Tobacco documents

Tobacco advertising continues to come under scrutiny as critics call into question the facts and claims made by cigarette companies in the marketplace. The latest firm to face critique is Philip Morris.
A group of University of California at San Francisco (UCSF) professors studied tobacco industry documents that they say manipulated data on the impact of additives in cigarettes, including actual levels of toxicity and an increased risk of cardiac, cancer and other diseases in smokers. Their findings were published in PLoS Medicine.
The industry has been under attack since the mid-1990s when several states successfully sued tobacco companies and the industry as a whole has been forced to pay millions of dollars. This was followed by action lawsuits alleging some damage.
The recent studies carried out attended UCSF team reassessment of data from Project MIX Philip Morris, “which detailed analysis of chemical fumes and animal toxicology studies of 333 additives cigarette. Unlike some other studies, Philip Morris, UCSF researchers looked at the origin and design of the project and MIX stressed that many of the toxins in cigarette smoke significantly increased after the addition was added to cigarettes. The researchers also found that tobacco researchers have adapted the protocol, presenting their results in such a way that is hidden for these increases.
“We found these post-specific changes in the analytical protocols after industry scientists have found that the additives increased the toxicity of cigarettes by increasing the number of particles in cigarette smoke that cause heat and other diseases,” said senior author Stanton Glantz AG, UCSF professor of medicine and Director, Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at UCSF. “When we conducted our own analysis, studying the addition of a cigarette – after the original protocol, Philip Morris” – we found that 15 cancer-causing chemicals has increased by 20 percent or more, “he said.
The results of Project MIX were first published as four papers in a 2002 edition of Food and Chemical Toxicology, the UCSF team said. The journal, Glantz said, had an editor and many members of its editorial board with financial ties to the tobacco industryAlthough Philip Morris tried to get papers published, the company of scientists who led the project MIXD sent an email to a colleague describing the review process as an “inside job”. UCSF report further states that in their study, researchers used documents released as a result of a lawsuit against the tobacco industry.. The documents are available to the public through UCSF’s Legacy “Tobacco Documents Library.

Raising tobacco taxes lead to success

Veteran anti-smoking advocate Prakit Vathesatogkit was recently elected secretary-general of the International Network of Health Bsics. He speaks with APIRADEE TREERUTKUARKUL about their work and problems in development of health promotion activities around the world.
What is the INHPF’s mission?
Prakit: Finance is the biggest battle
The organization was founded in 1999 to improve the effectiveness of health promotion foundations in member countries through the exchange, mutual learning and joint action. The INHPF also mentors and supports the creation of new health founds in member countries and beyond.
It comprises a network of international organizations participating in the financing of health promotion. The interest in this concept is growing after the countries and regions recognized by the advantages of having a sustainable financing for health promotion.
Currently, there are eight full members from seven countries _ Australia, Austria, South Korea, Malaysia, Switzerland, Tonga, Thailand and the Victorian Health Promotion Foundation.
What are your main tasks as the INHPF secretary-general? How do you plan to place anti-smoking experience over the past 20 years in practice?
The pposition for two years and plays has an important role in the control of other countries to create their own foundation of health. My first task is to find two new full members to join the network every year. There are some countries where the fund health promotion, but are not members of the network.
Why is it important for the international community to have a foundation of health promotion, as in Thailand?
The Thai Health Promotion Foundation is a good example for other countries, especially low-and middle-income countries to develop appropriate prevention and health promotion programming. Thailand helped Mongolia and Shanghai to develop their foundation of health.
At first it was difficult to establish an organization to promote health independent of the bureaucratic system, because the new legislation was necessary. However, finance is the biggest problem. It took almost seven years to create the Thai Health Promotion Foundation.
We must understand that the work and responsibilities of Health Promotion Foundation, is completely different from the health ministry. We do not provide health care services.
But there are a large number of people engaged in high-risk activities such as smoking, alcohol consumption and drunk driving. This is necessary for agencies to improve the health to work with these people.
The health system is quite passive and is concerned only with those who are already ill. Expenses for treatment in Thailand are increasing every year. We can not solve the root cause of many health problems by investing only in the existing system..
Many developing countries did not pay much attention to health promotion in the past. They thought it was only the work of rich, developed countries.
However, when they saw Thailand could do it, they changed their attitude. Malaysia came in. Then Tonga and South Korea joined. Vietnam and Laos are in the process of creating legislation on health promotion.
Does the global recession have any impact on attempts to establish a foundation of health in developing countries?
The money spent on health promotion, as a rule, only about 1% of the total health budget. The point is how to spend that 1% wisely to curb the growth of health problems. The fact that we are working to help save money and prevent illness, but it is less a priority. Risk factors are not addressed in other countries, and are liable to INHPF..
Although donations from some rich countries are no more, more money is available in many countries. But their tax systems should be modified to work as a programmer for health promotion. The best way is to increase the so-called tax sin. Politicians should play a role in collecting tax from tobacco and alcohol for supporting a health promotion system. They shouldn’t wait for donations.
The Lancet, Britain’s weekly medical journal, released research during the last UN summit on non-communicable diseases showing tobacco control was the single most important measure contributing to the reduction of non-communicable diseases. An increase in tobacco tax can help countries run their health programmer to achieve their goals.

