Nov 14

Merced smokers mixed on new tobacco tax

Headline , Tobacco

Starting in January, the cheapest pack of cigarettes at Cigarettes and Cigars on G Street in Merced will be in the $5 range, according to an employee, Kirsten Weston. Currently the cheapest pack of cigarettes is $3.77, she said, and the most expensive is around $8, soon to be $10.

The majority of California voters agreed with the new parameters on increasing the tobacco tax, voting “yes” on Proposition 56 this election cycle. According to Ballotpedia, the measure won by almost 63 percent.

The tax increase will add $2 to cigarette packs and other tobacco products, going from 87 cents to $2.87. About $1 billion to $1.4 billion is estimated in tax revenue, which will mostly go toward health care funding for low-income Californians. The rest of the revenue, 13 percent, will go toward smoking prevention.

Although Weston said she voted “no” on the proposition, she expected it to pass because a lot of younger voters don’t support smoking tobacco. Smokers already pay a lot of money for cigarettes, she said, and doesn’t find the proposition fair to them.

“It’s pretty much the government taxing poor people,” Weston said. “It gets expensive and this is a real addiction.”

Weston, 22, said people who come into Cigarettes and Cigars barely are able to afford the $4 to $5 packs, and they probably won’t be able to swing adding $2 to that. Most people coming through the shop are lower-income individuals, she said.

“This is something people do and you can tax people in other ways, I feel like,” she said.

A 23-year-old Merced resident, Peter Jhrar, bought a pack of Camel cigarettes on Saturday from Cigarettes and Cigars, and said although he voted “no” on Proposition 56, he hopes the price increase will help him quit smoking.

“Ten dollars a pack is a lot in its own.” he said. “I eventually want to quit and this might help me.”

Jhrar said a lot of people smoke because they’re “hooked,” and if people want to continue smoking, they’re going to find a way to do so.

“It’s all about willpower,” he said.

Golden Valley Health Center in Merced held a rally weeks before the election supporting the proposition, because revenue will go toward health care such as Medi-Cal. Advocates said for places such as Merced, which has the second-highest population rate on Medi-Cal in the state, passing the legislation would be beneficial to the community.

Dr. Eduardo Villarama, regional medical director for Golden Valley, said he was pleased the tobacco increase passed because he knows how damaging tobacco is for the body and how it is responsible for a lot of preventable illnesses.

Tobacco intake can make illnesses such as lung cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure and respiratory problems worse, Villarama said. Sinus and ear infections are more common in children who are exposed to secondhand smoke, he said.

“The money added to the pool can create more services for patients,” Villarama said. “We need to focus on preventative measures. It’s a really big challenge to quit smoking.”

Making tobacco products more expensive can add another barrier that smokers have to consider, Villarama said, hopefully leading them to a more healthier lifestyle.

“Overall it’s really about tobacco health-related illnesses,” he said.

When it comes to the business side, Mike Siegel, owner of Cigar Monkey on Canal Street in Merced, said he expects to see a drop in business until people get used to the tobacco increase. He predicted 20 percent of premium tobacco shops in the state will disappear.

“A lot of premium tobacco shop customers will turn to the internet for products,” Siegel said. “People voted in another bad law.”

Something most people don’t think about, Weston said, is how the tobacco increase can affect jobs. If her employer isn’t making enough to pay her, she said, she could potentially lose her job. A lot of customers have told her the tobacco increase may be the reason they have to quit smoking, Weston said.

“A significant amount of customers come in every day,” Weston said. “Eight out of 10 are buying cigarettes.”

Source: Merced Sun-Star


Nov 13

Proposition 56, a $2-per-pack boost to tobacco taxes, is approved by voters

Headline , Tobacco

After voters twice turned back attempts to raise the state’s tobacco tax over the last decade, California looks poised to pass Proposition 56, which would increase the cigarette tax by $2 per pack.

Proposition 56 leads 62.4% to 37.6% in late returns, according to the secretary of state’s office.

