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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brings delay,” Nathalie Charland, senior director of Scientific and Medical Affairs at Medicago, said about this outdated process in an article for Upi.com. “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 defenseone.com.  “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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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): 


Coughing

Breathing difficulties, wheezing and shortness of breath

Pneumonia

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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.

Consider:

• 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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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.


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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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

Infogram

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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 Finanztrends.info 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 ToMinors.com.


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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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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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;  


SOUTHEAST ASIAN STOCK MARKETS

 Change on the day                                

 Market 
Current
Previous close
Pct Move

Singapore

3203.93
3211.49
-0.24
Bangkok1662.93
1661.96
0.06
Manilla7996.9
7992.32
0.06
Jakarta6219.435
6334.843
-1.82
Ho Chi Minh989.86
987.22
0.27
Change so far in 2019


MarketCurrentEnd 2018Pct Move
Singapore3203.93
3068.76 
 4.40
Bangkok1662.93
1563.88
6.33
Manilla7996.9
7,466.02
7.11
Jakarta6219.435
6,194.50
0.40
Ho Chi Minh989.86
892.54
10.90

 

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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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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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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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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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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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 texas21.org, 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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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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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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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: http://ice-sz.medcon.net.cn/

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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 regina.obrien@eaglecounty.us.

 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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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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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 safetyreporting.hhs.gov.


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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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 https://www.researchandmarkets.com/r/hzil1w

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August 14th, 2019

Smoke Without Fire ? ( set of debates )

Presented with a choice they had to make, most people would choose the lesser of two evils. Alternatively, they can view the lesser of two evils as being evil still and therefore do everything possible to avoid both.


These contrary choices seem to define the stances taken by the principal stakeholders who are party to the government's plan to impose a nationwide ban on e-cigarettes. Earlier last month, the health ministry proposed to crack down on electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS), which include e-cigarettes, and list them as drugs under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act to prevent their manufacture, sale, distribution and import.

E-cigarettes are by and large considered less harmful than conventional cigarettes but their long-term health impacts aren't clear.


Essentially a handheld battery-powered vaporiser, an e-cigarette simulates smoking and uses an electric charge to vaporise nicotine instead of burning tobacco.

Apart from nicotine, flavourings, additives and contaminants, the e-liquid in e-cigarettes usually contains propylene glycol and glycerol, which are mostly considered harmless when inhaled.

E-cigarettes contain far fewer chemical compounds compared to cigarettes.


Cigarette smokers are addicted to the nicotine the cigarettes contain, while the tar produced from burning tobacco has most of the carcinogenic and other harmful chemicals found in the smoke.

But the nicotine addiction triggered by e-cigarettes also has harmful effects, warn health experts.

E-cigarettes are designed with the promise of offering a similar high to smokers.

But while weaning smokers off tobacco, they remain addicted to nicotine, points out Shyam Aggarwal, oncologist at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital in Delhi.


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August 13th, 2019

Chewing Tobacco Market 2019

Chewing Tobacco Industry 2019 Market Research Report analyzed in detail with all the vital data to frame tactical business judgments and propose strategic growth plans. This report offers a comprehensive insight into the development policies and plans in addition to manufacturing processes and cost structures.

Global “Chewing Tobacco Market” 2019 Industry Research Report is a professional and in-depth study on the current state of the Global Chewing Tobacco industry. This study presents the Chewing Tobacco sales volume, revenue, market share and growth rate for each key company, and also covers the breakdown data (sales, revenue and market share) by regions, type and applications. history breakdown data from 2014 to 2019, and forecast to 2025. This report studies the global market size of Chewing Tobacco, especially focuses on the key regions like United States, European Union, China, and other regions (Japan, Korea, India and Southeast Asia).

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August 12th, 2019

€9000 fine for duty free cigarettes,

Two men aged 63 and 54 were handed down a €9000 fine after police discovered a large amount of duty free tobacco at a Limassol home. Police said that at around 10 am on Sunday morning they had searched the 54 year old’s home and found 107 cartons containing 1,070 packets of cigarettes and five kilos of tobacco for which duty had not been paid.

The man was arrested. Testimony then led police to the second man who said he owned the tobacco.

Customs officials took over, fined the two men and confiscated the tobacco.

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August 10th, 2019

Bulgarian cigarette pack collector considers opening museum

Many think collecting is a hobby for rich or famous people who collect artwork, weapons, expensive old cars, and more. This passion, of course, requires big spending. But the truth is that not every collector needs a lot of money. Most often collections have sentimental value and consists of favorite items that people started collecting when they were children. Valuable exhibits in a child's collection can be glass beads, plastic soldiers, packs of various goodies, photographs of athletes, or characters from different films. But some discover the passion of collecting certain items when they grow up.

The possibilities for choosing what to collect are endless – beer cans, glasses, bottles, hats, phones, lighters. An interesting and popular hobby around the world is collecting cigarette packets, which also has fans in this country. Dimitar Georgiev form Silistra is one of these people. His collection includes nearly 700 packets of Bulgarian cigarettes produced in the period 1904-1989. The oldest one, dating from 1904, is “Assen II” pack of cigarettes, produced by the “Dimitar Mardas” tobacco factory in Plovdiv. The collection is very impressive, keeping in mind the fact that Dimitar has been engaged in this hobby for just six years.

"It all started by accident while browsing one of the trading sites. I saw some old packs of cigarettes and I was curious because I had never seen them before. I think they were from the 40's. The first box was from a factory in Plovdiv that produced ‘President’ cigarettes. The packet is unopened with the cigarettes still in it. I think it is from 1943. They were manufactured at the Tyutyundzhiyan Tobacco Factory. The Garabedyan – Tyutyundzhiyan family was one of the first, together with Tomasyans, to open factories in Plovdiv. Initially, they cut tobacco by hand, but then bought gasoline cutters and gradually became one of the largest cigarette manufacturers in the city in the 1920s and 1930s."