Tobacco firms ‘misled’ public about additives


The original study by Philip Morris, called Project Mix, resulted in the publication of four papers in a scientific journal that concluded there was “no evidence of substantial toxicity” associated with the additives studied.
More than 300 additives are used in the manufacture of cigarettes to enhance their taste and make smoking smoother and more enjoyable.
The new study, by the Centre for Tobacco Control Research at the University of California, was based on the same data extracted from among 60 million documents released after litigation.

The researchers claim the original studies “cannot be taken at face value” and failed to reveal additives’ dangers.

When they conducted their own analysis examining the additives per cigarette – as specified in the original protocol for the Project Mix study but later changed – they found the level of 15 carcinogenic chemicals increased by an average of 20 percent.

They also discovered that for what they call “unexplained reasons”, Philip Morris had de-emphasised 19 of the 51 chemicals tested in the presentation of their results, including nine that were substantially increased in the smoke on a per cigarette basis.

Stanton Glantz, who led the new research published in the online journal Public Library of Science Medicine, said tobacco firms had spent decades preparing for the implementation of tougher regulation of their products, including the regulation of additives.

The use of additives had worried the World Health Organisation, the US Food and Drug Administration and national regulatory bodies in the UK and around the world. Philip Morris had used the four papers published in Food and Chemical Toxicology in 2002 to defend their inclusion in cigarettes.
When millions of internal company documents from the tobacco industry were released it enabled Dr Glantz and colleagues to reanalyse the data.
He said: “Putting additives in cigarettes increases the amount of fine particles and this is a bad thing because it increases the inflammatory response.
“If you take [Philip Morris’s] own data and interpret it correctly, you could use this data to ban these additives.”

A Philip Morris spokesman said: “We believe that the points raised in this recent paper by Stanton Glantz and others do not invalidate the findings of the Project Mix studies.

“All the Project Mix studies were reported alongside the actual data in four peer-reviewed scientific publications in 2002 and their way of calculation was discussed in one of the papers.

“The studies were performed according to well-established principles and standard toxicological guidelines.”
In the mix: Added chemicals

Additives are used in cigarettes to mitigate the harshness of tobacco smoke and make the experience of smoking more pleasant.

Sugar is often added in the form of glucose, honey and molasses. Flavourings and spices can be added for the same reason, including benzaldehyde, menthol cigarettes brands and vanillin or cinnamon, ginger and mint. Others used are orange oil or licorice extract. The most common are menthol, cocoa and glycerol.

Other unusual substances, not mentioned in this particular study but often added to cigarettes, include vinegar and pimenta leaf oil, which is used in non-alcoholic beverages and ice cream.

