вторник, 29 сентября 2009 г.

FDA bans flavored cigarettes to fight smoking by youths

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration banned flavored cigarettes last week in an attempt to stop teenagers and young adults from becoming dependent on tobacco.
One of the FDA's first acts under the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, a new law expanding the administration's right to regulate the tobacco industry, was to ban flavored tobacco Tuesday. This includes tobacco with a fruit or candy flavor, as well as clove cigarettes.
Menthol is excluded from the ban, but in a statement by the FDA, officials said they are looking for ways to regulate other tobacco products.
The new law also requires tobacco companies to post larger warning labels on packs of cigarettes and gives the FDA the power to demand lower amounts of nicotine and to control the type of advertisements on cigarettes.
Flavored tobacco was banned nationwide after the FDA found that teen smoking is often linked to it. According to a study cited by the administration, 17-year-olds are three times as likely to use flavored cigarettes than smokers over 25.
"Flavored cigarettes attract and allure kids into lifetime addiction," said U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary for Health Howard K. Koh. "FDA's ban on these cigarettes will break that cycle for the more than 3,600 young people who start smoking daily."
Earlier this year the Lee County Health Department spearheaded the Tobacco Free Lee initiative, one that plans to cut tobacco use in the county. Currently, 20 percent of adults in the county smoke and the amount of youth using tobacco is higher than the state average.
In a behavioral risk survey given to Lee County students, 5.7 percent in middle school and 18.4 percent in high school said they have smoked in the last 30 days. Statewide, the amount is 5 percent for middle school and 14.5 percent for high school.
Women are also more likely than men to smoke in Lee County, 22.6 percent of women compared to 16.4 percent of men.
Major tobacco companies, including R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., Lorillard Inc. and other smaller companies, have filed a lawsuit against the FDA claiming that restrictions in the law are violating their First Amendment rights. Not every company sells flavored tobacco, but those that do are poised to lose millions of dollars.
Earlier this year the Florida Legislature issued a $1 tax on cigarette packs to not only raise funding for health programs, but to curb younger smokers from developing a dangerous habit. This also includes a 60 percent surcharge on wholesale tobacco.

пятница, 25 сентября 2009 г.

Retailers warned against selling single cigarettes

State agencies are warning tobacco retailers to stop selling individual cigarettes that can be as cheap as 25 cents a piece, but pose a health threat to young people.
The state Attorney General's Office has notified 23 retailers who are allegedly selling single cigarettes that have been removed from the packs, called "loosies."
Retailers could face penalties up to $1,000 per violation for selling single cigarettes. Because of the low price of single cigarettes, health officials are concerned it may attract young people as an easy, affordable way to start smoking.

среда, 23 сентября 2009 г.

Washoe officials predict more budget cuts in 2010-11

Washoe County expects to cut spending in the 2010-11 budget after making severe cuts in the current year.
And it could take more than a decade for county property taxes to return to pre-recession levels because of state property tax limits, officials said.
With home values cut in half, Assistant County Manager David Childs said property taxes are expected to decline significantly in 2010-11 starting in July. But as property values eventually increase, he said property taxes will be slow to recoup because of a 3 percent cap on residential property taxes paid each year.
"So, the county could see a significant decline in property tax revenues that could take over a decade before revenues recover to anything near pre-recession levels," Childs said.
Childs was cited in a report by the International City/County Management Association about how communities are dealing with the recession. Washoe County was among five governments profiled in the report.
"We are hopeful that aggressive cuts made in 2009-10 will minimize the need for draconian cuts in 2010-11. However, it is expected that there will be more cutting that needs to be done."
Loss of property taxes
The county work force shrunk by 500 employees to about 2,690 employees. Since July, 100 workers were laid off and 150 retired early. Raises were eliminated over two years, and workers have agreed to take a 2.5 percent pay cut for most of 2009.
County parks have lost half of their budget, and county libraries are in a similar situation.
Budget Manager Darin Conforti said it's too early to talk about budget cuts for next year, but it is one of several scenarios under study. Without some growth in sales taxes, he expects that the budget will have to be trimmed.
"The harder one is what's going on with sales taxes," he said. "We have had such a sustained decline."
For 2009-10, property taxes are 47.7 percent of revenues, budgeted at $205.7 million. That's up from $196.6 million in the last fiscal year.
Retail sales, cigarette and alcohol taxes and the county's share of motor vehicle registration fees have been in decline for 33 of the past 36 months, including double-digit declines during the past 13 months. They comprise about a third of the county's revenues.
Conforti said county finance officials met with county Assessor Josh Wilson and Treasurer Bill Berrum last week to get earlier estimates for property taxes for next year.
Lower property values and countywide sales taxes also would affect budgets for Reno and Sparks.
Wilson cut residential values 15 percent countywide for the current fiscal year to reflect the tumble in housing prices. Based on initial reappraisals, he said Monday that residential values could be cut another 15 percent for the next fiscal year in July 2010.
Of 171,500 parcels in the county, Wilson said almost half are vacant. New construction is not subject to the tax limits, and commercial properties are under an 8 percent cap. It's too early to speculate on those values, he said.

