Alliance targets unlawful tobacco exchange, with Arizona among top states in stash

PHOENIX – A truck crosses the U.S.- Mexico line into Arizona. Utilizing a mix of pirating burrows, country roads and all around set pay-offs, the driver sidesteps the Border Patrol and before long shows up in Phoenix conveying its unlawful freight: $4 million in untaxed cigarettes. 

As per a recent report by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, around 36% of all cigarettes burned-through in Arizona are illicitly snuck into the state, which means a $170 million loss of duty income – and a huge number of dollars of benefit for unlawful dealers. Tobacco is the cash of coordinated wrongdoing all throughout the planet, specialists say. 

"On a 18-wheeler semi, it costs about $100,000 for all the item that is in there," said Kristin Reif, head of illegal exchange anticipation for Philip Morris International, talking as of late to Arizona business pioneers. "Ponder the profit from venture on that. It just expenses $100,000 and you can make $4 million. In the event that they have 40 holders, they can lose 39 of them and still create a gain." Arizona is among the most exceedingly awful states for carrying of unlawful merchandise, alongside California, Texas, Florida and eight others being designated by another cross country drive from Phillip Morris – United to Safeguard America From Illegal Trade. 

Reif met as of late with individuals from the Arizona Chamber of Commerce, which is an accomplice in the drive. The accomplices intends to submit strategy proposition on illicit dealing to the state Legislature in December. The gathering additionally drew law implementation, judges, other business pioneers and sneaking specialists. 

For Philip Morris, the issue is rivalry and lost income. Be that as it may, the more extensive gathering likewise is zeroing in on tobacco, instead of fentanyl or illegal exploitation, on the grounds that the unlawful cigarette market is a significant benefit generator for coordinated wrongdoing. 

"Whatever you have, tobacco is a money," said David Lake, originator of the Center on Shadow Economics in Phoenix and master on illicit exchange. "With crooks, the hidden world, I can purchase anything with enough cigarettes. I would hit somebody up and say, 'I need a heap of tobacco, we're purchasing people.'" 

Tobacco is only one little piece of a rambling underground economy that supports drug cartels, fear monger associations, and human dealers. 

"It's not simply tobacco, it's beginning and end." Lake said. "You need to be wealthy in five years? Figure out how to pirate tampons. They aren't discretionary, and like anything individuals need, they're large cash." 

For Arizona specifically, pirating has been a perpetual issue. With an increment of traffic at the boundary, that issue is just deteriorating. 

"I don't have the specific numbers for the keep going year available, yet we experienced issues, clearly, on the grounds that we're overpowered at the line just with the volume of traffic, regardless that traffic is," said Michael Bailey, a previous U.S. lawyer for Arizona. 

The mission is in its soonest stage, however it probably will zero in on zero-resilience arrangements, controls on cigarette fixings and resource relinquishment, among different recommendations.


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October 8th, 2021

Drive In Denver Aims To Ban Flavored Tobacco Products

It was a stuffed house at the Denver City Council meeting on Wednesday morning to discuss another drive that would boycott enhanced tobacco and vape juices. 

"The top health spokesperson has announced a pandemic of youth vaping," Councilwoman Amanda Sawyer told a group. She is co-supporting the drive with Councilwoman Debbie Ortega. It's intended to target youth vaping explicitly. Ellen Penrod, Executive Director of American Lung Association in Colorado, is on the side of the proposition. 

"I trust gathering makes the best decision and passes the boycott," she told CBS4's Mekialaya White. "We realize that flavors are the main way that organizations junkie kids with nicotine. They start with a vanilla character, and perhaps they don't care for it. However at that point somebody says 'goodness, I have a mango flavor, gracious I have crème brûlée,' and this expands the time that they're presented to the nicotine, and it's profoundly habit-forming."  Penrod says the unsafe effects represent themselves. "It's not simply water fume it is synthetics, you are taking in synthetic substances into your body and we don't have the foggiest idea what's in a great deal of these vapes." Philip Guerin has possessed smoke shop Myxed Up Creations for almost 30 years, and energetically contradicts an expected boycott. 

"No one backers for youngsters smoking. No one," he said. He says he has severe rules, and clients should be old enough to purchase and appreciate seasoned tobacco from his business. He likewise advocates for stricter nurturing.  "With great nurturing, with the schools authorizing the limitations that are now set up, this would disappear," he said. 

The effect on his business would be impeding. 

"Particularly since it is a great idea to hold great assistance since the pandemic, this would adversely affect what we're attempting to do here."


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October 7th, 2021

Laguna Beach to return to prohibiting deals of tobacco and vape items

The Laguna Beach City Council will return to the discussion relating to a prohibition on the offer of tobacco and vaping items in the city when it meets on Tuesday. 

Councilman George Weiss has brought a plan charge that will prompt a conversation about the chance of such a preclusion. 

The chamber will consider whether to have city staff bring a law forbidding the offer of those items in Laguna Beach and to give an investigation of the expected effect. 

Laguna Beach has taken a gander at comparable limitations before. Smoking and vaping are as of now unlawful in all open regions inside as far as possible, yet the gathering took a gander at growing those limitations to remember a stoppage for deals two years prior. 

As indicated by revealing by the Daily Pilot, the chamber was especially worried about the use of seasoned tobacco and vaping by school-matured youngsters. 

Weiss said that forestalling the propensity before it begins for Laguna Beach's cutting edge is additionally an essential worry for him, yet he raised a few focuses, including shoot security and ecological effect. 

"I think the natural side of this, since we've eliminated plastics from the situation, generally, it's an ideal opportunity to move to something additionally an ecological issue," Weiss said. 

Councilwoman Toni Iseman said she was happy that Weiss took the subject back to chamber, and she communicated idealism that this present time may be an opportunity for activity. 

"Backing on the chamber is a certain something, and execution is another," Iseman said in a telephone meet on Saturday. "I believe it's the point at which we may be more able to take care of business, to really finish." 

Iseman seems to have had a shift in perspective since the gathering considered forbidding e-cigarettes in 2013. 

"I recollect that late evening heading toward the Lumberyard, and there was someone sitting at the bar vaping, and I watched it, and we were confused as to precisely the thing we were doing," Iseman added. "This was before it was somewhat apparent of how awful it is." 

Weiss' plan charge refers to diminishes in the probability that adolescents start smoking or vaping and in the effect of used smoke on general society as advantages of bringing a disallowance mandate. 

It additionally makes the cases that there would be less cigarette butts found locally and add to endeavors to bring down fire hazards. 

The half breed design stays as a result for board gatherings in Laguna Beach. Individuals from the public who wish to address the board face to face might enter committee chambers to talk and afterward exit right away.

Pict credit by Unsplash

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September 20th, 2021


Elite sports organizations have long been addicted to tobacco company sponsorships, almost since the inception of professional competition.

Baseball's National League, which would much later go on to form part of Major League Baseball, is widely considered the world's oldest sports league. Not long after its founding in 1876, player trading cards could be found in tobacco boxes.

By 1920, each team had its own tobacco sponsor.

Over time, however, the juxtaposition of elite athletes or sporting events and a product that, according to the World Health Organization, kills more than 8 million people each year was seen as illogical and most tobacco sponsorships were gradually banned across most of the world.

The 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles was the last Games to feature an official cigarette sponsor, and the partnerships between tobacco companies and sports such as tennis, football, baseball and American football that were commonplace in the first half of the 20th century eventually came to an end.

Except in one: motorsport.

According to a study published by Stopping Tobacco Organizations and Products (STOP), a global anti-tobacco industry group, Formula One and its motorcycle counterpart MotoGP remain the only major global sports series to still allow tobacco brands to align with certain teams and events to target fans.

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August 31st, 2021

Government tobacco charge climb will accomplish more damage than anything else

The current spending bundle being led by legislative Democrats could be a genuinely groundbreaking accomplishment, addressing large numbers of the foundational and close term issues confronting the American public.  Be that as it may, large numbers of this current bill's advantages could be altogether neutralized if officials incorporate an arrangement called the Tobacco Tax Equity Act. 

This bill, first presented the previous spring, has flown generally under the radar, however in the event that it passes in the compromise charge, it will rebuff low-pay Americans, screen independent companies and empower another influx of crime.  The Tobacco Tax Equity Act would twofold the government extract charge that buyers pay to buy tobacco items, change it to expansion and duty non-burnable cigarette options — like vaping gadgets — at similar rate as customary cigarettes. 

It's expected to advance smoking suspension, especially among minors, yet on the off chance that you investigate, plainly there's a huge hole between the bill's goals and its possible results. 

First off, this arrangement would disregard President Biden's mission vow not to increase government rates on individuals making under $400,000 per year. Extract charges are essentially backward, which means lower-pay Americans pay a heavier portion of their pay on the grounds that the expense is charged at the retail location. 

Since lower-pay Americans are altogether bound to smoke than higher workers, raising the tobacco extract assessment would be principally a duty on poor people. Truth be told, the Tax Foundation tracked down that "the weight of the proposed cigarette charge climb on the least acquiring 20% of families is multiple times heavier than it would be if the public authority collected the cash with the government annual assessment." 

Exacerbating the situation, this proposition would likewise target independent ventures actually attempting to recuperate from the pandemic. As indicated by the American Lung Association, corner shops get in excess of 33% of their income from tobacco deals. 

Climbing the extract assessment would drive down deals, stripping these organizations of basic income and conceivably constraining them to eliminate positions or shade through and through. The financial effects of this would completely check any income the public authority raises from the expanded duty. 

A few group might say that driving down tobacco deals is the way to go, however listen to this: Just in light of the fact that individuals will be less disposed to get them from a legitimate market doesn't mean they will not get them by any stretch of the imagination. 

Nicotine is a drug, so basically making tobacco more costly will not prevent individuals from needing to smoke. Criminal undertakings and posses will definitely dip in to sell less expensive items on the unlawful market — which as of now occurs in high-charge locales. 

In New York City, which has probably the most elevated duties on tobacco in the country, it is assessed that as much as 80% of cigarettes sold are wrongfully sourced. On the off chance that the government extract charge on tobacco is raised, New York's concern will turn into everybody's concern. 

At last, this proposition would really make it harder for individuals to stop smoking. 

Non-flammable smoking other options, such as vaping gadgets, are just about as much as 95% less destructive than conventional cigarettes — which is the reason a few governments, similar to the UK, really urge smokers to change to these other options. 

The Tobacco Tax Equity Act would burden these items equivalent to combustibles, as opposed to burdening them dependent on relative mischief, which means there would be minimal monetary motivating force for smokers to switch. 

President Biden's compromise bundle can possibly gain inconceivable headway for a many individuals, however on the off chance that they attempt to incorporate the Tobacco Tax Equity Act as a compensation for, then, at that point a lot of that progress will be scattered. 

As Congress attempts to draft the spending compromise bundle, it is basic that they remain with working Americans and private ventures and reject any government extract charge increment on tobacco items.

Pic : Unsplash

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August 30th, 2021

Cannabis some portion of things to come says tobacco goliath

The UK's biggest tobacco firm says it considers cannabis to be important for its future as it attempts to move away from selling customary cigarettes. 

English American Tobacco said it needed to "speed up" its change by diminishing the wellbeing effect of its items. 

In March, BAT took a stake in Canadian clinical cannabis producer Organigram. 

It likewise marked an arrangement to investigate another scope of grown-up cannabis items, at first centered around cannabidiol (CBD). 

"As we ponder our portfolio for the future, surely past nicotine items are intriguing for us as another flood of future development," BAT leader Kingsley Wheaton revealed to Radio 4's Today Program. 

Mr Wheaton, BAT's head showcasing official, said it saw cannabis related items as a feature of its future development. The firm is at present testing a CBD vape item in Manchester. 

"I think [CBD vaping] is important for the future, yet the current test is diminished mischief in tobacco and nicotine options, empowering individuals to switch." 

Marlboro producer could quit selling cigarettes in UK 

Delivering its half year results to the furthest limit of June, the tobacco monster revealed a 8.1% ascent in incomes to £12.18bn. 

It said in excess of 33% of its UK incomes currently come from vaping brands like Vuse, Velo and glo. 

The tobacco goliath likewise saw its quickest increase in new clients, with clients of non-burnable items -, for example, vapes - hopping 2.6 million to 16.1 million.


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August 23rd, 2021

Tobacco affiliations request activity against unlawful cigarette exchange

Unlawful cigarette producing is progressively affecting on authentic tobacco ranchers, processors and cigarette makers, says the South Africa Tobacco Transformation Alliance (Satta). 

The degree of this harm has been uncovered in an exploration report into illicit cigarette exchanging by statistical surveying office Ipsos, showing that every day gains are being made by the criminal organizations driving the unlawful area, the association states.It brings up that the examination finds that almost 50% of South Africa's shops currently stock illicit cigarettes and five fold the number of gas stations presently sell unlawful cigarettes, contrasted and a review led in February. 

What is especially unsettling to Satta is that some retail outlets are selling cigarettes for just R6 a pack, contrasted and the insignificant collectible duty pace of R21.60.The collusion accepts the solitary way cigarettes can be sold so economically is by not making good on charge and subsequently carrying out a wrongdoing to the detriment of the South African Revenue Service (Sars) and the lawful worth chain. 

In spite of the fact that Satta invites ongoing activity taken against some unlawful tobacco dealers, it mourns significantly more should be finished. 

The union trusts Sars should be more concerned and zeroed in on activity against the criminal behavior, however yet the illegal tobacco area siphons a huge number of rands daily out of the framework, it contends. 

"How does Sars legitimize the present circumstance to tobacco ranchers, including dark resource ranchers – who settle their assessments and follow the law, yet are gradually going under, and assembly line laborers who have lost their positions?" 

What especially irritates Satta is the way that the personalities of the unlawful tobacco vendors are no secret – one can take a gander at the brands which are expanding their quality and selling underneath the negligible collectible assessment rate. 

Satta is requesting activity from the income administration and more extensive government to maybe found a commission of investigation into the unlawful cigarette exchange, or present a thorough track-and-follow framework. 

This call is repeated by the Black Tobacco Farmers Association, which in an articulation on July 9 said the business would need to make a move if Sars doesn't earnestly manage the issue.


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July 27th, 2021


Zimbabwe's 2021 tobacco closeout season, what began in April, on Wednesday wound up being an immense accomplishment notwithstanding impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic.

As per the most recent measurements, ranchers conveyed 185 million kg of the brilliant leaf worth 517 million U.S. dollars when contrasted with 159 million kg esteemed at 394 million dollars sold during a similar period last year. The normal cost for the 2021 selling season was 2.73 dollars per kg, up 13% contrasted with last year. Agreement deals, which represent the main part of deals, will stay open until additional notification, as indicated by the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB). 

With the agreement deals still in progress, the current year's tobacco conveyances are required to go over 200 million kg, well over 190 million kg sold in last year's promoting season. Tobacco is Zimbabwe's second unfamiliar cash worker after gold, with China and South Africa being the significant purchasers of the brilliant leaf. Other top purchasers of pipe restored tobacco from Zimbabwe are the United Arab Emirates, Indonesia and Belgium. The harvest is fundamentally delivered through the agreement framework where purchasers give the ranchers the contributions for tobacco cultivating, accordingly lessening the capital needed to maintain a tobacco cultivating business. 

The astounding ascent in Zimbabwe's tobacco creation comes after creation plunged from the past pinnacle of 231 million kg in 2001 to a new low of 48 million kg at the stature of the country's financial difficulties in 2008. Developing interest from China and subsidizing from private tobacco organizations have supported yield in Zimbabwe. Albeit the nation is the biggest maker of tobacco in Africa, just 1.5 percent of privately created crop is diverted toward nearby handling, with the rest being traded in crude structure. To address the test, the public authority is planning another direction to get the most extreme conceivable worth from the money crop through esteem expansion.

Source & Picture

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July 15th, 2021

Tips On Staying Motivated and Positive During PPKM

Not very some time before the Covid flare-up, we as a whole had our deepest desires just as plans for the remainder of the year. However, it appears to be that life has been required to be postponed for an endless timeframe. A few of us have acclimated to this strange circumstance, though others may be feeling secluded or demotivated.

We don't have a clue when we will have returned to typical and for the individuals who are still socially secluding, we present these seven hints.

1. A Daily Routine

In this unsure time, it is a higher priority than at any other time to adhere to a day by day schedule. You don't have to design the entire day yet it's significant that we give ourselves as much construction as possible during this turbulent time. Exploration recommends that emotional wellness can be improved with a day by day organized daily schedule. Peruse more about this by clicking here. So get up simultaneously each day, adhere to your morning meal schedule. Furthermore, really enticing to remain in our PJ's the entire day, you ought to get showered and dressed as would be expected regular. Or on the other hand at any rate, ensure you're dressed from the midsection up for those significant telephone calls.

2. Practice good eating habits

Need we clarify why this is a smart thought? Not exclusively would you be able to keep your family all around took care of and glad however you can at long last attempt that formula that you're never possessed the energy for! Cooking and preparing can likewise be a great action for the family, keeping the children involved. Simply be careful with the wreck.

3. Home Workouts

Indeed, it's significant that we stay sound and attempt to stay as dynamic as possible during the lockdown. However, it is likewise imperative to such an extent that we attempt to continue to have a good time and goodness my this can be unfathomably fun! My mysterious top tip is to close the blinds for lounge exercise classes!

4. Correspondence

Staying in contact with our loved ones is so significant in such testing times. Why not find an old companion or brighten up a friend or family member who may be all alone during the lock down? Do you generally eat with a grandparent one time per week? All things considered, on account of innovation, you can in any case have a (virtual) get up to speed over a supper. Indeed, innovation can be overwhelming (particularly for some more seasoned family members). However, we've tracked down some incredible advisers for follow that will help you keep in contact with your friends and family.

5. Be positive

It's a difficult time for us every one of us, question. It's easy to see the troubles, issues and difficulties brought about by this pandemic. Furthermore, our hearts go out to those influenced by Covid-19. Not the slightest bit would we like to detract from the earnestness of the present circumstance. We need everybody to remain safe, stay educated and keep to the public authority rules. Our principle concern is for everybody's security. In any case, we additionally need to help out all of you stay positive during this troublesome time. So why do whatever it takes not to utilize your time astutely. Regardless of whether you are telecommuting, you have no drive (except if bed to work area checks?). So this is the ideal opportunity to zero in on yourself a little and invest energy with your family lock down group. How about we cooperate to see each other through the opposite side of this. What's more, who knows, possibly you'll come out as a multilingual competitor!

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July 13th, 2021

Havana exhibition hall features history of individuals who worked in conceal tobacco

Developing shade tobacco overwhelmed the Havana, Florida, economy from the Civil War until the 1960s. Contingent upon who you ask, the recollections of what was previously a world-popular venture in Gadsden County may be entirely against. 

On Saturday, July 10, the Havana History Museum, housed in the old Planters Exchange, will introduce: "A Half-Century of Amazing Gadsden County History." 

The Havana History and Heritage Society Museum has gotten another, $50,000 award from the Department of State's Division of Historical Resources to record video interviews with individuals, both Black and white, who worked in the tobacco business during its prime. 

This award will extend the 17 "Voices of Havana" recordings that are at present being displayed at the exhibition hall. With a few of the 15-minute narratives previously recorded, the exhibition hall desires to keep chronicling the accounts of individuals who worked in the fields and tobacco relieving horse shelters before the business' breakdown in the last part of the 1960s. 

Tobacco was brought to the Havana region during the 1800s. It had been noted by an early producer that tobacco plants that filled in the shade of a tree created more slender external leaves. More flexible and with a more fragile taste, they were quickly pursued in the stogie business. 

Rapidly, producers reacted by building a sort of covering that separated the light. To begin with, edges of wooden slatting, then, at that point cheddar material, later plastic cross section were utilized. Very quickly, the "concealed" tobacco was a hit with purchasers. What's more, Havana's future possibilities took off.Donna Warlick, who worked in the tobacco horse shelters as an offspring of 7, and presently sits on the Board of the Museum and goes about as Grants Director, reviews that offspring of the two races were let out ahead of schedule during the school year to assist with the ranches' work. 

In spite of the developing region's generally little 40 square miles and 6,000 sections of land, there were as much as 2,000 tobacco horse shelters where the slight, fine leaves of "conceal tobacco," that would turn into the external coverings of stogies, would be put away. Furthermore, it appeared everybody was included. That is the positive part. 

Havana's tobacco was assigned "the World's ideal" at the 1902 World's Fair in Paris, and its delicacy and taste prompted a great many positions. Obviously, that was from one side of the equation.Enslaved people had been quick to be utilized for raising the tobacco that had been presented from Virginia. After the Civil War, the cultivators regularly kept the Black laborers in a sort of obligated bondage, always unable to take care of their obligations and leave the homesteads. 

However a large number of the old African American interviewees do talk about the "local area" soul of Havana at that point, when small kids worked close by adolescents, and youngsters sought to occupations of more prominent obligation inside the outbuildings. 

"Groundworks," "luggers," "table servers," "stringers," "stick young men," were a portion of the spellbinding position titles. Working in the sun, the groundworks would cut and stack; the youngster luggers would run the leaves to "barges" — carts pulled by donkeys; the table servers, off-stacked the leaves to stringers who strung the leaves onto string joined to a stick.The stick young men conveyed packaged leaves to men high in the rafters of the restoring horse shelters who hung the tobacco where it would be permitted to dry for four to about two months. 

In spite of a sensation of kinship, there were, obviously, many negative angles to the hot, difficult work. One individual was paid $1.25 every week. Others reviewed an act of utilizing poisonous "arsenic of lead" blended in with cornmeal to put in tobacco buds by hand. The specialists managed, they have said. However, Havana was growing.Warlick talked about the supermarkets, the dry merchandise retail shops, cinema, the bank, two or three vehicle sales centers that jumped up over the course of the future — for the most part present to serve between 2,000 to 3,000 individuals working in Havana's tobacco industry. Yet, by the last part of the '60s, when the worth of that year's harvest was almost $22 million, the entire thing would go to an unexpected halt.South and Central American cultivators started to deliver their own fine tobacco coverings—at a much-decreased expense. The propensity for stogie smoking declined, alongside worries about wellbeing, and eased back interest. Also, new covering innovation permitted stogies' external covers to be much more slender and created at scale. Havana, as the pulsating heart of shade tobacco, was done. 

All things considered, for the individuals who actually live there, and for history-buffs who are entranced with a lifestyle so as of late lost, the videoed interviews and a visit to the Shade Tobacco Museum are incredible tokens of the worth of lives we shouldn't neglect, and of how quickly change can happen.


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July 7th, 2021

Tobacco & Art

During the seventeenth century, Dutch works of art with ladies and lines represented disaster. Ladies in these canvases are once in a while the ones possessing the line, and the Dutch specialists intended to send an ethical message that silly practices like smoking will lead individuals into difficulties. 

Craftsmanship in the eighteenth century included lines to pass on an exoticism and sensuality despite the fact that portrayals of smoking left design in the Western World. A model is Jean-Étienne Liotard's A French Woman in Turkish Costume in a Harmam Instructing her Servant, which includes a lady with a long line remaining in a place of power. 

In the nineteenth century, specialists, caricaturists, fine potters, and even authors portrayed ladies smoking. Despite the fact that depictions of ladies smokers turned out to be more normal, they were displayed in a negative light since smoking was as yet not worthy for ladies. During this time, craftsmanship that fused smoking was kept in rooms held distinctly for men including smoking cantinas, pool rooms, and libraries.Impressionists utilized lines to recognize guys from females and accentuate their diverse social situations with. In Georges Seurat's A Sunday Afternoon on La Grande Jatte, the male in the white suit holds a stogie, and surprisingly in this depiction of regular daily existence, there is a verifiable chain of command among him and the one who is with him. 

Whores were the main ladies in this time-frame to be portrayed with lines, stogies, or cigarettes as found in craftsmanship from Vincent van Gogh and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. The ladies utilized smoke and make-up (as seen from their bright white appearances) to draw in male customers. A few specialists needed to change normal practices and de-demonize smoking for ladies. Frances Benjamin Johnston was one outstanding lady who read representing for a long time in Paris and afterward found photography. Her piece named Self-Portrait portrays her holding a cigarette in one hand and a brew stein in the other. She isn't dressed provocatively like most females who were related with liquor and cigarettes during this time. All things being equal, she reasonably catches parts of her life and muddles the general public's comprehension of working class women.Jane Atché industrially distributed shading lithographs of ladies smokers with no sexual implications. Her prints offered complex lady who delighted in cigarettes.Resulting from new portrayals of ladies smokers from specialists like Frances Benjamin Johnston and Jane Atché, smoking turned out to be all the more socially worthy for ladies. In the long run, smoking developed into a marvel for ladies. Tobacco items required on fluctuated implications in the twentieth century. During the Roaring Twenties, ladies smoked cigarettes to seem stylish and sophisticated.Yet, canvases with female whores holding with stogies took on a negative significance since ladies from low classes were not intended to have objects associated with the high society. These pieces showed ladies as enchantresses who fooled men into giving them riches and influence. 

Smoking started losing its engaging quality as the twentieth century advanced, and workmanship pursued this direction. Craftsmen taunted the cigarette business for utilizing exceptionally sexualized pictures of ladies in advertising.Mel Ramos made work of art portraying stripped ladies on stogies. Tom Wesselmann misused the platitudes of sex and cigarettes by painting an uncovered bosom behind an ashtray.Present day specialists recognize smoking as a wellbeing hazard, yet some need to battle present day, no-no view of tobacco as opposed to deriding smoking. Sarah Lucas' photograph named "Retaliating in like manner" shows herself with a cigarette toward the side of her mouth. This one picture summarizes the advancement of the connection between lady, smoking, and workmanship. As per Benno Tempel, this photograph shows that "on occasion when society attempts to make restrictions, craftsmanship can get through them".


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June 18th, 2021

Astonishing Potential Benefits of Nicotine

nicotine appears to be destined to experience the ill effects of its relationship with smoking. Since it is the most celebrated constituent of tobacco, it has been blamed for causing every one of the damages of smoking, when truly pretty much everything in consuming tobacco causes illness and passing aside from nicotine. In addition to the fact that nicotine is censured for medical conditions it doesn't cause—like malignant growth and emphysema—yet the genuine medical advantages of nicotine are frequently overlooked or even stifled. 

Pause… benefits? Nicotine has benefits? 

Would you be astounded to discover that the medication a lion's share of Americans accept causes malignant growth doesn't cause malignancy, yet might be an advancement treatment for neurodegenerative illnesses like Parkinson's? Or then again that nicotine may help open the secrets of schizophrenia, or be utilized to make new weight reduction treatments? Or then again that a significant governmentally subsidized clinical preliminary is trying nicotine as a treatment for Alzheimer's illness? 

In spite of the fame of nootropics—purported brilliant medications or study drugs—numerous individuals don't understand that nicotine has been demonstrated to upgrade memory and improve other psychological capacities. In spite of the fact that it's generally misconstrued by people in general and pilloried in the press, scientists perceive the constructive outcomes of nicotine, and are effectively looking for new ways nicotine can help individuals carry on with better lives. 

Would nicotine be able to treat Parkinson's infection? 

Nicotine ties with nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) in the mind and different spaces of the body, and animates different impacts. This arrangement of receptors—the cholinergic framework, proposed to tie with the synapse acetylcholine—controls muscle compression, works in the safe framework to manage irritation, and animates the creation of different synapses like norepinephrine, serotonin, glutamate, endorphins, and most broadly dopamine. 

The surge of dopamine in the mind is the thing that makes nicotine habit-forming when it's conveyed quickly, similar to it is the point at which you smoke a cigarette. It gives a compensation of joy to the smoker, and a few group can't resist the urge to return over and over for that inclination. 

Yet, dopamine accomplishes something different as well: it can forestall or decrease uncontrolled development like the paralyses experienced by individuals with Parkinson's sickness. As the infection advances, neurons that produce dopamine in one piece of the mind (the striatum) pass on. The customary treatment, a medication called L-dopa (levodopa), itself at last causes another development problem: dyskinesia, the unexpected developments of the hands, head and middle generally found in Parkinson's patients. 

Analysts have known since the 1960's that cigarette smokers have a much lower occurrence of Parkinson's than non-smokers. What's more, research on Swedish snus clients has affirmed that the defensive impact of nicotine doesn't rely upon smoking. 

As well as ensuring long haul clients, could nicotine additionally give the way to successfully treating this fierce sickness after the side effects start? Creature contemplates have been promising, and nicotine appears to be compelling in monkeys to diminish dyskinesia in patients previously utilizing L-dopa. However, preliminaries utilizing nicotine patches to treat Parkinson's patients haven't delivered definitive outcomes. The exploration proceeds, with the expectation that science can recognize a way that nicotine can assist those with this startling condition. 

Nicotine is an intellectual enhancer 

Nicotine is by all accounts neuroprotective, assisting with forestalling degenerative cerebrum diseases. What's more, apparently the very properties that make nicotine an incredible possible weapon against neurological sicknesses like Parkinson's infection can likewise improve some mind capacities for any individual who decides to utilize it. Nicotine briefly improves working memory and visual consideration, for instance. 

"As far as anyone is concerned, nicotine is the most dependable intellectual enhancer that we at present have, strangely," Sussex (U.K.) College brain research educator Jennifer Rusted told creator Dan Hurley. "The psychological improving impacts of nicotine in a typical populace are more strong than you get with some other specialist." 

"We've shown that you can get an impact from nicotine on planned memory," Rusted told Hurley. Imminent memory is the mind work that permits you to recollect and finish errands you've set for the future—like reminding yourself to call your sister at a specific time. 

"It's a little impact, possibly a 15 percent improvement. It's not something that will have a monstrous effect in a solid youthful person. Yet, we believe it's doing it by permitting you to redeploy your consideration all the more quickly, changing from a continuous assignment to the objective. It's a question of psychological control, closing out superfluous boosts and improving your consideration on what's pertinent." 

Would nicotine be able to help you consume fat? 

It's for some time been acknowledged that nicotine goes about as a weight suppressant. At the point when smokers quit, they as a rule put on weight. Yet, a new report shows what nicotine means for digestion by setting off the body to consume specific sorts of fat cells through an interaction called thermogenesis. 

Thermogenic ("beige") fat cells are actuated to consume by animating a certain nicotinic acetylcholine receptor called CHRNA2—the very receptor that controls nicotine reliance in synapses—either normally by the body with acetylcholine, or with nicotine, which copies the impact of acetylcholine on the CHRNA2 receptor. 

"This pathway is significant from a fundamental examination angle, however it likewise has importance for metabolic and human wellbeing research," said senior creator Jun Wu, an associate teacher of sub-atomic and integrative physiology at the College of Michigan Clinical School. "The more we can limit an exact pathway for enacting beige fat, the more probable we are to track down a powerful treatment for metabolic wellbeing that doesn't convey unsafe results." 

A 2017 paper by researchers from New Zealand and the U.K. indeed, even proposed the possibility that "vaping electronic cigarettes with nicotine and flavors could convey comparable craving and weight control impacts as smoking." The thought merits investigation, say the analysts. 

Nicotine improves momentary memory 

Examination has over and again shown that nicotine improves transient memory. Indeed, it's among the most broadly perceived advantages of nicotine. In a run of the mill nicotine/memory study, College of Surrey (U.K.) scientists gave 10 smokers and 10 non-smokers either nicotine gum or a fake treatment, and afterward had them complete momentary memory undertakings at set focuses for four hours. 

"The outcomes propose that nicotine improved memory response time execution… when subjects were tested for data effectively present in transient memory (right sure reactions) however had no impact on response time when the data was missing from memory (right bad reactions)," composed the creators. "It is recommended that nicotine works with the preparing of upgrade data in momentary memory." 

Would nicotine be able to assist individuals with ADHD? 

Nicotine might be just about as compelling as Ritalin for improving consideration in individuals with Consideration Shortfall/Hyperactivity Problem (ADHD), as per Paul Newhouse, head of the Middle for Intellectual Medication at Vanderbilt College Institute of Medication. 

Newhouse has done an assortment of studies utilizing nicotine to treat intellectual and neurological problems, both at Vanderbilt and beforehand at the College of Vermont. In a recent report with co-creator Alexandra Potter, Newhouse managed nicotine with transdermal patches to eight teenagers with ADHD, and thought about the outcomes against Ritalin and a fake treatment. 

Newhouse and Potter inferred that "nicotine organization has quantifiable beneficial outcomes on psychological/conduct restraint in teenagers with ADHD. The size of the impact is in any event similar to methylphenidate [Ritalin]." A subsequent report with 15 subjects distributed three years after the fact affirmed the outcomes. 

Nicotine improves response time 

Numerous investigations have shown that nicotine diminishes (improves) response time when performing trial errands. Specialists at the College of London's Foundation of Psychiatry tried 113 smokers, and tracked down that smoking a cigarette "under naturalistic conditions improves the exhibition of the smoker on a level of intelligence related errand." 

In a comparable test, researchers at the College of Auckland (New Zealand) tried 29 subjects "under non-smoking, hoax smoking, and low, medium and high nicotine cigarette conditions," and found that nicotine diminished (improved) an opportunity to settle on a choice, and that trick smoking (making an insincere effort of smoking with a dark cigarette) expanded (declined) choice time. The impact was seen whether the guinea pig was a regularly hefty or light smoker.

Nicotine improves momentary memory 

Exploration has over and over shown that nicotine upgrades transient memory. Truth be told, it's among the most broadly perceived advantages of nicotine. In a regular nicotine/memory study, University of Surrey (U.K.) analysts gave 10 smokers and 10 non-smokers either nicotine gum or a fake treatment, and afterward had them complete momentary memory assignments at set focuses for four hours. 

"The outcomes propose that nicotine upgraded memory response time execution… when subjects were tested for data effectively present in momentary memory (right sure reactions) however had no impact on response time when the data was missing from memory (right regrettable reactions)," composed the creators. "It is proposed that nicotine works with the preparing of upgrade data in momentary memory." 

Would nicotine be able to assist individuals with ADHD? 

Nicotine might be just about as powerful as Ritalin for improving consideration in individuals with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), as per Paul Newhouse, head of the Center for Cognitive Medicine at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. 

Newhouse has done an assortment of studies utilizing nicotine to treat psychological and neurological problems, both at Vanderbilt and beforehand at the University of Vermont. In a recent report with co-creator Alexandra Potter, Newhouse regulated nicotine with transdermal patches to eight young people with ADHD, and thought about the outcomes against Ritalin and a fake treatment. 

Newhouse and Potter reasoned that "nicotine organization has quantifiable constructive outcomes on intellectual/social restraint in teenagers with ADHD. The size of the impact is in any event similar to methylphenidate [Ritalin]." A subsequent report with 15 subjects distributed three years after the fact affirmed the outcomes. 

Nicotine improves response time 

Different investigations have shown that nicotine diminishes (improves) response time when performing exploratory undertakings. Scientists at the University of London's Institute of Psychiatry tried 113 smokers, and tracked down that smoking a cigarette "under naturalistic conditions improves the exhibition of the smoker on an IQ related errand." 

In a comparable analysis, researchers at the University of Auckland (New Zealand) tried 29 subjects "under non-smoking, trick smoking, and low, medium and high nicotine cigarette conditions," and found that nicotine decreased (improved) an opportunity to settle on a choice, and that hoax smoking (making a halfhearted effort of smoking with a dim cigarette) expanded (declined) choice time. The impact was seen whether the guinea pig was a typically weighty or light smoker.

Athletes say nicotine improves performance

It's not difficult to perceive any reason why competitors may be anxious to attempt nicotine as an exhibition upgrading drug. Especially in complex group activities, better transient memory and response time are important products. What's more, nicotine is as yet legitimate according to the donning scene's administering bodies (albeit some American arenas are "sans tobacco," by rule or law). 

A 2017 meta-examination of 10 investigations about nicotine and athletic execution found that competitors accept nicotine assists them with performing better. Not exclusively is smokeless tobacco utilize far reaching among American football and (particularly) baseball players, yet snus is regular among world class competitors from Sweden, Finland and Norway. Of in excess of 400 Finnish competitors supported by their National Olympic Committee in 2002, 25 percent utilized snus. 

The competitors report that utilization of smokeless tobacco forestalls dry mouth, controls weight, helps unwinding, and improves response time and fixation. 

Nicotine standardizes schizophrenic mind movement 

Just about 90% of individuals experiencing schizophrenia smoke cigarettes. That is a smoking rate around multiple times higher than everyone. Researchers have since a long time ago expected that this is an illustration of self-drug. 

An examination by Uwe Maskos of the Pasteur Institute in Paris and an enormous global group showed the disclosure of a hereditary change related with the intellectual issues found in numerous schizophrenic patients — which may likewise clarify why such countless individuals with schizophrenia smoke. The investigation depicts how nicotine standardizes mind action in individuals with the transformation. The creators trust their exploration will prompt viable nicotine-based medicines for patients with the change. 

Nicotine may give an Alzheimer's leap forward 

Individuals with Alzheimer's sickness give indications of the issue a long time before the presence of the extreme disarray, neurosis and confusion that signal the illness' later stages. In the end the patient is caught in dementia, and may get incapable to walk, talk or even swallow. 

Analysts are attempting to learn if nicotine can viably treat individuals with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI), perhaps deferring or forestalling the movement to out and out Alzheimer's. Starter considers have been empowering. Individuals with early Alzheimer's manifestations have harmed cholinergic receptors.The trust is that nicotine can enhance the normal synapse acetylcholine to animate the undermined receptors. 

In a clinical preliminary, Paul Newhouse and partners considered 67 individuals in the beginning phases of Alzheimer's and tracked down that the patients (every single non-smoker) who were given nicotine patches "showed huge nicotine-related enhancements in consideration, memory, and psychomotor speed, and upgrades were found in tolerant/witness evaluations of intellectual weakness." 

Presently Newhouse, head of the Center for Cognitive Medicine at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, is driving the MIND Study, a huge preliminary that will follow 300 MCI victims treated with nicotine at 29 foundations over a two-year time span. Psyche represents Memory Improvement through Nicotine Dosing. 

"I'm persuaded that we will figure out how to help improve early cognitive decline and have a genuine effect in individuals' lives, said Newhouse. "In this examination, we have a modest, generally accessible likely treatment."


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Arisona Permadi

June 14th, 2021

Call for Global Adoption, Enforcement of Evidence-Based Tobacco Control Policies

Albeit significant advancement has been seen in nations all throughout the planet in lessening the predominance of smoking tobacco use, a huge execution hole stays as for tobacco control. Specialists assessed the pervasiveness of smoking tobacco and inferable sickness trouble as a component of the Global Burden of Diseases (GBD), Injuries, and Risk Factors Study. Consequences of the examination were distributed in The Lancet. 

As smoking keeps on being quite possibly the main danger factors for untimely mortality and horribleness universally, the GBD 2019 Tobacco Collaborators tried to appraise the weight of infection credited to the smoking of tobacco utilizing the similar danger evaluation system for 204 nations and regions, by age and sex, from 1990 to 2019. The specialists utilized direct assessment strategies for 36 causally connected wellbeing results that exhibit portion reaction relationship among current and previous smokers. 

In the current investigation, key scientific advances were embraced: (1) assessing the commonness of previous and current utilization of smoking tobacco; (2) demonstrating dispersions of cigarette-counterparts of tobacco smoked each day, pack-years, and years since smoking suspension; (3) assessing portion reaction bends for the 36 wellbeing results; and (4) figuring populace inferable divisions. 

Worldwide in 2019, a sum of 1.14 billion (95% vulnerability stretch [UI], 1.13-1.16) people were current smokers, devouring an aggregate of 7.41 trillion (95% UI, 7.11-7.74) cigarette-reciprocals of tobacco. This added up to 20.3 billion (95% UI, 19.5 to 21.2) cigarette-counterparts that were devoured every day around the world. 

More than 33% of the world's tobacco utilization was from China (2.72 trillion [95% UI, 2.47-3.01] cigarette-counterparts). The nations with the most elevated tobacco utilization per individual in 2019 were for the most part in Europe, with Montenegro, North Macedonia, Bulgaria, Slovenia, and Greece all detailing tobacco utilization that surpassed 2350 cigarette-reciprocals per individual. Conversely, nations with the least tobacco utilization per individual were for the most part in sub-Saharan Africa. 

Since 1990, the pervasiveness of smoking has declined among both male (27.5% [95% UI, 26.5-28.5] decrease) and female (37.7% [95% UI, 35.4-39.9] decrease) people matured 15 years and more seasoned. Populace development, nonetheless, has prompted a huge, consistent expansion in the complete number of smokers around the world every year since 1990, when there were 0.99 billion (95% UI, 0.98-1.00) smokers worldwide. The solitary striking special case was somewhere in the range of 2011 and 2017, when no critical change in the quantities of smokers was accounted for. Among the 204 nations and regions remembered for the current examination, 113 revealed a critical expansion in the quantity of current smokers somewhere in the range of 1999 and 2019. An aggregate of 111 nations and domains revealed a huge ascent somewhere in the range of 2005 and 2019. 

In both male and female people, the super-districts with the biggest relative expansions in the quantity of smokers since 1990 were North Africa and the Middle East (104.1% [95% UI, 98.1%-111%] increment), and sub-Saharan Africa (74.6% [95% UI, 69.9%-79.1%] increment). The biggest relative decreases in the quantity of smokers were accounted for in the Latin American and the Caribbean (19.8% [95% UI, 16.9%-22.5%] diminishing), just as in big league salary super-districts (17.6% [95% UI, 16.2%-18.9%] reduction).  All around the world, in 2019, smoking tobacco use was liable for 7.69 million (95% UI, 7.16-8.20) passings and 200 million (95% UI, 185-214) incapacity changed life-years. Moreover, smoking tobacco use was the main danger factor for death among male people (20.2% [95% UI, 19.3%-21.1%] of passings among male people). In addition, 86.9% (6.68 million of 7.69 million) of passings owing to smoking tobacco use were accounted for among current smokers. 

The specialists presumed that an unmistakable, critical chance exists among nations all throughout the planet to receive and implement solid, proof based strategies that will assist with speeding up decreases in the predominance of smoking, along these lines getting huge medical advantages for their inhabitants. This, thusly, will diminish the pervasiveness of smoking and forestall smoking commencement, particularly among youths and youthful grown-ups.


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Arisona Permadi

June 9th, 2021

Petitions U.S. Government To Make Cigars in the U.S. With Cuban Tobacco

At the point when Drew Newman of J.C. Newman Cigar Co. peruse an article about the lawful importation of Cuban espresso into the United States, he had a thought: why not tobacco? Obviously, the undeniable answer is the 60-year-old U.S. ban on Cuban stogies and tobacco, yet he assumed if the U.S. government permitted Cuban espresso to come into the United States, at that point his family's Tampa, Florida stogie organization ought to have the option to do likewise with tobacco. Newman was so motivated by this thought that he chose to request of the public authority. Recently, he sent a letter to the Office of Economic Sanctions Policy and Implementation asking that the U.S. Branch of State reexamine its situation on bringing in crude, unfermented Cuban tobacco leaf. 

"The U.S. government permits espresso and different merchandise from Cuba to be legitimately imported inasmuch as they are from 'autonomous Cuban business visionaries,' " Newman said. "I'm requesting of the U.S. government to add tobacco leaves developed by free ranchers—not the Cuban government—to this rundown." 

Over 125 years of age, J.C. Newman Cigar Co. has a long history with Cuban tobacco. In the same way as other American stogie makers before the 1961 ban, the organization (at that point known as M&N Cigar) imported tobacco from Cuba and rolled the stogies in the United States, first in Cleveland and afterward in Tampa, making an item known as a "Unmistakable Havana." From a duty viewpoint, it was undeniably more affordable to import crude leaf and make the stogies in the U.S. than to import completed, marked stogies that were made in Cuba, which is the reason Clear Havanas were for the most part more affordable than Cuban-made brands, for example, Romeo y Julieta or H. Upmann. "Before President Kennedy forced the Cuban ban, my family imported great many pounds of Cuban tobacco into the United States," Newman said. "We moved Clear Havanas, stogies that were made completely from Cuban tobacco, in our El Reloj stogie manufacturing plant in Tampa." 

In the event that the request works, it would be an arrival of sorts to the old, pre-ban days for J.C. Newman, a return the 39-year-old Newman trusts he'll find in the course of his life. For a bigger scope, such an arrangement change would not just set out new open doors for J.C. Newman, however might actually re-light a whole industry of Clear Havana creation in the U.S. 

"Preceding the ban, definitely more stogies were moved with Cuban tobacco in Tampa than in Cuba since Tampa was home to the world's best stogie manufacturing plants," Newman says. "Permitting us to import Cuban tobacco leaves would permit us to help free Cuban ranchers and to demonstrate, by and by, that we can roll preferable stogies with Cuban tobacco over Cuba can." 

It's absolutely a yearning proposition, however it's not without its political issues. Regardless of whether the U.S. awards Newman his desire, there are more possible hindrances to defeat in regards to Cuba's convoluted monetary approaches on private possession and exchange. Most significant organizations in Cuba, regardless of whether mechanical or rural, are nationalized under the current Communist system, implying that most exchanges are actually property of the Cuban government. While late changes in Cuba have prompted some private possession, managing an "free Cuban rancher" may end up being troublesome if the public authority chooses to step in, as tobacco is a valued—and firmly controlled—type of revenue for the desperate country. Hence, Cuban authorities may not permit ranchers to auction segments of a particularly rewarding yield in the event that it carries no pay to the country. 

Yet, there's an extra obstacle. Habanos S.A. is still incredibly defensive of its tobacco designation and how the beginning of denonimation (D.O.P.) is showcased internationally. Habanos, a state-run syndication shaped in 1994, controls the advancement and circulation of all exceptional, hand tailored stogies that leave the island. Just Habanos can lawfully order a stogie as being Cuban or containing Cuban tobacco, and there are as of now no outsider premium stogies containing Cuban leaf that Habanos has formally authorized. 

None of this appears to stress Newman much. He's certain that in the event that he can get stateside consent to import tobacco, his organization will figure out how to work together that avoids the Cuban government with regard to the condition. 

"The Cuban government ought not fear having free ranchers send out their tobacco to the United States," he says. "In the event that the Cuban government accepts that their stogie rollers are the absolute best on the planet, they ought not fear having American stogie producers move stogies with Cuban tobacco again very much as we did before the ban."


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Arisona Permadi

June 7th, 2021

Tobacco development unaffected by pandemic

Ranchers participating in manor across Mysuru and parts of Hassan area after Tobacco Board improved harvest size to 97 million kg. 

The COVID-19 pandemic seems to littly affect tobacco development in Karnataka this year with ranchers participating in manor across Mysuru and parts of adjoining Hassan area after the Tobacco Board improved the harvest size to 97 million kg. 

The Board, which had diminished the yield size for Karnataka from 99 million kg to 88 million kg a year ago, dreading a dunk in the worldwide interest for the product because of the pandemic, has nearly reestablished the normal harvest size by expanding it to 97 million kg for the following year. 

An aggregate of 88.42 million kg of tobacco was unloaded across the 11 stages in the State a year ago (2020-21) with the most elevated bid bringing going for ?264 per kg however the normal cost for the year remained at ?119.87 per kg as a generous volume of tobacco was ordered as second rate. 

Despite the vulnerability over sends out during the pandemic, the ranchers like to go for tobacco crop, where the profits are more guaranteed than different yields, said President of Federation of Virginia Flue Cured (VFC) Tobacco Growers Associations of Karnataka Javare Gowda. Likewise, the Indian Tobacco Association (ITA), containing makers and dealers of tobacco, had put an indent for acquisition of 99 million kg this year. 

Mr. Gowda refered to the case of how tobacco ranchers, who moved to ginger a year ago, consumed their hands after the cost of the tuber fell from ?2,500 to under ?1,000 for a 60 kg pack. "The cost of ginger has still not recuperated," said Mr. Gowda. 

Additionally, the Tobacco Board's choice to improve the yield size permits every tobacco rancher to develop around 1,750 kg for each horse shelter while the equivalent was limited to 1,550 kg a year ago. The ranchers contend that they cause pretty much a similar use when they develop around 150 to 200 kg more for each outbuilding. In any case, the increment in costs of manures is required to affect their bottomline. 

As indicated by sources in the tobacco business, the region under tobacco development in the State would go up by around 3,000 hectares this year as various tobacco ranchers, who tried different things with ginger a year ago, would get back to tobacco. The region would go up from 70,000 hectares to around 73,000 hectares this time, Mr. Gowda said. 

Then, Joint Director of Agriculture, Mysuru, Mahantheshappa, said the ranchers may likewise build the yield of tobacco by receiving progressed cultivating procedures without essentially broadening the space of development considering the improvement in crop size. 

Nonetheless, Mr. Mahantheshappa said the fall in cost of ginger need not really push every one of the ranchers to get back to tobacco. A decent rate is additionally expected to settle on maize, which is required to yield a decent harvest and a sensibly profitable cost considering the developing interest from the poultry business.


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Arisona Permadi

June 3rd, 2021

Tobacco use, tobacco cessation and tuberculosis treatment outcomes

Tuberculosis (TB) and tobacco use are currently two formidable public health concerns and independently pose a considerable threat to global health, and India in particular. With nearly 2.6 million TB patients annually, India is the highest tuberculosis burden-country accounting for one-fourth (26 percent) of the global incidence. Every year, around a quarter of a million people die due to TB in India. That is 2 deaths due to TB every 5 minutes. Also, with over 260 million tobacco users, India has over a quarter of the world’s tobacco consumers. Tobacco use kills nearly a million users annually in India.

TB and tobacco use are intricately linked. Almost 38 percent of tuberculosis deaths are associated with tobacco use. It is proven that exposure to tobacco smoke increases the risk of both tuberculosis infection and disease. Tobacco smokers have twice the risk of developing tuberculosis disease when compared to non-smokers. Patients with TB who smoke have twice the risk of death during tuberculosis treatment. There is substantial evidence to link smoking with tuberculosis disease and poor treatment outcomes.

Smoking damages the lungs and makes them more susceptible to TB. Tobacco use also interacts at an immunologic and cellular level to reduce antitubercular treatment efficacy. Although similar data are not available for Indian forms of oral smokeless tobacco products (gutkha, zarda), those products also contain carcinogens and are known to adversely impact the users’ immunity.

Tobacco cessation improves the respiratory tract’s ciliary function and local immunological responses, thereby improving cure rates in people with TB. This TB-tobacco connection is not known or practised by those delivering the DOTS treatment- thus missing out on an opportunistic win-win. E.g. The section for tobacco use history in the medical records of TB patients is more often than not left blank.

Proactively enabling tobacco cessation is essential for improving treatment outcomes in TB patients as well as reducing population-level TB incidence in the long run. India has set an ambitious target to achieve “END TB” goals of 80 percent reduction in incidence and 90 percent reduction in deaths by 2025, which is 5 years earlier than the stipulated timeline. India rebranded its RNTCP (Revised national TB control programme) to NTEP (National TB Elimination Programme) in 2020, to underscore this ambition. Currently, NTEP is well resourced and funded, with treatment centres spread across the country and community, and a strict protocol for administering WHO prescribed DOTS treatment. DOTS consists of a combination of key anti-tuberculosis drugs for six months under observation and adherence monitoring.

India has made great strides in the NTEP. During 2018, among patients with drug-sensitive tuberculosis initiated on antitubercular treatment, an overall success rate of 81 percent was recorded in India. The successful implementation of the DOTS regime is a public health win. However, the present annual rate of decline of TB incidence is around 3 percent, and needs to be accelerated to 11 percent to achieve the desired target. Addressing tobacco use and achieving tobacco cessation among TB patients may hold the key to open the door to another public health success for India.

The latest round of national tobacco use survey for India (GATS 2017) has evidenced that 8.4 percent of the current smokers had intended to quit smoking in the next one month and 38.5 percent of the tobacco users made a quit attempt in the previous 12 months, among whom 71.7 percent attempted without any assistance. As a result, less than 1/4th of all those who attempted to quit sustained abstinence for at least 3 months. A disturbing fact is that among 4.1 percent of the smokers who attempted to quit, switching to smokeless forms of tobacco was mistakenly perceived as a form of cessation. Besides, only 4.1 percent and 8.6 percent of them used pharmacotherapy and counselling advice respectively.

Quitting tobacco use without support is proven to be ineffective and unsustainable for most users. Over the past few decades, clinical research into cessation treatments has given us medications proven to manage the nicotine cravings during quitting. These include nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) products such as nicotine gums, patches and lozenges, and medicines such as bupropion and varenicline. Nicotine replacement therapy products are even on the WHO’s model essential list of medicines, thus underscoring the need to have them available and affordable for treating tobacco addiction globally. A range of behavioural counselling techniques have also been developed and proven to address the habit. A combination of these treatments, tailored to individual needs, and delivered by trained healthcare professionals, has the highest proven likelihood of success to quit tobacco and not relapse.

Improving cessation rates requires the practical implementation of the recommendations of Article 14 of the WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), to which India is a signatory. The Article states that all parties “shall take effective measures to promote cessation of tobacco use and adequate treatment for tobacco dependence.” ‘Offer to help quit tobacco use is also one of the six MPOWER strategies (the ‘O’ in the MPOWER) for tobacco control advocated by WHO.

However, the implementation of Article 14 has been sluggish, placing nearly a billion would-be quitters at risk of premature death, globally. In India, the infrastructure is now put in place at each district level in the form of tobacco control cells and cessation rates should see an improvement if the necessary tools and services are available. That may still be a bottleneck.

The cost of nicotine replacement therapy remains unacceptably high, and the availability of the products is limited. Healthcare practitioners do not get any or adequate training in prescribing cessation medications or providing cessation support to their patients. Myths persist among healthcare practitioners on nicotine itself, and many wrongly consider nicotine to be carcinogenic. This leads to poor support to patients for quitting tobacco, sub-optimal cessation outcomes, more failed attempts to quit, and a large residual population of tobacco users who face premature death due to continued tobacco use.

The proven success of DOTS for tuberculosis patients can have its mirror-image for tobacco cessation. Brief advice, accompanied by NRT and/or pharmacotherapy, should be considered as the first line of treatment for tobacco cessation. This would be possible only with adequate training to healthcare professionals across various levels including primary care doctors a DOTS centre staff and secondary or tertiary level of specialists such as psychiatrists and general physicians. Refresher training courses on tobacco cessation are needed on a regular basis for healthcare professionals. The training should also focus on motivating government as well as private sectors to record the use of tobacco products for all patients and offer appropriate and comprehensive support for quitting tobacco.

The journey from tobacco use to the prompt self-reporting of tobacco use, to intention to quit, to seeking appropriate intervention for cessation, and to finally quit smoking seems to have a long hiatus between every pitstop. This leakage in the efficiency of tobacco cessation is impacting outcomes of tuberculosis treatments in terms of higher default rates, poor microbiological conversion, and finally, higher case fatality rates among tuberculosis patients who are also tobacco users. The connection of these widely gapped dots could be a key to achieving the goals of tuberculosis elimination in India by 2025.

Since these two public health problems are under the ambit of their respective national health programmes, a coordinated effort is essential in all the components of the programme deliverables such as training of healthcare personnel on tobacco cessation, use of effective and appropriate technology for tobacco cessation, robust data monitoring, making tobacco cessation medications accessible and affordable, providing behavioural support appropriate for each tobacco user and audits conducted to monitor the effectiveness of these interventions. Designing an effective tobacco cessation programme for tuberculosis patients is the need of the hour in India. These initiatives shall pave the way for effective tobacco cessation interventions that enable improved quit rates among TB patients leading to better TB treatment as well as overall health outcomes.

Source , Pic Credit 

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Arisona Permadi

March 31st, 2021

The last thing ravaged small businesses need?

Gov. Tim Walz's claim that his fiscal year 2022-23 budget will support small businesses rings hollow for convenience stores, gas stations and corner markets.

Our association represents hundreds of retailers that would not be economically supported by the governor's budget but, rather, financially distressed.

With many businesses requiring employees to work from home, plus historically high unemployment, these essential retail businesses have incurred sales losses of up to 45% in gasoline and 20% of in-store sales. They have worked hard to survive, but the governor's budget may well force more of them to lay off employees and consider closing their stores.

Why? Because Walz proposes to raise state cigarette and moist snuff taxes by 33% and assess new taxes on electronic cigarettes. Minnesota currently has the ninth-highest cigarette tax in the country at $3.04 per pack. The governor wants to penalize retailers and consumers again by raising the tax another $1 per pack.

At $4.04 per pack, Minnesota's cigarette tax rate would move up to the fourth-highest nationwide.

Minnesota would truly become an island surrounded by states with significantly lower taxes. If the $4.04 per pack tax were enacted, Minnesotans could save a significant amount on a carton of cigarettes by purchasing them in neighboring states.

The savings would be $36 in North Dakota, $25.10 in South Dakota, $26.80 in Iowa and $15.20 in Wisconsin. This sizable difference would put Minnesota retail stores located near the state's borders at a severe competitive disadvantage.

Moreover, an illicit market in cigarettes and other tobacco products already exists in Minnesota due to the state's high tax rates and would only expand with higher rates. According to a Mackinac Center for Public Policy study, Minnesota ranks 13th-highest among all states for inbound and cross border cigarette smuggling.

Cigarette taxes are one of the most regressive forms of taxation a government can impose. The governor's proposed tax increases would be financially devastating to many lower-income Minnesotans. There is also a double standard in "sin" product taxation. Walz argues that since cigarette taxes were last raised in 2013, it's time to raise them again.

Yet the last time Minnesota's taxes on beer, wine and liquor were raised was 33 years ago, in 1988. The beer tax was raised two cents to 15 cents per gallon, wine is taxed at 30 cents per gallon and liquor is taxed at $5.03 per gallon.A person would have to buy 286 bottles of beer or 67 bottles of wine to pay the same $4.04 he'd pay in tax on one pack of cigarettes.

The governor went on to explain that the small minority of Minnesotans who smoke should be taxed more because "We use the tax code to incentivize or disincentivize behaviors."

The Health Department reports that Minnesota has one of the highest rates of binge drinking in the country and that 17% of ninth- and 11th-graders currently consume alcohol (rates much higher than those for youths who smoke or use smokeless tobacco).

So, the question becomes, shouldn't the governor want to impact the behavior of youths and prevent them from drinking by significantly raising taxes on beer, wine and liquor? Is it somehow politically acceptable to overtax a small minority of Minnesotans who buy tobacco products and not tax the majority of Minnesotans who buy beer, wine and liquor?

Retailers do their part every day to prevent the sale of tobacco to youths. Burdening them and their customers with the fourth-highest cigarette tax in the country would cost jobs and likely force stores, especially those near state borders, to close. What Minnesota's businesses need now is support, not higher taxes that would only penalize retailers and consumers.

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Arisona Permadi

February 5th, 2021

Campaign reminds retailers tobacco purchase age is 21

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services has unveiled a new campaign educating retailers that Federal law now requires tobacco purchasers to be 21 years old.

The Federal tobacco purchasing age was raised from 18 to 21 at the beginning of 2020, and local health advocates say it was a long-overdue change. The campaign’s message to retailers is simple. “Don’t sell tobacco to anyone under 21.”

“According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention nearly 9 out of 10 adults who smoke cigarettes daily first try smoking by age 18,” said Central WI Tobacco Free Alliance Coordinator, Jenna Flynn.

“This is an opportunity to delay or prevent tobacco use entirely.” In addition to the DHS’ campaign, members of the Central WI Tobacco Free Alliance are also working to educate tobacco retailers in Marathon County of the change.


