Category Archives for "Headline"

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

Nov 11

Dallas Passes Park Smoking Ban With Exemptions


On March 1, smoking in most Dallas parks will become illegal.

The Dallas City Council voted 8-6 in favor of a smoking ban, but there’s some noted exceptions. For starters, events in parks will be exempt, meaning the State Fair of Texas, which takes place in Fair Park, is not subject to the band.

In addition, golf courses, the city-owned Elm Fork Shooting Range and the future Trinity River Park are also exempt. The city-owned golf courses and shooting range raised concerns about a loss of revenue with a smoking ban. While the city owns the facilities, private contractors actually run most of Dallas specialized parks like golf and tennis courses.

The move to ban smoking in parks has gone back and forth for well over a year, largely on the question of exemptions. The Dallas Parks and Recreation Board was recommending the ban with exemption, something that members of the City Council previously opposed.


Source: Halfwheel

Nov 11

Cigarette Smoking In The U.S. Continues To Fall


The number of cigarette smokers in the United States has dropped by 8.6 million since 2005 — and that fall could be accelerated by a tobacco tax just passed in California.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says smoking rates have fallen from 21 percent of the adult population in 2005 to 15 percent in 2015, when the agency conducted its latest survey. The smoking rate fell by 1.7 percentage points between 2014 and 2015 alone — a substantial decline, according to a report Thursday in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Smokers light up less when cigarettes are more expensive. So, more smokers may have been nudged to quit after the federal government increased tobacco taxes by 62 cents a pack in 2009. California voters approved a $2 a pack tax on Election Day, so rates there are likely to fall further.

“Raising the tobacco tax is probably the single most effective way to reduce smoking, especially among kids,” says Vincent Willmore, vice president for communication at the Center for Tobacco Free Kids. That organization and other public health advocates pressed for passage of the California tobacco tax. “The California vote was a huge victory for kids and health,” he says.

The tax will not only discourage people from purchasing cigarettes, it will also fund a renewed anti-smoking effort in the state, Willmore says.

While that initiative won, tobacco control advocates lost similar efforts in Colorado and North Dakota.

The story was topsy-turvy in Missouri, where the tobacco industry actually supported a 17-cent-per-pack tax, while advocates opposed it as too little to discourage smoking. Voters in Missouri rejected that tax.

Tobacco is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States. The CDC says it’s linked to 40 percent of all cancer cases, and 30 percent of cancer deaths. The government is striving to reduce smoking rates to 12 percent of the adult population by the year 2020, and is making progress toward that goal.

The latest drop in smoking rates was documented in the National Health Interview Study, which relies on people meeting face-to-face with survey-takers and reporting their habits. The 1.7 percentage-point drop between 2014 and 2015 is especially sharp, but it follows a recent downward trend.

In addition to the higher federal cigarette tax, there have been several national stop-smoking campaigns, such as The Truth. The Affordable Care Act has also increased access to smoking-cessation programs.

Progress nationally is uneven. The CDC’s new report notes that smoking rates are lowest in the West, even though taxes are higher elsewhere. They are highest in the Midwest.

Smoking is more common among men, and among American Indian/Native Alaskans. Smoking rates are low among Asians and people with college degrees.

Another trend has paralleled the recent decrease in cigarette smoking: Vaping has taken off in the United States. That has led some researchers to wonder whether some of the decline in cigarette use is a result of people switching to these vaping devices. At this point, there’s no data to show how much vaping is contributing to the downward trend in smoking.

E-cigarettes certainly aren’t a panacea. About 60 percent of adult people who use them also smoke cigarettes. Vaping also provides users with addictive nicotine doses. And public health officials are concerned that some youngsters who start vaping will then become smokers.

Source: NPR

Nov 11

Fewer in U.S. Smoke, But Smoking’s Death Toll Continues


THURSDAY, Nov. 10, 2016 (HealthDay News) — There’s good news and bad news on smoking: Rates of smoking in the United States have tumbled to new lows, but health officials still estimate that four out of every 10 cancers is linked to the habit.

