Kentucky and Tobacco: It's Complicated

Today, the 64-year-old Union resident raises about 4 acres of tobacco a year, one of a dwindling number of small tobacco farmers in Northern Kentucky and TobaccoKentucky. Concerns about cancer and other health problems related to tobacco have caused demand for the crop to wither in the last decade.
Kentucky is experiencing a fierce tug-of-war between tobacco’s deadly health effects and its exalted role in the state’s cultural and economic history. In December, Campbell and Kenton counties passed ordinances that would restrict smoking in public places, though those ordinances may be repealed before they take effect.
Statewide, 27 communities have enacted restrictions in public places since 2003, when Fayette County passed a law banning smoking in restaurants and other enclosed public spaces. That county enacted a law banning smoking in all workplaces in 2008.
Even North Carolina, the only state that produces more tobacco than Kentucky, has enacted a smoke-free law that covers restaurants, bars and other businesses that serve prepared food. It took effect in January 2010.
Over the years, tobacco sales have brought billions to the commonwealth. But the crop has also taken its toll. Consider:

  • Kentucky has the highest percentage of adult smokers in the nation.
  • Kentucky has the nation’s highest rates for lung cancer cases and lung cancer deaths.
  • Treating diseases caused by tobacco use costs $1.5 billion a year. More than $500 of every household’s annual taxes pays for those treatments.

Johnson’s father, a longtime smoker, died of lung cancer. Johnson quit smoking at age 35 after seeing how it impacted his father’s health.
Influence waning
In the late 1990s, Kentucky’s tobacco crop netted about $900 million a year, according to Will Snell, an economist at the University of Kentucky. By 2009, with fewer farmers planting tobacco and prices dropping, the harvest netted about $380 million.
Smoking is on the decline in the U.S., but increasing in developing nations. As much as 75 percent of the tobacco grown in Kentucky is exported. Prices have fallen since the federal government ended tobacco subsidies in 2004, but the market is in flux. In some cases, farmers can still clear a profit of $1,000 to $1,500 an acre.
Kentucky’s smoking debate centers on conflicting rights and responsibilities between smokers and non-smokers, and the balance between the profits tobacco makes and the health-care costs it creates.
Health advocates argue smokers don’t have the right to expose others to the dangerous effects of secondhand smoke. Smoke-free laws ensure safe workplaces, they say, and reduce the costs of treating tobacco-related illness.
But some smokers and the owners of the bars, restaurants and bowling alleys they frequent want those advocates to butt out. They have rights, too, they say.
In 2007, Ohio enacted a smoke-free workplace law. Similar arguments were heard as business owners worried about losing customers to smoker-friendly bars and restaurants in Kentucky.
Nationally, it’s getting harder for smokers to light up in public. Twenty-eight states have enacted laws that bar smoking in all workplaces, including bars and restaurants.
The ordinances started in California in 1990, when Sacramento and Sacramento County passed smoke-free workplace laws.
“The vast majority of the U.S. population lives in a smoke-free jurisdiction,” said Bronson Frick, associate director of Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights, based in Berkeley, Calif. “Kentucky is in pretty sharp contrast with where the rest of the country is at this point.”
Campbell and Kenton county officials recently passed ordinances that would restrict smoking in public places, although both could be repealed. A second vote to repeal Campbell County’s ordinance could take place Wednesday.If Campbell and Kenton counties ban smoking in public, business owners fear smokers will flock to Boone County. Lawmakers will debate whether Kentucky should join the growing list of states that bar smoking in public places. In Frankfort, Rep. Susan Westrom, D-Lexington, introduced legislation this month that would ban smoking in any Kentucky workplace with at least one employee, including bars.
Proponents of smoke-free laws say studies show smoking bans don’t wreak havoc on the hospitality and entertainment industry.
Ellen J. Hahn, director of the Tobacco Policy Research Center at the University of Kentucky, co-authored a study released in September that found Ohio’s smoking ban had no impact on bars and restaurants in counties along the Ohio-Kentucky border.
In the first year after Fayette County (home to Lexington) enacted its smoke-free workplace law, more than 16,000 adults quit smoking, Hahn said, and the community reduced its health-care expenditures by an estimated $21 million.
If Boone, Campbell and Kenton counties enacted a comprehensive law that barred smoking in the workplace, Hahn said, heart attacks related to secondhand smoke would decrease from 941 to 800 in the first year.
Quitting is tough
Tobacco doesn’t just kill, experts say, it’s addictive. That adds another layer to the debate. Studies show about 70 percent of smokers want to quit, but most ex-smokers make several attempts before they can quit the habit.
The state needs to provide support to residents who are trying to quit smoking, said Thomas Tucker, associate director for cancer prevention and control at UK’s Markey Cancer Center and director of the state’s population-based cancer surveillance system.
“Not having the health consequences of that primary and secondhand smoke exposure means that down the road we’re not paying for the incredible health consequences,” Tucker said. “But we need to support that.”
Kentucky recently began covering some smoking cessation therapies, including medications and phone counseling through its Medicaid program, Hacker said.
Tom Seelie, 65, of Covington had to take the classes twice before he was able to quit. He’ll mark his first anniversary as a non-smoker in February.
“Before I would come in, I’d smoke a cigarette,” he said, “and then, at the end of the one-hour class, I could hardly wait go get back outside and smoke another.”
He finally decided to quit when Kentucky hiked its cigarette tax.
“(Last year) cigarettes went up about 50 cents a pack,” Seelie said. “I was smoking a carton a week. I was spending $120 a month on cigarettes, and I decided I really didn’t need to waste that kind of money.”
The Northern Kentucky Health Department, which will be charged with enforcing any smoke-free laws in Boone, Campbell, Kenton or Grant counties, offers smoking cessation classes, including the Cooper-Clayton method, which combines stress management techniques with nicotine replacement products such as the patch and gum.
The department has taken to Facebook with its smoke-free message, and is working to launch a Web-based version of the Cooper-Clayton classes, saidsenior health educator Megan Folkerth.
“Nicotine’s an extremely addictive drug,” Folkerth said. “A lot of people start when they’re very young. It’s a very hard behavior to change.”
The department is also working with three high schools on a campaign to change teens’ perceptions about smoking and educate them on the health effects of tobacco. A 2009 survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that 59 percent of Kentucky’s teens had tried cigarettes at least once. Experts say that teens who smoke are more likely to become adults who smoke.
Kentucky’s conflicted relationship with tobacco won’t be resolved anytime soon.
Tobacco companies contract with growers like Johnson every year. He’ll find out in March if he’ll have a contract for the spring growing season.
If prices continue to fall, he said, he’ll soon reach a point where he’ll be losing money on tobacco. He already grows and sells sweet corn, beans and tomatoes. And he’ll be 65 soon.
Johnson has seen what tobacco can do to a person’s health. But even with that knowledge, talk of smoking bans doesn’t sit well.
“I don’t think the government should have too much control over anything.”
By Peggy O’Farrell,