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Arisona Permadi

February 4th, 2021

Global and Japan Smoking And Other Tobacco Products Market 2026

The Global Smoking And Other Tobacco Products Market report serves as a brilliant investment guide to deliver core information on diverse market elements such as customer motivators, customer response and behavior, brand developments and positioning across the competitive isle. The report is designed to aid the investment decisions and motivate crucial investment discretion for new businesses looking out for seamless market penetration.

The report is focused at delivering a high-end replication of all major growth facets across the competition ecosystem in order to ensure ample competitive edge for inquisitive market participants. Highly interested market participants and established international vendors may refer to this research report to design and deploy agile investment decisions.


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Arisona Permadi

February 2nd, 2021

Tobacco and Cannabis Policy 2021

The Biden administration and Democratic majorities in both the Senate and House could implement significant changes to federal tobacco and cannabis policy over the next two years. For tobacco, the change in party control of the White House and Senate will likely revive the debate around electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) products. For cannabis, the policy may shift toward outright reform (such as federal decriminalization or legalization), federal taxation, or the enactment of legislation beneficial to the cannabis industry.


In the 116th Congress, legislation (H.R. 2339) passed the House of Representatives that would ban all flavored tobacco, with an emphasis on curbing use of e-cigarettes. House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone (D-NJ) will likely reintroduce this legislation in the 117th Congress. Although there is consensus around dealing with e-cigarettes, Pallone will have challenges with a slimmer majority on the committee and in Congress, and many Republican and Democratic members have concerns about banning flavors in specific tobacco product segments. The omnibus spending and stimulus package signed in December included provisions aimed at preventing the online sales of electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) products to underage individuals. Going forward, it will require retailers to verify the age of customers buying ENDS. The Biden administration is expected to strongly enforce federal oversight of how tobacco and e-cigarette manufacturers market and sell their products.

President Biden has yet to announce a new commissioner for the Food and Drug Administration, but any potential nominee is expected to support stronger and more targeted regulations on the tobacco industry. It is rumored that Biden is considering Janet Woodcock to head the FDA. Woodcock has worked at the FDA for over 30 years and is serving as the acting commissioner at the FDA. Woodcock was previously the director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research but stepped aside from that role last year to help lead Operation Warp Speed. Additionally, Biden recently named the former FDA commissioner, David Kessler, as a top advisor on vaccine distribution. During his time at FDA, Kessler spearheaded aggressive regulations on tobacco and may continue to advise the Biden administration on such matters.


President Biden has publicly said that he supports the decriminalization of cannabis and removing it from the Schedule I list. Vice President Kamala Harris has gone further, stating that she supports full legalization. Congress has already passed several bills in the 116th Congress beneficial to the cannabis industry and will reintroduce those measures in the 117th Congress. In December 2020, the House passed the MORE Act (H.R. 3884), which would legalize and remove marijuana from the federal drug schedule under the Controlled Substances Act. The bill also allows taxing marijuana at the federal level. The House passed an additional measure (H.R. 3797) that would ease marijuana research regulations for researchers and manufacturers. Additionally, in 2019, the House passed the SAFE Banking Act, which created protections for depository institutions providing financial services to cannabis-related businesses. The SAFE Banking Act had bipartisan support in the Senate, but the other bills had little hope for passage in the 116th Congress when the GOP controlled the Senate.

With Democrats now in control of the upper chamber, the bill’s sponsors and advocates will likely renew their efforts. Majority Leader Schumer also indicated that cannabis reform will be a priority, but it is unclear if there is enough Republican support to reach the 60-vote threshold to advance legislation in the Senate.


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January 27th, 2021

Traditional Medicine and Tobacco Snuffing

More and more people are resorting to traditional medicine for different ailments. At first it was Moringa and Zumbani, but there is a new popular powder in town – snuff or ‘bute’.Though not scientifically proven, according to traditional healers snuff or bute has medicinal properties.

Muchembere Hungwe says the snuff has been used for centuries to treat various ailments, and is regarded as the pain stop version of traditional medicine.“Our ancestors used this snuff to treat headaches, stomach aches, you name it. Everything can be treated using snuff even up to this day I use snuff to treat my family,” said Hungwe.

Another traditional healer, Sekuru Banda explains how snuff is made.“There are different types of Bute but it is all made from tobacco, the tobacco is dried and made into powder,” he said.

But just like any remedies it should be taken with caution.“Bute has got nicotine and should be taken in small doses because it might cause heart diseases or cancer. We don’t encourage people to sniff bute all the time. Even when our ancestors used bute for various ailments they administered it in small doses,” he explained.

Because of various myths going around Bute is now in high demand.

“Bute is now scarce in Bulawayo and it’s now in high demand because if you sniff it you are able to sneeze and clear your nostrils and chest hence some people are using it to treat covid-19 symptoms.

“But please note, bute is addictive because of the nicotine components, people should not take it all the time or else we will have people even small kids moving around with snuff boxes.”

The ministry of health and child care is on record saying there is need for scientific research to ascertain the effectiveness of traditional medicines, especially when it comes to the novel coronavirus.

A Traditional Medicines Department, which is spearheading research in that area, has since been operationalised. 


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January 20th, 2021

Medicago’s breakthrough, ties to Big Tobacco and warnings a pandemic was coming

Under a winter’s snow cover on the outskirts of Quebec City, a high-tech greenhouse, set at a balmy 23 C, is growing row after row of a weed that could help end the coronavirus pandemic.It’s called Nicotiana benthamiana, a relative of the tobacco plant, native to Australia, and it is a key to biopharmaceutical company Medicago’s COVID-19 vaccine.

Medicago is the leading Canadian-based contender to produce a vaccine, with an agreement to provide the federal government with 76 million doses if approved for use.Medicago’s vaulting onto the mainstage could provide a breakthrough for vaccine science. It involves a new technology that’s rapid and nimble, and a vaccine that can be stored at normal fridge temperatures, of 2 C to 8 C, unlike the two other vaccines currently in circulation, which each require frozen or ultra-cold frozen storage.

While it’s possible the company may emerge as the new wunderkind of the Canadian biotech sector, it wasn’t without adversity.For years, Medicago warned that Canada needed to prepare itself for a pandemic and lobbied government officials for funding to build a domestic manufacturing site for a vaccine. But Medicago didn’t get what it needed from the federal government until after the COVID-19 crisis struck.

On top of that, in the middle of a pandemic, Medicago is restructuring.In July, it announced plans to distance itself from a significant shareholder, Philip Morris International, which owns about one-third of the company — a controversial association with Big Tobacco that has been the source of roadblocks and criticism. Then in December, the company replaced its president and CEO.

But despite this, Medicago hasn’t lost sight of its goal: a vaccine.In phase one of its clinical trials, 100 per cent of people who received its COVID-19 vaccine developed significant antibody responses with no severe adverse effects. Phase two clinical trials are currently wrapping up and phase three is expected to begin later this month. It will involve 30,000 people in 11 countries — including Canada — and will ultimately determine if the vaccine protects people from COVID-19. The vaccine requires two doses, 21 days apart, and if approved by Health Canada, could be in the arms of Canadians by the second half of this year.


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Arisona Permadi

January 13th, 2021

Spending on alcohol, tobacco hits record high in Q3 amid pandemic

South Koreans' spending on liquor and cigarettes reached an all-time high in the third quarter of 2020 amid the coronavirus outbreak, central bank data showed Tuesday.Local households spent 4.3 trillion won ($3.96 billion) on alcohol and cigarettes in the July-September period, up 6.2 percent from a year earlier, according to the data from the Bank of Korea.

It represents the largest quarterly figure since 1970, when the central bank began tracking related data.The on-year increase is the highest since the 6.5 percent surge recorded in the second quarter of 2016.

South Koreans' increased spending on alcohol and tobacco was attributed to collective fatigue due to the coronavirus outbreak and tougher social distancing measures.According to data from Statistics Korea, South Korean households spent an average of 42,980 won on liquors and cigarettes during the July-September period, up 10.7 percent from a year earlier and a record high.

In contrast, South Koreans' spending on leisure activities hit an eight-year low in the third quarter due to the coronavirus impact.Household spending on entertainment, sports and cultural activities came to 12.4 trillion won in the three-month period, the lowest since the third quarter of 2012 and down 24.1 percent from a year earlier, according to the central bank data. (Yonhap)


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January 6th, 2021

Tax reforms in tobacco sector

Pakistan has relatively low taxes on cigarettes, which not only sabotages authorities’ efforts of curbing the habit of smoking, but also leads to loss of revenue for the national exchequer.This was revealed in a research study titled “Regional Tobacco Regime and its Implications for Health” conducted and released by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), a think-tank in the federal capital.

Around 22 million people, including 60 per cent adolescents, consume tobacco products in Pakistan, owing to which 1.5 million cases of oral cancer are reported every year by the Pakistan Medical Association.The government granted tax concessions on cigarettes to provide relaxation to the tobacco industry. The study found that the tobacco industry flourished by leaps and bounds at the behest of revenue that could have gone to the national exchequer, signaling a lack of clear policy.

Not only does this tax relaxation harm revenue collection, it also has wide-ranging consequences on public health. Therefore, the study concluded that that there is a dire need to increase taxes on cigarettes to control their consumption and to increase revenue.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), more than 1.3 billion people consume tobacco products daily, with around eight million deaths recorded across the globe annually. The global health body has termed tobacco usage as an epidemic with severe consequences for public health, stressing that high taxation and increased prices are helpful in curbing this habit.


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January 5th, 2021

Cigarette excise tax

The government has decided to raise the cigarette excise tax by 12.5 percent (weighted average) for 2021. Cigarette excise is a policy whose main objective is to reduce the consumption of cigarettes certainly with ramifications on the industry and employment, as well as illegal cigarette production.The debate on whether excise should be applied almost does not exist as everybody agrees on the importance of lowering cigarette consumption.

Based on the 2018 Indonesian Basic Health Survey, one out of three Indonesian adults smoke cigarettes. The prevalence rate in teenagers, aged 10-18, was rather high as well at 9.1 percent. In the medium-term national development plan (RPJMN 2020-2024), it is stated that the figure should go down if we want to boost the quality of human resources. Specifically, smoking prevalence in school-aged children should be brought down to 8.7 percent in 2024. Therefore, the RPJMN states that the excise tax policy should be adjusted to meet the target.

Experience over the past years shows there is a negative correlation between cigarette price and sales, thereby smoking prevalence as well. Due to the excise policy, cigarette prices alongside associated taxes in Indonesia are now higher than the average in upper-middle-income countries by international dollars at purchasing power parity (PPP), although still a lot lower than high-income countries. Add the fact that the World Health Organization encourages an increase in excise tax so that all tobacco taxes account for at least 70 percent of retail prices for tobacco products, all these means that there is still room for a cigarette excise increase in the future to bring down the prevalence rate. From the production side, it is pretty clear that cigarette sales overall will be negatively impacted.

However, the impact varies across the type of cigarettes. In 2020, based on cigarette sales data as of Oct. 31, machine-made white (pure tobacco) cigarettes, which dominate the market share, saw a high fall of approximately 30.5 percent. Interestingly, the sales of much cheaper hand-rolled cigarettes increased by 14.7 percent.  On the other hand, the income of the cigarette industry was stable due to the industry’s ability to mitigate the price increase. The industry was dominated by seven big companies accounting for 79 percent of the total market share (2019). Gudang Garam, for example, enjoyed a rise in its profit margin from 8.8 percent in 2016 to 9.8 percent in 2019. The kretek (clove-tobacco blended) cigarette industry employs 158,552 workers, while clove and tobacco farmers make up 526,000 workers.

The industry by units is also dominated by small producers of kretek cigarettes, with a total of around 480 small factories with a capacity of fewer than 500 million cigarettes per year. It is indeed important to look at how the excise actually affected these vulnerable people. From the macro perspective, little did we know that the impact of the cigarette excise policy is not the main problem for the tobacco industry’s development. Despite the higher tax rate, local tobacco production saw a steady rise in 1980-2019 (Agriculture Ministry data). Local tobacco demand even increased from 127,000 tons to 197,000 tons in 2019, meaning there was no impact of the excise tariff increase throughout the period. The demand was even higher than the local supply, thereby necessitating imports. A study by the University of Indonesia (2020) in some tobacco-producing areas such as Temanggung, Rembang and Magelang in Central Java, Pamekasan and Jember in East Java, and Lombok in West Nusa Tenggara, discovered that there are challenges on the micro side.

They could not operate optimally because of the high production cost such as fertilizer, the high risk of production due to weather uncertainty, long supply chains, as well as big factories dominating the market share of cigarettes in Indonesia — mostly eating up hand-rolled kretek cigarettes, whose market share is only 19.40 percent. The 2021 excise policy accommodates this concern by exempting the excise tax increase from hand-rolled cigarettes and a relatively lower tariff increase in 2019.

The policy helps to lessen the impact on consumption. The excise policy of 2021 also supports another fiscal policy instrument on revenue-sharing for cigarette tax revenues. As stipulated in Finance Ministerial Regulation No. 7/2020, a proportion of excise revenue is transferred to the local governments of the producing areas and allocated for predetermined activities, such as social assistance to tobacco farmers and cigarette factory workers, as well as technical assistance and capital provision to farmers and workers turning small entrepreneurs; and input quality enhancement. The funds can also be appropriated as cash aid for impacted tobacco farming and cigarette workers. Apart from fiscal policy, some real sector policies can be made to address the issue of the tobacco industry supply-side.

The government can facilitate the partnership between cigarette manufacturers and tobacco farmers to match what the industry needs and what the farmers produce. Also, the government can improve the tobacco trading system and assist small tobacco farmers as they, in most cases, have a weak bargaining position against large cigarette companies. All in all, we should admit that 2020 was a tough year for all industrial sectors in Indonesia. By increasing the tobacco excise tax by 12.5 percent, we estimate that this policy would further push cigarette sales to decrease by 2.2 percent. On the bright side, smoking prevalence would also go down at around 32.4 percent in adults and 8.9 percent in children.


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December 15th, 2020

COVID-19 has a telling impact on tobacco cultivation

Tobacco growers in Prakasam and Nellore districts have begun cultivation of the principal commercial crop on a cautious note in the wake of the debilitating effect of the COVID-19-induced prolonged lockdown during the last cropping season coupled with labour shortage now.

The Tobacco Board has already cut down the crop size by about 15% for this rabi over the previous year’s crop size of 136 million kg for the State anticipating reduced global demand in the wake of the pandemic. “Transplantation of seedlings is going on a slow pace. The extent of crop may come down by 20 to 25% this rabi,” said Southern Black Soil regional manager R. Srinivasulu Naidu after taking stock of the situation at the grassroots level.

Farmers have burnt their fingers as the marketing season coincided with the incidence of coronavirus. Market remained shut during the early phase of the lockdown leading to discolouration and loss of weight of the produce. As a result, farmers incurred additional unexpected losses, apart from poor grade out-turn due to untimely rains in the month of January as the auctions prolonged for more days, explained former Tobacco Board member P. Bhadri Reddy.

The crop regulator has fixed a crop size of 71.34 million kg – 37.91 million kg for Southern Light Soil (SLS) region and 33.43 million kg for Southern Black Soil (SBS) region in the two districts.

Farmers have taken up cultivation of tobacco so far only in 7,879.80 hectares in the SLS region and in 7,000.08 hectares in the SBS region against 14,911.20 hectares and 12,232.80 hectares respectively during the corresponding period the previous year. Farmers also faced acute shortage of labour this season. Losing interest in tobacco, a labour-intensive crop, a majority of farmers switched over to, among other crops, chilli, bengal gram and black gram, said V.V. Prasad, a farmer from Chekurapadu village.

“Those who opted for tobacco will have to spend an additional 20% for engaging workers,” he explained. Last year, the cost of cultivation was about ?1 lakh to ?1.10 lakh per acre.

With farmers losing interest, the lease rent for tobacco barn dropped to about ?50,000 and land tenancy rent to ?16,000 per acre. Meanwhile, the Tobacco Board urged the growers to go for timely plantation after raising seedlings in plastic trays to get a good quality produce. The farmers should also stick to the crop size to get a better price. Late plantations would result in poor grade out-turn.


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November 16th, 2020

Drug Companies Use Tobacco Plant Protein.

Historically, tobacco plants are responsible for their share of illness and death. Now they may help control the COVID-19 pandemic. Two biotech companies are using the tobacco plant, Nicotiana benthamiana, as bio-factories to produce a key protein from the coronavirus that can be used in a vaccine.

"There's obvious irony there," says James Figlar, executive vice president for research and development for R.J. Reynolds Tobacco. Reynolds owns Kentucky BioProcessing, one of the companies working on a COVID-19 vaccine from plants. "If you wanted to be cynical about it, you could," he says. "But we tend to think of it as like at the end of the day, the tobacco plant in and of itself is still just a plant."

Vaccines work by tricking people's immune system into believing it's been exposed to a virus so it can fight the virus off, if the real thing should ever turn up. There are various ways to do that. One is to introduce something that looks like a virus to the immune system, but isn't infectious. That's the approach Kentucky Bioprocessing is using.

To make its vaccine, the company starts with tobacco seeds that they plant in a greenhouse. When the plants are approximately 25 days old, they're dipped into a solution containing agrobacteria. These are microorganisms that infect plants. In this case, they've been modified to contain instructions for making a protein from the coronavirus. The plants take up those instructions.

Seven days after being exposed to the agrobacteria, "we harvest the plant, go through an extraction and purification process, and at the end of the cycle, we have 99.9 percent pure protein, says company president Hugh Haydon. A separate set of plants produces a tiny particle for packaging the viral protein.

"Once each of those components has been manufactured and purified separately, we chemically attach them to each other," Haydon says. The result is something that can be injected into a human as a vaccine — and will prompt an immune response that should, in theory, protect someone from dying from COVID-19. "To all intents and purposes, it looks like a virus," says Bruce Clark, CEO of Medicago, a Canadian biotech company that's also using tobacco plants to make a vaccine. "So when it presents to the body, it looks and generates a response like a virus, but it has no genetic material inside," so it can't actually infect someone, Clark says.

Medicago has already begun testing its vaccine candidate in humans. Results from the initial studies are expected soon. Kentucky Bioprocessing's COVID-19 vaccine won't be ready for initial testing in humans for several weeks yet. Even if the vaccine isn't one of the first to be approved, it may have advantages over some of the other vaccines. For example, it can be stored at normal refrigeration temperatures, and may even be stable at room temperature, making it easier to distribute.

Besides, says Haydon, "There will be other public health challenges. And the more that we can learn as a company, the better prepared we are for what comes next." Plant biologist Kathleen Hefferon agrees plants could play an important role in the future of medicine.

"There are lots of examples of a plant made versions of therapeutic proteins, and so this is just another place where I think plants can make their mark." Out of the greenhouse, and into the clinic.


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Arisona Permadi

November 10th, 2020

May Tobacco Plants Key In Preventing Pandemic ?

Companies trying to make a vaccine for COVID-19 are trying a variety of approaches. Most involve laboratories capable of sophisticated biotechnology, but NPR's Joe Palca has this report about one approach for creating a vaccine. 

Vaccines essentially work by tricking the immune system into thinking it's seen a virus so it can fight it off if the real McCoy ever shows up. Bruce Clark is CEO of Medicago, a Canadian biotech company. He says his company put something called a viruslike particle into its COVID-19 vaccine. To all intents and purposes, it looks like a virus. So when it presents to the body, it looks and generates a response like a virus, but it has no genetic material inside, so it's not infectious. But the curious thing about this genetic material-free viral imposter is that it's made in a plant - to be specific Nicotiana benthamiana, a close relative of the tobacco plant, a plant they grow in a greenhouse. And Medicago isn't the only company trying to make a vaccine from plants. Hugh Haydon is president of Kentucky Bioprocessing. He says, to make their vaccine, they start with seeds and grow the tobacco plants in the greenhouse for approximately 25 days.

And on that prescribed date, we take the plant and we dip it into an agrobacterium.Agrobacteria are microorganisms that infect plants, and in this case, they've been modified to contain instructions for making a protein from the coronavirus. On the seventh day, we harvest the plant, go through an extraction and purification process, and at the end of the cycle, we have 99.9% pure protein.Haydon says a separate set of plants produces a tiny particle for packaging the viral protein.Once each of those components has been manufactured and purified separately, we chemically attach them to each other.

Haydon says the result is something that can be injected into a human as a vaccine and will prompt an immune response that should, in theory, protect someone from dying from COVID-19. The irony that tobacco, a plant that has caused so much illness and death, might be used to save lives in a pandemic isn't lost on Jim Figlar. He's executive vice president for research and development for R.J. Reynolds Tobacco, the company that owns Kentucky Bioprocessing.

Kentucky Bioprocessing's COVID-19 vaccine won't be ready for initial testing in humans for several weeks yet. Company president Haydon knows there are many other vaccines further ahead in development, but he says COVID-19 won't be the last pandemic. There are going to be other public health challenges, and the more that we can learn as a company, the better prepared we are for what comes next. Plant biologist Kathleen Hefferon agrees plants could play an important role in the future of medicine. There's lots of examples of plant-made versions of therapeutic proteins, and so this is just another place where I think plants can make their mark.


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Arisona Permadi

November 2nd, 2020

Tobacco Plants For COVID-19 Vaccine

Historically, tobacco plants are responsible for their share of illness and death. Now they may help control the COVID-19 pandemic. Two biotech companies are using the tobacco plant, Nicotiana benthamiana, as bio-factories to produce a key protein from the coronavirus that can be used in a vaccine.

"There's obvious irony there," says James Figlar, executive vice president for research and development for R.J. Reynolds Tobacco. Reynolds owns Kentucky BioProcessing, one of the companies working on a COVID-19 vaccine from plants. "If you wanted to be cynical about it, you could," he says. "But we tend to think of it as like at the end of the day, the tobacco plant in and of itself is still just a plant."

Vaccines work by tricking people's immune system into believing it's been exposed to a virus so it can fight the virus off, if the real thing should ever turn up. There are various ways to do that. One is to introduce something that looks like a virus to the immune system, but isn't infectious. That's the approach Kentucky Bioprocessing is using.

To make its vaccine, the company starts with tobacco seeds that they plant in a greenhouse. When the plants are approximately 25 days old, they're dipped into a solution containing agrobacteria. These are microorganisms that infect plants. In this case, they've been modified to contain instructions for making a protein from the coronavirus. The plants take up those instructions.

Seven days after being exposed to the agrobacteria, "we harvest the plant, go through an extraction and purification process, and at the end of the cycle, we have 99.9 percent pure protein, says company president Hugh Haydon. A separate set of plants produces a tiny particle for packaging the viral protein.

"Once each of those components has been manufactured and purified separately, we chemically attach them to each other," Haydon says. The result is something that can be injected into a human as a vaccine — and will prompt an immune response that should, in theory, protect someone from dying from COVID-19. "To all intents and purposes, it looks like a virus," says Bruce Clark, CEO of Medicago, a Canadian biotech company that's also using tobacco plants to make a vaccine.

"So when it presents to the body, it looks and generates a response like a virus, but it has no genetic material inside," so it can't actually infect someone, Clark says. Medicago has already begun testing its vaccine candidate in humans. Results from the initial studies are expected soon.

Kentucky Bioprocessing's COVID-19 vaccine won't be ready for initial testing in humans for several weeks yet. Even if the vaccine isn't one of the first to be approved, it may have advantages over some of the other vaccines. For example, it can be stored at normal refrigeration temperatures, and may even be stable at room temperature, making it easier to distribute. Besides, says Haydon, "There will be other public health challenges. And the more that we can learn as a company, the better prepared we are for what comes next."

Plant biologist Kathleen Hefferon agrees plants could play an important role in the future of medicine. "There are lots of examples of a plant made versions of therapeutic proteins, and so this is just another place where I think plants can make their mark." Out of the greenhouse, and into the clinic.


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Arisona Permadi

October 19th, 2020

Tobacco and Alcohol Tax Collections Down

The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) will soon roll out new and improved tax stamps for cigarettes, e-cigarettes and alcoholic drinks to ensure collection of the correct excise taxes. Internal Revenue Commissioner Arnel Guballa told the Inquirer that the upcoming new stamps would have new security features as previous tax stamps could be faked, resulting in foregone revenues for the government.

With higher excise levied on heated tobacco and vaping products since the start of this year, Guballa said e-cigarettes would also soon be affixed with internal revenue stamps, although he did not give a timetable. Republic Act No. 11467 imposed an excise tax of P25 a pack of heated tobacco products in 2020 and a higher P45 per 10 mL for conventional freebase vapor products and P37 per mL in the case of salt nicotine vapes.

The latest preliminary Department of Finance (DOF) data showed that the “sin” tax take from tobacco, e-cigarettes and alcohol amounted to P140.1 billion as of end-August, down 13 percent from P161.8 billion during the first eight months of last year. From January to August, tobacco excise tax collections dropped to P95.7 billion from P111.3 billion a year ago, while those from alcoholic beverages declined to P44.4 billion from P50.5 billion a year ago.

The stringent COVID-19 quarantine from mid-March to May affected both supply of and demand for “sin” products as factories stopped production for the local market while movement of nonessential goods had been restricted, including liquor bans imposed by some local government units to discourage social drinking. At the height of the lockdown, illicit cigarette trade flourished as unscrupulous traders took advantage of dwindling availability of tax-paid sticks.

As for e-cigarettes, excise tax collections remained small, not even reaching P1 billion yet, Finance Assistant Secretary Maria Teresa Habitan said. But as quarantine restrictions eased and manufacturing gradually resumed, sin tax collections improved on a monthly basis, DOF data showed.

Sin tax collections in August rose 25 percent to P24.2 billion from P19.3 billion a year ago, despite a two-week return to stricter lockdown in Metro Manila and four neighboring provinces during the month. For 2020, the government targets to collect P203.9 billion in sin taxes—P139.1 billion from cigarettes, P64.4 billion from alcohol and P400 million from e-cigarettes.

Last year, actual tax collections from cigarettes and alcohol were a higher

Source / Credit pic 

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October 4th, 2020

Alcohol and Tobacco prices to rise in Japan next month

Changes to the tax system starting October spells bad news for drinkers in Japan, as tax rates will be hiked for some alcoholic drinks.Prices will also be raised for some tobacco products.

Taxes for so-called third-segment quasi-beer are slated to rise ¥9.8 per 350 milliliters, while those for fruit-based alcohol, such as wine, are slated to rise ¥3.5 for the same volume. Sales of third-segment beer-like beverages, which are cheaper than regular beer, had been on the rise since the consumption tax rate hike last October led people to cut back on spending. A spike in consumption of food and drinks at home amid the novel coronavirus epidemic has also contributed to the boom.

On the other hand, taxes for regular beer will be lowered by ¥7 per 350 milliliters, while those for sake will be reduced by ¥3.5 for the same amount. The government plans to unify the tax rates for beer, happ?shu quasi-beer and third-segment drinks to around ¥54 by 2026.

Japan Tobacco Inc. and two other tobacco giants gained approval from the Finance Ministry to raise tobacco prices. Prices of some cigars, popular for their cheapness at ¥300 to ¥400 per box, will be raised to levels on par with cigarettes over two years, resulting in a price hike of around dozens of yen per box.

Meanwhile, public broadcaster NHK’s viewing fees will be lowered starting October.Viewers of NHK’s terrestrial broadcasts who pay with credit cards or through bank accounts will see their monthly fees fall ¥35 to ¥1,225. The fees of plans including satellite broadcasts will be reduced by ¥60 to ¥2,170. Last October, NHK did not raise its fees despite the consumption tax rate hike.

Moreover, the unemployment insurance system will be changed in October to allow people who leave their jobs of their own volition to receive benefits starting two months after unemployment instead of three months at present.


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September 30th, 2020

Ban tobacco street ads from 2022

Germany will finally ban outdoor tobacco advertising from 2022, the parliament announced Friday, becoming the last country in the European Union to do so. The German upper house put the final stamp of approval on new legislation tightening restrictions on tobacco ads after doctors campaigned for years to make tobacco less attractive to teenagers and young people.

Tobacco advertising is already outlawed in German media, but the country has long been the only EU member state that still allowed street posters and cinema advertising. Julia Klockner, the minister responsible for consumer protection, told Deutsche Presse-Agentur (dpa) news agency that the far-reaching restrictions were long overdue.

"Health protection must be the top priority here," she said.

The new legislation also stipulates that from January 2021, cinemas must stop advertising tobacco products before films where children and young people may be present. The bans will be widened to include electronic cigarettes from 2024.Cigarettes will also no longer be allowed to be given away for free at events or in competitions from the start of 2021.

An effort to push through similar bans in 2016 failed because of opposition from Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative bloc, but the party changed its position late last year. Tobacco adverts in the media have been outlawed across the EU since 2005. Germany's more liberal stance on tobacco advertising is in stark contrast to France and Britain, where cigarettes must be sold in plain packaging and adverts have been banned for years. According to official data, the tobacco industry in Germany spends some 100 million euros ($118 million) a year on advertising in cinemas and on the streets.

Some 23% of German adults smoked tobacco every day, according to EU data from 2017.


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September 21st, 2020

Identified outlets in zones to sell tobacco products

Residents in Thimphu can purchase tobacco products from the various identified outlets in different zones from today. Bhutan Duty-Free Ltd.  (BDFL) decided to distribute the tobacco products to the shops identified as outlets after buyers overcrowded its main outlet at Chubachu, creating a chaotic situation on September 11.

De-Suups and police patrolling team struggled to enforce physical distancing, while the BDFL outlet closed before lunch leaving many disgruntled. Some desperate consumers claimed that they were at the outlet as early as 5am although the outlet opens at 9:30am. More than 800 people gathered at the tobacco outlet that day.

BDFL sold tobacco products only to those with tokens to encourage people to queue up instead of crowding. Some days, BDFL issued as many as 500 tokens. But the customers increased each day. BDFL opened three counters to address the overcrowding. But the situation continued to worsen. One of the consumers said that she reached the outlet at 6am. She said that there were only eight people before her.

She said, “I came here yesterday too. I am not happy as I lost my place in the line because people started rushing and pushing.” Another consumer claimed that he walked from Taba to buy Baba (chewing tobacco). But he was chased away as the outlet closed its counter before time. He said that he would pitch a tent near the outlet to get his share if allowed.

A De-Suup on duty at BDFL tobacco outlet said that people became aggressive, and it was challenging to manage the crowd. Some at the outlet said that most of the buyers were shopkeepers who brought all of their family members to buy cheap tobacco products. The shopkeepers brought their non-consumer relatives and friends, even underage youth and elderlies above the age of 60. “They are hoarding,” an official said.

People were misusing the identity cards of others to get more tobacco products, some customers alleged. “Shopkeepers pay Nu 150 for a dozen of Baba at the tobacco outlet and later sell each packet for Nu 250. It’s an unfair price,” said a consumer. Customers are urged to follow Covid-19 protocol and follow the outsourcing guidelines for fair distribution and to avoid such unpleasant incidents in future. PT Tshongkhang at Changzamtok zone ran out of tobacco products on Saturday. All the zone outlets will restock tobacco products on Monday.


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September 17th, 2020

Early peoples were smoking smooth sumac

Some 1,400 years ago, people living in what is now Washington state were smoking smooth sumac, Rhus glabra. Scientists found residues of the native plant in an ancient pipe. The discovery, described this week in the journal Frontiers in Molecular Biosciences, marks the first time researchers have recovered non-tobacco residues from an ancient pipe. Scientists also identified the chemical signatures of N. quadrivalvis, a species of tobacco paleobotanists and archaeologists estimate was once widely cultivated in the Americas, but is no longer grown in the region.

"Smoking often played a religious or ceremonial role for Native American tribes and our research shows these specific plants were important to these communities in the past," lead study author Korey Brownstein, a former doctoral student at Washington State University, now at the University of Chicago, said in a news release. "We think the Rhus glabra may have been mixed with tobacco for its medicinal qualities and to improve the flavor of smoke." Researchers used a novel chemical analysis technique that allows scientists to isolate and identify thousands of plant compounds, or metabolites, from residues in a variety of artifacts, including pipes and bowls.

"Not only does it tell you, yes, you found the plant you're interested in, but it also can tell you what else was being smoked," said study co-author David Gang, a professor in Washington State's Institute of Biological Chemistry. "It wouldn't be hyperbole to say that this technology represents a new frontier in archaeo-chemistry." Previous analysis methods only targeted a small number of biological compounds, such as nicotine, anabasine, cotinine and caffeine. Early analysis methods weren't precise enough to identify different strains of tobacco or isolate the metabolites of specific plants.

In a second pipe recovered from an archaeological site in Washington state, scientists found the residue of a different strain of tobacco, N. rustica, grown by native populations on the other side of the country.

"Our findings show Native American communities interacted widely with one another within and between ecological regions, including the trade of tobacco seeds and materials," said study co-author Shannon Tushingham, an assistant professor of anthropology at Washington State. "The research also casts doubt on the commonly held view that trade tobacco grown by Europeans overtook the use of natively-grown smoke plants after Euro-American contact."

Authors of the newly published study are currently working with modern indigenous communities such as the Nez Perce to rediscover ancient plant management practices. At a greenhouse managed by the Nez Perce, tribe members are growing pre-contact tobacco, with hopes of smoking the same strains of tobacco that their ancestors smoked.

"We took over an entire greenhouse to grow these plants and collected millions of seeds so that the Nez Perce people could reintroduce these native plants back onto their land," Brownstein said. "I think these kinds of projects are so important because they help build trust between us and tribal communities and show that we can work together to make discoveries."


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September 14th, 2020

The Best Tobacco Free Dip

Chewing tobacco used to be seen as a healthier alternative to smoking cigarettes. The logic was that dip is safer, since it doesn’t require burning the tobacco and inhaling harmful chemicals into your lungs. Research has debunked that theory, and we now know that the curing and fermenting processes involved with making chewing tobacco can lead to a buildup of carcinogens in the products. People who use dip made from tobacco are vulnerable to severe gum disease and cancers of the mouth, throat, and digestive tract, among other problems.

Though never picking up tobacco in the first place is the healthiest choice, smokeless tobacco users have several options to turn to if they want to work on becoming more health-conscious in their habits. Most alternatives, however, are not particularly satisfying. Quitting cold turkey with no additional strategy in place has a very low success rate, and cessation products like the patch, or nicotine-free alternatives, are an incomplete support.

Using dip is not just about the nicotine it delivers—it is also about the ritual and the tradition. Black Buffalo recognizes the need for a solution that honors heritage and routine while delivering the nicotine that consumers crave and eliminating what they don’t. Their tobacco-free dip looks, tastes, and feels like the real thing, it contains pharmaceutical-grade nicotine, and it gives people who want to quit smokeless tobacco an option that satisfies.

A Gap in the Market

The warnings tobacco companies are required to include on their packaging just do not outweigh the billions of dollars they spend on the advertising that gets consumers hooked. Most people don’t even think about the long-term consequences of using tobacco when they first start. They don’t see it as picking up a habit to which they will become addicted; and they definitely don’t picture themselves suffering from mouth or throat cancer when they pack that first pinch into their cheek—yet 90 percent of people with oral cancer use tobacco. Chewing tobacco also leads to a whole host of other problems as well. The risk for pancreatic cancer is increased by using chewing tobacco, along with dental disease, precancerous mouth lesions, bad breath, heart disease, and stroke.

Picking up the habit is one of the easiest things in the world to do; but quitting is one of the hardest due to the extreme addictiveness of nicotine, along with the fact that tobacco use gets incorporated into most facets of everyday living. Nicotine triggers a release of dopamine in the brain, which results in a euphoric, alert feeling that tobacco users quickly start craving at regular intervals.

Within just a few uses, the brain becomes dependent on nicotine to produce the normal amounts of dopamine that it was producing on its own just a short time before. Eventually, it becomes nearly impossible to separate tobacco use from daily activities, and quitting strategies often only address half of the problem. Most people go cold turkey on their first attempt, but withdrawal symptoms often put a swift end to the effort. Patches provide a nicotine rush that minimizes the withdrawal, but they do not compensate for the ritual or the physical activity that comes with dipping. Herbal dip helps replace the ritual, but it also does not help with withdrawal. Tobacco users are left with an endless cycle of trying to develop healthier habits, but never feeling satisfied with their methods.

Black Buffalo Ends the Cycle

Black Buffalo provides a real solution for people looking for ways to end their tobacco use. The company has spent years developing a tobacco-free product that so closely mimics traditional chewing tobacco in look, flavor, and feel, that even tobacco farmers have been fooled. The company understands the importance of an authentic replacement for long-term tobacco users, and they have paid attention to every detail. The high-quality embossed packaging is the same as with any other smokeless tobacco products. The traditional flavors of wintergreen, original and mint, or the fruity flavors of peach and blood orange, all come in long-cut tins or pouches to help users feel like they are engaging in the same routine they always have. Medical-grade nicotine even creates the same head buzz as authentic dip.

The only difference between Black Buffalo smokeless tobacco alternative and traditional chewing tobacco is the tobacco itself. Instead, it is made with organic, edible green leaves, and the flavor has been curated by some of the top flavor houses of The South. For people who have struggled to kick the habit, Black Buffalo may be the solution they have been waiting for.

Ditch the Tobacco, Keep the Authenticity

People who use chewing tobacco often have a long history with it. They may have grown up watching their parents and grandparents using, before becoming adults and picking dip up for themselves. The routine of tobacco embeds itself into everyday living, and the addiction becomes about so much more than just the nicotine. Once that happens, quitting becomes one of the most difficult things to do despite known health consequences. Most cessation aids only address one facet of addiction while ignoring the others, which results in a frustrating and endless cycle of quitting only to start again when willpower runs out.

Chewing tobacco users who are looking for a complete solution need to look no further than Black Buffalo. The smokeless tobacco alternative delivers medical-grade nicotine, satisfies the need for routine, and offers the same experience as traditional tobacco products without including the leaves or stems from the tobacco plant. Black Buffalo helps people charge ahead in their efforts to successfully stop using tobacco by giving them an authentic product that lets them keep all the things they love about their dip.


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September 11th, 2020

Tobacco and Alcohol seized

Revenue officers have seized almost €40,000 worth of smuggled cigarettes and tobacco as well as over €6,000 worth of alcohol at Rosslare Europort. The seizures were made when officers searched a Northern Ireland-registered van and caravan that arrived at the port from Bilbao in Spain on Saturday.

Two men, aged in their 30s and 40s, were questioned following the discovery and investigations are ongoing. Officers examined the van and a caravan accompanying it following routine profiling and found 31,220 cigarettes branded 'John Player', 'L&M Blue' and 'Richmond' as well as 31kg of tobacco branded 'Amber Leaf'.

The combined cigarettes and tobacco have an estimated retail value of over €39,300, representing a loss to the exchequer of €31,797 in taxes, according to a Revenue spokesman. They also seized 329 litres of alcohol with an estimated retail value of €6,690 representing a loss of the exchequer of €3,843. 

The seizures took place as part of Revenue's ongoing operations targeting smuggling and the supply of alcohol and cigarettes in the "shadow economy", the spokesman said.


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September 7th, 2020

Health Group Blast govt for minimal progress in revised tobacco regulation

Several nationwide medical and health organizations have urged the Health Ministry to accelerate the revisions to Government Regulation (PP) No 109/2012 on the safety of addictive ingredients in tobacco products. The organizations said during a webinar on Monday that the draft revision that began in May 2018 should have been completed in a year, but that the drafting process seemed to have slowed down after eight interministerial meetings. In accordance with Presidential Decree No. 9/2018, the draft revision targets the pictographic health warnings on tobacco products.

The Coordinating Human Development and Cultural Affairs Ministry has also asked the Health Ministry to review the regulations on online cigarette advertising and controlling the consumption of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes), also known as vaping devices. The revised PP on addictive tobacco ingredients appears in the 2020-2024 National Medium-Term Development Plan (RPJMN), which includes a plan to completely ban cigarette advertisements, enlarge the health warning pictographs, strengthen smoking cessation services and reduce child smokers by 0.4 percent. “The slow revision process shows the government’s lack of awareness about the urgency of controlling high cigarette consumption in Indonesia.

The Health Minister should immediately complete his homework,” said Tubagus Haryo Karbyanto of the National Commission on Tobacco Control (NCTC). Indonesian Society of Internal Medicine (PAPDI) chairman Sally Aman Nasution stressed that stronger control of tobacco consumption was even more urgent during the COVID-19 health emergency, given that smokers were more vulnerable to contracting the disease.  "Strengthening regulations to control [tobacco] consumption is imperative,” said Sally, noting that the prevalence of noncommunicable diseases was increasing, primarily in connection with high tobacco consumption in the country. Echoing Sally, Feni Fitriani Taufik of the Indonesian Society of Respirology (PDPI) urged the government to step up its tobacco control efforts, pointing out that several countries had banned tobacco sales and imports during the pandemic.

According to chairman Aru Sudoyo of the Indonesian Cancer Foundation, cigarette consumption was the leading cause of the high incidence of lung cancer among Indonesian men, with 19.4 cases per 100,000 population. Meanwhile, the overall mortality rate for both men and women in Indonesia was 10.9 cases per 100,000 population. “The Health Ministry does not seem to take the situation seriously," said Indonesian Teachers Association chairman Unifah Rosidi, blasting the regulation for its lax control of cigarette consumption "while our children have very [poor knowledge] on the dangers of smoking”. Separately, Indonesian Heart Foundation (YJI) chairman Esti Nurjadin said that the foundation had sent a letter urging President Joko Widodo to push for the revised regulation. She added that the YJI's letter to the President also expressed appreciation for the 2020-2024 RPJMN, which promoted public health.

Green Crescent Indonesia president Era Catur Prasetya underlined that regulatory policies on advertising, tobacco sponsorship, large pictographic warnings, pricing and underage sales bans  in many countries had proven effective in reducing tobacco consumption. 

“The PP revision is also important so the [public] has access to skills empowerment and smoking cessation programs,” he said. Representing the Alliance of Cigarette Victims at the webinar, Zainuddin, a survivor of laryngeal cancer from passive smoking, said that the revised regulation would help prevent “suffering” among young Indonesians. “Our request is simple. We don’t want the younger generations to suffer like we have. We don’t want more victims like us. [...] Minister, you have a very large role to play in saving future generations,” he said.


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September 1st, 2020

Zimbabwe Tobacco auction season ends

THE 2020 tobacco auction season comes to an end tomorrow while contract sales remain open until further notice, the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) has said.The golden leaf is being sold through auction and contract arrangements with the selling season traditionally beginning in March. This year’s selling season began in April because of the adverse impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. The delay required TIMB to make adequate preparations to curb the spread of the deadly disease.  Speaking by telephone, TIMB chairman Mr Patrick Devenish said the auction system has this year played an insignificant role at the main auction floors due to the decentralisation of the crop’s sales to districts across the growing regions.

“As you know, the auction has played a very small role in the sale of tobacco this year because of the devolution of sales to the districts, so the auction sales are effectively over. “The final sales day will be Friday this week and then we will wait until there are some bits and pieces of tobacco for clean up sale and this will be probably sometime in September,” he said.

The golden leaf is one of Zimbabwe’s major foreign currency earners and has of late been pivotal in anchoring the economy through liquidity support. So far, about 176 million kilogrammes of tobacco have gone under the hammer generating close to US$440 million. Commenting on the quality of this year’s tobacco sales, Mr Devinish said: “The quality of the crop this year has been quite interesting because on one hand, the top end of the crop has been very good quality. “The bottom end of the crop has not been such good quality. So, it has been an interesting year where you have got quite a big range of qualities.

“As you know the crop sizes have been essentially smaller than the first crop and this is primarily due to the drought. People’s estimates were affected by the very poor rainfall received.” Mr Devinish said due to drought the 230 million kg golden leaf target for this year might be missed.

Zimbabwe generates US$1 billion per year from tobacco exports. The country exports tobacco mostly to China, South Africa, Belgium, United Arab Emirates, Indonesia, Sudan and Russia among others. Zimbabwe exports 98 percent of the golden leaf produced locally with tobacco receipts from the foreign markets expected to reach $1,2 billion this year compared to $904 million achieved last year.


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August 27th, 2020

Getting rich from SA’s cigarette ban

In Zimbabwe, there’s a legend called “Wella”, who made R4m overnight. People found out about his windfall after a video he posted on social media earlier this month went viral. In it, he’s showing off wads of R200 notes. Last week he was a nobody, he says, but now his wife will drive a R300,000 car. “It’s all my money!” he adds.

Not that it was earned legally. Wella is said to have made the money by selling 200 boxes of contraband cigarettes in Joburg. That’s 10,000 cartons, or 100,000 packs of 20 cigarettes. With restrictive Covid-19 lockdown measures in place, the border between SA and Zimbabwe closed for all but essential travel, and SA headed into the 18th week of a ban on the sale of tobacco, many hustlers in the border town of Beitbridge are chasing Wella’s record. Not all have been as successful. For example, police in Limpopo arrested four men en route to Musina last month. They were in possession of 4,040 cartons of cigarettes, with a street value of about R1m.

“They were just unlucky,” says a Beitbridge supermarket owner who has himself started dabbling in the illicit trade to keep his legitimate business afloat. “I’m sure they have been successful on numerous occasions.” Zimbabwe police spokesperson assistant commissioner Paul Nyathi tells the FM that the government is concerned by the rise in illicit trade between the two countries, which comes with the threat of more Covid-19 infections and cases that can’t be traced.

“In a crackdown on border jumpers, police in Beitbridge arrested 10 people [two weeks ago],” he says. “They are being charged for smuggling and breaching Covid-19 lockdown regulations.” On the SA side of the border, Brig Motlafela Mojapelo says the police have roped in the army for reinforcement.

“In Musina a box with 50 cartons fetches R10,000. There’s a profit of R4,000,” Mojapelo says, adding that prices in Joburg are higher. Sources in the trade tell the FM the racket runs from political elites, to army and police officers, down to the ordinary people involved in the trade.

“You have those with access to wholesale — they buy the cigarettes straight from manufacturers,” a source says. “For example, this week a box of Remington Gold procured at $260 (about R4,400) is sold to people in Beitbridge for $290. With each box comes a $30 profit locally. From a truckload, they can make a profit of $6,000 in just an hour at no risk, because they don’t cross into SA.”

Smugglers in Beitbridge then use any one of more than 200 illegal crossing points into SA to move the cigarettes into the country. They charge R700 to move a single box across the border.

“From that, we pay border patrol and make a profit,” says a border crosser, adding that it’s high risk because if you’re caught, your vehicle is impounded.

‘A mafia enterprise’

In Musina, the boxes pass to middlemen, who have links to bigger buyers in Joburg. “When the cigarettes are transported to inner SA, there are three or so cars that accompany the main vehicle, checking for any possible danger on the way,” says another source. If, like Wella, you bypass the couriers, the Musina buyers and the security detail, you can score big. But it’s not encouraged.

“Everyone has a part to play,” the source says. “There’s no need to be greedy — this is a mafia enterprise.” Cigarette companies in Zimbabwe declined to comment on the issue, but one executive, speaking on condition of anonymity, says selling cigarettes locally doesn’t make business sense. There’s a ready market for Zimbabwean tobacco products in SA — and the price cigarettes fetch there is much higher. “The only local inputs in a pack [of cigarettes] are the tobacco and the packet. The rest, like filters, stems, flavours and even the crispy plastic outside the pack, is imported. Not to mention machinery and spares. So clearly, with the current forex shortage there are bound to be shortages on the local market,” the executive adds.

Other brands are manufactured in SA and exported to Zimbabwe as a finished product. But “importing and selling in the local currency makes no sense”, he says. It’s an explanation that dovetails with the claim by illicit trade expert Telita Snyckers that some cigarettes manufactured in SA and earmarked for export are smuggled back into the country. It’s big business. Last year, the illicit cigarette trade cost SA R8bn in lost revenue, according to the Tobacco Institute of Southern Africa. But that was before Covid. Africa Check reports that in April — the first full month of lockdown — excise taxes on tobacco sales were down by more than R36m a day compared with April 2019.

It means Zimbabwean tobacco smugglers are keeping a close eye on legal action around the tobacco ban — including cases brought by British American Tobacco SA and lobby group the Fair Trade Independent Tobacco Association. Having the ban remain in place is, after all, an advantage for them.


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August 24th, 2020

Smokers launch own legal battle against tobacco ban

A group of smokers arguing that the tobacco ban is affecting their physical and mental health negatively, are taking the fight to government on their own, amid several other legal challenges by tobacco companies.
Government is facing another court challenge to its ban on tobacco sales – only this time, smokers are taking it on.  Justice for RSA – an NPC, newly formed off the back of a Facebook group called ‘#Smokers Against Lockdown Cigarette Ban’ – has launched an urgent direct access application in the Constitutional Court, to have the ban thrown out.

This is not the first challenge to the ban since it came into effect back in March and both the Fair-Trade Independent Tobacco Association (FITA) and British American Tobacco South Africa (BATSA) have cases pending before the courts. This is, however, the first challenge levelled by ordinary South Africans as opposed to big tobacco.

Justice for RSA director Bradley Hirner said while tobacco products were widely viewed as a ‘guilty pleasure,’ they were, for many, the difference “between normal life and chaos.”  “There is clear evidence that individuals with a history of depressive disorders and substance use disorders are at a high risk of relapse due to nicotine withdrawal,” Hirner said. He said very few of the 57,000 odd members of his Facebook group had given up smoking in the wake of the ban.

Hirner labelled the ban an infringement on smokers’ constitutional rights – and an unjustifiable one at that – and urged the Constitutional Court justices to hear the case. They had, as of yesterday afternoon, not yet handed down their decision.

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August 12th, 2020

Surviving the tobacco ban

South Africa is the only country to still have a tobacco ban (and was only ever one of three to impose it) while many major European countries such as France, Spain and Italy even exempted tobacco kiosks from their various lockdowns. This was on the basis that they provide an essential service.

As early as April in the Covid-19 outbreak, researchers noticed that the virus disproportionately affected non-smokers compared to smokers. A group of French academics shortly thereafter published a study of 343 Covid-19 patients, of whom only 4.4% were daily smokers. According to the authors, the study “strongly suggests that daily smokers have a very much lower probability of developing symptomatic or severe SARS-CoV-2 infection as compared to the general population”. This prompted Professor Jean-Pierre Changeux to go public with his more detailed research project.

The potentially therapeutic effects of nicotine had previously been noted in 2014 by Harvard Medical School. In its online publication Harvard Health Publishing in an article entitled Nicotine: It may have a good side it notes that while it gets people hooked on cigarettes, researchers hope that nicotine and related compounds will have therapeutic uses.

“Nicotine is rightly reviled because of its associations with smoking and addiction. But the rogue substance has a wide range of effects on the brain, which may include some healing properties. Researchers are testing nicotine and related compounds as treatments for Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and other conditions.”

In an article published in Qeios, titled A nicotinic hypothesis for Covid-19 with preventive and therapeutic implications, French authors Changeux, Zahir Amoura, Felix Rey and Makoto Miyara state: “SARS-CoV-2 epidemics raise a considerable issue of public health at the planetary scale. There is a pressing urgency to find treatments based upon currently available scientific knowledge. Therefore, we tentatively propose a hypothesis which hopefully might ultimately help in saving lives. Based on the current scientific literature and on new epidemiological data which reveal that current smoking status appears to be a protective factor against the infection by SARS-CoV-2, we hypothesise that the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) plays a key role in the pathophysiology of Covid-19 infection and might represent a target for the prevention and control of Covid-19 infection.

“A potential protective effect of smoking and of nicotine on SARS-CoV-2 infection has been noted. Until recently, no firm conclusions could be drawn from studies evaluating the rates of current smokers in Covid-19. All these studies, although reporting low rates of current smokers, ranging from 1.4% to 12.5%, did not take into account the main potential confounders of smoking, including age and sex. In the study that two of us are reporting, the rates of current smoking remain below 5% even when main confounders for tobacco consumption, i.e. age and sex, in- or outpatient status, were considered. 

“Compared to the French general population, the Covid-19 population exhibited a significantly weaker current daily smoker rate by 80.3% for outpatients and by 75.4% for inpatients. Thus, current smoking status appears to be a protective factor against the infection by SARS-CoV-2.”

These findings are widely ridiculed by health authorities, potentially because such authorities do not want them to be true, and because they don’t approve of smoking and smokers. Obviously smoking in its own right is one of the biggest health risks, but this does not mean that nicotine might not be helpful in this particular case.

Research similarly suggests that ex-smokers with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) often only develop symptoms when they give up smoking: that is, that smoking/ nicotine is in some way protective. Both IBD and Covid-19 involve aggressive immune responses so there may be some connection in the way that nicotine helps. Such findings should ideally prompt the logical response “that’s interesting, let’s do some more research” not “smoking is bad and therefore this cannot be true”.

So emphatic was the research in France that the government moved to prevent the stockpiling of nicotine patches (by people buying them as a preventative measure against Covid-19) after the country’s health minister expressed interest in research suggesting that the addictive stimulant could help lessen Covid-19 infection.

It follows the publication of a study on 483 patients at Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital in Paris, which reported that the infection rate for smokers among Covid-19 outpatients and inpatients was significantly lower than for non-smokers. Only 5.3% of the Covid-19 patients were smokers, while 25.4% of the general population smoke regularly. 

The research said nicotine was the “likely” reason, while stressing that using tobacco remained a danger to public health, killing almost 80 000 people per year in France.

French Health Minister Olivier Véran gave a positive assessment on the findings, saying on France Inter radio that it was “an interesting possibility” and that he had given his approval for further research. “We’ll know more soon,” he added, while urging people not to self-medicate with nicotine patches. He noted the harmful effects of smoking must absolutely not be forgotten. Jérôme Salomon, French director-general of health, says: “Smoking is the number one killer in France?.?.?.?do not confuse research hypotheses with proven effects.”

Not conclusive

Research into the impact of smoking and nicotine in Covid 19 cases remains preliminary and patchy. Changeux, the neuroscientist who reviewed the Pitié-Salpêtrière study, suggested nicotine may bind to the same receptors as the Coronavirus, making it harder for the disease to take hold. “Under controlled settings, nicotinic agents could provide an efficient treatment for an acute infection such as Covid-19,” he says.

However, smokers that do contract Covid-19 are more likely to progress to the severe stage. Research in the New England Journal of Medicine from Covid-19 patients in China, shows that these impacts were seen among smokers with Covid-19. “Among the research cohort, smokers were about 1.5 times more likely to see their disease progress to the severe stage compared to non-smokers,” says 

Deborah Arnott, Chief Executive of the anti-smoking charity Ash. She also says the planned French trial “should not put smokers off trying to quit”.

However, Linda Bauld, Professor of Public Health at the University of Edinburgh in the UK — who was not involved in the French study — says it was not entirely unexpected that nicotine could have an impact, as other studies had indicated there was “something weird going on with smokers and coronavirus”.

“All over the world, we are trying to repurpose existing medicine to fight the pandemic, so it makes sense the French are investigating this,” said Bauld.

A second French study of an infection cluster in the Oise department north of Paris made a similar finding about smokers in the course of its analysis of the 661 people it tested. It found smokers had a lower infection attack rate of 7.2% compared with 28% for non-smokers.


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August 10th, 2020

Hemp and CBD Arise

The tobacco industry is a major market, and in some aspects, it is evolving to adapt to a new demographic. Next generation products, such as new forms of e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products, are rising in popularity in the market. Nonetheless, governments around the world do try to reduce tobacco consumption, with mixed results. According to a report from the World Health Organization (WHO) from last year, for the first time, the organization projects that the number of males using tobacco is on the decline, indicating a powerful shift in the global tobacco epidemic. "Declines in tobacco use amongst males mark a turning point in the fight against tobacco," said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. "For many years now we had witnessed a steady rise in the number of males using deadly tobacco products. But now, for the first time, we are seeing a decline in male use, driven by governments being tougher on the tobacco industry."  TAAT Lifestyle & Wellness Ltd. (OTC: TOBAF) (CSE: TAAT), Philip Morris International Inc. (NYSE: PM), Turning Point Brands, Inc. (NYSE: TPB), British American Tobacco p.l.c. (NYSE: BTI), Imperial Brands PLC (OTC: IMBBY)

The tobacco industry is also influenced by the increasing consumption of CBD and hemp products. For example, a study by Morgan et al, looked at the impact of CBD on nicotine addiction was measured by conducting a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study on 24 smokers who wished to stop smoking. Two groups received either a CBD inhaler (400 ?g/inhalation) or a placebo inhaler. They were told to use the inhaler whenever they felt the urge to smoke, to assess daily cigarette and inhaler use, and to monitor their craving once daily for 1 week. The study concluded that, "a significant reduction in the number of cigarettes smoked (?40%) in the CBD inhaler group during the week of treatment, with a trend indicating a reduction after follow-up. Both groups also showed a reduction in cravings between day 1 and day 7, though not between day 1 and follow-up."


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August 4th, 2020

Illicit tobacco trade booming

When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, so too did the tobacco ban and now, small-scale tobacco farmers say illicit tobacco trade has aggressively boomed. 

Small-scale tobacco farmers say illicit trade had always haunted their business. SA Lockdown: Tobacco farmers face uncertain future

“The market share was already 42% on these criminals but now they have been given a fully 100% market share, for whose benefit?”, said tobacco farmer, Ntando Shadrack Sibisi. The ban on tobacco products has forced companies to search for new markets outside South Africa.

They say exports to neighbouring countries since the start of the ban are higher than what they’ve exported in the last five years. “The ban has failed to achieve its objective. Instead of deterring people, the study finds that 93% of the 11 million smokers continue to access their tobacco products,” said Batsa's head of external affairs, Johnny Moloto.

The fiscus is losing an estimated R35-million a day due to the ban.


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July 28th, 2020

Urge Jokowi to ban smoking in COVID-19 ‘high-risk areas’

The National Commission on Tobacco Control (NCTC) has urged President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo to enhance COVID-19 mitigation efforts by banning tobacco cigarettes and electronic cigarettes, especially in “high-risk areas”. In a letter issued on Monday, the commission urged the President to ban cigarette sales, remove cigarette displays from stores and tighten the ban on cigarette advertisements.

The NCTC stated that it was encouraging stronger “enforcement of cigarette-free areas”, adding that private homes could be included among the high-risk areas to ensure safety and comfort indoors. “The government [should] call on people who smoke to stop or reduce smoking in order to prevent an increase in COVID-19 deaths,” the letter said.

Joint Ministerial Decree N0. 17/2011 bans the use, sales and advertisement of cigarette on public transportation and in public spaces, as well as at health facilities, schools, houses of worship and playgrounds. The regulation does not stipulate any sanctions for violators, however. Komnas PT's call to impose a smoking ban during the epidemic is also endorsed by 17 health associations and organizations, including the Indonesian Public Health Association (IAKMI), the Indonesian Society of Respirology (PDPI) and the Indonesian Heart Foundation (YJI). PDPI chairman Agus Dwi Susanto said that that certain substances in cigarettes, such as nicotine and tar, could improve the regulation of the angiotensin-converting-enzyme-2 (ACE-2) receptors in the human body.

Studies have shown that the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 uses the enzyme to enter human cells for replication, according to STAT. Agus cited a study "published ahead of print" on Feb. 28, 2020 in the Chinese Medical Journal suggesting that smoking could increase the risk of pneumonia when contracting COVID-19. He also cited another study published on April 15 in the Journal of Medical Virology, "The impact of COPD and smoking history on the severity of COVID?19: A systemic review and meta?analysis", which suggests that heavy smokers are twice as more likely to experience severe outcomes of the disease.

