Lawmakers Pitch New Casino Smoking Change

SPRINGFIELD – If Illinois lawmakers don’t roll-back the state’s smoking ban for casinos, they may just allow the riverboats to build tobacco in Casinospecial smoking sections.
A second proposal to scale back Illinois’ statewide smoking ban cleared its first statehouse hurdle on Monday. The legislation from State Rep. Andre Thapdei, D-Chicago, would allow Illinois’ nine casinos to build designated smoking rooms, complete with ventilation systems, for gamblers who want to light-up while they play.
Thapedi said after two years it is clear that gamblers who used to lay-down bets in Illinois are crossing the border to gamble and smoke.
“The Federal Reserve bank’s researchers [have] opined that Illinois loses approximately $200 million in revenue by barring smokers from smoking in Illinois casinos.”
Other studies put the dollar loss closer to $500 million since the smoking ban took effect two years ago.
State Rep. Dan Beiser, D-Alton, said the Argosy riverboat in Alton has lost a good deal of money to casinos just across the river in Missouri since Illinois went smoke free.
“The Alton facility has lost 30 percent to 40 percent of its revenue in the past couple years,” he said. “How much of that is from the smoking ban? I’d say the vast majority.”
Beiser said Illinois’ casinos are at a clear competitive disadvantage because of the smoking ban.
State Rep. Pat Verschoore, D-Milan, said casinos across the state have lost about 10 percent of their revenue to the smoking ban. Though he said that might not be the case for all riverboats.
“I’ve been by the new Casino Rock Island and the parking lot is full on the weekend. And I’ve spoken with people who are gambling and they say they love it because [the casino] is non-smoking. But maybe I was just talking with non-smokers.”
Verschoore had his own legislation to carve-out an exemption for all casinos when the smoking ban passed back in 2008. He said he’ll likely vote for this latest smoking exemption.
But other lawmakers say if casinos get special treatment, then bars, restaurants, and social clubs will be next.
State Rep. Dan Brady, R-Bloomington, was the only lawmaker to vote against the smoking zone legislation.
“The [people in my district] who own a restaurant, a bar, or the VFW, or whatever are going to be treated differently and asked to abide by a law whereas we’re going to create and carve-out another exemption for the gaming industry,” said Brady.
But the state’s fiscal woes may be too great, and the promise of easy money may be too tempting for lawmakers to pass-up.
Anti-smoking forces, however, say it’s a poor argument that Illinois’ needs outweigh the health and safety of thousands of casino workers and other gamblers.
Kathy Drea with the American Lung Association of Illinois said the state is essentially banking on death.
“There are so many other things that we can do. We can raise the cigarette tax … that would bring in at least $300 million and another $300 million in a federal match. So there’s $600 million right there. There are so many things we can do to find revenue rather than be a proponent of something that makes people sick and kills them.”
But State Rep. Thapedi said if lawmakers approve the smoking zone exemption for casinos, all workers would have to volunteer to work there. He said no one would be forced to go anywhere they do not know is risky.
“It’s no different than a coal miner going into a coal [mine] or an asbestos remover removing asbestos.”
By Benjamin Yount

