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Russia’s smoking population tumbles

| August 8, 2014

The percentage of smokers within Russia’s population has dropped by six percentage points since the country adopted a stringent package of anti-tobacco regulations last year, according to a story in The Moscow Times citing a new poll.

The RussianPublicOpinionResearchCenter, which is a state-owned pollster, said on Wednesday that the percentage of smokers in the country had tumbled from 41 percent to 35 percent during the past year.

The poll revealed also that only a third of the country’s smokers had made an effort to comply with a new ban on smoking in public places.

In June last year, a law banning smoking in public places such as healthcare and educational facilities, government buildings, public transportation and sports venues came into force. And in June this year, the scope of the smoking ban was extended to restaurants, bars, long-distance trains and hotels.

The results of the poll, which was conducted in July, were based on the responses of 1,600 adults across 42 Russian regions in July.

Zimbabwe’s leaf prices second highest

| August 8, 2014

Zimbabwe’s flue-cured tobacco prices, which averaged US$3.17 per kg during the 2014 marketing season, were the second highest in the world, according to a story in the Zimbabwe Business News quoting the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board’s (TIMB) CEO, Dr. Andrew Matibiri.

The highest prices were said to have been paid in the US (presumably during the 2013 sales season), where they ‘hovered around’ US$3.80 per kg.

Matibiri was quoted as saying that the ‘soaring tobacco prices’ on the domestic market were propelled in part by a sharp increase in the number of growers.

However, though Zimbabwe’s 2013/14 growing and sales season was hugely successful in producing and marketing about 210 million kg, the biggest crop for 14 years; the average grower price was more than 14 percent down on that of the 2012/13 season, $3.69 per kg.

Smoke faster, we need the power

| August 8, 2014

Scientists in South Korea say they have found a way of converting used cigarette butts into a material capable of storing energy that could be used to help power ‘everything from mobile phones to electric cars’, according to a Reuters story citing a study published in the journal of Nanotechnology.

“Our study has shown that used cigarette filters can be transformed into a high-performing carbon-based material using a simple one-step process, which simultaneously offers a green solution to meeting the energy demands of society,” the study’s co-author, Jongheop Yi, was quoted as saying.

The end result is a ‘supercapacitor’ that the scientists said stores more power, charges quicker and lasts longer than available storage alternatives.

Many businesses lack e-cigarette policies

| August 8, 2014

More than half of UK businesses have no policy on the use of electronic cigarettes in the workplace, according to an International Business Times story citing research by the PMI Health Group.

The study, which questioned 216 personnel managers across large and medium sized UK companies, found that more than 58 percent of them ‘have yet to introduce a policy on electronic cigarette use’.

The research revealed also that 53 percent of employers were not concerned about staff vaping.

Seventy nine percent of the companies that have introduced electronic cigarette policies prohibit their use in all enclosed working environments, in line with cigarette smoking bans.

Tobacco used in fight against Ebola

| August 7, 2014

Drug makers’ use of tobacco plants as a fast and cheap way to produce novel biotechnology treatments is gaining global attention because of its role in an experimental Ebola therapy, according to a story by Sharon Begley for Reuters.

The treatment, which had been tested only in laboratory animals before being given to two US medical workers in Liberia, apparently comprises proteins called monoclonal antibodies that bind to and inactivate the Ebola virus.

For decades biotech companies have produced such antibodies by growing genetically engineered mouse cells in enormous metal bioreactors. But in the case of the new Ebola treatment ZMapp, developed by Mapp Pharmaceuticals, the antibodies were produced in tobacco plants at Kentucky Bioprocessing, a unit of Reynolds American.

The tobacco-plant-produced monoclonals have been dubbed ‘plantibodies’.

“Tobacco makes for a good vehicle to express the antibodies because it is inexpensive and it can produce a lot,” said Erica Ollmann Saphire, a professor at The Scripps Research Institute and a prominent researcher in viral hemorrhagic fever diseases such as Ebola. “It is grown in a greenhouse and you can manufacture kilograms of the materials. It is much less expensive than cell culture.”

The full story is at:

Tobacco used in fight against pollution

| August 7, 2014

Boeing and the state-owned South African Airways have agreed to co-operate in producing jet fuel from a new type of tobacco plant, with the aim of reducing environmental pollution, according to a story by Eduard Gismatullin for Bloomberg News.

The partners will use SkyNRG’s hybrid plant Solaris, which can be grown as an energy crop, the companies were quoted as saying.

Initially, the oil from the plant’s seeds will be refined into the fuel, though it is expected that as extraction technology improves the rest of the plant will be used also.

The full story is at:

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