Tag Archives: smoking ban

Smoking Ban in Bulgaria Left Tobacco Smokers Fuming

Bulgarian government announced last week it begins enforcement of a nationwide smoking ban in all public venues, among which are restaurants and bars, while its heavy smoking population was left fuming over the new measure.

ban on smoking in Bulgaria

The Balkan country, famous for its summer tourist destinations is home to the second highest smoking rates across European Union, behind Greece. The stats provided by Bulgarian Health Ministry demonstrate that 44 percent of Bulgarian population (7.4 million people in total) is smoking on regular basis.

From June 1st, all of the can be fined $150-300 for lighting up in cafes, bars, workplaces, restaurants, stadiums, playgrounds and school yards.

Up to this year all restaurants and cafes were permitted to designate smoking zones, physically separated from non-smoking ones, while smaller venues could decide to be either.

Russia to Introduce a Smoking Ban till the Sochi Olympics

The so expected ban on smoking in public places is approaching with the health ministry publishing its plans to introduce severe laws by 2014.

The law proposed by the government officials plans to prohibit smoking in all public places, including airports, train stations and transports till the Sochi Olympics. The price of a pack of cigarettes is planned to be increased in order to discourage people from this habit.

Russia Sochi Olympics 2014 logo

Smoking also will be banned in bars, cafes and nightclubs in 2015, and it will also include a ban on hookah.

A minimum retail price will be implemented, thus lifting costs up greatly.

Tobacco manufacturers will also be prohibited from sponsoring any events and advertising their smokes.

“Any companies and citizens can make their suggestions during the public debate,” the ministry declared.

Similar bans have been already introduced in many European countries as Finland, France, UK and Norway. The association of restaurants and hotels is ready for the ban, representative of the anti-tobacco coalition Nadejda Khalturina said Rossiyskaya Gazeta.

Examples from all around the world demonstrate that not only their gains did not fall, but sometimes even increased, as people wanted to take children with them, and would sit longer in a room with clean air than in one full of tobacco smoke.

According to a world survey that was realized among Russian adults, 60.2% of men and 21.7% of women in the country light up regularly.

Approximately 43.9 million Russian smoking adults constitute about 40% of the economically active population. According to data an average Russian lights up 17 cigarettes per day, and 400,000 Russians die every year because of serious diseases caused by tobacco usage.

“The solution to the problem of smoking is concealed not in bans, but in helping those people who want to quit this dangerous habit. Those who want to smoke won’t stop even if bans are introduced,” said well-known blogger Anton Nosik.

Several ministers state that such tough measures can only bring to an increase in corruption and counterfeit products.

“In order to have no doubts one can only walk through any train where anyone who feels like it smokes under the ‘no smoking ’sign.

It is not the question of how severe the punishment is, but of its inevitability. And we even do not have that. Who will enforce the law? Those police officers, 99% of whom are heavy smokers.” Nosik said.

“Prohibit the sales and manufacture of tobacco in any form, and I will be the first to stop smoking and begin jogging. But while cigarettes are legally distributed and sold, people are not prohibited to use them and allow millions of smokers to enjoy the great taste and flavor of their favorite smokes,” said blogger Andrei Kuprikov.

Hookah Venues Prospering in Chicago

Three years after the state prohibited smoking in public places, Chicago hookah venues are most spread than ever.

Employing a loophole that permits owners to smoke inside tobacco shops, a lot of exotic smoking dens have raised in the city since the Smoke Free Illinois Act was adopted in 2008, causing enough worries to some health officials.

Hookah Venues Prospering in Chicago

Concerned by the opening of its first hookah venue, Skokie is the first community to tighten up restrictions in an effort to eradicate the trend.

“We do not want to go back. We don’t want to have smoking in our community,” stated Dr. A. Michael Drachler, chairman of Skokie’s Board of Health.

Becoming more and more popular among teenagers in recent years, hookah originated from India nearly five centuries ago and till now remains a favorite pastime. The often decorated devices use charcoal in order to heat a bowl of flavored tobacco, thus producing smoke that is inhaled through a tube.

About 50 hookah venues are straggling through Chicago and its suburbs.

Illinois law bans smoking in workplaces, restaurants and bars, but tobacco stores are exempt if more than 80% of revenue is received from the sale of tobacco products and accessories. The stores should file annual affidavit with the Illinois Department of Public Health to permit business owners to partake indoors.

“There were cafes and restaurants in town that were permitted to smoke for years and then we ceased them from doing it, and these new venues came in and we stated you can smoke in there. With the urge for smoke-free environments, we just supposed that it was the most appropriate thing to do,” declared Mayor Randy Keller.