Ready for battle

Five years ago John Kiser went looking for what he calls the right “field general” to put together and marshal a powerful Canadian litigation team as Imperial Tobacco looked ahead to its pending legal action in Canada. As legal consultant to the largest cigarette manufacturer in Canada, Kiser knew that if Imperial Tobacco was going to be prepared for the litigation work in Canada, it needed a cohesive team led by a strong co-ordinating leader from its outside counsel.
A veteran of the tobacco industry, Kiser is responsible for advising on all major litigation for the company in both Canada and the United States. He was previously vice president and general counsel of Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp. and was vice president of litigation for R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. He had managed complex multi-jurisdictional litigation in numerous countries throughout the world for more than two decades before coming to work for Imperial Tobacco in Montreal.
Imperial Tobacco is facing class action suits from smokers who consumed their cigarettes. Two class action lawsuits have trial dates pending in Quebec this coming March. British Columbia wants tobacco companies to pay for the health-care costs associated with smoking-related illnesses, passing legislation, the Health Care Costs Recovery Act, to allow it to try to hold tobacco companies accountable for those costs. Other provinces have since followed B.C.’s lead and all 10 provinces have similar legislation to the Health Care Costs Recovery Act.
“I realized we were going to have span of control and communication issues because the litigation was going to grow, I knew that. I’ve been doing this for 20 years and so I knew I wanted a more centralized approach,” says Kiser, who grew up in Kentucky, speaks with an engaging southern drawl, and is himself a reformed smoker. He went looking for a lawyer he thought could both handle the trials if necessary, as well as manage the team of lawyers needed to prepare for the litigation.
The most active cases at the moment are the two class actions in Quebec. The lawsuits allege damages on the part of millions of Quebeckers as a result of addiction to tobacco products and smoking-related illnesses.
The B.C. government argues that by 1950, the tobacco companies knew or ought to have known that cigarettes were hazardous to health and that they failed to warn the public about the health risks of their products.
Imperial Tobacco and others in the industry (including Rothmans Benson & Hedges Inc., Philip Morris International Inc., and others) argued that the federal government should be a third party to the suits on several grounds. However, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in July 2011 that the federal government couldn’t be drawn into lawsuits against tobacco companies and held liable for damages. That left the tobacco companies on their own in what is very new legal territory in Canada. “Canada is a very different animal when it comes to litigation when you compare it to the states or anywhere else,” says Tamara Gitto, associate general counsel of litigation with Imperial Tobacco who has been with the company 11 years. “You have the provincial jurisdictions and in Quebec you have the civil code and the civil law you have to take into account.”
While Quebec has had a long history with class actions, the western provinces have not, so some of the cases in those jurisdictions will end up being the test cases. “We are dealing with several different companies across several jurisdictions so you need to make sure you are on top of the law and understand each company’s position and to the extent possible move forward in a co-ordinated and co-operative fashion,” says Gitto.
The development of the legal team and especially Kiser’s relationship with Imperial’s outside counsel point person was of utmost importance to him, especially since litigation of this nature is a multi-layered and complex endeavour that involves the in-house counsel managing the expectations of the company. Kiser and Gitto knew they needed a strong outside counsel partner who could work with them to develop and execute the strategy for the organization.
The person they chose would have to work on an international co-ordinating committee of lawyers representing all members of the tobacco industry and make themselves available almost 24-7.
Kiser and Gitto made their decision fairly quickly after seeing Deborah Glendinning of Osler Hoskin & Harcourt LLP in action. Glendinning is the chairwoman of Osler’s national litigation department. She acts as lead counsel on numerous multi-jurisdictional and cross-border corporate-commercial litigation matters. She is also the national co-ordinating counsel to Imperial Tobacco Canada. The effort requires extensive co-ordination across and between Canadian provinces and the U.S., which both Kiser and Glendinning know is critical to effectively executing a global litigation strategy. “The first time I saw Deborah in action we were involved in a regulatory matter with the Competition Bureau,” recalls Kiser. “It was the first time I dealt with her one-on-one — she was very tenacious and recognized the strengths and weaknesses of our position. I realized then what a fantastic lawyer she was.”
It was soon after Kiser asked Glendinning to build the litigation team for the cases coming along in Canada. Almost immediately, he says, he set out for her how he wanted the structure of the team to unfold. “We’ve got distinct roles: she’s the field general, the boots on the ground — the one who will be trying these cases with her counterparts. My job is to make sure we’re getting along with our parent company and that our strategies are aligned and communicating fully with our co-defendants at every level. It’s all about getting everyone singing off the same sheet at the same time,” says Kiser. “We want to make sure that when we do show up in court to say something we are in agreement, and we can agree to disagree with the other side as opposed to with ourselves.”
Osler represents Imperial on the litigation front, supported by local counsel in the jurisdictions where Imperial is facing legal challenges. Imperial has other firms that work on commercial litigation and business and tax matters, but on the tobacco litigation Osler is the primary firm.
The legal team knows 2012 will be an exceedingly busy year on many fronts: the trials in the Quebec class actions and other challenges in other provinces will be ramping up quickly. While the international tobacco companies have been engaged in litigation around the world for many years and have established views and ways of doing things, Glendinning and Kiser say it’s wrong to view Canada with preconceived notions of how to approach the actions here. “The challenge was getting the right balance because all the co-defendants and our parent company all have capable, competent counsel. Everybody has a wealth of knowledge and the trick is to get the right balance between getting the benefit of the experience without becoming a prisoner to the experience and tailoring to the situation at hand,” says Kiser.
The international players include Philip Morris International, Japan Tobacco International, and British American Tobacco — Imperial’s parent company. Because the international companies have been engaged in litigation around the world for many years, they have established views of approaching tobacco litigation. In some respects, Kiser says the issues are similar but in other respects they are very different. For example, the history of tobacco in Canada is not the same and the way the courts approach litigation is different. There are also provincial differences.
Glendinning works almost daily with the international co-ordinating committee taking conference calls and planning strategy. She says her team of 25 is ready to go to battle. “This is the first time we get an opportunity to tell our Canadian defence story,” she says. “So many of these cases are modelled after what people have heard or read about in the United States. But we are not the U.S. tobacco industry — we obviously have similarities, and the companies do business all over the world, but you can’t say, ‘There you go; they’re all the same,’ because they’re not. We have a uniquely Canadian situation. We have our own laws and processes so we need to educate people on the differences and make them realize the strategies employed in other jurisdictions may not exactly fit here as they have in other places. They can’t just bring a cookie-cutter approach and say it should apply here.”
When it comes to understanding the history of tobacco use in Canada, Glendinning says people have to be reminded that it involved societal and governmental decisions and not just industry decisions. “There were decisions weighed in on and thought was given by groups of people and teams of scientists and politicians who set policy back then,” she says.
She points to a similar situation today with the current on-again, off-again debate about the potential dangers of cellphone use. “Is the government going to come out and ban cellphones right now? I don’t think so. You’re going to see this replayed down the road where society deals with an issue and it comes out one way or another over time.”
Representing big tobacco
Ask Glendinning about how she views representing big tobacco and she gives you a steely look and you get an idea of what it might be like to litigate against her in court. “I look at them in bewilderment and ask them why they would ask that? Big tobacco is no different than any other big corporation. Why do people have these preconceived notions that it is different or should be treated differently?”
Kiser’s history with tobacco, he explains with a grin, is a little different. “I grew up and was raised on a tobacco farm. I worked with tobacco since I was a young child. I’ve been around tobacco, cigarettes, smoking, and quitting all of my life,” says Kiser, who smoked when he was younger. “I’m fitness oriented now — I believe it’s a choice like it’s a choice for so many other things. People still choose to smoke and still choose to quit and I have never had any moral dilemma with it whatsoever. Occasionally though, people will ask me the question.”
In building the litigation team, Kiser knew from the beginning he wanted a solid understanding of who was going to be on the roster and what they brought to the game. “I’m a huge believer in staffing plans. One of the things Tamara and I told Deborah from the beginning is we want to know every lawyer who is on our case and what they’re doing. We don’t get a bill that has names on it we don’t recognize and there’s a description of what everyone is doing.”
Glendinning started by introducing him to people at the firm and together they began identifying the strengths and weaknesses of people and strengths and weaknesses of the team, essentially building a huge litigation machine that was ready to face their opposition. “We were dealing with the provinces, the federal government, and various plaintiffs’ firms, and of course something that can never be overlooked, which is public scrutiny,” he says.
Glendinning doesn’t add or subtract lawyers to the team without letting Kiser know first. The team roster undergoes constant revision so if they think someone is underperforming they come off the team. If she has someone new she wants to introduce to the team, Kiser meets them. “For me, it’s knowing the team and the size of the team; then you can limit and estimate how many hours will be spent,” says Kiser.
What’s unique about the Imperial Tobacco case, says Glendinning, is the sheer magnitude of the organizational demands it presents. “Given the size and the importance and the scope of the litigation and the fact that it spans the country we didn’t just have to deal with internal issues relating to Imperial because it is industry wide. In some respects it is also international litigation, and so that presented a very unique set of challenges,” she says.
It means she must stickhandle around the politics of dealing not only with the client, the client’s related companies, the other players in the domestic industry, and the international industry. “In my view it’s the organization and co-ordination issues that are the biggest challenges. That’s what brought Tamara, John, and I together because we had to make sure our strategy was consistent across all of those lines.”
