Brain Tumour Survivor

Environmental Causes of Cancer "Grossly Underestimated&
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Author:  kenobewan [ Sun Aug 05, 2012 5:18 am ]
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No names beat the big labels at supermarkets

SUPERMARKET home-brand products are just as healthy as costly well-known products - and in some cases may even be better for you.

The Sunday Telegraph surprisingly discovered nutritious food need not be more expensive, which is welcome news for shoppers battling a strict budget.Nutritionist Rosemary Stanton compared the kilojoule, saturated fat, sugar and salt content of 20 everyday food items at Coles and Woolworths and found the supermarkets' own budget range performed better than leading brands in 14 out of 20 categories.

She said consumers needed to stop equating a higher price with better quality. "It's a real case of read the label, read the ingredient list and just do the maths," Dr Stanton said. "You have to take an individual approach to the product."

She said basic, single-ingredient products such as rolled oats were not worth paying more for - shoppers can get the same thing for a fraction of the cost if they buy the home-brand version.

Consumers also needed to watch out for high sodium levels - with many products such as sauces and cereals containing hidden salt - and anything more than 120mg per 100g of food is considered very high.

Too much salt in the diet has been linked to high blood pressure and other health conditions.

People who are overweight also need to check the overall kilojoule content of a product, she said.

She had trouble recommending several of the labelled products with high saturated fat, sugar and salt contents, saying consumers would be better off nutritionally making sauces and soups from scratch and ditching biscuits and chocolates.Choice spokeswoman Ingrid Just said the consumer watchdog had found very little difference between the nutritional content and ingredients of home-brand and big-label products, with even packaging being imitated. ... 6442841067

Author:  kenobewan [ Mon Aug 06, 2012 5:24 am ]
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Three steps to a healthy heart

No illness takes more lives than heart disease, but there are ways you can significantly reduce your risk.

Follow the Heart Foundation's has this easy three-step plan for heart health.

1 Know your risk

According to the Heart Foundation, this is the first step towards prevention. "The good news is that heart attacks are largely preventable," says the foundation's clinical issues director, Dr Robert Grenfell. "If you know your risk, you can take steps to manage those factors that contribute to it."

Research shows that more than 90 per cent of Australian adults have at least one modifiable risk factor for heart disease, such as smoking, poor diet or being overweight, while a quarter have three or more.

Grenfell says it is also important to know the risk factors that can't be changed such as age, family history and gender. "Your doctor will calculate your risk using all your individual factors to work out what steps you should take to reduce your risk," he says.

Regular checks should start at 45 – earlier if you have risk factors such as diabetes, obesity or a family history.

2 Know the warning signs

While warning signs can vary from person to person there is one underlying fact, Grenfell says: "The sooner you get treatment, the less damage will be done."

He says the most common symptoms include:
•Pain, pressure, heaviness or tightness in the chest.
•Pain in your arms, particularly your left arm.
•Discomfort or pain in your jaw.

"There are also subtle symptoms like nausea and breathlessness, or feeling dizzy. The sad fact is 50 per cent of heart attack cases don't make it to hospital, so never ignore any of your symptoms," Grenfell says.

A Heart Foundation survey found that if people had dizziness or discomfort in the chest, only one in six would call an ambulance. Anyone experiencing heart attack warning signs for 10 minutes should call 000 immediately. For more information on warning signs visit

3 Have a healthy lifestyle

The risk of a heart attack or heart disease can be reduced with simple lifestyle changes such as:
•Exercise. Grenfell says walking 30 minutes a day can cut heart disease risk by 50 per cent. "It doesn't need to be all at once – break it up over the day."
•Quit smoking. About 40 per cent of the 15,000 smoking-related deaths a year stem from cardiovascular disease. "All the healthy steps you take to prevent a heart attack are basically negated if you smoke," Grenfell says.
•Eat a healthy, balanced diet. Replace saturated fats with mono or polyunsaturated fats and reduce salt intake to ensure blood pressure and cholesterol levels remain in healthy ranges. High blood pressure (anything with numbers of 140/90 or higher) and high cholesterol (over 6.5) are major risk factors for heart attacks, so take action now.

