Smoking’s impact on health 'catastrophic'

ALBANY — More than 20,000 New Yorkers under the age of 18 become new smokers each year despite efforts by the state health department to encourage smoking cessation, and the agency is now introducing two new television public service announcements to sound the alert.
The state Health Department on Wednesday also released its latest figures of smoking rates by county for the period from July 2008- June 2009. Approximately 18.6 percent of Rensselaer County residents over the age of 18 were reported as smokers while in Albany County, the rate for that period was 16.5 percent.
A total of 17 percent of New Yorkers statewide smoke, with adult smoking rates of 14.5 in New York City and 18.5 percent for the rest of the state excluding the Big Apple. Statewide, Rockland County had the lowest percentage of smokers – just 9.7 percent of residents over the age of 18. The highest percentages of adult smokers were in Franklin, Orleans and Sullivan counties.
Health care professionals say smoking is one of the leading problems plaguing the health care industry, causing a wide range of health problems and driving insurance costs up. It’s also a behavior that can be incredibly difficult to convince patients to change. In a recent interview with The Record, Dr. James Reed, president and CEO of Troy-based Northeast Health, said that getting patients to quit smoking was one of the most challenging obstacles facing healthcare practitioners along with losing – and keeping off – extra weight.
State health officials unveiled two new advertisements on Wednesday at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, home of the New York state Smokers’ Quitline.
In one ad, a surgeon’s gloved hand squeezes out thick, fatty depositions from the aorta wall, the heart’s main artery, from a 32-year-old smoker. In another, a young child cries in a train station when he’s briefly separated from his mother – a reminder to viewers that smoking kills and can result in the loss of a child’s parent. Both ads end with information about the Smokers’ Quitline.
“Our ads must compete to get the attention of smokers, especially when you consider that in New York state alone, the tobacco industry spends approximately $430 million annually on advertising to encourage New Yorkers to smoke,” said state Health Commissioner Dr. Richard Daines. “The impact on the health of New Yorkers is catastrophic with more than 25,500 New Yorkers dying each year as a result of smoking, and nearly 21,000 children under age 18 in the state becoming new smokers each year.”
The two 30-second ads begin airing on television stations around the state on Aug. 3. The public awareness campaign is supported by a $1.8 million grant from the Prevention and Wellness Fund of the American Recovery and Investment Act. The ads have been pre-tested with New Yorkers who smoke, and nearly 70 percent of those shown the two ads said it grabbed their attention. Close to half of them said the ads made them consider kicking the habit.
The latest smoking figures – and the new PSAs – come on the heels of a new state law that tacks on an additional $1.60 in state taxes to every cigarette pack sold. The law, which went into effect on July 1, brings the total amount of state taxes on a pack of cigarettes to more than $4. The increase pushes the average price of a pack to about $9; in New York City, which imposes its own cigarette taxes, the average price will be even higher at nearly $11 a pack.
The taxes on smokeless tobacco will more than double starting on Aug. 1, rising from 96 cents an ounce to $2 an ounce. The wholesale tax on cigars, dips and other kinds of tobacco will increase from 46 percent to 75 percent. Additionally, the state will begin collecting – or at least try to collect – taxes on cigarettes sold on Indian reservations to off-reservation visitors. The taxes are expected to provide $440 million in revenue for health care programs, including subsidies for AIDS drugs, money for tobacco cessation programs and $71.6 for the Roswell Park Cancer Institute.
Since its founding in January 2000, the state’s Smokers’ Quitline has received more than 1.3 million calls. The free resource, which can be accessed at 1-866-NY-QUITS (1-866-697-8487), offers smoking cessation services including a free starter pack of nicotine patches or gum for eligible smokers, information about local stop smoking programs and other resources.
“Most people will try to quit smoking ‘cold turkey,’ which is the least successful approach. Quitting smoking is a monumental task but we see much higher success rates when smokers ask for help,” said Dr. Richard Rubin, chief medical officer for Troy-based Seton Health. “The Quitline is a tremendous resource for our patients, and when coupled with asking a healthcare provider for help with quitting, their chances of quitting successfully increase even more.”
Smoking Statistics
* 21,000: The approximate number of New Yorkers younger than 18 who start smoking each year
* 18.6: The percentage of Rensselaer County residents over the age of 18 who smoke
* 16.5: The percentage of Albany County residents over the age of 18 who smoke
* 17: The percentage of New Yorkers statewide who smoke
* $430 million: The amount the tobacco industry spends each year to advertise in New York State
* More than 25,000: The number of New Yorkers who die each year as a result of smoking
* $4: The amount of state tax charged per pack of cigarettes
* $9: The average price of a pack of cigarettes in New York State
* $11: The average price of a pack of cigarettes in New York City
* 1.3 million: The number of calls the New York State Smokers’ Quitline has received since its inception in 2000

