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New health warnings will be required for all cigarette packages and advertisements

FDA officials say the requirements are the most significant change in 35 years

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has finalized new health warnings that will soon be required on all cigarette packaging and advertising. 

The new warnings include additional statements and images that detail how smoking can impact consumers’ health; this includes higher risk of disease for the smoker and additional consequences for pregnant women who are exposed to the products.

“The 11 finalized cigarette health warnings represent the most significant change ...

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    New York City raises cigarette prices and restricts where tobacco products can be sold

    Seven pieces of legislation aim to further reduce smoking rates in the city

    Mayor Bill de Blasio has signed a series of seven bills that will raise the price of tobacco products and restrict where they can be sold. The pieces of legislation aim to reduce the number of smokers in New York City by 160,000 by 2020.

    The move followed dramatic decreases in smoking rates for the city in recent years; the number of smokers has declined by 14.3% since 2015 and is down 21.5% since 2002. Despite these victories, de Blasio made it clear that anti-smoking efforts are among the city’s top priorities.

    “Even though tobacco is a leading cause of premature death across the country, Big Tobacco will stop at nothing to hook people on these deadly products,” he said. “We are sending a loud and clear message that we will not let their greed kill any more New Yorkers without a fight. These new laws will not only help reduce the number of smokers in our City, but also save lives.”

    Increasing prices and reducing availability

    The seven pieces of legislation were drafted by five New York City Council members and were first heard by de Blasio on August 25. Below is a summary of each measure:

    • Int. 1544 stipulates that the minimum price of cigarettes and little cigars be raised to $13 per pack from $10.50 and sets the first-ever price floor and tax for a variety of tobacco products. Lawmakers estimate that the bill will lead to a 6.4% decrease in adult cigarette smoking and will generate $1 million annually that will be dedicated to public housing.
    • Int. 1547 reduces the number of stores that can sell tobacco products by capping the number of tobacco retail dealer licenses to 50% of the previous allowance. Lawmakers say that no new licenses will be issued in communities until they have decreased to fit the new standard. The bill also updates retail licenses for selling cigarettes to include all types of tobacco.
    • Int. 1532 requires e-cigarette retailers to have a license to sell their products and caps the number of licenses that can be distributed to 50% of their previous allowance. The bill also prohibits pharmacies from selling e-cigarette products.
    • Int. 1471 increases the biennial fee for obtaining a new tobacco retail dealer license, which includes all types of tobacco sales, to $200 from its previous cost of $110.
    • Int. 1585 requires owners of residential buildings to create a policy on smoking and to disclose it to all current and prospective residents. The bill would apply to all residential buildings with three or more units and extends to rentals, condominiums, and cooperatives. Owners will also be required to prominently post the building’s policy on an annual basis and any time the policy changes.
    • Int. 484 prohibits smoking or the use of any e-cigarette products in common areas in residential buildings with three units or more. The bill expands on previous laws which prohibited smoking in residential buildings with 10 units or more.
    • Int. 1131 bans pharmacies, or retail stores that contain pharmacies, from selling tobacco products. Lawmakers say this prohibition would go into effect after current licenses expire in 2018.

    Rise in unregulated cigarettes?

    Critics of the price increases and new regulations say that the new measures will lead many smokers to start buying untaxed and unregulated cigarettes on the black market, according to the Washington Post.

    “There should be concern that this ordinance will most likely only further exacerbate the illicit trade of cigarettes in New York City, which already has the highest percentage of contraband cigarettes in the country,” said spokeswoman Brittany Adams of RAI Services Company.

    “These measures will destroy the business investment of retailers who have been leading the effort to prevent youth access to tobacco products, and the result will be lost revenue, lost jobs and an increasing number of sales in unregulated and illegal settings,” added Jim Calvin, president of the New York Association of Convenience Stores.

    However, regulators and health advocates applauded the sweeping legislation as a decisive move in the interest of public health.

