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Monthly Archives: July 2013

France Seeks Wider Smoking Ban

Are the days of smoking on French beaches numbered? The country’s health minister fervently hopes so, but I have my doubts. Following the 2008 ban on the weed in closed public spaces – bars, restaurants and similar – and the recent extension of this ban to e-cigarettes, Marisol Touraine now wishes to see tobacco ejected from open spaces. These include beaches but also parks, university campuses, outside school gates and inside bus shelters.

The country’s 15 million smokers, hit simultaneously with a price hike taking a packet of 20 cigarettes to around €7/£5.95, have rolled their eyes (as, increasingly, they roll their own cigs. It’s cheaper.) Thus France’s twin urges to bossiness and insurgency are clashing again.

“No smoking in closed spaces – I can see that,” said a Midi tobacconist I know. “But you’ve really got to want to be annoyed to get annoyed by someone smoking on a beach.” Naturally, the call to the defence of individual liberties is not far behind.

Not even anti-tobacco campaigners are entirely convinced. Yves Bur of the AntiTobacco Alliance reckons the measure all but insignificant. Meanwhile, mayors – on whom the burden of deciding and implementing any ban will fall – say they can’t afford it. And half the country thinks that Mme Touraine’s new campaign is just a way of obscuring her department’s problems with the much meatier matter of pension reform.

That said, the health minister is not all alone. Following the 2011 lead of La Ciotat (near Marseille), spots like Nice, Cannes, St Malo and Ouistreham have already declared certain of their beaches non-smoking. Local papers have been full of pictures of self-satisfied local councillors unveiling “no smoking” signs on the prom.

As has been pointed out, this works because all the resorts have other beaches unaffected by the prohibition, so everyone’s happy. However, a blanket ban would run into cultural hurdles in a country once defined by the pall of Gauloises fumes which hit you on entry. Significant figures like actors Jean Gabin and Lino Ventura, poet Jacques Prévert, musician Serge Gainsbourg and President Georges Pompidou were rarely seen without “une clope au bec” (“a fag stuck to the lip”).

 
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Posted by on July 30, 2013 in Tobacco News

 

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The Number of Smokers Among England’s Adults Dropped By 20%

Smoking prevalence among England’s adult population is set to drop below 20% for the first time in a century, it was revealed on Friday.

An ongoing survey of tobacco use is expected to show the turning point being crossed by the end of this year.

The proportion of smokers in England dipped as low as 20.1% in 2011, when the last yearly results from the survey were published.

Researchers plan to publish more figures at the end of this year. Barring a highly unlikely U-turn in the current trend, they will show that less than a fifth of people in England now smoke.

Prof Robert West, from University College London, who co-heads the Smoking Toolkit Study, said: “2013 is going to be, almost without doubt, the first year for a hundred years where we’re solidly below 20% smoking prevalence in England. It’s going to be a big year.

“We are making progress. It’s slow, and we’d like it to be quicker, but things are going in the right direction.”

The Smoking Toolkit Study tracks smoking habits in adults over the age of 16 every month and publishes the results online. Researchers conduct household surveys to collect information from about 1,800 people.

Currently, it shows that average smoking prevalence across England is 19.1%, with a marked difference between populations at the top and the bottom of the socio-economic scale.

Among those in the upper and middle A, B and C1 social brackets, only about 13% smoke. But tobacco is part of the lives of more than a quarter of people classified as C2, D and E.

It is extremely unlikely that the overall yearly figure will not end up below 20%, said West.

“It’s looking very promising,” he added. “We’re at a psychologically significant point. My guess is that the publicity around it will help to stop even more people smoking.”

 
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Posted by on July 23, 2013 in Tobacco Articles

 

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Cigarettes Labeling Law in Australia

The new labeling law, which bans brand logos and requires health warnings to cover 75 percent of the front of cigarettes packages and 90 percent of the back, aims to remove the allure of well-known brands. Last year, a challenge to the law brought by British American Tobacco, Imperial Tobacco, Japan Tobacco and Philip Morris Australia — arguing that it was a violation of their intellectual property rights — was dismissed by the Australian High Court.

The packaging law is quickly becoming an international trade issue. Philip Morris Asia, whose headquarters are in Hong Kong, is challenging the legislation under a broad 1993 bilateral trade agreement aimed at promoting and protecting trade between Australia and Hong Kong. Philip Morris argues that by stripping its products of their brand identity, the law hurts its intellectual property in violation of that agreement.

Cuba, the world’s dominant producer of fine cigars, filed a “request for consultations” in May with Australia through the World Trade Organization, the first time the country has used the forum to confront another nation directly over its commercial laws. The Dominican Republic, Honduras and Ukraine have already challenged Australia over the issue at the W.T.O., citing “technical barriers” to trade and violations of intellectual property rights.

In another closely followed move, Japan Tobacco, Asia’s biggest publicly listed cigarette maker, said at the end of June that it had filed suit against the Thai government over its plan, announced in April, to increase the size of graphic health warnings to 85 percent of the cigarette pack cover, from 55 percent.

The taste issue comes into sharp focus at Sol Levy Tobacconist. Evelyn Platus, whose grandfather was the founding Mr. Levy, has managed the shop on a prime strip of real estate in what is now Sydney’s booming Chinatown for more than 20 years. On a recent afternoon, it was nearly empty. Her business, she said, has been hurt by high taxes and restrictive rules governing tobacco. But when it comes to plain packaging, the ire she normally reserves for the “nanny state” is pointed at Big Tobacco.

 
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Posted by on July 16, 2013 in Tobacco News

 

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