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August 9th, 2019

Malaysia Tobacco Control Bill to be finalised by month’s end

The health ministry is expected to submit the draft of the Tobacco Control Bill to the Attorney-General’s Chambers by the end of this month.Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad said he was hoping he would be able to table the bill in Parliament early next year.

“Our aim is to tackle any tobacco-related issue seriously. This is our commitment and we are studying this new Act comprehensively,” he told reporters after launching the 17th Urological Association of Asia Congress here at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre.

Recently, tobacco company JTI Malaysia had highlighted the continued sale of illegal tobacco and nicotine products, questioning the government’s enforcement of laws.

JTI managing director Cormac O’Rourke cited the latest findings of the Illicit Cigarette Study (ICS) by The Nielsen Company, which saw 153,000 discarded cigarette packs collected from streets and rubbish bins throughout the year and which were analysed for local tax stamps and authentic packaging, among others.

He said the ICS found a 1.7% increase in the consumption of illegal cigarettes from March to May this year, compared with the same period in 2018. He said JTI estimates that 10% of smokers in the country use vape products. Based on current laws, he added, all vape products containing nicotine are illegal.

While the sale of nicotine products is regulated by the Poisons Act 1952, O’Rourke said JTI had been informed by the government that no licence has been issued by the health ministry for vaping products.



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August 8th, 2019

Zimbabwe Growing of industrial hemp

Zimbabwe will change its laws to allow farmers to grow industrial hemp for export, cabinet ministers said on Tuesday, adding that the government saw the plant as a future substitute for tobacco, the country’s biggest export earning crop.

Industrial hemp is a strain of a cannabis species that is grown specifically for industrial uses of its derived products. Its fiber is used in textiles and paper, and it also produces edible seeds.

The southern African nation’s laws only allow cultivation of cannabis for medical and scientific uses.

Authorities said last year in April that Zimbabweans could apply for licenses to grow cannabis for medical and research purposes, but the process has been slow as authorities try to put in place laws to ensure cannabis farms are secure.

“But with hemp, it’s not toxic as cannabis,” acting industry and commerce minister July Moyo told a post-cabinet media conference.


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August 7th, 2019

Govt loses RM6 billion

The government lost RM6 billion in tax revenue from the sale of illegal cigarettes and the e-cigarette market, according to Japan Tobacco International Bhd (JTI Malaysia).

An Illicit Cigarettes Study (ICS) by the tobacco manufacturing firm said Malaysia’s illegal e-cigarette market is estimated at RM2 billion, with the other RM4 billion in the illegal trade of traditional cigarettes.

JTI managing director Cormac O’Rourke also revealed that the e-cigarette market has doubled in the past one year.


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August 6th, 2019

E-Cigarette Market Size Soaring

Global E-Cigarette Market by Manufacturers, Countries, Type and Application, Forecast to 2024" new report to its research database. The report spread across 127 pages with table and figures in it. The report provides information on Industry Trends, Demand, Top Manufacturers, Countries, Material and Application.

The analysts forecast the Global e-cigarette Market to exhibit a CAGR of 20.61% during the period 2019-2024. The report covers the present scenario and the growth prospects of the global e-cigarette for 2019-2024. To calculate the market size, the report considers the e-cigarette sales volume and revenue.

The projections featured in the report have been derived using proven research methodologies and assumptions. By doing so, the research report serves as a repository of analysis and information for every facet of the market, including but not limited to: regional markets, types, and applications.

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August 5th, 2019

Tobacco Seed Sales Drops

Zimbabwe, Poor prices (at the auction floors) are said to have affected the preparation of seedbeds for the coming crop.

These seedbeds should have been planted in June, but many growers were not in a good enough financial position to start the process. So, more bad news might be on the way We sincerely hope seed sales and farmers crop preparations improve in the next month,” Zimbabwe Tobacco Association chief executive Rodney Ambrose said.

Tobacco seeds, which were selling at US$25 per 100 grammes last year before the multi-currency system was scrapped, are now at ZW$170.

An official from Tobacco Research Board said the $170 factors in costs of producing tobacco varieties as it is in line with the interbank rate. “Seed sales for the 2019/20 season remain depressed as growers struggle to retool due to exchange rate variances between average selling rates of five against re-tooling rates at 9-11. Restrictions on the use of nostro funds are also a concern,” Robertson said. Poor prices have also posed serious viability challenges for the over 200 000 farmers who grew the crop this season.


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August 3rd, 2019

Chemicals Found in E-cigarettes

The Food and Drug Administration for the first time is seeking public input on proposed additions of potentially harmful chemicals found in e-cigarettes and vaping liquids.The agency on Monday began accepting comments on adding 19 toxicants to an established list of harmful ingredients found in tobacco products. “As our oversight and scientific knowledge of tobacco products has evolved, so too should our requirements for manufacturers and importers to provide information about the chemicals or chemical compounds in their products that cause or could cause harm to users and nonusers,” Acting FDACommissioner Ned Sharpless said in a statement. The agency’s 60-day period for accepting comment ends Oct. 4.Some of the FDA’s proposed toxicants include compounds that Yale and Duke university researchers found in Juul e-cigarette products that could irritate and damage the lungs.

Their study, published late last month, found that compounds in the liquid for e-cigarettes and vaporizers create irritating chemicals called acetals when heated, NPR reported.

Acetals are formed from alcohol and aldehydes, and are used to flavor foods and other commercial products. Hanno Erythropel, the study’s lead author and an associate research scientist for Yale University, told NPR little is known about the effects of aldehydes and acetals when inhaled through e-cigarettes and vaporizers, but some research has shown acetals can irritate airways and prompt an inflammatory response.