About the same time, Palos Hills implemented a tough Cook County ordinance banning smoking in all enclosed public places.

“It became a hangout,” stated Palos Hills Mayor Gerald Bennett.

Often mixed up with fruit and herbs, hookah tobacco is considered safer by adherents, who underline their lower nicotine and tar levels than in regular cigarettes, and the potential filtering advantages of a water pipe.

A regular cigarette possesses more tar and nicotine, but it is burned within five minutes, with about 300 to 500 milliliters of smoke inhaled, according to a research. Hookah session can last for hours, with 10 liters or even more inhaled.

The researches also stated that sharing a water pipe may raise the risk of transmission of tuberculosis and other viruses as herpes or hepatitis.

“It is very pleasant and relaxing. In stead of going to a bar you can simply come here and enjoy it with you friends,” stated Tammy Najjar, a credit analyst.

Washington lawmaker introduces flavored tobacco ban

Washington tobacco-lovers could have to stock up as certain flavored tobacco products could be banned across Washington very soon.

According to Senate Bill 5380, considered last week in Olympia, certain types of tobacco products would be banned throughout the state, a measure that supporters claim will prevent children from trying tobacco, but opponents admit will restrict freedom of choice and harm the economy.

ban on flavored tobacco products

“Restricting tobacco products which are especially appealing to adolescents, such as flavored tobacco, is a vital step in preventing all children from trying tobacco”, claimed Mary Selecky, state Secretary of Health.

She stated minors are interested in tobacco products that smell and taste sweet and those who begin consuming tobacco before the age of 18 are more likely to consume tobacco further on, increasing the expenses on health care in the state.

Under the bill, all tobacco products, which have a certain flavor or aroma, excluding menthol or natural tobacco, or those tobacco products, which are selling in dissolvable form would be banned. The ban also demands all tobacco products to not be displayed so that they are not directly available to the customers and would permit counties to adopt tobacco ordinances that are more rigorous than the ones adopted on state level.

The measure’s fiscal note states the approval of the bill would result in the loss of tax revenue of approximately $20million for the state treasury in the next two years, however supporters of the measure claim public health benefits would more than offset the loss of tax revenue.

According to a research conducted last year, every $1 spent on tobacco prevention programs during the last decade returned as $5 saved on healthcare expenses, including the costs to hospitals and patients, not only savings to the state.

Local owners of tobacco businesses stated they have been dealing with many restrictions and bans already and the lawmakers should concentrate efforts on enforcing current legislations, instead of adopting new ones.

Washington Retail Association spokesman Mark Johnson admitted that if passed the bill would be especially damaging to small businesses, who depend on the earnings generated by tobacco sales.

Jeffrey Packer, who runs a tobacco shop in Tacoma stated the bill would destroy his business, as it would reduce the profits and restrict freedom of choice of adult smokers across the state.

“The bill puts in jeopardy personal freedom of adult to select the activity they prefer,” Packer added.
During the hearing, Republican Senators from several Senate Committees supported Parker’s arguments.

“I believe the answer is very simple,” Sen. Curtis King, said about the ban on flavored tobacco. “Instead of outlawing a product, why don’t we simply require it to not be displayed in the stores?”

Supporters of the bill, that include several anti-smoking organizations, such as American Cancer Society, and American Lung Foundation, stated flavored tobacco products sometimes have a direct appeal to minors, particularly the products that have fruit or chocolate flavor.

Smoking Ban is not Observed on Kolkata Stations

It is very difficult to believe that smoking on railway territory has been prohibited for more than two decades, when looking on hundreds of passengers deliberately smoking their cigarettes on trains and railway platforms in suburban Kolkata.

Smoking on railway territory

While commuters accuse the railway authorities for not implementing the ban and accepting bribes to let lawbreakers remain unpunished, officials invoke helplessness and declare that all this happens due to the lack of awareness about the law among passengers.

“We often lead anti-smoking inspections and lawbreakers are punished,” declared, Purusottom Guha, divisional railway manager of Eastern Railway’s Sealdah division.

He acknowledged that it was just impossible to effectuate daily inspections on all train compartments and stations as employees of this division have also another duties to perform.

“We check approximately 832 of local trains, each having 10 carriages daily,” he said. More than 1.8 million commuters travel by local trains in Kolkata every day.

During an investigation that was held in some suburban stations as Agarpara, Bidhannagar and Barrackpore were found some hawkers selling cigarettes without any restriction.

