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China planning tobacco tax increase

| June 9, 2014

The authorities in China are planning to increase the national tobacco tax in the hope of persuading more smokers to quit their habit, according to a Want China Times story quoting the Chinese-language Beijing News.

The story said it was likely that the authorities would follow recommendations set by the World Health Organization, which says the excise tax on tobacco should be at least 70 percent of the retail price.

Cui Li, deputy director of the National Health and Family Planning Commission, confirmed the central government was planning to introduce measures that would include increasing taxes in an attempt to prevent the nation’s younger generation from becoming smokers.

Figures from the commission suggested there were about 300 million smokers in China, and about 740 million nonsmokers at risk from secondhand smoke.

About 1.2 million to 1.4 million people died of smoking-related diseases each year in the country.

Echoing Cui, Yang Gonghuan, a professor at Peking Union Medical College, said increasing the tobacco tax was the easiest and most efficient way to curb tobacco consumption. While most Chinese smokers were not suffering from any financial problems, increasing the tax would have the effect of getting them to cut back on their habit, he said.

However, Li Baojiang, director of the Tobacco Business Research Institute’s Policy Research Department, said the tax-raising policy would encourage more tobacco smuggling and result in more counterfeit cigarettes that would be even more harmful to smokers’ health than were genuine products.

E-cigarettes included in official quit-smoking guidance in Scotland

| June 9, 2014

E-cigarettes have been included for the first time in official NHS (National Health Service) Scotland guidance aimed at helping smokers quit their habit, according to a story by Lyndsay Buckland for The Scotsman.

The new advice is said to recognize the increased popularity of these devices among people wishing to cut down their use of more harmful tobacco products.

It says that while those using NHS smoking cessation services should be strongly encouraged to adopt licensed nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), such as patches and gum, those wanting to use e-cigarettes should not be told to stop if there was a risk they would return to tobacco.

Buckland said that it was believed that in the past some services had turned away those wanting to use e-cigarettes as part of their attempts to quit smoking, meaning they were denied other forms of support offered by the NHS, such as group counselling.

E-cigarettes currently have to meet consumer-product regulations but, under rules agreed by the European Parliament, from 2016 those products for which health claims are made will have to be regulated as medicines, while others will face controls on nicotine content.

“The new guidance in Scotland, produced for those running smoking cessation services by the special health board NHS Health Scotland and Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) Scotland, focuses on harm-reduction among tobacco users on the road to stopping use of nicotine ­entirely,” the Scotsman story said.

The guidance says there is little evidence currently available on the quality, safety or effectiveness of e-cigarettes. However, it adds, current expert opinion on the limited evidence available suggests that e-cigarette usage is likely to be considerably less hazardous than is tobacco smoking.

Big flue-cured volume sold in Zimbabwe

| June 9, 2014

Zimbabwe’s flue-cured sales, which are still in progress, have already seen more leaf sold than was traded during the whole of the 2013 sales season, according to a story in The Independent quoting Tobacco Industry Marketing Board figures.

After 68 weeks of trading so far this year, 173 million kg of flue-cured had been sold at auction and under contract.

That figure was up by 31 percent on the 132 million kg that had been sold after 68 weeks of the 2013 season.

It was up also—by about 11 percent—on the sales level for the whole of the 2013 season, 156 million kg.

Smoking causes 40 percent of cancers

| June 9, 2014

More than 12,000 people in Saudi Arabia suffer from cancer every year, and tobacco smoking remains the cause of 40 percent of cancer cases there, according to an Arab News story quoting local media and data released by the World Health Organization.

About 40 percent of the cancer cases could be prevented, the story said, with the provision of a smoke-free environment and through exercise, a balanced diet, avoiding obesity and keeping away from direct sunlight.

Besides being a cause of cancer, smoking was a major contributor to gum disease and tooth decay.

Additionally, smoking caused mouth and gum cancer, said Dr. Khalid Al-Qahtani, of Dallah Hospital.

Based on global statistics, lung cancer cases among smokers were 14 times higher than those among nonsmokers, Al-Qahtani said.

“It has been proved that smoking is the major cause of cancer of the oral cavity, larynx, esophagus, liver, bladder and pancreas,” he added.

U.K. MPs back health experts urging WHO to adopt tobacco harm-reduction policies

| June 6, 2014

U.K. MPs have signed an Early Day Motion (EDM) in support of the stance taken by 53 health specialists in encouraging the World Health Organization to adopt tobacco harm reduction policies.

A story based on the specialists’ views was included here on May 30.

A summary of the EDM published on the U.K. parliament’s website said: ‘That this House [House of Commons] notes the opinion of leading world public health experts, including Professor Robert West of University College, London, that e-cigarettes have the potential to save hundreds of millions of lives across the world; believes that, if regulators treat low-risk nicotine products as traditional tobacco products, they are improperly defining them; regrets the decision of the EU to regulate e-cigarettes in strange and contradictory ways and believes that such inappropriate constraints upon the labelling and sale of e-cigarettes will have the perverse effect of reducing the rate at which cigarette use is declining; further notes the potentially enormous health benefits that e-cigarettes could bring to developing nations; accepts the health and economic benefits which e-cigarettes can bring to the least well-off; urges public authorities to regard e-cigarettes as a positive and not as an equivalent to cigarettes; and further urges the Government to impress upon the World Heath Organisation that encouraging, rather than discouraging, e-cigarette manufacture, sale and use will bring great health benefits across the world.

EDMs are used by MPs to express their opinion on something or to draw the attention of the Commons to a particular issue or campaign. Other MPs can show their support for a particular EDM by adding their signature to it.

While they are not normally debated, an EDM that attracts hundreds of signatures from MPs of all parties is likely to result in some kind of response from the government.

Small cigars, big exports

| June 6, 2014

Cuba exported 64.7 million machine-made small cigars between January and May, according to an EFE News Service story quoting a Monday statement by the state-controlled Internacional Cubana de Tabacos (ICT).

Meanwhile, sales of such small cigars so far this year were valued at about $10 million, according to the official AIN news agency, citing ICT president Vladimir Rodriguez.

These products are sold in Spain, France, Germany, Britain, Switzerland, Greece, Canada, Argentina, Venezuela, Mexico, Colombia, Chile and some countries in Africa and the Middle East.

ICT manufactures seven types of cigars under the brand names of Cohiba, Partagas, Romeo y Julieta, Montecristo, Punch, Guantanamera, Quintero, Belinda and Troya.

Tobacco is the fourth-largest contributor to Cuba’s gross domestic product.

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