среда, 24 августа 2011 г.

Kent under fire for scheme’s £24m tobacco investment

tobacco investment

Kent County Council has come under fire from campaign groups for investing £24m of its pension fund portfolio in tobacco companies.
The local authority fund invests about £13.5m in the Altria Group; £3.6m in Philip Morris; £3.5m in Imperial Tobacco; and £3.4m in Japan Tobacco - about 1% of its total equity investments.
But FairPensions, a charity that promotes responsible investment by pension funds and fund managers, said Kent's position reflects a common misinterpretation of investors' legal duties that ethical concerns can be easily dismissed by invoking a presumed duty to maximise profit.
It said pension funds are legally bound to defend their members' interests but this does not equate to a duty to pursue profit at any cost.
FairPensions Christine Berry said: "We all have an interest in getting the best possible pension but that isn't the only interest at play. In this case, relevant considerations could include members' ethical concerns or the cost of smoking to the taxpayer."
Kent County Council runs a pension fund on behalf of 350 public bodies in the county. The fund uses external investment managers to undertake investments and the fund has total investments in stocks and shares of £2.35bn.
A KCC spokesman said: "It is the external investment managers who decide which companies to invest in. The direct investments in tobacco companies currently represent 1% of our total equity investments.
"We have a financial responsibility to obtain the best possible return on investments of the pension fund, to keep down costs of the scheme as far as possible for us as an employer and ultimately for Kent taxpayers.
"To meet this responsibility, we do not impose restrictions on the companies that our external investment managers can or cannot invest in. However, we do monitor the activity undertaken by investment managers and, as with all our investment, we work to the UN Principles of Responsible Investment."
However, Action on Smoking and Health - a public health charity that works to eliminate the harm caused by tobacco - said it understands the fiduciary duty of pension fund trustees and that tobacco shares are currently very high, but declining sales, tougher regulation and litigation mean it is not economically sustainable in the long term.
ASH spokesman Martin Dockrell added: "In the context of currently high priced shares, falling sales, increased litigation and legislation it may well be now is the time to take profits from tobacco investments and invest them in something more sustainable for pension fund holders.

Freshcig E Cigarettes at Marplebury Music Festival!

Marplebury festival is a leading social entertainment destination with fun and excitement for all family featuring a live performance stage of youth bands where opera singers and guitarists perform. This year it’s ready to get kick started on the 17th September 2011 and is sponsored by Freshcig, the electronic cigarette company. At this local event, Freshcig will demonstrate how the ground breaking electric cigarette has revolutionized smoking by the take up of e cig in the UK.
Our electronic cigarette company represents a growing portion of the smoking market, and we will be demonstrating why so many are making the switch to electric cigarettes. E cigarettes are a safer alternative in that they don’t contain toxic tobacco smoke, tar, carcinogens and carbon monoxide, and thus switching to e cigarettes creates a smoke free environment leaving you and your clothes smelling fresh. Electric cigarettes do not cause any second hand smoke hazards as they do not produce tobacco smoke, and as such our electric cigarettes enable you to enjoy your smoking habit, whilst avoiding the restrictions laid out in the smoking ban.
The Freshcig e cigarette consists of two component parts, the disposable ‘cartomiser’ (which combines the nicotine cartridge and atomiser) and the rechargeable battery. Our e cigarette cartomisers are available in a range of different flavours such as refreshing strawberry, icy menthol, and coffee cappuccino. We also stock a range of tobacco flavoured e cigarette cartomisers which taste of brands like Marlboro, Golden Virginia, and Benson & Hedges.
Electric cigarettes are also more environmentally friendly than traditional cigarettes. It takes 12 years for a single cigarette butt to decompose. One of the environmental advantages of electric cigarettes is that it reduces cigarette butt litter; with each disposable Freshcig cartomiser being the equivalent of 40 traditional cigarettes - therefore you’re stamping out a rising litter problem too.
The electric cigarette vapourises the liquid nicotine and water from the surrounding air to create a ‘smoke’ like steam, which does not contain the tar, carbon monoxide or other toxic chemicals associated with tobacco smoke. Our electric cigarette starter kits contain everything you need to make the switch, and are designed to make the transition from traditional cigarettes to e cigarettes even smoother.
Because of these benefits, it’s no wonder that e cigarettes are taking the world by storm. There’s a lot of excitement building behind the scene as our team gets ready to showcase our products at Marplebury Music Festival in a few short weeks.

понедельник, 22 августа 2011 г.

Customs seize cigarette haul

CONTRABAND cigarettes with an estimated value of €4,200 were seized by customs officials at Dublin airport yesterday.

The "Bond" brand of 9,780 cigarettes were discovered in a suitcase carried by a passenger en route from Moscow.

