Category Archives: Tobacco Regulation

Tobacco and cigarette legislation and regulation

Will New FDA Regulations Backfire and Lend Big Tobacco a Hand?

Government tobacco regulation has been a topic of discussion for years.

Today, the house approved a bill titled, “Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act” that would allow the FDA the power to regulate the sale of tobacco products and the ingredients they contain.

For instance, tobacco companies would be banned from adding fruity flavors or additives designed to hook young smokers.

Look Dad, I Can Smoke, Too

pic-candy-ciggysDepending on your age, you may remember the candy cigarettes given to kids. I remember eating them and mimicking my parent’s smoking habits. In those days, the dangers of smoking was downplayed and the uphill battle to expose their risks had not yet kicked in.

Recently, R J Reynold’s Camel No 9 marketing tactics were similar. They aimed their campaign at young women smokers with packaging that is dressed up in pretty pink, a light and luscious slogan, and parties offering gifts. If this bill makes it through congress, perhaps the FDA will take steps to curb actions that attempt to entice young smokers to the negative effects of smoking tobacco products.

We wonder how closely the FDA will view all the harmful additives in cigarettes, and how much of a difference it will make in the end. The FDA does not have a strong track record in keeping toxic substances out of food or personal care products. Therefore, how well will they regulate products we inhale or chew?

Another thing to consider are the existing cigarette ingredients. If they are to be “grandfathered in” like the cheap ingredients found in many personal care products, the FDA could end up allowing more toxic substances in consumer items than they already do.

Imagine the FDA regulation of tobacco products backfiring and thus supporting Big Tobacco’s idea to manipulate FDA regulation by advertising that their products as “FDA Approved.”  This would give people the wrong idea: that there is a safe cigarette.

Hopefully, by the time this bill is approved, it will be well thought out. At least the government is attempting to take the lead in addressing the unchecked power over people’s health that Big Tobacco has had for years.

Times are changing, this is a good thing.

The Winners and Losers – Largest Tobacco Tax Increase

It wasn’t so long ago that Measure 50 was put before a people’s vote in the state of Oregon.

If it had passed, Oregon would have received 85 cents from each pack of cigarettes sold in the state, with the funds marked for children’s health care programs (and other important programs needing funding in the state).

Unfortunately, Big Tobacco’s manipulative tactics and deep pockets sponsored heavy negative campaigns funded by over 11 million dollars donated from the major tobacco companies. They won by swaying the vote.

Tobacco Tax Increase, Largest in History

Today was a historical day. The government passed the largest cigarette tax increase in the history of tobacco taxes. With the passing of this new tax, Big Tobacco lost and the people won.

Most of the revenue created from the new tax will go toward children’s health care. Values are shifting, and steps are being taken to support our children.

This increase brings the federal cigarette tax from 39 cents a pack to $1.01 and it applies to all tobacco products.

Winners and Losers

Lighting UpThe only real loser is Big Tobacco.

Unfortunately, you will hear those who wish to protect Big Tobacco say, “Obama is breaking his promise not to raise taxes.”

Another complaint expressing victimization is: “The majority of smokers are those who are low to middle income. They cannot afford a tax increase in the current economic climate.”

The fact is, people have a choice to smoke or not to smoke. If they don’t want to pay the tax, then they can stop smoking. Perhaps this is just the push they need to finally quit smoking.

Here’s one response to the tax increase quoted in USA Today:

“I’m going to quit,” said Will Hues, 27, smoking a cigarette outside the convenience store. He said prices have gone up so much that “you’re out of your mind to pay it.”

Responses like Mr. Hues’ are some of the best news for those who advocate life. Currently, every eight seconds someone in the world dies from a tobacco-related disease. That is equivalent to twenty-seven 747 airplanes full of passengers crashing every day. Perhaps we will have one less daily crash with this tax increase. The lives saved are not just numbers, but people who will go on to live a better quality life and be able to spend it with their loved ones.

