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Posts Tagged ‘tobacco companies’

New Plan to Sell Plain Packaging Cigs

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

cheapest kent cigaretteApproximately two thirds of inhabitants support the new legislation to moves to sell cigs in plain packages, explaining that tobacco industries will soon lose the fight to protect their brands’ originality. The state government will soon publish a consultation for to examine the new plan to remove all branding from all cigarette packages which are sold in England. The new decision has been accepted by state health groups too.

“Package designs are used for to advertise brand imagine, and also for to distract the attention of young people from cigarettes health warnings,” reported Professor John Britton, director of the UK Centre for Tobacco Control Investigations. “Putting cigarettes into plain packages creates no problem for smokers who want to continue to purchase the smoking products, but it also protects kids and teenagers from becoming familiar with and perhaps identifying with specific brands.”

Branded cigarette packages are considered significant to the state profits of the tobacco companies, which are mounting a destructive lobbying campaign to maintain their rights to distinguish their smoking products.

But an independent investigation of 10,000 adults, leaded for Action on Smoking and State Health, found that 62% of people support plain packs while only 11% of them oppose it. The study also found that only 6% of investigated people believe that the cigarette industry can be trusted to “tell the real truth”.

Ash also declared that almost eight out of 10 people support smoke-free regulation, with the majority of the public in favor of such a legislation on smoking cigarettes in public places and on tobacco advertisements.

Cigarette Sales Drop, State Revenue Decreased

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

cigarettes sales Fewer smokers is a very bad news especially for California’s state budget. A big agency this month was alarmed, it said that the state maybe received more than almost $4 billion.

More than a decade ago, 46 state attorneys general reached a charged with the four biggest tobacco industries. The companies accepted to pay an estimate of $246 billion over a 25-year period for to recompense states for tobacco-health care costs. But there is one ridiculous thing: The state settlement payments are not yet fixed, but linked only to cigarettes sales.

Major bond rating agencies and some municipal finance experts have warned for years that the number of tobacco smokers was drop more rapidly than they expected. Dick Larkin, director of credit analysis at Herbert J. Sims & Co., declared that there were two main reasons: fewer cigarettes smokers and a debate with the tobacco industries that has resulted in delayed payments.

Unlike most other states, California divided its settlement income between the state and local agencies, counties and four big cities, like Los Angeles, San Diego, San Jose and of course San Francisco. Local governments received almost half of the state’s settlement payments.


Councils Invested Money in Tobacco Industries

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012

tax free camel cigarettes Hundreds of millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money has been invested in the tobacco industry by councils which next year take on responsibility for public health, an investigation by The Independent has revealed.

Councils across England and Wales have at least £1.3bn of employee pension funds invested in tobacco companies such as Imperial and British American Tobacco, though the true figure is likely to top £2bn, with individual local authorities investing up to £125m each. The revelation last night prompted widespread condemnation from public health leaders trying to reduce the burden of smoking on the NHS.

It follows an announcement by the Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley, that £5.2bn will be available for public health spending in the year from April 2013, with councils set to receive just over £2bn to help reduce health inequalities and promote healthier lifestyles.

Last night health campaigners accused councils of a serious conflict of interest that would undermine the credibility of their public health efforts.

Martin Drockrell from Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) said: “When you consider the entire spend on public health for England, it looks like many councils have more money tied up in tobacco shares than they will be spending on protecting children and helping smokers to quit.”

Councils have long faced questions about the ethics of investing huge sums in the tobacco industry when smoking is Britain’s biggest killer. Concerns have been raised about the objectivity of their response to a forthcoming public consultation about the introduction of plain packaging. Health experts and tobacco firms believe this would significantly reduce sales, potentially damaging share prices and investors.

Lindsey Davies, president of the Faculty of Public Health, said: “This is a clear conflict of interest that will undermine councils’ credibility and the public’s trust in the health services they receive. We urge all councils to use the many alternative and more ethical, forms of investment for their pension funds that still maximise financial return.”

Reducing smoking rates – stubbornly stuck at 21 per cent – is one of the greatest challenges facing health officials. Tobacco is responsible for more than 100,000 avoidable deaths from lung cancer, heart disease and chronic obstructive airways disease in the UK every year. Council pension funds insist they are duty bound to maximise financial return and cannot consider ethical issues. But a new report by Fair Pensions and ASH, seen exclusively by The Independent, says this is a simplistic, outdated interpretation of the law.

The report also claims that tobacco companies are no longer low-risk, high-profit investments as tighter regulation, higher taxes and outstanding law suits will hit long-term profit margins.

