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Vote on EU tobacco directive delayed

| September 6, 2013

Group leaders in the European Parliament agreed yesterday to delay until Oct. 8 a vote on a new Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) that had been scheduled for Sept. 10 in Strasbourg, according to a story by Dave Keating for the European Voice.

Center-right German and British MEPs pushed for the delay, saying there had not been enough time to digest the position of the environment and health committee, adopted in July. They were supported by the ALDE (Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe) group.

MEPs were concerned also about how the vote could affect or be affected by the federal election in Germany scheduled for Sept. 22. Some German MEPs will be absent from next week’s plenary session of parliament because of campaigning duties.

Linda McAvan, a British MEP who is leading the parliament’s work on the issue, opposed the delay, as did German MEP Karl-Heinz Florenz, shadow rapporteur for the European People’s Party (EPP).

The call for a delay followed a barrage of lobbying from both sides of the issue this week as MEPs returned from their summer breaks. Health campaigners are concerned that it is a delaying tactic by the tobacco industry intent on ensuring that the revision of the TPD will not be agreed on by the end of the current parliament and European Commission mandate in 2014.

However, a spokesperson for the EPP said that a delay of a couple of weeks would not create an obstacle to reaching an agreement before the end of the Lithuanian presidency.

Meanwhile, a number of amendments to the proposed TPD had been filed by the deadline of noon on Sept. 4. These amendments are aimed at, among other aspects of the TPD, its impact on menthol and slim cigarettes, tobacco packaging, snus and e-cigarettes.

TPD raises concerns about e-cigarettes

| September 6, 2013

The e-cigarette company Gamucci is concerned about the way in which the European Commission’s draft Tobacco Products Directive is being handled and was quick to react to news yesterday that the European Parliament had agreed to delay the vote on the directive from Sept. 10 to Oct. 8.

Many MEPs, Gamucci said, had expressed concerns that Linda McAvan, the British MEP in charge of piloting the draft directive through parliament, seemed to be attempting to rush through her own amendments without acknowledging the serious impacts they could have on the fast-growing e-cigarette sector.

McAvan wanted to force all e-cigarette products to be regulated as medicines.

“Her draconian and unjustified proposals would impose significant and—for some—potentially insurmountable barriers on a sector that is increasingly successful in encouraging adult smokers to switch away from traditional combustible tobacco products,” Gamucci said in a press note.

“There are already an estimated 12 million electronic cigarette consumers across Europe who fear that such regulation could drive them back to smoking traditional tobacco products.”

Meanwhile, Gamucci’s Jacqueline Burrows made the point that very many health professionals believed the evidence was clear (1).

“Electronic cigarettes provide smokers with the positive benefits and pleasures of nicotine without the risks associated with traditional burning tobacco and its smoke,” she said. (2) (3) (4) (5) (6).

“Many MEPs who have taken the time to study the facts and listen to those who have already made the switch recognize that it is the pharmaceutical companies and existing tobacco companies which would be the main beneficiaries of medicinal regulation of electronic cigarettes.” (7) (8).

Burrows added that this was the time to work together and agree on a sensible, proportionate, regulatory framework. It defied common sense that electronic cigarettes should be subjected to a more draconian regulation than that applying to existing tobacco products.

  1. Gerry Stimson, Clive Bates, Konstantinos Farsalinos, M.D. and Jacques Le Houezec, September 2013: “The impact of e-cigarettes on public health will vastly overshadow all other measures in the TPD”
  2. Drexel University, August 2013: “Chemicals in e-cigarettes pose no health concern for users or bystanders”
  3. Hajek, Lancet, July 2013: “The chemicals that make cigarettes dangerous are either absent or present only in trace concentrations”
  4. Inhalation Toxicology, October 2012: “The study indicates no apparent risk to human health from e-cigarette emissions”
  5. Robert West, University College London: “The risk is negligible, and compared with smoking there is no contest”
  6. John Britton, Royal College of Physicians: “If all the smokers in Britain stopped smoking cigarettes and started smoking e-cigarettes, we would save 5 million deaths”
  7. Wells Fargo, January 2013: “Within 10 years there could be more e-cigarette users than cigarette smokers”
  8. Polosa, June 2013: “E-cigarettes help users stop smoking tobacco”:

Youth e-cigarette use data questioned

| September 6, 2013

The U.S. National Association of Tobacco Outlets (NATO) has said that the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) study about youth use of electronic cigarettes raises too many unanswered questions for the data to be used as a basis for proposing significant restrictions on electronic cigarettes.

“It appears the CDC and the FDA are extrapolating data from the 2011 and 2012 National Youth Tobacco Surveys (NYTS) to support the FDA’s announced plan to expand its authority over other tobacco products, including electronic cigarettes, by issuing proposed regulations this October,” said NATO Executive Director Thomas Briant.

