Dec. 29, 2009
Sick of the enormous strain smoking-related illness places on the state's health system, the Australian Medical Association Victoria has put a world-first plan to Health Minister Daniel Andrews, proposing the price of a packet of smokes be boosted to $20.
AMA Victoria president Dr Harry Hemley said doctors believed hitting smokers in the hip pocket was the only effective way to see a marked decrease in smoking, the state's leading cause of preventable death.
"We think that given all that's been tried, this definitely will be the single most important thing to prevent people from smoking," he said.
"The unit of cost has proven over and over again the most discouraging thing to smokers."
Under the radical new proposal, Dr Hemley said tobacco vendors would have to be licensed to sell cigarettes, a move the AMA Victoria believes would significantly reduce sales to minors, and extra funds gained from cigarette sales would be poured back into the hospital system.
It would raise the cost of smokes by 10 cents a cigarette in July 2010, 15 cents in 2011 and another 20 cents in July 2012.
Dr Hemley said though AMA Victoria was not of the opinion it would drastically increase the numbers of smokers giving up, it would go a long way to stopping people taking up the highly addictive habit in the first place.
"Minors would be the ones most effected by the transaction levy, making them less likely to buy," he said.
"We want a new generation who don't smoke.
"The tobacco transaction levy would net the Government $3 billion over four years, which would more than fix a lot of problems with the state budget and the burden of disease associated with smoking."
Ballarat and District Division of General Practice chief executive officer Andrew McPherson said most doctors would welcome an push to cut smoking rates.
Dec. 23, 2009
Police said that the offenders spent about five minutes in the store on Victoria Street while the alarm was activated and believe they made off in a car.
Dec. 22, 2009
On BSE, 25,720 shares were traded in the counter as against an average daily volume of 46,735 shares in the past one quarter.
The stock hit a high of Rs 114.80 and a low of Rs 110 so far during the day. The stock had hit a 52-week high of Rs 126.55 on 17 November 2009 and a 52-week low of Rs 36 on 9 March 2009.
The stock had underperformed the market over the past one month till 21 December 2009, falling 4.83% as compared to the Sensex's 2.47% decline. It outperformed the market in past one quarter, rising 9.45% as against 0.84% fall in the Sensex.
The small-cap cigarette maker has a current equity capital of Rs 17.60 crore. Face value per share is Rs 10.
The current price of Rs 110.75 discounts the company's Q2 September 2009 annualised EPS of Rs 0.27, by a PE multiple of 410.
The board also approved a proposal for development, or sale of properties at Andheri (Mumbai), Hyderabad and Guntur. The company will hold an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) on 18 January 2010 to take shareholders' approval.
On 24 September 2008, Golden Tobacco's board of directors had approved a demerger of realty business in into a separate company. Shareholders will get one equity share in the new company for each share held in the existing company.
Golden Tobacco's net profit slumped 92.70% to Rs 0.12 crore on 20% rise in net sales to Rs 29.99 crore in Q2 September 2009 over Q2 September 2008.
Golden Tobacco manufactures and markets cigarettes and processed tobacco. The company makes various categories of cigarettes, namely full flavor, lights, ultra lights, menthol, menthol lights and extra menthol lights.
Promoters have pledged 5.28 lakh shares representing 3% of the equity capital of the company. The total promoter shareholding in the company is 27.19% (as on 30 September 2009).
Dec. 21, 2009
The Times-Picayune reports police are looking for two more suspects.
St. Bernard Parish sheriff's deputies say 41-year-old Kevin Ventry was arrested Monday.
Deputies say Ventry is accused of the Dec. 5 theft of $8,000 worth of cigarettes from the Meraux Pit Stop and a 2008 burglary in New Orleans in which $10,000 worth of cigarettes were stolen.
In the Meraux heist, deputies say nearly 200 cartons of cigarettes and a case of premium whiskey were reported stolen from the store's storage area while the store was open for business.
By studying the cancer patients' genomes, scientists hope to figure out the cause of cancer (in other words, what makes a healthy cell become a tumorous cell) and, thus, ways to successfully treat the disease. The article references research done on a lung-cancer victim who had DNA mutations linked to toxins from cigarette smoke and another patient with skin cancer who had mutations caused by sunlight.
The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Cambridge, U.K., performed the research, called the Cancer Genome Project. They hope to decode the entire DNA sequence for a tumor cell to better identify the mutations. The Independent cites researcher Dr. Peter Campbell, who says his study has identified some specific mutations caused by cigarette toxins. "We can say that one mutation is fixed in the genome for every 15 cigarettes smoked," he says. His research sequenced the cancer cell genomes 60 times and compared it to the map of a healthy cell from the same patient.
The successful gene maps allow the scientists to investigate the history of the tumor cells, pointing to specific "imprints of ... environmental mutagens [mutation-causing agents] on DNA." In other words, for the first time, the researchers can look to the specific causes of these prevalent cancers and better inform their research of treatment and prevention.
Dec. 18, 2009
About 8:47 a.m. Wednesday, a man entered the Country Corner Store at 3370 Price Grange Road near Eden and asked for a cigarette.
Tivis Smith, 68, was about to oblige. But as she opened a pack of cigarettes, the man demanded she "give it up or I'll shoot you," according to the sheriff's office.
Smith refused. She retrieved her firearm and displayed it, prompting the man to flee on foot on Price Grange Road toward Stoneville, the sheriff's office said.
Dec. 14, 2009
The Oklahoma Health Improvement Plan focuses on tobacco use, obesity and children's health. It also makes recommendations for improving access to medical care.
The plan was mandated by the Legislature in 2008 through Senate Joint Resolution 41.
The resolution directed the State Board of Health to prepare a report tat outlines a plan for the improvement of physical, social and mental well-being.
"Current national state health rankings place Oklahoma at 49th," State Board of Health President Barry Smith said. "We find this unacceptable.
"We recognize that Oklahomans face a variety of barriers to good health due to poverty, lack of insurance, limited access to primary care, and risky personal health behaviors associated with diet, physical activity and smoking."
If Oklahoma matched the national average in health indicators, about 5,320 Oklahoman lives would be saved every year, Smith said.
Each pack of cigarettes costs the state's economy $7.62 in medical costs and lost productivity, according to the report.
The report recommends extending state law to eliminate smoking in all indoor public places and workplaces, except private residences. It also recommends increasing the number of tribes that voluntarily eliminate commercial tobacco
abuse in tribally owned or operated worksites, including casinos.
"Sixty-five percent of Oklahoma adults are either overweight or obese, and 31 percent of Oklahoma youth are either overweight or at risk of being overweight," the report said.
The report recommends health-related fitness testing in all public schools. It also calls for incentives for grocery stores or farmers markets to locate in underserved areas.
In the area of children's health, the report recommends increasing preconception care; minimizing prenatal sexually transmitted diseases; increasing the number of women who receive prenatal care in the first trimester; and minimizing unintended pregnancies.
Nov. 30, 2009
The burglars broke into Martin’s via the roof in the early hours of Thursday, November 19, and as well as stealing the cigarettes an amount of cash was also taken.
When the Guardian contacted Martin’s they were unavailable to comment on the incident.
Sgt Andy Preece, from Knutsford neighbourhood policing team, said: “The investigation is still on going but we are confident that we may get some where.