The London Borough of Newham Pension Fund statement of principles in 2010-11 excludes tobacco companies on the basis that outstanding litigation poses an investment risk. Not all analysts agree. Edmund Salveson from Brewin Dolphin said tobacco firms remained a “safe haven” for investors, having proven themselves adept at dealing with legal and regulatory challenges. Both BAT and Imperial said they continue to outperform the market and have long-term sustainable businesses.

Most councils adopt this position. Camden has the largest proportion, 3.7 per cent of its pension fund is in tobacco, while West Yorkshire has the single largest value amount of £125m. Many other local authorities, such as Berkshire, have no direct investment in tobacco but have invested in global tracking funds such as the FTSE 100, of which tobacco companies make up 2 per cent. Campaigners claim a council’s duty to protect the wellbeing of its citizens and minimise the burden on the public purse from smoking outweighs any duty to pension trustees.

But Councillor Ian Greenwood, chair of West Yorkshire Fund, said: “When councillors are involved with a pension fund they act as trustees and their sole responsibility is to its beneficiaries and should not have any political influence.”

Cigarette Smoking Woo

Thursday, August 18th, 2011

discount gauloises cigarettesLook, we all know smoking Gauloises cigarettes is bad for you by now. We don’t need to spend billions of dollars telling people that but an entire industry has been built around getting people to stop, and it is primarily funded by penalties on tobacco companies and taxes.

It’s a truly parasitic relationship but it isn’t going anywhere and anti-smoking groups need smokers to stay in business. Apparently so do some researchers.

Some have blamed the culture for smoking continuing to happen despite common sense. No less an authority than Meathead from “All In The Family” says smoking should be eliminated from movies yet if I were to contend that all prints of “North” should be buried at the bottom of an abandoned mine shift, he would say that is censorship because there was no smoking in it.

He may have a point about media causing smoking. Nothing ever happens on the television show “Mad Men”, for example, so I can’t watch it on a weekly basis but since Netflix has the various episodes over their streaming service, and therefore I can watch them all at once to remember nothing has happened, I have done so. I must tell you, after watching a few of those I wanted to light up a cigarette and knock down a Gimlet – and I don’t even normally like to take aspirin.

Culture matters, but if we start to control one guy’s pet projects we end up controlling the pet projects for every special interest and that is bad. I don’t think commercials for sugar-frosted chocolate bombs during a kid’s television show are great but some people will do things that are bad for them, and that means some people will smoke. I think the New York Times health section should have a disclaimer and a graphic of what happens to the brains of people who read it too much – but I wouldn’t ban that either.

Cultural mullahs who get too much control take society to bad places. It even happens in science, like when any bit of silliness gets printed, as long as it implicates smoking. Evidence: a ‘study’ in Cancer claiming if you smoke in the morning, you are more likely to get lung cancer. Why the morning? Why not? They could have picked lunch time or brunch or whatever they wanted and made it work. If you cared about good science you stopped reading this piece long ago.
Smoking in the first 30 minutes after waking nearly doubled the, already high, risk of lung cancer
cooed the BBC about the study. Putting aside their questionable knowledgeable of commas, how ‘high’ is the risk and how was it doubled? Only 10% of smokers get lung cancer, a really low number since we have been taught from birth that if you smoke you will get lung cancer. I mean, you are inhaling a carcinogen every day for decades, it can’t be good for you. That only 10% of smokers get cancer is a medical miracle to me. But 50% of people with lung cancer never smoked. You may mentally think, ‘well, that means smoking is doubling the lung cancer patients’ but we don’t know that. We know X people get lung cancer and X/2 never smoked but we have no idea how many smokers would have gotten lung cancer whether they smoked or not.

We have risk factors for various things, including types of cancer. Some day, based on risk factors and individuals, we may find a way to determine the vices people can more safely acquire so they can make an informed choice about acquiring them but it’s not here yet.

Three Penn State College of Medicine researchers (and one from Columbia University) analyzed the self-reported habits of 4,776 smokers with lung cancer and 2,835 smokers without cancer – so they already rigged the numbers a little by having, surprise, nearly 70% more people with lunger cancer in the study. 79% of those who smoked within 30 minutes of waking up were more likely to have lung cancer. If they waited 60 minutes, though, apparently they were okay? The numbers dropped off a lot then.

Conclusion; smoking first thing in the morning was worse. If you are looking for evidence-based science in medicine, apparently Cancer magazine is not the place to find it. The explanation by the authors, even while they conceded “It is uncertain what explanation there is for the relationship”? Smokers who get up and smoke right away must inhale more smoke. Because more smoke will lead to more cancer. Oh boy.
Dr Joshua Muscar, lead researcher, said: “These smokers have higher levels of nicotine and possibly other tobacco toxins in their body, and they may be more addicted than smokers who refrain from smoking for a half hour or more.”
Who is that guy? Well, the BBC article got his name wrong too. Basically, the whole article by whoever wrote it seems to be an excuse for the BBC to quote Cancer Research UK on how bad smoking is. If they can’t even get the lead researcher’s name right, and they supposedly interviewed him, I have to worry about their quality in general.

