Budget 2012: Tobacco set to get dearer

Price of tobacco products may be a growth in the near future. The Union Ministry of Health wrote to all States to either tax or an increase in VAT on all tobacco products – cigarettes, beedis, smokeless tobacco (gutka and pan masala), tobacco and tobacco leaves.
Tobacco is a known risk factor for six of the eight leading causes of death, and almost 40% of non-communicable diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular diseases and lung disorders.
Studies have shown that a 10% rise in prices will lead to beedi 9.2% decrease in consumption of beedi, while 10% jump in cigarette prices would reduce cigarette consumption by 3.4%. In India, 10 lakh deaths every year are tobacco alone. It is assumed that by 2020 tobacco will account for 13% of all deaths in India every year. Almost 35% of adults (aged 15 and older) consume tobacco in India (47% men and 21% of women).
Some countries have begun charging a high rate of VAT on tobacco products – Rajasthan (40% VAT on all types of tobacco products), Gujarat (25% VAT), Odisha (25% VAT) and Jammu and Kashmir (30% VAT on all tobacco products).
Additional Secretary in the Ministry of Keshav Desiraju in his letter said: “Tobacco use leads to a heavy burden of disease, disability and death in this way imposes high medical costs and productivity. According to a study conducted by the health value of the Indian Council of Medical Research, the cost of treatment of all three diseases caused by tobacco – cancer, pulmonary disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease accounts for approximately 25% of total government expenditure on health care. ”
He added: “One of the most effective ways to reduce tobacco consumption by making the unit price is higher to make them inaccessible or sensitive populations, such as poor or children or youth. We believe that the levy or increase in VAT on all tobacco products / materials will support the to prevent new initiation into tobacco use and to encourage smokers to quit. “Bhavna Mukhopadhyay, executive director of the Association of Voluntary Health India, said the upcoming budget of the Union all tobacco containing products should be subject to a high level of excise duty and VAT” to save the next generation of health. If the tax on tobacco goes up, government revenues will increase, while spending on health will go down. Today, tobacco products are affordable and easily accessible to minors. ”
Experts say that the taxes on tobacco products in India falls well below the level recommended by the World Bank – from 65% to 80% off the retail price. Taxes on beedis is very low, averaging only 9% of the retail price, whereas taxes on cigarettes account for about 38% of the retail price. About 5,500 people take tobacco in the day. It is believed that a tax increase as a percentage of the retail price of 7% to 33% beedis and from 43% to 58% on cigarettes leads to a conservative 14 million smokers to quit and 27 million children never start. This will save 69000000 years of healthy life for the next 40 years.
The growth will also generate about Rs 73000000000, or an additional 1.2% of government revenue. A study conducted by the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy in 2010, showed that the impact on the health of 52.8% price increase will be 4.6 million beedi prevent premature mortality among smokers and generate Rs 36.9 billion for the government. The increase in cigarette prices by 158% to prevent additional 1.8 million premature deaths among smokers and generate 146.3 billion rupees.
More than 120 million Indians smoke tobacco and 10% of the world’s smokers live in India. Almost a third of Indians – 57% of men and 11% of all women – consume some form of tobacco products, and many use more than one type of tobacco products. Beedis are the most popular tobacco products in India. Beedis accounts for almost 85% of the total number of smoked tobacco in India. By volume, cigarettes account for less than 15% of all tobacco smokers, but account for nearly 85% of the taxes on tobacco products.

