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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.

Mighty tax payment reflects market share

| January 9, 2014

A senior executive at the Philippines-based cigarette manufacturer Mighty Corp. has said that the tax payment the company made for last year should put to rest false accusations that it had not been paying the correct level of duties and taxes, according to a story in the Manila Bulletin.

Mighty Corp. was said to have paid excise tax of PHP8 billion for the year 2013, up from PHP300 million the previous year.

“The tax we paid for the year 2013 reflects the jump in our market share and our fair share in the increased taxes on ‘sin’ products during last year,” said Oscar Barrientos, the company’s executive vice president.

Barrientos, a retired regional trial court judge, said that despite charges made in the news media and by some members of Congress against the company for non-payment of taxes, no case had been filed in court.

He said Mighty Corp. had paid PHP300 million in 2012 when its share of the local cigarette market was just 3 percent.

However, the company’s market share had shot up since the government put into effect Republic Act 10352, otherwise known as the sin tax law.

More people smoking now than in 1980

| January 8, 2014

Worldwide population growth has meant that more people smoke today than was the case in 1980, according to a story by Kerry Sheridan for Agence France Presse, quoting figures from a new study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association.

China had nearly 100 million more smokers in 2012 than it had three decades ago, even though its smoking rate fell from 30 percent to 24 percent during that time, said the study findings published  in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The study was published as part of a series of tobacco-related articles to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the first U.S. surgeon general’s report on the risks of smoking.

“Since we know that half of all smokers will eventually be killed by tobacco, greater numbers of smokers will mean a massive increase in premature deaths in our lifetime,” co-author Alan Lopez, of the University of Melbourne, was quoted as saying.

The study, led by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, measured data from 187 countries.

It found that the global smoking rate among men was 41 percent in 1980 but has since declined to 31 percent.

Among women, the estimated prevalence of daily tobacco smoking was 10.6 percent in 1980 but 6.2 percent by 2012.

The most rapid decrease began in the mid-1990s, but, since 2010, smoking has been rising again among men.

Plans to impose indoor tobacco smoking ban nationwide in China by year’s end

| January 8, 2014

China’s health authorities are aiming to roll out a nationwide tobacco smoking ban in enclosed public places by year’s end, according to a story by Zhuang Pinghui for the South China Morning Post.

Zhuang said this was the first time that the National Health and Family Planning Commission (NHFPC) had set a target date to meet its commitment to cut down on indoor tobacco use.

NHFPC spokesperson Mao Qunan reportedly said the agency was working on the regulation with the State Council. A ban had been on the agenda of China’s cabinet since last year.

Mao said the commission was also trying to have the National People’s Congress pass a law aimed at containing the harm caused by tobacco use.

The announcement represents the closest that Beijing has come to a timetable for meeting its pledge to create a smoke-free indoor environment as part of its obligations under the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

Meanwhile, according to an Ecns.cn story, the NHFPC has said that “over 1 million Chinese people die of smoking-related diseases every year, and 100,000 people die of diseases caused by passive smoking.”

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