Electronic Cigarettes Require More Suction Than Conventional Brands

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – Stronger suction is required to smoke “electronic cigarettes” – marketed as tobacco-free nicotine delivery systems – than conventional brands, with possible adverse effects on human health, researchers at the University of California, Riverside report.
The researchers used a smoking machine to compare the smoking properties of eight conventional cigarettes with five e-cigarette brands. They examined the vacuum required to produce smoke (in the case of conventional cigarettes) or aerosol (in the case of e-cigarettes), and compared the density of the smoke/aerosol over time.
The researchers found that except for one brand (Liberty Stix), higher vacuums were required to smoke e-cigarettes than conventional brands.
The researchers also found that in the case of e-cigarettes, the aerosol density dropped after the first ten puffs, requiring still stronger suction thereafter to produce aerosol.
Study results appeared last week in Nicotine and Tobacco Research.
“It is too early to know exactly what effect stronger inhaling and diminishing amounts of aerosol will have on human health, but these factors are likely to lead to compensatory smoking, as has been seen previously with ‘light’ tobacco cigarettes,” said Prue Talbot, a professor of cell biology and the senior author of the research paper.
Talbot’s research team examined the following conventional cigarettes: Merit Ultra Lights, Marlboro Ultra Lights, Marlboro Lights, Marlboro Reds, Camel unfiltered, Camel Lights, Camel filtered, and Pall Mall unfiltered cigarettes. In the case of e-cigarettes, the researchers tested the following kits: Liberty Stix, Crown Seven’s Hydro Kit, NJOY, Smoking Everywhere’s Gold Kit, and a VapCigs starter kit.
“Our work shows that aerosol density decreases as e-cigarettes are used, requiring stronger puffs over time to sustain density,” Talbot said. “Manufacturers often claim that e-cigarettes cartridges are equivalent to a certain number of conventional cigarettes. However, this information seems misleading.”
Talbot’s lab found that while the first ten puffs of an e-cigarette are similar to a conventional cigarette, later puffs were highly variable in aerosol density and do not duplicate smoking of conventional brands. The researchers found that even though one e-cigarette cartridge may smoke for 200 puffs, cartridges do not smoke uniformly for those 200 puffs and therefore do not duplicate nicotine delivery of individual conventional cigarettes.
“Our results show that e-cigarettes smoke very differently than conventional brands,” Talbot said. “In preliminary trials, we observed that some brands of e-cigarettes were difficult to smoke possibly because they have relatively small air intake holes. Moreover, the interior of e-cigarettes is dense compared to the relatively porous tobacco-containing cigarettes.”
Talbot, who is also the director of the UCR Stem Cell Center, was joined in the research by Anna Trtchounian, the first author of the paper, and Monique Williams of UC Riverside.
The study was supported by the University of California Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program; the University of California Academic Senate; and the Hispanic Serving Institutions-California Cost Reduction and Access Act Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Pathway Project.
“This paper is the first detailed study showing that greater inhalation pressure is required to smoke e-cigarettes as compared to conventional cigarettes,” said Kamlesh Asotra, a research administrator at the University of California Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program. “An important implication is that users must exert greater inhalation pressure and, therefore, it may predictably cause the aerosol to reach deeper tissue in the user’s lungs. As in the case of conventional harm reduction cigarettes with lower nicotine content, users of e-cigarettes may also need to smoke greater number of puffs to receive sufficient amount of nicotine to satisfy their craving.
“Based on the results of this paper, not only do users become more aware of the vapor characteristics and smoking properties of e-cigarettes but also manufacturers of e-cigarettes will take notice of the functional inconsistencies of their products,” he said.
About electronic cigarettes:
E-cigarettes are marketed as a relatively new type of tobacco-free nicotine delivery device, consisting of a battery, a charger, a power cord, an atomizer, and a cartridge containing nicotine and propylene glycol.
When a smoker draws air through an e-cigarette, an airflow sensor activates the battery that turns the tip of the cigarette red to simulate smoking and heats the atomizer to vaporize the propylene glycol and nicotine. Upon inhalation, the aerosol vapor delivers a dose of nicotine into the lungs of the smoker, after which, residual aerosol is exhaled into the environment.
While produced mainly in China, e-cigarette use has rapidly proliferated worldwide. E-cigarettes do not burn tobacco and therefore do not deliver the numerous chemicals and toxicants found in conventional cigarette smoke.
To date, little has been published in the scientific literature about the health benefits and risks of e-cigarettes.
About the smoking machine:
The smoking machine consists of a puffer box connected via tubing to a peristaltic pump. The line between the puffer box and the pump contain two untapered T connectors. The connector closest to the puffer box holds the conventional or electronic cigarette. The second connector is attached to an upright U-shaped water manometer built at UC Riverside. The manometer measures the vacuum in the line drawing a puff from each cigarette.

School smoking culture needs to be stubbed out

I read with great interest in a recent report that a nationwide ban on smoking in schools went into effect on July 13.School smoking culture
Students are beginning their months-long summer holidays and the new school term won’t commence until September 1, so the new ban has had little practical effect so far. It remains to be seen if the directive can effectively be translated into actions.
The smoking ban in institutions of learning is long overdue. You don’t have to be rocket scientist to know that a school is a place where students are inculcated with the right values. Smoking certainly has no place on school premises.
In my early years back in 2003 as an educator at a Beijing vocational school, it was a rude awakening for me when I witnessed first-hand smoking buddies having their “smoking break” in the toilet during the interval between classes.
It made answering the call of nature an unpleasant experience for me as I invariably ended up admonishing the recalcitrant students to snuff out their cigarettes.
A foreign colleague of mine couldn’t bear it any longer and reported it to the disciplinary section of the school. To his bewilderment, the disciplinary mistress said nonchalantly that smoking is part of the local culture and there is not much the school can do about it.
In subsequent years, I came to appreciate the words of the disciplinary mistress about smoking being a cultural aspect of China, although I continued to disagree with her lack of action.
Smoking is deep-rooted in Chinese culture and there is still a general lack of awareness about its impact on health. Employees in the State-owned enterprises are used to giving tobacco as gifts to their superiors – a longstanding tradition in China’s office culture. The majority of the 350 million smokers in China are males, influenced by the idea that smoking is macho.
I was told that smoking in China was used to bridge the social divide between the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’. By offering a cigarette to a fellow acquaintance or stranger, subconsciously the two would have established a bond as both of them now have a “common interest”.
The school where I now work, seven years later, did something concrete to prevent smoking and stationed a male teacher outside the toilets during the intervals between classes. But it has so far proved a futile exercise as students continue to light up the cigarettes inside the toilet without punishment. I suspect the teacher may have lost his olfactory senses.
Schools’ disciplinary department will have their work cut out for them. In my view, schools in China need a three-pronged strategy to successfully execute the smoking ban.
There should be ongoing educational talks by the school to the students on the harmful effects of smoking. The talks could be reinforced through student participation in photography competitions, essay writing competitions, graffiti drawing, logo designs, and impromptu speeches, focusing on the harmful effects of smoking.
Enforcement should go hand-in-hand with the above educational talks. The schools must draft the rules to enforce the smoking ban with severe penalties for the non-compliant students and teachers alike.
Here in China, my observation is that lack of regulations and rules are not the most crucial issue. Instead it is enforcement, or rather lack of it, that is the chief culprit of many social ills in China.
Schools must be strict and transparent in their enforcement of the ban. They should raise the visibility of punishment being meted out to recalcitrant student. This will serve as a strong deterrent to others.
There should be follow-up action by the school after it punishes smokers caught breaking the ban. We should recognize that smoking is an addictive behavior and smokers need help to quit.
Schools should have anti-smoking clinics. If an individual school does not have the resources for such a clinic it could cooperate with similar schools nearby to share resources and establish a jointly operated clinic.
It is a no-brainer that the above three strategies will only work if there is a strong political will by the heads of schools. The leadership shown by principals is paramount in successfully executing the smoking ban.
If implemented half-heartedly the smoking ban in schools will only perpetuate cynicism amongst Chinese and foreigners alike.
Cultural phenomenon or otherwise, smoking has no place in schools with impressionable students.
By Ben Lim Chiow Ang, China Daily

