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Media asked to create awareness of anti-tobacco act

| November 27, 2015

A non-governmental organization in Nigeria has warned that about eight million people are at risk of losing their lives to tobacco use by 2030, according to a story by Segun Olaniyi for the Lagos Guardian.

The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) reportedly said that this would be the outcome if measures were not put in place urgently to halt the rate of tobacco smoking.

CISLAC called on the media, as a matter of national importance, to create awareness about the Act that aims to control the use of tobacco products in the country.

It said that despite the proven negative impact of tobacco use, most Nigerians were not aware of the existence of the Act.

The Act, which was signed into law on May 26, is said to be based on the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

France to impose standardized cigarette packaging

| November 27, 2015

The French parliament has narrowly passed a law to impose standardized packaging on cigarettes, according to a Euronews story.

Standardized packaging, which is already used for tobacco products in Australia and which has been legislated for in Ireland and the UK, is being imposed in France from May next year in a bid to reduce smoking, particularly among teenagers.

Smoking is the said to be the main cause of death in France, where more than 70,000 people die each year of tobacco-related illnesses.

The Euronews story quoted unnamed ‘experts’ as saying that removing branding from cigarette packs and adding large health warnings work in reducing smoking.

The new EU Tobacco Products Directive will force tobacco manufacturers to include on packs sold in the EU health warnings taking up 65 percent of the main pack surfaces.

Tobacco manufacturers are said to be threatening to take legal action against the French government.

High level of compliance with Beijing’s smoking ban

| November 26, 2015

During the first five months of Beijing’s public-places tobacco-smoking ban, only 0.01 percent of the city’s smokers were fined for non-compliance.

This extremely low level of recorded non-compliance occurred despite the authorities having set up a hotline for reporting smokers and despite the fact that almost all law enforcement personnel in Beijing were charged with enforcing the ban during its first three months.

But this need not come as a surprise. Although attempts have been made in many parts of the world to denormalize smokers and to push them to the edges of society; they have consistently proved to be very law abiding – much more so than are, for instance, drivers.

And so it has proved in Beijing. During the first five months of the ban, only 217 organizations and 598 individuals were fined for non-compliance, according to a Xinhua News Agency story citing information provided by local authorities.

The ban, which has been in effect since June 1, prohibits tobacco smoking in all indoor public places, including workplaces and public transport facilities.

Individuals caught smoking tobacco where the ban is in force are liable to be fined up to Yuan200 (about US$31), while businesses are liable to be fined up to Yuan10,000 (about US$1,567) if they fail to discourage smoking on their premises.

The fines imposed during the five months to the end of October had added up to about Yuan570,000 (US$89,262), said Wang Benjin, deputy head of Beijing’s health inspection institute.

From June 1 to October 31 an anti-tobacco-smoking hotline had received 9,291 complaints, with government buildings and officials’ offices the focus of public attention, Wang said. Schools, hotels and hospitals were the most strict in enforcing the ban, while restaurants were the most lax.

Meanwhile, Zhang Jianshu, head of the Beijing Tobacco Control Association, said almost all law enforcement personnel in Beijing had been mobilized to enforce the tobacco smoking ban during the first three months after it took effect.

However, local residents were expected to take up more responsibility in the long run. “More than 10,000 volunteers have joined the force,” said Zhang. “They carry out secret inspections, dissuade smokers and report problematic organizations to health inspection departments.”

Asking for a stroke gets you a pack of cigarettes

| November 26, 2015

The South Korean government’s latest anti-smoking video is drawing strong opposition from smokers because it equates buying tobacco products with buying lung cancer, according to a story in The Korea Times.

The nation’s largest smokers’ group, ‘I love Smoking,’ which has about 100,000 members, said yesterday that the Ministry of Health and Welfare ‘has violated smokers’ human rights by branding smoking, which is a personal preference, as a sin’.

‘The ministry’s video has clearly crossed the line,’ the group said in a press release.

It said that the video showed every smoker as suffering from a disease. If smoking was a disease, it added, drinking alcohol was a disease because it caused liver problems, eating fast food was a disease because it led to obesity, and riding in cars was more than a disease – it was a disaster.

The group said that what was being portrayed amounted to ‘a jump of logic,’ and it discriminated against smokers.

The ministry released its first anti-smoking video entitled ‘Smoking is a Disease’ on August 17, and the second has been aired since November 16.

In the latest video, customers ask a convenience store clerk to, Give me 1 milligram of laryngeal cancer, Give me lung cancer, or Give me a stroke [this one presumably sounds more threatening in Korean], and then they receive a pack of cigarettes.

“Every adult can buy and smoke tobacco freely,” said group leader Lee Yeon-ik. “It’s a legitimate right to pursue happiness guaranteed by the Constitution. The footage describes smokers as disgusting people, infringing on their basic human rights and humiliating them.”

Lee pointed out that the government collected a huge amount of tax through tobacco sales, especially since the beginning of this year when it hiked the price of a pack of cigarettes to WON4,500 (US$4.30) from WON2,500.

The tax hike was aimed at reducing Korea’s smoking rate, which, at 36.2 percent among men as of 2013, was the third highest rate among the countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. But The Times said that recent research had indicated the smoking rate had not been reduced by much since the price hike.

The group was due to stage a rally in front of the ministry building in Sejong today and it has said it will submit to the ministry and the Korea Communications Standards Commission a written opinion calling on the government to stop broadcasting the video.

Flue-cured tobacco prices increased in Karnataka

| November 25, 2015

The average price paid for flue-cured tobacco during the first 35 days of auctions in Karnataka, India, at Rs138.00 per kg, was about 17 percent higher than the average price paid during the corresponding period of last year, Rs117.85 per kg, according to a story in the latest issue of the BBM Bommidala Group’s newsletter.

Bright grade leaf sold for an average of Rs.160.00 per kg during the first 35 days of this season’s auctions, while the highest price paid during this period was Rs165.00 per kg.

The higher prices will have been caused in part by the short crop in Karnataka that, in turn, was caused by adverse weather conditions in the tobacco-growing areas of Mysuru district.

The Tobacco Board had fixed the 2015 crop at 102 million kg, but it slumped to about 84 million kg.

Last year the state produced 103 million kg.

The increase in prices might be due also to the unhelpful weather in Brazil that has reduced the crop there, and to the reduction in tobacco-grower registrations in Zimbabwe for the 2015/16 crop.

How do you like your rat droppings – smoked or not?

| November 25, 2015

The US Food and Drug Administration allows up to 13 ‘fragments’ of rodent excreta in a 24-ounce container of cornmeal, according to a Yahoo! Health story quoting the FDA’s Defect Levels Handbook.

It allows also a maximum of nine rodent hairs in a 16-ounce container of pasta.

But while these contaminants might sound distasteful, the limits set by the handbook mean that they are not harmful to human health.

And these are the maximum allowable levels: responsible manufacturers aim not to have any contaminants in their products.

However, this story is interesting from a tobacco-industry point of view. From time to time attempts are made to scare smokers into avoiding illicit cigarettes on the grounds that their manufacture is not regulated and it is therefore not known what they contain. Specifically, it has been said that they might contain rodent droppings, though it is never stated whether inhaling the fumes from burning rodent droppings is any more risky than is inhaling the fumes from the tobacco that the droppings replace.

The Yahoo! story doesn’t answer that question, but it does indicate that the ingestion of tiny fragments of rodent droppings is not harmful, and it perhaps suggests that the inhalation of the by-products of small amounts of burning rodent droppings also would not be harmful.

The handbook is interesting, too, because it says that spices can contain traces of foreign matter, which the FDA defines as including, among other things, cigarette butts.

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