No, I won’t worry any more, I’ve gone ahead and changed my mind; the BBC is far worse for health knowledge than the New York Times – that BBC article mostly reads like a paid advertisement for an anti-smoking advocacy group and the NY Times has done a lot of things wrong but I don’t think they accept articles for money.

We’ve reached the saturation point on anti-smoking hysteria so we should just lighten up or ban cigarettes – people will still smoke if we ban cigarettes but now we have learned that sniffer dogs can be used to detect lung cancer. So if someone gets busted with a canine lung cancer smell test, we can just arrest them for illegally smoking, since we know that is how they must have contracted it. And they probably acquired their cancer that morning.

Impacts and Cigarettes

Friday, August 12th, 2011

buy winston cigarettesOne of football’s legal dramas has just ended, as the NFL’s owners and players have reached a deal to end the pro football lockout just in time for training camp. Another, perhaps more enduring battle has just begun.

Last week, 75 former players brought suit against the NFL, alleging that the league covered up evidence that concussions could cause long-term damage. The plaintiffs have hired a very heavy hitter: Thomas Girardi, who’s best known as the lawyer who successfully litigated what’s come to be known as the Erin Brockovich case.

A few months ago, I speculated about what a concussion suit might allege. We needn’t guess any longer. The complaint, filed in California state court last week, puts the NFL under a legal microscope for a host of claimed violations of tort law: negligence, fraud, and loss of consortium. Also sued are related legal entities responsible for the manufacture and design of football helmets, as well as NFL Properties, which enters into equipment contracts on the league’s behalf.

The basic factual outline of the claim is that the NFL neither informed its players about the possible long-term effects from concussions, nor protected them from the risk of head injuries.

The lawsuit includes some high-profile players—Mark Duper and Mike Richardson—and the injuries chronicled in the complaint are clear and dramatic. They range from memory loss and cognitive impairment to intermittent rage, depression, inability to concentrate, substance abuse, post-traumatic stress disorder, seizures, dementia, and early-onset Alzheimer’s. The complaint also repeats the conclusion of Dr. Bennet Omalu that the deaths of players including Mike Webster, Terry Long, and Andre Waters were at least in part caused by chronic traumatic encephalopathy, triggered by multiple football concussions.

All of these plaintiffs face a long and winding road from injury to liability and recovery. The former players’ position is tricky, because the science establishing the long-term risks of concussions isn’t new. If the NFL knew about it, why didn’t the players, or at least their union? The attorneys set forth dozens of scientific facts from reputable journals and statements by formal and informal “authorities” (including Pop Warner, from almost a century ago), all to the point that the effects of concussions have long been known. So, why didn’t the union try to do something about this, if it was so clear?

The players’ response might be that the NFL tried to throw them off the scent. A comparison to Big Tobacco could be helpful to the plaintiffs here. The turning point in the litigation by smokers against the tobacco companies came when the decades-long campaign to misdirect and misinform the public was revealed. The scientific connection between smoking Winston cigarettes and deadly diseases such as lung cancer and emphysema, and the evidence supporting nicotine’s addictive nature had been well-accepted by the scientific community.

Nevertheless, in 1953 the companies created their own front organization—the Tobacco Industry Research Committee—to lend a veneer of respectability to their unconvincing counterarguments.

Once the cover-up and misdirection were laid bare, a legal switch was flipped. No longer were smokers seen as putting themselves in harm’s way. Rather, they were dupes of the industry’s long suppression of evidence. When their fraud—including a series of executives claiming before a congressional committee in 1994 that nicotine is not addictive—was revealed, plaintiffs went from losers to winners, virtually overnight.

Girardi is mounting a similar strategy, accusing the NFL’s oxymoronically named Committee on Mild Traumatic Brain Injury of warping and misrepresenting the best science in an effort to obscure the connection between concussions and long-term brain injuries. Indeed, the complaint makes the football-tobacco link explicit. The players cite a comment by California Rep. Linda Sanchez during an October 2009 hearing of the House judiciary committee that likened the NFL’s denial of a link “between concussion and cognitive decline to the tobacco industry’s denial of the link between cigarette consumption and ill health effects.”