A Look at Japanese Folk Tobacciana

When Commodore Matthew Perry of the United States Navy sailed into Uraga harbor, near present-day Tokyo, in 1853, he was ald japan tobaccodetermined to force Japan to open its ports and begin trading with the U.S., whether it wanted to or not. Fearful of foreign influences but more fearful of American firepower, the Tokugawa Shogunate reluctantly signed a treaty in 1854, and Japan resumed its love-hate affair with the West. But there was one gift from the West that Japan had already happily embraced. Japan adored tobacco. Japan loved to smoke. And when Japan takes to something, whether it is cars, cameras, or tobacco, it makes it wholly its own.
Tobacciana Japanese style is varied, interesting, and collectible. Some of the most captivating objects are tonkotsu, the portable smoking sets that were indispensable to the Japanese for several hundred years.
The country had not always been closed to the West. From 1543, the Portuguese, Spanish, and Dutch had all established trading relations. It was a time of political upheaval and civil war, with various samurai clans seeking to centralize power. Yet during this period, foreigners were allowed to travel in the country, and as early as 1549, the Jesuit Francis Xavier was even allowed to proselytize.
A sizable number of Japanese adopted Christianity. In 1582 Japan sent a delegation of young men to the Vatican. All this came to a halt by 1639. The fiercely nationalistic Tokugawa clan had achieved domination. They slammed the door to the West, citing its corrupting influence on Japanese society. Only the decidedly secular Dutch were permitted to remain, under strictly controlled conditions. Their ships were allowed to land and trade on Dejima Island in Nagasaki harbor.
The West bought luxury goods such as porcelain and textiles. In return, sometime during the mid-16th century, Iberian traders brought to Japan a new product from their American colonies—tobacco. This herb, as it was referred to in the literature of the time, enchanted all strata of Japanese society. Because it was an entirely new thing, brought to Japan by the Namban-sen (southern barbarians), it had no assigned place in Japan’s hierarchical society. It was one of the few pleasures that all classes and both sexes could enjoy.
With tobacco seeds brought by the traders, Japan began growing its own tobacco, possibly as early as 1600. Initially the government worried ald japan tobaccothat valuable farm land needed to grow food would be given over to this new herb and futilely sought to prohibit and then to control its cultivation. By the 17th century tobacco was firmly established as a popular consumer luxury.
In an essay written in 1609, Imperial Prince Toshihito commented that “whether gentle or simple, cleric or lay, man or woman, there is no one who does not like this herb…Persons who know nothing of one another, who come from different worlds and walks of life, can nonetheless find mutual ground and links of friendship in their common liking for the herb, and those with a taste for poetry can find in it matters to inspire them. Wherever one may walk, there is no quarter of the city unscented by its fragrant smoke…”
And smoke they did. At first, Japanese pipes and tobacco pouches imitated the Western model. Pipes were made of clay and were long and thin with small bowls. Meanwhile Western pipes were evolving to have somewhat shorter stems and larger bowls. Westerners carried shredded tobacco in pouches that could be conveniently stowed in their pockets. The Japanese, however, retained slender pipes with small bowls. And they developed their own way of preparing tobacco for smoking. It was cured, dried, and shredded so fine that it was almost a powder. This was a luxury product, albeit a modest one, so a little had to go a long way.
A new pastime required new accessories. For the home, a set of utensils called a tobako-bon was developed. Basically, it consisted of a serving tray, a pot containing charcoal from which to light one’s pipe, and an ashtray. Other items could be added. These could be simple or elaborate, made from plain wood or exquisite lacquer, depending on what one could afford.
Traditional Japanese clothing has no pockets, but people always need to carry things. This was done by using sagemono (“things that hang down”), containers hung from the waist. The upper classes carried lacquer inro, small rectangular boxes divided into compartments for medicines. When the need arose to carry tobacco, the inro model was simplified to a single compartment. And since everyone was allowed to smoke, these new containers, called tonkotsu, were made in a variety of materials to suit all budgets.
The fabrication of tonkotsu was not without controversy. Japan had strict sumptuary laws—people were supposed to know their place and not get above themselves. In 1704 government edicts prohibited the use of gold and silver in any wares except those used for official gifts. The edict specifically mentioned tobacco pouches and containers. For the ordinary working stiff, this didn’t mean much. But there was also a striving merchant class. Although often viewed contemptuously by the ruling samurai, the merchants often had more money than the samurai had. The merchants had to tread very carefully—samurai were entitled to carry two swords and kill at will, so one wouldn’t want to give offense.
Still, folks liked to show off-they just had to find a discreet way to do it. The basic tobacco set had four parts: the tonkotsu, or tobacco container; ald tobaccothe kiseru, or pipe; the kiseru-zu-tsu, the pipe sheath; and the ojime, a pierced bead that served as a toggle to anchor the sheath to the container. Using these basic forms, artisans fashioned sets from every sort of material. The wealthy could buy sets made of silk, ivory, glazed leather, or lacquer. They were products of elegant design and were small enough to be inconspicuous.
The tonkotsu of the middle class were more fun. They embody what the West calls folk art and what the early 20th-century aesthetician Yanagi Soetsu defined in a word he coined as mingei, literally “people art.” Yanagi wrote that mingei should be “unself-consciously handmade and unsigned for the people by the people, cheaply and in quantity…[with] no obtruding personality in them.” Tonkotsu fairly meets the description, except possibly for the personality part, because the maker’s sense of humor does shine through.