They were identified as so-called "illicit white" Style cigarettes that are legally produced in non-EU states but not available for sale here.

A 29-year-old Moldovan national was arrested and appeared before Dublin District Court yesterday morning.

He was remanded in custody to appear again before Cloverhill District Court next Thursday.

Philly Wants its Own Cigarette Warnings

Cigarette Warnings

Philadelphia is not waiting around for the federal government to force them to put pictures of extreme cancerous lungs near stores’ cigarette packs. While Big Tobacco-led lawsuits are dealt with nationally, the law’s meat grinder sets in motion, and Truth.com plans its next set of “hip” commercials, Philadelphia will require both “A pictorial or graphic image showing the adverse health effects of cigarettes and noncigarette tobacco product use” and “Information about how to get help for individuals interested in quitting” signs in stores that sell tobacco. If passed, they would be required by July 2012.

Woe is us. A suburban Philadelphia bank closed its doors yesterday, bringing the number of nationwide dollar dealers that’ve closed up to 65 for the year. At this time last year, that number was 118…Progress?

Here are some sweet quotes from Judge Kevin Dougherty during a hearing for two teenagers and an 11-year-old who flash mobbed Center City last month: “Your actions, behavior, and attitude are appalling and disgusting for civilized society…Downtown is not terror town. Philadelphia will not be a laughingstock because [of] a few individuals who decide to hunt human beings and laugh about it.” They’re being sentenced to different places based on their ages and other factors. The 11-year-old is being placed in his grandmother’s care.

Human punching bag and cause of all the world’s problems Arlene Ackerman is not feeling the love. She gave what some are calling a “good bye” speech this week. And now the Philadelphia Children’s First Fund, a charity established in 2003 to aid the school district, is attempting to buy out the rest of her contract so she’ll get out and the Philadelphia School District will be fixed, once and for all!

Uh Oh. Turns out, Republican Council hopeful and Obama voter David Oh may be lying about his service in the U.S. Military, just like John Kerry, except for real. Oh claims he was a Green Beret, which in most peoples’ books, makes him a shoe-in for City Council because it’s possible he may sing the song on the campaign trail, and the song is awesome. But, according to Oh’s commanding officer in 1991, Oh’s claim is “absolutely not” accurate. Oh actually did not make it through Green Beret training. A review of his record by Lt. Col. Charles Kohler found that “He was never qualified as a Special Forces officer.” Too bad for him.

Investigators say Waterville fire was caused by cigarettes in trash

cigarettes in trash

A fire that destroyed an Oak Street home Tuesday was caused by improper disposal of smoking materials, according to fire officials.
Sgt. Ken Grimes of the State Fire Marshal's Office said the fire at the home of Tracey Bragdon and her three children started in a first-floor bedroom.

"The remains of cigarettes were disposed of in a trash can, and the materials in the trash can ignited," Grimes said Wednesday. "It's an accidental fire."

The fire, reported at 9:01 a.m. by a next-door neighbor, tore through the two-story, wood-frame house, destroying it within minutes.

Waterville fire Captain Michael Michaud said Wednesday that 29 firefighters from Waterville, Winslow and Fairfield fought the fire.

Two firefighters were treated for dehydration; one at the scene and another at MaineGeneral Medical Center's Thayer Campus, where he was treated and released, Michaud said.

Bragdon and her children had left the house moments before the fire started and were walking on nearby Ticonic Street when the neighbor, Steve Nye, chased them down to say their house was on fire, Bragdon and Nye said Tuesday at the scene.

Donald Zaltzberg, who was painting a house across the street at the time, saw the smoke and fire and ran to the house, kicking in a glass door and saving the family's dog, Chaos.

The 10-room house was insured, according to Bragdon.

Meanwhile, the American Red Cross provided housing, food and clothing for Bragdon and her family, according to John Osbun of the Red Cross disaster action team. Osbun arrived at the scene Tuesday from Lewiston with Red Cross volunteers Nick Pelletier and Stephanie Merrill, he said.

Jason Shedlock, emergency services director for the American Red Cross of Maine, said his organization responds to fires an average of five days a week.

"It's all volunteer, so basically what we survive on is contributions, just like a lot of other nonprofits do," Shedlock said. "Our volunteers are the ones who get a call at 2 a.m."

"We raise money throughout the entire state," he said. "A donation from someone in Waterville goes into a larger pot and is used throughout Maine."

Shedlock said the Red Cross also is in need of volunteers.


