Category Archives: Tobacco Facts

‘Beedi’ Baron Gupta Absent at Meeting of Parliamentary Panel on Tobacco

'Beedi' Baron Gupta

‘Beedi’ baron Shyama Charan Gupta, whose membership of a parliamentary committee on tobacco has kicked up a row over conflict of interest, was not present at a meeting of the panel today during which members raised concerns over the issue. Although there was no official word on what transpired in the meeting of the Committee of Subordinate Legislation, it is understood that the contentious issue of increasing the size of pictorial warnings on tobacco products was among the things discussed.

The committee has already recommended to the government to hold its proposal to increase the size of pictorial warnings on tobacco products from its present 40 per cent to 85 per cent. One of the senior members of the panel, Congress MP S P Muddahanumegowda said having conflict of interest and attending the meeting “reflect” on the proceedings and also make people suspect “bona fide” of other members.

“If I were to be in his (Gupta) position having conflict of interest, I would not have attended the meeting or resigned from that committee. Because conflict of interest and attending the meeting, it reflects on the proceedings of the meeting and also makes the people to suspect the bona fide of other members also.

“Whatever decision we take, that will not be free from any bias. The people will suspect that. We may not be influenced by any such request or pressure, but it gives room for others to think like that. We talk much about ethics. According to me, the ethics demand we should refrain ourselves from attending any proceedings where you have got selfish interest,” the MP said.

Gupta’s presence in the committee was criticised by the Opposition parties which sought his removal from the panel, saying there was a clear “conflict of interest”. Asserting that he has not received any instructions to step down from the panel from his party, Gupta, however, said he was ready to accept it if it came through.

Gupta had made controversial remarks that beedis have “nil” harmful effect and also suggested that the government should make a distinction between smoked and chewed tobacco as he believes that the former was not as harmful. It a well known fact that Indians smoke cheapest cigarettes such as Astra

“I can produce a lot of people in front of you who are chain smokers of beedi and till date they have had no disease, no cancer… You get diabetes due to eating sugar, rice, potatoes. Why don’t you write warnings for all these things as well,” Gupta had questioned.

Significantly, his remarks were made barely days after the panel head Dilip Gandhi’s statement that there was no Indian study to confirm that tobacco use leads to cancer, leaving the government embarrassed and rival parties and the medical fraternity gunning for him. The government has said it will take a “measured and responsible” decision on the issue of increasing the size of pictorial warnings on tobacco.

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Posted by on April 7, 2015 in Tobacco Facts


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Reynolds is a Good Employer

Reynolds Logo
Anybody who has ever worked for the company — either on a production line in Tobaccoville or in an office downtown — can tell you that Reynolds (the maker of Camel cigarettes was (and is) a good employer that pays better than fair wages.

The company has also been generous to — and good for — Winston-Salem, dating to the days when it and heirs of old Richard Joshua himself helped convince Wake Forest College (and its medical school) to relocate.

That’s important to note in light of the news that Reynolds is donating the majority of its Whitaker Park manufacturing campus to a nonprofit established to find new uses and new tenants for the property that should have lasting benefits for years.

The particulars read like this: 120 acres of prime commercial industrial land and buildings with about 1.7 million square feet. “We believe that 10,000 to 15,000 new jobs can be created in the repurposed Whitaker Park area,” Mayor Allen Joines said after the announcement was made.

Of course, the gift wasn’t an act of pure altruism made simply from the goodness of Reynolds’ corporate heart.

It stands to reap tax benefits in two ways. First, Reynolds will remove from its books property valued by the county tax assessor at $52.3 million. (That number likely will be adjusted downward because the company is hanging onto part of one of the three parcels in the donation, and the tax value of the divided parcel hasn’t been calculated yet.)

Still, that will likely be more than $500,000 saved annually in local property taxes. That sounds like a lot but to a company the size of Reynolds, it’s pocket change.

The bigger impact will be realized over the next few years on its corporate tax bill as the property is signed over in stages, according to a tax lawyer. Because Whitaker Park is going to a 501(c)3 nonprofit, Reynolds should get to claim deductions for the market value of the land and the buildings. It also avoids paying capital gains taxes that it would have owed had the buildings and land been sold to a for-profit entity. Plus, the donation frees up the company to concentrate on its acquisition of Lorillard.

However you look at it, donating the land to a nonprofit set up to find new uses for large empty buildings is clever and the rare, proverbial win-win for the community and the company.

That won’t make headlines anywhere but here, though.

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Posted by on January 13, 2015 in Tobacco Facts


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Mad Magazine’s Glorious Anti-Smoking Campaign

When Al Feldstein, the long-time editor of Mad magazine, died, in April, no one mentioned one of his major accomplishments: warning millions of impressionable boys and girls of the perils of smoking. Had the tobacco industry paid more attention, he might also have saved it billions of dollars a few decades down the road.

In the early to mid-nineteen-sixties, both before and after the Surgeon General issued his famous report on the dangers of tobacco, Mad took on the industry more than any “respectable” magazine. Free from any dependency on advertising, Mad could be fearless, and it was. Its campaign of ridicule was unrelenting.

The magazine attacked not just the tobacco giants but the folks on Madison Avenue who hawked the poisonous products—many of whom, it noted, were too smart to smoke themselves. Smokers weren’t spared either. (Who can forget Mad regular David Berg’s feature “Lighter Side of Smoking,” whose first panel showed a man looking out a window at night as a blizzard rages. “Gad, look at the miserable weather!” he declares. “Boy, nothing could make me go outdoors!” In the second panel, the man, eyes popping out, rummages frantically through a drawer in search of a smoke. In the third, he’s huddled grimly over the steering wheel driving to the store, his wipers and headlights fighting through the snow.)

Fifty years later, many who read Mad devotedly still remember the anti-smoking crusade. The ads closely resembled the real ones that ran on television and in magazines. There was the one for “Marble Row” funeral directors, showing horses grazing in a graveyard. “You Get a Plot You Like,” it declared. Or the ad promising that “Likely Strife separates the men from the boys … but not from the doctors.” (“Smoking is a habit we’d like to get all you kids hooked on,” it continued. “Smoke Likely Strife—and you’ll discover one other thing: You’ll also be separated from your health!”)

There were the ads that ever-adaptable advertisers had prepared in light of health warnings. One featured “Chesterfoggies” (for people already hooked); another suggested that the perils of smoking only made it sexier—“Winsom impresses good…Like smoking a cigarette should.” A third ad featured Adolf Hitler, another favorite Mad target (and, oddly enough, a virulent enemy of tobacco himself). “In the 30s and 40s we knocked off millions of people and filled countless cemeteries,” he declared. “That’s nothing! I want to talk about a really fantastic cemetery filler!” Another, featuring a man with a Tareyton-like black eye, read, “Us Cigarette-Makers will rather fight than quit.”

Robert says that despite the anti-smoking campaign he will continue to buy Marlboro Red cigarettes.

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Posted by on July 1, 2014 in Tobacco Facts


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Bill bans smoking at all times in home day cares

The Assembly approved a bill Monday that would ban smoking inside home day care centers even after the children have left, a regulation that targets lingering “third-hand smoke” and has been adopted by 12 other states. The chamber passed the measure by Assemblyman Isadore Hall, D-Compton, on a 55-8 vote, with some Republican lawmakers opposed.

Smoking already is banned in homes that function as day care centers during their operating hours to prevent kids from being exposed to secondhand smoke. But Hall says recent research shows even off-hour smoking places children at risk.

“Exposure to second- and third-hand smoke is a real danger to the health of these young, developing individuals,” he said. Hall also was behind a law to require smoke-free environments for foster homes. Assembly GOP spokeswoman Amanda Fulkerson said members of her party were concerned about the government imposing regulations on business owners in their off-hours and the structure of the bill.

Supporters of the ban say the danger comes from smoke and cancer-causing compounds penetrating furniture, toys and other objects, which children can touch with their mouths. Researchers recently have started focusing on the effects of third-hand smoke, including a 2013 study by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, an U.S. Department of Energy lab managed by the University of California system. The study found the lingering smoke damages DNA in human cells and is especially dangerous for children and difficult to eradicate from clothes and carpets.

If the bill passes the Senate and is signed into law by the governor, California would join 12 other states that already ban smoking in home day cares at all times — while 25 others only forbid smoking when children are inside, according to a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention database. The CDC says local law enforcement and health departments enforce California’s existing law, and state regulators say they enforce it based on complaints and during inspections.

Hall says day care providers can still smoke cigarettes outside their homes if children have left their care. The bill doesn’t specify penalties for smoking inside during off-hours at the state’s 36,000 facilities, but existing rules call for an infraction and a $100 penalty for lighting up in the presence of children attending day care.

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Posted by on April 22, 2014 in Tobacco Facts


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Smoking, Plain Packaging, and Public Health

Smoking is one of the leading preventable causes of death in the world. In most wealthy countries, smoking has been declining for decades. Public health experts and anti-smoking groups have for many years advocated for restrictions on the marketing of tobacco products in general and cheap cigarettes in particular. In response, governments in wealthy countries have banned most or all advertising, and many have banned sponsorship and other explicit forms of marketing of cigarettes.

Many public health advocates say these restrictions do not go far enough and have called for the elimination of brand identifiers such as logos and colours on cigarette packs. Some experimental evidence suggested that such plain packs would encourage smokers to perceive cigarettes less favorably, which might lead them to quit.

However, this optimism was tempered by evidence that even restrictions on advertising have had at best a small influence on the decline in smoking (most of the decline can be traced to a better understanding of the risks of smoking, in large part a result of public information campaigns, and taxes on cigarettes).

In 2011, Australia’s government introduced legislation mandating that cigarettes be sold in “plain packages” (i.e., without brand logos and colours). The legislation came into effect in late 2012. (Australia had already banned practically all tobacco advertising and other forms of marketing. In 2006, it had introduced a requirement that cigarette packs display graphic health warnings on a substantial proportion of their surface area.)

Some studies (such as a survey carried out when plain packaging was being introduced, an analysis of calls to a smoking cessation hotline, and a survey of outdoor smoking habits) suggest that plain packaging has indeed, made cigarettes less desirable to smokers and has increased thoughts of quitting.

However, an online survey of smokers carried out in two phases, the first a month before and the second six to eight weeks after the introduction of the plain packaging rules, suggest that the impact of the rules on quitting tendencies is probably small. Moreover, many smokers engaged in defensive behaviors such as covering up health warnings, and did not report changing brands or a significant increased tendency to quit. This finding was corroborated by another survey that found that in the year to July 2013 the proportion of smokers in Australia had not declined since the introduction of plain packaging.

A study looking at discarded packs and other data suggests that consumption of cigarettes in the year to July 2013 remained at the same level as in 2012, but found that the proportion of illicit cigarettes had increased substantially. This is corroborated by the most recent Annual Report of Australia’s Customs and Border Protection Service, which indicates that the number of illicit cigarettes entering Australia has indeed risen dramatically in the past three years.

The discarded pack study concluded that contraband—much of which is in the form of finished cigarettes that are not legally sold anywhere in the world, known as “illicit whites”—now accounts for more than half of illegal sales and about 7.5% of all sales. Part of the blame for the increased availability of illicit whites lies with a 25% increase in excise tax on tobacco introduced in 2010. But, since most of the increase in their market share occurred in the past 18 months, part of the blame almost certainly rests with the plain packaging rules.

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Posted by on March 25, 2014 in Tobacco Facts


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Children Exposure to Tobacco smoke

Overall, 17 percent of the children were readmitted to the hospital for asthma or wheezing within one year of their first admission. Of the children with complete tobacco exposure information, 35 percent had been exposed to tobacco smoke according to their caregivers. However, 56 percent of them had been exposed based on cotinine levels in their blood, and 80 percent of them had high enough cotinine exposures in their saliva to show they had been exposed at least secondhand to tobacco.

In fact, 39 percent of the children whose caregivers said children didn’t have tobacco exposure had cotinine detected in their blood. In addition, 70 percent of the children whose caregivers reported no tobacco exposure had cotinine detected in their saliva. The researchers did not find that children were more or less likely to be readmitted to the hospital if their caregiver had reported tobacco exposure, but the results differed for those with cotinine in their blood or saliva.

Children whose blood samples contained cotinine had 1.6 times greater odds of being admitted to the hospital again within a year of their first hospital visit, compared to children without cotinine levels in their blood. Children whose saliva samples contained cotinine had 2.4 times greater odds of readmission to the hospital for asthma or wheezing, compared to children without cotinine in their saliva.”We found that secondhand smoke exposure was common among children admitted for wheezing or asthma,” the researchers concluded.

They found that being readmitted to the hospital for asthma or wheezing was specifically linked to tobacco exposure detected by cotinine levels in the blood or saliva. However, parent or other caregiver reports of exposure to tobacco smoke for the child did not predict whether a child could expect to be readmitted to the hospital or not. Having children’s blood or saliva tested for levels of cotinine may therefore offer insights into whether the child’s asthma or wheezing may require later hospitalization.

This study was published January 20 in the journal Pediatrics. The authors reported no potential conflicts of interest. The research was funded by the National Institutes of Health, a Flight Attendance Medical Research Foundation Young Clinical Scientist Award and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

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Posted by on January 21, 2014 in Tobacco Facts


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British American Tobacco aims to create ‘vintage’ cigarettes market

Dunhill cigarettes

Britain’s biggest tobacco firm has turned to the wine industry for ideas on how to give its cigarettes some cachet.

British American Tobacco is bringing out premium packets of Dunhill cigarettes, containing details of the lineage of the leaf used, along with the year of harvest.

Its aim is to create a market in limited edition vintage cigarettes, similar to that found in fine wines.
The firm is trying to cash in on the move by consumers towards premium brands. Its packs of 20 will cost a hefty £18 – double the price of a standard pack

The packets could prove controversial among health campaigners, who may claim it is an attempt to glamorise a product that can kill.

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Posted by on November 26, 2013 in Tobacco Facts


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