Archive for March, 2013

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Anti-smoking propaganda campaign kicked off in the Philippines

| March 27, 2013

Eight provinces across the Philippines launched a new campaign to warn people about the risks posed by smoking and, specifically, the risk caused by the tar delivered by cigarettes, according to a World Lung Foundation (WLF) story published in Asian Scientist.

The campaign, called ‘”Sponge”, has aired in more than 10 countries already. Its Philippines version, which was developed by the Department of Health with support from the University of the Philippines and the WLF, was test marketed among focus groups during 2008.

It is said to graphically depict the tar that collects inside an average smoker’s lungs.

It is being made public on television and radio and at outdoor venues for a minimum of four weeks, with some provinces sustaining the campaign for longer.

The eight provinces taking part in Sponge are Misamis Occidental, Capiz, Oriental Mindoro, Agusan del Sur, Nueva Vizcaya, Biliran, Negros Oriental, and Southern Leyte.

KT&G’s cigarette business held steady at home, advanced strongly abroad

| March 27, 2013

KT&G’s overseas sales last year reached $634 million during 2012, up from $37,000 during 2000, when it was just starting out on the export trail, according to a story in The Korea Times.

The company’s Esse brand was said to have dominated the super-slim market with sales of more than 50 billion cigarettes worldwide last year.

On the domestic scene, KT&G was said to have remained the top player during 2012, accounting for 62 percent of the cigarette market, though there was no mention of what its share was in 2011 or previously.

The government opened the Korean market in 1988 and, now, KT&G competes directly with Phillip Morris International, British American Tobacco and Japan Tobacco International.

“We’re so proud that we’ve done so well and never lost ground to the global competitors,” KT&G said in a press release and quoted in the Times piece.

The company said that it was rare for a former monopoly-tobacco manufacturer to remain dominant after a country’s cigarette market was exposed to free and open competition.

It said that it had managed this feat by maintaining the quality of its products, including its flagship brands: This, Time, Esse, Season and Raison.

Former US surgeon general joins board of e-cigarette company NJOY

| March 26, 2013

Dr. Richard Carmona, the U.S. Surgeon General from 2002 to 2006, has been appointed a member of the board of directors of the e-cigarette company, NJOY.

Carmona will provide strategic counsel to the company on public health and regulatory issues and spearhead its research on the harm-reduction potential of e-cigarettes.

“As one of the nation’s leading public health experts, Dr Carmona is well positioned to support this effort,” NJOY stated in a press note issued through Business Wire.

“Dr Carmona comes to NJOY with a wealth of knowledge on the harmful effects of second-hand tobacco smoke, as outlined in his landmark 2006 Surgeon General’s Report on the health effects of exposure to environmental tobacco smoke.”

New threat-led fitness craze hits U.S.

| March 26, 2013

U.S. employers are increasingly trying to lower healthcare costs by using incentives to persuade workers to change their habits, according to a story by Katie Thomas for the New York Times, quoting the results of a new survey.

The survey of 800 large and midsize employers, conducted by the human resources consulting firm Aon Hewitt, found that 79 percent of companies used rewards such as lower insurance premiums to try to influence their employees’ decisions.

But increasingly, the survey found, employers were taking the programs a step further by penalizing employees who did not make what their employers see as healthy choices.

Reportedly, CVS Caremark employees will soon have to report their weight, blood sugar and cholesterol or pay an annual penalty of $600. Other companies have similar policies in place.

While 56 percent of the companies using incentives required employees to sign up for programs such as health coaching or completing a questionnaire, 24 percent tied their incentives to progress on measures such as a person’s blood pressure or body mass index.

However, programs that seek to impose consequences on workers by charging them higher premiums, or requiring them to pay a surcharge for failing to take steps to lose weight or quit smoking have come under criticism from those who argue that the policies are invasive and can punish people for health problems that are not always easy to fix.

Although some employees have sought to challenge such policies in federal court, arguing that they are a violation of privacy or of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the cases have so far failed to gain traction.

Clinical trials show certain toxicants reduced in novel smoking products

| March 26, 2013

British American Tobacco is pressing on with research into cigarettes that deliver reduced levels of toxicants despite the fact that the company doesn’t know whether it will be possible to prove scientifically that such cigarettes reduce health risks.

“There are already tobacco and nicotine products available, such as snus and e-cigarettes, that are known to pose substantially lower risk than cigarettes,” Dr. David O’Reilly, group scientific director at British American Tobacco said in a story published by EurekAlert on Friday.

“And we don’t know whether it will be possible to scientifically prove that reduced toxicant cigarettes reduce health risks. But we believe reducing smokers’ exposure to cigarette smoke toxicants continues to be an important research objective, given the numbers of people who smoke and the numbers who are likely to continue to smoke for the foreseeable future.”

The EurekAlert piece quoted BAT as saying it had shown in its first clinical study of its novel prototype cigarettes that it was possible to reduce smokers’ exposure to certain smoke toxicants.

‘We have spent several decades researching the nature of tobacco smoke, identifying key toxicants and developing technologies to reduce the levels of some toxicants in smoke,’ BAT was quoted as saying. ‘Laboratory tests show that our technologies successfully reduce levels of some, though not all, toxicants in smoke. This is our first clinical study of our test products and it shows an average reduction in smokers’ exposure to certain toxicants over the study period.’

BAT said however that the only way to be certain of avoiding the risks of smoking was not to smoke. ‘And reducing the health risks of smoking has been the overriding aim of tobacco research for many years. It is known that the risk of developing smoking-related disease is greater in people who smoke more cigarettes per day and for longer periods.’

The full story is at:

Cigarette trade dispute ruling having further airing by WTO dispute body

| March 26, 2013

The World Trade Organization’s Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) was due to discuss today the status of Thailand’s compliance with the agency’s ruling that it should implement tax reforms in respect of imported cigarettes.

The ruling came about following a complaint filed by the Philippines; and the Philippine government has requested a meeting with representatives from Thailand to resolve its remaining concerns over the matter.

A meeting notice posted on the WTO’s website showed that the customs and fiscal measures of Thailand in respect of cigarettes imported from the Philippines would be among the items discussed by the DSB today.