Like folk artists everywhere, the tonkotsu artisans used ordinary materials—straw, paulownia wood, tree roots, bamboo, white metal, small bits of mother-of-pearl, and glass. The containers are only 4″ high, but the small scope did not hinder creativity. Japan has always had a genius for miniaturization. Often the figures the artisans carved were drawn from folk religion.
A good example is the popularity of Daruma as a tobacco container. Daruma (also known as Bodhidharma) is the legendary monk who is said to have brought Zen Buddhism from India to China from where it made its way to Japan. Daruma dolls have come to be seen as good luck symbols. Daruma is often shown satirically or humorously—his story does lend itself to comic interpretation.
It is said that to achieve enlightenment, Daruma meditated while seated in a cave for nine years. His legs atrophied. Once during this rather strict regimen, he fell asleep. When he woke up, he was so disgusted with himself that he tore off his eyelids. A tea plant—the world’s first—sprang up from his eyelids. He ultimately decided that tea was OK; sipping it aided meditation.
It’s not clear how Daruma became associated with smoking, although in woodblock prints he is often shown with a pipe. This might seem to show that he was attached to worldly pleasures. Not so—Daruma’s smoking is a good example of Zen antilogic. If you are truly detached, you can smoke because you don’t have to smoke.
Daruma’s typical oval shape lends itself very nicely to a small container. His face serves as the lid. The face is usually carved from a hard fine-grained wood for better detail. To achieve a glaring wide-eyed stare, the artist inserts bits of mother-of-pearl. There are other good-luck and religious symbols incorporated into his robe: a spider for industry and a butterfly representing the soul.
Daruma serves a dual purpose—it carries your tobacco, and it is an engi, a luck-bringer. A Westerner might have a rabbit’s foot dangling from a key chain, but when you’re carrying Daruma, you have some serious juice. Daruma is not always portrayed with a fierce expression. He is also depicted as the yawning Daruma, his mouth open in what looks like a grin, and his arms raised in a stretch. The artist may even give him crossed legs. The upraised arms work nicely with the design. From the back of the face, cords run through the top of the tonkotsu and then through Daruma’s hands and are attached to the pipe sheath.
In making a tonkotsu, the artisan’s imagination wasn’t limited to Daruma. One artist used bone-chip inlay in a rectangular wooden box and attached to it, as a pipe sheath, a hollowed piece of antler covered in script. Another artist took a tree root and shaped it into what appears to be a mound of rocks with a small flower blooming on top. A modest but artful box is made from straw woven in three patterns and painted.
While tonkotsu are the main attraction, the other pieces of a tobacco set are also worthy of attention. Pipe sheaths are often nicely carved, also with good-luck figures. Spiders were very popular with the striving merchant class. To accompany a yawning Daruma, a pipe sheath echoes the tonkotsu’s design with Daruma having a good long stretch. The pipes themselves, and the beads on mingei tobacco sets, tend to be simple. Inscribed silver pipe fittings and elaborate netsuke are usually reserved for the more expensive varieties.
As popular as pipe smoking was, exposure to Western ways would change pipe-smoking culture, though the love of tobacco would continue unabated. Travelers from the West would witness this sea change as it was happening. While Japan was developing rapidly around them, visitors wanted to absorb as much of quaint old Japan as they could. One famous visitor who arrived in 1871 and stayed for two years was Charles Longfellow, son of America’s leading poet. Along with getting tattooed, which was a favorite souvenir, Longfellow had himself photographed in traditional carpenter’s dress. Prominently displayed with him is a tobako-bon.
The formidable Victorian traveler Isabella Bird frequently described Japanese smoking habits in her epistolary travel journal. She visited Japan in 1878 and journeyed through regions that had never seen a foreigner, let alone a foreign woman. She wrote that her kuruma (another name for rickshaw) runners, clad in blue cotton drawers, shirts open at the front, and tattoos, had a waist girdle with a tiny pipe and pouch attached. When they took a break, out came the pipe, to be filled with a minute amount of tobacco. Three puffs per pipeful, and they were good to go.
Women, Bird observed, were just as devoted to their pipes. At temple fairs, girls working in the popular archery galleries served tea and sweetmeats and smoked their tiny pipes. When Bird stopped at a tea house, “one smiling girl brought me the tabako-bon, a square wood or lacquer tray, with a china or bamboo charcoal-holder and an ash-pot upon it.” So ingrained was smoking as an act of hospitality that when Bird declined, “they were much surprised at my not smoking and supposed me to be under a vow!”
A profound change Bird frequently commented on was the popularity of Western dress. When one had pockets and purses, tonkotsu were no longer needed. Cigarettes, introduced in the 1870’s, were also rapidly gaining popularity. Cigarettes meant a whole new group of accessories—cigarette and match cases and, for the home, cigarette boxes rather than the tobako-bon.
Tonkotsu became a thing of the past. The only place where they are now seen in active use is the kabuki theater. They are included as part of the actors’ costumes and are invaluable for “stage business”—there are often scenes of conferring and smoking.
For tobacciana buffs, tonkotsu of the folk and the fine variety survive. At a recent Pier show in New York City, the tonkotsu on offer ranged in price from $400 for a nicely carved tree root to $5500 for one made of ivory. They were not necessarily being sold by dealers specializing in Japanese antiques.
The tonkotsu pictured in this article were found in antiques/flea markets in locations as diverse as New York City, Brimfield, and Tokyo. Their prices ranged from a modest $60 (the straw tonkotsu) to $350 (the double Daruma). A recent visit to the Trocadero Web site turned up eight tonkotsu on offer, with prices from $110 to $3975.
Many tonkotsu doubtless came to the United States with American GIs. The U.S. occupied Japan for seven years, and tobacco items are typical “mantiques.” These little objects made great souvenirs: small, portable, and durable. They may have lost their utility but not their charm and humor. And for fans of Daruma, there’s that luck thing—who couldn’t use a bit of that?