At big terminal stations as Howrah and Sealdah, where officials are always present, there is no smoking and also there are no hawkers selling cigarettes. But once trains depart from these stations, commuters quickly light up on the train.

When Guha was asked why his department doesn’t take actions against hawkers, he stated that tobacco products are obtainable only in private stands and not in stands directed by the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation.

“That is why we can’t do anything against them,” he stated. Commuters state that the situation hasn’t changed for years, in spite of the Section 167 of the Railways Act 1989 which prohibits smoking on trains and railway stations. Smoking on trains and railway stations is fined according to the Criminal Procedure Code.

A daily passenger on the Howrah station, stated: “At each station you can find hawkers selling various tobacco products. And passengers smoke even in the presence of a check –man.”

“Our primary duty is to protect railway property and assure security to passengers in trains. It is the responsibility of ticket collectors to enforce the ban. The ticket collectors fine passengers for such violations as unbooked luggage or ticketless travel, but they do not punish any passengers for smoking,” stated Railway Protection Force officer in Howrah station.

Ticket collectors on the contrary accuse RPF personnel for not punishing smokers and liberate them after accepting bribes. Eastern Railway representative Samir Goswami stated that RPF personnel and officials of the anti-fraud departments effectuate daily inspections in order to prevent smoking and selling of tobacco products on trains and stations.

Comesa to solicit UN on WHO tobacco ban

The Common Market for Eastern and Southern African (Comesa) is against the World Health Organisation’s actions to prohibit particular ingredients that are used in manufacturing blended tobacco.

World Health Organisation

These ingredients are produced in specially designed laboratories ranging from sugars, sweeteners and such flavors as vanillin and menthol that are used to improve the palatability of tobacco products.

For example Burnley is a popular tobacco type in British American Tobacco markets, which is the most grown tobacco type in the Comesa region, mainly in eastern and southern African countries of Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe and which requires blending procedure.

The majority of scientists state that smoke from burley tobacco has an unpleasant taste during curing, requiring use of such ingredients as menthol, glucose and ginger or blending it with other types to soften its harsh taste.

A prohibit on the production of blending compounds would mean a loss of market for Comesa grown tobacco, and a significant loss for farmers.

At the recently conducted summit of Comesa in Swaziland, participating countries decided to solicit the UN at the forthcoming UN General Assembly to examine the Millennium Development Goals in New York (MDG).
The economic bloc declared that the WHO and other international agencies try to perpetuate poverty in Africa, bringing health arguments into order to cut down its product – in this case tobacco out from the world market.

It is expected that the bigger economies of bloc as for example Libya, Egypt and Kenya, despite not being the largest manufacturers of tobacco, will try to influence the WHO to change this ban.

The WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) proposed to implement a ban on laboratory-produced tobacco ingredients, according to the guidelines 9 and 10.

For the majority of Comesa members who are fighting to get rid of poverty through agriculture, adopting the WHO guidelines would mean a big loss for many tobacco growers who haven’t another alternative, and consequently a deterioration of national economies.

Poverty reduction is the main task of MDGs and no continent is more affected by poverty than Africa.

“I think that it is a very thrilling situation for many countries, considering the fact that 19 Comesa countries have united to oppose the WHO decision,” stated Francois van der Merwe, chairman of the African chapter of the International Tobacco Growers Association.

The big problem in this situation is that WHO officials in Geneva don’t understand how important the tobacco industry is to many African countries and what unpleasant consequences this ban will have for many of these countries.

For example in Malawi, 70 % of the population gains on its livelihood from the tobacco industry, with 700,000 farmers occupying with tobacco cultivation.

Smoking Ban in Menlo Park’s Public Places

Next week it would be very difficult for smoking citizens of Menlo Park to light up in public places and in the common areas of apartment and condominium complexes.

Thus Menlo Park will become the latest Peninsula city banning smoking.

Menlo Park's smoking ban

The city council is going to reconsider a proposed ordinance that will prohibit smoking in parks, athletic fields, transit stops and other public places on the meeting. Also the ordinance will ban smoking in the common areas of apartment and condominium buildings including stairways, lobbies, laundry rooms, swimming pools and associated parking areas.

This law would not restrict smoking on streets and sidewalks, except when they are being used for some city-sponsored events as for example parades and fairs and at uncovered parking lots.

Despite the fact that smoking would be outlawed inside restaurants and bars, the ordinance would permit it on their outside patios. Smoking also would be allowed inside tobacco shops.

When the city council reconsidered the ordinance in March, it demanded various changes, such as eliminating liability for landowners deemed to be in compliance with the law and setting apart existing tobacco retailers, namely Knickerbockers Cigars.

