Hearing on Harford tobacco ban draws slim crowd, mostly opponents

A hearing on the proposed tobacco use ban on all Harford County government property, including recreational facilities, drew a small crowd to the county administration building on Main Street in Bel Air Monday afternoon, mostly people who wanted to talk about the rights of smokers.
Just 10 people showed up and only a handful spoke, with the majority of them testifying against the ban.
County spokesman Bob Thomas, who moderated the session, warned the hearing “is not a session for dialogue… we are here to hear your comments.”
Thomas listened to the comments along with county Director of Administration Mary Chance, Human Resources Director Scott Gibson and Senior assistant county attorney Deborah Duvall.
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Several of those who spoke against the ban noted they are smokers who have either tried to quit in the past or have gotten cancer.
James Liescheidt, of Bel Air, said it was hard to be respectful when he sees “do-gooders” taking people’s rights away.
“When you are outside, what damage is a cigar or cigarette going to cause?” he asked, wondering if liquor stores will be the next target for a ban or if he will be banned from smoking while driving on a county road.
“I thought we had a Republican administration in Harford County. The Republicans aren’t normally going out and looking for things to penalize the public with,” he said.
Liescheidt asked why the proposal did not go through the Harford County Council and appears to be a done deal.
“I think this decision has already been made,” he said, asking why the meeting was at 2 p.m. on a Monday when people are working.
“Will our objections be of any benefit or is this an edict that’s going to go into effect whether we like it or not?” he asked.
Craig Lanphear, administrator of Swan Harbor Farm near Havre de Grace, wondered how this might affect the county-owned property he helps run, a well known venue for weddings and other private parties and events
Lanphear noted he had scheduled about 80 events through 2012 and said he was not sure if a ban on tobacco use might affect some of those contracts. The proposed tobacco-free environment rule and regulation drafted by Duvall is due to take effect Jan. 1, 2012; however, it contains a provision for the county to provide a designated smoking area outside any leased county facility that is under contract to be used prior to the ban taking effect.
Lanphear also asked how realistic it is to enforce the ban in all parts of the nearly 500-acre property and whether it might also affect people smoking in rental properties at the farm.
Pridgeon, who leads the Harford branch of Campaign for Liberty, said the ban is another example of government interference in people’s lives.
“Rules and regulations are exactly what is wrong with government in our lives today,” Pridgeon said, citing the example of a grandmother whose clothes were taken off by the Transportation Security Administration screeners and a ban on asthma inhalers elsewhere.
“We as Americans are constantly, quote unquote, ‘being protected’ by the government,” he continued. “We are tired of [members] of the government telling us what to do. We pay our taxes. Stay out of our lives.”
Mike Hiob, a county inspector and a former Aberdeen City Council member, said he thinks the majority of county employees and residents supports the ban.
Hiob said he has talked with county employees, and “most say they are in favor of this.”
He also asked the panel to consider that the people who come out to a hearing are likely to be part of the minority opposed to the idea.
Before the meeting, Chance, the county administration director, told the audience the county worked hard to find a policy that addresses everyone’s needs, as well as the health of county employees.
Afterward, Chance said the meeting was purposely scheduled during work hours so county employees could attend.
“We knew that this would be a semi-controversial issue,” she said, explaining the county is working with the health department.
The hearing does not seem likely to after the county administration’s plan to implement the tobacco ban.
“I feel that the county is going to move forward,” Chance said. “We want to be as flexible as possible with our parks facilities… I think it’s really critical to be flexible with it.”

Tobacco giant launches plain packaging challenge

British American Tobacco has launched its promised constitutional challenge in the High Court against the Federal Government’s plain packaging laws for cigarettes.
On the same day the legislation received royal assent, paperwork was submitted with the High Court.
BAT is arguing the legislation is unconstitutional and invalid because the Government is attempting to acquire valuable intellectual property used to identify tobacco brands without compensation.
No date for the hearing of the case has been set.
Company spokesperson Scott McIntyre says BAT is a legal company selling a legal product.
“We have consistently said we will defend our valuable intellectual property on behalf of our shareholders as any other company would,” he said in a statement.
“If the same type of legislation was introduced for a beer-brewing company or a fast food chain, then they’d be taking the Government to court and we’re no different.
“We believe the laws are unconstitutional and invalid, and we’re obviously confident enough that we are pursuing it in the High Court.”
Mr McIntyre says the High Court proceedings will be conducted as a test case on the validity of the plain packaging laws in relation to two BAT brands, Winfield and Dunhill cigarettes.
“Obviously we’d rather not be in a situation where we’re forced to take the Government to court, but unfortunately for taxpayers the Government has taken us down the legal path,” he said.
Health minister Nicola Roxon says the challenge proves tobacco companies cannot give up their addiction to legal action.
“They have fought governments tooth and nail around the world for decades to stop tobacco control,” she said in a statement.
“Let there be no mistake, big tobacco is fighting against the Government for one very simple reason – because it knows, as we do, that plain packaging will work.
“While it is fighting to protect its profits, we are fighting to protect lives.”
The executive director of QUIT, Fiona Sharkie, says the challenge has little chance of winning.
“The legal opinion is very clearly on the side of the Government,” she said.
“We believe that this is just again a tactic to use up government money, taxpayer funds, in expensive court cases for something that has little chance of success.”
Last month Philip Morris also flagged it would take legal action, saying it would seek a suspension on the plain packaging laws as well as compensation for the loss of trademarks.
Federal Parliament passed the legislation on November 21 with minor amendments to the start date.
The laws are due to come into effect in December next year.
They ban the use of company logos and require all cigarette packets to be a dark green colour.
Pictures of diseased body parts, sickly babies and dying people will cover 75 per cent of each packet, and tobacco industry logos, brand imagery, colours and promotional text will be banned.
Since it was announced in 2010, the plan has faced fierce opposition from tobacco companies.
Australia is the first country to introduce plain packaging.

