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Bribes smooth contraband’s passage

| September 16, 2014

Syndicates are prepared to offer bribes of up to RM40,000 (US$16,000) per shipping container to Customs officers in exchange for the ‘smooth passage’ of contraband cigarettes and liquor into Malaysia, according to an AsiaOne report citing a Mingguan Malaysia story.

An unnamed source was quoted as saying that as well as using containers, the syndicates also used vans to smuggle goods.

“They will only smuggle goods at a certain time using vehicles that have received the ‘green light’ from high ranking officials from the Customs Department,” he said.

The source further alleged that corrupt custom officials worked in teams.

“The smuggling vehicle will only pass through Customs when members of the ‘team’ who have been paid are on duty. If there is any inspection, it will only be for show,” said the source.

He alleged that the RM40,000 bribe would be divided among the members of the team, which consists of those from the inspection unit, enforcement, port police, documentation unit and data entry unit.

“If they let two containers pass per day, they will get about RM80,000 of easy money,” the source was quoted as saying.

Imran Khan asked to oust tobacco

| September 15, 2014

A consumer rights campaigner has urged the chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) political party, Imran Khan, to direct the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government to eradicate tobacco cultivation from the province, according to a story in the Express Tribune.

In a press note issued last week, the executive co-ordinator of The Network for Consumer Protection, Nadeem Iqbal, demanded that the PTI leadership make Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa a tobacco free province by shifting tobacco activities to non-hazardous businesses.

Iqbal hailed the PTI chairman’s decision to build another cancer hospital in Peshawar and he vowed to stand by Khan in his battle against cancer.

But Iqbal expressed concern that tobacco, which was ‘the main cause of cancer’, was cultivated on a large scale in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

He was said to have drawn Khan’s attention to hundreds of tobacco fields in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, the province where PTI is currently in power.

Smoking ban making slow progress

| September 15, 2014

A ban on tobacco smoking in the Netherlands’ cafés, bars and clubs is now due to come into effect on January 1, not in October, as had been planned, according to an Expatica story quoting an RTL news report.

In fact, the original deadline for the introduction of the ban was July 1.

The delays are said to be due to the slow progress of legislation in the senate, or upper house of parliament.

The current restrictions on smoking include an exemption for small bars whose owners do not employ staff.

However, once the ban is introduced, or reintroduced, smoking will be permitted only in separate, sealed-off smoking areas without service.

JT’s domestic volume down in August

| September 15, 2014

Japan Tobacco Inc’s domestic cigarette sales volume during August, at 9.4 billion, was down by 9.4 percent on that of August 2013, 10.4 billion, according to preliminary figures issued by the company on Friday. The August 2013 figure was down by 3.3 percent on that of August 2012.

Volume during January-August 2014, at 74.5 billion, was down by 3.2 percent on that of January-August 2013, 77.0 billion, which was down by 0.8 percent on that of January-August 2012.

JT’s market share stood at 59.8 percent during August, at 60.5 percent during January-August and at 60.5 percent during January-December 2013.

JT’s domestic cigarette revenue during August, at ¥53.1 billion, was down by 6.8 percent from its August 2013 revenue, ¥57.0 billion.

Revenue during January-August 2014, at ¥416.4 billion, was down by 1.6 percent on that of January-August 2013, ¥423.0 billion.

Quitting rates could mushroom

| September 15, 2014

A small-scale study has indicated that just two or three experiences with ‘magic mushrooms’ can help long-term tobacco smokers quit their habit, according to a story by Michelle Fay Cortez for Bloomberg News.

The study’s 15 volunteers were given pills containing psilocybin, the active hallucinogenic ingredient in magic mushrooms, as part of a cognitive behavior therapy program at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, US.

Six months later, 12 of the 15 participants remained smoke-free, according to the study results published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology.

Existing medicines such as Pfizer’s Chantix, the most potent aid for smoking cessation, had a success rate of about 35 percent at six months, while nicotine patches and gums were less successful, said Matthew Johnson, a study researcher and an associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Johns Hopkins.

The results had shown unique promise in the first study ever of psilocybin for treating smoking addiction and might lead to new approaches to treat other types of addiction, Johnson said.

The full story is at:

BAT science report iPad app available

| September 15, 2014

British American Tobacco has announced the launch of an iPad app of its Science and Technology Report 2014.

‘The report – the first of its kind in the tobacco industry – provides an overview of not only BAT’s ongoing research work in tobacco harm reduction but also its aims in leveraging world-class science to develop and assess novel technologies that will lead to the creation of safer tobacco and nicotine products, the company said in a press note issued on Thursday.

‘The new app, available free in the iTunes store, contains the entire 26-page report with additional multimedia content, including zoomable images and video interviews with key BAT scientists.’

BAT’s Group Research & Development division says it is working towards a better understanding of the underlying mechanisms of smoking-related disease and the development of reduced toxicant products.

“Given the enormous negative impact that cigarette smoking has on public health, we have long believed that there is an urgent need to develop products that reduce this impact, and that the building of the emerging science base needed to evaluate these products should be world-class and non-competitive,” said David O’Reilly, group scientific director.

“The time has come for tobacco and nicotine research to become mainstream, and fundamental for progress is transparency in all areas.”

The Science and Technology report has been downloaded more than 90,000 times from (where a responsive web design formatted for other tablets is available) since it was published online in January.

‘It details BAT’s continuing areas of harm reduction research, such as aerosol science, clinical research, plant breeding and 21st century toxicology,’ the press note said.

‘It also points to opportunities for collaborative research aimed at identifying the most important toxicants and their dose–response relationship to various diseases.

‘These include developing technologies to selectively reduce toxicant levels in tobacco and volatile toxicants in smoke, and progressing next-generation heat-not-burn prototypes, as well as e-cigarette technologies.’

BAT said it was hoped that the new app would broaden the reach of the Science and Technology report, facilitating further dialogue and co-operation on tobacco regulatory science.

“It’s a call for more collaborative research between all interested parties, in an area of scientific endeavour that could become one of the most important public health initiatives of the 21st Century – tobacco harm reduction,” said Chris Proctor, BAT’s chief scientific officer.

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