Daily Archives: March 18, 2009

Can cigarette smoking ever be green?

It’s true: The nicotine addiction affects the planet as well as the lungs. While there’s nothing you can do to totally absolve your green guilt, there are a few things to keep in mind.

Mesquite City Council passes a stricter smoking ban

The Mesquite City Council passed a stricter smoking ban, at its regular meeting Monday.

Secondhand smoke carries high health price tag

According to a study released yesterday by the N.C. Division of Health and Human Services, secondhand smoke carries a $288.8 million price tag annually in North Carolina.
The study, North Carolina’s Secondhand Smoke Healthcare Cost Burden, also found that at least 107,067 North Carolinians are treated for conditions caused by secondhand smoke each year.
The study is modeled on one done in Minnesota by researchers at Johns Hopkins University and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota. In North Carolina, Clinical Informatics at Blue Cross Blue Shield N.C. replicated the methodology, using North Carolina and national data.
The study is being presented today to a state House Judiciary committee as they meet to discuss House Bill 2, a bill that would prohibit smoking in public and work places.
The author of the study said that the estimate is conservative because it does not consider other costs, such as lost productivity, long-term care and disability services not covered by Blue Cross Blue Shield N.C. or the impact on quality of life.

Zimbabwe’s tobacco production may decline 40% this year

Zimbabwe’s official tobacco harvest may fall as much as 40 percent to 42 million kilograms this year as destitute farmers sell the leaf illegally, the government’s Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board said.

Convention on Tobacco Control

In November 2008, 160 nations agreed to guidelines under the World Healt Organisation Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which took effect in 2003, to block tobacco industry interference in global health policies and implementation of the global tobacco treaty. However, in a report released Saturday, WHO officials said the tobacco industry has employed economic power, lobbying, marketing and media manipulation to discredit research and influence governments to promote tobacco sales.

MONITORING TOBACCO INDUSTRY EFFORTS TO THWART TOBACCO CONTROL

Tobacco industry interference strategies should be monitored and strategies adopted to
counter them. Monitoring the activities of the industry can be resource- intensive, with elusive
targets and great challenges. A few governments require the tobacco industry to disclose
information on lobbying activities, campaign contributions, advertising and promotional
expenditures, smoke emissions and additives; however, none formally requires any
form of admission from the tobacco industry about its endeavours to thwart effective tobacco
control. The industry has always publicly denied that it seeks to do so, and such requests would
probably meet with a refusal.
Much industry activity to undermine tobacco control is thus clandestine, and the
intent and details are not made public or subjected to corporate scrutiny. The release of internal
tobacco industry documents provided unprecedented insight into the extent of its interference
in effective tobacco control. The ruling by Judge G. Kessler in the United States in 2006
will mean that the industry must maintain its obligation to deposit documents in Minnesota
and Guildford for an additional 15 years. While internal industry documents continue to be
released, the industry is undoubtedly now more cautious about what it enters onto the written
record, and this invaluable source of information will almost certainly dry up as the industry
adapts its communications and documentation methods to avoid candid disclosure. Lessons have
been learnt from past activities, but many current and expected industry activities cannot, and
will not, be as readily discerned.
Companies that are not involved in litigation in the United States have not been forced to release
internal documents, and none have been released concerning issues other than health, such as
smuggling, political activities, document destruction, international trade and patent claims on
new products. There is still much that could be learnt about tobacco industry interference
if further documents were released.
The WHO publication Building blocks of tobacco control outlines strategies to counter the
activities of the tobacco industry. First, the tobacco control sector should get to know the local
tobacco industry by analysing its documents. Subsequent recommended strategies include:
• monitoring the local tobacco industry;
• informing and involving the public;
• obtaining and using evidence strategically;
• using ‘champions’ to tell the truth about tobacco use;
• applying lessons from international experience;
• exposing the myths and refuting the industry’s arguments;
• building strong anti-smoking coalitions;
• communicating and strictly enforcing tobacco control measures;
• making the industry accountable; and
• regulating the industry.
Specific recommendations in the handbook with regard to monitoring the local tobacco industry
include:

TOBACCO INDUSTRY EFFORTS TO THWART EFFECTIVE TOBACCO CONTROL

Effective tobacco control is, almost by definition, antithetical to the economic interests of the
tobacco industry, associated industries, and entities or persons working to further the tobacco
industry’s agenda. Those interests depend largely on the prosperity of the tobacco industry and
its means for ensuring its real or perceived commercial well-being. The primary goal of tobacco
control is to prevent tobacco-caused disease and death. In the hierarchy of objectives for reaching
this goal, preventing the uptake of tobacco use and assisting tobacco users in ceasing use of all
forms of tobacco rank highest. Similarly, efforts designed to reduce exposure to second-hand
smoke are most effective when smoking is prohibited in public areas.
This triumvirate of objectives—preventing uptake, maximizing cessation and prohibiting
smoking in public places—stands in direct opposition to the commercial objectives of the tobacco
industry. Although the industry sometimes makes expedient public statements to the contrary,
it routinely seeks to maximize uptake of tobacco use, do all that is possible to ensure that tobacco
users continue to be consumers and prevent the erosion of smoking opportunities by restrictions
known to reduce smoking frequency and promote cessation. Thus, when tobacco control
succeeds, the tobacco industry fails. People employed by the tobacco industry have fiduciary
responsibilities to their shareholders or government owners to take all legal steps possible to
maximize profits. It is therefore entirely predictable that the tobacco industry does what it can to
ensure that effective tobacco control policies fail.
In an analogy with the classic public health model of communicable disease control, the tobacco
industry has been described as the principal ‘vector’ of tobacco-caused disease. Like efforts to
understand the chain of transmission and death in communicable diseases, comprehensive
tobacco control requires that public health authorities monitor and counteract the efforts of the
tobacco industry to promote tobacco use and to undermine tobacco control.
Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland, former Director-General of the WHO, described tobacco use as “a
communicated disease—communicated through marketing. The promotional activities of the
industry are directly responsible for the spread of tobacco use, especially among young people
and women and in developing countries, who are the latest targets of tobacco industry marketing.
Scrutinizing, countering and eliminating their activities will decrease the disease burden of
tobacco use.

Two members of the Hells Angels suspects in contraband tobacco ring

Two members of the Hells Angels were yesterday targeted across the province as the RCMP rounded up suspects in contraband tobacco ring.