Australia – Leading Nation in Antismoking Efforts

Last year was marked by the growing efforts of many countries across the world in the field of struggling with tobacco consumption,anti smoking but one nation proved to be the World’s leader when it takes to tobacco control – Australia government adopted the most stringent anti tobacco measures in 2010 seeking to crack down tobacco usage in the next decades.
Plain packages for tobacco – Australia became the first nation in the world to require local tobacco companies to pack their products in generic black-and-white packs, without any logos and colors. The landmark measure was adopted on April 29th, 2010 and is set to become valid from July 1st, 2012. In addition to plain packaging, all promo texts would be limited and brand names would be written in standard size, color and style. The move, considered by antismoking advocates as one of the most effective means of reducing smoking rates, was hailed by the World Health Organization that stated the measure has become the latest “gold standard” in tobacco control.
Tobacco tax hike – Last year Australia government also suddenly announced its plan to rise cigarette tax rate by 25 percent. The move revealed by then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd was implemented immediately and price of a pack of 30 cigarettes added almost $2.16 overnight. Local public health organizations, such as the Heart Foundation, welcomed the measure, stating cigarette tax had not been changed for several years, and even called to increase it one more time in 2011.

Ban on smoking in enclosed workplaces
– all six Australian states and territories have banned smoking in enclosed places, among which are restaurants, hotel rooms and public transport.
Nationwide Preventive Health Act 2010 – In November Australian Parliament voted in favor of the latter federal legislation, providing financial support to the National Preventative Health Agency. The agency established a Taskforce group comprising nation’s best public health experts to introduce strategies focused on reducing the burden of chronic diseases caused by tobacco and alcohol consumption and obesity.
Ban on the Displays of Tobacco Products – the largest Australian States have all approved the law banning the displays of cigarettes and other tobacco products, which is set to come into action in several stages in 2010-2013. According to that legislation, displays and advertisements of all tobacco products are banned at the points of sale. The bans will also be amended regularly to prevent advertising in new places, such as online stores.
Ban on smoking in vehicles where adolescents are present – Most of the states and territories have also approved the ordinances which ban smoking in cars where adolescents are present.
In addition usage and sales of electronic cigarettes (nicotine-delivery devices) have also been prohibited across Australia.
Nicola Roxon, Australia’s Health Minister declared that hesitating to regulate tobacco is like killing people who voted for the lawmakers, hoping they will improve people’s lives.

Menthol Cigarette Ban? Tobacco Companies Sue FDA

A proposed menthol cigarette menthol cigarettesban has tobacco companies fighting US health regulators in court in an effort to stop consideration of the ban.
Lorillard Inc and Reynolds American Inc’s R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co unit filed a lawsuit against the Food and Drug Administration based on “conflicts of interest and bias among members” of the FDA advisory panel, which is researching the possible ban.
The lawsuit accuses three tobacco advisory panel members of having “severe financial and appearance conflicts of interest and associated biases,” based on the allegation that the advisers received funding for research or work from smoking-cessation product manufacturers.
Two others panelists on a subcommittee also have biases, according to the suit, because they previously served as paid expert witnesses in lawsuits against tobacco companies.
“There will be no way for the defendants or the public to have confidence that the Committee’s report and recommendations with respect to menthol are the product of an unbiased assessment of the relevant science, uninfluenced by special interests and by the prospect of financial gains,” according to the suit.
A 2009 law gave the FDA regulatory power over tobacco products and specifically banned chocolate, fruit and other flavors noted to entice children.
The FDA can regulate what goes into tobacco products and require that the ingredients be published and available to the public. They can also limit how the product is marketed, especially towards children and young adults.
The legislation called on the FDA to get advice from a panel of experts before determining whether the mint-flavored cigarettes should be taken off the US market. Advisers are expected to deliver their final report on March 23. The FDA is not required to follow the advice of the panel, but has often followed expert opinions in the past.
Health advocates called the lawsuit by the tobacco companies a frivolous attempt to keep the FDA panel’s recommendation from reaching the public eye.
“They fear that the committee, having examined the evidence, will recommend effective actions that reduce or eliminate the lucrative market for menthol cigarettes, said Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. “Once again, they are putting profits ahead of lives and health.”
Mentholated cigarettes make up roughly 30 percent of U.S. annual cigarette sales of more than $83 billion, according to Euromonitor International.
Lorillard holds about 35 percent of the US menthol market with Newport, its top-selling brand. R.J. Reynolds and its parent company, Reynolds American Inc. sells brands Kool, Camel and Pall Mall, among others.
Both companies, as well as Altria Group Inc’s Philip Morris, which does not have a part in the lawsuit, have spoken out against a menthol ban since meetings regarding the topic began last year. The advisers are scheduled to meet on March 2 and March 17 ahead of issuing its report.
FDA spokesman Jeff Ventura said. “As a matter of general policy, the FDA does not comment on possible, pending or ongoing litigation.”
By Laura Phillips

Big Tobacco Test Smokeless Tobacco Products

RICHMOND, Va. — Philip Morris USA and R.J. Reynolds are gearing up to test smokeless tobacco products come March. This will mark smokeless-tobaccothe debut of PM USA’s and Skoal smokeless tobacco sticks and the second round of testing for R.J. Reynolds’s Camel Sticks, Camel Strips and Camel Orbs.
The Marlboro smokeless tobacco sticks are geared to adult smokers who are looking for a smokeless alternative to cigarettes. Similarly, Skoal is introducing a spit-free product aimed at adult users of moist tobacco products who are looking for a spitless alternative, according to a spokesman for Altria Client Services. Altria Group Inc. is the parent company of Philip Morris USA. “About a quarter of adult cigarette smokers say they are interested in smokeless tobacco,” he said, adding that a large percentage of adult users of moist tobacco products are also looking for an alternative.
Out of the gate the products will be available in limited distribution in select markets in Kansas. The company declined to release how long the test period will last.
The Marlboro products will be available in four varieties: rich tobacco sticks, original tobacco sticks, cool mint tobacco sticks and smooth mint tobacco sticks. The new Skoal products will also be available in four varieties: rich tobacco sticks, original tobacco sticks, mint tobacco sticks and smooth mint sticks.
All varieties of the Marlboro and Skoal smokeless tobacco sticks will come 10 per pack and will be merchandised like all other cigarette and smokeless tobacco products, the spokesman added.
R.J. Reynolds is also conducting tests on products. The company has tapped Denver and Charlotte, N.C. as markets for the second test phase of its Camel Dissolvable product line. This round comes two months after the tobacco manufacturer wrapped up the first test phase in Columbus, Ohio; Indianapolis; and Portland, Ore.
Based on testing of the Camel Sticks, Camel Strips and Camel Orbs with adult tobacco users the company made some changes to the packaging to bring it more in line with other tobacco products already on the market, according to David Howard, a spokesman for R.J. Reynolds. Specifically, he explained, the packaging is now larger which allows for more information to be displayed. Information includes the child resistant features, as well as wording explaining that the product contains nicotine and is for adult tobacco users only, and that there is no safe tobacco product.
All three styles are now mint and all three will have the same number of products per package, 12, Howard said. Previously, the Camel Strips came 20 to a pack, the Camel Orbs came 15 to a pack and the Camel Sticks came 10 to a pack.
Overall, R. J. Reynolds was happy with the first round of testing. “We were very pleased with the feedback we received from adult tobacco users in the lead markets over the past two years,” Howard added. “And we are looking forward to additional feedback and new perspectives.”
Howard explained that lead markets are chosen for their make-up of the adult tobacco audience and for the overall awareness of the Camel brand. He added that there is no timetable for the second test phase.
By Melissa Kress

Government and big tobacco in dispute over proposed advertisements

The government and big tobacco companies are in dispute over proposed advertisements.tobacco
The Justice Department wants the largest cigarette manufacturers to admit that they lied to the public about the dangers of smoking, forcing the industry to set up and pay for an advertising campaign of self-criticism for past behavior.
As part of a 12-year-old lawsuit against the tobacco industry, the government on Wednesday released 14 “corrective statements” that it says the companies should be required to make.
One “corrective” statement says: “A federal court is requiring tobacco companies to tell the truth about cigarette smoking. Here’s the truth: … Smoking kills 1,200 Americans. Every day.”
Another of the government’s proposed statements begins: “We falsely marketed low tar and light cigarettes as less harmful than regular cigarettes to keep people smoking and sustain our profits.”
“For decades, we denied that we controlled the level of nicotine delivered in cigarettes,” a third statement says. “Here’s the truth. … We control nicotine delivery to create and sustain smokers’ addiction, because that’s how we keep customers coming back.”
In a court proceeding Thursday, lawyers for the tobacco companies made clear their intent to challenge the Justice Department statements by seeking more information from the government about how it chose those particular statements. The judge in the case, Gladys Kessler, said she would rule no later than early next week on how much leeway to give the companies in challenging the statements.
Philip Morris USA, maker of Marlboro, the nation’s top-selling cigarette brand, and its parent company, Altria Group Inc., said Wednesday they were prepared to fight if the Justice Department won’t dial back its hard-hitting proposals.
Philip Morris said the Justice Department plan would compel an admission of wrongdoing under threat of contempt of court by a judge.
“Such a proposal is unprecedented in our legal system and would violate basic constitutional and statutory standards,” the company statement said.
The Justice Department released its proposed statements after winning Judge Kessler’s approval to place them in the public record. She has said she wants the industry to pay for corrective statements in various types of ads, both broadcast and print, but she has not made a final decision on what the statements will say, where they must be placed or for how long.
The judge ruled in 2006 that the tobacco industry had concealed the dangers of smoking for decades. If Kessler approves, the proposed statements by the cigarette makers would become the remedy to ensure the companies don’t repeat the violation. The case was brought by the government against the industry in 1999.
The companies have escaped from having to pay the hundreds of billions of dollars that the government has sought to collect from them. Lower courts have said the government is not entitled to collect $280 billion in past profits or $14 billion for a national campaign to curb smoking.
The industry asked for 90 days to respond to the government’s statements, but the judge denied that request. The tobacco companies have until March 3 to respond.
Philip Morris said it agrees with the overwhelming medical and scientific consensus that cigarette smoking is addictive and causes lung cancer, heart disease and other serious diseases in smokers. But the company said the proposal also would violate a court of appeals decision which held that any corrective statements must be purely factual and uncontroversial.
“The government’s proposal is neither,” Murray Garnick, Altria Client Services senior vice president and associate general counsel, said in the company statement. “We will work with the Department of Justice and, if necessary, challenge the proposal at the appropriate time.”
The government proposed 14 statements to cover the addictiveness of nicotine, the lack of health benefit from “low tar,” `’ultra-light” and “mild” cigarettes and negative health effects of second-hand smoke.
The proposed statements are labeled “Paid for” by the name of the cigarette manufacturer “under order of a federal district court.”
Other proposed statements include:
“We told Congress under oath that we believed nicotine is not addictive. We told you that smoking is not an addiction and all it takes to quit is willpower. Here’s the truth: Smoking is very addictive. And it’s not easy to quit.”
“Just because lights and low tar cigarettes feel smoother, that doesn’t mean they are any better for you. Light cigarettes can deliver the same amounts of tar and nicotine as regular cigarettes.”
“The surgeon general has concluded” that “children exposed to secondhand smoke are at an increased risk for sudden infant death syndrome, acute respiratory infections, ear problems and more severe asthma.”

China Dependent On Tobacco In More Ways Than One

As if on a pilgrimage trail, visitors to the city of Yuxi in southwest China pose for photographs beside eight cigarette-like pillars and tobacco-factory-in-Chinathen in front of a hilltop red pagoda, instantly recognizable to most Chinese from the cigarette packets of the Hongta — or Red Pagoda — group.
With 80 percent of Yuxi’s revenue from tobacco taxes, this is the town that tobacco built. In particular, one cigarette brand, Hongta, now owned by the Hongyun group, is responsible for this town’s wealth. Yuxi has a Hongta avenue, a Hongta hotel, a Hongta sports stadium — and even a tobacco culture museum devoted to extolling the pleasures of smoking.
Tobacco Dependence
On a national level, too, tobacco plays an important role, providing Beijing’s biggest single source of tax revenue: Last year topped $75 billion. The Chinese government actually runs the world’s biggest tobacco company and is intimately involved at every level of this deadly, murky industry — from marketing, sales and distribution down to production with widespread reports of village officials forcing farmers to grow tobacco against their will.
Given China’s burgeoning ranks of smokers, the tobacco business has been hugely lucrative for Beijing, with annual profits up almost 20 percent every year for the past five years.
“The industry in China is run by the Tobacco Monopoly Administration, a central government administrative body created in the 1980s, also known as China Tobacco Corp.,” says Stanford University’s Matthew Kohrman, who has researched smoking in China for the past eight years. “This is one of the last bastions of the command economy system. Quotas are set; factories are required to meet them. Once they meet those quotas they are required to shut down.”
The Hongta factory in Yuxi is one of the world’s largest, with an annual production of 93 billion cigarettes. According to epidemiological studies, that’s enough to kill 77,000 people every year.
‘How Could This Be A Bad Influence?’
But despite the fatal nature of its products, most people in Yuxi support the factory, largely because the city is so dependent upon it.
“Of course the Hongta group’s good. It’s made Yuxi rich,” says Mr. Zheng, an elderly visitor to the museum, who has brought his 5-year old grandson to examine the museum dedicated to smoking.
“How could this be a bad influence? It’s just about tobacco production: planting, curing tobacco, all the way to cigarettes,” he says.
The walls of the museum are decorated with photographs of China’s leaders smoking, including Chairman Mao surrounded by a bevy of smiling beauties, vying to light his cigarette. Deng Xiaoping is shown puffing away and quoted as telling Japanese visitors: “I only smoke because I’m so healthy. I hear there are a lot of advantages to smoking.”
There’s a wall of fame for celebrity smokers like Winston Churchill, Fidel Castro and Vincent van Gogh. There are bronze statues of tobacco growing; there are star-shaped arrangements of cigarette filters; but there are no notices pointing out that smoking is bad for your health.
China is failing to curb smoking, despite attempts by anti-smoking campaigners. China has a third of the world’s smokers, with almost 60 percent of adult Chinese men smoking regularly. In January, Beijing marked its fifth anniversary since ratifying the international anti-smoking treaty, the Framework Convention for Tobacco Control, with an admission that it had managed to fulfill only 37 percent of its commitments.
The government just announced new moves limiting scenes showing smoking on television and in films, but campaigners say the real problem is structural. In what is itself a violation of the FCTC, the same government body that develops and manages the tobacco industry in China also oversees anti-tobacco efforts.
“The leadership of tobacco control should change,” says Wang Ke’an, who works for the Think-Tank Research Center for Health Development. “The tobacco monopoly should not be involved. … It’s not so good because they give some interference when it comes to tobacco control.”

Tobacco Farmers’ Fate

On the ground, farmers also report interference, this time by village officials. Few willingly grow tobacco, since they say they can make three to five times more growing vegetables. Surveys bear this out, showing tobacco has the lowest revenue-to-cost ratio of all crops surveyed.
A 2005 investigation by a Chinese paper, the Economic Times, estimated the average income among tobacco farmers in Hongta district to be just a quarter of the average annual agricultural income, well below the poverty line. The most recent official government statistics claim that tobacco farmers earn on average $3,500 a year, but on the ground, farmers say their income is as little as a tenth that figure.
Some farmers do choose to grow tobacco, since there’s a guaranteed buyer — the state — and other enticements, including subsidies in the form of free or cheap fertilizer. Tobacco farmer Huang Mei describes how it works in her village.
“The village committee holds a meeting. If you want to grow tobacco, then you tell village officials how much land you will use, and you get cheap fertilizer. They also teach you how to grow tobacco,” she says. “Last year there was a drought, and the government gave us water. If we were growing vegetables, we wouldn’t have had such treatment.”
But there are widespread reports farmers are being forced to grow tobacco, miring them in poverty. According to a 2004 survey carried out by Berkeley professor Hu Teh-Wei and some Chinese professors, 93 percent of tobacco farmers indicated that they would not have grown tobacco if they had not been subject to government pressure. Many say the situation has improved since then. But one farmer who gives his name as Yang insists that in his village, most tobacco growers are forced into it.
“Local officials say they’ve received a notice from above, and every family has to grow some tobacco. Nobody does it willingly, since it does not make economic sense. We only receive half the subsidies; the rest is siphoned off by officials,” he says.
Tax Addiction
Nobody knows how widespread this is, but several tobacco control campaigners have heard similar stories, and farmers interviewed by the Economic Times said their nontobacco crops had been uprooted by village officials. The State Tobacco Monopoly Administration turned down a request for an interview, as did the Hongta group itself.
One thing, however, is clear: Such coercion could be explained by China’s addiction to tobacco tax revenues, at all levels of the government.
“A few years back, most of China’s rural agricultural taxes were ended. One of the few exemptions, though, is the tobacco tax,” says Stanford’s Kohrman. “County officials are keen to see tobacco grown, because it’s the only way that they — in terms of agricultural production — can finance themselves.”
That system seems unlikely to change. Here’s one other reason why: the deputy director of the State Tobacco Monopoly is Li Keming; he’s the brother of the man tipped to be China’s next premier, Li Keqiang.
Smoking may be costing 1 million Chinese lives a year, but the anti-smoking lobby fears the tobacco industry’s high-level political patronage means reform is unlikely to happen anytime soon.
By Louisa Lim

China become major market for Cuban export

Winston Churchill and Fidel Castro fed the mystique, but it is Chinese smokers who could ultimately save the Cuban cigar.

Cuban cigars
Demand from China’s expanding economic elite has sparked optimism in an industry that risked being extinguished by recession and anti-smoking laws around the world.

Cuban cigar sales rose 2% last year, according to the latest figures, reversing a downward trend. This is thanks to a jump in Asian sales as China overtook Germany as the third largest market for Habanos SA, the worldwide distributor of Cuban cigars. The distributor generated £228m in worldwide sales, a slight increase on the previous year rather than the much-anticipated drop, given bans in Europe and elsewhere on smoking in bars, restaurants and public spaces.

Spain and France remain the biggest markets, but following the opening of Cuban cigar shops in Beijing, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Shanghai, China is catching up. Brands such as Montecristo, Cohiba and Patargás offer an image of luxury and sophistication, qualities sought by China’s burgeoning middle class.

These days, venues such as Havana Nirvana in Shanghai and Cohiba Atmosphere in Beijing allow the moneyed elite to relax with an expensive import and store prized purchases in rented humidors, ensuring their cigars remain in top condition.

But some Chinese aficionados have been enjoying Cuban tobacco since before the current boom. When William Wang sampled his very first cigar, eight years ago, the domestic sector barely existed. He can still recall the aroma of the Davidoff he savoured in a Shanghai wine bar.

“My friends were all smoking cigars so I tried one too. It smelt really good and I felt very relaxed afterwards. So I kept on smoking them,” he said.

Marketing manager for Casa de Tobaco, which arranges cigar-related events, Wang added: “In China, the people who smoke cigars are the upper class, the elite, or people who have come back from overseas.

“After people [who smoke] get rich, they want something nicer, something more upscale, something different. A cigar becomes their best choice. And in China, the number of people who become very rich is getting bigger and bigger.”

China is already the world’s largest market for tobacco, with growing health concerns having little impact on the enormous demand. But of the roughly one in two Chinese men who smoke, the vast majority choose cigarettes.
A 2008 report said the Chinese cigar market was worth around 2.2bn yuan — but 200m of the 370m cigars sold that year were poor quality domestic products sold at rockbottom prices.

Industry sources say the market for imports is growing by around 30% a year or more.”Foreigners were the first [cigar] smokers in China, then gift-senders began buying Cuban cigars for people they wanted to please, and later people started to smoke themselves,” said KC Chan, manager of Hong Kong-based Infifon, Habanos SA’s distributor to the mainland.

“Initially it was a form of showing off or conspicuous consumption. Now real consumption is kicking in, but there’s a long way to go.”
He added: “Cuban cigars are almost exclusively the prestige cigar that everyone is after.

“Firstly, people know the cigars are the best. Secondly, it’s a symbol of luxury. And thirdly, because Cuba is a socialist country, Chinese people have more of a sense of closeness. It’s easier for Chinese people to accept that it is from another socialist country. It raises their curiosity.”

This is welcome news for an industry shrouded in gloom when Habanos SA, a joint venture between Cuba and Imperial Tobacco Group, blamed an 8% fall in overseas sales last year on recession and bans.
The figures were released by its marketing director, Ana Lopez, at a news conference opening its annual cigar festival.

The company hopes smaller cigars, which are quicker to smoke, will appeal to smokers banished to the cold outdoors. “We’re trying to offer a combination of new products, but smaller cigars are more important than in the past because there are fewer places to smoke and less time,” said Lopez.
Part of the strategy is the Julieta, a smaller, milder version of the Romeo y Julieta cigar, to lure female smokers.

Connoisseurs say Nicaraguan and Honduran cigars that emulate Cuban hand-rolling techniques can be equally smooth, but lack the romanticism of those from the Caribbean island.

Churchill, a fan of Romeo y Julieta, had a long, fat variety named after him in 1947. John F Kennedy was so partial to Petit H Upmanns that he dispatched his press secretary to get 1,200 of them before slapping a US embargo on Cuba. Castro, who famously survived a CIA assassination plot involving an exploding cigar, liked to be photographed with a Cohiba Corona Especial clamped between his teeth, but he quit in 1985 for health reasons.
However, life is becoming increasingly difficult for smokers everywhere. A tough new Honduran law came into effect on Monday allowing family members to summon the police to stop people smoking at home. Smoking in most closed public or private spaces is prohibited, and in open spaces, smokers must stand at least 6ft from non-smokers.
By Rory Carroll and Tania Branigan in Beijing

A Cuban cigar for women: Julieta says goodbye to Romeo

Cuba’s state-owned tobacco company is wooing women, with their very own version of the famous Havana cigar – in spite of the cigars factorywell-known health risks of cigar smoking. But is cigar-smoking destined to remain a man’s world?
Hundreds of cigar distributors, businessmen and tobacco lovers are descending on Cuba this week for the annual Havana cigar festival.
The world of Habano smokers is predominantly male, but the island’s largest cigar manufacturer has now set its sights on the other half of the world’s population – women.
Last year, the company Habanos – an arm of Cubatabaco, the country’s national tobacco company – announced a mission to overcome perceptions among women that Cuban cigars are made up of “only strong tobacco for men”.
The result is the Julieta, a milder version of the renowned, strong-flavoured Romeo Y Julieta brand, which was founded in 1873.
Until now, cigars marketed specifically at women have tended to be flavoured or extremely mild cigarellos – a short, narrow cigar.
The Julieta is bigger, 4.75 inches (12cm) long, 0.5 inches (13mm) wide, and far more pungent.
But do women really want it?
Berlin clubs
Women have long association with cigar smoking – according to anthropologists, ancient Mayan women were just as likely as their menfolk to smoke dried tobacco.
But in modern times it has never really taken off – and with the rising awareness of the risks of smoking in general and global smoking bans, there is little evidence that it will.
In the 1930s, Marlene Dietrich was often photographed with a cigar hanging seductively from her lips. It is likely that she first took up cigars in 1920s Berlin, suggests, where women’s cigar-smoking clubs flourished.
“Cigar clubs back then served as both networking and social outlets for ‘progressive,’ ie, ‘renegade,’ women. Because cigars were still considered the property of men, female cigar clubs in the US sprang up in secret,” it writes.
And, in the mid-1990s, cigar smoking for women was given a glamorous boost by celebrities such as Whoopi Goldberg, Jodie Foster, Demi Moore, Madonna, Drew Barrymore and model Linda Evangelista, who were pictured smoking cigars.
Magazine articles declared that women were just as likely to be holding business lunches as men and that celebrating this with a symbol of success – a cigar – was de rigueur.
“Fifteen years ago, the industry was in a boom – cigars for everyone was in vogue. There was no smoking ban,” says Lindsay M Heller, the only female tobacconist in New York.
“It was seen as cool, and it was not uncommon to see women joining their partners for a smoke. They thought it looked great. You saw female celebrities smoking cigars. But this is no longer the case. No-one wants to be caught promoting smoking.”
Apart from the short-lived 1990s trend, cigar smoking has remained largely a male domain in the US.
It’s taboo, says Ms Heller. “There is still a stigma associated with woman smoking cigars. It is rare in the States to see women smoking cigars outside. The ones who do smoke prefer the comfort of their homes and yards.”
Last year during the Winter Olympics in Canada, members of the women’s hockey team celebrated a gold medal with a cigar and beer – and were immediately embroiled in controversy.
One official at the IOC said it was not a good promotion of “sporting values”. Commentators sniffed double standards. Had it been a male team, they asked, would we have cared? Would we be griping if it were the boys sharing a celebratory smoke?
According to Ms Heller, there is still a “machismo factor” associated with cigar smoking.
“Women who smoke cigars are often teased, and they simply don’t want to hear it” she says.
But while few women smoke in public, anecdotally, Ms Heller says there is a significant number of women who enjoy the taste, aroma and cachet of premium cigars.
“We are smoking the same size and strength as those marketed at men. As a woman who has worked hard in the business, I find it an insult to be marketed to differently,” she says.
Gordon Mott, executive editor of Cigar Aficionado magazine, says that while cigar smoking is still predominantly a male pursuit, women make up a significant but “hidden” part of the market.
“Cigar Aficionado has a circulation of some 300,000, and we believe that about 5% of that is women,” he says.
“These are women who appreciate the complexity and flavour of the same cigars that men smoke.”
According to Habanos, women make up only 5-10% of their market – which does not include the US because of the trade embargo imposed against Cuba in 1962.
Maple, apple and cherry
But the research company Euromonitor International estimates that womens’ share of the market is a lot lower than that.
“There are no precise figures on the female market, but it’s not more than 1% of the total cigar-smoking market,” says tobacco analyst Don Hedley.
“In the US, there have been signs of a growing interest by women in cigars over the past few years, but it’s not amazing,” he says.
“What you are really talking about is women switching from cigarettes to flavoured cigarellos. They are big in the US market.”
In most countries cigar smoking is fundamentally associated with men, he says. It is countries where there is a gender neutral smoking culture where you see a higher number of women smoking cigars.
According to Mr Hedley, Denmark stands out as having a relatively high proportion of female cigar smokers.
“This is to do with the level of tradition and culture and how socially acceptable it is. It was very trendy in the 1990s for both genders to smoke cigars and there was no brand differentiation between men and women.”
In some countries, sales of cigars reflect the success of the economy there. For example, cigar smoking is growing fast in China. But, there is no evidence that women are a significant part of that trend, says Mr Hedley.
However, in Japan – where there are as yet no smoking bans – research suggests that some 10% of cigar smokers may be female. But they favour flavoured cigars, such as maple, apple and cherry.
‘Celebration of women’
There is no doubt that in some countries, a growing number of women and men are taking to cigars because they are seen as a status symbol, says Mr Hedley.
“In Brazil, there are a growing number of younger people turning to cigars. Woman are joining that trend because the are economically able to.”
Similarly, he says, research indicates that in South Africa, a growing number of women are smoking “for the excitement and novelty”. They belong to what is known as the “Black Diamond” market – high-earning, aspirational black South Africans.
According to Habanos, the new Julieta is also intended to celebrate the women who work in Cuba’s tobacco industry, at every step of the process.
But ironically, says Ms Heller, “The women who work in the industry smoke exactly the same cigars as the men.”
By Kathryn Westcott BBC News

Bid to tax Native American cigarettes stalls

Last summer, smokers who bought their cigarettes on Native American reservations were stocking up, anticipating the state’s promised clampdown on untaxed cigarette sales.
The Seneca Nation was urging its members to remain calm and avoid the highway barricades of burning tires that had lent the conflict both an iconic image and an acrid stench in previous decades.
Politicians were rattling their sabers and even, in the case of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, resorting to highly charged pronouncements bordering on racial slurs.
And then?
The only movement in the conflict has been a thickening of already heavy court files at the state and federal levels. While the Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ponders its next ruling — perhaps pivotal, perhaps not — millions of cigarettes are still being sold on reservations to non-Indian individuals who want to avoid $5 a pack in state and local taxes.
Last week on the Tonawanda Seneca Nation territory, which straddles the border of Genesee and Erie counties, a steady stream of off-reservation customers was visiting the shops there.
“We’re just spinning our wheels,” said James Calvin, president of the New York Association of Convenience Stores. His organization has long urged the state to level the playing field for non-Indian cigarette sellers who must pay the taxes and by necessity charge their customers more.
“Nothing has changed,” said Robert Odawi Porter, president of the Seneca Nation.
And that’s despite the inclusion by new Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of $130 million in Indian cigarette sales taxes in his $132.9 billion state budget proposal. The taxes — if they’re collected — would support less than one-tenth of 1 percent of the budget.
“We’ve had governors include revenue projections in the budget in the past,” Porter said. None, starting with the current governor’s father, has succeeded in collecting taxes on Indian cigarette sales.
Various tax collection strategies have been proposed and new state legislation has been passed, but the Native American nations say treaties with the federal government ensure they and their members are free to conduct commerce on their territories without interference or taxes from state and local governments.
While the federal appeals court mulls the issue, the state is banned from enforcing the law, said Brad Maione, spokesman for the state Department of Taxation and Finance. Beyond that, there was little he could say except, “The next step is to wait until the next court activity.”
Advocates of the tax have chipped away at the issue, currently proposing an indirect method of tax by charging the wholesalers who supply the reservations. The state would apply a formula using wholesale purchases to estimate the portion of retail sales being made to non-Indian customers.
Meanwhile, Native nations and individuals have been just as devoted to finding ways around the state. Some dealers have started making their own cigarettes or buying a larger portion of their cigarettes from other native manufacturers. The Oneida Nation relocated a cigarette plant to its territory in September.
Several historic meetings have taken place among the various Haudenosaunee communities, which are sometimes deeply divided, to share information on the taxation issue. And three business associations made up of smoke shop owners have sprung up on the Seneca and Tuscarora reservations in western New York, bringing independent cigarette sellers closer together on and between reservations.
“You have a stronger voice as a group than you do as individuals,” said Marty Ground, president of the merchant association at Tonawanda, which represents 10 of the 12 smoke shops there, including his 49 Express Pit Stop.
The state’s attempt to reduce smoking in New York ended up driving more business to the reservations or to other states, said Calvin, the convenience store executive, because the state raised the tax 58 percent in 2010, widening the price gap between reservation stores and non-reservation stores.
“The tax went up but the other side of the equation was put on hold,” Calvin said. “Our members lost anywhere from 25 to 40 percent of their cigarette (sales) volume overnight and it hasn’t come back. Certainly 25 to 40 percent of the smokers haven’t stopped smoking.”
On Thursday, outside The Rez smoke shop on Bloomingdale Road on the Tonawanda territory, Eric Keeton of Cheektowaga described the situation from a buyer’s perspective.
“I said ‘hell no,'” he recalled about the time the taxes jumped in 2010. A smoker for about two years, he switched from buying at a local 7-Eleven to driving to The Rez and stocking up. “It’s cheaper for me and a lot of other people, too,” Keeton said.
“People are getting fed up with the high cost of cigarettes on the outside,” Ground said.
Calvin said people may see the issue as affecting only cigarette buyers and sellers, but an analysis his organization commissioned before the cigarette tax rose reports that taxpayers were missing out on $1 billion annually because of reservation sales. (Other estimates put the amount at a fraction of that.)
“It’s especially not fair to non-smoking citizens because they’re essentially subsidizing the non-taxed purchases of the citizens who smoke,” Calvin said.
Here’s where he and Porter part company the furthest. Porter said the money that consumers don’t pay in the form of cigarette taxes is spent off the reservation and generates taxes.
It also supports income of people who work in smoke shops and use their pay to buy taxed products and services off the reservations.
“That’s a very interesting theory,” Calvin responded. “My mom always told me, ‘Don’t let anybody ever tell you that the grass is blue, the sky is green or that tax evasion is economic development.'”
To which Porter countered that it’s hypocritical for the state to abate taxes for corporations in the name of economic development, yet insist that untaxed Indiancigarette sales on sovereign territories are an abuse.
Porter said native nations can’t be blamed for all of the state’s budgetary and taxation woes, either.
“If our economy somehow disappeared tomorrow, New York would still have a gaping enforcement problem,” he said, noting that cigarette sellers in Pennsylvania enjoy a similar bonanza from New York customers because of a $3 tax difference per pack.
“Money is the issue,” said Ground, who added that he sees new faces at his store all the time. If big-brand cigarettes cost $100 a carton off the reservation and half of that on, “you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure that out.”
By Diana Louise Carter

Has NYC gone too far by banning smoking in parks?

NEW YORK — The smokers of New York huddle in phone booths, hurry down cold streets and hover at office-building doorways during breaks, puffs of smoke giving them away.
They are an endangered breed. Their numbers shrinking through loss of habitat, come summer they will have even fewer places to light up as a ban on smoking in parks, beaches and public plazas goes into effect – including Central Park and swaths of tourist-packed Times Square.
Smokers have yielded as places to puff have diminished over the years, but many of them and even some nonsmokers are saying the city has gone too far this time. Health experts disagree on the hazards of a whiff of smoke outdoors, and critics argue cigarette smoke is just one of many nuisances to contend with in a crowded city. They also question whether the city is trampling on civil liberties.
“I think they’re getting too personal,” said Monica Rodriguez, smoking a Newport at a phone booth near a pedestrian plaza south of Times Square. “I don’t think it’s OK. They’re taking away everyone’s privileges.”
Even Whoopi Goldberg spoke out against the ban on national television, noting shortly after the City Council approved the ban that inhaling exhaust fumes from the city’s fleet of taxis and buses isn’t exactly healthy, either.
“There should be a designated place, and I’m tired of being treated like some damn criminal,” said the co-host of ABC’s “The View” during the show’s Feb. 3 broadcast. “If they’re really worried about the smell in the air, give us electric buses, give us electric cars, and then I’ll understand.”
The city health commissioner, Thomas A. Farley, said the ban is aimed at protecting the most vulnerable, such as asthma sufferers who are susceptible to respiratory attacks from exposure to secondhand smoke; children who might pick up smoking after seeing adults with lit cigarettes. It’s also meant to reduce litter.
But most of all, he said, it was about ensuring that the city’s 14 miles of beach and more than 1,000 parks were free of the nuisance and open to all.
“Parks and beaches are special places that anybody should enjoy,” he told The Associated Press in a recent interview.
The City Council approved the bill Feb. 2; the mayor has 20 days to sign it. A separate bill that would have set aside smoking areas in parks did not pass.
Those who break the law could face fines of $50 per violation. But instead of active enforcement, the city will rely on signs and social pressure, said Jessica Scaperotti, a spokeswoman for Bloomberg.
“We expect that this will be primarily self-enforcing,” she said. “There is a lot of public support.”
She pointed to a 2009 Zogby poll commissioned by the New York City Coalition for a Smoke-Free City that surveyed 1,002 residents over landline phones and showed that 65 percent supported a smoking ban in parks and beaches.
The measure continues a nearly decade-long effort under the mayor, a smoker-turned-anti-tobacco crusader, to reduce smoking through public policy.
The cornerstone of his administration’s strategy has been an indoor smoking ban in all workplaces, including bars and restaurants. In 2010, the city issued 85 violations to bars and clubs that flouted the ban, the Health Department said.
The city has also tried to snuff out smoking by raising taxes on cigarettes, helping the price of a pack soar to $11 or more; through a public education campaign that has featured grisly images of diseased lungs; and by offering free nicotine patch kits for smokers to help them quit.
The Health Department argues that its tobacco-control strategy saved an estimated 6,300 lives between 2002 and 2009, mostly from a reduction in cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, as well as cancer. The smoking rate dropped 27 percent during the same period.
But the department says smoking continues to be the city’s leading cause of preventable death. A city study published in 2009 found that residents are exposed to more secondhand smoke than the national average, he said.
The hazards of secondhand smoke are well-documented. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says there is no safe level of exposure. But how secondhand smoke contributes to environmental hazards outdoors is an emerging area of study.
Dr. Michael Siegel, an expert on the public health effects of smoking who testified in support of the city’s indoor smoking ban, said science may not support the idea of smoke-free beaches and parks.
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“I disagree that there is a scientific basis for banning smoking in wide open outdoor spaces where people can easily avoid exposure,” said Siegel, who works in Boston, where the City Council is proposing a similar ban. “Some of the health groups have been exaggerating the evidence.”
In one of the few published studies on outdoor tobacco smoke, scientists at Stanford University said in a 2007 paper that smoking outdoors might be considered a “hazard” or “nuisance,” including when “eating dinner with a smoker at a sidewalk cafe, sitting next to a smoker on a park bench, or standing near a smoker outside a building.”
“If one is upwind from a smoker, levels most likely will be negligible,” the authors wrote.
With such strict bans, the tobacco-control movement may be in danger of losing its credibility, Siegel said.
“The public is going to just think of us as these zealots who want to ban smoking everywhere,” he said. “It’s going to make it even harder to pass legitimate smoking regulations in states that don’t currently have them.”
The American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation counted more than 450 municipalities with policies of smoke-free parks and more than 200 with smokeless beaches, including Los Angeles.
And there are signs that anti-smoking ordinances could get tougher in the future, with some communities extending bans into private homes, especially apartment buildings where secondhand smoke can permeate into other units.
In New York City, especially during the summer, places like Times Square and Central Park get packed with humanity, making exposure to secondhand smoke a distinct possibility.
On a recent winter day in Bryant Park, in midtown Manhattan, a few hardy souls braving the cold gave the ban a mixed review.
Katie Geba, 19, said a smoke-free park would be a blessing.
“I don’t like the smell of it,” said the college student, reading a book at a table in a patch of sunlight. “At the same time, (the ban) infringes on your right to do what you want to do.”
Monika Solich, 31, of Queens, said she could understand banning smoking in enclosed spaces like bars and restaurants. “But this is an open space,” she said, incredulous, as she sat at a table, smoking a Marlboro and sipping coffee.
“I mean, what’s next? Ridiculous. Where are they going to ban next?” she said. “There should at least be an area for smokers where we can smoke.”

70 % of Texas Voters Back up Smoke-Free Law

A currently conducted poll demonstrates that 70% of Texas voters want to ban smoking in indoor work and public places.texas qiut
“It is very pleasant to hear that Texans want to breathe clean indoor air. That is why, now it is the most appropriate time for the Texas Legislature to implement this bill, which will protect our citizens from the well-known hazards of second-hand smoke,” stated Doug Ulman, LIVESTRONG president.
The given poll showed that among Texas voters:

  • 63% want to vote for a state legislator who backs up the smoke-free law.
  • 85% think that secondhand smoke is a dangerous health hazard.
  • 76% suppose that the right of employees and customers to breathe clean air in bars, restaurants and other establishments is more important than the right of smokers to light up and business owners to permit smoking.
  • 90% believe that all workers must be protected from exposure to secondhand smoke in the workplace.

“All Texans should have the right to work in a smoke-free workplace. Exposure to secondhand smoke unjustly puts at risk the health of non-smokers thus creating an unhealthy working environment for everyone. We should make the smoke-free workplaces a reality,” stated Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst.
Smoke-Free Texas Coalition includes various organizations such as: the American Cancer Society, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, LIVESTRONG and many others. The given coalition was created to prompt the Texas Legislature in an attempt to adopt a statewide smoke-free law in 2011 and to assure a clean indoor air.
Senate Bill 355 and House Bill 670 suggest to pass a comprehensive smoke-free legislation that would assure all Texans with protection from the hazards of second-hand smoke exposure in the workplaces.
“The most important moment of this bill is that it will save lives and taxpayer money,” stated Texas Senator Rodney Ellis.
“The poll demonstrates clearly that the great number of Texans understand the effect smoking has on health and our economy. Senate Bill 355 will improve the health of many Texans and save our money,” he said.
“29 states have already adopted the comprehensive smoke-free laws similar to House Bill 670 and various researches proof that smoke-free workplace laws have brought to evident savings for state governments, declared Texas Representative Myra Crownover.
Second-hand smoke kills about 53,000 non-smoking Americans yearly and is a main cause of lung cancer, premature birth and other serious diseases. A report presented by the U.S. Surgeon General, which is considered as the most comprehensive on the health impact of secondhand smoke demonstrated that there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke.