пятница, 29 июля 2011 г.

Smoking cessation program valuable

In 1998, Washington was one of 46 states that made a huge settlement with the tobacco industry as reimbursement for the costs of health care for Medicaid patients with tobacco-caused illnesses. Our current governor, then the attorney general of Washington, led the fight to get payment. A small portion of the money was applied to the Quit Line.

I have referred many patients to that number, knowing that free, one-to-one phone counseling was given to support and encourage people in their fight to stop smoking. Now the state has cut the funding to this program, so that people without insurance are no longer able to have this free help. What a terrible waste. The money from the tobacco companies should have been dedicated to stopping smoking, since the cost of smoking-related care was the justification for the lawsuit in the first place.

Mississippi judge hears tobacco settlement dispute

tobacco settlement dispute

A Mississippi judge will determine if R.J. Reynolds shortchanged the state of Mississippi when it failed to report profits from the sale of 7.8 billion cigarettes made for Star Tobacco.

The state argued Monday before Jackson County Chancery Judge Jaye Bradley that R.J. Reynolds failed to fulfill its obligations to Mississippi as provided in the landmark 1997 master tobacco settlement.
The North Carolina-based company, whose products include six of the 10 best-selling U.S. cigarette and moist snuff brands, is the second-largest tobacco company in the United States.

The state argued that from 2000 to 2005 R.J Reynolds excluded 7.8 billion cigarettes from the 1997 settlement that were made by its subsidiary Brown and Williamson for an independent tobacco company.

"Those cigarettes were not included in the production numbers to come up with the tobacco settlement," Gary Wilson, an attorney representing the state.

Wilson said the cigarettes were fabricated for Star Tobacco, which then packaged and sold them.

Reynolds American CEO Daniel Delen

With tax hikes, smoking bans, health concerns and social stigma still cutting into cigarette sales, Reynolds American Inc. and other tobacco companies are looking to cigarette alternatives for sales growth.

The nation's second-biggest tobacco company and maker of Camel, Pall Mall and Natural American Spirit brand cigarettes said the number of cigarettes it sold fell 4.4 percent to 19.4 billion cigarettes in the second quarter.
But the Winston-Salem, N.C., company sold 3.6 percent more of its smokeless tobacco including Grizzly and Kodiak and its U.S. market share of the segment grew 1.5 percentage points to 31.3 percent. Grizzly's sales volume grew 4.7 percent in the quarter and its market share grew 1.9 percentage points to 27.4 percent.

It has attributed growth of its brands to the expansion of its sales force over the last year to support both its cigarette business and its American Snuff subsidiary, which makes its smokeless tobacco products.

San Francisco's medical marijuana advocates huff about regulations

marijuana advocates

Attorney General Kamala Harris is considering new regulations of medical marijuana, but some San Francisco advocates say the proposed rules would make it harder for patients to obtain the medicine and easier for cops to improperly arrest them.

Under the proposed guidelines, medical marijuana users could only belong to one dispensary and individual police officers would be given the authority to determine whether someone is a legitimate patient.

The guidelines have not been made public by the attorney general, but a copy of an April “discussion draft” was recently obtained by members of San Francisco’s Medical Marijuana Task Force. The draft includes recommended guidelines that go further in some areas than those issued in 2008 by Jerry Brown, Harris’ predecessor. A spokesperson for Harris’ office declined to comment.

Guidelines from the state’s top prosecutor influence how local cities and counties regulate dispensaries and advise how law enforcement agencies should treat operators and patients.

Medicinal marijuana is legal under state law, but illegal under federal law. Advocates have supported industry regulations because controls are seen as a way to maintain a legitimate medical industry, address residents’ complaints and prevent a crackdown by federal law enforcement.

The city-appointed Medical Marijuana Task Force will hold a hearing today on the document.

Advocates are upset they were not involved in discussions, and also by the policy implications.

“I’m first and foremost concerned that people can only be members of one collective,” said task force member Shona Gochenaur, the executive director of the Axis of Love medical marijuana activist group. “That doesn’t work.” She likened it to being forced to shop at a specific grocery store.