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August 2nd, 2019

Demand boosts sales for British American Tobacco

Lucky Strike and Pall Mall owner said profit from operations slumped 1.3 per cent to £4.38bn but basic earnings per share increased 4.6 per cent to 123.2p. Net cash generated from operating activities was down 41 per cent to £2.28m. Categories products, which includes its Vype e-cigarette, reported adjusted revenue growth of 27 per cent to £531m.

Tobacco heating product revenue was up four per cent to £301m as customers select heating rather than burning products, which could potentially be safer. 

BAT said there is “much more to be done” and said growth would accelerate in the second half due to new product launches and the impact of a full year of additional investment. 

However, US authorities are planning to crack down on sales of e-cigarettes which could damage BAT’s performance..

HL Select funds manager Steve Clayton said: “This was a solid half year for BAT.  “Their focus on key global brands and next generation products is sustaining the group’s earnings power at a time when the regulatory pressure on the industry is stepping upwards. 

He added: “If the group can succeed in transforming itself into a leading global producer of lower risk products, that could secure the dividend for the longer term. In the near term however, investors will remain nervous about what the next move from the US regulatory authorities will be. ”BAT chief executive Jack Bowles said: “We continue to deliver on our financial objectives with adjusted revenue and adjusted profit from operations in line with our guidance, driven by a continued strong financial performance in combustibles.

“Our New Categories portfolio continued to deliver encouraging growth. While there is much more to be done, with new product launches planned for the second half of the year and the impact of a full year of additional investment, we expect revenue growth to accelerate in the second half of the year. 

“In 2019, we are on track to be around the middle of our guidance range of 30-50 per cent New Categories revenue growth per annum, excluding the impact of translational foreign exchange.”


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August 1st, 2019

Scientific Health Benefits of Organic Tobacco


Organic tobacco has a Latin name, Nicotiana tabacum. This plant comes from North America and South America. Organic tobacco is better than the artificial one because it grows without the use of pesticides, antibiotics, and other substances. The leaves of this tree are often used as raw materials of cigarettes, either by a pipe or rolled in the form of cigarettes or cigars. People always see tobacco as a negative plant because of this use as the ingredient of cigarette. 


Here are some surprising health benefits of organic tobacco


Reduce The Risk of Obesity


Nicotine in organic tobacco suppresses appetite. According to a study published in July 2011 in the Journal of Physiology & Behavior, nicotine can make us not want to eat for a long time. So, it is good for losing some weights and diet.As an appetite-suppressant, nicotine appears to affect the work of a brain element called the hypothalamus, at least as evident in the studied rats, a study by University of Yale researchers published June 10 in the journal Science found. It is the main reason why organic tobacco can reduce the risk of obesity.


Anti-inflammatory


According to the research by Professor Mario Pezzoti who is a scientist from the University of Verona Europe, organic tobacco has an important role as an inflammatory medicine. Substances produced from it is a type of cytokine that is a protein that is able to stimulate or activate the immune cells. This is made with the treatment and strict supervision using modern technology.


Much Safer For The Body


Organic tobacco is safer than artificial tobacco. It contains more nutrients because it is freshly picked from the plant and not added more ingredients that can be dangerous for the body. In addition, the soil, fertilizer, and the water that are used to grow this plant make it more nutritious and healthy.


Make Body More Relaxed


We already know that when we use organic tobacco, it will make the body and brain more relaxed. It contains dopamine (throughout the body, including the brain), acetylcholine and norepinephrine that are also stimulated directly. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, those that suffer from mental disorders such as ADHD/ADD, schizophrenia, and other disorders may get positive effects from the organic tobacco.


Prevent Parkinson and Alzheimer Disease


Organic tobacco contains nicotine that will accelerate the movement of the muscle that can prevent Parkinson disease. In addition, it can up-regulate telomerase and suppress apoptosis which is the main cause of Alzheimer disease. The dose of nicotine has a short-term normalization effect on electrical activity in the brain which is good for preventing Parkinson and Alzheimer disease.


Improve The Immune of Body


Organic tobacco contains anti-inflammatory effects at multiple levels, from T-cells through CNS vagus/’cholinergic anti-inflammatory’ pathway. In addition, it can fight against some diseases, such as asthma, allergies, ulcerative colitis, IBD, colon cancer, aphthous ulcers, arthritis, pre-eclampsia, endotoxemia, polymicrobial sepsis that happen because of the bad immune in the body.


Maintain Skin Health


Based on the research from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, organic tobacco has compounds that can give some benefits for the beauty treatment, especially skin. In this research, organic tobacco is used to rejuvenate the skin. According to the result, tobacco has a content that can produce collagen that is like human collagen. Collagen has some functions that are very important for the skin because collagen is the main protein in the skin.

In addition, it turns out tobacco can overcome skin diseases such as rancid, scabies, yaws (framboesia), eczema, and so forth.

To use organic tobacco for maintaining skin health, we should take a tobacco leaf and chop it, then let it dry for a while. After that, take a bucket of water to make it wet. Then, stick the wet tobacco leaf to the skin that has a problem in order to kill the bacteria in that skin.


Protect Body From Free Radicals


Organic tobacco contains numerous compounds emitted as gases and condensed tar particles, many of them being oxidants and prooxidants, capable of producing free radicals thus enhancing lipid peroxidation in biological membranes. Vitamin E, vitamin C, B-carotene, and selenium are involved in the overall cellular anti-oxidant defense against deleterious effects of reactive oxygen species.


Anticancer Protein


Tobacco is not always a negative connotation as a cause of cancer, it can also produce the anti-cancer protein that is useful for cancer patients. This is based on the result of the research from Dr. Arief Budi Witarto Meng. He is a researcher at the Center for Research Biotechnology Institute of Sciences Indonesia (LIPI). Thus, we can found the health benefits of organic tobacco now.

