Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Tobacco Wars

November 16, 2006 marked the day that Hawaii became the 14th state to enact a smoke-free law. For more information go to the Department of Health, website for more links.

More recently, five cigarettes companies have filed lawsuits in federal court to counter the graphic warning labels regulation imposed by the federal government.

Since the end of 2006, bars and nightclubs have banned smoking cigarettes within 20 feet of doors, entrances, or openings. However, there are a few places that smokers can go to as a safe haven.

The Waikiki Sandbox localed at 2260 Kuhio Ave. and O’Toole’s Irish Pub are a couple of places in the Honolulu area that allow smokers to remain within the facilities.

The venues that require smokers to remain outside no less than 20 feet from facilities are still popular with smokers, as well. Places like Ginza Nightclub have a designated smoking cigarettes area outside of the club where many smokers gather to take breaks from the crowd and blaring music.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Smokeless Tobacco Lozenges

Bite-size dissolvable "orbs" that look like breath mints and melt in your mouth are the tobacco industry's latest attempt to fight falling U.S. cigarette sales.

Charlotte is one of two test markets for Winston-Salem-based Reynolds American Inc.'s newest products: dissolvable, smokeless tobacco lozenges that come as orbs, sticks or strips.

The products all contain less nicotine than cigarettes , between 0.5 and 3 milligrams instead of 12 to 15. And, Reynolds spokesman David Howard said, they meet a "societal expectation."

"There's no secondhand smoke, no spitting and no cigarette butt litter," Howard said.

But health officials still worry about the risks of smokeless options. Smokeless tobacco users may not get lung cancer, health experts say, but they risk mouth cancer, gum disease and tooth loss. Prenatal dangers for pregnant women also still exist.

"There are no safe tobacco products," said Dr. Matt Carpenter, a clinical psychologist and associate professor at the Medical University of South Carolina who's researching the effect of smokeless products on smoking cigarettes habits.

Huntersville resident Joey Hodge, who's smoked for almost five years, sees the appeal of smokeless products that won't be as tough on his lungs or make him smell like smoke. But the 20-year-old isn't sold on Reynolds' newest offering.

"They were definitely not the greatest thing I've ever tasted," Hodge said. Plus, he added, the products "really didn't do much" to satisfy his nicotine craving.

Hodge's reaction isn't the sort tobacco makers are hoping for. As cigarette sales slide because of the health risks and social stigma, tobacco companies are counting on smokers like Hodge to fuel the new smokeless market. The dissolvable products sell for about $2 for a 12-pack - comparable, Reynolds says, to its other smokeless products.

"They can enjoy tobacco pleasure without bothering others and without having to leave the workplace, or the restaurant or the bar," Howard said.

Analysts say new laws banning cigarettes store in public places, like the ban on smoking cigarettes in restaurants and bars that took effect in North Carolina last January, are among the factors driving a steep decline in cigarette sales.

"In recent years you've seen smoking cigarettes banned in most states in most bars and restaurants. That kind of takes away the fun," said Phil Gorham, industry analyst for investment firm Morningstar.

In its second quarter earnings report last month, Reynolds reported the number of discount cigarette online sold in the U.S. fell 4.4 percent. Gorham said companies like Reynolds can combat falling sales by increasing prices in the short term, but they'll eventually need to diversify revenues.

While American sales of cheap cigarettes drop 3 percent to 4 percent every year, the market for smokeless products grew 3 percent in 2009 and 7 percent in 2010, said Mary Gotaas, tobacco industry analyst for researcher IBISWorld. This year, smokeless sales are expected to jump 8 percent, Gotaas said.

While Reynolds is testing its new dissolvables, Richmond, Va.-based rival Philip Morris has its own product in the works: a dissolvable tobacco stick.

The growth of smokeless products worries some public health advocates who think the new products appeal to children. During the first round of testing, the orbs' packaging resembled Tic Tacs, creating concern that children might confuse them with candy, said Dr. John Spangler, professor of family health and community medicine at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.

For this round of testing, there's larger packaging and new warnings. Packages now say "This product contains nicotine and is for adult tobacco consumers only" and "There is no safe tobacco product," in addition to one of four required FDA warnings.

The Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee of the FDA is holding hearings exploring the implications of smokeless products. Right now, all tobacco products must be age-restricted and kept behind the counter, just like cigarettes.

Warning labels on smokeless tobacco products must cover at least 30 percent of the packaging and every product must carry one of four messages: "Smokeless tobacco is addictive," "This product can cause mouth cancer," "This product can cause gum disease and tooth loss," or "This product is not a safe alternative to cigarettes."

Howard said there's no expectation that smokeless dissolvables will be regulated less strictly than other tobacco products. But Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, one of 12 senators who called for the hearings, called dissolvables the latest way for tobacco companies to stay "one step ahead of the sheriff."

One issue on the committee's agenda: the potential use of smokeless tobacco products as quitting aids. Gotaas said that appeal is one of the factors driving smokeless sales.

Dean Torrance of Charlotte, a smoker for 20 years, has tried, and failed, to quit. She said smokeless products may be just what she needs.

"I would like to be able to do smokeless to get me to stop," Torrance said.

But doctors say there are safer ways to quit smoking cigarettes. Both Spangler and Carpenter recommend their patients use tested and proven medications, such as nicotine replacement pills and patches, instead of other tobacco products with unknown consequences that could keep them addicted.

Said Carpenter: "The very best thing that anybody can do for their health, if they're a smoker, is to quit all tobacco products completely."

Monday, August 29, 2011

Mocksville Tobacco Companies

An U.S. Bankruptcy Court judge has established the bidding procedures for the assets of three bankrupt Mocksville tobacco companies.

At stake is the attempt by CB Holdings LLC of Raleigh to buy Renegade Holdings Inc., Renegade Tobacco Co. and Alternative Brands Inc. for $15.6 million. An auction will take place Oct. 4. A final hearing on the sale of the companies will take place Oct. 12.

The deal, announced July 11, was projected to close Oct. 30. The Davie manufacturers have a combined 100 employees.

On Aug. 3, the National Association of Attorneys General filed an objection to stop the sale of all the assets. The association is involved because the 16 state attorneys general represent the largest unsecured creditor group.

It also has opposed a reorganization plan for the companies, citing a criminal investigation in Mississippi — at least 3 years old — involving Calvin Phelps, the owner of the companies, and accusations of "unlawful trafficking in cigarettes and other related crimes."

The association said the proceeds from selling the companies could be higher if the bankruptcy trustee, Peter Tourtellot, allowed for the escrow rights of Alternative to be sold separately.

After the landmark 1998 Master Settlement Agreement between 46 attorneys general and major U.S. manufacturers, smaller cigarette-makers emerged, grabbing significant market share because they could sell cheap cigarettes for less.

The states have passed laws aimed at reducing the smaller manufacturers' competitive advantage by forcing them to put money into escrow in case they are sued by the states.

The auction notice said Alternative's escrow rights are valued at between $40 million and $50 million in principal.

"The settling states' knowledge of sales of nonparticipating manufacturers' escrow rights owned (by others) indicated there is a market for such assets," the association said.

Prospective buyers for the escrow rights "are unlikely to have an interest in buying the other sale assets," the association said.

What makes the escrow rights valuable is that the holder can receive the interest on the principal, and would receive whatever money remains in the Alternative fund after 25 years.

Judge William Stocks set a $250,000 break-up fee, to be paid by the three companies, if another bidder trumps CB Holdings' offer.

Charles Fuller, president and chief executive of CB Holdings, has said the operations would remain in Davie with no changes except for the Renegade and Alternative Brands names.

CB Holdings owns Firebird Manufacturing LLC, a manufacturing company in South Boston, Va., and Cherokee Brands LLC, a sales and distribution company recently renamed from Cherokee Tobacco Co.

The three manufacturers filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Jan. 29, 2009, and exited bankruptcy June 1, 2010.

They were put back into bankruptcy July 19, 2010, when the reorganization plan was vacated, in large part because of the criminal investigation.