4 "I'm alive because I listened to my body"

Jo-lene Ellat, 28, was rushed to hospital with a heart attack six years ago.

"At 22 I was fit and I didn't drink or take drugs. We have no family history of heart attack and tests for genetic heart disorders came back clear.

"I woke up one night with a feeling of pressure on my chest, which got heavier and heavier.

I became short of breath and knew my body was desperately telling me something was wrong.

"Having a heart attack has changed my life. I've entered the Healthy Heart Challenge and have not looked back. I still exercise regularly and make healthy diet choices for me and my family." ... eart,18967

Author:  kenobewan [ Wed Aug 08, 2012 5:24 am ]
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Study links poor diet to lower IQ

Young children fed a poor diet, such as candy and pop, may develop slightly lower IQs, a new study says.

Researchers from Australia's University of Adelaide studied the eating habits of more than 7,000 children at six months, 15 months and two years, and tested their intelligence quotient at the age of eight.

Children breastfed at six months and fed a healthy diet, such as plenty of cheese, fruits and vegetables, had an IQ up to two points higher at age eight than youngsters fed poor diets in their first two years of life, Dr. Lisa Smithers said in a release Tuesday.

Smithers said researchers also found some negative impact on IQ from ready-prepared baby foods given at six months, but some positive associations when given at 24 months

"Diet supplies the nutrients needed for the development of brain tissues in the first two years of life," Smithers said.

The study was published online in the European Journal of Epidemiology. ... o-lower-iq

Author:  kenobewan [ Sun Aug 12, 2012 7:02 am ]
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Obesity campaign results on thin side

A taxpayer-funded national obesity campaign, Swap It, Don't Stop It, has had a minimal impact in preventing obesity, a new evaluation has shown.

The four-year print, television and radio campaign urged people to swap junk food for healthier options or walk to work instead of driving, all via a blue cartoon character called Eric.

The federal government evaluation of Swap It, which is the second phase of the federal government's $41 million anti-obesity campaign, showed the cut-through and reach of the campaign to its target audience of Australians aged 25 to 65, was lower than expected.

''There was evidence of a small number of positive changes in awareness, attitudes and behaviours relating to healthy lifestyles and chronic diseases and that some members of the target audiences had taken action in line with the campaign's 'how to' messages,'' the Australian National Preventive Health Agency evaluation said.

Health experts said the findings showed the campaign was a ''Band-Aid'' solution to the country's obesity problem.

The report showed 14 per cent of the target audience had ''swapped'' something in their life due to the campaign.

A Sydney dietician, Lydia Jade Turner, said the campaign took the wrong approach in preventing obesity by focusing on superficial actions that did not deal with the causes of obesity. ''The focus instead should be on promoting health-giving behaviours independent of impact on weight and shape,'' she said.

A sociologist at Sydney University, Deborah Lupton, agreed the campaign was a sticking-plaster response to obesity and did not address deeper societal issues of why people eat too much.

''What these campaigns seem to do … is they raise people's awareness and they do increase information. But there is a big difference between that and people actually making long-term changes,'' she said.

The federal government said the campaign had been effective in promoting behavioural change, a spokesman for the Health Minister, Tanya Plibersek, said.

The minister's office said a large number of Australians had engaged with the Swap It campaign, with 740,000 visits to its website and more than 50,000 people downloading the iPhone app. ... 47910.aspx

Author:  kenobewan [ Mon Aug 13, 2012 5:12 am ]
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Big tobacco push for cigarette alternatives

Big tobacco companies are investing in a new generation of smokeless alternatives to cigarettes as the industry faces growing regulatory threats across the globe.