Tobacco Lobbyists Orchestrate Effort To Repeal CA Clean Energy Law

To manage their initiative to roll back California’s landmark climate change law, AB 32, big oil is turning to the same deceptive tobacco operatives who engineered Philip Morris’ fight against efforts to tax cigarettes and stop childhood as well as indoor smoking. According to veteran right-wing activist Ted Costa, former Philip Morris outside counsel Tom Hiltachk co-opted his AB 32 repeal initiative, known as Proposition 23 (”Prop 23″). Hiltachk’s name appears on both versions of Prop 23 filed with the California Attorney General, and his tactics and already ubiquitous in the campaign.
Hiltachk, who is also serving as an attorney for Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman, has made a career writing misleading right-wing initiatives, then pitching the initiatives to corporations that may benefit from their passage. To fund Prop 23, he reached out to a friend from his days working for the tobacco industry, Mike Carpenter. Carpenter, the former top California lobbyist for Philip Morris, now lobbies for Valero, a Texan oil company with operations in California. To date, Valero has been the prime driver of the Prop 23, donating over $1 million so far directly to the effort.
The Prop 23 campaign seems to be laundering money and using front groups to promote their efforts. Indeed, one of the most visible groups supporting Prop 23, the California Manufacturers and Technology Association, which is mobilizing press events and “pro-business” organizing is funded by Valero. Carpenter sits on the board of the conservative think-tank, the Pacific Research Institute, producing bunk studies to bolster pro-Prop 23 claims. Other large donations to the pro-Prop 23 campaign are from front groups like the Missouri-based Adam Smith Foundation and the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, which both carefully conceal their funding.
But these under-the-radar tactics of shifting money around and using phony groups are nothing new to Hiltachk and Carpenter:
– During the eighties and nineties, Hiltachk and his law partners helped the tobacco industry, with funding from Philip Morris and R.J. Reynolds, coordinate a variety of stealth front groups. While his law firm received over a million from tobacco interests, Hiltachk helped organize “Californians for Smokers’ Rights,” a supposedly “grassroots” group that relied on tobacco industry consumer lists to mobilize opposition to anti-smoking initiatives. Working with “academic” fronts like the Claremont Institute (also funded by tobacco), Hiltachk and his law partner Charles Bell mobilized business opposition through a front they helped manage called Californians for Fair Business Policy.
– As the top California lobbyist for Philip Morris, Carpenter helped liaison to nonprofit groups to orchestrate efforts to fight back against anti-smoking laws. Working closely with Hiltachk’s law firm at the time, Nielsen, Merksamer, Parrinello, Mueller & Naylor, Carpenter distributed news clips, recommended tobacco donations to certain outside groups, and mobilized messaging and polling operations against an initiative to tax cigarettes to fund anti-childhood smoking programs, according to files with the Legacy Tobacco Documents Library. One document shows Carpenter receiving a pro-tobacco screed from the Pacific Research Institute, faxed by a communications officer at Philip Morris. The Pacific Research Institute, funded by Valero and tobacco interests, is now helping to provide academic-sounding cachet to the pro-Prop 23 campaign.
After millions of Californians needlessly suffered or died from smoking, the pair ultimately failed in their tobacco lobbying. California voters successfully passed several successive cigarette taxes and smoking bans.
It appears Hiltachk and Carpenter are up to their old tricks. Carpenter is busy recruiting trade association support for the initiative, spending April meeting with groups like the California League of Food Processors. And for his part, Hiltachk has tapped firms he has steered contracts to for over twenty years, like Goddard Claussen West and Woodward & McDowell, to do the legwork of signature gathering and ad making. According to Costa, the Prop 23 proponents boasted to him that they would raise $50 million for their campaign. Aside from the devastating impact Prop 23 will have on California’s economy and the prospects for addressing climate change, at least former tobacco operatives like Hiltachk and Carpenter will be doing quite well.

Jeff Greene attacks Kendrick Meek for cigar ties

Congressman Kendrick Meek relishes a good cigar — Padrons are his favorite, he told Cigar Aficionado magazine in a 2008 profile. He hosts an annual cigar party and is known to hand out cigars to members of Congress and their staff, and the cigar industry has helped fund his recent campaigns, the magazine reported. Padron Cigars, a longtime family business, is headquartered in Little Havana in Miami.
Meek’s U.S. Senate Democratic primary opponent, Jeff Greene, attacks Meek for his ties to the tobacco industry in a campaign flier accusing Meek of standing with special interests.
Specifically, Greene wrote in a campaign flier that hit mailboxes around July 23, 2010, that Meek was “#1 in Florida in taking tobacco cash and then opposed a tax on cigars that would have helped pay for children’s health care.” Greene this week introduced a new TV ad that stated “Meek lobbied for big tobacco against children’s health care.”
We decided to examine the campaign flier. Did Meek rake in more money from the tobacco industry than anyone else in Florida and then oppose a tax on cigars that would pay for children’s health care?
Greene’s campaign cited the Center for Responsive Politics — an organization that analyzes campaign donations — as part of its proof, so we turned there first to check tobacco donations for Meek’s 2008 Congressional race and 2010 U.S. Senate race. The website shows that Meek received $77,325 from the tobacco industry in his 2010 race and $63,727 in his 2008 race. Those amounts put him at No. 1 among Florida candidates for House or Senate and Florida members of the House and Senate.
But Greene’s flier said Meek was “#1 in Florida” and did not specify whether that was only among federal candidates. There is no simple way to thoroughly check tobacco donations to all candidates across Florida including for state Legislature.
Next we checked Meek’s voting record on the U.S. Library of Congress website, particularly in 2007 and 2009, on bills that would raise taxes on the tobacco industry to help pay for children’s health care. Meek voted for the bill each time – but the background is more complex.
While Meek touted the law, behind the scenes he helped Miami cigar maker Jorge Padron get a meeting with top Democrats including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi so Padron could lobby against higher taxes, the Miami Herald wrote on March 24, 2008. Padron later hosted a fundraiser for Meek.
The Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2007 would have increased excise tax rates on cigars, cigarettes, cigarette papers and tubes, smokeless tobacco, pipe tobacco, and roll-your-own tobacco. Meek voted for the bill, referred to as the Small Business Tax Relief Act in the House, on Feb. 16, 2007. President George W. Bush vetoed the bill. Meek voted again for the bill on Oct. 25, 2007, and again Bush vetoed it.
The taxes on cigars would have soared from 5 cents to $3, a 6,000 percent increase, the Miami Herald wrote. That tax hike was too high, Meek said in the 2008 article, but he also supported the health care legislation by voting for it.
The Miami Herald wrote, “Asked why he would take a seemingly contrary stance by voting twice for the legislation, Meek explained that expanding healthcare was vital, adding, ‘We knew it was going to be vetoed. … My advocacy on behalf of the legislation is well documented in the congressional record. At the same time, I am sensitive to the fact that business owners facing a giant tax increase want to make sure that legislative leaders understand exactly what is going on. [The insurance program] is going to pass one day with my vote, but [I] don’t want the small businesses in Florida and in my community run out of business.'”
Meek also explained his concerns in the Cigar Aficionado magazine profile.
“The goal of government is not to put small businesses out of business,” Meek told Cigar Aficionado. “Speaker Pelosi and Chairman (Charles) Rangel are not about putting small businesses out of business. I thought that the tax increase (from 20.7 to nearly 53 percent) on the handmade cigar industry went a little bit too far. Well, not a little bit too far; it went too far. This would have hurt not only a lot of businesses in South Florida, but also those countries where the tobacco comes from. The Dominican Republic would have felt a direct effect of such a large tax [increase]. Also Honduras. Also Nicaragua.”
In 2009, the children’s health care legislation came up again, this time to raise the federal excise tax on cigarettes 61 cents, from 39 cents a pack to $1.01 a pack, and raise taxes on other tobacco products. Meek voted in favor of the bill, along with nearly every Democrat in the house, according to a Jan. 14, 2009, press release from Meek. President Barack Obama signed the bill into law in February 2009.
Cigar makers credited Meek with helping reduce the amount of the tax on cigar manufacturers, according to a Jan. 15, 2009, Tampa Tribune article. The article quoted Eric Newman, president of the Cigar Manufacturers Association of Tampa, as saying Tampa Democratic Rep. Kathy Castor “and Meek were very helpful and supportive of our positions.”
So where does that leave us?
Meek was clearly No. 1 in tobacco donations among Florida candidates for House or Senate in his 2008 race and 2010 race and is at the top among Florida’s members in the House and Senate. But Greene’s flier didn’t specify that the No. 1 label applied only to federal races and there is no simple way to check the tobacco dollars given to candidates across the state for various offices.
Greene also claimed that Meek “opposed” a tax on cigars that would have paid for children’s health care. Meek thought that the 2007 version was too high of an increase for businesses and he scored key meetings for a cigar maker with member of Congress, but he voted for the legislation anyway — twice that year. Meek again voted for the version that passed in 2009 when the cigar industry credited him with helping reduce the amount of their tax burden. We recognize he worked to lower the amount of the tax, but we think it’s misleading to say that Meek “opposed” a tax when he voted for it three times. Politicians are ultimately judged on their votes, and that’s why Meek’s votes for the legislation is crucial information here. We considered both parts of Greene’s claim and rate it Barely True.