“We are waiting for CCTV from the shop and although the system was having problems we are hopeful that it has still been recorded.”
Nov. 27, 2009
Excise duty on these products is fixed, but with the re-introduction of the ad-valorem tax, a percentage will be charged on the ex-factory price of each item.
This implies that the amount paid as tax could go up when the product price goes up.
Government says it is bringing back the ad-valorem tax because a study it carried out over a 10-year-period shows the State is losing money by not imposing specific taxes on these products.Although government is yet to come out with the percentage it intends to charge, businesses are already expressing displeasure over the new move.
Nov. 23, 2009
A representative of the Minister of State for Health, Dr. Sadjo-Hetsi Dzrevon said: “Tobacco has killed a lot of people in Togo that is why the ministry of health is concerned and working with NGOs to stop this dangerous trend”.
The National Alliance of Consumers and Environment of Togo said in a document: “Tobacco consumption is spreading more and more, especially among the youth. The tobacco industry is increasingly directing its harmful advertising toward young people by sponsoring youth oriented cultural activities. Even though the state has banned tobacco advertising in public and private media, the advertising still exists in many forms in Togo.”
At the moment there is an ongoing legislative process on tobacco control which is expected to culminate into a national legal document that will support the promotion and implementation of the framework convention on tobacco control.
“If these documents are adopted by the legislators it will strengthen existing structures on the ground and also provide a more reliable data on tobacco control in the country.
“Before now we have no consistent data on Tobacco control, with this situational analysis document, we now have a document that we can rely on, we now have a guide that will help us to work on policies. The document is very important for stakeholders working on tobacco control issues in Togo,” Dr. told AfricaNews reporter in Lome.He said: “At the ministry of health we are happy that there is now a reference document that will guide legislation and necessary action on tobacco control.”
Nov. 20, 2009
The company, SICPA, wants to make it appear affixing stamps on highly taxable goods is a fool-proof way of curbing smuggling and tax evasion by manufacturers. The reality is that it is selling a fraudulent bill of goods.
It’s only about 20 years now that cigarettes and liquor have been free of the green BIR stamp on every pack and bottle (imported liquor still carries the strips). The rationale for doing away with the strips was that they constituted additional cost to consumers and that it was far more simple to just monitor the withdrawals of cigarettes and alcohol products from the manufacturing plants.
Also, tax strips proved to be ineffective in curbing smuggling which the system originally was meant to combat. Remember "blue seal" cigarettes? The term was derived from the color of the manufacturers’ stamps at the top of the pack. Over the manufacturers’ strips, BIR stamps were supposed to be laid to show tax had been paid.
SICPA claims its stamps cannot be counterfeited. In this land of fake peso bills, diplomas, passports and even visas, does SICPA really want us to believe its stamps could not be faked? Even a reasonable facsimile would do as in the previous experience with BIR stamps. The BIR stamps, it will be recalled, were also printed in security paper with watermark. A close look at the genuine BIR stamps and the fakes would show which was which. But to repeat, this did not discourage the smugglers.
But the biggest objection to the SICPA proposal is that it will raise prices by an estimated P1.50 a pack, a cost that will be passed on to consumers. Out of that P1.50, about P1 will go to the government and P0.50 to SICPA.
Given that kind of sharing, why does not the government simply increase the specific tax on cigarettes across-the-board by P1 a pack? The government collects the same revenues. The consumer gets a P0.50 break.
The only loser would be SICPA and, presumably, its sponsors who are ramming the proposal down the throat of the BIR.
Nov. 17, 2009
The blaze in the ground floor bedsit broke out at about 0530 GMT in Corsewall Crescent.
Dumfries and Galloway firefighters required breathing apparatus and managed to recover a man from the house, but he failed to survive.
Investigators later blamed the fire on discarded smoking materials which lit combustible materials in the house.
Nov. 13, 2009
The fires took place on Friday evening and Sunday afternoon at a former tobacco warehouse on Elizabeth Street.
The Maysville Fire Department, Lewisburg Volunteer Fire Department and Maysville-Washington volunteer fire department were dispatched to both fires.
When firecrews arrived at the scene they discovered heavy smoke coming from the building.
A Maysville firefighter says Sunday's fire started in the basement of the building.
Fire chief, Eric Bach says he would consider the fires suspicious, but they are still determining if it was arson. An arson investigator and state police officials are trying to determine the cause of the blazes.
There were no reports of injuries.
Nov. 10, 2009
People who switch to "light" cigarettes are 50 percent less likely to stop smoking than people who puff away on standard brands, according to a new report in the journal Tobacco Control.
Many people believe light cigarettes are healthier than regular smokes, even though they're not, said Dr. Hilary Tindle, lead author and an assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. So when people shift to light brands they may lose motivation.
Also, it's possible that people who switch are "hardened" smokers who haven't been successful at giving up their habits in other ways, she said.
The study analyzed data from a government-sponsored survey of more than 31,000 smokers. Thirty-eight percent had switched to light cigarettes, and of that group, 43 percent said they'd changed because they wanted to stop smoking, among other reasons.
People who switched were more likely to try to quit than those who didn't (51 percent versus 41 percent), but less likely to actually stop smoking (9 percent versus 17 percent).
Cigarette-makers don't disagree. "Light cigarettes will not help you quit smoking," said Bill Phelps, a spokesman for Altria Group Inc., which owns Philip Morris USA, maker of Marlboro Light. "People concerned about the health effects of smoking should quit altogether. There is no safe cigarette."
The price increase, announced yesterday, will take effect Monday.
David Howard, a spokesman for Reynolds, said that the company doesn’t comment on its pricing strategy, but the decision comes five days after Philip Morris USA announced a price increase of 6 cents a pack, which went into effect yesterday.
Reynolds is raising list prices less than a week after reporting that its cigarette-shipment volume fell 11 percent in the third quarter to 20.6 billion cigarettes. Reynolds said that the industry decline was 12.6 percent.
Howard said that the list price is increasing 6 cents a pack for its growth brands - Camel and Pall Mall - and also for Doral, GPC, Kool, Misty, Salem and Winston. All but GPC are considered as support brands.
The list price is being raised 8 cents a pack for its other brands, which include Capri, Eclipse, Lucky Strike, More and Vantage.
Charles Norton, the portfolio manager of the USA Mutuals Vice Fund, said that Reynolds is likely to be able to sustain the third price increase related to its cigarettes since September 2007.
In March, Reynolds raised the list price in the range of 41 cents to 78 cents a pack for wholesale customers, including 41 cents to 44 cents for most of its growth and support brands.
The increase was in response to Congress passing the 62-cent increase in the federal excise tax to pay for expansion of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. That tax increase went into effect April 1.
In September 2007, Reynolds raised its cigarette prices by a range of 5 cents to 15 cents a pack, including 15 cents for Camel.
“Strong pricing power is one of the underpinnings of our positive view of tobacco, which is a much more important driver of earnings than volume,“ Norton said.
Reynolds said in its third-quarter report that it had a slight market-share drop in cigarettes to 28.2 percent. The market share for Camel, the lead Reynolds cigarette brand, dipped slightly to 7.7 percent. Pall Mall’s market share was at 5 percent, up 2.3 percentage points from a year ago.