Phelps also is facing a lawsuit alleging he made a fraudulent transfer of $8.1 million in assets from the three companies and used it to help buy six parcels of land, as well as Chinqua-Penn Plantation, two corporate jets, cigar-manufacturing equipment and a 2008 Maserati Quattroporte.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Shop Allows Customers To Manufacture Their Own Cigarettes

Smokers are taking advantage of a new batch of stores popping up in the Bay area that offer customers a way to produce a carton of cheap cigarettes for half the price.

"What we are is a roll your own cigarette station," Tobacco Road manager Jacob Salazar said.

The store on 49th Street in St. Petersburg recently opened with five roll your own cigarette machines inside. It's the 10th Tobacco Road store to open in the Bay area in the past year, Salazar said.

Customers dump loose pipe tobacco in the top of the machine, and one-by-one individual rolled cigarettes online pop out of the bottom.

"They look just like a normal cigarette," Salazar said. "It's just minus all the chemicals that come with manufactured cigarettes."

It takes eight minutes to produce a carton or 200 rolled cigarettes. The cost is $25 -- about half what carton of Marlboros sells for at a convenience store.

"Well, today's economy, everybody is looking to try and save a penny," customer Matthew McNabb said. "So, if it takes me boxing up my own cigarettes to save some money, I'll definitely do it."

To keep it legal, customers must rent the machine, said Salazar, who stressed they do not sell cigarettes.

"Technically, we only sell tobacco and filters and the rental of the machine. Once it becomes a manufactured cigarette then there's all kind of other taxes involved," he said.

The Florida Division of Alcholic Beverages and Tobacco regulates the sale of loose tobacco.

"Establishments selling tobacco products to consumers are required to hold a retail tobacco products dealer license and the taxes are paid by the distributor," deputy communications director Beth Frady said.

The Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau ruled last year that businesses that use the machines in retail establishments "are defined as manufacturers under the Internal Revenue Code and must obtain the appropriate federal permit."

Some Ohio businesses filed a federal lawsuit challenging the ruling, and a judge issued a temporary restraining order.

The Florida Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco is unable to provide a legal opinion on the businesses until that case is settled, Frady said.

Customers said as long as it's legal, they'll continue to roll their own.

"It tastes the exact same, you pay half the cost, makes sense to me," McNabb said.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Electronic Cigarettes Are Worse Than Smoking The Real Thing

Touted as a safer alternative to traditional smoking cigarettes, electronic buy cigarettes are supposed to give smokers their nicotine fix without the cancer-causing side effects of tobacco. But some have serious concerns that the battery-operated vaping devices may actually pose more dangers to users.

Florida banned smoking cigarettes in most public places more than eight years ago, but some 40 years after Gwynne Chesher started lighting up. “In 1965, everybody smoked, it was an acceptable thing to do back then."

At her worst, Chesher was puffing a pack a day and eventually, she tried to stop. "I tried the gum; It gave me a stomachache. Tried the patch; it made my heart beat fast and scared me."

So when her son, recently suggested yet something else, Gwynne signed up.

"You just inhale like a cigarette," and began what some call 'vaping.' “It looks like smoke, but its water vapor."

electronic cigarette are battery operated. They have the look and feel of a traditional cigarette, without the smell, the smoke cigarettes and the harmful side effects, say its supporters. Chesher said, “I was really impressed.”

Then her doctor weighed in. “He was like 'No way! You can't use those!'”

Dr. Mike Feinstein, a spokesman for the American Lung Association said, “People are inhaling some type of chemical vaporized compound into their lungs without really knowing what's in it."

Last year, The American Lung Association issued its own warning about electronic cigarette. “This is a buyer stay away, a buyer health hazard, potentially."

Doctor Robert Greene treats lung cancer patients at the Palm Beach Cancer Institute and said the product is potentially a health hazard. “There really is no information about whether they're safe or not, and that's part of the problem."

He says with no real data on electronic cigarette, the three-year-old tobacco alternative may actually be more harmful that traditional cigarettes. "The doses of nicotine that you get could conceivably be higher than what you would get in a typical cigarette."

Ray Story said "To make that claim is obviously ludicrous." Story is an e-cigarette distributor and CEO of the Tobacco Vapor Electronic Cigarette Association. “At the end of the day when you look at an e-cigarette, is it addictive? Nicotine is addictive."

Authorities don't necessarily know what's inside of electronic cigarette, but the FDA tested a small sample just a few years ago and found a number of toxic chemicals including diethylene gylcol - the same ingredient used in antifreeze.

Story says, “I understand they found all kinds of stuff. At one point in time you may have found whatever you want to find. If it can not be substantiated by the other side, you have to question their motive."

The findings forced The Food and Drug Administration to issue a nationwide health warning.

Gwynne Chesher says she's decided to wash her hands of anything to do with electronic cigarettes. “I have no problem throwing them in the trash."

According to The Tobacco Vapor Electronic Cigarette Association, electronic cigarette contain just five ingredients, all approved by the FDA. Recently, the FDA announced it will begin to regulate electronic cigarette as a tobacco product.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Soffer V. R.J. Reynolds

Rod Smith's fire-breathing, jury-searing performance yesterday convinced a Gainesville jury to award $5M damages to the survivors of Maurice "Mickey" Soffer late last night. The jury found RJR liable on negligence and product liability claims, but ruled in favor of the defendant on concealment and conspiracy claims. Because the the concealment and conspiracy claims failed, the jury did not reach the issue of punitive damages.

Smith told the jury in his opening statement, "In the years before the meeting in New York [when the Tobacco companies secretly met in 1953 at the Plaza Hotel to plan their public relations campaign], there was a teenager in high school in Philadelphia. His name was Mickey Soffer, and he joined the rest of his generation there in high school beginning to smoke cigarettes R.J. Reynolds cigarettes. Indeed, R.J. Reynolds' planned campaign of deception and denial was waged throughout Mickey Soffer's entire adult life -- right up to the final months in which he died after a horrible struggle, and his eventual death, from lung cancer."

"In 1994" Smith continued, "the tobacco executives of this country met again all together. This time they weren't behind closed doors meeting in secret. This time they were in front of the United States Congress testifying to the American people. This time they were swearing under oath to God and the country that what they were saying they believed. This time in 1994 before Congressman Waxman the question was whether or not they believed their product to be addictive...Ladies and gentlemen, in this courtroom we will prove to you that they not only knew that nicotine was addictive, they had been counting on it as a way to market their product and keep people smoking cigarettes for more than 40 years. There was no surprise in the question about the addictiveness of nicotine, and we will prove in this courtroom that they lied about it."

For R.J. Reynolds, Randy Baringer (Womble Carlyle) told the jury, "This case is ultimately about one thing, and one thing only, and that is Maurice Soffer and the choices he made about smoking cigarettes. It's about why he chose to start, it's about why he chose to continue to smoke cigarettes for as long as he did, and it's about why he chose to quit when he finally did."

Baringer warned the jury that "Mr. Smith...ignored the crucial question of, did any of what he showed you or any of what he talked about actually affect Maurice Soffer in terms of the decisions he made about starting to smoke cigarettes or continuing to smoke cigarettes or to quit smoking cigarettes. But all of the questions that you're going to be asked at the end of this case when you get that verdict form are going to focus precisely on Mr. Soffer, and only Mr. Soffer. And as you will hear it's the plaintiff's burden of proof in this case to establish a link between the conduct or the documents or whatever they allege Reynolds did wrong and his decision to continue to smoke, which ultimately led to his developing lung cancer."

In his closing argument, Smith told the jury, "They knew what was in tobacco smoke, and they knew they couldn't get rid of it, but they told the American people otherwise...The strategy was this: Deny -- no matter what the science, no matter what the epidemiology, no matter what the surgeon general says, no matter what the AMA says, no matter what the scientists and the universities find -- just keep denying -- so you can keep selling these cigarettes store as long as we can sell them, as many as we can sell, we'll come up with new ideas to market this product -- just keep denying."

"Folks, Reynolds says that everyone knew about addiction and smoking cigarettes hazards. Apparently everyone on earth, that is, except, well, R.J. Reynolds and their co-conspirators. And I don't expect today that they will at long last come forward and say, 'By the way we were blatant liars in the 1950's, 1960's, 1970's, 1980's, 1990's -- and by the way we did it for the purpose of having people rely on our blatant lies to their detriment.'"