So, if you are one of those who are complaining, then consider moving to South Carolina. The combined state and federal tobacco taxes in SC are only $1.08.

If you have a family member you are trying to get to quit smoking, then you might want to look at relocating to either Rhode Island or New York. These two states have the highest tobacco taxes. Rhode Island’s combined tobacco taxes are $3.47 and New York’s $3.76.

Today is a victory for living a healthy and long life.

Obama Expected To Render Stricter FDA Imports Monitoring

With Barack Obama having been elected the next president of the United States on November 4, Americans are now expecting to see him keep his promise of bringing the change that the nation needs.

Currently, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is said to begin to both monitor more closely and to instate stricter regulations, as well, where imports are concerned, in order to prevent incidents similar to the recent salmonella outbreak from occurring in the future.

Moreover, since president-elect Obama, who is a former smoker trying to break the habit with the help of nicotine gum, is a sponsor of a legislation that aims to enable the FDA to only control (but not to ban) tobacco products, rumor has it that new institutions would be given the power to ban cigarettes and other products of the like.

Under former U.S. president George W. Bush’s administration, the FDA has come into much criticism, many claiming that it had become too lenient with regards to food and drugs safety measures, giving rise to consumer protection issues.

The first step that Obama is expected to take is appointing a new commissioner for the Administration. For the time being, there are about six people whose names have come up during talks about a new FDA leader, including Cleveland Clinic cardiologist Dr. Steven Nissen, former director of the FDA’s women’s health office Susan Wood and Baltimore’s health chief Dr. Joshua Sharfstein.

FDA Badge Furthermore, more inspections of imported food are to be performed by the FDA under Obama’s administration, along with ones concerning foreign drug manufacturing plants, which have been long neglected the time Bush was at the helm of the nation.

In addition, a tracing system for fresh produce is part of Obama’s plan for the FDA, in order to tighten the regulations regarding consumer protection.

As for the tobacco legislation the president-elect has sponsored, the proposal entails that the FDA would be able to request that nicotine products be rendered less addictive and toxic, but not to put a ban on tobacco or nicotine.

Source: By Jenny Huntington,- eFluxMedia

EU Unsure About Regulating Radioactive Polonium in Tobacco

Traces of polonium present in tobacco recently raised questions at the European Commission, while traces of radioactive and other substances – such as radon, polonium and cadmium – contained in tobacco leaves open questions as to whether they should be regulated at EU level.

Following media reports about the dangers of polonium contained in cigarettes, the Commission is studying whether or not the substance should be included in the list of regulated ingredients, a spokesperson for the EU executive told EurActiv.

Radioactive Polonium in CigarettesUp until now the EU has regulated additional substances found in tobacco products such as nicotine, tar and carbon monoxide, but did not take into account the tobacco leaf itself, running counter to World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendations.

Asked whether such highly dangerous radioactive and poisonous substance could be regulated at all, the Commission official responded that this was a difficult question to answer.

Tobacco firms knew about the presence of polonium in cigarettes and the dangers it involved, but the results of the research were not published for fear of “waking a sleeping giant”, according to Monique Muggli of Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, quoted in the September edition of the American Journal of Public Health.

Polonium 210 is a highly radioactive substance which has been found to cause lung cancer in 90% of cases. It is this very same substance which poisoned former KGB agent Alexander V. Litvinenko.

Regarding the relationship between polonium 210 and the radioactivity of cigarettes, Muggli said: “The companies wanted to hide from that issue publicly. They continue to minimize the recognition of radioactivity in their products in smoking and health litigation,” quoted in The Independent, a British daily.

So far, the Commission’s tobacco legislation has set limits on nicotine, tar and carbon monoxide yields to be applied in all member states. In line with this, the EU executive is putting pressure on the industry to add more visual warnings about the danger of smoking on cigarette packets themselves.

Source: The EurActiv network

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EU official documents

Press articles

Let’s Not Waste Another 12 Years

The federal government regulates everything from breakfast cereal and hair dye to horse feed and breast implants. The list of items regulated by our government includes just about every consumable product in America from prescription drugs to vegetables.

But there’s one item strangely absent from the list, the one that causes more preventable deaths than any other product. A powerful and well-funded lobby has managed to keep tobacco off the list of federally regulated products for more than 40 years after the first surgeon general’s report linked smoking to cancer. Even today, a simple list of ingredients is not required for tobacco products.

Tobacco companies have taken advantage of this lack of oversight and have shamelessly marketed to underaged recruits through cartoon advertising, nicotine and ingredient manipulation, fruity flavors, free giveaways at rock concerts, and ads in publications with high teen readership.

In 1996, the Food and Drug Administration assumed the authority to regulate tobacco as a consumable product and published rules regarding this regulation. Some basic common-sense approaches were proposed in those rules, including ways to prohibit the sale and marketing of tobacco to children. However, the Supreme Court ruled that only Congress could give the FDA authority to regulate tobacco.

Twelve years later, we continue to wait for Congress to take action regarding this lone unregulated product. We submit to you that this is twelve years too long.

Government RegulatorsCurrently being considered by Congress, the Family Smoking Prevention and Control Act, S. 625 and H.R. 1108, would give the U.S. Food and Drug Administration the authority to regulate tobacco products the way drugs, devices, and foods are currently regulated. The American Cancer Society encourages all members of Congress to stand up and be counted on this issue. We cannot afford another 12 years of inaction.

Clanton is chief medical officer for the American Cancer Society, High Plains Division, which includes Oklahoma. He is former deputy director for the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health.

Source: Mark Clanton, M.D., The Oklahoman

Future of Nicotine Levels in Cigarettes Uncertain

Washington – The Food and Drug Administration may soon have the ability to regulate sales, distribution and advertising of tobacco products, but it would not be allowed to require removal of nicotine from cigarettes.

Nicotine, the most addictive ingredient in a cigarette, increases the level of the dopamine neurotransmitters in the brain.

Dopamine controls many important responses in the brain, such as behavior.

Nicotine spreads in the brain within a few minutes of the first inhalation, creating feelings of reward, which then cause the smoker to continue smoking.

“People may smoke for non-nicotine reasons, but it is the nicotine that is the primary addictive component of cigarettes,” said Dr. Allison Chausmer from the National Institute of Drug Abuse.

American Lung Association Graph of Chemicals in CigarettesAlthough the FDA would not be able to get rid of nicotine altogether under the bill being considered by Congress, it would have the power to reduce nicotine levels in tobacco products.

The possible benefits for smokers, just like the bill, remain debatable.

A study by the National Institute of Drug Abuse found that tapered reduction of nicotine in cigarettes over a four-week span led one-fourth of smokers who were not trying to quit to spontaneously stop smoking after returning to their regular cigarettes.

“If a cigarette has nicotine levels that are below the level that people find rewarding, it may result in a reduced incidence of smoking initiation and/or increased incidence of quitting,” Chausmer said.

Chausmer also said that if the FDA lowers the nicotine content of cigarettes, “Fewer people will become addicted, and those who are addicted may find it easier to quit.”

However, smokers’ behavior varies, and some, if faced with lower nicotine levels in cigarettes, might smoke more to achieve the same nicotine satisfaction. Chausmer noted that smoking more cigarettes would mean spending more money and taking more time away from work or friends because of today’s smoke-free workplaces and restaurants.

The bill that would give the FDA regulatory power was approved by a House committee last week and will move to the House floor in the coming months.

Source: Farah Khan, Medill Reports, Northwestern University

New Report on Global Tobacco Control Efforts

NEW YORK — WHO today released new data concerning tobacco control.

The data show that while progress has been made, not a single country fully implements all key tobacco control measures, and outlined an approach that governments can adopt to prevent tens of millions of premature deaths by the middle of this century.

In a new report which presents the first comprehensive analysis of global tobacco use and control efforts, WHO finds that only 5% of the world’s population live in countries that fully protect their population with any one of the key measures that reduce smoking rates.