In addition, according to the research from Dr. Khalid El Sayed, the Associate Professor of Medicinal Chemistry at ULM, the leaf, and flower of organic tobacco give some benefits. They contain high amounts of the key flavor ingredient called cembranoids. Surprisingly, cembranoid ingredients of tobacco show a good result as anticancer agents. It can also prevent the high incidence and death rate of breast and prostate cancer types.


Prevent Tuberculosis (TBC)


According to Saleh Naser, a professor of microbiology and molecular biology who has been in the research for organic tobacco and nicotine from the University of Central Florida (UCF), nicotine in organic tobacco gives better results than other compounds in order to stop tuberculosis (TBC).

It is not possible in a follow-up study, a person suffering from tuberculosis will use nicotine in a blood vessel or swallow a nicotine capsule to prevent future tuberculosis.


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July 29th, 2019

2019 Tobacco Quality Is Expected To Be Better

The quality of tobacco plants on the mountain slopes of Mount Sindoro, Sumbing, Perahu, in Temanggung Regency, Central Java, this year is better than in 2018, said Secretary of the Temanggung Regency Tobacco Farmers Association (APTI) Noer Ahsan.

"In general, the quality of tobacco yields this year is better than last year. Farmers hope that the weather will stay as good as this until the end of harvesting season", said the man in Temanggung, Central Java.

He explained that in the upper area surrounding Sumbing Mountain, the the tobacco plants is already ripe and ready to be harvested; while in the lower area of the mountain the plantation suffered water shortage so the farmers need to manually watering the tobacco plants.

Then in Perahu Mountain region, where the tobacco were planted early, the plantation are in remarkable condition and expected to yields more than last year.

He said that the tobacco varieties that planted in lower area or farms consist of Kemloko 3, 4, and 6; while for the mountainous region, most of them are Kemloko 2 and 5.

"For Kemloko 1, only a few of farmers that already accustomed to them managed to plant this variety, because Kemloko 1 has a unique aroma, but the leaf counts are very low", said the man 

He explained that if the dry season prolonged, the tobacco quality will be good and expected to be sold with high price as well.

"Based on the quality of the plantation this season, we hope that the tobacco price will be better than 2018", he said.


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July 28th, 2019

As The Tobacco Harvest Season Come

As the tobacco harvest season come near in Pamekasan, Madura -one of the region in Indonesia that produce an indigenous type of Madura Leaf; The Chamber of Trade and Industry in Pamekasan has collected the data on how many Madura Leaf successfully harvested and sold during the first half of year 2019, especially in their own region. According to the data collected, the current amount of leaf sold has reached 18,800 tonnes  and potentially increased in the second half of the year.

The Chamber predicted that tobacco production in Madura during 2019 will be around 20.000 tonnes.

Based on the previous records, the Madura tobacco (especially those came from Pamekasan) always sold out every single year. The Head of Customer Protection and Metrology of Chamber of Trade and Industry in Pamekasan is optimistic that this trend would continue, and all of the Madura Leaf harvested during year 2019 will be entirely sold out as well.

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July 26th, 2019

Facebook and Instagram to restrict content related tobacco

Facebook will unveil a new policy to restrict sales and limit content related to alcohol and tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, a company spokeswoman tells CNN.

The new policy will prohibit all private sales, trades, transfers and gifting of alcohol and tobacco products on Facebook and Instagram, the spokeswoman said. Any brands that post content related to the sale or transfer of these products will have to restrict that content to adults 18 or older.

The new policy will go into effect Wednesday and will also apply to any Facebook groups created to sell alcohol or tobacco products, the spokeswoman said. The social network is reaching out to group administrators to alert them of the changes.

The company is enforcing the new rules, the spokeswoman said, and may remove any groups that do not make necessary changes. While the company's policies already prohibit the sale of tobacco and alcohol in Facebook Marketplace, the platform is extending its ban to "organic content" -- regular posts from private users. The company will "use a combination of technology, human review and reports from our community to find and remove any content that violates these policies," the spokeswoman said.

Facebook and Instagram users, including those under 18, are still free to post other content related to tobacco and vape products. Under the new policy, so-called influencers who are paid to promote nicotine-containing products will also be allowed to post content related to tobacco and vape products. Those posts will not have to be age restricted, the spokeswoman said.

She emphasized, however, that the company is considering possible changes to its influencer policy and is working with industry and regulatory bodies on potential revisions.


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July 25th, 2019

Government actions balance cigarette tax

Had to address two concerns before issuing a regulation on cigarette excise: its impacts on health and the industry.Sri Mulyani said that the use of tobacco by smokers, especially children, would badly affect their health in the future; so the Government imposed excise on tobacco products in a bid to lessen its consumption.

The tobacco industry employed a large number of workers, including tobacco and clove farmers.Speaking before millennials at a Youth Engagement event at Balai Sarbini, Jakarta, Sri Mulyani implied that, given these circumstances, it was difficult for the Government to decide whether to prioritize individual physical health or economic health.

Therefore, she said, the Government planned to gradually increase taxes based on the roadmap of tobacco excise, which would provide “a signal to the tobacco industry and regional administrations”.

At the same time, Sri Mulyani said, the Finance Ministry, through the Customs and Excise Directorate General, would strive to reduce the illegal trade in cigarettes. In 2017, the illegal trade was said to have accounted for 10.9 percent of the cigarette market, a figure that fell in 2018 to 7.03 percent. Indonesia is to follow a policy of foreshadowing cigarette excise increases in such a way as to limit smoking while lessening the impact of any cigarette-sales reduction on tobacco-industry jobs, according to a story at en.tempo.co.Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati said the Government had to address two concerns before issuing a regulation on cigarette excise: its impacts on health and the industry.

Sri Mulyani said that the use of tobacco by smokers, especially children, would badly affect their health in the future; so the Government imposed excise on tobacco products in a bid to lessen its consumption. However, on the other side of the coin, the tobacco industry employed a large number of workers, including tobacco and clove farmers. Speaking before millennials at a Youth Engagement event at Balai Sarbini, Jakarta, Sri Mulyani implied that, given these circumstances, it was difficult for the Government to decide whether to prioritize individual physical health or economic health. Therefore, she said, the Government planned to gradually increase taxes based on the roadmap of tobacco excise, which would provide “a signal to the tobacco industry and regional administrations”.

At the same time, Sri Mulyani said, the Finance Ministry, through the Customs and Excise Directorate General, would strive to reduce the illegal trade in cigarettes. In 2017, the illegal trade was said to have accounted for 10.9 percent of the cigarette market, a figure that fell in 2018 to 7.03 percent.

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July 24th, 2019

Tobacco Are Cashing In On The Surprising Trend

According to the independent Royal Society for Public Health, nicotine on its own is no more harmful than caffeine. E-cigarettes are promoted by Public Health England as aids for giving up smoking.However, BAT's research found just 18 per cent of those who used its vaping devices were smokers who had quit.

In a briefing to financial analysts late last year, chief executive Nicandro Durante revealed that a study found 5 per cent of vapers had never smoked before, 8 per cent were relapsed smokers and 70 per cent both smoked and vaped. Concern has also been raised that vaping is becoming increasingly popular among teenagers and other young people, creating a new market for tobacco companies.

According to the independent Royal Society for Public Health, nicotine on its own is no more harmful than caffeine. E-cigarettes are promoted by Public Health England as aids for giving up smoking.However, BAT's research found just 18 per cent of those who used its vaping devices were smokers who had quit.

In a briefing to financial analysts late last year, chief executive Nicandro Durante revealed that a study found 5 per cent of vapers had never smoked before, 8 per cent were relapsed smokers and 70 per cent both smoked and vaped.

Concern has also been raised that vaping is becoming increasingly popular among teenagers and other young people, creating a new market for tobacco companies.

In documents unearthed by The Mail on Sunday, both BAT and rival Imperial Brands stated that vaping is 'additive' for their businesses. This indicates that e-cigarettes are helping tobacco firms to boost revenues

BAT has already seen a significant rise in sales from its non-cigarette lines. The tobacco giant's so-called 'Potentially Reduced Risk Products' business has grown to pull in annual revenues of £2 billion in just three years.

The Mail on Sunday has previously reported that vaping and tobacco heating devices generate higher profit margins than cigarette sales. A spokesman for Imperial Brands said: 'The risks to smokers' health are caused by the toxicants released from burning tobacco, not by the naturally occurring nicotine.


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July 23rd, 2019

E- Cigarette Helping Smokers Quit , a Study Says

A yearlong, randomized trial in England showed that e-cigarettes were almost twice as successful as products like patches or gum for smoking cessation. It has been one of the most pressing unanswered questions in public health: Do e-cigarettes actually help smokers quit? Now, the first, large rigorous assessment offers an unequivocal answer: yes.

The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that e-cigarettes were nearly twice as effective as conventional nicotine replacement products, like patches and gum, for quitting smoking.

The success rate was still low — 18 percent among the e-cigarette group, compared to 9.9 percent among those using traditional nicotine replacement therapy — but many researchers who study tobacco and nicotine said it gave them the clear evidence they had been looking for.

“This is a seminal study,” said Dr. Neal L. Benowitz, chief of clinical pharmacology at the University of California, San Francisco, an expert in nicotine absorption and tobacco-related illnesses, who was not involved in the project. “It is so important to the field.”

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July 22nd, 2019

HIV drug made from tobacco plant

A monoclonal antibody produced in the leaves of tobacco plants entered phase I clinical trials in the United Kingdom.The antibody, known as P2G12, recognizes an HIV surface protein and is expected to help stop the transmission of the virus, although it has never been tested in humans. The phase I trial, underway at the University of Surrey, will test the safety of vaginally applying the antibody to 11 healthy women.

This is the first plant-produced antibody to be cleared for clinical trials by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Agency (the UK equivalent of the US Food and Drug Administration). Producing the antibody using tobacco plants grown in a greenhouse in Germany is 10 to 100 times cheaper than using conventional methods employing bacteria or mammalian cells, Smart Planet Report 

“Monoclonal antibodies can be made in plants to the same quality as those made using existing conventional production systems," Professor Julian Ma from St George's University, London and joint co-ordinator of the project, told The Guardian. “That is something many people did not believe could be achieved.”


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July 21st, 2019

The Benefits of Tobacco That Many People Don't Know

Tobacco is an agricultural product that is processed from the leaves of plants of the genus Nicotiana. Tobacco can be consumed, used as a pesticide, and in the form of nicotine tartrate can be used as medicine. If consumed, tobacco is generally made into cigarettes, chewing tobacco, etc. In a cigarette, there are various benefits contained in it. One of the benefits of smoking activities that had been examined by the community allowed smoking in several sub-districts in Gunung Kidul, Yogyakarta, they said that smoking helped in the relaxation process after work. According to them, smoking can help calm down and eliminate the fatigue that is being suffered after work.


Unfortunately the benefits of smoking, as well as other benefits of tobacco leaves, seem to be ignored and underestimated by the various forms of campaigns that corner tobacco. Ragan's campaign form ended in a terrible campaign written on each pack of cigarettes sold on the market: Cigarettes Killing You!


Is it really like that? Is it true that tobacco does have to be so hated and feared that it is campaigned as such. Here are some of the benefits of tobacco as well as cigarette products.

1. Expel Pests In gardening activities,

Tobacco leaves can be used as anti-pest. Lice that attack the leaves, stem rod pests, and spiders that nest in plants that are planted, can be evicted using tobacco leaves mixed with water. Farmers in several places have used the properties of tobacco leaves for a long time.