“Smoking is the number one cause of avoidable death in the state of California,” said Democratic donor Tom Steyer, who was the co-chairman of the Proposition 56 campaign. “We had a broader coalition to support the idea of pushing back against the tobacco companies and raising the cigarette tax than ever before. We believe that that kind of broad coalition works against organized and concentrated economic interests when we stick together and when we all turn out and vote.”

The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office estimates that Proposition 56 could raise at least $1.3 billion a year, with most of the money going toward the state’s Medi-Cal health care program for low-income residents.

The campaign was one of the most expensive in the state this year, with tobacco companies pouring in more than $70 million to fight the tax hike. In television advertisements, the companies criticized the measure as a payoff to the health care industry, which financed much of the Yes on 56 campaign.

But in contrast to failed efforts to raise the tobacco tax in 2006 and 2012, proponents of the tax hike were able to raise significantly more funds to promote Proposition 56.

Currently, California’s cigarette tax is $0.87 per pack, which ranks 37th in the country, according to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, and it hasn’t been raised in almost 20 years. Along with cigarettes, other tobacco products including smokeless tobacco and cigars will see a corresponding tax increase. And for the first time, the growing e-cigarette industry will need to pay tobacco taxes.

Source: LA Times


Nov 12

Teens with asthma almost twice as likely to smoke as their healthy counterparts

Headline , Science , Smoking

Curiosity is a driving factor in why most kids start smoking, and the same is true for kids with asthma. A new study found adolescents with asthma were twice as likely to smoke as kids without asthma. And they continue to smoke well into their teen years, even though they know smoking is particularly bad for their lungs.

“The study found 22 percent of the kids with asthma smoked, while only 12 percent of kids without asthma smoked,” said allergist Bradley Chipps, MD, ACAAI Fellow, and asthma expert. “The researchers discovered that curiosity about cigarette smoking is the main reason why kids with asthma start smoking. They then develop a greater dependence (22 percent) to nicotine compared to kids the same age who don’t have asthma (12 percent).” Dr. Chipps was not involved with the study.

The study examined more than 3,300 questionnaires from adolescents between 13-19 years of age. Two groups were formed — those with asthma and those without. The data from the questionnaires revealed teens with asthma who began smoking before 11 years of age continue smoking because they believe the habit lessens their anxiety and stress.

According to the study authors, the adolescents surveyed indicated they knew smoking was addictive, but often smoked when waking up in the morning or when they were sick. “Despite their knowledge that smoking is bad for their health, the adolescents with asthma didn’t consider smoking to be a problem,” said Dr. Chipps.

ACAAI says that tobacco smoke — including secondhand smoke — is one of the most common asthma triggers, and is unhealthy for everyone. “Kids with asthma already have trouble breathing,” says Gailen Marshall, MD, PhD, ACAAI Fellow. Dr. Marshall was also not involved with the study, but will be speaking at the meeting on the topic of managing asthma through lifestyle changes such as stopping smoking. “If you have asthma, it’s important that you avoid exposure to cigarette smoke of any kind. Smoking makes breathing much harder for kids with asthma.”

See the full story at Smoking News — ScienceDaily

Nov 11

Smokers and shops prepare for new tobacco tax after passage of Prop. 56


For the first time, Californians who vape will be subject to tobacco taxes, with the passage of Prop. 56.

While traditional cigarette smokers will go from paying a tax of 87 cents per pack to $2.87 starting April 1, an equivalent taxation structure for e-cigarettes and vaping liquids still must be calculated.

Public health advocates cheered the passage as a way to reduce tobacco usage, while the vaping industry said the tax could deter smokers from using e-cigs as a tool to quit. The vote came five months after California raised the smoking and vaping age from 18 to 21.

“California is making massive strides just in a few months,” said Ravi Choudhuri, advocacy manager for the American Lung Association’s Orange County division. “We were always known as the forefront of anti-tobacco states, and now we’re back on that track.”

For every 10 percent increase in the price of cigarettes, smoking goes down 4 percent, according to a 2014 report on smoking by the U.S. surgeon general. State Board of Equalization spokesman Jonathan Mendick said Wednesday that the board will inform the public of how the tax will apply to e-cigarettes on its website in the coming months.