This is smart pleading, made even more compelling by the complaint’s citation of one of the most astonishing statements, surely, that’s ever been made by anyone associated with a professional sport. In a 2006 article published in the journal Neurosurgical Focus, David Viano and Elliot Pellman—two members of the league’s concussion committee—summarized their “research” to date.

The fact that most players returned to the game within a week after suffering a concussion, they explained, was proof that “mild [traumatic brain injuries] in professional football are not serious injuries.” It hardly need to be said that teams—and their employees, including doctors—faced strong incentives to encourage players to go back on the field, fully recovered or not.

By alleging a pervasive, fraudulent cover-up, the plaintiffs’ attorneys have made the case a candidate for punitive damages, which are available only when the defendant’s actions are worse than “merely” negligent. And the suit alleges that the NFL has gotten away with suppressing evidence by virtue of its “monopoly power over American football.”

This isn’t an antitrust suit, however, and the term “monopoly power” isn’t being used in a standard way.
First, the plaintiffs are claiming the NFL is an “industry icon” that all lower football leagues model themselves after. Even if this statement doesn’t directly benefit the plaintiffs in this suit, it might serve as a template for a wave of suits brought by players at the college, high school, and even youth football levels. The NFL might soon be facing a cluster headache.

The second part of the monopolist theory anticipates the argument that the union should have, or could have, known what the NFL is alleged to have known. Because it controls the research and education of football players, as well as their safety, the suit argues that the NFL has a responsibility to protect them by establishing a responsible concussion policy. Making explicit the point that the NFL had information that the players didn’t, the complaint says that the “[p]laintiffs did not know of the long-term effects of concussions and relied on the NFL and the helmet manufacturers to protect them.”

There’s something to this. As Girardi put it to me, a football player would be ridiculed if he walked into the locker room and said, “Hey, I’ve got this new helmet that’s safer. Can I wear it today?” It’s usually the employer, not the employees, who are responsible for safety in the workplace—not just in the NFL, but as a basic principle of tort law. If the boss doesn’t provide the equipment needed to keep workers from getting injured on the job, he can’t later argue that they have only themselves to blame for not providing that equipment.

Yet even if the NFL was determined to cover up the increasingly troubling facts about the long-term effects of head injuries, the case remains tricky. Was the union reasonable in relying exclusively on the NFL, given the many other sources of information? To succeed on a fraud claim, one typically must prove that it was reasonable to rely on misrepresented facts. It’s notable in this regard that a bunch of these sobering sources are detailed in the complaint itself.

Other obstacles to success loom, most of which I detailed back in February. The suit might be deemed barred by the workers’ compensation law, which typically provides the exclusive remedy.

The claim might also be deemed covered by the league’s collective bargaining agreement, in which case an entirely different lawsuit would have to proceed in federal court.

Even if these jurisdictional and general liability issues are ultimately resolved in favor of the plaintiffs, there will then be 75 separate suits to win. As Girardi acknowledges, this isn’t a proper suit for a class action because the damages suffered vary so widely in their nature and extent. They’ve been brought as one complaint because the allegations against the defendants are the same for all, yet it’s more accurate to think of them as individual suits containing many of the same facts.

Girardi likens this case to the one against Vioxx, where pre-trial discovery revealed varying levels of injury, ranging from mild strokes to severe heart attacks. Here, he says, the damages start subtly—with mild memory loss, for example—and often progress to the more severe symptoms that ground many of these claims.

That’s his story. The NFL, even if forced to get to the merits, will try to tell a different one: about former players whose impairments are questionable and have unclear origins.

It’s hard to guess how much of a hit the NFL could take if these lawsuits succeed. It depends on the extent of damages proved, and whether punitive damages are awarded. Still, it’s easy to imagine liability in the range of the $333 million settlement against Pacific Gas and Electric in the Erin Brockovich case. It would take a lot more than that—perhaps a separate set of wrongful death suits—to dent the NFL’s financial armor.

What’s the next step? The defendants will likely move to dismiss the complaint, but if it survives that motion we’ll likely be in for a long slog. The NFL’s new collective bargaining agreement means the league will have labor peace until 2021. But if these claims have any traction, the NFL’s legal battles will simply be fought in a different arena.

Financial Companies are Like Tobacco Companies

Thursday, July 14th, 2011

buy temp cigarettes onlineBanks are bent on putting the financial crisis behind them, and that means settling with regulators at all levels, SROs, federal and state governments and private litigants. We’re seeing a bevy of settlements involving the big banks right now. Sometimes they’re dramatic. Sometimes they’re overlooked.

The Daily Ticker offers an interesting look at JP Morgan and the many deals it has struck in an effort to put the crisis to bed finally.