2. Medication for skin rashes, eczema and rheumatism

In the treatment of skin rashes, eczema and rheumatism, tobacco leaves are used as medicine by compressing them into the parts released by the disease. Tobacco leaves are crushed to a rather fine, then distributed to the injured body part. This treatment has long been used for traditional medicine in the India.

3. Toothache

Treatment of tobacco leaf bales can also be used to relieve pain caused by toothache. Tobacco which is ground until smooth and then distributed to the swollen part due to toothache.

4. Flu

A mixture of tobacco leaves and leptotaenia multifida are used to help treat colds and coughs. In addition, this mixture plus Indian balsam root is believed to also cure asthma and tuberculosis.

5. Mental Medicine

According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, people who suffer from mental disorders such as ADHD / ADD, schizophrenia, and other disorders may experience the positive effects of smoking. Apparently, the dose of nicotine has the effect of short-term normalization on electrical activity in the brain. For Alzheimer's disease also benefits from nicotine doses. According to the study, the patient's cognitive abilities improved slightly.

6. Produces anticancer proteins

The Biotechnology Research Center of the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) has conducted research by replicating proteins from the human body into tobacco leaves. This tobacco leaf can be used for stem cell and cervical cancer.

7. Anti Inflammation

Scientists from several European research institutions participated in a project titled "Pharma-Planta" led by Professor Mario Pezzotti of the University of Verona. They make transgenic tobacco that produces interleukin-10 (IL-10), which is an anti-inflammatory cytokine that is capable of producing proteins that stimulate immune cells to be active

8. HIV / AIDS drugs

Still based on research conducted by Professor Mario Pezzoti, tobacco can also produce the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) drug protein that causes AIDS, called griffithsin. The difference is not the tobacco that produces protein, but the tobacco virus.

9. Rabies medicine

Reporting from St George's University of London said, research on tobacco that can treat rabies,genetically engineered tobacco plants can be used to produce protective antibodies that are safe against the deadly rabies virus.

This makes it possible to provide relatively inexpensive drugs for rabies that will benefit patients in developing countries. Scientists have succeeded in producing antibodies in transgenic tobacco plants (genetically altered plants) that have been proven to neutralize the rabies virus.

This new monoclonal antibody works by preventing the virus from attaching to the nerve endings around the site of the bite and making the virus not spread to the brain. Monoclonal antibodies are complex proteins, originally derived from the immune system, but in this case they are made in plants to fight disease. The antibodies are also proven to be active in neutralizing various rabies viruses.

That is a bit of the many benefits of tobacco plants that can be used in addition to being the main ingredient in making cigarette products.


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July 19th, 2019

White Burley Tobacco

White Burley Tobacco was develop in Jember in 1998, to meet the cigarette production of long white stick needs. To fullfill the demand it was imported from America. White Burley planted by farmers through partnership with company.The planting seasson can be done in May-July and it requiress no rain condition, The planting period in garden are 60 days and leaves picking session is taken periodically for 30 days. White Burley leaves picking are done in two ways reguler picking the leaves alone, while the stalk cutting is done by cutting is done by cutting the leaves steam off at the base of the steam.

Drying is done for 45 days, taken either with the leaves only or included with the stem, in accordance with the previous process of picking. It has three processes during drying there is an aging process, color degradation and drying process.

Drying is done in the wards of curing, with the type of draining water cured method, until it looks full dried leaves. White Burley tobacco is used primarily for American-style cigarette and a main component of chewing tobacco.

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July 18th, 2019

Na Oogst World-recognized Tobacco

At first tobacco develop in Jember called tobacco Besuki Na Oogst (Bes NO), it means the leaves were planted after paddy harvest. in Bes NO, tobacco observance commonly planted in May or entering dry season, where planting paddy is no longer productive at this season. Bes NO usage for raw cigar materials, commonly named : Besuki Na Oogst Early Planting (BesNOTA) were planted around May and harvested in July, The Shade Grown Tobacco planted almost along with BesNOTA, TBN.The management of those three tobaccos are basically the same,which differ only in the land treatment,such as watering because it involves different planting season.The final result of these three kinds of tobaccos are : Dekblad ( Wrapping ), Omblad ( Bandage ), Filler.

Tobacco processing relatively complicated and requires leghthy time;ranging from the field, to the processing barn and up to the sorting and fermenting process. An appropriate management determine the grade of leaves as described on flavor ( taste ), elasticity, colour and burning quality. Shade grown tobacco (TBN) is a result of developed tobacco cultivation technique by using shade of nets. The usefulness of shading is to reduce the sun exposure by 30% and protect it from pets and disease. NO tobacco is widely grown in Ajung,Jenggawah, Ambulu, Wuluhan and Rambipuji.

Jember Regency is famous for producing one of the best Tobacco in the world. Through the potential of this tobacco plant, Kabupaten Jember has long been famous and legendary as a "city of tobacco". And one of the largest tobacco producer and producer regions with quality products. Not only in the national market, the city of Jember has long been known in several European countries such as Bremen.The flagship production of Jember mainstay is tobacco. Cigar enthusiasts know exactly that cigars made in Cuba, America, Switzerland and Germany are expensive and classy. Kabupaten Jember through Besuki tobacco is one of the cigar suppliers.

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July 17th, 2019

Kasturi Tobacco

Kasturi tobacco is a typical tobacco grown in Jember, Known as Voor Oogst (VO) category. It is well known also as a people's tobacco because of it is generally grown by farmers. Which spread out from Jember to Bondowoso. The planting season begin at the end of the rainy season (May-June) and is going to be harvested in dry season (August-September).

The leaves varietes including Jepon, Roses, Jimamut. The demand is used as raw ingredient of clove cigarettes. There are 2 kinds of drying treatment, namely Talap System and Pendulum system. Talap system is drying handling by expose them under the direct sun and it is required completely. It has the advantage that the leaves dry  faster and evenly. Ripening on the talap system performed during 6-7 days, and then drying the lamina in sun curing for 3 or 4 days. Pendulum system which is a process of drying tobacco leaves by hanging spuned tobacco on two bamboo slats.