“It’s still pretty vague unfortunately as far as the actual tax,” said Alea Jasso, co-owner of South County Vapors in Tustin. “I guess now leaders from the e-cig industry and liquid manufacturers will have to sit down with the BOE and try to find a fair taxation that won’t put shops out of business.”

Jasso said vaping liquids, or e-juice, come in bottles ranging from 15 ml to 200 ml, with a typical 30 to 60 ml bottle costing $18 to $30. She said she thinks the tax will need to be based on milliliters rather than set as a flat rate.

The $2 a pack increase on traditional cigarettes could also prompt current smokers to switch to vaping, provided the tax isn’t too high, she said.

“If they look to vaping as their source to try to quit, we hope it’s affordable enough for them to be able to do that,” she said.

This month, the journal Health & Place published research showing that Orange County middle school students whose schools were within a quarter-mile of a vaping shop were about twice as likely to use e-cigarettes than those whose schools were not close by.

“The visibility of the stores and the novelty may be more attractive to younger students who are still in that developmental stage where they’re more likely to experiment with substances,” said lead researcher Georgiana Bostean, who teaches sociology and environmental science at Chapman University. “The fact that there are more vape stores might make them think vaping is more socially acceptable than smoking. It might increase actual access because they’re in walking distance of the school.”

Bostean said she expects the higher price of e-cigarettes to drive down usage, which has been increasing among teens.

“There’s a huge bulk of evidence on tobacco taxes that shows taxation is one of the most effective ways to reduce smoking across the board, and also in adolescents,” she said. “There’s no reason to believe that would be different for e-cigarettes.”


Source: The Orange County Register

Nov 11

‘Tobacco 21’ gets first-round approval by St. Louis Board of Aldermen


Updated with first-round board approval Nov. 10 – Measures boosting the age to buy tobacco products in the city of St. Louis sailed out of the Health and Human Services committee on Thursday (Nov. 3).

The bills, sponsored by Alderman Dionne Flowers, D-2nd Ward, would bring the city in line with St. Louis County by making it illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to buy tobacco products. The new requirement applies to both traditional tobacco products like cigarettes, and newer ones like electronic cigarettes. The vote was unanimous.

Flowers says the age increase would help to break the social circle of access that enables underage people to smoke.

“It’s easier for someone at 16, 17 to get someone that’s 18 or 19 to buy them a cigarette whereas we think if they’re 21, the circle isn’t as easy,” said Flowers

Members of the board shared their personal experiences with smoking and smoking-related cancers in support. But some said the ordinance was just feel-good legislation.

Alderman Marlene E. Davis, D-19th Ward, said, though she would probably vote for the bills, she questioned their efficacy.

“We know that cancer is prevalent, especially lung cancer, but at the end of the day, this will not prevent one case,” said Davis.

Alderman Shane Cohn, D-25th Ward, said that while he supports efforts to reduce smoking, the bills insult 18 year olds who are legal adults.

“I don’t think that raising the age is the appropriate answer. If we’re going to – why don’t we raise the age to vote, why don’t we raise the age to serve in military service? You know if we’re going to treat kids like morons, they’re going to turn out to be morons,” said Cohn.

Alderman Sharon Tyus, D-1st Ward, says the limitations are a “great trade” if they are able to save lives.

“It’s inconvenient and they may have to send their friend to get it or whatever, but whatever inconvenience I can do, there are some things we should make inconvenient,” said Tyus.

St. Louis County already voted to raise the age for tobacco to 21 in September.

Karen Englert, the government relations director for the American Heart Association, is leading the so-called “Tobacco 21” effort in Missouri. Boosting the purchasing age from 18 to 21 won’t stop teenagers from getting tobacco products, she said, but it makes it a lot harder.

“We eliminate the social source,” she said. “It’s pretty rare that you’ll see a 21 year old spending a lot of time with a 13 year old.”

AJ Moll, the executive director of Smoke Free Missouri, called “Tobacco 21” a solution in search of a problem. Raising the purchasing age on vapor products, he said, makes it that much harder for people who started smoking young to quit.