Chewing Tobacco for Kids Spreads Oral Cancer in India

Safiq Shaikh was 13 when he began chewing a blend of tobacco and spices that jolted him awake when his job at a textile loom got too dreary. Five years later, doctors in Mumbai lopped off his tongue to halt the cancer that was spreading through his mouth.
Shaikh believed the fragrant, granular mixture he chewed, known in India as gutka, was a harmless stimulant and at first he ignored the milky Chewing Tobacco for Kidslump growing inside his mouth. Now Shaikh is one of about 200,000 Indians diagnosed with a tobacco-related malignancy this year, says his surgeon, Pankaj Chaturvedi.
India has the highest number of oral cancers in the world after a group of entrepreneurs known locally as “gutka barons” turned a 400-year-old tobacco product hand-rolled in betel leaves into a spicy blend sold for 2 cents on street corners from Bangalore to New Delhi. Sales of chewing tobacco, worth 210.3 billion rupees ($4.6 billion) in 2004, are on track to double by 2014, according to Datamonitor, a branch of the international research firm based in Hyderabad, India.
“Now you have an industrial version of a traditional thing” spurring demand, said Chaturvedi, who works at Tata Memorial Hospital in Mumbai, Asia’s largest cancer treatment center, and draws cartoons to warn of tobacco’s dangers in his spare time. “By the time you are experimenting with this product, you become the slave of the industry.”
India had almost 70,000 diagnosed cases of cancers of the mouth in 2008, the highest in the world ahead of the U.S. at 23,000 cases, according to statistics compiled by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer.
Selling Near Schools
“I have seen many children who started chewing gutka when they were 8 or 10 years old and got cancer in their teens,” Chaturvedi said as Chewing Tobacco for Kidspatients with tubes protruding from their throats and swollen jaws awaited their turn outside his office.
Gutka is sold at street stalls across India in bright rectangular pouches. Once opened, the powder emits a spicy smell. Inside the mouth, it has the consistency of gravel and creates a tingling sensation on the tongue. It’s the abrasion of the mouth’s lining that can accelerate the effect of nicotine and cancer-causing chemicals, according to Dhirendra Sinha, a technical officer for tobacco control at the WHO’s New Delhi office.
Street vendors crowd around schools, breaking Indian law, which prohibits the sale of tobacco products within 100 yards of educational institutions, says Devika Chadha, a program director at the Salaam Bombay Foundation, a nonprofit organization that works with schools to educate children about tobacco’s dangers.
‘Can’t Quit’
In Khetwadi, a low-income neighborhood in Mumbai, on a recent morning, three street vendors had set up their stalls about 55 yards from Sant Gadge Maharaj College as students gathered near the school gates. Javeed Shaikh, 21, says he began chewing gutka three years ago and now consumes two or three packets a day.
“I’m trying to quit and it’s hard,” he said as he sat on a motorcycle chatting with friends. The habit is easy to sustain with “all these shops,” he said, pointing at the street stalls. He isn’t related to Safiq Shaikh.
The combination of tobacco and areca nut makes gutka and its hand-made ancestor, known as paan, addictive, scientists say. Areca nut is the fourth-most commonly used psychoactive substance in the world after tobacco, alcohol and caffeine, according to the Geneva-based WHO.
‘Mystery Ingredients’
Manufacturers like to keep gutka’s other ingredients a mystery. Rajendra Malu, who owns the brand called “Jhee,” says a pouch contains three-fourths areca nut, 12 percent tobacco flakes and proprietary fragrances he won’t disclose.
A chemical analysis of gutka highlighted in a 2008 report from the WHO found that it contains chromium, nickel, arsenic and lead as well as tobacco-related nitrosamines, all of which are known carcinogens.
Malu estimates he sold 250 million packets last year from his manufacturing plant in the western state of Gujarat. He shrugs at the mention of a link between gutka and cancer.
“I have been chewing tobacco for the last 37 years and I am not suffering from anything,” he said from the living room of his apartment in Mumbai’s Prabha Devi neighbourhood.
While gutka is mostly used in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, its reach is worldwide because of migration, according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer.
“The practice of areca nut chewing and the presence of oral precancerous lesions are spreading from South Asia to the Western countries, with the potential of becoming a major public health issue,” researchers at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver wrote in a commentary published last year.
Tobacco Companies
More youngsters are picking up the habit. A survey of 1,500 teenagers in Mumbai aged 13 to 15 found that double the students identified themselves as tobacco chewers compared with a decade ago, according to Healis, a public health research institute.
That’s not just true in India. The number of U.S. teenage boys using smokeless tobacco went up to 4.4 percent from 3.4 percent between 2002 and 2007, according to a nationwide survey published by the Department of Health and Human Services.
Tobacco companies such as Philip Morris International Inc. and British American Tobacco Plc are selling more nicotine products that are sucked, not burned, in response to smoking bans. The situation in India could be a harbinger of the global risks posed by smokeless products, says Saman Warnakulasuriya, a professor of oral medicine at King’s College London.
Altria Group Inc., which sells Marlboro cigarettes in the U.S., last month said profit had exceeded analysts’ estimates, helped by rising shipments of smokeless tobacco.
“There’s movement of consumption,” Chief Executive Officer Michael Szymanczyk in an Oct. 20 conference call. “Some of that movement is people smoking fewer cigarettes and using smokeless tobacco as an alternative.”
Smokeless, Not Harmless
A spokesman for Altria, Bill Phelps, declined to comment and deferred to a statement found on Philip Morris USA’s website that says public health authorities found smokeless tobacco products are addictive and can cause cancer, heart problems and diseases of the mouth, gums and teeth.
A British American Tobacco spokeswoman, Kate Matrunola, said some smokeless tobacco products like Swedish snus are less damaging than cigarettes, though “smokeless does not mean harmless.”
Earlier this month, delegates from governments of 171 countries, including India, agreed at the latest session of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control to regulate flavouring ingredients that are used to lure youngsters and focus more on control and prevention of smokeless tobacco.
Breath Freshener
In India, billboards, television commercials and even public transport buses around Mumbai advertise a fragrant chewable product close to gutka in texture and taste called pan masala. The difference: it contains no tobacco and it’s promoted as a breath freshener. The price, packets and street sellers are almost identical, though, increasing the confusion about which product is which, says Prakash Gupta, who heads the non-profit research firm Healis.
Godfrey Philips India Ltd., which is 25.1 percent-owned by Philip Morris International, began selling its own version of pan masala this year.
Gutka, whose name is derived from a Punjabi word meaning “a miniature version of Sikhism’s holy book of scriptures,” has a health warning on the packet and the image of a scorpion to indicate its use has been linked to cancer.
That’s not effective enough, says Jagdish Kaur, chief medical officer at the tobacco control unit of India’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, and a new set of tobacco warning labels with graphic images of mouth cancer has been approved.
People “need to be very clearly told” about the risks, Kaur said in a telephone interview. “It cannot be just a scorpion or butterfly or whatever.”
Gutka’s Roots
Gutka first appeared in the 1970s, when a New Delhi paan seller began giving clients a ready-made version of paan, according to Malu. Unlike paan, gutka doesn’t stain the mouth pink or leave the hands sticky. It’s also easy to store and transport.
“Selling it in packets has revolutionized the sale of smokeless tobacco in India,” says Babu Mathew, a dental surgeon who headed the Trivandrum Oral Cancer Screening project, which followed 200,000 residents of the southern Indian state of Kerala for 15 years.
Mathew says he has seen multiple cases of patients developing cancers five or 10 years after starting on gutka.
Cancer Connection
A panel convened by the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer found in 2004 that areca nut caused cancer in animal studies, and that in humans it triggers the development of precancerous lesions. Tobacco, meantime, brings on genetic mutations that can lead to cancer.
Doctors point to three reasons why gutka bring on cancer much faster than cigarettes or 400-year-old paan. Both tobacco and areca nut play a role, say Mathew and Tata Memorial’s Chaturvedi.
The tobacco in gutka releases cancer-causing chemicals called nitrosamines in the mouth. In paan, they are neutralized in part by the fresh betel leaf, a benefit that gutka lacks, according to Mathew.
The chemicals in areca nut, meantime, stimulate the production of collagen, a protein that causes the mouth’s muscles to thicken, says Warnakulasuriya of King’s College London. At the same time, the coarse chunks of areca nut rub against the gums and cause tiny injuries that expose the blood vessels in the mouth, a trauma that can take several hours to heal, according to Chaturvedi.
“This injury and healing process is going on for 24 hours,” and over time it makes the inner lining of the mouth very stiff, Chaturvedi says.
Tight Mouths
The muscles in the mouth eventually lose their ability to stretch, resulting in a pre-cancerous condition called oral submucous fibrosis.
“From an uncommon disease found mainly among old persons in India, oral submucous fibrosis is emerging as a new epidemic mainly among the youth,” according to a 2004 report by India’s Ministry for Health and Family Affairs and the World Health Organization.
Patients who previously could grab a sizable chunk of an apple in a single bite are able to open their mouth to just about the size of a grape.
“Before I could put four fingers inside, now I can only put two,” said Aqeel Shaikh, 32, Safiq’s older brother. Shaikh says he chewed six packets of gutka a day for six years before he gave up the habit.
By Adi Narayan

Tobacco Control Board going mad

Tobacco Control BoardA person is allowed to bring into the country a maximum of 200 sticks of cigarette or 30 pieces of cigar or 150 g of other tobacco products a month.
However, they should be 18-years and above and can bring in only one tobacco product at a time.
They will be charged 200 percent sales tax and customs duty for tobacco products originating from countries other than India. Those from India will be charged 100 percent sales tax.
At the customs, the person should produce either a citizenship card, passport or a voter identity card. Following that the person will be issued a receipt, reflecting the details of the product and identity of the person.
The receipt will be considered valid for a month from date of issue and the person will have to hang on to it every time he smokes.
Finalised by the tobacco control board yesterday, in accordance to the tobacco control Act of Bhutan, the rules will be put into “serious practice”, when the Act becomes operative in January.

Jan 2011 tobacco control Act on200 maximum number of cigarette sticks permissible
1 month receipt validity
1-3 years prison term if caught smoking in restricted areas without receipt
3-5 years prison term for smuggling tobacco products
Nu 500 spot fine for smoking in restricted areas
Nu 10,000 for failing to display signboards and notices
200% tax for products from countries other than India
100% tax for those from India