Tuesday’s debt talks between Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy appear not to have eased concerns about the economy in Europe, where shares slid on Wednesday. Republicans in the Wisconsin State Senate hung onto their majority—barely—after a week of recall votes. And five U.S. tobacco companies are suing the federal government, claiming that new graphic cigarette labels violate their freedom of speech.
To read: Letters made available by U.K. investigators that call into question James Murdoch’s testimony from July and suggest a coverup of widespread phone hacking. (Read Amy Davidson on the letters.) The former police commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson, meanwhile, has been cleared of any misconduct by an independent investigation.
To stay AAA: Fitch’s credit rating for the United States.
To join John Wayne: Elvis Presley, on the list of subjects of Michele Bachmann gaffes. She wished the King a happy birthday yesterday—the anniversary not of his birth, but his death.
To tell you what to read: BookLamp, a recommendation engine that is like a Pandora for books.
To tell him what to wear: Abercrombie and Fitch has offered Michael (The Situation) Sorrentino of MTV’s “Jersey Shore” a “substantial payment” not to sport its brand.

понедельник, 15 августа 2011 г.

Tobacco's influence runs deep in California

tobacco industry

When Assemblyman Isadore Hall shelved a bill last week that would have required most workplaces to be smoke-free in California, it was just a small example of the tobacco industry's long reach into the California Legislature.
Hall, chairman of the Government Operations committee, killed the bill, SB 575, when the author, Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, objected to an amendment that tobacco companies sought: an exemption for employer-owned businesses.
Hall, a Los Angeles Democrat, has received $7,800 in campaign contributions from tobacco companies.
Though the amount in campaign contributions from tobacco companies to Hall was a relative pittance, his relationship with lobbyists was probably the more important factor, said Tracy Westen, CEO and founder of the Center for Governmental Studies.
"Campaign contributions open the door, and once the door is open, it's a full-court press," Westen said. "And tobacco lobbyists present some of the most sophisticated arguments you'll find."
A report released Tuesday by the American Lung Association in California showed that large tobacco companies wielded their influence in subtle and blatant ways as they tried to maintain their grip on the state's booming wont cigarette market.
Over the past decade, Big Tobacco -- led by Philip Morris -- spent nearly $100 million lobbying legislators and contributing to campaigns in California. A large chunk of that -- $62 million -- went into defeating Proposition 86 in 2006, a statewide initiative that would have imposed a $2.60 tax on each pack of cigarettes.
Tobacco spending, while significant, pales in comparison to the expenditures of the California Teachers' Association, which threw $211.8 million into campaigns from 2000-2009, according to a report by the Fair Political Practices Commission. The California State Council of Service Employees spent $107.5 million, and Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America spent $104.9 million.
The difference is that tobacco is protecting a single product, while teachers and unions have a varied slate of issues they pursue, Westen said.
"This is the most highly regulated product in terms of safety -- we know more about its dangers than virtually any other product," Westen said. "The more we know its dangers, the more they feel they have to spend to convince us we ought not to regulate or tax it."
Philip Morris USA spokesman David Sutton declined to comment on the report.
Over the most recent two-year election cycle, from 2009-10, tobacco interests spent $9.3 million on lobbying and campaign contributions in California. Most of the recipients are Republicans -- all 54 current legislators who have never taken money from tobacco interests are Democrats.
But tobacco companies know the value of winning over Democrats, who have wide majorities in both houses of the Legislature.
DeSaulnier, the author of the smoke-free workplace bill, which was approved in the Senate, said he was surprised when he found it in Hall's committee, rather than the Labor committee, where it was originally headed.
"He asked for it," said DeSaulnier, a former restaurant owner who helped write some of the state's earliest local ordinances against smoking in the workplace as a Contra Costa County supervisor.
DeSaulnier said that he objected to Hall's amendment because he has seen how larger businesses use the employer-owned exemption as a cover to skirt the law. He had already provided an exemption for tobacco shops.
"I thought that had taken care of that concern," DeSaulnier said. "To be honest, I don't know why he inserted that amendment."
Hall did not respond to a request for an interview.
The main target for tobacco companies is the perennial effort to raise taxes on cigarettes and other tobacco products. Increasing taxes -- which is paid for with a higher price tag on cigarettes -- reduces consumption and prevents children from starting to smoke, said Paul Knepprath, vice president of advocacy and health initiatives for the American Lung Association in California.
"So they spend heavily to defeat any increases in the tobacco tax," he said. "They know that California is the No. 1 consumer market for cigarettes in the country. They know we have the ability to set the standard for tobacco policies that reduce consumption and smoking. So, they know it's important to protect their interests."

Electronic cigarette, what's really in it?

Go just about anywhere in South Florida and “no smoking” signs pop up everywhere.

Florida banned smoking in most public places back in 2003, 40 years after Gwynne Chesher started lighting up.

"For a long time they were my dearest friend,” she tells the Contact 5 Investigators.

At her worst, Chesher was puffing a pack a day. She's tried everything to quit.

