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Archive for June, 2013

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Philippines’ FDA stymied on e-cigarettes

| June 24, 2013

The Philippines’ Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is said to have questioned how electronic cigarettes have gone on sale to the public without clearance from the agency, according to a Cebu City Sun Star story.

The director of the FDA, Dr. Kenneth Go, was quoted as asking how, since electronic cigarettes did not pass through the agency, they had entered the country with “all sorts of positive health benefits” being claimed for them.

However, Go seemed to answer his own question when he said that the FDA could not block the sale of electronic cigarettes because of a temporary restraining order (TRO) issued by the Supreme Court on the FDA’s authority to regulate tobacco and its by-products.

The TRO was issued in a favor of the Philippine Tobacco Institute (PTI).

Go said that if the TRO were lifted, the FDA would have the authority to regulate electronic cigarettes.

Russia to raise excise by 50 per cent

| June 24, 2013

The Russian Ministry of Finance plans to raise tobacco tax by about 50 per cent to bring it closer to European levels, according to an RT Business story quoting Izvestia.

The World Health Organization has suggested Russia needs a seven-fold increase in tobacco tax by 2020.

According to draft legislation, the excise duty on filter cigarettes will be raised from 550 roubles to 820 roubles per thousand cigarettes.

Tobacco growing providing much-needed employment in Palestinian villages

| June 21, 2013

In recent months the Palestinian Authority (PA) has begun clamping down on tobacco farmers who package and sell hand-rolled cigarettes around the villages, accusing them of being involved in the illicit trade, according to a story by Noah Browning for Reuters.

The PA has even begun arresting some workers.

‘While the government maintains that building a modern economy depends on the rule of law, its critics say the moves to stamp out black market trading is another example of the state-in-waiting’s failure to implement policies that protect jobs and help pull Palestinians out of poverty,’ Browning wrote.

“We’ve triumphed over joblessness,” farmer Mohammed Amarnih, 65, was quoted as saying, before adding that tobacco cultivation had brought unemployment in several local villages down to nearly zero.

“The government has given us no alternative to this work, so [this is the only way] we can live a normal life in dignity,” he said.

Browning’s story is at: http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/06/20/us-palestinians-tobacco-idUSBRE95J06H20130620.

Anti-tobacco efforts failed in Quebec

| June 21, 2013

The Quebec Coalition for Tobacco Control would like to see ‘governments’ follow Australia’s lead by introducing plain packaging for cigarettes, according to a blog posted by Richard Deschamps on the CJAD website.

The coalition’s Flory Doucas was quoted as saying that the brand name should be written on the bottom of the pack in a plain font with no colors; so that “it looks like the deadly product that it is”.

Doucas would like to see, too, bans on all new tobacco products, though it was not clear whether she meant new types of tobacco products, new versions of existing product categories or both.

The call for action follows the publication by Statistics Canada of data indicating that Quebec’s smoking prevalence has remained stable since 2005; the year before smoking was banned in the province’s bars and restaurants.

Quebec’s smoking prevalence stands at 23.8 per cent while the Canada-wide prevalence is 20 per cent.

EU’s tobacco plans upset representatives of US tobacco states

| June 21, 2013

The EU faces fierce opposition from Kentucky’s Republican Senator, Mitch McConnell, over its efforts to amend its Tobacco Products Directive, according to a Dow Jones story.

In a sharply worded letter, the Senate minority leader has warned the EU its proposed restrictions on tobacco marketing would violate international trade rules and harm trade relations with the US.

Along with three other senators from tobacco states, McConnell pointedly reminded the EU that his legislative body would pass judgment on any US trade accord with Brussels.

The letter, reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, said the four senators had serious concerns about the tobacco proposal and its impact on trans-Atlantic trade relations. As the Senate considered the potential US-EU free trade agreement, the tobacco proposal called into question the EU’s ability to deliver on regulatory commitments to the US that it would have to make under the agreement, they added.

A spokesman for Tonio Borg, the EU health commissioner, denied trade relations would be hurt.

And replying to the senators, the EU ambassador in Washington, Joao Vale de Almeida, said the proposed measures were consistent with the EU’s international commitments. And this was expected to be the case in respect of the EU’s future engagement in the US-EU trade pact.

Quit-smoking drug’s benefits outweigh the risks: New Zealand government

| June 21, 2013

The New Zealand government has said that it will continue to fund the quit-smoking drug Champix even though a major New   Zealand study has shown that the drug might be linked to depression and even suicide, according to a story by Brook Sabin for TV3.

The government, which has spent almost $35 million subsidising Champix for 100,000 people, believes that the drug’s benefits outweigh the risks.

However, health officials have told the drug’s manufacturer, Pfizer, to make the risks of taking the drug clearer in the fine print.

A major study that 3 News obtained under the Official Information Act monitored almost 13,000 Champix users, with the youngest being just 14 years of age.

The study was said to have found 710 psychiatric events with a possible link to Champix, including 250 related to sleep disorders, 154 related to depression and 80 related to anxiety. Six people committed suicide, with four of the cases potentially linked to Champix.

Pfizer told 3 News that an overseas trial had found no evidence of increased psychiatric problems.