Why the relationship works
After five years on the case, Kiser and Glendinning have logged a lot of hours together. Often she’ll field a question when she’s at a hockey game and John’s talking to the parent company in England six hours ahead. Glendinning says it’s the most time she’s spent with any client in her entire career. “I have called Deborah mad and yelling at her and she’s done the same thing to me. We’ve been in cabs before where I’m sure the driver thought ‘these two are going through a divorce,’” jokes Kiser. “I never pull rank on her though and say I’m the client and that’s that. If she tells me something I may react emotionally but then go off and think.”
“If there’s any heated discussions, it’s typically reacting to external issues and how to deal with them — if there is any stress at all that’s where it comes from — not that we disagree with what we need to do but how do we best approach it,” Glendinning adds.
She says the relationship works because they have a “non-conventional solicitor-client relationship.” It’s not a situation where Kiser and Gitto are giving the instructions. “We actually work together as a team to develop strategies in full knowledge of what the business implications are, what the objectives are, and what our endgame in the litigation is and we very much come together as a team like that,” she says. That’s unique for an in-house client relationship. “We all work on a common base of knowledge so I understand what’s important to them and they understand what’s important in the legal landscape. We can talk through the issues and come to a solution.”
One aspect Glendinning found particularly unusual and appreciates is that she can openly voice her opinions. “It’s not that I have to defer to them — they won’t always agree with me but they always want me to push back as hard as I feel is appropriate so they get the benefit of my advice and my experience and that’s not always the way it works. Actually, most of the time that’s not the way it works,” she says.
Kiser views the relationship this way: given the protracted nature of tobacco litigation, by necessity the team must work together closely and over the course of long hours. “You’re working with these people for a period of years and it’s almost artificial to not get to know them on some personal level and understand their strengths and weaknesses. Working as a team you learn to leverage that.”
Lessons learned — win the war, not every battle
Over the past five years, both Kiser and Glendinning say they have learned best practices from each other — in litigation and in managing people.
One of the biggest has been to build teams internally and execute nationally, which means as litigation comes up in each province, the team is ready to roll. “With our team at Osler we have been able to deploy people across the country as opposed to having different teams set up in different provinces, which would be duplicative, which is not as efficient and not as centrally organized.”
The lessons have also come on an individual, professional basis. “I’ve learned to be less of a lawyer and less of a litigator and more of a business strategist, which I have found very interesting and challenging,” says Glendinning. “Also, managing people is not necessarily something we learn in law school or in practice.”
Kiser says he has always approached tobacco litigation as one where it’s important to pick one’s battles. “Tobacco is always controversial, and what Deborah is referring to is that I think most lawyers are trained to win whatever is in front of them; in other words they are fighting the battle in front of them and sometimes I think it’s to the detriment of their long-term strategic outlook.”
He says one has to realize that sometimes the immediate battle may or may not be that important. If the co-defence wants to do something and Kiser, Gitto, and Glendinning don’t think it’s the right thing, they evaluate how important it is in the long-term scheme of things. “It’s about taking a higher, wider view of things and trying to solve the bigger problem. I say win the war, not necessarily every battle. Lawyers can sometimes be closed-minded and even one-minded. To me, one of the best things Deborah has done is to show her ability to adapt to a changing situation.”
Managing costs: How to avoid the ‘When in doubt, bill it to Imperial.’
When they joined forces, Kiser made it very clear to Glendinning that his costs were no different than the operations costs of any other business unit. “It’s a fact of life — it affects law like any other department so cost is constantly on our minds,” says Kiser. “One of the things we made Deborah very aware of is that cost is a constant issue. Even though this is massive litigation money is never not an issue — it’s always an issue — law does not get a ‘bye’ on that.”
Kiser knows that at the end of the day, it’s about the number of lawyers and exactly who the lawyers are that has the biggest impact on the bottom line. “I’ve worked with a lot of alternative billing arrangements and they suit certain tasks like document work and things like that, so you can come up with all the restrictive rates, restricting hours, flat fees, the list goes on and they all serve their purpose, but at the end of the day when you’re dealing with the large dollars it actually comes down to how many lawyers do you have billing you and what are they doing? When you know what that looks like you avoid the ‘when in doubt, bill it to Imperial’ that you can run into when you have cases of this magnitude.”
Kiser places great value in building such teams and values the relationship — he sees it as building equity in the partnership. “I’ve read articles where the in-house counsel says, ‘I’d rather pay the plaintiff a dollar than my defence team a dollar’ and that makes no sense to me. I don’t see how that plays into a partnership or ongoing legal and business relationships.”
As the associate general counsel, Gitto says Kiser and Glendinning have proven themselves and she is happy with what they’ve built thus far. “Deborah and John have been very successful and it’s certainly helped us deal with the litigation in Canada and elsewhere.”
By Jennifer Brown

