<< Back to all Blogs
Login or Create your own free blog
Home > Archive: October, 2006

Archive for October, 2006

Is Issue 5 a smokescreen?

October 23rd, 2006 at 07:41 am


AD "If Issue 4 Wins, You Lose," a 30-second ad from Smoke Free Ohio, promoting state Issue 5 and against Issue 4. It's running with a companion ad, "Don't Be Fooled by the Smokescreen."


Tracy Sabetta, co-chairwoman of Smoke Free Ohio: "On Election Day, you will choose between two very different smoking issues, Issue 4 and Issue 5. Issue 4 is backed by big tobacco. It would keep smoke in restaurants and other places we go with our families. It would overturn 21 local smoke-free laws, and leave half a million workers exposed to smoke. Remember, Issue 4 is a constitutional amendment. If both issues pass, only Issue 4 becomes law. If Issue 4 wins, you lose. Vote no on Issue 4. Vote yes for Issue 5."


Issue 4 and Issue 5 are competing statewide smoking laws, and voter confusion is inevitable. This is the rare instance in an issue campaign where a group promoting one issue has to go negative on another issue.


Issue 5, backed by the American Lung Association and the American Cancer Society, is a ballot initiative that would ban smoking in almost all public places.

Issue 4 is a proposed constitutional amendment seeking to head off an outright ban through less-restrictive regulations.

Even the names of the groups are confusing. Issue 5's committee is Smoke Free Ohio; Issue 4's campaign is called Smoke Less Ohio. (Note that the space between "Smoke" and "Less" changes the meaning considerably.)

Smoke Less Ohio's coalition does include a number of tobacco interests, which are disclosed on its Web site: the Cigar Association of America, the Lorillard Tobacco Co., the National Association of Tobacco Outlets, the Retail Tobacco Dealers Association, the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., Swedish Match and Swisher International.

It also includes lobbyists for nursing homes, bowling alleys, vending machines, grocers, bars, restaurants, gas stations - and 425 small businesses.

Smoke Free Ohio is correct: If Issue 4 passes - even by a small margin - it would wipe out a landslide by Issue 5. It would also block any other state or local legislation on smoking in the future. That's because Issue 4 is a constitutional amendment, and can only be repealed by a vote of the people.

Issue 4 would wipe out local laws banning smoking in 21 Ohio cities, mostly Columbus and its suburbs. The only Cincinnati-area city with a ban is Fairfield.

But if the issue is local control, it's worth noting that Issue 5 would also override Cincinnati's smoking legislation.


"To be clear, as our amendment clearly states and we've stated time and again, it would have to be in a separately enclosed area," said Jacob Evans, a lobbyist for tavern owners and spokesman for Smoke Less Ohio. "The impression that they're creating that this will occur anywhere in the restaurant is misleading. ... What Ohioans want is a common statewide policy."

Tobacco farmers swapping crops

October 23rd, 2006 at 07:32 am


Three stories high and a little more than a thousand feet deep, the cavernous tin barn structure standing in Darrell Jackson's backyard is in many ways a symbol of change for the state's tobacco industry in a post-buyout era. Six acres' worth of leafy, rust-colored burley tobacco dangles from its rafters in thick clusters, hanging limply like tattered rags -- a visible departure from the Henry County farmer's usual harvest.

Like many Southside tobacco farmers, Jackson has for years grown flue-cured tobacco, a heat-dried variety used in domestic blend cigarettes, as part of the federal tobacco-quota program.

But now that the program has been eliminated, and with it the geographic boundaries for growing certain types of tobacco, Jackson is switching some of his land over to the burley variety as a way to offset rising fuel costs and bring in some additional income for the farm.

"It beats the devil out of going up the road all the time to go to the factory," said Jackson, 43, who used to work at a furniture manufacturing company during the winter months, a downtime for flue-cured tobacco growers, to keep the cash flow steady.

Burley tobacco is a slightly different plant variety that is harvested once a year and hung out to dry in large, drafty barns for up to four months. Under the federal quota program, burley tobacco was grown only in certain geographic areas, such as in far Southwest Virginia, but those boundaries were lifted during the 2004 buyout, leaving behind an untapped market for tobacco growers in other parts of Virginia.

