Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy has pledged that his state will soon put a stop to the advertising of tobacco products in line with India’s Tobacco Control Act 2003, according to a story in the most recent issue of the BBM Bommidala Group newsletter.
A directive seeking enforcement of the advertising provisions of the act was reportedly sent by the union health secretary to all of India’s state chief secretaries.
Kerala recently declared that retail outlets selling cigarettes may not provide matches or lighters to people wishing to smoke in the vicinity of the outlets.
What is going on?
A day after the U.K.’s Institute of Economic Affairs suggested that tobacco taxes should be halved, a report from India indicates that the Bihar state government has decided to make tobacco tax-free.
According to a OneIndia.com story, the Bihar government’s decision has made a “complete mockery” of the anti-tobacco drive on which the Union government has spent tens of millions of rupees.
The decision was apparently taken after tobacco farmers met with Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.
They were said to have complained to him that tobacco production was their only source of income and that, of late, “their product was seized and they were fined.”
Kumar subsequently took the decision to make tobacco tax-free.
The move, dismissed by some as a troll for votes, had earned criticism because it had come at a time when every second person in the state (more than 63 percent of men and 30 percent of women) was addicted to tobacco, the OneIndia story said.
It was assumed that the decision would encourage the state’s smoking-incidence figures to shoot up further.
Anti-tobacco activists in Ireland have condemned as inadequate the latest tobacco duty rise of 10 cents, according to a story in Northern Ireland’s Belfast Telegraph.
The Irish Cancer Society accused the government of applying a “tokenistic penalty,” according to the Telegraph, and the Heart Foundation branded the increase a missed opportunity.
The increase was less than had been expected by Health Minister Dr. James Reilly, who has said he wanted to see 50 cents added to the price of a pack of cigarettes in every budget.
Nevertheless, the increase leaves Ireland as one of the most expensive places in which to smoke licit cigarettes, and the second most expensive country in Europe.
Only Norway has more expensive cigarettes in Europe.
Bulgaria’s Socialist Party, part of the ruling coalition, has tabled an amendment to the Health Act that would ease the ban on tobacco smoking in enclosed public places, according to a Novinite story.
The draft amendment has been signed by nine Socialist members of parliament in a move that is seen in some quarters as highly controversial but that has the support of people working in sectors hurt by the ban.
If the amendment were passed, the ban would become a restriction in night clubs, restaurants, cafés, bars, airports and casinos that could provide designated, separate smoking areas.
The smoking ban was introduced in June last year by the GERB government of former Prime Minister Boyko Borisov.
Spas Panchev, deputy chair of the parliamentary group of the Bulgarian Socialist Party, said last week that the full smoking ban in enclosed public places had to be dropped before winter.
This sparked a wide public debate on the issue.
President Rosen Plevneliev has threatened to veto the amendment if it is passed by parliament.
Health editors at the BMJ, Heart, Thorax and BMJ Open have said they will not consider the publication of studies that have been funded in part or wholly by the tobacco industry, according to a story in The Information Daily.
The editors were reported to have said their new policy was consistent with that of other journals.
It aimed to show that they were committed to publishing work that only improved knowledge of health and disease, and that had no links to a product with a detrimental effect on health.
“Critics could argue that the publishing of research funded by these companies does not equal endorsement, but the editors believe that this view ‘ignores the growing body of evidence that biases and research misconduct are often impossible to detect,’” the Daily story said.
“It has been argued that instead of improving knowledge, the tobacco industry ‘has used research to deliberately produce ignorance and to advance its ultimate goal of selling its deadly products while shoring up its damaged legitimacy.’”
The full story is at http://www.theinformationdaily.com/2013/10/15/tobacco-industry-funded-research-shunned-by-some-health-publishers.
Some Russian teenagers are quitting cigarettes for a type of chewing tobacco popular in Central Asia, according to a BBC Online story.
Nas or nasvai is made of tobacco mixed with slaked lime and wood ash to form a pellet that, when held under the tongue, packs a powerful nicotine hit.
It has been banned in Russia, but migrants from Central Asia import it and the authorities are concerned that, because it sells at a fraction of the price of cigarettes, it ends up in the mouths of young people.
The Ferghana news agency, which covers Central Asian stories from Moscow, says nas is still flying off trestle tables at street-corner markets to the general indifference of local police, four months after the ban came into effect.