tocacco plant Native American Tobaccoo flower, leaves, and buds

tocacco Tobacco is an annual or bi-annual growing 1-3 meters tall with large sticky leaves that contain nicotine. Native to the Americas, tobacco has a long history of use as a shamanic inebriant and stimulant. It is extremely popular and well-known for its addictive potential.

tocacco nicotina Nicotiana tabacum

tocacco Nicotiana rustica leaves. Nicotiana rustica leaves have a nicotine content as high as 9%, whereas Nicotiana tabacum (common tobacco) leaves contain about 1 to 3%

tocacco cigar A cigar is a tightly rolled bundle of dried and fermented tobacco which is ignited so that its smoke may be drawn into the mouth. Cigar tobacco is grown in significant quantities in Brazil, Cameroon, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Indonesia, Mexico, Nicaragua, Sumatra, Philippines, and the Eastern United States.

tocacco Tobacco is an agricultural product processed from the fresh leaves of plants in the genus Nicotiana. It can be consumed, used as an organic pesticide, and in the form of nicotine tartrate it is used in some medicines. In consumption it may be in the form of cigarettes smoking, snuffing, chewing, dipping tobacco, or snus.

tocacco Cigarettes are smoking products consumed by people and made out of cut tobacco leaves. Cigars are typically composed completely of whole-leaf tobacco. A cigarette has smaller size, composed of processed leaf, and white paper wrapping. The term cigarette refers to a tobacco cigarette too but it can apply to similar devices containing other herbs, such as cannabis.
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Extraordinary Influence of Big Tobacco inside Russia

Big tobacco’s influence inside Russia dates back to 1992, when the Russian government’s monopoly in tobacco products ended. Multinational tobacco giants Philip Morris and British American Tobacco swiftly moved in, followed by Japan Tobacco, attracted by one of the world’s largest and fastest growing cigarette markets. The attractions for the industry were numerous: a substantial pool of current smokers, large numbers of potential new smokers among women and youths, weak anti-tobacco legislation, and a political climate in which the tobacco companies could exert political influence – both in Russia and among other former Soviet republics.

Big tobacco’s influence inside Russia dates back to 1992, when the Russian government’s monopoly in tobacco products ended. cigarettes ads in RussiaMultinational tobacco giants Philip Morris and British American Tobacco swiftly moved in, followed by Japan Tobacco, attracted by one of the world’s largest and fastest growing cigarette markets. The attractions for the industry were numerous: a substantial pool of current smokers, large numbers of potential new smokers among women and youths, weak anti-tobacco legislation, and a political climate in which the tobacco companies could exert political influence – both in Russia and among other former Soviet republics.

In 1995 about 141 billion cigarettes were produced in Russia; by 2006 that amount had nearly tripled to 414 billion. Today, Russia ranks third in cigarette manufacturing, after China and the United States, according to WHO figures. Transnational tobacco companies control 94 percent of that market.

The largest Russian-owned company is Donskoy Tabak, once controlled by Ivan Savvidi, an influential member of Russia’s State Duma. After entering public office in 2003, Savvidi quit his commercial activities, as required by Russian law. Today his wife, Kiryaki, owns 87.1 percent of the company’s stock. According to the federal register of state contracts, the company since 2007 has won 13 tobacco contracts worth 60 million rubles (more than $2 million) from the Russian military. Moscow-based GR Research & Consulting Center, whose site monitors the tobacco industry, claims that Donskoy Tabak each year distributes one billion cigarettes to soldiers, free of charge.

Tobacco-control activists and business analysts say the industry’s strong position in Russia is the result of years of aggressive, strategic lobbying. The big multinational tobacco companies, in fact, have proven to be expert lobbyists in Russia, according to Pavel Tolstykh, owner of GR Research. “They are very effective,” he says, because they bring “a long history of promotion and diversified strategies in lobbying.” And, he adds, they understand where to target the key decision-makers: in the Agriculture Ministry, which oversees the industry; the Finance Ministry, which decides questions of taxation; and the main legislative body, the State Duma.

Consumer advocate Yanin says the industry has a history of success in blunting attempts at effective smoking and advertising controls in Russia. “In the new history of Russia there were adopted just two halfway serious restrictions for the industry…the ban on advertising on TV and on billboards,” Yanin said. “All other anti-tobacco initiatives remained just as intentions… or were adopted in very soft variations without any harm to the industry.”

Multinational tobacco companies have lobbied Russia hard since at least 1998, according to internal company documents released during litigation against the industry. Back then, alarmed by a far-reaching anti-tobacco law introduced into the State Duma and the WHO’s growing tobacco-control work, industry lobbyists launched a counterattack. One set of efforts targeted the Duma legislation, introduced by Committee on Health Protection Chairman Nikolay Gerasimenko, while another worked to push decision makers to water down the WHO standards.

On July 7, 1998, a BAT-Russia executive, Vladimir Aksionov, described in a memo his meeting with Olga Beklemishcheva, deputy chair of Gerasimenko’s committee: “She still believes that the draft can be ‘killed’ at the earliest stage and confirmed that she will do everything for this. She also said that coordinated PR campaign should start as early as possible and should be on on-going basis even during vacation period. She believes that one of the main ideas of this campaign should be the negative impact of this law for local producers.”

