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Posts Tagged ‘tobacco taxes’

Big Tobacco Dependence on Tobacco Taxes

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012

order kent cigaretteThe battle against smoking tobacco would be closer to victory if our provincial governments ended their dependence on tobacco taxes and lawsuits against Big Tobacco. Last month Prince Edward Island filed suit against tobacco industries to recover health care costs going back to 1953, making it just the latest in a long list of Canadian provinces to do so. P.E.I. knows its chances for a big revenge are good. The tobacco industry looks like a cash-cow to provincial governments desperate for additional income.

Yet P.E.I.’s lawsuit is without value. It feeds off the popular view that Canadians have been helpless victims of tobacco businesses which have tricked them about the dangers of tobacco smoking. But the whole idea of holding the tobacco company uniquely responsible for the health consequences of smoking cig is a gross act of history.

Big Tobacco has had a lot of enablers, including our own provincial governments.

As anyone who was alive in the 1960s and ’70s will confirm, it has long been common knowledge that there were significant health risks from tobacco smoking. As early as 1964 the U.S. Surgeon-General linked smoking cigarettes and lung cancer.

This was followed by a succession of similar smoking warnings from numerous national and international public health organizations. In 1968, terminally ill actor William Talman from the Perry Mason TV show filmed a extended broadcast commercial in which he censured his lung cancer on a three-package-a-day habit.

By the 1980s there was no excuse for anyone to be ignorant of the smoking facts. Cigarette packs carried labels warning of the health risks of smoking habit. Advertising by tobacco industries in magazines, TV, and radio was illegal. Airlines prohibited smoking tobacco on flights.

As evidence that the message was sinking in, Canadian smoking rates dropped. As of 1987, 44 percent of inhabitants who had started smoking tobacco had quit.

Japanese Government Launched a New No-Smoking Program

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012

best avalon cigsOnce upon a time, smoking tobacco in Japan is not banned or limited, so the sight of smokers was common. With Japan’s low cigs prices and the country’s ever-so-accessible cigarettes vending machines, smokers could light up their favorite smoking brand on the streets, in pubs, and even in restaurants. That is until higher tobacco taxes were enforced on cigarettes and many public areas were turned into non-smoking buildings. Smoking tobacco was also prohibited on the streets and in offices.

This, of course, has been disappointing and painful for smokers as they are not able to enjoy their smoking habit as easily as before.

The Japanese government recently reported that it is going to launch a new program that aims to decrease the smoking rate in half in 10 years.

Tobacco company General Holdings has come to the common smoker’s attack by launching Ippuku.

Ippuku is an indoor smoking place that is open every day from 6 AM to midnight, very well equipped with ventilation special systems, aroma diffusers, vending machines, televisions, background music, and also free Internet.

Starting with July 3, Ippuku shops will open in Tokyo: one near Ochanomizu, and two others in Jimbocho and Kanada stations.

General Holdings new plans to open a total of 36 sections all over Tokyo by the end of 2015.

In addition to the price rate of 50 yen (per person, per visit), clients will be able to choose from daily (100 yen), weekly (500 yen) and even monthly (1800 yen) passes.

Teen Smoking in the United States Falls

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

cheapest camel cigarettes When the Joe Camel advertisements were all but outlawed in 1997, teen smoking was near its highest level ever. Today, the benefits of eliminating these types of advertisements coupled with better anti-smoking campaigns are still paying off, according to a national report.

The Monitoring the Future study reported a record low 11.7 percent of teens in grades eight, 10 and 12 said they had smoked in the past 30 days, compared to 12.8 percent in 2010.

The study has been tracking teen smoking in the United States for the last 37 years and is funded by a government grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

The study cited higher tobacco taxes, stronger smoke-free laws and better drug prevention programs as factors in the declining rate.

While the national numbers may be at historic lows, a determination of local levels is a bit harder to come by.

“Unfortunately, there is not a lot of data for Lake County,” said Deputy Health Commissioner Ron Graham with the Lake County General Health District.

One source that is available is the Ohio Youth Risk Behavior Survey, Graham said.

The 2011 survey questioned ninth- through 12th-graders and found 21.1 percent of students had smoked in the past 30 days, compared to 21.6 percent in 2007, Graham said.

BAT Unconstitutional Cigarette Law

Thursday, November 10th, 2011

cheap cigarettes onlineBritish American Tobacco Plc (BATS) said Australia’s planned cigarette plain-packaging law is unconstitutional and if enacted, the company will sue in the nation’s top court in a bid to repeal it.

The Australian Senate is scheduled to vote on the legislation today after debating it. The government will push back implementation of the law by five months to December 2012 because of delays in parliament’s upper house in passing the bill, Australian Health Minister Nicola Roxon said Nov. 2.

