Feb. 22, 2010

Thousands march in support of Turkey tobacco workers

About 20,000 people took to the streets here Saturday in support of tobacco industry workers who are locked in a bitter labour row with the government.
The protesters marched under close police scrutiny through central Ankara to a pedestrian area where hundreds of workers left jobless by the privatisation of state tobacco company Tekel have been camping since early December.
"The Tekel workers are not alone," "The working class will fight," read some of the placards brandished by demonstrators.The workers, who number some 12,000, have demanded they be transferred to other public jobs, preserving their existing rights, but the government has offered them only a status as seasonal workers with much lower salaries.
The row has grown into the most embarrassing labour movement for the ruling Justice and Development Party since it came to power in 2002 with promises to defend the rights of the working class and the poor.Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has given the workers until the end of the month to either accept the new status or face unemployment, threatening to send police to demolish their make-shift tent city in the heart of Ankara.
Thousands of public employees went on a one-day strike earlier this month in solidarity with the workers after reconciliation talks between the government and trade unions collapsed.

Feb. 16, 2010

Battle Over U.K. Cigarette Packaging Gears Up

Tobacco companies are digging in to fight a possible U.K. ban on one of their last marketing tools: cigarette packaging.

The U.K.'s Department of Health said Monday that it would consider mandating generic packaging for all cigarettes as part of an aggressive campaign to halve smoking rates by 2020.

Such packs would be white or brown with the brand name written in simple type and no logos or colors allowed. The packs would continue to carry large health warnings.

In a report, health officials called colorful packaging the "silent salesman" for tobacco brands and said evidence suggests that without it, consumers could be more likely to note the health warnings and less likely to wrongly believe that some cigarettes are less harmful than others.Other countries, including Canada, have considered mandating plain packaging, but, amid heavy resistance from the tobacco industry, none has yet done so.

The U.K. said it would "carefully consider the case for plain packaging," including weighing "the legal implications of restrictions on packaging for intellectual property rights and freedom of trade."

The tobacco industry was quick to voice its intention to protect those rights on Monday. British American Tobacco issued a statement saying the U.K. would have "a huge fight on its hands" if it tried to ban current packaging.

"Brands are valuable corporate assets, and the government risks breaching various legal obligations relating to intellectual property rights, international trade and European law," the statement said.

An Imperial Tobacco Group PLC spokesman cited the company's long-standing position on plain packaging: that it would "expropriate valuable corporate assets in which the company and its shareholders have invested for more than a century" and possibly place "the U.K. government in breach of a range of legal and treaty obligations."

Philip Morris International Inc. and other cigarette makers argued that there is no evidence showing that plain packaging reduces smoking rates. A few weeks ago, a spokesman said, Philip Morris launched a Web site, www.plain-packaging.com, that is dedicated to fighting plain packaging. The site argues that generic packs "will create confusion, violate trademark rights and likely spur the growth of low price and illegal cigarettes without actually reducing smoking rates."

Health-policy experts scoffed at the idea that plain packaging wouldn't reduce smoking. "We have strong evidence that restrictions on other forms of marketing have helped reduce tobacco use, and there's no reason to think that would be any different for packaging," David Hammond, assistant professor of health studies at the University of Waterloo, said.

He said studies have shown that people are more likely to notice and believe health warnings when colorful packaging is stripped away. Other studies have shown that plain packaging makes the product less appealing to consumers, and particularly to children.

There is also evidence that removing colors from packages makes consumers less likely to wrongly believe that one type of cigarette is less harmful than another, he said.

Cigarette companies are no longer allowed to call certain brands "light" or "low tar" in many markets because such cigarettes are just as harmful as others, but consumers still associate the light, silvery colors long used on such brands with a healthier product, Mr. Hammond said.

To halve the nation's smoking rate to 10% of the population by 2020, the U.K. also plans to crack down on the sale of contraband cigarettes, which are often sold from private homes at discount prices; maintain or increase the "real value" of tobacco duties; ban vending-machine cigarette sales; and offer extra support through the state-run health system for people who want to quit.

The U.K. plan will also require cigarettes to be removed from in-store displays and be sold instead from under the counter.

Feb. 8, 2010

Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco Will Patrol the Super Bowl for Underage Drinking

As the Saints and Colts battle for the National Football League’s top spot, the Department of Business and Professional Regulation’s Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco will be cracking down on underage drinking at Super Bowl events. ABT agents will patrol the Super Bowl to arrest underage drinkers and ensure a safe environment for fans.
Underage drinking prevention is one of the division’s top priorities. The division works to combat underage drinking through a three-tiered approach—education, prevention and enforcement. One prevention effort is Tailgaters Urging Responsibility & Fun, or TURF. TURF was launched by the Charmer Sunbelt Group, and former NFL quarterback Boomer Esiason is the official spokesperson. Partners include Brown-Forman, and CBS Radio. This initiative aims to positively impact the game environment for everyone with tips for a successful celebration, responsible alcohol consumption reminders and actionable steps each and every fan can take to ensure that the game, and the tradition of tailgating, is preserved.
The mission of ABT is to keep alcohol and tobacco out of the hands of underage persons, to ensure that licensed establishments are in compliance with the laws and rules regulating the industry in Florida, and to collect taxes and fees related to these industries.
The department’s mission is to license efficiently and regulate fairly. The department licenses more than one million businesses and professionals ranging from real estate agents, veterinarians, and accountants to contractors and cosmetologists.

