Tobacco Control

Health organizations urging the Obama administration in the fight with the federal court decision blocking the graphic warnings from appearing on cigarette packs. Judge Richard J. Leon U.S. Court for the District of Columbia, February 29, ruled unconstitutional a rule, the Food and Drug necessarily new images, which include a photo of a person smoking through a hole tracheotomy and a dead man with a transaction-scarred chest.
The images were to begin appearing on packages in September. The American Lung Assn, American Cancer Society and others have called the ruling a threat to public health and have asked the Justice Department to appeal this decision as soon as possible.
“We strongly disagree with [the judge] concluded that the new graphic warningsneither factual nor accurate,»the Association said in a statement.” The facts are clear and indisputable that cigarette smoking is addictive, harms children, causes fatal lung disease, cancer, stroke and heart disease, and can kill you. ”
Ministry of Justice and the FDA declined to comment on the decision or to discuss the next step housing. On its website, FDA said, because of ongoing litigation, pursuant to notice the date is uncertain. Ministry of Health and Human Services has remained positive about the implementation of the warning.
“This administration intends to do everything we can to warn young people about the dangers of smoking, which remains the leading preventable cause of death in America”, HHS said in a statement. “We are confident that efforts to stop these warnings are important in the future will ultimately fail.”
The judge correctly decided that the execution of image violates the First Amendment rights of tobacco manufacturers, said Martin L. Holton III, executive vice president and general counsel for RJ Reynolds Tobacco Co, one of the plaintiffs.
“We believe the government, health authorities, manufacturers of tobacco products, and others share the responsibility for providing accurate information to consumers of tobacco on the various health risks associated with smoking,” said Holton. “However, the purpose of informing the public about the risks of tobacco use may and shall be in accordance with the Constitution of the United States.”
Prevention aimed at preventing smoking
FDA published a text and graphic health warnings in June 2011, claiming the tobacco companies should be prepared to place them on all cigarette packs, boxes and advertising, since September 2012. Warnings have been part of the family smoking prevention and tobacco control law, which came into force in 2009. The labels were aimed at reducing tobacco consumption of the nation and preventing others from starting to smoke, FDA said.
R.J. Reynolds and other tobacco companies sued the government over the images in August 2011.
The American Medical Association joined other health organizations in submitting three friend-of-the-court briefs in support of the warnings.
“The overwhelming evidence suggests that the existing warning failed to adequately inform the public of the risks of tobacco use and that the industry deliberately undermined these warnings, distorting the health consequences of smoking and the sale of its products for children,” one of the memos said. “The evidence also establishes that a large, graphic warnings required [FDA] as effective at raising public awareness about the dangers of smoking and reduce tobacco consumption.”
Leon is temporarily disabled warning in November 2011. In its February 29 opinion, Leon tells not only the image violates the Constitution, but the FDA also failed to pass through the image of any evidence of actual health effects of smoking.
“It is clear that the actual purpose of government is not to inform or educate, and advocate for changes in behavior, in particular, to encourage smoking cessation and discourage potential new smokers from the beginning,” said Leon. “Reliance on government graphics – which were selected based on their ability to evoke emotion, a criterion that does not affect whether the graphics affects the knowledge of consumers about the risks of smoking – in combination with a toll-free number, also supports the conclusion that the true purpose of government is to convince consumers that they should “get out now.”
Leon’s ruling conflicts with a 2010 federal court decision in a similar lawsuit. In this case, U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky said that the graphics were legitimate.

Funding for tobacco control ‘inadequate’