He said that smoking could reduce the motility of the cilia in the respiratory system that prevented harmful substances from entering the lungs by 50 percent. Smoking was also a cause of other immune system disorders. “Passive smokers are also at risk because they also inhale the dangerous substances in cigarettes,” Agus said at a virtual press conference on Tuesday. “Cigarette smoking can also cause [COVID-19] transmission, as the smoke spreads respiratory droplets when exhaled.” Smoking was also linked to comorbidity in patients with COVID-19, contributing to underlying health conditions such as heart failure, hypertension and diabetes that could increase the risk of dying from the disease. YJI chairwoman Esti Nurjadin said during Tuesday's press conference that the government’s appeal to work and study from home had led to smokers smoking at home instead of at the office, which put their families at risk of inhaling secondhand smoke. “The home, which was supposed to function as a place safe from COVID-19, is no longer safe,” Esti said, urging smokers to stop smoking at home.

IAKMI chairman Ede Surya Darmawan said that despite the health risks of cigarette smoking, Indonesia still had 65.19 million smokers, more than the combined number of smokers in the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore. Ede cited a 2007 study published in Public Health Nutrition that said cigarette consumption contributed 22 percent of weekly expenses in poor households after rice. The tobacco industry has also been a major contributor to Indonesia’s economy, generating 95.8 percent of the country’s taxable income in 2018 and employing 5.98 million workers in 2019, according to the Industry Ministry.


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Arisona Permadi

July 24th, 2020

Helpful Cigar Tips for Beginners

Someone who is interested in entering the world of cigars can spare themselves from many botched smoke sessions by taking a few pieces of advice from veteran smokers. Here are some of the most important tips for beginner cigar smokers.

1. Know What You're Smoking

There are myriad types of tobacco. The properties of a cigar are dependent upon which kinds of tobaccos are used to create it. Several species of tobacco plants are used for pipe tobacco, cigarettes, and, of course, cigars. Each species is valued for different reasons. Some have low levels of nicotine while others are imbued with specific flavors. A cigar manufacturer will often mix two or more types of tobacco in order to create their ideal cigar blend. Furthermore, the wrapper (a whole tobacco leaf used to roll the cigar together) has a huge effect on the quality of a cigar. Over time, paying attention to what constitutes a cigar will give new smokers an understanding of each cigar's personality.

2. Never Rush a Cigar

Many new cigar smokers find it challenging to burn a cigar down to completion. An expensive, finely crafted cigar that is long and dense can burn for an hour or more. Someone who isn't willing to devote an entire hour to a single cigar might be tempted to snuff it out and return to it later---this is a big mistake! Cigars are designed with the knowledge that the tobacco inside will go through chemical changes as it heats up. As the tobacco inside is slowly cooked, it takes on different flavors. That's why some cigars take on more complex flavors the longer they are smoked. For this reason, it's recommended that newer smokers opt for a cigarillo or smaller gauge stogie before working their way up to Churchill-sized torpedoes. Cigars are also loaded with nicotine, which can easily turn a greenhorn green with nausea. Fresh smokers should be cautious with cigars until they become familiar with their own nicotine limit.

3. Get Equipped With The Right Gear

Despite movies portraying tough guys biting off the ends of their cigar before smoking them, anybody who isn't keen on a mouthful of shredded tobacco should invest in a durable cigar cutter. Snipping the end off of a cigar is the first step towards preparing a smoke. The overall size of the cut will define how powerful the cigar's drag is when being smoked. Some people like a tight drag, while others like a loose one---but nobody likes a poorly cut cigar, so be sure to attain a worthwhile tool. There is also a list of other items that are useful for any cigar smoker. An ashtray that includes a resting space for cigars might as well be required for indoor smoking. Finally, a proper lighter is vital for lighting a cigar evenly.

4. Shop Smart

Cigars are far from the most economic hobbies available. In fact, a cigar smoker can easily burn through more money than a cigarette or pipe smoker. Cigars take extra care to assemble, and they must be packaged in a way that protects them from drying out. In order to get the most out of each dollar, a cigar smoker should be on the lookout for seasonal price cuts or clearance deals. Usually, a cigar that is cheaper than one of a similar build is only lacking in cosmetic features. A cigar that is a little ugly, but is still made with quality, will cost much less than its pristine relatives. In fact, many manufacturers sell seconds, which are cigars that have been rejected for minor defects. A small issue such as a wayward stem or a blemished wrapper has a negligible effect on the taste and strength of a cigar, but it can vastly reduce its price.


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Arisona Permadi

July 21st, 2020

Close, But No Cigar

Cigars don't just emit acrid smoke that seem to latch onto your clothes — they've also spawned some similarly sticky idioms in the English language. For example, there's, "What we need is a good five-cent cigar," as in a reference to a sensibly affordable item, as opposed to something overpriced. But cigar sayings can be much weirder. For example, "Close, but no cigar." You didn't ask for a cigar. Maybe you don't even like them. So why is someone abruptly denying you one?

This phrase is most often used when someone is nearly — but not quite — successful at something. A football player drops an easy catch. A desperate commuter runs but misses her bus pulling away from the bus stop. A math student doesn't catch a critical detail and screws up his whole equation.

They're all situations worthy of "close, but no cigar." The gist is obvious to anyone who grew up hearing it spoken among their friends and family. Yet even if you understand what "close, but no cigar" means, you might wonder exactly where this idiom originated. After all, what do cigars have to do with success? Turns out, cigars were once used as prizes for carnival games in the United States in the early 20th century. These games of skill or chance were often exasperatingly difficult, and most people failed to win a prize — as an example, think of the smaller-than-regulation basketball hoops at many county fairs that seem to spit out every ball thrown their way. After each participant failed, the carnival barker would shout, "Close, but no cigar!"

(Cigar Aficionado goes as far as to say the carnival game was "Highball" or "Hi-Striker," one of those games where the player has to try and make a bell ring by hitting a weight hard enough to drive it up a column to the bell.) There are references to this phenomenon as early as 1902, in Robert Machray's book titled, "The Night Side of London," in which the following passage appears Cigars are no longer offered as prizes to carnival goers around the country. Instead, you'll have to settle for a giant stuffed bear.


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Arisona Permadi

July 15th, 2020

First Crop Javano 2020

Javano is a unique breed of havana seed that cultivated locally in Java. This tobacco is also grown in the Jember region. The Javano has thick - elastic body and strong taste. It has mixed black and dark brownish appearance which is perfect for certain segment. Its strong taste filler is suitable for usage in long filler cigars. 

This year Javano has been planted in 26.7 Ha of land. With the long dry season throughout the year, an estimated of 2 tonnes high quality dried Javano leaves would be yielded; started from the first harvest in 12th of July.

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Arisona Permadi

July 15th, 2020

Cannabis medicine, education, and policy

The Swiss Society of Cannabis in Medicine (SSCM), the Swiss ambassador organisation of the International Association for Cannabinoid Medicines, aims to see cannabis recognised and regulated as a legitimate form of medicine in Switzerland. MCN speaks with Professor Rudolf Brenneisen, Editor-in-Chief of the SSCM’s peer-reviewed trade journal Medical Cannabis and Cannabinoids, about medical cannabis and cannabinoids in Switzerland.

What are the key benefits of cannabis in medical treatment?

Cannabis can have a plethora of effects – although this does not mean it is a panacea. It can have therapeutic benefits across a broad spectrum of indications, including chronic and neuropathic pain; nausea, vomiting and appetite loss; neurological conditions; chronic inflammation; and more. Cannabis and cannabinoids – primarily THC and CBD – have a broad therapeutic window: this means that they only carry a very marginal risk of physical or organ toxicity, and the risk of potential psychological side effects is low to medium and dependent on the dose. The typical psychotropic side effects of THC may be ameliorated by combining it with a dose of CBD.

Are there challenges or side effects specific to cannabis as a medicinal product?

One really challenging aspect of cannabis is evaluating all the different application forms in order to determine which is optimal for medicinal use. The selection of the medication type must ideally be based on patient and indication, though as some producers claim to offer between 1,000 and 2,000 individual types and chemovarieties, it is still essentially impossible to deliver cannabis-based treatment which is uniquely ‘individualised’ for the patient. Cannabis and its extracts can be available in the form of isolated single substances, such as THC or CBD; standardised extracts like Sativex®; and full spectrum preparations, such as cannabis flowers.  Another very challenging factor is the combination of the complex pharmacokinetics (what the body does to the drug) and pharmacodynamics (the effects the drug has on the body) of cannabinoids. THC and CBD are multi-target modulators, and interfere with the endocannabinoid system in multiple pharmacological ways: it is not easy, therefore, for the physician to understand or predict the full range of effects.

What is the current status of medical cannabis in Switzerland?

Nowadays, every therapeutic application of THC and cannabis preparations containing more than 1% THC require a special permit from the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health. THC-rich cannabis is prohibited. CBD and CBD-rich cannabis are not scheduled, but are not freely available as a medicine in pharmacies without a prescription. CBD-enriched products are freely available as food supplements, tobacco replacements, and lifestyle drugs; provided they are officially quality controlled. Swiss narcotic law is currently undergoing revision, meaning that by around 2022 it may be possible to prescribe THC-rich cannabis flowers and preparations without the need for a special permit, as is required today for every single patient and indication. So far, the oromucosal spray Sativex – a standardised THC-CBD extract – is the only approved formulation in Switzerland with a significant THC content.

Are knowledge exchange and continuing education important to ensure a broader evidence base for the medical application of cannabis?

It is both essential and mandatory to improve the specific expertise of physicians, pharmacists, and caregivers. Scientific information must be provided by professional organisations, such as the International Association for Cannabinoid Medicines (IACM); the Swiss Society of Cannabis in Medicine, the Swiss arm of IACM; the International Cannabinoid Research Society (ICRS); CannX; and many more national and local organisations. Due to restrictions imposed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, continuing education is currently largely conducted virtually, through the medium of webinars: this appears likely to continue into 2021. A Zoom conference reaches more people, facilitates programming, convinces more top speakers to contribute, and reduces organisation costs; however, the classic physical conference should be reactivated as soon as pandemic allows.

Interdisciplinary education and training on medical cannabis must be integrated in the medical and pharmaceutical study curriculum: SSCM has a programme planned to launch in the near future at the university of Bern. Research data – including basic, clinical, and case reports – should be more widely shared in the scientific community and among professional therapists; but also more broadly, to the public and media. The recently founded open access journal Medical Cannabis and Cannabinoids, the official periodical of SSCM, is one of the very few peer reviewed journals dedicated to this particular plant, its amazing constituents, and the body cannabinoid target system present in all mammals.

Do you see medical cannabis gaining wider legal acceptance throughout the EU in the future?

Increasing clinical evidence, positive patient reports and media coverage are contributing to the ongoing destigmatisation of cannabis: this in turn leads to higher acceptance in politics and lawmaking; and therefore facilitates the wider medicalisation of cannabis and cannabinoids. On the other hand, recreational use is still very common, often in many ways quite problematic; and therefore in most European countries recreational cannabis use is forbidden – as in Switzerland – or only tolerated. The SSCM emphasises the need for the definitive separation, and the separate regulation, of the medical and non-medical use of cannabis and cannabinoids.


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Arisona Permadi

July 8th, 2020

Tobacco advertising disappear

Advertising for tobacco and cigarettes will almost completely disappear from Germany. A ban on advertising for e-cigarettes will follow. No more tobacco adverts on billboards and in cinemas in Germany. In future, tobacco companies will only be allowed to advertise their products in Germany in very limited, exceptional cases. At the end of last week the Bundestag passed a law that prohibits the outdoor advertising of tobacco products, for example in the form of posters or billboards. Such advertising may in future only be shown in tobacco shops.  The law also prohibits advertisements for smoking in cinemas if the respective film is approved for younger audiences. Specialist shops will also no longer be allowed to distribute free samples of tobacco products.

The new regulation on cinema advertising will come into force at the end of the year. The restrictions on outdoor advertising are to be gradually implemented - applying to tobacco products from January 1, 2022, to heated tobacco products from January 1, 2023, and to electronic cigarettes from January 1, 2024.  “With the ban on tobacco advertising, we are finally directly on target,” said the federal government’s drug commissioner, Daniela Ludwig.

The tobacco industry, however, has criticised the law, referring to the different health risks posed by conventional cigarettes on the one hand and less harmful heated tobacco products and e-cigarettes on the other.  Claudia Oeking, Managing Director of the international tobacco country Philip Morris, said that “education” about new products should be possible in order to encourage smokers to switch to products that contain less harmful substances.  The tobacco industry currently spends around 100 million euros a year on cinema and outdoor advertising in Germany. Some of this income went to municipalities - for example, for billboard advertising at bus stops. This income will now be lost. 

The first attempt to pass a law like this failed four years ago. In 2016, the cabinet approved the plans of the former Minister for Nutrition, but they were never passed in the Bundestag. At the end of last year, the CDU / CSU alliance cleared the way for a second attempt, after doctors in Germany joined the growing number of voices calling for a ban. 


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Arisona Permadi

July 6th, 2020

New tobacco age is 21 as of July 1

At the end of last year, a federal law raised the minimum age from 18 to 21 for buying or using tobacco and vaping products. That change left Indiana lawmakers scrambling to update state law to comply -- and it officially goes into effect Wednesday, July 1. Retailers had been carding people wanting to buy tobacco and vaping products since the beginning of the year, even though different federal agencies gave conflicting information about enforcement.

Now that the state law will be official Wednesday, there's a clear answer. Non-smoker Elizabeth Gustin agrees with the minimum age increase. "From personal experience, I know definitely for me, that's kind of what it felt. I'm an adult now, so I definitely agree that you should definitely have to be 21 regardless of what kind of tobacco product it is. 21 is definitely more reasonable than 18," she says. I'm sure there's some people that think that if they can vote at 18, why can't they smoke at 18? So that's up to the state, obviously, they made it a law and they made a change," Gary Peisert agrees.

Other people say if you're old enough to drive, vote, and enlist in the military, that should mean you're an adult instead of waiting until you're 21. "I was just grown and now I'm waiting to be grown again, I guess, because 18 would be the legal age for everything, and now it's 21 for everything including alcohol like it's always been," 20-year-old Keanani Pasene-Keahi says. "I feel like it's a way of life telling me don't keep it a habit. It just makes it a lot harder for people our age to keep doing it," young smoker Cassandra Buitron says.

Leaders at Tobacco Free Allen County have said raising the minimum age from 18 to 21 could make a significant impact on young people's long-term health, saying nearly 90% of people addicted to nicotine started using before they turned 21. Retailers now can be fined if they're caught selling to anyone younger than 21. Also as of Wednesday, you can not hold your cell phone while driving or at a stop light.


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Arisona Permadi

July 1st, 2020

Coronavirus vs tobacco farmers’ dreams

During his 15 years as a Malawian tobacco farmer, Boniface Namate has had to overcome many difficulties growing the plant that is the country's biggest export earner. Namate had banked on a bumper crop this year and had hoped the proceeds would enable him to buy a new car and even build a new house. However, the coronavirus pandemic has seen the 56-year-old's dreams go up in smoke. Due to restrictions imposed to control the spread of the virus in Malawi – one of the world's poorest countries, and one of the top 10 tobacco producers – growers were barred from physically attending the auctions where prices are set. This has left farmers feeling cheated by buyers.

"We are not operating normally as there is no interaction between the buyer and the grower," said Betty Chinyamunyamu of the National Smallholder Farmers' Association of Malawi. "Because of this, there are trust issues," she said. When the auction season opened in April, Namate and other small-scale farmers said their earnings had indeed evaporated. "The prices that came from the auction are not what we expected. We are devastated", said Namate. Burley leaf from Malawi makes up 6.6 per cent of the world's tobacco exports.

Known locally as "green gold", it is Malawi's top crop in terms of employment. It also accounts for over 50 per cent of foreign exchange earnings and 23 per cent of tax revenues. So, when its 50,000 growers suffer, the country has every reason to be worried. Last November, the United States restricted tobacco imports from Malawi over allegations of worker exploitation and child labour.And the coronavirus has turned up the heat on farmers even more.

Once he saw the prices being set in the first round of auctions, Namate immediately knew he was in trouble. He had been expecting his first bales of 1,116 kilogrammes to fetch up to USD1,500. Instead, he received a meagre USD540. And out of three tonnes overall from this year's harvest, he had hoped to make around $6,000 in total. But now he says he will be lucky even to make $1,500. "I was devastated because I had planned a lot of things with the money," said the farmer from Ntcheu.

He is even contemplating abandoning the crop altogether. "Even my family have threatened to stop helping me in the fields if I insist on tobacco farming," Namate said. Another farmer Alick Munthali, who has harvested eight tonnes of tobacco in Rumphi in northern Malawi, finds himself in a similar predicament. "We don't know how much the tobacco is fetching and we have no opportunity to negotiate the price with the buyer," said Munthali, who has been farming the crop since 1989. "It is difficult to sell your crop when you are not physically present," he said.

Nevertheless, auctioneers and large-scale growers insist that the farmers are being short-changed by buyers. "Farmers are not cheated on the sales," said Felix Thole, chief executive of the Tobacco Association of Malawi Farmer's Trust, which represents large-scale growers. He pointed out that growers continue to be represented on the market by farmers' associations. "Auction sales bidding continues by the individual buyers, only this time around there is no chanting of the prices. Buyers continue competing and the highest bidder gets the bale," Thole argued. Nevertheless, Malawi's main opposition leader Lazarus Chakwera believes farmers have been unfairly treated. "The farmers basically have been abused," he told AFP. "The government gets a lot of foreign earnings through this particular industry and yet the farmer is treated like a labourer that should not even prosper," he said.


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Arisona Permadi

June 30th, 2020

How to manage anxiety over returning to the ‘new normal’

With the prospect of schools opening their doors soon and retail stores welcoming shoppers from 15 June, the lockdown cloud is slowly starting to shift. And whilst many are eager to feel a sense of normality again, the prospect of a ‘new normal’ may bring some new anxieties.

‘Re-entry anxiety’, a specific form of stress related to the fear of being unable to adapt to previously established routines, or not wanting to, in this case, is the fear of trying to establish, and be comfortable in, our old lives before the COVID-19 outbreak and social distancing measures. Lockdown has created a safe bubble for me (my home) in which myself and my partner exist safely, and the threat of bursting that bubble makes me nervous.

People experience re-entry anxiety over a number of things, for example car accidents, which leaves the victims unwilling to get back into a car as their association with the vehicle is negative. And whether you unfortunately caught this virus or not, you can still identify with this anxiety around returning to normal, which for the past eight weeks we have been denied, as the 'normal' caused the risk to grow. I’m comforted to know that I’m not alone in this fear either. A recent poll by Ipsos MORI found that 67% of British people feel uncomfortable about attending large public gatherings, music and sporting events, compared to how they felt before the virus, and three in five Brits are sceptical of going to bars and restaurants or using public transport again.

I haven’t ventured far; the weekly supermarket shop or the odd trip to Homebase has been my limit, but as soon as I see the front of the shop, there is a noticeable tightening of my chest. I am on high alert for anyone within a two metre radius, and I can recognise that lockdown and the easing of it, has triggered some previous anxious habits I thought I had under control.

Counsellor and supervisor Beverley Hills, explains that not all of us are able to embrace change. “Some people find the thought of a ‘new normal’ terrifying and the fear of the unknown looms large, often threatening to overwhelm; our creative brain imagines all sorts but unless we have superpowers none of us can predict the future.”

But we must remember that not one of us has lived through a pandemic in our lifetimes, and re-entry is inevitable, but it can be at your own pace. Whilst I may be yearning for my previous life, I’m taking things slow. Here’s how you can prepare yourself for re-entry and manage your anxiety around doing so.

How to support yourself with re-entry anxiety

Take each day at your own pace

Although measures may loosen in the coming weeks, if possible, you don’t have to jump straight back into your old routine. If leaving the house on foot is the only method you’re comfortable with, stick with it, but try and go a little further each day. Perhaps introduce a break on a bench for five minutes, and learn to be comfortable in others’ presence - responsibly of course.

If your office reopens, but you can still work from home, build up your attendance in the office so you slowly re-establish a routine that’s comfortable for you.

If you have no control over when you return to work, have some measures in place that allow you to be as comfortable as possible that you can detail to your employer. Whether that’s anxiety over returning to work, or catching the virus, talking is a great tool to move forward.

Plan ahead

Things may not turn out as you had planned, so try and prepare yourself for this. You might find you struggle with mood swings and a feeling of unease, so find a comfortable place in your house that you feel totally at ease in, and spend five minutes there, practising some simple breathing exercises to create a sense of calm.

Perhaps you have struggled with panic attacks in the past and are nervous that the attacks may return as the future is uncertain. Practice 10 minutes of mindfulness a day, tuning into all of your senses. What can you see, hear, smell, touch and taste? When you feel an attack coming on, try and tap into this practice, feel your feet on the ground and know that you are safe and grounded.

Beverley says,“Take a moment and do what we call Socratic Questioning. Ask yourself what’s the worst that can happen, what’s the best that can happen and what’s the most likely thing to happen? That way you can be prepared for all eventualities without going down the rabbit hole of rumination, which as we all know leads nowhere.

"Remember, your anxious thoughts won’t stop things happening, they will however ensure you get upset. Pace yourself, take things slowly, what's the rush? A good idea is to talk to counsellor who can help you learn how to manage your anxieties in a healthier way."

Try alternative practice

Holistic therapy can be a viable option to support you through re-entry anxiety. With a variety of different practices to choose from, crystal healing in particular can be effective as its grounding and energy absorbing qualities can help evoke the energy you need, to quell your anxieties.

You can try working self-massage into your daily routine. A simple practice with powerful benefits, the power of touch can physically relax you, ground you in the here and now and it gives you the opportunity to slow down and acknowledge how you’re feeling.

How to broach the subject of re-entry anxiety over a young relative returning to school

The thought of my three-year-old niece returning to her nursery next week makes me uncomfortable. It makes me feel helpless. But is it my place to voice my concerns?

This is tricky. With the fear of sounding like a judgemental auntie and potentially damaging my relationship with my brother, I didn’t know how to broach the subject with him. So instead I looked at the facts regarding the virus and children, I spoke to colleagues who had children and discovered how they were managing to send their children back to school.

As I’m not a parent, I didn’t understand the measures put in place by each school for the protection of staff and children, nor did I understand how the virus has affected the area my brother lives in. So I did speak to my brother purely to understand how the nursery would move forward with protecting against the virus and this put my worries at ease. I have to remember that my brother knows his child best and will have taken all precaution to do what’s right for her.

In this instance, knowledge is key and engaging in supportive conversations is paramount.

How to support young children returning to school

Children returning to school may also be struggling with anxiety and fear, similar to that feeling of first starting school. It’s difficult for a child to fully understand lockdown, alongside re-introducing a normal routine that is still restricted. Clinical hypnotherapist and NLP Practitioner Les Roberts explains in her article, ‘Helping children with anxieties and stresses during the pandemic’, how you can support a child struggling to make sense of the pandemic.

She says, “It’s important to talk to your children about what’s happening. Be open and explain the situation as well as you can. Talk to them about their feelings, anxieties, what can you do to make them feel better, help them find solutions, offer alternative things to do to take their minds away from whatever is causing them to feel anxious. Reassure them all will be ok, and you understand what they are going through. Be mindful what you discuss/talk about within earshot of children. ”

If you’re struggling with re-entry anxiety for yourself or for others, try not to put too much pressure on yourself, and take control of the things that are in reach. If you need to talk, Samaritans offer a free, confidential listening service available 24/7 on 116 123 or you can reach out to a qualified counsellor via Counselling Directory.

Whatever the new normal will be, you will adapt, and you will find comfort in the knowledge that you could.


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Arisona Permadi

June 22nd, 2020

Alcohol and tobacco sales are ‘still open for debate’

President Cyril Ramaphosa says that the government’s controversial decisions on alcohol and tobacco sales under South Africa’s lockdown were based on extensive risk assessment – and that these topics are still open for debate. The president was responding to questions in a virtual parliament on Thursday (18 June), where he was asked on what basis the decisions to open schools, relax alcohol sales, and maintain the prohibition on tobacco were made.

The government has faced wide criticism for these key decisions, with unions arguing that the opening of schools has put learners and teachers at risk of contracting the coronavirus, and healthcare workers lamenting the increase in trauma cases at hospitals due to alcohol abuse. The tobacco issue, meanwhile, is being tested in court on a constitutional and rationality basis, with sales prohibited for almost three months.

Responding to the question, the president said that all decisions taken around the regulations are based on a risk assessment, after discussions with various stakeholders. He said that they are also a result of government balancing the need to protect the health of citizens, with other imperatives such as economic and educational needs.

“With schooling – we didn’t want to see the country losing a year of school. So we approached the Medical Advisory Council and asked, how can we make this happen?” he said. The result was that protective measures and protocols have been put in place – and where they have not, those schools should not open.

Ramaphosa said that the coronavirus virus is going to be with South Africa for a long time, “possibly for years”, so risk-adjustment based decisions needed to be taken. “We need to live with the virus, manage it, and ensure that we adjust the risk. In doing so, as we move on, we need to save lives and livelihoods as well,” he said.


Around the opening up sales of alcohol, Ramaphosa said this was discussed thoroughly with stakeholders and advisory councils, including the National Coronavirus Command Council. It was decided that “if we can put in place the various measures…we should lower those restrictions as much as we can,” he said. However, since alcohol sales were re-opened, “South Africans have gone overboard,” the president said, adding that this should feed into the wider debate.

“South Africa is one of those countries that abuses alcohol more than other countries…so we have to look at how precisely we could (handle that).” “Could we have banned alcohol forever? Many would say you could not. When would the right time have been to open it up? Was level 3 the correct time, or was it level 1? That is a matter that’s still open for debate,” he said.


On the ban of tobacco sales, that is also a matter that was discussed extensively, Ramaphosa said. “Many of our people, through various formations, participated in the debate, and that is what led to the change of decision which we had announced. “It was after participation and the views that we got from people. Of course, now it is in the hands of the court.” Ultimately, the president said that change comes slowly, as the risks associated with the virus need to be carefully handled. “The virus is going to be with us for a long time. We need to adjust the risk, analyse the risk and arrive at an outcome to move forward. We cannot remain locked up forever and a day,” he said.


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June 19th, 2020

Nicotine therapy for coronavirus

France recently put limits on the purchase nicotine-replacement products, stopping online sales and restricting buyers to a one-month supply of gums, patches and inhalers bought at pharmacies. The limits have nothing to do with the products’ usefulness or safety – these are well established. They have been put in place to stop people stockpiling them following news that nicotine may play a role in combating COVID-19.

There are a number of reasons nicotine is beginning to be explored in this context, but as with everything about the new coronavirus, much remains unknown. At the outset of the pandemic, smoking was identified as a risk factor for COVID-19, with the expectation that the same pattern would be seen as with other respiratory illnesses, namely, that smoking would increase the chance of getting infected and of having worse outcomes once infected. But some studies have suggested that people who smoke may be at less risk from COVID-19.

So far, no one is sure if this is true. Different studies find conflicting patterns. And in those that find less COVID-19 infection in people who smoke, it is unclear if this is because of a genuine effect or because of issues with analyses or reporting.

We need better quality studies to investigate whether people who smoke are less likely to contract COVID-19. Some of these are underway, but the search for COVID-19 medications is urgent. While we wait for more definitive results, scientists are pressing ahead, following all possible leads in the hunt for a treatment. Early studies in Wales and France are testing nicotine replacement therapy as a potential treatment for COVID-19, and more trials may soon be underway. It has also been suggested that studies currently testing nicotine replacement therapy for other conditions, such as a US study looking at nicotine replacement for reducing cognitive impairment, could look at COVID-19 outcomes as well.

If the evidence begins to suggest that nicotine replacement therapy does improve COVID-19 outcomes, there would be a reason to rejoice. We need treatments urgently and nicotine replacement therapy is considered safe, is widely available, and is relatively cheap as it’s not protected by patent. But we are unlikely to know whether nicotine replacement has a role in COVID-19 any time soon.

In the meantime, there is no value in people purchasing nicotine replacement to help protect themselves against COVID-19. Such a move could cause harm by reducing the availability of nicotine replacement therapy for people who wish to quit smoking. For now, nicotine supplies must be preserved for the people who need them.


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Arisona Permadi

June 15th, 2020

the answer to coronavirus may be in tobacco plants

We don’t know how long it will take to find a vaccine for COVID-19, but we do know this: if and when we find one, there will be unprecedented demand for the molecules that go into it. Several different types of vaccine are currently being researched. These include those that use inactivated forms of the virus itself and molecules that look like the virus. The body recognises these molecules when they are injected and produces proteins called antibodies that protect us from threats like viruses. It may also be possible to treat COVID-19 patients with antibodies directly.

All of these approaches will require us to mass-produce active molecules, and quickly. But how do we do that? The question predates our current pandemic.Last year, the search for an answer took us to the tobacco fields of Spain and Italy because, as strange as it sounds, the tobacco plant might provide a novel way to meet this huge demand.

Today, the basic components of vaccines are produced using mammal, bacteria and yeast cell cultures in containers called bioreactors. These basic components are produced in controlled environments to strict specifications. For a number of years, however, researchers have demonstrated that plants can act as bioreactors just like cell cultures. Plants have been a rich source of pharmacologically important compounds throughout history, but it has only recently become possible – thanks to biotechnology – to modify plants to grow important compounds in a targeted way. This is known as “pharming”.

Not only might this be a cheaper way to produce in-demand molecules, but, potentially, vastly more scaleable. If plants can be harnessed for this purpose, it could lead to new industries and alternatives for pharmaceutical companies. Lower and middle income countries could particularly benefit from this low-tech option, because cell culture alternatives require greater upfront investment. To this end, dedicated pharming facilities have recently opened in Brazil and  South Africa. Pharming for molecules is not restricted to medical applications, either. It’s also possible to grow nutritional, cosmetic and industrial molecules in plants.

It may seem counter-intuitive that the answer to a global pandemic could be produced in the leaves of one of the world’s most deadly plants. But there are good reasons why the tobacco plant, Nicotiana tabacum, and its relative N. benthamiana are common plants for pharming. Both are easily modified and together they have become known as the lab mice of the plant science world, in part due to tobacco’s economic importance. Tobacco has all the properties we need when selecting a pharming platform: it is quick-growing, leafy and there are people familiar with growing it all over the world. Several laboratories have already seen success in using it to grow antibodies for the treatment of HIV and the Ebola virus. So it’s perhaps no surprise that British American Tobacco recently announced its ambition to produce between one to three million doses of a potential coronavirus vaccine using tobacco.

These efforts rely on contained, indoor production. But to produce at scale, we would need to pharm outdoors. That’s why we visited Spain and Italy – two of Europe’s largest producers of tobacco – last year, in order to speak with farmers and their cooperatives to see if they would be interested in becoming pharmers. The response, which will be published in a forthcoming research paper, was largely positive. Tobacco farmers saw this as an opportunity to increase profit in a shrinking European market and de-stigmatise a crop they want to keep growing.

Don’t bet the pharm yet

Pharming is not without its problems, some of which go beyond the technical. It has been a long road since the first plant was used a vehicle for pharming, partially because of the need to demonstrate that plant-derived molecules are as safe and reliable as those that come from cell cultures, which we understand far better and are already the preferred platform for pharmaceutical companies.But it is also because pharming requires genetic modification, a famously controversial issue with the public. (Concern over genetic modification does not appear to extend to cell culture technologies, which also often rely on modified microorganisms.) European legislation is a huge barrier. This means pharming is currently confined to heavily controlled spaces such as laboratories and has limited one of pharming’s greatest assets: the fact that it could be done at large scale in open fields. The strict rules around pharmaceutical production also pose a big challenge for outdoor pharming, despite the fact that at least one US-based company has demonstrated that it is possible to produce therapeutic molecules in the field. Combining biotechnology with a crop surrounded by considerable controversy for understandable reasons could prove equally challenging, especially if Big Tobacco companies are involved. But the potential is there for us to produce vaccines and therapeutics safely and at scale, using the tobacco plant for good instead of harming people’s health. And as COVID-19 sweeps the globe, there’s never been more of a need to do so.


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Arisona Permadi

June 9th, 2020

Industry ministry updating rules to support new normal

The Ministry of Industry is continuing to update regulations that can help the industrial sector prepare for the new normal, which is among the measures anticipated to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Policies and targets will need to be readjusted in the current situation, especially those related to the manufacturing sector, which is experiencing immense pressure. “The new normal would need us to recalculate, well, the targets that were previously planned," Minister of Industry, Agus Gumiwang Kartasasmita, said in a statement released on Thursday in Jakarta. According to the minister, the new normal in the manufacturing industry can affect aspects ranging from productivity to competitiveness. One of the targets that will be recalibrated involves imports. An import reduction of up to 35 percent was initially projected to be achieved by the end of 2021.

"We have adjusted the target (which is now) to be achieved by the end of 2022," Kartasasmita noted. Currently, various new arrangements have been made in industrial activities. For instance, before the COVID-19 pandemic, operating industries could optimize all of their workers. But, with the adoption of health protocols, such as physical distancing, the industry has made adjustments to its employee strength by up to 50 percent. "Maybe the reduction is not too significant for industries that have applied Industry 4.0 principles. But, it will be felt more by industries that involve a lot of Human Resources (HR), or labor-intensive industries. This must be studied more deeply,” the minister stated. He also said that some industries have experienced a slowdown or a decline in utilities due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, those who still have permission to operate need to prioritize the application of health protocols, he added.

In an effort to adapt to the new normal, the Ministry of Industry will re-adjust industry operational policies, in line with the issuance of Minister of Health Decree Number HK.01.07 / MENKES / 328/2020 concerning COVID-19 Prevention and Control Guidelines in Office and Industrial Workplaces in Support of Business Sustainability in the Pandemic Situation. "We will compile guidelines summarized from circular letters of the Minister of Industry that have been issued during the pandemic, and based on the latest decision from the Minister of Health," Kartasasmita said.

With the new normal conditions requiring several adjustments, the ministry has predicted the manufacturing industry's growth rate in the second quarter of 2020 is estimated to reach 2-2.7 percent. The target can be met if, in the second quarter, positive COVID-19 cases decline and there is no second wave or aftershock. Additionally, the community needs to remain productive and safe from COVID-19 so it can resume economic activities. However, as long as these basic requirements are not met, the growth of the industrial sector in the second quarter would be lower than in the first quarter of 2020.

"We do not know yet what it will be like, but when restrictions have begun to be reduced, of course, we will gradually be able to improve expectations of growth in the industrial sector," Kartasasmita said. (INE)


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Arisona Permadi

June 2nd, 2020

Government agrees to ban advertising of tobacco products

The German government has agreed to ban the advertising of tobacco products in the streets, according to a draft law released last Thursday. Germany is the only EU country that still allows tobacco products to be advertised at the cinema and on street posters. Germany’s stance on tobacco advertising

At the end of last year, doctors and politicians in Germany came together to call for an advertising ban on all tobacco products. Germany has a rather relaxed view when it comes to smoking and a similar initiative failed in 2016 when it was opposed by the CDU / CSU union. However, Angela Merkel promised to deliver her stance after indicating her support for an advertising ban earlier in 2019. Chancellor Merkel’s party bloc duly changed its position on tobacco advertising at the end of 2019 and now the bill, which has been agreed upon after lengthy negotiations between Germany’s grand coalition parties, will be debated in parliament next week.

The fight against smoking

The draft law, if passed, will put a stop to the free distribution of cigarettes at events and limit the advertising of tobacco products to films for adults. According to the bill, these new measures, combined with existing regulations, will be an “effective way to lower the number of smokers.” “Limiting tobacco advertising on the street and in cinemas is long overdue,” said Julia Klöckner, the Federal Minister for Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection. “Above all, we have to protect young people, so that ideally they don’t even start smoking.” The advertising ban will be widened to include electronic cigarettes by 2024.


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Arisona Permadi

May 27th, 2020

Critical for tobacco farmers to comply with production legislation

THIS year’s tobacco marketing season opened on April 29 following the coronavirus outbreak, which disrupted every aspect of people’s lives. Traditionally, the season starts mid-March or even earlier.Farmers trading their crop are doing so guided by numerous preventive measures put in place by Government to contain the spread of the virus. For now, we can just wish the farmers a fruitful selling season without the usual price ceilings and payment challenges.This week we look at what farmers are expected to do back home to ensure they have a continued dance with the highly lucrative crop way into the future. There are legislations they have to follow religiously to prevent the spread of diseases that can ruin the crop. Tobacco farmers, especially from the small-scale category who account for the largest tobacco output, must heed legislated tobacco planting procedures and stalk destruction dates to avoid the outbreak of PVY diseases. Large-scale farmers usually have mechanised implements to carry out the exercise.

In recent years, there has been rampant disregard of the set rules and regulations that make tobacco farming the success story that it is today. Some of the farmers believe that they can increase yields and the subsequent returns from tobacco farming by sowing tobacco seed between April and May, whereupon they start planting as early as August and ignore legislated dates.

Others simply do not care to destroy remnant tobacco stalks in time and leave stalks on their fields to be destroyed by foraging animals in a development that does not break disease and pest cycles. Stalks must be destroyed by May 15 of every year. They are known for harbouring pathogens and pests, especially aphids, which exposes seedlings sown in June and subsequent field crops to devastating virus diseases such as potato Virus Y and bushy-top. Diseases will in turn ruin the quality of future crops, prejudicing both the farmer and the nation of precious foreign currency that comes with selling high grade tobacco.

Tobacco production is a viable industry that has contributed to the growth of the economy and the well-being of thousands of people. In Zimbabwe, more than 150 000 farmers are into tobacco production while close to one million people are directly dependent on the “golden leaf.” Tobacco generates 30 percent of the country’s foreign currency, bringing in over US$600 million almost yearly. Last season, for instance, income from unprocessed tobacco and revenue from exports almost breached US$1 billion. This season, the country has already earned US$34 million just after 11 days of opening.

The industry supports many people who are employed in different downstream industries or directly in the production and processing of the golden leaf. Tobacco is ranked as one of the most economically important non-food crops in Zimbabwe, earning millions of dollars annually. Earnings from the tobacco production have improved the livelihoods of both smallholders, medium and large scale farmers and supporting the tobacco processing industry.

But despite all this economic relevance, tobacco production remains threatened by pests and diseases, as a result of non-compliance by farmers to the tobacco regulations. Statutory Instrument 711 of 1979 was put in place to curb the spread of tobacco pests by introducing tobacco-free periods every year in order to break the pests’ life cycle. Pests and diseases affect quality of crop and are a trade barrier as most of the golden leaf (tobacco) is grown for export while on the other hand, the non-adherence by farmers to the Plant Pest and Diseases (Tobacco) Regulations leads to multiplication of vectors that transmit viral diseases thus reducing the quality of the golden leaf. Some of the vectors such as aphids, thrips and white flies transmit deadly viral diseases such as Tobacco Bushy Top, Tobacco Leaf Curl, Tomato Spotted Wilt and Cucumber Mosaic.

Farmers need to remember that all tobacco stalks in the field should be destroyed before May 15 every year, while all tobacco seeds may not be sown before the 1st of June every year and seedlings may not be planted out in the field before the 1st of September every year.

Also, all tobacco curing and handling premises at the farm should be cleaned and be free of tobacco by October 31 every year and all tobacco plants in the seedbeds must be destroyed before January 1 every year. Agritex estimates that only 58 percent of tobacco farmers are compliant to the stalk destruction and seedbed establishment regulations, which is a worrisome observation because the outstanding 42 percent has the potential to ruin the party for everyone else should there be an outbreak of diseases and pests.

Maybe the fine of $100 that defaulting farmers are made to pay is not punitive enough to enforce compliance, which makes it critical for it to be reviewed. Under normal circumstances, farmers should just act responsibly and do what they are expected to do every time they produce the crop. Self-policing of the industry players is critical. It is also disturbing to note that crops in the same family with tobacco will be caught offside if grown on the same piece of land on which farmers did not follow set rules and regulations.

If farmers cannot do self-policing, then it may become necessary for key stakeholders like contractors to give them conditions to meet before they can contract them with compliance issues being part of the requirements. If a farmer fails to meet the requirements then he does not qualify for funding. On the other hand, the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) can also set compliance requirements as part of the registration conditions every year while growers’ associations and farmers’ unions can also chip in with various ways of encouraging stalk destruction and strict observation of seedbed and planting requirements.

And now for some bit of history — in the 1960s, PVY affected tobacco in northern areas of the country and yield losses as high as 100 percent were recorded, especially on the late tobacco crops. This prompted the introduction of the legislation on planting dates and destruction of stalks dates for tobacco, but the decision came at a costly price.


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Arisona Permadi

May 20th, 2020

Alcohol and tobacco ban hurting Pick n Pay as it counts the cost of Covid-19

Retailer Pick n Pay says that its financial position has been impacted by South Africa’s lockdown measures – but with so much uncertainty right now, it has no way to predict how its FY21 results will be hit.The group has published its financial results for the full year ending 1 March 2020, showing a 4.7% increase in trading revenue on  from the 52-week period ending February 2020.This turnover jumped to R89.2 billion for the year (2019: R85.2 billion), with trading profit up 8% to R3.15 billion (2019: R2.92 billion). Profit before tax was at R1.87 billion (2019: R1.76 billion). Despite these gains, profit after tax declined by 11.5%, the group said, to R1.195 billion, from R1.35 billion the year before.This resulted in a slight decline (-0.6%) in diluted headline earnings per share to 278.81 cents, from 280.60 cents before.

No dividend was declared, with the group saying it took the decision to defer payouts, as uncertainty around the coronavirus persists. “In light of the current economic upheaval from the Covid-19 pandemic, the board has decided that it would be prudent not to  declare a dividend at this time but rather to preserve cash,” it said. “It is anticipated that a formal dividend declaration will be  considered and communicated once the full impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the group’s operations can reasonably be known and assessed.”

If it was not for the pandemic, Pick n Pay said it would have declared a final dividend of 173.06 cents per share, maintaining the group’s dividend cover of 1.3 times comparable headline earning per share on a 52-week basis. Pick n Pay’s results reflect the group’s financial performance before the nationwide lockdown took effect, and show the tough economic conditions which have been prevalent across all of its operations – and South Africa in particular. The group noted that it traded in difficult economic conditions throughout the year, with low growth, high unemployment, rising household costs and constrained consumer spending in all regions.

South African operations delivered turnover growth of 5.1% against a strong prior year base, reflecting operational challenges in the second half of the year including the impact of a sustained programme of load-shedding and some supply chain labour disruption. This was countered by a robust performance in its value-add categories, with the group’s SmartShopper rewards programme remaining strong and its partnership with groups like TymeBank progressing. Over 1.2 million TymeBank accounts have now been opened in Pick n Pay and Boxer stores, it said – while new rewards partners such as Steers and Wimpy have joined.

Covid-19 impact

According to group chief executive officer, Richard Brasher, the financial year ahead represents the “biggest challenge any of us has experienced in our careers”.He noted that in the current year, group earnings are currently impacted as a result of the mitigation measures taken by the government to combat Covid-19, including the current (level 5 and level 4) inability to trade in liquor, tobacco, clothing and most general merchandise lines. “These categories make up around 20% of our revenues, and have relatively high margins compared with basic food and grocery lines.” A general reduction in overall consumer and trading activity will also have an impact, Pick n Pay said, as will the additional costs, arising from extra hygiene and social distancing measures which are essential in protecting employees and customers. The cost of providing appreciation bonuses to front-line employees for their work during the nationwide lockdown will also be reflected in the finances.

It’s not all negative, though. One area where the group has seen significant growth on the back of the lockdown is online, where, since the declaration of the state of disaster on 15 March, online revenue has doubled. Other standout information includes: More than 144,000 new customers registered online – this is 8x more registrations than the previous year;

- 200% increase in active transacting customers;

- 1,000% growth in first time customers vs last year;

- Dedicated online facilities and in-store click & collect platforms delivered a growth of over 150%.

- Outlook: uncertain

The group noted that the many current and future uncertainties arising from the pandemic mean that it is simply not possible at this stage to estimate or quantify the likely impact over the full financial year. It assured shareholders that it was well positioned for the crisis, with stable funding and the required liquidity. “We have no long-term structured debt, and have actively managed its working capital needs through short-term cost effective facilities,” it said. “We are well-positioned for the crisis, with a stable funding platform and necessary liquidity.” Pick n Pay said that given the various uncertainties, it believes that consumption of food and non-alcoholic beverages will be fairly robust, although any growth will be limited by the pressure on incomes and spending.

Sales in other sectors are likely to be more substantively impacted, however – depending on the duration of the crisis. Most notably, “the performance of categories such as alcohol, tobacco, and some general merchandise products will depend crucially on the duration of the current prohibition on sales, and any recovery when sales are permitted again,” it said. “The impact on profitability will derive not only from a general reduction in sales, but from any disproportionate impact on higher margin sectors such as alcohol, general merchandise and clothing.”


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Arisona Permadi

May 13th, 2020

Indonesia to issue larger tax breaks to cover 11 more sectors

Indonesia will issue larger tax breaks to cover 11 business sectors similar to the incentives given to manufacturing industries to help companies weather the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The 11 sectors are food, trade, electricity, oil and gas, mining and coal, forestry, tourism and the creative economy, telecommunications, logistics, transportation and construction, Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati said. She added that the incentives would be in the form of individual income tax exemptions, import tax deferrals and 30 percent corporate tax discounts. The tax incentives would be covered in the fourth stimulus package that the government is currently finalizing.

“From an economic standpoint, the COVID-19 shocks could damage businesses and cause massive bankruptcy,” Sri Mulyani told reporters via a teleconferenced briefing. “We are trying to focus our stimulus to lessen the COVID-19 economic shocks on citizens.”

The government previously announced tax breaks for manufacturing industries worth Rp 22.9 trillion (US$1.46 billion). Manufacturing workers with incomes below Rp 200 million per year would be exempted from paying income tax. Corporate income tax for the manufacturing sector has also been cut by 30 percent and import tax payments deferred. Tax revenue contracted 2.5 percent in March to Rp 241.6 trillion, mainly driven by a weakening oil and gas sector, while customs and excise revenue grew by 23.6 percent to Rp 38.3 trillion, driven by a rise in tobacco excise.

“Tax revenue will face heavy pressure over the next several months as economic activities slow down, fiscal stimuli take effect and commodity prices decline,” Sri Mulyani said.

Indonesia booked a state budget deficit of Rp 76.4 trillion as of March this year but the amount “did not fully reflect the economy” as revenue grew significantly while spending growth slowed, Sri Mulyani added. The budget deficit is expected to widen to 5.07 percent this year. Indonesia has set aside Rp 405.1 trillion from the 2020 state budget for medical needs, the social safety net and relief for small and medium businesses as the pneumonia-like illness has infected more than 5,000 people as of Friday afternoon, with 496 dead.

“Further stimuli will be announced, including for the healthcare sector,” the finance minister said. “We will continue to make sure that measures to lessen the COVID-19 impacts will have proper budget support.”


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Arisona Permadi

May 8th, 2020

Tobacco ban will likely destroy lives

As alcohol and tobacco alliances consider legal action to have the ban on what is considered “sin substances” lifted during the lockdown, experts are divided on whether there is more benefit than economic loss.

The alcohol and tobacco industries suffered another blow on Friday when President Cyril Ramaphosa declined a request by the Gauteng Liquor Forum and its members to sell alcohol during the national state of disaster.

In response to concerns raised by the forum that small businesses in the trade may suffer financial loss, Ramaphosa said they would receive grants to sustain their businesses during this period. Since the lockdown was extended, some people have tried illegal means to obtain alcohol. The SA Liquor Brandowners’ Association (Salba) has noted with concern the increase in illicit alcohol production, particularly in KwaZulu-Natal.

Sibani Mngadi, spokesperson, said that this week in Durban police responded to at least three incidents relating to the illegal production of illicit alcohol meant for retail to the public using various commercial brands of spirits drinks. Meanwhile, the tobacco industry hoped its fight against the ban on the sale of cigarettes would take off even though the liquor industry’s attempt to lift prohibition was shot down. Sinenhlanhla Mnguni, chairperson of the Fair-trade Independent Tobacco Association (Fita), said it consulted its legal team and planned to file court papers this week to lift the ban. “It is not fair that the tobacco black market thrives on the desperation of people while us, the upstanding legitimate industry, withers away. The government is getting none of that revenue back, but with us, the SA Revenue Services collected R13 billion from excise in cigarette sales in the last financial year.

“We estimate that at R1.5billion a month on excise alone with the ban in place. But when you factor in VAT, corporate income tax and other tax types the figure becomes even greater. They are shooting themselves in the foot.” Mnguni said Fita had been inundated with calls and emails from tobacco vendors, farmers and smokers for action to be taken against the ban. “Tobacco farmers, farmworkers, factory workers and the many ordinary citizens who rely on the industry for a living have their livelihoods at stake. An indefinite continuation of the ban will in all likelihood destroy lives.” Mnguni said the restrictions and whether or not there could be another lockdown extension left Fita with little choice but to take the drastic step of legal action.

Provincial police spokesperson Captain Nqobile Gwala on Friday said an operation near the Hluhluwe Game Reserve was conducted where three bakkies transporting 40 boxes, each containing 500 packets of cigarettes to the street value of R900 000, were intercepted. “Three suspects were arrested and will appear in court soon charged with possession of illicit cigarettes.” A petition was started last Saturday by Bev Maclean from Johannesburg calling for the ban to be lifted. So far it has garnered close to 150000 signatures supporting the motion and is aimed directly at Ramaphosa. But mental health specialists encouraged those who were addicted to capitalise on the ban to escape their habit. Dr Lize Weich, convenor of the Substance Abuse Special Interest Group of the SA Society of Psychiatrists (Sasop), said there was much to be gained from “alcohol-free” weeks such as fewer calories consumed to compensate for not being able to exercise as before, saving money, and improving general health and immunity.

“The lockdown and threat of infection is a good motivator to improve overall health. Most people would want their lungs, airways and immune system to be functioning optimally amidst the threat of Covid-19 infection, and avoiding or reducing alcohol and tobacco intake can potentially aid in this.” Professor Renata Schoeman, head of the healthcare leadership at the University of Stellenbosch, suggested there be a contingency plan for those with substance use disorders who could not cope with sudden withdrawal. “There is a lot of positive response from the ban, we have seen a reduction in violence, abuse and road accidents. “For those who use the substances for social purposes, it can be manageable and they probably save a lot of money during this period. “However, we are very worried about those with disorders, they might not cope with the sudden withdrawal and it is very dangerous, it must be monitored,” she said. Yusuf Abramjee, founder of Tax Justice South Africa, said there had been two different arguments, one on alcohol, on which government made a ruling, and the other on tobacco.

“There has been an outcry across the board from various high profile individuals and organisations for the ban on tobacco to be lifted. “Business Against Crime also came out in support. The ban on cigarettes is contributing to the illicit trade flourishing. These criminals are cashing in on our fiscus,” said Abramjee, adding that the economy was losing an estimated R35 million a day on excise duties on cigarettes alone. He said there were about 11 million smokers who were being deprived. “There is a different argument between alcohol and tobacco. Alcohol does contribute to social ills and abuse, the same argument does not hold true for cigarettes. These people are addicted. It does not contribute to Covid-19.” Some addicted to the substances took to social media to vent their anger. One said: “Most politicians have cases and bottles of alcohol in their storerooms. “They speak as if they are not touching any now. Alcohol does not create violence. Alcohol helps people cope, it doesn’t cause depression. We all have our coping mechanisms so don’t judge others.”


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Arisona Permadi

April 22nd, 2020

Demands of Tobacco and alcohol associations over lockdown bans

The Fair Trade Independent Tobacco Association (Fita) has written to the presidency seeking clarity on how the ban on the sale of cigarettes limits or curbs the spread of Covid-19. The letter, written on Monday, was addressed to President Cyril Ramaphosa and the ministers of health, police, justice, trade and industry, and co-operative governance and traditional affairs. In it, Fita seeks clarity on a number of issues, including an explanation on what basis the government contends that the lockdown regulations prohibit the sale of cigarettes.

“We wish to point out that even if it can be contended that the regulations, properly construed, prohibit the sale of cigarettes, then they are invalid. They are irrational and not properly related to the purpose for which they were made,” wrote the association.Fita has called on the government to provide evidence that the prohibition on the sale of cigarettes helps in delaying or limiting Covid-19.

“What is the state's source of power to prohibit the sale of cigarettes? Was consideration given [to] imposing limitations to the sale of cigarettes, as opposed to imposing a total ban on their sale?” asked the association. The ban on the sale of cigarettes, said Fita, would not achieve the stated purpose for which the regulations were made as cigarettes were still being distributed by people who were not paying duty fees. It also asked the government why it had not prohibited the sale of non-essential items such as fizzy drinks or junk food. “Fita is of the view that the foregoing matters were not considered — or if they were, they were not properly considered,” it said.

“Fita respectfully asks — as it is entitled to do in terms of the constitution — for your reasons for imposing the prohibitions. “You will appreciate that this is a matter of urgency: the livelihoods of Fita members are at stake. In the circumstances, we request that you furnish your reasons and the answers in the matters we have raised.” The organisation has given the presidency until midday Tuesday to respond to the letter.Meanwhile, the Gauteng Liquor Forum has written another letter to the presidency seeking further information on the ban on the sale of alcohol. This comes after it initially wrote to demand that the ban be lifted or eased. Ramaphosa declined the request, however, saying the decision was taken to uphold the restrictions because of the “dangers associated” with the sale of alcohol. Eric Mabuza, the lawyer representing the 20,000 micro- and small businesses in Gauteng, told TimesLIVE on Monday that they had written back to the presidency to seek “some information”. “We are waiting for the president to respond,” he said, adding that they had given the presidency until Thursday to do so.

Mabuza said the forum had, upon a request from the presidency, halted its plans to approach the Constitutional Court.


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Arisona Permadi

April 21st, 2020

Masks and hazmat or gown cover all to healthcare and frontline workers

Indonesia's under-equipped doctors are battling a tide of COVID-19 infections that is overwhelming its creaky healthcare system - and killing their colleagues. Two dozen doctors have died since the pandemic began in the Southeast Asian nation. Hospitals don't have enough basic protective gear - never mind sophisticated ventilators - leaving many poorly paid doctors to battle the virus with little more than plastic rain ponchos. Supplies are running so low at his hospital that some colleagues rely on donations from family members to buy the few available certified hazardous material suits. The rest rely on the hospital's supply and they've got to wait.


A lot of health workers have spouses and children at home, but they still brave the challenges. Doctors are scarce in Indonesia and if they die we'll have fewer people to treat patients. Indonesia has fewer than four doctors for every 10,000 people, according to World Health Organization data - far below hard-hit Italy (about 40) or South Korea (about 24).

PT Mangli Djaya Raya has hundreds protective face masks, hazmat / gown all cover to donate to healthcare and other frontline public workers in their battle against COVID-19 — it is one of much-needed personal protective equipment to frontline workers since the pandemic hit indonesia especially in Jember city. In collaboration with hospitals in jember pt mangli djaya raya hopes that this pandemic will end soon.We, brethren of the Union, must recognize that today is the time to show our compassion and loving-kindness for each other. Let’s fight COVID-19 together.

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Arisona Permadi

April 20th, 2020

Should tobacco product sales be banned during the COVID-19 pandemic?

There are calls from some health groups for limits, or outright bans, on tobacco products to help reduce the risks of complications due to COVID-19. Some medical experts think that smoking and vaping can make symptoms worse. One early scientific study indicates that COVID-19 patients in China were more than twice as likely to get severe infections if they were smokers. 

Smoking also means repeatedly bringing your hand to your mouth, when we’re all being cautioned not to touch our faces. The New York State Academy of Family Physicians has called for a ban on sales of tobacco and e-cigarettes during the pandemic. The International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease has increased its push for an end to sales.  

“This is really the best time for governments to take action and to force the tobacco industry to stop selling tobacco in their countries,” the union’s Dr. Gan Quan said. Around 34 million people in the U.S. smoke cigarettes. Dr. Michael Siegel at the Boston University School of Public Health agrees that quitting smoking and vaping will have positive health benefits, but says says a ban could have unwanted consequences.

“You really do have a danger of a black market developing,” he said. “To me that is the main obstacle to prohibition, honestly. Not the economic consequences to the tobacco companies.” The National Association of Tobacco Outlets did not have a comment at this time. 


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Arisona Permadi

April 20th, 2020

Smoking and Covid-19 Serenity

Researchers found no link between cigarette smoking and the severity of COVID-19 among cases in China, according to results of a preliminary meta-analysis published in the European Journal of Internal Medicine.A previous report of 44,672 cases in China revealed a higher mortality rate in men compared with women (2.8% vs. 1.7%), which some hypothesized to be caused by a higher prevalence of comorbidities such as smoking among men, Giuseppe Lippi, MD, of the clinical biochemistry department of neuroscience biomedicine and movement at the University of Verona in Italy, and Brandon Michael Henry, MD, PhD, a research fellow at The Heart Institute in the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, wrote. In China, 52.1% of men are reportedly smokers vs. 2.7% of women.

“However, decreased levels of angiotensin converting enzyme 2, the reported host receptor of the virus responsible of COVID-19, are observed in smokers,” the researchers wrote.Lippi and Henry reviewed five studies totaling 1,399 patients. Among them, there were 288 patients whose COVID-19 disease was considered severe.Active smoking was a significant predictor of COVID-19 severity in only one study, according to the researchers. But overall, the link was not significant. “Despite a trend toward higher risk was appreciable, no significant association could neither be found between active smoking and severity of COVID-19 when data of individual studies were pooled (OR, 1.69; 95% CI, 0.41–6.92),” Lippi and Henry wrote.

A sensitivity analysis excluding the largest study yielded similar results. “In conclusion, the results of this preliminary meta-analysis based on Chinese patients suggest that active smoking does not apparently seem to be significantly associated with enhanced risk of progressing towards severe disease in COVID-19,” the researchers wrote. 

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Arisona Permadi

April 7th, 2020

Tobacco plant playing a role in fighting COVID-19

A lab at the University of Louisville has been responding to national emergencies studying highly infectious diseases. Now, that lab is doing research focusing on the novel coronavirus that could be a game changer. It is looking into a plant that has killed so many for centuries, and how it could potentially play a role in saving lives. Researchers at the University of Louisville Regional Biocontainment Lab are exploring the possibility of a preventative product that involves tobacco. For the past few years, it has been looking into an engineered tobacco-produced protein, called Q-Griffithsin, a broad spectrum antiviral.

“We’ve been testing it in a phase one clinical trial for preventing HIV transmission, but we know from work that we did some years ago that it also has very good activity against coronaviruses,” said Dr. Kenneth Palmer, from UofL’s Center for Predictive Medicine for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases. Palmer and his research team at UofL received samples of COVID-19 last month and are researching it in the highly secure confines of their lab in Louisville. Covered head to toe in personal protective equipment to prevent infection, the researchers now are testing the therapeutic candidates against COVID-19 in cell cultures.

Kentucky has a lot of expertise in growing tobacco. But, Palmer’s research doesn’t involve tobacco grown in an ordinary field. It’s being grown in a controlled pharmaceutical production facility in Owensboro. Because tobacco grows so quickly in Kentucky, it’s a good host to produce the large quantities of the Q-Griffithsin, researchers eventually will need to go into human clinical trials.

The goal is that they will produce a product that would be used as a preventative measure in the form on a nasal spray. It could be a major breakthrough, but it’s not going to happen overnight.Palmer said he’s hoping to get the funding to get in a clinical trial later this year. “We’re very hopeful we will provide one way to help protect people (from) coronavirus infections, and hopefully we will make a difference,” Palmer said. This all has to go through the hurdles of formal approval that does take some time. Palmer said he believes COVID-19 will be a problem for several years. This preventative measure could help curb cases, along with lead to a vaccine, Palmer said.