“Any person, who brings in extra, will be liable for smuggling,” Bhutan narcotic control agency legal officer Sonam Tshering said. This translates into a fourth-degree felony, which means a three to five-year prison term.
He said any person caught smoking in restricted areas will have to pay Nu 500 fine on the spot.
“He will then be asked to produce a receipt issued by customs division, or else he’ll be asked to reveal his cigarette supplier,” he said.
Upon revealing the source, it is evident the person was engaged in tobacco transaction, which is a misdemeanour, meaning a prison term of one to three years.
If the person fails to reveal the source, he will be charged for smuggling in tobacco products, meaning another three to five year prison term, in addition to previous charges.
“And this is non-compoundable,” he said.
While representatives from police, trade, customs and the agency will conduct the monitoring, cooperation would also be sought from institutions and other counterparts like hoteliers.
Sonam Tshering said a person operating public places and transport will have to display notices indicating prohibition of smoking.
“It isn’t compulsory, but they can have designated rooms for smoking with proper ventilation,” he said, adding that signboards and notices should be displayed in Dzongkha and English, accompanied by the no-smoking sign.
Failing to do so would result in paying a fine of Nu 10,000 for each incident.
The implementation of the Act, which was endorsed in the fifth parliament session in June this year, was pushed to January 2011, since it was felt there was a need to educate public on the provisions and penalties of the Act.
Considering strong provisions in the act, agency’s executive director, Kinley Dorji, said implementing the act was going to be a challenge.
“But we feel good about the overall intention of the Act,” he said. “That one day Bhutan will become a tobacco-free country, and our people will enjoy better mental and physical health.”
He said that, along with the enforcement of the act, they would pursue a vigorous awareness program, starting with the vulnerable dzongkhags like those along the borders.
Sonam Tshering said notices would be issued to all dzongkhags, gewogs, institutions and organisations.
“We’re starting now because, if we’d launched our advocacy program earlier, people would have forgotten,” he said, adding after that, ignorance of law would be no excuse.
By Kesang Dema

Cigarette tax hike hurting stores

Wilson Farms is cutting jobs and scaling back store investment, blaming economic fallout from a sharp increase in cigarette taxes

Wilson Farms at Elmwood
Judy Penkack, manager of Wilson Farms at Elmwood and Sheridan, sorts through cigarettes. The convenience store chain is eliminating 20 administrative jobs and reducing store labor hours.
imposed over the summer.
The convenience store chain, with corporate offices in Amherst, is eliminating 20 administrative jobs, reducing store labor hours by 10 percent, and curbing capital spending it had planned for 2011, said Paul Nanula, the president and chief executive officer.
The $1.60-per-pack state tax hike that took effect July 1 has ignited a furor among convenience store operators, who claim the increase is onerous and driving customers to sales outlets that do not generate revenues for the state. Meanwhile, the state’s efforts to collect taxes on tobacco products sold by Native Americans to non-Indians are tied up in court.
Nanula said the tax hike is not only hurting Wilson Farms’ cigarette sales, but prompting some customers to bypass its stores altogether, cutting into sales of other items they might usually buy, like sandwiches and coffee.
Wilson Farms officials say the chain was on track for a year of record sales and profits until the tax hike took effect July 1, raising the total state excise tax per pack to $4.35, the nation’s highest. The chain’s cigarette sales are down 30 percent to 40 percent from a year ago, and its overall store sales are down 8 percent to 10 percent, Nanula said.
“We have to right-size our organization and there are jobs frankly lost because of that,” he said.
Nick Gallegos, Wilson Farms’ vice president of sales and marketing, said the tax hike is leading more New York State residents to buy cigarettes online at reservation stores, on the Internet, or in lower-cost Pennsylvania if they live close to the border. Those buying trends subtract from tax revenues the state was counting on, Gallegos said.
Yet, from July through October, state tax revenues from cigarettes and tobacco products increased 24 percent from the same four-month period in 2009, before the $1.60 hike was in effect, according to state sales tax figures.
James Calvin, president of the New York State Association of Convenience Stores, an Albany-based trade group, said while cigarette tax revenues have risen since July 1, the rate of increase is far short of the 58 percent per pack hike. That outcome is hurting convenience store operators, he said.
The cigarette sales drop-off impacts established chains like Wilson Farms as well as single-store “mom-and-pop” operations, Calvin said. “It’s heartbreaking. It’s through no fault of their own. It’s not that they don’t run a good business. They do.”
Erik Kriss, a spokesman for the state Division of the Budget, said he is not surprised to hear a retailer say its cigarette sales have fallen since the tax hike. Budget officials had projected sales of cigarettes would drop 22 percent as a result of the tax increase, he said.
One reason for the hike, Kriss said, was for the state to create a “disincentive” for people to smoke, by making the products more expensive. The bigger-picture goal is to make people healthier and reduce related health care costs, he said.
“One of the objectives was to get fewer people to smoke,” Kriss said. Plus, cigarette tax revenues support Health Care Reform Act-funded programs.
Even with the tax hike prompting some to quit or buy their products elsewhere, the state expects to hit its target for cigarette tax collections by the time the current fiscal year ends in 2011, Kriss said.
Convenience store operators say they can’t afford the tax hike’s impact. The NYACS has called for Gov. David A. Paterson to suspend the $1.60 per pack tax increase until tax collection begins on Native American sales to non-Native Americans. A spokesman for the governor said that suggestion has been rejected, noting that Paterson cannot suspend the law.
The trade group also advocates the State Legislature going further and repealing the increase.
Pleas for relief from chains like Wilson Farms are colliding with the dire fiscal picture of the state, which is desperate to raise revenues.
When the current state budget was passed, the spending plan projected the cigarette and tobacco products tax increase would yield about $290 million in revenues, according to the state Comptroller’s Office. The budget also projected $150 million in revenues from taxes collected on cigarette sales by Native Americans to non-Native Americans, but the likelihood of collecting those taxes is unclear.
Both the convenience store operators and Native American retailers claim the state’s actions — or intentions — threaten their economic viability.
Convenience stores argue that high cigarette taxes, and a lack of collection of taxes of sales by Native Americans to non-Native Americans, put their jobs and revenues at risk by creating an “unlevel playing field.”
Native American retailers contend that if the state is allowed to collect taxes on sales to non-Native Americans, their operations would suffer lost sales and jobs. What’s more, they see the state’s efforts as in violation of centuries-old treaties, a point the convenience store trade group disputes.
Nanula stressed his complaints are not directed at the Native Americans. “This is really a call to action to New York State,” he said.
Wilson Farms officials say the summertime tax hike has disrupted the chain’s growth curve.
In 2005, WFI Acquisition, including the Nanula family and a New York City-based private equity firm, bought Wilson Farms from Dutch supermarket giant Ahold, which had operated the chain as a division of Tops Markets.
The chain now consists of 188 stores, including some branded as Sugar Creek and Wilson Farms Express. Convenience Store News ranked Wilson Farms tied for 44th among chains in the country, based on its number of stores.
More than $23 million of investment has been poured into its stores since the acquisition, benefiting local contractors and building materials suppliers, Nanula said. Wilson Farms generates $400 million to $500 million a year in sales, including sales of gasoline. Cigarettes account for about 25 percent of its typical store’s sales.
While the chain has budgeted for a drop in cigarette sales of about 5 percent to 7 percent on a year-over-year basis since the acquisition, this year’s tax hike produced a much bigger hit, Nanula said. “We obviously never intended to lose 30 to 40 percent of our cigarette sales.”
The sharp drop in cigarette sales has created a hole that is difficult to fill, he said. The chain is responding by cutting 20 percent of its administrative staff, reducing labor hours for store employees, and lowering its projected 2011 capital spending by $4.5 million. It has also told media outlets it is reducing its advertising budget by $500,000.
“It is a major trickle-down effect to everybody we do business with,” Nanula said.
By Matt Glynn

Smoking curbs: The global picture

world smoking map 2010
A guide to smoking bans around the world as governments seek to improve the health of their populations.