The world’s four biggest tobacco companies outside China – Philip Morris International, British American Tobacco, Japan Tobacco International and Imperial Tobacco – are positioning themselves for an increasingly smoke-free future as they seek to entice smokers to non-combustible substitutes such as electronic cigarettes, tobacco vaporisers and nicotine inhalers over the next decade.

“It will be one of the big discussion points in the industry in coming few years,” says Peter Nixon, vice-president of communications at PMI. “We think [smokeless cigarettes] can be a significant revenue segment in the future as an alternative to cigarettes.”

The smokeless tobacco market, which also includes chewing tobacco and snuff, was worth $14bn of the $664bn world tobacco market according to Euromonitor in 2011, with cigarettes still accounting for over 90 per cent of the total.

PMI is working on plans to launch a cigarette under the Marlboro brand in 2016 where the tobacco is heated rather than burnt – thus creating less smoke and tar – to attract more health-conscious smokers.

Last year British American Tobacco set up Nicoventures, a business division devoted to smoking alternatives, which is working towards launching an inhalable pure nicotine product within the next two years or so. It believes the product will offer a safer alternative to smoking while still meeting smokers’ cravings.

“We don’t see smokeless cigarettes as being a niche product,” said David O’Reilly, BAT’s group scientific director. “This will be a major focus going forward – giving cigarette smokers a healthier alternative whilst not compromising on the taste and the sensory pleasure of smoking.”

The change in direction by tobacco companies comes as the industry faces increased regulatory pressure both in mature markets and emerging economies such as Brazil, South Africa and Uruguay. Last year Australia passed the world’s most strident anti-tobacco regulation, dubbed “plain packaging”, whereby tobacco products are sold in drab, standardised packs with graphic health warnings replacing brands. Plain packaging is also being considered in the UK and the European Union.

The biggest component of the present market for cigarette substitutes is electronic cigarettes, dubbed e-cigarettes, which are unregulated. Imperial, which last year bought an undisclosed stake in an e-cigarette company, said they are poised to expand significantly.

“There is demand from people who want to move from tobacco products … and it will keep growing,” said Alex Parsons, a spokesman for Imperial. “A couple of years ago no one was speaking about e-cigarettes, now there’s a proliferation of companies across the globe.”

Companies have invested in smokeless alternatives before with mixed results. In the 1980s the US conglomerate RJR Nabisco pioneered one of the first smokeless cigarettes, called Premier, at an estimated cost of more than $300m. But it sold poorly amid consumer concerns over the taste and smell. ... ab49a.html

Author:  kenobewan [ Tue Aug 14, 2012 5:44 am ]
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Investigation to be Carried out Against Imperial Tobacco Company

Smoke-free legislation in New Zealand does not allow give and take of cigarettes and other tobacco products. It has been found that Imperial, a tobacco company, has been found to be breaching the law.

They have been found to be providing free cigarettes to their employees and in order to know more details of the same, an investigation will be carried out. The initial research has found that the office staff is being provided cigarettes during their break.

The company officials were of the view that they do not deny of the fact that they do provide such products to their employees, but there is no ill will behind this act. They do the same to check their products.

Associate Health Minister Tariana Turia was not happy at all with the news. Turia has said that the company should have taken permission from the authorities concerned. This is the reason that Turia has announced that she has announced that she will deal with the matter.

"It's absolutely immoral behavior, and not surprising. These are organizations who essentially believe in profit before the health and well-being of the people", said Turia, who is fuming after hearing the news of Imperial. ... co-company

Author:  kenobewan [ Wed Aug 15, 2012 5:16 am ]
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Carbon tax will cut health bill: expert

A leading population health expert says politicians should embrace the benefits of tackling dangerous climate change instead of attacking the Gillard government's controversial carbon tax.

Tony McMichael, from Australian National University's College of Medicine, said on Tuesday people should be as worried about the impact of global warming on humans as they are about the threat to polar bears and pygmy possums.