Seeing a new opportunity emerge for competitive tobacco markets, a handful of Southside tobacco farmers are now are sinking thousands of dollars into building barns for curing burley tobacco and reshuffling the regional boundaries of Virginia's tobacco industry.

The shift is one of many changes resulting from a massive overhaul of the industry in 2004 when Congress approved a $10 billion buyout eliminating a federal tobacco quota program established during the Great Depression to stabilize prices. In efforts to make U.S. tobacco growers more competitive on the world market, the buyout rid the industry of its quota leasing systems, causing market prices to drop and pushing the industry into a new free-enterprise market that allows growers to deal directly with cigarette companies.

So far the prospects of this year's harvest are looking slightly better than last year's, when growers scaled back production and acreage for flue-cured tobacco, the mainstay of central Virginia growers, hit a record low.

Flue-cured tobacco yields are expected to increase this year with about 17,000 acres being harvested statewide, a 21 percent increase over 2005, according to estimates by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, but down 26 percent from 2004.

Tobacco production has yet to rebound completely, and as the market settles, many growers are still finding themselves on wobbly ground and fear being stubbed out by rising fuel and labor expenses.

"The profit margin is real tight," said Stan Duffer, a tobacco specialist with the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, adding that this is a pivotal time for many growers -- and the industry at large in Virginia -- forcing them to think hard about whether they should stick with the business or retire.

One region hit particularly hard in terms of losing production was far Southwest Virginia, where burley tobacco has historically dominated the fields.

Because most burley tobacco farms were small, family-owned operations, the elimination of this federal program was an excuse for some tobacco growers to either retire or quit the business, said Danny Peek, a Virginia Cooperative Extension agent and regional burley tobacco specialist for Southwest Virginia.

Production of burley tobacco dropped by half after the buyout from 5,900 acres in 2004 to 2,800 acres in 2005, and the government estimates that figure will dip to 2,500 acres this year -- although Peek is wary of those predictions and says it is difficult to have reliable numbers at this point. Tobacco farmers are not required to report their acreage and many do not.

"I feel very confident that there are at least 3,200 acres [of burley tobacco] in all Virginia," Peek said, estimating that about 75 percent of that is still being grown in far Southwest Virginia.

Still, companies are scrambling to make up for a loss in burley production. Demand has been so great in some areas that the companies are offering monetary incentives in hopes of persuading farmers to add burley tobacco to their fields.

Johnny Angell, a tobacco farmer in Franklin County, said he split his tobacco crops between burley and flue-cured this year -- both of which are used to produce domestic-blend cigarettes.

Harvesting burley tobacco, he said, is slightly more labor intensive -- each stock must be cut and hung by hand -- but he can get on average 12 to 15 cents more a pound as opposed to selling flue-cured tobacco.

Angell, who has a contract with Richmond-based cigarette giant Philip Morris USA also notes that flue-cured tobacco, which is cured by artificial blasts of heat, requires substantial amounts of natural gas or heating oil. "You're sort of swapping one expense for the other," he added.

A dip in prices for flue-cured tobacco is also causing some farmers to make the switch-over to sowing their fields with burley tobacco.

Connell Macenhimer, a flue-cured tobacco grower in Franklin County, said he's receiving about the same price as he did 25 years ago under his current contract with the Stabilization Co-op, a group of buyers that offers farmers some price supports. He has already cut back his tobacco acreage this year to 55, down from 200 acres before the 2004 buyout, and if production costs continue to rise, he's thinking about cutting out of the business completely. "If I'm not going to make any money, I'm not going to do it," the 54-year-old farmer said, adding that he's had several other colleagues threaten to leave the business next year because of paltry profits made this year.

Some industry observers are skeptical that swapping one variety for another will do much good in solving all cost woes.

"Growers are just trying to do something different to survive but that hasn't been the answer," said Scott Reiter, a Campbell County Cooperative Extension agent. "The cost to produce tobacco has made it extremely tight to make any money this year -- for any of the varieties," he said, adding that the acreage in Campbell County dropped 60 to 70 percent for all varieties in the last two years. The county now has 12 tobacco growers.

Plus, shifting to burley production often means sinking more money into new equipment and building a barn. The cost of a new barn alone can be anywhere from $15,000 to $20,000 depending on the structure's size, Reiter estimated.