    “These new laws will undoubtedly improve the health of City residents and help prevent another generation of youth from becoming addicted to these deadly products,” said Jeff Seyler, Executive Vice President of the Northeast Region of the American Lung Association. “Tobacco use remains a major public health issue, but thanks to the efforts of our elected officials here today it will endanger an even smaller percent of public than ever before.”

    “For far too long, tobacco has been both persistent and pervasive in some of our most vulnerable communities,” said Deidre Sully, Director of NYC Smoke-Free. “We know that high tobacco use rates are linked to widespread availability of the product. This bold move will now save more lives and protect our youth from a lifetime of addiction.”

    Mayor Bill de Blasio has signed a series of seven bills that will raise the price of tobacco products and restrict where they can be sold. The pieces of le...

    U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Company recalls certain smokeless tobacco products

    Some product cans contain foreign metal objects

    U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Company (USSTC) is recalling some of its smokeless tobacco products manufactured at its facility in Franklin Park, Ill., and distributed nationally.

    The firm has received eight consumer complaints of foreign metal objects -- including sharp metal objects -- found in select cans.

    In each case, the object was visible to the consumer and there have been no reports of consumer injury.

    Complaints came from consumers in Indiana, Texas, North Carolina, Tennessee, Wisconsin and Ohio.

    The following products are being recalled:

    Cope Brand Products

    Long Cut Straight

    This recall applies to lots with no printed code on the bottom of the can, or with codes that begin with the letters “F”, “R”, “K”, or “P”.

     Copenhagen Brand Products

    Extra Long Cut Natural 
    Long Cut Mint 
    Long Cut Southern Blend 
    Pouch Mint 
    Pouch Wintergreen 
    Long Cut (overseas military only) 
    Fine Cut (overseas military only) 
    Long Cut Straight (overseas military only) 
    Long Cut Wintergreen (overseas military only) 
    Pouch (overseas military only) 
    Fine Cut Plastic Can (only available in Alaska and Hawaii) 
    Long Cut Plastic Can (only available in Alaska and Hawaii) 
    Pouch Plastic Can (only available in Alaska and Hawaii)

    This recall applies to lots with no printed code on the bottom of the can, or with codes that begin with the letters “F”, “R”, “K”, or “P”.

    Husky Brand Products

    Fine Cut Natural 
    Long Cut Straight 
    Long Cut Wintergreen

    This recall applies to lots with no printed code on the bottom of the can, or with codes that begin with the letters “F”, “R”, “K”, or “P”.

    Skoal Brand Products

    Bandit Mint 
    Bandit Wintergreen 
    Long Cut Apple Tobacco Blend 
    Long Cut Berry Tobacco Blend 
    Long Cut Cherry 
    Long Cut Citrus Tobacco Blend 
    Long Cut Classic 
    Long Cut Peach Tobacco Blend 
    Long Cut Spearmint 
    Pouch Apple Tobacco Blend 
    Pouch Berry Tobacco Blend 
    Pouch Citrus Tobacco Blend 
    Snus Mint 
    Snus Smooth Mint 
    Xtra Long Cut Mint 
    Xtra Long Cut Rich Tobacco Blend 
    Xtra Long Cut Wintergreen 
    Xtra Pouch Crisp Tobacco Blend 
    Xtra Pouch Mint Blend 
    Xtra Pouch Rich Tobacco Blend 
    Fine Cut Wintergreen (overseas military only) 
    Long Cut Mint (overseas military only) 
    Long Cut Straight (overseas military only) 
    Long Cut Wintergreen (overseas military only) 
    Pouch Mint (overseas military only) 
    Pouches Wintergreen (overseas military only)

    This recall applies to lots with no printed code on the bottom of the can, or with codes that begin with the letters “F”, “R”, “K”, or “P”.

    What to do

    Customers who purchased the recalled products should not open or use the product.

    Consumers should contact USSTC at 1-866-201-9136 to return the product for a refund.

    U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Company (USSTC) is recalling some of its smokeless tobacco products manufactured at its facility in Franklin Park, Ill., and distrib...

