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April, 2010

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Bulgaria’s smoking ban “temporarily” reversed

Sofia - Bulgaria’s complete ban on smoking in public areas, due to come into force on June 1 2010, could be postponed until the start of 2011, finance minister Simeon Dyankov recently said.

The decision, announced by MPs from the ruling GERB party, who came forward with amendments to the public health bill just days earlier, was meant to help Bulgaria’s restaurant and hotel business recover from the economic crisis, Dyankov added.

The full public smoking ban was approved by the previous government in May 2009. It is supposed to ban smoking everywhere in Bulgaria, incorporating all restaurants, pubs, clubs, cafes and bars. On February 18 2010, however, GERB MPs said they were ready with amendments aimed at qualifying the full ban on smoking because it could undermine Bulgaria’s tourism and restaurant industry.

The amendments will be more flexible to enable restaurant and bar owners to comply with the ban. The amendments stipulate that owners of bars and restaurants with an area of up to 100 sq m would be able to determine for themselves whether their premises should be non-smoking areas or not. Owners of facilities with an area of more than 100 sq m, however, will have to provide sections for non-smokers that have no direct link to the smokers’ areas.


China
Shanghai declares indoor smoking ban ahead of Expo
Shanghai - Restaurants and office buildings in China’s commercial capital, Shanghai are geariung up for a new citywide ban on indoor smoking ahead of the World Expo, a six-month event, which is expected to attract 70 mn people with exhibits from 192 countries. Most visitors will be Chinese from other cities where tobacco use is less strictly controlled.

Even before the ban took effect, most major public facilities in Shanghai, banned smoking. Now authorities have penalties to apply. First-time offenders will get a warning. If they resist, they face fines of 50 yuan to 200 yuan ($7 to $30).


North Korea
North Korea re-exported BAT cigarettes
Pyongyang - North Korea has been generating foreign exchange by re-exporting cigarettes manufactured by British American Tobacco Plc, the Financial Times reported, citing documents that it had seen.

BAT sold the cigarettes, made and packaged in Singapore for the North Korean market, to a Singaporean distributor for shipment to Nampo, a port near Pyongyang, the FT said. At least 15,000 cases, worth $6.3 mn, were re-exported out of Nampo to ports in Vietnam and the Philippines to go to markets where they commanded a higher price.

BAT said it halted exports to North Korea after discovering a diverted cargo in August, the FT reported.


United States
FDA panel to target menthol cigarettes
Washington - This month, an FDA panel will weigh discuss the role of menthol flavoring in cigarettes in the first public meeting on tobacco products since a new law granted regulators power over the industry last year.

Over two days, the panel will look at the health impact of the mint-like additive on smoker’s use as well as addiction and health, with another meeting set later this year. The panel’s findings and any possible regulatory action against menthol could be a potential blow to Lorillard, the nation’s third-largest cigarette company and maker of the top-selling menthol brand, Newport.

Menthol cigarettes are smoked by about 12 mn Americans and 75% of African-American smokers. Last year, FDA oversight of cigarettes and other tobacco products banned flavors such as chocolate, clove, and fruit. However, lawmakers exempted menthol, the most popular flavoring accounting for about 27% of the cigarette market, and instead called for an FDA review.


United Arab Emirates
Ban on shisha cafes, public smoking
Ajman - A ban on shisha cafes in residential areas in the emirate of Ajman went into effect in early March in conjunction with a new law that bans smoking in all public areas. Ajman Municipality has begun implenting the ban and shisha cafe owners have been asked to comply with the law and take necessary actions to ensure the ban is complied with.

Internet cafes have mushroomed throughout Ajman in recent years. “The police stations receive a large number of complaints about the disturbance caused following loud arguments and fights by customers of these cafes,” said Brigadier Saeed Humaid Director of Ajman Police station. On some streets, shisha cafes line both sides of the street and these have become a refuge for unemployed youth.


Tobacco International - April, 2010
BMJ


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