hopeful that health care reform will include some more increases.”
Standing outside a Washington department store, attorney Margaret Webster, 42, puffed on a Marlboro Ultra Light and lamented the fact that the government is reaching deeper into her pocketbook.
“I don’t think we (smokers) like it,” she said. “But I’ve heard so many people say they were going to quit when the price went up … and they’re still smoking.”

Explain delay in pic warning against tobacco

The Supreme Court has sought a response from the Centre on the allegations of an NGO that the government under pressure from the “tobacco lobby” was dragging its feet on issuing statutory pictorial warning on cigarette and tobacco products.

“Why are you not implementing it? Millions are being affected, families are getting destroyed,” a bench of Justices B N Aggrawal and G S Singhvi told the Government in a terse observation while issuing notice on the application moved by the NGO, Health For Millions.

The petitioner contended that thousands of people in the country are succumbing to cancer mostly due to the widespread use of cigarettes and tobacco products.

In its application, the NGO complained that though the government originally brought in the Cigarette and Other Tobacco Products (Packaging and Labelling) Rules in 2006 to making it mandatory for all tobacco products to display statutory pictorial warnings, “it was not implemented so far under pressure from the tobacco lobby”.

Under the 2006 rules, the government had initially planned to display “skull and bones” besides a dead body on the packages and labels to caution people on the adverse effects of smoking and using tobacco products.

Later, the government amended the rules in 2007 with a promise that it would be implemented from December 1, 2007 and also watered down the original pictorial warning with “smaller and ineffective warnings,” the application said.

In the meantime, the NGO said the government moved an application in the apex court promising to implement the rules from March 17, 2008. Thereafter, another application was moved by the government promising to implement the rule from November 2008, and further delayed to May 2009.

The petitioner was apprehensive that the government would not implement the rule even from May 2009 on account of the pressure mounted by the “tobacco lobby” whose members, it alleged, have also filed petitions in various high courts seeking stay of the proposed law.

The NGO also wanted the apex court to direct the government to ensure that all cigarette pouches display the actual content of “nicotine” and “tar” — the two key ingredients reportedly responsible for causing cancer.

Source: Hindu

Somali Islamists ban khat and cigarettes

The Islamists authority in Dhobley town at the border between Somalia and Kenya Sunday announced a total prohibition of miraa (khat) chewing and cigarette smoking in the area.
Area residents have consequently been ordered to refrain from trading in both commodities.
The authority of the area, which is next to the Kenyan town of Liboi, has also outlawed all kinds of drugs and warned of heavy punishment against any kind of defiance.
Stringent measures
Mr Tayib Mohamed, the top Islamist official in the area, emphasised the seriousness of his administration in enforcing the ban on khat, cigarettes and any substance containing drugs.
“We shall take stringent measures against anybody attempting to challenge the law,” said Mr Mohamed, briefing the media.
Dhobley has been the transit point for the khat consignments from Kenya.
Meanwhile, Sheikh Mukhtar Robow Abu Mansur, the spokesman and militia leader of Al-Shabaab, has condemned the kidnapping of humanitarian workers in Somalia.
He made the remarks after talking to civil society activists, community leaders and aid officials in Baidoa, the former seat of Somalia’s Transitional Federal parliament that is currently ruled by Al-Shabaab movement.
Sheikh Abu Mansur was reacting to a recent kidnapping of UN officials in Wajid district in Bakol region.

The tobacco industry's toll

OK, maybe you didn’t have to sit down to read that. But for a state that has consistently tallied higher-than-average tobacco-use rates — and a state that has paid a higher-than-average price for the habit — that is a rather stunning development.
There’s more. Last year, again for the first time since such measurements have been taken, Oklahoma’s tobacco-use rate among adults fell below 25 percent. It was a very slight decline, but still a decline. The national rate hovers between 19-20 percent.
With the federal tobacco tax set to rise dramatically on Wednesday — by 62 cents a pack — many Oklahoma tobacco-users are following in the footsteps of other former smokers and making a concerted effort to quit. If their efforts prove successful, there soon could be more good news on this front.
And in a state that consistently ranks near the bottom in health measures and near the top in illness-related consequences, any good news is welcome.
But sadly, there’s as much bad news on the tobacco front. While declines have been noted among adults and teen males, increased usage has been seen among teen females and in the 18-24 age bracket in recent years. Use of smokeless tobacco has not declined.
And in some populations, usage remains horrifyingly high. Tribal authorities have estimated usage in some Indian communities in excess of 40 percent. Data show astonishing 90 percent usage rates among Oklahomans afflicted by substance abuse and mental illness.
Still, the improvements seen recently give cause for hope. Those in the know point to multiple efforts to explain the snail’s-pace progress in combatting tobacco use: changes in policies and laws, public education campaigns, and the rising cost of tobacco products, among others.
Among those who can take some credit for the good news is the Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust, the outfit that decides how to spend earnings generated by the decade-old Master Settlement Agreement with tobacco manufacturers, the result of a lawsuit brought by many state attorneys general against the industry.
Oklahoma voters wisely approved a constitutional amendment in 2000 that established the trust and allocated the tobacco industry payments to the trust and the state Legislature. A board of investors oversees investing and a board of directors spends endowment earnings on health needs, so far focusing mainly on tobacco use.
To date, tobacco industry payments to the state have exceeded $653 million. More than $264 million has been funneled to the Legislature, according to the formula approved by voters, which has spent all the money on health and human services needs.
More than $300 million remains in the endowment trust, whose earnings are spent mainly on tobacco prevention programs.
This savings-and-spending scenario renders Oklahoma the only state in the country that continues to protect its settlement funds in such a way, and to channel the spending entirely toward health needs.
Some observers have suggested the trust should expand its focus and spend money on other health needs. It’s a legitimate proposition; after all, tobacco use is only one of many major ills plaguing the state.
But it is arguably and demonstrably the worst. Tobacco use causes the premature deaths of about 5,800 Oklahomans a year — about 16 people a day, according to the state Health Department. Oklahoma has among the highest percentages of smoking-related deaths in the country.
About 7,300 new users under the age of 18 adopt the habit each year; a third of them will die an early death as a result.
In addition, tobacco use results in estimated direct and indirect costs of more than $2 billion a year, according to state Health Department data.
“One in three Oklahomans will get cancer,” declares Tracey Strader, executive director of the endowment trust, and one of the habit’s most ardent foes. Heart disease, stroke and chronic lung disease — much of it tobacco-induced — also will fell thousands each year.
People like Strader argue for spending much more money on tobacco prevention — the current total spending is about $19 million a year — especially in view of the fact the tobacco industry spends many times that amount, about $250 million a year, on advertising and promotion in Oklahoma.
But even on a relatively small budget, advocates are seeing improvements and signs for hope. When the upcoming federal tobacco-tax hike was publicized, calls to the trust’s helpline went from about 400 a week to 1,200 a week. Strader estimates at least 30,000 Oklahomans will be helped this year through the helpline, which offers coaching sessions, free patches or gum and other services.
Though the progress is slow and sometimes seemingly imperceptible, giving up on tobacco use is not an option. Otherwise, increases in heart disease and cancer will continue to affect the state and its residents in monumental ways.
“If Oklahoma doesn’t address tobacco use, and usage in the rest of the nation declines, the tobacco-settlement payments will decline, and we’ll have both the burden of high tobacco costs and reduced funding as well,” she noted.
Source: Tulsaworld