Bulgaria to place Bulgartabac for sale in February

Bulgaria’s state cigarette producer Bulgartabac Holding will be declared for privatization in February 2011, according to the Economy Bulgartabac HoldingMinistry.
Bulgartabac, whose state management has been questionable in the recent years, will be put on the privatization table after its privatization has been mulled for years.
Last week Finance Minister Simeon Djankov reiterated earlier announcements that Bulgaria’s government is determined to go ahead with the planned sale of the country’s tobacco company, the biggest military plant and the minority stakes in electricity distributors.
The sale of Bulgartabac Holding AD, Sopot-based Vazovski Mashinostroitelni Zavodi or VMZ, and the minority stakes in the electricity distributors have been said to be a must-do task in 2011 due to the sorry performance of the state-owned companies.
The privatization method – i.e. whether Bulgartabac will be sold through a tender, an auction, or on the Sofia Stock Exchange – will be decided in the coming weeks. It will be proposed by Citibank, the consultant preparing the sale of the state company.
The Economy Ministry, as cited by the Dnevnik daily, said Citibank has made preliminary inquiries with about 100 potential strategic and financial investors from around the world with respect to Bulgartabac’s privatization in order to make sure that all “serious” investors that are not aware of the sale of the Bulgarian cigarette company.
According to the Ministry, there is a sufficient number of companies interested in the privatization of Bulgartabac because it is an attractive asset even in a time of crisis. The method of privatization will be selected based on the number of interested bidders.
The Economy Ministry said it wants to find a buyer for Bulgartabac by the summer of 2011.
In spite of declarations in April 2010 that Bulgaria’s Privatization Agency hoped to complete the sale of state-owned cigarette monopoly Bulgartabac in 2010, no such deal went through by the end of December 2010.
The consultant for the Bulgartabac sale, Citigroup Global Markets Ltd, was picked by the Bulgarian government in February 2010.
Two of the less profitable plants of Bulgartabac holding – in the cities of Plovdiv and Stara Zagora – were sold in 2009 through the Sofia Stock Exchange – for BGN 31 M and BGN 18 M respectively; the holding still owns the two larger and more consolidated factories in Sofia and Blagoevgrad as well as a number of commercial brands.