Missouri Gets Tobacco 'F' Grade

I remember going into a nightclub in California several years ago, when the smoking ban had recently been put in place.
When parts of St. Louis put a smoking ban in effect, it felt as if Missouri was catching up with the health initiatives of the rest of the country. Not so, according to the annual report of the American Lung Association on smoking related issues, as reported in the Saint-Louis Post-Dispatch.
Missouri is one of five states that have failed in all four categories: taxes on cigarettes, tobacco prevention funding, smoke free, and insurance coverage to help people quit smoking, and other states that have not been Alabama, Mississippi, South Carolina, Virginia and West of Virginia. Ellisville is covered under the law of the district, which has exceptions for retail tobacco and cigar bars, outdoor dining areas, private clubs and residences, as well as “drinking establishments”, which receive 25 percent or less of their income on food; Ballwin also falls under County smoking ban, although the city Ballwin has a smoking ban in place since 2006.
Just over a year ago, Ballwin-Ellisville Patch contributed by Brian Conradi talked to several companies about the impact of smoking laws. One of them was an Irish pub Clancy, who is not opposed to change. I caught up with Tyler Tampow manager to see how he thinks the smoking laws in the present year were once in place. “Families are concerned about their children getting passive smoking”, Tampow said. “But, obviously, you’ll still have smokers who want to smoke, but we were still in order.” Both of Ballwin and Ellisville also subject to state taxes on cigarettes, which are the lowest in the country at 17 cents per pack. State tobacco tax applies county per capita.
From the perspective of local programs to prevent tobacco use, I spoke with Renee Heney, Director of Drug Free Coalition Rockwood School District. She said their approach to tobacco and other substances composed of three parts: the combination of the efforts of the coalition, Rockwood School District and the students themselves. The coalition recently sponsored public service announcement poster contest, which is being judged. Three teenagers from the school district took part in the propaganda and spoke with the laws for the trip to Jefferson City. One of the main questions they asked was a low tax rate on tobacco. Teens are also trained in a program that helps educate them about the dangers of secondary scholars’ tobacco and other substances.
The school district uses a 1-year, $ 92000 Community Input Crime Prevention Work Grant St. Louis County Health Department to involve young people in the poster campaign as well as tobacco-specific collective learning. In addition, the county maintains tobacco-free policy disclinary standards in place. Communication is key to the whole administration.
“Information sharing can help keep children safe”, It also indicates that students are involved in groups such as the Dynamic Air O2, a young person to give this part of the campaign of the Ministry of Health.
Nevertheless, smokers are not necessarily Missouri embraced these changes. Harry Bell, owner of several establishments in St. Louis, including the Downtown Harry felt that the smoking ban has caused the closure of the business.

Tobacco on the court

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration scientists and experts gathered tobacco policy for the study of potential health risks and benefits of soluble tobacco products.
The Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee is meeting this week and advocates from Pennsylvania and New Jersey are among those lining up to make their pitch to the FDA panel.
Soluble, which are made from finely ground tobacco, are not new, but they drew attention to the new last year, when RJ Reynolds and Philip Morris introduced new flavors and varieties in several cities across the country. Some health officials and lawmakers have called flavored melt in your mouth and tongue the balls band “nicotine candy” and complained to the FDA.
Rutgers University law student Gregory Conley was a smoker for eight years, but leave in August. 24-year-old used electronic cigarettes – another smokeless product – quit smoking, and he says, soluble suppress cravings, when he was in his class. He loves tobacco dip a toothpick and says they give him satisfying tingle nicotine hit with mint or Java.
“You just put it in your mouth and hold it as if you were holding a straw between his teeth,” Conley said.
He volunteers, legal director of policy for the consumer advocates for smoke-free alternative to the Association and gave testimony during the meeting of the FDA this week. Conley says the electronic cigarette, smokeless and other soluble alternatives are powerful tools to help smokers avoid the most toxic aspects of cigarettes.
The FDA’s review is to provide soluble in 2009, family smoking prevention and tobacco control law. Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, said that the advisers will weigh the scientific and report on the health of the population not only at individual smokers.
“The law recognizes the FDA, even if the product is less harmful if it is sold in a way that its main appeal to young people, the end result will be more people become addicted to tobacco,” Myers said.
“The FDA law recognizes that even if the product is less harmful, if it’s marketed in a way that its primary appeal is to young people, the net result will be more people becoming addicted to tobacco,” Myers said.
“What we have seen that colorful way that the solvent have been promoted and say that they have generated has led many people to believe that these products are less harmful – before there was a review of FDA”, Myers said.
Now the government regulates, as well as other soluble smokeless tobacco. They are stocked behind the counter in the store and have the same health warnings on tobacco, as well as chewing. They read “Smokeless tobacco is addictive” and “This product is not a safe alternative to cigarettes.”
A group of U.S. lawmakers want more stringent rules for soluble. Some public health groups say the products should be removed from store shelves until
the FDA has weighed in on the science. Other supporters are sometimes called “reductionisms harm,” they say smokeless products can reduce disease, disability and death caused by smoking.
Jennifer Ibrahim, assistant professor in the Department of Public Health at Temple University, says – done correctly – Harm reduction is a good idea. “I think everyone in the business of giving up smoking is realistic that people can not quit cold turkey, but you do not want to send the wrong message: that nicotine is safe at any level, because it is not,” she said.
“It is absolutely true, nothing is absolutely safe,” said Conley, but he says, smokers die while health officials wait for final proof.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reference one of the five deaths each year from tobacco use, about 440 thousand people. Smoking costs America $ 193 billion per year is estimated for 2000 to 2004. About half of that economic value of direct health care costs, and half of lost productivity.
Tobacco companies can not promote soluble as quit smoking help, but there are a lot of online chatter from individual users, who report that they gave up cigarettes or cigars with soluble.
“To be fair, they are very similar to smoking cessation products that have been on the market for a very long time – a diamond or gum for people who are trying to get out of tobacco,” said psychologist Anna Tobia, director of the smoking cessation program at the Hospital of the University Thomas Jefferson in Philadelphia.
Some people fear that the products are called “harm reduction” will actually lead to more health problems. Supporters say the soluble may help smokers to “escape” from nicotine addiction to cigarettes. Opponents say it is not clear how consumers actually use the products and who uses them. Will young people try to soluble develop a taste for nicotine, and then move on to smoking? May keep people hooked soluble, when some ex-smokers would – eventually – to become nicotine free?
Kenneth Warner, the health economist at the University Of Michigan School Of Public Health, says there is no reason to be skeptical about the intention of the tobacco companies in the soluble and are concerned that new products will do.
“The public health community got bamboozled” in the past, he said. When the tobacco makers began selling low-tar nicotine cigarettes, Warner says they were marketed as “mild, mellow,” and safer than regular cigarettes — and it turned out they weren’t.
The FDA advisers are in the marsh to a long discussion, which appears developing and changing ideas about what’s acceptable and what is safe. Health policy expert Jennifer Ibrahim says electronic cigarettes and melt-in-mouth tobacco but the latest in a long line of new products aimed at smokers and people who are trying to kick the habit.
Many are waiting for the FDA to answer the question: Do dissolvable pose a greater or lesser risk to population health?
“I will not let their children about electronic cigarettes, because I just do not know what to VAPS [water vapor] that comes out of them. When some people, although exposure to secondhand smoke was safe and it is clear that this is not true”, Ibrahim said. “I’m not going to subject myself or my family to things that are 10, 15 years later, we say,” Oh, yes, it’s not good for you. ”
“We will do everything to make our patients better and to get them to reduce the number of cigarettes they smoke,” said quit smoking expert Anna Tobia.”If it is a good first step, and – perhaps – if they see that they can cope with less nicotine, it would be wonderful.”
Many are waiting for FDA, to answer the question: how are soluble in a particular health risk?