Passage would make the country the first to ban logos on cigarette packaging. Cigarettes would have to be sold in plain dark-olive packages, with no company logos and the same font for all premium cigarettes brands.

“It is unconstitutional for the federal government to remove a legal company’s valuable property without compensation,” London-based BAT’s Australian unit said in an e- mailed statement today referring to the company’s trademarks. The cigarette maker said it “confirmed it will commence proceedings in the High Court against the federal government” should the legislation pass the Senate.

The Australian government announced the plan to ban branding on cigarette packs in April last year, along with a 25 percent increase in tobacco taxes and an A$85 million ($86 million) advertising campaign to combat smoking.
Roxon Responds

Smoking kills 15,000 Australians each year and costs the nation about A$31 billion annually in health and workplace expenses, according to the government. With 15.1 percent of the population aged 14 or over smoking daily, it is the country’s top drug and preventable health issue, the government said.

“We won’t be bullied by tobacco companies threatening litigation and we are prepared to fight them if they do,” Roxon said in Melbourne today.

Cigarette makers including BAT and Philip Morris International Inc., the world’s largest publicly traded tobacco company, have taken legal action against the Australian move.

Philip Morris said in June that it served the Australian government with a notice of claim stating its intention to pursue its case in international arbitration. The Australian proposal violates a treaty with Hong Kong and may cause billions of dollars in damages, the maker of Marlboro cigarettes said.
“Criminal Gangs”

“No other country in the world has implemented plain packaging and there are many good reasons for that,” BAT Australia said in today’s statement. “It will make criminal gangs countless dollars as they reproduce plain-packaged cigarettes with ease.”

Cigarette packs in Australia already contain graphic warnings including pictures of diseased lungs that cover half the back of a package.

In the U.S., a federal judge on Nov. 7 blocked rules from taking effect that would order tobacco companies to display graphic health warnings, saying the move may violate their rights to free speech.

Missouri Cigarette Taxes Raised

Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

buy red & white cigarettesMissouri health advocates today filed with the secretary of state for a ballot initiative to raise the state’s famously low Red & White cigarette tax by 80 cents per pack.

The American Cancer Society and its coalition of health, education and business groups will have to collect more than 90,000 petition signatures by May to get their measure on the ballot, most likely for the November 2012 general election. Tobacco opponents have been able to do that before, only to see proposed tax increases fail at the polls in 2002 and 2006.

Meanwhile, other states have been raising their tobacco taxes, leaving Missouri with the lowest cigarette excise tax in the nation – 17 cents per pack. The average for all states is $1.46 per pack.

The Cancer Society estimates the tax increase would raise about $308 million a year in new revenue, with half going to elementary and secondary education; 30 percent to colleges and universities, mainly to train healthcare providers; and 20 percent to tobacco use prevention and cessation programs.

“I think the other (initiatives) were done very well. They were narrow losses,” said Misty Snodgrass, Missouri legislative and government relations director for the Cancer Society. “This one has broader appeal. It impacts more people.”

The measure has the backing of the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City and of civic leader Warren Erdman, a curator of the University of Missouri system and an executive of Kansas City Southern.

Snodgrass said other health, education and business groups also support the ballot initiative.

Another attempt to raise tobacco taxes is going to run into opposition from retailers, notably the members of the Missouri Petroleum Marketers & Convenience Store Association, which fought the proposed tax increase in 2006.

“It’s déjà vu all over again,” said Ronald Leone, the association’s executive director. “The association is confident the voters will say ‘no’ a third time. I think certainly a majority of Missourians will understand that low taxes are a good thing.”

No only do low taxes foster job growth, but in the case of tobacco, they lure smokers into the state to take advantage of lower cigarette prices, Leone said.

Snodgrass said the tax increase was set high enough to discourage smoking — Missouri has some of the highest smoking and lung cancer rates in the nation — but not so high as to make the state uncompetitive with most of its neighbors.

Even with an 80-cent increase, Missouri’s tax would be lower than those in Illinois, Iowa and Arkansas, she said. It would, however, be higher than Kansas’ 79 cents per pack.

Tobacco-Control Should Move to the Black Market

Friday, June 3rd, 2011

buy davidoff cigarettes onlineIn her Opinion piece in The Gazette May 31, Flory Doucas ignores the unintended consequences of failed “good” policies given the emergence of a thriving black market. A closer look at the situation reveals a reality much different than the one described by Doucas. In fact, here’s what we see:

Provincial governments, with inexplicable disregard for basic market principles, pushing tobacco taxes well past the tipping point, and creating attractive black-market conditions for plastic bags of 200 low-priced, untaxed, illegal cigarettes that often sell for as little as one-tenth the price of legal Davidoff cigarettes.

Scaremongering anti-tobacco lobbyists warning of the dangers of Big Tobacco’s covert marketing activities even though display and promotional bans have been in place for almost 10 years in some provinces.