"For several years you're just growing tobacco to pay for that barn," Reiter said.

Jackson acknowledges that he is in it for the long haul. The new barn set him back about $30,000 and will take three to four years to pay off. But with energy costs rising, he says he can't afford to double the cost of curing his tobacco. And Phillip Morris USA has already offered to reimburse him for up to $2,500 on the cost of building the new burley barn. "This right here," he said spreading his hand over a wilted, fan-shaped burley tobacco leaf. "There's a heck of demand for it."

Cities mull smoke-free laws

October 23rd, 2006 at 07:24 am


ORANGE BEACH -- City officials from both of Baldwin County's beach cities are planning to ban smoking in most public places by the start of next year. The Orange Beach City Council held a public meeting Monday afternoon to start discussing a proposal to go smoke free in all but private homes and clubs, hotel rooms designated for smokers and bars.

Gulf Shores City Councilman Robert Craft attended the 3 p.m. meeting and said that his city was also pursuing a smoking ban: "We're very much inclined to do the same thing that you're talking about doing."

The Gulf Shores City Council will discuss the measure at its Monday work session, Craft said.

The proposal Orange Beach is mulling would make it illegal to smoke at any public property and in any work place. Exceptions to the ban would be private homes, private clubs, hotel and motel rooms designated for smoking, tobacco specialty shops, performance stages and bars -- defined as establishments that make 75 percent or more of their money on alcohol sales.

"We all know that the surgeon general came out in June with definitive results that secondhand smoke does kill and it's the third-leading cause of preventable death in the United States," said Orange Beach Councilwoman Tracy Holiday, who proposed the ordinance. "I think based on that we know this is a public health and safety issue."

Holiday said she wasn't sure that Orange Beach could prevent smoking on the beach because the city owns no public beach area. Craft said he wasn't sure yet how Gulf Shores would treat its many public beaches, or, for that matter, other outdoor areas such as golf courses. Enforcement of a smoking ban outdoors would be tricky, Craft said, and will be among the likely topics when council takes up the matter Monday.

In early August, Foley approved an ordinance that will prohibit smoking in most places open to the general public -- bars being the exception -- by Nov. 5. Fairhope followed a week later with its own similar tobacco ban that goes into effect on Nov. 20.

Tina Findley, a tobacco prevention and control coordinator for the Alabama Department of Public Health, said there's no safe level of exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke and even a small amount can cause health problems.

"Especially when a child is sitting in a restaurant and they're sitting there for an hour and they're around smoking, even if it's on the other side of the building, it's like they smoked three cigarettes themselves," she said.

£1.3m a day goes up in smoke

October 23rd, 2006 at 06:55 am


PEOPLE living in Scotland's most deprived areas are spending £1.3million on cigarettes EVERY day. Official figures obtained by the Sunday Mail reveal it is the poorest people who can least afford it who spend the most on tobacco. Richer smokers with money to burn buy fewer cigarettes and more of them appear to be giving up.

Deprived areas have three times as many smokers as more affluent places. Male smokers in the poorest parts of Scotland get through around 17 cigarettes a day and women average 16.

With a pack of 20 costing £5.20, that's £31 a week for men and £29 for women - almost a quarter of their weekly income.

Their weekly budget is below £131 - just above the official poverty line of £98.

The richest male smokers smoke an average of 13 a week and the women have 12.

Maureen Moore, chairman of anti-smoking group Ash Scotland, said: "The Executive have started to concentrate on this but projects need to be targeted at deprived areas where there is clearly a desperate problem. When we see people suffering cancer, heart disease and strokes, it seems obvious that finding ways of stopping people from smoking in the first place is the most cost effective solution."

An estimated 310,217 Scots in the poorest areas are smokers.

They spend an incredible £1,330,831 on cigarettes each day.


There are three times fewer smokers living in the most affluent areas - where the average weekly household income is above £800.

They spend £352,608 on cigarettes every day.

The figures from the Office for National Statistics are based on research done in council wards across the country.

A 20-a-day habit costs Scots £1900 a year with 89 per cent going straight to the taxman. Pro-smoking groups say the steady rise in tobacco tax has created a poverty trap.