Tobacco compliance check rates

When it comes to turning down minors who are trying to buy tobacco, being better than average isn’t good enough for manager Nikki Dauk.
The family business, West Acres All-Stop Service Center, where Dauk has worked since she was 16, has failed four of its 46 tobacco compliance checks since 1996, for a compliance rate of 91.3% – almost 2% higher than the overall average among Fargo retailers.
However, for Dauk, it burns.
“It kills me, the four (failures), to be honest,” she said. “We take very seriously. I do not like to think that children can buy tobacco.”
In general, public health officials say retailers in Cass and Clay counties do a good job of carding young people who are trying to buy cigarettes and chewing.
As reported by Forum two weeks ago, the overall success rate to match the alcohol ranged in age from 90% to 95% in Fargo, Moorhead, West Fargo and Cass and Clay County from 2004 to 2011.
Tobacco compliance rates are slightly lower: 89.4% in Fargo from 1996 to 2011 and 88.2% in Clay County, including Moorhead, from 2003 to 2011. Only in the last three years data were readily available from West Fargo, showed a compliance rate of 92.1%, while Cass County had two years of available data.
Holly Scott, a teacher of the medical community in charge of compliance checks on tobacco Fargo Cass Public Health, said that other factors, such as non-smoking ordinances, and tobacco-free policies in schools make it difficult to verify compliance with the consequences of youth smoking.
But the statewide Youth Risk Behavior Survey, conducted every two years, may shed some light on the subject.
Review of last year, the results in this field Fargo showed that juvenile who smoked in grades 9-12, the percentage that usually have their own cigarettes by buying them in a store or gas station was 4.7%. This was 2% compared to 2009 survey and 3.3% from a 2003 survey.
The prevalence of smoking among students in grades 9-12 also fell in the area of Fargo, with 18.4% in 2009 to 13.1% last year statewide from 22.4% to 19.4%.
In terms of initiatives and money spent, Scott said the compliance checks are a small part of Fargo Cass Public Health’s overall tobacco program. The annual budget for the checks is about $4,500, which covers officers’ time and youth helpers’ pay.
And in compliance with the speed, which constantly hovers around 90 percent, officials are satisfied with the program, Scott said.
“I think part of this is that with all the other initiatives that we have in place, tobacco use is becoming less socially acceptable,” she said. “And so I think it is very common for agencies now understand that they should check ID to sell tobacco. It’s just not as outrageous as it was maybe 30 years ago to ask someone for ID, to buy cigarettes.”
Like alcohol testing compliance, asking identifiers do not necessarily mean the clerk will catch minors trying to buy explosives. Scott estimated that more than 50 percent were unable to test related to identifiers that are transferred and age or calculated incorrectly or not installed at all.
“Just because a child hands you the ID does not mean that they are of legal age for anything,” Scott said.
“Just because a kid hands you an ID doesn’t mean they’re of legal age for anything,” Scott said.
In the West Acres All-Stop, the new employees are trained to check IDs and then must sign a document stating that they understand the policies and procedures, shop, Dauk said.
“Legal as of this date” calendar on display in a store and register the function with the clerks to help evaluate whether the purchaser is old enough.
But even this is not foolproof: In the past failures of compliance testing shop, September 12, the clerk punched in a buyer’s birthday incorrectly, and cleaned the registry sales, Dauk said.
“We tried, but all make mistakes,” she said. “But we try to instill that this is a very important thing.
For inspections, the team with two police assistants selected youth Fargo Cass public health. Juveniles use their own IDs and say do not try to look older than his years.
“Our intention with this business not to deceive in the sale of tobacco products to minors,” said Scott. “Indeed, the philosophy verifies that tobacco is a way to assist businesses in ensuring that they are in accordance with law.”
In Clay County, where the sheriff’s office conducts unannounced compliance checks of all tobacco retailers at least once a year, the first violation carries a $75 penalty and a written warning. There’s a $200 fine and three-day license suspension for the second violation and a $250 fine and 10-day suspension for the third violation. The retailer’s tobacco license is revoked upon a fourth violation. The enforcement period dates back to 2008.
The individual who sells the tobacco is charged a $50 penalty, said Keely Ihry, project manager for Clay County Public Health.
Tobacco license fees support the compliance checks, which cost about $50 per check, Ihry said.
In Cass County, businesses that do not match test received a warning for his first failure, a three-day suspension of tobacco retail license for the second failure within the next 12 months and 10-day suspension for a third refusal within 12 months. Clerk or cashier who sold the tobacco faces $ 50 violations in municipal court.
In contrast to verify compliance with alcohol, in which Fargo businesses that do not can face fines check of $ 500 to $ 750, no monetary penalties for non-compliance checks of tobacco, for profits lost, not being able to sell tobacco.
Scott said Cass Fargo public health officials have discussed the idea, but she does not know if the agency will have staff that can pursue monetary penalties.
“I think in the future it wouldn’t be a bad idea to take a look at what the penalty structure is and see if there would be a way to improve that,” she said.