A temporary price discount in the spring on Pall Mall attracted smokers wanting to spend less on cigarettes in the recession. Even after the discount ended in May and prices were raised to counter the excise-tax increases, Pall Mall maintained a higher market share.
The company began another discount promotion for Pall Mall on Oct. 5.
Reynolds also raised its full-year earnings projections last week to a range of $4.60 to $4.70 a share - from $4.40 to $4.60 - as a sign of confidence in its strategies.
Nov. 9, 2009
Eli James Vargason, 18, 1112 Hotz Ave., was charged with third-degree theft, possession of marijuana and drunken driving after he was pulled over for an expired registration about 8:30 p.m. Tuesday. According to the arrest reports, police found a computer case with a mini laptop computer inside that had been reported stolen from a Tiffin man and marijuana.He was then considered a suspect in other ongoing burglary investigations, including an Oct. 31 break-in at the Casey's General Store in Tiffin in which Vargason allegedly smashed the front glass door and took about 350 packs of cigarettes, police said. He was charged with third-degree burglary for that break-in, police said.Vargason remained Friday in the Johnson County Jail on a $16,000 cash bond.
Nov. 5, 2009
The Health Department has been criticized in the past by the Canadian Cancer Society for being too lenient. Retailers only get a warning the first time if they're caught, and a $250 fine if they're caught again. The slate is wiped clean for everyone every three months.
Joe Bradley, manager of environmental health for the province, told CBC News Wednesday the latest results show there's a need to get tougher with repeat offenders.
"We're disappointed. There's no question the compliance on this particular round is probably 80 per cent or a little below 80 per cent, and that's the lowest that we've seen in some time," said Bradley.
"A retailer that has been issued a fine probably would be considered high risk in the future. We're still working on this and we hope to have it finalized within the next couple of weeks or so."
Bradley said retailers will be notified about the changes. He expects new legislation to be in place by Jan. 1.
Nov. 2, 2009
In the case of Commission of the European Communities versus Ireland, the Advocate General said binding prices restricted manufacturers’ freedom to set prices, thereby posing a risk to free competition.
The opinion of the Advocate General is not a final judgement, although the court generally follows it 80 per cent of the time.
The European Commission took Ireland to Europe’s highest court in 2008 over its policy of setting a minimum price on tobacco products to protect public health.
Under an agreement with the Irish Tobacco Manufacturers' Advisory Committee, the Department of Health has a minimum price for 20 cigarettes of about €1.30. This was set using information on volume sales supplied by the tobacco companies for filtered and unfiltered cigarettes.
The Government says the agreement with the tobacco manufacturers was made for the primary purpose of preventing low-cost selling of tobacco products in Ireland.
By setting a minimum retail price for a packet of 20 cigarettes it undermines the ability of retailers to provide special cut- price offers on certain brands. Price control is also seen as a viable way to protect children from becoming addicted to cigarettes and to encourage existing smokers to quit, according to the Department of Health.
In his legal assessment of the arguments the Advocate General said “increases in excise duties are therefore a less intrusive measure than minimum prices, which are thus not necessary”.
A statement issued by cigarette company John Player & Sons today aid “while we don’t oppose the Commission’s view that tobacco manufacturers should have the freedom to determine retail prices for their products, the fact remains that the real minimum price for 20 cigarettes in Ireland is the street price of €4 - €5 euro due to widespread illegal cigarette selling.
This greatly incentivises criminals by giving them huge margins while denying Government badly needed revenues. 1 in 4 cigarettes smoked in Ireland today is not even bought in an Irish shop”.
Oct. 30, 2009
Thompson said Southeast kicked off activities Monday with the Teens Against Tobacco Use (TATU) members releasing 25 red balloons in the senior courtyard.
She said other activities include renewals of pledges to remain tobacco and drug free, “Because tobacco is a drug, too,” she said. Students also received red wrist bands, Wednesday. Later this week they receive “Smarties” candy to remind them to “Be Smarties. Don’t use tobacco and drugs.”
While all schools in the district participated on some level, the high schools seemed most involved in the activities. Students at Northwest wore red ribbons or dressed in red Wednesday to celebrate being drug and tobacco free. They hung red ribbons in the halls and on doors, and participated in other activities.
Ebony Hamiel a senior at Northwest Halifax High School said being drug and tobacco free gives her feelings of self respect and self worth. “Being drug free helps me think better,” she said. She said she believes people can get further in life and have a better outlook on life if they stay drug free.
Raven Lee agreed. “Drugs aren’t good for you. I plan to go far in life, so I plan to stay drug free. Also, I’m part of TATU.
MATCH administrative assistant and coordinator of many of the districts events, Regina Lewis said there are lots of good reasons for schools to celebrate and encourage students to be drug and tobacco free. She also said there’s a history involved in the nationwide observance.
In a news release, Lewis noted the observance stemmed from the March 1985 slaying of federal narcotics agent Enrique Camarena in California. “A letter was circulated across the country calling for Americans to unite in their commitment to work to reduce the demand for illegal drugs in their communities. The red ribbon would be a symbol of their commitment,” she said.
This year Oct. 26-30 is Red Ribbon Week across America. “Americans are asked to come to a greater understanding of the threat to their society in terms of lost potential, more violence, and the impact on our quality of life,” said Lewis.
Lewis said watching the destructiveness of drugs is disheartening. “Although in the years since 1985, much has been done to increase awareness, to educate our young people, and to reduce the demand for drugs ... We must remind ourselves that there is such justice in our cause that it can be embraced and supported by millions. We should continue to be uplifted by every red ribbon we see, united in our purpose.”
Oct. 28, 2009
A study made public this month said contraband cigarettes are gaining rapidly in popularity, at the expense of regular taxed cigarettes, among high-school students.
No wonder. The illicit ones are cheaper, and there's no pesky enforcement of age limits.
This study was, it's true, financed by two groups that are losing money to contraband: big tobacco firms and store owners. But that doesn't disprove the findings, such as that almost half of butts found on or near school grounds come from contraband smokes.
This black and grey market urgently needs to be brought under control, and not only because of the problem of sales to kids. Lost tax revenue, to Ottawa and to the provinces is another reason to clamp down. There's also the problem of systematic disrespect for the law.
But the most urgent problem, we think, involves young people. Research says that the younger a person is when he or she starts smoking, the more likely tobacco addiction becomes, with everything that implies about long-term health concerns.
Tobacco-related illness costs Canada more than $4 billion a year. We don't need a new generation of smokers to add to an already grim toll of disease and early, preventable death.
In recent years, governments have worked to make it as difficult as possible for minors to get their hands on cigarettes. Store-owners are liable to hefty fines if they are found selling tobacco to anyone under 18.
Ratcheting up the price through taxes is another weapon governments have used to stop youngsters from smoking. It's a tactic that worked like a charm -- until contraband tobacco flooded the market.
In the brief, halcyon period when Canada cracked down hard on illicit cigarettes, between 1982 and 1992, smoking among minors plunged by an impressive 60 per cent. It took a 500-per-cent jump in taxes to put cigarettes out of kids' financial reach. But in 1994, Canada dropped tobacco taxes in an effort to stop the illicit tobacco trade. Consumption went right back up, and the damage to a generation rose with it.
High taxes do not automatically lead to a jump in contraband tobacco use, according to Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada. The western provinces had the highest provincial tobacco taxes in 2008, and the lowest percentage of contraband cigarettes. That's because Western Canada has less access than Ontario and Quebec do to sources of cheap contraband smokes. Quebec and Ontario tobacco taxes were far lower, but contraband took up a far bigger slice of the pie.
The solution is the same as it has always been: enforcement. All that's missing is political will.
Oct. 26, 2009
Retailers Against Smuggling (RAS) said cigarettes sales had fallen dramatically in recent months, with the black market fuelling job losses and costing the industry hundreds of millions of euro.
It maintained cigarette sales can be as high as 40 per cent of a retailer’s annual turnover.
William Hanley, RAS spokesman, said the Office of Tobacco Control’s (OTC) point-of-sale ban had practically wiped out the legal tobacco trade.
“Criminals are costing our industry hundreds of millions every year and we are staring down the barrel of thousands of job losses throughout the country,” said Mr Hanley. “Sales have fallen dramatically since 1st July.”
The point-of-sale display ban came into force in July, with shop-owners caught flouting the law facing a fine of €3,000 or six months in prison.
The OTC, which maintained it was a pioneering move to prevent underage smoking, recently revealed 97 per cent of shops were complying with the law.
Revenue’s Customs Service recently revealed it has seized cigarettes with a retail value of about €30.5 million so far this year.
Oct. 22, 2009
Hina J. Patel, 38, of the 800 block of Bode Road, Elgin, was charged, Wednesday, Oct. 14, with making the sale at Geneva Shell, 1491 E. State St., police said. The compliance check occurred Oct. 7.
Police Cmdr. Julie Nash said the undercover compliance check was done at 12 establishments in the city that sell tobacco. Police rely on an underaged person whose ID shows he or she is underage to purchase tobacco. In Illinois, the legal age to buy tobacco is 18.
All but the clerk at Geneva Shell refused to sell, Nash said.
"We do this for the very obvious reasons of the dangers of smoking," Nash said. "And it's our attempt to help those who don't always make the best decisions for themselves, to keep them safe. And to make sure businesses are only selling tobacco to those old enough to make the appropriate decisions. It's about looking out for the kids."
The undercover compliance checks are similar to those done at liquor establishments to see if an underaged person will be served or sold to. But what is different is, the charge goes to the person who sold, not to the owner of the establishment. In the case of a liquor violation, the seller can be charged as well as the person who holds the liquor license.
"We are only citing the person who sold he cigarettes," Nash said. "We have never actually cited businesses before. I don't know why that is, but it definitely should be looked into."
According to police reports, the teen working with police asked to buy a pack of Newport cigarettes. Patel asked to see identification, examined it and then sold the pack of Newports for $7.02, to the undercover teen, according to the report.
Patel told police she miscalculated the birthday on the identification, according to the police report.
A spokesman for the gas station said Patel no longer works there. A message left for a manager was not returned Wednesday. Patel has an unlisted phone number and could not be reached for comment. She is to appear in court Nov. 17.
Oct. 19, 2009
Committee Chair Henry Waxman (D, Calif.) and Rep. Bart Stupak (D, Mich.) wrote Kretek International in Moorpark, Calif., and Cheyenne International in Grover, N.C., and addressed concerns that both companies had repackaged their flavored cigarettes as filtered or "little" cigars.
On Sept. 22, the FDA, under authority of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, banned sales of most flavored cigarettes.
Oct. 13, 2009
Nabi Biopharmaceuticals of Rockville will launch a phase III study of a potential vaccine called NicVAX. The study, which could be the last step of research if the vaccine works, represents the most advanced investigation of a smoking-cessation vaccine.
The vaccine is designed to help people quit smoking and not relapse. According to a statement by institute director Dr. Nora D. Volkow, the vaccine has received "fast track" designation from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and has survived a successful "proof-of-concept" study.
There's no guarantee that the study will prove that the vaccine works, nor is it clear whether it will get federal approval if it does. But researchers are hopeful.
The vaccine works by making the immune system kick into action when it detects nicotine. The idea is that antibodies will bond to nicotine molecules and prevent them from entering the brain, where they give smokers the high that they crave.
Study results are preliminary so far, but they suggest that smokers who develop high levels of the antibodies in their bodies are most likely to quit for good. Researchers reported few side effects.
They expect that the vaccine will be effective for six to 12 months after it is given.
In the United States, tobacco use is linked to 400,000 deaths a year, according to background information.
Oct. 9, 2009
According a report from the Warsaw Police Department, the Murphy Oil Co., 2500 Walton Boulevard, Warsaw, was burglarized around 2 a.m. today.
A truck driver, who was delivering fuel to the station, which was closed at the time of the incident, reportedly saw the men break a window at the business and take several items from the store, including cigarettes, lottery tickets and cash.
Warsaw Police Officer Brandon Zartman stopped a vehicle near the intersection of Airport Road and CR 350N, and found three men who reportedly had items from the store in their vehicle.
Christopher D. Spangle, 24, Dale William Stamper, 21, and Nicholas Daniel Hall, 18, were arrested and booked into the Kosciusko County jail on charges of burglary to a business, theft from a business, aiding and abetting or inducing a burglary. Hall also was charged with possession/consumption of alcohol by a minor. All three men are being held on $5,000 bond.
Two of the three men reportedly have confessed to the crime; however, police have not said which two admitted to the burglary.
The incident remains under investigation by the Warsaw Police Department.
Oct. 7, 2009
Hakim Sorimuda Pohan, a former member of the drafting committee of the health law who was no longer elected for the 2009-2014 term said on Wednesday during a discussion on “Corruption on Health Law” in Jakarta, that Section 2 of Article 113 could not be found in the final document at the House of Representatives.
The missing section was written as follow: ”Addictive substance as referred in section (1) includes tobacco; solid, liquid, and gas products that contain tobacco which are addictive and could harm its users and or their immediate surroundings.”
Hakim said the change could come from the legislative or the executive branch and said the Health Department have denied any knowledge about the change. Hakim said exclusion of the section is a criminal offense, and should be thoroughly investigated to bring the perpetrator(s) to justice.
Kartono Muhammad a health expert which was also a member of the drafting team said punishment should remain to be imposed to the perpetrators although the section could be automatically re-incorporated into the article.
Chairman of the Indonesian Consumers Foundation (Yayasan lembaga Konsumen Indonesia) Tulus Abadi said this is the first time such crime was uncovered. While a researcher from the Political Corruption Division of the Indonesia Corruption Watch, Abdullah Dahlan said the section cold automatically be restored into the Law, as it has been passed during the house plenary session.
Oct. 5, 2009
SSB personnel from Sitamadhi Base Camp at Jamuniya arrested and tortured Mukul Raya Yadav, 35, of Surmajuwa VDC-8 in Rautahat district when he was on way to bordering Indian town of Ghodasan to sell tobacco.
Yadav died a few hours after he arrived home following torture by the Indian border security personnel on Saturday night, according to family members. Yadav arrived home late night in critical condition after the SSB men set him free.
Yadav, before breathing his last, had told family members that SSB men detained him for four hours and beaten up severely for no apparent reason.
Locals closed bordering Bankul Bazar on Sunday protesting the death of Yadav. They also chanted strong slogans against the SSB and demanded compensation to the victim´s family and punishment for the guilty.
Late Yadav is survived by four sons and two daughters.
Meanwhile, local administration in Rautahat has taken up the issue with local Indian authority, according to Chief District Officer of Rautahat Kamalesh Kumar Sinha. "They have told us that they would investigate the incident," Sinha.
The body has been taken to the district headquarters Gaur for post mortem.
Locals in bordering villages have alleged that the SSB personnel have stepped up their excesses in recent months. They complain that SSB men often beat up and manhandle locals living in bordering areas of Bara, Parsa and Rautahat.
Oct. 1, 2009
Ontario's action follows the lead of at least two other Canadian provinces.
"Ontario is taking the next step towards recovering taxpayer dollars spent fighting tobacco-related illnesses,” said Ontario's Attorney General Chris Bentley. “We are joining British Columbia and New Brunswick in initiating a lawsuit to recover health-care costs from tobacco companies.”
Ontario said that the $50 billion figure represents the cost that it has paid providing health care for smokers since 1955.
Earlier this year, Ontario passed a law, The Tobacco Damages and Health Care Costs Recovery Act, that allows it to sue to recover past, present and ongoing tobacco-related damages.
The New York Times writes that the defendants in the case include the Altria Group and some of its Philip Morris subsidiaries, British American Tobacco of London and its Canadian unit Imperial Tobacco as well as R. J. Reynolds and JTI-Macdonald, a Japan Tobacco unit that is in bankruptcy proceedings.
Eric Gagnon, a spokesman for Imperial Tobacco, called the Ontario government “hypocritical” for filing a lawsuit, adding, “What’s happening is double dipping…You’re taking a billion dollars of taxation out of the industry every year, then you turn around and sue the industry.”
Sep. 29, 2009
Browne defended the increases at the Senate sitting yesterday saying that Government intends to promote healthy living and in effect reduce the amount of money it spends on health care.
He also said this measure would prevent young adults from consuming too much alcohol and tobacco.
"We are acutely aware and we are sensitive to the fact that cheap booze puts it in easier reach of young adults and in some instances children. On this basis alone we consider that the new rates on excise duties on alcoholic beverages and tobacco are indeed long overdue and well justified," he said.
He said this initiative will steer young smokers and drinkers away from these habits as they tend to be more responsive to price.
"Raising the duties on alcoholic beverages and on cigarettes is justified because the $1.6 billion on tobacco and alcohol tax revenue over the past three years does not even come close to off-setting the staggering public health and safety cost of alcohol and tobacco consumption," he added.
Browne stressed that alcohol consumption causes a number of diseases to the heart, stomach and liver.
With respect to smoking, Browne said people who stop the habit even well into middle age avoid the risk of lung cancer. He said those who stopped smoking before avoid 90 per cent of the risks related to tobacco consumption.
"It is in fact this Government's objective to reduce the financial budget of the State for health care treatment of medicinal or medical conditions associated with lifestyle health risks that emanate from alcohol and tobacco consumption," said Browne.
Sep. 25, 2009
Removing cigarettes from the pack and selling them individually must be stopped, several state agencies warned the public and businesses.
Single cigarette sales pose a health threat to young people because they are usually easier and cheaper for them to purchase than a full pack.
Health officials are concerned that the availability of individual cigarettes may attract young people as an easy way to begin smoking.
The Attorney General’s Office recently sent 23 tobacco retailers alleged to have sold single cigarettes a warning letter, advising them to stop because such action is illegal in Tennessee. The letters were based on complaints received by the Tennessee Department of Agriculture. Tobacco retailers may be subject to penalties of up to $1,000 per violation under the law for selling single cigarettes.
“We will prosecute those who ignore the law by continuing to sell single cigarettes after we’ve warned them not to do so,” Atty. Gen. Bob Cooper said.
Sep. 23, 2009
On June 22, President Barack Obama signed into law, the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, effectively giving the FDA wide ranging authority to regulate tobacco.
Flavored tobacco was the first targeted because critics say artificial additives like cherry, grape, chocolate, and spiced cigarettes such as cloves, appeal to youths and lays the groundwork for a smoking addiction. The law only applies to rolled cigarettes, and menthols were spared in this particular prohibition.
In other words, mint is out, but menthols are acceptable. According to Lott, Nat Sherman's Hint of Mint packaging will soon read "menthol," but it's contents will be unaffected. As for cloves, Lott said, "there is a contingent of people who buy these cigarettes," adding that flavored tobacco constitutes about 15 percent of the cigarettes sold at Newsbeat. Kretek International Inc., which imports Djarum-brand cloves from Indonesia, holds a 97 percent U.S. market share with its line of Djarum clove cigarettes, a staple of Indonesian smoking culture. The U.S. market for clove cigarettes is about $140 million annually, with about 1.25 million clove smokers.Cloves have been imported to the U.S. since the 1960s and are mostly smoked by people younger than 30.
With America as Kretek International's fifth largest importer, the company has found a loop hole in the FDAs ban. Kretek is now manufacturing cigars, close to the size of a cigarette and flavored with clove, vanilla and cherry. The difference? Cigarettes are wrapped in thin paper, cigars in tobacco leaves. While the cigars also are made with a different kind of tobacco, the taste is similar. The cigars come 12 to a pack, rather than 20 for cigarettes, but cost nearly half as much.
But the Djarum-brand facelift may not appeal to all smokers. Andy Singh, owner of the Tobacco Store in Woodland, said a customer recently purchased ten packs of the clove cigarettes in anticipation of the prohibition.
Oddly enough, that same customer first told Singh that selling flavored cigarettes would become illegal on Sept. 22.
"I don't smoke so the customers know better than I do," Singh said. But delayed notification from either the FDA, or state and county agencies that manage tobacco licenses, according to Lott, means little time to inform customers and scale back on purchasing from vendors.
It wasn't until Monday that the FDA issued a letter to members of the industry warning of prosecution to those selling what they labeled as "adulterated products," beyond Sept. 22.
The letter reads, "manufacturers, distributors, and retailers may be subject to injunction actions, civil money penalties, and/or criminal prosecution for violating the requirements of the Act."
Lott ordered several cartons of cloves requested by customers, but for the most part is pairing down purchases. Singh has stopped purchasing the cigarettes and said he will throw away what remains after the cutoff date.
Lott said the decision to ban flavored tobacco is politically driven and indicative of a "nanny state." "Eliminating tobacco products all together will never happen because it's easy to vilify and it's easy to tax," she said. "I don't know what's right or wrong, I just have to go with the flow."
Future directive under the FSPTCA include the revision and strengthening of cigarette warning labels that will also contain a list of ingredients, as well as the elimination of the terms light, low, and mild on tobacco products.
Sep. 21, 2009
Every other state imposes excise taxes on smokeless tobacco, and all but one other - Florida - do so on cigars. And the idea was widely popular in the Keystone State, public-opinion polls showed.
So how did the ripe-for-the-picking products avoid being affected by the cornucopia of taxes that top lawmakers announced last week would balance the state budget?
Johnna Pro, press secretary for the House Majority Appropriations Committee, has a theory.
"Because the majority of people negotiating the budget are cigar-chomping men," she said. "It's sexism."
That tongue-in-cheek reasoning aside, Pennsylvania lawmakers have clearly rebuffed an idea that most agree could have generated $38 million in new tax revenue this year.
Last week, leaders of three of the four caucuses announced that they had reached a budget agreement on a $27.9 billion spending plan. They said the package provided $1.2 billion in new revenue that the state could count on for years to come, including a 25-cent-per-pack hike in the cigarette tax.
But still no tax on smokeless tobacco or cigars - a proposal that seven out of 10 Pennsylvanians support, polls have shown.
Antitobacco groups said they were stunned that the products were not included in the plan as they had been led to believe by top legislators.
"It makes zero sense," said Kevin O'Flaherty, the Northeast advocacy director for the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids. "It's fine to raise the price of cigarettes. . . . But it increases the disparity in price between cigarettes and other tobacco products, and that encourages kids to use those products."
Already, he said, the rate of 16- to 25-year-olds in Pennsylvania using those products is twice the national average.
Senate Democrats supported taxes on cigars and smokeless tobacco, and Brett Marcy, a spokesman for House Democrats, said that caucus had supported the proposal but was unsuccessful getting Senate Republicans to sign off.
"We agree that it is a commonsense tax and a ready source of revenue," he said. "But the political realities being what they are dictated that it may not be possible this budget year.
"There was just not an appetite in the Senate Republican caucus to look at those options."
Erik Arneson, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R., Delaware), said leaders dropped the cigar and smokeless-tobacco tax because of its minimal effect on closing the budget deficit.
"The amount which would be raised . . . is so relatively small that it is immaterial to producing a balanced budget," Arneson said.
Yet the parties did reach compromises on other, even smaller, budget items. For instance, they agreed to take $25 million annually from the profits of the state-run liquor-store system and use it for general government functions.
Gov. Rendell has vowed to veto the three-caucus compromise budget, arguing that it is built on "phony" and overly optimistic revenue figures that, when they don't materialize, will put the state in this very position next year. He also said the spending plan shortchanged education.
Legislative leaders from the three caucuses spent much of yesterday in closed-door talks with administration aides in hopes of ending the budget standoff. Senate Republican leaders said late yesterday that a final budget agreement could be hashed out today, setting the stage for approval by the bipartisan conference committee as early as tomorrow. The state, which began its fiscal year July 1, has been operating under a stopgap spending plan.
Rendell repeatedly has said that taxing snuff, chewing tobacco, and cigars was a no-brainer, and he has expressed frustration that the General Assembly hasn't agreed with him.
"It is a special interest that continues to be treated as special," said Gary Tuma, Rendell's press secretary. "The administration favors taxing these products as other states do. Not doing so defies logic."
The tobacco taxes also weren't in the revenue mix in another compromise plan offered by Rep. Sam Smith (R., Jefferson), the leader of House Republicans, who were not party to the three-caucus budget agreement.
"When you listen to the governor and the Democratic leaders, they are literally saying 'tax it because it is not taxed,' " said Steve Masking, Smith's spokesman. "We don't believe that something should be taxed just for the sake of taxing."
Sharon Ward, director of the Harrisburg-based Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, said she believed Republicans were sticking to their "no-new-tax pledge" and "listening to their inner Rush Limbaughs" when they decided to forgo the smokeless-tobacco and cigar taxes.
"It's discouraging that they would bypass a revenue idea that has virtually no impact on Pennsylvanians and minimal impact on industry," she said.
Sep. 17, 2009
Retailers claim government misled Lords over cost to shops of placing cigarettes out of sight.
The government has been accused of misleading parliament over the cost for retailers of implementing the controversial tobacco display ban.
Internal documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show that officials at the Department of Health (DoH) were warned by manufacturers that they had dramatically underestimated how much it would cost retailers to modify their shops to comply with the ban.
The display ban is part of the health bill, which is due to come before parliament in October. Under the proposals, cigarettes would still be available to buy but would be placed out of sight. Customers who wanted to purchase them would be given a list of products for sale.
The legislation will ban the display of cigarettes in supermarkets from 2011 and small shops from 2013.
Lord Darzi, the health minister, told the House of Lords this year that shops would pay as little as £120 each to install sliding screens in their premises. In a Lords debate in March, the government minister Baroness Thornton said that the cost "could be as little as £120".
The figure was also quoted in government briefing notes sent to peers in the Lords who oppose the display ban. The Conservative party and the Liberal Democrats are both likely to vote against it.
But according to the internal documents, which have been posted on the DoH website, the £120 figure was calculated in January this year after a quote had been obtained from a Canadian manufacturer, 4 Solutions Display. When Phil Beder, the company's vice-president, was made aware of the figure being quoted, he wrote to the DoH and to Ash – an anti-smoking pressure group, which had also quoted the figure in its literature – to ask that it be withdrawn.
In an email sent to Ash, dated 29 April this year, Beder said that the price quoted was based on a bulk order and did not include shipping or installation costs. He forwarded the correspondence to the DoH on 30 April, saying that he wanted to "clarify" the company's position.
Beder told Ash that he wanted "to make sure you are not making additional assumptions on costs to suit your internal needs. 4 Solutions cannot produce, deliver and install for the minimal dollars you are publishing. I trust your organisation will ensure the entire financial story is told to all."
Ash responded by telling 4 Solutions that it was confident its figures were correct.
The Canadian manufacturer also wrote to the National Federation of Retail Newsagents, which is opposed to the ban, confirming that the full cost would be far higher than the figure quoted by the DoH. When the federation emailed the DoH on 15 May to highlight the discrepancy, an official replied saying: "We are confident of the validity of the estimates that ministers have been quoting."
Small retailers have been lobbying against the display ban, arguing that independent shops cannot afford to refurbish their outlets at a time when many of them are already suffering a fall in sales as a result of the recession.
The Association of Convenience Stores, which represents more than 33,000 local shops, estimates that the new equipment required to remove tobacco from customers' view could cost the convenience industry as much as £252m.
It claims the minimum a single store could expect to pay is £1,850 but that this could rise to as much as £4,985. Small shops say that the ban will benefit larger retail chains and supermarkets, which can afford to implement the changes.
When asked about the allegations a spokeswoman at the DoH said that the government remained committed to introducing the ban.
The DoH said: "Point-of-sale displays have already been removed in a number of countries, including Canada, [where] removing point-of-sale display has coincided with a fall in smoking prevalence rates among 15 to 19-year-olds from 29% in 2002 to 19% in 2007."
Sep. 15, 2009
Passive smoking, or the inhalation of tobacco smoke from other smokers sharing living or working quarters, is an established risk factor for the development of lung cancer. Non-smokers who reside with a smoker have a 24% increase in risk for developing lung cancer when compared with other non-smokers.
Radon gas, a naturally-occurring gas that forms when uranium decays, is another known cause of lung cancer. Radon gas can travel up through soil and enter homes through gaps in the foundation, pipes, drains, or other openings.
Asbestos is a compound that was widely used in the past as both thermal and acoustic insulation material. Microscopic fibers of asbestos break loose from the insulation material and are released into the air where they can be inhaled into the lungs. Asbestos fibers can persist for a lifetime in lung tissue following exposure to asbestos. Both lung cancer and a type of cancer known as mesothelioma are associated with exposure to asbestos.
Air pollution from vehicles, industry, and power plants, can raise the likelihood of developing lung cancer in exposed individuals. It has been estimated that up to 2,000 lung cancer deaths per year may be attributable to breathing polluted air, and many experts believe that prolonged exposure to highly polluted air can carry a risk for the development of lung cancer similar to that of passive smoking.
Sep. 11, 2009
Ray Stevens, who owns Double S Motordrome on State Highway 3, said the two burglars took less than two minutes to break into the station, grab cigarettes and tobacco, and leave.
“They were definitely professionals – they knew what they were after.”
Mr Stevens said he has video footage of the break-in early on Thursday, which the police have seen. Several weapons, including a hammer, were also found near the service station.
Mr Stevens is offering a $1000 reward -- $500 for return of the stolen goods and $500 for information leading to an arrest.
Senior sergeant Dave Kirby from Wanganui police said that in the past two weeks there had been several Wanganui premises targeted for cigarettes, tobacco and cash.
“These things go in phases and we seem to be in a phase where [burglars] are after cigarettes and cash.”Mr Kirby said it was a timely reminder for businesses who kept cigarettes on their premises to ensure they had adequate security.
Meanwhile, Manawatu police are investigating a possible link between a service station burglary yesterday morning and a series of other burglaries in the region recently.
One man appeared in Palmerston North District Court and another is due to appear next week after two men broke into the Ashhurst Service Station and stole a cigarette stand.
Police chased the men for 30 minutes before they were finally stopped by road spikes in Foxton.
Detectives were investigating whether the burglary was linked to service station ramraids and burglaries in Rongotea, Foxton and Sanson in recent months.
Police spokeswoman Kim Perks said the Westmere burglary was some distance from the Manawatu burglaries, but there were some similarities between them that had police interested.
“At this stage we can’t say there’s a link but we will certainly be looking into it.”
Sep. 7, 2009
First, are they genuine? While Altria failed to comment, Danny McGoldrick, Vice President of the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, said the tobacco companies have a history of trying to shape their images with marketing ploys, “going green” is nothing new.
"The target isn’t kids or smokers, and the objective isn’t to reduce smoking, the target is always policy makers and the objective is to stop policy makers from increasing tobacco taxes, passing smoke free laws, or funding tobacco cessation programs that we know work- their own documents tell us this", McGoldrick said.
But the issue is not just about why Altria is going green, but is it really making a difference? Altria says it is, the tobacco company has reduced their packaging waste, water and emissions the last four years.
Eric Asche, Senior Vice President of Marketing at the American Legacy Foundation said that while reducing one's foot print is great, it does not balance out the 400,000 lives lost to tobacco every year or the 1,200 lost every day.
“Our job is to continue to point at what they are really up to and that is all the while they are trying to manufacture this new image- they are still addicting our kids and they are still selling a deadly product", said McGoldrick.
Sep. 4, 2009
Peter Killeen, emeritus professor of psychology in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, presented his research findings for the National Institute on Drug Abuse on the Tempe campus Wednesday afternoon.
The talk was called “Reefer Madness: There ain’t no such Thing as Addiction to Nicotine.”
NIDA initially invited Killeen to look into ways to improve scientific research on drug abuse, specifically nicotine addiction.
“I came up with a shocking discovery,” Killeen said. “There’s no such thing as nicotine addiction.”
“It’s time to get our heads straight,” Killeen said. “What causes the tremendously addicting power of cigarettes is the drug cocktail of nicotine,” he said, not nicotine itself.
Before he got into his findings, Killeen said he wanted to make clear that tobacco kills.
“[Tobacco] is the number one preventable cause of death in developing nations,” he said. “Half of the people who are lifelong smokers will die of smoking-related illness.”
And yet, he said, the mass addiction to cigarettes and the public knowledge of tobacco’s deadliness creates a paradox.
There is something missing in the equation, Killeen said: A sufficient answer about what causes the powerful addiction.
For years, researchers have maintained that nicotine is the cause of tobacco addiction.
But Killeen said new evidence suggests otherwise.
“A large portion of the research on tobacco studies is done on nicotine. But the research has not been very reinforcing,” Killeen said. “Nicotine in itself is not very rewarding. You can go to any drugstore and buy a packet of Nicorette chewing gum.”
But people don’t overdose on Nicorette chewing gum, he said.
“Studies have shown that none of the nicotine replacement therapies — chewing gum, inhalers, patches — none of those are addictive,” he said. “Nicotine is not addictive. So what’s going on?”
The cause of addiction is the release of monoamine oxidase inhibitors, or MAOIs, along with nicotine, Killeen said.
While nicotine affects the release of dopamine, or the “reward hormone” that affects emotions and movement, MAOIs help regulate dopamine levels, Killeen said.
“When you put together something that directly releases dopamine and another thing that helps the brain clean up excess dopamine, you’ve got a one-two punch,” he said. “It is my hypothesis that it’s a combination of nicotine with some of these other chemicals that causes the powerful addiction.”
Killeen said publicizing his research is important in moving forward with the study.
“Not everybody knows that nicotine is not addictive,” he said. “This negatively affects both the research and public opinion.”
Many people are hesitant to accept the research’s implications, but Killeen said his hypothesis is hard to deny.
“I presented this position to 20 of the world’s experts,” he said. “And though some were shocked and insulted, no one could argue that my case was untrue.”
ASU Director of Campus Health Services Allan Markus said it would take a thorough clinical trial to further prove Killeen’s hypothesis.
“The overall scientific evidence from research, going back many, many years, proves that nicotine is addictive,” Markus said.
Anthropology sophomore Marisa Rios said the social aspect of smoking appeals to her.
“What makes me smoke is not the jonesing or need for a fix every 15 minutes,” she said. “What makes me smoke is stress or just wanting something to do.”
Killeen said even though the addiction to cigarettes is highly chemical, a large part of quitting comes from creating distance from these social smoking situations.
Of 100 smokers who decided to quit, only 10 are still abstinent after a year, meaning there is a 90 percent relapse rate, Killeen said.
“There’s no such thing as a cure, in the sense that there’s always a very small but real possibility of relapse [for successful quitters],” Killeen said. “You can’t ever let down your guard.”
Sep. 2, 2009
No, just like obesity, smoking is a serious societal problem, because it creates huge health issues, which, excuse Gary's ignorance, does hurt him, and you and me, too. That's because obesity -- one of America's most serious and costliest health crises -- significantly raises health care premiums for everyone. Just like the idiots who ride motorcycles without a helmet, jacking up my rates every time they spill their brains on the highway. (By the way, I think Gary supports a helmet law, too.)
We are a nation on such a sugar high, most of us won't admit that we are the very fat people we make jokes about. Our kids are so fat, juvenile diabetes is one of the biggest health threats confronting tomorrow's leaders.
What are we going to do about it? Sit around and tell more fat jokes? Whine about the "nanny state" taking control of our choices?
Please. If you want to gorge yourselves on Oreos and Ding-Dongs, don't let me stop you. You want to stuff your kids' mouths full of French fries, pizza and soda, knock yourself out.
But taxing the poor choices you make, and the impact they have on the rest of us, is a smart strategy toward shaking some people out of their diabetic coma. And if it helps bring down the deficit along the way, all the better.
And please, don't get me wrong. I am not immune to sugar cravings. But I don't mind paying an extra dollar to indulge in my mint chocolate chip cookie ice cream, or yes, my Girl Scout cookies. Please, I pay out the nose for Thin Mints anyway, and happily, because they go toward a good cause.