Simon Clarke of campaign group Forest (Freedom Organisation for the Right to Enjoy Smoking Tobacco) said: "We have a ludicrous situation here.

"The taxation of tobacco products has been counterproductive and contributes towards poverty.

"The people it hits are the less well off, the elderly and those who find it hard to give up."

Health Minister Andy Kerr said £4million has been dedicated to trying to help poor people quit.

He said: "It has long been recognised that there is a strong link between smoking and deprivation.

"That is why over the next two years, £4 million is being allocated to help target intensive cessation support to areas of deprivation. "We are taking cessation work into new environments such as bingo halls to reach out to more people."


SNP MSP Stewart Maxwell, who spearheaded the proposals to ban smoking in enclosed spaces, said: "Anti-smoking projects have had an effect in affluent areas where the number of smokers is going down and down and down.

"But it has had little or no impact in areas where it really matters.

"Smoking is an addiction and it's too simplistic to just expect those in deprived areas to stop buying cigarettes."

Smoking ban is no success

October 23rd, 2006 at 06:46 am


I read with some regret and no little disbelief the multi-signature letter in your Letters page in conjunction with your own editorial (26 September) regarding the so-called success of the smoking ban.

The smoking ban is anything but a success. It has caused financial hardship to many licence-holders who have watched their pubs, clubs and bingo halls empty since its introduction.

It, therefore, galls me to have to read such rubbish as "the smoking ban would not have worked without the hard work of licence-holders". They were badgered into enforcement of this unjust ban with threats of heavy fines by the Scottish Executive.

If all the body worshippers are so confident that the majority in this democratic country welcomes the smoking ban, then let them put it to the people in a general vote.

Tobacco tax's losers

October 23rd, 2006 at 06:35 am


Situated just steps away from the MU campus, the Tiger Sinclair gas station has an advantage when it comes to tobacco sales.

Oftentimes, owner Cindy Mutrux said, students who are about to head out of state will come into the store to stock up on cheap cigarettes.

“I have kids from New York and Chicago that will buy five cartons to last them until they get back here because in their states, cigarettes are so expensive,” Mutrux said.

At 17 cents per pack, Missouri’s tobacco tax is second lowest in the nation. Because of this, cigarettes sold in the state cost much less than they do in other places, where the average tax added on is around $1.

If voters pass an initiative on Nov. 7 to raise the tobacco tax to 97 cents, the cost of a pack of cigarettes in the state will increase by 80 cents. This has tobacco retailers worried the incentive to purchase cigarettes in Missouri may disappear.

“The bottom line is, right now, Missouri has a tax advantage over all eight of our border states,” said Ron Leone, executive director of the Missouri Petroleum and Convenience Store Association. “If Amendment 3 passes, it will level that tax advantage and put us at a tax disadvantage.”

Currently, Leone said, tobacco retailers in Missouri’s border counties get much of their profit from smokers who cross over from states such as Illinois, where the tobacco tax is 98 cents.

If Missouri’s tax rises to almost a dollar, Leone said he worries that sales at convenience stores, gas stations and other tobacco retailers could be pinched.

“When we no longer provide a financial incentive for people to come to Missouri, not only is it going to hurt my members in terms of lost profits, but also lost sales and tax revenues,” he said.

In 2002, Illinois increased the tax on a pack of cigarettes by 40 cents. The state’s Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability estimates that over the past four years, a small portion of Illinois’ tobacco sales have been lost to border counties in Missouri and Indiana.

Kansas also raised its tobacco tax in 2002, to 79 cents per pack from 24 cents. Ron Spidle, owner of the discount retailer Smokes For Less, said he had to shut down four of his six stores in the state as a result of the increase.

If Missouri raises its tax, Spidle said he worries he may have to close some of his 10 stores in Missouri, including one in Columbia.

Kurt Ribisl, a researcher at the University of North Carolina who specializes in the study of tobacco control policy, said that although an increase in tobacco tax could hurt some retailers, it is not likely to cause the state’s economy as a whole to suffer.

“People say that if you raise the price up, all of a sudden you’ll get less money, but that’s absolutely false,” he said.

Ribisl recently studied the employment levels of tobacco retailers across the nation between 1994 and 2004. What he found, he said, is that although tobacco stores, gas stations and convenience stores did see a decline in sales and consequently, a decrease in employment, supermarkets and other large stores that sell tobacco did not.