A similar position on Gerasimenko’s bill was stated in a BAT-Russia report: “Gerasimenko Law needs to be killed,” the document states flatly. “Lobbying industry-wide underway.”

A redacted – and weaker – version of Gerasimenko’s bill was adopted in 2001. A BAT memo, dated February 2000, tallied the success in gutting the bill: in the end, it included no higher excise tax, no ad bans and no non-smoking rules.

Meanwhile, the industry took aim at the WHO-sponsored talks in Geneva. In a 2000 letter, First Deputy Health Minister Gennady Onishchenko alerted the deputy prime minister – Vladimir Shcherbak – that a top tobacco executive had been sent to the talks: “As per your earlier instruction,” Onishenko wrote, “L.Ya. Sinelnikov, member of the Board of Directors of Tabakprom association, was included in the working group that will be participating in drafting the second session of the Convention in Geneva.”

Sinelnikov, it turned out, was also the head of BAT-Russia, and was taking part in the WHO-sponsored working group as an expert of Russia’s Agriculture Ministry. Later unmasked by tobacco control activists, he was excluded from the group.

Powerful Friends

The industry didn’t stop there. In 2004 Philip Morris, JTI Yelets (owned by Japan Tobacco International), and the home-grown Baltic Tobacco Factory formed a lobbying group: The Council for the Development of Tobacco Industry, now one of the most powerful industry associations in Moscow. The council is headed by Nadezhda Shkolkina, who takes the idea of a revolving door between business and government to a new level. In 2006, while heading the council, Shkolkina simultaneously became leader of the Agriculture Ministry’s Public Council, which oversees the tobacco industry. Yanin, of the Confederation of Consumer Associations, says that for years he has tried to persuade Russian authorities to prevent someone heading the nation’s most powerful tobacco organization from simultaneously regulating tobacco markets. Tobacco control activists have protested Shkolkina’s work, and in July of this year she left the Agriculture Ministry post, even though, on its website, she is still listed as the ministry’s Public Council chief.

Another powerful industry promoter is the Association of Tobacco Producers, Tabakprom, whose members include Imperial Tobacco-owned Balkan Star, BAT, and Donskoy Tabak. Tabakprom grew out of the old Association of Tobacco Producers, within the Soviet Agriculture Ministry’s Department of Tobacco and Food. Despite common aims, Tabakprom and the Council for the Development of the Tobacco Industry at times work in different arenas. The council unites tobacco companies that back a so-called “specified excise tax,” levied on every 1,000 cigarettes. This helps producers of more expensive tobacco products because the tax is fixed and doesn’t depend on the retail price. Members of Tabakprom, meanwhile, produce cheaper cigarettes, and thus support what’s called an ad valorem tax, based on the retail price. To satisfy both groups, Russian legislators for years maintained a complex combination of these taxes on cigarettes.

The industry can count on an array of powerful friends inside the government. Consider the background of Gennady Kulik, who headed the Agriculture Ministry from 1990 to 1991 and has since held other high-ranking posts in Russian politics.

The new law calls for a warning, “Smoking Kills,” over a third of the front of cigarette packs, with another warning over half of the back. But unlike most countries that have adopted the WHO rules, the packs don’t include the more graphic pictograms warning smokers of the dangers.

Another important mismatch between the WHO and Duma rules: Russian law allows producers to use terms such as “light” on packs, which are prohibited by the WHO guidelines. (Scientists have found no evidence that “light” cigarettes offer any health benefits to smokers.)

The industry is exercising its influence beyond Russia. Moscow-based tobacco lobbyists are trying to spread Russian tobacco policies across the Eurasian Economic Community, established in 2001 to unite the Russian Federation, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. Rules of the community oblige parties to adopt common standards for various products, including tobacco. The multinational group gave Russia the lead in writing tobacco regulations, but the process has allegedly been hijacked by the industry, according to some members. On April 6, 2010, Dmitry Yanin and Natalya Kostenko from Russia, and Jamilya Sadykhova from Kazakhstan complained that most of the working group was in fact filled with tobacco lobbyists. According to the working group’s roster, Sergey Fillipov of Tabakprom and Eduard Vorontsov of the Council for Development of the Tobacco Industry were listed as Russian Agriculture Ministry experts; two other “experts” – Ekaterina Kuznetsova, and Vladimir Vasiliev – were actually executives of Philip Morris in Russia. A Philip Morris in Russia spokesman, Sergey Chernenko, acknowledged that company officials took part in the working group. “It is a natural democratic approach to legislation,” Chernenko explained.

Consumer advocate Yanin says that in the last meeting of the working group, in early August 2010, Moscow-based Imperial Tobacco executive Alexander Alexandrov also was present. He was listed as a representative of the Kyrgyzstan delegation.

“I asked him, ‘Who is the president of Kyrgyzstan?’” Yanin recalled. “He couldn’t answer.”

The protests appear to have had an impact: Kazakhstan, Belarus, and Tajikistan are pushing back against some of the Russian rules. It’s unclear who will prevail. “We’ll understand only in 2011,” says Yanin, “when presidents of the republics are going to sign a final agreement.”

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