Gochenaur also said the guidelines read like they were written by law enforcement. One draft policy said, “Officers should use their sound professional judgment to assess the validity of the person’s medical use-claim” if they do not have a state ID card. In San Francisco, medical cannabis patients do not need a state ID card as long as they have a doctor’s prescription.

Other concerns are restrictions on cultivators only being able to sell to one dispensary, which could favor large-scale operations over smaller groups.

Americans for Safe Access attorney Joe Elford said his group was provided a copy of the draft by Harris for feedback and declined to comment on it. The state’s medical marijuana law is “murky at best,” Elford said. He said the state Legislature has chosen “not to clarify certain issues,” and other debates are “percolating through the courts.”

The medical marijuana industry continues to grow and change. Last year, Oakland began exploring large-scale taxable grow operations. On Monday, a major crackdown on illegal cultivation of marijuana in Northern California was reported. Legal conflicts over dispensaries continue in Los Angeles, San Diego and Butte counties.

Amid such dynamics, law enforcement often looks to the attorney general for guidance, Elford said.

“[Medical marijuana] is something brand new,” said Stephanie Tucker, a spokeswoman for The City’s Medical Marijuana Task Force. “As the community evolves, so do some of the best practices.”

Tucker said advocates look forward to working with Harris to come up with guidelines that protect providers and patients.

In San Francisco, there are 26 permitted medical marijuana dispensaries and 12 pending applications, according to the Department of Public Health.

понедельник, 25 июля 2011 г.

Reynolds American 2Q Profit Slips 11% On Cigarette Volume Decline

Reynolds American Inc.'s (RAI) second-quarter earnings slipped 11% on a litigation charge and as a decline in cigarette sale volumes offset higher pricing and volume gains in moist snuff.

Looking ahead, the company raised the low end of its forecast for full-year per-share earnings by 2 cents, estimating $2.62 to $2.70 a share.

The company has in recent years shifted its focus to a few key brands and consolidated production. As cigarette smoking continues to decline, the company has diversified into other offerings, like smokeless tobacco.

Reynolds reported a profit of $304 million, or 52 cents a share, down from $341 million, or 58 cents a share, a year earlier. Excluding litigation charges and implementation costs, adjusted earnings rose to 67 cents a share from 66 cents. Net sales edged up 1% to $2.3 billion.

Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters had expected earnings of 71 cents a share on $2.27 billion.

The R.J. Reynolds Tobacco division's top line rose 0.7%. Total R.J. Reynolds domestic volume fell 4.4%. Total market share, excluding private label brands, was unchanged from a year ago.

At the American Snuff unit, which makes Grizzly- and Kodiak-brand moist snuff, revenue fell 16%. Volume rose 3.6%.

Shares of Reynolds were recently off 1% to $38.13 in premarket trading. Through the latest close, the stock is up 18% since the start of the year.

California Dems pained to find names on tobacco list

tobacco donation

Sen. Leland Yee is running for mayor in San Francisco, and the last thing he needs is to be labeled as the Big Tobacco candidate.
So Yee found it especially irksome to find himself on a list of legislators who have taken money from tobacco interests. A report by the American Lung Association in California showed Yee as taking $4,300 from tobacco interests -- $3,300 of which came from Philip Morris, the nation's largest cigarette manufacturer.
But, Yee said he returned that money to Philip Morris immediately and demanded a correction from the anti-smoking organization. After the group found that Philip Morris' parent company, Altria, had deleted the contribution in amended statements, Yee received a correction and apology.
"With that, we have removed this contribution from our database and have updated all relevant documents," Paul Knepprath, vice president of Advocacy & Health Initiatives for the American Lung Association wrote in a letter to Yee on Friday. "I apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused."
Still, Yee had one other tobacco donation to answer for: $1,000 from the California Distributors Association. He said he didn't agree that the distributors' group is a tobacco interest, though donors to its political action committee are largely tobacco manufacturers such as Philip Morris and R.J. Reynolds.