The state of Western Australia introduced the strictest anti-smoking laws in the country in September 2010, with bans in cars carrying children, on sections of beaches and within 10m (32ft) of playground equipment.
Australia also plans to force tobacco companies to use plain packaging carrying graphic health warnings from July 2012.
Across the country, smoking is already banned inside all airports, government offices, health clinics and workplaces.

New Zealand

New Zealand has announced a ban on smoking throughout prisons from July 2011.
Officials said high levels of smoking were a risk to staff and prisoners, and they dismissed concerns that the ban would spark violence. It is believed that two-thirds of the New Zealand’s prison population are smokers.
New Zealand already bans smoking in bars, clubs, restaurants, offices, workplaces and shops, and on public transport.


Canada’s strict anti-smoking laws have been credited with cutting hospital admissions for heart and respiratory problems by about a third.
A study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal in April 2010 monitored admissions in the city of Toronto since smoking bans were introduced in 2001.
Smoking levels in Canada have long been among the lowest in the world, with about 21% of Canadians over the age of 15 reported to be smokers in 2002, according to government statistics.
In addition to bans on smoking in workplaces and many public places, cigarette packets bear graphic images of the damage done to internal organs by smoking.


China banned smoking in hospitals in May 2010 but activists say there have seen no signs of the government introducing a promised national ban on smoking in public places.
Many Chinese cities have their own regulations on where people can light up, but enforcement is varied.
A government survey in August showed that only a quarter of the adult population believed that smoking increased the risk of cancer. Anti-smoking campaigns are failing to influence them, state news agency Xinhua reported.
In May 2008, in the run-up to the Olympic Games, a smoking ban for most public buildings came into force in the Chinese capital, Beijing. The country has an estimated 350 million smokers. For every three cigarettes worldwide, one is smoked in China.


In April 2010 Syria become the first Arab state to ban smoking in public places including restaurants and cafes.
The law also prohibits smoking in educational institutions, health centres, sports halls, cinemas and theatres, and on public transport.
The restrictions include the nargile, or hubble-bubble pipe, which is popular among locals and tourists.


Egypt took its first steps in introducing a smoking ban earlier this year.
In July, the city of Alexandria began enforcing an existing law – usually flouted – that banned smoking in government buildings. Officials said they aimed to extend the ban to the city’s cafes within two years.
Egypt is the biggest consumer of cigarettes in the Arab world, puffing its way through some 19 billion cigarettes every year.


Greece has long been regarded as Europe’s biggest smoking nation and has struggled to make its citizens kick the habit. In September 2010 a fresh attempt was made with a law banning tobacco advertising and smoking in enclosed public spaces.
In 2009 smoking was prohibited in hospitals and schools, vehicles and all public spaces but it was largely ignored in many areas.
Previous attempts to introduce a ban in 2002 and 2003 also failed.
Spain already has anti-smoking laws but tougher rules were announced in October which will give the country some of the strictest legislation in Europe. Lighting up will be banned in bars, cafes and restaurants and extend to open areas near hospitals, schools and children’s playground. The new rules are due to come into effect in January.
Poland brought in anti-smoking laws in November 2010. The ban covers schools, museums, theatres, airports and railway and bus stations, public transport, stadiums, hospitals and playgrounds. Smoking is also banned in one-room restaurants and bars.
Estonia joined those European countries banning smoking in bars and restaurants on 5 June, 2007. The law bans smoking in cafes, restaurants, bars, nightclubs – except for special zones – and at bus stops and underground train stations. Offenders face a fine of 80 euros, while owners of cafes and restaurants can face a fine of up to 2,000 euros.
Finland introduced a similar measure on 1 June 2009.
France took a major step towards a total public ban when it announced it would prevent smoking in workplaces and other public buildings from 1 February 2007.
The law was extended in 2008 to include cafes, restaurants and bars.
Its first serious move to cut smoking levels came in October 2003, when it raised the price of cigarettes by 20%.
Correspondents say attitudes to smoking have changed dramatically in France since the 2007 ban, and any fears that people would generally ignore the laws have proved false.
In Germany, eight states, including Berlin, ushered in 2008 declaring their pubs and restaurants smoke-free.
German restaurants and pubs have strongly resisted the bans, not only because of the potential loss of income but partly because of an earlier crackdown on smoking initiated by Adolf Hitler’s Nazi regime.
The sensitivity of the issue has prompted the authorities to allow special rooms to be set up purely for smokers.
The toughest rules in Germany have been brought in by Bavaria, where no smoking rooms have been allowed. Lighting up was recently banned at the Oktoberfest Munich beer festival for the first time.
The Republic of Ireland imposed tough anti-smoking legislation in March 2004, banning smoking in pubs, restaurants and other enclosed workplaces.
Anyone caught smoking in a prohibited location now faces a fine of up to 3,000 euros (£2,000).
Italy imposed a ban on smoking in all enclosed public places including bars and restaurants from midnight on 10 January, 2005.
Montenegro: In August 2004, Montenegro – then part of a union with Serbia – decided to introduce a sweeping ban on smoking in public places in the hope of overturning an established culture of smoking in offices, restaurants, bars and on buses.
Tobacco advertising and the portrayal of smoking on television are also banned.
The Netherlands: The Dutch government banned smoking for hotels, restaurants and the catering industry in 2008, but in November 2010 announced that it plans to exempt bars smaller than 70sq m (753sq ft), with no staff other than the owner.
All bars must put up a sign telling customers whether or not it is a smoking establishment.
Health Minister Edith Schippers said consumers “will get more freedom of choice and personnel will remain protected against tobacco smoke”.
In Norway a national ban was imposed on smoking in restaurants, bars and cafes from 1 June 2004.
Portugal introduced restrictions on 1 January 2008 but the rules not as tight as some other European countries. Portuguese bars smaller than 100sq m can still opt to allow smoking. Public buildings can still have smoking zones, provided they are clearly signposted and ventilated.
Smoking in Sweden was prohibited in all bars and restaurants from midnight in May 2005.
In the United Kingdom, smoking is banned in nearly all enclosed public spaces – including bars, restaurants and workplaces.
The ban came into force in England in July 2007. Scotland introduced a ban in March 2006, followed by Wales and Northern Ireland in April 2007.
The government also plans to ask tobacco firms to put only basic information and health or picture warnings on their packets. Making packets a plain colour would also protect children from taking up smoking in the first place, it suggests.


A ban on smoking in public places came into force in October 2008 in an effort to curb high levels of tobacco addiction.
The law also bans direct and indirect advertising of tobacco products and the sale of cigarettes to children.


Iran banned tobacco advertising and smoking in public buildings in October 2003 – but analysts say both measures have had little effect.
However, in July 2010 smokers were banned from taking high-ranking jobs in the Iranian government, the news agency ILNA reported.
Statistics show smoking among young Iranians is on the rise.


Many cities and states are considering – or already enforcing – bans on smoking. By November 2010, 27 states had banned lighting up in public places.
California has some of the toughest and most extensive anti-smoking legislation anywhere in the world.
A ban on smoking inside or within 1.5m of any public building came into force in 1993 – recently extended to 6m. Smoking is also banned in restaurants, bars and enclosed workplaces – and on beaches – throughout the state.
In New York, smoking has been banned in bars, clubs and restaurants since March 2003.
Anti-smoking laws have provoked a strong debate in the US. Some bar owners say their businesses are suffering and smokers say their rights are being infringed, while non-smokers say they enjoy the smoke-free environment.