But he said recent claims by Victoria's Liberal health minister, David Davis, that the carbon tax would add $13 million a year to the cost of running the state's hospitals didn't help matters.

Such comments were "appalling", "ignorant" and "mischievous", Prof McMichael said, because $13 million was a trivial 0.1 per cent of the state's annual spend.

"You can see the crudeness of that political exploitation of a society that is trying to take initial and useful steps to slow climate change in order to avert risks," he said at the launch of a report which suggests shifting to cleaner energy and transport could save the Australian community $6 billion a year in avoided health costs.

"A minister of health who holds or promulgates that sort of view ... is not fit to be a minister of health."

The Our Uncashed Dividend report cites studies which found coal-fired power in Australia costs the community $2.6 billion a year through lung, heart and nervous-system diseases.

The annual health cost of pollution from cars, trucks and other fossil-fuelled transport is estimated to be $3.3 billion.

But the report, produced by the Climate and Health Alliance and the Climate Institute, says updated figures are needed because the health dividend of tackling climate change is largely untapped.

"Economic evaluation of the health benefits of emissions reductions in Australian jurisdictions would provide economic, social and political incentives for action and help build public support for climate mitigation," the report states.

It argues the Gillard government's carbon price regime is a "welcome beginning" but much more needs to be done.

"The development of a national strategy for health in relation to climate change is needed to help manage the risks to people's health and to promote health through emissions reductions."

The report suggests tackling climate change will result in fewer hospital admissions, fewer sick days, increased productivity and improved life expectancy.

Prof McMichael told AAP cutting back on red meat was a good example of action that benefited both the climate and human health.

"Meat is a high value food in many respects but the way we breed our animals now and our preference for fairly high-fat content means it's also increasingly a contributor to (being) overweight and obesity, cardiovascular disease and diabetes."

Mr Davis hit back, saying he was not going to be deterred by eccentric professors in advocating strongly for Victoria's patients and hospitals.

On Tuesday evening he put a motion to the Victorian Legislative Council calling on the federal government to compensate Victorian health services and health providers for costs incurred under the carbon tax.

He said health services were exempt from the GST because they were recognised as a vital service and the point of the motion was not to engage in a debate on the merits of the carbon tax.

"The purpose of this debate was to point out this carbon tax would push the costs through the energy sector directly into health care," Mr Davis said.

"This will force additional costs on healthcare which will slow the ability for healthcare to grow."

Labor and Greens MPs voted against the motion.

Opposition health spokesman Gavin Jennings labelled it a stunt.

"The Health Minister in Victoria has tried to ... indicate that the health system is disadvantaged by the Commonwealth at a time when Commonwealth investment is larger than ever before," Mr Jennings told AAP. ... 2459u.html

Author:  kenobewan [ Thu Aug 16, 2012 5:34 am ]
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Star casino smoking exemption to stay

THE high rollers room at Sydney's Star casino will remain exempt from anti-smoking laws after an amendment to have it included in a new NSW ban was voted down in state parliament.

James Packer, who owns a stake in The Star through his Crown casino group, this week met with key crossbenchers from the Christian Democrats and Shooters Party to lobby against a Labor and Greens push to scrap the smoking exemption.

A smoking ban would be a big blow to attracting wealthy Asian high rollers to The Star.

It would also damage Mr Packer's push to build a "six-star" hotel and casino on Sydney's Barangaroo site, which would be targeted at the lucrative high rollers market.

The NSW upper house on Wednesday night voted for the government's suite of new smoking bans, which will from January disallow smoking in playgrounds, public sports grounds, swimming pools, transport stops and entrances to public buildings.

The new laws will also ban smoking in outdoor dining areas from 2015.

But a Labor amendment to include The Star in the smoking ban was voted down, after MPs from the Christian Democrats and Shooters Party sided with the government to retain the casino's existing smoking exemption.