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

New Year FDA meeting on dissolvable products

he US Food and Drug Administration’s Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee is to hold a meeting in the New Year to continue discussing issues related to the nature and impact of the use of dissolvable tobacco products on public health.

The meeting, to be held on January 18-20, will include discussions on the composition and characteristics of dissolvable tobacco products, their use, potential health effects, and marketing.

Big Tobacco launches legal fight with govt

The Gillard government’s plea to Big Tobacco not to launch legal action against Labor’s plain-packaging laws has fallen on deaf ears, with Philip Morris announcing it has already served notice of a dispute.
The federal parliament on Monday passed world-first laws that will force all cigarettes to be sold in drab olive-brown packs from December 2012.
Health Minister Nicola Roxon immediately demanded that Big Tobacco respect that mandate.
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“We know that just as many smokers are addicted to tobacco and nicotine the tobacco companies are addicted to litigation,” Ms Roxon told reporters in Canberra.
“But I call on them today to consider respecting the will of the parliament.
“Both houses, and all parties, have supported this legislation.”
But less than an hour later, Philip Morris announced it had already begun legal proceedings using a bilateral investment treaty Australia signed with Hong Kong 20 years ago.
“The notice of arbitration was served on the government immediately following the passage of plain-packaging legislation for tobacco products by the Australian parliament,” parent company Philip Morris Asia Limited said in a statement from Hong Kong where it’s based.
Philip Morris forewarned the government of its plan in late June, when it entered a three-month mandatory negotiation period through the United Nations commission on international trade law.
The cigarette manufacturer argues the commonwealth is effectively planning to steal the company’s brands in contravention of the investment treaty.
Philip Morris said on Monday that damages could run to billions of dollars and the legal process could take “two to three years”.
“In passing the laws today, in our view, the government has breached an international treaty,” Philip Morris spokesman Chris Argent told AAP.
“Plain packaging will damage the value of our brands and there are international business laws against that.”
But legal experts believe things aren’t that clear-cut.
A lawyer who’s had more experience than most fighting cigarette companies in court, Peter Gordon, told AAP in late June that Philip Morris was actually on shaky ground.
Mr Gordon argued that the commonwealth wasn’t taking away the property rights of tobacco companies but rather ensuring they weren’t used to improperly promote cigarette use among kids.
At the same time, international law expert Don Anton noted that public regulation for a public purpose was not direct or indirect expropriation “and therefore is not prohibited by the investment treaty”.
Philip Morris, like British American Tobacco Australia (BATA), also plans to launch domestic action in the High Court of Australia.
Ms Roxon was asked on Monday if legal action would delay the start of plain packaging.
“We don’t believe that it needs to,” she replied.
“(But) I’m not going to go through the legal ins and outs and possibilities as we potentially face litigation in lots of different forums.”
By Julian Drape

Philip Morris sues Australian government over tobacco laws

Tobacco giant has launched legal action against new rule forcing cigarettes to be sold in drab plain packaging from next year.
Tobacco giant Philip Morris has launched legal action against Australian laws forcing tobacco products to be sold in drab, plain packaging from late next year.

