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South Korean court finds no causal link between smoking and lung cancer

| April 10, 2014

In rejecting today the final legal appeals for a group of ailing smokers seeking compensation from the South Korean government and KT&G, the country’s top court said there was no causal connection between smoking and lung cancer, according to a Yonhap News Agency report.

Upholding a lower court’s ruling and ending a 15-year legal battle, the Supreme Court threw out two damages suits brought by 30 lung cancer patients and their families against the government and the former tobacco monopoly.

“Lung cancer is not a disease solely caused by smoking but a disease that is caused by a host of exterior reasons such as physical, biological and chemical factors,” the court said in its ruling.

“It is difficult to acknowledge a causal relation between smoking and lung cancer just based on the fact that certain smokers developed the disease,” the court said. “Environmental factors should be taken into account.”

Seeking WON474.7 million (US$454,700) in compensation, 36 people initially launched the suit in 1999, arguing that long-term smoking had caused lung cancer and that the company had not fulfilled its duty of informing them of the dangers of smoking.

The plaintiffs claimed also that the company defrauded the public by falsely denying the adverse health effects of smoking, concealing evidence that nicotine was addictive and lying about their manipulation of nicotine in cigarettes to create addiction.

KT&G rebutted the causal relationship between smoking and the plaintiffs’ diseases, citing a lack of scientific evidence.

And the company argued that it did not violate its obligation because it had included a warning message on its cigarette packs.

E-cigarettes might not be benign

| April 10, 2014

E-cigarettes can change gene expression in a similar way to that of tobacco, according to a story by Daniel Cressey for Nature quoting one of the first studies to investigate the biological effects of the devices.

Presented at the American Association for Cancer Research’s annual meeting in San Diego, California, USA ,the research looked at human bronchial cells that contained some mutations found in smokers at risk of lung cancer. The cells were immortalized, grown in culture medium that had been exposed to e-cigarette vapor and their gene expression profiled.

The researchers found that the cells grown in medium exposed to the vapor of e-cigarettes showed a similar pattern of gene expression to those grown in a medium exposed to tobacco smoke.

The changes were not identical, said study researcher, Avrum Spira, who works on genomics and lung cancer at Boston University in Massachusetts. But “there are some striking similarities,” he said.

The researchers are now evaluating whether the alterations mean that cells behave more like cancer cells in culture.

The work is at a very early stage and therefore cannot establish that e-cigarettes can cause cancer in vitro, let alone in vivo.

Spira said that the use of e-cigarettes might be safer than the use of tobacco cigarettes, but that the researcher’s preliminary studies suggested that the use of the former might not be benign.

Auction flue-cured prices down

| April 10, 2014

Prices paid at Zimbabwe’s flue-cured tobacco auctions are 15.5 percent down on those recorded at the same point of last year’s auctions, according to a story in The Herald quoting Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board figures.

The average price so far this season stands at $3.16 per kg, down from $3.74 per kg during the same period of last year.

The low prices have been attributed to the arrival at the auction floors of low-quality tobacco.

Those selling through the contract system, however, are doing better, with the average price so far standing at $3.31 per kg.

The difference in prices has ignited fears about the viability of the auction floors, because more growers are opting for contract farming or selling their tobacco through the contract system.

Premier Tobacco Auction Floor Managing Director Philemon Mangena was quoted as having told members of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Lands, Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation who toured the auction floors last week that they were now losing business, as many growers were opting to sell their tobacco through the contract system.

Jail for smoking out of place in Nigeria

| April 10, 2014

Nigeria’s Federal Executive Council (FEC) yesterday approved a new National Tobacco Control Bill 2014 that, among other things, provides for six-month jail terms for smoking tobacco in nondesignated places, according to a story in the Nigerian Bulletin.

Minister of Health Onyebuchi Chukwu told journalists that the bill, which is still to be sent to the National Assembly for passage into law, “is specifically to control the dangerous effects of tobacco and to forestall tobacco manufacturers from turning the country to a dumping ground.”

It seems that the penalties for smoking in nonsmoking areas will, for an individual, include fines of up to N50,000 and prison terms of up to six months, or combinations of a fine and imprisonment.

The minister was quoted as saying that companies, presumably those running establishments where smoking is banned, face fines of from N1 million to N5 million, along with imprisonment of the chief executives from one year to two years.

Chukwu said the proposed tobacco law sought to achieve a 100 percent tobacco-free environment in the country.

Meanwhile, the law bans tobacco advertising and sponsorships, and it requires the inclusion of health warnings taking up “50 percent of the packaging.”

RAI to host results webcast

| April 10, 2014

Reynolds American Inc. is due to host a conference call and webcast starting at 9 a.m. Eastern Time on April 23, following the release of its first-quarter 2014 financial results before the market opens.

The webcast will include presentations by president and CEO, Daniel M. Delen; CFO, Thomas R. Adams; and vice president of investor relations, Morris L. Moore.

The RAI webcast will be available on a listen-only basis at www.reynoldsamerican.com, where registration is now available and where a replay will be made available.

The call-in numbers for the conference call are 877-390-5533 (toll-free) and 678-894-3969 (international).

Nicotine poisoning a parenting issue

| April 9, 2014

A U.S.-based e-cigarette supplier has responded firmly to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that described how poisonings involving the liquid nicotine used in these products had increased, according to a story by Amy Dominello Braun for the Triad Business Journal, North Carolina.

Jason Healy, president of the e-cigarette manufacturer Blu eCigs, was quoted as telling ABC News that the report was part of “an ongoing attack on the e-cigs industry by various anti-smoking groups.”

“The product is for adult smokers, and therefore the responsibility for children’s safety falls on the parents, just like [in the case of] bleaches and prescription medications,” he said. “The focus should be on parenting and education, and not regulation.”

However, Healy said the findings should prompt the industry to develop effective child safety measures.

The CDC report noted a spike in poisonings, which can occur when the liquid nicotine from e-cigarettes is ingested, inhaled or absorbed through the skin or eyes.

The effects of this type of poisoning can include nausea and eye irritation.

More than half the reported poisonings were among children under the age of five.

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