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Graphic warnings: Who heeds them?

| January 10, 2014

New graphic warnings on cigarette packs sold in Jordan are likely to be ineffectual, according to a straw poll conducted by The Jordan Times on Sunday.

Since the beginning of this year the Ministry of Health has required tobacco manufacturers to place bigger graphic warnings on cigarette packs as part of the country’s obligations under the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).

The images are said to be aimed at raising awareness among smokers about the diseases caused by tobacco smoking and smoking’s effect on the surrounding environment.

Although the piece in the Jordan Times might not have had the intellectual rigor of a scientific study, it provided graphic insights into the thinking of ordinary smokers.

Comments included: “Whatever they are going to place on the tobacco packs, I will not quit smoking unless I want to.”

Also: “These pictorials have no effect. I open the pack and smoke a cigarette without paying any attention to the images.”

And: “I don’t care what pictures they put on the cigarette packet. I started smoking when I was 18, and I haven’t stopped since then.”

This last quote was made by somebody who said that smoking for him was a pleasure.

The health ministry said the new graphic images were adopted after a study conducted by the King Hussein Cancer Centre’s cancer control office indicated that they would increase the motivation of about 25 percent of smokers to quit.

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Smoking and illness: is there a link?

| January 10, 2014

A new report indicates that one in 10 smokers in Victoria, Australia, do not connect tobacco smoking with certain illnesses usually associated with smoking.

According to a report by Amy Bainbridge for the Australian Broadcasting Corp., Cancer Council Victoria (CCV) has published its new research to mark the anniversary of the publication of the 1964 report by the U.S. surgeon general into smoking and health.

The survey of 4,500 Victorians was conducted by the charity and was said to have included a cross-section of smokers and nonsmokers.

CCV’s Todd Harper was quoted as saying that about a quarter of the smokers surveyed could not “spontaneously say that heart attacks were caused by smoking.”

He said also that the survey data showed that less than 10 percent of current smokers could connect smoking with “asthma, gangrene, eye problems or pregnancy problems.”

And only half of all smokers surveyed could “spontaneously link smoking with lung cancer.”

“Given that smoking still kills 15,000 people every year, given that smoking will kill one in two long-term users, I think it shows the importance and the urgency of keeping up the fight on tobacco,” said Harper.

“We can’t assume for a second that this job is done when we have 15,000 a year in Australia dying because of smoking.”

Tobacco shares fall on hint of China ban

| January 10, 2014

Shares in Imperial Tobacco and British American Tobacco fell earlier this week in London after traders said a story in Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post newspaper had reported that health authorities in China aimed to roll out a nationwide smoking ban in enclosed public places by the end of this year, according to a story by Alistair Smout for Reuters.

“With China, there’s a lot of concern over smog and air pollution,” Alastair McCaig, an analyst at IG, was quoted as saying. “The doors have been flung open with regards to reform, and with that will come a change in standards with regards to health care.

“It will increasingly become the focus, and that’s a battle that tobacco are going to have to face in the coming years.”

Defensive stocks outperform in times of economic uncertainty and the tobacco sector gained strongly in the first half of 2013, climbing 15 percent, according to Smout.

However, since then, the sector has given away its gains as investors rotate into stocks more sensitive to growing economic optimism.

Tobacco employees harvest Taiwan rice

| January 10, 2014

Imperial Tobacco employees in Taiwan volunteered to help bring in the local rice harvest with their friends and families as part of a major community project.

Imperial was one of the first businesses to join the country’s rice land adoption program in 2009.

By purchasing rice at a guaranteed price, the program enables local farmers to earn a stable income, while the crop is then donated to those in need.

The harvest day began with a guided tour of a museum, where the participants learned about rice growing and made traditional rice cakes.

Then they were divided into groups and took part in a competition to see who was the fastest and the best at reaping the harvest.

“This was a wonderful way to enhance recognition and awareness of our commitment to local agriculture,” said Blanche Cheng, head of corporate affairs in Taiwan.

Call for bold action against smoking in US

| January 9, 2014

Seven U.S. public health and medical organizations yesterday called for a new national commitment to end the country’s “tobacco epidemic” for good.

They say they are looking for “bold action by all levels of government” to achieve three goals:

* to reduce smoking rates, currently at about 18 percent, to less than 10 percent within 10 years;

* to protect all U.S. citizens from secondhand smoke within five years;

* and ultimately to eliminate the death and disease caused by tobacco use.

The seven groups issuing the call to action are the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association, Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and Legacy.

Their call has been made ahead of the 50th anniversary of the first U.S. Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking and Health, issued on Jan. 11, 1964.

But while the groups are celebrating “the remarkable progress of the past 50 years,” they say that the battle is far from over.

“Tobacco use is still the number one cause of preventable death in the United States,” the groups said in a press note issued through PR Newswire.

“Smoking kills more than 440,000 Americans each year, sickens millions more and costs the nation $193 billion annually in health-care expenditures and lost productivity.

“About 44 million adults still smoke, and more than 3,000 kids try their first cigarette each day.

“It is unacceptable that tobacco still kills so many Americans, lures so many children, devastates so many families and places such a huge burden on our nation’s health-care system.”

India has reduced smoking among men

| January 9, 2014

India has made progress in reducing the prevalence of daily smoking among men, according to a Times of India story quoting from a new study led by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington in the U.S.

The study, Smoking Prevalence and Cigarette Consumption in 187 countries, 1980–2012, found that smoking among Indian men decreased from 33.8 percent to 23 percent between 1980 and 2012.

During the same period, smoking among Indian women was almost unchanged at 3.2 percent.

The study was published on Jan. 8 by the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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