Bulgarian border police seize 18 master cases of cigarettes hidden in bushes

cigarettes were illegally

Bulgarian border police have seized 18 master cases of cigarettes hidden in bushes close to the southwestern village of Razhdak, the press center of the Interior Ministry announced.
According to the preliminary information the cigarettes were illegally brought into Bulgaria across the border and were earmarked for the Bulgarian market. A squad of border policemen from the border police station in the southwestern city of Petrich found the cigarettes on Sunday at 9:40 a.m. local time while patrolling in the region. The cigarettes are of two brands.
Pre-trial proceedings were opened and the regional prosecutor’s office in Petrich was informed. The owners of the contraband goods are wanted.

вторник, 19 июля 2011 г.

New Medical Marijuana Dispensary in Murrieta Under Scrutiny

marijuana cardholder

A medical marijuana cooperative and dispensary that opened in Murrieta nine days ago has come under scrutiny.

The city of Murrieta has called a special meeting Tuesday, in which Police Chief Mike Baray will ask Council to adopt a resolution declaring the operation a "public nuisance."

Owners Beth Burns and Charles Thompson of Azusa opened the cooperative at 26990 Madison Ave, Suite 103, and said they have 200 patients, mostly gained through word of mouth.

The name of the cooperative is CMG Outreach, or Cooperative Medical Group. The owners say they were issued a permit by the State Board of Equalization to sell medical marijuana.

On their fifth day of business, Burns' daughter, Lena Burns, also a partner in the co-op, was present when she said Murrieta police officers searched the facility. They said they have received several citations since then, ranging from $500 to $2,500.

Notice of the special meeting was posted by the city late Monday afternoon. Murrieta police could not be reached for comment as of publication time.

Medical marijuana cardholders are screened as they enter the door of the business, Burns said. Their cards are then checked against the Medical Board of California, as are the doctors who issued them, she said.

"This is safe access and if they are going to let one in the city, why not let one who is doing it right 150 percent," Burns said.

She said many of their patients are used to driving to San Diego or Los Angeles, but have expressed their gratitude for the closer, clean facility.

It has been a rocky opening for the dispensary, as the owners say it was burglarized late Friday night. The front door of the business is boarded up until it can be replaced, and is being monitored by two security guards employed by the co-op. The burglars were caught on camera, the owners said.

In 2005, the city of Murrieta adopted an ordinance prohibiting the operation of medical marijuana dispensaries. Excluded were clinics, treatment facilities and residential treatment centers.

The special meeting is set for 7 p.m. during the Council's regularly scheduled meeting at One Town Square, 24601 Jefferson Ave.

The meeting notice did not go into detail, and CMG's owners said they were not aware a meeting had been called.

"The state is granting us these licenses but we can't go anywhere," Burns said. "And I chose Murrieta because it is a safe place, with beautiful surroundings. I like the people and I want to operate safely here."

понедельник, 11 июля 2011 г.

Companies agree to procure tobacco crop

The standoff between the tobacco growers and companies over the purchase of millions of kilograms of the non-recommended variety of tobacco in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa ended on Saturday after the firms agreed to procure the crop on the average support price of Rs104.30.

The tobacco growers and companies formally concluded an agreement to this effect at a meeting held at the head office of the Pakistan Tobacco Board (PTB).

The meeting, chaired by the acting chairman and secretary of the PTB Nauman Bashir, was also attended by office-bearers of the representative bodies of growers and tobacco companies including Pakistan Tobacco Company, Lakson Tobacco, PMI, Walton Tobacco Company, Imperial Tobacco Company, Souvenir Tobacco Company, Sarhad Cigarette Industry, International Tobacco Company and other manufacturers.

It is pertinent to mention here that right at the peak of the current marketing season of tobacco, the tobacco companies refused to purchase the Rhodesia, locally known as Swati, variety of the tobacco grown in over 80 percent of the tobacco growing areas of Mardan, Swabi and Charsadda districts.

The tobacco companies decision left the growers in the lurch as they had harvested about 40 million kilograms of the variety, which was declared non-recommended variety by these companies.

The growers protested against the decision of the companies and stopped to bring to their depots over 25 million kilogram of the recommended variety of Speight G-28 tobacco.