Investors and tobacco farmers

Legislator on the Committee of Agriculture yesterday ordered police to arrest two investors, whom they accuse of fraud tobacco produce in the country.
More than 10,000 tobacco farmers are demanding Shs23.6 billion from Continental Tobacco (U) Ltd, a private company run by Kenyan investors.
Nevertheless, corporate executives, who appeared before the committee to explain why they have not paid the farmers blamed the default on “difficult” economic situation and promised to pay when the situation gets better.
“We are concerned that farmers have not received their money in the billions but they come into this tobacco company,” Mr. Kasiriivu Atwoki, chairman of the committee, said.
“When we visited farmers in Kibaale district, we found them with plaques of books, serving as the proceeds from these investors. Farmers received loans, but these people keep their money.”
The company general manager, Mr Morris Micheni and Mr Michael Mwangi, who is responsible for finance and administration have been transferred from the police criminal investigation to take statements from them.
But Mr. Micheni denied his guilt and promised to pay the farmers, when the company receives cash.
“Around the world economic repression in 2008 and tobacco is no exception. Many cigarette manufacturers in the western world have been under the economic repression,” Mr. Micheni said. “We continue to hold large amounts of unsold from 2009. We are asking farmers to be patient, we will pay them.”
The committee has demanded a list of all affected farmers from tobacco growing areas and how the investors intend to pay them.
Moment of truth
“These investors are claiming that they have not paid farmers for only the previous year yet there are farmers who have not been paid since 2009. We are asking them to come clean and give us all the details. We don’t want farmers to be cheated by these investors.”
But after the interaction with the investors, the committee gave them until the end of this month to seek Shs23.6 billion, or be arrested for nonpayment.
Earlier, in his responses Mr Micheni said: “Our hands are tied. Borrowing from banks is not an option right now due to high interest rates, we must be careful with the finances.”
Asked whether farmers will be paid interest on delayed payments, Mr Micheni said they will not get any interest because the company invests with farmers without immediate returns.