The Christian Democrats' Fred Nile said he did not support a smoking ban for The Star because he had been assured no casino worker would be forced to work in the high rollers room.

"There is a waiting list of employees to work in those rooms because they are what they regard as the high standard staff area," Reverend Nile said.

His Christian Democrat colleague Paul Green defended having met Mr Packer.

"I don't care how rich or poor (a stakeholder is), they deserve a say, and the Christian Democratic Party offered that opportunity for the stakeholders to have a say," Mr Green said.

Greens MP John Kaye said The Star exemption did not respect the health and safety of people working in the high rollers rooms.

"It appears that here in NSW health runs a very poor second to Jamie Packer's lust for profits," Dr Kaye told the upper house.

"Here in NSW workers health and safety are compromised in order to feed Mr Jamie Packer's incredible desires for profits.

"It is Jamie Packer's political power in this chamber that will stop the legislation being amended."

But government MP Melinda Pavey said the health minister reviewed the exemption each year, staff would not be forced to work in the high rollers room, and banning smoking would disadvantage The Star against its interstate competitors.

"At Melbourne's Crown Casino, the Queensland casinos and Western Australia's Burswood Casino, exemptions remain in place in the private gaming areas," she said.

"These are The Star's main competition in the premium player market." ... 6451299621

Author:  kenobewan [ Fri Aug 17, 2012 5:26 am ]
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EU considers new tobacco branding rules

The European Union is considering following Australia's lead and forcing tobacco companies to pack cigarettes without prominent branding.

'We are working on a proposal to revise the tobacco products directive. Many things are being discussed, including the possibility of plain packaging,' European Commission spokesman Antony Gravili told reporters in Brussels on Thursday.

The proposal is expected to be brought forward in October or November, Gravili said. It would have to be approved by EU member states and the European Parliament.

'We are still very much at the start of the thought process. There's nothing concrete at this point,' Gravili noted. 'We are looking at a whole range of things.' ... ?id=784626

Author:  kenobewan [ Sun Aug 19, 2012 5:55 am ]
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Smokers spared higher premiums

Private health insurers have failed in a push to charge smokers higher premiums.

While the federal government triumphed over big tobacco this week, the Minister for Health, Tanya Plibersek, said smokers should not be penalised with higher premiums - and people should pay the same regardless of the state of their health. She ruled out allowing the health funds to charge smokers more.

Private insurers - led by NIB - are interested in the idea and argue it is the next step the government could take to reduce rates of smoking.

''We should be able to offer a discount for good healthy behaviour like not smoking and exercise,'' the chief executive of NIB, Mark Fitzgibbon, said.

The government last week celebrated the High Court's decision to back its tough plain-packaging laws.

Cigarettes sold in Australia after December 1 will come in dull, olive-brown packs featuring graphic health warnings following the court ruling. Brand names will be restricted to small, generic type.

The government hopes the move will further drive down Australia's smoking rate from 15 to 10 per cent of the population. However, it has no appetite to do this by changing the private health insurance system so that people who smoke would pay more for health care.

''The government requires all private health insurers to offer community-rated health insurance,'' Ms Plibersek said.

''This ensures that the premium paid by consumers for a private health insurance policy does not vary based on age or health status. This prevents private health insurers from discriminating between people who require more services and are more vulnerable to health expenses.''

Private funds are regulated by the federal government. Bound by the principle of community rating, this also means they cannot charge people more based on genetic conditions or other factors that affect their health, such as smoking or obesity.

One argument against charging smokers more is that they could be priced out of the private health market and rely more heavily on the already stretched public system.

But Mr Fitzgibbon said the aftermath of the High Court's decision provided a good opportunity to reconsider the principle of community rating.

''I can give you a discount if you use direct debit [to pay for health cover] or if you're part of a corporate group, but not on the basis of whether you're a smoker,'' he said.