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Arisona Permadi

April 6th, 2020

Tobacco crops can help combat Covid-19 , How It Works ?

When I asked one of South Africa’s foremost futurists, Pieter Geldenhuys, to offer his insight into fighting the Covid-19 disease, I assumed that he would mirror the advice offered by his peers. I expected comments like “flattening the curve” to ensure the availability of intensive care facilities, and with a vaccine months away (and winter on our doorstep), I thought he would suggest cycles to balance both societal health and economic survival until enough vaccines could be produced to enable heard-immunity. Perhaps I expected advice on strengthening societal cohesion in times of uncertainty, or the focus on bolstering your family’s health to optimise survival once affected. The rationale behind his rather unconventional advice, however, is quite logical. It has everything to do with the speed at which we can produce a vaccine for Covid-19. “Developing a vaccine to assist humanity in fighting the various strains of the Covid-19 is but the first act of the play,” he says.

“Once one of the multitude of medical research teams have developed an effective vaccine for the strain prevalent in South Africa, it will take several months, or even years, before enough vaccines could be produced to fill the global need. This is where tobacco plants come in,” says Geldenhuys. In the research he conducted for his upcoming book Headlines from the Future, Geldenhuys came across the Blue Angel project that dated from 2010. Blue Angel was funded by DARPA, the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency. The Blue Angel project was based on the need to rapidly reproduce vaccines in times of need. A large part of the $100 million funding behind Blue Angel went to a Canadian company called Medicago to build a facility in North Carolina. There they showed that once a vaccine is found, they can rapidly scale up production. Medicago says that once they get the green light, they will be able to produce 10 million vaccine doses per month. Traditional vaccine production dates back to the 1940s, in which a small amount of live flu virus is injected into a chicken egg.

“Every step of the process brings delay,” Nathalie Charland, senior director of Scientific and Medical Affairs at Medicago, said about this outdated process in an article for “They may not be growing well. You are killing embryos. There may not be enough viruses with egg-based manufacturers.” Also, one egg produces up to four vaccines, but for one tobacco plant, up to 50 vaccines can be produced. In addition, egg viruses sometimes cause problems with mutation, especially in the H3N2 viruses, which cause the worst outbreaks.

“Plants are highly efficient at producing proteins of varying complexity, serving as mini factories for our vaccines,” the company said in a fact sheet. “Greenhouse manufacturing can quickly scale to meet urgent needs.” The problem is, the production of vaccines is not a quick process. According to the World Health Organisation, it can take up to nine months to develop and send a vaccine into production. On top of that, egg-based and other conventional vaccine production techniques may not be able to scale up sufficiently to meet the demand – especially for diseases where two doses per person are required for adequate protection. So Medicago doesn’t work with a live virus. Instead, it uses plants. It inserts a genetic sequence into agrobacterium, a soil bacteria, which is taken up through the plants’ roots — in this case, a close cousin to tobacco. The plant begins to produce the protein that can then be used as a vaccine. If the virus begins to mutate, as is expected of Covid-19, they can just update the production using new plants.

“That’s the difference between us and egg-based methods,” CEO Bruce Clark said in an article in  “We go directly to producing the vaccine or the antibody without having to propagate the virus.” Using plants and genetically engineered agrobacteria works faster than eggs, but it also makes the vaccine much easier to produce at scale, which, in part, is why the US military has invested in the company. Geldenhuys’s advice for various governments around the world is clear. Keep your ear on the ground and start reaching out to companies like these. Once initial tests show success, consider building your own tobacco cultivation plants to ensure that you can reproduce the vaccine at speed.


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Arisona Permadi

March 30th, 2020

5 Things About Coronavirus

A new SARS-like virus is spreading through China and has infected nearly 300 people, according to the latest News24 report. The first case has just been identified in Washington in the USA, and airports are implementing screening measures to curb the spread of the disease. This virus appears to be an entirely new strain of coronavirus (novel coronavirus or 2019-nCoV), even though it may be closely related to the virus that caused severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) a number of years ago.

So what exactly is this “new illness” and how is it similar to SARS?

1. Why is it called 'novel coronavirus' or 2019-nCoV?

The word “corona” means crown and “novel” means new. These groups of viruses are named coronavirus because of the distinct, crown-like spikes you can see under a microscope.

A new strain has been discovered, hence “novel”. The abbreviation is nCov and 2019 signifies the year it was first identified. For simplicity, we will refer to it as the new coronavirus.

2. What exactly is the coronavirus?

Coronavirus is a group of viruses that can cause a range of symptoms including a runny nose, sore throat and cough or fever. Some cases are mild but others are more severe and can lead to deadly pneumonia.

In the past, strains of the coronavirus have caused serious outbreaks of illnesses, such as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) which was first reported in Asia in February 2003, and Middle Eastern respiratory syndrome (MERS) which was identified in Saudi-Arabia in 2012.

Both SARS and MERS had symptoms such as fever, cough and shortness of breath in common. The deadliest cases included pneumonia.

3.  What are the initial symptoms of this new coronavirus?

Common signs of the newly identified coronavirus have been listed by the World Health Organization (WHO): 


Breathing difficulties, wheezing and shortness of breath


Severe acute respiratory syndrome

Kidney failure

4. Where did the new outbreak start?

In December 2019 a patient in Wuhan city, China, reportedly complained of symptoms similar to pneumonia and visited a local hospital. Within days, patients presented with similar health problems and officials started investigating this new illness. 

5. How does the new coronavirus spread?

In the past, scientists determined coronaviruses to be mostly zoonotic (a disease that spreads from animals to humans). The origin of SARS was found to be bats and civet cats, while MERS was traced back to the dromedary camel.

While the origin of 2019-nCoV was found to be a seafood market in Wuhan, scientists were not initially sure if there was clear evidence of human-to-human contact. But recently, Chinese health officials confirmed that human-to-human transmission was the cause in some of the cases. 

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March 20th, 2020

Newfoundland accused facing tobacco tax offences in Cape Breton

The town of New Castle will no longer collect its voter-approved tobacco sales tax, possibly for the remainder of year. According to a statement issued by the town, revenue generated from the tax during the months of January and February were trending in a direction that, if allowed to continue, could surpass the $65,000 threshold voters approved last year.

In November, New Castle residents overwhelmingly supported Ballot Issue 2B. Beginning Jan. 1, the town started collecting $3.20 on every pack of cigarettes sold.The successful ballot issue also imposed a 40% sales tax rate on all other tobacco and nicotine items, including vaping products. “There’s really a lot of difficulty in trying to return a sales tax,” David Reynolds, New Castle town administrator, said. “The whole point is we’re trying to avoid that.” TABOR prohibits state and local governments from raising taxes without voter approval.

Because New Castle’s tobacco tax specifically asked voters to approve a tax increase of “up to $65,000 in 2020,” the town cannot collect more than that amount. Following 2020, however, the town does not have to adhere to that $65,000 cap. “Vendors have been notified to stop collection,” Reynolds said. “Depending on their point of sale systems and depending on their corporate locations, it might take a little while to implement.”

Due to the small number of businesses that sell tobacco and nicotine products in New Castle, Reynolds could not comment on the specific amount the tax had generated since January. “We can’t do anything that would give a hint as to what vendors collected what amounts,” Reynolds said. According to Reynolds, the town could reinstate the tobacco tax before the end of 2020. However, that all depends on how much tobacco tax revenue was generated before the tax holiday was instituted. “I have no way to know what was collected in the month of February until the end of March,” Reynolds said. “We are confident that we took all of the steps that we possibly could … to protect us from over-collecting what the voters authorized.”

Mayor Art Riddile said the $65,000 estimate was based on the tobacco tax dollars the town had previously received from the state. “We took a stab in the dark and doubled it,” Riddile said. “This is obviously an unintended consequence.” Riddile said the initial intent of the tax was to get people to cutback or quit smoking altogether. “We wanted to get on that bandwagon for health and wellness,” Riddile said. Revenue generated from the tax will fund community health, wellness and youth programs per the ballot’s language.


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March 17th, 2020

In tobacco country, Trump’s tariffs hit hard for growers and communities

A generation ago, the annual opening of the tobacco market was a big event in this eastern North Carolina city. Bales of sweet-smelling tobacco leaves lined the warehouses downtown. People crowded in — politicians looking to boost their credentials with the powerful agriculture community, local reporters covering the market, farmers and their families and, of course, merchants ready to make a sale. Today, that activity is privatized, with transactions taking place in offices, buildings and factories away from the public eye. The shift obscures the crisis facing growers throughout the South, as well as the industry and those depending on it. “You don’t see it, but a lot of these people are hurting bad,” says former Democratic congressman Bob Etheridge, who led the state office of the U.S. Farm Service Agency from 2014 through 2017.

“Devastating is the word,” says Rick Smith, president of the Independent Leaf Tobacco Co., who has spent a half-century buying and selling tobacco around the world. “The agricultural community is struggling. They’re all struggling.”

The pain is especially acute in North Carolina, where 2,000 growers are suffering from the loss of their biggest customer: China. Thanks to the tariffs on Chinese imports that President Trump imposed in 2018, tobacco sales to that country have ground to a halt. In this state alone, growers have lost roughly $250 million since then. But unlike farmers raising soybeans or vegetables, cows or pigs, they weren’t eligible for federal bailout payments intended to soften the tariffs’ blow. And despite 2020 opening with a new trade agreement and the potential for greater farm exports to China, much remains in limbo as spring nears. Seeds need to be planted in greenhouses this month so they can be transplanted to the fields in April and then harvested in late summer. The uncertainty is endangering individual livelihoods, not just of growers but of the workers who earn offseason dollars in the processing plants. It’s also threatening rural communities, which have long been buoyed by tobacco money, and exacerbating the divide between them and North Carolina’s booming urban areas.

While many growers are still stalwart Trump fans, some wonder if there will be repercussions at the polls in November. Wilson County farmer David Hinnant is feeling the pain. “We did take a hard hit. It’s cut all of us back,” he admitted recently.

Hinnant’s family has been in the area since the late 1700s, growing tobacco through the generations. Nowadays, thanks to the past profits from tobacco, he and his son also plant sweet potatoes, corn, soybeans and peanuts on their 3,000-acre farm. “Tobacco enabled us to do these things,” said Hinnant, 67, whose weathered face and hands bear testament to a lifetime of work outdoors. “We didn’t get rich, but we made a living.”

Over the past few years, those profits have shrunk tremendously because of the trade war. Hinnant and his son are trying to figure out alternatives, but nothing brings in the kind of money tobacco once did.

The sandy soils in the eastern part of the state nurture some of the best flue-cured tobacco in the world, and about half of all tobacco produced in the United States comes from North Carolina. The crop had stayed relatively lucrative compared to others, especially since China started buying U.S. tobacco around 2005. In 2017, much of the 300 million-plus pounds of tobacco sold abroad went to that country. Trump’s tariffs hit the following year, at a point when farmers already had a crop in the ground. Some did get paid for their harvest, but the inventory meant for China remains in U.S. warehouses. Last year was a complete bust between the tariffs and Hurricane Dorian, which destroyed many plants just before the end of the season. Ultimately, no North Carolina farmers got contracts for sales to China. The resulting glut has depressed market prices.Tobacco cultivation has dropped considerably; last year, North Carolina farmers harvested 117,000 acres, down from 177,000 a decade earlier. Most now grow other crops; still, some are barely hanging on. According to the American Farm Bureau Federation, 16 family farms in North Carolina filed for bankruptcy in 2019, up from 12 the previous year.

The economic troubles ripple outward; one of the region’s biggest private employers, Vidant Health, announced possible layoffs a month ago. Economists have estimated that every dollar earned from tobacco results in almost $4 in new spending — on farm equipment, fertilizer, labor and other purchases in the community.

“Wages that aren’t earned aren’t spent,” said Graham Boyd, executive director of the North Carolina Tobacco Growers Association. “Churches feel the effect — farmers can’t tithe as much. So does the booster club at school, automobile dealerships, service people. It’s significant.” In Wilson, located about 40 miles from the capital of Raleigh, the impact has been somewhat cushioned. Both the city and its surrounding county, which bears the same name, have had more success than others in the region at attracting manufacturing firms such as a Bridgestone tire plant and a Merck biopharmaceutical facility. Those have brought in new opportunities and dollars in recent years.

Yet Wilson County’s median household income of $42,850 is still $10,000 less than that of the state. And the economy still depends on tobacco. All the big companies, including U.S. Tobacco Cooperative, British American Tobacco, Philip Morris and Pyxus, have a presence here. Some responded last year by consolidating their facilities; others simply didn’t hire seasonal workers.

It’s unclear what all this might mean for presidential politics come November. Trump won this deeply purple state by three points in 2016 and largely had the support of white farmers. But eastern North Carolina is home to a high percentage of African Americans, many of whom vote Democratic. Wilson County, for one, went for Hillary Clinton in the last election.Tobacco farmers don’t seem to blame Trump for their tariff-related troubles. The trade imbalance had to be addressed, many say; they just happened to be in the crosshairs. “I can’t say I was angry at the government. Some adjustments needed to be made,” Hinnant explained. In fact, notes longtime political analyst Thomas Mills, founder and publisher of the website PoliticsNC, the tariffs issue could wind up boosting Trump’s support.

“At least he’s standing up for [farmers], in their minds,” Mills said. “These small towns in rural communities have been taking hit after hit after hit. To blame it on Trump now is, in their minds, wrong.” Etheridge, the former Farm Service Agency leader, warns that such support is not a given — especially if the Democratic challenger takes their needs seriously. “A lot of those farmers voted for the current administration because no one was speaking to them,” he said. “I think if someone comes out with a policy and follows through, I think they’ll listen.”  Though hopeful about the recent trade deal with China, tobacco growers here have little clarity so far about its actual details. Many still don’t have contracts with buyers outlining exactly how much tobacco they need to grow. Hinnant has already seeded over half of his greenhouses despite the continuing uncertainty. He’s taking the long view. “As farmers, we’re optimists. We’re optimistic that 2021 sets us back on track.”


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Arisona Permadi

March 16th, 2020

Cannabis Can Repair Brain Cells Here’s How Scientists Think

Cannabis could prevent, repair, or even reverse the loss of brain cells from head injuries or neurodegenerative diseases. Although the research is still in its infancy, evidence suggests marijuana does not kill brain cells, and might even help them regrow. For decades, governments and academics told us that smoking weed would lower our IQs, slow our reflexes, and even destroy our brain cells. These Reefer Madness-like claims were based on faulty studies, and they ignore new research that not only suggests cannabis doesn’t harm the brain, but that the plant could potentially regenerate brain cells, too. 

The process where cannabis could repair our brains is called neurogenesis. That means cannabis may regrow brain and nerve cells contained in the spinal cord and found throughout the rest of the body. The science remains contentious, but practically every month a new study comes out supporting the weed-enhances-neurogenesis side of the debate. First off, let’s get rid of any misconceptions you may hold regarding marijuana and brain damage. Science has long debunked the myth that cannabis causes us to lose brain cells. This myth started in Egypt when the North African nation was under British imperial rule. Back then, a single British doctor concluded that hash smoking made Cairo’s residents go crazy. The myth later spread through the United Nations and ended up catching Harry Anslinger’s ear in the US, the architect of Reefer Madness in the 1930s, as well as the catalyst for cannabis prohibition. Anslinger used the Egyptian marijuana madness claims to spread lies that weed made black and brown men turn into axe-wielding rapists — supposedly due to brain damage caused by blazing joints. 

In the late ‘60s, shortly after Anslinger’s Marihuana Tax Act was ruled unconstitutional by the US Supreme Court, President Nixon rigged a scientific study using rhesus monkeys to falsely show that pot killed brain cells. Years later, neuroscientists commissioned by Playboy magazine found that the experiment suffocated the monkeys with ungodly amounts of smoke, which likely caused their brain damage. Regardless, the US government continued funding research that linked lower IQs to pot smoking, which have never, ever demonstrated causation, only correlation.

Recently, twins studies — a gold standard for scientific research in humans — have found that cannabis does not lower IQ nor does it harm the brain. Furthermore, brain scans of cannabis users also fail to show any significant differences between tokers’ brains and those of non-tokers. The evidence remains inconclusive for marijuana’s neurogenerative properties, but keep in mind this field is still new. Prohibition stifled opportunities for research into cannabis’s positive health effects, though that’s rapidly changing as legalization sweeps the planet.

Weed Improves Memory

A 2010 study from Australia discovered long-term cannabis users possessed better memories than non-users. The researchers thought maybe tokers’ brains adapted over time to cannabis use, forming new neural pathways to accommodate poorer short-term memory caused by weed. However, neurogenesis could also explain why potheads performed better at some memory tests than non-tokers did.

Weed May Repair Brain Damage Caused by Alcohol

A 2015 European study found that activating the body’s natural weed receptors healed rat brains from alcohol-induced damage. It’s important to note this experiment didn’t use cannabinoids found in the plant, like THC or CBD, but used synthetic cannabinoids to activate the brain’s CB receptors. (Note: Not all synthetic cannabinoids are as dangerous or damaging as Spice or K2.) The researchers discovered that activating these receptors made the rats consume more alcohol than usual, but combining CB receptor activation with alcohol use reversed much of the damage caused by the booze.

Cannabis Can Help Stem Cell Growth

Stem cells could revolutionize modern medicine, but research on these potentially life-saving treatments has been constantly restricted by religious fundamentalists and their cronies in the US government. Regardless, one 2013 study discovered that blocking CB receptors with drugs reduced the formation of new neural stem cells, the cells that eventually develop into brain and nerve cells. The researchers concluded that stimulating the body’s endocannabinoid system could potentially encourage the growth of new neural stem cells, which is basically neurogenesis. A study published last year confirmed that cannabinoids stimulate neural stem cell growth. Then, a separate study published last month found that cannabinoids in weed could stimulate the growth other stem cells responsible for regulating our hormones. So, the 2013 study authors may have been onto something. 

Cannabis Could Help Heal a Part of the Brain That Repairs Itself 

Neuroscientists know that a region of the brain called the hippocampus is responsible for regrowing new brain cells in humans and other mammals. However, how the hippocampus does this and to what extent remains a mystery. A 2015 joint study of Chinese, American, and Canadian scientists used synthetic cannabinoids to regrow hippocampal cells in rats. Of course, rats aren’t people, and synthetic cannabinoids aren’t the same as the ones found naturally in the plant, but the results suggest that stimulating CB receptors — which cannabis does — triggers neurogenesis. 

Sonic Hedgehog Rings in New Treatment Promises

There’s a protein in the mammalian brain called Shh, or Sonic Hedgehog (I’m not joking), that’s responsible for forming the nervous system in embryos. Scientists are still working this out, but it looks like the endocannabinoid system (present in all mammals) directs Shh activity, again suggesting that cannabis could help repair the brain, even in unborn animals and humans. 

What Does All of This Mean?

Right now, it means very little. Until scientists can perform more experiments to test marijuana’s cannabinoids in the human brain, we don’t know for sure if smoking joints or downing edibles can trigger or enhance neurogenesis. But given that cannabis appears to slow the onset of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, the research, right now, looks extremely promising.If you’re wondering if smoking a bunch of weed will make you smarter, the short answer is: Probably not. Intelligence has less to do with the number of brain cells in your head and a lot more to do with how many connections there are among your brain cells. In other words, you get smarter by thinking and learning in a self-aware fashion. There’s not yet a magic pill (or weed strain) that can increase your intelligence while you otherwise do absolutely nothing. But at the very least, it's safe to say that toking up will not harm your brain or IQ. 

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Arisona Permadi

March 12th, 2020

These are the cigarettes and rolling tobacco due to be banned from May

These are the cigarettes and rolling tobacco due to be banned from MayFrom May 2020, smokers will be unable to purchase particular kinds of cigarettes and rolling tobacco after new laws come into force. As part of the UK government's new plans to curb smoking across the nation, the government will be bringing in a ban on certain kinds of tobacco products on 20 May. Stemming from the EU's Tobacco Product Directive laws, the ban will outlaw cigarettes that have a "characterising flavour", other than tobacco. This includes menthol and skinny cigarettes, as well as flavoured rolling tobacco.

Which products are being banned?

The charity ASH (Action on Smoking and Health) said that the changes to the law will stop the sale of any papers, filters, packaging, capsules or components which add flavouring to cigarettes or tobacco. The ban will extend to any so-called "technical features" which allow customers to modify the taste, smell or smoke intensity of the product.The plans follow a 2017 ban on packs of 10 cigarettes which also saw fruit flavoured cigarettes phased out.

What's the reason for the ban?

The ban is predicated on the fact that these products encourage social smoking among younger people - something the government wants to discourage. Menthol cigarettes, in particular, are believed to encourage younger smokers to take up the habit, as the minty flavour conceals the taste of tobacco and leads smokers to become addicted more easily. Despite myths that menthol cigarettes are less harmful than regular cigarettes, they are actually just as damaging as ordinary ones.

'Sin taxes'

The upcoming budget - the first of Boris Johnson's majority government - may also affect the price of cigarettes along with some other products. On 11 March the newly-appointed chancellor, Rishi Sunak, will deliver a financial statement laying out the government's plans for spending over the next year. It's likely the government will announce "sin taxes" on alcohol and cigarettes. It's not yet known, however, how high these taxes will be, or what products they may be levied on.


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March 10th, 2020

Billion tree tsunami to lose 25%

While tobacco farming itself is depleting forestland with an approximately 470 square kilometre area under tobacco cultivation, its roasting/curing for manufacturing of cigarettes is playing further havoc with the country’s annual firewood production. According to the Pakistan Tobacco Board—a legal entity under the Federal Ministry of Food Security—there are 35,000 barns in the country to roast 106 million kilograms of tobacco produced annually. Each barn consumes at least 1,000 kilograms (1 ton) of firewood in each roasting cycle lasting 8-10 days, completing a minimum of 10 cycles after each harvesting season i.e., every year. This amounts to burning 3.5 million tons of firewood annually for tobacco curing. Pakistan’s annual firewood production stands at 12.4 million tons, a quarter of which is going up in smoke in these tobacco roasting barns.

According to the Global Adult Tobacco Survey, an average smoker in Pakistan consumes 4,500 cigarettes annually. With around 2 million regular smokers, the figure soars to 90 billion cigarette sticks consumed per annum. Giving a margin of 10% illicit tobacco products, 80 billion cigarettes manufactured in the country need 4 billion packs (20 cigarettes each) to carry. These crush-proof packs are made of tree bark, each tree yielding its bark to get a board for 15 packs. The calculated risk is 25 million trees felled annually to make cigarette packs from outer layers of trees.

Of the 80 billion cigarette sticks, at least 50 billion are lit by matchsticks, again manufactured from wood. Burning cigarette ends and matchsticks is a major cause of jungle fires perpetrated by the jungle mafia to hide their massive thefts. The irony of the entire activity, which is so inimical to the environment, is that the Pakistan Tobacco Board has prepared a PC-1 costing Rs50 million to the exchequer for reforestation, thereby admitting that the industry is causing deforestation and the forests need to be replaced at the government’s expense!


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March 3rd, 2020

Organised crime licks its lips as tobacco excise set to hit $1 a stick

The nation's police forces and Border Force have warned that a string of tax increases on tobacco, aimed at cutting Australia's smoking rate, has encouraged organised criminals into the market just as the excise on a single cigarette is poised to hit $1. As the federal budget's dependence on tobacco excise climbs to record levels, MPs are looking at ways to stop a sharp lift in the supply and sale of illicit cigarettes that is being driven by organised criminals taking advantage of the big increase in prices.

The Rudd government started a string of tobacco excise increases in 2010 that, accompanied by  health initiatives such as plain packaging, have reduced the national smoking rate sharply.The most recent national accounts showed total legal tobacco consumption at an all-time low. Excise will increase to 95¢ a cigarette on March 1 as part of the normal six-monthly adjustments to rates. However, from September 1, it will jump by another 12¢ to at least $1.07 a stick due to a separate 12.5 per cent increase. That will add more than $4 to the cost of an ordinary pack of cigarettes. That 12.5 per cent increase is the last of four annual rises announced by then treasurer Scott Morrison in the 2016-17 budget. Last year's lift, on top of 2017 and 2018 increases, will deliver an additional $2.7 billion in revenue to the current budget. A change in the timing of excise collection, aimed at preventing evasion at the border, will deliver a one-off $3.3 billion in extra revenue this year. The two measures combined are worth $6 billion in additional excise in a year the government is forecasting a $5 billion surplus.

Tobacco excise, expected to reap $17.2 billion this year, is now the fourth largest individual tax collected by the federal government with the states also benefiting from the GST that is imposed on cigarettes. But the excise increases have given a huge financial incentive to criminals to enter the illegal cigarette market. Craig Kelly, the Liberal MP heading a parliamentary inquiry into illicit tobacco sales, said it was clear that, while the excise increases were helping to drive down smoking rates, they had also encouraged criminals into the sector. He said the excise increases had to be supplemented with other initiatives to crack down on illicit tobacco.

"The history of smuggling for hundreds of years is, if you put a tax on something, then you encourage people to smuggle," he said. "The biggest cheer whenever excise goes up comes from the organised criminals." One option is the introduction of heavy fines for not only those caught selling illegal tobacco but also business operators and even the owners of the premises from which the cigarettes are purchased. In its submission to Mr Kelly's inquiry, the Australian Border Force noted it had seized a record 633 tonnes of tobacco in 2018-19.

It said excise increases actually improved profit margins for criminals. "Excise increases may impact the size of the illicit tobacco market, as the rising cost of licit tobacco may drive increased demand for cheaper alternatives including illicit tobacco," it said. The Police Federation of Australia agreed that high excise rates were encouraging criminals. "Another issue that is becoming indisputable is that the high rate of tax on tobacco is making its illegal sale very attractive to the crime groups who are using the proceeds of illicit tobacco sales to fund other criminal activity," it said. The federation also noted that many smokers, "especially those on low incomes" are being drawn into the illegal world of illicit tobacco. Another group at risk is the Indigenous community. This month's Closing the Gap report noted that, while the smoking rate among Indigenous Australians had fallen since 2012-13, at 37 per cent it was still well above the rate of the general population.

It warned smoking-related death rates in the Indigenous population were unlikely to fall for some time. "Smoking related deaths may continue to rise over the next decade before declining, when the longer-term impact of smoking reduction may be realised," it found.

By Shane Wright


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March 2nd, 2020

Exposing the heated tobacco

IQOS isn't yet widely sold in the United States -- only in a few test markets, including Atlanta -- but its U.S. marketer, Altria, plans a nationwide rollout during 2020. In countries such as Russia and Romania, a five-year-long marketing campaign linking it with youthful allure has fueled its use according to a new white paper published by Robert Jackler, MD, director of Stanford Research into the Impact of Tobacco Advertising. The marketing efforts are far-reaching: "Coaches" and celebrities promote the products on social media. And some restaurants in countries including Ukraine and Japan are identifying as "IQOS friendly" even when smoking is not allowed. As a Reuters article outlines, it's being associated with luxury brands such as Mercedes-Benz.

"As conventional cigarettes are becoming less and less popular, the tobacco industry is seeking ways to recapture the marketplace," Jackler said. "They're trying to make smoking glamorous again. We have not seen the type of marketing Philip Morris is employing for IQOS since the mid-20th century." Something of a cross between a vaping device and a cigarette, IQOS kits come in a variety of shiny colors and cost about $100. They consist of a charger, about the size of a mobile phone, and a tobacco-stick holder. An IQOS user inserts a stick, containing shredded tobacco and glycerin, into the holder, which heats the tobacco to 350 C. The user inhales the emissions, a combination of smoke and vapor.

Philip Morris International first introduced IQOS to Japan in 2014. Since then, it has aggressively marketed the product in 52 countries, mostly to people ages 30 to 60. The company denies that IQOS is an acronym, but Jackler said many people believe it stands for "I quit ordinary smoking." Jackler said that one benefit of using heated tobacco is that it produces less smoke than traditional cigarettes, minimizing odor. He added that its advantage over vaping is that it's not -- at least not yet -- associated with lung disease caused by vaping.

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration approved IQOS for sale last year, but only as a cigarette equivalent. As a result, Altria may not make any claims that IQOS is safer than cigarettes, may not advertise on radio or television, and may add only menthol -- rather than the variety of flavors sold in other countries -- as flavoring. Jackler said that he hopes the paper will convince U.S. regulators and lawmakers to keep a close eye on Altria's attempts to sell IQOS. "Our hope is that the FDA recognizes what Philip Morris has done around the globe and will put stringent controls on its marketing," he said.

Because heated tobacco products are relatively new and little research has been conducted, it's not clear how harmful they are. "They may in fact be less risky than cigarettes," Jackler said. "But as cigarettes kill a half million Americans every year, that is indeed a very low bar."


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Arisona Permadi

February 27th, 2020

Egypt raises VAT on tobacco products

A bill increasing the value-added tax imposed on tobacco products, including cigarettes and syrupy tobacco mix “shisha maassel”, has been approved by the House of Representatives.

The state council received the amendment to review before the final vote.

A report from the Plan and Budget Committee stated that the general budget for fiscal year 2019-2020 targeted a roughly LE8.9 billion increase for tax revenue on tobacco and its derivatives. This new amendment also raises the value of the tax on cigarettes and tobacco. The budget estimates presume some adjustments to the taxes imposed on cigarette and tobacco products to achieve that outcome.

A 50 percent increase to the final consumer price for every 20 cigarettes was stated in the amendment. Cigarette packs currently priced at less than LE24 will be sold at LE28, while packages at over LE24 will add LE6.5. Packages priced at over LE35 will add LE7.5. Maassel taxes have increased to 200 percent for imported maassel and 165 percent for local. The bill also set LE1,400 in tax per kilogram of heated tobacco.


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Arisona Permadi

February 26th, 2020

Farmers growing tobacco in many areas

Though the growers of Rangpur agriculture region are aware about the harmful effect of tobacco on both human health as well as environment, its farming is still going on in many areas under the region this year. According to sources, despite knowing the fact that tobacco is a detrimental crop, peasants are showing more interest in its farming than paddy and some other crops due to good profit.

A good number of peasants told this correspondent they cultivate tobacco as they earn satisfactory profit from the farming. Moreover, the tobacco companies are providing them with fertilisers, medicine, other inputs and adequate financial support. As a result its production cost is much lower. For this reason farming of the crop is still abundant in many areas under the region, growers alleged.

According to DAE, Rangpur official sources, about 13,500 hectares of land have been brought under tobacco cultivation in five districts under the agriculture region during the current season. The districts are: Rangpur, Kurigram, Gaibandha, Lalmonirhat and Nilphamari.  Of them most of the tobacco has been cultivated in Lalmonirhat. Farmer Mozaffar Ali in the Hazirhat area in Rangpur Sadar said he has cultivated tobacco on 50 decimals of land and is expecting huge profit after harvesting the crop. He said many farmers of the areas have become interested in tobacco cultivation more than other crops as they got financial as well as logistic support from the tobacco companies.  Conscious people of the region opined that as tobacco is injurious to human health as well as environment the government should take tough steps against its cultivation.

Deputy Director of Rangpur regional DAE office Md Moniruzzaman said tobacco farming was still going on, though they continued motivational campaign against its cultivation. He further alleged that some tobacco companies give the farmers money in advance and also purchase the produce directly from them which make the farmers eager in cultivating it on a large scale.

Tobacco is a kind of crop which is very detrimental to human health as well as environment. Its cultivation also leaves adverse impact on soil fertility, he added. 


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Arisona Permadi

February 21st, 2020

Coronavirus treatment from tobacco leaves? Reynolds subsidiary is working on the possibility.

A biopharmaceutical company owned by Reynolds American Inc. is attempting again to determine whether tobacco plants can play a role in battling coronavirus. Kentucky BioProcessing LLC is infecting fast-growing tobacco plants with a genetically modified coronavirus to see if it can produce antibodies for a possible vaccine, according to Politico.

Reynolds bought certain assets and liabilities of Kentucky BioProcessing in January 2014 A viral outbreak that began in China has infected more than 74,000 people globally, including more than 2,000 confirmed deaths, The Associated Press reported Tuesday. Kentucky BioProcessing has contacted the federal Health and Human Services Department about its coronavirus work. It said it could provide a sample to the government by early March. “People can be cynical. But the fact is that we might be able to help,” Hugh Haydon, Kentucky BioProcessing’s chief executive, told Politico. Reynolds has made limited public comment about Kentucky BioProcessing over the year.

Reynolds spokeswoman Kaelan Hollon said Tuesday when asked about the coronavirus connection with Kentucky BioProcessing that, “I will keep you updated as it develops.” Moderna Therapeutics and Johnson & Johnson are the only companies that have publicly acknowledged working on a coronavirus vaccine, both with federal government support. In 2015-16, the subsidiary assisted Mapp Biopharmaceutical Inc. of San Diego with developing ZMapp, a drug that had limited success in treating the Ebola virus. Kentucky BioProcessing is a contract manufacturer for ZMapp.

ZMapp is a cocktail of three antibodies directed against the Zaire strain of Ebola virus responsible for the 2014 epidemic. Tobacco leaves have had limited success with helping fight virus-based illnesses. For example, Politico cited the Pentagon’s medical research arm saying tobacco plants were used in 2012 for the quick development of 10 million doses of flu vaccine. The Politico report contained several caveats with the Kentucky BioProcessing and coronavirus research. “It would take thousands of doses to come up with an experimental treatment. Reynolds’ work is in the very early stages, meaning the outbreak could subside before a cure is close to perfected. And some vaccines may not be 100% effective against all the strains of a target disease, as was the case with Ebola,” Politico reported

Scott Ballin, past chairman of the anti-smoking alliance Coalition of Science or Health, said “tobacco is considered the ‘white rat’ of the plant world and probably the best plant for genetic manipulation ... better than, say, corn.“GMO tobacco is being grown in a number of tobacco states, not just by tobacco companies, but also by pharmaceutical companies, etc.” Politico cited — not by name — the once-promising research by Reynolds biopharmaceutical spinoff Targacept Inc. According to research, nicotine binds to very specific receptors in the brain that are important for thinking and memory and may have neuroprotective effects. People with Alzheimer’s disease are known to lose some of those receptors. It’s the same nicotinic-receptor research theory that Winston-Salem’s Targacept attempted for several years by developing drugs before halting in July 2014 after a series of clinical trial failures.

In a current study involving Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, researchers are trying to determine whether nicotine patches can improve memory and functioning in people diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment. If tobacco plants can be proven to play a role in treating and curing viruses, it could present a financial lifeline to the manufacturers as consumer demand for traditional cigarettes continue to shrink. Analysts say there could be push back from anti-tobacco advocates about a tobacco manufacturer playing a public-health role — similar to the reaction that greeted the idea cartridge-based electronic cigarettes could wean adult smokers from traditional cigarettes.

“From a scientific standpoint, tobacco plants and their extracts have much potential, and Reynolds has long sought the associated business opportunities,” said David Sweanor, an adjunct law professor at the University of Ottawa and the author of several e-cigarette studies. “The scientific uses of tobacco have run up against the demonization of the plant and any company dealing with it, and Reynolds has been punished rather than rewarded for its efforts on the science and technology”, Sweanor said. “If Reynolds helped find a vaccine for the coronavirus, we can assume that many anti-nicotine advocates would ironically feel sickened.”


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Arisona Permadi

February 19th, 2020

Trump Administration Proposes Removing Tobacco Authority From FDA

President Donald Trump called for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to lose its authority to regulate tobacco products in his latest budget request unveiled on Monday.

The proposal from the Trump administration restructures the Center for Tobacco Products as a new federal agency still under the purview of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) but independent of the FDA, and charged with regulating tobacco products including e-cigarettes.

“A new agency with the singular mission on tobacco and its impact on public health would have greater capacity to respond strategically to the growing complexity of new tobacco products,” argues the administration in the budget request sent to Congress. “In addition, this reorganization would allow the FDA Commissioner to focus on its traditional mission of ensuring the safety of the Nation’s food and medical products supply.”

The new director of the agency would require Senate confirmation, similar to the FDA commissioner, “in order to increase direct accountability and more effectively respond to this critical area of public health concern.”

As of now, the Center for Tobacco Products remains under the jurisdiction of the FDA, and separating the two has seen little interest among lawmakers on Capitol Hill. In November, however, Joe Grogan, the head of the president’s Domestic Policy Council, characterized the FDA’s authority over tobacco as a “huge waste of time,” and a “distraction” for the agency. He argued the FDA’s role is to oversee the approval of products that promote public health rather than damage it.

“FDA regulates drugs, which help people… It regulates devices, which help people. Tobacco has no redeeming qualities,” he said. The FDA has ramped up its efforts to curb the use of e-cigarettes in recent years to combat adolescent vaping but has received pushback from free-market groups and vaping advocates. They point out that the use of the products has been proven the most successful life-saving method of smoking cessation rather than an addictive fad for teens.

At the time of Grogan’s comments, the administration was considering sweeping new measures to curb the use of electronic cigarettes over heightened concerns of what the FDA has declared an “epidemic” in youth vaping and a mysterious lung illness that has been attributed to use of the products. The Centers for Disease Control has maintained that the illness has been primarily the result of THC products distributed on the black market.

By late November, the White House backed away from issuing executive guidance removing nearly all flavored e-cigarette products from the market after internal polling from the Trump campaign showed devastating consequences for the president among Trump’s base.


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Arisona Permadi

February 18th, 2020

Lobbyists line up as Albany clash over flavored tobacco, vaping intensifies

In the words of one tobacco lobbyist: “These are dangerous times." That danger to both the tobacco and e-cigarette industries, which has the Capitol hallways filled with industry lobbyists, centers on efforts by some key state lawmakers who want to put a major dent in tobacco and vape companies' financial bottom lines by banning or restricting popular flavored products.

While some consumers may think vaping and tobacco interests work hand in hand – a view fueled by some Big Tobacco investments in e-cigarette companies like Juul – the two sectors are working very much on their own in this 2020 confrontation in Albany and, increasingly, jockeying against each other over who might come out on the losing end of this debate.

A flavor ban on vaping products, beyond the recent partial federal prohibition involving flavors from cherry to coffee, appears the more likely route before session ends in early June, especially given publicity over high teen vape usage.But the real money being spent on lobbying, grassroots campaigns and online outreach efforts is over plans to try to ban flavored tobacco products, whether in cigarettes, cigars or chew products.The tobacco industry's main mission with any flavor ban: Get menthol exempted from such a prohibition.


• Upward of 40% of cigarette sales at convenience stores and bodegas across the state are menthol-flavored ones.

• The state, according to industry estimates, takes in anywhere from $350 million to $500 million a year in menthol cigarette

excise tax revenues, the most popular flavored cigarette product. It is a lobbying battle – in which tobacco and vape companies will spend at least $6,000 every day through the year on a network of some of the most seasoned lobbyists with long ties to Democratic and Republican lawmakers and to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, according to a search of state lobbying records.

Engaged are dozens of lobbyists of all backgrounds: former legislators, former top staffers and old Albany hands who know the Capitol workings as well as anyone, as well as insiders with long ties with some lawmakers based on anything from geography to partisan politics to racial and ethnic ties. That cost to defeat the flavor ban ideas – paid by tobacco companies like Altria and R.J. Reynolds, and large and small vaping companies like Juul and Kenmore-based Magellan Technologies – does not include a still-unknown amount that will be spent this year on political donations and other means to press their cause.

“The tobacco lobby knows that the fight over flavoring is a life-and-death struggle for the future of the industry," said Blair Horner, executive director of the New York Public Interest Research Group.

Menthol: A racial component

Typically, tobacco battles at the State Capitol come down to arguments over health and taxes and jobs. This year, there is another growing factor in the equation: race. Menthol cigarettes provide a cooling effect for smokers, making it easier to inhale and better able to suppress coughs. Federal health officials say menthol cigarette sales are increasing, especially among teens and young adults, and that quitting menthol cigarettes is harder than other cigarettes.

But menthol has also been heavily marketed in African American communities, especially by North Carolina-based R.J. Reynolds, or RJR. The company expects to spend, at least, $369,000 on retainer contracts with lobbyists in New York this year, and those hired guns are spending their time these days pushing back on a bill that would ban all tobacco flavors – including menthol.

A federal study shows that African Americans are the chief users of menthol cigarettes. Seventy percent of African American smokers between ages 12 and 17 use menthol cigarettes, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The agency has noted that promotion of menthol cigarettes has been heavily targeted by the industry toward African Americans “through culturally tailored advertising images and messages."

Assemblywoman Rodneyse Bichotte is a black woman from Brooklyn. Her father, a jazz saxophonist with a Haitian American big band, died 27 years ago from lung cancer after a long addiction to menthol cigarettes, she says. “I have seen and lived in a community where menthol flavored tobacco was a vice to get people hooked on tobacco in African American communities," she said. “In our community, they cannot even think about smoking without menthol," she added. Bichotte was recently tapped as the powerful Brooklyn Democratic Party chairwoman. And she wants to use that influence to get her bill – A8808 – pushed through both houses this session so that flavor tobacco products, including menthol, are banned. State Sen. Brad Hoylman, a Manhattan Democrat, has the bill in the Senate. In her quest, she’s been blasting Big Tobacco. And she’s been criticizing some black leaders opposing her bill, such as the Rev. Al Sharpton, whose organization has been a recipient of funding by R.J. Reynolds. A couple of weeks ago, Bichotte’s bill was on the Assembly health committee agenda, and health groups thought it would be approved. But Bichotte said she pulled it from consideration after some New York City Democrats voiced concerns about the bill’s “narrative." She said they mistakenly believe that it would lead to arrests of black people on the streets if they were caught smoking menthol cigarettes.

“Right now, we’re tweaking the bill," she said, to state clearly that the measure’s sanctions are aimed solely at distributors, manufacturers and retailers – not consumers. “We want to make sure everyone is comfortable," she said of her colleagues. An industry presses back.

Altria, makers of Marlboro and other brands, is in line to spend nearly $800,000 this year on lobbying in New York; much of it is on state lobbying, some on local ordinance lobbying, according to a review of lobbying records and retainer agreements for the Virginia-based firm.

Other big lobbying spenders: Juul ($516,000); RJR ($369,000); a cigar trade group ($57,000); a state and national vapor association ($150,000); Top Tobacco ($78,000); SI Group Client Services ($55,000), and others. In all, they will spend more than $2 million this year in New York State.

Kenmore-based Magellan Technologies employs 200 people locally; it makes and distributes flavored vaping products nationwide. It is spending $120,000 on a single lobbyist: Joel Giambra, the former Erie County executive. (Former Buffalo Assemblyman Sam Hoyt, who ran Cuomo's economic development agency in the region, also was signed up as a Magellan lobbyist.)

Company co-owner Jonathan Glauser said a total vape flavor ban will “not only kill the industry, it will probably kill a lot of people." His flavor products, regulated by the federal government, are used by adults who want to quit smoking tobacco.“Our message is very clear. Let’s work together to put some common sense regulations on our industry that not only completes the stated goal of keeping youth away from this product, but let’s not destroy an industry and put people at risk by taking the easy way out," he said. The vape and tobacco industries make the same claim about flavor bans: People will still want the products and they will be able to freely purchase them tax-free from an already thriving black market or from Native American businesses as found on Seneca Nation lands. The Tax Foundation, a private group, in December said New York – at 55.4% – had the highest level of inbound cigarette smuggling sales. “By unfairly targeting adults that prefer menthol cigarettes, this ban exacerbates an already widespread and dangerous illicit market," said Kaelan Hollon, a spokeswoman at North Carolina-based RJR, whose products include menthol king Newport.

“The brunt of the proposed menthol cigarette prohibition would fall disproportionately – and unfairly – on African American adults," she said, adding RJR believes there is no evidence to suggest that menthol cigarettes “adversely affect initiation, dependence or cessation” by smokers. The governor’s 2020 budget plan seeks new crackdowns on flavored nicotine vaping products, but it is silent on tobacco flavorings, such as menthol. Industry officials note that Cuomo did not propose to eliminate menthol tobacco sales because, in part they believe, the state is facing a $6.1 billion deficit and the state can ill afford to lose so much in cigarette tax revenues.

James Calvin, the head of the New York State Association of Convenience Stores, said upward of 40% of cigarette sales in his members’ stores are menthol flavored and virtually all other products – pipe tobacco, chewing tobacco and cigars – are flavored.

“If the Legislature decides to ban menthol cigarettes it will make menthol cigarettes disappear from our stores, but it won’t make menthol disappear from communities of color or any part of New York State," Calvin said of an illicit market that already has “an apparatus in place in New York." Groups that have pressed for more tobacco and vape controls have heard those industry claims in the past, such as when New York dramatically boosted tobacco taxes. Since then, tobacco use has gone down dramatically.

Andrew Hyland, the top tobacco researcher at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, said menthol tobacco and vape products are used by New York consumers more than any other flavored product. He said Roswell has surveyed menthol cigarette smokers and asked what they would do if menthol flavor was banned. The result: a third said they would quit smoking, a third would find other ways to get the product and a third would switch to a non-menthol product.

Native American retailers and others that flourish in the tax-free cigarette marketplace would likely expand flavored product offerings if New York bans them, but, Hyland added: “A menthol cigarette ban would have a huge impact on reducing cigarette consumption and reducing lung cancer deaths.”


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Arisona Permadi

February 17th, 2020

Tobacco regulation is gaining momentum in the Wyoming Legislature. How long will it last?

Since President Donald Trump raised the minimum age to purchase tobacco to 21 years this past winter, states have begun contemplating other means of increasing regulations on products like cigarettes, vaporizers and cigars within their own borders.

Wyoming is not least among them.

From bills considering limitations – to an outright ban – on mail-order tobacco products to legislation imposing penalties for tobacco sales to individuals under 21 years of age, the Wyoming Legislature is anticipated to be seriously weighing a number of new regulations on the tobacco industry. Legislation to raise the minimum purchase age for nicotine products, for example, arrived in the Capitol with a broad coalition of supporters that include the tobacco industry, while legislation examining outright bans on mail-order tobacco products easily passed the two-thirds voting threshold needed for introduction in the Senate.

Meanwhile, two taxes on nicotine products – one on e-cigarettes, another imposing $1.50 on a pack of cigarettes – could potentially receive play this year, marking one of the most significant years for tobacco regulation in recent memory. However successful each of those bills will be, however, remains up to lawmakers. While increased regulation on tobacco is supported by industry and lawmakers alike, the prospect of new taxes could remain a heavy lift among state lawmakers. The recent – albeit surprising -- support for regulation, said Senate Revenue Committee Chairman Cale Case, R-Lander, could potentially mean some willingness to compromise. “I think people are ready to put a tax on vaping products, but at a lesser amount than the tobacco products,” he said.

Other legislation – like a bill to increase taxes on a pack of cigarettes by $1.50 announced by Rep. Sara Burlingame, D-Cheyenne this week – could face taller hurdles, even as they’ve been pitched as a means to offset the high health care costs driven by the litany of health problems tied to smoking. Meanwhile, Wyoming’s tobacco taxes remain well-below the national average, with the latest increase bringing Wyoming’s tax rate to just 31 cents below the national average.

Jason Mincer, the Wyoming government relations director for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, says his organization also sees taxes as one of the best deterrents to preventing underage smoking, arguing that raising taxes on cigarettes could potentially reduce the rate of underage smoking by roughly 16 percent while simultaneously reducing the number of adult smokers by 5,000 people, according to 2019 estimates by the American Cancer Society.

While the minimum age provision could potentially throw a wrench in arguments around tobacco taxes as a deterrent to smoking for young people, Mincer said the legislation could help to offset a large portion of the approximately $258 million in public health expenses connected to tobacco use.


Anything to cut those costs, he feels, could help make the case for the legislation on its own.“With the revenue situation the state is in, we really see this as a good fit right now,” Mincer said in an interview Tuesday.

The deadline for individual bills to be introduced in their house of origin is Friday.

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Arisona Permadi

February 12th, 2020

420 blaze it? Here’s what you need to know about Indonesia’s marijuana law

Every now and then you might come across headlines about those who are arrested in Indonesia for smuggling marijuana, while some are nabbed for growing cannabis for medicinal use or producing marijuana-laced cake, and you might wonder: How illegal is cannabis in the country?

Despite growing calls across the world for marijuana legalization – with some countries, including Thailand, already allowing the use of the drug for medical purposes and other countries decriminalizing recreational cannabis – Indonesia still adamantly prohibits the consumption of marijuana, even as an alternative for medical treatments.

The 2019 Global Drug Survey (GDS) put cannabis as the world’s most commonly used drug after alcohol and tobacco. It is also the most used illicit drug in Indonesia, according to 2015 data from Indonesian’s National Narcotics Agency (BNN).

The psychotropic drug, which has mind-altering compounds known to give a sensation called "getting high", can be used in a variety of ways. It can be smoked, ingested after using it as an ingredient for food, vaporized and used as an extract. According to the BNN, marijuana users make up 63 percent of the country’s 3.6 million illegal drug users aged 15 to 65 years old.

How illegal is marijuana in Indonesia?

Cannabis is strictly illegal in the country, meaning you cannot be found in possession of marijuana, or caught smoking weed or baking marijuana-laced brownies, unless you want to go to jail. According to the 2009 Narcotics Law – one of the strictest drug laws in the world – cannabis is a type-1 narcotic alongside 65 other drugs including opium, cocaine and methamphetamine. In general, there are three classifications of narcotics, and according to Article 7 of the law, they all can be used only for medical and research purposes, except for type-1 narcotics, which are also forbidden for medicinal use. The production of narcotics is also heavily regulated, with type-1 narcotics explicitly banned except for certain research purposes.

Unauthorized handling of marijuana is a criminal offense. According to Article 111 of the law, marijuana possession can result in a sentence of up to 12 years’ imprisonment and a Rp 8 billion (US$581,782) fine.

Producing, exporting, importing and distributing marijuana can result in charges under Article 113 and a sentence of up to 15 years’ imprisonment and a Rp 10 billion fine. Those involved in the marijuana trade risk a 20-year prison sentence and a Rp 10 billion fine, as stipulated in Article 114.

As for type-1 narcotics in general, possession can result in charges under Article 115, which carries with it a 12-year prison sentence and Rp 8 billion fine.

Providing others with drugs for consumption can carry up to 15 years’ imprisonment and a Rp 10 billion fine, according to Article 116. Using narcotics on one’s own results in four years in prison, according to Article 127. How strong is law enforcement against marijuana use? Throughout 2019, the BNN and the National Police uncovered 33,371 illegal narcotics cases with a total of 42,649 suspects arrested for various charges.

Cannabis made up the bulk of the collected evidence in the cases, with 112.2 tons of marijuana seized in crackdowns. Other drugs seized in the operations included 5.01 tons of methamphetamines, 1.3 million ecstasy pills and 1.65 million PCC pills.

Marijuana cases brought to the country’s courts generally ranged from low-level cannabis possession cases and marijuana cultivation to the smuggling of weed, which in some cases reached up to more than 1 ton of marijuana.

In 2015, for instance, the Denpasar District Court in Bali sentenced an Australian national and an Indonesian to one year in prison for smoking weed. They were caught with a used marijuana joint weighing 0.1 grams and 0.86 grams of marijuana in brown paper. In one of the most famous cases that triggered debate over the medicinal use of cannabis, the Sanggau State Court in West Kalimantan sent Fidelis Arie to eight months in jail in 2017 and gave him a Rp 1 billion fine after he was found guilty of using cannabis oil to treat his ailing wife.

Fidelis was arrested on Feb 19, 2017, and taken to court for growing 39 marijuana plants in his home and extracting cannabis oil for his wife’s treatment. His wife, however, died on March 25, roughly a month after his arrest. Late last month, a United States citizen was arrested in Jakarta for possession of 1 kilogram of marijuana-laced brownies and five bottles of vape liquid containing cannabis, with the police accusing him of smuggling the substance. The foreigner claimed he did not know that marijuana was illegal in Indonesia.

Are Indonesian people consuming marijuana?

Historically, the cannabis plant was first brought by the Dutch from India in the 19th century – during the Dutch colonial era – as a pesticide for coffee plantations in Gayo, a mountainous area in what is known today as the Indonesian region of Aceh.

Although cannabis is widely known for being smoked, Aceh has traditionally used marijuana seeds as spices for various local dishes as well as for herbal medicines, such as to treat diabetes. Despite the law, cannabis cultivation remains widespread in the conservative Muslim province, with farmers growing marijuana as commodities and households also often growing several cannabis plants in their backyard, though they are not often sold for commercial use.

Is medical marijuana really a thing?

According to the US National Institute on Drug Abuse, medical marijuana is a term that “refers to using the whole, unprocessed marijuana plant or its basic extracts to treat symptoms of illness and other conditions”. The marijuana plant contains a chemical compound called cannabidiol (CBD), which is usually extracted into an oil and sold as pills, gels, creams and other forms of remedies to treat pain, seizures and other health problems.

Both scientific studies and anecdotal evidence indicate that cannabis can be used for medicinal purposes, including to treat nausea, pain, loss of appetite, Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, muscle spasms and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Fidelis, for instance, argued before the court that his late wife – who was diagnosed with a rare spinal cord disease called syringomyelia – saw her conditions improve after being treated with cannabis oil, as it allowed her to sleep well and gave her an appetite.

Will cannabis use remain criminalized in Indonesia?

In most parts of the world, marijuana use is illegal for both recreational and medical purposes, following the United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs in 1961 that put marijuana on par with opium and cocaine as narcotic drugs even though the substances are wildly different.

Some countries have started waves of decriminalization of cannabis, both for recreational and medical use, such as Canada, Georgia, South Africa and Uruguay, in addition to Washington, DC, and 11 states in the US, including California, Massachusetts, Illinois and Colorado.

Calls pushing for the legalization of marijuana are on the rise in Indonesia, with some figures from Aceh, including a House of Representatives member from the Islam-based Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), Rafli, saying that Indonesia should consider using cannabis from Aceh as an export commodity.

However, it appears there is still a long way to go for cannabis decriminalization in Indonesia, as even the Indonesia Cannabis Movement (LGN), which has pushed for a revision of the 2009 law on narcotics since 2010, has seen little success to date. (afr)


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Arisona Permadi

February 11th, 2020

Belgium will ban all tobacco advertising from 2021

All forms of tobacco advertising in Belgium will be banned from January 2021. Currently, newsagent’s shops are still allowed to advertise tobacco products in the store, and on the facades. However, the parliament voted unanimously that all these forms of advertising will also be abolished, reports VRT.

Most of the advertising for tobacco products has been banned since 1999. The government’s aim is to discourage smoking as it is still the main cause of lung cancers that every person can choose to avoid. However, the legislation still allowed a few exceptions.

Until 2021, advertising for tobacco products will still be allowed “on posters in and on the facade of the tobacco shops as well as newsagent’s shops selling tobacco products.” The posters, however, are also displayed in the vicinity of secondary schools and could encourage young people to start smoking.

All parties agreed on the scrapping of that exception in the Health Commission, reports Het Nieuwsblald.

Smoking in cars will also be forbidden when children younger than 18 are on board. That ban was already in force, but the age limit has gone up from 16. As the legal age to buy tobacco has also gone up from 16 to 18 in Belgium recently, the initiators thought it logical to align both age limits.


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Arisona Permadi

February 10th, 2020

Pasadena moves to ban flavored tobacco products

The Pasadena City Council is poised to ban sales of all flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes, in the near future. Officials unanimously voted in favor of the blanket prohibition on Monday, directing city staff to come up with a new set of laws which would allow retailers to sell only tobacco-flavored products.

Before it can become a law, the City Council will have to review the suggested ordinance and vote on it at least twice. In the laws proposed on Monday, fruity flavors would be illegal alongside more traditional flavors, such as menthol and cloves. The consumption method doesn’t matter — it could be cigarettes, chewing tobacco, vaporizer cartridges or other tobacco products — none would be available for purchase in Pasadena if the proposed law passes. It’s all in the name of protecting Pasadena’s youth, officials and activists said.

The tobacco companies “kinda back-doored us here and managed to hook a whole new generation,” Mayor Terry Tornek said about the introduction of tobacco vapes, which often use such fruity flavors as mango, bubblegum and countless others. Critics say the tobacco industry markets these products at children.

“The tobacco industry knew what they were doing when they started calling (flavors) ‘bubble gum’ and ‘unicorn poop,’” said activist Deidra Duncan, who identified herself as the chair of the Tobacco Prevention Coalition. “What adult would want to inhale poop? Unicorn poop.” Pasadena’s director of Public Health, Dr. Ying-Ying Goh, said the proposed laws will bring Pasadena into line with a similar countywide ban slated to take effect in May. Federal regulators also recently banned the sale of fruity flavors, but Goh said Pasadena’s laws will “close a loophole” in that bill, which allows for disposable e-cigarette products. If the laws pass, Pasadena will join 56 other cities and counties across the state which have passed similar legislation, according to a staff report. Nearby, El Monte officials are considering the same move. Goh argued the ban is necessary, citing 2,668 hospitalizations across the country from lung injuries sustained by e-cigarette or vaping product use as of Jan. 14. Sixty deaths have been reported in that same period. According to the California Department of Public Heath, the vast majority of teenagers say their first use of a tobacco product was flavored.

Similarly, high school juniors in Pasadena Unified were five times more likely to have used an e-cigarette compared to a traditional cigarette, according to a survey conducted by the California Department of Education. To complement the ban, Goh said, the city would undertake an education campaign directed at students. The city would also seek additional grant funding to pay for additional law enforcement to better police the retailers. Currently, the city has a grant for this expressed purpose, but it’s set to expire in July, Goh said. A police investigation revealed a quarter of the city’s 74 tobacco retailers illegally sold products to minors.Under the current city law, retailers are fined $250 for the first offense. That’s doubled with the second offense, and retailers are charged another $500 for each offense after that.

For council members Margaret McAustin, Tyron Hampton and Andy Wilson, that’s not enough. They called for the penalty to be elevated from an infraction to a misdemeanor and asked for staff to increase the penalty fees. McAustin went one step further, calling for staff to report on the feasibility of a total tobacco ban in Pasadena. “This is where we’re headed as a city, as a country,” she said. The move came during a joint meeting between the City Council and Pasadena Unified school board.In a show of solidarity, school board officials passed a resolution decrying the dangers of youth tobacco use.School board member Lawrence Torres asked district staff to meet with the city’s Health Department to try and develop a school curriculum to outline the dangers of tobacco use.


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Arisona Permadi

February 6th, 2020

Tobacco and Indonesia’s efforts to reduce stunting

Indonesia ranks fifth in the world for stunting. In 2013, nine million children, a third of Indonesian children aged under five years, were stunted, meaning that they were too short for their age. Despite significant government attention to the issue, rates of child stunting remain stubbornly high in Indonesia. The 2018 Indonesian Basic Health Survey recorded a stunting prevalence of 30.8 per cent, which makes Indonesia a high prevalence country, according to WHO cut-off values.

The government has implemented various interventions to tackle stunting. These have included pre-birth interventions, such as vitamins and supplements not only for pregnant and lactating mothers but also for adolescents and brides-to-be who may become pregnant. The government has also supported the First 1000 Days program, which focuses on providing quality nutrition and healthcare and a clean and healthy environment for the first 1,000 days of a child’s life, that is, from conception to age two.

Likewise, the government’s Community Based Total Sanitation Program (STBM) in its Clean and Healthy Lifestyle (PHBS) project and the Community Based Health and Nutrition Project to Reduce Stunting both seek to address the problem.

The scope of these programs cover nutrition-specific interventions as well as general interventions beyond the health sector (for example, improving sanitation through regular hand washing and improving access to clean water). These are, of course, critical factors to address – stunting is caused by poor nutrition, repeated infections, and inadequate psychosocial stimulation, so improving nutrition and sanitation is key to preventing the problem. But there is another important element that is rarely acknowledged as a significant factor contributing to stunting – smoking.