The latest report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds that cigarette smoking dropped from 21 percent of U.S. adults (45 million) in 2005 to 15 percent (37 million) in 2015.

But in a Thursday media briefing, CDC officials also stressed that as many as 40 percent of cancers may be related to tobacco use.

“Although smoking rates are at an all-time low, tobacco causes cancer of at least 12 parts of the body, accounts for three in 10 cancer deaths, and will kill 6 million current smokers unless we implement programs that help them quit,” CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden said during the briefing.

The CDC notes that besides triggering lung cancer, smoking can also lead to tumors of the mouth and throat, voice box, esophagus, stomach, kidney, pancreas, liver, bladder, cervix, colon and rectum, as well as a type of blood cancer called acute myeloid leukemia.

In addition to cancer, smoking also contributes greatly to heart attacks, strokes and the majority of cases of COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), Frieden said.

According to another report released Nov. 10, every year between 2009 and 2013, some 660,000 Americans were diagnosed with a tobacco-related cancer and about 343,000 died from such a cancer.

Cancer accounted for three in 10 deaths among cigarette smokers, the report noted.

However progress has been made, Frieden said, and since 1990, about 1.3 million tobacco-related cancer deaths among Americans have been avoided.

“The smoking rate is almost a third of what it was in 1965,” Harold Wimmer, president and CEO of the American Lung Association, added in a press release. “This is remarkable progress, and as a nation, we have seen some of the health benefits. However, tobacco use still accounts for an unacceptably high number of cancer diagnoses and deaths each year, especially lung cancer, which accounts for more than 126,000 deaths each year,” he said.

And more and more people are either not taking up the smoking habit, or they are quitting, CDC researchers say. In fact, in just one year — 2014-2015 — the number of adults smoking cigarettes dropped nearly 2 percent.

The result: Cigarette smoking is now at its lowest since the CDC began collecting data in 1965, researchers said.

The CDC credits state tobacco programs for the continued decline in smoking. These programs focus on reducing cancer risk, detecting cancer early, improving cancer treatments, helping more people survive cancer, improving cancer survivors’ quality of life, and better assisting communities affected by cancer, the agency said.

“Funding for these programs will yield a return on investment,” Frieden said. “States that invest in these initiatives will reduce tobacco use that will result in fewer people with cancer, fewer deaths and reduced health care costs. It has been estimated that the annual cost of caring for an ex-smoker is $1,000 less than the annual cost of caring for a smoker,” he said.

These programs also use strategies to prevent kids and young adults from starting to smoke. In addition, they help eliminate exposure to secondhand smoke, Frieden said.

“Progress across the U.S. has been inconsistent,” he said. “There are large disparities among groups of people who use tobacco and in the groups affected by tobacco-related cancers.”

According to the CDC, blacks still have the highest rate of deaths from smoking-related causes, compared with other groups, including those without a college education and people living in poverty.

Moreover, blacks are usually diagnosed later, when cancer is advanced, and they die earlier, Frieden said. This is related to the poorer quality of care many blacks receive, he said.

Among Americans, the Northeast has the highest prevalence of smokers, (202 per 100,000) and the West the lowest (170 per 100,000).

Rates for tobacco-related cancers are higher among men (250 per 100,000) than women (148 per 100,000), the researchers found.

According to Frieden, the FDA has approved seven different smoking cessation treatments, which can also double or triple the likelihood that a smoker who wants to quit will succeed, he said.

As for e-cigarettes, Frieden said scant evidence exists that they help smokers quit.

“We’ve heard stories of people who tell us they were able to quit using e-cigarettes — that’s a good thing,” he said. “But no company has brought any e-cigarette to the FDA claiming that it can increase cessation rates. What we are seeing is that the majority of Americans using e-cigarettes continue to smoke.”