Archive for November, 2013

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Tobacco bill still in the pipeline despite Indonesia’s FCTC accession pledge

| November 29, 2013

Indonesia’s House of Representatives plans to press ahead with discussions on a tobacco bill despite the government’s commitment to accede to the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), according to a story by The Jakarta Post.

The House’s legislative body (Baleg), which has been tasked with deliberating on the bill, has insisted that the government’s FCTC plans would not affect its discussions.

“We will not cancel the deliberation because of the government’s plan to ratify it [the FCTC],” the Baleg’s deputy chairman, Sunardi Ayub, of the People’s Conscience Party (Hanura), said on the sidelines of a hearing with tobacco companies on Wednesday.

“Having said that, we will write to the health minister to discuss this issue so that we can match the draft bill with the treaty.”

Earlier this month, the Post reported that Indonesian Health Minister Nafsiah Mboi had said that her country would accede to the FCTC before the end of this year.

“The treaty accession will be completed through a presidential decree,” Nafsiah was quoted as saying. “The president has agreed. God willing we will accede to the treaty before the end of the year.”

Kerala’s hospitality sector to phase in tobacco smoking prohibition

| November 29, 2013

Hospitality-sector associations in Kerala, India, are expected soon to encourage their members to display signs indicating that tobacco smoking is not permitted on their premises and to stop people smoking within their establishments, according to a Business Standard story.

According to India’s Cigarette and Other Tobacco Products Act, 2003, hotels, restaurants, coffee bars, pubs and bars fall under the ambit of public places, where tobacco smoking is banned.

In addition, hotel and restaurant owners have to display signs stating, “No Smoking Area—Smoking Here is an Offence,” in English and in the regional language.

Owners are required also to ensure that they provide no ashtrays, matches or other items designed to facilitate smoking.

A campaign to encourage the hospitality sector to obey the regulations is being mounted by, among others, the Kerala Hotels and Restaurants Association (KHRA), the South India Hotels and Restaurants Association and the South Kerala Hoteliers Forum.

G. Sudheesh Kumar, the state president of the 20,000-member-strong KHRA, said the association would use persuasion to encourage its members to comply with the regulations.

Compliance would be implemented in a phased manner, he apparently told the Standard.

Revenue loss after restaurant tobacco smoking ban imposed in South Korea

| November 29, 2013

Six out of 10 restaurants in South Korea suffered revenue declines after the imposition of a tobacco smoking ban in July, according to a story in The Korea Herald quoting the results of a survey published yesterday.

Nearly 59.3 percent of restaurant owners who responded to the survey said their revenues had fallen as a result of the new smoking regulations.

The average reported fall in revenues was 17.6 percent.

The smoking ban that went into effect on July 1 affected only certain restaurants, based on size.

But all restaurants will be smoke-free by 2015, when stronger regulations are due to come into force.

The survey, which consulted 300 restaurant owners, was commissioned by the Korea Smokers’ Association.

Ponder this as you stare at your log fire tonight by the light of a scented candle

| November 29, 2013

It has long been clear that bans on tobacco smoking in public places would lead those so inclined to look at the potential perils of other sources of smoke.

Indeed, stories of the possible dangers caused by cooking inside over open fires and outside over barbecues preceded public-places tobacco-smoking bans.

Earlier this year, a Euro Weekly News story quoting Spain’s Consumer and User Organization (OCU) said some household air-fresheners were more toxic than tobacco smoke was.

The OCU said some household air-fresheners that were heated, including oils, incense and perfumed candles, worsened the quality of the air because they had “excessive levels of toxic, allergenic and contaminating substances.”

Now it is the turn of wood smoke, according to a story in the Bangor Daily News, Maine, USA.

The story quotes Ed Miller, senior vice president for policy at the American Lung Association of the Northeast, as saying that wood smoke is more dangerous on a dose-by-dose basis than is cigarette smoke.

And Miller said that the problem was compounded because of the mystique surrounding wood smoke. People would walk into a room where wood smoke was in the air and say, “Oh, smells like fall,” whereas they wouldn’t walk into a room and say, “Oh, it smells like cigarette smoke, it’s so nice in here.”

But not everybody is enamored of wood smoke. Ernest Grolimund began a one-man crusade to get Maine to take the issue seriously when his neighbor began burning with both an indoor wood boiler and a wood stove in 2007.

“Immediately, my eyes were stinging and I was having allergy reactions,” said Grolimund, of Waterville. “I knew as an engineer, right away, this was bad.”

His daughter had an asthma attack. His neighbor had a heart attack. He attributes both to wood smoke.

Quite how seriously such warnings will be taken is difficult to say. Miller likened the uphill battle for raising awareness around wood smoke to that of raising awareness about secondhand tobacco smoke. But, he said, the twist was that wood, unlike cigarettes, had upsides.

Commission’s e-cigarette proposals under attack from EU health experts

| November 28, 2013

Health experts from across the EU are trying to galvanize opposition to the European Commission’s latest proposals for regulating electronic cigarettes, ahead of a crucial meeting in Brussels on Dec. 3.

The European Parliament has already voted down a commission proposal aimed at introducing—as part of revisions to the Tobacco Products Directive—medicines regulation for e-cigarettes. MEPs were in favor of applying consumer regulation to these products.

But the latest proposal is seen merely as medicines regulation by the back door.

Thirteen health experts from Belgium, France, Greece, Italy, Poland and the U.K. have written a letter warning that the latest commission proposals could bring to an end the positive effect that safer e-cigarettes have had in weaning smokers from tobacco cigarettes, which caused 700,000 premature deaths a year in the EU.

The letter, whose first signature is that of professor Gerry Stimson, emeritus professor, Imperial College London, is due to be published in the Financial Times.

Australian smokers unfazed by warnings

| November 28, 2013

The smoking rate in Australia has remained unchanged since the introduction of standardized packaging a year ago according to a report by London Economics, one of Europe’s leading policy and economics consultancies.

“The research is one of the first comprehensive surveys of smoking prevalence since the introduction of plain packaging in Australia one year ago,” London Economics said in a press note. “This analysis concentrates on actual smoking behaviour, as reported by study participants both before and after the implementation of the new tobacco packaging requirements, which more than doubled the size of the health warning on the front of the pack and removed all brand imagery from tobacco packaging, requiring tobacco products to be sold in plain packaging.”

“Over the timeframe of the analysis, the data does not demonstrate that there has been a change in smoking prevalence following the introduction of plain packaging despite an increase in the noticeability of the new health warnings,” Dr. Gavan Conlon, lead researcher and London Economics partner, was quoted as saying.

London Economics was commissioned by Philip Morris International to undertake the analysis.

The full report can be found at

Meanwhile, the Cancer Council Victoria was quick to respond to the London Economics report, providing notes that it said highlighted “conceptual errors in the report” and outlined “a series of major scientific limitations of the Philip Morris-funded study.”

Cancer Council Victoria said that the notes were provided to assist interpretation of the claims made in the London Economics report.

The Cancer Council Victoria notes are at