"We know at least seven people who must not have known about the addictiveness of nicotine not all that many years ago," Smith said, and then re-played the 1994 tobacco executive testimony before Congress. "Can you believe it?" Smith continued, "They brought a historian who said everyone in the world knew about addictiveness. Well I picked seven who didn't."

"Ladies and gentlemen, they are going to try to make this case about one thing: they're going to say it's about Mickey's poor choices. Well that's untrue. First, both of our experts recognize that an addicted smoker makes a choice, has a responsibility to make choices. Nobody says they don't. But they also say it is not a free choice."

In his own high-energy closing, Baringer asked the jury, "What evidence was there that advertising had anything to do with why Mr. Soffer started to smoke cigarettes or continued to smoke?...He took discount cigarettes from his mother...parental influence is a strong indicator of whether someone will start or continue to smoke, and Mr. Soffer's parents smoked. Peers are a strong influence on whether someone starts to smoke," and not one witness testified that they were aware of any way in which advertising had influenced Mr. Soffer.

Moreover, the development of filtration could not have influenced Mr. Soffer's decisions, said Baringer, because Mr. Soffer smoked unfiltered cigarettes, and even tore the filters off of filtered cigarettes. "The whole story that they tell you about filtration is all about other people, because ladies and gentlemen it has nothing whatsoever to do with Maurice Soffer...You want to talk about a smoke cigarettes screen? This is an irrelevant side show that they spent all kinds of time with Dr. Burns talking to you about when they know full well it had nothing to do with Maurice Soffer."

In his closing rebuttal, Smith pounded home his message, "This case in the end is about one thing -- one thing only: -- was he addicted. Because after that, it's an easy answer for you. And every company should have the obligations in every board room not contrive and connive in a way that they can lie for fifty years to sell their product to the people they know that are most vulnerable: the addicted and the adolescent. Those ought to be the people they try to help."

The jury found that Mr. Soffer's addiction to online cigarettes was the legal cause of his death, and that RJR's negligence and defective products were also a legal cause. The jury allocated 40% of the fault to R.J. Reynolds, and 60% to Mickey Soffer, and awarded $1M in compensatory damages to Mr. Soffer's widow, Lucille Soffer, and $2M each to Mr. Soffer's two children, Rochelle Soffer and Joseph Soffer, for a total compensatory damage award of $5M. The total award will be reduced to $2M based on the fault allocation.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Tighten Rules On Smoking Aboard Ships

Norwegian Cruise Line's announcement this month that it will prohibit smoking cigarettes in all staterooms starting in January is the latest sign that smoking cigarettes and cruising aren't going to be a good mix in the future.

Norwegian, which sails the Sun out of Port Canaveral from October through April, said beginning in January guests will no longer be able to smoke cigarettes cigarettes online in their staterooms. They may smoke cigarettes cigarettes on their balconies. Cigar and pipe smoking cigarettes in staterooms and on balconies will be banned.

Also, smoking cigarettes will be banned in all other public interior spaces on Norwegian ships including bars, restaurants, restrooms, staircases and landings.

"A lot of passengers in general are saying they just don't want smoke-filled cabins," said Stewart Chiron, a cruise industry expert who operates the popular Cruise Guy website. "And there is a cost in getting rid of the smell. The easiest thing is to just ban smoking cigarettes."

Norwegian's actions come as other major cruise companies also take a harder line toward smoking cigarettes. Most of the changes
stem from the growing ranks of non-smoking cigarettes passengers who don't want to deal with second-hand smoke cigarettes on their cruise or stay in cabins with hints of prior tobacco use.

Effective Dec. 1, for example, Carnival Cruise Lines is banning smoking cigarettes in all of its staterooms, though guests can smoke cigarettes on the balconies. Cigars will be allowed in shipboard jazz clubs. Carnival operates two ships -- soon to be three -- out of Port Canaveral.

Disney Cruise Line, which will be operating its two newest ships out of Port Canaveral, has always taken a hard line toward smokers.

It has never allowed smoking cigarettes in guest staterooms or other interior spaces. It does permit smoking cigarettes on certain exterior locations. For example, on its newest ship, the Port Canaveral-based Dream, smoking cigarettes is permitted on private verandahs, and from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on the starboard side of the fourth-level deck.