Research has shown an indirect correlation between parental smoking and increased risk of stunting among children in poor urban families in Indonesia. A 2006 study by Semba et al revealed an association between paternal smoking and severe stunting and severe wasting.

According to the study, children with a father who was a smoker were likely to be more at risk of stunting because of the diversion of expenditure from foods that could improve childhood nutrition. The proportion of weekly per capita household expenditures on quality foods such as eggs, fish, fruits and vegetables was reduced in households where the father was a smoker.

Indonesia is well-known for having the highest rates of smoking among male adults in the world, with more than 70 per cent of adult males smoking, more than half of whom are from low-middle income households. The Indonesian Bureau of Statistics has also stated that cigarettes are the second largest household expenditure after rice for poor families.


Several reasons are suggested for high (and increasing) rates of smoking among males in Indonesia. It is an often stated but critical point that Indonesia is the only country in the Asia Pacific region that has not signed and ratified the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. There are few regulations that restrict the tobacco industry from advertising in cinemas, on television, radio, the internet and billboards, or at sporting events and music concerts. And there is only very weak enforcement of the handful of tobacco control regulations that do exist. Moreover, tobacco companies have been very adept at popularising the narrative that smoking is part of Indonesia’s cultural heritage. These factors have together helped to normalise high rates of smoking in the country.

There are varying and conflicting opinions among religious leaders and prominent Islamic organisations about smoking. The largest Islamic organisation in Indonesia, Nahdlatul Ulama, considers smoking to be permissible (makhruh). This reinforces tobacco use as religiously acceptable behaviour. Meanwhile, Muhammadiyah has published a religious opinion (fatwa) saying that smoking is haram, or forbidden. The country’s top clerical body, the Indonesian Council of Ulama (MUI), has also issued a fatwa stating that smoking is forbidden in public, in front of children and for pregnant women. This ambivalence among Muslim organisations may have made it easier for smokers to ignore religious prohibitions on smoking.

A further concern relates to how the government is designing and communicating its programs to tackle stunting, which do not always consider community needs and expectations. Although it used a small sample size, a qualitative study in Tangerang district, Banten, found that interview respondents were not familiar with the term “stunting” as relating to children with short body heights because of poor development. Further, interview respondents did not realise that stunting was a health or nutrition issue, and that it could be influenced by parental behaviour.

Given there has not been any other comprehensive research analysing the casual relationship between smoking and stunting since Semba’s regression study, further research is needed to investigate the correlation between these variables, especially since rates of smoking in Indonesia have increased considerably since then. A detailed qualitative study could help provide further context to the relationship between smoking and stunting, which may not be captured through quantitative approaches such as surveys.

There is no doubt that the government is aware of the huge toll stunting can take on the country’s development and is seeking to address the problem. But efforts to address the problem appear to be missing a major part of the picture.


Evidence suggests further efforts to educate and raise awareness of the adverse impacts of smoking may make an important contribution to the government’s attempts to reduce stunting. But such a strategy would require the government to stand up to the cigarette companies that have such a grip over the population – something that, as yet, no government in Indonesia has appeared willing or able to do.


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Arisona Permadi

January 31st, 2020

Local Vape Shops lose Profits due to recent tobacco law

In December, Donald Trump signed a bill that raised the national age requirement for buying tobacco and electronic cigarette products to 21. 

But Alachua County did it first.  On Oct. 22, the county signed a similar ordinance that is now hitting local vape shops hard. Many report lower sales and lower employee pay, and they aren’t sure how to weather out the change.  Mary Ewing, who opened Escape 2 Vape smoke shop with her husband in June 2015, said about 30 percent of their customers were between 18 and 20 years old and had been vaping since they were 18. Many began to drive out of the county to buy vape products, which took business elsewhere. 

“If you were to eat Draino you would probably die, but we’re not banning eating,” Mary Ewing said. “It [the new vaping law] is not gonna stop getting kids from getting their hands on it.” 

The new law is meant to stop teen vaping and help prevent vape-related illnesses. As of Jan. 21, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced a total of 2,711 vape-related hospitalizations resulting in lung injury. Thirty-seven percent of people hospitalized were from ages 18 to 24. The Food and Drug Administration said that more than 5 million U.S. teens in middle and high schools were vaping last year.

The Ewings were long-time smokers until vaping helped their addictions, they said. Mary Ewing said they have both not smoked in 17 years and want to use their experience to help other smokers get off of cigarettes. Greg said he has been thanked by the customers that they have gotten to quit smoking. “The only reason I got into this business is because I had lost half my family to cigarettes,” Greg said. “I don’t want anyone to go through that.”

Kyle Manning, a 22-year-old employee of Grab Bag Co., said that the store he works at lost about 10 to 20 percent of their customers after the law was passed. He believes that people who are currently between 18 to 20 years old should be exempt from the law.  “For someone like me, I quit cigarettes because of vaping,” Manning said. “So I could see if someone was 18 before the law passed, and it was helping them quit smoking, it would be a sudden change.” 

Brewsters Smoke-n-Brew vape shop has lost about 30 to 40 percent of their business in the last year, the store’s 21-year-old cashier Skye Graves said. He doesn’t think that the business will close, but it’s definitely feeling the loss of customers, he said.  The store is trying to run a radio ad to increase business, but Graves isn’t optimistic. He said they have to get used to the lower numbers — otherwise, they’re just expecting something that isn’t going to happen.

“I find it ridiculous if you can go fight and kill for your government and not be able to smoke,” Graves said. “If they want it, they’re gonna get it.”


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Arisona Permadi

January 30th, 2020

Tobacco industry targets Vermont’s proposed ban on menthol products

With Vermont lawmakers poised to pass legislation this year banning flavored nicotine and vaping products, the tobacco industry is putting its energy and money into opposing just one aspect of the bill: a ban on menthol. Bracing for the legislation, tobacco companies have spent tens of thousands of dollars on lobbyists to prevent the forced removal of menthol cigarettes and e-cigarette products from the market. For months, Democratic lawmakers and Gov. Phil Scott have signaled they would support a ban on flavored e-cigarettes, which is already in place at the federal level and applies to all flavored vapes except menthol and tobacco.  

But in recent weeks, taking menthol cigarettes off the market has become a new priority for Democrats in Vermont, who say the products also get young people addicted to nicotine, and have been marketed to target minority communities.

Sen. Ginny Lyons, D-Chittenden, who chairs the Senate Health and Welfare Committee and is the lead sponsor of the legislation, said the “major pushback” she has received from the tobacco industry has focused on the menthol ban.

“It’s difficult for them to realize that something they’ve been advertising as better than regular cigarettes are not better than regular cigarettes,” she said of menthol products.

Since September, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco, which also owns the vape brand Vuse, has spent nearly $40,000 on lobbyists in Vermont, according to disclosure forms. The tobacco giant Altria, the parent company of Philip Morris, which owns 35% share of the popular e-cigarette company Juul, has spent about $46,000 on lobbyists in the same period.

A person familiar with the tobacco industry’s lobbying strategy in Vermont, who requested anonymity to speak candidly, said the companies are focused on convincing lawmakers to remove the menthol ban from the bill.  

R.J. Reynolds has hired the lobbying firm MMR to represent it in Montpelier. Altria and the lobbying firm it has hired, William Shouldice & Associates, did not respond to requests for comment. In a statement, a representative for R.J. Reynolds said the company opposes the broader ban on flavored vape products and smokeless tobacco, in addition to the menthol ban. 

Kaelan Hollon, a spokesperson for the company, said that the bans “do not solve for youth vaping, and instead has the unintended consequences of creating an illicit market for menthol cigarettes while also removing vapor alternatives from the market for adult smokers.” 

She added that by “unfairly targeting” adults that smoke menthol cigarettes, the ban “exacerbates an already widespread and dangerous illicit market,” and that the prohibition would “fall disproportionately — and unfairly — on African American adults.” 

It is true that proportionally more black people smoke menthols, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which states “African American adults have the highest percentage of menthol cigarette use compared to other racial and ethnic groups.”

But proponents of the new legislation say the tobacco industry has targeted black people with menthol advertisements, and highlighted the practice at a press conference last week. 

During the event, Phil Gardiner, the co-chair of the African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council who has published research on menthol cigarette use, said menthol cigarettes are cheaper in poorer communities and marketed “specially” to African Americans.  

“Menthol cigarettes have disproportionately led to the untimely death of many African Americans,” he said. “They disproportionately use these products and they disproportionately die from them.” If Vermont banned menthol, it would become the second state to do so, following Massachusetts, where Republican Gov. Charlie Baker signed the nation’s broadest flavored-nicotine ban into law in November. 

Last year, Vermont also took action to restrict vaping use, raising the age to purchase the products to 21, levying a 92% tax on the devices and nicotine “pods” and banning online sales of the products.  The tobacco industry spent $200,000 on lobbyists in 2019 — primarily to oppose the online ban and tax measures.  While the governor has signaled he would support banning flavored vaping products targeted at children, he has reservations about prohibiting menthol. 

Before Scott makes a decision on the bill, his spokesperson Rebecca Kelley said he would “want to ensure we’re not unintentionally doing more harm than good,” by taking products off the market that could help people quit smoking. 

“If menthol is something that may help with cessation, he’d want to ensure we’re not unintentionally doing more harm than good,” she wrote in an email. “The bottom line: he needs to learn more about the potential impact of a menthol ban.” 

Sen. Richard Westman, R-Lamoille, a member of the Senate Health and Welfare Committee, which is working on the legislation, is opposed to taking menthol cigarettes off the market, but says he would still vote for the bill with that provision because he wants to move forward with the flavored vape ban.

But he said said he believes that most people using menthol cigarettes in Vermont are older, and that a ban would not achieve the legislation’s goal of preventing youth starting to use nicotine products. 

“It does cause me pause, the menthol cigarettes, because for the most part that’s about older people, and a lot of older people that have been addicted to tobacco products for a very long time,” Westman said.  He said he also opposed a provision in the bill that would make possession of menthol cigarettes punishable by a fine. Lyons said that while she is open to hearing more from the tobacco industry and its concerns with the proposal, at this point, she’s convinced that menthol products should be taken off the market.  

She believes that if Vermont bans flavored vapes, but doesn’t touch menthol products, there will be a “huge gravitation” towards the flavored cigarettes.  Rep. Jessica Brumsted, D-Shelburne, who is sponsoring companion legislation in the House that would also ban ban flavored tobacco and e-cigarettes, said she doubted the tobacco industry could convince her to take out the menthol ban.  he became supportive of prohibiting the products after learning of the tobacco industry’s marketing practices, and that for years the federal government has banned some flavored nicotine products, but always exempted menthol. 

“I don’t think I would compromise on it for them,” she said referring to the tobacco companies. 

“I think we have to come together and figure out, ‘How do we do this — how do we help people that need nicotine replacement,’” she said. “Not how do we not ban certain things that we know are hurting their health.” 


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Arisona Permadi

January 29th, 2020

Large illegal tobacco haul seized in NSW

More than $35.5 million worth of illegal tobacco has been seized near Port Macquarie.

The discovery came after a tip off to NSW Police, who along with the ATO (who are responsible for investigating illicit tobacco in Australia), located more than 30 acres of mature tobacco crops and 20 acres of seedlings across five areas in Mount Seaview, inland from Port Macquarie.

Officers seized and destroyed 26 tonnes, which they have estimated to hold a potential value in excess of $35.5 million. The Australian illicit tobacco trade is estimated to cost $647 in lost revenue each year.

ATO assistant commissioner Ian Read said illegal organised crime syndicates were often behind illegal growing operations. “Involvement in illicit tobacco production is a serious offence. This type of activity takes vital money away from the community and places it directly into the hands of organised crime syndicates,” he said.

“It was also observed that water was being taken directly from the Hastings River to irrigate the crops. Growing tobacco uses a significant amount of water, which is a drain on precious resources in a time of drought.

“Engaging in the illicit tobacco trade is not victimless. It significantly deprives the community of taxes that are required to fund essential community services such as roads, schools and hospitals,” Mr Read said.

Tobacco growing in Australia began to be phased out during the 1990s/00s and has been illegal for a decade.


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Arisona Permadi

January 28th, 2020

Upper Hastings grazier tricked into leasing river flats for illegal tobacco crop

A Lebanese syndicate purporting to be growing vegetables on the upper reaches of the Hastings River has had their crop of illegal tobacco cut down by officers from the Australian Tax Office after raids on a property Thursday morning.

The ATO seized and destroyed over 26 tonnes of illicit tobacco, which would not pay tax and that had a potential value of approximately $35.5 million. Two illegal immigrants were interviewed as part of the operation. No charges have been laid. Angus breeder Ralph Clissold, Mount Seaview, said he was hoodwinked by the growers who approached him last September with an offer to lease five blocks totaling 20 hectares on river flats to grow cabbages.

"I wasn't planning to sow a summer or even a winter crop because of the drought. It made sense to lease," Mr Clissold said this morning, while selling calves at the annual Wauchope steer and bullock sale. The illegal crop along with the rest was cut at the base of each stem by machine, not bulldozed.

On the fertile river flats, in a part of the valley that receives the most rain - by far according to the bureau's own data - were rows of seedlings. They appeared to be the Asian favourite bak choy and in between there were illegal tobacco plants, watered with a drip line sourced from pumps accessing the upper Hastings River.

The sound of machinery working in the night during the worst of the drought before Christmas alerted neighbours who raised their concerns with authortities about water theft, not illicit crops. Assistant Commissioner Ian Read said this was a successful outcome for the ATO, the NSW Police and the Australian community.

"The trade in illicit tobacco products in Australia has widespread negative consequences across the community. Tobacco growing operations are not run by small producers or farmers. They are run by organised criminal syndicates who deliberately engage in illegal activities," Mr Read said.

"Involvement in illicit tobacco production is a serious offence. This type of activity takes vital money away from the community and places it directly into the hands of organised crime syndicates. "It was also observed that water was being taken directly from the Hastings River to irrigate the crops. Growing tobacco uses a significant amount of water, which is a drain on precious resources in a time of drought."

On its own website the ATO said a number of organised crime syndicates were targeting unsuspecting landowners, attempting to lease country to grow illicit tobacco. Signs include intense labour production between September and June, unexplained use of water resources and large leafed plants that may resemble kale or cabbage.


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Arisona Permadi

January 28th, 2020

Smoking ban in cars carrying kids linked to 72% fall in teens

The law, banning smoking in cars carrying children, has seen the proportion of teens exposed to secondhand tobacco smoke fall by 72% in England, suggests an analysis of survey data, published online in the journal Thorax. The legislation was introduced in England in October 2015 and in Scotland in December 2016, with the aim of cutting children's (under 18s) exposure to the harms of secondhand tobacco smoke, to which they are especially vulnerable. The researchers drew on survey data for three years for both countries to assess the impact of the ban in England.

The data for England came from the Smoking, Drinking and Drug Use (SDDU) surveys for 2012, 2014, and 2016, while the information for Scotland came from the Scottish Health Survey. Researchers focused on 13-15 year olds to avoid issues with parents reporting answers for younger children, potentially compromising the accuracy of the data. Children were asked how often, over the past year, they had travelled in a car with an adult who smoked during the journey. Some 15,318 responses were received for teens in England, and 822 for their peers in Scotland. The proportion of children exposed to secondhand tobacco smoke in Scotland fell from 3.4% in 2012 to 2.2% in 2014, and to 1.3% in 2016.

The equivalent figures for England were 6.3% and 5.9% before the ban took effect and 1.6% after it came into force, representing an absolute reduction of 4.1% and a fall of 72% when compared with the period before the ban. Girls and those from areas of higher deprivation, as assessed by an amalgam of measures, were more likely to report secondhand tobacco smoke exposure in a car, prompting the researchers to highlight that this "serves as a reminder of the socially patterned risks of smoking." This is an observational study, so can't establish cause, added to which, the data measured were not identical in both countries. But, say the researchers: "the design permits observed changes to be plausibly ascribed to the policy intervention."

And they conclude: "Our results suggest that banning smoking in private vehicles carrying children has been successful in its main aim of reducing their exposure to tobacco smoke. "Given children's known vulnerability to secondhand smoke, reductions in exposure will probably result in improved health."


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Arisona Permadi

January 27th, 2020

Study takes on e-cigarette warning ‘paradox’

Newswise — ITHACA, N.Y. – As controversy swirls around the vaping industry, a team of Cornell researchers has set out to help regulators identify the most effective health warnings to include in advertisements for electronic cigarettes.

Backed by a three-year, $1.4 million grant from the National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute, and U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the scholars aim to address a paradox presented by the required warnings.

Health officials want to discourage adolescents, among whom vaping has reached epidemic levels, from developing nicotine addictions through e-cigarettes. But they don’t want to scare off adult smokers for whom e-cigarettes might represent a healthier alternative to combustible cigarettes.

“You have this potential therapeutic use for one population and a harmful use for another,” said Jeff Niederdeppe, associate professor of communication in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. “The trick is, how do you deter young people from starting but not prevent smokers from trying to quit through using e-cigarettes?”

Niederdeppe and Sahara Byrne, professor of communication in CALS, are the study’s principal investigators. Co-investigators are Michael Dorf, the Robert S. Stevens Professor of Law at Cornell Law School; Rosemary Avery and Alan Mathios, professors of policy analysis and management in the College of Human Ecology; and Amelia Greiner Safi, M.S. ’06, lecturer in the College of Veterinary Medicine’s Department of Population Medicine and Diagnostic Sciences.

Their work is unfolding during a period of fast-moving legal and medical developments concerning vaping that have made headlines in recent months.

On Jan. 2, the Trump administration announced a ban on the sale of most flavored e-cigarette cartridges, excluding menthol and tobacco flavors.

“The advertisements for these products are using a lot of tactics that early tobacco products would use.”

-- Sahara Byrne -- 

Numerous state and local governments have cracked down on e-cigarettes with flavors such as mint, candy, fruit and chocolate – the most popular among young people now using the products at “alarming levels,” according to the FDA and Centers for Disease Control.

The agencies’ 2019 National Youth Tobacco Survey found that more than 5 million students – 27% of high school students and 10% of middle school students – report being regular e-cigarette users. Youth e-cigarette use has “increased dramatically,” undermining progress in reducing overall tobacco use, the agencies said.

Meanwhile, the CDC reported in December that an “explosive outbreak” of vaping-related lung injuries had resulted in more than 50 deaths and 2,500 hospitalizations, attributed to products containing THC and vitamin E acetate.

“We applied for funding the moment this issue became most critical,” Byrne said of the grant, which was awarded last September. Cornell’s study, “The E-Cigarette Population Paradox: Testing Effects of Youth-Targeted Population Warnings for E-Cigarettes Among Two Key Populations,” includes three phases.

First, focus groups will help hone potential warning messages for different types of advertisements. Combinations of warnings and ad imagery then will be tested with adolescents, gauging their reactions, their intentions to vape or smoke combustible cigarettes, and their understanding of health risks. A final experiment will test how adult smokers perceive the warnings that proved most effective with teens.

The researchers will again take advantage of a mobile communications lab to reach hundreds of test participants in multiple states. Eye-tracking stations will help show which ad content attracts viewers’ attention, revealing how often and for how long they focus on text and images in different areas.

The same lab supported the team’s recent study assessing the value of graphic warnings on ads for combustible cigarettes, work the FDA cited while proposing revisions to decades-old text warnings.

Potential e-cigarette warning strategies could focus more on youth, Niederdeppe and Byrne said, highlighting, for example, evidence that nicotine can harm developing brains or increase anxiety and depression. Or they could target adults, perhaps stating that e-cigarettes should only be used by adults who are trying to quit smoking.

Cornell’s experiments also will analyze nonverbal messages, such as when ads feature attractive young people or bright, airy nature scenes to imply that e-cigarettes are part of healthy, active lifestyles.

“The advertisements for these products are using a lot of tactics that early tobacco products would use,” said Byrne. “So we are also looking at implicit advertising, and one question is: Does the federal government have the ability to restrict implicit messages in the ads?”

Adding to the challenge of crafting effective warnings is that, unlike combustible cigarettes, the long-term health risks of e-cigarettes are not yet known. The FDA also has not approved them as an aid for smoking cessation.

Said Niederdeppe: “We’re closely monitoring what public health agencies are saying about the science.”


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Arisona Permadi

January 24th, 2020

Commercial Tobacco Still Deadliest Product On Store Shelves

While health officials are seeing a rise in vaping and cannabis use, especially among youth, tobacco use still remains a top concern. In 2014, there were 2,659 deaths in Manitoba due to substance use and 1,845 of those were the result of tobacco. Southern Health's Irene Ascough notes as part of national smoking week, they're raising awareness that tobacco remains the only commercial product on the market that will eventually kill nearly half of all long-term users.

"We want to focus on the fact that smoking is still an issue in our society," Ascough says.

And while the smoking rate in Manitoba is down from 26 percent to 14.5 percent, Ascough explains the smoking rate is still nearly four times higher in some segments of the population. She notes evidence suggests smoking rates can be connected to a location, experiences of trauma, discrimination, and racism.

"It's exactly the people who have more barriers and disadvantages in our society that are more at risk for having commercial tobacco use affect them negatively," she says. Studies suggest improving access to education, income and employment can all help address the higher smoking rates. "Smoking or vaping is connected to other things in people's lives... so the important thing is having open, honest conversations... finding other skills to cope with stress."


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Arisona Permadi

January 22nd, 2020

Why New York push to ban all flavored tobacco, e-cigarettes faces challenge

The vaping crisis has ignited a politically and racially charged push to ban all flavors in electronic cigarettes and tobacco products in New York.

Some lawmakers and civil rights advocates described recent spikes in youth vaping as the tipping point in a generational battle over flavors in addictive nicotine products.

The anti-tobacco saga spanned from menthol-cigarette marketing that targeted African Americans beginning in the 1960s to millions of teenagers today using e-cigarettes that mimic tastes of fruits, candies and desserts.

“This epidemic has been fueled by the tobacco industry pushing flavor products like cotton candy, gummy bears and bubble gums to our kids,” Hazel Dukes, president of the NAACP New York State Conference said last week, addressing flavor ban legislation.

“But the truth of the matter is this is nothing new; the device may have evolved but the deceptions have not,” Dukes said, adding state lawmakers “must immediately end this immoral, discriminatory practice of targeting kids” by banning all flavored nicotine-delivery products.

The concerns come as New York battles in the courts to ban flavored e-cigarettes, lawmakers want to enact new laws and as deaths associated with vaping are increasing.

On Friday, New York had its third and fourth vaping-related deaths, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.

Yet vape shop owners and pro-vaping groups asserted banning flavored e-cigarettes would harm adults who try to quit smoking tobacco by switching to vaping, which involves heating liquids to create an aerosol to inhale.

Instead, some vaping supporters praised federal regulators for banning select flavored vapes this month while allowing vape shops to sell tank-based systems.

The Food and Drug Administration said it targeted products widely used by children while allowing vaping as a “potential off-ramp” for adult smokers.

“Our politicians in Albany are ignoring science and public health in favor of pushing New Yorkers back to smoking,” said Cheryl Richter, executive director of New York State Vapor Association, a vape shop group.

State Sen. Brad Hoylman, D-Manhattan, noted Juul Labs, the embattled vaping company with investments from Marlboro-cigarette maker Altria Group, previously vowed to stop selling the mint- and fruit-flavor vape pods now banned by the Food and Drug Administration.

“It turns out that once again Washington is sucking up to big tobacco and Juul, doing their bidding by allowing them to continue to target our children, communities of color, LGBTQ people, just like big tobacco has done for decades with menthol cigarettes,” he said.

Amid vaping’s rise, lawmakers in several states, including New York and New Jersey, have failed to ban menthol cigarettes under intense industry lobbying.

New Jersey, for instance, passed legislation last week to ban flavors in e-cigarettes only after dropping efforts to include a measure to outlaw menthol cigarettes. Lawmakers in part pulled it due to concerns about reducing tax revenue from cigarettes by up to $231 million.

In New York, there are several bills that address banning flavors in e-cigarettes and tobacco products separately, suggesting the potential for a piecemeal prohibition similar to New Jersey.

To understand the stakes, consider New York’s cigarette tax collections and related fees have totaled between $1 billion and $1.5 billion in recent years, state records show. And Altria Group has spent millions of dollars lobbying state and local lawmakers to influence attempted nicotine product bans.

Assemblywoman Rodneyse Bichotte, D-Brooklyn, championed the tobacco flavor ban that includes menthol cigarettes in part by telling a story of losing her father to smoking-related lung and throat cancer.

The legislation “will end the decades of predatory and racial targeting of minority communities by tobacco companies that have historically used menthol cigarettes to addict new generations to their products,” she said.

Meanwhile, the e-cigarette flavor ban legislation would include menthol and all other non-tobacco flavors.

Pro-vaping groups, however, contend vape flavors help smokers break the psychological and physical addictions to the tastes and aromas of cigarettes. And hundreds of vape shops would have to close in New York if flavors are banned, they said.

Further, New York last year raised the age to buy tobacco and vaping products to 21 from 18 and imposed a 20% tax on vapor products, which vaping supporters asserted will curtail youth use.

Tony Abboud, executive director of Vapor Technology Association, said in a statement “any continued discussion about banning flavors is based solely on irrational fears and not real solutions.”

Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal, D-Manhattan, expanded on the reasons for a comprehensive flavor ban, adding she was a menthol cigarette smoker because it offered a less harsh taste than non-flavored tobacco.

She said the prohibition needs to include every nicotine flavor product “meant to line the pockets of companies who don’t’ care about the effects of their insidious campaigns on the health of youth.”

“They just care to make sure that they get rich,” Rosenthal added.

Altria Group in October said its investment in Juul was rapidly deteriorating in value in part due to anti-vaping laws and regulations.

Altria recorded a third-quarter write-down of $4.5 billion on its stake in Silicon Valley’s Juul. That means Altria’s $12.8 billion investment in Juul had lost more than a third of its value.

Altria didn’t immediately respond to a request to address comments by Rosenthal and Hoylman, as well as legislation in New York.

Juul officials have said the company is “focused on resetting the vapor category in the U.S. and earning the trust of society by working cooperatively with attorneys general, regulators, public health officials and other stakeholders to combat underage use and convert adult smokers from combustible cigarettes.”

Rosenthal noted New York’s Assembly first passed a bill seeking to ban e-cigarettes nearly a decade ago, pending further review of the devices by federal regulators.

At the time, the measure stalled in the Senate amid limited knowledge about vaping and industry lobbying, she said.

“The e-cigarette industry has been trying for at least 10 years to creep its way into our society and hook the next generation of nicotine users and they have been very, very successful,” she said.

In fact, public health officials have reported roughly one of four high school students in New York and millions of young people across the country are now using e-cigarettes, prompting alerts about addiction and health risks.

New York Attorney General Letitia James is also pursuing a lawsuit against Juul, claiming the San Francisco-based company took a page from big tobacco’s playbook to illegally market flavored e-cigarettes to teenagers.

In addition to striking increases in teenage vaping, the urgency driving nicotine flavor bans stemmed from an outbreak of vaping-related illnesses and deaths.

The national epidemic has hospitalized 2,561 and led to 55 deaths. That includes 230 illnesses and four deaths in New York.

While lawmakers warned the vaping illnesses underscored largely unknown e-cigarette health risks, pro-vaping groups noted the lung injuries have been linked to marijuana, revealing a robust and unsafe illicit market for vapes.

“If the New York Legislature decides to wrongly focus on a flavor ban, then it should prepare for a black market where hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers seek out their flavored vapor products from unregulated sources, as opposed to from the well-regulated, professional retailers already licensed by the state to sell tobacco products,” Abboud said.

The vaping trade group recently won a court battle to block New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s attempt last year at an emergency ban on flavored e-cigarettes. A judge ruled it was a decision constitutionally reserved to the state Legislature.

Instead of a flavor ban, the trade group’s plan to restrict youth access to vapes includes new laws and regulations imposing harsher marketing restrictions, requiring third-party age verification technology at retail and heightened penalties for retailers violating laws.


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Arisona Permadi

January 21st, 2020

New Tobacco 21 law causes confusion about enforcement, start date

A new law that regulates the sale of tobacco is causing some confusion as to when it actually goes into effect and who has jurisdiction to enforce it. As a result, some Grand Forks smoke shops are playing it safe to stay in compliance with the law.

A message on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's website states that President Donald Trump signed legislation on Dec. 20 raising the federal minimum age to buy tobacco from 18 to 21. The message continues: “It is now illegal for a retailer to sell any tobacco product – including cigarettes, cigars and e-cigarettes – to anyone under 21. FDA will provide additional details on this issue as they become available.” The FDA says its website is current as of Dec. 21.

The change has caused confusion as to when the law actually takes effect, and who has jurisdiction to enforce it.

“From everything I've read, nobody exactly knows when that law takes effect,” said Chad Hopkins, a co-owner of SnG Vapor, at 1815 DeMers Ave. “I've heard anywhere from next September to the 20th of December last year. So, to be safe, we went to 21.”

Hopkins said his business hasn’t taken a big hit because of the law change.

“There's a few customers that were 18 to 20 that can't buy anymore,” he said. “For the most part we deal with the older customers, the ones that are using it to quit smoking.

On Jan. 7, the Herald placed a call to Grand Forks Smoke Shop and E-cigs at 2475 32nd Ave. S., and found it was selling to people 18 and older.

“As of now, we’re still 18 plus. It’s going to change any day, I don’t know when,” said a clerk at the store who directed the Herald to speak with management, though no one was available.

Lyle Beckwith, the senior vice president of the National Association of Convenience Stores, a trade group that numbers more than 150,000 businesses, said NACA is advising its members to go by the Dec. 20 date for the new law.

“Well, if FDA says that, that's pretty much what we have to go by, although FDA has not given any clarification,” said Beckwith, adding that his association is making available for download new signs that member stores can use to inform customers of the new minimum age to buy tobacco.

The fact that a national law has changed has raised questions of who can enforce it.

“For my work in what we do as state's attorneys, we only enforce state law,” said Haley Wamstad, state’s attorney for Grand Forks County. “So obviously, retailers will have to comply with both, but it'd be up to the feds to prosecute any violations of federal law.”

Republican state Sen. Ray Holmberg, representing District 17, wondered who would enforce the federal law.

“I can't imagine the federal attorney going after a Holiday Station for selling cigarettes,” he said. “But you know, we could be surprised, too.”

Holmberg said he believed the state Legislature would take action on the issue, though it will take time as it doesn’t meet until Jan. 3, 2021.

“I think it will be, it’ll be addressed,” said Holmberg, who added that, when he was in a branch of a Valley Dairy convenience store, he noticed a sign that said the establishment would only sell to people 21 years of age and over.

Grand Forks Police Cpl. Jon Lampi, who is in charge of tobacco compliance checks in the city, said he could not enforce the new federal law. He provided the Herald with an informational document called Federal Tobacco 21: The Law of the Land, that stated the “FDA will oversee enforcement of the minimum legal sales age at 21.”

Lampi said Grand Forks police would reach out to establishments selling tobacco to inform them of the new federal law change, and that, for now, police would continue to carry out compliance checks for age 18.

“We’re business as normal right now,” Lampi said.

Information provided to the Herald by Grand Forks Public Health showed 19 states, along with Washington, D.C., and the territory of Guam have Tobacco 21 laws, as well as cities and counties in more states. In North Dakota, the Devils Lake City Commission moved to ban sales of vaping products to people younger than 21. That law went into effect on Jan. 1.

Grand Forks City Administrator Todd Feland said the federal law change could lead to a conversation at the city level about whether to update local laws to reflect the federal one.

“I know there'd be support at least to to have a dialogue about it,” Feland said. “I think we deserve the conversation at least.”


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Arisona Permadi

January 20th, 2020

FDA raises federal age for tobacco and nicotine, how does this affect UI?

The law

Richard Brede, a United States Submarine Service veteran, was asked on his first day of service if he dipped or smoked tobacco, Brede responded he did not.“You will,” the other man responded, to the 18-year-old Brede. The 2015 University of Idaho alumn did take up chewing tobacco at the age of 19.

As of Dec. 20, 2019, the legal age for buying and using tobacco products rose from 18 to 21, after President Donald Trump signed legislation to amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, according to the US Food and Drug Administration website.

Brede does not support this change, and, as a veteran, said he doesn’t understand how those in active service will quit using tobacco products if they are not 21 years old.

“You have men and women who have served and smoked and chewed for years,” Brede said. “And then all of a sudden ‘Hey you can’t do it anymore, quit cold turkey.’”

But not all tobacco and nicotine users are in line with Brede. Devin Jones, a Café de Vapor employee, and a vape user for the past two years, “wholeheartedly” agrees with the legal age rise.

“It’s a touchy subject because you do get these people that are fresh out of high school. They’re 18, they can be tried in a court as an adult, they can go fight for their country — and it’s been that way for such a long time,” Jones said. “Without a grandfather clause to get those people in, I kind of understand because the government basically took away their right to buy a product that they’ve always been able to when they hit 18.”

As of now, the FDA has not stated there will be a grandfather clause. A grandfather clause would allow those who are currently 18 to 20 to be able to purchase tobacco products — allowing their former rights to be maintained.

With many 18-year-olds being close in age to minors and friends with them, it allows for a more substantial age gap. Making it so minors are less likely to receive tobacco or nicotine products illegally, Jones said.

In a statement from Governor Brad Little’s office, “The State of Idaho will ensure compliance with federal law regarding the federal decision to raise the federal minimum age for the use of tobacco products. The goal moving forward is to support Idaho retailers as they make necessary changes,” according to a KTVB article on Dec. 27, 2019.

Taj Grocery, a well-known stop for tobacco and nicotine users, is already in compliance, Singh, Taj’s manager, said.

Singh said other than an “increased headache,” they haven’t felt the effects in sales. The shop will have some people under 21 come in and ask, “If they are doing that?” And Singh said it’s not something to do, it’s a federal law.

What is the reality of tobacco and nicotine on UI’s campus?

The University of Idaho has been tobacco-free since July 2016. While students still smoke, chew or vape elsewhere, the perceived notion of how many people are users is much higher than reality.

UI students believe that 10.3% of students used cigarettes every day for the past 30 days. But in reality, 1.5% of students used cigarettes every day for the past 30 days, according to the American College Health Association and National College Health Assessment Fall 2017 report.

And the notion is the same when it comes to electronic cigarettes, or vaping, where UI students believed 12.3% of students used e-cigarettes every day for the past 30 days. But in reality, 2.1% of students used e-cigarettes every day for the past 30 days.

Untitled infographic


It definitely leads to just that overall perception of that classic college experience. Everyone’s drinking, everyone’s doing whatever drug, everyone’s having sex, everyone’s doing whatever,” Madie Brown, assistant director for health promotion and alcohol and other drug initiatives, said. “When reality, those numbers can be very different.”

Brown said she wants to inform students of the right information and change the perception of how many people are using tobacco or nicotine products on UI’s campus.

“I’m not here to tell you what to do, I don’t care. You can make your own decisions. I’m not your mom,” Brown said. “What I do care about is that you have the right information to make an informed decision if you do choose to use whatever substance.”

Brede remembered UI’s campus before being tobacco-free and was glad he graduated before the change took effect.

“If you’re policing me because I’m dipping on campus, you don’t smell me coming in. My clothes aren’t smelling like cigarettes,” Brede said. “There’s a lot of other things they could focus on, rather than putting up those placards of tobacco- free because people like myself; we’re just going to laugh at it and continue doing what we’re doing, because we’re minding our own business.”

But by campus being tobacco-free, you have students who cannot smoke, chew or vape for substantial periods of their days, which can allow for a decreased use, Brown said.

The substance which has been a rising topic within the young adult community is vaping, the inhalation of smoke, which commonly contains nicotine. While vaping is not allowed on campus, nor are e-cigarettes, there has been talk of people vaping in class because of e-cigarettes easy concealability, Brown said.

Vaping has been recently in the media because of instances of lung injury classified as an e-cigarette or vaping product use- associated lung injury (EVALI). These injuries are most closely associated with vitamin E acetate.

Vitamin E acetate, which is safe to consume but not inhale, was used by some in the community who were diluting their THC solutions, Brown said. But since the product was not water-soluble and instead oil-based, the vapor, when inhaled, was coating the lungs causing them to burn.

Vitamin E acetate was used with e-cigarettes. Most users who only vape nicotine were not a part of this, Brown said.

She understands the concerns on why not to raise the legal age, but she is in full support of the age raise.

“In terms of citizens here either serving or not. There still is a need to look out for health in terms of preventing illness, cancer, other related things that drive up the costs for insurance, medical care,” Brown said. “There’s a lot of reasons behind why (the government) would raise a consumer’s right to buy something for their age.”

Brede, who has dipped for the last 12 years, believes he decides about his health. He is aware of the effects dipping can cause him — like oral cancer — but he’s accepted his choice.

Devin Jones, a Café de Vapor employee, poses in front of multiple vaping devices sold at the shop Saturday.

The people behind the smoke

Brede has always faced judgment for his choice to dip, as many people will frown upon him for his “disgusting” habit.

“Some people are like, ‘that’s disgusting,’ well there are a lot of other things that are disgusting,” Brede said.

Jones said he feels the stigma against those who vape has gone down. And most people view vape users as people who are working to better themselves and cut down on their nicotine use.

“(Vaping is) meant so that you can switch over from smoking cigarettes to vaping and then from vaping to vaping a zero milligram per milliliter nicotine and then just quitting,” Jones said. “Passing it off to somebody else who needs it.”

That community is what Jones said he believes has made vaping so popular. He said that while the vape industry may be the technical term, he has always felt it is a family.

Jones first began vaping because of that need for social interaction. He previously worked at Gritman Medical Center and had never smoked a cigarette before, but a few coworkers of his would go out during their breaks and smoke cigarettes.

Jones said he did not want to smoke cigarettes, so he did medical research, spoke to a vape user he knows and felt vaping was the right choice for him. “So, I went out, and I got a vape device that way, I could go out there. I could smoke with them. But I could have something that tasted better and didn’t smell as bad,” Jones said. “That’s the thing about cigarettes, is that they permeate your clothing, and then your clothing smells really bad, vaping not so much.”

Aside from the research he did beforehand, Jones has diminished lungs and exercise-induced asthma, so he goes to a doctor twice a year for check-ups.

Jones said there hadn’t been any evidence that vaping is harming him, and the minute his doctor tells him otherwise, he would quit.

While Jones works at Café de Vapor now, he plans to eventually go back into the medical field to become an X-ray technician. And for Brede, being a long-term dip user, he has been very open with his use

and doesn’t use dip all the time. He is using it more in higher stress situations, during a drive or when he plays video games.

“Yeah, I chew. Most of my friends know it. They don’t judge me on it,” Brede said.” And we’ve talked about this culture of we need to just be open with people, and you’re going to look down on me because I chew.”

It definitely leads to just that overall perception of that classic college experience. Everyone’s drinking, everyone’s doing whatever drug, everyone’s having sex, everyone’s doing whatever,” Madie Brown, assistant director for health promotion and alcohol and other drug initiatives, said. “When reality, those numbers can be very different.”

Brown said she wants to inform students of the right information and change the perception of how many people are using tobacco or nicotine products on UI’s campus.

“I’m not here to tell you what to do, I don’t care. You can make your own decisions. I’m not your mom,” Brown said. “What I do care about is that you have the right information to make an informed decision if you do choose to use whatever substance.”

Brede remembered UI’s campus before being tobacco-free and was glad he graduated before the change took effect.

“If you’re policing me because I’m dipping on campus, you don’t smell me coming in. My clothes aren’t smelling like cigarettes,” Brede said. “There’s a lot of other things they could focus on, rather than putting up those placards of tobacco- free because people like myself; we’re just going to laugh at it and continue doing what we’re doing, because we’re minding our own business.”

But by campus being tobacco-free, you have students who cannot smoke, chew or vape for substantial periods of their days, which can allow for a decreased use, Brown said.

The substance which has been a rising topic within the young adult community is vaping, the inhalation of smoke, which commonly contains nicotine. While vaping is not allowed on campus, nor are e-cigarettes, there has been talk of people vaping in class because of e-cigarettes easy concealability, Brown said.

Vaping has been recently in the media because of instances of lung injury classified as an e-cigarette or vaping product use- associated lung injury (EVALI). These injuries are most closely associated with vitamin E acetate.

Vitamin E acetate, which is safe to consume but not inhale, was used by some in the community who were diluting their THC solutions, Brown said. But since the product was not water-soluble and instead oil-based, the vapor, when inhaled, was coating the lungs causing them to burn.

Vitamin E acetate was used with e-cigarettes. Most users who only vape nicotine were not a part of this, Brown said.

She understands the concerns on why not to raise the legal age, but she is in full support of the age raise.

“In terms of citizens here either serving or not. There still is a need to look out for health in terms of preventing illness, cancer, other related things that drive up the costs for insurance, medical care,” Brown said. “There’s a lot of reasons behind why (the government) would raise a consumer’s right to buy something for their age.”

Brede, who has dipped for the last 12 years, believes he decides about his health. He is aware of the effects dipping can cause him — like oral cancer — but he’s accepted his choice.

The people behind the smoke

Brede has always faced judgment for his choice to dip, as many people will frown upon him for his “disgusting” habit.

“Some people are like, ‘that’s disgusting,’ well there are a lot of other things that are disgusting,” Brede said.

Jones said he feels the stigma against those who vape has gone down. And most people view vape users as people who are working to better themselves and cut down on their nicotine use.

“(Vaping is) meant so that you can switch over from smoking cigarettes to vaping and then from vaping to vaping a zero milligram per milliliter nicotine and then just quitting,” Jones said. “Passing it off to somebody else who needs it.”

That community is what Jones said he believes has made vaping so popular. He said that while the vape industry may be the technical term, he has always felt it is a family.

Jones first began vaping because of that need for social interaction. He previously worked at Gritman Medical Center and had never smoked a cigarette before, but a few coworkers of his would go out during their breaks and smoke cigarettes.

Jones said he did not want to smoke cigarettes, so he did medical research, spoke to a vape user he knows and felt vaping was the right choice for him. “So, I went out, and I got a vape device that way, I could go out there. I could smoke with them. But I could have something that tasted better and didn’t smell as bad,” Jones said. “That’s the thing about cigarettes, is that they permeate your clothing, and then your clothing smells really bad, vaping not so much.”

Aside from the research he did beforehand, Jones has diminished lungs and exercise-induced asthma, so he goes to a doctor twice a year for check-ups.

Jones said there hadn’t been any evidence that vaping is harming him, and the minute his doctor tells him otherwise, he would quit.

While Jones works at Café de Vapor now, he plans to eventually go back into the medical field to become an X-ray technician. And for Brede, being a long-term dip user, he has been very open with his use

and doesn’t use dip all the time. He is using it more in higher stress situations, during a drive or when he plays video games.

“Yeah, I chew. Most of my friends know it. They don’t judge me on it,” Brede said.” And we’ve talked about this culture of we need to just be open with people, and you’re going to look down on me because I chew.”


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Arisona Permadi

January 17th, 2020

Selling menthol cigarettes could cost you €1,000 from May 20

Anyone caught selling menthol cigarettes could be fined up to €1,000 as from May 20, when EU-wide rules come into force.

New tobacco regulations that form part of the EU’s Tobacco Products Directive come into force in the coming months, and they bring with them significant fines if not adhered to.

When contacted, Superintendent of Public Health Charmaine Gauci said those who are caught by the authorities selling such products could be liable to a fine of between €200 and €1,000, in line with the law.

“On a second or subsequent conviction, in addition to such fines, and, at the request of the prosecution, the person could be subject to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months.

“Besides these fines, there will be seizure of illegal products,” Dr Gauci said.

According to the Health Ministry, around 360 people die each year in Malta from diseases linked to tobacco, while 20 per cent of the Maltese population smoke on a daily basis. National studies have also revealed 12 per cent of 15-year-old boys and 11 per cent of 15-year-old girls smoke.

Asked whether there would be any awareness-raising campaigns by the Health Department, Dr Gauci simply said: “These products should not be on the market”.

The new rules were set by the EU in 2016, when graphic health warnings with photos, text and cessation information covering 65 per cent of the front and the back of cigarette and roll-your-own tobacco (RYO) packs became mandatory.

While the ban on menthol cigarettes will come into force later on in 2020, a decision which was based on the products having more than three per cent market share, those with other flavours masking the taste and smell of tobacco were banned in 2016.


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Arisona Permadi

January 15th, 2020

United against smoking

WE are a coalition of professionals from diverse disciplines, and we desire to reduce the public health threat of smoking and to protect the rights of non-smokers in Malaysia. Two recent developments are disappointing. There has been a small group loudly advocating for the rights of smokers, and the housing and local government minister has allocated RM1 million to build smoking areas.

We firmly disagree with this approach. We urge the entire government to unite against smoking, to end the mixed messages around its harms, to be good role models to our children and to protect our right to clean air.

Smoking kills. Every 20 minutes, one Malaysian dies from diseases caused by smoking, such as cancer, stroke or heart disease. The other five million smokers in Malaysia have a higher risk of developing these fatal diseases. Meantime, they might suffer from symptoms such as breathing difficulties, wheezing or chest pains.

Every year, Malaysian taxpayers will pay RM3 billion to treat these diseases. That number does not account for indirect costs of human suffering, lowered quality of life and loss of economic productivity. Even second-hand smoke kills non-smokers, with 7,000 chemicals in that smoke and 69 known to cause cancer. These are all preventable, if we only stop smoking.

There are underlying reasons for these problems. One, nicotine is one of the most addictive substances in the world, sometimes comparable to cocaine or heroin. Two, Big Tobacco spends tens of billions of dollars on marketing, advertising and lobbying for looser controls on tobacco products. Three, economics and politics often come in when health should be the only consideration. With this landscape, it is clear that tobacco is one of the greatest public health threats in Malaysia.

Despite these clear harms, it is surprising and disappointing that Malaysia remains divided about the need to reduce smoking. We believe that the vast majority of Malaysians are against smoking, but not against smokers. They are our fathers, sons, brothers or husbands (43% of men smoke, but only 1% of women), and we want them to stop smoking for the sake of their own health.

The smokers’ group wrongly claims their right to smoke wherever they want. In democratic terms, the minority does not get to impose their rights on the majority. In legitimacy terms, governments have the duty to protect all its citizens from poor health choices, and society accepts this duty by wearing seat belts and vaccinating our children. In public health terms, while smokers may have the right to light up and harm themselves, they do not have the right to harm others through second-hand smoke. In religious terms, Malaysia’s National Fatwa Council declared that smoking is haram in 1995. Therefore, the government is on solid scientific, political and religious territory to fight smoking by reducing the public space available for smokers.

The decision to allocate tax ringgit to build smoking areas is wrong for several reasons. First, our government must not enable and normalise smoking behaviour, especially in children. Second, it is not tax justice or simple logic for the 80% of non-smoking Malaysians to help the 20% who smoke, especially when we are worsening their health. Third, no other country in the world is increasing the public space for smokers, and Malaysia should not ruin our reputation. Finally, all ministries, agencies and departments must unite against smoking, not work against each other in counter-productive ways.

We urge the government:

» To continue the assertive enforcement of the smoking ban in public places, and to continue issuing fines as prescribed under the law. These fines are consistent with our philosophy of prescribing fines for various acts that harm the public and our health, such as speeding violations and not wearing helmets.

» To overturn the decision to allocate RM1 million to build smoking areas, and to direct local councils and municipal councils not to use public funds to build any smoking areas.

» To channel the RM1 million from the Housing and Local Government Ministry to smoking cessation programmes in primary care clinics. The Health Ministry must also allocate more to these programmes. Fifty-two per cent of all smokers attempt to quit and we must help them.

» To unite all ministries, departments and agencies against tobacco. We must achieve the World Health Organisation’s target of a smoking prevalence of 15% by 2025 and meet commitments to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which we ratified in 2005.

» To remove economics and politics from decisions surrounding tobacco, and to focus only on the public health, scientific, religious and justice elements. We cannot be captured by Big Tobacco’s lobbying.

Smoking kills, and we must stop it to achieve the Sihat Bersama 2030 vision. We want Malaysians to live long, healthy and prosperous lives. We stand against the scourge of tobacco and urge the government to protect the rakyat and lead the world in our smoking cessation efforts.


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Arisona Permadi

January 15th, 2020

New York called to include menthol in flavored tobacco ban

New York lawmakers could ban flavored tobacco products amid growing concern over the tobacco and vaping industry’s use of flavorings to attract young people and African Americans, though it’s unclear whether a push to ban menthol cigarettes will succeed.

The Democratic Senate Majority plans to pass a ban on the sale of flavored e-cigarettes and also smokeless flavored tobacco products as soon as next week, a Democratic Senate spokesman said Monday. Senate Democrats also plan to move ahead on seven other bills including a study on the long-term health effects of e-cigarette use and laws preventing tobacco ads and new tobacco stores from popping up near schools.

It’s less clear how lawmakers will act on Democratic Sen. Brad Hoylman’s bill to ban all flavored tobacco products - including menthol cigarettes.

The exclusion of menthol flavorings from tobacco restrictions at the state and federal levels has long drawn criticism from public health and civil rights groups who say the tobacco industry has marketed menthol cigarettes to African Americans for decades.

“It always seemed very normal and accessible so I never really questioned it,” Albany high school senior Hassani Hamilton, 17, said. “What I’ve come to realize is these products are deadly and their rampant use in my community is no accident.”

New York state health officials issued a ban on most flavored e-cigarettes last fall in response to worries that vaping may cause illnesses and that its use is growing among teenagers who say they’re attracted by flavorings.

But the ban’s exclusion of menthol and tobacco flavorings drew scrutiny from a state judge in her decision to continue to block it Friday. The ban was initially blocked last fall after the vaping industry sued to stop New York from enforcing emergency regulations banning the sale of most flavored e-cigarettes.


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Arisona Permadi

January 14th, 2020

Could a new vaping and tobacco tax pay for free preschool in Colorado? Advocates want to ask voters in November.

Colorado voters could decide this November whether to fund free preschool for 4-year-olds statewide by taxing tobacco and vaping products.

On Friday, two citizens took the first step toward putting the question on November’s ballot, filing more than a dozen possible versions with the state’s Office of Legislative Council, which reviews potential initiatives before sending them to the Secretary of State’s Office.

The money from a new vaping and tobacco tax, which is sure to be vehemently opposed by the tobacco industry, would go a long way toward helping Gov. Jared Polis make good on his promise to offer free preschool to all 4-year-olds by the end of his first term.

One version of the ballot question would put $300 million more a year toward state-funded preschool. That’s far above the $27 million that Polis requested in this year’s budget and that so far, lawmakers of both parties have been reluctant to endorse.

Anna Jo Haynes, a longtime early childhood education advocate, and Jim Garcia, CEO of Denver’s Clínica Tepeyac and a board member of the advocacy group Healthier Colorado, filed the ballot initiatives. Filing so many versions — all with slightly different taxing levels and methods — is a common practice before the options are winnowed down to a single question.


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Arisona Permadi

January 14th, 2020

Greek Farmers Switch from Tobacco to Stevia for Sweet Tooths

With more people turning away from sugar and artificial sweeteners bad for their health, some Greek farmers have for the past seven years already picked up on that to change from growing tobacco to the natural sweetener stevia.

That came on the suggestion of mechanical engineer Christos Stamatis, who had seen how successful that was for six California tobacco growers who had also started to cultivate the stevia plant that is now being showcased in soft drinks and other foods as a chic option.

An extract of the plant’s leaves makes a natural, calorie-free sugar substitute. It has been around for centuries, but has only started to enter the mainstream in the past 10 years, said the BBC in a feature on what Greek farmers are doing to catch up to the craze.

Stamatis sought out farmers in his native region of Fthiotida – in fields or during their breaks in the local cafés – to convince them to plant stevia instead of their less profitable tobacco crop, and it worked.

Some 150 farmers each contributed 500 euros ($555) towards setting up the Stevia Hellas Co-operative and how sweet that’s been for them, as well as consumers anxious about the detriments of sugar in their diets.

“We discovered crowdsourcing long before it became mainstream in my village,” Stamatis said. “People have power and we took advantage of it,” creating the first business in Europe to produce the product, a venture that now has 300 workers as its use grows fast.

The cooperative was slow to be profitable until stevia caught on, finally breaking even at the end of 2018 and set to make money this year by selling liquid extracts and powders under its own brand name, La Mia Stevia, trying to take a dominant position in what could be an expanding market bringing competition.

Beyond Greece, the coop sells exports in bulk to western Europe, Canada, the United States, and the United Arab Emirates, with American consumers especially keen on sugar alternatives, a trend that drove Coca-Cola and other soft drink producers to use stevia.

There’s a huge upside to getting in on the ground, so to speak, with global sales expected to nearly double to $818 million by the end of 2024, a study by the consultant group Research and Markets estimated, putting the Greek growers in a prime position.

Still, that’s far below the artificial sweetener market despite what critics said are health hazards for those products equal to sugar’s problems for the teeth and body. Stevia is well behind the use of aspartame or sucralose, a $2.7 billion annual market.

And despite health fears for sugar, producers still sell about $89 billion worth of the stuff in each year in various forms from refined white to brown to raw, although it’s been slowing as buyers look for healthier options.

Andrew Ohmes, President of the International Stevia Council said that the product has to catch on more in the public imagination but is confident people will begin using more as worries over sugar increase.

“Other sweeteners like aspartame or sucralose have been around far longer but stevia’s consumption will be growing 19-21% over the next five to 10 years,” he told the BBC, despite a cost disadvantage: stevia is a little pricier but it’s being advertised on cans of coke and other soft drinks, showcased as being green.

Stamatis said while stevia powder costs about 120 euros ($133) per kilo compared to 83 euro cents (92 cents) for sugar, he notes that it’s actually cheaper in the long run and for use because it’s 200 times sweeter, requiring less to be sweetly effective.

Stevia supporters also point out that it’s more environmentally-friendly with a water footprint that is 96% lower than cane sugar, and 92% lower than beet sugar while requiring 20 percent less land to cultivate.

The Stevia Hellas Cooperative is now aiming for further growth. “Our next plan is to form a stevia supply chain with Mediterranean countries like Italy, Spain, France, or Portugal,” Stamatis said, noting Greece’s climate is perfect. “We have a unique climate for cultivating stevia,” he said.

There are some problems though. “Stevia extract, unlike its chemical counterparts such as aspartame, does not form acid in the body,” said certified nutritionist Kimberly Snyder. “Nor does it promote heart disease and tooth decay, and it has no impact on blood sugar levels…But the powder or liquid drops at grocery stores are processed with additives that may cause bloating, diarrhea, or headaches,” she said, undercutting its benefits, and because it’s far sweeter than sugar there are worries it could create cravings.


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Arisona Permadi

January 13th, 2020

The 1st International Cannabis Expo in Greece Returns

Athens Cannabis Expo 2020. opened its doors to visitors. The event takes place from 10 to 12 January 2020 in Athens and specifically in the coastal area of Faliro in Tae Kwon Do stadium.

“Cannabis exhibitions are not something new in Europe and the rest of the world, due to the fact that they are taking place in many countries the last years, with a vast number of exhibitors from the scientific and commercial sector. The visitors are thousands with great interest due to the fact that the exhibitions are not only B2B but also B2C.” according to a press release.

“Our goal is to inform the visitors for all the products and the innovations that exist in the cannabis sector worldwide and also all the latest achievements as far as the medical, pharmaceutical and industrial use of cannabis are concerned.Of course the exhibition also provides many investment opportunities for whoever wants to be occupied with this subject due to the fact that there will be a great participation of foreign companies with many years experience in this sector” the event organisers claim.

With a rich lecture program, parallel to the main event, we will try to increase the awareness of the public on the advantages of cannabis and inform whoever is interested in all the possible ways of making the most of it.


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Arisona Permadi

January 13th, 2020

New Hampshire trying to comply with federal minimum age for tobacco and vape sales

State lawmakers are trying to clear up any confusion over the minimum age to buy tobacco products in New Hampshire.

At the start of the new year, the minimum age to buy cigarettes or vaping products changed to 19, according to state law. However, a change to federal law just before the holidays raised the minimum age to 21. Whether state agencies must enforce – or even can enforce – the federal law is still unsettled.

On Wednesday, the state Senate voted 16-8 in favor of increasing the age for sales and possession of nicotine-based products to 21 to bring New Hampshire in line with the federal threshold.

We’ve had some reports already of confusion among retailers,” said the bill’s prime sponsor, Dover Democrat Sen. David Watters. “They have some signs from the state that say 19 and then the federal (law of) 21. Our law enforcement say that they do need to have a state statute to ensure that they can do enforcement of 21.”

The federal law change was quietly added to the National Defense Authorization Act near the end of December and received little attention. But even after its passage, some in New Hampshire are still balking at bringing the law into conformity.

Eight Republican senators voted against passing Senate Bill 248, led by Franklin Sen. Harold French, who argued keeping the state law at 19 was a matter of personal freedom for New Hampshire.

And at a press conference Wednesday, Sununu – himself an opponent of an increased tobacco age – did not commit to signing the bill should it reach his desk.

“I don’t want to opine too much on that bill per se, because it could go through a couple different iterations, as we get more information,” he said.

“But either way the Attorney General’s Office, our office and the legislature will all be working, I think, in conjunction to make sure that whatever we do is right for the state.”

As the bill heads over to the House, how New Hampshire responds and enforces the new federal law is an open question. Some advocacy groups argued Wednesday that not enforcing the new requirement could jeopardize federal funding that goes to the Liquor Commission to help it pay for enforcement.

Caught in the middle is New Hampshire merchants who don’t know what law to enforce.

Even the governor isn’t sure.

“Right now it’s a bit up in the air,” he said. “We’ve talked to other governors, we’ve talked to folks at the federal level. Our attorney general right now is looking at what the enforcement issues might be, who can enforce how and why, and when I think when that gets sorted out as we go down the road, we’ll have a better understanding of what it means for New Hampshire.”

The Liquor Commission, which enforces age restrictions on tobacco sales, is watching the progress of SB 248, according to spokesman E.J. Powers. In the meantime the commission has out to Washington for answers on what to do.

“We’re awaiting guidance from the FDA on the rules that apply to the new national age limit as relate to our enforcement efforts in the state,” Powers said, referring to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

A spokesperson for the New Hampshire Attorney General’s office, which Sununu has instructed to review the law, was not immediately available to comment Wednesday.

Still, advocacy groups that have long pushed for raising the state tobacco age to 21 applauded Wednesday’s vote.

“The federal legislation sets the floor, not the ceiling, on how we can protect our youth from access to deadly tobacco products,” said Mike Rollo, director of government relations for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network. “We have the opportunity for New Hampshire to take ownership of our kids’ health by increasing the state’s tobacco sales age to 21, making it consistent with federal law and eliminating any public confusion.”

Speaking on the Senate floor, French said his opposition to the bill was rooted in a belief in individual freedom.

“This bill is not about tobacco use,” he said. “When you get right down to it, this bill is about the rights of legal adults in the state to make choices. For the state to come in and say that at 19 and 20 you can do all this other … but you aren’t smart enough, you don’t have the wisdom enough to know whether you want to take tobacco, smoke tobacco products or not – it doesn’t make sense to me.”

Sununu, however, completely didn’t rule out signing the bill down the line.

Last year the Legislature made a push to raise the minimum to 21, but the governor pushed back at the change. Instead, the minimum age was raised to 19 in the state’s tobacco laws as of Jan. 1. The Liquor Commission distributed a “frequently asked questions” sheet in October which talked about changes to licensing for vape stores as well as an increase in the legal age to 19. It afforded stores time for training before facing penalties.