Lewis: Tobacco heir still battling his legacy

Patrick Reynolds, grandson of tobacco magnate, R.J. Reynolds, says no price increase, no tax increase, will release tobacco’s addictive grip altogether.
A pack of smokes can cost nearly $11 in New York City, and often more than $6 in other parts of the country. Now, the three biggest tobacco makers are raising prices for the second time this year.
Reynolds American Inc. and Altria Group Inc. are going with 5-cent-per-pack increases, and Lorillard Inc. is going with a 6-cent hike.
“Some smokers are entrenched,” Reynolds said in a telephone interview.
“They’re not able to stop. They’re going to go on spending that money on tobacco.”
Typically, the tobacco giants cleverly time their price hikes with cigarette tax increases so customers blame governments more than them, Reynolds said.
This year, such tax hikes have been muted. But tobacco companies raised prices anyway. They have, after all, racked up hundreds of billions of dollars in litigation costs and settlements over the years.
Why not charge $20 a pack? Some studies show that nearly 20 percent of smokers continue their habit even after contracting lung cancer. Anyone willing to pay with their life is willing to pay anything.
Nevertheless, steeply rising prices — thanks in large part to taxes and litigation costs — have helped push the ratio of Americans who smoke to below one-in-five for the first time in decades. In most other parts of the world, it is still one-in-three.
Reynolds has long lobbied for tax increases, smoking bans and advertising that illustrates the health risks. He’s also made his living as a paid public speaker with a life story that has more sins-of-the-fathers themes than Shakespeare.
Reynolds’ father, R.J. Reynolds II, lived fast with the tens of millions he inherited, marrying and divorcing several times. When Reynolds met with his father after not seeing him for years, his father had a sandbag on his chest, hopelessly treating his emphysema.
“He was still smoking, too,” Reynolds said.
Reynolds was disinherited from his father’s will when his father died in 1964.
He did, however, inherit $2.5 million from his grandmother when he turned 21, according to the Associated Press. He eventually sold his tobacco stock, and in 1986 he found himself before Congress advocating for higher tobacco taxes to curb smoking.
“My family gave me some grief, to be sure,” he said. “They didn’t take kindly to my anti-smoking work. Nor did they take too kindly about the book I wrote about my family.”
“The Gilded Leaf,” published in 1989, told the unflattering tales of three generations of the intensely private Reynolds family. “The money twisted, if it did not directly pervert, everything and everyone it touched,” Reynolds wrote.
Reynolds said he is no longer wealthy, and counts himself better off for it.
He knew his family was part of a declining old-money class and not part of the rising business class. He also knew the old money came from a product that kills people.
“They say you find your calling in your deepest wound,” said Reynolds, “just as the ex-alcoholic becomes a good speaker on alcohol, or the ex-drug addict becomes a good speaker on drugs. Losing my father was my deepest wound.”
“When I began, my family said, ‘Oh, you’re going to be an embarrassment. You’ll drive the price of the stock down.'”
“We had some heated discussions,” he continued. “But in the ensuing years, since 1986, the price of the stock kept going up. And as far as being an embarrassment, I received an award from the World Health Organization. I brought honor to the Reynolds family.”
Reynolds says he is now looking for a sponsor for a world tour. He’s already been to Greece to help its government with anti-smoking initiatives. He’d like the rest of the planet to catch up with the U.S. He says at least a billion people are now on track to die from tobacco-related illnesses. “As a Reynolds I have a great platform to make a difference,” he says.
At 63, Reynolds has come to terms with disillusionment over his grandfather’s empire, his anguish about his father, his anger at being disinherited, and his struggles with all the dysfunction that one can imagine in a tobacco-rich family.
His siblings no longer chide him for becoming an anti-tobacco advocate. That’s because, except for one half-sister, they are all dead. His oldest brother, R.J. Reynolds’ III, died, predictably enough, from the family curse in 1995.
“I have a list of all the Reynoldses that died from smoking,” said Reynolds, who has had to kick the habit himself. “I’m only the one who made it.”
By Al Lewis
denverpost.com

Iran deal may help AP tobacco ryots

n what could come as a morale-booster for the tobacco growers and traders, Iran has invited tenders for importing tobacco from India.
Sources said that Iran is ready to import a good 6-8 million kg of tobacco from India, which could boost the local market in a big way.
After clearing the initial hurdles, the traders are waiting for a final nod of the government to go ahead with the tobacco deal. However, the Indian government is believed to have asked the traders to wait for further instructions keeping in view of the delicate political situation in Iran. Tobacco Board chairman G Kamalavardhan is closely monitoring the situation to win the bid for Indian exporters as it would help stabilise the price for farmers.
Tobacco traders are already on a high following a massive import order from strife-torn Egypt. Eastern Company, an Egyptian government-managed tobacco giant, placed 20 million kg order from India. Trade sources said Egypt had imported 8 million kg and is likely to import further by the end of this financial year. “It is a massive order and Indian companies had never got such a huge order in the past,” Kamalvardhan told TOI.
International merchants are eagerly waiting for the confirmation of tenders in Iran, which is reportedly offering an attractive price when compared to global prices. “The transaction with Iran is hassle-free as it offers 80% of the amount before shipping of the stocks and the remaining soon after the verification of the produce,” said Tadisetty Muralimohan, managing director, Ethnic Tobacco, which concentrates on exports to Middle East.
He said the Centre is aware of the technical troubles involved in maintaining a trade relationship with Iran and senior officials in the Union government are working overtime to fine-tune the tobacco deal. “We are hopeful of clinching the export order,” observed an exporter Mittapalli Umamaheswara Rao.
Apart from Egypt and Iran, tobacco growers and traders are anxiously waiting for nod from China, which had accepted samples from the board recently. China had banned tobacco imports from India about two decades ago but started negotiations with the Indian authorities after a delegation of Tobacco Board visited Beijing recently.
A board official said with the export market looking bright and the farmers could breathe easy during the next auction season with tobacco set to get a good remunerative price. India produces 250 million kg of tobacco every year but only 55 million kg is exported.
indiatimes.com