Tobacco industry adapts to world of fewer smokers

By any name or variety you choose — call it snuff, dip, chew or plug — smokeless tobacco is making a comeback, and Tennessee tobacco producersfarmers, factory workers and consumers are playing a major role in the renewed buzz.
Farmers here and in Kentucky who once made a good living off raising burley tobacco for cigarettes have had to eliminate 40 percent of acreage devoted to that crop as demand has declined, while farmers who cultivate the dark tobacco used for chewing have been able to expand their fields by 22 percent in three years.
Now, the massive marketing muscle of the nation’s biggest tobacco companies — Marlboro maker Altria Group and its subsidiary Philip Morris USA, which owns the 100-year-old U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Co. factory within view of the state Capitol, and R.J. Reynolds, which runs its smokeless operations out of a Memphis factory — are battling for market dominance.
Together, the two manufacturers already control 90 percent of the American smokeless tobacco sector with brands such as U.S. Smokeless’ Skoal and R.J. Reynolds’ Kodiak.
They’re competing with new fruit- and mint-flavored products (some packaged to look like miniature cigarette packs) to attract a new generation of consumers and entice ex-smokers looking for nicotine- infused alternatives.
Former cigarette smokers like Dave Kenner, 31, a construction worker making a pit stop at a West Nashville convenience store last week, said he switched to Red Seal Wintergreen smokeless because heavily taxed cigarettes cost too much — nearly $300 a month to feed his two-pack-a-day habit.
Round tins of chewing tobacco cost less and still satisfy Kenner’s taste for nicotine.
“It’s more like three bucks a day, I still get the nicotine, and it doesn’t taste half bad,” Kenner said. “My girlfriend isn’t crazy about it, but she likes it better than smoking.”
The decline in U.S. rates of cigarette smoking has led to an unexpected boon for the smokeless tobacco industry, historically centered in downtown Nashville and a surrounding 100-mile radius that encompasses farms and processing facilities between here and Hopkinsville, just over the Kentucky border.
Even as other Tennessee manufacturing jobs have vanished — 71,000 and counting since the recession officially began three years ago — the U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Co. plant on Eighth Avenue has prospered without a layoff since 1988. Plans now call for adding a second and possibly third shift of workers to the assembly line next month.
Once available only in the dark, loose variety that stained teeth and created a socially unappealing need to regularly spew dark streams of saliva, smokeless tobacco is now available in “spit-free” forms.
Those range from small, disposable tea-bag-like “snus” (pronounced “snoose”) products that conceal the brown tobacco within, to toothpicks and strips in flavors such as cherry, grape and wintergreen.
Smokeless brings in billions
It’s no accident that smokeless tobacco has attracted the interest of cigarette makers like Philip Morris USA.
Parent company Altria Group bought U.S. Smokeless (the top smokeless company) for $11.7 billion in 2009.
The company is diversifying its Nashville operations to provide an expanded array of smokeless products in addition to its best-known and decades-old Copenhagen and Skoal brands.
“We weren’t in the smokeless market, but our testing told us we needed to get into the space in a big way,” said Ken Garcia, a spokesman for Richmond, Va.-based Altria.
“It’s a growth industry for us, and we think it will continue to be for local operations.”
Last week, the Fortune 500 company reported a 27 percent increase in fourth-quarter income, even though it’s selling fewer cigarettes.
Revenue from smokeless tobacco brands including longtime Nashville products Copenhagen and Skoal, as well as the newly introduced Marlboro snus marketed at ex-smokers, grew more than 15 percent to $366 million in sales last year.
The expanding consumer market has translated into growth for the Nashville U.S. Smokeless Tobacco factory complex across the street from the Nashville Farmers’ Market downtown.
More products offered
The factory has been in continuous operation since the early 20th century, said plant manager Wayne White, who worked his way up to management after starting on the factory floor in the mid-1970s at the age of 17.
“When I first started … we ran two products,” he said. “Now we’re running a multitude of products and operate some parts of the plant 22 hours a day.”
The Nashville plant employs 400 people. Automation and increased consumer demand have led to an increase in output from 100 tins a minute to 400, most shipped directly to retailers like Walmart or convenience store chains.
With Altria buying U.S. Smokeless, the Nashville plant has started making new products that mirror the parent company’s best-known cigarette brands, such as Marlboro snus, packaged in a slim, silver-and-blue cardboard box.
Altria boasts a 2,500-member sales force that connects the company to 200,000 stores nationwide. Competition is heating up.
R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., the nation’s No. 2 cigarette maker, bought the 200-year-old American Snuff Co. — U.S. Smokeless’ direct competitor — in 2006.
Last year, the company said it would invest $133 million in a new manufacturing facility in Memphis to make its own “snus-like” products linked to its iconic Camel cigarette brand.
Surge helps TN, KY growers
The resurgence of smokeless products has helped farmers in Tennessee and southern Kentucky plug into new markets.
Buddy Bryant, 51, is a fourth-generation tobacco farmer whose 290-acre tobacco operation just outside Adams, Tenn., helps support Bryant’s family of four as well as his brother’s family, the families of two adult nephews and his parents.
Between 2005 and 2009, the number of acres in Tennessee devoted to dark tobacco increased from 6,000 to 7,300, according to the Knoxville-based Center for Tobacco Grower Research, which receives funding from Philip Morris. The production value grew from about $42 million to $57 million.
“The demand for smoking has gone way down, and farmers know what that means,” said Jane Howell Starnes, the director. “We’re seeing more switch completely from burley to dark (tobacco), but it’s still an uncertain future for farmers.”
Farmers operate on a pre-season contract basis with U.S. Smokeless, bringing tobacco to the Hopkinsville, Ky., processing facility. At the plant, the tobacco is sorted, aged and then shipped to either the Nashville plant or one in Lincoln Park, Ill.
Because of a short retail-shelf life, all tobacco shipments are based on orders, said plant manager Danny Kingins, a 27-year employee who also raises dark tobacco on his family farm.
The industry isn’t without controversy.
Anti-tobacco advocates armed with new data that show an increase in the popularity of smokeless tobacco among teenage boys are advocating for tighter regulations and stiffer taxes comparable to those put on cigarettes.
“We’ve seen a big change in demographic for this from being primarily a habit for older men to a habit of younger men,” said Danny McGoldrick, vice president for the Washington-based Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids.
A recent ban on flavored tobacco products by the federal government doesn’t apply to smokeless products.
“The two big boys — Philip Morris and R.J. Reynolds — are making flavors like cherry that appeals to kids. It’s more cool to use,” McGoldrick said.
Altria also is contending with claims that the product causes mouth, tongue and throat cancers among all ages of users. Earlier this month, the company settled a suit against U.S. Tobacco by the family of a 42-year-old North Carolina man who died of mouth cancer and had used smokeless tobacco products since he was 13 years old.
The $5 million settlement is believed to be the first of its kind involving smokeless products.
In 2012, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is expected to report to the secretary of Health and Human Services on whether the products pose a threat to children and teens.
By Anita Wadhwani

Why Americans aren’t living longer

With plenty of food, more money spent on health care and modern medical innovations, it seems as if we should be living longer.american life
But compared to our international counterparts, we aren’t. Americans lag behind other industrialized countries including Australia, Canada, Japan and France, in life expectancy.
A new report from the National Research Council finds that Americans fall short on life expectancy compared with other high-income countries because of two vices – smoking and obesity.
Here’s how Americans compare in life expectancy:
Australia 83.78
Canada 82.95
Denmark 80.53
England and Wales 81.73
France 84.39
Italy 84.09
Japan 85.98
Netherlands 81.89
Sweden 82.95
United States 80.78
Australia 79.27
Canada 78.35
Denmark 76.13
England and Wales 77.46
France 77.43
Italy 78.62
Japan 79.20
Netherlands 77.63
Sweden 78.92
United States 75.64
In 2006, the average life expectancy at birth was 75.1 years for American men and 80.2 years for women, rising from 47.9 years and 50.7 years, respectively, in 1900 and 65.4 and 71 in 1950.
In contrast, life expectancy for men in Japan was 79.2 years in 2007 and 86 years for women, up from 57.6 and 60.9 in 1950, respectively, reported Eileen M. Crimmins, PhD, of the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, and colleagues.
Another success story has been France, where life expectancy for men increased from 63.4 years in 1950 to 77.4 years in 2007, and the increase for women was from 69.2 years to 84.4 years.
At the request of the National Institute on Aging, Crimmins’ group looked at mortality in people over 50 years of age in more than 20 countries as recorded in the Human Mortality Database, analyzing possible reasons for the differences in life expectancy.
They determined that one strong factor was cigarette smoking, particularly for women.
Fifty years ago Americans smoked far more than residents of other countries — and the consequences of this still strongly influence mortality today.
“The damage caused by smoking was estimated to account for 78% of the gap in life expectancy for women and 41% of the gap for men between the U.S. and other high-income countries in 2003,” the report stated.
Smoking-related mortality is expected to decline among men in the near future, although likely to remain high among women for another decade or so because of historical patterns of tobacco use, according to the researchers.
Other contributory factors included obesity and lack of exercise, although the authors noted that the evidence base for these is less certain and more difficult to quantify.
In addition, although obesity is epidemic in the U.S. today, management of some of its most hazardous consequences, such as type 2 diabetes, has significantly improved.
As to the causes of death, lung cancer and respiratory disease were important, but the major contributor in the lag in life expectancy in the U.S. was heart disease, “so this condition should be a focus of efforts to bring U.S. life expectancy in line with that of the exemplar countries,” the expert panel argued.
The healthcare system too bears some blame. “Certainly, the lack of universal access to healthcare in the U.S. has increased mortality and reduced life expectancy,” the report stated.
The U.S. performs well in the detection and treatment of several of the main sources of early mortality, including cancer and strokes, but its major shortcomings have been its failure in preventive medicine and in curbing unhealthy lifestyles.
“Yet these behaviors are products of a broad social and economic context encompassing, for example, a level of affluence that supports large numbers of automobiles, low taxes on gasoline, and dispersed residences and workplaces that encourage driving,” the report said.
That broader context also includes favorable growing conditions in parts of the country where tobacco is grown, the wide availability of inexpensive and often unhealthy foods, and inadequate social safety nets.
Moreover, the impact of unhealthy behaviors and inadequate access to healthcare is most concentrated at the lower end of the socioeconomic ladder.
The report concluded by calling for more detailed observational studies as well as studies that assess the effects of “natural experiments,” such as health reform or increases in cigarette taxes.
Primary source: National Research Council
Source reference: Crimmins E, et al “Explaining divergent levels of longevity in high-income countries” Natl Res Council 2011; National Academies Press, Washington, DC.

Is chewing tobacco a safe alternative to cigarettes?

Chewing tobacco is a common type of smokeless tobacco. Smokeless tobacco products consist of tobacco or a tobacco blend that’s chewed, sucked on or sniffed, rather than smoked.
There are many types of smokeless tobacco products around the world. In the United States, the main types of smokeless tobacco are:

  • Chewing tobacco. This consists of loose tobacco leaves that are sweetened and packaged in pouches. You put a wad of the tobacco between your cheek and gum and hold it there, sometimes for hours at a time. It’s also called chew and chaw. Usually you spit out the tobacco juices, but if you’re more addicted, you tend to swallow some of the juices.
  • Plug. This is chewing tobacco that has been pressed into a brick shape, often with the help of syrup, such as molasses, which also sweetens the tobacco. You cut off or bite off a piece of the plug and hold it between your cheek and gum. You spit out the tobacco juices.
  • Twist. This is flavored chewing tobacco that has been braided and twisted into rope-like strands. You hold it between your cheek and gum and spit out the tobacco juices.
  • Snuff. This is finely ground or shredded tobacco leaves. It’s available in dry or moist forms and is packaged in tins or tea bag-like pouches. A pinch of snuff is placed between the lower lip and gum or cheek and gum. Dry forms of snuff can be sniffed into the nose. Using snuff is also called dipping. You normally spit out the tobacco juices, but as with chewing tobacco, if you’re more addicted you tend to swallow the juices instead.
  • Snus. Snus (pronounced snoos) is a newer smokeless, spitless tobacco product that originated in Sweden. It comes in a pouch that you stick between your upper lip and gum. You leave it there for about a half-hour without having to spit, then discard it.
  • Dissolvable tobacco products. These are pieces of compressed powdered tobacco, similar to small hard candies. They dissolve in your mouth, requiring no spitting of tobacco juices. They’re sometimes called tobacco lozenges, but they’re not the same as the nicotine lozenges used to help you quit smoking.

Health risks of chewing tobacco and other forms of smokeless tobacco
While the available evidence shows that smokeless tobacco may be less dangerous than cigarettes are, long-term use of chewing tobacco and other smokeless tobacco products can cause serious health problems. That’s because they can contain about 30 cancer-causing substances. Like cigarettes, smokeless tobacco also contains nicotine, which can cause you to become addicted. Here’s a look at some of the health problems related to smokeless tobacco:
Because smokeless tobacco contains nicotine, you can get addicted, just as you can with cigarettes and other tobacco products. Your body may actually absorb more nicotine from chewing tobacco or snuff than it does from a cigarette. Just as with smoking, withdrawal from smokeless tobacco causes signs and symptoms such as intense cravings, increased appetite, irritability and depressed mood. Also, over time, you develop a tolerance for the nicotine in chewing tobacco and other smokeless tobacco products, and you need more to feel the desired effects. This may lead you to dangerous habits — using brands with more nicotine, using more often, leaving chew in your mouth overnight and swallowing tobacco juices.
Your risk of certain types of cancer increases if you use chewing tobacco or other types of smokeless tobacco. This includes esophageal cancer and various types of oral cancer, including cancers of your mouth, throat, cheek, gums, lips and tongue. Surgery to remove cancer from any of these areas can leave your jaw, chin, neck or face disfigured, and the cancer may be life-threatening. You also face increased risks related to pancreatic cancer and kidney cancer.
Chewing tobacco and other forms of smokeless tobacco cause tooth decay. That’s because chewing tobacco contains high amounts of sugar, which contributes to cavities. Chewing tobacco also contains coarse particles that can irritate your gums and scratch away at the enamel on your teeth, making your teeth more vulnerable to cavities.
Gum disease
The sugar and irritants in chewing tobacco and other forms of smokeless tobacco can cause your gums to pull away from your teeth in the area of your mouth where you place the chew. Over time you can develop gum disease (gingivitis), which can lead to periodontitis and tooth loss. And like cigarettes, chewing tobacco and other smokeless products can stain your teeth and cause bad breath.
Heart disease
Smokeless tobacco increases your heart rate and blood pressure. Some evidence suggests that long-term use of smokeless tobacco increases your risk of dying of certain types of heart disease and stroke.
Precancerous mouth lesions
Smokeless tobacco increases your risk of developing small white patches called leukoplakia (loo-ko-PLAY-kee-uh) inside your mouth where the chew is most often placed. These mouth lesions are precancerous — meaning that the lesions could one day become cancer. If you stop using smokeless tobacco products, the lesions usually go away within a few months.
By Mayo Clinic

New York bill would ban e-cigarettes until FDA action

A key New York Assembly committee has advanced a bill that could make the state the first to ban electronic cigarettes.e-cigarette
The devices advertised heavily on the Internet promise all the pleasures of smoking without the deadly health threat.
Health Committee Chairman Richard Gottfried (GOT’-freed) says the legislation passed Tuesday is a public health measure. It would ban e-cigarettes in New York until the federal government decides how to regulate their use.
Currently, children can buy the plastic devices, which contain nicotine and aren’t covered by indoor smoking bans.
Health officials say e-cigarettes are just another addictive habit, one that can hook kids early. But advocates say it helps people cut down or quit smoking tobacco.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.
ALBANY — New York lawmakers on Tuesday advanced a bill that would make the state the first to ban electronic cigarettes, devices touted on the Internet in ads promising all the pleasures of smoking without the deadly health threat.
Health officials say e-cigarettes are just another addictive habit, one that can hook kids early and legally on smoking.
But advocates who have used the devices to quit or cut down smoking tobacco call the battery-operated smokes a miracle.
“E-cigarettes are for some people a tool for enabling them to continue their nicotine addictions when they are someplace where they can’t smoke,” said Assembly Health Committee Chairman Richard Gottfried, whose panel passed the bill Tuesday. “I don’t think that’s good for public health.”
The Manhattan Democrat said the manufacturers should prove to the federal Food and Drug Administration that e-cigarettes are an effective smoking cessation aid in order to sell them to adults.
Brian Waterstripe has been selling e-cigarettes in central New York since December 2009, and a kiosk at Fingerlakes Mall in Aurelius is one of multiple retail vendors where he sells the product.
Waterstripe said on Monday that he’s aware of the talk in Albany, and said he believes the calls for a ban on the products are politically motivated. He plans to start a petition to stop any ban on e-cigarettes within the next two or three days on his website,
A ban would put his eight employees out of a job, he said. Waterstripe said he serves about 4,000 customers in the region.
“We definitely plan on doing something about it,” Waterstripe said.
He said he doesn’t have a problem with the state imposing some regulations on the product, and added that he expects some to go into effect soon. Some of those could include an age restriction, which he says he already imposes, as well as new requirements for the appearance of the fake cigarette and regulations on the liquid that contains nicotine.
Waterstripe went on to call an effort to take the products off the shelves an “avenue for the state to collect more taxes,” because the amount of money brought in through cigarette sales he said “adds up to huge revenue” for the state.
“There are certain regulations that are definitely going to pass, and I’m all for it,” he said. “Banning them completely, that’s definitely a political thing.”
Advocates – who say there is a nationwide grass-roots movement to keep e-cigarettes available – say the proof is in their health.
“I find it difficult to believe that my wheezing and productive morning cough would have magically disappeared sometime between March 2009 and now if I had continued smoking, waiting for someone to proclaim e-cigarettes 100 percent safe,” said Elaine Keller of Springfield, Va. She is vice president of the Consumer Advocates for Smoke-Free Alternatives Association.
“Why do politicians and organizations that claim to be protecting public health want to take away options that could save smokers’ lives?” she said Tuesday.
The bill’s sponsor was moved to act by the flood of Internet ads for the products and sales at shopping malls.
“So I did some research,” said Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal, a Manhattan Democrat and 20-year smoker who quit more than a dozen years ago. “I found what is in the e-cigarettes is a mystery.”
She wants to ban them in New York until they are more thoroughly investigated and regulated.
Her bill was approved in the Assembly last year but stalled in the Senate, which was then controlled by Democrats. Senate Health Committee Chairman Kemp Hannon, a Republican, said the bill likely will be considered by his committee and a hearing may be held, but it’s too early to predict what will happen with the proposal.
E-cigarettes have prompted debate nationwide since they became widely available in the United States in 2006. But as either a tobacco cigarette substitute or a much more extensively tested and restricted drug-delivery device, the future of e-cigarettes will likely be decided by the Food and Drug Administration. The FDA lost a court case last year after trying to treat e-cigarettes as drug-delivery devices, rather than tobacco products, because e-cigarettes heat nicotine extracted from tobacco.
“Maybe it stops some from smoking, but maybe it helps some kid start,” said Russ Sciandra, director of the Center for a Tobacco Free New York.
Powerful lobbies are involved. If treated as a tobacco product, e-cigarettes would avoid the research and trials required of competitors in the pharmaceutical industry, including anti-smoking patches and inhalers. As a medical device, e-cigarettes could draw opposition from that powerful lobby as a fresh and less expensive competitor.
The supporters of e-cigarettes are now watching New York “very closely. They kind of snuck up on us,” said Keller.
She said she has been tobacco free since March 2009 after 45 years of smoking. She said her group amounts to a grass-roots effort of those who feel the government has blocked this “miracle” product.
“There is no industry support on this thing at all,” Keller said of the organization. “We want to keep it this way so no one can say we are a shill for the tobacco, drug or e-cigarette industry.”
She also tries to recast the safety question.
“I can’t point to anything to say it’s 100 percent safe,” Keller said. “The thing is, it only needs to be safer. The only standard is that it’s safer than smoking.”

Scottish Tobacco Display Ban Delayed by Legal Appeal

A ban on tobacco displays in shops across Scotland is on hold because of an appeal by one of the world’s biggest cigarette cigarettes displaymanufacturers.
Legal action by Imperial Tobacco will now prevent the Scottish Government from introducing the measure later this year, as had been planned.
The move was meant to come into force for larger retailers at the beginning of October, but this has had to be put on hold pending the court case. Imperial Tobacco previously appealed against the provisions of the Tobacco and Primary Medical Services Bill on shop displays but their case was rejected by Lord Bracadale. However, they are now appealing that judgment and a hearing later this year means the October introduction will have to be delayed.
Public Health Minister Shona Robison said: “The ban on displaying tobacco products in shops is being introduced to make cigarettes less attractive to children and young people.
“We remain fully committed to this policy and are continuing to work with the retail industry to prepare for implementation.”
But the minister added: “The ongoing legal challenge means that an October start date is now unrealistic. We will announce the new implementation date as soon as possible.”
The Bill also established a register of tobacco retailers, but it was the provision forcing products under the counter and outlawing cigarette vending machines that led to the company seeking judicial review on the grounds that it went beyond the legal powers of the Scottish Parliament.
Lord Bracadale held that the purpose of these sections of the Act was to reduce smoking among children and young people to improve long-term health, and this did not relate to areas reserved to Westminster under the Scotland Act.
John Drummond, chief executive of the Scottish Grocers’ Federation, said of the delay: “We welcome this sensible decision. The prolonged uncertainty caused by the legal challenge has made it impossible for retailers to prepare for the changeover within the current timescales.
“With evidence from Ireland and Canada suggesting display bans are not an effective method of reducing youth smoking rates, we hope the Scottish Government will use this delay to review the policy and look for more effective solutions.
“These include tougher action against adults found to be purchasing tobacco on behalf of a child, improved education and a clearly defined remit for Trading Standards and police to target offenders caught selling illegal tobacco.”
Anti-smoking group Ash Scotland was angered by the delay. Chief executive Sheila Duffy said: “It is disappointing that a tobacco display ban for large retailers will not be able to be introduced this year due to continuing tobacco industry legal challenges but, sadly, not in any way surprising.
“The tobacco industry constantly seeks to delay, dilute or derail any policy or legislation that threatens its power.
“Despite losing the arguments over introducing a retail tobacco display ban in Parliament and losing a petition for judicial review, Imperial Tobacco continues to use its vast profits to challenge measures that are aimed at preventing young people from starting to smoke.”
By Robbie Dinwoodie Cheif Scottish Political Writer

Ritz-Carlton gets first ticket for violating Clayton's smoking ordinance

Louis has received the first citation for violating Clayton’s 7-month-old smoking ban — for allowing guests at the annual Cigar Club cigarsformal party Saturday night to light up.
A Clayton police officer handed the ticket to Ritz general manager Patrick Franssen that night, and Police Chief Thomas Byrne also dropped by the hotel.
Byrne said Franssen said the hotel’s attorneys believed it had not violated the ordinance, specifically noting a section of the law allowing a hotel to exempt 20 percent of its rooms. The lawyer, Byrne said, considered the ballroom to be one of those rooms.
Ritz management did not return phone calls Tuesday asking for comment.
The Ritz has an exemption for a lounge where the Cigar Club regularly meets. But the Saturday night event was in the hotel ballroom.
Apparently, Byrne said, “they couldn’t fit the 400 people at the party in the cigar bar,” he said.
The penalties for violating Clayton’s ordinance is a fine of up to $1,000 and up to 90 days in jail. Franssen was given a Feb. 16 date in municipal court to answer the charges.
Clayton’s ordinance was enacted in July. The city of St. Louis and St. Louis County enacted anti-smoking ordinances on Jan. 2; Clayton’s is more restrictive than the city’s or county’s.
Mayor Linda Goldstein said Tuesday that the city’s aldermen might tighten the ordinance’s language.
“We have 99.9 percent compliance, and we have great feedback from our hotels and our restaurants and our businesses,” Goldstein said. “Pretty much everybody is happy. But there’s always that 0.1 percent that could misunderstand the intent of the ordinance, so we’ll go back and look at the language.”
She said that the Ritz management ‘seems very apologetic and I do think it was a misunderstanding.”
She added: “There are no hard feelings.”
Byrne said he got a call about the event Saturday night from Pat Lindsey, an anti-smoking activist and executive director of Tobacco-Free St. Louis.
The party offered boxing for entertainment, in a ring in the chandeliered ballroom, and was attended by men in tuxedos and women in formal attire.
That night a hotel manager told a reporter that the event complied with Clayton’s ordinance.
“This is a private event in an enclosed private room for our guests,” the manager said.
County Executive Charlie Dooley told the County Council on Tuesday that the county’s ordinance had produced “unexpected results.”
“Some people are getting (exemptions) that we thought would not be getting them,” he said. “We would like to work with you in the future to see if we can tighten some things up.”
In writing the ordinance, County Council members said they wanted exemptions to protect small bars whose owners feared a smoking ban would hurt their business.
But larger restaurant-bars have been among the 110 establishments that have received exemptions.
Dooley told the council that one potential adjustment would be to consider a bar’s square footage. Such a requirement exists in the city of St. Louis, where bars larger than 2,000 square feet are not eligible for exemptions.
After the meeting, Council Chairman Steve Stenger said he would welcome any legislation on the issue from Dooley.
“This is an excellent first step,” Stenger said. He said he would consider removing all exemptions, even those for casinos. The casinos had exemptions for their gambling floors that were built in to the ban that was passed by 65 percent of the voters in 2009.
“All options should be on the table,” he said.
At the council’s public forum, James Mays, owner of the Redbirds Sports Cafe in Hazelwood, urged officials to give the smoking ban time to work before changing it. Mays did not suggest the length of any delay. His business has a pending request for an exemption. Bill Hannegan, an activist opposing smoking bans, urged a six-month delay.
Former Ballwin Alderman Jane Suozzi said her city had avoided problems with exemptions from a smoking ban because it had only one — for a Veterans of Foreign Wars hall.
In Brentwood, Alderman Andrew Leahy said he would ask aldermen at their Feb. 7 meeting to grant an exemption to that city’s smoking ban to Goff Moll Post 101 of the American Legion, 2721 Collier Avenue. The post requested the exemption, Leahy said.

Growing interest in tobacco farming in Bangladesh

DHAKA, 26 January 2011 (IRIN) – Large groups of farmers in Bangladesh are switching from rice cultivation to tobacco farming, tobacco farmerscreating concerns about possible food shortages, according to the government and anti-tobacco lobbyists.
“Last year, I sold [US$1,969 worth of] tobacco, which is impossible if I grow food items,” said Shofi Mia, a tobacco farmer in Gorpara village, Manikgong District, 70km northwest of the capital, Dhaka.
For years, farmers have lamented the low prices they get for their crops. Cut off from markets because of poor infrastructure, they say they have become increasingly vulnerable to price-gouging from middlemen.
Falling profits have been blamed for farmers’ conversion to tobacco cultivation, according to Syed Mahbubul Alam, secretary of local NGO Bangladesh Anti-Tobacco Alliance (BATA).
Tobacco companies are recruiting farmers with free seeds, fertilizers, insecticides and “whatever we need for cultivation”, said farmer Mia from Gorpara.
Anti-tobacco activists said tobacco companies win over contractors with promises of profits which often do not materialize.
“Many farmers later understand that it is not [a] profitable business but they cannot leave it as they cannot repay the loans they have taken from the companies,” said BATA’s Alam.
Tobacco companies buy the crop, guaranteeing a steady demand and prices. “We do not have to be worried about the [sale] of the products as companies take this from our [farms],” said tobacco farmer Bablu Mia, from the same village.

Tobacco has been cultivated in Bangladesh since the 1970s.
Though researchers have little official data, they say tobacco cultivation has significantly expanded in recent years, with one local study estimating the growth at 68 percent from 2007 to 2009, with the current trend pointing even higher.
“As some parts of the world…ban tobacco cultivation, Bangladesh might be an attractive destination of international tobacco companies,” said Farida Akhter the executive director of Ubinig, a local NGO also fighting tobacco cultivation.
According to the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics, the total land used for tobacco cultivation in 2007-2008 was almost 30,000 hectares (ha), which yielded 40,248 tons.
While steadily growing, such production uses only a fraction of the country’s cultivable land (eight million ha), and is still minor compared to the 32 million tons of rice produced in the same year.
But official figures may not accurately capture the growing interest in tobacco farming, Aminul Islam Sujon, project coordinator of local NGO Work for Better Bangladesh, warned.
“The original figure is five times higher than the government figure,” he said.
Walking through Manikgong District, it was not hard to find recent converts. Habibur Rahman abandoned rice farming for tobacco two years ago, while it has been four years since Madar Mia made the switch.
Food insecurity
Activists and the government say the trend could worsen food insecurity and shortages, given limited cultivable land.
“If a large group of farmers [switch] to tobacco cultivation, it might affect food grain production in Bangladesh,” C. Q. Mustaq Ahmed, secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture, told IRIN.
“The country will face a severe food crisis in the near future, if tobacco cultivation cannot be stopped immediately,” said Akhter, executive director of Ubinig.
“It is a simple equation. When farmers cultivate tobacco [December to March] this is the time for paddy and winter crop cultivation. So expanding tobacco cultivation… will certainly cause food insecurity problem[s],” she added.
“Arable land is on [the] decrease in Bangladesh. It will be a threat if the land is used for tobacco cultivation rather than the food cultivation,” said BATA’s Alam.
Bangladesh is losing 1 percent of arable land every year, in part due to erratic rains and land degradation, according to the UN World Food Programme.
The agency estimates 28 million people – 20 percent of the total population – are “ultra-poor” and face chronic food insecurity.
Switching back to rice

Akhter said Ubinig has helped 1,000 farmers nationwide switch from tobacco cultivation back to rice cultivation by giving seeds and other technical assistance.
“The government can have a similar programme. But, first, it should formulate a law to prohibit tobacco cultivation on farmland,” she said.
“We are trying to discourage farmers from cultivating tobacco. We are not supplying the fertilizer at a subsidized price for tobacco cultivation,” said the Agriculture Ministry’s Ahmed.
“If the situation becomes alarming, we will take measures,” he added.
There is still time to stave off further encroachment, as some farmers are still immune to the lure of tobacco, said Ubinig’s Akhter.
“Ultimately, it [tobacco farming] is not profitable as when we grow paddy and other crops, we do not have to buy food from markets. Though tobacco farmers earn a lot, they have to spend a lot buying food,” said rice farmer Boshir Ahmed.
By IRIN, the humanitarian news and analysis service of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

E-cigarette faces ban as safety debate rages over unregulated quit-smoking device

Advocates believe e-cigarettes provide a stepping-stone to quitting, but opponents say their health impact is unknown. Now New York is considering a state-wide ban…

What are e-cigarettes?

Electronic cigarettes have three integrated parts: the nicotine cartridge, the vaporiser and a lithium ion battery.

The battery powers the cartridge and releases the nicotine by heating, rather than burning like a conventional cigarette.

There are dozens of brands including Sky Cigs, Joye 510 and Green Smoke.

An e-cigarette starter kit can range from £30 to £100 with extra refill cartridges sold separately.

A smoker on 10 cigarettes a day would save around £700 if they switched.

But while e cigarettes are marketed as a safer device to tobacco there has been little independent research into the health impact.

Hundreds of thousands of smokers who try to quit the habit fail every year despite trying exercise, nicotine patches and good old-fashioned will-power.
Now electronic cigarettes are being touted as the latest ‘stop smoking’ device. These battery-powered sticks are filled with a nicotine or non-nicotine solution that is heated and inhaled as a vapour.
Most are refillable devices with solutions offered in different nicotine concentrations and in hundreds of different flavours.
Advocates say they provide a stepping-stone to quitting and give the sensation of smoking without taking in the carcinogens and 1,000 chemicals found in tobacco.
Scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, who studied the device said the device had great potential in reducing the harm of smoking.
Writing in the Journal of Public Health Policy, they said: ‘We conclude that electronic cigarettes show tremendous promise in the fight against tobacco-related morbidity and mortality.’
However, an argument is brewing in the U.S about whether they represent a new miracle cure or menace to public safety.
Some health officials say e-cigarettes are just another addictive habit, one that can hook kids early and legally on smoking.
Last year, Dr Edward Langston, of the American Medical Association said: ‘Very little data exists on the safety of e-cigarettes, and the FDA has warned that they are potentially addicting and contain harmful toxins.’
He added: ‘The fact that they come in fruit and candy flavors gives them the potential to entice new nicotine users, especially teens.’
Meanwhile New York lawmakers are considering introducing the first state ban on the device.
Democrat Linda Rosenthal, or the New York Assembly, said: ‘I got interested in this because I saw all these ads for e-cigarettes, so I did some research.
‘I found what is in the e-cigarettes is a mystery.’
The former smoker wants to ban e-cigarettes in New York until they are more thoroughly investigated and regulated.
It has prompted indignation from former smokers who say they have been helped by the device.
Elaine Keller, vice president of the Consumer Advocates for Smoke-Free Alternatives Association, said: ‘I would still be smoking if not for this product.’
Ms Keller said she has been tobacco-free since March 2009 after 45 years of smoking.
She added: ‘I can’t point to anything to say it’s 100 percent safe,’ she said.
‘The thing is, it only needs to be safer. The only standard is that it’s safer than smoking.’
E-cigarettes have prompted debate nationwide since they became widely available in the United States in 2006.
But as either a tobacco cigarette substitute or a much more extensively tested and restricted drug-delivery device, the future of e-cigarettes will likely be decided by the Food and Drug Administration.
However, this has not proven a simple task. The FDA tried to class e-cigarettes as drug-delivery devices as these require research and trials that tobacco products do not need.
However, a federal judge overturned this decision because e-cigarettes heat nicotine extracted from tobacco.
It is likely the argument will run for some time yet as powerful lobbies are involved.
If treated as a tobacco product, e-cigarettes would avoid the research and trials required of competitors in the pharmaceutical industry, including anti-smoking patches and inhalers.
However, as a medical device, e-cigarettes could draw opposition from that powerful lobby as a fresh and less expensive competitor.
By Claire Bates