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July/August, 2009

Study shows no link between snus and cancer

According to a large meta-analysis published in the open access journal, BMC Medicine, smokeless tobacco products such as snus used in Europe and North America, do not appear to increase cancer risk. Products used in the past in the USA may have increased the risk, but any effect that exists now seems likely to be quite small.

Peter Lee and Jan Hamling, from P.N. Lee Statistics and Computing Ltd, carried out the analysis of 89 studies from the United States and Scandinavia. They found that, after adjustment for concurrent smoking, any effect of current US products or Scandinavian snuff seems very limited. According to Lee, "It is clear that any effect of smokeless tobacco on risk of cancer, if it exists at all, is quantitatively very much smaller than the known effects of smoking."

Lee said, "Our paper shows very clearly that, in marked contrast to smoking, smokeless tobacco use carries little or no risk of cancer. Concerns about possible effects of smokeless tobacco on oral cancer are answered by our analyses showing a lack of relationship based on the combined evidence from those 14 studies published since 1990 which allow adequate control for effects of smoking."

Government to seek higher tobacco taxes
Manila - Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo recently stated that her administration will seek to raise tax revenues through more efficient collection and new taxes on alcohol and tobacco products.

Arroyo also said before a joint session of Congress she expected remittances this year to surpass last year's record high of $16.4 bn.

"We will work to increase the tax effort through improved collections and new sin taxes to further our capacity to reduce poverty and pursue growth," she said in her last policy speech before stepping down from office, as set by law, in June 2010.

United States
“Electronic Cigarettes” Face Regulation from US Federal Government
Washington, DC - So-called electronic cigarettes (or “e-cigarettes”) were put under investigation by the US Food and Drug Administration earlier this year. E-cigarettes promise to give smokers a nicotine hit without the deadly toxins. The devices do not utilize actual tobacco. However, they do offer users a “hit” of nicotine by warming up a cartridge of liquid nicotine, creating a vapor similar to smoke. The FDA considers e-cigs to be nicotine delivery devices. It has stopped several shipments into the US from overseas as it implemented its investigation. Many manufacturers have sold their products as safer alternatives to cigarettes, or ways to get off of cigarettes. Some initial results of the investigation have returned results claiming that the gadgets do have cancer-causing chemicals and now the FDA is promising "additional activities" to address safety issues with the products, which may include recalls or criminal sanctions. Following the FDA warnings on e-cigarettes, other countries have taken steps to regulate or even ban the products, such as recent declarations of the authorities in Israel and Saudi Arabia.

WHO: 657 bn cigarettes a year sold on the black market
Geneva - In early July, representatives from 130 countries gathered in Geneva at the World Health Organization's (WHO) Intergovernmental Negotiating Body to discuss cigarette piracy. The International Union against Tobacco and Lung Disease says organized crime has infiltrated the industry, and one-in-nine cigarettes are sold illegally. This equates to 657 bn smokes annually. In tax revenue alone the cost is in excess of $40 bn.

Tobacco International - July/August, 2009

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