That's the point here, too -- the cause: a healthier America. Personally, I'm willing to dig a little deeper to contribute toward the greater good. Isn't that the American way?
If you splurge every now and then on an unhealthy treat, it won't leave you too much the worst for wear, in the waistline or the pocketbook. But if you eat poorly every day, under the sin tax, it will cost you both ways. Creating a financial incentive toward healthier living is just smart economics. Money is the only thing that talks to some people.
And saying poor people will pay the price is knee-jerk liberalism at its worst. Anyone can eat healthy cheaply. Many people are just too lazy to try to figure out how, largely because they've never had a good reason. A tax on junk could be just the incentive they need.
Those of you who think it'll be so hard to figure out what's junk food and what's not, go back to elementary school. A kindergartner can tell the difference. It's not heart surgery.
Aug. 26, 2009
“I do not support any type of tax increase normally, but again, this is a tax where the tobacco companies are making billions of dollars off of people — they’re killing people. You know, they’re using blood money, basically,” Ray says. “But yet, the state, this is the only way we have to recoup the money that we’re paying for health care for smokers and so to me it’s a legitimate way to do that.”
Ray’s proposal would nearly double the sales tax on a pack of cigarettes from 69.5 cents to $1.31. Then it would automatically re-set the tax at one cent above the national average, which Ray believes is fitting because Utah doesn’t have many smokers.
Ray says there was enough support to pass his tax increase earlier this year, but legislative leadership wanted to save it as an option for next year. There’s also talk of raising other taxes, including the gas tax and the income tax. But Senate President Michael Waddoups says the tobacco tax increase is the most likely to pass.
“I think there’s a number of revenue sources that need to be looked at,” Waddoups says. “The easy one is the tobacco tax that was discussed last year in my body. I wouldn’t say it was unanimous, but I think it is going to be the easiest one to pass.”
State leaders cut a billion dollars from the budget last year, but about 40 percent of that was restored by federal stimulus money. Without that federal assistance coming in next year, lawmakers might tap up to half of the state’s $420 million Rainy Day Fund.
The discussions come along with a new assessment on the state's revenue situation. The latest numbers indicate Utah will have a $700 million budget shortfall by the time the Legislature convenes in January. That's after lawmakers have already made cuts in the neighborhood of a billion dollars, according to Speaker of the House David Clark.
The Santa Clara republican told KSL News lawmakers are currently weighing all of their options, not just a tax increase or rainy day fund.
"We didn't use our rainy day fund last session. We kept much of it aside," Clark said. "We anticipate using, including the $100 million we set aside for education, [a total of] about $300 million of that solution."
Clark says even after that, Utah would still need to find another $300 million to cut somewhere.
"The equation is you either have to have more revenue coming in--that means taxes--or you have to make sure that you cut your spending," he said.
One possibility: a hike in Utah's tobacco tax. A proposed bill would almost double it to about $1.30 per pack of cigarettes. That could raise $30 million.
The top leader in the Utah Senate says he thinks state senators do support a tobacco tax increase. He calls it a slam dunk.
Other options include an increase in the gasoline tax or re-establishing some of the state sales tax on unprepared food.
Gov. Gary Herbert says he aims to first find efficiencies in government to help make up for the shortfall then possibly look for cuts.
"I'm concerned about any kind of tax increase," Herbert said. "Philosophically, I believe that tax increases dampen the opportunity for the economy to grow. And right now, with the economy just being flat at best, another burden in the form of a tax increase probably ends up being counterproductive."
But advocates for children say raising taxes is a good idea.
But let's make sure that those taxes do not hurt low-income people who are already suffering most in this recession," said Allison Rowland, budged and research director for Voices of Utah Children.
No decisions have been made yet, and they won't be before the legislative session that begins in January. However, the discussions going on now mark the first time lawmakers have put a dollar figure on possible tax increases.
Aug. 21, 2009
Driven largely by ever-rising tobacco prices, he's among a growing number of smokers who have turned to their green thumbs to cultivate tobacco plants to blend their own cigarettes, cigars and chew. Byars normally pays $5 for a five-pack of cigars and $3 for a tin of snuff; the seed cost him $9.
"I want to get to where I don't have to go to the store and buy tobacco, but I'll just be able to supply my own from one year to the next," Byars said.
In urban lots and on rural acres, smokers and smokeless tobacco users are planting Virginia Gold, Goose Creek Red, Yellow Twist Bud and dozens of other tobacco varieties.
Although most people still buy from big tobacco, the movement took off in April when the tax on cigarettes went up 62 cents to $1.01 a pack. Large tax increases were also imposed on other tobacco products, and tobacco companies upped prices even more to compensate for lost sales.
Some seed suppliers have reported a tenfold increase in sales as some of the country's 43.3 million smokers look for a cheaper way to get their nicotine fix in a down economy. Cigarettes cost an average of $4.35 a pack, home growers can make that amount for about 30 cents.
It's the latest do-it-yourself movement as others repair their own cars, swap used clothes and cancel yard work services to save money.
"Cigarette smokers say, 'Yeah, we're going to die of cancer, but do we have to die of poverty as well?'" said Jack Basharan, who operates The Tobacco Seed Co. Ltd. in Essex, England. Virtually all of his increased tobacco seed sales have been in the U.S., he said.Provided the tobacco isn't sold or traded, the Food and Drug Administration doesn't regulate homegrown tobacco. Most people grow for cigarettes, but some blend their own cigars and chew.
A grower who purchased one of Johnson's Oriental and Turkish blends for $24.50 could satisfy a pack-a-day habit for more than three years, according to Johnson's calculations.
However, growing and processing tobacco can challenge even the best gardeners. The nearly microscopic seeds must initially be grown inside and transplanted after the threat of frost has passed.
The plants are susceptible to an army of pests; must be topped, or pruned, to encourage leaf growth; require rotating every few years; and require the proper chemical soil balance. The leaves must be cut and hung to dry.
A seed started in March can be ready to smoke as soon as October. Some anxious growers have been known to microwave leaves to hasten the drying. For purists, the leaves can be cured, or aged, like a fine wine for up to three years.
"It's actually very labor intensive," said Ed Baker, general manager of Cross Creek Seed Inc. in Raeford, N.C., the No. 1 tobacco seed supplier in the U.S. "There's a reason why cigarette companies make all that money. If it was that easy, everyone would be growing their own tobacco."
Cross Creek has seen a big increase in seed requests from home growers but it sells in volume. It's smallest seed offering is 90,000 seeds for $170.
Novices and veterans can find smoker-friendly havens like howtogrowtobacco.com, a Web site that offers growing and curing tips, often including angry posts over ever-increasing taxes and smoking restrictions.
Arthur Skora, 42, records his success growing and curing in Greenwood, Wis., on a how-to DVD he sells online.
"Most of the people who are ordering are just getting fed up with prices and basically they're not going to take it anymore," Skora said.
Saving money wasn't the only motivation for Matt Schoell-Schafer, a landscape architect in Kansas City, who has 50 plants growing in his urban garden.
"It's not being a victim to their manipulation of this product," said Schoell-Schafer, 34, who enjoys an occasional cigar or cigarette. "So I'm sort of liberating myself by growing it myself."