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Turkey to toughen tobacco laws

| May 13, 2013

The Turkish government wants to toughen the country’s laws on smoking and alcohol consumption, according to a Trend news agency story quoting a Sabah newspaper report.

The report said that a new bill would be put before parliament, though it did not indicate when that would happen.

Under the bill, smoking, already banned in enclosed public places, would be forbidden in open public spaces.

The bill would ban smoking by public transport drivers, presumably only while operating their vehicles.

And it would increase the penalties for violating smoking bans.

Potential help for unborn in Vitamin C

| May 13, 2013

Vitamin C might help prevent lung problems in babies born to mothers who smoke during pregnancy, according to a small new study reported by HealthDay.

Pregnant women are advised not to smoke because it can harm their babies’ lungs and lead to problems such as wheezing and asthma. But if a pregnant woman can’t quit smoking, taking vitamin C might help protect her baby’s lungs.

“The study included 159 women who were less than 22 weeks pregnant and unable to quit smoking,” the story reported. “They were randomly assigned to take either one 500-milligram capsule of vitamin C or a placebo each day for the remainder of their pregnancy.

“Forty-eight hours after birth, babies born to women who took vitamin C had significantly better lung function than those whose mothers took the placebo. During their first year, wheezing was reported in 21 percent of infants whose mothers took vitamin C and in 40 percent of infants whose mothers took the placebo. The rate among infants born to non-smokers was 27 percent.”

The preliminary study, which showed an association between vitamin C use and better lung function in infants but did not prove a cause-and-effect link, was presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies’ annual meeting in Washington, DC.

“Vitamin C is a simple, safe and inexpensive treatment that may decrease the impact of smoking during pregnancy on childhood respiratory health,” said lead author Dr. Cynthia McEvoy, an associate professor of pediatrics at Oregon Health & Science University Children’s Hospital.

Meanwhile, study co-author, Dr. Eliot Spindel, a senior scientist at the Oregon National Primate Research Center at Oregon Health & Science University, said that getting women to quit smoking during pregnancy had to be priority one. “… but this finding provides a way to potentially help the infants born of the roughly 50 percent of pregnant smokers who won’t or can’t quit smoking no matter what is tried,” he added.

Tobacco industry has little to fear from EU TPD proposals

| May 9, 2013

The European Commission believes that its proposed revisions to the Tobacco Products Directive would, if adopted, have limited adverse impact on the tobacco industry – and some positive impacts.

“The adoption of the proposal for a revised Tobacco Products Directive was preceded by a thorough impact assessment, including an assessment of the economic impacts on the tobacco industry, their upstream suppliers (e.g. growers, ingredients suppliers, paper industry) and downstream distributors (wholesale, retail),” the commission stated in a written answer to questions posed by the Czech MEP, Ivo Strejček.

“It is estimated that the proposal will result in a reduction in the consumption of tobacco products of no more than 2 percent within a five year period following the transposition of the Directive. The adverse impact on the industry would therefore remain limited. Jobs lost in the production of cigarettes would be offset by the creation of jobs in other sectors, reflecting ex-smokers’ expenditure on such sectors.

“In addition, the proposal is expected to lead to some benefits for the industry through reduced production costs as a result of harmonization (one … production line instead of different production lines to comply with different national rules) and through the expected reduction in illicit trade (as a result of the proposed measures on tracking and tracing of products). Even the most specialized tobacco retailers do not generate more than 50 percent of their revenues from tobacco products, thus the impact is not expected to be disproportionate.”

The commission said that to avoid imposing an unnecessary burden on small- to medium-sized enterprises, pipe tobacco, cigars and cigarillos were exempted from the stricter labelling and ingredients rules that the revisions proposed for other tobacco products. The proposal, it added, was neutral in respect of the different types of tobacco, Virginia, Burley and oriental. This meant that smaller farms involved in Burley and oriental tobacco production would not be affected.

Cuba joins fight over Aussie plain packaging rules

| May 6, 2013

Cuba has become the latest country to launch a legal attack on Australia’s landmark plain packaging rules for tobacco at the World Trade Organization (WTO).

The laws came into effect last December and mean cigarettes can only be sold in brown packages with graphic health warnings. The WTO says Cuba has requested consultations with Australia on the legislation, which covers all tobacco products, not just cigarettes. Under the 159-nation WTO’s rules, requesting consultations is the first step in an often complex trade dispute settlement process which can last for several years.

The laws have already been challenged at the WTO by Cuba’s fellow cigar-producing nations Honduras and the Dominican Republic. In addition, the Ukraine has filed a suit at the Geneva-based body, which oversees its member nations’ respect for the rules of global commerce, according to the Australian news company ABC.

All the plaintiff countries maintain that Australia’s packaging law breaches international trade rules and intellectual property rights.

In the event that the WTO’s disputes settlement body finds in their favor, it would have the power to authorize retaliatory trade measures against Australia if the country failed to fall into line. The dispute with Australia marks the first-ever challenge by Cuba against a fellow member since it joined the global body in April 1995, four months after the WTO was founded in its current form.

The plain packaging laws have won wide praise from health organizations which are trying to curb smoking. But the government has faced a string of court challenges from tobacco firms.

Besides trade and intellectual property concerns, tobacco companies say there is no proof that plain packaging reduces smoking and have warned that the law sets a precedent that could spread to products such as alcohol.

A nickel a butt adds up

| May 3, 2013

Redemption programs have dramatically reduced the amount of bottles and cans that go into the waste stream. Now a restaurant owner in Portland, Maine, U.S.A. wants to do the same with cigarette butts, according to a story reported on WLBZ.

Mike Roylos says he’s tired of dealing with butts outside the Spartan Grill. “They’re everywhere. I sweep. They come back. Customers track them in on their shoes,” laments Roylos.

When the city’s new smoking ordinance failed to stop the butt barrage, Roylos decided to take matters into his own hands. He came up with the “No Butts Now” campaign.

He supplies a basket of baggies for the public to collect cigarette butts in Monument Square. Using donations from grateful customers, Roylos will buy the butts back for five cents a piece.

Sure, it’s a little gross..but a nickel’s a nickel. Billy O’Rourke lives a few blocks away at the Oxford Street Shelter and he went right to work as soon as he heard about the campaign. .

“It’s an opportunity for us homeless guys to be a productive part of society and make a few extra dollars,” said O’Rourke.

They may be tiny, but those butts add up.

UK plain packaging plan goes up in smoke

| May 2, 2013

U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron has scrapped plans to force all cigarettes to be sold in plain packs, according to a story published today in The Sun.

Health ministers had been considering the move for a year. Proponents had insisted making packages bland would put smokers off — and stop kids from picking up the habit.

Cameron initially backed the plan, but has been persuaded it would damage the packaging industry. There were also concerns it could cost £3 billion in lost tax revenue and tie up the Commons in bitter arguments.

Cameron has now ordered the proposed law to be pulled from next week’s Queen’s Speech.

A Whitehall source said: “Plain packaging may or may not be a good idea, but it’s nothing to do with the government’s key purpose. The PM is determined to strip down everything we do so we can concentrate all our efforts on voters’ essentials. That means growth, immigration and welfare reform.”

Officials in Australia, the first to enforce uniform packaging, have admitted there was still no evidence that they cut smoking.