Both system are much performed by farmers because it does not take a large area. Next there is an aging process, then followed by hanging it under the sun. The finished dried tobacco would be stranded on bamboo then packed with bamboo mats or plastic cover.

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July 7th, 2019

Tobacco Potential as Renewable Energy Resources

A group of scientists from School of Biological Sciences, United Kingdom, found that one of tobacco species, i.e. Nicotiana glauca, produced a compound which could be utilized as biodiesel fuel. The compound could be directly utilized as fuel or processed to be other oil products. What is interesting from this species is that it can grow well in hot and barren condition. It does not need fertile area in order to reach its maximum size. In addition, it can grow in an area with the amount of rainfall of 200 mm per year or temperature of above 40 Celcius degrees.

“This is an important factor. It means that to propagate this species, we do not need to use fields which are for food plants,” Paul Fraser said, one of researchers from School of Biological Sciences. “Now, many farmers are afraid of losing some parts of their field used to cultivate biofuel-source plants. Our finding can overcome this issue,” he continued. From the preliminary study, it is known that Nicotiana glauca can grow in the condition of desert climate which is commonly around in United Arab Emirates, Northern Africa and several dry areas all over the globe. It is also ensured that Nicotiana glauca can become the source of bioethanol and biodiesel, which can be utilized as fuel in its native form. However, these kind of fuel are more commonly utilized as addictive substance to reduce particulation level, carbon monoxide and hydrocarbon in diesel-machine vehicle.

According to the data from International Energy Agency, biofuel has great potential to meet the need of fuel, up to more than a quarter of world fuel demand for transportation industry in 2050. European Union has prepared budget of 5,77 million Euro (about 71,8 billion Rupiah) to undertake an advanced study through MultiBioPro project, involving industrialist and academician partners. The project aims to explore the knowledge dealing with biological processes and increase the use of renewable energy resources. They hope that through this project, there will be such technology that can significantly reduce the consumption of fossil-based fuel, which can eventually reduce the emission of green-house gases.

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July 5th, 2019

Heated Tobacco Products Replaced Cigarette Sales – New American Cancer Society Study

Heated Tobacco Products (HTPs) are rapidly expanding into new markets around the world, and in Japan and South Korea, they have gained a substantial share of the tobacco market. Unlike e-cigarettes, which contain a liquid nicotine solution called e-liquid, HTPs contain heat sticks or pellets made from a tobacco leaf paste that is treated with a mix of chemicals that includes propylene glycol, a e-cigarette liquid solvent. The IQOS HTP device made by Philip Morris International consists of a paper tube tipped with a foam filter. Instead of being lit on fire like a cigarette, however, a battery powered heating device heats the tobacco paste to a point before it burns, called pyrolysis. With this heat, the tobacco then releases nicotine and other chemicals into an aerosol that is inhaled by the user.

Unlike the e-cigarette market, the HTP market has been the exclusive domain of tobacco cigarette manufacturers. As a result, the HTP products are branded in a similar manner to tobacco cigarettes. Unquestionably, we can see that declines in per-capita cigarette sales have accelerated as HTP sales have increased. In terms of tobacco control policy progress, Japan has lagged behind other very-high-HDI countries. For example, they have been unable to pass a smoke-free policy for the 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo, something that most host countries or cities going back decades have been able to accomplish. Despite this, since Japan has seen its rate of decline in cigarette sales quintuple from a 2% decline per year from 2011 through 2015 to a 10% decline per year from 2015 through 2018, all without a major change in national tobacco control policy. Can all or part of this acceleration in the decline of tobacco sales be attributed to the introduction of IQOS? A team of American Cancer Society researchers, who are also Tobacco Atlas authors, examined this question using market data from Japan.

In 2014, Philip Morris International introduced the IQOS heated tobacco system into Nagoya, Japan. Then the product was given a phased introduction to 12 of Japan’s 47 prefectures in September of 2015, and the remaining 35 in April of 2016. The IQOS system’s Marlboro Heatsticks rapidly grew, comprising a 17.4 percent share of the combined cigarette/heated-tobacco-stick market by 2019.

The ACS researchers exploited the externally manipulated introduction dates across prefectures to assess the likely impact of IQOS introduction. Comparing the timing of IQOS introduction with the timing of decline in per-capita smoking, they found that cigarettes sales tended to decline in the months after IQOS introduction. The decline in cigarette sales happened later in the regions where IQOS was introduced later. The researchers further determined that this pattern was not explicable by a national-level factor other than IQOS and that it was unlikely to be attributable to random chance.

The piece fits into a narrative that is developing around HTPs and the business case that is being made for them by their proponents. Tobacco companies are pressing regulatory agencies, treasuries, and legislatures for favorable tax treatment as a concession to their purportedly lower health hazards. In some cases, they are being granted tax rate concessions, but overall, the products seem to be more profitable per unit than the cigarettes they are replacing. They are also consistently more expensive to use than cigarettes in every market except those with the highest cigarette prices. This new article makes the case that HTPs are likely to be replacing cigarette sales. If the products do have higher profit margins than cigarettes and have the potential to replace declining cigarette sales, then it is little wonder that tobacco companies are so eager to get into this product category.

We want to add two notes for further consideration before we conclude.  First, dropping cigarettes sales might not necessarily translate to dropping cigarette smoking prevalence. From what we see in other data sources, many smokers are now dual users of both cigarettes and HTPs and the number of exclusive HTP users is relatively low. Dual use is not desired from the public health perspective because continuing to smoke cigarettes, even at a low intensity, will cause a level of harm to the smoker that is far out of proportion to the amount smoked. Second, it is not currently possible to reach confident conclusions about the level of direct harm users will experience from HTP use, and how this compares to the harms of smoking. Therefore, unless smokers are successfully using HTPs as a short-term cessation device, there are uncertain and potentially substantial risks associated with prolonged use of HTPs.

