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22nd Century to open new laboratories

| November 30, 2015

22nd Century Group, a plant biotechnology company and leader in tobacco harm reduction, has announced that it will open specialized laboratories in western New York, USA, dedicated to new scientific research at substantially lower costs than sponsored research projects at third-party universities.

Paul J. Rushton, Ph.D., the company’s vice president of plant biotechnology, will lead the new scientific initiative. The laboratories will accelerate the development of new nicotine-free tobacco varieties as well as the invention of important tobacco products.

“This is a very exciting time for our company,” said Rushton. “Our new laboratories will provide 22nd Century with the in-house capabilities to rapidly expand our genomics-based research and to accelerate commercialization of our technologies.”


JTI goads Australia over ‘branding ban’ failure

| November 30, 2015

After three years in which Australia’s standardized tobacco packaging legislation has been in force, the government is still refusing to admit that it has been a failure, according to a note posted on Japan Tobacco International’s website today.

Australia’s Tobacco Plain Packaging Act (TPPA) was aimed at: discouraging people from taking up smoking or using tobacco products; encouraging people to give up smoking and to stop using tobacco products; discouraging people who have given up smoking or who have stopped using tobacco products from relapsing; and reducing people’s exposure to smoke from tobacco products.

JTI said that as a result of the failure of the policy to meet these aims, the Department of Health (DoH) was pushing back the publication of its Post-Implementation Review (PIR).

Since the introduction of the ‘branding ban’ in December 2012, the government’s own data had shown no change to the pre-existing decline in smoking rates, it said. Minutes of a Senate debate held in October had highlighted the uneasiness surrounding the PIR and the difficulty that the DoH was having in producing a report that complied with government guidelines. There were fears that the review might be sub-standard because it did not measure the TPPA against its original objectives.

“Anti-tobacco lobbyists have misrepresented the data to hide the fact that the ban on brands has failed”, said Michiel Reerink, JTI’s Regulatory Strategy vice president. “Australia – the only country where the measure has been introduced – cannot be held up as a model for other countries to follow.”

JTI said that official guidelines stated that PIRs on major policies such as the standardized packaging law should be conducted within two years of the policy’s being introduced, and completed within six months. They require PIRs to measure the success of the policy against the original objectives of the legislation.

“The DoH is desperate to prove the success of this policy but all of the evidence – their own evidence – points to failure,” said Reerink. “The government should own up to this failure, and the PIR is an opportunity to do that. If this review is not completed and published soon, and if it is not compliant with the government’s own standards, other countries will be misled.”

Fontem settles another e-vapor patents case

| November 30, 2015

Imperial Tobacco’s Fontem Ventures, and CB Distributors and DR Distributors (CBD and DRD) have settled patent infringement litigation in the US, according to a PRNewswire story.

Fontem is the owner of the electronic cigarette brand blu, while CBD and DRD own and distribute the electronic cigarette brands 21st Century Smoke and Vapin Plus.

‘The settlement ends another of eight patent infringement cases originally brought by

Fontem Ventures and Fontem Holdings in March 2014 in the United States District Court for the Central District of California in relation to e-vapour technology,’ the note said.

‘Under the terms of the settlement, Fontem Ventures has granted CB Distributors, Inc.

and DR Distributors LLC a non-exclusive royalty-bearing licence under the patents-in-suit and certain other e-vapour technology related US patents. The remaining settlement terms are confidential.’

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.”