Annual government funding for tobacco control is just several hundred thousand yuan for each province on the Chinese mainland, far below what’s needed and much less than the amounts provided in other countries, anti-smoking experts said.
In the United States, hundreds of millions of dollars are allocated annually for tobacco control research and projects, said Jonathan Samet, chairman of the Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
“Although we’ve seen the prevalence of both the smoking epidemic and lung cancer decline in the US, tobacco control is still an urgent and important issue, given that nicotine is highly addictive and we don’t want our children to take up smoking,” he told China Daily in an interview on Sunday.
In 2011, the US had about 221,000 new cases of lung cancer, while about 157,000 people died from the disease, according to estimates from the US National Cancer Institute.
“Unfortunately, less-educated people today suffer the most from smoking in the US,” said Samet. He said that the smoking rate among the college-educated was less than 10 percent, but it was 40 percent among those who hadn’t finished high school.
Samet said that the prevalence of smoking peaked around 1961 in the US, when half of the men and 35 percent of the women smoked.
Now, less than 20 percent of the US population smokes. The rates are about equal for men and women but vary widely across the country, he said.
Tobacco control campaigns in the US started in the 1960s, following the first report linking smoking and lung cancer. Most offices and public places have become smoke-free in the past 15 years.
“Increasing public awareness and changing social norms helped achieve the change,” said Samet, himself brought up by parents who smoked.
The change has improved the US public health situation. Lung cancer rates among men began to drop some 20 years ago, while in women they are just beginning to decrease, he added.
However, in China, the lung cancer rate has kept increasing in the past decade, said Shi Yuankai, vice-president of the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences Cancer Hospital. “It’s about an annual increase of 5 percent.”
“That rising trend won’t be reversed within 20 to 30 years, due to both smoking and air pollution,” he said.
Usually, smoking goes way up and about 20 to 30 years later, there is an evident rise in lung cancer, Samet said.
In China, smoking rates began to increase after the late 1970s and then dropped slightly in the 1990s, said Yang Gonghuan, head of the China Tobacco Control Office under the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
But in the early 2000s, the smoking rate “began to climb a little bit again”, she said.
Health experts attributed that change to Chinese tobacco companies’ low-tar promotion strategy, which was undertaken in response to rising pressure for tobacco control, particularly after China ratified the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in 2005.
Between 2000 and 2010, China experienced a 41.15 percent rise in cigarette sales, official statistics show.
Samet said that reducing the amount of tar and nicotine in cigarettes didn’t change the risk to human health.
Asked to comment on China’s new “tobacco academician”, Xie Jianping, who was inducted into the Chinese Academy of Engineering, said: “That’s quite unusual and couldn’t happen in the US, where tobacco researchers are hired secretly by tobacco companies.”
Yang said the government’s monopoly on tobacco was the root cause of such a situation.
Unlike in the US, where the tobacco industry is regulated by health departments, specifically the FDA, China’s tobacco industry is regulated by the State Tobacco Monopoly Bureau, which also represents the China National Tobacco Corp.
Taking into account the huge costs of smoking, in terms of treating smoking- related diseases and the loss of lives, “the Chinese government should try to get out of the tobacco business,” Samet said.

Rules on duty-free tobacco needed

The Legislative Assembly (AL) unanimously passed the new tobacco tax yesterday but several lawmakers urged the government to introduce stricter rules for duty-free cigarettes, similar to those enforced in Hong Kong.
Others said the MOP 6 tax increase is not enough and that Macau still lags behind other regions, while some lawmakers expressed concerns about the risk of tobacco smuggling.
The tobacco tax will increase by MOP 0.5 for each cigarette, in order to be in line with the ban on smoking in public places that comes into effect from January 1. Tobacco packs will increase by at least MOP 6.
In Macau the tobacco tax was last updated in 2009 and is currently at MOP 0.2 per cigarette or MOP 4 per 20-cigarette pack. As soon as the revision comes into effect, the tax will be MOP 10 per pack.
Currently, the average price of a cigarette pack is MOP 20 while in Hong Kong the price is MOP 50 after a 41.6 tax increase enforced in June this year.
The new tax was submitted to the AL in an urgent procedure and all lawmakers expressed their support of the government’s proposal. However they want more to be done in order to control smoking in Macau.
Smuggling fears
Directly-elected lawmaker Ng Kuok Cheong warned the government that the “tobacco smuggling market doesn’t seem to be under control” and sellers are worried that it will affect their business. “Does the government have the capacity to fight smuggling?” the pan-democrat questioned.
He also stressed that not only are tobacco prices higher in Hong Kong but that it’s also forbidden to enter the neighbouring SAR with more than 19 cigarettes. In Macau people can enter with as many as 10 packs.
The goal set out by the World Health Organisation is that tobacco tax should be 70 percent or more of the retail cost of a packet of cigarettes. According to the bill approved yesterday, the local tobacco tax duty will only be 38 percent of the retail cost while in Hong Kong it is close to 70 percent.
Ho Ion Sang said that Macau is still far away from that goal. “The government needs to consult the governments of neighbouring regions because there is a large discrepancy in this area. What will the government do to control smuggling? Will the government limit the number of duty-free tobacco?” he asked.
Pan-democrat Paul Chan Wai Chi also warned that “smuggled or counterfeit tobacco affects residents”. He urged more work be undertaken by the Customs Service (SA).
Rule revision
Other AL members questioned whether the SA has the necessary human resources to increase control and inspections.
Most lawmakers urged the government to continue to raise the tax in order to reduce the number of smokers, mainly among the youth.
Chui Sai Cheong added that the anti-smoking act, to be enacted next month, should be revised after the three-year grace period for casinos and bars.
Ho Sio Kam, from the education sector, said that the tax is “not the only way” to prevent smoking. “Awareness and education are also important. Each person can carry 10 packs of duty-free tobacco to Macau. Can you limit that? Otherwise the tax cannot produce the desired effects,” she added.
Secretary for Economy and Finance Francis Tam Pak Yuen pledged to strengthen the awareness and punishment of smuggling, as well as to enhance the action of the SA.
“We will promote close contact and communication with mainland China and tackle the smuggling routes,” he pledged.
As for the change of duty-free rules, Tam agreed with lawmakers’ opinions but explained that it requires the revision of the law on foreign trade. He also promised to review the tax-duty in the future.
Yesterday lawmakers also passed the 2012 Government Budget.

