среда, 27 апреля 2011 г.

Smokers Undeterred By Long Term Cost of Smoking

Back in 1980, smoking was a lot cheaper. The price of a pack of cigarettes was $.64. Today, the cost has jumped to an average of $3.70.
The West Virginia Health Statistics Center released a study Thursday that says someone who has smoked for 30 years will have spent more than $31,000 over the years.

A startling statistic, even for smokers.

"I've never really thought of it like that," said Dana LaFond. "My habit costs me about $200 to $250 per month."

"It's a lot of money that can be spent on other things," said Bruce Adkins, Director of Division of Tobacco Prevention with the Bureau for Public Health. "The common sense part is to save your money. Spend it on something much more worthy than your addiction."

Smokers, though, even when told about the studies findings, argue their money is being spent on something they enjoy.

"That money is being spent on something used to make me comfortable," said LaFond. "Just like a new pair of clothes. It's in my comfort zone."

The study shows that if a smoker were to take all of the money spent on cigarettes and invest it, it would be worth more than $267,000.

Cigarette prices may rise by 83% next year

The price of local cigarettes could go up by as much as 83 percent next year based on estimates drawn up by the Finance Department on the seven excise tax bills pending in Congress.

Finance compared revenue estimates and price increases under several proposals to reform the excise tax on alcohol and tobacco products now lodged with the House Committee on Ways and Means.

Finance said the price of local cigarettes could increase by 82.9 percent in 2012 if the government opted for House Bill 3465 filed by Batanes Rep. Henedina Abad and HB 3489 by Iloilo Rep. Niel Tupas Jr., both seeking to restructure the excise tax system.

House Bill 3465 seeks a uniform excise tax system and the indexation of tobacco excise tax to inflation, while HB 3489 wants to increase and unify the tax rate and adjust it annually to present values using the consumer price index.

HB 3183 filed by Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez, which seeks to reduce cigarette classification to two-tiered rates, will translate into a 72.2-percent increase in the price of local cigarettes in 2012. HB 3059 filed by Batangas Rep. Hermilando Mandanas seeking an equitable sharing of costs and benefits in the alcohol and tobacco industry will push up the price of local cigarettes by 59 percent next year.

Finance further projected a 20.1-percent increase in the price of local cigarettes if the government adopts House Bill 2687 filed by Negros Oriental Reps. Jocelyn Limkaichong, George Arnaiz and Pryde Henry Teves. The bill seeks the indexation of the rates using the appropriate price index for tobacco and alcohol and proposes a unitary tax rate for each category of alcohol and tobacco products.

Ukiah man arrested, charged with making threats over cigarettes

A Mendocino County man accusing another man of stealing his cigarettes landed in jail after he threatened to kill the man by slitting his throat, sheriff's officials reported.

Deputies arrested Paul Gregory Smith, 39, of Ukiah Saturday evening on suspicion he made criminal threats.

A 60-year-old Ukiah man told deputies Smith was accusing him of stealing cigarettes and had threatened to kill him by cutting his throat, officials said.

Two witnesses also corroborated the events and Smith was taken to the jail. He was booked in lieu of $15,000 bail.

вторник, 5 апреля 2011 г.

BBMP will ask police to ban hookah bars

After the dancing, it is the turn of the hookah that will be on the ‘banned’ list of the city.
The Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) on Tuesday decided to ban hookahs in the city.
Saying that hookah was “not part of our culture”, Yediyur ward corporator N R Ramesh said the habit was turning into an addiction for the youth.
“It is a very unhealthy habit and the coal used for burning is very dangerous when inhaled,” he said. “There are many places that serve marijuana, opium and other narcotics,” he said and demanded that hookah bars be banned.
Stating that there was only one hookah bar in Istanbul that followed the actual traditions and practices of the culture, he said no other hookah place in the world has adhered to the norms.
The predicament was different for Deputy Commissioner (Health) Ramchandramurthy who said Hookah bars did not come under the list of trades in the Karnataka Municipal Corporation Act 1976.
Though the Mayor announced that all hookah bars would be banned in the city, they said that they would urge Commissioner Siddaiah to write to the city police commissioner to implement the ban and probe allegations of the sale of drugs at such places.

Can Marijuana Users Pack Heat?

It’s an only-in-America, constitutional mash-up: gun rights and medical marijuana on the same bill!

That’s right, an Oregon case tackles an issue that, we suppose, had to be addressed at some point: Can medical marijuana users carry concealed guns?

Here’s the story, courtesy of AP.

Cynthia Wills, 54, has a medical marijuana permit to treat arthritis and muscle spasms. She also has a permit to carry a concealed handgun.

Oregon police, AP reports, have tried to take away Willis’s gun, prompting Willis to fire back with a lawsuit, joined by three co-plaintiffs. The case is pending in the Oregon Supreme Court.

“Under the medical marijuana law, I am supposed to be treated as any other citizen in this state,” said Willis, a retired school bus driver whose gun of choice is a Walther P-22. “If people don’t stand up for their little rights, all their big rights will be gone.”

State sheriffs, according to AP, say that federal gun laws prohibit firearm sales to drug addicts, a term that includes medical marijuana users, they contend.

“The whole medical marijuana issue is a concern to sheriffs across the country . . . because there is so much potential for abuse or for misuse and as a cover for organized criminal activity,” Washington County Sheriff Rob Gordon told AP.