Local health units’ sending dressed-up teenage “mystery shoppers” to test and entrap clerks in law-abiding neighbourhood convenient stores, while turning a blind eye to the hundreds of “smoke shacks” where promotions such as free hockey tickets are advertised to consumers.

The federal government stubbornly spending six years and millions of taxpayer dollars on developing an outmoded and impractical excise-stamp system designed to differentiate legal from illegal products, when everyone knows that the illegal products, being sold in transparent plastic bags, are easily identifiable.

Health Canada’s proposing new regulations to increase the size of the graphic health warning to 75 per cent, from 50 per cent, on legal cigarette packs, when the ubiquitous illegal products, which make up nearly half of all cigarettes in some markets, carry no health warning at all.

Law enforcement’s seizing thousands of illegal cigarettes every week while conceding that billions more are trafficked off First Nations reserves throughout the country by more than 175 organized-crime groups, with shipments frequently finding their way into the hands of children.

I know that many readers will not agree with our views on this situation. Some will probably accuse us of trying to deflect attention from our own troubles. Others may even suggest that government needs to address both the legal and illegal markets. Fair enough. But does anyone truly believe that the nation’s policy-makers have meaningful solutions to the new tobacco reality of today? Does anyone believe that governments have the political will to address publicly the source of the problem: the more than 50 illegal factories and more than 300 smoke shacks on First Nations land? Unfortunately, we remain doubtful, and without action these numbers will only increase in future years.

Politicians see tobacco as an easy win. They should open their eyes and see that the real tobacco problem in Canada is not the regulated and enforced legal industry, where already more than 200 laws and regulations exist, but rather the unregulated and growing illegal black market. Times have changed, and tobacco control must change, too. If not, government may succeed in handing over the tobacco trade to the underground and criminal market – a free-for-all market that is unregulated, unenforced and untaxed.

Panel Pushes Tobacco Law Change

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

best marengo cigarettes onlineIn the waning days before Republican lawmakers present a reworked version Gov. Scott Walker’s 2011-13 budget, the Legislature’s finance committee pushed through major changes to the tax structure on some smokeless tobacco products.

The Joint Finance Committee approved a provision put forth by Altria Client Services Inc., parent company of tobacco giant Philip Morris and U.S. Smokeless Tobacco, that would tax moist snuff, or chewing tobacco, by weight, not a percentage of what it costs distributors.

The tobacco would be taxed at a rate of $1.76 per ounce, or $2.11 if it weighed less than 1.2 ounces.

David Sutton, spokesman for Altria, said it would put smokeless tobacco products on par with other items like Marengo cigarettes, alcohol and gasoline, which Wisconsin taxes by volume. U.S. Smokeless Tobacco is the largest producer of moist snuff and includes the brands Copenhagen and Skoal.

“This is just a much more effective system,” Sutton said. “And it’s why the federal government uses it and two dozen states have gone to the weight-based approach.”

Wisconsin switched from a weight-based tax in 2009 under then-Gov. Jim Doyle as part of a broad tax increase on cigarettes and other tobacco products to shore up the state’s flailing budget.

Noncigarette tobacco taxes tallied $59.89 million in 2009-10, up from $29.75 million in 2007-08, but that also included tax increases on cigars and other tobacco products.

State Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette, a member of the Joint Finance Committee, said tax rates could be adjusted so the fiscal impact would be minimal. However, opponents point out that weight-based taxes rarely keep up with inflation. Beer, for example, is taxed by volume, and tax collections have increased just $120,000 in the last 10 years.

An ounce of moist snuff was taxed $1.31 in 2008. Distributors now pay a tax equal to 100 percent of the manufacturer’s list price, so brands that charge more for their product — like Skoal and Copenhagen — are taxed at a higher rate. A weight-based tax would likely make the top brands cheaper at checkout while lower-priced products would become more expensive.

Opponents of the effort said switching to a weight-based tax would steer more minors toward tobacco because the desirable products with flashy advertising would be cheaper.

“We’re concerned that changing the taxation on tobacco would make certain products more accessible to kids,” said Gail Sumi, government relations director for the American Cancer Society. “Thirteen percent of kids already use smokeless tobacco. We don’t need to make it easier.”

Writing policy measures into the budget almost guarantees they don’t undergo the same scrutiny as other bills that require separate legislative hearings and votes from lawmakers. That’s problematic, said Sen. Rob Cowles, R-Allouez.

“They’re down to the last week and there’s all sorts of crazy stuff coming up,” Cowles said. “All this stuff should not be taken up in the state budget.”

Nygren said he agreed that the topic would benefit from a full debate but added the law was changed in 2009 in a similar manner.

“One of the things we could do with policies that are egregious and out of line, the quickest way to change them back is to do it in this budget,” he said.