However, just before Christmas, Congress hiked the minimum age to 21 as part of the federal budget that President Trump signed on Dec. 20. That too went into effect on Jan. 1.

Two Republican senators joined Democrats in advocating for a state increase: Sen. Jeb Bradley, of Wolfeboro, and John Reagan, of Deerfield. Speaking afterward, Bradley cited the chance of losing out on federal money if the state isn’t in compliance with the federal law.

For Reagan, the rationale was simpler: the train has already left the station. Business people from tobacco companies to retailers would rather the state and federal governments align on one age threshold, he said.

“The industry said this is all causing so much confusion,” he said. “I voted to relieve the confusion that is out there.”


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Arisona Permadi

January 12th, 2020

What if a Vaping Tax Encouraged Cigarette Smoking?

Policies aimed at youth vaping may have negative effects on adult smokers.

The surging popularity of vaping among young Americans is driving lawmakers to use one of their favorite tools to discourage unwanted behavior: taxes.

In December, the Massachusetts legislature passed a 75 percent tax on all e-cigarettes. Twenty states have already done so, along with the District of Columbia, and several more are considering similar policies. The House Ways and Means Committee passed a bill last year that would make federal tobacco taxes apply equally to cigarettes and vaping products that deliver nicotine, the addictive drug in tobacco.

Taxes have proved effective in reducing cigarette smoking. But what if a vaping tax actually encouraged smoking instead of reducing it?

A new study suggests that these new taxes have the potential to do just that — by discouraging adult smokers from considering nicotine vaping, a safer way to ingest nicotine, or encouraging vapers to switch to cigarettes instead. The study, published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, examined what happened in Minnesota, one of the first states to impose a steep vaping tax (95 percent). The effect was that declines in smoking there leveled off, while they continued to fall in similar states that hadn’t imposed such taxes.

“By decreasing the extent to which people use e-cigarettes, you decrease quitting of conventional cigarettes,” said W. Kip Viscusi, a professor of law, economics and management at Vanderbilt University, who was not involved in the research but has studied tobacco policy extensively.

The research was conducted by Henry Saffer, Michael Grossman, Daniel L. Dench and Dhaval M. Dave, who used data from a detailed census survey about tobacco use to measure what happened to the smoking rate. Their goal was to find out whether e-cigarettes helped adult smokers quit smoking cigarettes, which are linked to a wide range of illnesses and are estimated to contribute to one in five deaths in the United States.

It’s possible, they figured, that vaping might encourage more people to smoke, by providing a new way to try nicotine for the first time. It might also cause people who might have quit to just keep smoking, by providing a second way to get nicotine where smoking is restricted. The natural experiment of the Minnesota tax helped them measure what some overall effects really were.

When Minnesota made vaping more expensive, they found, smokers kept smoking instead of switching to e-cigarettes. A longstanding decline in adult smoking in the state slowed way down, while smoking in states that hadn’t imposed big vaping taxes continued to fall. The researchers concluded that making e-cigarettes more expensive discouraged Minnesota smokers from trying them and caused fewer of them to switch away from smoking. By measuring the difference in the trends, the researchers estimated that Minnesota caused around 32,000 more adults to keep smoking cigarettes.

The paper didn’t include close measures of whether people who stopped smoking completely quit nicotine, the most healthful possible outcome for smokers. While it is clear that most vaping products are safer than cigarettes, it is not yet clear by how much. New research is emerging that vaping products may cause some long-term lung and heart disease. And a recent poisoning outbreak associated mainly with THC, in which 55 people died, suggests that there can be acute health risks for some users.

But in general, nearly all public health researchers agree that it’s better to switch to regulated e-cigarettes than to continue smoking cigarettes. They tend to describe a move from smoking to vaping as a form of “harm reduction,” a more safe choice, even if it is not totally safe.

Some tobacco opponents were skeptical of the study’s findings. Matthew L. Myers, the president at the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, which endorses high vaping taxes, said the Minnesota results could be explained by unmeasured differences between that state and the states the researchers used for comparison. He pointed to other research that shows that only a fraction of adult smokers who start vaping ever switch over entirely.

“One has to be skeptical that e-cigarette use, including taxes on e-cigarettes, have been powerful enough in Minnesota or anywhere to actually have a meaningful measurable effect on adult cessation rates,” he said.

Mr. Myers supports high taxes on e-cigarettes primarily because he sees them as a good way to discourage young people from starting to use nicotine in the first place. Since vaping products have entered the market in the United States, youth use of them has increased rapidly, outpacing a simultaneous decline in cigarette smoking among young people. Federal officials have described the development as a public health crisis.

The result has been a flurry of policy action to regulate vaping. In December, Congress passed a law that raises the legal age to purchase any tobacco product to 21. On Thursday, the Food and Drug Administration said it would crack down on the manufacturers of a subset of nicotine vaping devices that are sold in flavors other than tobacco or menthol. These measures are also intended to prevent youth vaping.

Strong evidence from states suggests that raising the tobacco purchasing age reduces smoking among both young adults and younger teenagers, who are less likely to have friends who can buy them cigarettes. Flavored products are particularly popular among younger vapers, according to surveys.

But Mr. Saffer, one of the Minnesota paper’s authors, says his results suggest that a tax may be a blunt tool that reduces youth vaping at the expense of decreasing the number of adults who quit smoking.

“The research shows that e-cigarette taxes would be bad for adult smokers,” he said. “To stop youth use, we know there are other alternatives.”

Teen vaping rates have risen sharply in Minnesota, too, despite the large tax on the products.

Abigail Friedman, an assistant professor of health policy at Yale, and an author of two studies on state Tobacco 21 laws, said policymakers needed to strike a delicate balance in regulating e-cigarettes. Regulations need to deter teen vaping, she said, but also do as much as possible to help adult smokers switch to safer alternatives.

“We need to make it attractive as an alternative, and we need to make it unattractive otherwise,” she said.

After reading the Minnesota paper, she concluded that broad vaping taxes had failed the first test.


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Arisona Permadi

January 10th, 2020

Success of tobacco age change will depend on state efforts

The legal age for cigarettes, nicotine vaping products and other tobacco is now 21 across the country after Congress changed the age last month — but progress in reducing youth vaping will depend on states to ensure that underage sales are halted. 

While many states and localities adopted laws to raise the tobacco sales age to 21 in recent years, it’s unclear how effective they’ve been so far. Experts caution that raising the age nationally won’t be the only thing needed to address the high youth tobacco use rate ushered in by the popularity of e-cigarettes.

In addition to the age change, Congress reduced penalties meant to encourage state compliance with federal inspection policies. States that don’t comply still face the potential of losing block grant funding for substance-abuse prevention, but the new law is less punitive. 

Under the new law, states must conduct random inspections of retailers to ensure compliance or risk losing 10 percent of the block grant. Previously, a state could lose up to 40 percent of its grant after four years of noncompliance. 

The updated law says the penalty wouldn’t exceed 10 percent, and wouldn’t be imposed if the state agrees to devote additional money to compliance. Congress also provided a three-year grace period before the noncompliance penalties would take effect. 

Joelle Lester, director of commercial tobacco control programs at the Public Health Law Center at the Mitchell Hamline School of Law, in St. Paul, Minnesota, said that threatening public health funding isn’t an ideal way to ensure compliance from local officials. 

“There are challenges to that that they are already trying to resolve all of the time, and having this financial penalty hanging over their heads isn’t why they are trying to reduce youth access to tobacco products in their states and communities,” she told CQ Roll Call. 

Going forward, Lester said it would be important for states that didn’t already have so-called tobacco 21 laws in place to update local statutes to ensure consistent enforcement. 

Before the federal law took effect in December, 19 states and the District of Columbia, along with hundreds of towns and cities, had already raised the local tobacco sales age to 21. 

The first statewide changes occurred in Hawaii and California in 2016, followed by New Jersey in November 2017. Three more states implemented age increases in 2018, but 2019 was the year that the trend caught on, with 10 more that went into effect. 

Cristine Delnevo, director of Rutgers University’s Center for Tobacco Studies, is examining the effect the laws have had. Her field work involved sending a 20-year-old covert buyer into stores in New Jersey and New York to attempt to buy a Juul, the popular e-cigarette brand. In New York City, she said, he went to five stores and came back with nothing. But when he went to stores in New Brunswick, New Jersey, he had a 60 percent success rate. 

Delnevo noted that New York City has more severe penalties and larger fines for retailers than New Jersey does, and New Jersey’s law has affirmative defenses written into the law, such as persons looking like they are 21.  

“The extent to which tobacco 21 is going to work is going to rely heavily on implementation and enforcement and what the penalties are,” she said. 

Following the age changes in Hawaii and California, cigarette smoking rates among young people fell, but e-cigarette rates increased, mirroring national trends and demonstrating the popularity of vaping even in the wake of restrictive measures.  

According to data from one of Hawaii’s statewide surveys, the percentage of 18- and 19-year-olds reporting current e-cigarette use increased from 13.8 percent in 2016 to 17.3 percent in 2017. However, in another survey of high school students, reported e-cigarette use decreased slightly between 2015 and 2017, the most recent year for which data is available. 

California’s Department of Public Health says it has not yet evaluated the impact of the state’s tobacco 21 law on reducing addictive teen smoking and vaping. There have been some measures of success: A state survey found that retailer violation rates dropped from 10.3 percent in 2016 to 5.7 percent in 2017.

The state’s youth tobacco survey found that high school cigarette smoking declined from 4.3 percent to 2 percent from 2016 to 2018, but that vaping increased from 8.6 percent to 10.9 percent, meaning that the percentage of kids using nicotine products didn’t really change.

“While the use of combustible tobacco among California youth has declined to historic lows, youth vaping has increased significantly, in part because of pod-based vape devices that are easy to conceal, the rise in the number of flavored products, and deceptive marketing tactics from vape companies, as well as social media and social influencers,” said Corey Egel, a spokesman for the California Department of Public Health.  

The Food and Drug Administration will work with states on enforcement, organizing random store visits of its own. The FDA oversaw nearly 147,000 retail store inspections in fiscal 2019, out of approximately 400,000 tobacco retailers in the U.S.

In recent years, the proportion of retailers failing FDA inspections appears to have increased. The retailer violation rate was around 5 percent in 2011, but around 12 percent in 2018, according to the Preventing Tobacco Addiction Foundation.

The FDA says it expects retailers to begin complying with the new law, but notes that the agency still needs to make sure the changes are adequately communicated. 

Tobacco 21 is now “the law of the land,” Mitch Zeller, director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products, told reporters last week. “We will work with retailers to get word out to them as to how we will be enforcing that change in the law.”

Retailers are anxious for more guidance, according to trade groups such as the National Association of Convenience Stores and gas station industry advocates. In a letter to the FDA, the groups argued that retailers need to update signage and train employees.

They said it will take until April before the makers of the ubiquitous red and yellow “We Card” signs and calendars can fully meet new demand for materials reflecting the new sales age.  

The groups asked that the FDA make clear that it will only begin enforcement once new regulations have been written and go into effect, a process that usually takes months. 

The new sales age is just one of two major shifts that retailers will have to navigate in the coming months. Starting in February, they’ll also have to stop selling most flavored varieties of pod- and cartridge-based brands like Juul, the Trump administration said in a long-anticipated announcement last week. 

More changes to the e-cigarette retail landscape could happen in May when FDA sales authorizations applications are due. Many lawmakers have been frustrated with how long it’s taken for the FDA to implement its tobacco policies and are urging expediency. 

Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Chairman Lamar Alexander said the FDA “has substantial authority to do more and should use it.”

“A good next step would be for the FDA to announce policies to help store owners enforce the new age restriction and flavor ban,” the Tennessee Republican said. 


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Arisona Permadi

January 9th, 2020

Young smokers frustrated after legal tobacco age increases to 21

BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - President Trump signed legislation in December to raise the minimum age to buy tobacco products from 18 to 21, meaning those between the ages of 18 and 20 who could once legally purchase cigarettes, e-cigarettes and vaping cartridges are now underage.

Just weeks ago, 20-year-old Tamie Ellison could walk in to any store and buy any tobacco product she wanted. That all changed with the new federal law that raised the tobacco-buying age, leaving her just a year short of the new minimum age of 21.

“It sucks because now I can’t get it," Ellison said. “And I have to have other people. And it sucks, honestly, because it’s very tedious, and I think it’s just stupid honestly."

Following the announcement of the law, many retailers quickly made changes to comply, posting signs to remind customers of the change. Ellison picked up her first cigarette when she was 10 years old and recently switched to vaping, making the abrupt shift frustrating for her.

“I’m obviously addicted to it, it’s something that I do on the daily," she said.

While it took stores just days to make changes, Ellison said it’ll take much longer than that to kick her vaping habit.

“You can harm yourself by cold turkey," she said. “You have to slowly wean yourself off of it, or you can go through withdrawal and have to be hospitalized. And it’s very scary.”

The new regulation is one of the latest efforts to curb teen vaping amid an outbreak of vaping-related lung injuries. Ellison said changing the buying age isn’t the solution.

“With vaping, they probably should have changed what goes into it rather than just completely changing the age limit because just like with the weed, they’re going to find another outlet, they’re going to bootleg it somehow," she said.

Ellison said she’s now anxiously counting down to her 21st birthday.

“Oh, it is in 20 days," she said, "I am looking forward to it. Definitely.”


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Arisona Permadi

January 8th, 2020

Few issues under new smoking age law, Carroll County tobacco retailers, enforcement officials say

A Maryland law that went into effect Oct. 1 banned sales of tobacco and vape products to people younger than 21, but local retailers — and even tobacco enforcement officials — say Carroll is well adapted to the new reality.

“It hasn’t really affected us any, 'cause most of the clients we deal with are adults anyway,” said Kevin Jones, owner of Victory Vaporz, in Westminster. In the vape world, he said, “More of your loyal clients are going to be 30-plus-year-olds that have switched from cigarettes to vaping.”

And even some locations that catered to 18-, 19- and 20-year-old tobacco product customers have found that few people under 21 have tried to make a purchase since the new law went into effect.

“I think everyone is very aware of it. I haven’t had anybody come in that is underage,” said Besty Wagster, the manager of the Jiffy Mart on Main Street, Westminster. “I know my owner isn’t crazy about the idea of selling tobacco products to kids anyway. I think some owners were really happy about it.”

That was the idea behind the law, keeping younger people away from addictive nicotine products, according to Carroll County Health Department Health Educator Anne Grauel. Not just 18-year-olds, who she noted have brains that will continue to develop until their mid-20s, but the even younger people those 18-year-olds may socialize with.

“It is the hope with the law that it will limit the access of older high school students who could have, when they were 18, under the old law, purchased it and then provided it to the younger students,” Grauel said. “Most middle schoolers and high schoolers are not likely to encounter a 21-year-old in their day-to-day activities, where they would an 18-year-old.”

So far, the new law appears to be working as intended. In a compliance check conducted in November, just 13 of of Carroll’s 135 licensed tobacco or vape retailers sold to an underage person working undercover with the Health Department.

“We used somebody who was over the age of 18, and under the age of 21. We had quite a few volunteers actually,” Grauel said. “We did not give them a citation because the law was new and it was more of an educational experience.”

Failure in future compliance checks will mean fines.

“Penalties would be $300 for a first violation, $1,000 for a second within 24 months, and $3,000 for a third within 24 months of the preceding violation,” said Barbara White, director of the Cigarette Restitution Fund Program at the Health Department. “What’s different now is we are citing the owner, where in the past it was always the clerk that was fined

. Now the citation will go to the owner.”

That change to fining the owner, rather than the clerk, could have two positive effects, according to White. First, it could make it easier to make fines stick, as it had proven difficult in the past to prove that the same clerk had violated the law on multiple occasions, and second, it may be more fair to young clerks who make a mistake.

In fact, the Carroll County Health Department successfully lobbied to make the new law less burdensome on clerks — and owners — by arguing that underage sales should be considered a civil violation, not a criminal one.

“You have a clerk who might be 17 years old and then they have a criminal charge,” White said. “That just seemed kind of harsh.”

Other aspects of the new law: There’s no “grandfathering in” of people under 21 — “The teenagers wanted to believe that, but there is not grandfathering,” Grauel said — and there is an exception made for those teenagers with an active military ID. If retailers decide they wish to sell to members of the military under 21 that is.

“The law never says anything about a right, it just says that a retailer may sale to them. The retailer can be more restrictive if they choose to,” Grauel said, and noted that many retailers, especially liquor stores, are telling her they like only having to worry about one age — 21 — to check for.

Those retailers who do make use of the military exception will only have until next summer to do so — on Dec. 20, President Trump signed a spending bill that, among other things, raises the national smoking/tobacco use age to 21, without exemptions for those in military service.

In the meantime, Grauel said, there are resources for those who would like to try and quit smoking or vaping, including resources targeted to younger users who find themselves newly excluded from legal sales.

“They can text ‘ditchjuul’ to 88709; that’s a free program from the Truth Initiative that provides help for quitting smoking,” she said. “They can call the Maryland Smoking Cessation support line at 1-800-QUIT-NOW. That’s for either tobacco or for vaping, they will be directed to the resources they need.”

And for those wondering, nicotine replacement therapies are available for those younger than 21, and even for minors, with proper approvals.

“If they are over 18 they can come to the Health Department and we can provide that free of charge, along with counseling,” Grauel said. “We will help anybody over the age of 18 and younger if we have parental and medical permission.”


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Arisona Permadi

January 7th, 2020

Cuba boosts tobacco production to raise revenues in 2020

The president of the Tabacuba business group, Justo Luis Fuentes, announced that work is underway to boost Burley tobacco production with a project to plant up to 10,000 hectares of that variety, which reports good quality with a high percentage of nicotine and good combustion.

Cuba is boosting the production of tobacco, one of its main export products that could raise revenues in 2020, with the cultivation of the Burley variety for cigarette making and the creation of new centers for the processing of the plant.

The president of the Tabacuba business group, Justo Luis Fuentes, announced that work is underway to boost the production of Burley tobacco with a project to plant up to 10,000 hectares of that variety, according to the island’s media.

“The country produces more dark tobacco than Virginia tobacco, but we are going to boost the latter,” said the director of the company that manages the activity of the sector in all its phases, from agricultural, pre-industrial and industrial production to marketing, logistics and development of the product.

Fuentes said that Burley tobacco plantations?which report good quality with a high percentage of nicotine and good combustion?will increase in the western province of Pinar del Río, the main representative of this crop in the country, and also in other producing areas of the sector.

A training center, a warehouse with capacity to protect 120 tons of the leaf, ten chambers for the curing of Virginia tobacco and three tobacco processing facilities, considered a key element, were inaugurated in recent days in Pinar del Río to increase exports.

These centers are located in the municipalities of Mantua, Minas de Matahambre and Guane and join five others in the province, which produces 70% of Cuban tobacco and where the planting of almost 20,000 hectares of the crop is scheduled for the current harvest.

At the end of last December, Cuban Minister of Economy Alejandro Gil considered during Parliament’s last meeting that an increase in tobacco sales would report some 300 million dollars in income to the country.

Cuba collected more than 30,000 tons of tobacco?for the second year in a row?in the 2018 harvest, when about 300 million hand-rolled cigars?its star product? were made on the island, almost 100 million of them destined for export.

More than 130 million manufactured cigars and 14,000 million cigarettes were also produced.

The tobacco industry represents the fourth sector that contributes the most income to Cuba’s gross domestic product (GDP), and export sales in 2018 reached almost 260 million dollars. The sector employs about 200,000 workers on the island, who at the height of the harvest rise to 250,000.


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Arisona Permadi

January 6th, 2020

FDA To Ban All Flavored E-Cigarette Pods Excl. Tobacco, Menthol

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration or FDA plans to ban the sale of all flavored e-cigarette pods except tobacco and menthol, the Wall Street Journal reported citing people familiar with the matter. Open tank vaping systems sold by vape shops that allow consumers to custom-mix flavors will be excluded from the ban.

Federal officials are expected to announce the ban on sweet- and fruit-flavored pods later this week amid an alarming rise in vaping by youth in the country. The latest decision is a step back from the Trump administration's plans in September to ban all flavored e-cigarettes including mint and menthol, other than tobacco.

The new policy aims to combat an epidemic of underage vaping. Among teen and youth, e-cigarette pods, which are disposable, prefilled cartridges containing vaping liquids, are highly popular.

As per a new study results, the use of e-cigarettes among high school students increased on an alarmingly high rate in 2019 compared to just a year ago, with rates doubling in the past two years.

Meanwhile, e-cigarette maker Juul Labs, which is under scrutiny for popularizing e-cigarettes among teen and youth, in October decided to suspend the sale of non-tobacco, non-menthol-based flavors in the U.S.

In its various steps to face the severe crisis in youth vaping, the Government recently raised the federal minimum age to buy tobacco products, including traditional products such as cigarettes and cigars, as well as e-cigarettes, to 21 years from 18 year previously,

In November, The American Medical Association or AMA had sought a total ban on all e-cigarette and vaping products that do not meet FDA approval as cessation tools, amid the significant increase in e-cigarette use among youth.

The latest news on FDA plan comes as the national outbreak of e-cigarette, or vaping, product use-associated lung injury, called EVALI has claimed 54 lives, while a total of 2,506 were hospitalized as of December 17, according to US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or CDC.

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Arisona Permadi

January 3rd, 2020

Menthol cigarettes to be made illegal this year - everything you need to know

Menthol cigarettes are set to be banned as new laws come into effect in the new year. Smokers looking to purchase menthol cigarettes and rolling tobacco will only have until 20 May 2020 to these products before the ban comes into force.

The ban stems from new EU Tobacco Product Directive laws which outlaws menthol cigarettes. The move is part of an attempt to stop young people smoking by banning cigarettes with a 'characterising flavour' other than tobacco.

The new EU law will see skinny cigarettes also banned from UK stores. Philip Morris, the manufacturer of cigarette brands such as Marlboro, tried to appeal against the law change to the European Court of Justice but it was unsuccessful. The charity ASH- Action on Smoking and Health - told the ECHO back in October that outlawing menthol tobacco will deter young people from smoking.

ASH also spelled out exactly what comes under the ban.A spokeswoman said: "No person may produce or supply a cigarette or hand rolling tobacco with: 

"(a) a filter, paper, package, capsule or other component containing flavourings;

"(b) a filter, paper or capsule containing tobacco or nicotine; or

"(c) a technical feature allowing the consumer to modify the smell, taste, or smoke intensity of the product."

The law has already changed so that menthol cigarettes are currently only sold in packs of 20. This was part of a wider long term plan to phase out flavoured cigarettes completely by May 2020. Amanda Sandford, of ASH, told the ECHO how policies such as this are making smoking less appealing. 

She said: "Cigarettes are already expensive. "And the price increase of cigarettes is a key factor in making people quit smoking. "So by removing the packet of 10 cigarettes this means people will have to find that extra money for a packet.

"It will hit poorer and younger smokers harder who are more likely to buy smaller packs.

"Paying £3 or £4 for a packet of 10 cigarettes at the moment might not seem so much to people and still leave them with change in their pockets.

However, she said that there was little evidence which suggested that menthol cigarettes make it easier for people to smoke.

She said: "It is naturally hard to inhale smoke and for many the first time they smoke it is repugnant, but people persevere with it and that's when they become addicted.

"There is evidence that menthol cigarettes relax the airways and the flavour masks the harshness of the smoke, therefore younger people find it easier to smoke.

"However, it is an absolute myth that menthol cigarettes are better for you.

"All cigarettes are harmful and menthol cigarettes are just as dangerous as normal cigarettes."


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January 2nd, 2020

Alaskans react to FDA changes to tobacco buying age

Wasilla's Megan Ponte gave up smoking about a month ago.

"I didn't want to anymore," said the 19-year-old who will have to wait a few years if she chooses to light up again.

The new smoking age, in Wasilla and the rest of the country, is now 21.

"I think if you're old enough to join the military at 18, if you're considered an adult at 18, then they shouldn't make your decision for you for when you can chew tobacco, when you can drink alcohol and all that at 21," Ponte said.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced the change on its website. President Trump raised the minimum age on Dec. 20 when he approved changes to the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.

Supporters of the age change believe it will keep tobacco away from young people.

"Most high school students don't have friends who are 21 but they do have friends who are 19 so it minimizes the access," said Marge Stoneking, the executive director of the American Lung Association in Alaska. "Their brains are prepped for, in the development stages that they're at, their brains are prepped to develop addiction pathways, they're particularly susceptible to nicotine."

The change has also brought confusion. The National Association of Convenience Stores is among the groups that thought it had several months before the new age law took effect. What the FDA does not say is how it will enforce the new law and how violators will be punished. Those decisions will be announced later.

"I still think it should be our decision on what we want to do if we're considered adults," Ponte said.

The FDA said the rule change involved existing law, which allowed the new age limit to take effect immediately.

Copyright 2019 KTVA. All rights reserved.


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December 30th, 2019

WHO launches new report on global tobacco

Number of males using tobacco globally on the decline, showing that government-led control efforts work to save lives, protect health, beat tobacco. For the first time, the World Health Organization projects that the number of males using tobacco is on the decline, indicating a powerful shift in the global tobacco epidemic. The findings, published today in a new WHO report, demonstrate how government-led action can protect communities from tobacco, save lives and prevent people suffering tobacco-related harm.

“Declines in tobacco use amongst males mark a turning point in the fight against tobacco,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “For many years now we had witnessed a steady rise in the number of males using deadly tobacco products. But now, for the first time, we are seeing a decline in male use, driven by governments being tougher on the tobacco industry. WHO will continue working closely with countries to maintain this downward trend.”

During nearly the past two decades, overall global tobacco use has fallen, from 1.397 billion in 2000 to 1.337 billion in 2018, or by approximately 60 million people, according to the WHO global report on trends in prevalence of tobacco use 2000-2025 third edition.

This has been largely driven by reductions in the number of females using these products (346 million in 2000 down to 244 million in 2018, or a fall over around 100 million).

Over the same period, male tobacco use had risen by around 40 million, from 1.050 billion in 2000 to 1.093 billion in 2018 (or 82% of the world’s current 1.337 billion tobacco users).

But positively, the new report shows that the number of male tobacco users has stopped growing and is projected to decline by more than 1 million fewer male users come  2020 (or 1.091 billion) compared to 2018 levels, and 5 million less by 2025 (1.087 billion).

By 2020, WHO projects there will be 10 million fewer tobacco users, male and female, compared to 2018, and another 27 million less by 2025, amounting to 1.299 billion. Some 60% of countries have been experiencing a decline in tobacco use since 2010.

 “Reductions in global tobacco use demonstrate that when governments introduce and strengthen their comprehensive evidence-based actions, they can protect the well-being of their citizens and communities,” said Dr Ruediger Krech, Director of Health Promotion at WHO.

Despite such gains, progress in meeting the global target set by governments to cut tobacco use by 30% by 2025 remains off track. Based on current progress, a 23% reduction will be achieved by 2025. Only 32 countries are currently on track to reach the 30% reduction target.

However, the projected decline in tobacco use among males, who represent the overwhelming majority of tobacco users, can be built on and used to accelerate efforts to reach to the global target, said Dr Vinayak Prasad, head of WHO’s tobacco control unit.

“Fewer people are using tobacco, which is a major step for global public health,” said Dr Prasad. “But the work is not yet done. Without stepped up national action, the projected fall in tobacco use still won’t meet global reduction targets. We must never let up in the fight against Big Tobacco.”

Other key findings of the report included:

  • Children: Approximately 43 million children (aged 13-15) used tobacco in 2018 (14 million girls and 29 million boys).
  • Women: The number of women using tobacco in 2018 was 244 million. By 2025, there should be 32 million fewer women tobacco users. Most gains are being made in low- and middle-income countries. Europe is the region making the slowest progress in reducing tobacco use among females.
  • Asian trends: WHO’s South East Asian Region has the highest rates of tobacco use, of more than 45% of males and females aged 15 years and over, but the trend is projected to decline rapidly to similar levels seen in the European and Western Pacific regions of around 25% by 2025. The Western Pacific Region, including China, is projected to overtake South East Asia as the region with the highest average rate among men.

Trends in the Americas: Fifteen countries in the Americas are on track to reach the 30% tobacco use reduction target by 2030, making it the best performing of WHO’s six regions.

  • Policy action: more and more countries are implementing effective tobacco control measures, which are having the desired effect of reducing tobacco use. Tobacco taxes not only help reduce tobacco consumption and health-care costs, but also represent a rev­enue stream for financing for development in many countries.

Every year, more than 8 million people die from tobacco use, approximately half of its users. More than 7 million of those deaths are from direct tobacco use while around 1.2 million are due to non-smokers being exposed to second-hand smoke. Most tobacco-related deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries, areas that are targets of intensive tobacco industry interference and marketing.

The WHO report covers use of cigarettes, pipes, cigars, waterpipes, smokeless tobacco products (like cheroots and kretek) and heated tobacco products. Electronic cigarettes are not covered in the report.

The report supports the monitoring of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target 3.a, which calls for strengthening implementation of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC). The WHO “MPOWER” measures are in line with the WHO FCTC and have been shown to save lives and reduce costs from averted healthcare expenditure, including:

  • Monitoring tobacco use and prevention policies.
  • Protecting people from tobacco smoke.
  • Offering help to quit tobacco use.
  • Warning people about the dangers of tobacco.
  • Enforcing bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship.
  • Raising taxes on tobacco.


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December 26th, 2019

Facebook will now ban influencers from advertising vaping and tobacco products

Facebook is changing the rules for influencers.

Last week, buried at the very bottom of an Instagram for Business post titled, “Helping Creators Turn Their Passion into a Living,” Facebook issued a new set of rules for Instagram influencers: no more sponsored posts promoting vaping, tobacco products and weapons and soon, new special restrictions for posts promoting alcohol and diet supplements.

Facebook and Instagram had long banned paid tobacco-related advertisements, but now that ban will also include sponsored posts from influencers which until now, acted as a loophole to those ad bans. A Facebook spokesperson declined to comment further.

As the platforms continue to add restrictions on what influencers and brands can or cannot post as advertisements, they are also adding new ways to better target posts and ads, including the ability to restrict access to content based on age.

Ryan Detert, CEO of Influential, an influencer marketing agency, said “influencers and paid media arms are going to be inexorably tied.” Because influencers have become such a big part of the advertising business, both on the native and paid side, across multiple platforms, you’re seeing more regulation, which Detert welcomes because it democratizes the playing field among influencers.

For example, Detert said, a cannabis influencer with only 5,000 followers in a small town might get a brand deal as opposed to someone with 5 million followers because he or she lives in an area where recreational use of cannabis is legal.

Vickie Segar, founder of influencer marketing agency Village Marketing, also welcomed the new rules, saying “What I will say is that influencers have an abundance of opportunity; they are saying no to full media rates more than ever and are getting increasingly more protective of what goes in front of their followers. It’s a simple supply demand shift–they get to be even pickier given the amount of brands coming at them. Which is actually just good news for all of us.”

Promotion of CBD-related products on platforms like Facebook and Instagram largely occupy a gray area and a source close to Facebook said the company is currently “working out the details” on a more formal policy related to CBD. But today, because of paid ad restrictions, CBD brands are leaning into influencer marketing.

“With CBD specifically, speaking from experience, influencers have done a great job of testing products for weeks to months before ever posting about them,” Segar said. “We encourage this behavior; although it slows the marketing process for brands, it keeps the industry honest.”

Vaping influencers said they saw this coming, but they lamented the broad ban.

“I did end up seeing this coming, honestly,” said Manuel Urzua, a California-based vaping influencer who has, at one point, amassed $5,000 to $7,000 from sponsored posts on Instagram. “It should be regulated a lot more, but to rip it away completely–that’s a little bit harsh.”

David Rhodes, an influencer, said he doesn’t think the restrictions will result in stopping all influencers from posting sponsored posts that promote vaping, tobacco or weapons. “There will be a short-term adjustment period, but it seems like Instagram is trying to build out something that works for them and for creators in the long run on the platform, outside of just the paid media.”

Urzua said he already started decreasing his use of Instagram month ago, and that if he did do sponsored posts going forward, they would be either for vaping devices or for CBD-related products. He said that he’s also shifted much of his work in creating videos and showcasing his vape tricks on YouTube, where he can make $7,000 to $8,000 a month.

When asked about the possibility of YouTube one day placing similar bans on vaping-related ads or sponsored content, Urzua said that, as an influencer, it’s something he’s prepared for and that he will, again, diversify his content distribution. “It’s always better to have multiple sets of income,” he said.


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December 26th, 2019

Cannabis law could allow cigar shops, hookah lounges to offer on-site consumption, but owner says unlikely

Illinois’ new recreational cannabis law will allow cities to give local cigar shops and other similar businesses permission to let cannabis users to partake in their shops, but an Illinois-based member of a tobacco association said users shouldn't hold their breath.

Illinois’ cigar shops could allow on site consumption of cannabis but an owner says she, along with many others, aren’t likely to agree to it. 

When recreational cannabis becomes the law of the land next month, municipalities have the ability to allow for local businesses that get 80 percent or more of their income from tobacco sales to have on-site cannabis consumption. 

“It’s a defined term in the Smoke Free Illinois Act,” said Dan Bolin, an attorney with Ancel Glink and host of the “Quorum Forum” podcast. “Those are the kinds of same places where on-premises consumption could be allowed by local governments under the trailer bill.”

This means a municipality can allow places such hookah lounges and cigar shops to offer onsite cannabis consumption. 

Julie Neumann, owner of Neumann Cigars and More locations in suburban Chicago, said it’s not likely that many retail cigar outlets will allow it. 

“It would be offensive to them if we allowed people to come in and smoke marijuana,” she said. “I would assume others would be in the same position, not wanting to offend their current customers.”

Many tobacco shops require any cigars smoked in on site to be bought there or charge “cutting fees” for cigars brought into the business. 

The city of Springfield recently allowed cannabis shops to be zoned for on-site consumption.


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December 23rd, 2019

A federal tax on nicotine? Bill in Congress seen as way to tax vapor products.

The federal government currently imposes federal excise taxes on cigarettes, cigars, smokeless tobacco, roll-your-own tobacco and pipe tobacco. Will Congress add a tax on the nicotine used in electronic nicotine delivery systems?

That is the aim of H.R. 4742, introduced by Congressman Tom Suozzi (D-N.Y. 3d Dist.) and co-sponsored by Congressman Pete King (R-N.Y. 2d Dist.). As introduced, H.R. 4742 was titled as a bill “to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to impose a tax on nicotine used in vaping, etc.” Congressman Suozzi said in support, “Increasing the cost of vaping will have a direct correlation to decreasing the usage of vaping products.”

What would the bill do?

The bill would “impose[] a tax equal to the dollar amount [of tax imposed on small cigarettes] per 1,810 milligrams of nicotine (and a proportionate tax at the like rate on any fractional part thereof).” Such “taxable nicotine” would generally include “any nicotine which has been extracted, concentrated, or synthesized.”

The tax would not apply to nicotine approved by the FDA for nicotine-replacement therapy. The tax would generally not displace preexisting taxes on tobacco products, either. That is, the tax would not apply to “nicotine naturally occurring in the tobacco from which such product is manufactured” where such nicotine “has been concentrated during the ordinary course of manufacturing.”

Tax liability would fall upon the “manufacturer of taxable nicotine.” “Any person who extracts, concentrates, or synthesizes nicotine shall be treated as a manufacturer of taxable nicotine (and as manufacturing such taxable nicotine).” However, it is likely that the consumer would ultimately bear the cost of the tax in the form of higher retail prices.

The Joint Committee on Taxation estimates that, if enacted, H.R. would raise almost $9.9 billion in taxes from 2020 through 2029. According to Congressman Suozzi, this revenue would “be used to fund a number of important health initiatives,” such as requiring high deductible health plans “to cover the cost of inhalers used to treat chronic lung diseases like asthma” and allowing the use of health savings and flexible spending accounts “to purchase over the counter medications and menstrual care products.”

What about non-vapor nicotine products?

The tax on nicotine could extend well beyond the nicotine used for vapor products. The definition of “taxable nicotine” appears to be broadly worded. Where the specific exceptions are inapplicable, ostensibly the tax could extend to other products that are not presently taxed as cigars, cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, pipe tobacco, or roll-your-own tobacco.

What is the bill’s status?

On October 18, 2019, H.R. 4742 was introduced in the House of Representatives and referred to the Ways and Means Committee.

On October 23, the Ways and Means Committee considered the bill and held a markup session. At this session, the Committee made minor changes to the bill, including the addition of a short title: the “Protecting American Lungs Act of 2019.” By a 24-15 vote, the Committee reported the bill favorably.

Other congressional efforts to tax vapor products.

H.R. 4742 is not the first effort in Congress to extend the federal tobacco products excise tax to vapor products. Over the past several years, bills for a Tobacco Tax Equity Act have been introduced. E.g., S. 1837 (2017); H.R. 729 (2017); S. 450 (2015); S. 194 (2013); S. 3081 (2012). These bills would have taxed vapor products insofar as they have been deemed “tobacco products” subject to the FDA’s authority under the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, 21 U.S.C. § 387, et seq. Under such bills, vapor products would be “taxed at a level of tax equivalent to the tax rate for cigarettes on an estimated per use basis as determined by” the Secretary of the Treasury.

H.R. 4742 is not the only bill before Congress that would extend federal excise tax to vapor products. On September 19, Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) introduced the Tobacco Tax Equity Act of 2019, S. 2517. The bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Finance, which has taken no further action on it. Introduced by Congressman Suozzi on the same day, a bill for a Quell Underage Inhaling of Toxic Substances Act of 2019, H.R. 4425 (the “QUITS Act”) would address the taxation of vapor products the same way as the Tobacco Tax Equity Act. The bill for the QUITS Act was referred to both the House Energy and Commerce and Ways and Means Committees. Neither committee has taken any further action on the bill.

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December 17th, 2019

A short-lived high for cannabis stocks

The shrill marketing pitch of financial websites like and others is ear-piercing these days: “Mega-trend cannabis – your shares are up for the year 2019,” states Bull Markets Media not quite truthfully, offering “The top cannabis stock for the New Year”.

A year ago I reported about Malta stepping to the frontline of a world-wide move into cannabis production. Initially focused on medical cannabis, these new businesses are hoping to also soon cover the vastly more voluminous markets of recreational drug consumption.

After the legalisation of pot-smoking in Canada and 11 US states, hopes were high that marijuana – containing active substances with health benefits for Alzheimer’s, epilepsy, Parkinson’s, chronic pain and some mental disorders – would soon expand into the recreational market too. Enterprises like Aphria, also active in Malta, Aurora and Canopy Growth, many of them listed on the NYSE and Toronto stock exchanges, boast multi-million dollar valuations, some of them better capitalised than long-established stocks.

Supported by market analysts, which all predicted growth rates exceeding 30 per cent per annum for the foreseeable future, these listed stocks showed stock market gains of a few hundred per-cent in a very short time. Grand View Research predicted a marijuana market of $66.3 billion for the end of 2025, and Fortune Business Insights forecast sales volumes to grow from 10.6 billion in 2018 to 97.35 billion in 2026. Investing seemed fool-proof.

I had cautioned in my report against such unbridled optimism, pointing out that the legalisation of cannabis for recreational use in other countries was less than certain and that even in markets where smoking pot had recently been legalised, the imposition of new restrictions could be expected once health implications of drug consumption were better understood. I warned against investing too much trust into the capabilities of enthusiastic yet inexperienced entrepreneurs who may lack financial savviness. I saw risks of financial overstretch, marketing failures and regulatory pitfalls, with new legislation open to divergent interpretation. Optimism in an industry which had not turned in any solid profits yet looked to me like investing in We Work, Uber or electric cars – a triumph of hope over knowledge.

Yet despite my warnings to readers I decided to tiptoe into a cannabis stock myself, buying Canopy Growth, one of the major Canadian players. I bought a small number of shares, not in the hope of repeating the recent frenzied share price gains but to have at least a foot in the door if things turned out better than I was expecting. After all, the illegal market had proved to be a money spinner for drug gangsters all over the world and it was to be hoped that prospective tax takes would persuade increasingly more governments to legalise.

Canopy Growth has a lot going for it. It is the biggest pot company by market capitalisation ($7 billion) with a turnover of $40 billion. It has a convincing business plan with a well-designed marketing strategy, including branding for recreational marijuana. They do not only grow marijuana, they also sell equipment, greenhouses and engineering solutions to other growers. Their medical production is GMP certified and FDA licenced, they are rolling out retail shops and they have – with drinks heavyweight Constellation Brands (Corona beer) – a deep-pocketed, major shareholder (38 per cent). Other than most high-flying start-ups they are not heavily indebted – thanks to overly generous equity investors like me, I suppose. And their New York Stock Exchange ticker is WEED, which I found irresistibly charming.

Yet, their share price tanked since I bought them at the beginning of 2019: from $50.77 to $18.81 the last time I dared to look at them in my portfolio. This is a loss of minus 63 per cent in less than a year. Canopy’s current profit margin is, according to business news publication Bloomberg, minus 488.41%. A remarkable feast, akin to a botch-up like Deutsche Bank.

Legalisation of cannabis… had not lifted the legal, licensed behemoth producers I’d wished to invest in, but the black market As much as I should have heeded my own warnings, the losses raked up at Canopy, and all other weed growers for that matter, stemmed from a problem I had not predicted at all.

As it turned out, the legalisation of cannabis in Canada and 11 US states had not lifted the legal, licenced behemoth producers I’d wished to invest in, but the black market. Many of the costs of illegally producing and distributing cannabis-based drugs could be saved now. Selling weed in countries like Canada or the US was not an expensive, high-risk business anymore, punishable with many years behind bars. Losses inflicted by forfeiture were a thing from the past.

By skipping the burden of producing medical marijuana according to the law, ignoring the taxman and by making use of already existing production facilities and established distribution channels, the illegal drug market, domestically and internationally, had an enormous cost advantage and was willing to use it without much hesitation.

Hoping for a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, illegal and legal businesses alike boosted production to levels never seen before. As a result, prices for marijuana fell off a cliff. Canopy Growth and its peers had to put their excellent harvests in storage. Within a few months, 400 tonnes of marihuana in Canada alone proved unsellable.

The ever-growing demand so boldly predicted by market watchers did not materialise. Potheads did not multiply all of a sudden, just production did. The harvest of Canopy Growth alone – more than 40 tonnes – would have been sufficient to cover Canada’s entire recreational demand. They racked up losses of C$373 million on revenues of C$77 million. Not much of a high.

The dire example of my investment mishap proves yet again that prudent investing needs more than a convincing story, and certainly more than the frenzied hype of analysts plying their doubtful recommendations. Growth projections drafted by consultancies are often based on rather thin air.

As the world keeps smoking less tobacco, it can be safely assumed that the world will not all of a sudden consume more pot. Holland, which for decades had a rather liberal attitude on marijuana, has a lower drug consumption than many countries which have dealt with drugs more harshly.

To sell recreational drugs in competition with criminals needs distribution strategies akin to those for consumer goods: ecommerce, influencers, YouTube presence, branding, help desks. Businesses need to collaborate with regulators and health authorities, and they need administrations which enforce strict tax compliance and import regimes. If states had a stake in such companies it would certainly help.

My misfortune also proves that medical marijuana has probably a more promising, long-term future than smoking or vaping pot for fun. Such future I can see in close collaboration with Big Pharma rather than with Coca Cola and Corona beer, which both have already signalled a keen interest in cannabis-based drinks.

This implies that medical distribution licences, product pipelines, medical tests and market exclusivity will be more valuable than new farming operations. Countries like Columbia, Nigeria, Turkey or Lebanon have cultivated cannabis for millennia, with labour cheaper and a climate more suitable than Canada. They won’t give up farming now that it’s legal.

We, here in Malta, should therefore consider if our future lies in growing hemp for a market which is already oversupplied, displacing fresh produce for our farmers’ markets, or if we shouldn’t better focus on science, testing and licensing.

Such an approach would also make sure that our cultural and natural heritage will not be blighted by yet more greenhouses and sheds eating away at the little open space we have left.

More enlightened policies will only be pursued, alas, once corruption is reasonably weeded out, if you’d allow me the pun.

In the meantime, I will sit on my shares of Canopy Growth, hoping that its executives will grow to their task. To write down massive losses is not what we retail investors find easy, even when we know that this is what we should have done sooner rather than too late.

Andreas Weitzer is an independent journalist based in Malta. He reports on the economy, politics and finance. The purpose of his column is to broaden readers’ general financial knowledge and it should not be interpreted as presenting investment advice or advice on the buying and selling of financial products.


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December 17th, 2019

New tobacco sales age minimum starts Tuesday

Starting Tuesday, Maryland will join 17 other states and more than 485 cities and counties across the nation in increasing the minimum legal sales age to 21 for all tobacco products, including electronic smoking devices such as e-cigarettes, vapes, pod-based devices and e-liquids.

The law change comes as Maryland and other states deal with an outbreak of severe lung illnesses associated with vaping. As of Sept. 24, there were 20 such cases reported in Maryland, according to a news release.

The Maryland Department of Health is reaching out to more than 4,000 randomly selected licensed tobacco retailers across the state to help them prepare for a change in the legal sales age for tobacco products, according to the release.

The department will provide educational materials and survey retailers on what additional resources they need to adapt to changes in tobacco sales.

Earlier this month, the department launched the statewide campaign “21 or none.” New materials — including “minimum age of sale” signs and a toolkit to train staff members on new procedures for checking ID — are available for download on the Responsible Tobacco Retailer website at NoTobaccoSales

Retailers selected for participation in the survey were recently sent letters and reminder postcards with a web address to complete the short online questionnaire. Responses are anonymous, and more than 200 retailers have already participated as of Wednesday. The survey will close Monday and a follow-up survey is planned for spring 2020.

Nationally, from 2017 to 2018 alone, use of electronic smoking devices increased by 78%, according to the release.

Approximately 865,000 Marylanders use tobacco and electronic smoking devices, most of them starting before age 21 and the new law aims to protect more than a quarter of a million residents between ages 18 and 20 from developing a nicotine addiction, according to the release.


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September 30th, 2019

Why flavored vaping products are this era's Big Tobacco menthol cigarettes

Why flavored vaping products are this era's Big Tobacco menthol cigarettes

High schoolers rallying in downtown Los Angeles this week chanted “Fight the flavor” as they showed their support for banning the flavored tobacco products that health experts say are fueling an epidemic of nicotine addiction among youths.

Among the demonstrators was Jennyfer Cortez, 16, who said she tried an e-cigarette for the first time five years ago because it tasted like blueberries, her favorite fruit. She didn’t like vaping because it made her cough, but she has seen her peers vape at their lockers, in the school bathroom and sometimes even in class.

“These kids are so addicted to nicotine, they can’t go one class period without vaping,” said Cortez, a junior at Ánimo Jackie Robinson Charter High School in South L.A.

Governments around the nation are considering banning flavored tobacco products amid burgeoning e-cigarette use among youths and a mysterious outbreak of a serious lung disease that appears to be linked to vaping. The legislative efforts would eliminate the fruity e-cigarette pods with flavors such as mango, strawberry and mint, which public health experts say are giving nicotine a foothold among youths.

Many of the regulations, including the one being considered by Los Angeles County officials that drew demonstrators to downtown L.A. on Tuesday, would also outlaw menthol cigarettes. Public health experts say the marketing and sustained popularity of menthol cigarettes provide a window into the playbook that e-cigarette companies could be using when it comes to selling flavored nicotine products.

Menthol cigarettes, which were invented in the 1920s, were promoted as healthier than regular cigarettes, despite being more dangerous, experts say.

Aggressive marketing of menthol cigarettes to African Americans worked — approximately 85% of African American smokers now prefer menthols, said Phillip Gardiner, a researcher with the University of California’s Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program.

Over the last century, attempts to ban menthols have failed, because of lobbying by the tobacco industry as well as the cigarettes’ ubiquity, experts say. The Trump administration announced a proposal last year to take them off the market, but the effort appears to have stalled.

“Menthol is the ultimate candy flavor — it helps the poison go down easier,” Gardiner said.

Youths are experimenting with flavored e-cigarettes; from 2017 to 2018, e-cigarette usage among high schoolers jumped 78%, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. E-cigarette devices work by heating a liquid cartridge containing nicotine, and perhaps an added flavor, and turning it into a vapor the user can inhale.

This month, Michigan became the first state in the nation to ban flavored e-cigarettes. The Trump administration said this month that it is also considering outlawing the products.

The concerns about flavored tobacco products mirror those about menthol cigarettes, which are flavored with a mint extract and have served as a gateway to addiction for almost a century, experts say.

“Tobacco companies have known this for a very long time…. Nicotine on its own is really bitter tasting, it does not taste good at all,” said Thomas Ylioja, a tobacco cessation expert at National Jewish Health, a research hospital in Denver. “As a former youth smoker myself, menthol was how I got started.”

Legend has it that in 1925, a man named Lloyd “Spud” Hughes placed his tobacco in a baking powder tin along with menthol crystals, which he was using to treat a cold. The next day, he rolled his tobacco and accidentally created a menthol cigarette.

Over the following decades, many companies began selling menthols, marketing them as a less harsh alternative to traditional cigarettes.

Tobacco executives noticed a slight preference for menthols among African Americans and began targeting them with advertising. Popular menthol brand Kool hired Elston Howard, an African American catcher for the New York Yankees, as a spokesman, and cigarette companies bought ads in Ebony magazine. Predictably, the percentage of black people smoking menthols skyrocketed, according to a paper Gardiner wrote detailing what he calls the “African Americanization of menthol cigarette use.”

“Unfortunately, the tobacco industry efforts have been very successful,” Gardiner said in an interview.

Menthol not only makes tobacco taste better, it also numbs the throat so people can smoke more cigarettes, he said. Worse, menthol allows for deeper inhalation of the smoke, which lets more nicotine into the body, which makes people more addicted, he said.

In 2009, a federal law outlawed many flavored cigarettes, such as chocolate and vanilla, but not menthol. The long-term success of menthols paved the way for flavored e-cigarettes, said Bill Novelli, former president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

“It seems pretty clear that these flavors were basically created to seduce and entice kids into smoking,” he said.

The results of a survey conducted by the American Heart Assn. of 1,500 adult e-cigarette users published this month found that nearly a third of adults who use e-cigarettes said a primary reason they started was because of the flavors. That percentage was even higher among young adults, according to the survey.

“The flavoring in these nicotine products attracts younger people at a time when they are most likely to become addicted if they try it,” said Dr. Jessica Sims with the American Heart Assn.

However, those opposed to banning flavored e-cigarettes say they offer a way for smokers to switch to a safer alternative. Experts agree that despite the risks of e-cigarettes, they remain less dangerous than traditional cigarettes.

At the rally outside the L.A. County Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday, people shouted “Save our vapes” over the high schoolers.

Alan Ngo, 32, held a sign that said, “I Vote, I Vape.” Four years ago, he switched from smoking to vaping, the only thing that helped him quit traditional cigarettes, he said. He said his lungs feel better than they did before. He is able to run farther and he coughs less, he said.

“I think the flavors save lives,” said Ngo, who lives in Rosemead.

At the meeting Tuesday, county supervisors advanced the ban on flavored tobacco, which would make illegal not only the fruity pods of liquid nicotine and traditional menthol cigarettes, but also mint chewing tobacco and cream cigars, among other products. The ban will affect only unincorporated areas, which include about 1 million people.

Also on Tuesday, Kevin Burns, the chief executive of e-cigarette giant Juul, stepped down. His replacement, K.C. Crosthwaite, said the company would suspend all advertising in the United States and would refrain from lobbying the Trump administration on its proposed ban of flavored e-cigarette products.

In a statement, Crosthwaite acknowledged the company must work with policymakers and regulators because its “future is at risk due to unacceptable levels of youth usage and eroding public confidence in our industry.”


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September 27th, 2019

Big Tobacco survived a crackdown So can e-cigarettes

Altria's big investment in Juul isn't looking so hot now amid growing concerns about health risks tied to vaping and a broad regulatory crackdown on e-cigarettes. But the tobacco giant is unlikely to give up on Juul anytime soon.

If anything, the decision by Juul to replace CEO Kevin Burns with former Altria (MO) executive K.C. Crosthwaite is a sign that the US-based seller of Marlboro still considers vaping a growth market that will help offset the decline in traditional tobacco cigarettes. The data supports that. According to figures from market research firm Nielsen, electronic cigarette sales in the US nearly doubled to $4.5 billion in the 52 weeks ending August 24. Tobacco cigarette sales fell 3% to $59.3 billion during the same time period.

Nielsen doesn't break down sales by specific company. But Wells Fargo analyst Bonnie Herzog estimates that with about 75% market share, Juul is the clear leader. That puts it well ahead of Vuse, owned by British American Tobacco (BTAFF) subsidiary Reynolds American, and Imperial Brands (IMBBF)-owned blu.

Altria is expected to continue focusing on Juul as a way to generate more sales.

Experts said Altria is also savvy enough to realize that working with the government makes more sense than fighting it. The Food and Drug Administration is looking to crack down on underage vaping by banning flavored e-cigarettes.

New Juul CEO has more experience with regulators

Because Altria has decades of expertise dealing with the FDA and other federal as well as state regulators, the company may take further steps to ease any concerns about addiction and targeting younger customers. "We expect Mr. Crosthwaite to focus on damage control immediately -- adopting a more conciliatory tone around the risks of the product and controlling the message in the media about the product and brand," said Stifel analyst Christopher Growe in a report. That's a skill set that Burns, who previously was chief operating officer at yogurt maker Chobani and worked for more than a dozen years as a partner at private equity firm TPG Capital, may not have possessed. Altria CEO Howard Willard admitted as much in a speech at The Global Tobacco & Nicotine Forum conference in Washington on Wednesday. "This is a pivotal moment for the industry and strong leadership and action are urgently needed," Willard said, adding that "I've worked closely with K.C. at Altria for many years and am confident in his leadership and integrity and that he will help Juul urgently confront and reduce underage vaping." Willard said. Along those lines, Juul also agreed this week to halt "all broadcast, print and digital product advertising in the US." But Altria has other non-traditional products in store even if there is a further crackdown on Juul and vaping.

Altria to remain focused on heated tobacco and cannabis

The company still intends to go ahead with plans to market the iQOS e-cigarette from Philip Morris (PM) in the US despite the fact that Altria and Philip Morris called off merger talks Wednesday. (iQOS cigarettes, unlike vaping pens, still contain tobacco but they heat it instead of burning it.)

Altria also spent $1.8 billion for a 45% stake in Canadian cannabis company Cronos (CRON) last year.

Stifel's Growe added that regardless of what happens in the US with Juul, he thinks Juul still has the potential to gain share overseas, even though India recently banned vaping and China is looking to put more regulations on it.

"We believe [Crosthwaite] will focus intently on international growth which looks muddy at this time, but remains a strong growth potential for the brand," Growe said.

A lawyer that is suing Juul, Altria and Philip Morris for false advertising said he thinks Altria isn't going to throw in the towel on Juul just yet either -- even if the value of the company's 35% stake in Juul, originally worth nearly $13 billion, may have to be reduced.

"Juul claims that it's not Big Tobacco. But they are the same thing. Getting rid of Burns and hiring someone from Altria is not surprising. It was inevitable," said Jonathan Gdanski, an attorney at Fort Lauderdale-based Schlesinger Law Offices.


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Arisona Permadi

September 26th, 2019

Tobacco vendors to face strict action in Punjab

Acting against illagal sale of flavoured chewing tobacco with pan masala in punjab, principal secretary health Anurag aggarwal has directed food safety department to crackdown on vendors flouting the norms.

There is a complete ban on sale and distribution of flavoured chewable tobacco. Anggarwal expressed displeasure over some manufacturers selling pan masala with flavoured chewing tobacco in separate sachets, often conjoint and sold together by the same vendors from the same premises intentionally.

He said notification had been issued regarding prohibition on manufacturing gutkha and pan masala processed or flavoured chewing tobacco and any other food products containing tobacco or nicotine as ingredients. He instructed the concerned departments to intensify the cheking of vendors to stop the sale of tobacco under the food safety and standart ( Prohibition and Restriction on Sales ) Regulations. He said it could also lead to cancellation of food license of premises if there is any storage or sale illegal tobacco products. FDA assistant commisioner Amit Joshi said 54 samples of tobacco and masalas were collected between January and August of which 20 samples were found non-conforming to standards.

Stating that cigarette packet sale without 85% pictorial warning is violation of the norms, he ordered strict action against the offenders


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September 25th, 2019

We will Continue to Invest in Tobacco Production in Croatia

Tobacco is an important crop for Croatian agriculture with stable production conditions and constant growth in terms of value, and tobacco worth a massive 124 million kuna is produced annually in Croatian fields.

Statistics show that a mere 400 tobacco farmers account for as much as 62 percent of the total value of Croatian potato production, as well as fruits, with it accounting for as much as 55 percent of the value of grapes and 48 percent of the value of Croatian olive oil production.

Most domestic tobacco production is concentrated through the system of the company Hrvatske duhani, which is within the system of the British American Tobacco Corporation (BAT), which took over the domestic TDR a year ago. Poslovni Dnevnik sat down and spoke with Helio Moura, BAT's tobacco development manager, about the trends in tobacco production and what Croatian farmers can expect in the coming period.

How important is Croatian tobacco production in the context of its total production in Europe, of course for BAT?

Tobacco production exists in many European countries, but as far as BAT is concerned, Croatia is the only country in Europe where we're developing our tobacco production. Production in Croatia is very important to us in this context, because from here we deal with our supply from the factory in Kanfanar, as well as our other factories in Europe.

How much does your factory in Kanfanar satisfy the tobacco raw material needs from domestic sources, ie from Croatian tobacco?

Tobacco from Croatia is used not only in the factory in Kanfanar but in many of our other factories in Europe. It is important to know that tobacco products consist of special blends of tobacco, a blend of various types of tobacco that give the characteristic aroma of the product.

This means that different tobacco from many countries is mixed to produce the final product. As regards the use of tobacco produced in Croatia at the Kanfanar plant, it is estimated that between one third and 40 percent of local tobacco is processed in Kanfanar and the rest is exported.

To how many European countries does BAT export its raw material from Croatia?

Tobacco from Croatia is exported to six of our factories in Europe.

If you use about 40 percent of your home-made tobacco in your Croatian factory, how many countries, or how many other types of tobacco do you supply in Kanfanar?

We want to give all our consumers the same quality, the same taste so that all of our final products are blends of tobacco from a number of sources but standard quality. In the blends, as a rule, we use European tobacco, but just as we do with Brazilian and Oriental. There are almost no finished products which are made from only one type of tobacco.

How profitable is tobacco leaf production for farmers?

Tobacco is one of, if not the most profitable, agricultural crops in Croatia as well as in any other country in the world.

I can say with certainty that growing tobacco is at least three or four times, and somewhere around five or six times, is a more profitable agricultural crop than any other. However, it is our rule that we ask the farmers we cooperate with to engage in other crops, with the aim of optimising their overall agricultural production, with tobacco being just a kind of ''cash flow'' to their total agricultural business.

How many farmers do you have under contract in Croatia and what is your cooperation with them?

We have more than 400 subcontractors in Virovitica-Podravina County and the area around Kutjevo. Tobacco cultivation takes place on approximately 3,000 hectares of agricultural land.

Does the popularisation of new smoking technologies, such as e-cigarettes, threaten agricultural tobacco production?

The fact is that the use of such ''new generation'' products globally reduces the use of classic tobacco products. However, these new products are focused on the elimination of tar and most other harmful substances generated by the burning process, but many of them still use nicotine. And nicotine is obtained from the tobacco leaf. So we don't really expect production to fall in that part.