Obama Scolds Tobacco Companies Over Labeling

President Barack Obama scolded tobacco companies Thursday for trying to block health warning labels on cigarettes, a product the world leader himself only recently quit using.
“The fact is quitting smoking is hard, believe me, I know,” Obama said in a recorded statement posted on the White House’s Web site Thursday. The message coincided with the Great American Smokeout, an annual campaign to encourage Americans to quit smoking sponsored by the American Cancer Society.
“Today some big tobacco companies are trying to block these labels because they don’t want to be honest about the consequences of using their products,” said Obama. “Unfortunately, this isn’t surprising.”
In 2009, Congress passed Family Prevention and Tobacco Control, which put tobacco products under the watch of the Food and Drug Administration and forced companies to label their products.
In August, several tobacco companies fired back with a lawsuit against the FDA, FDA chief Margaret Hamburg and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. The lawsuit claimed that the graphic warning labels violated the constitutional rights of the companies.
The White House announced Oct. 31 that the president was tobacco-free. The medical exam, given by presidential physician Dr. Jeff Kuhlman, stated that Obama was in good health, tobacco free and fit for duty.
The International Tobacco Regulators’ Conference was held Wednesday in Maryland, a meeting of 65 regulatory agencies from 22 countries hosted by the FDA and the World Health Organization.
“The industry sees the entire world as a potential market,” FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg said in a press statement. “It is only natural that like-minded leaders band together to combat this global threat in unison.”
The tough talk did little to rattle stocks in tobacco companies. Stocks rose in three of the world’s largest tobacco companies in Thursday trading including Reynolds American, Inc. (RAI), parent company of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Holdings, Inc.; Altria Group, Inc. and Vector Group, Ltd. Stocks in British American Tobacco fell Thursday.
“The best way to prevent the health problems that come with smoking is to keep young people from starting in the first place,” Obama said.
Government officials pushed the campaign to restrict tobacco manufacturers from reaching the next generation of potential smokers.
The campaign is “making tobacco not cool to kids, letting kids know at an early age that this will cause a lifetime of harm,” Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in an interview Thursday with iVillage correspondent Kelly Wallace.
Every day, 3,800 teens aged 12-17 smoke a cigarette for the first time, according to the 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. The survey showed that each year, 1,000 teens cross over to become daily smokers.
Sebelius, herself a smoker when she was a teenager, said, “It was stupid, I thought it was cool.
“Doing something that (teens) think is going to be social and ‘I’ll do it every once in a while’ can quickly become a habit,” she said. “The fact that I used to smoke will be with me forever,” including increased risk for cancer,” she said.
Sebelius said government regulators were using various strategies to reduce cigarette consumption in youth. For example, on Nov. 10, the FDA released a list of 1,200 retailers slapped with warnings of underage selling. Some states have also boosted cigarette taxes, which prohibits teen sales, Sebelius said.
By Trevor Stokes
ibtimes.com