Read more about regulating novel products here.

Read full article: Michal Stoklosa, Zachary Cahn, Alex C. Liber, Nigar Nargis, Jeffrey Drope (2019) “The effect of IQOS introduction on cigarette sales: evidence of decline and replacement” Tobacco Control Published online first on 17 June 2019.

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July 5th, 2019

Tobacco Of Jember History

Tobacco plantation in Jember started before 1850,together with the other developed plantation areas in the Dutch East Indies eg. Coffee , sugar cane, rubber and indigo.

The Dutch figures named George Birnie was the initiator of the tobacco industry in Jember, on October 21st 1859 with Mathiesen and van Gennep, they established NV Landbouw Oud Djember Maatschappij (LMOD)

After the reformation of Dutch goverment and economy policies change, there was an open opportunity for private investors to establish plantation sectorals,so the tobacco companies grew rapidly.Moreover,it was also supported by the enactment Agrarian Law ( Wet Agrarische ) the enterpreneurs to the land usage within a period of 75 years (erfpacht authority/ Long-term land lease) .

When the selected plantation commodities had high sales value in the market world, tobacco for cigars had high demand, known to be perfect leaves,especially the leaves came from Deli - North Sumatra,Klaten, Central Java and East Java.This made the tobacco business grow by the advantage of exporting chanel, and as a result the economics growth increase very rapidly in the areas.

In addition to a fast economic growth,these industries also have an impact on demographic development and culture.In Jember, as it was previously a part of the into a part of the Bondowoso district, Regentschap developed into a part from bondowoso in 1883 Various facilities and infrastructure built in Jember for business tobacco, so Jember became the most advanced development and later in convert to the capital city of Besuki, include : Jember, Banyuwangi,Bondowoso and Situbondo.

After Indonesia's independence, DUtch companies were nationalized, based on Act no 86 of 1958. Furthermore, based on Goverment Regulation no. 4 of 1959 it was determined that the Dutch owned tobacco company further taken for nasionalized.

These companies were

  1. NV. Landbouw Maatschappij Oud Djember in Adjong, Gambirono,Kertosari, West Djember,Oost Djember, Nangkaan
  2. Besoeki Tabaks Maatschappij ( BTM ) at Mojo, Sumber Jeruk and Tamanan
  3. NV. Cultivation Maatschappij Djelboek in Jelbuk and Soekokerto Jember
  4. NV. Landbouw Maatschappij (SKM) Ex Dutch firms This turned into Plantation Company State (VAT)

A few years later those companies got improvement, up to 1972 became PTP XXVII and in 1966 became PT PTPN X ( PTPN X ) until now.

Meanwhile, at the beginning of the year 1960s, the development of the tobacco business Jember was very good, so the tobacco atmosphere trade was prospering, many companies are not strong to survive and brought them into bankcruptcy. After their ups and down, now there are on 18 exporters exist

The presence of the tobacco business is not just a business and cultivation plants, it is matter of land managment and of a large number of workers involvement.In addition,it also multiply the economic effect include the contribution of people's mobility , such as transportation, street vendors mobility and sale of bamboo.

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July 5th, 2019

The visit of China Tobacco National Corp to PT. Mangli Djaya Raya

The visit of China Tobacco National Corp to PT. Mangli Djaya Raya took place at July 13th, 2012. This visit aimed to carry out comparative study and identify further about the tobacco processing, begun from the fresh raw material until the ready-exported tobacco leave.

Arriving at around 8 a.m, the delegation of CNTC straightaway headed up to The Central Office of PT. Mangli Djaya Raya located at Bangsalsari, Jember. The delegation were welcomed by Vice President, Mr Christian Adi Njoto Njoo and Sales Manager Mr. Leo Mardjuki. Having introduced the company profile of PT. Mangli Djaya Raya, they afterwards accompanied the delegation to take company tour so as to know more closely each part of production facility.

All delegation members seemed to be enthusiastic in observing every explanation delivered by Mr. Christian and team about the stages of tobacco processing in PT. Mangli Djaya Raya. According to those explanation, there are five stages required to process fresh tobacco to be ready-marketed product. These stages are as follows: Sorting and blending, Reconditioning and redrying, Picking, Moisture testing and chemical analyzing, Packaging

CNTC delegations also see the process of making a cigar and variety of tobacco produced by MDR. After the introduction of tobacco production process had been done, the visit agenda was concluded by lunch. At the end of this visit, all delegation members were quite content for entirely valuable information and new insight they got during the visit.

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July 3rd, 2019

Awarding of ISO 9001:2008

Mangli Djaya Raya has been awarded ISO 9001:2008 on April 5th, 2011. The award, which was submitted by Governor of East Java Sukarwo, is intended for companies that have fulfilled the criteria of award receiver.

Quality Management Systems (ISO 9001:2008) is documented procedures and standard practices for system management, with the objective of assuring compatibility of process and product (good and service) towards particular necessity or requirement. These particular necessity or requirement are determined or specified by customer and organization.  

The benefits of ISO 9001:2008 implementation are as follows:

- Improving costumer trust

- As the guarantee of process and product quality

- Increasing company productivity and market share

- Strengthening employee motivation, innovation, and performance

- As the analysis instrument for company’s competitors

- Improving mutual relationship with suppliers

- Improving cost efficiency and product safety

- Improving means of internal communication

- Building the positive image of company

- Establishing the documented system of work

- As the medium of training and education

 Through the implementation of ISO 9001:2008, MDR is bent on producing the best qualified East Java/VO tobacco for the satisfaction of our customers.

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June 6th, 2019

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