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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.”

Kerala’s hospitality sector to phase in tobacco smoking prohibition

| November 29, 2013

Hospitality-sector associations in Kerala, India, are expected soon to encourage their members to display signs indicating that tobacco smoking is not permitted on their premises and to stop people smoking within their establishments, according to a Business Standard story.

According to India’s Cigarette and Other Tobacco Products Act, 2003, hotels, restaurants, coffee bars, pubs and bars fall under the ambit of public places, where tobacco smoking is banned.

In addition, hotel and restaurant owners have to display signs stating, “No Smoking Area—Smoking Here is an Offence,” in English and in the regional language.

Owners are required also to ensure that they provide no ashtrays, matches or other items designed to facilitate smoking.

A campaign to encourage the hospitality sector to obey the regulations is being mounted by, among others, the Kerala Hotels and Restaurants Association (KHRA), the South India Hotels and Restaurants Association and the South Kerala Hoteliers Forum.

G. Sudheesh Kumar, the state president of the 20,000-member-strong KHRA, said the association would use persuasion to encourage its members to comply with the regulations.

Compliance would be implemented in a phased manner, he apparently told the Standard.

Revenue loss after restaurant tobacco smoking ban imposed in South Korea

| November 29, 2013

Six out of 10 restaurants in South Korea suffered revenue declines after the imposition of a tobacco smoking ban in July, according to a story in The Korea Herald quoting the results of a survey published yesterday.

Nearly 59.3 percent of restaurant owners who responded to the survey said their revenues had fallen as a result of the new smoking regulations.

The average reported fall in revenues was 17.6 percent.

The smoking ban that went into effect on July 1 affected only certain restaurants, based on size.

But all restaurants will be smoke-free by 2015, when stronger regulations are due to come into force.

The survey, which consulted 300 restaurant owners, was commissioned by the Korea Smokers’ Association.

Ponder this as you stare at your log fire tonight by the light of a scented candle

| November 29, 2013

It has long been clear that bans on tobacco smoking in public places would lead those so inclined to look at the potential perils of other sources of smoke.

Indeed, stories of the possible dangers caused by cooking inside over open fires and outside over barbecues preceded public-places tobacco-smoking bans.

Earlier this year, a Euro Weekly News story quoting Spain’s Consumer and User Organization (OCU) said some household air-fresheners were more toxic than tobacco smoke was.

The OCU said some household air-fresheners that were heated, including oils, incense and perfumed candles, worsened the quality of the air because they had “excessive levels of toxic, allergenic and contaminating substances.”

Now it is the turn of wood smoke, according to a story in the Bangor Daily News, Maine, USA.

The story quotes Ed Miller, senior vice president for policy at the American Lung Association of the Northeast, as saying that wood smoke is more dangerous on a dose-by-dose basis than is cigarette smoke.

And Miller said that the problem was compounded because of the mystique surrounding wood smoke. People would walk into a room where wood smoke was in the air and say, “Oh, smells like fall,” whereas they wouldn’t walk into a room and say, “Oh, it smells like cigarette smoke, it’s so nice in here.”

But not everybody is enamored of wood smoke. Ernest Grolimund began a one-man crusade to get Maine to take the issue seriously when his neighbor began burning with both an indoor wood boiler and a wood stove in 2007.

“Immediately, my eyes were stinging and I was having allergy reactions,” said Grolimund, of Waterville. “I knew as an engineer, right away, this was bad.”

His daughter had an asthma attack. His neighbor had a heart attack. He attributes both to wood smoke.

Quite how seriously such warnings will be taken is difficult to say. Miller likened the uphill battle for raising awareness around wood smoke to that of raising awareness about secondhand tobacco smoke. But, he said, the twist was that wood, unlike cigarettes, had upsides.

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