“Vapor products are shown to help people quit smoking,” he said. “Youths aren’t initiating with them, there’s no gateway, and the majority of people that did experiment underage don’t even use nicotine in the products.”

Moll’s group made the same argument in St. Louis County, where the measure passed in September. He said he expects approval in the city as well.


Source: St. Louis Public Radio

Nov 11

Jackson County, Mo. to Increase Tobacco Purchase Age


It wasn’t a ballot issue on Tuesday, but the minimum age to purchase tobacco products and e-cigarettes will be going up in Jackson County, Mo.

On Monday, the county’s legislature unanimously approved the increase, which will affect the unincorporated areas of the county when it goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2017. The increase will bring the county in line with increases passed by two its largest cities, Kansas City and Independence, and a growing movement in the Kansas City metropolitan area to increase the minimum age to purchase tobacco to 21-years-old.

Jackson County is the second most populous in Missouri with a 2015 population estimate of 687,623 people, though only about 22,000 of those people live in the county’s unincorporated areas.


Source: Halfwheel

Nov 11

California hikes tobacco taxes, to start taxing e-cigarettes


SAN DIEGO (AP) — California voters soundly approved a ballot measure Tuesday to raise tobacco taxes $2 a pack and start taxing electronic cigarettes, marking what supporters called a victory for public health that overcame a heavily financed fight by tobacco companies.

The measure passed by a margin of 63 percent to 37 percent with more than 5.6 million votes counted.

Opponents, led by tobacco companies, poured more than $71 million into efforts to defeat Proposition 56, compared to more than $34 million raised by supporters of the initiative that included billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer.

“This historic measure will reduce teen smoking, fund the health care system, and save lives,” Steyer said in a statement. “Californians rejected the tobacco industry’s lies and acted to protect the health of our kids.”

The measure will add $2 to the current 87-cents-a-pack state tax on cigarettes. California also joins only about a half dozen states in taxing e-cigarettes, including vapor products. Proponents of taxing such products hoped approval would prompt more states to follow the trendsetting California.

Anti-smoking advocates said the vapor liquids that come in candy flavors aim to hook a new generation on nicotine, while the vaping industry argued its products are a safer alternative to smoking tobacco and expressed concern that taxing them at the same rate as tobacco products could threaten them as a potentially useful tool to help smokers quit.

E-cigarettes heat liquid nicotine into a vapor, delivering the chemical that smokers crave without the harmful by-products generated from burning tobacco. Some say e-cigarettes are a potentially useful tool to help smokers — a benefit that could be threatened if the products are taxed.

California has not raised its tobacco taxes since 1998.

Besides Steyer, Proposition 56 drew support from medical groups, educators and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who also supported a failed attempt to raise tobacco taxes in 2012. It was narrowly defeated amid big spending by tobacco interests.

California’s legislative analyst and the state’s finance director said Proposition 56 could raise $1 billion to $1.4 billion in state revenue by the 2017-2018 year, with potentially lower annual revenues over time.

Tobacco companies said the money will benefit insurance companies and hospital corporations. The industry was accused of misleading voters with that campaign because much of the money, in fact, will go to California’s Medi-Cal, the state-run program that pays insurance providers and hospitals for low-income residents. The tax revenue would also fund anti-smoking campaigns and medical research.

“Since day one, we ran our campaign on the issues and substance of the measure, and urged voters to evaluate the content, intent and flaws of Prop. 56,” Beth Miller, spokeswoman for the “No on 56” campaign, said in a statement. “While we believe Proposition 56 is bad public policy, the voters have spoken and we respect their decision.”

Both California and Hawaii recently increased the legal age to 21 to purchase either tobacco or e-cigarettes.


Source: East Bay Times

Nov 11

Voters reject Measure 4, an attempt to raise ND’s tobacco tax, in blowout


FARGO — Voters on Tuesday, Nov. 8, rejected the first increase to North Dakota’s tobacco tax since 1993.

Measure 4 aimed to raise taxes from 44 cents to $2.20 per pack of cigarettes and boost the wholesale price tax on cigars and tobacco products from 28 to 56 percent.

