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Entries in Smoking (4)

Saturday
Jun012013

Starbucks to Ban Smoking Within 25 Feet of Cafes

Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Starting on Saturday, smoking will be banned with 25 feet of any company-owned Starbucks cafes in the United States and Canada.

In order to create a more healthy and comfortable environment, the chainis attempting to keep cigarette smoke away from its outdoor seating areas. According to the Wall Street Journal, many states and cities already have laws preventing smoking within 20 feet of building entrances, but that does not necessarily protect outdoor seating areas.

The new policy will only cover property owned by Starbucks, says the Wall Street Journal, so if the cafe's property ends less than 25 feet from its door, they will not police smoking beyond its boundaries.

Approximately 7,000 Starbucks stores will be impacted by the new policy, according to the Huffington Post.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jul102012

Is Big Tobacco in US Targeting Youth in Indonesia?

Medioimages/Photodisc/Thinkstock(JAKARTA, Indonesia) -- Indonesia is home to the chubby YouTube superstar known as the "smoking baby," whose chain-smoking antics have racked up over 17.5 million views. But while many may be tempted to write this off as another passing fascination, the "smoking baby" actually represents just the tip of the iceberg of an astonishing, global epidemic of youth smoking.

A year-long ABC News investigation examined the tobacco industry's expansion into Indonesia, which critics say is being fueled, in part, by one of the most powerful and profitable corporations in the United States.

Indonesia, the world's fourth-largest country, has an enormous, thriving tobacco market and very few regulations on the sale and consumption of cigarettes. One company in particular, Philip Morris International (PMI), has found tremendous success in Indonesia, making millions selling Marlboros and popular local brands.

Watch the full story on ABC's Nightline tonight at 11:35 p.m. ET

PMI can market their products to young people there in ways they could never do in the U.S. or Europe, where government agencies clamped down on tobacco advertising to youth over 40 years ago. In Indonesia, cigarette ads are abundant on television, and billboards even feature the iconic Marlboro Man, whom Philip Morris, under public pressure, laid to rest in the U.S. in 1999.

ABC News first reported on this issue last September and PMI has repeatedly denied requests for interviews. So ABC News confronted PMI's CEO Louis Camilleri at the company's annual shareholder meeting in New York City in June and showed him a photo of a Marlboro-branded kiosk located near a school in the capital city Jakarta that ABC News had previously reported on.

Camilleri said PMI had attempted to locate the kiosk after ABC News broadcast its first investigation, but said the company was unable to locate it. Camilleri also defended his company's efforts to reduce their products' exposure to children in Indonesia.

During an attempt to interview Camilleri on camera after the shareholder meeting, he admitted that in Indonesia, "there are marketing freedoms that we don't have in a number of other places, and we need to compete." When asked if he is comfortable with the way PMI does business in Indonesia today, Camilleri said, "I think we're doing the most responsible thing in Indonesia and that we've been very vocal advocates for restrictions."

Despite those claims, "there has been no fundamental change in the fact that PMI and other tobacco companies continue to advertise every place they are allowed throughout Indonesia," according to Matthew L. Myers, president of Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids in Washington, D.C.

"Indonesia was a tobacco industry playground, and today, sadly, Indonesia remains an industry playground," he said.

In 2008, Altria, the parent company of Philip Morris USA, spun off its international operations and became PMI. Today, PMI is the leading international tobacco company, with tobacco products sold in approximately 180 countries. According to its annual report, PMI's 2011 net revenues were $31.1 billion, up over 14 percent from 2010. PMI also reported a net income of $8.5 billion, a 18.3 percent increase over 2010.

In 2005, PMI had acquired Indonesia's third largest tobacco company, Sampoerna. Selling a mix of Philip Morris brands and popular Sampoerna brands, PMI is now the number one tobacco company in Indonesia, controlling an estimated 30 percent of the market. According to the company's annual report, PMI's business in Indonesia accounts for 9.4 percent of its 2011 profits, up 25 percent over 2010.

PMI has claimed that it does not intentionally market to Indonesian youth, but in the years following PMI's entry into the Indonesian market, government statistics show youth smoking rates there have nearly doubled.

In this wild west environment, children face almost no obstacle to purchasing cigarettes. In Jakarta, where tobacco ads were plastered on billboards, ABC News witnessed an 8-year-old girl buying tobacco from a vendor in a busy public market.

In tiny Palembang, a remote fishing village in Eastern Java, an elderly man freely admitted that he introduced smoking to his grandson, Chairul, when he was barely of grade-school age. "It's all right," the man said, "as long as he drinks enough coffee with his cigarettes."

Not far from where Chairul lives, we found the original "smoking baby," whose name is Aldi Rizal. His mother said she never wanted him to pick up smoking, but that his withdrawal-fueled tantrums were too difficult to endure.

Nearly a year after ABC News began its investigation, PMI did take down their brand logos on the kiosk outside the school in Jakarta.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Apr182012

Texas City Weighs Hiring Ban on Smokers

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(DALLAS) -- In times past, discriminatory employers posted signs saying: “Irish [or fill in the blank] Need Not Apply.” Now the city of Ft. Worth is considering saying that same thing to smokers.

Though 29 states have enacted legal protections for smokers, Texas isn’t one of them, reports the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram. State and city governments looking to fill jobs can legally tell smokers to get lost.

Already, a variety of private sector employers, including Texas’ Baylor Health Care System, ban the hiring of smokers. As justification, they say smokers claim more sick days and incur higher health insurance costs.  The Centers for Disease Control have estimated that smoking or exposure to second-hand smoke is responsible annually for $193 billion worth of medical costs and lost productivity.

Still, no municipality – in Texas or anywhere else – has yet gone as far as Ft. Worth is thinking of going. No final decision will be made until after May 8, when the city’s Human Resources Department will report further on the issue to the City Council.

“I think it’s an infringement on the public’s rights to live their life the way they choose to,” Vince Chasteen, president of the city’s employee association, told ABC affiliate WFAA.

Mayor Betsy Price told the station that the ban is worth looking into.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Sep292011

Tobacco Companies Knew of Radiation in Cigarettes, Covered It Up

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) -- Tobacco companies knew that cigarettes contained a radioactive substance called polonium-210, but hid that knowledge from the public for over four decades, a new study of historical documents revealed.

Scientists from the University of California, Los Angeles, reviewed 27 previously unanalyzed documents and found that tobacco companies knew about the radioactive content of cigarettes as early as 1959. The companies studied the polonium throughout the 1960s, knew that it caused "cancerous growths" in the lungs of smokers, and even calculated how much radiation a regular smoker would ingest over 20 years. Then, they kept that data secret.

Hrayr Karagueuzian, the study's lead author, said the companies' level of deception surprised him.

"They not only knew of the presence of polonium, but also of its potential to cause cancer," he said.

Karagueuzian and his team replicated the calculations that tobacco company scientists described in these documents and found that the levels of radiation in cigarettes would account for up to 138 deaths for every 1,000 smokers over a period of 25 years.

The study is published online in the journal Nicotine and Tobacco Research.

Cheryl Healton, is the CEO of the American Legacy Foundation, the organization created from the 1998 legal settlement against tobacco companies. She said the knowledge that cigarettes contain radiation is disturbing today, but would have been even more unsettling to Americans in the midst of the Cold War-mindset of the 1950s and 1960s.

"This was when we were crawling under our desks during school radiation drills and thinking about building bomb shelters in our backyards," Healton said. "You probably could not imagine a more ideal time where you would have maximized the impact of that information. Unquestionably, this fact would have reduced smoking if it had been publicized."

She added that most Americans are probably still unaware that cigarettes contain radiation.

Polonium-210 is a radioactive material that emits hazardous particles called alpha particles. There are low levels of it in the soil and the atmosphere, but the fertilizer used to grow tobacco plants contributes to the levels of polonium found in cigarettes.

Dr. John Spangler, a professor of family medicine at the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in North Carolina, said when smokers inhale, the radioactive particles damage the tissue on the surface of the lungs, creating "hot spots" of damage. When combined with other cancer-causing chemicals in tobacco, Spangler said the damage from radiation is potent.

"The two together greatly increase your risk of lung cancer," Spangler said. "So tobacco smoke is even more dangerous than you thought before."

David Sutton, a spokesman for Philip Morris USA, the largest U.S. tobacco manufacturer, said the public health community has known about polonium in tobacco for decades.

"Polonium 210 is a naturally occurring element found in the air, soil, and water and therefore can be found in plants, including tobacco," Sutton said.

All tobacco products on the market today still contain the polonium. In 1980, scientists discovered that a process called "acid washing" removes up to 99 percent of polonium-210 from tobacco. The documents reviewed by UCLA scientists reveal that tobacco companies knew of this technique, but declined to use it to remove the radioactive material from their products.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio