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Archive for May, 2012

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NZ smokers paying more than their share of taxes

| May 30, 2012

May 30, 2012A treasury report has admitted that smoking saves the New Zealand government money because smokers die earlier and pay more in tobacco tax than their health problems cost, according to a story in the Otago Daily Times relayed by Tobacco China Online.

The regulatory impact statement on tobacco taxes prepared ahead of the budget said smokers’ shorter life expectancies reduced the need for superannuation and aged care.

‘When the broader fiscal impacts of smoking are considered … smokers are probably already “paying their way” in narrowly fiscal terms,’ the report stated.’

In last week’s budget, associate health minister, Tariana Turia, introduced tobacco levies that will increase the price of a 20-pack of cigarettes to more than $20 in four years.

The new taxes are estimated to increase the government’s tax take from tobacco from $1.3 billion to around $1.7 billion by 2016.

A University of Otago study in 2007 estimated that the direct cost of smoking to the ministry of health was $300 million to $350 million.

The treasury cited a ministry of health study that estimated the indirect health costs of smoking at $1.9 billion, but acknowledged the figure had been disputed and was far higher than previous estimates.

The regulatory impact statement said taxing smokers was a much more reliable way of generating income for the government than was taxing other goods and services.

It said tobacco taxes were ‘very efficient’ for raising revenue because the addictive nature of nicotine meant smokers were not highly sensitive to price increases.

Challenge to NY parks smoking ban unexpected

| May 30, 2012

May 30, 2012New York officials said yesterday that they were putting a temporary hold on the enforcement of a ban on tobacco smoking at state parks in the city, according to a story by Glenn Blain for the New York Daily News.

The ban, enacted in April, extended also to designated areas around pools and playgrounds at all other state parks.

But officials were forced to shelve the ban after the city-based group, Citizens Lobbying Against Smoker Harassment (CLASH), filed formal objections to the policy.

The objections require the state to draft a response and hold a lengthy public comment period before the smoking ban can be implemented. The process could last for months, and a lawsuit is likely.

Dan Keefe, a spokesman for the state office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, confirmed that the state would not be handing out tickets until the process was concluded, but he said that the signs would be left in place.

Keefe admitted that state officials had not expected anyone to object when they announced the policy and began posting signs.

FDA launches regulatory science fellowship program

| May 30, 2012

May 30, 2012The US Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Tobacco Products (CTP), in collaboration with the Institute of Medicine (IOM), is launching a new regulatory science fellowship program.

The new program is designed for mid-career professionals to gain experience and expertise to further define and develop the field of regulatory science as it relates to the regulation of tobacco products and the FDA’s new authorities under the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act.

More details are at: http://www.iom.edu/Activities/Education/FDAFellowship.aspx?source=govdelivery.

Romania likely to benefit from Bulgaria’s smoking ban

| May 30, 2012

May 30, 2012Romania hopes to capitalize on Bulgaria’s decision to ban tobacco smoking in all enclosed public places since it may be seen by smokers as an attractive alternative tourist destination, according to a Novinite story quoting media reports.

Smokers will be able to take advantage of Romania’s more relaxed smoking regime in restaurants, cars, hotels and offices after Bulgaria introduces its full ban on June 1.

Currently, both Romania and Bulgaria impose partial smoking bans.

Bulgaria’s resorts expect more one million tourists to come from neighboring Romania this year, according to the Bulgarian association of travel agencies.

But the association warns that this influx will be due partly to the fact that tourists are still not aware of the new rules Bulgaria has imposed.

Most US states show scant interest in smoking fight

| May 30, 2012

May 25, 2012A report released yesterday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirms that US states have been spending a small and dwindling portion of their tobacco revenues on programs to prevent young people from smoking and help smokers quit, according to a PRNewswire story from the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids (CTFK).

‘From 1998 to 2010, the states collected a combined $243.8 billion in revenue from legal settlements with the tobacco industry and from cigarette taxes, but appropriated only $8.1 billion for tobacco prevention and cessation programs (counting both state funding and federal grants),’ the story said.

‘Total funding for these programs amounted to just 3.3 per cent of the states’ tobacco revenues and less than 28 per cent of the CDC’s recommended amount.

‘This is particularly tragic because, as the report also found, states that have made sustained investments in comprehensive tobacco control programs have seen cigarette sales drop about twice as much as in the United States overall.’

And the states’ record in respect of fighting tobacco use has become even worse during the past several years, as was shown by a report released in November by the CTFK and other public health organizations. ‘The states have slashed funding for tobacco prevention programs by 36 per cent in the past four years,’ the story continued.

‘In the current budget year (fiscal year 2012), the states will collect $25.6 billion in tobacco revenue, but will spend less than two per cent of it – $456.7 million – on tobacco prevention programs.

‘Total state spending currently amounts to just 12 per cent of what the CDC recommends.’

The CTFK said that the CDC report had confirmed that most states had broken the promises they made at the time of the 1998 tobacco settlement to invest a significant portion of their settlement funds in fighting tobacco use, especially among young people. ‘The states’ failure amounts to an enormous missed opportunity to accelerate progress against tobacco use in the United States,’ the story said.

‘It’s also no coincidence that smoking declines have slowed at the same time that states have slashed tobacco prevention funds.’

Seoul sets its heart on ousting smoking

| May 30, 2012

May 25, 2012The metropolitan government of Seoul, South Korea, said on Wednesday that it would begin enforcing tobacco smoking bans in more public places next month in an effort to turn all public areas of the city into smoke-free zones, according to a story by Lee Eun-joo for the Korea JoongAng Daily.

In June, the city will impose fines of up to WON100,000 on people found smoking tobacco in any of 1,950 non-smoking areas that include parks, children’s playgrounds, squares and bus stations.

Of the 25 districts in Seoul, five districts, Gwanak, Gwangjin, Dongdaemun, Gangdong, and Dobong, began enforcing tobacco smoking bans in March.

Starting next month, Jung, Seongdong, Mapo and Geumcheon will start to impose fines, while the remaining districts, excluding those of Seodaemun and Jongno, will levy fines from July 1. Seodaemun will start enforcing the ban from September while Jongno will begin doing so in January of next year.