The Russian government has announced plans to ban advertising and promotion of cigarettes from 2011 and to introduce a complete ban on smoking in enclosed spaces by 2015.
The addiction kills up to 500,000 people a year in the country, Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency reports.
A 2009 survey by the World Health Organization found that Russia has 43.9 million smokers – about 40% of the population. The survey also revealed that 60% of Russian men and 22% of Russian women smoke.


Uruguay – which recently hosted an international summit tobacco control – has introduced some of the world’s toughest anti-tobacco policies, banning smoking in private as well as public enclosed spaces.
It requires 80% of every cigarette package to show graphic images of the consequences of smoking, including diseased lungs and rotten gums.


In the capital, Nairobi, a ban on smoking in indoor public places came into force in July 2007, with a similar ban in Mombasa and the Rift Valley town of Nakuru.
Anyone smoking in offices, bus stations, airports and sports venue faces a fine of 50,000 Kenya shillings ($700; £375) or six months in prison.
Bars and restaurants without separate smoking areas are also affected.


Tanzania banned smoking in many public places in July 2003, with smoke-free zones declared on public transport, as well as in schools and hospitals.
The government also banned the selling of tobacco to under-18s and advertising on radio and television and in newspapers.
26 November 2010

Big Tobacco's changing role

As he watched his 850-pound bales of flue-cured tobacco move through the grading and sales process at Philip Morris USA’s tobacco receiving station here, Donnie Clayton summed up the 2010 season.
“It was a tough, hot year,” said Clayton, a Person County, N.C., farmer and one of more than 200 tobacco growers in North Carolina and Virginia who deliver their cured leaf to the Danville receiving station, a former tobacco auction warehouse.
“I don’t see how the tobacco did as well as it did. I irrigated my crop three times.”
The drought and searing heat that damaged many crops in Virginia and the Southeast this summer did not spare tobacco, a crop worth more than $80 million in value for Virginia farmers. But tobacco — a tough plant in hot weather conditions — seems to have fared better than many other field crops this year.
“It was awful dry — too hot and too dry,” said Tim Shelton, a Pittsylvania County farmer who grows flue-cured and burley tobacco on contract with Henrico County-based Philip Morris USA, the nation’s top cigarette maker.
“We made an OK crop.”
While the weather was a tough problem this year, farmers such as Shelton also have been adapting to other changes. That includes a more pronounced role for tobacco companies in farm operations, part of a trend that farmers see as a signal of how the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s regulation of tobacco products will affect them.
Tobacco farmers in Virginia were expected to harvest about 19,800 acres of tobacco this season, including flue-cured, burley and fire-cured varieties, down only slightly from the 20,150 acres harvested in 2009, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates. Final numbers are expected in January.
The decline is far less than some farmers and industry observers predicted earlier this year when tobacco companies started offering contracts to farmers for the 2010 season.
Some had expected a drop in production of as much as 10 percent as cigarette makers cut back on leaf buying because of declining U.S. cigarette consumption and a 62-cents-per-pack increase in the federal excise tax on cigarettes that took effect in 2009.
The latest estimates indicate some farmers may have been growing tobacco this year on speculation that they would find a buyer, and some may have signed secondary contracts with tobacco companies, enabling them to grow more tobacco but at lower prices than those offered in primary contracts.
Tobacco production remains well below the nearly 29,000 acres that farmers in Virginia harvested in 2004, the year that Congress ended a 70-year-old federal supplyand price-control program for the crop.
Production in Virginia has held between about 17,000 acres and 21,000 acres for five years now, after many farmers left the business and took payments from an industry-funded $10 billion buyout of tobacco quotas.
The subsequent shift away from auction sales of tobacco to contract sales directly to cigarette companies and leaf merchants means that the farmers who remain are facing new demands.
“The quality is by far the most important thing,” said Sterling Wilkinson, a 25-year-old Mecklenburg County farmer who raises 280 acres of tobacco. “It is becoming more and more important every year.”
At the Philip Morris USA tobacco receiving station in Danville, graders closely inspect every bale that moves through the sales process.
Posters urge farmers to keep their tobacco clean of NTRMs, or non-tobacco related materials, which could include any sort of farm debris or other unwanted objects. Cellphones have been found in baled tobacco in a few instances.
“They want 100 percent clean tobacco, no matter what, and they make a big deal about it,” said Wilkinson, who sells his tobacco primarily to Philip Morris International, a separate company from Philip Morris USA that sells cigarettes only overseas but still buys U.S. leaf.
“It just cost [the companies] more money down the road to get [foreign materials] out of the tobacco.”
. . .
Altria Group Inc., the parent company of Philip Morris USA, also is building closer relationships with farmers.
The company has started a program with its contract farmers called GAP — or good agricultural practices — that seeks to improve on-the-farm production.
“It’s a good way to establish relationships with farmers,” said Becky Nichols, a grower representative for Altria. Nichols’ job includes making regular visits to tobacco farms in Virginia and North Carolina that sell leaf to the company.
“Before they put the grower representatives in place, if the growers had questions or concerns, they did not know who to contact with Philip Morris,” Nichols said. “They knew how to contact their receiving station operator, but they did not have a good line to anybody directly involved with Philip Morris.”
For farmers such as Shelton, the closer ties with cigarette makers are a change from the past.
A fifth-generation farmer, Shelton said his father and grandfather would have had “zero involvement” with the companies before their tobacco was sold. “The only thing [the companies] were interested in was the product we delivered,” he said.
Now, Shelton said the company’s GAP program means keeping detailed records of almost everything he does with his tobacco crop.
“We try to keep immaculate records on everything from our chemical usage to fuel usage to man hours,” he said. “It is a daily log.”
. . .
Among other things, farmers say companies are keen to reduce the residue levels of MH30, a chemical that is applied to tobacco to control the growth of blooms.
Philip Morris USA says the GAP program is about improving production practices and has nothing to do with the FDA’s regulation of tobacco products. Congress granted the agency that authority this year.
The FDA was not given regulatory power over tobacco farms, and Philip Morris USA says the agency has not implemented any regulations yet that would affect how tobacco is grown.
But farmers say they can see the trickle-down effects of regulation coming.
“I think all of this is sort of heading in the direction of FDA’s influence on the farm, even though the inspector might not be on the farm,” said Don Anderson, a Halifax County farmer and director of the Virginia Tobacco Growers Association.
“It has been a very common thing in Brazil and other countries for the [tobacco] companies to be highly involved in the production side of it. I just see us heading more and more towards that,” he said.
Shelton said he doesn’t mind the record-keeping and the goal of producing cleaner, higher-quality tobacco.
“I was in favor of my product being able to be identified positively all the way through the manufacturing process, so that if there is excess use of a certain chemical, it doesn’t show back on me,” he said. “That’s because I do it right, and I think everyone needs to be held accountable.”
For Shelton, who grows more than 225 acres of tobacco, rising costs of production are a bigger issue.
He said his labor costs rose about $2 an hour this year. “That’s a pretty big number for us,” he said. “Four years ago, we bought LP [liquefied petroleum] gas at 60 cents a gallon, and this year it was $1.60 a gallon.”
. . .
Yield — the amount of leaf that a farmer is able to squeeze out of every acre planted — can make or break a farm in a tough weather year like 2010.
Overall yields for tobacco in Virginia this year are expected to be about 2,300 pounds per acre, according to USDA estimates, less than the 3,000 pounds per acre that many farmers say they aim for to maximize returns.
“If you are fortunate enough to yield 3,000 pounds an acre, there will be a profit,” Shelton said. “If you average 2,200 to 2,400 pounds an acre, it is going to be close to break even.”
Prices paid for tobacco leaf — kept private by farmers and the companies for competitive reasons — seem to have fallen in a wide range this year, from lows of about $1 a pound to highs of about $1.95 a pound, Anderson said. He said farmers typically would need to make about $1.50 a pound to break even.
Infrastructure costs — including the costs of buying and maintaining farm equipment, curing barns and irrigation systems — also are becoming a big issue for farmers, Shelton said.
He said he recently looked into replacing one of his tractors.
“The tractor I was replacing was six years old,” he said, adding that he bought it for $69,000 and the suggested retail on that tractor this year is $149,000.
“I think that is going to be the big hurdle that agriculture — not just tobacco production, but all of agriculture — is going to be facing over the next 10 years,” Shelton said. “As this older equipment wears out, can [farmers] replace it, or are they going to have to get out and sell the land?”
By John Reid Blackwell