понедельник, 21 сентября 2009 г.

Cancer society cuts Oneida ties over cigarettes

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — The American Cancer Society says it's severing ties with the Oneida Indian Nation, jeopardizing the organization's annual Coaches vs. Cancer fundraiser at the tribe's Turning Stone Resort and Casino.
The announcement came after the Oneidas said they've bought a cigarette manufacturing plant and will make their own cigarettes to sell.
The Cancer Society has been criticized in the past for holding the fundraiser at Turning Stone because the resort allows smoking and the nation sells tax-free cigarettes. The annual gala raised $325,000 this year for the cancer society.
Syracuse University Coach Jim Boeheim, a cancer survivor who sits on the national board of Coaches vs. Cancer and hosts the event, said Thursday he disagrees with the cancer society's decision.

четверг, 17 сентября 2009 г.

NY Indian Smoke Shops Feel the Heat

Judge’s ruling requires Indian reservation smoke shops to begin collecting tobacco taxes on sales to non-Indians by September 24.
NEW YORK – Having sold one in every seven packs of cigarettes in New York as recently as 2007 because it wasn’t required to assess state tobacco excise taxes, the Poospatuck Indian reservation has found its tobacco operations in serious jeopardy, as New York will begin a legal battle to assess tobacco taxes on reservation sales, the Associated Press reports.
Later this month, Poospatuck stores are supposed to begin collecting taxes for the first time, because of a federal judge’s ruling that untaxed tobacco sales to non-Indians are illegal.
The Poospatuck case is being watched closely by other states that are looking for ways to collect taxes on reservation sales to non-Indians.
At issue is what federal investigators call “buttleggers” — those who operate with the assistance of storeowners to buy large quantities of reservation smokes and resell them in the New York City at a markup. The profit margin at stake is wide — in New York City, a carton of cigarettes costs roughly $95, which includes $42.50 in state and local taxes.


"There's no difference between the cigarette business and the drug business. It's the same type of individuals involved," said Kyron Hodges, a former drug dealer from Brooklyn who has been transporting tax-free cigarettes from the Poospatuck reservation to the city. "I took all of my street knowledge and applied it to cigarettes."


In recent years, police have arrested more than 200 non-Indians leaving the Poospatuck reservation with cigarettes (by law, New York allows Indian merchants to sell tax-free cigarettes only to tribe members). However, the law has never been applied against the Indian smoke shops, despite what New York officials estimate at a $700 million a year loss in state and local tax revenue.


Things are beginning to come to a head, though. In an August 25 ruling, a U.S. District Judge ordered Poospatuck stores to begin collecting taxes on sales to non-Indians within 30 days. And Philip Morris ordered its wholesalers last year to cease selling its products to shops on the Poospatuck reservation because of smuggling.


"After 20 years of ever-worsening cigarette tax evasion in New York, the pendulum finally seems to be swinging in the direction of tax fairness," said James Calvin, president of the New York Association of Convenience Stores. "Experience has taught us not to get overconfident that the cigarette tax evasion epidemic will be cured, but the signs are encouraging."


One store on Poospatuck has already closed, and three others face uncertain futures.

вторник, 15 сентября 2009 г.

Smoking ban at beach bad for local businesses

Something I find to be several times more disgusting than cigarette butts left at the beach is Susan Kepner's efforts to try and ban smoking completely at the beach with her possible bill. I'm a non-smoker and believe a bill such as the one she is drafting would drastically kill tourism at the beach and hurt small businesses and treats people who smoke as lesser human beings.

This is the Live Free or Die state and legislators such as herself are trying to take away the citizens' personal liberties. Not every smoker is leaving their cigarette butts behind, so it would be insolent of us to punish all smokers for what a small fraction of them decide to do. Additionally, non-smokers leave plenty of trash behind at the beach and yet we don't see any lawmakers trying to place a ban on bringing plastic bottles or paper onto the beach, which take just as long as cigarette filters to decompose.

I believe this bill would ultimately discourage a large portion of tourists from coming to Hampton Beach, which would contribute to a large drop in revenue for our small businesses who create jobs and fuel our community's economy. Maybe instead of banning smoking completely, we could work on ways to make cigarettes easier to dispose of, such as positioning proper cigarette disposal units across our state parks. We can all agree that littering is a huge problem on our state beaches, but an outright ban of smoking is not the right way to go about solving such a problem.

пятница, 11 сентября 2009 г.

Cigarette smuggler jailed for £116k operation

A cigarette smuggling man from Sunningdale has been jailed for his part in a £116,000 counterfeit operation.
Michael Ali, 60, of Cross Road, was sentenced to 18 months in prison at Leeds Crown Court.
Ali was part of a five-man gang that tried to import cigarettes from Belgium, intended for sale in Yorkshire and the North West.
The gang were foiled by officers from the HM Revenue and Customs after their plan to use a Yorkshire-based textile firm's identity was rumbled.
They had hidden cigarettes among bath and tea towels which were then uncovered by officers as they were being unloaded at a self-storage depot in Pontefract, Yorkshire.
More than half a million Blue Superking cigarettes were found in boxes, thought to be worth an estimated £116,000 in lost excise duty and VAT.
The four other members involved in the smuggling operation were also found guilty of the offence and sentenced to various periods behind bars or durations of community service.
Ali had pleaded guilty to all the charges at Leeds Crown Court on November 3 last year.

среда, 9 сентября 2009 г.

Cigarette Thief Sought

Pickens County deputies continue to search for a man who broke into a convenience store and swiped dozens of cartons of cigarettes.
The burglary happened at the Sav-A-Ton at 3790 Calhoun Memorial Highway in Easley at 2:22 a.m. on Aug. 17.
Security video shows a white male in his mid to late 20s, wearing a pink poncho, shorts and a rag wrapped around his forehead.
The burglar also carried a white and green plaid bag that he used to carry the cigarettes.
Deputies say it appeared the man had used a cinder block to break out a plexiglass door, and then crawled through the opening.
Anyone with information on the theft is asked to call the Pickens County Sheriff's Office.

понедельник, 7 сентября 2009 г.

Cigarettes To Have Larger, More Graphic Warning Labels

EL PASO, Texas -- The written warning label printed on cigarette packages will be replaced with a much larger label that shows graphic images of smoking's side effects.
The new regulations are part of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act passed in June.
The law calls for new labels to cover at least half of the front and back of each package and to contain images.
Smoker Marco Kato, of west El Paso, is part of the 21 percent of Americans who smoke daily, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"I probably buy a pack every other day," said Kato. "Sometimes more on the weekends."
He said he never looks at the current warning label on cigarettes. The drastic change in labeling is supposed to change that.
"I think it's a great idea," said Natie Castillo, of west El Paso. "Maybe it will give an incentive for people to think about it before they light up and smoke."
The new labels will be more in line with those produced in most foreign countries. Labels from Canada show graphic images of various forms of cancer and even death.
"I think that's great," said Tara Kahn, of west El Paso. "It's a picture, you know. You're not just reading the words, you're actually putting the words and the picture together so you're seeing the effects of it."
But Kato said most smokers are aware of the dangers, and no warning, despite how graphic, will be able to shake the addiction.
"I don't think the label would change my mind," said Kato. "I think prices will probably change people's minds."
The FDA has up to two years to develop the new labels. Then tobacco companies have 18 months to start printing them on the packages.

четверг, 3 сентября 2009 г.

Connecticut Cigarette Tax Increase Delivers Victory for Kids and Taxpayers; $1 Increase...

Connecticut's leaders have taken decisive action to protect the state's kids
and taxpayers from the devastating toll of tobacco use by increasing the state
cigarette tax by $1 to $3.00 per pack, making it the second highest state
cigarette tax in the nation (Rhode Island's tax is $3.46 per pack).
Connecticut is also increasing its tax rates on most other tobacco products,
but they still remain shamefully low compared to the state's exemplary new tax
rate on cigarettes. Increased tobacco taxes are a win-win-win solution for
Connecticut and every other state - a health win that will reduce tobacco use
and save lives, a financial win that will raise revenue to help alleviate
budget shortfalls, and a political win that polls show is popular with the
voters.

The evidence is clear that increasing the cigarette tax is one of the most
effective ways to reduce smoking, especially among kids. Studies show that
every 10 percent increase in the price of cigarettes reduces youth smoking by
more than six percent and overall cigarette consumption by about 4 percent.
Connecticut can expect the $1 cigarette tax increase to prevent 24,000
Connecticut kids from becoming addicted adult smokers; spur 10,000 current
adult Connecticut smokers to quit for good; save more than 10,500 Connecticut
residents from future smoking-caused deaths; lock in more than $520 million
future health care savings; and raise about $60 million a year in new state
revenue.