Tobacco Companies Knew of Radiation in Cigarettes

Tobacco companies knew that cigarettes contained a radioactive substance called polonium-210, but hid that knowledge from the smoking quitpublic for over four decades, a new study of historical documents revealed.
Scientists from the University of California, Los Angeles, reviewed 27 previously unanalyzed documents and found that tobacco companies knew about the radioactive content of cigarettes as early as 1959. The companies studied the polonium throughout the 1960s, knew that it caused “cancerous growths” in the lungs of smokers, and even calculated how much radiation a regular smoker would ingest over 20 years. Then, they kept that data secret.
Hrayr Karagueuzian, the study’s lead author, said the companies’ level of deception surprised him.
“They not only knew of the presence of polonium, but also of its potential to cause cancer,” he said.
Karagueuzian and his team replicated the calculations that tobacco company scientists described in these documents and found that the levels of radiation in cigarettes would account for up to 138 deaths for every 1,000 smokers over a period of 25 years.
The study published online in the journal Nicotine and Tobacco Research.
Cheryl Healton, is the CEO of the American Legacy Foundation, the organization created from the 1998 legal settlement against tobacco companies. She said the knowledge that cigarettes contain radiation is disturbing today, but would have been even more unsettling to Americans in the midst of the Cold War-mindset of the 1950s and 1960s.
“This was when we were crawling under our desks during school radiation drills and thinking about building bomb shelters in our backyards,” Healton said. “You probably could not imagine a more ideal time where you would have maximized the impact of that information. Unquestionably, this fact would have reduced smoking if it had been publicized.”
She added that most Americans are probably still unaware that cigarettes contain radiation.
Polonium-210 is a radioactive material that emits hazardous particles called alpha particles. There are low levels of it in the soil and the atmosphere, but the fertilizer used to grow tobacco plants contributes to the levels of polonium found in cigarettes.
Dr. John Spangler, a professor of family medicine at the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in North Carolina, said when smokers inhale, the radioactive particles damage the tissue on the surface of the lungs, creating “hot spots” of damage. When combined with other cancer-causing chemicals in tobacco, Spangler said the damage from radiation is potent.
“The two together greatly increase your risk of lung cancer,” Spangler said. “So tobacco smoke is even more dangerous than you thought before.”
David Sutton, a spokesman for Philip Morris USA, the largest U.S. tobacco manufacturer, said the public health community has known about polonium in tobacco for decades.
“Polonium 210 is a naturally occurring element found in the air, soil, and water and therefore can be found in plants, including tobacco,” Sutton said.
All tobacco products on the market today still contain the polonium. In 1980, scientists discovered that a process called “acid washing” removes up to 99 percent of polonium-210 from tobacco. The documents reviewed by UCLA scientists reveal that tobacco companies knew of this technique, but declined to use it to remove the radioactive material from their products.
Officially, tobacco companies said acid washing would cost too much and might have a negative impact on tobacco farmers and on the environment. But Karagueuzian said the documents his team reviewed revealed another reason why the industry avoided acid washing for tobacco leaves: the process would alter the nicotine in the plants and make it less able to deliver the “instant nicotine rush” smokers craved.
Sutton said Philip Morris USA does not use acid washing on their products today.
Polonium’s radioactive particles don’t simply vanish when cigarette smoke blows away. Spangler said smokers may not realize how long this radiation can linger in their homes.
“Some of these radiation particles hang around for decades and decades,” Spangler said. “You’re emitting radiation when you smoke, and your family, your dog, your cat are all inhaling that radiation. How many smokers want to expose their child to radiation?”
Karagueuzian said he hopes the study will prompt the federal government to take further action to regulate tobacco companies and their products. Last week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration required tobacco companies to give detailed information about all new tobacco products and changes to existing ones. In June, the agency introduced new graphic warning labels that will go on all packs of cigarettes and other tobacco products.
“Our study should not be looked at exclusively as an indictment or another charge against tobacco industry,” Karagueuzian said. “We hope that our work will provide a solid initial step to remind health officials and the FDA that removal of {polonium]alpha particles should be at the top of the agenda.”
By CARRIE GANN, ABC News Medical Unit