    Florida sues to get back payment of tobacco settlement money

    When a tobacco company sells some of its brands, who pays the states their money?

    It's one of those ironies that governments do their best to persuade consumers not to smoke cigarettes, yet reap huge amounts of money because consumers continue to smoke.

    It all goes back to the landmark tobacco settlement of 1997, in which the tobacco companies agreed to make annual payments to the states to compensate for decades of unlawful actions relating to the marketing and sale of cigarettes.

    Hooked on the money like smokers are hooked on tobacco, the settlement money plugs big holes in many states' budgets.

    In Florida, Attorney General Pam Bondi has gone to court, filing an enforcement motion against ITG Brands and R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company (RJR).

    8% of the market

    The action stems from the fact that RJR recently sold three cigarette brands, Winston, Kool, and Salem, along with a legacy Lorillard Tobacco Company brand, Maverick, to ITG for $7 billion. The money produced by these four brands is huge. Bondi says in 2016, the four brands accounted for approximately 17 billion cigarettes, making up about 8% of the U.S. cigarette market.

    Bondi's motion says RJR will not include the sales of these cigarette brands in the annual payments it is required to make, under the Master Settlement, to the state of Florida. She says ITG has also refused to make payments based on the sales of these brands, even though she says the company agreed to assume RJR's obligations.

    Meanwhile, she says, these same cigarette brands are being sold in Florida, where she says they continue to add to the state's public health care expenditures -- spending that 1997 agreement was designed to pay for. Somebody's got to pay, Bondi says.

    “The sale of major, pre-existing tobacco brands to another company for billions of dollars does not cause the payment obligations to vanish like a puff of smoke,” she said. “I look forward to the state obtaining prompt relief.”

    Bondi's motion seeks to make both ITG and RJR provide a complete and accurate accounting of the millions of dollars in missed payments to the state. She's asking the court to order back payment, as well as compel the companies to provide the data needed to accurately calculate future payments.

    It's one of those ironies that governments do their best to persuade consumers not to smoke cigarettes, yet reap huge amounts of money because consumers co...

    Feds rap four tobacco manufacturers for sales practices

    FDA says flavored cigarettes were labeled as little cigars or cigars

    Four tobacco manufacturers -- Swisher International, Cheyenne International, Prime Time International, and Southern Cross Tobacco Company have run afoul of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for their sales policies.

    The agency has sent warning letters to the four, accusing them of selling flavored cigarettes that are labeled as little cigars or cigars -- a violation of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act.

    The letters addressed sales of products under the “Swisher Sweets,” “Cheyenne,” “Prime Time,” and “Criss-Cross” brands in a variety of what the FDA calls “youth-appealing flavors,” including grape, cherry, wild cherry, and strawberry.

    Brilliant disguise

    “Flavored cigarettes appeal to kids and disguise the bad taste of tobacco, but they are just as addictive as regular tobacco products and have the same harmful health effects,” said Mitch Zeller, J.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products. “Because about 90% of adult daily smokers smoked their first cigarette by the age of 18, continued enforcement of the ban on cigarettes with characterizing flavors is vital to protect future generations from a lifetime of addiction.”

    The 2009 Tobacco Control Act banned cigarettes containing certain characterizing flavors, such as candy or fruit flavors, to reduce the number of youth who start to smoke and who become addicted to dangerous tobacco products.

    While labeled as little cigars or cigars, FDA has determined the products meet the definition of cigarettes under the Tobacco Control Act because they are likely to be offered to, or purchased by, consumers as cigarettes based on their overall presentation, appearance, packaging, and labeling.

    In addition, since the products meet the definition of a cigarette, the agency determined that the products are adulterated because they contain a natural or artificial characterizing flavor, or they are misbranded if they only purport to do so.

    Response requested

    The FDA has ask the four firms to respond to the warning letters within 15 working days of receiving the letter. The agency says that failure to obey federal tobacco law may result in further action, including -- but not limited to -- civil money penalties, criminal prosecution, seizure, and/or injunction.

    The agency says it expects many of these products will remain available for purchase by consumers at retail establishments while it works with the manufacturers to ensure the products are in compliance with the requirements of the law.

    Four tobacco manufacturers -- Swisher International, Cheyenne International, Prime Time International, and Southern Cross Tobacco Company have run afoul of...

    Smoking linked to 40% of U.S. cancer diagnoses

    Meanwhile, the number of smokers continues to fall

    Since the 1964 Surgeon General's report that linked cigarette smoking to cancer, we have known of tobacco's corrosive effects on health.

    But just how corrosive is it? A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests as many as 40% of all cancer cases diagnosed in the U.S. may have a tobacco link.

    While tobacco use is most closely associated with lung cancer, the reports cites evidence that it also causes cancers of the mouth and throat, voice box, esophagus, stomach, kidney, pancreas, liver, bladder, cervix, colon, and rectum, and a type of leukemia, known as acute myeloid leukemia.

    In short, the report's authors conclude that avoiding tobacco use is the best way to prevent the disease, which affected about 660,000 people in the U.S. from 2009 to 2013, killing more than half.

    Another way of looking at it, since 1990 about 1.3 million cancer deaths linked to tobacco have been avoided because either people quit smoking or never started in the first place. CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden says that should just be a start.

    Preventable deaths

    "There are more than 36 million smokers in the U.S.," Frieden said. "Sadly, nearly half could die prematurely from tobacco-related illnesses, including six million from cancer, unless we implement the programs that will help smokers quit."

    But progress has been coming faster in recent years. In a separate CDC report, health officials note that cigarette smoking among U.S. adults has dropped more than 20% from 2005. From 2014 to 2015, there was a 1.7% drop, resulting in the lowest number of adult smokers since the government began collecting data in 1965.

    Cigarette smoking surged in the years after World War II, some say encouraged by the fact that every GI's rations included a pack of cigarettes. As viewers of the hit series “Mad Men” saw, cigarettes were a ubiquitous part of American life in the 1960s. In 1965, the CDC estimates more than 42% of Americans were smoking.

    Currently, the CDC estimates 16.8% of U.S. adults still smoke cigarettes, leading to more than $300 billion in annual health care costs.

    Since the 1964 Surgeon General's report that linked cigarette smoking to cancer, we have known of tobacco's corrosive effects on health.But just how co...

    How homes of former smokers could be hazardous to your health

    Researchers found that tobacco pollutants remain in the home for at least six months after a smoker has quit

    Although giving up on smoking is a crucial first step towards improving a person’s health, a new study shows that health hazards from the habit persist long after the last pack has been thrown out.

    Researchers from San Diego State University have found that the smokers’ homes remain polluted by thirdhand smoke (THS) for at least six months after they have quit. THS is made up of minute tobacco particles that penetrate various surfaces in the home – like carpets, upholstery, pillows, blankets, clothes, wallpaper, and ceiling tiles.

    “We tend to see smoke in the air and then it’s out of sight out of mind. But it leaves compounds in indoor environments that can do harm to our bodies, especially children, and sometimes we cannot see or smell it,” said lead author George E. Matt.

    Pollutants stick around

    The researchers came to their conclusions after conducting a six-month study on tobacco smoke pollutants found in the homes of 90 former smokers. They measured home surfaces, dust, and the fingers of the former smokers for THS pollutants at five different intervals to see if levels went down over time.

    The data showed that levels of nicotine had a significant short-term reduction on household surfaces and on participants’ fingers, but levels found in dust did not change much over the six-month period. Urine tests also revealed that urinary cotinine levels, which measure exposure to tobacco, were still detectable at the study's conclusion. 

    This suggests that residents were still being exposed to tobacco pollution long after they quit, which could have long-term negative impacts on their health.

    The researchers say that further study will be needed to fully understand the consequences of continued THS exposure. More work will also need to be done to figure out how to remove THS from the home so that it doesn’t become a health issue.

    The full study has been published in the journal Tobacco Control.

    Although giving up on smoking is a crucial first step towards improving a person’s health, a new study shows that health hazards from the habit persist lon...

    Some Arkansas smokers are in for some cash

    Philip Morris agrees to $45 million settlement

    If you lived in Arkansas between November 1, 1971 and June 22, 2010, and purchased Marlboro Light or Marlboro Ultra Light cigarettes, you could have some money coming to you.

    Philip Morris has reached a $45 million settlement with the state, which charged the company deceptively marketed the cigarettes as healthier than regular cigarettes. Philip Morris denied any wrongdoing, and the court did not decide who is right.

    Eligible consumers who make up the class will be compensated by how many packs they purchased. It works out like this:

    • You'll get 10 cents for each pack purchased between November 1, 1971 and April 17, 1998
    • You'll get 25 cents for each pack purchased between April 18, 1998 and April 18, 2003
    • You'll get 10 cents for each pack purchased between April 19, 2003 and June 22, 2010

    The court says the final value of an individual claim may be more or less, depending on the number of claims filed.

    You can file claims online

    The claims will be administered by the Circuit Court for Pulaski County, Ark., which says class members can file a claim online at www.MarlboroLightsClass.com. While there, you can also download a claim form or call the toll-free number or request one by mail. Claims must be filed online no later than midnight Central Time on December 1, 2016.

    The settlement heads off the planned trial in the state's lawsuit that accused the tobacco company of violating Arkansas's Deceptive Trade Practices Act. What has yet to be determined is how class members will prove their claims of purchasing the brands during the stated time periods.

    The suit was one of the last remaining pieces of litigation aimed at tobacco companies, which signed a massive settlement with the states in the 1990s. The settlement sharply limits how cigarettes can be marketed and sold in the U.S.

    If you lived in Arkansas between November 1, 1971 and June 22, 2010, and purchased Marlboro Light or Marlboro Ultra Light cigarettes, you could have some m...

    The extra risks of using smokeless tobacco products

    Researchers find bacteria that cause infection and illness

    It’s no secret that tobacco products of all kinds come with certain health risks – most notably cancer. But researchers have found additional dangers associated with smokeless tobacco products, which include substances ranging from chewing tobacco to dissolvable pills and gums.

    They say that these tobacco delivery methods also carry bacteria that can cause infection and lead to illness. And, as with most kinds of bacteria or pathogens, prolonged exposure increases the risk to the person using these products.

    “Some species have been identified as causative agents in spice-related outbreaks of diarrhea and vomiting. Additionally, they produce a mild toxin which, in large quantities could cause illness,” said Steven Foley, coauthor of the study.

    Health risks

    The researchers found several bacteria that could be a cause for concern among consumers. Bacteria from the Bacillus species are known to cause the intestinal discomfort described above by Foley, but other bacteria from the Stapphylococcus species could be even more troubling.

    These bacteria, which include Stapphylococcus epidermidis and Staphylococcus hominus, could turn nitrates found in the body into nitrities, which could lead to potentially carcinogenic formations.

    Part of the reason that these bacteria are able to pose so much danger to people is due to the way in which smokeless tobacco products are consumed. Those using the products tend to hold them in their mouth for long periods of time so that the nicotine can enter the bloodstream. This increases the amount of time that consumers are exposed to bacteria.

    The practice is especially dangerous to those who have developed gingivitis or other oral health issues, which can be common for smokeless tobacco users. Researchers say that some of the bacteria present in these products can easily enter the bloodstream in these consumers and cause dangerous heart valve infections.

    Informing policy decisions

    Up to this point, not much data had been collected on the microbial threats present in smokeless tobacco products. The researchers hope that their work will help the U.S. Food and Drug Administration form policies around the production and distribution of these substances so that consumers can avoid some of the dangerous health risks.

    The full study has been published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology.

    It’s no secret that tobacco products of all kinds come with certain health risks – most notably cancer. But researchers have found additional dangers assoc...