The latest variant of the ordinance would widen the exemption that the council members demanded for the popular Santa Cruz Avenue tobacco retailer and to any tobacco shop currently open or that would come in the future.

“I am surprised that Menlo Park will consider permitting outdoor smoking areas when other cities and countries are implementing restrictions on them,” Karen Licavoli from Breathe California, non-profit organization aimed at lung health promotion stated at the conference.

“The majority is closing, that is where the trend is going. This happens due to the increasing number of researches and investigations on the impacts of secondhand smoke on outdoor areas as well,” Licavoli stated.

Licavoli cited a 2007 Stanford study which showed that a non-smoker a few feet downwind from a lit cigarette is likely to be exposed to considerable levels of toxic tobacco fumes.

Peninsula cities that have adopted severe smoking bans are: San Mateo, San Carlos and Belmont. At present South San Francisco’s council is examining an anti-smoking ordinance.

Barbara Franklin the citizen of Menlo Park is the initiator behind the city’s suggested smoking ordinance. She started this fight about two years ago after a man who smoked moved into the condominium below hers. But the newest law cannot stop the man from smoking as the residential unit’s excepting balcony or patio is not considered a common area.

“I am pleased with the suggested ordinance. It requires more time to protect people,” she concluded.

Shocking smoking rates in Russia

More than 60 percent of adult male pollution smokes, as well as 40 percent of women!

Leonid Lazebnik, Head of Moscow Department of Health, warned the state officials that the number of severe health complications triggered by smoking is growing very fast and could result in a “national epidemic”, since the adolescent smoking rates keep growing as well.

Smoking rates among men in Europe

Dr. Lazebnik stated the picture is rather notorious, as the major part of male population admitted to light up at least several times in their lives, while some twenty years ago smokers accounted for 40 percent of men and only 5 percent of women in Russia.

In addition, the head of Moscow Health Department cited the 2009 data, showing that 25 percent of all residents of the capital smoke, with more than 70 percent of teenagers admitted to try cigarettes at least once, what is a catastrophe, according to the scientist.

Though Dr. Lazebnik did not have at his disposal the information about the spread of illnesses caused by smoking, Moscow and Federal officials, attending the meeting pledged to consider the legislation, which would restrict tobacco sales, increase tobacco taxes and limit smoking in public venues.

Yulia Grimalskaya, vice chairwoman of the Department of Family and Youth declared that they would lose the battle against smoking if they don’t have rigorous anti-smoking laws.

She added they have to prohibit cigarette sales in kiosks and introduce hefty fines for selling cigarettes to minors and smoking in banned places.

Nikolai Gerasimenko, chairman of State Duma Committee on Health, said they would lobby for the hike on excise tobacco taxes, what would help to crack down the illicit market of counterfeit smokes, and make the tobacco products less affordable for adolescents.

Russian Federation is home to the lowest tobacco taxes across Europe, and that leaves a plenty of room for the officials to consider an increase.

Besides the traditional measures, such as tax increases, Russian Health officials as well propose banning tobacco advertisements on TV, print media, and public places, and create smoke-free zones in commercial centers and restaurants, which will attract more tourists to Moscow.

Mr. Gerasimenko admitted that international tobacco corporations are investing millions to boost smoking rates, without any care about health complications their race to profits causes.

Gerasimenko complained that foreign tobacco makers were making money at Russia’s expense. “They receive their incomes, whereas the state spending on their treating smoking-related diseases increases,” he added.

Yulia Grimalskaya as well admitted both the teenagers and adults have to be educated about the risks of tobacco by means of anti-smoking campaigns. The Department Mrs. Grimalskaya chairs has elaborated several campaigns, featuring TV ads and billboards showing smokers with dirty sponges in their hands, symbolizing dirty lungs of smokers. The campaign including these billboards was initiated in Moscow this winter.

In conformity with a survey, a similar anti-smoking campaign carried out in 2009, resulted in a 7 percent decline in adult smoking rates, though the data about teenage rates remained unclear.

Australian smokers are fuming over the ban on cigarette breaks

Smokers feel frustrated and offended by the recently approved federal ban on having cigarette breaks for Public Health Department personnel. And even officials admit the ban is too hard and impossible to enforce.
Beginning with February 1, smoking employees are prohibited from having cigarette breaks throughout work hours, in conformity with a directive distributed among employees on New Year’s Eve. The corresponding ordinance was introduced by Jane Halton, head of Australian Department of Public Health.

