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Cafés in Belgium not enforcing smoking ban

| September 28, 2015

Three thousand inspections by the Public Health Minister’s office in Belgium has led that body to conclude that 16 percent of cafés do not enforce tobacco control legislation, according to a story in the Brussels Times.

“This is fewer than last year but the figure needs to be reduced faster,” said Paul Van den Meerssche, who is in charge of such inspections, in answer to questions from the Mediahuis press group.

Smoking in cafés has been banned since 2011 and owners risk heavy fines if they do not enforce the legislation.

“Fines went up at the end of the previous legislative term, said Van den Meerssche. “The maximum fine went from 1,600 euros to 5,000 euros, and cafés can now be shut down.”

Nevertheless, smoking goes on and plainclothes inspectors are sometimes verbally or physically abused.

Chinese student charged ‘pollution fee’ for smoking

| September 28, 2015

A student at Yuying Middle School in northwest China’s Yan’an city has had to pay Yuan400 (about $62.7) for smoking on campus, according to a China Daily story citing the Xi’an-based China Business View.

A post circulated on Weibo, China’s twitter-like service, indicated that the payment was described as a ‘pollution fee’.

Some comments on the post expressed doubt over the school’s right to levy such a fee and questioned how the money would be used.

Zhang Bingke, head of the school’s administrative office, said the fee was introduced only this semester after previous measures aimed at stopping students from smoking had failed.

Zhang said the new measure was not backed by any official policy but that it had been effective.

Stressing the ‘educative meaning’ of such a measure, the school authority nevertheless promised to return all the fees to the parents of students.

DNA holds key to why some smokers remain healthy

| September 28, 2015

The mystery of why some people seem to have healthy lungs despite a lifetime of smoking has been explained by UK scientists, according to a story by James Gallagher for BBC News.

Many, but not all, smokers will develop lung disease, but so too will some who have never touched a cigarette in their lives.

A study involving more than 50,000 people showed that favorable mutations in people’s DNA enhanced lung function and masked the deadly impact of smoking.

The Medical Research Council scientists said the findings could lead to new drugs to improve lung function, but that not smoking would always be the best option.

The full story is at:

Vaping-products tax insane ‘public health’ policy

| September 25, 2015

A US public health expert has described a decision by the District of Columbia to impose a 67 percent tax on all electronic cigarettes and vaping products as one of the most insane ‘public health’ policies he had ever heard of.

‘Taxing e-cigarettes at a whopping 67 percent rate is nothing more than a gift to Big Tobacco,’ Dr. Michael Siegel, who is a professor in the Department of Community Health Sciences, Boston University School of Public Health, said in a note posted on his tobacco analysis blog.

‘Undoubtedly, it will put many vaping shops out of business, resulting in significant numbers of ex-smokers returning to smoking and many smokers who would otherwise have quit using e-cigarettes not doing so,’ he said.

‘The policy protects cigarette profits at the expense of the public’s health.’

The blog is at:

Zambia’s leaf marketing season extended

| September 25, 2015

The Tobacco Board of Zambia (TBZ) has moved the end of this year’s leaf tobacco marketing season from September 30 to October 31 so as to enable the sale of so-far unsold tobacco, according to a story in the Zambia Daily Mail.

Last month, non-contracted tobacco farmers appealed to the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock to help find buyers for their crops.

According to the TBZ, a ‘lot’ of unsold tobacco is still on the auction floors or is still held by farmers.

Recently, non-contracted tobacco growers said that 90 percent of the crop in Zambia was grown under contract, which made it difficult for non-contracted farmers to find a market for their tobacco.

In part, the difficulties faced by non-contracted growers are said to be caused by demands by processors for full traceability of tobacco.

The Minister of Agriculture and Livestock Given Lubinda has constituted a committee chaired by his deputy Greyford Moonde to come up with proposals on how the government should deal with tobacco not covered by contracts.

Emphasis on training as new tobacco season starts

| September 25, 2015

Zimbabwe’s Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) and the Farmer’s Development Trust have started preparing for the 2015-16 tobacco season by training farmers in the sorts of good agricultural practices that should allow them to produce the high quality leaf required by the market, according to a story in The Herald.

The 2014-15 tobacco marketing season was characterized by farmers’ complaints about low prices at the auction floors and by merchants’ complaints about poor quality tobacco being offered for sale.

The training covers everything from seedbed preparation to the presentation of tobacco on the market.

The board is also covering negative factors such as foreign-material nesting, side marketing and paying auction floor workers with the intention of influencing prices.

Speaking at a Nyamazura Training Center, TIMB Manicaland regional manager Emmanuel Matsvaire said the training was being offered to both new and old farmers. “We have 62 farmers on the training programme,’ he said.

The training is free and has been benefiting most farmers who attend.’