The report also reveals that governments around the world collect 500 times more money in tobacco taxes each year than they spend on anti-tobacco efforts.

It finds that tobacco taxes, the single most effective strategy, could be significantly increased in nearly all countries, providing a source of sustainable funding to implement and enforce the recommended approach, a package of six policies called MPOWER (see below).

“While efforts to combat tobacco are gaining momentum, virtually every country needs to do more.

These six strategies are within the reach of every country, rich or poor and, when combined as a package, they offer us the best chance of reversing this growing epidemic,” said Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General of WHO. Dr Chan launched the WHO Report of the Global Tobacco Epidemic at a news conference with New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Bloomberg Philanthropies helped fund the report.

“The report released today is revolutionary,” Mayor Bloomberg said. “For the first time, we have both a rigorous approach to stop the tobacco epidemic and solid data to hold us all accountable. No country fully implements all of the MPOWER policies and 80% of countries don’t fully implement even one policy. While tobacco control measures are sometimes controversial, they save lives and governments need to step up and do the right thing.”The six MPOWER strategies are:

  1. Monitor tobacco use and prevention policies
  2. Protect people from tobacco smoke
  3. Offer help to quit tobacco use
  4. Warn about the dangers of tobacco
  5. Enforce bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship
  6. Raise taxes on tobacco

The report also documents the epidemic’s shift to the developing world, where 80% of the more than eight million annual tobacco-related deaths projected by 2030 are expected to occur.

This shift, the report says, results from a global tobacco industry strategy to target young people and adults in the developing world, ensuring that millions of people become fatally addicted every year. The targeting of young women in particular is highlighted as one of the “most ominous potential developments of the epidemic’s growth”.

The global analysis, compiled by WHO with information provided by 179 Member States, gives governments and other groups a baseline from which to monitor efforts to stop the epidemic in the years ahead. The MPOWER package provides countries with a roadmap to help them meet their commitments to the widely embraced global tobacco treaty known as the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which came into force in 2005.

WHO WHO is also working with global partners to scale up the help that can be offered to countries to implement the strategies.

Dr Douglas Bettcher, Director of WHO’s Tobacco Free Initiative, said the six MPOWER strategies would create a powerful response to the tobacco epidemic. “This package will create an enabling environment to help current tobacco users quit, protect people from second-hand smoke and prevent young people from taking up the habit,” he said.

Other key findings in the report include:

  • Only 5% of the global population is protected by comprehensive national smoke-free legislation and 40% of countries still allow smoking in hospitals and schools;
  • Only 5% of the world’s population lives in countries with comprehensive national bans on tobacco advertising and promotion;
  • Just 15 countries, representing 6% of the global population, mandate pictorial warnings on tobacco packaging;
  • Services to treat tobacco dependence are fully available in only nine countries, covering 5% of the world’s people;
  • Tobacco tax revenues are more than 4000 times greater than spending on tobacco control in middle-income countries and more than 9000 times greater in lower-income countries. High- income countries collect about 340 times more money in tobacco taxes than they spend on tobacco control.

Source: Press Release

R. J. Reynolds Backs Campaign Against Tobacco Tax Hike

Cigarette tax proposal would change tax from 7 cents per pack to 30-50 cents if the plan passes.

However,  the country’s second-largest cigarette company is an anonymous backer of a campaign opposing a bill to raise South Carolina’s lowest-in-the-nation cigarette tax.

The message began showing up in mailboxes last week — 10,000 postcards sent to Republican activists by the S.C. Association of Taxpayers.

The postcards express concern about a proposed plan to raise the state’s cigarette tax, now 7 cents per pack, to between 30 and 50 cents per pack.

Some legislators have suggested the new tax revenue could go toward providing employers tax credits to buy employee health insurance.

Featuring a graph showing a “$190 million unfunded taxpayer mandate,” the postcards ask voters to “stop this HillaryCare styled welfare plan.”

Several state Senate staffers said the chart on the postcards is the same chart that R.J. Reynolds lobbyists showed some state senators in recent weeks. The postcard also warns that the “hospital industry and insurance company special interests want Legislators to raise your taxes!”

“We just have issues with what they’re talking about,” said Don Weaver, president of the S.C. Association of Taxpayers. “A lot of people don’t realize what this program will do.”

The association is a private group that often takes corporate donations, Weaver said. The group is best known for giving out its annual “Friend of the Taxpayer” award.

Supporters of the insurance plan, known as the “Covering Carolina Collaborative,” say the postcards distort the plan to expand health insurance options in the state and its cost.

“We got some donations,” Weaver said, when asked if R.J. Reynolds paid for the postcards. “We get a lot of corporate donations, let’s put it that way.”

R.J. Reynolds declined to comment for this article.

Tax MapIn past years, R.J. Reynolds was at the forefront of the cigarette-tax debate, hosting events and urging those opposed to increasing the tax to call lawmakers. R.J. Reynolds’ views are different from that of the top-selling cigarette maker, Philip Morris USA, which supports a small tax increase.

Supporters of raising the tax to provide health insurance, including the S.C. Hospital Association, said the postcards misrepresent the proposal.

Patti Smoak, spokeswoman for the S.C. Hospital Association, said the options offered in the Covering Carolina Collaborative would depend on the state’s ability to pay for them.

Although the hospital group is not advocating a cigarette tax hike, it is logical that smokers help pay health care costs caused by smoking, Smoak said.

It is unclear when the Senate will vote on the tax, which has not been increased since 1977.

Source: John O’Connor The (Columbia) State

Tobacco Harvester’s Rights: Tobacco’s Other Victims

Ideally, tobacco should be outlawed.

But as long as people continue to use the deadly stuff, those who harvest it for the great profit of tobacco companies deserve far better than the miserable pay and working conditions imposed on them.

“Miserable” is not an exaggeration. Consider North Carolina, the country’s leading tobacco producer. The state’s $500 million-a-year crop is harvested by more than 25,000 workers, most of them Mexican immigrants. Some are documented “guest workers,” some undocumented. Some are as young as 12, as state law allows.

The harvesters make at most about $7 an hour or about $7,100 a year for dangerous, backbreaking work.

Most work for growers who do not provide health-care benefits and are exempt from the law that requires workers’ compensation payments for employees who are hurt on the job. Thousands of the workers are afflicted yearly with “green tobacco sickness,” caused by overexposure to the highly toxic nicotine in tobacco leaves absorbed into their bodies.

Harvesting TobaccoSymptoms often last for several days. Victims may feel a general weakness or shortness of breath, for instance, headaches, vomiting, dizziness, cramps, heightened blood pressure or speeded-up heart rates. At the least, they break out in rashes.

The nicotine also raises workers’ body temperature, already high because of the heat in which they work, even higher, sometimes to the point of causing life-threatening dehydration and heatstroke. Yet many workers get little or no medical attention. They’re lucky if they even get rest breaks during their working hours.

Living conditions are generally as bad as the working conditions. Most of the workers live in crowded, dilapidated, frequently rodent-infested shacks in labor camps or in broken-down trailers, many without so much as a fan to cool the stifling summer air and most near fields that are regularly sprayed with dangerous pesticides.

Workers who dare complain about their working or living conditions face the prospect of being fired or turned over to government authorities for deportation.

But there’s finally hope for change, thanks to the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC), an AFL-CIO affiliate that has helped thousands of workers win agreements from employers in several states to raise their pay and benefits and otherwise treat them decently. That includes some 7,000 farmworkers who harvest other North Carolina crops for pay at least $2 an hour higher than the tobacco workers get.

Backed by an array of community and religious groups, including the National Council of Churches, the FLOC has launched a drive to win agreements from tobacco growers, primarily through pressure on one of the largest and most influential of the tobacco companies that buy their crops.

That’s RJ Reynolds, whose eight brands account for one of every three cigarettes sold in this country. As the FLOC notes, Reynolds continues to make billions while those who pick the tobacco that goes into its products live “in abject poverty.”

Reynolds officials have so far refused even to meet with FLOC representatives to discuss the union’s demand that tobacco workers be granted union rights and an agreement that would recognize “their need for dignity, respect and safe working conditions.”

Reynolds asserts that it should not deal with the union or other worker representatives because the tobacco workers are not employed by the company. They work for the growers who sell the tobacco they pick to Reynolds and other companies, which set the price and thus determine how much the growers can afford to pay the workers.

But as FLOC President Baldemar Velasquez notes: “The farmers don’t control the system. Those companies control the money, and they benefit the most from the stoop labor of these workers. We’re saying, ‘Hey, you need to own up to the situation that you’re implicated in.’ ” And if they don’t own up?

Velasquez points to the union’s five-year-long boycott that finally forced another major North Carolina corporation, the Mount Olive Pickle Co., to raise the price it pays growers for cucumbers in order to finance higher pay for their workers and to allow union organizers into their labor camps.

Velasquez also mentions the possibility of union demonstrations at meetings of Reynolds shareholders and actions against companies that Reynolds does business with.

Dick Meister has covered labor issues for a half-century. He is co-author of “A Long Time Coming: The Struggle to Unionize America’s Farm Workers” (Macmillan). Contact him through his Web site, www.dickmeister.com. The articles is distributed by Scripps Howard News Service (www.shns.com).

Source: The Korea Times

Act Now on Cigarettes, Expert Says

An Australian adviser to the World Health Organisation has warned the ingredients of strawberry jam face tougher regulation than the deadly contents of cigarettes and has urged the Federal Government to act immediately.

A leading international expert on the health impacts of tobacco smoke, Dr Nigel Gray said he was disgusted that carcinogens in cigarettes remained unregulated, despite killing about 15,000 Australians each year.

“Controls apply to almost every marketed product from the amount of rat droppings permitted in wheat, to the amount of fat allowed in sausages and even the amount of mint allowed in nicotine replacement therapy,” Dr Gray said in an editorial published in the Medical Journal of Australia yesterday.

“It seems astonishing that the federal minister for drug and alcohol policy recently rejected claims that a new tobacco product (a ‘heatbar’, which heats but does not burn tobacco) should be subject to regulation and said there were no plans to even investigate the product.”

In June, The Age revealed that tobacco giant Philip Morris had secret plans to launch Australia’s first hand-held electronic smoking device. Dr Gray worked on a recent report by the WHO, which provided an international blueprint to regulate cigarette smoke and recommended the introduction of controls on two of the most dangerous carcinogens.

“The report found these compounds (nitrosamines) can be substantially removed from the cigarette because they occur during the process of curing tobacco,” Dr Gray said.

The US Government is considering the WHO recommendations and has a bill before Congress that would empower its Food and Drug Administration to regulate cigarette emissions.

kangeroo.GIFDr Gray said Australia should do the same.

But federal Minister for the Ageing Christopher Pyne said the Federal Government had banned all tobacco advertising and spent millions of dollars on education.

“For the Government to regulate the contents of cigarettes or to regulate products like the heatbar would undermine the message that all cigarettes are harmful and that quitting is the only option to avoid smoking-related illnesses. This is the approach we will continue to take,” Mr Pyne said.

Cancer Council spokeswoman Anita Tang said a failure to act was an implicit endorsement of cigarettes.

Philip Morris also supported the push for the contents of cigarettes to be regulated, despite opposition from other manufacturers.

Last night, Philip Morris spokeswoman Nerida White said: “We agree that the Australian Government should set in train a process of tobacco regulation, as is being discussed in the bill in the US Congress.”

Ms White said all cigarette manufacturers should be required to disclose the contents of their products.

Source: Cameron Houston, The Age (Australia)

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