An offance to smoke on these premises

Under the memo, personnel will be allowed to light up only during lunch break, and within at least 50 feet from the entrance of the building. The authors of the ordinance claim their major objective is keeping the professional efficiency and reputation of the Ministry and improving employees’ health.

Anti-smoking advocates admit they believe such move will serve as a gateway for implementing a comprehensive ban on having smoking breaks among public employees.

However, public lawyers were not so optimistic about the ordinance. The vice head of National Council of Civil Liberties, Sam Stosur, named the memo heavy handed and draconian, while Peter Hill, president of TressCox Lawyers which deals with employment laws violations said the directive could be legally overturned in the nearest future.

The spokesperson for Jane Halton said the ordinance was drafted in compliance with Australian Labor Code and the offenders would be subjected to penalties in conformity with APS code of conduct. The directive has an additional provision, according to which employees that are willing to give up smoking voluntarily will be provided with all necessary support.

Before the new directive, New South Wales (NSW) employees of Public Health Department were permitted to have short-time smoking breaks, admitted Victoria Carrey, communications manager of the Public Service Association NSW. However, everyone knows that smoking is dangerous even for those who don’t smoke, so if one considers this measure excessive, he would better begin receiving help for treating his dependence instead of violating the ordinance, she added.

Action on Smoking and Health Australia executive director, Anne Jones admitted that this policy is very reasonable, but difficult to enforce. However, she believes that many smokers would follow it, being afraid of effect the violation of the ordinance could have on their careers.

At the same time, head of the Community and Public Sector Union, Jade Blake admitted that the ordinance has good objective, but the means of enforcing it are not fair. As an example, she cited a similar ban on cigarette breaks imposed last year at the federal Department of Innovation has resulted in intimidations by disciplinary action for those smokers who refused to quit their nasty habit on their own.

Smoking in bars banned in tobacco state

As more and more eating and drinking venues prohibited smoking inside at their own will, the latest Virginia Anti-smoking policy would not trigger much opposition in the state which is home to the most ancient traces of tobacco consumption originated in the Jamestown settlement more than four centuries ago.

Smoking ban in bars and restaurants

Thus, beginning from December 1, Virginia became the 27th state to outlaw lighting up in restaurants and bars. The only exemptions make up those places where smoking sections are physically separated from non-smoking areas and having specialized ventilation system.

The ban is especially landmark for tobacco-loving Virginia, where tobacco plant is the most spread crop on source of huge revenue for the state coffins. The primary role of tobacco crop can be vividly demonstrated by seeing the roof of Virginia State Capitol located in Richmond, which is decorated by frescoes with golden tobacco leaves.

Moreover, the Capitol building is situated several blocks away from the largest manufacturing plant of Philip Morris USA, the maker of legendary Marlboros.

However, the proximity to cigarette industry did not stop City Councils of Richmond and North Carolina’s Raleigh, where leading tobacco companies, Philip Morris and Reynolds American reside, from implementing their own citywide bans on smoking in eateries.

For instance, North Carolina, the second largest tobacco state behind Virginia, also banned indoor smoking on January 2, 2010. The NC legislation permits smoking in cigar clubs, tobacco shops and patios, similar to Virginia law. However, in contrast to Virginian ban, NC legislation would not exempt any eatery, no matter whether it provides smoking section or not.

Thomas Hoselton, spokesman for Virginia Restaurateurs Coalition said that uniform legislation with no exemptions would be more beneficial for restaurant owners, because they would not have to spend thousands dollars on designating a smokers’ section.

Owners of several venues like Richmond-based Jazz Café opted for making his place smoke-free long before the statewide ordinance entered into effect. However, for other like Hisham Arazi the smoking ban appears to be an unfair jeopardy for his small hookah lounge in Richmond. The Palestinian immigrant has to spend huge sums of money to build a separate section and install expensive ventilation system there in order to allow his customers smoke hookah a traditional Arabian after lunch pastime that became very popular across the nation recently.

Arazi said that even upon making required changes he would not be sure his business would survive, as anti-smoking advocates are eager to convince the legislature to cancel all exemptions.

The American Heart Foundation reported that 27 states and the District of Columbia have already adopted legislations to prohibit smoking in restaurants, and few of them provided exemptions for hookah bars.

Economists state that a partial ban on smoking like that in Virginia is not good for restaurant industry as it provides competitive disadvantages for small venues that are not able to build separate sections and have to become completely smoke-free, while their larger rivals would establish such smoker-friendly sections and attract more customers. They admit that comprehensive ban on smoking in restaurants would be more fair.