“Employment is an indicator of the health of a retail sector, so if sales are really dropping in a store they often have to cut back on the number of people,” Ribisl said. “We saw that although there were some declining sales in tobacco stores and convenience stores, supermarkets and others that sell cigarettes actually showed an increase in employment over this period.”

Nationwide, he said, there are 51,343 supermarkets that sell tobacco, compared with 6,184 smaller tobacco retailers.

“Overall, they cancel each other out so there’s no economic harm,” Ribisl said.

Those in support of the tax increase argue that the true economic burden is the costs of tobacco-related illnesses.

“If we look at what economic impact smoking has had on our state, it’s $4.3 billion, according to the Centers for Disease Control,” said Cindy Erickson, spokeswoman for the Committee for a Healthy Future, the Missouri-based group that proposed the tax increase. “If we were to reduce (smoking) we would be able to spend those revenues elsewhere.”

Tobacco retailers, though, say that any smoking declines will be hard to measure because it’s likely sales will be lost to the Internet.

In 2001, the national research group Forrester Research predicted that by 2005, 14 percent of all tobacco sales would be made over the Internet, resulting in a loss of $1.4 billion in state profits.

“When prices increase significantly there is a small portion of people who will turn to Internet,” Ribisl said. “But generally you’ll see 90 to 95 percent of people will still continue to buy cigarettes at local stores.”

Mutrux said that because her business depends on cigarette sales, she can only hope the proposed tobacco tax increase wouldn’t affect her business. But as a nonsmoker, she said she also wants to see others stop smoking.

“I encourage that,” Mutrux said. “But people are going to smoke regardless.”

Tobacco tax's losers

October 23rd, 2006 at 06:32 am


Philip Morris hosts party for media

October 3rd, 2006 at 11:39 pm


KUWAIT: Philip Morris Kuwait Company WLL hosted a Suhoor Party for the local media on Thursday. Hamad Al-Asfour, Manager Corporate Affairs welcomed visitors for a sumptuous Suhoor meal held at Atlantis Restaurant at Marina Hotel. Representatives from Philip Morris Middle East attended the event including Dubai based George Nassif, the director corporate affairs Middle East and Ruwaida Abu Ajram, communication manager.
"We invited you here to spend this Suhoor party with us because we treasures our friendship with all the newspapers here in Kuwait and we hope for more productive years to come. We thank you for coming and I hope you will enjoy our small token of gratitude," said Al-Asfour on the occasion.
The Suhoor party discourages minors from attending since the company was promoting tobacco products not suited for children.
Philip Morris is one of the largest tobacco companies in the world. They produce many of the world's best-selling cigarette brands, including the most popular brand worldwide; their brands are made in more than 50 factories around the world and sold in over 160 markets.
Founded in the 19th century, Philip Morris has grown into a worldwide organisation. Today Philip Morris International alone employs more than 80,000 people.

Showbiz News

October 3rd, 2006 at 05:54 am


James Bond actor Daniel Craig is not allowed to smoke in the new Bond film. The new 007 is furious with movie bosses who decided to cut out smoking scenes because they don't want to send the message that smoking is cool to young Bond fans.

Craig told Parade magazine: "I can blow off someone's head at close range and splatter blood, but I can't light a good Cuban cigar."

The news that Bond will not be smoking cigars in the film comes just days after it was announced he may drink lager instead of martinis in the film.

Craig may never utter the immortal lines "Vodka martini - shaken, not stirred" as film bosses have signed a deal with Heineken.

The film is not realised until November but has already been heavily criticised by fans.

Craig is the first blonde Bond and has admitted to being scared of boats, hating guns, sex scenes and martinis and losing two teeth in his first fight scene.

He told Parade: "Maybe I'm not the prettiest Bond that's ever been, and maybe I'm not the most suave.

"All I can say is there are millions of fans, and I don't want to let them down. I've worked my butt off for this movie. I'm not going to foul it up."

Tougher smoking ban eyed

October 3rd, 2006 at 05:28 am


The Kanawha-Charleston Board of Health surveyed Thursday the minefield it faces with a proposal to make all public places Kanawha County smoke-free, including bars. Putnam County approved a similar policy Tuesday, a move praised by the Kanawha health board. Several states, including Utah and Montana, took a similar approach as Kanawha County by enacting some sort of regulation, then phasing out smoking in bars and private clubs, explained Dr. Kerry Gateley, executive director of the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department.