Tobacco giant’s war on science

The world’s largest tobacco company is attempting to gain access to confidential information about British teenagers’ smoking habits.Philip Morris giant
Philip Morris International, the maker of Marlboro cigarettes, is seeking to force a British university to reveal full details of its research involving confidential interviews with thousands of children aged between 11 and 16 about their attitudes towards smoking and cigarette packaging.
The demands from the tobacco company, made using the UK’s Freedom of Information law, have coincided with an internet hate campaign targeted at university researchers involved in smoking studies.
One of the academics has received anonymous abusive phone calls at her home at night. She believes they are prompted by an organised campaign by the tobacco industry to discredit her work, although there is no evidence that the cigarette companies are directly responsible. Philip Morris says it has a “legitimate interest” in the information, but researchers at Stirling University say that handing over highly sensitive data would be a gross breach of confidence that could jeopardise future studies.
The researchers also believe that the requests are having a chilling effect on co-operation with other academics who fear that sharing their own unpublished data with Stirling will lead to it being handed over to the tobacco industry.
Philip Morris International made its first Freedom of Information (FOI) request anonymously through a London law firm in September 2009. However, the Information Commissioner rejected the request on the grounds that that law firm, Clifford Chance, had to name its client.
Philip Morris then put in two further FOI requests under its own name seeking all of the raw data on which Stirling’s Institute for Social Marketing has based its many studies on smoking knowledge, attitudes and behaviour in children and adults.
“They wanted everything we had ever done on this,” said Professor Gerard Hastings, the institute’s director.
“These are confidential comments about how youngsters feel about tobacco marketing. This is the sort of research that would get a tobacco company into trouble if it did it itself.” Professor Hastings added: “What is more, these kids have been reassured that only bona fide researchers will have access to their data. No way can Philip Morris fit into that definition.”
The information is anonymised and cannot be traced back to the interviewees. Philip Morris told The Independent that it is not seeking private information on named individuals.
“As provided by the FOI Act, confidential and private information concerning individuals should not be disclosed,” said Anne Edwards, director of external communications at Philip Morris. “We made the request in order to understand more about a research project conducted by the University of Stirling on plain packaging for cigarettes.”
Stirling University is part of the UK Centre for Tobacco Control Studies, a network of nine universities, and is considered one of the premier research institutes for investigating smoking behaviour. Its Institute for Social Marketing receives funding from the Department of Health as well as leading charities and its research findings have been used as evidence to support anti-smoking legislation.
Cancer Research UK funded the Stirling research into the smoking behaviour of British teenagers in order to answer basic questions about why 85 per cent of adult smokers started smoking when they were children. The researchers at Stirling have built up an extensive database of interviews with 5,500 teenagers to analyse their attitudes to cigarette marketing, packaging and shop displays. “It is a big dataset now because we’ve been in the field several times talking to between 1,000 and 2,000 young people each time – going down to the age of 11 and up to the age of 16,” Professor Hastings said. “These kids are often saying things they don’t want their parents to know. It’s very sensitive.”
Asked what would happen if he lost the fight against Philip Morris, Professor Hastings said: “It would be catastrophic. I don’t think that’s an outcome I would like to contemplate. It is morally repugnant to give data confidentially shared with us by children to an industry that is so rapacious.”
Linda Bauld, professor of socio-management at Stirling, said that other universities in Britain and abroad are following the case with trepidation: “Our colleagues in the community… will not be willing necessarily to hand over information.”
Stirling’s Institute for Social Marketing consists of 15 full-time researchers and operates with an annual staff budget of £650,000. Philip Morris International employs 78,000 people and has an annual turnover of £27.2bn.
Professor Hastings said that Philip Morris’s demands have taken up large amounts of time and resources, diverting his department’s attention from its primary role of investigating smoking behaviour. “We have spent a lot of time on this. A research unit like ours simply can’t afford this,” he said. “But for me the crux is the trust we have with young people. How easy will it be for us to get co-operation from young people in the future?
“Our funders will have to think carefully about the further funding of our research. I don’t think for one moment a cancer charity is going to take kindly to paying us hundreds of thousands of pounds to give aid and succour to a multinational tobacco corporation.”
The researchers: Academics find that research into smoking can seriously damage their peace of mind
Academics studying the smoking behaviour of British teenagers and adults have found themselves to be the targets of vitriolic attacks by the pro-smoking lobby.
University researchers have been sent hate emails and some have even received anonymous phone calls, which usually come after a series of blogs posted on pro-smoking websites, including at least one which is linked to the tobacco industry.
Linda Bauld, professor of socio-management at Stirling University’s Institute for Social Marketing, says she was unprepared for the scale of the personal attacks aimed at discrediting her work on smoking behaviour and anti-smoking legislation.
“I’ve had a series of anonymous calls starting about a year ago,” Professor Bauld said. “These are phone calls in the evening when I’m at home with my children. It’s an unpleasant experience.
“It’s happened six or seven times and it’s always an unknown number. It’s usually after stuff has been posted on one of the main smokers’ websites.
“They don’t leave their name, they just say things like ‘Keep taking the money’, and ‘Who are you to try to intervene in other peoples’ lives’, using a couple of profanities.”
Professor Bauld has not reported the calls to the police but intends to be more discreet about the availability of her number. There is no evidence to suggest that tobacco companies are directly responsible for the anonymous phone calls. However, Professor Bauld has been identified as a legitimate target for criticism by Big Tobacco following her high-profile work on cigarettes and the impact of smoking bans. Her report for the Department of Health last March on the smoking ban in England found that there had been positive benefits to health and no evidence of any obvious negative impact on the hospitality industry, as the tobacco industry has repeatedly claimed.
Imperial Tobacco, the biggest cigarette company in Britain and makers of the best-selling Lambert & Butler brand, responded to Professor Bauld’s report with its own review, called The Bauld Truth. This report, which took just a few weeks to write, claimed that Professor Bauld’s study, conducted over three years, was “lazy and deliberately selective”. It claimed that she used “flawed evidence and failed to validate her findings”.
Professor Bauld said such personalised attacks were nothing new. Big Tobacco has a long history of aggressively dismissing scientific evidence linking smoking to ill health, she said. “These… are heavily peer-reviewed at every stage. Their methods are robust, whereas the evidence [the tobacco companies] draw on are not well-conducted studies,” Professor Bauld said.
By Steve Connor, Science Editor
Independent