Gordon’s office rejected three medical marijuana patients in the Portland suburbs who applied for concealed handgun permits.

If Willis loses, she plans to carry her pistol out in the open, in a holster on her hip, which is legal under Oregon law, according to AP.

“I’ve been done harm in my life and it won’t ever happen again,” she said, explaining why she carries a gun.

A Cigarette for 75 Cents, 2 for $1: The Brisk, Shady Sale of ‘Loosies'

By 8:30 a.m., amid the procession of sleepy-eyed office workers and addicts from the nearby methadone clinic, Lonnie Loosie plants himself in the middle of the sidewalk on Eighth Avenue in Midtown. Addressing no one in particular, he calls out his one-size-fits-all greeting: “Newports, Newports, packs and loosies.”

Rarely does a minute go by without a customer stopping just long enough to pass a dollar bill to Lonnie Loosie, known to the police by his given name, Lonnie Warner, 50. They clench the two “loosies” — as single cigarettes are called — that he thrusts back in return.

Soon Mr. Warner’s two partners, both younger men, arrive for the day and fan out along the same block. By midmorning, the block to the south is occupied by Carlton, who sells loosies, as does Carlton’s younger brother, Norman, 54.

A few blocks north, another man sells cigarettes near a check-cashing storefront. Add to these a few roving vendors who poach territory when they can.

Itinerant cigarette vendors have long been a fixture in some parts of the city, like bodegas that sell individual cigarettes in violation of state law. But with cigarette prices up and the number of smoke-friendly places down, the black market for loosies is now thriving on the streets.

The administration of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has outlawed smoking in restaurants, bars and playgrounds, and outside hospital entrances. Even city parks, beaches and pedestrian plazas are now off limits to smokers. Then there have been successive rounds of taxes — the most recent one, a $1.60 rise in the state tax in July — that raised the price of a pack of cigarettes to $12.50 at many Midtown newsstands.

“The tax went up, and we started selling 10 times as much,” Mr. Warner said. “Bloomberg thinks he’s stopping people from smoking. He’s just turning them onto loosies.”

Mr. Warner and his partners patrol the east side of Eighth Avenue, from 35th to 36th Street. He started out on Seventh Avenue, but eventually moved a block west, in front of Staples at 35th. “You look for the crowd,” he said.

Mr. Warner said he believed that the official price was above what many people were willing or able to pay. As evidence, he noted that his customers included office workers from as far south as 32nd Street and as far north as 40th Street — people with good-paying jobs, as far as he can discern.

Mr. Warner said he bought his cigarettes — almost always Newports — for a bit over $50 a carton from smugglers who get them in states like Virginia, where the state tax is well under a dollar a pack. He then resells them for 75 cents each, two for $1 or $8 for a pack ($7 for friends).

Mr. Warner said he and each of his two partners took home $120 to $150 a day, profit made from selling about 2,000 cigarettes, mostly two at a time. Each transaction is a misdemeanor offense.

Cities must be able to opt out of marijuana shops

A month ago, the state Senate approved a bill with sensible rules for the prescribing and distribution of medical marijuana. Not perfect, but you could tell the senators were trying.
Since then, marijuana advocates in the House have busied themselves undermining key regulations in the Senate bill.
What ought to alarm the public most is the House’s attempt to restrict any local control of the sale of marijuana. The Senate had explicitly required that “dispensers must be licensed and approved by the counties and cities in which they are located.” It also required that they be nonprofits.
That language is gone from the House version. So-called dispensaries would be able to sell the drug for profit – and the state would have sole control over licensing. No county or city in Washington would be able to stop state-licensed commercial marijuana outlets from opening within their boundaries.
Seattle appears content to have as many medical marijuana dealers as are willing to set up shop there. But should these outlets be imposed, potentially, on any community in the state? Under the House bill, if Puyallup or Sumner or University Place don’t want marijuana retailers, tough luck.
Two other revisions in the House bill reflect the same mentality:
• The Senate was careful to protect police officers and the taxpayers from lawsuits by medical marijuana users and sellers who felt wronged by enforcement actions. Its bill required that plaintiffs establish “proof of misconduct” before collecting damages.
The House bill wouldn’t require such proof; it lets plaintiffs win on much broader grounds by arguing that officers didn’t act in “good faith” or “within the scope of their duties.” Faced with such broad liability, local governments (i.e., taxpayers) would often pay settlements rather than risk losing cases.
• The Senate made a serious effort to shut down “authorization mills” – medical clinics that do little but hand out hand out authorizations to use marijuana, sometimes offering money-back guarantees to anyone who doesn’t walk away with a license to use.
The Senate bill forbade medical practices that consist “primarily” of prescribing marijuana. (Imagine a physician whose practice consisted chiefly of prescriptions for Xanax or some other controlled substance.)
The House version substitutes “solely” for “primarily” – meaning an authorization mill could still be an authorization mill as long as the doc occasionally does something other than recommend marijuana.
These provisions – especially the attack on local control – must be scrapped in favor of the Senate’s language, which was plenty generous to legitimate marijuana patients.
As always, the issue is whether medical marijuana should operate under a real medical model or under the looser-the-better approach of the drug culture. The Senate took the paradigm a big step in the direction of medicine; the House wants to take it a step back.