Most restaurants, bars embrace smoke-free law in Virginia

As Virginia’s anti-smoking law for restaurants and bars approaches its one-year anniversary, not one fine has been issued locally. smoking in barAnd public complaints of alleged violations by businesses have slowed to a trickle.
About 2.3 percent of the state’s more than 27,000 restaurants were found to be out of compliance with the law in the past year, said Gary Hagy, director of the state Health Department’s Division of Food and Environmental Services. Many of them may have since corrected the problems, he said.
“I think the numbers show that the restaurant and hospitality industry have embraced the new law, and the general public has, also,” Hagy said last week.
That doesn’t mean the restaurants and bars have gone smoke-free.
On a recent Friday afternoon, Poppa’s Pub Sportz Bar & Grill in Virginia Beach was thrumming. The bar and most of the tables were packed – with smokers.
Only one area was empty – a small room toward the front with four tables. That’s the non smoking room at Poppa’s.
It’s legal. The law, which will turn one year old Wednesday, doesn’t require restaurants and bars to ban smoking indoors, as did a North Carolina law that took effect in January.
They may establish separate smoking and non smoking areas if they are “structurally separated” and “separately vented” and if the nonsmoking room has one entrance from outside. The law does not mandate a minimum size for the rooms, Hagy said.
Poppa’s owner, Randy Estenson, lobbied against the law as a violation of free enterprise. After it was approved, Estenson constructed a small non smoking room because most of his patrons smoke. It serves mostly as a “large phone booth” when a customer talks on a cell, he said.
Estenson is happy legislators didn’t approve a full-fledged smoking ban. Nonsmoking advocates are less satisfied. They cite weaknesses including the lack of size specifications on smoking areas and a relatively small penalty for noncompliance – a $25 fine.
“We did a happy dance when the law was passed, but it was only on one and a half legs,” said Donna Rennick, the regional representative for the American Cancer Society’s political arm, the Cancer Action Network. “We got something on the books, but it could have been a lot stronger.”
Gov. Bob McDonnell “does not plan to amend the law,” spokeswoman Stacey Johnson wrote in an e-mail.
Health officials do not schedule inspections to determine whether restaurants or bars are in compliance.. They visit businesses if they receive complaints from the public to identify and rectify problems. The last straw is a fine from a local police department.
No South Hampton Roads city has fined a restaurant or bar, according to local officials. The state does not compile the total number of fines in Virginia, Hagy said.
Virginia Beach has recorded 61 complaints this year, though the number has trailed off to a couple per month, said Erin Sutton, the environmental health manager. Some people have identified violations, such as a curtain, instead of a wall, separating the smoking and nonsmoking areas. Health officials, she said, have worked with those businesses to ensure they address the issues.
Norfolk has received 15 complaints since Dec. 1, Chesapeake 19 and Portsmouth none. The number was not available in Suffolk.
The law offers restaurant owners a choice: Go smoke-free or set up separate smoking and nonsmoking rooms. Hagy said 93 percent of the state’s restaurants and bars have no smoking.
Harold’s Restaurant in Virginia Beach went smoke-free in February 2009, before the law was passed. “It actually brought us some customers back who didn’t like smelling the smoke,” owner Harold Owens said.
Kelly’s Tavern in Chesapeake also chose to ban smoking last December, but it lost business, said Dan Babcock, the general manager. In October, Kelly’s opened an enclosed smoking room where the bar had been. Since then, “you can definitely tell there’s been an increase in the beer, wine and liquor sales week to week,” he said.
Since the Oysterette Restaurant and Raw Bar in Suffolk ended smoking indoors, it probably lost more smoking customers than it gained nonsmokers, manager Mary Glisson said. “But right now,” Glisson said, “I think the economy has hurt us worse than anything.”
Norfolk bar owner Ronnie Boone has experienced both sides. The Thirsty Camel, in Ocean View, was too small to divide into separate areas, Boone said, so it went nonsmoking. Business was cut in half, he said. At Greenies, also in Ocean View, Boone said he spent $10,000 to retrofit a smoking room and saw a 10 percent boost in sales.
A pair of adjacent Portsmouth restaurants under the same ownership has devised an unusual arrangement. Longboards, which fronts High Street, still allows smoking; Blue Water Seafood Grill, whose entrance is on Dinwiddie Street, doesn’t.
People who enter Longboards are asked if they want to sit in a non smoking area, said Sarah McPhail, the general manager. If they do, they are ushered into Blue Water through the double doors that separate the restaurants.
Because the businesses operate under one business license and serve the same menu, McPhail said, the setup complies with the law and has been approved by city health inspectors.
Echoing many other restaurant owners, Estenson, who runs Poppa’s, believes the state overstepped its bounds.
“It should be up to the business how they operate,” he said. “A smart businessperson is going to do what the clientele want.” For instance, Estenson prefers country music, but he wasn’t going to mess with the classic rock tradition when he bought Poppa’s, on Diamond Springs Road, in 2003.
“If 80 percent of our customers are nonsmokers and want nonsmoking, we’ll go nonsmoking,” he said. “I’m in business to make a living; I’m not in business to smoke.” As it turns out, he said at least 80 percent of his patrons smoke, and all but two of his 20 employees do. And the two nonsmokers don’t care, Estenson said.
Estenson said he spent about $15,000 to convert a 10-by-14-foot-area into a nonsmoking room, which opened last November. It has four tables with red tablecloths and nine chairs. The room is bright with two windows, a glass door into the main restaurant, a TV and an array of sports paraphernalia.
” We disagree with the law, but if we have to do it, at least we want it to be nice,” he said.
Other restaurant nonsmoking rooms are more bare-bones. At Alibi’s Bar & Grill, on Holland Road in Virginia Beach, a small circular table with two chairs sits in an enclosed 7-by-8-foot vestibule.
The Clubhouse, also on Holland Road, went nonsmoking in December and lost about 45 percent of its business, said Trisha D’Emilio, the day manager. In March, she said, it opened a 10-by-15-foot nonsmoking room, which on a recent afternoon had two tables and five empty chairs. The rest of the bar, including the pool-table area, reopened to smokers.
“People who I hadn’t seen the whole time we were not smoking came back,” D’Emilio said. But most days, she said, no one uses the nonsmoking room.
“No one’s here to take anyone’s rights away,” said Rennick, from the cancer society. “But the nonsmoker has a right to be able to go out for a nice evening and not be accosted by something that is detrimental to their health.”
The cancer society has warned of the dangers of secondhand smoke, saying, for instance, that food-service workers have a 50 percent greater risk of dying of lung cancer than the general public.
Even with its mandates for separate structures and ventilation, Virginia’s law doesn’t eliminate the secondhand dangers, said Keenan Caldwell, the society’s director of government relations in Virginia. “The only way to address that,” he said, “is by not allowing any smoke at all.”
Nor, said Rennick, is the $25 penalty effective. “They can just say, ‘Twenty-five dollars? Big deal.’ It’s not meaty at all.”
Add Vicktoria Mudd, a 52-year-old nonsmoker from Norfolk, to the list of disappointed Virginians. For her, the nonsmoking sections are virtually useless.
“If you have to go through the smoking section to get to the bathroom, what’s the point?” asked Mudd, a training manager at TechnoTraining Inc. in Virginia Beach. “If you’ve ever seen the typical female bathroom line, you stand in it forever.”
To avoid the smoke, “you can’t dance,” Mudd said. “You can’t do karaoke. You can’t play pool. You’re stuck in this room the whole time.”
“They got their foot in the door,” she said of the law, “but they definitely need to tweak it. Right now, it’s not working.”
By Philip Walzer

