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Cambodia urged to bring in graphic health warnings

| April 1, 2015

Health experts have thrown their weight behind a provision in Cambodia’s draft tobacco-control law that would require graphic health warnings to cover ‘half the face’ of cigarette packs sold in the country, according to a story in The Phnom Penh Post.

According to the World Health Organization, Cambodia is the only ASEAN country that has not passed smoking legislation.

The graphic health warning provision is included in article 10 of the law, which was first drafted in 2003.

The WHO is calling on the government to enact the legislation with haste.

The law is expected to be discussed at the National Assembly towards the end of this month.

Little home-grown data linking smoking and cancer

| April 1, 2015

India has little independent evidence to link cigarettes and cancer, according to a statement apparently made by the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) MP Dilip Kumar Gandhi during a New Delhi Television report.

“Does this [smoking] cause cancer or does [it] not? What are the impacts? We have never done our own survey,” he reportedly said.

The MP is the head of a committee that last month recommended that further discussions take place in respect of a government proposal to require health warnings covering 85 percent of cigarette packs.

Tobacco companies had been told late last year that the starting date for the new warnings would be April 1 this year.

It is up to the government to decide whether to accept the parliamentary panel’s recommendation for further discussions, but activists say the missed deadline does not bode well.

“This is just a front for the tobacco industry; it’s going to affect the bottom line of companies and that’s the smoke screen they have put up,” said Bhavna Mukhopadhyay, executive director of the Voluntary Health Association of India.

“In a country like ours, where a large section of the population cannot read or write and more users are coming on board, pictorial warnings are the need of the hour,” she said.

Meanwhile, plans to increase the minimum tobacco purchase age to 25 have not progressed either.

Thai smokers leading the way in sporting activities

| March 31, 2015

The retail prices of cigarettes and alcoholic beverages increased by about two percent in Thailand after the imposition on Friday of a new sports tax, according to a story in the Bangkok Post.

Manufacturers of these products – or, rather, consumers of these products – are required to make contributions to the new sports fund on top of excise tax and contributions to two other funds.

They currently pay three billion baht a year to the Thai Health Promotion Foundation and two billion baht to ThaiPBS, the public television operator modelled on the UK’s BBC.

The two percent sports tax is calculated on the excise tax the manufacturers pass on each year; and, based on the latest figures, the sports tax will bring in about three billion baht a year.

Meanwhile, the Education Ministry is pushing for a fund to promote learning, to which consumers, through the manufacturers, will be required to contribute another 1.5 percent or 2-3 billion baht a year.

Rumor of FTC merger meeting feeds rumor mill

| March 31, 2015

A pivotal meeting between US federal regulators and representatives of Reynolds American and Lorillard is expected to take place this week, according to a story by Richard Craver for the Winston-Salem Journal citing a Wall Street Journal report.

The meeting with Federal Trade Commission (FTC) members could be the last step toward a decision on Reynolds’ $27.4 billion offer for Lorillard, which was announced on July 15 and which the two companies believe will close by June 30.

However, some analysts believe it could be a negative sign that the FTC board wants or needs another meeting at this stage, and they have put the odds of the deal’s being approved at 50-50.

Meanwhile, Wells Fargo Securities analyst Bonnie Herzog, who has projected an FTC decision as early as April, on Monday confirmed her belief that there was a 90 percent chance the deal would be approved.

“We believe the market’s negative reaction to these meetings is unjustified based on our industry sources that are telling us these meetings are completely normal and should be viewed as positive,” Herzog was quoted as saying.

“Further, our industry sources reiterated that absolutely no part of the FTC’s review process has been hostile.”

Syria launching first locally-made cigars

| March 31, 2015

In Syria’s north-eastern province of Latakia, workers are rolling the country’s first locally made cigars, despite the country’s suffering a devastating civil conflict now in its fifth year, according to an Al story.

The project, devised by the state-run General Tobacco Company (GTC), has been three years in the making, with workers learning to hand-roll cigars in accordance with international standards.

“We decided to develop a new product without foreign expertise with the hope of supporting the economy,” said plant manager Shadi Mualla, who is critical of what he believes is the economic war being waged against Syria by the West.

The initiative is expected to create about 1,000 new jobs, according to the company’s director general, Salman al-Abbas.

“The company will start selling the products on the local market very soon and then begin trying to export to friendly countries,” said Abbas.

The tobacco for the cigars is grown by GTC in coastal Latakia, which lent its name to a small-leaved oriental tobacco that was sun-cured and then fumigated over open fires of green wood.

Scholar finds another link between sex and smoking

| March 31, 2015

Men who want to quit smoking should refrain from viewing images of attractive women, according to a Focus Taiwan News Channel report quoting a study by a Taiwanese scholar.

The reason, apparently, is that viewing such images could put men in an immediate-gratification state of mind, leading to reduced self-control over their smoking.

The study, by Chiou Wen-bin, a professor of education at National Sun Yat-sen University, revealed that men who wanted to quit smoking or reduce their tobacco cravings should concentrate on curbing the immediate impulse to smoke.

Viewing pictures of attractive women could stimulate a mating mindset in men, leading them to display increased temporal discounting, which is associated with yielding to the immediately satisfiable impulse to smoke, Chiou said.

Chiou said he and his research team conducted experiments under laboratory conditions to examine whether viewing the faces of attractive women rendered male smokers with the intention to quit or reduce smoking more likely to give in to the immediate impulse to smoke.

Seventy-six men were randomly assigned to view either attractive or unattractive opposite-sex faces.

‘Participants who viewed attractive opposite-sex faces smoked more cigarettes than those who viewed less-attractive faces,” according to the results of the study.

This suggests that ‘thoughts of sex may be connected more closely with impulse-control behaviors such as smoking than previously thought’, the paper stated.

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