They took out rallies in parts of Mardan and Swabi districts and forced the closure of some depots in Mandani and Shergarh areas.

It forced the Pakistan Tobacco Board to convene a meeting of the growers and companies to resolve the matter.

The growers at the Saturday meeting put forth a three-point agenda including the rate and purchase of the non-recommended variety, increase in the price of the Speight G-28 tobacco and compensation for the farmers whose crop was damaged by hailstorm.

However, only the issue of purchase of the non-recommended variety was discussed in the meeting where the growers expressed concern over the tobacco companies attitude. They complained that years ago the Swati seed was distributed by these same companies to the growers, but now suddenly they declared it non-recommended variety and refused to buy it.

They said the decision to fix the tobacco price was also violation of the 1968 Ordinance as no board of directors of the PTB existed for the last two years.

They said the government received over Rs48 billion as federal excise duty (FED) on tobacco, but it ignored the problems faced by the growers.

The companies and PTB officials, however, asserted that they had long ago informed the growers to avoid growing the non-recommended variety.

Asian Demand Boosts Georgia Tobacco

Georgia Tobacco

Georgia’s tobacco acreage is expected to hold steady this year, thanks to a new buyer in the state and high demand in Asia.

Tobacco acreage has been dropping for two decades. Experts expected fewer acres of the crop to be planted this year, but now estimates from the U.S. Agriculture Department project Georgia farmers will plant about 11,000 acres of tobacco, the same amount as last year.

In part, the cause is a new company that has contracted with Georgia growers for their tobacco, saying it is bound for Asian markets.

“What it has brought is a renewed sense of hope on the part of tobacco growers, some of whom had reached the end of their multi-year contracts with another company,” said J. Michael Moore, a tobacco agronomist at the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension.

Moore said he hopes the steady production signals the end of the decades of decline.

“Our hope is that the level of tobacco production has reached the bottom of the slope and that we will trend to be more level, if not increase over time,” he said.

Moore said conditions have been good for growing tobacco recently, and farmers haven’t seen much of a virus that has attacked Georgia’s crop since 1985.

“We’re having a very good production season this year – second year in a row,” Moore said. “We have very low levels of tomato spotted wilt virus, so our losses and our reduction in quality will be minimum this year because of that disease.”

Georgia’s tobacco industry was worth more than $47 million last year. Near its peak in 1996, the state’s tobacco crop was worth more than $200 million.

Tobacco product prices doubled in state

Tobacco product prices

With the restriction imposed by UG groups on tobacco products and the popularity among the youths of the state, corrupt businessmen have found safe haven in the state by selling the restricted tobacco products at a much higher rates which is more than twice the actual rate of the products.

Tobacco products like Zarda, Khaini, Talab, Rajnigandha are being procured by the businessmen in the state by trafficking them in buses and trucks.
They are also not paying any VAT tax to the state government since they are trafficking the products in illegal ways.

Since the state authority is not doing anything to check the trafficking of such products in the state, the state government is losing a quite large amount of revenues.

With restriction imposed by some UG groups to these products taking stocks of its health effects, the items have become an item of black marketers.

Taking advantage of the restriction dealers in Imphal is charging whatever amount they like from retailers which even exceeds double of its printed price.

They are pricing Rs 85 for a can of Zarda Baba Black instead of Rs 55, Rs 250 to 270 for a Zarda Baba 120 gm instead of Rs 215, Rs 680 for a can of Zarda 160 instead of Rs 620, Rs 260 to 270 for a packet of 60 Talab sachets instead of Rs 55, Rs 50 for a packet of Rajnigandha instead of Rs 24 and Rs 180 to 200 for a packet of 30 cans of Khaini instead of Rs 130.With the dealers pricing a heavy price for the products, customers are forced to buy the products at a much higher rate from the retailer.

It may be mentioned that some UG groups have restricted shops in the state to sell the tobacco products in the state.

Since then dealers in the state have found the trade of tobacco products in the state a money making machine by selling the products at much higher rates taking advantage of the restriction.