Australia’s parliament has passed laws compelling cigarettes, pipe tobacco and cigars to be sold in plain olive packs from December 2012.
Tobacco export countries including Nicaragua, Dominican Republic and Ukraine have warned they may challenge under world trade rules, while tobacco companies including British American Tobacco and Imperial Tobacco, have said they may challenge the law in Australia’s High Court.
Philip Morris said it had launched legal action that could trigger compensation claims worth billions of dollars.
“The government has passed this legislation despite being unable to demonstrate that it will be effective at reducing smoking and has ignored the widespread concerns raised in Australia and internationally regarding the serious legal issues associated with plain packaging,” Philip Morris spokeswoman Anne Edwards said in a statement.
The action is being brought by Philip Morris Asia Ltd, Hong Kong, the owner of the Australian affiliate, through a notice of arbitration under Australia’s Bilateral Investment Treaty with Hong Kong.
The laws are being closely watched by governments considering similar moves in Europe, Canada and New Zealand, angering tobacco companies worried that they may set a global precedent and infringe on trademark rights.
The Himalayan nation of Bhutan banned the sale of tobacco outright earlier this year.
Australia’s health minister Nicola Roxon, speaking after parliament’s lower house approved laws already passed by the upper house senate last week, demanded tobacco companies respect the will of the parliament.
“Plain packaging means that the glamour is gone from smoking and cigarettes are now exposed for what they are: killer products that destroy thousands of Australian families,” Roxon told reporters.
Roxon said while the tobacco industry was fighting to protect its profits, the government was “fighting to protect lives”.
The World Health Organisation in 2005 urged countries to consider plain packaging, and estimated there are more than 1 billion regular smokers, 80% of them in poor countries.
Industry analysts say tobacco companies are worried that plain packaging could spread to important emerging markets like Brazil, Russia and Indonesia, and threaten growth there.
Legal experts have predicted both legal and WTO challenges to fail, as intellectual property rights agreements give governments the right to pass laws to protect public health.
Conservative opposition MPs, while backing the laws, urged Roxon to accept a three-month moratorium on prosecutions and the enforcement of heavy fines for small tobacco sellers to give them time to adjust to the possible impact on sales.
Australia already bans tobacco advertising, smoking in public buildings and the public display of cigarettes in shops. In some states, it is illegal to smoke in a car if a child is a passenger.
Australia wants to cut the number of people who smoke from around 15% of the population to 10% by 2018. Health authorities say smoking kills 15,000 Australians each year with social and health costs of around $32bn.
Australia’s tobacco market generated total revenues of around A$10bn in 2009, up from A$8.3bn in 2008, although smoking generally has been in decline. Around 22 billion cigarettes are sold in the country each year.

WHO Worldwide Tobacco Facts

— The World Health Organization describes the tobacco epidemic as “one of the biggest public health threats the world has ever faced.”
— WHO says millions of people die each year as a result of tobacco use, and the number will only grow unless action is taken. It says tobacco use is one of the leading preventable causes of death in the world, with tobacco killing up to half of its users.
— Tobacco use is one of the main risk factors for a number of chronic diseases, including cancer, lung diseases, and cardiovascular diseases.
— The global tobacco epidemic kills nearly 6 million people each year, of which more than 600,000 are people exposed to second-hand smoke.
— Unless urgent action is taken, the epidemic could kill up to 8 million people each year by 2030, of which more than 80 percent will live in low- and middle-income countries.
— Consumption of tobacco products is increasing globally, though it is decreasing in some high-income and upper middle-income countries.
In some countries, children from poor households are frequently employed in tobacco farming to provide family income. These children are especially vulnerable to “green tobacco sickness,” which is caused by the nicotine that is absorbed through the skin from the handling of wet tobacco leaves.
— Because there is a lag of several years between when people start using tobacco and when their health suffers, the epidemic of tobacco-related disease and death has just begun. Tobacco caused 100 million deaths in the 20th century. If current trends continue, it will cause up to one billion deaths in the 21st century.
This report is the third in a series of WHO reports on the status of global tobacco control policy implementation.
All data on the level of countries’ achievement for the six MPOWER measures have been updated through 2010, and additional data have been collected on warning the public about the dangers of tobacco. The report examines in detail the two primary strategies to provide health warnings – labels on tobacco product packaging and anti-tobacco mass media campaigns. It provides a comprehensive overview of the evidence base for warning people about the harms of tobacco use as well as country-specific information on the status of these measures.
To continue the process of improving data analysis, categories of policy achievement have been refined and, where possible, made consistent with new and evolving guidelines for the implementation of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. Data from the 2009 report have been re-analyzed to be consistent with these new categories, allowing for more direct comparisons of the data across both reports.