Tobacco Control Cell registers case against Philip Morris

In a landmark development, the Tobacco Control Cell has commenced legal proceedings against cigarette manufacturer Philip Morris Pakistan Limited for violation of binding stipulations concerning tobacco advertising.

Good precedent

Talking to Profit, Deputy Project Director of the Tobacco Control Cell Dr Ziauddin Islam said, “For the first time ever a police case has been registered and sent to the magistrate against any tobacco company on violation of tobacco control laws in Pakistan.” This case has been registered in Faisalabad and Dr Ziauddin said it would set a good precedent for future cases.

However in this case, under section 11B, the first time offender would be liable to pay a fine of Rs5,000 with up to three months in prison, while subsequent offenders will be subjected to a Rs100,000 fine along with the three-month sentence. Unfortunately, multi-national companies have time and again indulged in practices that are in blatant disregard of existing laws and Philip Morris Pakistan Limited (formerly known as Lakson Tobacco Company) has taken it a step further by openly advertising their cigarette brand Marlboro, in numerous magazines with full page glossy adverts, promoting the brand in gross violation of SRO 882(I)/2007, issued under Section 7 of the Prohibition of Smoking and Protection of Non-smokers Health Ordinance 2002, which states that with effect from May 31, 2007, tobacco advertisements will not be more than one square inch (with 20 per cent of this covered by a health warning).

Civil society action

It is learnt that the advertisement campaign in question cost Philip Morris approximately Rs50 million, in gross violation of law prohibiting just such an act. Yet authorities did not take appropriate legal measures till the transgression was reported by civil society activists. It is common knowledge that cigarette companies have been barred from indulging in advertising campaigns, something that even the common man is aware of. But despite the action, campaigners are dissatisfied with the Rs100,000 fine as “not nearly enough” to discourage such discourse. “This is a ridiculous penalty.

It is unlikely to deter the company or set a viable precedent. The punishment must be stricter,” said an anti-smoking activist while talking to Profit. Interestingly, the worth of the brand being promoted by the company itself is in millions of rupees. The Director General of Health Services Academy and in charge of Tobacco Control Cell, Dr Asad Hafeez, earlier said he issued notices to Philip Morris Pakistan for illegally advertising cigarette print media so that anti-tobacco ordinance could be implemented. The Prohibition of Smoking in Enclosed Places and Protection of Non-Smokers Health Ordinance, 2002, governs multiple areas of tobacco control, including restrictions on public smoking, sales to minors, and tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship.

According to the Presidential Ordinance, “Notwithstanding anything contained in any other law for the time being in force, no person/company shall advertise tobacco and tobacco products in any media, in any place and any public service vehicle.” This makes the recent promotional advertisements by Philip Morris, a clear violation of these rules and regulations.

