Friday, June 13, 2014

Australia’s Graphic Cigarette Pack Warnings Appear to Work

Australia’s landmark cigarette legislation banning logos and putting dire health warnings and graphic images of sick or dying smokers on packs seems to be working, data shows, even as tobacco companies argue business is better than ever.
The country’s Bureau of Statistics says household consumption of tobacco fell 4.9 percent during the year that ended in March and clipped a small but still noteworthy 0.1 percentage point from Australia’s gross domestic product in the first quarter of this year. Consumption of cigarettes and tobacco dropped 7.6 percent in the first quarter, Commonwealth Bank economists said in a research note.
Although the data, released last week, does not show the rate of change, it illustrates that total consumption fell, according to the statistics bureau, which warned that the figures could be subject to seasonal revisions.
“We are seeing a very encouraging trend,” said Mike Daube, professor of health policy at Curtin University in Perth, Western Australia. “The numbers are heading in the right direction.”
Stephen Koukoulas, managing director of the Canberra-based Market Economics, agreed that tobacco consumption seemed to have dropped in the 15 months since the packaging law, the world’s most restrictive, went into effect.
“Plain packaging is one of many measures, including high taxes and laws that restrict where you can smoke, that are having an impact,” he said. “The national accounts data is the first sign since plain packaging was introduced that consumption has fallen away.”
But British American Tobacco Australia said that industry sales volumes were up, and that the decline in the rate at which smokers start had slowed.
“A year after plain packaging was introduced, industry volumes had actually grown for the first time in over a decade,” a company spokesman, Scott McIntyre, said in a news release. Tobacco industry data shows the decline in the number of people smoking “has slowed by more than half to 1.4 percent” since plain packaging was introduced, he said in a telephone interview.
British American Tobacco Australia has about 45 percent of the Australian market of 3.5 million smokers, with brands like Winfield, Benson & Hedges and Rothmans. Mr. McIntyre said the sales data was prepared by a third party and could not be released.
Manufacturers fought Australia’s Tobacco Plain Packaging Act 2011 in the country’s High Court and lost in 2012, before the fight moved to the World Trade Organization. A W.T.O. panel will investigate complaints made by Ukraine, Honduras, the Dominican Republic, Cuba and Indonesia, who argue that Australia’s laws breach world trade agreements, including trademark rights.
Jonathan Liberman, a lawyer and the director of the McCabe Center for Law and Cancer in Melbourne, said the proceedings at the W.T.O. “have so far moved very slowly.”
“It is in the interests of those opposed to plain packaging to draw these things out,” he said. “Australia’s move was globally significant, and a W.T.O. decision in Australia’s favor would be devastating for the tobacco industry.”
It seems likely other countries will follow Australia’s lead. In Britain, an independent review by a prominent doctor, Cyril Chantler, found “standardized packaging would serve to reduce the rate of children taking up smoking.” He said in his April report on plain packaging to the British government that it was “implausible that it would increase the consumption of tobacco.”
Ireland’s health minister, James Reilly, said on Tuesday that the government had approved a draft bill on plain packaging, and in New Zealand, a bill has been presented to Parliament, where the associate health minister, Tariana Turia, said plain packaging “takes away the last means of promoting tobacco as a desirable product.”
Australia’s legislation is so proscriptive that starting in December 2012, manufacturers had to sell cigarettes in plain “drab dark brown” packs, devoid of logos but heavy with health warnings and grisly photos of cancer patients.
Kylie Lindorff of the nonprofit Cancer Council of Victoria said packaging could feature photos of limbs with gangrene, eyeballs affected by cancer, or a skeletal man dying of lung cancer, accompanied by large-font statements like “smoking causes lung cancer” or “cancer causes peripheral vascular disease.” The aim was to limit tobacco companies’ global reach and the appeal of brands like Marlboro and Camel to young adults. The Labor government in power at the time further put into effect extra taxes on smokers, already among the highest in the world.
“Price signals really work,” said Michael Workman, a Commonwealth Bank senior economist. “Sin taxes work, especially if the government has a bigger motive about escalating health costs.”
In August 2013, the Labor government imposed a 12.5 percent increase in the excise rate on tobacco, to be applied each year for four years, starting in December 2013, with subsequent increases starting this September. The measures are backed by the current Conservative government, led by Prime Minister Tony Abbott.
The Australian Taxation Office says that for every cigarette sold in Australia, about 40 Australian cents, or $0.38, is collected in excise, a tax that has almost doubled in a little over a decade. A packet of 25 cigarettes, bought at a supermarket or a convenience store, can range in price from 13 to 25 Australian dollars.
Mr. Workman said the fall in tobacco consumption went against a trend in the national economic data, which showed rising demand for clothing, up 5.2 percent; food, up 2.2 percent; and alcohol, up 1.7 percent, over the first quarter of 2014.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Support there for smoking ban in South Bend