Kanawha County’s existing rule prohibits smoking in all eateries that rely on food for more than 20 percent of their sales. Restaurant bars can allow smoking if the smoking section is closed off from the eating area.

But some places have run into “definitional problems,” Kerry told board members. In Maine, the regulation exempted private clubs, but becoming a private club was extremely easy, he said.

The board needs to make sure such loopholes do not creep into Kanawha County’s regulations, Gateley said.

“A lot of states seem to struggle with this private club thing,” he said. “The easier this thing is to understand and interpret, the better.”

The smoke-free regulation will take hold gradually so that the public and businesses can adjust, said Dr. Steven Artz, the board’s president.

“The community has plenty of notice,” he said. “If they have adequate notice, I’m sure there will be some grumbling, but we can move forward over time. There will be some structure.”

Part of the reason for the all out ban on smoking is to even the ground between businesses that can allow smoking and those that cannot, board members said.

“Fortunately, the contiguous county just moved,” Artz said, referring to the lack of competition.

Gateley credited the board’s move toward a smoke-free policy for partly inspiring Putnam’s new policy. “What I understand from the Putnam situation is they learned a lot from us,” he said. “We set the ground I think.”

In other business:

Flu shots for the upcoming flu season are ordered, but coming in slowly because of manufacturing delays, Gateley reported.

The county ordered 15,000 doses, plus 11,000 for smaller health departments that usually see delays. The first shipment comes in today, but is only 744 doses. The state provided another 1,080, he said.

A letter from one vaccine company, Sanofi Pasteur, said that 40 to 50 percent of the order should come in by the end of October with the rest to follow in November or December.

The health department made no serious changes to the flu vaccine schedule yet. That

schedule is available online at www.kchdwv.com.

“The only problem I foresee is if they’re late on a shipment,” Gateley said before the meeting. “We want to wait until we have the shots in the cooler. We expect to have enough, but we expected that two years ago, too.”

In 2004, a manufacturing problem caused widespread flu shot shortages.
The health department continues to design a new building that will fit its needs. The two highlighted at Thursday’s meeting are parking and a large storage cooler for vaccines.

“A facility where we provide a clinic without up-to-the-door parking or valet parking is impractical,” Artz said. “Clients need front door access.”

As per the vaccines, Gateley said: “Hundreds of thousands of dollars of vaccines pass through here all the time and we have to keep them cool. We don’t just use a Kenmore refrigerator to do that.”

Smoking: Did you know...

October 3rd, 2006 at 05:07 am


TOBACCO use, particularly cigarette smoking, is the single most preventable cause of death in the world. It also causes chronic lung disease (emphysema and chronic bronchitis), cardiovascular disease, stroke, cancer and cataracts. Nicotine, a powerful central nervous system stimulant found naturally in the tobacco leaf, is classified as a drug. It is one of the main ingredients in tobacco. In higher doses, nicotine is extremely poisonous. It is commonly used as an insecticide. The membranes in the nose, mouth and lungs act as nicotine delivery systems – transmitting nicotine into the blood and to the brain.

Nicotine is highly addictive. The addictive effect of nicotine is the main reason why tobacco is widely used.

Cigarette smoking causes 87% of lung cancer deaths and is responsible for most cancers of the larynx, oral cavity and pharynx, oesophagus, and bladder.

Tobacco smoke contains thousands of chemical agents, including over 60 substances that are known to cause cancer.

The risk of developing smoking-related cancers, as well as non-cancerous diseases, increases with total lifetime exposure to cigarette smoke.

Smoking cessation has major and immediate health benefits, including decreasing the risk of lung and other cancers, heart attack, stroke, and chronic lung disease.

US Surgeon General Richard H. Carmona issued a comprehensive scientific report on June 26, 2006, which concludes that there is no risk-free level of exposure to second-hand smoke. Non-smokers exposed to second-hand smoke at home or work increase their risk of developing heart disease by 25 to 30% and lung cancer by 20 to 30%.

The report, The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke, finds that even brief second-hand smoke exposure can cause immediate harm. .