However, with all 432 precincts reporting, nearly 62 percent voted against the measure, while 38 percent voted in favor.

The proposal was offered unsuccessfully to legislators in 2015. Proponents then united with veterans groups to ask for a tax increase to help fund veterans programs.

Opposition was strong from North Dakotans Against the 400% Tax Increase, a group that included the North Dakota Petroleum Marketers Association and the North Dakota Retail Association and tobacco companies Altria Group and R.J. Reynolds.

Chairman Mike Rud said the coalition was “very happy” with the measure’s defeat, a stark contrast to the state’s other four measures and amendments all heading toward passage.

Eric Johnson, a spokesperson for Raise It for Health ND, said the group was “disappointed” by the outcome. Proponents had hoped the measure could reduce the youth smoking rate, something he said happened in other states that raised taxes.

Rud said one message that resonated with voters was uncertainty over how the revenue would be used. The Legislative Council projected it would raise an additional $141.7 million in the 2017-2019 biennium.

“I think the real message was North Dakotans like to know where their money’s going to be spent,” he said.

But Johnson denied that claim, and said the measure would’ve only allowed spending based on carefully deliberated strategic plans.

“It’s disappointing that the tobacco companies were able to outspend us 100 to 1 to promote that negative and false message,” he said.

Source: InForum

Nov 11

Amendment 72 Defeated, Colorado Voters Reject New Tobacco Tax


3d-rejected-stamp_gk0bnl_uAmendment 72 was defeated by a margin of 54 percent to 46 percent.

The amendment was the most expensive statewide measure on the Colorado ballot this year. It was supported by many health groups and supporters ran ads in favor of it, while tobacco company Philip Morris spent more than $16 million in advertising to fight it.

It has been 12 years since the last increase to the state’s tobacco tax.

The average tobacco tax across the state is $1.65.

The highest state tobacco tax is $4.35 a pack in New York. The lowest is 17 cents per pack in Missouri.

Source: CBS Denver

Nov 11

Knocking tobacco out of the park: Committee passes smokeless tobacco ban at Miller Park


MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee Common Council’s Public Safety Committee passed a smokeless tobacco ban Thursday morning, November 10th. It will apply to any sports venue, but proponents said it’s really a matter of keeping it out of Miller Park — and away from young baseball fans.

“Tobacco and baseball have been synonymous with one another for a long, long time,” said David Casey, Milwaukee Baseball Academy owner.

Milwaukee Alderman Michael Murphy and Milwaukee Health Commissioner Bevan Baker said they think the city can help break the cycle.

“The images our children see are embedded in their brain for a long, long time and it’s about the start you get,” said Baker.

Those caught dipping would first get a warning, and then face a fine up to $250.

Former Major League Baseball Commissioner and Brewers Owner Bud Selig might be the most prominent supporter of the smokeless tobacco ban at Miller Park. In fact, he even wrote a letter to Alderman Michael Murphy in support of the ordinance.

“It’s all about stigmatizing a known carcinogen that causes a great number of deaths in our country,” said Murphy.

Murphy admitted there wouldn’t be strict enforcement.

Those with the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids said it hasn’t been an issue in places like San Francisco or Chicago, where similar bans have been passed.

“We are seeing high compliance. We’re not seeing many, or any players. I don’t think there have been any citations or warnings issued,” said John Schachter with the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

It’s estimated that between 25% and 33% of MLB players dip. Proponents of the ban said it’s a big reason why about 17% of male high school athletes do it.

Casey, owner of the Milwaukee Baseball Academy said the ban is a start.

“It’s like any other habit or addiction — you need to support people going through it. You can’t just fine them and expect that to be the end of it,” said Casey.

By the start of the next Brewers season, smokeless tobacco bans are expected to be in place at 11 of 30 MLB ballparks, not counting Milwaukee’s Miller Park.

The players union has resisted a complete ban on chewing tobacco by the league, but has agreed that players won’t keep it in their uniforms or chew during interviews.


Source: Fox6 Now