The days of smoking in clubs and bars in South Bend may be numbered. Before agreeing to table it Monday, Common Council member Karen White seemed ready to support a measure expanding the statewide smoking ban here to include such establishments.
"I indicated that I did support the smoke ordinance, but the concern I have is that it will be implemented properly," White said Tuesday, adding she'd also like to see the county and city of Mishawaka enact similar legislation.
White's vote would have been the deciding one in favor of the measure, which also has the support of council members Gavin Ferlic, Tim Scott, Valerie Schey and Fred Ferlic, as well as Smoke Free St. Joe.
Instead, the council, at Schey’s recommendation, tabled the issue for 60 days, until July 14, in order to further communicate with bar and club owners and ensure smooth implementation of the law.
The vote was 5-3, with the Ferlics and Tim Scott opposed.
The decision followed more than two hours of at times heated debate in front of an overflow crowd of about 200 people, some of whom had to sit or stand outside council chambers because of overcrowding.
"This (ban) is primarily about workplace safety," said Gavin Ferlic, noting exposure to second-hand smoke contributes to lung cancer, heart disease, asthma and other serious health problems.
Bar and club owners, though, worried the measure would hurt business and trample on smokers' rights.
"We have freedom of choice," said Matthew Zultanski, part-owner of Mitch's Corner in South Bend. "A person who walks up to an establishment that is smoking can choose not to go in."
Zultanski and others also complained that supporters of the ban, including Smoke Free St. Joe, never contacted them about it before Monday, a claim Gavin Ferlic denied.
"The coalition reach out via phone to all the establishments at least twice," Ferlic said Tuesday. "There were a couple of situations where either no one answered or there wasn't an answering machine or the number was not in service, but again, best efforts were made."
Though disappointed with the decision to table the matter, "I understand the council would like to see a few more conversations take place before potentially passing this ordinance," Ferlic said, "so I’m certainly comfortable following through with the council’s recommendation."
"I know we're not going to make everyone happy," Schey said, "but it seems we could have done a better job trying to reach out to the bar owners and hear their concerns, and try to work with them to find some sort of compromise."
That could include giving existing smoking establishments up to two years to comply with the law, Schey said.
Asked about that, Ferlic said he's willing to consider such an amendment, but "our primary concern is for the health and well-being of the general public as well as employees in these establishments, so the more efficiently we can create a clean-air environment ... the better off we are as a city."
Smoke Free St. Joe would appear to agree.
"Smoke Free St. Joe is disappointed that the workers of South Bend yet again have to wait to be provided the smoke-free workplace that everyone deserves," the organization said in a statement Tuesday.
"Second-hand smoke has killed 2.5 million nonsmokers since 1964, and every day we wait to pass this ordinance means another resident of South Bend's life and livelihood are at stake."