Second-hand smoke contains more than 50 cancer-causing chemicals, and is itself a known human carcinogen.

Non-smokers who are exposed to second-hand smoke inhale many of the same toxins as smokers.

Even brief exposure to second-hand smoke has immediate adverse effects on the cardiovascular system and increases risk for heart disease and lung cancer, the report says.

Cigarettes sweetened to lure young smokers

October 3rd, 2006 at 04:30 am


New research suggests tobacco companies are sweetening cigarettes, which could make them more attractive to young people.

Additives included plum juice, maple syrup and honey to make products taste better. These ingredients were apparently identified from tobacco company websites.

A British newspaper, The Independent, reported findings of the study that examined sweet additives in tobacco. Results were published in the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology.

The newspaper quoted researchers saying: “The addition of sugars in tobacco can enhance tobacco use in at least two ways — naturalisation of the harsh taste of cigarette smoke and generation of acetaldehyde, which increases the addictive effect of nicotine.”

It went on: “Moreover, the sweet taste and the agreeable smell of caramelised sugar flavours are appreciated in particular by starting adolescent smokers.”

Mike Daube, president of the Australian Council on Smoking and Health, called on tobacco companies to reveal all their ingredients.

“We would like legislation at a Federal level that forces them to reveal everything that goes into cigarettes,” he said. “If we don’t know what goes into cigarettes we don’t know how harmful they are going to be in combination with other components.”

The newspaper quoted a cigarette executive’s denials that sugar additives encouraged young people to smoke.

He said that cigarettes sold in Britain typically did not have sugar.

Stop smoking programme launched

October 3rd, 2006 at 03:27 am


Whoever said quitters never win, perhaps never had a clue that quitting can be a good thing. According to Winston Seale, an Orthopaedic Surgeon by profession at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, and guest speaker at a recent session held by the Barbados Breathe Free Association, good things can happen when smokers stop smoking. Seale was speaking recently at the Opening Ceremony and Pre-Quitting Session of the Barbados Breathe Free Associations Stop Smoking Programme.

The programme, which will officially come into being on October 10, is being held in association with Sagicor Life Inc.

Seale told interested parties gathered at the Savannah Hotel in Hastings on Sunday, that there are 1.1 billion smokers in the world. By the year 2020, he said, studies suggest that the worldwide death toll due to smoking will be somewhere in the region of ten million. There is no part of the body which smoking does not affect, Seale has cautioned, noting that the effects will be manifested in different organ systems of the body, depending on the length of time spent smoking, and the frequency.

However, it is never too late to stop smoking, Seale has assured. There is positive hope and recovery even for long-term smokers who quit, since persons can gradually reverse much of the damage caused to bodily organs from the day they quit, Seale said. Outlining some of the good things that can happen to quitters, Seale has remarked that the carbon monoxide and nicotine levels in the body begin to decline within hours or days after the last cigarette. The cilia lining of the bronchial tree begins to grow back and a smokers cough disappears within a year after cessation. After ten to 15 years of quitting, the risk of developing cancer or heart disease gradually returns to nearly that of a non-smoker.

Meanwhile, Sagicor representative Juanita Blackman has lamented the marked increase in health insurance costs being paid out by her company. The company pays out twenty million dollars in claims annually, she says, noting that to date there are 20 000 insured lives. This presents a major challenge for the company.

In speaking about the nine-day Stop Smoking programme, President of the Barbados Breathe Free Association, George Best has noted that the programme will be in the form of a series of lectures and sessions to be delivered each night at 7:30 p.m. at the L.V. Harcourt Lewis Training Centre, at the Public Workers Credit Union, Belmont Road. The dates for the sessions are October 10, 12, 15, 16, 17, 19, 23, 26 and 30. Individuals will not be condemned for their decision to smoke, the Association says, but will be provided with avenues based on a programme tested and proven in the US to successfully quit for good.

The programme is being hosted by the Seventh-Day Adventist (SDA) Church, and David Beckles, President of the East Caribbean Con-ference of Seventh-Day Adventist, says the programme is one designed to restore and prevent. Noting that the SDA church has always been in the forefront of health reform, he expressed the hope that not only lives will be healed through the programme, but more homes will be happy.