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High level of tobacco smoking in Bulgaria

| June 3, 2014

About 30 percent of Bulgarians, comprising more than 2.1 million people, are daily tobacco smokers, according to a Focus English News story quoting the World Health Organization report Global Tobacco Epidemic, which was released on Saturday.

There is a smoking gender bias, with 40 percent of men and 19 percent of women being daily smokers.

And there is an age bias. Almost half of people aged 25–65 are smokers, while smokers make up 28 percent of the 15–24 age group but only 12 percent of the 65-plus age group.

Meanwhile, 50 percent of men and 70 percent of women are said to be “firm nonsmokers,” and 10 percent of men and 9 percent of women are described as “nonregular smokers.”

France facing a fit of the vapors

| June 3, 2014

France is preparing to place e-cigarette use on the same legal footing as tobacco smoking with draft legislation that aims to ban vaping in public places, according to a story by Paris-based Anne Penketh for the Guardian, quoting Le Figaro.

The health minister, Marisol Touraine, intends to table the bill on June 17.

The proposed bill comes at a time when e-cigarette stores have been springing up across France, which now has almost 1 million e-cigarette users.

The president of the French Tobacconists’ Confederation, Pascal Montredon, was said to have told the Guardian that Touraine was being unrealistic by modelling her reforms on “Anglo-Saxon” countries such as Australia and Britain, where the cigarette distribution network was completely different to that of France.

The confederation, he said, was pressing for e-cigarettes to be sold solely in tobacconists, but the proposed legislation failed to address this issue.

Touraine’s office apparently did not confirm the report in Le Figaro, but the ministry said that a “national smoking reduction plan” was under consideration.

Delhi thinking of selling tobacco short

| June 3, 2014

The Delhi government plans to introduce a scheme whereby no tobacco or related products would be sold on the last day of each month, according to a story in The Times of India.

The story said that the scheme was aimed at generating awareness about tobacco’s harmful effects and reducing tobacco use, but it was not clear whether the scheme was to be a voluntary one or one backed by regulation.

“This concept started in 2013 when we asked vendors not to sell tobacco and related products on the last day of every month as a voluntary effort,” Dr. N.V. Kamat, director, health services, was quoted as saying.

He added that he hoped Delhi would become a tobacco-free state.

Dog sniffs out illicit tobacco in Scotland

| June 3, 2014

Shops selling illicit tobacco in the Mearns, Scotland, are being hounded out of town by a new council recruit.

According to a story by Martin Dalziel, Dixie the sniffer dog was used by the Aberdeenshire Council’s Trading Standards Office, supported by the police, in a two-day operation targeting businesses where police intelligence had indicated illicit tobacco products were being sold.

In the recent operation, Dixie was able to detect tobacco hidden behind a false wall at one business.

Further smoking curbs in force in Russia

| June 2, 2014

The second part of Russia’s anti-tobacco law came into force yesterday, extending public-places tobacco smoking bans to include, for instance, restaurants, hotels and railway platforms, according to an ITAR-TASS story.

Ashtrays and hookas are due to disappear from cafés and bars and their places to be taken by no-smoking signs.

People caught smoking in a café will face a fine of RUB500–1,500. Individual restaurant owners will face fines of RUB30,000–40,000, while commercial owners could be fined RUB50,000–90,000.

“In fact, we are only starting to live according to civilized anti-tobacco laws which work in many other countries,” said State Duma deputy Vyacheslav Timchenko. “But we already have the first results. Sociological surveys show that for the first time in post-Soviet years, Russia’s tobacco consumption has been on the decline.”

The first part of the anti-tobacco law came into force on June 1, 2013, when tobacco smoking was outlawed in a large range of enclosed and nonenclosed public places, including office buildings that did not have special rooms equipped for smoking.

According to the deputy head of the Russian State Duma Committee for Public Health, Nikolai Gerasimenko, the introduction of the anti-tobacco law reduced cigarette sales in the first quarter of 2014 by 16 billion packs.

“About 30,000 penalties for the violation of anti-tobacco laws have been imposed in Moscow since Nov. 15, 2013,” he said. “The figure for Russia is about 100,000 penalties.”

Japan to finesse cigarette retail system

| June 2, 2014

Japan’s Finance Ministry is expected to change the regulations governing the opening of new cigarette outlets in a bid to avoid “excessive competition” among retailers at a time of falling sales, according to a Yomiuri Shimbun story.

“After seeking public opinion, the ministry plans to introduce the new regulation in August,” the story said.

If the new regulations come into force, they will represent the first change in cigarette shop regulations in 16 years.

Under the current regulations, new cigarette shops may not open within a certain distance of existing outlets.

However, a new outlet may open near an existing shop with only weak cigarette sales, and it is this exception that the ministry is reviewing.

The ministry plans to designate an outlet in an urban area a weak one if it has average sales of fewer than 15,000 cigarettes a month over a six-month period. The current weak-sales threshold is 25,000.

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