Friday, April 18, 2014

Gurkha Cigars: The Rolls Royce of Cigars

The Legend of Gurkha Cigars

At the height of the British rule in India, colonial soldiers began to make their own cigars from the local tobacco. The fondness of the British for these legendary Nepalese fighters inspired them to name their cigars “ Gurkhas.”
After the rule of the Raja Waned, British expatriates living in India continued to smoke Gurkhas produced in the Portuguese territory of Goa. Eventually, However, The Gurkha cigars simply lapsed into obscurity.
Steeped in legend and history, the Gurkha cigars, created more than a century ago has been reborn and remains true to its roots in faraway India. Today, the legend lives on in the premium brand cigars “Gurkha.”

The Makers

Kaizad Hansotia, founder of the Gurkha Cigar Company, was born in India and raised in Hong Kong and London.
The Gurkha Cigars journey started when Hansotia met a Portuguese man making and selling cigars in Goa, while on vacation, in 1989. Being part of the family watch-making business at the time, Hansotia decided to buy the man’s entire stock and brand name — Gurkha — on the spot so as to have a unique gift to hand out to his customers of the watch company.
One of these early Gurkha cigars landed up with a friend who owned a duty-free shop and who was so taken with the gift that that he decided that he wanted more. The rest, as they say, is history, beginning Hansotia’s inspiring journey of creating “create a piece of furniture with cigars in it.”
The Grand Reserve, the flagship product of Gurkha Cigars, infused with vintage cognac, when introduced by Hansotia in early 1990s, sold for $12 each, a price virtually unheard of at the time.
The most luxurious and choicest product though came about when Hansotia paired 18-year old tobacco with an entire bottle of Louis XIII cognac for each box of 20 cigars, naming the new creation His Majesty’s Reserve. This extremely limited product retails for $15,000 per box, making this collection the most expensive cigar collection ever made.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

CVS Caremark plans to stop selling tobacco products

CVS Caremark, which operates 50 pharmacy stores in West Virginia, announced Wednesday it will stop selling cigarettes and tobacco products at its 7,600 U.S. stores by Oct. 1.
The largest provider of prescription medications in U.S., the company said the sale of cigarettes and other products was inconsistent with its broader purpose of providing access to products and services designed to improve customers' health and wellbeing.L&M Red Label
"Tobacco products have no place in a setting where health care is delivered," Larry Merlo, president and CEO of CVS Caremark, said in a video statement announcing the decision.
Woonsocket, R.I.-based CVS will be the first national pharmacy chain to pull tobacco products from its shelves. In addition, the company plans to launch a national smoking cessation program this spring to help consumers kick the habit.
"As a leader of the health care community focused on improving health outcomes, we are pledging to help millions of Americans quit smoking," Merlo said. The move will hit the CVS' bottom line. The company estimates it will lose approximately $2 billion in annual revenue from tobacco shoppers, reducing its annual profits by about 17 cents a share. CVS said it its news release it has identified "incremental opportunities" that might offset that lost revenue.
Public health officials praised the company's move.
"We're really excited about this and commend CVS for taking this step and putting health ahead of immediate profits," said Cinny Kittle, director of the Coalition for a Tobacco-Free West Virginia.
"We're hoping this is a game-changer and might open the door and lead other businesses to do the same," she said.
Kittle also said she has seen a tremendous response to the company's decision on social media, with some saying they will be more likely to shop at the chain now. She said she hoped that type of public reaction will help offset some of the revenue the company will lose from tobacco sales.
"Hopefully the public will repay them," Kittle said.
While smoking among adults has been cut by more than half since the 1960s, smoking-related illnesses still account for more than 480,000 U.S. deaths each year, according to a recent report from the Office of the Surgeon General. Tobacco use accounts for $132 billion in direct medical costs and $157 billion in lost productivity each year, the report said.
In West Virginia, which has one of the highest rates of use in the nation, tobacco use is the leading cause of death and disease and costs about $2 billion in medical expenses and lost productivity each year, according to data from the state Division of Tobacco Prevention.
Nearly 4,000 state residents die each year from tobacco - or secondhand smoke-related illnesses. On average, a West Virginia smoker will die 14 years earlier than expected due to the toll tobacco takes on their health.
Research has shown the number of tobacco stores in a given area can increase the rate of tobacco use. A study published by the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health in 2009 study published in the Journal of a person has higher odds of becoming a smoker when more stores in their area are sell tobacco products.

