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Saudi city bans all tobacco product sales

| March 17, 2014

A town in Saudi Arabia has banned the sale of cigarettes and other tobacco products at all shops as part of plan to become a smoking-free town, according to an Emirates247.com story quoting an Al Riyadh newspaper report.

The southern town of Taif has apparently informed all shops and supermarkets that they should stop selling tobacco and warned them that violators will face tough penalties.

There was no mention of how much notice the retail operators were given.

But the story said that scores of health inspectors had been deployed to check compliance with the decision, which was described as “the first” in the kingdom of nearly 30 million people.

NewCo supporting schools and clinics

| March 17, 2014

NewCo, with the help of its India-based partner, S.B. Impex, last year provided financial assistance to two schools in Guntur, Andhra Pradesh, that cater especially for blind children and those who are mentally and/or physically disabled.

The money for this and other projects has been raised following a decision by NewCo a year ago to donate $50 per container of tobacco shipped in support of good causes.

Another project has seen the construction and equipping of a polyclinic that provides acute medical care in Bangladesh.

The NewCo financing pays also for a doctor and medicines.

The clinic, in the region of Kushtia, has been built next to the factory operated by NewCo’s partner, Biswas Tobacco.

NewCo’s third project has been undertaken in the south of Malawi, where the company has built on the property of its partner, R.W.J. Wallace, a wellness clinic and crèche, where the focus is on health and education.

The existence of the crèche allows mothers to go to work while leaving their children in a safe environment.

NewCo says that this year will see it focus on completing these projects while continuing to support them.

More information is at www.newco-online.com, under the social responsibility section.

Four things not to do in Singapore

| March 17, 2014

Singapore is considering forming a volunteer corps of individuals who would be empowered to fine people who litter, spit, urinate and/or smoke in places where such activities are prohibited, according to a TODAYonline story.

Initially, the idea, put forward by the Environment and Water Resources Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, was to form an anti-litter volunteer corps of people who would be trained and given the same authority cards as enforcement officers from the National Environment Agency (NEA).

But it could now be expanded to include other “public health offences.”

The suggestion that the scope of the scheme should be expanded came after the NEA received feedback from volunteers targeting litter and from other members of the public.

The NEA said it was exploring the feasibility of recruiting voluntary enforcement officers and would announce more details when the scheme was firmed up.

Danish smoking rate down to 17 percent

| March 17, 2014

Danish people are smoking—and drinking—less than they previously were, according to an Icenews story quoting a report based on new research from the country’s health department.

Sundhedsstyrelsens Nationale Sundhedsprofil, the national health profile division of the health department, said the number of Danes who admitted to smoking on a daily basis had fallen to 17 percent from 21 percent in 2010.

Health department spokesperson Jette Jul Bruun said that between 13,000 and 14,000 Danes died each year as a result of smoking-related illnesses, while 3,000 died from drinking-related illnesses.

The report said also that there were “issues” concerning diet, obesity and exercise in the country.

Such problems were greater, it said, among the financially less well-off and less educated.

Malaysia steps up illicit trade battle

| March 17, 2014

Malaysia’s fight against smuggled cigarettes has gone into full swing with the Royal Malaysian Customs Depart­ment conducting raids nationwide since the beginning of the month, according to a story in The Star.

The raids, conducted under the Ops Outlet name, are part of renewed efforts by the department to curb the sales of smuggled cigarettes that are said to be costing the government about MYR1.9 billion in uncollected taxes annually.

Customs deputy director-general (enforcement) Datuk Matrang Suhaili said that while 2014 was the fifth year in which Ops Outlet was being carried out, this was the first time the department was pushing for more drastic measures.

“We are looking for harsher punishment for offenders, such as compulsory jail time for those who would usually be slapped with just a fine,” he said. “This issue is serious and we are treating it as such.”

So far, 44 dedicated Ops Outlet strike teams involving 200 members have been formed to conduct checks on outlets suspected of selling illicit cigarettes.

Anger over tobacco place at rules meet

| March 14, 2014

Anti-tobacco campaigners have protested against the involvement of tobacco companies in drafting Bangladesh’s Smoking and Tobacco Product Usage (Control) Rules 2014, according to a story in The Financial Express.

The advocacy group Progga, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and the Anti-Tobacco Media Alliance jointly registered the protest, saying there was no scope for involving the tobacco industry in enacting the rules.

And they supported their contention by quoting Article 5.3 of the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

The campaigners voiced concerns specifically about the presence of two representatives each from the Bangladesh Cigarette Manufacturers’ Association and the Bidi Shilpa Malik Samity at a meeting held at the law ministry on Wednesday to review the draft rules.

The Legislative and Parliamentary Affairs Division of the ministry had invited the tobacco representatives to the meeting.

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