HU: Tobacco plant can produce anti-malaria drug

Hebrew University researchers used plan to produce an effective anti-malaria drug; combating malaria is one of the eight Millennium Development Goals.
Although tobacco in the form of cigarettes is generally recognized as being a killer of millions, the plant has been used by Hebrew University researchers to produce an effective anti-malaria drug.
A genetically engineered form of artemisinin, a natural compound that produces large quantities of the anti-malaria drug – was announced Sunday by the Yissum Research Development Company – the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s technology transfer company. The biosynthesis method – a novel way of producing Artemisia annua, which is naturally produced by sweet wormwood plants – was developed by Prof. Alexander Vainstein and the research was published as a letter in the latest issue of the journal Nature Biotechnology.
Combating malaria is one of the eight Millennium Development Goals described in the UN Millennium Declaration signed by all UN members 11 years ago. An important way to control the deadly parasitic disease that affects mostly the Third World is prompt and effective treatment with artemisinin-based combination therapies.
But low-cost artemisininbased drugs are in short supply because of the high cost of obtaining the natural or chemically synthesized drug. Despite extensive efforts made in the last decade in metabolic engineering of the drug in both microbial and heterologous plant systems, no one has been able to produce artemisinin itself.
Malaria, caused by the Plasmodium parasite, is transmitted via mosquitoes. Symptoms include fever, headache and vomiting, and they usually appear between 10 and 15 days after the mosquito bite. If left untreated, malaria can quickly become life threatening by disrupting the blood supply to vital organs. Over three billion people are at risk of malaria, and about 250 million new malaria cases occur each year, causing nearly a million deaths, mostly of people living in poor countries.
Vainstein and graduate student Moran Farhi developed genetically engineered tobacco plants carrying genes encoding the entire biochemical pathway needed for producing artemisinin. In light of tobacco’s high biomass and rapid growth, this invention will enable a cheap production of large quantities of the drug, paving the way for the development of a sustainable plant-based platform for the commercial production of an antimalarial drug, said Yissum, which patented it and is now seeking a partner for its further development.
Yissum CEO Yaacov Michlin said Vainstein’s technology provides for the first time, the opportunity for manufacturing affordable artemisinin by using tobacco plants.
“We hope this invention will eventually help control this prevalent disease, for the benefit of many millions of people around the globe and in particular in the developing world.”