Monday, January 20, 2014

I don't smoke, but my boyfriend does. I really want to help him stop smoking — what can I do?

I don't smoke, but my boyfriend does. I really want to help him stop smokingwhat can I do?
- Abby*

For you to help your boyfriend quit smoking, he has to want to quit. Because nicotine is addictive, quitting can be difficult. But you can suggest some things that may help him. Just knowing that he has your support can make him more likely to succeed.
Offer to help your boyfriend devise a plan for quitting. This might mean choosing a stop date, encouraging him to speak to his doctor about a nicotine replacement, helping him to stay focused once he stops, and figuring out a good way to reward himself when he reaches different points.
It can be helpful to have several smaller goals to work toward — such as 2 weeks, 1 month, and 2 months without smoking. You can also help your boyfriend by avoiding things that previously have triggered him to smoke — like visiting a certain friend's house. Remind him (without nagging or preaching) of the benefits of quitting, including all the money he'll be able to save. And remember that ultimately he has to decide whether he's ready to quit — but your support and encouragement can make a difference.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Editorial: Anti-smoking efforts proved we can reverse ills

The effort to battle smoking in the United States began in earnest 50 years ago this past Saturday, when Surgeon General Luther Terry said that smoking was dangerous and urged action.
Today, the war against this leading preventable cause of death is far from over, but it has been largely successful, and that triumph offers important lessons about the power of government, science and persistent advocacy.
It's hard to imagine today, but in 1964 smoking was acceptable practically everywhere, from hospitals to airplanes to children's nurseries. About 42 percent of American adults smoked, and there were few meaningful restrictions on the ability of minors to buy tobacco. Athletes smoked. Doctors smoked. Many who didn't partake likely declined out of personal preference, rather than medical fear.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Why Is Smoking Bad For You?

Smoking is responsible for several diseases, such as cancer, long-term (chronic) respiratory diseases, and heart disease, as well as premature death. Over 440,000 people in the USA and 100,000 in the UK die because of smoking each year. According the US CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), $92 billion are lost each year from lost productivity resulting from smoking-related deaths.

Of the more than 2.4 million deaths in the USA annually, over 440,000 are caused by smoking.

Smoking is the largest cause of preventable death in the world. Recent studies have found that smokers can undermine the health of non-smokers in some environments.

In an article published online in Medical News Today on 30 May 2013, we presented data demonstrating that, on average, smokers die ten years sooner than non-smokers.Pall Mall cigarettes.

Smoking causes cancer

90% of lung cancer patients developed their disease because of smoking. Lung cancer is one of the most common causes of cancer deaths in the world. Smokers also have a significantly higher risk of developing:
  • Bladder cancer
  • Kidney cancer
  • Cancers of the pharynx and larynx (throat cancer)
  • Mouth cancer
  • Esophagus cancer
  • Cancer of the pancreas
  • Stomach cancer
  • Some types of leukemia
  • Cancer of the nose and sinuses
  • Cervical cancer
  • Bowel cancer
  • Ovarian cancer
  • In some cases, also breast cancer
According to Cancer Research UK, one person dies every 15 minutes in Great Britain from lung cancer.

Smoking also raises the risk of cancer recurrences (the cancer coming back).

Why does smoking raise cancer risk?

Scientists say there are over 4,000 compounds in cigarette smoke. A sizeable number of them are toxic - they are bad for us and damage our cells. Some of them cause cancer - they are carcinogenic.

