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Indonesia urged to commit all tobacco tax to health

| July 24, 2015

The Indonesian Finance Ministry is being urged to earmark all tobacco tax revenue for the health budget because the health sector is said to be heavily burdened by tobacco-related medical issues, according to a story in The Jakarta Post.

Health Ministry secretary-general Untung Suseno Sutarjo was quoted as saying that such a policy would be ‘immensely beneficial for the promotion and development of health’.

“If possible, all tobacco taxation, including tax and excise, should be used only for health promotion because cigarettes make people sick,” Untung told The Jakarta Post.

“If we could receive all income from tobacco taxation; that would be enough to cover our annual health budget.”

The government has been struggling to make people aware of the risks associated with smoking. Graphic cigarette-pack warnings are now mandatory, but consumption has yet to decline and cigarettes remain Indonesia’s second-most consumed product after rice.

The Post said that the tobacco industry in Indonesia had succeeded in expanding its market by nearly nine percent a year, and that the country had become the world’s fourth-largest cigarette market in 2013.

Meanwhile, Amelia Anggraini, a member of the House Of Representatives’ Commission IX overseeing health, claimed that the proposal to earmark tobacco taxation to the health budget had been initiated by lawmakers.

“The majority of House Commission IX agreed,” she said. “The idea actually came from us, but we haven’t talked about it in detail because we’re currently in recess. After the recess ends, there will be further and more comprehensive discussion with the Health Ministry.”

WHO chief congratulates Turkmen president

| July 24, 2015

Turkmenistan is the country with the lowest proportion of smokers, eight percent, according to a Geo News (Pakistan) story quoting the World Health Organization’s director general, Dr. Margaret Chan.

“Recently a WHO overview showed that in Turkmenistan only eight percent of the population smokes,” Chan told the country’s President, Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov.

“This is the lowest national indicator in the world. I congratulate you on this achievement,” she said at a health forum in the capital Ashgabat.

Chan noted that the country had ratified the WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in 2011, by which time it had already banned smoking in public places.

Also speaking at the forum, Vera Luiza da Costa e Silva, head of the Convention Secretariat, challenged the country to drive smoking down to five percent.

In 1990, 27 percent of Turkmen males over 15 and one percent of females smoked.

In April, the country held a month of public exercises and sporting events under the slogan ‘health and happiness’.

Union pressure over Essentra’s UK factory closure

| July 24, 2015

Following Essentra’s announcement that it is planning to close its UK filters factory on South Tyneside by the end of this year, the Unite union has said it will leave ‘no stone unturned’ in its bid to save jobs, according to a Shields Gazette story relayed by the TMA.

Unite’s regional officer, Mark Sanderson, said that industrial action would be launched if needed so as to protect as many jobs as possible and to enhance the redundancy packages for the union’s members who might be made redundant.

Sanderson said that suitable jobs were few and far between in Jarrow, where the factory is located.

Unite was said to represent about 40 workers at the company.

Essentra announced earlier this year that it planned to close the Jarrow factory with the loss of about 200 jobs.

It is planning to move production to Hungary.

On making the closure announcement, the company said that it had begun a 45-day consultation period to discuss the site closure with those affected, though there was no suggestion that the discussions would reduce the number of job losses.

At the time of the initial announcement, Essentra Europe managing director Hugh Ross was quoted as saying that cigarette volumes in Western Europe had declined by almost 30 percent during the past 10 years.

Consumer demand was shifting from ‘mature Western countries to the more dynamic, developing markets in Eastern Europe’.

Cigarette companies that bought filters from Essentra had responded to this trend by relocating production to Central and Eastern Europe.

Only a small percentage of the current filter production at the Jarrow facility was destined for the UK market.

Top management tip: don’t call your customers idiots

| July 23, 2015

A health expert has taken issue with a cartoon in Tobacco Control Journal that depicts vapers as idiots.