Japan's Deflation Moderates on Tobacco Tax Increase

Japan’s consumer prices fell for a 20th month in October, with declines moderating after the government raised tobacco taxes.Japan’s tobacco consumer
Consumer prices excluding fresh food fell 0.6 percent from a year earlier after dropping 1.1 percent in September, the statistics bureau said today in Tokyo. The government’s Oct. 1 tax increase, which boosted the cost of cigarettes by a third, added 0.28 percentage point to the figure, the bureau said.
Entrenched deflation is weighing on an economy at risk of contracting this quarter after a climb in the yen to a 15-year high undermined export growth. The currency’s 11 percent advance against the dollar this year has also exacerbated price declines by lowering import costs, adding to the case for the Bank of Japan to provide more monetary stimulus.
“Deflationary pressures have been easing slightly but it’s unclear whether that trend is sustainable,” said Yoshimasa Maruyama, a senior economist at Itochu Corp. in Tokyo. “The economy will probably shrink this quarter and the strong yen is also going to start pushing down prices.”
October’s price drop matched the median forecast of 28 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News. An increase in insurance fees also pushed the index up by 0.15 percentage point, the bureau said.
The yield on the benchmark 10-year government bond rose two basis points to 1.175 percent at the morning close in Tokyo, the highest since Sept. 7.
Persistent Pressure
“There’s still a huge amount of slack in the economy, which is persistently exercising downward pressure on prices,” even though the drops have eased, Yoshiki Shinke, a senior economist at Dai-Ichi Life Research Institute in Tokyo, said before the report. “It’s hard to predict when prices will turn positive,” he said, predicting that gross domestic product will shrink this quarter.
Pressure for the BOJ to do more to fight deflation has grown, with both ruling and opposition lawmakers calling for legislation that would give politicians more control over monetary policy.
A group of lawmakers from the ruling Democratic Party of Japan said this week the bank should adopt an inflation target to eradicate price declines and help bolster employment. The members also want to revise a law that guarantees the central bank’s independence. Your Party, an opposition group, last week submitted a bill to the parliament, calling for a revision that would incorporate a target.
Political Pressure
“Although the chance for an actual revision of the law is slim, politicians’ actions of debating the issue alone would have some influence on monetary policy,” said Naomi Hasegawa, a senior fixed-income strategist at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities Co. in Tokyo.
BOJ policy makers last month forecast core prices, which exclude fresh food, will start to rise in the year starting April 2011. The bank last month pledged to maintain ”virtually zero” interest rates until an outlook emerges for sustained price increases. Board members say they consider inflation stable in a positive range of up to 2 percent, with their median estimate at 1 percent.
Falling prices undermine an economy by eroding corporate earnings, putting pressure on wages, and making debts harder to pay off. Deflation has afflicted Japan for more than a decade, contributing to its being surpassed by China in the second quarter as the world’s second-largest economy, after the U.S.
A separate government report today showed Japan’s land values fell at 87 of 150 prime locations throughout the country, or 58 percent of monitored sites, compared with 70 percent three months earlier.
Yen’s Advance
Some board members said falling prices may damp long-term inflation expectations of companies and households, minutes of the bank’s Oct. 28 meeting showed this month. The yen’s advance lowers prices by making imports cheaper and that dynamic ”warrants caution,” Seiji Nakamura, a BOJ board member, said in a speech yesterday.
Seiyu Ltd., a supermarket operator owned by U.S.-based Wal- Mart Stores Inc., this week began discounting 3,200 items including food, clothing and household goods by as much as 60 percent. Daiei Inc., another supermarket operator, is also cutting prices of household goods by as much as 25 percent.
A revision of the base year to calculate consumer prices scheduled for August 2011 will also likely lower Japanese price data. The last government revision pushed down prices by about 0.5 percentage point.
”Consumer price data will probably be depressed by the next year’s revision more than last time,” BNP Paribas economists Ryutaro Kono and Azusa Kato wrote in a report. ”The BOJ’s exit from its virtual zero-rate policy seems considerably far away.”
By Mayumi Otsuma

Attorneys: Big Tobacco conspired not to settle with flight attendants sickened by secondhand smoke