Secondhand Smoke, Pregnant Women, And Scary Health Claims

While few people argue against the negative effects of smoking on health, the jury is still out regarding the long-term damage that can be inflicted by secondhand smoke. To be sure, there are plenty of news releases suggesting that thousands of cancers and other serious diseases can be attributed to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS). However, nearly all of these claims are based on statistical modeling, rather than hard data on actual patients.
We do know that most toxins have profoundly greater effects in utero. Thus, pregnant women are cautioned to avoid exposure to drugs and environmental chemicals—including ETS. Stephen G. Grant, Ph.D., of the University of Pittsburgh, has been studying the effects of ETS on newborns, who were exposed to it while in the womb.
In a 2005 paper, Grant examined the effects of ETS—as well as active smoking by the mother—on a particular gene (HPRT) of the newborns.
The disturbing findings of this research were that both active maternal smoking and secondary maternal exposure produce quantitatively and qualitatively indistinguishable increases in fetal HPRT mutation. More than that, Grant concluded that this effect is not lessened to any measurable degree if the mother stops smoking upon confirmation of pregnancy. He did posit that ETS could play a role in this phantom ongoing effect.
In a paper just published online in The Open Pediatric Medicine Journal, Grant confirms smoke-induced mutation in a completely different gene—glycophorin A. Here again, there was little difference in results between active smoking and passive exposure to ETS. And, there was also the finding that stopping smoking during pregnancy was of little benefit if the mother did not also limit exposure to ETS.
It is noted that the women studied categorized themselves into the four groups of unexposed, passive only, quit during pregnancy, and smoked throughout. This self-assessment was tested with further blood assays that checked for smoking metabolites and drugs of abuse. Still, various confounding factors including nutrition and exposure to other toxins could not be evaluated.
Grant seems to be the best promoter of his own work…
“These findings back up our previous conclusion that passive, or secondary, smoke causes permanent genetic damage in newborns that is very similar to the damage caused by active smoking. By using a different assay, we were able to pick up a completely distinct yet equally important type of genetic mutation that is likely to persist throughout a child’s lifetime. Pregnant women should not only stop smoking, but be aware of their exposure to tobacco smoke from other family members, work and social situations.”
How about a reality check?
Grant is certainly correct when he cautions pregnant women to stop smoking. As to ETS, a few points should be considered.
Any effect of toxins on genes would be dose-dependent, but Grant’s four categories of exposure hardly quantify dose. This alone should cast serious doubts on his conclusions. Is it possible that in nine months of pregnancy a woman can really be “unexposed” to environmental tobacco smoke? And imagine the variation in exposure that must have existed within the “passive only” cohort.
With some exceptions, the notion of a mutation persisting throughout life is absurd. Based on exposure to countless factors, mutations are occurring—by the millions—all the time. In fact, the inherent mechanism of DNA to repair itself is so prodigious that it directly correlates with the life expectancy of organisms. Inasmuch as Grant’s assays were run on newborn cord blood, they would not reflect in vivo repair modalities.
Finally, what are the public health implications of encouraging pregnant women to stop smoking, but then stating that it will do them no good if they cannot also avoid exposure to ETS? Perhaps the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development—one of the agencies that funded Grant’s work—should be asking themselves this question.
By Michael D. Shaw

Utilization of U.S.-Grown Tobacco

More than 94% of the tobacco grown in the United States is used in the manufacture of cigarettes either domestically or overseas). The remainder is processed for chewing, snuff, cigars, and pipes. For the most part, data in this report include all tobacco unless the focus is limited to cigarette tobacco. But even when the data apply to all tobacco, cigarette tobacco overwhelmingly dominates.

The manufacture and export of U.S.-grown tobacco fluctuated around 2.0 billion pounds until around 1975. Since then, utilization has followed a declining long-term trend, dropping to an estimated low of 688 million pounds in 2001. There have been substantial departures from the trend line. To better appraise the likelihood of future utilization prospects, it is helpful to separately
examine the leaf export and domestic manufacturing markets.

Cigarette Production

More than 94% of the tobacco produced in the United States is used in the manufacture of cigarettes. Consequently, U.S. cigarette manufacturers are the primary domestic users of U.S.-grown tobacco. The major cigarette tobaccos are flue-cured (grown primarily in North Carolina and neighboring regions) and burley(grown primarily in Kentucky and neighboring regions).
Maryland-type tobacco (grown in Maryland and Pennsylvania) also is used in cigarettes, but in relatively small amounts. Some imported tobaccos also are used by U.S. cigarette manufacturers. Oriental tobaccos, added for purposes of flavor and aroma, are a traditional component of mild
American-style cigarettes. Oriental tobaccos are not grown in the United States but are imported primarily from Turkey. In addition,
cigarette manufactures have increasingly used less expensive imported flue-cured and burley tobacco from South America, Africa, and Asia. U.S. cigarette production increased at a nearly steady rate from 1950 through the peak year of 1996, when output reached 754.5 billion cigarettes.
Year 2002 production of 565 billion cigarettes is up slightly from the previous year’s dramatic low and is substantially below the long-term trend. Will cigarette production increase in future years? Or, will it decline even further? Examination of data on domestic cigarette consumption and cigarette exports may suggest answers to these questions.