Kentucky burley threatened by global tobacco regulations

WASHINGTON — Kentucky’s main tobacco crop would be devastated by proposed international regulations designed to restrict the content of cigarettes, according to growers and lawmakers who are fighting the proposal.
The regulations, being written by the World Health Organization as part of the international tobacco control treaty, would effectively ban the use of burley tobacco in cigarettes, opponents say. The rules could be approved later this year.
Six of the eight members of Kentucky’s congressional delegation have written organization officials in protest, arguing that a burley ban would provide no public health benefits.
“We believe these overly broad guidelines are a threat to the livelihood of American tobacco growers,” warned the lawmakers’ letter, signed by Sen. Jim Bunning, R-Ky., and Reps. Ed Whitfield, R-1st District; Brett Guthrie, R-2nd; Geoff Davis, R-4th; Hal Rogers, R-5th; and Ben Chandler, D-6th.
Gov. Steve Beshear’s office said he had not written to oppose the regulations.
Kentucky is the nation’s leading producer of burley tobacco, with a crop worth $274million in 2009. As many as 10,000 of the state’s farmers produce the leaf, which is a key ingredient in the so-called “American blend” cigarettes made in the United States and overseas.
Nearly three-quarters of the roughly 200 million pounds of American burley produced annually is exported, a dramatic change from the early 1990s, when exports accounted for only a quarter to a third of U.S. production, according to Will Snell, an agricultural economist at the University of Kentucky.
If the ban is adopted, the 169 nations that have approved the treaty will be expected to enact it, Whitfield said in an interview.
“Burley tobacco grown in Kentucky basically would be banned from being shipped anywhere,” he said.
And that “would be bad for us,” said Ryan Peach, 20, who grows burley near Lawrenceburg in Anderson County. He said his family has been growing burley for at least five generations.
“That’s what I grew up doing and all I plan on doing,” Peach said.
Palatability plays role
At issue are regulations being developed under the treaty that would bar the use in cigarettes of all ingredients other than tobacco.
Because of its harsh characteristics, burley requires the use of flavorings and processing ingredients as it is blended with other tobaccos.
The letter from the Kentucky lawmakers was written June 30 to Norwegian Foreign Affairs Minister Jonas Gahr Store, who is playing a lead role in formulating the new guidelines, to be considered at a November meeting in Punta del Este, Uruguay.
“While legislation that seeks to eliminate sweet or candy flavored tobacco from the market may be well intended, the prohibition on the use of all ingredients goes far beyond eliminating only those products with so-called characterizing flavors,” the letter said.
“The draft (treaty) guidelines would eliminate the entire category of traditional American blend tobacco that contains burley tobacco, while allowing other categories of cigarettes to remain in the marketplace,” the lawmakers continued. “This is simply unfair and does nothing more than stop the sale of American blended tobacco.”
Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids in Washington, said the cigarette content guidelines aren’t intended to discriminate against a particular type of tobacco.
Instead, he said, the proposed rules “are correctly designed to make it more difficult for tobacco manufacturers to manipulate cigarettes to make them more appealing to young people.”
But Roger Quarles, president of the Lexington-based Burley Tobacco Growers Cooperative Association and a Georgetown farmer, said the proposed language is “ridiculous.”
“The ingredients themselves (in burley) are not harmful whatsoever,” he said.
Without the flavoring additives, Quarles said, a cigarette blended with burley would be “a product that would be less palatable to the consumer.
“Of course, that’s (the proponents’) objective: They want it to taste like you-know-what so you would be less inclined to use it.”
UK’s Snell said burley’s future in the international market “is a very serious issue.”
“For years the Kentucky burley industry knew that domestic demand would continually decline, but the glimmer of hope was that a promising international market would help offset some of the anticipated declines in the U.S. market,” he said in an e-mail.
A variety of factors justified that optimism for a while, Snell said. But since 2007 other developments — including the global recession, excessive cultivation of burley worldwide, a ban on cigarette flavorings in Canada and the pending content proposals under the tobacco treaty — have caused manufacturers and dealers to be more conservative in buying American burley, Snell said.
U.S. ratification of treaty
The United States signed the tobacco treaty, formally known as the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, in May 2004.
But then-President George W. Bush never submitted the treaty to the Senate for ratification, and President Barack Obama so far has not responded to public health groups’ appeals for action on it.
While the treaty took effect in 2005, the United States has had little voice in the implementation of its provisions because it has not ratified it.
Myers has been a regular attendee at international treaty meetings, even though the United States has yet to become an official party to the pact.
That is, in fact, one of the ironies of the burley growers and Kentucky lawmakers complaining now about the treaty, Myers said.
“The members of the Kentucky delegation who have long opposed the U.S. ratifying the Framework Convention have no one but themselves to hold responsible that the U.S. won’t have a formal voice in these discussions,” he said. “Now they’re on the outside when discussions like these take place.”
But Whitfield said many nations attend meetings on treaties they did not ratify.
“I don’t think there’s anything unusual about a country trying to influence an international body if a decision would affect their product,” he said.
Philip Morris USA, the nation’s largest cigarette maker, declined to comment on the issue.
Frank Lester, spokesman for R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., said in an e-mail that “as a domestic U.S. tobacco company, we have not weighed in on this international issue.”
For Peach, the proposed treaty rules create great uncertainty.
“I’d like to keep on going here,” he said. “I don’t know if it’s going to stay here or not.”
He said he takes pride in his tobacco and its long heritage.
“I enjoy working in it. I enjoy seeing it every year. I look forward to it.”
By James R. Carroll
Courier journal, July 24, 2010