New store aims to decrease smoking, increase downtown traffic in Kilgore

Some people blow smoke, others blow vapor.
The vaping trend will make its way to downtown Kilgore soon with Wakie Taylor and husband Bandy Clinton’s new store, Innovapetions.
The term “vaping” is likely new to many in Taylor and Clinton’s native Kilgore, but it gives smokers an alternative to traditional cigarette smoking.
Although it will be a store to sell the personal vaporizers and accessories, the main goal for Taylor and Clinton is to spread awareness and educate people about vaping as an alternative to smoking.
“The products we sell are just a bonus to us,” she said. “The biggest benefit is just you’re saving lives.”
The action of smoking is there, but the only similarity to smoking is the nicotine.The cost of vaping is less than smoking, especially for people who might currently smoke multiple packs a week, Taylor said.
“Compared to smoking cigarettes, you’re going to save money for sure,” she said.
Before she quit after 17 years of smoking, Taylor said she was smoking one pack a day, and spending nearly $200 per month. With the vaporizer, Taylor said a starter kit will probably start at about $30 – for the vaporizer, a small e-liquid mixture, a battery and a charger – and it can go up from there.
Not only is vaping less expensive over time than regular cigarettes, but the vaporizers also contain four ingredients instead of the hundreds of chemicals in regular cigarettes, she says.
The four ingredients are combined to create an e-liquid used in the personal vaporizers. The liquid has a foodgrade base of either propylene glycol (PG) or vegetable glycerin (VG), which can be found in many personal care items. Some people are allergic to PG, though, so they can have a base made completely of VG, creating a similar base but without the allergen.
The base is then combined with three ingredients – nicotine, water and flavoring.
Some people will eventually find themselves ‘vaping’ with a mixture devoid of nicotine. These are usually people who were light smokers before becoming vapers or who have stepped down their nicotine intake to to a point at which they no longer need it. The vaporizers are not cessation devices, though, Taylor said.
She emphasized, though, that she was not encouraging non-smokers to try vaping for fun. They are promoting vaping as an alternative to smoking for people who are currently smokers.
With many different flavors to choose from, Taylor said she will blend the liquids in the store, so it will be whatever the customer needs. Rothmans cigarettes.
“You’re getting flavor plus the smell,” Clinton said. More cigarettes.
Taylor wants Innovapetions to be the go-to place for people looking to start vaping in Kilgore. The service and advice she and Clinton got at different vape stores when they first started was good, and she wants to continue that through their education on vaping, she said. It can be a little complicated at first, Taylor said.
“I will be here to help them understand how to use [their] equipment and how to use [their] e-liquid,” she said.
A lot of the learning is a hands-on process, Clinton said.
Taylor started vaping about a month ago, and she said she tried one of the tobacco company’s e-cigarettes. It did not have enough nicotine to curb her cigarette craving.
It is the customization and control Taylor has with her personal vaporizer that she likes best. She can choose the nicotine level in her vaporizer as well as the flavor.
The e-cigarettes from the major tobacco companies do not have the customization
The flavors will vary, but she does not know what flavors they will be offering yet.
“Everything is completely customizable,” Clinton said.
Taylor and Clinton have gotten positive feedback from the surrounding businesses and community, Taylor said.
Taylor plans to sell starter kits, “mods, and everything in between.”
At first, Taylor said she will put up a curtain to divide the room in half with only the front half open to the public. After they see the response, Taylor said she hopes to open the back half as a sitting and lounge area with Wi-Fi and a self-serve coffee bar.
“I’m hoping to get a lot of the college kids to come down here and stop smoking and switch to the alternative,” she said.
Although there are no regulations yet on who can buy personal vaporizers, Taylor said she decided her store would not sell vaporizers izers to anyone under 18 years old. And just like when trying to buy cigarettes, customers will have to present an I.D. to prove they are old enough to purchase a vaporizer.
“I don’t want a kid coming in here, buying them just because they’re cool, and then getting hooked on nicotine,” she said.
Taylor is working on purchasing inventory and will be setting up a website and Facebook for Innovapetions. In addition to an online presence, Clinton said he hopes news about the store’s opening will spread through word of mouth.
Clinton, a native of Kilgore, said he would love to see downtown grow, and said it would be great if Innovapetions tions could help the area grow.
“We want to have that warm, inviting, comforting feel when you come in,” Taylor said.