Critique smolders for honor to tobacco scientist

A scientist recently inducted into the Chinese Academy of Engineering (CAE) is being criticized by a number of his peers, who said his research might cause more harm from tobacco.
Xie Jianping, 52, vice-president of the Zhengzhou Tobacco Research Institute of China National Tobacco Corp, was inducted into the academy on Dec 8 for his research since 2005 on tar reduction in filter cigarettes.
The honor met with public criticism on Sina weibo, the country’s leading micro-blogging website.
Fang Zhouzi, an academic known for his opposition to “pseudoscience”, said in his micro blog on Dec 9 that Xie’s research misleads the public, and the only way to reduce harm from smoking is to quit.
“The international medical world is calling for the restriction of tobacco nowadays, however, China honored an academician who researches tobacco with the money from a tobacco company,” Fang wrote in his micro blog. “It’s like a joke.”
According to Fang, Xie’s research was conducted to help tobacco companies to promote so-called low-tar cigarettes, which Fang said are filled with harmful substances that could cause cancer.
Low-tar cigarette sales have soared in recent years in China, surging 37.2 percent annually from 2007 to 2010, compared with 3.3 percent growth in all cigarette sales.
The sales of low-tar cigarettes skyrocketed by more than 265 percent from January to September this year compared with the same period last year, according to data released by Tobacco China Online.
Yang Jie, deputy director of the National Tobacco Control Office, told China Daily on Monday that Xie’s research is merely a way for tobacco companies to promote their products.
“More than 20 years ago, tobacco companies in the United States already knew that such research was invalid, but they did not tell the public the truth, and ultimately, the companies were convicted in court of cheating,” Yang said.
China Daily could not reach Xie for comment on Monday.
However, Xie also received some support from the academic world.
Wei Fusheng, a CAE academician who voted for Xie’s induction into the academy, said Xie’s research has diminished harm to smokers.
“The Chinese have a long history of smoking, and a process is necessary to help smokers quit the unhealthy addiction,” Wei said. “The tobacco industry is one of the main taxpayers, which is important for the country’s development.”
Cui Xiaobo, an expert on tobacco restriction at Capital Medical University, said the country’s tax revenue could be guaranteed by raising tobacco prices and tobacco tax rates, rather than encouraging more people to smoke.
“It’s ridiculous to promote tobacco sales by making low-tar cigarettes,” Cui said.
Jin Huiyu contributed to this story.
By An Baijie

Big tobacco launches High Court challenge

British American Tobacco (BAT) has launched its promised High Court challenge to cigarette plain packaging legislation.
BAT argues the ban is invalid because the federal government is trying to acquire valuable intellectual property without compensation.
BAT lodged the writs launching its challenge in the High Court Sydney registry on Thursday.
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No date for the hearing of the case has been set but it’s likely to be no earlier than the second quarter of next year.
BAT spokesperson Scott McIntyre said it was 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.”
The move follows legal action launched by tobacco company Philip Morris Asia on November 21, which served a notice of arbitration with the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law, claiming the Commonwealth is essentially stealing its brands.
Under the federal government’s tobacco plain packaging legislation, all tobacco products will have to be sold in drab olive-brown packs from December 2012. Graphic health warnings will dominate the packages instead of brand names and logos.
Mr McIntyre said High Court proceedings would be conducted as a test case on the validity of the tobacco plain packaging law in relation to two BAT brands, Winfield and Dunhill.
If successful, the decision should apply to other property and brands sold by BAT.
“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 said big tobacco just couldn’t 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.”