What are your specific plans for tobacco production in the future in Croatia?

We plan further investments in tobacco production in Croatia. Tobacco production is one of the best organised [types of production] in Croatian agriculture, and we support our subcontractors financially, also through the continued support of our agronomists, but also by transferring a lot of know-how and practices that we have in our global centres of excellence.

Croatian Tobacco financing subcontractors finance more than two-thirds of the total value of production each year in advance, amounting to more than 60 million kuna, they grant favourable long-term loans for investments in various equipment and irrigation systems, and last year, they opened new long-term credit lines for the procurement of mechanical pickers.

29 tobacco harvesting machines have already been invested in, and the plan is to continue at the same time pace in the forthcoming period. Machine harvesting will certainly help our subcontractors to address the problem of labour shortages, which have been the biggest impediments to increasing tobacco production.

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Arisona Permadi

September 25th, 2019

Sale of tobacco products from vending machines to be banned

The Government is to ban the sale of tobacco products from vending machines, the Minister for Health Simon Harris has said.

The Minister said the Government also plans to prohibit vaping for those under 18 under new legislation to be brought to Cabinet in the next few weeks.

Speaking on Monday, Mr Harris said he is extremely concerned at the number of children who are starting to vape.

He criticised “unethical and disingenuous ways” in which companies were targeting children in terms of colours and flavours.

Mr Harris said he would bring legislation to Cabinet this month to ban vaping for under 18s as well as outlaw the sake of tobacco in vending machines.

“I do not believe you should be able to buy tobacco from a vending machine. We know this can make it easier for children and others to buy tobacco.”

He said he did not believe the new initiative would be controversial.

“Tobacco kills you. It is very bad for you. It causes cancer. We have a policy called a tobacco- free Ireland. ”


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September 24th, 2019

Indonesia finance minister defends plan to raise cigarette prices

Indonesia’s finance minister defended on Monday a plan to raise cigarette prices by more than a third from next year to reduce smoking rates, after some in the tobacco industry said it would encourage illegal manufacturing and threaten jobs.

Highlighting the fact the excise tax for 2019 had been flat, Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati told reporters the government had tried to find “a balance” between rising numbers of “young smokers, especially young female smokers” and cigarettes’ popularity among Indonesia’s poorest, with the possible impact on the livelihoods of tobacco farmers.

Indonesia is the world’s second-largest tobacco market, after China. “On the one hand, we are concerned about health, while on the other we have to pay attention to farmers and cigarette workers ... and also guard against a rise in illegal cigarettes,” the minister said.

The tax increase, which will take effect from Jan. 1 and was announced on Friday, will see the government raise the minimum price of cigarettes across categories by an average of 35% and increase the excise tax on tobacco products by 23%.

Nearly 70% of adult men smoke in Indonesia, according to the World Health Organization - one of the highest rates in the world - and tobacco kills 225,720 people each year in the country, or 14.7% of all deaths, mostly through cardiovascular diseases, the WHO said in a 2018 report.

The Indonesian government has been raising taxes on tobacco products almost every year since 2014, but that has not had a significant impact on smoking rates.

The sharp excise hike was criticized by some companies and industry lobby groups on Monday.

Hananto Wibisono, spokesman for Indonesia Tobacco Community Alliance, said in a statement that the increase risked increasing the spread of illegal cigarettes.

“If illegal cigarettes become widespread, then all parties are disadvantaged, from legal cigarette manufacturers, their workers, to tobacco and clove farmers. The government will also be at disadvantage because illegal cigarette producers don’t pay excise taxes,” he said.

Philip Morris-controlled HM Sampoerna, one of Indonesia’s biggest cigarette companies, said they had received no warning for the increase.

“It will definitely disrupt the tobacco ecosystem,” HM Sampoerna director Troy Modlin said in a statement.

Gudang Garam and the unlisted Djarum, Indonesia’s two of the country’s other largest tobacco companies, did not respond to requests for comment.

Both Gudang Garam and HM Sampoerna saw their shares tumble by more than 20 percent on Monday, with analysts warning the increase could hurt the Indonesian tobacco giants’ 2020 earnings.

Indrawati told reporters the excise hike would only result in a 10% increase on the labour-intensive, domestic handrolled cigarette industry.

“But for companies whose turnover is over 50 billion rupiah, the increase is relatively higher,” she said.

Indonesia aims to collect 172 trillion rupiah ($12.32 billion) of revenue from tobacco excises in 2020, according to government proposals for next year’s state budget that is awaiting parliamentary approval.


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September 23rd, 2019

A Material derived from tobacco is a strong as wood or plastics

Humanity's reliance on plastic is a significant problem. This material is derived from petroleum and generally ends its life as landfill and or in an incinerator. Either way , that's unsustainable. So why not develop biocomposites that are mroe enviromentally friendly ?

That’s not as simple as it sounds. Most biodegradable plastics rely on a matrix structure derived from petroleum. That’s because biological matrixes generally lack the strength for most engineering and structural applications.

Then there is natural wood, which can be processed to give it properties that rival steel and ceramics. But this processing requires harsh chemical treatments that are not environmentally friendly.

So there is intense interest in finding ways to turn ordinary plants into biocomposites that are sustainable and comparable in mechanical performance to processed wood and to conventional plastics.

Enter Eleftheria Roumeli and colleagues at the California Institute of Technology. This team has found a way to turn cells from tobacco plants into a hugely strong material with wood-like mechanical properties. “We have developed a new method to create natural biocomposite materials based on plant cells,” they say. “[The materials’] stiffness and strength surpass that of commercial plastics of similar density, like polystyrene, and low-density polyethylene, while being entirely biodegradable.

”The manufacturing method is straightforward. The team start with cells from the herbaceous plant Nicotiana tabacum, which they culture in liquid suspension in the lab. This widely grown plant produces leaves that are processed into tobacco.

These cells are well-studied and easily available to researchers. Some cell lines, such as the BY-2 line, can multiply 100-fold within a week when grown in suspension. Roumeli and co do not say what kind of cell they use, although BY-2 cells seem a reasonable choice, given the paper’s references.

Each cell has a cell wall strengthened by microfibrils made of proteins and cellulose, which effectively knot the wall together. The cell wall encloses the cell nucleus, various kinds of biomolecular machinery for processing energy and so on, and the cytoplasm, much of which is water. (BY-2 cell lines do not photosynthesize and so do not contain chlorophyll).

Having cultured the cells, the team harvest and compress them in a mold. The mold is permeable to allow water to escape. “During compression, water diffuses through the plant cell wall and the cell volume is gradually reduced,” they say.Indeed, the cells lose 98% of their weight during this process. Most of this is due to water evaporation, but there are other processes at work, such as the degradation of complex biomolecules including pectins, hemicellulose, and phenolic compounds.

The team then heat the dehydrated material. This causes the microfibrils to undergo a phase transitions and form crystalline structures. “The obtained material is a biocomposite, comprised of a heterogeneous mixture of naturally synthesized biopolymers,” say Roumeli and co.

And it is remarkably tough. The team measured its mechanical properties and compared it to softwoods such as pine; hardwoods like poplar, oak, and walnut; and commercial plywood and MDF. They also compared it to synthetic plastics of similar density, such as polystyrene, polypropylene, and low-density polyethylene.

The results reveal how good this material is. “The mechanical performance of our biocomposites is comparable to that of commercial engineered woods and plastics,” say Roumeli and co. “They surpass all literature-reported values for materials composed of plant cells, mycelium, or yeast matrixes.

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September 20th, 2019

Owatonna votes to raise tobacco buying age to 21 effective Oct 4

It has been almost a year since the first study session brought Tobacco 21 to the Owatonna City Council, but as of Tuesday night the conversation is over.Owatonna council members approved the adoption of a Tobacco 21-style ordinance — which prohibits persons under the age of 21 from purchasing, possessing or using tobacco and other tobacco-related products — in a 6-1 vote with council member Nate Dotson opposing.

“I won’t dispute that smoking is bad in all its forms,” Dotson had said during the first reading of the ordinance in August. “I have one question, which I have asked previously of the council: how many of you would be OK with banning the sale of tobacco products from city limits? I think if we’re concerned about public health, that’s the way to do it.”

That makes Owatonna the 44th Minnesota city to end the sale of tobacco-related products in their municipalities, including Waseca, St. Peter, Mankato and North Mankato . Eight counties have also approved ordinances.

Little to no comments were made by the board on Tuesday as the second reading passed, though council member Kevin Raney thanked City Attorney Mark Walbran and Owatonna Police Chief Keith Hiller for all the hard work they put into “finding an ordinance that works” for Owatonna.

The second reading had been tabled for a month in August per request of Walbran who wanted to take the time to clean up some of the language.

“We have deleted administrative fines for persons under the age of 21, monetary fines,” Walbran said. “Instead, the persons under the age of 21 that violate the ordinance are going to be referred to the County Attorney’s Office for diversion or prosecution if the case warrants it.”

Walbran said that in discussions with the Steele County Attorney’s Office, it was decided that those violating the new ordinance and are under 21 will be referred to a diversion program that includes participation in a Nicotine Awareness Class. This is part of a program that is already in existence for those under the age of 18 – the current legal limit to purchase tobacco and other tobacco products.

“Of course if you have the young entrepreneur who is a repeat offender making money selling cigarettes to people under the age of 21, that person will probably have exhausted his diversion opportunities and may need to be prosecuted, which would be a misdemeanor,” Walbran gave as an example of what type of violation may warrant prosecution. “In talking to the County Attorney’s Office, the prosecutors are more interested in a diversion plan for the young.”

<&firstgraph>The provisions also include a minimum age of 18 for persons who may sell tobacco products are a retail location. Currently, the ordinance has a minimum age of 14 for clerks selling tobacco products. Walbran said they believed it made the most sense to bring that age up to the same age required by law to sell alcohol.

“The more significant things are that we’re joining along with many, many communities in Minnesota as well as throughout the nation in prohibiting sales to persons under age 21,” Walbran said to the council. “The second important thing is it broadens the scope of regulation to vaping and vaping products.”

“We really didn’t know and didn’t understand what was going on,” Raney said about all the information the council has learned while looking at the Tobacco 21 model. “It is a change in our community, no doubt, but I personally think it’s going to be a positive change in community both in the short and long term.”

The new ordinance is expected go into effect Friday, Oct. 4.

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September 20th, 2019

Will tobacco friendly Switzerland change its tune on smoking laws

Switzerland is one of a handful of countries that has not ratified a major global tobacco control treaty. Why has it dragged its feet, and is change in the air? 

Switzerland signed the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC)external link 15 years ago but has yet to ratify it, as do a handful of tobacco-producing countries such as the United States, Argentina, Malawi and Cuba. 

Controlling tobacco use to protect the population’s health has been a long, complicated balancing act in the Alpine country, which is an arch-defender of economic and individual freedoms and home to tobacco companies like Philip Morris. 

Almost one in three Swiss adultsexternal link (27.1%) regularly smokes or consumes tobacco in some form – a stable rate, almost 8% above the global average.

The WHOexternal link says that while Switzerland is strong when it comes to anti-smoking campaigns on TV and radio, it lacks a total ban on smoking in public places (i.e. 100% smoke-free with no designated smoking rooms or smoking areas). Although tobacco ads have been banned on the airways, they are allowed in other media, and there are no bans on tobacco promotion and sponsorship.

The FCTC lays down minimum requirementsexternal link for ratification, such as health warnings accompanying all tobacco advertising and, as appropriate, promotion and sponsorship. 

Ultimately, though, it’s up to each state to decide if it can comply with the treaty. Vinayak Prasad, who leads the WHO Tobacco Free Initiative (TFI), says that Switzerland could ratify the FCTC now if it wanted to, without additional legislation. But Switzerland generally only ratifies a global treaty after having adapted national laws to bring them in line with the agreement.

Parliament is currently considering a revised draft law on tobaccoexternal link, which may lead to FCTC ratification and is due to be discussed by the Senate on Tuesday. The main points in the original draft include a nationwide ban on the sale of tobacco products to people under 18 and regulations on electronic cigarettes and tobacco products for heating. 

Previous attempts by parliament to tighten the tobacco law and bring Swiss law into line with the WHO treaty have come up against a bloc of right-of-centre parliamentarians fearful of the economic consequences. 

The Federal Office of Public Healthexternal link holds sway over the ratification decision. Earlier this year, it outlined five measures it wants introduced into the tobacco law to comply with WHO’s minimum requirements. 

These include: health warnings to accompany any tobacco promotion or sponsorship; fewer purchase incentives on cigarettes; forcing the tobacco industry to report how much it spends on advertising, promotion and sponsorship; limitations on advertising, promotion and sponsorship of tobacco in newspapers, magazines and on the internet; and banning tobacco firms from sponsoring international events or activities in Switzerland. 

+ A graphic look at global smoking trends. The issue of tobacco sponsorship made waves in July when Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis was forced to dump Philip Morris as a sponsor of the Swiss pavilion at the 2020 Expo in Dubai, after negative headlines and criticism from health organisations.  

This incident may have influenced Senate committee members, who ended deliberations on the draft bill last month by calling for amendments to tighten the law, including restrictions on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship to “better protect young people”, as well as a tax on electronic cigarettes. 

“The conditions for Switzerland's ratification of the FCTC are thus met,” the committee said in a statementexternal link. 

While welcoming this “step in the right directionexternal link”, an alliance of NGOs said the commission’s minimalist proposal was not enough and that a total ban on tobacco advertising, as supported by 58% of the Swiss population in a 2016 pollexternal link, was still necessary. 

Other campaigners have been pushing hard on this issue. Last week the organisers of a people’s initiative handed in 113,000 signatures to try to force a national vote on a complete ban on tobacco advertising in order to protect youngsters. 

It remains unclear whether this groundswell of support will be enough to tighten Swiss law and eventually lead to ratification of the FCTC, or how soon that will happen. After this week’s Senate debate, the law will move to the House of Representatives, but a final vote is not expected before next spring or summer.

Ratification of the FCTC will only be clear “once the legislative process is over”, declared health office spokesman Adrien Kay. And if Swiss law is compatible, ratification probably won’t happen before 2022.

“The situation has been slowly changing in Switzerland, like with the law on passive smoking,” said Addiction Switzerland spokesperson Monique Portner-Helfer. “In Switzerland norms have changed. It's now more normal for people not to smoke. But the politicians are slow to catch up. We hope that little by little things will change.”

Financial impact of tobacco

Smoking is responsible for almost 4% of the country’s medical bill and 14% of deaths, according to a Swiss study.  This amounts to a total of CHF5 billion a year, it estimated. 

A KPMG report from October 2017 said Swiss-based tobacco firms – including Philip Morris, British American Tobacco and Japan Tobacco International – contribute CHF6.3 billion ($6.4 billion) a year to the Swiss economy, employing 11,500 people. 

A 2015 government studyexternal link estimated that if Switzerland ratified the FCTC, it could reduce annual tax revenues by CHF111-170 million a year between 2018-2060 and result in 340-540 job losses in the tobacco sector. It would also lower tobacco consumption by 5.4-9.9%.

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September 19th, 2019

Apartment and condo dwellers report smelling cannabis more than tobacco smoke, researchers say

More people in apartment buildings and condominiums reported exposure to cannabis smoke than tobacco one year before legalization, a new University of Toronto study says.

The U of T public-health researchers based their findings on a telephone survey of Ontario adults by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in 2017. Extrapolating from the CAMH results, the researchers suggest about 827,000 people in multi-unit dwellings were exposed to cannabis smoke from hallways, other units or elsewhere in their building—as opposed to about 728,000 who smelled tobacco smoke.

"I was surprised there were more reports of cannabis than tobacco," says co-author Michael Chaiton (pictured left), an associate professor in the Dalla Lana School of Public Health. "We've known anecdotally there had been increasing calls and complaints about cannabis smoke, but we hadn't been able to quantify it until now."

Chaiton hopes the results will contribute to the debate over whether to regulate cannabis like alcohol, by forbidding its consumption in public spaces, or like tobacco, by prohibiting its use in indoor public spaces or near buildings.

He and his co-authors Alanna Chu and Pamela Kaufman, an assistant professor at Dalla Lana, published their study on Sept. 10 in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.

The team has been tracking exposure to tobacco smoke in residential buildings for many years, and recently they have become increasingly concerned about cannabis second-hand smoke.

Despite the surprising results, Chaiton says it's very possible that the study underreported cannabis exposure, since the authors found people who consume cannabis themselves were more likely to report smelling it—suggesting that not everybody can identify cannabis by its pungent scent. The study, the first to examine the prevalence of involuntary cannabis exposure in residential buildings, also showed that people of lower income, who more often live in multi-unit buildings, are at higher risk of exposure to second-hand smoke and any related health effects from other people's cannabis use.

But those health effects are not yet fully clear. Third-hand smoke, the residue from smoke that clings to walls and furniture or settles in dust, is a particular concern for tobacco because nicotine is sticky and accumulates easily on surfaces like drapery, clothing and furniture.

But Chaiton says researchers don't yet know whether cannabis travels the same way through apartment buildings, including ventilation systems, or how it contributes to third-hand smoke contamination.

The next step is to determine whether exposure reports have increased since the legalization of cannabis in October 2018.

"If there are more people smoking cannabis or smoking more freely, indoor use in buildings may increase," Chaiton says. "But, on the other hand, people may be more willing to go outside, lessening second-hand exposure indoors. As well, people may be less likely to report it to surveyors because it's legal—or they may be more likely to complain if they have less fear of repercussions."


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September 18th, 2019

SE Asia Stocks-Indonesia plunges nearly 2 percent on tobacco stocks

Indonesian shares slumped nearly 2% on Monday, dragged by tobacco stocks after the government announced a steep price hike, while most other Southeast Asian markets traded in a

thin range as weak China data and a surge in oil prices stoked slowdown worries.


The Indonesian government said late on Friday it would raise the minimum price of cigarettes across categories by an average of 35% from Jan. 1 next year and increase the excise tax on

tobacco products by 23%, as part of its efforts to reduce smoking rates. Top cigarette maker Hanjaya Mandala Sampoerna Tbk PT plunged over 18%, its sharpest in two decades, while

Gudang Garam Tbk PT dived more than 20.5%, its biggest since 1994.

The benchmark Jakarta stock index ended 1.8% lower,posting its lowest close in over one month and extending losses into a third session. A bigger-than-expected drop in August exports and sharp decline in imports also weighed on the market.

Meanwhile, other Southeast Asian markets were subdued as fresh economic data out of China signalled increasing weakness in an economy lashed by trade headwinds and soft domestic

demand. Industrial production grew at the weakest pace in 17-1/2 years, while retail sales growth came in below expectations.

Crude oil prices surged as a drone attack on Saudi Arabia's key oil facilities fanned supply shortage concerns and chances of long-term geopolitical tensions amid a global economic slump.

Singapore stocks, which are heavily exposed to the Chinese economy, fell 0.2%, dragged by financial and industrial sectors. Index heavyweights Jardine Strategic Holdings Ltd

and DBS Group Holdings Ltd shed 0.7% and 0.4%, respectively.

Philippine stocks reversed course to close slightly higher as investors made some market-on-close orders, said Rachel Cruz, a research analyst with AP Securities. "People at this point are tentative and would rather increase their exposure to defensive stocks," Cruz said. International Container Terminal Services Inc jumped 4.4%, while electricity retailer Aboitiz Power Corp rose 3.6%.

Thai stocks ended largely flat, with state-run oil and gas giant PTT PCL rising 3.3% to an over six-week high. Malaysian equity markets were closed for a holiday.For Asian Companies click;  


 Change on the day                                

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Ho Chi Minh989.86
Change so far in 2019

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By Anuskha Trivedi

(Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)


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September 18th, 2019

Scandinavian Tobacco Group A or S to acquire Royal Agio Cigars a leading European cigar company

Scandinavian Tobacco Group has today agreed on the terms and conditions for the acquisition of all of the shares of Agio Beheer B.V. from Highlands Beheer B.V. Agio Beheer B.V. is the holding company of the Royal Agio Cigars group of companies (“Royal Agio”). On a debt and cash free basis (the enterprise value), the transaction is valued at EUR 210 million. The acquisition will be financed by cash at hand and debt. The transaction is subject to satisfactory conclusion of a statutory employee consultation process in The Netherlands and subsequent completion will require approval from competition authorities in certain European jurisdictions. Completion of the transaction depends on the above-mentioned processes but is currently expected to occur in the first half of 2020. Details of the expected financial impact of the acquisition will be communicated after the consultation of the works councils and approval by competition authorities.

Royal Agio is a leading European cigar company with a strong cigar portfolio including key brands such as Mehari´s, Panter and Balmoral. The company is based in Duizel, The Netherlands and has approximately 3,200 full-time employees. Royal Agio’s reported annual net sales full year 2018 were EUR 133 million (DKK 995 million) with an EBITDA of EUR 18 million.

Royal Agio can provide Scandinavian Tobacco Group access to a strong product portfolio and important market positions in key European machine-made cigar markets. The acquisition can secure leading positions in France, Belgium and The Netherlands and significantly improve the position in key cigar markets such as Spain and Italy. If the transaction is completed, the proforma combined group net sales for 2018 would be approximately DKK 7.7 billion with a combined workforce of more than 10,000 employees.

CEO of Scandinavian Tobacco Group, Niels Frederiksen says: “I am very pleased and proud that we have taken this important step towards an acquisition of Royal Agio. If completed, the acquisition will be an important step in our ambition of becoming the global leader in cigars, as it significantly strengthens our position in several key machine-made cigar markets in Europe and enables us to deliver an attractive range of cigars of the highest standards to our consumers.”

The transaction is expected to be EPS accretive no later than in year 2 after completion. The Group leverage ratio  (net interest-bearing debt/EBITDA) will, if the transaction proceeds to completion, temporarily exceed the target of 2.5x.

Scandinavian Tobacco Group’s full-year financial guidance for 2019 is unchanged:

>5% organic growth in EBITDA

Free cash flow before acquisitions >DKK 750 million

Special items, excluding costs related to the acquisition of Royal Agio, are unchanged and are expected to be DKK 85 million. Acquisition costs regarding due diligence, advisors etc. in 2019 are expected to be at the level of DKK 20 million and expensed as special items in 2019.

The ambition of delivering an annual growth in ordinary dividend payments is unchanged, including for the financial year 2019.


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September 18th, 2019

British American Tobacco Cuts 2,300 Jobs in Shift Towards Vaping

British American Tobacco (BAT) has announced plans to cut 2,300 jobs by 2020 in readiness for a shift towards non-tobacco products, a day after Donald Trump said he was considering a ban on flavoured e-cigarettes.

The vast majority of BAT’s £24.5bn revenue in 2018 came from traditional cigarettes – its brands include Rothmans, Dunhill and Lucky Strike – but the company said it could save money to invest in alternative products such as vaping and heated tobacco by stripping out layers of management around the world.

The company declined to say how many of the job cuts would fall in the UK, where 2,500 of its 55,000 staff are based, including at its London headquarters.The chief executive, Jack Bowles, who took over this year after the eight-year tenure of Nicandro Durante, said he wanted to make BAT “a stronger, simpler and faster organisation” that was ready for a future in which people moved away from cigarettes.

He said BAT aimed to derive £5bn of its revenue from what it called “new category” or “potentially reduced-risk products” by the 2023-24 financial year.

That would mean more than doubling the £1.8bn it made last year from vaping, tobacco-heated products and oral tobacco, which includes pouches such as Snus, popular in Scandinavia. On Wednesday, Trump unveiled proposals to ban certain flavoured e-cigarettes in the US to limit their use by teens, amid concern about a mysterious lung illness that has killed at least five people and hospitalised others.

The US is a large and growing market for BAT’s vaping products, led by its flagship brand Vype. Of the £1.8bn it already makes from products other than cigarettes, £318m comes from vaping.

BAT declined to comment on whether Trump’s plans could punch a hole in its £5bn revenue target for “potentially reduced-risk products”.

The company said: “We welcome the Trump administration and the FDA shining a spotlight on the important issue of youth access to vapour products. We have always been clear that youth should not use vapour products and have had stringent measures in place to address this for some time.

“We share President Trump’s concern that some flavours, such as those resembling ‘kid-friendly’ food products, may play a role in increasing youth appeal and that marketing activities should not be directed to youth.

“It is important to note that we do not market such vapour flavours and in fact we have supported measures to remove vapour products intended to mimic children’s food products or otherwise designed to target youth, and have procedures in place to ensure our products are only marketed to adult tobacco consumers.”

BAT said it would continue to work with the FDA but made no mention of concern among US health professionals about potential links between vaping and lung disease.


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September 17th, 2019

Legal action likely over ban on tobacco vending machines

Ireland’s largest supplier of cigarette vending machines has said it will go to court over proposed legislation banning them from dispensing tobacco products. Minister for Health Simon Harris said on Monday he would bring draft legislation before Cabinet in the coming weeks that would outlaw machine sales and the sale of vaping products to anyone under 18.

“I do not believe you should be able to buy tobacco from a vending machine,” Mr Harris said, confirming the arrival of legislation. “We know this can make it easier for children and others to buy tobacco.”

He said he did not believe the new initiative would be controversial. “Tobacco kills you. It is very bad for you. It causes cancer. We have a policy called a tobacco- free Ireland, ” he said.

As regards placing an age limit on vaping sales, Mr Harris said he was extremely concerned at the number of children who were starting to use the products and criticised the “unethical and disingenuous ways” in which companies were marketing them, notably with the use of appealing colours and flavours. Companies involved in the supply and restocking of cigarette vending machines have expressed alarm at the threat posed by the forthcoming laws.

Limerick-based Tobaccoland, which supplies and restocks 2,300 outlets, said it would challenge the legislation in court. Separately, the Irish Cigarette Machine Operators Association said it would consider a legal response once it had seen the proposals.

Tobaccoland owner James Walsh, whose family business has been operating for 30 years, said he had no choice but to mount a legal challenge.

“What can we do? We will challenge it all the way to the Supreme Court, ” he said, adding that he employs 30 people and that the legislation could close it down “overnight, like switching off a light”.

He said Mr Harris “will give us a certain amount of years’ grace [but] we can’t get into anything else. I’m 76 years of age.”

The company invested €1.5 million in upgrading its machines in the past two years and, like others on the supply end, Mr Walsh believes the token system used in bars and hotels is sufficient to limit cigarette sales to those over 18. Under the system, people buying cigarettes must get a special token to use in the machine from a member of staff who can ask for identification.

John O’Brien of the Irish Cigarette Machine Operators Association said it would consider its legal options, adding that his organisation’s 40 members were mainly small businesses.

“We are the only country that has a token system and the vendors were at the forefront of putting that in,” he said. “My own company, we employ 12 people and there is probably a workforce in the country of 160-200 people. Jobs will be affected.”

The association previously estimated there were about 6,000 vending machines in Ireland, although that number is likely to have fallen in recent years, particularly given a decline in the pub trade. Vincent Jennings, chief executive of the Convenience Stores and Newsagents Association, said it welcomed the introduction of a minimum age on vaping sales, something it had itself lobbied for. However, he said there was disquiet about the “aggressive pursuit” of a smoke-free policy for Ireland, particularly regarding the lack of consultation with stakeholders.

A licensing system for tobacco sales, which he believes will be included in the legislation, would not be acceptable to the sector if it included a fee, Mr Jennings said.


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Arisona Permadi

September 17th, 2019

Donald Trump Ban Vaping Where Will This Leave Tobacco Stock Investors

Donald Trump has threatened to ban vape cigarettes at the same time as London-listed British American Tobacco announced over 2,000 job cuts as it shifts its business towards alternative-tobacco products.

The juxtaposition of finding new sales amid tighter rules has hampered tobacco stocks and their investors – so is now the time to make a change? British American Tobacco and its London-listed rival Imperial Brands have been mainstay investments for fund managers and private investors alike. he duo have driven returns for the likes of Neil Woodford but more recent performance – much like the fund manager – has left a lot to be desired. 

Dwindling cigarette consumption, greater focus on health policy and the increasing amount of ethics-based investing has meant investors have ditched the stocks in their droves. Imperial Brands' and British American's share prices have fallen 32pc and 26pc respectively as the FTSE All Share index – a broad measure of the London stock market – has risen 23pc. Both have turned towards alternative cigarettes to help drive new business and have focused on "e-cigarettes" rather than "vape-cigarettes".

E-cigarettes are targeted at former smokers while their vape equivalent has found a place among the younger population, many of who never smoked traditional cigarettes, according to NHS data. The difference between the two products may seem nuanced but it is fundamental to the investment case for both companies, according to Charles Somers of asset manager Schroders. He said: "Vape products have not been through the required safety process, but will soon be forced to and many are unlikely to reach the standards but e-cigarette products have a properly documented safety profile." Although the growth may take time to come through – at present companies investing in e-cigarettes appear in a better position than their vape rivals.

In its latest results, British American Tobacco reported cigarette sales were down 3.5pc.

Its loss-making alternative cigarette division also struggled but it promised more investment in the area and announced thousands of job cuts to manage this restructure. The investment case remains heavily reliant on dividends. Both generate huge amounts of cash and given the share price falls offer attractive yields: 6.7pc for British American and 8.6pc for Imperial Brands. However, Alan Custis at Lazard Asset Management, said investors should be wary and the sustainability of dividends should be “called into question”.

He added: "Contrary to traditional cigarettes, e-cigarettes and vape products have lower barriers to entry, little product differentiation, limited tax structures supporting pricing and as yet unproven health claims. 

"With the traditional business declining faster and considerable questions over the future growth element of the industry, this is an industry under considerable difficulty."

Both London-listed tobacco stocks are cheap relative to the FTSE All Share average and other tobacco rivals. British American is currently valued at 9x its future earnings and Imperial Brands 7.8x. American rivals Altria and Philip Morris are valued at 10.2x and 14x respectively. Mark Barnett of fund house Invesco Perpetual – who owns both stocks either individually or together in a number of his portfolios – said the stocks were simply too cheap not to own. In a note to investors in May, he said despite the concerns about regulation, growth and disruption, the stocks were “significantly undervalued”.

Mr Barnett said: “To my mind, these threats are overplayed, and current share price valuations offer too bleak an outlook of the industry’s future." With such high dividends, investors are arguably being rewarded for taking on this business risks. Mr Trump threat also meant companies able spend on research and development – like the London listed giants – stay ahead of regulations and come out on top.


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Arisona Permadi

September 16th, 2019

Indonesia to raise cigarette prices by more than a third at start of 2020

JAKARTA (Reuters) – Indonesia will raise the minimum price of cigarettes by more than a third from January next year, a finance ministry spokesman said on Friday, as part of the government’s efforts to reduce smoking rates.

Nearly 70% of adult men smoke in Indonesia, according to the World Health Organization – one of the highest rates in the world. The Indonesian government has been raising taxes on tobacco products almost every year since 2014 to cut consumption, but that has not had a significant impact on smoking rates.

From Jan. 1 next year, the government will raise the minimum price of cigarettes across categories by an average of 35% and increase the excise tax on tobacco products by 23%, finance ministry spokesman Nufransa Wira Sakti said.

The largest cigarette companies in Indonesia include HM Sampoerna, Gudang Garam and unlisted Djarum Group. Sampoerna, Gudang Garam and Djarum did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Jakarta kept tobacco taxes flat this year, after raising them by 10%-11% per year in the past five years. Currently, taxes on popular machine-rolled clove cigarettes range from 370 rupiah to 590 rupiah a stick, while the floor retail prices range from 715 rupiah ($0.0512) to 1,120 rupiah a stick.

The rates for filtered cigarettes, popular among younger Indonesians who dubbed them “white cigarettes”, range from 355 rupiah to 625 rupiah a stick, while floor retail prices range from 640 rupiah to 1,130 rupiah a stick.

Rules on tobacco taxes are often controversial in Indonesia, where big tobacco companies often say a decline in sales hurt the livelihood of farmers. Indonesia aims to collect 172 trillion rupiah ($12.32 billion) of revenue from tobacco excises in 2020, according to government proposals for next year’s state budget which is awaiting parliamentary approval. (This story corrects para 2 to clarify that 70% of adult men in Indonesia, not 70% of all adults, smoke)

(Reporting by Gayatri Suroyo and Maikel Jefriando; Additional reporting by Fanny Potkin; Editing by Susan Fenton)


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Arisona Permadi

September 16th, 2019

Tobacco rakes in US$526m

Zimbabwe has so far generated US$526 million from this year’s tobacco crop, whose output has surpassed the record set last year.

The figure is expected to rise as mop-up sales have begun.

This year, farmers delivered 758,18 million kilogrammes of tobacco, shattering last year’s record of 753 million kgs, as new farmers continue to grasp the concept of producing top quality tobacco.

Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) chief executive officer Dr Andrew Matibiri told The Herald that farmers have continued to produce quality tobacco as they amass more experience. “For the year, we are now on 758,18 million kgs of tobacco,” he said. “This means we have set another record now and we are still getting more tobacco as some of the contract sales are still continuing. “The tobacco delivered has generated US$526 million so far, compared to about US$737 million last year.”

Asked why tobacco deliveries had increased, but revenue declined, Dr Matibiri said this year’s crop was affected by the drought occasioned by the El Nino phenomenon which resulted in most crops suffering from moisture stress.

The bulk of the crops failed to recover, while some pulled through, but produced low yields.

Dr Matibiri said small-scale farmers, who are the A1 and communal area farmers, contributed 64 percent to this year’s tobacco output, with the balance coming from A2 and commercial farmers. Dr Matibiri believes that as farmers continue to grow tobacco, they are gaining valuable experience which, in turn, helps them to boost yields.

“I think farmers are now very experienced and know how to produce tobacco as required by the market,” he said. “Also they like the tobacco system because they get their payments quickly, so a lot of farmers are opting for tobacco growing.”

Tobacco growing, and even maize output, was subdued in the early years of the land redistribution programme as some beneficiaries didn’t have the resources to undertake crop growing on a commercial basis.

However, output for most crops has been on an upward trajectory with the 753 million kgs delivered last year surpassing the 1990 record of 239 million kgs. Going forward, Dr Matibiri advised farmers to continue aiming to “produce what the market requires”.

“Our market is predominantly China, so they must produce what the Chinese like,” he said. “If they produce that, they get the quality.”

Dr Matibiri warned farmers to be wary of climate change, which he said was real.

“They must do whatever is possible, in other words, by doing things like establishing irrigation systems to support agricultural production (due to shifting rainfall patterns),” he said.

Meanwhile, Foreign currency inflow from cotton shot to US$85 million after the 2017-2018 farming season, from a low of US$4,5 million in 2015/16 season when Presidential Cotton Inputs Scheme was introduced writes Patrick Chitumba.

While seed cotton deliveries for 2018/19 season are still in progress, the national crop is expected to decline by 50 percent because of drought.

The Cotton Company of Zimbabwe managing director, Mr Pios Manamike, said there had been a marked increase in foreign currency earnings for the country from cotton since the introduction of the Presidential Cotton Inputs Scheme from the 2015/16 season to the 2018/19.

“The 2015/16 season saw the country earning US$4,5 million which increased to US$22,5 million in the 2016/17 agricultural season,” he said. “In the 2017/18 season, foreign currency inflows rose to US$85 million, an indication of the importance of the Presidential Cotton Inputs Scheme to the country.”

Mr Manamike said Cottco and national cotton production was also rising — a positive development linked to the Presidential Cotton Inputs Scheme.

“Seed cotton production during the 2015/16 season was 10 800 tonnes for Cottco and 28 000 tonnes for national cotton production. During the 2016/17 season Cottco recorded 54 000 tonnes and 74 000 tonnes for national cotton production. During the 2017/18 season Cottco recorded 127 500 tonnes whole national cotton production was 143 000 tonnes. Seed cotton deliveries for 2018/19 season are still in progress, however, the national crop is expected to decline by 50 percent because of drought,” he said.

Mr Manamike said employment levels peaked at 4 500 during the 2018/19 season, while US$80 million was generated from exports and $17 million saved through the use of local seed.

“The scheme is benefiting at least 400 000 households and touching the livelihoods of at least 200 000 people in support of the Government’s poverty alleviation strategy.”


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Arisona Permadi

September 13th, 2019

Tobacco season under threat

ZIMBABWE’S prospects for a successful 2019/20 tobacco season have been dealt a massive blow after tobacco seedlings and horticultural crops were affected by frost which hit most parts of the country last week, businessdigest has learnt. The sector is also reeling from unexpected weather patterns, high price of inputs and excessive taxation. Tobacco is one of the biggest foreign currency earners and these challenges could spell further doom to a country that is already facing serious forex shortages.

Statistics from the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board show that production increased in 2018 to 240 million kg, up from 189 million kg the previous year. Zimbabwe National Farmers’ Union (ZNFU) chief executive Edward Dune said the unexpected changes in weather affected tobacco seedlings and that the total production will be less this season.

“It’s also very funny indeed that we have the brutal brunt of weather vagaries. Imagine having frost hitting in mid-September. We have had lots of tobacco
seedlings and horticultural crops hard hit by frost this week.

“We have generally reduced tobacco hectarages with a view to improving on quality due to the anticipated level of producer concentration,” he said.

Dune said the high costs of inputs and excessive taxation have affected the viability of farming in the country.

“Inputs costs have indeed skyrocketed to unprecedented and unsustainable levels. This renders farming to be unviable and the farming fraternity is
uncomfortable and cannot afford to continue accept this scenario which has made it very difficult to plan in farming businesses,” Dune said.

“Farmers’ incomes are also eroded by excessive taxation. These include land rentals payable to Ministry of Lands and development levy payable to Local Government through Rural District Council (RDC), 11% RDC levy on cattle sales, 10 % withholding tax and the recent 2% tax through mobile transactions. This list goes on and we are in the process to lobby Government to exempt farmers from some of these taxes and levies.”

Dune added that the ZNFU was also embarking on an exercise to educate its members to produce exportable commodities with the aim of increasing its visibility
on the market and facilitating foreign currency generation to improve the standards of living of its members this coming season.

The union has of late been addressing the issues brought about by the volatility of the economy due to inflation through scouting markets for exportable commodities. Year-on-year inflation is estimated to have reached 230,41% as of July 2019.

Zimbabwe has an agro-based an economy and the erratic rainfall witnessed this past farming season worsened the already paralysed economy.


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Arisona Permadi

September 13th, 2019

New Legal Age For Tobacco in Texas

A new law in Texas raised the minimum age requirement to buy tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, from 18 to 21 on Sept. 1. According to, about 10,400 kids under the age of 18 become daily smokers each year. Six states have already implemented 21-and-over laws, and Texas will be one of 8 states to be implementing the law in 2019.

Is this going to change anything? Nope. If kids want to try tobacco, they are going to find ways to get it. Parents who are smokers are just going to buy it for their kids. Other people who don’t agree with the law might also be willing to buy it for them. It’s the same with alcohol. Kids will always find ways to purchase or consume alcohol while underage.  

Tobacco laws are not the same as alcohol laws. You need to be 21 or older to purchase and consume alcohol. Only five of the 14 states that have the purchase age of 21 also apply that to the consumption age. Over half of those states also have no age limit when it comes to the consumption of tobacco products. Texas will be one of the five states where consumption and purchase of tobacco will be the same age. 

There are also plenty of states where you must be  21 or older to purchase tobacco in select cities — making it just like alcohol in the 40s and 50s, and why 21 became the national drinking age. Kids would drive to states that had a younger drinking age, get drunk, drive back and get into an accident. Kids in states where certain cities have the 21-year-old age restriction to purchase tobacco law will drive to different parts of the state to purchase it. They may even drive to a whole other state to buy tobacco where it’s legal. 

Laws like this don’t do much to stop underage smoking. It takes everyone to say that smoking tobacco is bad, and as a culture, we need to stop using it. According to the Truth Initiative, more than a quarter of people living below the poverty line smoke. That is twice than that of those above the poverty line. Low-income communities also have denser concentrations of tobacco retailers and are more likely to have tobacco retailers near schools than other neighborhoods. Even 35 to 45% of children living below the poverty line live with a smoker. 

As much as I would love this law to work and be implemented nationwide, more needs to be done to regulate the tobacco industry in low-income neighborhoods. There are more tobacco retailers near schools in low-income communities than any other area — laws like this work when the industry works to better all communities. Low-income communities make up a large part of the tobacco company’s profit margins. A law to curb underage smoking will not work when tobacco ads and retailers advertise and market around low-income schools.


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Arisona Permadi

September 12th, 2019

Tobacco farmers frantically trying to salvage Dorian-damaged crop

Hurricane Dorian's winds and rains ravaged farm fields across eastern North Carolina, and tobacco farmers are now working to salvage what they can of this year's crop.State Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler toured farms this week to assess the damage, and he called it extensive.

"[Farmers] are working night and day, but the probability is we're going to have a substantial loss to the tobacco crop this year," Troxler said Wednesday.

The size of the loss won't be known until all of the tobacco is harvested, he said. Brandon Trevathan, who works for Vick Family Farms near Macclesfield, said tractors and trucks are running almost nonstop to try to finish that harvest as quickly as possible.

"It's got wind damage," Trevathan said of the tobacco. "This is one of the prettiest crops we've had. There are a bunch of stalks that are just leaned over." Dorian's winds whipped up the aging process of the plants, he said, noting that, when tobacco is battered, it creates a ripening chemical called ethelyne.

"We're seeing a very quick maturing of the tobacco," he said. "If we don't go ahead and get it out now, it's going to be worse."

Before the storm, farmers had until the end of the month to get the tobacco leaves from the fields to the flue-curing barns. Now, it's down to a few days, and with such mature leaves, they're poised to fall off before they're bundled up.

"The question is, do we have enough barns to get it in before it gets on the ground?" Troxler said. "I think the answer is no."

Wilson County farmer Kevin Gardner, who had most of his leaves harvested before Dorian, said 25 percent or more of the local crop could be ruined.

"We're helping our neighbors get theirs out as fast as we can. If not, they're going to lose it," Gardner said.

Troxler said the situation isn't as dire for farmers as it was after Hurricane Matthew in 2016 or Hurricane Florence last year, noting most of the damaged soybeans and cotton crops can be salvaged. Still, he wonders how much more North Carolina farmers can withstand.

"They've about had enough, and the financial losses that they're accruing year after year are really adding up," Troxler said.


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Arisona Permadi

September 12th, 2019

Record High Marijuana Use and Vaping

Despite nearly nationwide smoking bans on college campuses, a new study found that students use of marijuana "was at the highest level seen" in more than three decades. According to the University of Michigan's annual, national Monitoring the Future Panel study, marijuana use skyrocketed nationally in 2018 and reached "historic highs" not seen since 1983.

The study also found that the use of vaping products, or e-cigarettes, to vape marijuana as well as nicotine, doubled between 2017 and 2018.

"This doubling in vaping marijuana among college students is one of the greatest one-year proportional increases we have seen among the multitude of substances we measure since the study began over 40 years ago," John Schulenberg, principal investigator of the study, said in a written statement. While the researchers are worried about the increased marijuana use, the vaping trend is particularly concerning because students often perceive vaping to be a safer alternative to smoking cigarettes. E-cigarettes work by heating up a liquid filled with certain chemicals and flavors, which is then aerosolized and inhaled.

"There's this sense this it's culturally approved," Schulenberg, who is also a psychology professor at the University of Michigan, said in an interview. "There's this question of -- 'how bad can it really be?'". While the long-term health effects of e-cigarettes are generally unknown, health professionals say users' respiratory systems can be harmed by inhaling vapors from flavored water, which also contains nicotine, the powerful stimulant found in tobacco products. Vaping nicotine can still lead to addiction, as certain devices, such as the popular Juul e-cigarette, deliver a particularly high dose of nicotine.

At least 450 patients in 33 states have been treated for a life-threatening illness linked to vaping as of last week. And three people have died from severe lung infections believed to be caused by vaping in Oregon, Illinois and Indiana. The victim in Oregon was otherwise healthy but became ill quickly, according to reports from physicians who treated this person. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has discouraged the use of e-cigarettes while the vaping-related illness is investigated. The annual report -- which the university's Institute for Social Research has compiled for more than 40 years -- is funded by a grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, a federal government research center.

The study follows the drug use habits of youth, college students and adults. Schulenberg said researchers have tracked a group of 19- to 22-year-olds since their senior year of high school. About 1,000 of them attended either a two- or four-year institution, and 500 or so did not, he said.

Among the college students, roughly 11 percent reported that in 2018, they had vaped marijuana within 30 days of taking the survey. This was nearly a 6 percentage point increase from 2017.

More than 15 percent of the students indicated they had vaped nicotine in the last month, a jump of more than 9 percentage points from 2017, when only 6 percent of students had vaped nicotine in a month period.

The American College Health Association is writing an article for its member institutions on how college officials are combating e-cigarette use on campus, said spokeswoman Rachel Mack. The association is reaching out to universities now to figure out what programs exist, she said.

College administrators often include e-cigarettes in their campus smoking prohibitions, but vaping can be harder to monitor. Unlike cigarettes, vaping doesn't generate a smell.

Not every institution is banning the practice. Duke University, for instance, will allow e-cigarette use after a smoking ban on campus goes into effect next year.

Just banishing e-cigarettes from campus isn't likely to solve the vaping problem, Schulenberg said. A campaign to address vaping would probably need to both remove e-cigarettes and make them less appealing to students, he said.

"Because there's kind of opportunity and desire -- supply and demand -- any effective campaign will take on both of those domains," Schulenberg said. About 43 percent of students surveyed said they had used pot sometime in the last year. A quarter of the students said they had used marijuana within the past month. This is the highest reported use since the '80s, when about 45 percent of students indicated they had used marijuana in the past year. About 6 percent of students said they used marijuana daily, which was defined in the survey as having used it 20 or more times in the last 30 days. Schulenberg said this was particularly concerning because heavy use of marijuana has been linked to poor grades and potentially dropping out of college. He noted binge drinking among college students has dipped, and cocaine use is far less than it once when it was popular in the 1980s and '90s.

Marijuana use could be replacing students drinking alcohol in some cases, Schulenberg said, noting that he was optimistic because abuse of other substances has dwindled in recent years.

"We have gotten the message out, and we are making a difference," he said.


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Arisona Permadi

September 11th, 2019

International Cigar Expo Coming To Shenzhen

The city of Shenzhen, China will host the 2019 China International Cigar Expo (ICE) 20-22 November, 2019 at the Shenzhen Convention and Exhibition Center.
Hosted by China Cigarette Sales Company and Shenzhen Municipal Tobacco Company, and undertaken by Shenzhen Tobacco Import & Export Company, ICE will be a trade and media event and closed to the general public.

According to a press release, Habanos S.A. and Davidoff Cigars will be participating along with more than 100 other domestic and international exhibitors including China Tobacco Anhui Industrial Co. Ltd, China Tobacco Shandong Industrial Co. Ltd., China Tobacco Hubei Industrial Co. Ltd., China Tobacco Sichuan Industrial Co. Ltd.
As the first comprehensive exhibition of the cigar industry that is hosted by China Tobacco, ICE will focus on exhibiting domestic and international cigar products, accessories, and packaging along with exchanging industry information.

The event schedule includes cigar dinners, cigar pairing sessions, industry forums, and charity according to the event’s website.
ICE Website:

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Arisona Permadi

September 11th, 2019

Eagle County Looks For Public Comment on Tobacco Tax

Eagle County is proposing to raise taxes on cigarettes and other tobacco and nicotine products. And citizen pro and con opinions on the tax increase could end up in the hands of every Eagle county voter.  

Starting in 2020, the county wants to impose a 4 dollar a pack tax increase on cigarettes and a new 40 per cent tax on all other tobacco and nicotine products. That would raise 4 million, 500 thousand dollars to be used in public health programs to decrease smoking and vape use and to treat substance abuse. The issue will be on the November 5th ballot.

Eagle County registered voters can share their thoughts on the proposed tax increase and a summary will be included in the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights ballot issue notice which will be mailed to all registered voters.

Email your comments by noon September 20th to

 Pro and con statements can also be delivered by hand to the Clerk and Recorder's Office in Eagle at 500 Broadway; or mailed to P.O. Box 537, Eagle, CO 81631. 


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Arisona Permadi

September 10th, 2019

Big tobacco’s stake in the NZ dating scene

Global tobacco corporations are running immense marketing campaigns to grow their shares of New Zealand’s market for cigarette alternatives. To do so, they’re exploiting a regulatory grey zone to advertise to young Kiwis - including through previously unreported advertising on Tinder, the youth-focused dating app.

Local subsidiaries of the world’s largest tobacco corporations, Philip Morris International (PMI) and British American Tobacco (BAT), are peddling new products which they say are less harmful than cigarettes. PMI is pushing IQOS, which heats tobacco sticks to release flavour and nicotine but not smoke. BAT is pushing its range of Vype e-cigarettes, which allow consumers to inhale nicotine and flavour through water vapour. Both companies assert that these are harm-reduction products, and that they are only marketing to current smokers or vapers.

But their marketing strategy tells a different story.

The IQOS device’s sleek curves and buffed metallic surface more closely resemble an iPhone or novel fashion accessory than the cigarette which it allegedly replaces. PMI’s marketing leans into that impression. A set of advertisements placed on Tinder, regularly appearing to the dating site’s disproportionately young users, laud the device as, “A perfect match for 7.3 million users and counting”. The warning that “This product is not risk-free and is addictive” only comes at the bottom, in almost imperceptible grey font.

At first glance, this type of advertising would appear to be in breach of the Smoke-free Environments Act 1990, which bans the publication of any “tobacco product advertisement”. But according to Brendon Baker, senior advisor for tobacco control at the Ministry of Health, “On the one hand, you have what they call ‘heat sticks’, which are tobacco products. They’re little tobacco sticks which go in the IQOS device and are heated. Then you have the actual IQOS device, which is a heating system. And if you look at their advertising, they never have the actual tobacco products in the advertisements. It’s only the IQOS device, which isn’t a tobacco product per se.”

If that legal distinction seems artificially fine, that’s because it is. According to Baker, on a practical level, “One could argue that the IQOS device can only be used for tobacco products, therefore it’s basically a proxy for a tobacco product. There’s no use for it other than for tobacco products, therefore it’s advertising a tobacco product.”

Nevertheless, it’s a legal distinction which big tobacco is taking advantage of. RNZ has extensively reported on PMI’s targeting of M?ori communities, but less attention has been paid to big tobacco’s focus on winning over young Kiwis who may not be current smokers. PMI’s use of Tinder in New Zealand comes on the heels of its global social media marketing campaign earlier this year to market IQOS. That campaign was cancelled after Reuters revealed PMI was contracting with Instagram influencers as young as 21 - wildly popular among younger people - which breached PMI’s own advertising guidelines.

PMI did not respond to a request for comment, but a spokesperson interviewed on TVNZ1’s Q+A expressed shock at reports that high schoolers were using e-cigarettes at record numbers. “I mean, again, we don't promote to youth. We don't want youth to come anywhere near these products. We don't want non-smokers to come anywhere near these products. It is not for them. It is for people who just can't give up cigarettes.”

That is directly contradicted by Richard Edwards, co-director of the ASPIRE 2025 Research Group on tobacco control at Otago University. According to Edwards, “tobacco marketing does impact on kids and adolescents (e.g they smoke the most advertised brands) and that the advertising subtly or not subtly (think Joe Camel) reaches kids. I suspect the same will be true of [PMI’s] IQOS advertising. The sleek design and chic IQOS stores certainly make it an alluring product.”

PMI is not the only company taking advantage of the currently unregulated advertising environment for cigarette alternatives. In order to develop long-term customers for its Vype e-cigarettes, British American Tobacco (BAT) has been singularly focused on young consumers.

Vype sponsored the Christmas parties of two media organisations prominent among young Kiwis - Vice NZ and Remix. Vype’s sponsorship was acknowledged extensively on the promotional material for both events. High-profile young musicians and designers who attended, including Marc Moore, Annabel Liddell and Blink Boys, posted apparently sponsored images of Vype products to their Instagram pages afterwards, reaching thousands of young Kiwis. In 2018 Vype also sponsored a lounge at Rythm & Alps, a popular music festival. A branded photo frame they provided there was used by countless festival-goers, organically expanding Vype’s marketing reach.

When contacted, BAT refused to comment specifically and merely insisted: “Our communications about Vype are aimed at existing adult smokers and vapers and designed to give them awareness of, and information about, these products.”

That assertion isn’t credible, according to Janet Hoek, New Zealand’s leading expert on tobacco advertising and the other co-director of ASPIRE 2025. Hoek says PMI and BAT’s marketing “targets young people and it is hard to see it as anything other than an attempt to recruit a new generation of people addicted to nicotine. Tobacco companies need new nicotine users to survive, so focusing on 'helping' older addicted smokers to quit will eventually see their market disappear.”

Hoek is equally dismissive of PMI and BAT’s protestations they are advocating e-cigarette use as a harm-reduction strategy for current smokers. “I think the commercial activity undertaken by the large tobacco companies to support their new ... products is designed entirely to further their profits and returns to shareholders - that's what their primary responsibility is. To me, trying to disguise that responsibility as a public health initiative is as fallacious as their arguments that filters, and 'light' and 'mild' cigarettes were safer options for smokers. Tobacco companies have a history of sustained deceit and I have not seen any reason to believe they have changed their ways.”  

Edwards, the ASPIRE 2025 co-director, explained that the results for young Kiwis could be dire, particularly with IQOS. At best: “The tobacco industry recruits a new cohort of addicted young people, creating an ongoing market and income stream for Philip Morris. The long-term health effects of IQOS and other heat-not-burn products are completely unknown, but given the emission profile, I expect it to be intermediate between smoked tobacco products (high risk) and vaping products (much lower risk). So adverse health impacts will follow. Some users addicted to nicotine through IQOS may later relapse to smoking ... If conversion to smoking is substantial, this will perpetuate smoking in the population, and cause a great deal more avoidable illness and death due to IQOS use.”

According to Baker, the senior advisor at the Ministry of Health, the Government is aware of that risk and is taking steps to reform the law in order to prevent big tobacco corporations from continuing their youth-centric marketing strategy. “We’ve got this grey area now ... I think these companies are making hay while the sun shines, because they will be aware of Cabinet’s decision in late 2018 that all advertising, promotion and sponsorship will be prohibited [following law reform.”

The timing of that law reform process is still uncertain, and it may take until well into 2020 before an amendment to the Smoke-free Environments Act is passed to prohibit PMI and BAT’s behaviour. And while these tobacco companies are “making hay”, according to a current BAT contractor who was granted anonymity in order to speak frankly: “We might be giving a whole generation of kids cancer. We just don’t know.”


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September 10th, 2019

Tips and Etiquette For Visiting A Cigar Lounge

Often in dining, the final complement to a meal is a cigar. A digestif of sorts so intertwined with fine wine and spirits that cigar basics used to be required knowledge for those in pursuit of an MS from the Court of Master Sommeliers.

As far as trends go, consumers are becoming more interested in individual producers as well as where tobacco is sourced. Cigars with an increased ring size known as jawbreakers were hot for minute, too. Women continue to stake out a small but increasing slice of the market and after all, the elegant pull from a limited edition Sans Pareil lancero vitola was built for all to enjoy.

And are Cubans the best? Well, that’s personal. These days, several enthusiasts would put top tier Dominican Republic and Nicaraguan producers on par with the archetypal Cuban.  FYI, they are legal now if purchased outside of the country.  Upon entry into the United States, each person is allowed 100 Cuban cigars or up to $800 in purchases every 31 days without paying a duty tax.

From casual tobacco shops like The Briar Shoppe in the Village and Heights Cigar Lounge to chic outlets like Davidoff of Geneva and Embajadores, there are several spots in Houston to score a quality smoke. Though memberships are often available which include varying perks, it isn’t necessary for walk-in clientele aiming to enjoy in the moment. Because the cigar lounge, in essence, is a relaxing environment, many come and light up to get a little work done, wind down from the day, or engage in a bit of conversation.

Here are a few tips and etiquette when visiting a cigar lounge:

1. Quality:

Quality is measured by how well a cigar burns, its aroma, and flavor. There are so many different factors in the production of cigars, it’s as intricate as the world of wine — earth, climate, seed, roller, the list goes on. Many hands touch this artisanal, organic product, and price doesn’t always dictate quality. Take advantage of the knowledgeable staff on hand; they're there for a reason.

2. Beginners start with something light:

Roberto Eduardo, a Cuban native who has been rolling cigars for 30 years and now works at Havana Classic in Little Havana, recommends, “first smoke light cigar.” Others will likely agree, like Austin Schwartz, pipe and tobacco specialist at The Briar Shoppe who recommends these medium bodied cigars in particular: E.P. Carrillo, Davidoff White Label, and La Palina bronze label. Medium to lighter bodied cigars are classified as “Colorado” or “Claro” respectively and come in all different shapes and sizes. Maduro and Oscuro (double Maduro), which will appear darker due to longer sun-contact and therefore maturation, are fuller bodied options worth working up too.

3. Buy a cigar at the shop:

Some places like Heights Cigar Lounge, will charge a small fee for BYO, however, each time you visit it’s courteous to purchase one at the shop. You wouldn’t BYO chips and salsa to a Mexican restaurant, now would you?

4. Cut it properly: 

And when borrowing a cutter from the shop, don’t lick the tip of the head beforehand. There are three types of cigar cutting devices all with different desired effects; the guillotine, the wedge cutter, and the punch cutter. While the punch inserts a hole at the tip of the head, the guillotine and wedge yield more definitive cuts. Either way, to eliminate the risk of the cigar unraveling, it’s best not to cut past the shoulder, which is where the head of the cigar tapers up. Oh, and the head is the end you put your mouth on.

5. Ditch the crack torch:

 When lighting a cigar, it’s important to do so gently. Often times it takes three to four matches. The first match to warm the end, and the second and third to see it lit. When the cigar is evenly lit, the quality of the assembly of the cigar is shown in a perfect ring of fire that slowly descends as it’s smoked. Too much flame however, and the flavors turn bitter.

6. Enjoy your smoke:

There is such a thing as smoking it too fast or too slow. Too fast and the cigar will overheat and become bitter, too slow and poof it’s out. Cigar Aficionado recommends a few draws every minute.

8. Try not to ash:

As the filler for the best cigars are typically whole tobacco leaves, a long ash shows expert craftsmanship. Also, the ash serves as a temperature regulator. Oh, and another pitfall: If the cigar gets too hot from oversmoking or the opposite— it is constantly being re-lit, the flavorsome oils from the tobacco can be disrupted.


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Arisona Permadi

September 9th, 2019

Keith Richards switches to “smokeless” ashtray to avoid upsetting Mick Jagger

Keith Richards may find drugs boring these days, and has cut back on his drinking, but don’t expect the music legend to ditch his cigarettes any time soon. The Rolling Stones rocker, however, is making an effort to not burden those around him with his habit: Richards has reportedly purchased a “smokeless” ashtray.

The new motorized gizmo works by sucking in any stray smoke, and according to The Telegraph, was bought so as “not to bother” Mick Jagger. The health-conscious, yoga-loving frontman recently underwent heart valve replacement surgery.

Richards’ rampant smoking has gotten the guitarist in trouble in the past. Per BBC America, Richards’ secondhand smoke was blamed for killing a prized flower at the New York Public Library in 2010.

Although quitting smoking is not on his agenda (yet), his newfound mission to stay away from alcohol has already yielded positive results. Fellow guitarist Ronnie Wood said the 75-year-old Richards is “much more mellow,” adding, “He’s open to more ideas, whereas before I’d kind of grit my teeth and go, ‘He’s gonna give me some shit for saying this.’ Now, he’ll say, ‘That’s cool, man.’?” Richards and (a smokeless) Rolling Stones will wrap up their “No Filter Tour” this weekend in Florida. 