Poor justification

The Tobacco Control Cell in an issued statement, said, “It is the practice of the M/s Philip Morris International (PMI), Pakistan, to first violate the tobacco control laws, and then give poor justification on these violations. This company has already been served a legal notice on violation of Section 7 of ‘Prohibition of Smoking and Protection of Non-Smoker’s Health Ordinance, 2002 by offering free incentives on tobacco products. On this violation, Tobacco Control Cell issued a legal notice to the company on 22nd June, 2011. To clarify the guidelines, the matter was again discussed in the Tobacco Advertisement Guidelines Committee. In this meeting, representative from M/s PMI, Pakistan (M/s Lakson Tobacco Company) assured to follow the guidelines. This means no more excuses shall be accepted.” When questioned over the effectiveness of the Tobacco Control Cell, Ziauddin said, “We are merely concerned with the legislation aspect, while the implementation and enforcement of legislations rest with law enforcement authorities.” Letters have been issued by Provincial Police officers of all provinces to ensure the implementation of tobacco control law in their respective jurisdiction.

Unconditional apology

In response to the blatant violation of law, Philip Morris Pakistan deemed it fit to tender an unconditional apology to the Tobacco Control Cell, citing that they were unaware that the law also prohibited the company from publishing adverts in magazines. However, it is clearly mentioned in the Presidential Ordinance 2002, that no cigarette manufacturing company will advertise in any media, in any place or public service vehicle. The law also stipulates that “tobacco advertising is prohibited in publications intended for young people.” Clearly the magazines where adverts were published had a significant youth target market as well. In their official statement, Tobacco Control Cell said, “Full page advertisements of Marlboro cigarette appeared in the following Newspapers: Sunday magazine of Express Tribune on 13th November, 2011, Sunday magazine Daily Times on 13th November 2011, Newsweek Pakistan on 11-18th November, 2011, Herald November 2011, Sunday magazine, Daily Times 20th November 2011, and Sunday Magazine Jang, 21st November 2011 and Sunday Magazine of Jang 28th Nov, 2011.” What is most unfortunate is that yet again, Philip Morris despite an unscrupulous violation of law will be allowed to run free, setting a precedent for other companies to follow suit.

Newspaper responsibility

While talking to a civil rights activist, he said “It is the responsibility of newspapers to ensure that such advertisements that are in blatant violation of the sovereign law of Pakistan are discouraged by print media.” He added that he was shocked to see leading stakeholders of the industry not reacting strongly, or refusing to print advertisements by Philip Morris.

Oregon’s tobacco control efforts among the best in the U.S

Smokers who want to quit will find more help in Oregon than in most other states, the American Lung Association reports:
“Oregon is tied with North Carolina and Arkansas as the sixth most quit-friendly state in the country, because of its comprehensive approach to helping smokers quit. In 2009, the state Legislature passed a law requiring health insurance plans in Oregon to fully cover tobacco cessation treatments. Every health plan providing coverage to Medicaid enrollees covers tobacco cessation treatments, as does the health plan offered to Oregon state employees.”
Oregon is one of only six states that include full coverage of tobacco-cessation treatments in Medicaid, a state and federally funded health program for the poor and disabled. But Oregon’s spending on a tobacco quit line, $5.49 per smoker for fiscal year 2012, is barely half the the amount recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: $10.53 per smoker.
Oregon’s total allocation for tobacco prevention and cessation — $8.3 million a year —
is less than one-fifth the CDC’s recommendation, according to a recent analysis by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Oregon’s prevention spending amounts to 2.5 percent of the estimated $326 million in revenue the state collects each year from tobacco industry legal settlement payments and tobacco taxes. Tobacco company spending on marketing exceeds Oregon’s investment in prevention by a ratio of 13.5 to 1.
By Joe Rojas-Burke

Vancouver City Council bans using tobacco in public parks, trails, recreation centers

The Vancouver City Council members on Monday voted unanimously to completely ban all forms of tobacco — chewed and smoked — in the city’s public parks, trails and recreation centers. The ban will be effective in 30 days.
The vote followed a two-hour discussion that includes a string of public testimonies for and against the ordinance. The council also voted to prohibit possession and use of liquors, except during special events permitted by the city and state.
The discussion focused solely on banning tobacco in public parks, with Councilman Jack Burkman making a motion to not ban smokeless or chewed tobacco, saying that if someone wants to use smokeless tobacco, “I think that’s a line we may not want to cross.” Burkman’s motion failed.
Most of the public testimonies were in support of the ban.
Alan Melnick, a health officer for Clark County, said any form of tobacco is an “incredible health hazard” especially for youths.
“I don’t think there’s more important issue than tobacco,” Melnick said. “Even when parents smoke exclusively outside, (studies have found that) that their children still have high levels of nicotine in their bodies.”
For Vancouver resident Sonya Rowe, the issue of tobacco use is more personal. Rowe said she grew up around second-hand smoking while living in San Diego, Calif. and has been in and out of the hospital for cardio pulmonary issues.
“It’s so wonderful to come up here (in Washington) and take in a lungful of clean air,” Rowe said. “I want to see it continue to be that way.”
In October, the City of Vancouver Law Department and the Vancouver-Clark Parks and Recreation Department proposed completely banning smoking any form of tobacco in public parks, trails and recreation centers, citing scientific research on the dangers of second-hand smoke.
Also approved after Monday’s discussion is keeping people out of parks for unruly or disruptive behavior. The ordinance includes rules on how long a person can be banned from a public park or recreation facility. This can be as short as seven days, or as long as one year, depending on the nature of the misconduct and prior violations of park rules.
By Kristine Guerra