Singapore Looks To Be Tobacco Free

Mr Speaker, Sir, 11 Members have spoken on this Bill. Dr Lam Pin Min gave us a good account of the harm of tobacco.
Mr Hri Kumar’s passionate speech struck a chord. Your common message is loud and clear: “tobacco is harmful, let’s do our best to protect our people from its harm”.
Thank you for supporting this Bill. We will do what is practical to implement it effectively.
Emerging Products
First, many members support the ban on emerging tobacco products. Mr Seah Kian Peng’s account on snus, a smokeless product, is instructive. Let’s not allow them to land here.
However, Dr Lam Pin Min and A/Prof Fatimah Lateef suggested that we do not ban such products entirely, but to consider some of them as part of a harm reduction strategy to help smokers quit smoking.
It reminded me of our experience with Subutex as a harm reduction strategy to get drug addicts off heroin. The West touted this strategy and we tried it out with disastrous results. It took MHA and I quite some time to reverse the policy.
A less harmful tobacco product is an oxymoron. I share Mr Hri Kumar’s view on this subject and agree with his robust approach. In the 1970s, the tobacco companies introduced cigarettes purported to be “low tar”, “light” or “mild” as safer alternatives.
They promoted such cigarettes to smokers who had heath concerns and were thinking of quitting. These products rapidly gained market share. As a result, there was a net increase in cigarette consumption. Independent research later on showed that smokers compensated by smoking more cigarettes or inhaling more deeply.
Prof Lateef quoted the positive experience of snus in Sweden. The Swedish experience has never been replicated outside of Sweden. I note that snus is a Swedish product.
The evidence is actually the opposite, with the use of snus resulting in smokers becoming addicted to both cigarettes and snus. More smokeless tobacco use does not mean less cigarette smoking.
Smokers use smokeless tobacco products to tide over nicotine craving in places where smoking is prohibited while continuing to smoke in other places where smoking is allowed – this perversely reduces the impetus for them to quit smoking.
Meanwhile, tobacco companies get to entice non-smokers to develop nicotine addiction, adding to their customer base.
Our experience with Subutex as a less harmful heroin substitute is similar. Instead of reducing the number of drug addicts, we ended up with more. I strongly advise against adopting such so-called harm reduction strategy.
But I agree with Dr Lam and Prof Lateef that we should try to help smokers “to gradually quit in a controlled manner”. There are proper ways to do so, one is through controlled Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT), by following strict guidelines. We do not prohibit nicotine used in such a manner.
I would like to assure Mr Alvin Yeo that we will, in the assessment process, undertake the necessary studies before imposing any ban under Section 15. We will keep an open mind about this.
Education and Smoking Cessation
Second, all the members expressed concerns over the rising smoking prevalence among certain population groups, including the young, the ladies and the Malays. Mdm Halimah’s speech in Malay made a heart-felt appeal to the Malay smokers to think about the welfare of their children and to get them to stop smoking.
To be credible, they have to walk the talk by quitting smoking themselves. I join her in this appeal. I also thank Mdm Halimah for highlighting the harm pregnant mothers bring to their infants if they smoke.
All the Members called for stronger smoking control measures. I agree entirely.
We have implemented various programmes, and we will continue to try new ones. We work with schools, religious institutions, the employers, the charity sector and the community at large. I note Mdm Halimah’s illustration of the Sheraton Towers as an exemplary employer who went the extra mile to get their employees to quit smoking. I applaud such employers and urge more to join the movement.
I heard Mdm Cynthia Phua’s call for schools to reach out to students who smoke and get them to quit. I appreciate her sharing several research findings done in schools overseas on effective counselling, including telephone counselling. I note her point that with teens, enforcement and penalty do not work as well.
The psychology often works the other way. What is prohibited becomes highly valued. We try to tap on the young to guide us on how to reach out to their peers.
I had focus group discussions with young lady smokers. They knew the harm of tobacco and had tried to quit but when their own family members and close friends are smokers, they found it difficult. This is obviously a complex issue. As Prof Straughan noted, one underlying cause could be the larger problem of some youths needing to embrace “sub-cultures” in order to seek “affirmation from like-minded peers”.
We will definitely try to do more and learn from others. We have discussed the various initiatives in this House before. In the interest of time, I will not repeat them here.
Our efforts have not been futile. Let me quote one indicator. The proportion of Secondary School students who have ever tried cigarette smoking has dropped from 26% in 2000 to 16% in 2009. This is a victory for us. But we need to do better.
Third, Ms Ellen Lee, Mdm Halimah, and Prof Straughan called for stronger enforcement against sales to the under-age. I agree. We will step up policing on tobacco retail outlets. We will consider raising the penalty on repeat offenders. We are also considering disallowing tobacco sales in outlets frequented by young customers.
FCTC Obligations
Fourth, Dr Lam Pin Min asked about Singapore’s compliance with the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) and whether we had been tardy. To date, we will be the third country in the world to fulfil all the obligations on tobacco labelling should this Bill be passed.
Dr Lam wondered if the delay in implementing the FCTC was a cause for the increase in smoking prevalence here. I doubt it. We have been ahead of the curve in tobacco control and in any case were largely FCTC compliant right from the start.
Dr Lam asked if we should give the tobacco companies more than 12 months to implement the changes to tobacco product packaging. We decided on “12 months” based on actual past experience when we introduced mandatory health warning labels. They were able to comply.
I appreciate Mr Sin Boon Ann’s thoughtful piece on “lateral advertising”, “subliminal marketing” and “advertising through the internet”. Mr Calvin Cheng made a similar observation. Indeed, these are the innovations that tobacco companies are mounting to get around the FCTC. It is a hot topic currently being discussed among international regulators including ourselves.
We do not yet have all the answers to these challenges. For example, how do we deal with internet advertising?
How do we censor out scenes of James Bond smoking a particular brand of cigarette? I have not noticed Mr Sin’s observation that Mark Lee seemed to be particularly fond of Marlboro cigarettes. I will have a quiet word with him the next time I see him.
But where we can, we should act. For example, we have removed the exemption for congratulatory messages and sponsorship publicity.
Mr Hri Kumar has described past misleading behaviours by tobacco companies. This is unethical behaviour. I agree with his observations.
From a public health perspective, misleading terms are just as misleading, even if they are part of a trade mark. Mr Alvin Yeo raised several legal queries on this. The new s17A will affect trademarks if they contain misleading descriptors.
We are aware of our TRIPS and other international obligations and have consulted the relevant authorities extensively on this point. The proposed section 17A is aligned closely to the FCTC and will not violate Singapore’s international obligations. We are in good company: the EU prohibits misleading terms and descriptors even if they are part of the trademarks or brand names.
Other Issues
Lastly, there were some comments which do not pertain to the proposed amendments in the current Bill. But let me briefly address them.
Ms Ellen Lee and Mr Hri Kumar made a plea on behalf of the non-smokers and especially innocent children, from the effects of second hand smoke from inconsiderate neighbours, and irresponsible parents. Ms Lee asked the NEA to widen the outdoor smoking ban to include more common places in HDB towns, such as void decks and common corridors.
I will raise her suggestion with the NEA. Mr Hri Kumar asked rhetorically how we could extend the law to the privacy of the home, in order to protect the children from second-hand smoke. He knew it is outside my purview. But I note his point.
Dr Lam suggested that we control retail pricing of tobacco products, to make them expensive, thus curbing consumption. In practice, price fixing seldom works, as we live in a region where cigarettes are cheap. For the same reason, while we have been aggressive in tobacco taxation, there are limits, but we will continue to use this strategy where practical and feasible.
Mr Speaker, Sir, tobacco related deaths and illnesses are preventable. Let’s try to make Singapore as tobacco free as possible. When drafting this Bill, we had extensive consultation with Singaporeans. The amendments received strong support from them.