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September 9th, 2019

First Vaping Injury

The Minnesota case involved a patient older than 65 who died in August after a prolonged hospitalization, the Minnesota Department of Health announced Friday. While the person suffered from an underlying lung disease, further review determined that the hospitalization was due to a lung injury associated with vaping an illicit THC product, officials said.

The age of the patient is unusual; the majority of people hospitalized in Minnesota for vaping-related lung injuries have been in their teens and early 20s. "One death from this outbreak is one death too many," Minnesota Commissioner of Health Jan Malcolm said. "We are working with our partners around the state and the nation to find out everything we can as quickly as we can to prevent additional illnesses and deaths."

Minnesota's announcement came as federal health authorities declared that they are discouraging all vaping and e-cigarette usage until they identify the specific chemicals or components that have been associated with 215 confirmed and an additional 235 suspected respiratory injuries. Other deaths have been confirmed in California, Illinois, Indiana and Oregon.

"As of now, [refraining from vaping] is the primary means of preventing this severe lung disease," said Dr. Dana Meaney-Delman, who is leading the lung-injury response for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

State health authorities in Illinois and Wisconsin published findings from their first 53 cases in the New England Journal of Medicine. Most had used vaping products containing THC, but others had also used nicotine-based products, and a few had used only nicotine-based products.

These diverse circumstances added to the mystery of what exactly has caused healthy teenagers and young adults to suffer such severe injuries that they needed hospitalization and often intensive care. A third of the patients in those two states have needed mechanical ventilation to maintain adequate breathing.

The reports match the experiences in Minnesota, where health authorities have reported 17 confirmed or probable vaping-related injuries, and are investigating another 15. In Minnesota, interviews with eight of the patients showed that all had vaped THC, the psychoactive component in marijuana that creates a high sensation.

The Minnesota death involved a person who had been taking illicit THC for pain relief from other medical problems and went to a hospital because of shortness of breath and chest pain, said Dr. Ruth Lynfield, state epidemiologist.

Both are common symptoms of vaping-associated lung injuries, but other patients have sustained fevers, stomach problems, fatigue and weight loss. Many reported symptoms for six days on average before seeking hospital attention.

Malcolm said none of the cases have been associated with inhaled THC compounds that are legally available through Minnesota's medical cannabis program. While investigators can't rule out a risk, the state is maintaining that program and its products. Patients with concerns should talk with their doctors about switching from inhaled to pill forms of THC, Malcolm said.

"We still don't have enough information to identify a specific harmful agent," she said. "Until we have determined the exact cause or causes, we have to be open to a broader range of possibilities."

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has amassed 120 samples of vaping products used by lung-injured patients. The agency is at a "critical fact-gathering stage" in its efforts to identify the injury-causing chemicals, said Mitch Zeller, director of the FDA's Center for Tobacco Products.

He encouraged state agencies to continue to send in samples and asked the public to report injury-causing or defective tobacco products to

Some state health investigators are looking closely at vitamin E acetates found in vaping products some of the injured young adults used, but those compounds have not been found in all cases, federal health officials said.

Zeller encouraged people to "think twice" before vaping, particularly any cartridges that they buy off the street or that contain mixtures of ­compounds.

Many of the injured teens and young adults in Minnesota and across the country have suffered a noninfectious form of pneumonia — lipoid pneumonia — that occurs when the lungs are invaded by oils or lipoid-containing substances.

Federal officials released the first agreed-upon definition of a vaping-associated lung injury in an effort to standardize the search for and detection of cases. Infectious causes must first be ruled out, and dense "pulmonary infiltrates" must be found in the lungs via X-rays or CT scans. Cases require people to have vaped within 90 days of their first symptoms.

Doctors aren't really sure how to treat the injuries, other than with intensive care and oxygen support as necessary, said Dr. Daniel Fox of WakeMed Health & Hospitals in North Carolina. Most patients have received antibiotics — before infections are ruled out as causes — and also steroids. Patients at his hospital who needed intensive care remained in that unit for two to seven days before stabilizing, he added. Whether the injuries cause long-term damage to the lungs is unknown.


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September 7th, 2019

No New Tobacco tax for Garfield Country

Garfield County may follow Pitkin and Eagle counties in raising minimum age for tobacco purchases, and will likely implement so-called flavor bans on nicotine products later this fall.

The board of commissioners Tuesday declined to move forward with putting a tobacco sales tax on the ballot this November, mainly because of the cost of administering the tax. Garfield County receives about $30,000 in annual revenue from the current tobacco tax. To set up the tax system would require a new employee, county staff told the commissioners Tuesday, which could eat into any additional revenues from the higher tax.

“That’s a losing deal,” Commissioner Mike Samson said at a Tuesday meeting.

Glenwood Springs and Carbondale have approved aggressive rules against flavored nicotine products and implemented licensing requirements for retailers.

Eagle, Summit and Pitkin counties have proposed a maximum $4 sales tax on cigarettes and 40 percent tax on other nicotine products that will go to voters in November. Glenwood Springs and New Castle are also considering implementing the tax, and Aspen passed a similar tax in 2017.

A new law signed by democratic Gov. Jared Polis in March authorizes counties and municipalities to impose special sales taxes on tobacco, but the county has to collect the tax themselves and forgo the state sales tax revenue. Still, two of the three commissioners voiced their support for a flavored nicotine ban, creating a licensing system for retailers, and increasing the tobacco purchasing age to 21.

“We need to raise the age to 21, and we need to regulate flavors,” Commissioner Tom Jankovsky said.

Board chair John Martin was less excited about banning the sale of flavored nicotine and increasing the purchasing age, though he is concerned about youth nicotine use. Martin said he doesn’t want the county to “become the cigarette police,” and said it’s the job of state and federal lawmakers to set the restrictions.

The Roaring Fork Valley has the highest youth vaping rate in Colorado, according to public health officials.

Martin said he’s seen teenagers use nicotine products at area schools, but doesn’t see law enforcement stepping in, as they do with underage alcohol use.

Banning flavored tobacco products and raising the minimum age to 21 won’t reduce teen use as much as people hope, Martin said. “Where they (teenagers) are getting it now, they will be able to get it one way or another. I don’t think it’s our duty to go ahead and regulate it,” Martin said.The most important thing governments can do is educate youth on the dangers of using vape products, Martin said, comparing it to efforts to combat smokeless and other forms of tobacco.“We’re going to create a bunch of violators, and the black market is going to profit from it,” Martin added.

Other counties and cities in Colorado are pursuing stricter tobacco laws, but the Roaring Fork Valley so far has the most aggressive policies, according to Jodi Radke, regional director of the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids.

Changing the rate of tobacco use requires a suite of policies, like the ones being passed in the region, that include the higher purchasing age, licensing, flavor ban and sales tax.

“Any tobacco control efforts takes a combination of policies to be comprehensive, in terms of their approach and producing outcomes, which is why the actions taken in the Roaring Fork Valley are probably the strongest we’ve seen, and probably will yield the strongest outcomes,” Radke said.

Garfield County commissioners will discuss the details of the flavor ban, minimum purchasing age increase and retailer licensing in November. There are around nine stores in unincorporated Garfield County that sell tobacco products, many located in Battlement Mesa.


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September 6th, 2019

Dutch News : ban on displaying tobacco products in shops, minister says

There will be no delay to the ban on displaying cigarettes in shops for small tobacconists, despite calls for change by some VVD parliamentarians, junior health minister Paul Blokhuis has told MPs.

MPs from the ruling coalition party VVD want a year extension to the ban on shops displaying cigarettes in public view to give small shopkeepers more time to prepare. The ban will come into force in July 2021. The government presented its plans to further reduce smoking nine months ago and talks on how to put the proposals into practice have been ongoing since then.

Blokhuis told MPs during Tuesday’s debate that shopkeepers can ‘hang up a curtain or make a cupboard with doors’ to conceal their tobacco stocks after the ban comes in.  ‘This rule has been on the cards since 2017 and it cannot come as a surprise,’ the minister said.

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September 6th, 2019

Zimbabwe bid to expand tobacco growing faces challenges

Bulawayo, Zimbabwe - When a local research institute in southwest Zimbabwe launched a training programme to teach farmers how to grow tobacco, Winston Babbage jumped at the opportunity to boost his business and cash in on what many in the country call the "golden leaf".

Babbage, who lives in the Umguza district of Matabeleland province in the southwest of the country, was given free seedlings and soil-testing services, as well as equipment to build a barn and mentoring to get the crop going. But his dreams of cashing in big on tobacco never materialised. 

"It was promising at first and we were all excited, but I soon realised it was unviable," Babbage told Al Jazeera.

Dozens of farmers like Babbage underwent training as part of the country's Tobacco Improved Productivity Sites (TIPS) initiative, a programme launched in 2013 by Zimbabwe's government and the Kutsaga Research Station. It aimed to geographically spread tobacco production to non-traditional growing areas of Zimbabwe and increase the number of farmers cultivating the lucrative crop.

Zimbabwe is Africa's biggest tobacco producer and the fifth-largest in the world, according to a study published in the Journal of Agrarian Change.

The crop is also one of Zimbabwe's top foreign-currency earners, accounting for about 12 percent of the nation's economic output. In 2018, tobacco production reached 252 million kilogrammes, the highest in Zimbabwe's 121-year history of commercial growing, according to the country's Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB).

But while tobacco production has risen overall in Zimbabwe, in the southwest, there's been a significant decline, thanks to a combination of extreme weather, lack of market infrastructure and skilled labour.

Babbage stuck with tobacco growing for three seasons, but the cost of transporting his crop to the auction floor in Harare, about 400km away, cut into his profits. The government had promised to build an auction floor in nearby Bulawayo, the country's second-largest city, Babbage said, but never followed through.

Babbage said Matabeleland North's provincial governor at the time, former Home Affairs Minister Obert Mpofu, had been supportive of the new tobacco farmers - but couldn't convince investors it was worth having an auction floor in Bulawayo.

Mpofu, a tobacco grower himself, acknowledged that getting crops to market is a challenge for farmers.

"I had 15 hectares of premium tobacco and fetched five dollars per kilogram at the auction floors," he told Al Jazeera. "I encourage farmers from the region to try it, as it is life-transforming, but they have to find a way around the logistical challenges of taking the crop to the market."

Goodson Khuddu, the training manager at Kutsaga Research Station who trained Babbage and others in tobacco-growing, points to the absence of volume as a reason for the lack of a local auction market. 

"There is not enough tobacco to justify the establishment of sales points," Khuddu told Al Jazeera. "It's not cost-effective to bring floors to Matabeleland given the small tonnage. Doing so would outweigh the effort of wanting to do business."

Indigenous people in Zimbabwe grew Nyoka tobacco, which is native to the country, before the arrival of Europeans, but it was a Jesuit priest who claimed to be the first to commercially cultivate tobacco in the 1890s, according to the Zimbabwe Tobacco Association, a group representing growers.

Today, flue-cured Virginia tobacco - a type of cigarette tobacco- is grown extensively in four provinces in northern Zimbabwe. The crop provides the highest economic return for each hectare among all the major annual crops grown in the country, says the association.

But tobacco curing is not a simple process. It involves a series of physical and chemical changes that begin when the plant is cut and ends when it is dried - a process that takes up to eight weeks.

Much like Umguza, the four regions have sandy loam soil that is suitable for tobacco growing, and receives an annual rainfall of between 600mm and 800mm, according to the ZTA.

Babbage said the three seasons he grew tobacco coincided with erratic, late-onset rains. This meant that his crop ripened for processing after marketing season had already started. The delay also meant he couldn't meet a government-imposed deadline for clearing land and destroying crop residue, which must be done before the next crop is planted.

Penalties for missing the deadline are steep. Zimbabwe's Plant Pests and Diseases Act allows TIMB officials to destroy crops before they're harvested or to fine farmers.

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September 5th, 2019

Opinion Tobaccoland : Canadian physicians ill-prepared to discuss tobacco alternatives

Canadian physicians appear to be ill-prepared when it comes to discussing the variety of alternatives available to help smokers quit according to a survey conducted for the Consumers’ Association of Canada (CAC) by Research Co. Only 25 per cent of the 456 physicians surveyed recommended electronic nicotine-delivery systems (ENDS), such as vaping devices and electronic cigarettes, within the past year even though 63 per cent believe them to be less harmful than cigarettes.

Only 37 per cent have read research on electronic nicotine-delivery systems within the past six months and discussed it with patients (42 per cent in Western Canada and 32 per cent in Eastern Canada), 29 per cent more than six months ago (18 per cent in the West and 40 per cent in the East), while 34 per cent have not read research (40 per cent in the West and 28 per cent in the East). It’s a troubling statistic when we consider the number of people who credit these products for helping them to become smoke-free.

Over the course of the past year, only 25 per cent (29 per cent in Western Canada and 21 per cent in Eastern Canada) of physicians surveyed have recommended that patients who currently smoke tobacco products use electronic nicotine-delivery systems to help them reduce or quit their tobacco consumption while 75 per cent have not (71 per cent in the West and 79 per cent in the East).

And 63 per cent of the physicians (63 per cent in the West and 61 per cent in the East) believe that electronic nicotine-delivery systems represent a harm-reduction approach for patients who currently smoke traditional cigarettes, 26 per cent do not (21 per cent in Western Canada and 32 per cent in Eastern Canada), while 11 per cent of the physicians are not sure (15 per cent in the West and eight per cent in the East).

Vaping products are the most common type of ENDS and are devices that do not burn or use tobacco leaves but instead heat up to vaporize a solution the user then inhales. The number of smokers interested in ENDS has likely increased since vaping products were legalized in 2018, but Canadian physicians are not up to speed on these products nor given any formal guidance by governments or medical associations that would help them to confidently recommend vaping as a real alternative to smoking.

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September 5th, 2019

Tobacco 21 to take effect

Vermont’s more than 900 tobacco retailers will stop selling tobacco products to individuals under the age of 21, after the passage of “Tobacco 21” legislation by lawmakers earlier this year. The new law was signed into effect by Gov. Phil Scott in May, making Vermont the 14th state in the nation to change its legal smoking age from 18 to 21.

Skyler Genest, director of compliance and enforcement at the Department of Liquor Control, said that means the department will be hiring 18-, 19-, and 20-year-olds to purchase tobacco products across the state, in an effort to ensure that the law is being properly followed.

“And if retailers aren’t doing that, we’re going to apply more education and resources to help them better understand the law, and better sell their products responsibly,” Genest said.

He said their data shows that most teenagers who use tobacco products and e-cigarettes get them from older friends, which isn’t that hard to do, since many 18-year-olds are still in high school. The hope, he said, is that by upping the threshold to 21, that option might become much more difficult.

“One of the strongest elements of Tobacco 21 is that is removes the social source from high school,” Genest said. “The theory is that the social circles of high schoolers are a little separate from the college-age crowd, so it will be more difficult for them to access the products.”

The Tobacco 21 legislation did not come on its own. It was accompanied by two other bills this year that share the intent of trying to reduce vaping rates among young people. The first, H.26, prohibits the online sale of e-cigarettes to Vermont customers, while the second, H.47, ensures that e-cigarettes are subject to the same 92% tax rate as other tobacco-related products.

Genest said they’ve heard some anecdotes about 18-t0-20-year-olds buying in bulk over the past several weeks before Tobacco 21 goes into effect, which he said there isn’t much anyone can do to stop. He noted that there was actually a similar spike in sales earlier this summer before the tax increase went into effect July 1.

“Between those two changes, we’ve seen a high volume of sales this summer,” he said.

Although vaping giants like Juul and Altria supported the move to Tobacco 21, both in Vermont and across the country, that was in part to head off efforts to increase taxes and regulations, like the measures that ultimately passed in Vermont. Although a few Republicans opposed the age-raising measure, citing concerns about personal liberty, given that 18-year-olds can vote and serve in the military, it ultimately passed both chambers with overwhelming support.

Tobacco 21 is expected to decrease the rate of tobacco use among teens by 12%, according to a 2015 report by the National Academy of Medicine. That comes as vaping and electronic cigarette use is on the rise, with the percentage of high schoolers reporting e-cigarette use rising by more than 75% between 2017 and 2018, alongside a 50% increase in use by middle-schoolers.

Theresa Barrows, director of marketing for the department, said there has been a multi-pronged approach in marketing the change to retailers and consumers. She said the Department of Liquor Control has been in contact with the state’s liquor stores, while the Department of Education has led a more general informational campaign; the Department of Health has educated about the health aspects of the rule change.

But Genest said since having a law go into effect on Sept. 1 is far less common than July 1, a number of businesses have already made the switch. He said even after they cleared up the confusion, many retailers stuck with 21 to get their cashiers ready.

“I think that’s somewhat of a smart move,” he said. “It just gets the ball rolling earlier and helps prepare retailers.”


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September 4th, 2019

Thailand Plain Tobacco Packaging

All cigarettes sold in Thailand will come in standardised, plain packaging starting on Sept 12 as part of the continuing campaign to reduce tobacco consumption. Thailand will become the first country in Asia to enforce the plain-packaging rule and the 16th to do so worldwide, according to the Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance. 

The new packaging will be drab brown in colour with cigarette brand names printed in a standardised font type, size, colour and location, without brand colours or logos. Pictorial health warnings will occupy the upper 85% of the front and back panels of packs, the largest in Asean.  While the plain packages will be available on Sept 12, distributors and retailers have until Dec 12 to phase out all stocks of older cigarette packages.

“We congratulate the Thai government for this important public health milestone and urge the Ministry of Public Health to strictly monitor compliance and impose penalties on tobacco companies that do not abide by the new law,” said Dr Ulysses Dorotheo, executive director of the Alliance.

Standardised packaging is intended to reduce the attractiveness of tobacco products, eliminate tobacco packaging as a form of advertising, and increase the visibility and effectiveness of pictorial health warnings.

More importantly, the Alliance says, by restricting the tobacco industry’s ability to market to young people, it reduces smoking by youth.

Fifteen other countries already require standardised tobacco packaging: Australia, France, the United Kingdom, Norway, Ireland, Hungary, New Zealand, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Canada, Uruguay, Slovenia, Belgium and Israel. At least 13 others are in varying stages of introducing standardised packaging laws, the Alliance says. 

Singapore intends to make standardised tobacco packaging mandatory from July 1 next year. “Singapore and Thailand have blazed a path that neighbouring Asean countries must follow,” said Dr Dorotheo. 

The prevalence of tobacco use is high in Thailand, with over 11 million smokers, or an estimated one out of every five adults. Nearly 50% of men between 35 and 54 years old smoke, public health data shows.

Of particular concern is the persistently high rate of tobacco use among young people — one out of every six Thais between the ages of 13 and 17 uses tobacco.

Those who violate the law can be tried in either the juvenile or criminal courts. While no penalty has been fixed yet, the court can order violators to stop smoking in the house and/or undertake a course to quit smoking.


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September 4th, 2019

Barn Filled with Tobacco Destroyed

Tobaccoland - A large barn filled with acres of tobacco was destroyed in a fire Monday in Robertson County.According to Smokey Barn News, the tobacco farm was in the process of fire-curing the crop when the fire broke out Monday night just before 6 p.m.

The barn and an attached stripping room were completely destroyed in the fire, but firefighters prevented the fire from spreading to any of the nearby structures.

The blaze also destroyed eight acres worth of tobacco inside the barn at the time of the fire.

While tobacco was being fire-cured in the barn, the cause of the fire is still under investigation. No one was injured.


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September 3rd, 2019

Tackling Indonesian Smoking Addiction a Double Edged Sword

Indonesia has one of the highest smoking rates in the world and a tobacco industry that continues to thrive as the number of smokers decreases globally. While the legal minimum age for smoking in Indonesia is 18 years old, the industry remains largely unregulated, particularly in more remote parts of the country.

In those areas, children can buy a single cigarette from road-side kiosks for as little as few cents. Indonesia's national addiction to tobacco is not only fuelled by its availability and affordability, but also because of the key role it plays in the country's economy. So while smoking remains the leading cause of preventable deaths in the country, analysts say cracking down on the industry is a "double-edged sword".

It's just one part of an epidemic in a country where nearly 70 per cent of all men and one in five children aged between 13 and 15 smoke, according to official data.Mohammed Faisal, executive director of think tank Centre of Reform on Economics Indonesia, told the ABC tobacco has historically been one of Indonesia's largest national industries, with the hand-rolled kretek clove cigarettes ingrained in Indonesian culture. Excise duties on cigarettes brought in 153 trillion rupiah ($15.8 billion) last year, nearly 96 per cent of the national excise total, and equivalent to 10 per cent of total government revenue, according to the Ministry of Industry.

"There are incredibly wealthy tobacco conglomerates who have the capability of influencing the political systems, particularly in regions which are dependent on the industry," he said. However, the revenue generated pales in comparison to the massive cost of the public health crisis caused by smoking. National losses due to cigarette consumption in 2015 reached almost 600 trillion rupiah ($62.2 billion), or four times more than the amount of cigarette excise in the same year, according to the Ministry of Health.

However, Mr Faisal said a collapse of the industry would have damaging consequences and a knock-on effect on many levels of Indonesian society.

"It's a double-edged sword … despite its massive [public health] costs, it is a huge contributor to the national revenue through taxes," he said

The Indonesian Government has taken a different approach to electronic cigarettes, more commonly known as e-cigarettes or vape, applying a high 57 per cent tax on liquid tobacco essences.Vaping has become a popular alternative for Indonesia's younger generation, with vaping cafes popping up all over major cities like Jakarta, Denpasar and Bandung.

Indonesia's Customs and Excise Office estimates there are 300 liquid makers in Indonesia, producing various liquid products for more than 4,000 vape stores and 900,000 smokers.

While the numbers may seem significant, they are dwarfed by the approximately 60 million regular cigarette smokers in the country, and critics are questioning why the cigarette industry doesn't receive the same treatment.

Abdillah Ahsan, a tobacco economics and politics expert from the University of Indonesia, told the ABC increasing cigarette taxes has been a contentious issue in the country due to the economic, cultural and political costs.

"The Indonesian political cycle has made it difficult to see the long-term effects and economic cost of cigarettes, instead it prioritises the yearly economic gains," Mr Ahsan said.

To put it in perspective, the revenue of Philip Morris Indonesia last year was 107 trillion rupiah ($11.1 billion), equivalent to the country's total health budget, he adds.

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September 3rd, 2019

TobaccoLand E Cigarettes Can Now Land You in Jail

It was earlier reported that the Modi Government is planning to introduce an ordinance soon to ban the manufacture, sale, and import of ENDS devices, including e-cigarettes.

Now, more details of the Union Health Ministry's proposal has emerged. Reuters which accessed an internal note reported that Health officials are proposing jail terms of up to three years, with a penalty of up to 500,000 rupees for repeat offenders against the new rules.

First-time offenders would face a prison term of up to one year and a fine of 100,000 rupees. 

“E-cigarettes and similar technologies that encourage tobacco use or adversely impact public health are hazardous for an active as well as passive user,”

the draft proposal of the health ministry said. The health ministry also argued that e-cigarettes can also be used as delivery devices for other substances such as cannabis, and could promote dual-use with conventional cigarettes.

“These devices are injurious to health and proliferation of these products has a negative impact on public health,” the draft said.

“These devices are injurious to health and proliferation of these products has a negative impact on public health,” the draft said.Earlier, it was reported that the government is mulling to bring an ordinance to ban ENDS devices if it fails to get a reprieve from the Delhi High Court, which had earlier stayed its order to ban such products, sources said.Banning such alternative smoking devices like e-cigarettes, heat-not-burn devices, vape, and e-nicotine flavoured hookah, among others is one of the priorities of the Health Ministry as part of the first 100 days agenda of the second term of the Modi government.

The ministry’s plans would deal a blow to U.S.-based Juul Labs Inc, which is hoping to launch its e-cigarette in India and has hired several senior executives in recent months.Philip Morris also has plans to launch its heat-not-burn smoking device in India, Reuters has reported.Advocates for the devices say e-cigarettes are far less harmful than smoking tobacco because users do not inhale the same dangerous matter.But many tobacco-control activists are opposed to e-cigarettes, saying they could lead to nicotine addiction and push people to consume tobacco.

"There is evidence that these products are a gateway to tobacco products and induce adolescents and young adults to nicotine use leading to addiction,” the health ministry said in the document.

India has 106 million adult smokers, second only to China in the world, making it a lucrative market for firms such as Juul and Philip Morris. More than 900,000 people die each year in the country due to tobacco-related illnesses.


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September 2nd, 2019

Tobacco farmers frantically trying to salvage Dorian-damaged crop

Hurricane Dorian's winds and rains ravaged farm fields across eastern North Carolina, and tobacco farmers are now working to salvage what they can of this year's crop.State Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler toured farms this week to assess the damage, and he called it extensive.

"[Farmers] are working night and day, but the probability is we're going to have a substantial loss to the tobacco crop this year," Troxler said Wednesday.

The size of the loss won't be known until all of the tobacco is harvested, he said. Brandon Trevathan, who works for Vick Family Farms near Macclesfield, said tractors and trucks are running almost nonstop to try to finish that harvest as quickly as possible.

"It's got wind damage," Trevathan said of the tobacco. "This is one of the prettiest crops we've had. There are a bunch of stalks that are just leaned over." Dorian's winds whipped up the aging process of the plants, he said, noting that, when tobacco is battered, it creates a ripening chemical called ethelyne.

"We're seeing a very quick maturing of the tobacco," he said. "If we don't go ahead and get it out now, it's going to be worse."

Before the storm, farmers had until the end of the month to get the tobacco leaves from the fields to the flue-curing barns. Now, it's down to a few days, and with such mature leaves, they're poised to fall off before they're bundled up.

"The question is, do we have enough barns to get it in before it gets on the ground?" Troxler said. "I think the answer is no."

Wilson County farmer Kevin Gardner, who had most of his leaves harvested before Dorian, said 25 percent or more of the local crop could be ruined.

"We're helping our neighbors get theirs out as fast as we can. If not, they're going to lose it," Gardner said.

Troxler said the situation isn't as dire for farmers as it was after Hurricane Matthew in 2016 or Hurricane Florence last year, noting most of the damaged soybeans and cotton crops can be salvaged. Still, he wonders how much more North Carolina farmers can withstand.

"They've about had enough, and the financial losses that they're accruing year after year are really adding up," Troxler said.

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Arisona Permadi

September 1st, 2019

Bill would increase legal age to buy nicotine, tobacco products

In Wisconsin, people who are 18 years old can legally buy tobacco or nicotine products. A new bill would raise the legal age to 21. The lawmakers behind the bill, led by Republican state Sen. Howard Marklein, are hoping to limit access to these products for high school students, whom they said are contributing to a public health crisis. 

Brandon Sanchez, who manages Vapor Wireless on South Park Street, said while he supports the changes, he doesn't think it will solve the public health crisis associated with it. "More and more, especially lately, we're seeing older. The average age is going up, I think," Sanchez said. Sanchez estimated that only about 10% of his customers are under the age of 20. Knucklehead's Tobacco and Vapes manager Landon Meske said the number of people under 21 years old he sells to now is 30%. National data shows most smokers started smoking when they were teenagers and that the younger people start smoking, the more likely they became addicted. 

"I don't think it's a bad idea to make people wait a little bit longer," Sanchez said. Sanchez acknowledged that while he could lose customers if the bill passes, the majority of his business and those who use tobacco or nicotine products wouldn't be impacted. Health departments say raising the minimum age would help solve the health issues related to vaping by keeping vaping devices out of the hands of people who are underage. 

"It's not going to solve the problem," Meske said. "They will find ways to do it just like they find ways to buy alcohol."

Sanchez agreed and said, "I don't think changing the law is necessarily going to stop every single 18 to 20-year-old from vaping but I think it does make it that much more difficult."

Sanchez said he often has customers come in who are older and have already been smoking cigarettes for a while that are interested in vaping. He said while he does see the occasional 18-to-20-year-old, he believes most of the health risks are stemming from the population of those who are over 21 years old. 

Meske said he sees similar customers at his store, even being close to the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Meske said educating young people on the risks of tobacco and nicotine would be more effective than changing the minimum age requirement. He said the young people aren't the majority of the people he sees purchasing tobacco or nicotine products to begin with. 

"If you're looking at purely health reasons, I think there's still not even close to enough long-term research," Meske said. Currently, 18 states have adopted laws that require people to be 21 years old to buy nicotine or tobacco products.


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Arisona Permadi

August 30th, 2019

Dutch fine sellers of super strength nicotine e-cigarette

Dutch health and safety watchdog NVWA has fined seven Amsterdam-based companies for selling illegal e-cigarettes, the Parool reports. Juul is an American brand e-cigarette which contains three times the permitted amount of nicotine, making it illegal in the Netherlands.

Its popularity among teens is growing, however, and Juul has now appeared on the Dutch market as well, both online and in physical shops. The fines range from €450 to €4,500 for repeated infringements. All seven sellers, whose names have not been published for privacy reasons, are based in Amsterdam because the product is popular among American tourists, the paper said. Junior health minister Paul Blokhuis said the sale of the illegal product is ‘unacceptable’.

‘I think the trend among teens to try e-cigarettes or shisha pens is a worrying one. That is the reason why the national prevention plan contains measures to limit the use and visibility of e-cigarettes,’ he told the paper. The Parool cites the owner of a tobacco shop in The Hague who said Juul is very easy to buy online, especially via a foreign sites. The American owner of Juul, Altria (formerly Philip Morris Companies), is rumoured to want to introduce the product in Europe, the paper writes, but that means the amount of nicotine would have to be reduced to a maximum of 20mg per ml.


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Arisona Permadi

August 29th, 2019

Modern Oral Products are Starting to Break Into The Smokeless Market.

Chewing tobacco doesn’t enjoy the most refined reputation, a sticky black mess tucked into a corner of the mouth, the steady stream of spit making bystanders queasy. And yet, cigarette companies are rushing into the category to escape a growing smoking malaise.

To resonate with a young and fashion-forward audience, the humble oral nicotine has undergone a makeover, in some cases removing tobacco altogether. British American Tobacco Plc is pushing a brand called Lyft—slender white pouches, infused with eucalyptus and pine tree fibers, that release mint or berry flavor once discreetly tucked under the upper lip. The tobacco-laced sister brand Epok promises hints of tropical fruit or peppermint.

“For some of us, coming from a geography where there’s a bit less of a history of oral tobacco use, the ritual can look a bit alien,” said Vincent Duhem, BAT’s global director for the modern oral category. “There’s a widespread ritual in the U.S. and Scandinavia, but we’re starting to see that spreading in many places, like in Europe and Russia.”

The renewed interest in an established—albeit niche—product reflects the strains on an industry that’s woken up to the fact that its future may not lie in cigarettes. Volumes have declined by about a third since 2004 in Western Europe, and are expected to drop further through 2022, according to Euromonitor. That has set off a race to become a leader in next-generation alternatives. While vaping and heat-not-burn devices have become a popular and widespread means to wean people off cigarettes, the modern oral tobacco remains a fringe phenomenon, accounting for just 2% of BAT’s cigarette-alternative sales.

Marketing a product that’s not commonly used outside Scandinavia and the U.S. poses challenges, as consumers often confuse different variants of smokeless tobacco. What cigarettes, vaping and oral products all have in common is that they contain nicotine, and that health authorities consider all of them harmful, to different degrees. But like with vaping, there is no uniform regulatory approach, meaning the oral products are available in some markets but banned in others, making life harder for companies trying to sell them.

Modern oral products, wrapped in a white pouch, often contain less tobacco than traditional chewing tobacco or the Scandinavian snus variant, which is confined to Sweden and Norway but banned in most of the European Union. Snus is moist powder or ground tobacco administered the same way as the modern versions. Traditional chewing tobacco can still come in brown, loose form that can require spitting.

The slogans that seek to give the hesitant consumer an encouraging nudge towards modern oral tobacco highlight heritage and hipsterdom. Lyft trumpets its provenance as “straight from Sweden,” and targets “a generation on-the-go.” That’s a far cry from the redneck stigma attached to traditional chewing tobacco, or the grisly photos on cigarette packages warning of cancer and amputated limbs as a possible outcome of smoking.

Oral tobacco nevertheless comes with health risks, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. It requires packaging to warn of the range of possible hazards, such as mouth cancer, gum disease or tooth loss, and that it shouldn’t be seen as a safe alternative to cigarettes. Across the Atlantic, the European Commission concluded that smokeless tobacco products in all its forms can cause cancer and is addictive.

“These products, along with e-cigarettes and heat-not burn, are uniquely designed to sustain addiction,” said Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. “There’s no reason to think it’s a meaningful pathway to cessation or long-term switching.”


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Arisona Permadi

August 29th, 2019

Drug Companies Could Look to Tobacco Industry for Solutions as Opioid Crisis Lawsuits Mount

Pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson was ordered to pay $572 million to Oklahoma for its role in the state’s opioid epidemic. While there are certainly more suits and settlements to come, companies’ aversion to financial accountability may result in the American public seeing a repeat of the tobacco industry's addiction-related accord in the late 1990s.

On Monday, Cleveland County District Judge Thad Balkman declared that "the opioid crisis has ravaged the state of Oklahoma” and ruled that Johnson & Johnson should pay $572 million for its role in fueling the epidemic. Though the pharmaceutical giant was not ordered to pay the $17 billion the Oklahoma attorney general was seeking, the company maintains that its business practices were ethical, according to a statement published after the verdict. Johnson and Johnson is expected to appeal Balkman’s decision in the state’s supreme court.

NBC reported Tuesday that drugmaker Purdue Pharma was in months-long talks with local and state government lawyers to settle roughly 2,000 lawsuits concerning its role in supplying opioids - a deal that would see it declare bankruptcy and pay out as much as $12 billion.

Dr. Louis Kyriakoudes, a professor at Middle Tennessee State University and director of the Albert Gore Research Center, joined Radio Sputnik’s Loud and Clear on Tuesday to discuss the ruling and draw comparisons between the opioid epidemic settlements versus those of the late ‘90s involving tobacco.

According to “A State-by-State Look at the 1998 Tobacco Settlement 20 Years Later” by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, states reaped $27.5 billion from the MSA and tobacco taxes in Fiscal Year 2018, but spent less than 3% of it on programs to stop children from picking up the habit or helping chronic smokers quit.


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Arisona Permadi

August 28th, 2019

Tobacco Gives Way To Lucrative Horticulture

Kuria East has for a long time be known for the production of tobacco. But one farmer is making a killing by growing horticultural crops in the area, which is in Migori County. The vegetable farm in the area, which is located a few kilometres from Kehancha town stands out in an area once dominated by tobacco.

The five-acre leased farm owned by Chacha Mwita hosts a variety of crops that include cabbages, tomatoes, indigenous vegetables such as Kunde (cowpeas), collard greens (sukuma wiki) and capsicum. The farmer started growing vegetables in 2015 in search of better returns.

“I used to grow maize and tobacco and although they were labour intensive, the returns were little. A visit to a friend in Molo changed my agribusiness,” he says, noting that his friend convinced him to switch to cabbages. During a visit to the 39-year old farmer’s farm, he was as busy as a bee; harvesting cabbages from three-and-half acres.

“I planted about 4,000 heads of the crop. This is the fourth time I am growing cabbages and it’s because of their good returns,” reveals Mwita, adding that he sells each at between Sh30 and Sh70, depending on the size.

The farmer’s main markets are Isibania, Kehancha and Migori. He further transports the produce to Nairobi on buses plying the Migori-Nairobi route. He starts growing the crop by planting his seeds in a nursery before he transplants to the field. “The seeds take five to seven weeks in the nursery before they are moved. I then plant the seedlings half-inch deep with a spacing of 50 by 50cm,” explains Mwita. But before transplanting, the land should be ploughed thrice and be weed-free. Besides DAP, he also uses rabbit urine and droppings as fertiliser.

Given that cabbages, which grow in well-drained soils with a PH of 6-7, are known to be heavy feeders, the farmer irrigates the crops when rains are erratic and mulches them. He grows the Gloria F1 variety that takes 80 days to mature and has bigger heads. To keep off caterpillars and aphids, the farmer uses traditional methods that include applying wood ash on the heads of the cabbages.

Mwita has tomatoes on an acre-and-a-half. On average, he harvests 15 crates after five to seven days, selling each at Sh2,000 to traders from Migori and Kisii markets. The farmer supplies Sukuma wiki to three secondary schools in the area raking in close to Sh60,000 per month.

“I grow the crop traditionally by planting shoots I get from mature plants, which enables me to harvest faster,” says the farmer.

His efforts have been acknowledged by Migori County Government and World Vision. The former has appointed him an agriculture ambassador, a position he uses to encourage the youth to engage themselves in farming activities. He also works as a trainer of farmers in workshops organised by World Vision.


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Arisona Permadi

August 27th, 2019

Policy on vaping is in contrast to the policy on cigarette

While a UK government health agency has been advising people to substitute cigarettes with vaping, the Indian government is mulling a law to ban the latter. Public Health England—an executive agency under the Department of Health and Social Care in the United Kingdom maintains that vaping is 95% less harmful than smoking cigarettes.

But the Indian health ministry has proposed a ban on the vaping and e-cigarettes. To be sure, many Indian states already have such a ban in place. But, there is no central law banning e-cigarettes and vapes. The proposed ban would entail a three-year jail term and a `5 lakh fine for repeat offenders, and comes at a time when industry majors like Juul Labs and Philip Morris International were thinking about expanding their e-cigarette and vape markets in India. At the same time, there is no proposal to ban cigarettes/beedis and chewing tobacco.

Although the ministry and the states have cited health concerns for banning e-cigarettes, the problem is the government’s unbalanced approach to the tobacco industry. For one, e-cigarettes being an expensive proposition—cheapest ones cost `500, with pods or liquids costing more—were only expected to replace cigarettes. More important, India’s tobacco problem is largely beedi-linked. While successive governments keep hiking cigarette duties—they pay an excise duty of around 50% right now—beedis get taxed at around 2-3%, and chewing tobacco pays around 5-6%. Moreover, while VAT rates differ from state to state, they are roughly 26% for cigarettes and 8-10% for beedis and chewing tobacco.

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Arisona Permadi

August 27th, 2019

In Indonesia, big tobacco is king

Beyond the holiday hotspot of Bali, Indonesia is not a place many of us think about much. But it’s an interesting country. Around 270 million people live there, scattered across the 18,000 plus islands that make up the country. It is also the world’s largest Muslim nation and is steadily becoming more conservative.  The median age is just over 28 years. Average annual income is about USD$3,360.

Lots of facts. Let’s add one more. Indonesia has the highest rate of male smokers on the planet. It’s one of the last great unregulated, anything goes markets for the tobacco industry.

Smoking rates are usually higher in developing countries such as Indonesia than in developed countries such as the USA. Overall, smokers in developing nations comprise 73% of the world’s smokers.

But in China, where smoking rates are also high, there is a concerted campaign by the government and health authorities to reduce smoking rates. There is evidence of some success with this. In neighbouring Malaysia, the smoking rate amongst adult males is nearly 40% less than it is in Indonesia and is in long term decline.

But the smoking rate in Indonesia remains stubbornly high. 75% of all adult males smoke in Indonesia.  Whereas smoking rates tend to be in decline in most countries, in Indonesia it is increasing. Only 56% of Indonesian adult males smoked in 2000


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Arisona Permadi

August 26th, 2019

Taxing Tobacco

Smokers pay for their habit in more ways than one. There’s the toll smoking takes on their health and then there’s the toll it takes on their wallets.

Starting Jan. 2, electronic cigarette users in Maine will be feeling the pain when the excise tax on non-cigarette tobacco products, including vaping devices and liquids, will more than double — from 20 to 43 percent of the wholesale price. The increase brings the tax on vaping products, pipe tobacco and cigars inline with that on cigarettes. Proponents say the legislation closes a loophole; opponents say it’s a tax increase — something Governor Mills vowed to avoid her first two years in office. She signed the bill into law earlier this summer.

We’ll call it a draw. Yes, it’s a tax increase, but it’s reasonable to tax all tobacco products at the same rate.

Much of the revenue generated will be allocated for tobacco-use prevention and cessation programs. Coupling sticker shock with education is a smart strategy. Lawmakers in favor of the legislation see it as a way to help curb an increase in youth vaping. But it begs the question: Can you tax people into good behavior? If you can, should you?

The World Health Organization cites increased taxes and prices as “the most cost-effective measure to reduce tobacco use.” The organization says higher prices encourage users to quit and discourage potential users from starting. It remains to be seen whether the tax increase will have this effect in Maine.

Smoking drives up health care costs and decreases worker productivity. The physical toll can diminish a person’s quality of life and sometimes end it. Some would argue vaping is the lesser evil when compared with traditional cigarettes and can be a tool for smokers to wean themselves off their daily pack. But both are means of delivering addictive nicotine to the body.

When it comes to teen users, e-cigarettes are the opposite of a cessation tool; they’re a gateway. U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams has described youth vaping as an “epidemic.” Since 2014, e-cigarettes have been the most commonly used tobacco product among American youth. The 2017 Maine Integrated Youth Health Survey of 1,919 Hancock County high school students showed that 31 percent of students had tried a vape product at some point. Last fall, the head of school at George Stevens Academy in Blue Hill estimated up to 25 percent of GSA students were involved with vaping. Mainers can’t legally buy tobacco products until they’re 21, but teens still get their hands on it. Many electronic smoking products are designed to be trendy and discreet.


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Arisona Permadi

August 24th, 2019

L.A. County Could Soon Become Nation’s Largest Jurisdiction to Ban Flavored Tobacco

Los Angeles County could soon become the nation’s largest jurisdiction to ban the sales of flavored tobacco — a move aimed at fighting what public health officials increasingly call an epidemic of e-cigarette use among teenagers.

Under a proposed ordinance that the Board of Supervisors is expected to consider next month, stores in unincorporated areas would no longer be able to offer any tobacco products with a flavor in any form. That includes e-cigarettes with fruity pods of liquid nicotine, traditional menthol cigarettes, mint chewing tobacco and cream cigars, among other products.

The plan also would require new or existing tobacco shops to get business licenses, according to a draft of the ordinance viewed by The Times.

The new rules would be enforced starting in February 2020. Businesses that don’t comply could have their licenses suspended. Public health advocates praised the county’s plan, saying it could help cut the alarming amount of e-cigarette vaping by young people.

“It’s a tremendous undertaking to make such a sweeping change in legislation,” said Jessica Sims, a healthcare administrator who is on the board of the American Heart Assn. in Los Angeles. “It’s the right thing to do. It will protect kids and reverse a trend.” While less harmful for adults than regular cigarettes, the long-term health effects of e-cigarettes remain unclear, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Read the full story on here

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Arisona Permadi

August 23rd, 2019

‘Sin tax’ on alcohol, tobacco lauded, slammed

Sen. Pia Cayetano on Wednesday said she was more inclined to support the Department of Finance’s (DOF) proposed measure on higher excise taxes on alcoholic drinks, rather than the bill approved this week by the House of Representatives. The House on Tuesday approved on third reading a bill imposing a higher “sin tax” on alcohol products and e-cigarettes. Cayetano said she was supporting the DOF version because it would generate more funds for social services.

“Technically, I haven’t adopted anything yet, but I have an open mind to go towards the version of the DOF because I’m with the administration,”  the chair of the Senate ways and means committee told the Kapihan sa Manila Bay forum.

But Cayetano said she was open to adjusting her stand if she would be presented with information that the DOF position was extreme. The House version would net additional revenues of P15 billion in the first year, much lower than the DOF’s projected revenue of P33 billion, officials said. Under House Bill No. 1026, the ad valorem tax imposed on distilled spirits shall be increased from 20 percent to 22 percent. Specific tax rates per proof liter shall be imposed with P5 increments every year until 2022—from P30 per proof liter in 2019 to P45 in 2022. From 2023 onward, the rate shall be increased by 7 percent annually.

The bill would also  impose a 15-percent ad valorem and a single specific tax of P650 per liter on sparkling wines. Still wines and carbonated wines containing 14-percent alcohol or less will have a P40 tax, while those with 25-percent alcohol content or less will be taxed P80.The tax on beer and other fermented liquors shall be raised from P23.50 per liter to P28 per liter starting January. It will be incrementally increased to P32 in 2020, P34 in 2021 and P36 in 2022. For heated tobacco products, the tax shall be P45 per pack of 20 units or packaging combinations of not more than 20 units, beginning 2020. The specific tax per 20 units of heated tobacco products will rise to P50 in 2021, P55 in 2022 and P60 in 2023.

Also by 2020, vapor products with nicotine salt shall have a P30 tax per milliliter. This will increase to P35 per milliliter in 2021 with P5 increments per year until 2023. Health Secretary Francisco Duque III and the Sin Tax Coalition, meanwhile, lauded the passage of the bill, saying the higher tax on alcohol products would help reduce alcohol consumption among Filipinos.

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Arisona Permadi

August 22nd, 2019

Tobacco deliveries to break record

Tobacco deliveries are set to surpass last season’s record-breaking delivery of 252 million kilogrammes as deliveries continue at the auction and contract floors. A record 252 million kilogramme was delivered to the market during the 2018 marketing season.

In an interview at the Zimbabwe Agricultural Show yesterday, Tobacco Industry and Marketing board communications manager Mr Isheunesu Moyo said deliveries have continued and indications are that they could surpass last year’s volumes.

He said farmers were bringing an average of 400 000 kilogrammes of the tobacco to the floors every day, and closing dates will only be announced after consultations with the industry. “By day 102, farmers had delivered 251,3 million kilogrammes of tobacco worth US$ 507 million. This is an increase from the 249, 6 million kilogrammes worth US$730 million that was delivered by growers during the same period last year. “We are still receiving tobacco from the farmers and we except to surpass the 2018 volumes because the season is still on and farmers are still bringing their crop for sale,” he said. In general, the prices this year are lower by about 31 percent to those of last year at US$2,92 per kg compared to US$2,02 per kg.

The Government’s Second Crop and Livestock Assessment report for 2018/2019 shows that 132 040 hectares were put under tobacco during the 2018/2019 season, up from the 104 395 hectares that were planted during the 2017/2018 season. The 2018/2019 season has been described by many farmers as a difficult one due to the late rains that affected production and quality of the crop in some areas. Farmers also complained of depressed prices this season compared to the previous prices, while others raised concern over the payment modalities of having 50 percent of their money deposited into the RTGS and the remaining 50 percent into their FCA accounts.

The TIMB said it will make evaluations at the end of the season and make recommendations to the responsible authorities to ensure the challenges are solved.


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Arisona Permadi

August 21st, 2019

Warnings on tobacco products actually work ?

WHEN “MAD MEN’S” Betty Draper puffed on a cigarette while pregnant, modern audiences cringed. Public awareness of smoking’s toll on people’s lungs and on their children has come far since the 1960s. But lung cancer and birth defects are only a couple of the severe health problems associated with tobacco use. New warning labels the Food and Drug Administration rolled out last Thursday aim to make other potential health consequences better known — with large, graphic depictions of what else long-term smokers should expect from their habit.

One of the new labels shows a man with a heart surgery scar running up his chest, warning that smoking clogs arteries and causes heart disease and strokes. Another depicts diseased feet with amputated toes, warning that smoking reduces blood flow to the limbs and can lead to amputations. Yet another shows a vial of bloody urine, warning that smoking causes bladder cancer. The labels would have to take up at least the top half of cigarette packages and at least the top 20 percent of tobacco advertisements.

These would be far more forceful than the tiny, text-only warnings carried on tobacco products now, which have changed little since “Mad Men” days. Acting FDA commissioner Norman “Ned” Sharpless told reporters on a Thursday conference call that the administration’s research shows the public is “surprisingly unaware of many of the risks of smoking.” FDA tobacco chief Mitch Zeller also said the old surgeon general’s warnings “have become virtually invisible.” Indeed, other countries have surpassed the United States in the severity and graphic nature of the warnings they require on tobacco packaging. Extensive FDA consumer research found that the information on the proposed warning labels was new to smokers and nonsmokers alike. The experiences of other nations suggest that large, graphic warning labels help deter smoking and discourage tobacco users from smoking around others. The images on the FDA’s new labels would quickly convey to English and non-English speakers alike the real-world effects of their habit.

New warnings are a long time coming. The 2009?Tobacco Control Act required them. But the FDA’s first attempt got mired in litigation. Now the FDA is trying again with new warning labels backed by substantial new consumer research. By tying these labels’ content closely to its mission of educating the public about the various harms of tobacco use, the FDA should prevail in any further court challenges, in light of jurisprudence that allows the government to require disclosures on products and in advertising.


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Arisona Permadi

August 20th, 2019

Tobacco suppliers target holidaymakers in anti-resale campaign

The Tobacco Manufacturers’ Association is targeting holidaymakers who might want to resell cheap tobacco they have bought overseas when they return home. Such tobacco is untaxed and its resale carries with it risk of prosecution and a criminal record. No limits are currently imposed when returning from another EU country, but anyone bringing excessive quantities of tobacco in their baggage might need to prove to law enforcement authorities that it is for their personal use. 

HMRC tobacco tax gap figures show smuggled tobacco cost UK taxpayers £1.8bn in 2017-18.

The campaign, which runs until the end of September, targets tourist hubs that include Manchester, East Midlands, Glasgow Prestwick, Glasgow International and London Luton airports, the port of Dover and central city locations in London and Edinburgh. For those holidaying outside the EU, the allowance is 200 cigarettes or 250g of rolling tobacco. HMRC says more than £45bn of tax revenue has been lost through tobacco smuggling since the 2000/2001 tax year. The TMA said research showed the ways people sold illegal tobacco was getting ever more sophisticated, including through social media channels and community websites.  “It’s easy for people to forget when they’re travelling abroad, especially in the EU. They may decide that they want to buy more tobacco for their personal use as the prices are cheaper,” said TMA director Rupert Lewis.

“The issue arises when people decide that they are going to sell on this tobacco when they are back in the UK, or they specifically buy it for the purpose of reselling in the UK. This is illegal and a criminal offence. Law enforcement agencies will take action against anybody caught and prosecute them.”  Lewis said reselling tobacco bought overseas was not a victimless crime. It directly impacted smaller independent shopkeepers who were forced to compete against illegal tobacco sales and it badly harmed their businesses.

He also pointed out the growing influence of organised crime, which he said was increasingly behind the purchase, trade and supply of illegal tobacco in the UK.


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Arisona Permadi

August 20th, 2019

Vaping Firms Sue Seeking to Further Delay FDA Review of e-Cigarettes

A vaping industry group sued the U.S. government last week to delay an upcoming review of thousands of e-cigarettes on the market. The legal challenge by the Vapor Technology Association is the latest hurdle in the Food and Drug Administration’s years long effort to regulate the multibillion-dollar vaping industry, which includes makers and retailers of e-cigarette devices and flavored solutions. The vaping group argued that the latest deadline of next May to submit products for review could wipe out many of the smaller companies. The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Kentucky. E-cigarettes first appeared in the U.S. more than a decade ago and have grown in popularity despite little research on their long-term effects, including whether they can help smokers quit cigarettes.

In recent years, health authorities have warned of an epidemic of vaping by underage teenagers, particularly the leading brand Juul, known for its high nicotine content and easy-to-conceal device, which resembles a flash drive. Nicotine is what makes both cigarettes and e-cigarettes addictive, and health experts say the chemical is harmful to developing brains.

The 2009 law that gave the FDA power over the traditional tobacco products did not mention e-cigarettes. And it wasn’t until 2016 that the agency expanded its own regulations to include the devices. But since then FDA regulators have repeatedly pushed back the timeline, at one point until 2022, to begin review the legions of vaping products that have come to market. Frustrated by the delays, anti-tobacco groups including the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids sued the FDA to speed up the process. In June, a federal judge sided with the groups and set a deadline of next May for all companies to submit their products for federal review. The FDA has until next month to appeal the decision.


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Arisona Permadi

August 19th, 2019

Tobacco industry anti-smoking ads reached less than half of US adults

Court-ordered anti-smoking ads sponsored by the tobacco industry reached only around 40per cent of adults and about half of all smokers in the U.S., a recent study suggests. Past research has shown that anti-smoking mass media campaigns are an effective public health intervention and work to reverse misconceptions, researchers write in JAMA Network Open.

In 2006, U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler ruled in favor of the Department of Justice in a lawsuit against the tobacco industry, requiring cigarette companies to sponsor anti-smoking advertisements in major newspapers, television, retail displays, cigarette packages and their corporate websites in order to "correct" misleading messages the industry had been putting out for decades. After years of further litigation and appeals, the industry began running newspaper and television ads in November 2017. To assess the reach of these ads, researchers led by Sanjay Shete of the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston surveyed a nationally-representative sample of 3,484 adults between January and May 2018, during which time the ads were running.

Participants were asked whether they recalled seeing ads specifically mentioning that a federal court had ordered tobacco companies to make statements about the dangers of smoking cigarettes. The survey also asked if people remembered seeing ads focused on one of five specific dangers of smoking: the harms of smoking; of inhaling second-hand smoke; addictiveness; cigarette design that enhances nicotine delivery; and the lack of harm-reduction with light or low-tar cigarettes. Only 40.6per cent of adults recalled seeing the advertisements. Exposure was even lower among certain ethnic and socioeconomic groups historically targeted by tobacco industry marketing.

Just 37per cent of people aged 18-34, about 35per cent of those with no more than a high school diploma, and 38per cent of those with household income under US$35,000 a year reported having seen any of the ads. Around half of current smokers had seen one or more of the ads, but in this group, just 42per cent of Hispanic smokers had seen them. The study authors note that a three-month antismoking media campaign entitled Tips from Former Smokers, which was run by the federal government, reached 80per cent of current smokers despite its much shorter duration compared to the tobacco industry's campaign.

"Anti-smoking campaigns run by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or other government organizations in the past seem to have had a much greater reach," Shete noted in a phone interview.

"It is possible that young people are no longer watching TV or reading newspapers, and are getting their news on social media," he noted.

Yale University neuroscientist Marina Picciotto said it wasn't surprising that the tobacco-industry designed and sponsored ad campaigns did not reach the "most vulnerable" users.

"The tobacco industry has been several steps ahead of regulation since the first Surgeon General's report showing that smoking is responsible for large-scale death of its users," said Picciotto, who is former president of Yale's Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco.

"Compliance with a court-ordered advertising campaign could be designed with an eye to keeping the message away from the eyes of their most valuable consumers." Because the survey data was elicited in batches, researchers were also able to determine that people who responded several months after the campaign was run were more likely to have seen the advertisements.

"Two takeaways from the data are that advertisements need to run over long periods in order to reach more people and that the media used to broadcast them needs to be selected carefully to reach the most relevant target audiences," Shete said.


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Arisona Permadi

August 18th, 2019

FDA reveals proposed graphic warnings for cigarette packs and ads

Warning labels on cigarette packages could soon be more graphic, warning that "Smoking reduces blood flow to the limbs, which can require amputation," and "Smoking causes bladder cancer, which can lead to bloody urine." The US Food and Drug Administration on

Thursday issued a proposed rule that requires tobacco companies to place new graphic health warnings on cigarette packages and in advertisements. The proposed warnings feature color images and describe the health risks of smoking. The new cigarette health warnings, once finalized, would appear on cigarette packages and in advertisements, occupying the top 50% of the area of the front and back panels of packages and at least 20% of the area at the top of cigarette ads, according to the FDA.

This draft version of the rule comes after a judge ordered last year that the FDA has “ delayed” issuing a rule mandating such graphic warnings. The final version of the rule is due to be issued by March 15,2020. The warnings then would appear on products and in advertisements 15 months after the final rule is issued.There are 13 proposed warnings , which feature text statements accompanied by color images, and they represent the most significant change to cigarette labels in the United States in 35 years, according to the FDA.

"While most people assume the public knows all they need to understand about the harms of cigarette smoking, there's a surprising number of lesser-known risks that both youth and adult smokers and nonsmokers may simply not be aware of, such as bladder cancer, diabetes and conditions that can cause blindness," Dr. Ned Sharpless, acting FDA commissioner, said in a written statement on Thursday.

"With these new proposed cigarette health warnings, we have an enormous public health opportunity to fulfill our statutory mandate and increase the public's understanding of the full scope of serious negative health consequences of cigarette smoking," he said. "Given that tobacco use is still the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the U.S., there's a lot at stake to ensure the public understands these risks."


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Arisona Permadi

August 17th, 2019

Malawi realises US$200 million from tobacco sales in 16 wks

Malawi has US$200 million from tobacco sales, Tobacco Commission (TC) figures show. The revenue has been realised from 131,083,157 kilogrammes (kg) of all types of tobacco sold at an average of US$1.48 per kg. During the same time last year, average prices were seen at US$1.74.

The earnings are 28 percent lower than the US$271,355,270.10 realised within first 16 weeks of sales last year. The volume traded has also gone down by 16 percent from 155,928,982 kg. The trend poses a threat of a possible drop of value of the leaf this year.

In its Monetary Policy Report, Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) recently projected this year’s tobacco revenue to be 11 percent lower than last year. RBM projects the revenue at US$303.5 million this year from US$337.5 million. This also comes as third-round crop estimates projected that tobacco output would drop to 193 million kg from an earlier 205 million kg estimate. Tobacco Association of Malawi (Tama), a growers’ representative body, said market prices are subdued this season Tama Chief Executive Officer, Felix Thole told the Daily Times that farmers might not reap the most of their effort this season due to low prices. “Prices have remained stagnant.

Reasons for this could basically be two; one the over buying of the crop last season and the envisaged bigger volume than demanded this year,” Thole said. Last year, the country realised US$336 million from the sale of 202 million kg of all types of tobacco.

The tobacco industry plays a critical role in the country’s economy.


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August 16th, 2019

Montenegro Bans Smoking in Public Indoor Spaces

Montenegro, which has one of the highest tobacco-usage rates in Europe, has banned smoking in indoor public places.

Under the law taking effect on August 14, smoking is banned in all closed public places, including restaurants and cafes, although casinos have received an exception to the new rules.

The law passed parliament in a unanimous vote on July 31 after Health Minister Kenan Hrapovic said an anti-tobacco law adopted in 2004 did not bring the expected results.

Hrapovic said his office will "persevere in its efforts to enforce every section of the law to the letter."

A World Bank study put Montenegro's smoking rate in 2016 at nearly 46 percent of people above age 15, while the country's Health Ministry estimates that some 400 Montenegrins are diagnosed with lung cancer each year.

Fines for violating the law -- which also regulates cigarette sales and mandates warnings on packages -- range from $560 to $22,370.

Under the law, businesses will be allowed to set up separate rooms to accommodate smokers.

Some leaders in the restaurant and tourist industries have expressed concerns that the new law could adversely affect revenue at their establishments.

Smoking indoors continues to be widespread in the Balkan region, although Croatia and North Macedonia have similar bans on closed public places.


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August 15th, 2019

Austria and Slovenia E-Cigarette Regulatory Reports Package 2019

Austria regulatory report: Smoking ban reach to extend

Austria, which has a smoking prevalence rate of 26 %, currently has legislation that regulates both nicotine-free and nicotine-containing products, going further than the EU Tobacco Products Directive (TPD). This report examines the regulation of e-cigarettes regarding advertising, public vaping, sales and the requirement for federal states (Bundeslnder) to raise purchasing ages. Find all this information and more in this in-depth report.

Slovenia regulatory report: E-cigs exempt from tax rise

Slovenia, which shares much of its northern border with Austria, was one of the last countries to transpose the EU's Tobacco Products Directive (TPD). As of March 2017, all types of e-cigarettes, both with and without nicotine, are regulated. In this report the author explores the complex regulations for sales, licensing, advertising, notification, tax and public place usage.

For more information about this report visit

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Arisona Permadi

August 14th, 2019