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Special protection sought for tobacco control within trans-Pacific trade deal

| August 29, 2014

Tobacco control measures should be excluded from the scope of all chapters of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), according to a report published in the BMJ Publishing Group journal, Tobacco Control.

The TPPA, an agreement aimed at facilitating international trade and investment, is being negotiated by 12 countries of APEC (Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation).

In an abstract of their report, the authors, Deborah K Sy and Robert K Stumberg of the Harrison Institute, Georgetown University, Washington DC, US, said the TPPA would grant the same trade benefits and legal protections to tobacco products, services and investments as it would grant to other sectors.

Sy and Stumberg said that in the absence of a complete TPPA text, their analysis had been based on specific leaked chapters, legal analysis from observers in the negotiations, existing free trade agreements among the TPPA parties and positions of the tobacco industry and its allies.

They found that five TPPA chapters posed the most significant threats to tobacco control measures: Investment, Regulatory Coherence, Services, Intellectual Property and Technical Barriers to Trade.

And they concluded that the trade negotiators should expand safeguards to ensure that the TPPA did no harm. ‘The most effective would be to exclude (carve out) tobacco control measures from the scope of all TPPA chapters, as Malaysia has proposed,’ they said.

The abstract is at:

Taipei student tobacco tests opposed

| August 29, 2014

The Taiwan Smokers’ Rights Association yesterday accused the New Taipei City government of breaking the law and violating students’ rights with its request that junior- and senior-high schools conduct tobacco tests on suspected smokers, according to a story in the Taipei Times.

“It is not about ‘you have nothing to worry about if you don’t smoke’, the problem is that the [city’s] Education Bureau and the school have no right to ask students to take a tobacco test,” the association’s president Chen Chi-an told reporters and bureau officials during a protest at New Taipei City Hall.

“It does not matter if the student tested positive or negative – such a test is simply unlawful,” he said.

The bureau announced early this week that it had allocated 125 tobacco detectors to junior- and senior-high schools across the city and asked school administrators and teachers to conduct tobacco tests on students who were known to be smokers or suspected to be smokers. Those found to be smokers were to be put through quit-smoking programs.

Chen said the law mandated that such tests could be conducted only if there were a warrant from the court or a prosecutor.

He urged students to refuse to take the test and added that his group would provide legal counsel or assistance to students if needed.

Meanwhile, Peng Yun-hua, the bureau’s campus security office director, defended the policy, saying it was entirely legal and well-intentioned.

Peng told reporters at a press conference that a warrant from a court or prosecutor was mandatory only for conducting intrusive tests, whereas a tobacco test required only that the student blew into a device.

Separately, the Humanistic Education Foundation also voiced its opposition to the tobacco tests, as well as to a request from the Minister of Education Wu Se-hwa to add drug tests to routine physical exams in schools.

The foundation said in a statement that the ministry should not act as if it were the National Police Agency, and that it should not treat students like suspects.

RAI to webcast conference presentation

| August 29, 2014

Reynolds American Inc. is due to host a webcast of the presentation that will be made by its CEO and president, Susan M. Cameron, at the Barclays Back-To-School Consumer Conference in Boston, from about 09.45 hours Eastern Time on September 4.

The webcast, which will be available on a listen-only basis, and the presentation slides, will be made available at

A replay of the event will be posted on the same website, where registration is already available.

Call for end to ‘exploitation’ of farmers

| August 28, 2014

The Ghana-based Vision for Alternative Development (VALD) has joined public health groups the world over to call on the tobacco industry to end its exploitation of tobacco farmers, according to a story.

The VALD, which is a non-governmental organization advocating a tobacco-free society has appealed to Ghana’s government to provide support for farmers who want to transit away from raising tobacco.

“Transitioning out of tobacco will not only ensure a better future for tobacco farmers, but will also contribute greatly to public health in Ghana and the world over,” said VALD’s program director, Labram Musah, in a press note sent to the Ghana News Agency.

The press note reportedly stated that the tobacco industry had exploited farmers in Malawi, Tanzania, Nigeria, Zambia, Uganda, Zimbabwe and other countries around the world by encouraging them to cultivate tobacco and then intentionally keeping prices too low to be profitable.

‘These low prices undermine farmer’s bargaining power, causing them to fall into a cycle of debt that perpetuates poverty,’ the note added.

The story is at:

More children smoking in Indonesia

| August 28, 2014

The Indonesian government has been accused of failing to protect young people from cigarettes, according to an story.

The CEO of the children’s organization, Lentera Anak Indonesia, Hery Chariansyah, was quoted as saying that the number of young people smoking cigarettes was increasing.

The number of smokers in the 10-14 age group had increased from 9.5 percent in 2001 to 17.5 percent in 2010, he said, while the number of smokers in the 14-19 age group had gone up from 12.7 percent to 20.3 percent during the same period.

Hery said the tobacco industry targeted children and he urged President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to ratify immediately the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).

The FCTC would not doom the cigarette industry and tobacco farmers, but it would protect the younger generation, he added.

Taiwan advocates calling for e-cigarettes to be regulated as tobacco products

| August 28, 2014

A number of anti-smoking advocates yesterday urged the Taiwan government to regulate electronic cigarettes as a tobacco product rather than as a controlled drug, so as to address the ‘rampant illegal sales’ of these devices, according to a story in the Taipei Times.

The call came one day after the World Health Organization issued a report calling for tighter regulation of electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS).

The government treats electronic cigarettes containing nicotine as a regulated drug subject to the Pharmaceutical Affairs Act; so, given the stringent requirements for obtaining a permit to manufacture or sell a drug, no electronic cigarettes can be sold in Taiwan legally.

Lin Ching-li, director of the John Tung Foundation, Taiwan’s most prominent anti-smoking group, said categorizing electronic cigarettes as a regulated drug had only prevented them from entering the country legally.

People could still purchase them online, on the street or in night markets.

Meanwhile, Foundation CEO Yao Shi-yuan was quoted as saying that products that contained nicotine and that were not designed for medical purposes should be regulated under the same law as applied to tobacco products.

Since the manufacturers would be required in this case to comply with the packaging and labeling regulations covering conventional cigarettes, people would stop thinking that electronic cigarettes were safe to use, he added.

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