Tobacco company earnings boosted by higher prices

Some of the world’s largest tobacco companies showed this week that even in a sluggish global economy they have the power to raise prices in most countries and beat earnings expectations.
Philip Morris International Inc (PM.N), which sells Marlboro cigarettes outside the United States and Reynolds American Inc (RAI.N), which sells Camel and other brands in the United States, posted higher-than-expected quarterly profits on Thursday and raised their 2010 earnings forecasts.
The results came a day after Philip Morris USA parent Altria Group Inc (MO.N) raised its forecast for the year after the 2010 first half was better than expected.
The tobacco companies’ figures helped mitigate concerns that a large increase in the U.S. tax on tobacco last year and high global unemployment would force a switch by consumers to lower-priced smokes.
“This industry is all about pricing,” Morningstar analyst Phil Gorham said. “They’ve still got very strong pricing power.”
The one exception is in Western Europe, where Philip Morris saw a 6.2 percent drop in cigarette shipments due to a weak economy in Spain, a declining market in Germany and tax increases in Greece.
“Weakness in Western Europe was not very surprising,” Gorham said. Places like Spain have very high unemployment and that killed demand, he said.
Still, Philip Morris is in many emerging markets where cigarette sales continue to grow and, unlike Altria and Reynolds, it is not exposed to the U.S. market, where smoking has declined steadily for years.
Philip Morris International, the world’s largest non-state-controlled tobacco company, said profit was $1.98 billion, or $1.07 a share, in the second quarter, up from $1.55 billion, or 79 cents a share, a year earlier.
Analysts on average forecast 97 cents a share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Revenue rose 14.3 percent to $17.4 billion.
The company shipped 240.96 billion cigarettes in the quarter, up 8 percent from a year earlier. Part of the increase was fueled by customers stocking up in Japan ahead of a tax increase that takes effect October 1.
Higher prices helped lift the company’s operating income by 15 percent, excluding the impact of currency fluctuations.
The company said it expects earnings of $3.75 to $3.85 a share for the year, compared with its forecast a month ago of $3.70 to $3.80.
Philip Morris shares were up $1.05 at $50.94 on the New York Stock Exchange.
Reynolds American said profit was $341 million, or $1.17 a share, in the second quarter, weighed down by plant-closing costs, compared with $377 million, or $1.29 a share, a year earlier.
Excluding one-time items, earnings were $1.32 a share, 2 cents above the average analyst estimate.
Sales were little changed at $2.25 billion. In the 2009 second quarter, shipments were skewed higher by the timing of the U.S. tax increase.
The company shipped 20.3 billion cigarettes in the quarter, down 9.5 percent from a year earlier, but key brands Camel and Pall Mall both increased market share.
Reynolds also shipped 97.1 million cans of smokeless tobacco under brands like Grizzly and Kodiak.
Reynolds expects full-year earnings, excluding one-time items, of $4.90 to $5.05 a share, up from a previous forecast of $4.80 to $5. Analysts on average expect $4.92.
Reynolds shares were up 51 cents at $56.33. Altria was up 18 cents at $21.59.