The bank agreed last week to pay $211 million to settle state charges of bid-rigging in the muni-bond reinvestment market. In June, JP Morgan paid the SEC $154 million to settle charges CDO related charges involving hedge fund Magnetar. In April, JP Morgan Chase paid $75 million in fines and forfeited $647 million in fees to settle federal fraud charges related to the Jefferson County, Alabama case. Other banks have negotiated a similar litany of settlements.

Analyst Richard Bove characterizes the situation as follows: “It has been our view, for some time, that banks are similar to tobacco and Temp cigarettes and asbestos companies in that they are being sued by plaintiffs for a wide variety of problems. This means that each year for the next five to seven, there will be agreements, some wins and some losses, that will cost these companies billions of dollars. JPMorgan Chase, the nation’s second largest bank, is likely to pay a large amount of this money.”

So there you have it, banks are now officially sin stocks, which of course are supposed to fare better in economically trying times.

Tobacco Settlement is Near

Thursday, June 23rd, 2011

high quality al fakher tobacco A settlement appears in the works that could allow major tobacco manufacturers, such as R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., to keep billions in disputed Master Settlement Agreement money. Multiple media sources reported Wednesday that 46 state attorneys general are reviewing a proposal to resolve the manufacturers’ claims that they have been hurt by nonparticipants of the landmark 1998 MSA agreement.

The four largest U.S. tobacco companies and the attorneys general agreed in 1998 to an MSA that would settle the states’ Medicaid lawsuits against the tobacco companies for recovery of their tobacco-related health-care costs. The agreement protected the companies against liability from lawsuits over the harm caused by Al Fakher tobacco use. Also, the companies agreed to curtail or cease some tobacco marketing practices, as well as to make payments to the states for some of the medical costs of people suffering from smoking-related illnesses.

The N.C. Attorney General’s Office and Reynolds declined to comment on the potential settlement.

The ripple effect of any settlement could be huge, even beyond its impact on the manufacturers, since many states use MSA money to pay for health care and economic-development initiatives. Some states have issued billions of dollars in bonds that are supported by the MSA money.

The MSA requires participating manufacturers to pay $206 billion to the states to resolve any liability related to health-care cost lawsuits.

It also set marketing limits on the companies — a pivotal part of the dispute.

The MSA has enabled cigarette makers that are not a part of the MSA to sell their products for less than the bigger manufacturers, grabbing significant market share. According to the National Association of Attorneys General, the U.S. market share of nonparticipating companies was 6.5 percent in 2010.

The manufacturers have said a provision allows them to pay less if they have lost market share to nonparticipants.

Since 2006, Reynolds has paid $12.34 billion in settlement money and also withheld $2.95 billion that’s been placed in an escrow account. It released $445 million from the account in February 2009 but still considers it part of the amount in dispute.

In July 2010, a panel of three former federal judges was established to arbitrate the nonparticipating-manufacturer adjustment for 2003. Reynolds said its portion of the 2003 money was $615 million. Reynolds spokesman David Howard said the case is in the discovery phase of the process.

Christopher Growe, an analyst with Stifel Nicholas & Co., estimates Reynolds could keep up to $3.5 billion in withheld payments, while Altria Group Inc., the parent of Philip Morris USA, could keep up to $2 billion.

“This apparent settlement would not only satisfy the arbitration over the 2003 MSA payments, but potentially lead to a complete settlement handling payments through 2010 as well,” Growe said.

One beneficiary of the MSA money is the Golden Leaf Foundation, created by the legislature to distribute tobacco funds to aid programs in agriculture, job creation and retention, and workforce preparedness. Another recipient is the state Health and Wellness Trust.

For example, Golden Leaf received $68 million in fiscal year 2010. From that money it provided $2.25 million toward buying equipment for projects involving Caterpillar Inc., NS Aviation LLC and Timco Aerosystems.

Dan Gerlach, president of the foundation, had no comment on the potential settlement.

Missing out on the disputed money also could remove a potential source of revenue for the state. The Republican-led General Assembly approved transferring $17.5 million of the foundation’s settlement money to the General Fund for the next two fiscal years.

Growe said he has expected a settlement to be reached since a third-party analysis consistently has backed the manufacturers’ view of lost market share.

Growe said some manufacturers may not get a refund, but rather a credit toward future annual payments.

Either way, Growe said, resolving the dispute in this manner would help stimulate the manufacturers’ bottom line and share prices, at least in the short term.

Growe said he expects the nonparticipating manufacturers to fight what settlement is reached.

“This is no doubt a blow to small manufacturers and Native American tribes selling cigarettes,” Growe said. “But it levels the playing field from a pricing standpoint and could serve to lift the deep-discount prices in the market.”