Telecoms is no Tobacco industry; be lenient with us – Sakyi-Addo appeals to NCA

Chief Executive officer of the Telecoms Chamber Kwaku Sakyi-Addo is unhappy with threats by the Communications Minister to suspend the licenses of telecom companies which fail to pay fines imposed on them by the National Communications Authority.
The regulatory body imposed a total fine of ¢1.2 billion on five of the telecom operators in the country for providing poor quality services to their clients.
Weeks after the imposition, only Tigo was reported by the Daily Graphic to have completed payment. MTN and Airtel had paid part with Vodafone and Expresso yet to make any payment.
Communications Minister Haruna Iddrisu at a Consumer Forum in Tamale described the delay by the companies in paying the penalties as a show of disrespect to consumers and to the regulatory body.
He directed the companies to pay up in 24 hours or risk losing their licenses.
The penalty and subsequent threat to suspend the licenses of the operators appear not to have gone down well with the Chief Executive of the Telecoms Chamber.
At a ceremony to officially launch the telecoms chamber, its CEO, Kwaku Sakyi-Addo minced no words in his appeal to the regulator and the sector minister to tread cautiously in taking punitive measures against the operators.
He argued the operators, sometimes through no fault of theirs, face serious challenges in deploying infrastructure that is expected to improve the quality of services.
He found it rather worrying that, in spite of those challenges coupled with a commitment by the operators to improve quality by deploying its infrastructure, the regulatory body would go ahead and slap punitive sums on the operators.
“…One of the longest running problems that is hurting telecoms companies are the cost and hurdles in deploying infrastructure and the complete absence of predictability in how our local authority determine business operating permits when it comes to mobile phone company.
“Do we want the mobile phone services in our communities or not. Do we want improvement in the quality of service or not. How do you expand broadband internet access and enhance quality if we obstruct the very infrastructure that delivers it.
“If we dissuade and hurt and punish the companies that want to deploy them, how? This is not a tobacco industry. Don’t we realize that this industry is a direct and visible enabler of economic and social activity and outcomes?
He said if the “strange” policy being implemented by the regulator makes sense then it should be applied across board – to the water sector as well.
Mr. Addo also took exception to the 20 per cent import duty on SIM cards based on a 2010 copy right legislation which claims the phone chip is a device for the storage of copyright materials, much in the same category as CD roms and , memory cards.
“…But your chip is not even capable of storing your own contacts. Who stores music or downloads a book on onto SIM cards,” he quizzed.
“Regulatory policy should be based on sound and efficient legal system that enables timely contract enforcement, adequate appeal processes and effective implementation,” he urged.
But the Communications Minister who was also present at the ceremony was unmoved by the passionate appeal by the Telecom Chamber’s CEO.
Whilst applauding the contribution by the operators in the infrastructure development in the country Haruna Iddrisu maintained the need for consumers to get quality service is non-negotiable.
“Yes you feed the NCA. They are building the HQ with funding from telecoms…. Consumers also feed you with funding. And consumers also demand that they want better quality of service. Between you and the consumer government would yield to the consumer. It is to them that we owe service to.”
He said telecoms today is no luxury but an essential duty and the operators are enshrined to provide quality services.
He repeated his threat to the operators to pay up the fines imposed on them or have their licenses suspended.
The chairman of the occasion Osagyefo Amoatia Ofori Panyin called for more collaboration between the two institutions, and also for amicable resolution of differences.

Killer lights up tobacco challenge

Hoddle Street mass murderer Julian Knight spends at least $80 a week on smokes, but he hopes soon to spend less.
Knight was 19 when he shot dead seven people and injured 19 in the Hoddle Street massacre in Melbourne in 1987.
He has bought cigarettes and tobacco from prison canteens ever since.
In 1997, after a complaint about canteen prices, Knight became aware of a levy imposed on tobacco products in Victorian jails.
Since then he has made a number of complaints to the ombudsman and auditor-general and has now taken his fight to the Victorian Supreme Court.
Knight, who has been a regular smoker since the age of 16, estimates he spends about $80 to $90 a week on cigarettes and tobacco.
In 1993, an unknown officer of the Department of Corrections made the decision to add a 10 per cent levy to the wholesale cost of cigarettes and tobacco.
The money raised from the levy is used for the development and delivery of anti-smoking programs, the court heard.
Knight argues such a decision is not authorised under the powers given to the secretary or governor of a prison.
Knight has been declared a vexatious litigant and must apply to the Supreme Court for permission to start a legal action.
Yesterday, Associate Justice Melissa Daly allowed Knight to proceed with his case, saying it was not doomed to fail and was not an abuse of process.
She said there might be some issues about Knight’s standing in the proceeding and who should defend the case, but the issues could be dealt with before or during a trial.
One issue is whether G4S Custodial Services, which operates Port Phillip Prison, where Knight is housed, should be part of the case.
”In any event, these matters are outweighed by the fact that if there is at least a real argument that the secretary and prison governors are acting beyond their lawful authority in imposing and collecting the levy, then that argument should have the opportunity to be fully ventilated before the court,” Associate Justice Daly said.
She said it might be that the beneficial intent and impact of programs funded by the levy would influence a court to use its discretion to reject Knight’s case.
The case will be heard next April.
Knight was sentenced to a maximum of seven life sentences, with a non-parole period of 27 years. He will be eligible for parole in 2014.

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.”