Tobacco Control Can Save States Lots Of Money

States are being shortsighted by shifting tobacco control programs to cut spending because smoking cessation saves lots of money, a San Francisco economist.
Funding tobacco control programs at recommend levels could save 14 to 20 times more than the cost of implementing the programs, said Sudip Chattopadhyay of the San Francisco State University and David R. Pieper at University of California, Berkeley.
Published in the journal Contemporary Economic Policy, the study said the costs of smoking are felt by the states, mainly through medical costs, Medicaid payments and the loss of productivity by workers.
The researchers used data from 1991 to 2007, the period in which states paid for the tobacco control programs with the help of the tobacco taxes, public and private initiatives and funds from the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement between the nation’s four largest tobacco companies and 46 states.
Chattopadhyay and Pieper said state tobacco control programs have a “sustained and steadily increasing long-run impact” on the demand for cigarettes, but in hard economic times, several states have turned to tobacco control funds and taxes to help balance state budgets, reported.
Since 2002, funding has dropped and states, on average, spent 17 percent of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommended levels in 2010 for smoking cessation, state smoke-free laws, regulating tobacco products and advertising.
“Almost all states are facing financial crisis, and they are really diverting their funds,” UPI quoted the researchers as saying in a statement. “If tobacco control funding was restored, states “would save money in terms of reduced Medicaid, and reduced medical and productivity costs – costs that are only going to go up.”
By Jasmine Williams

Tobacco control can save states big money

A San Francisco economist says states are being shortsighted by shifting tobacco control programs to cut spending because smoking cessation saves so much money.
Sudip Chattopadhyay of the San Francisco State University and David R. Pieper at University of California, Berkeley, said funding tobacco control programs at recommend levels could save 14 to 20 times more than the cost of implementing the programs.
The study, published in the journal Contemporary Economic Policy, said the costs of smoking are felt by the states, mostly through medical costs, Medicaid payments and lost productivity by workers. The researchers used data from 1991 to 2007, when states paid for the tobacco control programs with the help of the tobacco taxes, public and private initiatives and funds from the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement between the nation’s four largest tobacco companies and 46 states.
State tobacco control programs have a “sustained and steadily increasing long-run impact” on the demand for cigarettes, Chattopadhyay and Pieper said, but in tough economic times, many states have turned to tobacco control funds and taxes to help balance state budgets.
Funding has dropped since 2002 and states, on average, spent 17 percent of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommended levels in 2010 for smoking cessation, state smoke-free laws, regulating tobacco products and advertising.
“Almost all states are facing financial crisis, and they are really diverting their funds,” the researchers said in a statement. “If tobacco control funding was restored, states “would save money in terms of reduced Medicaid, and reduced medical and productivity costs — costs that are only going to go up.”

Tobacco Control Cell seeks explanation over tobacco ads

Islamabad: The Tobacco Control Cell has sent an explanation notice to a tobacco giant for getting published advertisements in national dailies and magazines in violation of anti-tobacco rules.