Attorneys for flight attendants who allege secondhand smoke aboard commercial aircraft made them sick want a Miami-Dade judge attorneys layto hit tobacco companies with $30 million in sanctions for crafting an agreement they say violates Florida’s good faith laws.
The allegations stem from cases of nearly 3,000 flight attendants — all members of a former class action — who pursued individual claims against the tobacco companies for more than a decade.
Each airline employee sued several cigarette makers but it was only one, Lorillard Tobacco, whose decision to decline a proposed settlement in 2000 is now at issue.
The company was on the verge of accepting a $10 million settlement that would have ended its role in the case. But fellow defendant companies talked Lorillard into abandoning the settlement, according to a motion filed in Miami-Dade Circuit Court last Thursday by three plaintiff attorneys.
Steven Hunter, Roy Wasson and Marvin Weinstein say the tobacco companies acted in bad faith when they interfered in the settlement.
The lawyers cite a May 2001 indemnity agreement among Brown & Williamson, Lorillard, Philip Morris and R.J. Reynolds that provides monetary benefits for co-defendants that turn down all settlement offers.
“This is an egregious violation of the good faith requirements of Florida’s offer of judgment statute and rule,” according to the motion. “The defendants did not intend to effectuate settlements with bad-faith proposals but were … attempting to take advantage on the procedure by serving bad-faith offers to obtain attorneys’ fees in the event that they should prevail.
“Defendants have made a mockery of the offer of judgment law of Florida by their misconduct.”
Hunter, Wasson and Weinstein did not immediately returned calls for comment.
A Lorillard spokesman also did not return calls for comment.
The three attorneys represent Saundra Jett, a former member of the class action led by flight attendant Norma Broin, who says she spent two decades inhaling cigarette smoke while she was an American Airlines attendant.
Broin, who didn’t smoke because of her Mormon faith, was diagnosed with lung cancer in 1989, one year before smoking was banned on U.S. domestic flights.
Broin retained Miami attorneys Stanley and Susan Rosenblatt, the prominent husband-and-wife legal team, and sued major tobacco companies in 1991.
Thousands of other flight attendants claiming similar injuries joined her and created a class seeking $5 billion in damages from most major manufacturers and the industry-backed institutes that attacked research that blamed tobacco for a variety of illnesses.
Three and a half months into the 1997 trial, the two sides settled for $349 million. The tobacco industry agreed to pay $300 million to establish a Miami-based foundation called the Flight Attendant Medical Research Institute. The other $49 million went to the Rosenblatts, who said they spent nearly 70,000 hours on the case, for fees and costs.
The flight attendants retained the right to pursue individual claims in court. Under the settlement, they relinquished any rights to seek punitive damages, and tobacco companies agreed not to use the statute of limitations as a future defense.
Significantly, tobacco companies assumed the burden of proof to show secondhand smoke in airline cabins did not cause flight attendants’ bronchitis, emphysema, lung cancer, pulmonary disease or sinusitis.
Like Jett, who filed her lawsuit in January 2000, many proceeded on their own. Few have met with success at trial, where defense attorneys have presented studies showing flight attendants historically develop lung cancer at a lower rate than the general public. The tobacco industry also claims cabin conditions only exposed employees to the smoke of about 50 cigarettes a year.
By 2008, tobacco companies had recorded nearly a dozen court victories and one loss.
But what attorneys in Jett’s case are asking for could mark a turning point.
In their motion for sanctions, Jett’s attorneys said Lorrilard and the three other tobacco companies’ agreement violates Florida laws that encourage swift settlements and “constitutes a clear abuse of the court system.”
They want a judge to set trials on damages only, as well as hit the industry and its attorneys with a sanction three times the declined 2000 settlement of $10 million.
They also want several of the attorneys and company officers who signed the 2001 agreement, including Greenberg Traurig shareholder David Ross, who represented Lorrilard, to be deposed so that plaintiff attorneys can explore their “improper, obstructive and unethical conduct,” the motion states.
Ross did not return calls for comment Monday.
The agreement also was signed by Shook Hardy & Bacon partners Ken Reilly and Bill Geraghty, Carlton Fields attorney Douglas Chumbley and Yoss partner Anthony Upshaw.
Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Lawrence Schwartz, who currently oversees the case, could decide to hear the motion before he moves to probate court.
Lawyers for flight attendants who say they were sickened by secondhand cigarette smoke want a judge to hit tobacco companies with $30 million in sanctions for crafting an agreement they say violates Florida’s good faith laws.
By Jose Pagliery

Warning Against Menthol Cigarettes Ban

Newport menthol cigarettesSILVER SPRINGS, Md. — The majority of speakers at a public hearing on menthol cigarettes had a consistent message: Banning menthol would likely lead to a black market.
The hearing was part of a regularly scheduled Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee (TPSAC) meeting, and of the seven people who spoke, four cautioned about the potential black market.
In a surprising testimony, Gilbert Ross, executive director and medical director of the New York-based American Council on Science and Health, said his organization initially was puzzled as to why menthol wasn’t included in the FDA’s initial flavored-cigarette ban and commissioned a review of literature “to find out what was the real deal with menthol in cigarettes.”
“We were quite surprised to find out that it’s not quite so easy to say, ‘Let’s ban menthol,’ ” Ross said. The council’s research found no physiological toxicities associated with menthol in cigarettes, beyond what is already contained in cigarettes.
“It seems quite clear to me that people who smoke menthol cigarettes are really quite devoted to smoking menthol cigarettes, and that if you ban menthol, the chances of creating a black market are substantial,” he said, adding that a black market would allow for more under-aged smoking and tax evasion.
Bruce Levinson, a senior staffer of Washington-based Center for Regulatory Effectiveness, cautioned further about harm that could be caused by a black market, citing a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) filing on the federal register about how contraband is likely to not have standards of production, be sold to people who are underage and have ties to organized crime and terrorist groups. He asked that TPSAC view an upcoming contraband paper from the center, as well as invite the ATF to brief the committee on potential impacts of a menthol ban on the contraband market and the public.
Chicago-based Compass Lexecon was retained by Greensboro, N.C.-based Lorillard Inc. to conduct economic analyses on the subject. Fredrick Flyer, senior vice president at Compass, acknowledged that his company therefore only had access to Lorillard’s Newport brand data, but said that his company found low elasticity in preference for the brand.
“What that implies in terms of the black market is that there is sufficient demand out there for menthol cigarettes that shows strong preferences for menthol, and hence, would likely source from the black market should a black market emerge,” he said.
Lyle Beckwith, senior vice president of government relations at NACS, said that thus far tobacco products have gone to the black market because of price. “I firmly believe that if there were to be a ban on menthol, that would be the spark that the black market in tobacco needs to push it into a more burgeoning problem for our country.” He added, “My membership loses sales when people go to the black market.”
Not all participants were focused on potential black market effects, however. Gary Giovino of the School of Public Health and Health Professions, State University of New York at Buffalo, said, “Mentholated cigarettes are at least as dangerous as their non-mentholated varieties, and there is concern about menthol sweetening the poison.”
He shared results on The National Youth Smoking Cessation Survey of smokers, which found that 12-17-year-olds were more likely to smoke menthol than 18-25-year-olds. He speculated that banning menthol likely would help contribute to the continuing reduction in smoking by adolescents. “I think the most harm-reducing product is one that’s not smoked, so I would hope that prevalence of smoking in young people continues to decline at least as rapidly if not more rapidly than it has been,” he said.
Jonathan P. Winickoff spoke on behalf of the American Academy of Pediatrics. “The role of menthol in facilitating smoking initiation is greatly concerning,” he said, adding that the nation’s youth smoke menthol cigarettes at higher rates than older smokers. “While a child’s first cigarette is usually an unpleasant experience, menthol can make it less so, partially by anesthetizing the throat against the harshness of tobacco smoke.”
Winickoff also pointed out that 82.6% of African American smokers smoke menthol. Despite the finding, the academy’s research found that 20.6% of menthol smokers supported banning menthol, and 47% of African Americans supported such a ban.
Mike Little, former chair of National Black Chamber of Commerce, addressed the fact that many of the statistics shared during the meeting pointed to data that African Americans tend to prefer smoking menthol. But he added, “I think that there certainly seems to be some business implications associated with the banning of menthol.”
A former cigarette smoker himself, Little said, “I would be glad to come back if the agency would like to have support in banning all cigarettes. But if cigarettes are going to be a legal item, I don’t think that race should ever be used to differentiate and give advantage to some cigarette makers as opposed to others.”
The TPSAC’s report on menthol is due March 23, 2011.
By Linda Abu-Shalback Zid