A spokesman for the Bupa health fund said the company ''supports a reduction in the appeal of cigarettes and hopes this may lead to a reduction in the uptake and prevalence of smoking among Australians''.

HCF did not return The Sun-Herald's call. ... z23vgaPcmG

Author:  kenobewan [ Mon Aug 20, 2012 5:20 am ]
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Hidden hand of big tobacco leads to WTO challenge

BIG tobacco has opened a new front in its war against Australia's plain packaging law.

The World Trade Organisation has revealed that within hours of the government's victory in the High Court, Ukraine upgraded to formal a complaint against Australia's law and demanded the establishment of a disputes panel.

Australia will have to argue its case before the WTO in a hearing and appeals process that could take up to 14 months.

"It's a remarkable coincidence," the Trade Minister, Craig Emerson, said. "Ukraine was engaged in informal talks with us up until the High Court win, and then went formal."

Asked if he thought the big tobacco companies were behind Ukraine's decision, Dr Emerson said that he was "not aware of tobacco being a big industry in Ukraine, so one would wonder why it would have a big interest in this".

Ukraine, once a substantial tobacco grower, now imports tobacco to manufacture cigarettes for export, mainly to Europe. ... 24gjo.html

Author:  kenobewan [ Wed Aug 22, 2012 5:26 am ]
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Big Tobacco's care all smoke and mirrors

SURELY we're being far too tough on Big Tobacco, as so many disparagingly refer to it, following the failure of its High Court challenge to the plain packaging legislation. If we'd only open our minds to what British American Tobacco and the others are saying, we'd see how remarkably public spirited they are.

They're worried not for themselves, but about the ''serious unintended consequences'' they fear plain packaging will bring. According to their spokesman, Scott McIntyre, its only benefit will be to ''organised crime groups which sell illegal tobacco on our streets''.

Huh? ''The illegal black market will grow further when all packs look the same and are easier to copy,'' he says.

In case you hadn't heard, this country faces a rampant illicit tobacco problem, with ''criminal gangs now smuggling three times the amount of counterfeit and contraband cigarettes into Australia'' last year, compared with the year before.

Overall, the illegal tobacco market is equal to 13.4 per cent of the legal market. How does the industry know? It commissioned a report from Deloitte, a financial services firm.

The industry has been terribly concerned about the illicit tobacco market for some years. Why? Not for itself, of course, but for what it's costing the taxpayer in lost tobacco excise. Last year, almost $1 billion, according to Deloitte.

You've often seen me criticise industries trying to hit the taxpayer for subsidies, but with the tobacco people it's all the other way. Last year they ran ads desperately trying to dissuade the government from persisting with its plain packaging notion and thereby obliging the industry to cost the taxpayer millions in legal fees responding to the High Court challenge - not to mention the billions the government stood to lose in compensation should the court agree the government had appropriated the industry's intellectual property.

Fortunately, the court didn't agree. It also awarded costs against the industry - which I'm sure will come as a great relief to the public-spirited tobacco people.

But the industry's concern for the taxpayer doesn't end there. It opposed the 25 per cent increase in the tobacco excise in 2010 because of the hit to revenue it would cause as the jump in the price of legal cigarettes forced more of the market into the hands of the cut-price criminal black market.

You may think plain packaging will reduce the number of young people taking up smoking, but that's where you'd be wrong. As the industry explained in ads last year, plain packaging ''could drive the cost of [legal] tobacco down. Because with no branding, companies will have no option but to compete on price. And lower prices will make tobacco more accessible to young adults''.

The boss of British American elaborated elsewhere that this was a worry because it would undermine government health initiatives to curb tobacco consumption. See what caring people we're dealing with?

I think plain packaging may force down the prices of ''premium-brand'' cigarettes. That wouldn't be a good thing, but it would be easily (and lucratively) remedied by increasing the tobacco excise.