By failing to raise taxes on other tobacco products to match its new cigarette
tax, Connecticut's legislators have chosen not to take advantage of a golden
opportunity to raise a lot more money; money that could be used to increase
funding for the state's tobacco prevention program and to help provide
cessation assistance through the state's Medicaid program. Connecticut
continues to be one of the last states to not provide any cessation coverage
for its Medicaid recipients, and is still near the bottom of all the states
with regard to tobacco prevention funding.

Governor Jodi Rell proposed the increase in the cigarette tax this session.
The state Legislature approved the tobacco tax increase this week and Governor
Rell is allowing the budget to become law without her signature. By supporting
a higher cigarette tax, Connecticut's leaders have taken action that will
improve the health of Connecticut residents for generations to come and
continue the state's leadership in the fight against tobacco use, the No. 1
cause of preventable death in the United States. The tobacco tax increases
take effect on October 1.

Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death and disease in
Connecticut, claiming 4,700 lives each year and costing the state $1.63
billion annually in health care bills, including $430 million in Medicaid
payments alone. Government expenditures related to tobacco amount to a hidden
tax of $680 each year on every Connecticut household. While Connecticut has
made significant progress in reducing youth smoking, 21.1 percent of
Connecticut high school students smoke, and 4,600 more kids become regular
smokers every year.

With Connecticut's tax increase, the average state cigarette tax is now $1.34
per pack. Connecticut is the second state with a cigarette tax of $3 or more,
Rhode Island being the first. Fourteen states and the District of Columbia
will now have cigarette tax rates of $2 per pack or more, and 26 states and DC
have cigarette tax rates of $1 per pack or more. South Carolina (a tobacco
growing state) remains the lowest-tax state with a cigarette tax of only seven
cents per pack. Only three states besides South Carolina have failed to raise
their cigarette tax since before 2000: California (1999), Missouri (1993),
North Dakota (1993) and South Carolina (1977).

вторник, 1 сентября 2009 г.

Health report to recommend higher 'sin taxes'

A major health care report to be released by the Federal Government today is expected to call for higher taxes on cigarettes and alcohol.
The Preventative Health taskforce report has been with the Government for several months and is also likely to recommend plans to curb the rate of obesity in Australia, including changes to the way food is marketed and produced.
It is the third and final in a series of reports commissioned by the Government when it came to office. But the Government is yet to respond to any of them.
The Government is already facing calls to put whatever extra revenue is raised through higher taxes directly back into prevention measures.
It will be the second major health report put out in as many days, following yesterday's release of the draft of a National Primary Health care strategy.
The head of the Australian Medical Association, Dr Andrew Pesce, says there is a lot of overlap between the two areas and he wants today's report to recommend changes to funding for GPs and other health professionals.
"We need to identify funding models which allow GPs and health practitioners to spend the time with their patients, which currently isn't remunerated adequately, to make sure that they can incorporate good preventative health strategies into the healthcare plans for those people," he said.
Dr Pesce says the Government's response also needs to go beyond the idea of so-called "sin taxes" on cigarettes and alcohol.
"They are important, but they're old ideas and I think we're working on the law of diminishing returns in those areas," he said.
He says obesity is the next big challenge, with significant changes needed in the way food is sold to people.
"It's pretty obvious if you look around, that Australians are fatter, children are fatter, they need to be convinced to adopt the lifestyle changes."
The director of the Institute of Health Economics and Technology Assessment, Paul Gross, agrees that obesity should be the main target for a preventative health strategy.
He says the Government will need to consider more creative solutions, rather than just raising taxes.
"Elsewhere in the world, governments, employers and others are offering incentives to individuals to lose weight, and they are losing weight and holding their weight loss," he said.
"We haven't even tried that yet."
But he says any money raised through higher taxes must be quarantined for prevention programs to ensure they are adequately funded.
"People might pay more for something where they can see what the use of the money might be," he said.
"But they will not be happy if we just hit people with cigarette taxes and alcohol taxes where the revenue is used in some way they can't see."
Along with the National Hospitals and Health Reform Commission Report, the Government now has three reviews of the health system awaiting its response.
But with the Henry review of taxation not due until the end of this year, any decision on new preventative measures may take some time.
The health reports will be considered by state and federal governments at a Coalition of Australian Governments meeting next month.