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Turkey’s smoking population tumbling

| January 6, 2014

The prevalence of smoking in Turkey is dropping “at unprecedented rates’, according to a story in the Hürriyet Daily News quoting World Health Organization figures.

Adult smoking prevalence is said to have decreased from 32.2 percent, or 16 million, in 2008, to 27.1 percent, or 14.8 million, in 2012, the WHO said in its global tobacco epidemic report for 2013.

“Although Turkey has had a long tradition of tobacco use and a high smoking prevalence, particularly among men, tobacco use is now declining at unprecedented rates,” said the report.

Smoking among men fell from 47.9 percent in 2008 to 41.5 percent in 2012, while the number of women smokers fell from 15.2 percent to 13.1 percent.

Turkey has been named as the only country that protects its entire population of 75 million people with every measure introduced by the WHO in its fight against tobacco.

Nevertheless, overall more than a quarter of Turkey’s adults continue to use tobacco.

News of smoking ban circulating slowly on Vietnam’s transport system

| January 6, 2014

Enforcement of Vietnam’s anti-tobacco law, which came into force in May, is proving difficult, in part because many smokers don’t know about the new rules, according to a VietnamPlus story.

The law prohibits smoking on buses and airplanes, in indoor public places and at bus terminals, train stations and ports.

It requires, too, that separate smoking areas be provided on ships and trains.

However, it is common to see people smoking cigarettes in many public places, such as bus terminals and train stations, and, by doing so, making themselves liable to fines of VND100,000–300,000 (US$4.70–14.20).

Ho Huu Hoa, deputy director of the legal department of the Ministry of Transport, admitted that smoking was still rampant in many offices, stations and on public transport.

However, Hoa said the ban had been effectively implemented at airports and during flights, showing that enforcement was not an impossible task.

Triple tobacco taxes to cut smoking’s toll

| January 3, 2014

Tripling tobacco taxes globally would cut smoking by a third and prevent 200 million premature deaths this century from lung cancer and other diseases, according to a Cancer Research UK review published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday.

‘Boosting the tax by a large fixed amount per cigarette would narrow the price gap between the most and least expensive cigarettes, so it would encourage people to quit smoking altogether rather than switch to a cheaper brand, and would help stop young people from starting,’ according to a Cancer Research Campaign report.

‘This would be especially effective in low-to-middle-income countries where the cheapest cigarettes are relatively affordable. But it would also be effective in richer countries: France halved cigarette consumption from 1990 to 2005 by raising taxes well above inflation.’

“The two certainties in life are death and taxes,” said the review’s co-author, Professor Sir Richard Peto, Cancer Research UK epidemiologist based at the University of Oxford. “We want higher tobacco taxes and fewer tobacco deaths. It would help children not to start, and it would help many adults to stop while there’s still time.”

Where ‘at least 50 per cent’ is 75 per cent

| January 3, 2014

Nepal’s Supreme Court has dismissed a petition by tobacco companies and directed the government strictly to implement the anti-tobacco provisions of the Tobacco Product Control and Regulatory Act, according to a story by Ananta Rajluitel for The Himalayan Times.

Section 9 of the Act requires the Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP) to ensure that at least 50 per cent of a tobacco pack’s surface be given over to warnings about the dangers of tobacco use.

The tobacco companies petitioned the court to challenge the MoHP’s mandatory provision that 75 per cent of the surface area be given over to such messages.

But the bench said that since the Act clearly stated that more than 50 per cent of the pack’s surface had to be devoted to health warnings, the MoHP was within its rights to require that 75 per cent be devoted to such messages, keeping in mind the health and welfare of the public.

The bench said the demands of the petitioner companies were against the public health and larger public interest and need not be considered.

UK newspapers prepare cigar’s obituary

| January 3, 2014

Cigar smoking could all but disappear from Britain within little more than a decade if the current decline in the habit continues, according to an Electronic Telegraph story quoting the Financial Times.

The Telegraph story said that UK’s consumption of cigars had fallen by four-fifths over the past two decades and could die out altogether by 2026 on current trends.

Soaring duty rates, bans on smoking in enclosed public places and anti-tobacco campaigns in general are believed to have contributed to the fall in the popularity of cigars.

British smokers bought 2.1 million kg of cigars in 1992 but this fell to 0.4 million kg last year, according to figures from HM Revenue & Customs.

Imperial Tobacco estimates that there are only about 300,000 regular cigar smokers left in Britain, down from 700,000 a decade ago.

And a retributive New Year

| January 3, 2014

Malaysians can be jailed for buying illicit cigarettes under new regulations that took effect on Wednesday, according to a story in The Star.

Amendments to the Control of Tobacco Product Regulations 2004 stipulate that it is not only illegal to sell illicit cigarettes; it is also illegal to buy them.

Under the amendments gazetted in June, the buyer, just like the seller, faces a maximum fine of RM10,000, up to two years in jail, or both.

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