"I tried the gum, it gave me a stomach ache. I tried the patch, it made my heart beat fast and scared me. I tried chiantix and it gave me horrible insomnia, oh... acupuncture and hypnotism, that didn't do a thing!"

So when her son recently suggested electronic cigarettes, Gwynne signed up and started, what's widely known as, vaping.

Electronic cigarettes are battery-operated, have the look and feel of a traditional cigarette but without the smell, the smoke, and the harmful side effects according to its supporters.

Two weeks in and Gwynne was impressed, until her doctor weighed in.

"He was like no way, you can't use those,' ” she said.

Last year the American Lung Association issued a warning about e-cigarettes, advising consumers to stay away.

"We don't know what's in it. People are inhaling some vaporized compound into their lungs without really knowing what's in it," said Dr. Mike Feinstein with the American Lung Association in West Palm Beach.

"There's no information about whether they're safe or not and that's part of the problem," said Dr. Robert Green of the Palm Beach Cancer Institute.

Green says with no real data on e-cigarettes, the three year old tobacco alternative may actually be more harmful that traditional cigarettes.

"The doses of nicotine that you get could, conceivably, be higher than what you would get in a typical cigarette," he said.

“To make that claim is obviously ludicrous,” said Ray Story. Story, an e-cigarette distributor and CEO of the Tobacco Vapor Electronic Cigarette Association .

“There is really nothing in an e-cigarette that makes this product a dangerous alternative,” he said.

What's inside e-cigarettes has been a source of debate for just about as long as the product has been on the market. A few years ago, the FDA tested a small sample and found a number of toxic chemicals including one called like diethylene gylcol, the same ingredient used in antifreeze.

After the finding, Ray Story submitted a freedom on information request to obtain the sample, which contained the chemical. However, to date, the FDA has not supplied him with any data.

“I understand they found all kinds of stuff and at one point you could probably find whatever you wanted, but if the other side can't substantiate it, you have to wonder what the motives (are),” he said.

The findings forced the Food and Drug Administration to issue a nationwide health warning. The agency tried to ban the product but failed when Ray Story sued.

"I'm not telling anyone to start smoking or start vaping e-cigarettes. I'm just the one who decided this product should be here as a less harmful alternative and the FDA even says it's 1400 times less harmful."

Gwynne Chesher isn't convinced. So she's washing her hands of anything to do with electronic cigarettes

“I have no problem throwing them in the trash.”

The Tobacco Vapor Electronic Cigarette Association says e-cigarettes contain five ingredients: water, nicotine, glycerine, propylene glycol (often used in soaps and lotions) and flavoring. All of these ingredients have been approved, individually, by the FDA.

The FDA announced it will begin to regulate e-cigarettes as a tobacco product bringing regulation to an otherwise unregulated market.

четверг, 4 августа 2011 г.

Tobacco store inappropriately located, according to resident

I work out five days a week at Guiding Fitness Studio, which is located next door to the Tobacco & Gift Shop in downtown.

Yesterday, a customer actually stopped right in front and put his face up to the window of the gym to look in at us while we were working out.

It seems like an unsafe business to be located so close to women working out, trying to be healthy. This business could actually hurt the other business’ in the Brands Feed Building.

It is an inappropriate store to be located in downtown, especially now when crime is on the rise in our town.

VN anti-tobacco body wants prominent health warnings

Vietnam Medical Association (VMA) suggests that anti-tobacco health warnings containing vivid pictures, graphics and captions must cover 50 percent of the packaging space, both in front and back of each cigarette pack, to create revulsion in smokers and hopefully avert the habit.

VMA wants prominent warnings to appear on every cigarette pack sold in the country as figures show an increase in smokers and 40,000 Vietnamese die every year from tobacco-related diseases.

The warnings are expected to have a significant impact on public health by decreasing the number of smokers and increasing life expectancy.

The current warnings on cigarette packets only cover 30 percent of the space with a single sentence “Smoking is harmful for health”. There is no illustrated image to show the dangers of smoking and hence the message is weak and has no real impact.

40 nations across the globe are already using vivid illustrative pictures to show the evils of smoking. Thailand, for instance, has health warnings covering 50 percent of all tobacco packages.

Man kidnapped by stranger, forced to buy cigarettes

Police say a man waiting at a bus stop was taken on a horrifying ride by an accused kidnapper last month.

The victim was waiting for the bus at the corner of 1st Street and Muhammad Ali Boulevard on July 19th, when police say a complete stranger -- Donald Sherley Jr. -- pulled up with a gun and demanded that the man get in his car.

Sherley drove the victim to an ATM and demanded that he use his card to get him cash, but the card didn't work.

Instead, police say Sherley made him buy a carton of cigarettes, and the victim later escaped.

Sherley was arrested yesterday and charged with robbery and kidnapping.