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Beijing sets up snitching app for reporting smokers

| June 17, 2015

Anti-tobacco activities have hit what is possibly a new low with the setting up of a messaging app through which people in Beijing can report smokers who indulge their habit where smoking is banned.

According to a piece by Sharon Choi on the Shanghaiist blog, there had been violations of Beijing’s public-places tobacco smoking ban at one in three public venues within a week of the June 1 launch of the ban.

And with a smoking population of four million in the capital, it was impossible for law enforcement to catch all of them.

However, in an attempt to catch as many as possible, Beijing’s municipal government has set up a public account on WeChat called ‘No Smoking Beijing’, where users can upload pictures of smokers and tag their location.

The account features anti-smoking videos, the full text of the banning regulations and smoking-related health impacts.

And for those who don’t use WeChat, Beijing has set up a hotline, 12320, through which smokers can be reported.

Vintage cigars attract record prices at C.Gars auction

| June 17, 2015

All but 15 of the 302 lots were sold when C.Gars held its vintage cigar auction in London on Monday.

Record prices were said to have been paid for many of the rare lots on offer, and the top price of £20,500 was paid for Lot 294, which comprised Ramon Allones Coronas de Lujo cigars that had been estimated to fetch £12,000.

Total sales, including premiums, amounted to about £435,000.

This, C.Gars’ 15th vintage cigar auction, was held at the Bulgari Hotel.

The auction room was reportedly packed and, for the first time, online bidders were able to bid live.

C.Gars which is due to hold its Winter Auction in early December, says that it is further developing its online auction platform so as to include audio and visual technology.

US$30 billion bill for overindulgence, inactivity

| June 16, 2015

A study commissioned by the Canadian Men’s Health Foundation has found that the annual economic burdens attributable to smoking, excess weight, alcohol, and inactivity are C$13.0 billion (US$10.6 billion), C$11.9 billion (US$9.7 billion), C$7.6 billion (US$6.2 billion) and C$4.4 billion (US$3.6 billion) respectively, according to a Canada Newswire story relayed by the TMA.
The economic burden takes into account the costs associated with direct health care, premature mortality, short-term disability, and long-term disability.
The four risk factors are said to contribute to about 40 different chronic conditions including lung diseases, cancers of the head and neck, lung cancers, type 2 diabetes, heart diseases, strokes, colorectal cancers, and back pain.
The Canadian Men’s Health Week, an awareness campaign by the Canadian Men’s Health Foundation, aims to create an annual focal point around which people who care about men’s health can collaborate.

Plans to ban e-cigarette use in public “ridiculous”

| June 16, 2015

Proposed bylaws banning the use of electronic cigarettes in public places in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, are “ridiculous,” councillor Andre Chabot has told the Calgary Herald.
“We have become so Big Brother in what we do that pretty soon we won’t be able to wear makeup,” said Chabot, a former smoker.
“I don’t know where we’re going to draw the line in what might entice who. E-cigarettes have helped a lot of people that I know get off of the use of tobacco.”
One of Alberta’s top health officers, however, says Calgary’s proposed bylaws limiting the use of electronic cigarettes are essential to prevent youth from starting to smoke, according to the author of the Herald story, Emma McIntosh.
“Unfortunately, what we’re seeing with e-cigarettes is an increase in terms of the number of non-smoking youth that are reporting having tried or experimented with e-cigarettes,” said Alberta Health Services officer Brent Friesen. “We are worried, and this has been supported by at least one study.”

Young effective in convincing smokers not to light up

| June 16, 2015

Beijing is calling for volunteers to help implement the city’s strict new anti-smoking laws, according to a story in the Beijing Times.
Since June 1, the city has prohibited smoking in indoor public places and at outdoor venues where minors gather.
But while it has assigned more than 1,000 supervisors to ensure the law is enforced, reports have indicated that smokers can be found easily at hospitals and bus terminals.
Zhang Jianshu, the director of the Beijing Tobacco Control Association, said several governmental organizations are planning to better publicize the ban and strengthen law enforcement efforts by recruiting more volunteers.
The volunteers will be divided into two groups, one responsible for further promoting anti-smoking awareness and the other for co-ordinated management.
The co-ordination volunteers would receive training and subsidies for their work, Zhang said.
Student volunteers under the age of 18 are said to be particularly sought after because they have proved very effective in persuading smokers not to light up.

Philippines’ sin taxes cut smoking, boost revenues

| June 16, 2015

A tobacco (and alcohol) tax regime that was signed into law by the President of the Philippines Benigno Aquino in December 2012 is said to have cut smoking sharply while boosting government revenues, according to an AFP story.
The number of cigarette packs placed on store shelves by retailers had fallen by nearly a third between 2012 and 2014, said revenue chief Kim Henares.
At the same time, cigarette-tax revenue had risen from 32.16 billion pesos in 2012 to 74.33 billion pesos last year.
Under the law, a portion of the revenues from the so-called ‘sin taxes’ are allotted to finance government health programs, including anti-smoking campaigns.
A Department of Health survey in 2009 found that more than 28 percent of the country’s adult population were smokers.

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