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Study recommends raising tobacco purchase age

| March 16, 2015

A study presented to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on March 12 supports the theory that raising the tobacco purchase age to 21 from 18 will substantially reduce the number of 15- to 17-year-olds who start smoking and decrease the number of early deaths and low birth weights due to smoking.

Conducted by an Institute of Medicine committee, the study—titled “Public health implications of raising the minimum age of legal access to tobacco products”—reviewed existing information about tobacco use initiation as well as developmental biology and psychology.

Results of the study indicated that, if the minimum age of legal access to tobacco products were increased to 19, smoking prevalence would decrease by an estimated 3 percent by the time today’s teenage users become adults. Additionally, the study found that a 12 percent decrease would occur if the minimum age of legal access were raised to 21, and a decrease of 16 percent would take place should the minimum age be raised to 25.

The committee that conducted the study was chaired by Richard Bonnie, a law professor at the University of Virginia, and researchers used the SimSmoke and CisNet cigarette smoking models to gather information. Researchers also concluded that increasing the minimum age of legal access to 21 would result in 45,000 fewer deaths from lung cancer, 249,000 fewer premature deaths, 438,000 fewer babies born with a low birth weight, 286,000 fewer pre-term births, and 4.2 million fewer years of life lost among those born between 2000 and 2019.

$2.87 per pack tax possible in Calif.

| May 14, 2013

California lawmakers chose not to make smokers pay more for health insurance,  but they may be more willing to make smokers pay more for cigarettes.

A new bill proposing to raise the tax on tobacco by $2 per pack of cigarettes  cleared its first two committee votes last week in predictably partisan votes. SB 768, by Sen. Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles), would raise  the price of cigarettes to more than $8 a pack and generate about $1.4 billion a  year. De León proposes the money be used to offset costs of medical care for  tobacco-related diseases, anti-tobacco education and smoking-cessation  programs.

The Senate Governance and Finance Committee approved the bill in a 5-2 vote  and the Senate Committee on Health approved it 6-2. All “yes” votes were  Democrats. All “no” votes were Republican.

“Taxpayers pay $3.1 billion a year to subsidize this industry,” de León told  the health committee, citing an estimate for California’s annual medical costs  for tobacco-related diseases and health problems.

“On a fiscal level, the price is much too high, and taxpayers have been  footing the bill for much too long,” de León said.

California, which hasn’t increased taxes on tobacco since 1998, now charges  $0.87 cents on each pack of cigarettes and ranks 33rd in the country in tobacco  taxation. De Leon’s bill would move the state into fourth place.

Sticky story: 3rd-hand smoke gives guests gooey fingers

| May 14, 2013

Anyone who has ever walked into a “non-smoking” hotel room and caught the distinct odor of cigarette smoke will not be surprised by the findings of a new study: When a hotel allows smoking in any of its rooms, the smoke gets into all of its rooms, the study suggests, according to a story in USA Today.

Nicotine residues and other chemical traces “don’t stay in the smoking rooms,” says Georg Matt, a psychologist from San Diego State University who led the study, published Monday in the journal Tobacco Control. “They end up in the hallways and in other rooms, including non-smoking rooms.”

The study found smoke residue on surfaces and in the air of both smoking and non-smoking rooms in 30 California hotels where smoking was allowed. Levels were highest in the smoking rooms, but levels in non-smoking rooms were much higher than those found at 10 smoke-free hotels.

Volunteers who stayed overnight in the smoking hotels also ended up with sticky nicotine residues on their fingers, whether they stayed in smoking rooms or not. Urine tests found additional evidence of nicotine exposure in those who stayed in smoking rooms, but not those who stayed in the non-smoking rooms.

Canadian tobacco giants begin defense in $27 billion suit

| May 14, 2013

Three of Canada’s tobacco giants began their defense Monday against a $27-billion class-action lawsuit in Montreal by calling a witness who said the dangers of smoking are no secret.

Historian and professor Jacques Lacoursière testified tobacco’s health risks have been common knowledge for decades. He pointed to over 700 references to the hazards of smoking dating back to the 1950s, including TV and radio reports, school manuals, government releases and health professionals.

One of the many examples included a newspaper article that outlined a significant increase in lung cancer risk following the prolonged use of cigarettes. The proceedings will continue on Tuesday with the plaintiffs’ cross-examination of Lacoursière.

“What these historians miss is all the coverage that came out in the media about how the industry was involved in a conspiracy to hide all that information,” said Damphousse François, the Quebec director of the Non-Smoker’s Rights Association.

“They knew about the health effects of their products, but they didn’t meet the obligation to inform their public about what they knew.”

The class-action lawsuit, which is being touted as the biggest civil case in Canadian history, was first filed years ago. The complainants, two groups of individuals representing a total of 1.8 million Quebecers, allege three tobacco companies did everything possible to encourage addiction:

  • Imperial Tobacco.
  • JTI-MacDonald.
  • Rothmans, Benson & Hedges.

One group involves individuals who have become seriously ill from smoking, and members of the other group say they are unable to quit smoking.

Diggers reject mine sites smoking ban

| May 14, 2013

A call by the Cancer Council for smoking to be banned at all West Australian (WA) mines sites has been rejected, according to an Australian Associated Press report.

The Chamber of Minerals and Energy (CME) has said that a ban would cause resentment.

WA’s Department of Mines and Petroleum data show smoking rates in the mining sector are almost double the national average.

The CME’s manager of occupational health and safety, Richard Wilson, was quoted as saying that public health campaigners needed to design strategies to improve the health of the whole population, not target specific industries.

“Singling out one sector above others just causes resentment amongst people in that industry and fails to improve health outcomes across the population,” Wilson said.

Demand drives crop size increase

| May 14, 2013

The Tobacco Board of India has increased Karnataka’s authorized 2013–14 crop size by about four percent on that of 2012–13, according to a report in the latest issue of the BBM Bommidala Group newsletter.

The crop size has been set at 102 million kg, up from 98 million kg in 2012–13 and 100 million kg in each of the previous two years.

The increase is said to have been driven by international demand for the crop.

Traders had sought a crop of 112 million kg and growers one of 105 million kg at a recent board meeting, the report said.