Feb. 4, 2010

Cigarettes May Cause Infections

The tobacco in cigarettes hosts a bacterial bonanza — literally hundreds of different germs, including those responsible for many human illnesses, a new study finds.

“Nearly every paper that you pick up discussing the health effects of cigarettes starts out with something to the effect that smokers and people exposed to secondhand smoke experience high rates of respiratory infections,” notes Amy Sapkota of the University of Maryland, College Park. The presumption has been that smoking renders people vulnerable to disease by impairing lung function or immunity. And it may well do both.

“But nobody talks about cigarettes as a source of those infections,” she says. Her new data now suggest that’s distinctly possible.

If these germs are alive, something she has not yet confirmed, just handling cigarettes or putting an unlit one to the mouth could be enough to cause an infection.

The idea that tobacco might contain viable germs isn’t just idle conjecture. Several research teams have isolated bacteria from tobacco that they could grow out in petri dishes. Those earlier investigations tended to hunt for — and, when found, attempted to grow — only one or two species of interest, Sapkota says.

What’s novel in her study: She and her colleagues probed for genetic material from any and every bacterium in a cigarette’s tobacco. Under sterile conditions, the researchers opened up cigarettes and then performed a series of tests on the leafy bits. For instance, they isolated all of the ribosomal material and then homed in on its long, species-specific stretches known as 16S regions. These genetic segments were then compared to 16S patches characteristic of known bacterial species.

Sapkota’s team had 16S probes for close to 800 different bacteria and found matches to many hundreds in the four brands of cigarettes screened: Marlboro Red, Camel, Kool Filter Kings and Lucky Strike Original Red. These cigarettes are “among the most commonly smoked brands in Westernized countries and represent three major tobacco companies,” Sapkota notes. All were purchased in Lyon, France, where she was completing her postdoctoral studies.

Among the large number of germs whose DNA laced these cigarettes were: Campylobacter, which can cause food poisoning and Guillain-Barre Syndrome; Clostridium, which causes food poisoning and pneumonias; Corynebacterium, also associated with pneumonias and other diseases; E. coli; Klebsiella, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Stenotrophomonas maltophilia, all of which are associated not only with pneumonia but also with urinary tract infections; and a number of Staphylococcus species that underlie the most common and serious hospital-associated infections.

Sapkota’s team lists many of these — including the most prevalent bacteria in the tobacco they studied — in a paper published early, online in Environmental Health Perspectives.

Some people have criticized the idea of infectious cigarettes, arguing that as tobacco burns, it would kill any germs present. But Sapkota is not so sure that’s true. The tobacco farthest from the burning tip might be a balmy temperature, from a bacterial point of view. And here’s “a really wild idea,” she says: What if the smoke particles traveling through the still-unburned part of a cigarette pick up some germs and then ferry them deeply into the lung, where they’re unlikely to be cleared? Wouldn’t that be the prescription for disease?

Of course, there’s also plenty of chances for a smoker to become exposed prior to lighting up. And, of course, the potential for highest oral exposure would come from chewing tobacco — and nasal exposures from snuff.

Sapkota, an environmental health scientist, plans to follow up her preliminary data to see which types of tobacco are most likely to host viable germs, and whether those bacteria are transported into the body, either during smoking or by the insertion of unburned tobacco products (including chewing tobacco) into the mouth.

Several thousand potentially toxic chemicals have been isolated from cigarettes. Sapkota says that it’s not hard to imagine that the number of germs hosted by tobacco products could rival that of the carcinogens and other poisons residing in or produced by burning tobacco.

How so, when she’s only found genetic material indicting hundreds of germs? Owing to the bacterial probes available when Sapkota began her tobacco work, she was only able to screen for 700-odd species. But newer probes on the market can now screen for the bacterial 16S genetic material of 5,000 or more germs. And if she used such huge batteries of probes now, she said she fully expects she could turn up at least 1,000 hitchhiking bacterial species in tobacco products.

Feb. 1, 2010

Avatar Movie, Firelight E Cigarette - Which Is More Popular

Just about a year back almost nobody had heard of e cigarettes and it was rare to see anyone using this product, but this is not the case as of late. A short stroll down any city street or public gathering proves different. "We really feel the reason for the huge surge in our traffic is due to the recent ruling of electronic cigarettes. Consumers who have been on the fence about choosing this smoking alternative are probably a big portion of our increased traffic." states Jeff Smith, President.
The popularity is so amazing that special interest groups are injecting negative news to keep the masses scared of a product that has no known or published complaints or adverse affects for 3 years in the US market. Other public health officials and scientist are stating that the product has merit and should be available to the general smoking population based on scientific studies that support harm reduction products.
Jeff told us another reason for the tremendous spike in visitors and sales is their new brand e cigarette called "Firelight" which was just launched a month ago. "Consumers who have been on the fence about choosing this smoking alternative, I beleive, are taking their hesitation and turning it into action." Electronic Cigarettes USA carries the popular "Firelight" e cigarette with complete starter kits starting at just under $30. Since the introduction of these smoking alternatives common prices for these starter kits have been anywhere from $90 -$150.
"We are just so excited that we can offer a high quality, low priced smoking alternative like the Firelight e cigarette" At this very time and moment, are electronic cigarettes just as popular as the blockbuster movie Avatar? Jeff often ponders that question. "With several weeks gone by now and sales through the roof, I often wonder if the Firelight e cigarette is as popular as the Avatar movie."