On the other hand shops throughout the state are selling these products at large without thinking of any consequences.

Moreover youths in the state especially the women and teenage girls have found a fashion in chewing tobacco and Talabs.

In such situation many question arise whether the restriction imposed by the UG groups is effective or have the restriction become a valuable maney making tool for the dealers.

Interestingly, no authorized dealer is found in the state when Hueiyen Lanpao investigated the matter.

It was also found that non Manipuri businessmen are procuring the tobacco products by sending their men to the company.

понедельник, 4 июля 2011 г.

Some smokers put off by cigarette warning labels

cigarette warning

They can't smoke in bars, restaurants or even public parks in some cities. And when they go to buy a pack of cigarettes, increased taxes are pushing the price sky-high.

And now the labels on their smokes will graphically show the horrors of their habit.

Some smokers say they feel as if they are under attack.

"If (cigarettes) are that dangerous, they should be classified with the other drugs and be totally illegal," said Erik Bell, 39, an assistant manager at the Domino's Pizza at E. Dublin Granville Road and Busch Boulevard.
Bell said he has tried to quit several times since he took up smoking when he was 12 years old.

"Alcohol causes just as many problems as smoking does," he said. "You're not supposed to drink and drive, but there are parking lots at every single bar.

"Drinkers aren't being attacked in the same way smokers are."

Others say they don't really have a problem with the new regulations, including Tuesday's unveiling of nine graphic warning labels that will cover half of cigarette packs starting next year.

The packs also will include a toll-free number for a state-supported smoking-cessation program.

Hayden Schortman, 24, who works for the Service Employees International Union in Columbus, said he understands why the labels are changing.

"But I will say that if the graphic warnings and higher taxes had been around when I started smoking, I probably wouldn't have started at all," he said.

The statewide smoking ban took effect in November 2006. At the end of May, New York City banned smoking at public parks and beaches.

Amy Ferketich, an epidemiologist at Ohio State University, said that taxes and graphic warning labels are effective.

"Motivation is really important; people have to be ready to quit," said Ferketich, who has performed focus-group studies with smokers in Ohio's Appalachia region.

So what keeps people from quitting?

"Most people start smoking when they are kids, and they are not thinking about mortality and health impacts," said Shelly Kiser, director of advocacy for the American Lung Association in Ohio.

"It's an extremely addictive product, which is why programs are so important."

Ohio's funding for tobacco programs has taken a major hit recently. Not only is funding for enforcing smoking bans threatened, programs aimed at helping smokers quit are in danger as well.

"As of July 1, the only people in Ohio who will be able to get help via the quit line will be pregnant women," Kiser said, referring to the toll-free 800-QUIT-NOW number (1-800-784-8669).

"Unless the legislature does something different, when these packs roll out and people call that number, there will be no one to answer the call and offer them help."

Robert Jennings, a spokesman for the Ohio Health Department, said that funding is still being negotiated and that the state will help as many people as it can.

"To say it will only be pregnant women is premature," he said. "But if we do have limited funding, priority will be for pregnant women and uninsured people."

Cigarette Debate Hurts Businesses

Cigarette Debate

The debate rages on between the Seneca Nation of Indians and New York State over taxing tobacco sales on Native American property. A report in today's Business First shows how small-business owners are caught in the middle. Many Native American businesses used to have stocked shelves and warehouses of cigarettes and other goods. But now, some say business is down 90 percent, while employment is down 75% and still dropping. Last year, a federal law banned shipment of cigarettes and last week, a court ruled that New York could collect cigarette tax on native land, but the Senecas are appealing that. You can read more in today's Business First.

Old Glory Flag and Banner Company is seeing green as it flies red, white and blue this weekend. The family business, on Porter Road in Niagara Falls, sells U.S. flags that are made in the USA. The company has etiquette tips this Independence Day weekend. Old Glory says the U.S. flag should be flown full mast in celebration of America's independence. If you don't have a light on your flag, they say to retire the flag at dusk. Old Glory just wrapped up a volunteer project in Ft. Drum, where they collected items for both troops and children in Afghanistan.