“Studies have found e-cigarettes to be effective in reducing cigarette smoking or aiding smokers in quitting. Given that e-cigarettes appear to have a positive effect in the reduction of smoking tobacco-burning cigarettes, the National Association of Tobacco Outlets can only conclude that the FDA is setting the stage for the roll out of the agency’s proposed e-cigarette regulations in two months.

“NATO and its retailers that operate more than 28,000 tobacco stores, convenience stores, service stations, grocery stores and liquor stores nationwide, firmly agree that underage youth should not use e-cigarettes. Currently, 26 states have enacted laws that prohibit the sale of electronic cigarettes to minors, and retailers are abiding by those laws and their own business practices to prevent the sale of electronic cigarettes to minors.

“The CDC’s claim that electronic cigarette use has more than doubled among middle and high school students from 2011 to 2012 is a generalization and may not be supported by the NYTS data. The NYTS statistics relied on by the CDC to estimate how many youth use electronic cigarettes include middle and high school students who currently use e-cigarettes and those who have used an e-cigarette just once. This means that the CDC’s claim that electronic cigarette use has doubled among underage youth is likely overstated since students who used the product one time may no longer be using e-cigarettes.

“For example, in the 2011 National Youth Tobacco Survey, only 3 percent, or 558 out of 18,262 students, responded that they have ‘ever tried’ an electronic cigarette. The question is how many of these 558 students tried an e-cigarette just once and no longer use the product? Without acknowledging that a portion of the students surveyed used an e-cigarette just one time and no longer use e-cigarettes, the CDC should not make the claim that youth use of e-cigarettes doubled from 2011 to 2012.

“Moreover, NATO has not seen the actual 2012 NYTS study itself—only the summary that has been provided by the CDC and referenced in its press release. The summary leaves some questions unanswered, such as how many students actually completed the survey in order to extrapolate the CDC’s estimate that 1.78 million students have tried e-cigarettes. According to U.S. Census numbers from 2011, there are approximately 40.8 million youth between the ages of 10 and 19 in the U.S., so the sample size of any study like the NYTS should be quite large.

“NATO does not support the sale of e-cigs to underage consumers. However, NATO members firmly stand behind the right of adults to purchase e-cigarettes, particularly when they are looking for assistance in ‘stepping down’ from smoking traditional cigarettes. We hope any future regulations proposed by the FDA will not interfere with the right of adults to choose what, at least at this time, appears to be a less harmful alternative to traditional cigarettes.”

Tobacco concept seen as ‘bizarre’

| September 6, 2013

Two organizations are calling for tobacco industry tax increases to be included in Ireland’s budget for next year, according to a story in The Irish Examiner.

In their pre-budget submission, the Irish Cancer Society and the Irish Heart Foundation (IHF) are calling, too, for a cap on tobacco profits.

“The taxpayer is subsidising the tobacco industry to the tune of €500m,” said the IHF’s head of advocacy, Chris Macey.

“An industry that’s creating virtually no employment and is making profits that we are estimating at €104m per year, which it takes out of the country.

“It’s a drain on our health system, it’s killing people and it’s just bizarre.”

Imperial to buy Dragonite’s e-cigarette business

| September 5, 2013

Imperial Tobacco Group (ITG) will buy Dragonite International’s e-cigarette business for $75 million, reports Bloomberg Businessweek. The acquisition depends on the approval of Dragonite shareholders.

Simon Evans, spokesman for Imperial, said the acquisition is not related to ITG’s August announcement that it was on track to introduce its own alternative nicotine products in 2014 through its Fontem Ventures subsidiary.

Dragonite founder and Executive Director Hon Lik is credited with inventing the technology behind the e-cigarette. Dragonite says it owns an “extensive portfolio” of global patents and pending patents on e-cigarette technologies.


Cambodia urged to increase taxes

| September 5, 2013

Anti-smoking advocates have called on the Cambodian government to raise its taxes on cigarettes, claiming that such measures have brought health and revenue-generating benefits to other countries, according to a story in The Phnom Penh Post.

In a conference in Phnom Penh, the Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance demonstrated that Cambodia had one of the region’s lowest tobacco tax rates as a percentage of retail prices.

The alliance’s director, Bungon Rithiphakdee, said that higher taxes meant higher retail prices and higher retail prices meant that people were unable to buy cigarettes and smoke.

According to the Asean Tobacco Control Atlas, only Laos beats Cambodia to the lowest rate of tobacco tax as a percentage of retail prices. Cambodia’s rate stands at 20 to 25 percent, while the rate in Laos stands at 16 to 19 percent.

The report singled out Thailand, which was said to have raised its tobacco tax rate 10 times between 1991 and 2012 and to have increased its revenue almost fourfold.

Without quoting any figures, the Post’s story said that smoking went down in Thailand between 1991 and 2012, though the tobacco tax rate had to be bumped up to 87 percent in 2012 to combat a slight increase in smoking.

Meanwhile, Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam apply tobacco tax rates of 40 to 70 percent.

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