The tobacco companies aren't the only critics. According to the Australian Retailers Association, ''retailers now face the costs of plain packaging transactions which will see a significant increase in the time taken to complete … as all products will be near identical''.

''Transaction time increases are estimated to cost businesses up to half a billion dollars, which is the equivalent of 15,000 jobs,'' we're told. No back of an envelope was offered in support of this remarkable claim, in which case I'd be inclined to view it with scepticism.

But what about the supposedly booming black market - how worried should we be about it? Not very. We've really only got the industry's word for how big it is, and a detailed critique by Quit Victoria casts doubt on the reliability of the report from Deloitte.

Deloitte's calculations are built on a poll with a very small sample, which doesn't seem completely random.

It asks smokers about their purchases of unbranded tobacco (mainly loose tobacco in plastic bags), contraband cigarettes (those imported without excise payment) and counterfeit cigarettes (those with fake brand-names) and adds their answers together, even though you'd expect virtually all counterfeit smokes also to be contraband.

How do people know the cigarettes they've bought are illicit? Because of perceived poor quality, low prices, labelling in foreign languages and a different taste. Trouble is, these days a lot of cheap, foreign-made, funny-looking cigarettes are imported legally.

According to Quit Victoria, Deloitte's estimates imply one cigarette in eight is illicit. That's a bit hard to swallow.

Quit Victoria uses an official survey by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare in 2010, which had a very much bigger sample, to estimate the total use of illicit tobacco products is more like 2-3 per cent of the overall market.

This implies the revenue forgone by the taxpayer is closer to $165 million a year than $1 billion.

I'm sure taxpayers everywhere thank the industry for its concern on our behalf, but I don't think we need to be losing too much sleep over it. ... z24D7336xn

Author:  kenobewan [ Thu Aug 23, 2012 5:27 am ]
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Epidemic of plain packaging to curb smoking uptake

Here's a potential epidemic worth celebrating. Australia's High Court has upheld 'plain packaging' legislation for cigarettes – a move that some say will see the practice sweep through the world.

The legislation forces cigarette packages to carry prominent health warnings and a plain font over an olive green background – logos would no longer be allowed.

"The ramifications really are immense," says Mike Daube at Curtin University in Perth, Western Australia. "There's a domino effect in tobacco control."

Daube says there will now be an "epidemic of plain packaging" across the globe. He says bans on smoking on flights seemed impossible but they spread once one airline took the plunge.

According to Jonathan Liberman, director of the McCabe Centre for Law and Cancer in Melbourne, Australia, the decision will have a global impact. "[It shows] that all the tobacco companies' arguments came to naught and the world needs to consider the arguments in that light."

Whether that impact extends to the US remains to be seen. "The US is a unique situation," says Kevin Outterson of Boston University School of Law, who specialises in healthcare policy.

He says the US Supreme Court is "openly suspicious" of precedents set in other countries. Moreover, it has come to consider "commercial speech" as protected under the first amendment right to free speech.

"Many countries in Europe and elsewhere are proposing similar legislation and have been faced by similar claims that this is somehow an expropriation of the tobacco companies' intellectual property rights," says John Burman, senior legal adviser at Cancer Research UK.

He says the Australian decision can be cited in US and UK courts, and he thinks it is likely to have some influence. ... ptake.html

Author:  kenobewan [ Sat Aug 25, 2012 6:02 am ]
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Tasmania in bid to phase out tobacco sales

TASMANIA'S upper house is calling for a ban on cigarette sales to anyone born after the year 2000.

The state's legislative council has unanimously backed a motion that would effectively start phasing out tobacco sales from 2018, the ABC has reported.

The ban would begin taking effect once people born in 2000 turned 18.

Independent MP Ivan Dean said the move would stop young people from taking up the habit.

"This would mean that we would have a generation of people not exposed to tobacco products,'' he said.

The move comes less than a week after the High Court ruled in favour of the federal government's introduction of plain packaging for cigarettes.

