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October, 2008

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Tobacco could be used to improve the health of mankind

Washington, DC - Scientists are experimenting with a modified tobacco virus to deliver delicate gene therapies into the heart of diseased cells, with the supposed potential to treat various cancers, viruses, and genetic disorders.

The tobacco mosaic virus affects tobacco plants, but is harmless to humans. Some scientists are calling this “the most significant development in medicine since the discovery of vaccines.”

“This tobacco mosaic virus is literally a nano-sized syringe,” said William Bentley, who is leading the study at the University of Maryland.

Bentley’s team has successfully hollowed out the virus and filled it with siRNA - short, double-stranded RNA molecules with the ability to program cells to fight diseases.

In addition, siRNA could be used to treat a variety of rare diseases, which are often deemed low-priority. And while traditional medicines have taken years of research to develop, siRNA drugs could take a matter of weeks.

The problem has been in the delivery, since siRNA molecules are very fragile. However, Bentley and his team may have discovered the perfect delivery mechanism in the tobacco mosaic virus.

There is still much work to be done before human testing can occur, but Bentley is optimistic.


China
Cigarette factory goes green
Beijing - Prominent Chinese tobacco manufacturer, Nanchang General Cigarette Factory, is advocating the use of a biodegradable, vacuum aluminum-plated inner lining paper, which is an environmentally conscious alternative to standard packaging material.

Since early August, Nanchang General has been using this paper, instead of the usual composite aluminum-foil paper, for its Mount Lushan (Yellow Super) line of cigarettes.

In order to switch to vacuum aluminum-plated inner lining paper, Nanchang General has managed to technically convert the mobile folding part of the cigarette packing machine to adjust to the changes needed.

Through trial and error, they have succeeded in transforming the packing machines to meet production requirements with the vacuum paper. Steps are being taken to improve other parts of the machines, and make them even more compatible to the use of vacuum aluminum-plated inner lining paper.


Cuba
Hurricane Gustav hits Cuba’s tobacco region
Havana - Hurricane Gustav swept across Cuba’s tobacco growing region, Pinar del Río, and caused nearly 3,500 tobacco curing barns to completely collapse. It was the strongest storm to hit the island in 50 years.

While there were no deaths reported due to Gustav, the storm dealt a significant blow to the country’s tobacco industry, not to mention, destroying thousands of people’s homes.

Caribbean tobacco farmers normally do not plant during the hurricane season, for obvious reasons. After the storm, Cuban workers were already out fixing the barns to prepare for the upcoming harvest.

However, this is no doubt an unfortunate obstacle they must now face, and could become a bigger problem when it is time to begin the curing process.


Israel
Smokers vs. non-smokers
Jerusalem - The Tel Aviv Magistrates Court has recently set a new precedent in the battle between smokers and non-smokers. The Court ruled that any person smoking in a public venue must pay NIS 1,000 to anyone allegedly harmed by the smoke.

Normally, a business would have been penalized for failing to enforce anti-smoking laws. This, however, was the first time the liability has fallen on an individual.

The judge ruled that a person found guilty would not only face the criminal sanctions related to the anti-smoking laws, but also civil sanctions. The court would order proper compensation for putting other people’s health in danger.

“Fair compensation should be awarded, without the need to prove harm, in order to deter violators of the law and the public, and in order to instill the clear norm intended by the legislature,” the judge said. “We’re not talking about a minor matter, but about health, and this matter should be given weight in the compensation verdict.”


Tobacco International - October, 2008
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