In his blog, The Rest of the Story, Dr. Michael Siegel, a Professor in the Department of Community Health Sciences, Boston University School of Public Health, asks: ‘Why is Tobacco Control making fun of vapers and calling them idiots?’.

And he wonders what would be the reaction if the same journal ran a cartoon depicting a nicotine patch user as an idiot. ‘I think most readers could appreciate that a cartoon which makes fun of smokers who are using a nicotine patch to try to quit smoking, improve their health, and save their lives so that they are around longer to enjoy life and time with their families would be quite insensitive and inappropriate, especially coming from a journal that is supposed to be promoting health,’ he said. ‘But there is no qualitative difference between such an NRT cartoon and the e-cigarette cartoon that is featured in the July issue of Tobacco Control.’

Siegel ends his piece with this observation: ‘It continues to baffle me why the tobacco control movement views vaping and vapers with such venomous disdain. If we had the same disdain for smokers who slop on patches or use nicotine inhalers or chewing gum, we would be writing ourselves out of the public health field. I’m afraid that’s exactly what we’re doing with our attitude about e-cigarettes and the people who are using these devices to try to improve their health and save their lives.’

The Rest of the Story is at: http://tobaccoanalysis.blogspot.co.uk/2015/07/tobacco-control-journal-makes-fun-of.html.

Pot smoking up but health campaigns ‘working’

| July 23, 2015

In reacting to news that cigarette smoking and alcohol use is stable or declining among US teenagers, but that marijuana use is on the rise, a health expert has declared that public health campaigns are working.

In a piece on the Penn State University website, Victoria M. Indivero cited health statistics researchers as having found that marijuana use among teenagers is on the rise, while cigarette and alcohol use is stable or declining. In particular, black teenagers were using more marijuana than they had in recent decades.

“Our analysis shows that public health campaigns are working – fewer teens are smoking cigarettes,” said Stephanie Lanza, professor of biobehavioral health, and scientific director, The Methodology Center, Penn State. “However, we were surprised to find the very clear message that kids are choosing marijuana over cigarettes.”

Lanza and colleagues were said to have analyzed data collected from US high school seniors between 1976 and 2013.

Nearly 600,000 students were surveyed over this period as part of the project Monitoring the Future, a long-term ongoing epidemiological study conducted by the University of Michigan.

Lanza and her team focused on information reported about the rates of use of alcohol, cigarettes and marijuana over the 37-year period.

Overall the researchers found a marked decline in cigarette use, particularly among white teens, and an increase in marijuana use, particularly among black teens.

The rate of teen alcohol consumption has decreased since the mid-1970s, though alcohol is still the main substance of choice among white teens. White teens’ alcohol use remained higher than black teens’ use throughout the study period.

Bill stripped of standardized packaging requirement

| July 23, 2015

The French Senate’s Social Affairs Committee yesterday removed a clause from a proposed health bill that would have required standardized tobacco packaging, according to a story in the Guardian relayed by the TMA.

The committee instead passed an amendment requiring tobacco-pack health warnings to be made larger, in line with the new EU Tobacco Products Directive (TPD).

As the committee debated the bill, tobacconists opposed to standardized packaging dumped four tons of carrots outside the ruling Socialist party’s headquarters in Paris. They chose carrots because they resemble the sign that hangs outside French tobacconists.

Earlier this month, tobacconists protested against the imposition of standardized packaging and high cigarette prices by covering speed cameras with black trash bags, some of which were painted with slogans.

At that time, Joaquim Rompante, president of the tobacconist union in the Gironde region, was quoted as saying that standardized packaging would be “the death of tobacconists”.

He said France’s 26,000 tobacconists employed 100,000 people and that standardized packaging would create unemployment.

The tobacconists’ union Confédération des Buralistes welcomed the committee’s decision to take out the standardized packaging clause, with its spokesperson Pascal Montredon saying that tobacconists wanted nothing more than the application of the TPD.

The health bill was approved by the National Assembly on April 3 and the government could reintroduce the standardized packaging clause when the bill returns to the assembly in September.

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