Tasmanian health minister Michelle O'Byrne has asked the state's Commissioner for Children to look at the proposal, the report said.

Tasmania has the highest rates of smoking in Australia. ... 6455647270

Author:  kenobewan [ Sun Aug 26, 2012 5:27 am ]
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Losing the battle in a country where tobacco sponsors schools

FEW people outside China have heard of the world's biggest tobacco company, which is so powerful it can brazenly engrave false advertising in huge letters on primary school walls.

''Tobacco nurtures talent,'' said the slogan on the quadrangle wall at a school in Guang'an city, which is co-sponsored by the China Tobacco Corp and Project Hope of the Communist Youth League.

When the students at Sichuan Tobacco Hope School reach the peak of their careers, in about 2050, the number of smoking-related deaths in China will have tripled to about 3 million a year, according to the World Health Organisation.

The existence of dozens of new tobacco-sponsored schools is an example of how new public health measures are being outmuscled by the world's biggest tobacco company.

The multinational companies known as ''Big Tobacco'' are famous for their capacity to lobby governments. But in China there is just one company, China Tobacco Corp, and it is government-owned. Tobacco Corp has a near-total monopoly on the 2.3 trillion cigarettes sold under 900 brands to 301 million Chinese smokers each year.

Together with its sister organisation, the State Tobacco Monopoly Administration, it controls 43 per cent of the world's tobacco production and 38 per cent of its cigarettes.

The Chinese tobacco bureaucracy directly employs half a million people, generates taxes and profits of about $9 billion a month and is diversifying its monopoly profits into hotels and private equity funds.

China Tobacco's political clout is illustrated by the fact that its vice president, expected to be promoted to president, is the younger brother of the expected next Chinese premier, Li Keqiang.

''I don't think there's any country in the world that would even dream of tobacco companies sponsoring schools,'' said Michael Eriksen, director of the Institute of Public Health at Georgia State University in the US. ''China is the centre of the global battle ground of tobacco control.''

Smoking is a male occupation in China, involving more than half of Chinese men and 2.4 per cent of women. More women die from second-hand smoke than smoking directly, Professor Eriksen said.

''The fear is that China follows the developed world so that women smoke as much as men,'' he said. ''That would be an unmitigated public disaster.''

In May, China's Ministry of Health released its first tobacco report, which showed the smoking rate among people aged from 15 to 69 had declined by just 0.08 per cent from 2002 to 2010. The figures imply that the absolute number of smokers in that group has risen, in line with a growing population. Public health advocates have made inroads with bans on advertising and smoking in public places.

Suo Chao, press director at the Chinese Association of Tobacco Control, said the tobacco industry had taken advantage of China's ''incomplete legal system'' to undermine new advertising restrictions.

She points to ''covert'' campaigns including patriotic rebranding with ''I Love China'' cigarettes and the sponsoring of sports and entertainment events and at least 35 schools.

Michael O'Leary, director of the World Health Organisation in China, said raising the price of cigarettes by hiking the cigarette excise from the current 27 per cent towards world standards, about 70 per cent, would have the biggest change in the shortest time. ''A single cigarette in Australia is almost as expensive as the average pack of cigarettes in China,'' he said, adding an average packet of cigarettes costs 5 yuan (A75¢) in China but approached $19 in Australia.

Zhong Nanshan, a respiratory specialist who helped uncover the extent of the SARS outbreak a decade ago, warned of interference by the tobacco industry.

''The organisation that produces and sells tobacco is the same organisation that participates in tobacco control, Dr Zhong, at China's Academy of Engineering, told the China Daily. ''The production puts profits first, but tobacco control puts people's health first … I don't understand why they are together.''

But the public awareness campaigns are having some impact.

The principal at Sichuan Tobacco Hope School declined to answer questions. The recently retired village party chief said the school had changed its name and taken down the ad about tobacco nurturing talent after photographs recently appeared on the internet. ... 24tnv.html

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