The letter bearing signature of Director General, Tobacco Control Cell, Dr Assad Hafeez directed the Philip Morris International Pakistan to submit a written reply in seven day of the receipt of this letter under the relevant law, says a press statement on Saturday.
The letter was issued on November 22. The advertisements were published on November 13, November 20 and 21.
The letter reads: ‘reference to the government of Pakistan, SRO 882(1) 2007 dated 21 August, 2007 issued under section 7 of the Prohibition of Smoking and Protection of Non-smokers Health Ordinance 2002 (hereinafter 2002 ordinance) wherein it was stipulated that with effect from May 2007 tobacco advertisement will not be more than one square inch.
It says the government in notification SRO F, 13-05/2003 H.E dated 25th October, 2003 issued under Section7 of the Prohibition of Smoking and Protection of Non-smokers Health Ordinance 2002 (hereinafter 2002 ordinance) wherein it was stipulated, association of tobacco advertisement intended for young people and advertising directed at young people is prohibited, health warning will be required on tobacco advertisement on all other readable materials.
“The marketing activities by Philip Morris International Pakistan Limited prima facie constitute the violation of aforesaid SRO 882 (1) 2007 dated 21st August 2007 and notification SRO F.13-05/2003 H.E dated 25th October, 2003 issued under Section 7 of Prohibition of Smoking and Protection of Non-smokers Health Ordinance 2002,” it adds.
It concludes in the view of the foregoing you (Philip Morris International Pakistan Limited) are hereby directed to submit a written reply in 07 days of the receipt of notice as to why necessary legal action under section 11(b) read with section 14 of the Prohibition of smoking and Protection of Non-smokers Health Ordinance 2002 may be initiated the responsible management of your company for aforesaid prima facie violation of law.
By Saher Afshan

Low-Tax Cigarettes

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, as Freud supposedly said, but when is a cigarette a cigarette?
The city filed suit last week against a “roll your own” cigarette shop in Chinatown and a related one on Staten Island, where a pack of cigarettes can cost less than $5, because the stores are not collecting cigarette taxes. The stores, both called Island Smokes, do not sell packs of Marlboros and Newports. Instead, they sell loose tobacco and cigarette papers, and have machines that let customers fabricate their own cigarettes.
Such stores operate in a legal gray area, arguing that because they do not sell prepackaged cigarettes, they are subject only to taxes on loose tobacco, which are far less. But according to the city, the shops are effectively selling cigarettes and should be forced to charge the full state and city taxes — currently $5.85 per pack, which has pushed the cost of most packs in New York City to more than $10.
“By selling illegally low-priced cigarettes,” said the city’s lawsuit, filed in Federal District Court in Manhattan, “defendants not only interfere with the collection of city cigarette taxes, they also impair the city’s smoking cessation programs and impair individual efforts at smoking reduction, thereby imposing higher health care costs on the city and injuring public health.”
Jonathan Behrins, a lawyer for the companies that own the shops, said Monday that the stores were not obligated to charge cigarette taxes because “we are not producing cigarettes for resale.”
“We are selling the contents that produce the cigarette,” he said, “and it’s up to the user to make them.”
Mr. Behrins acknowledged that employees sometimes assist customers by “demonstrating” the equipment, but likened the whole process to “making your own beer.”
The city offered a much different analogy.
“When you go to a salad bar, they sell you a salad, not a salad assembly process,” said Eric Proshanksy, deputy chief of the corporation counsel’s affirmative litigation division. “When customers walk out of these stores, they have finished cigarettes and they bought them in those stores. The stores also have signage that calls them a discount cigarettes shop.”
Inside the Island Smokes on Eldridge Street in Chinatown, plastic bins contain different styles of loose tobacco — menthol, double menthol, ultra light and more. More than a dozen machines are spread out in two rooms.
On Monday an employee showed a first-time buyer how the machines work. The customer attaches an empty paper tube to the machine and punches a “load” button; after the cigarette is full, it must be placed in another machine resembling an electric pencil sharpener that seals the ends. The pack cost $6, including the small tin box that holds the finished cigarettes; a refill is $4.50.
One man entered and asked if he could buy a pack of Newports. When told that Island Smokes sold only its own tobacco and that customers had to roll their own cigarettes, the man promptly left.
Customers who were rolling cigarettes swore by the shop’s products, which are advertised as “all natural.”
“It’s such a better, cheaper alternative,” said Veronica Raccuia, 20. The store says its tobacco does not contain additives found in premade cigarettes. “You don’t taste all the chemicals,” she said.
Customers were frustrated to learn of the city’s lawsuit against the shop, saying it was simply another measure intended to regulate people’s lives.
“The government is so money-hungry they’ll do anything to get rid of whoever they’re not getting money from,” Ms. Raccuia said.
“Just leave people alone,” she added. “In this economy, no one can barely afford food, let alone a pack of $15 cigarettes.”