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BAT ‘disappointed’ at BMJ U-turn on tobacco-industry funded research

| December 2, 2013

British American Tobacco has said that it is surprised and disappointed by the BMJ group of journals’ recent decision not to consider for publication any scientific studies funded by the tobacco industry.

BAT has spent an enormous amount of money in recent years setting up state-of-the-art facilities in which to carry out research into reduced-risk products, and it has placed great importance on publishing its findings and having those findings peer-reviewed.

But editors at the BMJ, Heart, Thorax and BMJ Open have said that they will not consider the publication of studies that had been funded in part or wholly by the tobacco industry.

In BAT’s response, Chief Scientific Officer Christopher J. Proctor said the BMJ’s new policy of banning consideration of scientific studies based on their source of funding was particularly disappointing in the light of its historical policy of encouraging robust scientific discourse independent of ideology.

Proctor said it was ironic that the BMJ had revised its prior view given that there was a new commitment to transparency of funding and potential conflicts of interest throughout the scientific world.

There was also a renewed interest in tobacco science.

Proctor’s response and the responses of other people are at http://www.bmj.com/content/347/bmj.f5193?tab=responses.

Nonsmokers set ‘community standard’

| December 2, 2013

The city council of Perth has become the first in Western Australia (WA) to ban tobacco smoking in shopping malls, according to an Australian Associated Press story.

Initially, those found to be smoking tobacco will be cautioned, but fines will be issued from June 1.

Rosanna Capolingua, the chairperson of Healthway, the Western Australian Health Promotion Foundation, said nine out of 10 people in WA were nonsmokers and it was important to show young people that being a nonsmoker was a community standard.

Healthway “ambassadors” would be in the malls during peak periods and at major city events over the summer to inform the public of the local law changes.

PM warns Ireland over packaging plans

| December 2, 2013

Philip Morris Ltd. has warned the Irish government that the introduction of standardized packaging for cigarettes could lead to “an extremely high price” in compensation being paid to multinational tobacco companies by the taxpayer, according to a story in The Irish Times.

PM Ltd., an arm of Philip Morris International, was said to have commissioned a legal opinion in response to proposals to introduce standardized packaging in Ireland.

It said such moves would not “withstand legal scrutiny” without providing compensation to the tobacco companies involved.

The opinion and accompanying letter, which have been seen by The Irish Times, were sent to the Minister for Finance Michael Noonan and the Minister for Health James Reilly.

UK government does standardized-pack policy U-turn on to median strip

| December 2, 2013

Cigarettes could be sold in the U.K. only in standardized packs after a government U-turn on a public health policy U-turn.

A story in The Guardian said that in a surprise move the government was set to give ministers the power to introduce the policy, though implementation would be subject to an evidence review.

The government would table an amendment to that effect in the children and families bill, which was currently going through the House of Lords, The Guardian reported.

The review, which will be led by Sir Cyril Chantler, a doctor, academic and NHS administrator, will report by the end of March.

Subject to its findings, standardized packaging could be in force before May 2015.

Safety issues start on the way to work

| December 2, 2013

Imperial Tobacco’s business in Madagascar is providing training aimed at helping its employees stay safe on the country’s roads.

The road risk training has been provided for those working at the SACIMEM manufacturing plant in Antsirabe.

Outside towns and cities, the majority of roads on the Indian Ocean island are dirt tracks, and many of them become impassable during the rainy season.

Employees were invited to attend a two hour training course that was led by an expert instructor and designed to improve their road safety awareness.

Those who took part received a diploma of good practice and a booklet in the local Malagasy language to help reinforce the lessons learned.

“This training will be of enormous benefit for our people coping with the hazardous driving conditions found here in Madagascar,” said factory manager Hervé Lamy.

The next step in the program will focus on safety equipment for motorbike riders and vehicle safety checks.

Tobacco bill still in the pipeline despite Indonesia’s FCTC accession pledge

| November 29, 2013

Indonesia’s House of Representatives plans to press ahead with discussions on a tobacco bill despite the government’s commitment to accede to the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), according to a story by The Jakarta Post.

The House’s legislative body (Baleg), which has been tasked with deliberating on the bill, has insisted that the government’s FCTC plans would not affect its discussions.

“We will not cancel the deliberation because of the government’s plan to ratify it [the FCTC],” the Baleg’s deputy chairman, Sunardi Ayub, of the People’s Conscience Party (Hanura), said on the sidelines of a hearing with tobacco companies on Wednesday.

“Having said that, we will write to the health minister to discuss this issue so that we can match the draft bill with the treaty.”

Earlier this month, the Post reported that Indonesian Health Minister Nafsiah Mboi had said that her country would accede to the FCTC before the end of this year.

“The treaty accession will be completed through a presidential decree,” Nafsiah was quoted as saying. “The president has agreed. God willing we will accede to the treaty before the end of the year.”

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