No surprises here, black market tobacco is growing

A few years back I attended a symposium in Singapore on Illicit Tobacco and how to combat it.

At the conference, we heard from law enforcement and customs people about the effect taxation had on illicit tobacco imports. Basically the more you tax the product the better the return for criminals to enter the illicit tobacco market.

So, it was no surprise to me to read this:

For smokers, the habit is getting increasingly expensive as the Government ups its tax to discourage smoking and?recoup some of the health costs.

A pack of 20 cigarettes is expected to cost about $30 by 2020. A 50g packet of premium loose tobacco, used in roll-your-owns, currently costs about $78.

That is big money for hard-up smokers who are turning to the black market to buy stolen cigarettes and illicit loose tobacco.

Customs estimates the market for illegally manufactured or smuggled tobacco represents 2 to 4 per cent of consumption and is “not a significant problem”. Its figures are based on a 2013 report by Action Smoking and Health (Ash), which excludes stolen tobacco products.

Police believe the black market?is fuelling armed robberies and burglaries, with criminals targeting dairies and stealing tobacco products for resale rather than for personal use.

King says:?”There’s going to be people shot over it [tobacco].?Someone is going to get?killed.”

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Instead of plain packaging legislation, this solution would be much better

In stark contrast with the stupidity over plain-packaging there is actually some scientific evidence to support legalisation of vaping.

Thousands of New Zealand smokers? lives could be saved by legalising domestic sales of electronic cigarettes containing nicotine, a leading vendor says.

The claim by Cosmic, which is selling the devices despite the current legal ban, comes as submissions close today on a legalisation plan and has some backing from public health experts, both here and overseas.

Public Health England, which has helped to revolutionise official views on e-cigarettes in New Zealand, has said the nicotine delivery systems can help smokers quit, and they carry only a small fraction of the risk of smoking tobacco.

Auckland University?s Professor Chris Bullen, who led the world?s first high-quality trial to compare the quit-smoking rates of e-cigarettes and nicotine patches, said: ?I don?t think they are a magic bullet.

They?re not the sole thing that?s going to get us there [to the Smokefree 2025 goal], but I think they will help some population groups where we haven?t seen a breakthrough before.

?There could be some real potential for Maori smokers.? ? Read more »

Government?s shameful move on plain packaging. They?ll come for fat and sugar next

Despite no evidence to support the initiative the gutless cowards in the government have caved to the health troughers and brought in plain packaging for cigarettes.

Watch for international retribution, particularly from Indonesia, but also watch for calls for plain packaging for sugar and fat and anything else these wowsers want to control.

Cigarettes will start appearing on the shelves next year in drab packets with a big health warning plastered on the front.

Parliament on Thursday passed the plain packaging bill which has been in the works since 2014.

“There’s no other product which is so widely used and poses such a high risk as tobacco,” Associate Health Minister Sam Lotu-Iiga said.

“This is the next significant step in reducing the devastating harm.” ? Read more »

Why are e-cigs containing nicotine illegal?

We all know and recognise that smoking is lethal, it is a tax on the stupid.

It is harmful because it burns material releasing all sorts of other toxins other than nicotine and many of those are carcinogenic.

However vaping, that is vaporising, either?plant material or liquids is nowhere near as harmful and is not the same as smoking.

People who are addicted to tobacco are not addicted to?the?tobacco itself, rather to?the?nicotine, and vaping allows them to remove the harmful products while solving the addiction problem.

There is a problem however in that selling vaping liquids that contain nicotine is currently illegal in NZ because of our wonky tobacco laws.

It is illegal in New Zealand to sell e-cigarette liquid containing nicotine; only Ministry of Health-approved nicotine replacement therapies such as patches and gum can be sold.

People smoke e-cigarettes by inhaling a liquid vapour produced by vapouriser – a practice backed by the government in the UK, which allows them to be sold everywhere, including in supermarkets and at corner shops.

Prof Blakely said the benefits of vapourisers included a 50 percent increase in quit rates when people vaped while trying give up cigarettes.

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If a ciggie tax is racist, then surely payments under the Treaty of Waitangi are too?

You’ve got to admire the cheek of Marewa Glover, a veteran health trougher, who thinks that a tobacco tax increase is racist towards Maori.

An Auckland tobacco researcher says cigarette tax discriminates against Maori, who have the highest rates of smoking.

It comes after the Government decided to continue increasing the tax on tobacco by 10 percent for the next four years.

New Zealand has a tall target of being smoke-free in just nine years, and last week’s Budget introduced more tobacco taxes to help that.

But researcher Marewa Glover says because Maori and Pacific people are the biggest smokers, the taxes are discrimination. ? Read more »

Government excise tax increase mostly responsible for CPI rise

The government, in ratcheting up tobacco taxes has caused the CPI to increase…albeit buy a tiny amount.

Inflation has edged up as higher cigarette prices offset cheaper fuel.

The Consumers Price Index (CPI) rose 0.2 percent in the three months ending March, reversing the previous quarter’s 0.5 percent decline. That pushed up the annual rate to 0.4 percent.

Statistics New Zealand consumer price manager Matt Haigh said prices for cigarettes, food, rents and newly built houses rose in the March quarter, while petrol and air fares fell.

Cigarettes and tobacco jumped 9.4 percent following an increase in excise duty in January.

“The average price of a pack of 25 cigarettes was $28.79 in the March 2016 quarter, more than double the price from six years ago when annual 10 percent excise tax increases were introduced,” Mr Haigh said.

Taking out cigarettes and tobacco, inflation actually fell 0.1 percent in the quarter.? Read more »


The unintended consequences of anti-tobacco policy

In the US it has been found that teens are smoking cannabis more than cigarettes now.

Could this be an unintended consequence of a focus on combatting tobacco, while at the same time legalising cannabis?

For the first time, more high-school seniors smoke marijuana daily than smoke cigarettes daily, according to a new survey of teen drug use released Wednesday morning by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. An equal number of sophomores?3 percent?use marijuana daily as smoke cigarettes.

Though each year, fewer high-schoolers perceive regular marijuana use as risky, the number of 12th-grade, daily marijuana smokers has remained relatively stable, hovering near 6 percent since 2012. The reason marijuana use has overtaken cigarettes is because of the rapid decline in cigarette smoking among high schoolers over the past five years. Among 10th graders, for example, there has been a 55 percent drop in the daily smoking rate since 2010.

In an interview, the NIDA director Nora Volkow chalked up the reduction in smoking to ?prevention campaigns targeting adolescents specifically.?? Read more »

UK Health officials urge smokers to ditch the fags and start vaping instead

UK Health officials urge smokers to ditch the fags and start vaping instead, and on top of that they want e-cigs to be part of NHS funding.

E-cigarettes should be available on the NHS, public health officials have said despite conflicting evidence over their safety.

Britain?s eight million smokers have been urged to start ?vaping? after a government-backed report found that the electronic devices are 20 times less harmful than traditional cigarettes.

So far no electronic cigarette has been licensed by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) or the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice).

But a new report launched today by Public Health England, Kings College London and Queen Mary London, found e-cigarettes carry just five per cent of the risk of tobacco and should be widely adopted by smokers.

If every smoker in Britain switched to vaping, around 75,000 lives a year could be saved, they estimate. The experts called for e-cigarettes to be prescribed on the NHS once regulated.

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Sam Lotu Iiga should take heed

Sam Lotu Iiga is the Minister responsible for looking at the plain packaging legislation in the house at the moment.

Quite apart from the fact that there is no need for it due to our no advertising and closed cupboards rules on tobacco sales he should take heed at what is happening in the UK.

Even taking the soft option and pandering to the Maori party by including a clause in?the?legislation pending the outcome of the WTO case is fraught with danger given what tobacco companies are lining up the UK government for.

Tobacco companies are preparing to launch what could be one of the biggest ever legal claims against the British Government for losses as a result of the introduction of plain packaging for cigarettes.

They are expected to begin lodging papers at the High Court as early as Friday, seeking a multi-billion compensation payout for being stripped of the right to use instantly recognisable brands.

Lawyers will argue that forcing them to use entirely unbranded packaging would amount to deprivation of a highly valuable intellectual property.? Read more »

Health nazis in UK stopping people adopting if they use e-cigs

So let’s get this straight…you can have your own kids, use drugs, smoke cigarettes and be bombed on booze and there is no problem.

But in the UK if you use an e-cigarette, with no harmful vapours at all and you are completely unsuitable for adopting children.

Social workers have barred a couple from adopting a child after the would-be father was seen smoking an e-cigarette.

The decision came after the pair had passed a long series of tests to qualify as parents, and had earlier paid for expensive fertility treatment, which failed.

They were told they could not adopt if either of them had used an e-cigarette in the past 12 months ? despite experts saying that ?vaping? poses little or no threat to children in the home.

Last night, the couple said: ?When there are so many children desperate for a family and a stable home, to put up such trivial barriers is ridiculous.?

The decision by Staffordshire County Council is unlikely to be a one-off.

At least 13 councils in England ban e-cigarette users from fostering or adopting young children, The Mail on Sunday has found ? and there could be more.

?Abigail? and ?Brian?, who do not want to give their real names, approached the council in December 2013 after several failed IVF attempts costing over ?20,000.

A social worker visited the following month, but made ?no mention? of restrictions on smokers or e-cigarette users adopting, they claim. At the time, Brian was a light smoker of normal cigarettes.

By last September, having undergone medicals and interviews, and having proved they were of sound character and financially capable of raising a child, the pair thought they were on track to adopt. But when a social worker saw Brian using an e-cigarette, everything changed.

Brian, 45, said: ?By then I?d stopped smoking completely and hadn?t had a real cigarette in months. I was using e-cigarettes as a cessation aid, to ease the nicotine cravings.?

The social worker warned them the council did not allow smokers to adopt young children, although she was unclear about its position with e-cigarette users.

The next day, she revealed that the council would not place a child with anyone who had used e-cigarettes in the previous 12 months either.

In October, she confirmed in an email: ?Should you both become non smokers/e-smokers over a 12-month period, then you could of course reapply.?

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