Disney guests who sneak a smoke cigarettes in their staterooms and get caught are charged a $250 "stateroom recovery fee" to cover a deep cleaning that includes air filter replacement, carpet extraction and the cleaning and replacement of drapes, comforters, blankets and pillows.

Royal Caribbean, with two ships homeported at Port Canaveral, only allows smoking cigarettes on balconies and in designated smoking cigarettes areas in lounges and open decks.

Christina Dillon, an agent at Apollo Travel in Melbourne, said many of her customers weren't even aware smoking cigarettes was ever allowed in the staterooms of some cruise lines.

"We didn't see a big issue on that," Dillon said. "It nice they have areas for people that like to smoke cigarettes but for the most part these new policies keep the air cleaner and the environment better for the ones who don't."

Chiron said he found it somewhat ironic that Carnival's smoking cigarettes policy continues to allow smoking cigarettes on balconies.

That's because about five years ago a cigarette was blamed for a fire that started on the Star Princess in Jamaica. That ship is part of the Princess Cruises line, which is one of the Carnival Corp.'s brands. The Star Princess fire left one passenger dead, 11 people injured and at least 100 rooms scorched.

"That fire was started on the balcony," Chiron said.

Beginning in January, Princess branded ships will ban smoking cigarettes in cabins and balconies.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A New Type Of Cigarette Venture

Jamaicans for decades have bought buy cigarettes by the stick and by the carton at corners shops, from streetside sellers, and a multiplicity of businesses that make money off a habit that is hard to kick.

What has been absent up to now is a dedicated retail channel focused solely on smokers, and selling online cigarettes alone. That changed in July when the first U-Roll'em shop was opened in Kingston by a Jamaican couple resident in Florida.

It gets better. Customers get to hand-roll their own sticks - customise their own products - in an extension of the 'grabba' market, which offers the same options but in a more informal way. It's not unusual for some smokers, for example, to season their grabba packets with marijuana.

The two Jamaicans behind the cigarette retail shop venture, Damian and Susan McKenzie, have a more sophisticated operation than the grabba trade, however. The husband and wife team owns 51 per cent and 49 per cent of the business, respectively.

The McKenzies are principals in the Palm Beach, Florida-based Tobacco Central LLC, which has set a target of 29 Caribbean countries to roll out their network of RYO - roll your own - retail outlets stocked with tobacco filling-station machines under a distributorship arrangement with owners of the RYO technology, Ohio-based RYO Filling Station Machine LLC. The American company also supplies the tobacco through a network of international sources.

The McKenzies, who migrated from Jamaica two decades ago, say that they have been pursuing different ventures for 20 years - putting them in a group dubbed 'serial entrepreneurs' - and are also owners of Total Sign Solutions and CNC Inc in Palm Beach.

They set up their first U-Roll'em Jamaica store on July 2 at The Domes Plaza on Hagley Park Road in Kingston, operated by their local subsidiary RYO Jamaica Limited. The tobacco is supplied by RYO from international sources.

On Tuesday, when Sunday Business walked in, customers drifted through the store, which, modelled on its US counterparts, is set up like a lounge where clients can relax.

Wood panelling was everywhere, and noticeable for its absence was the smell of smoke cigarettes in the open-plan room.

"U-Roll'em is a personalised space for consumers. Smoking is very personal," said general manager of U-Roll'em Jamaica Limited David McCallum.

"It is not an easy barrier to cross, in terms of getting people to change. But nothing beats repeat business, and that is what we have been getting," said McCallum. "It was what tells us that the product has been accepted."

A second store will be open by September, the McKenzies said in an interview from Florida via Skype.

Jamaica's cigarette distribution market, which the couple estimates at close to 100 million sticks annually, is dominated by Carreras Limited.

Carreras acknowledged Friday that the U'Roll'em set up appeared to be a first for Jamaica.

The McKenzies, by their investment, are betting that RYO Jamaica Limited/U-Roll'em Jamaica Limited can score a substantial portion of that market.

U-Roll'em's filling machine users who buy at least one carton, or 200 sticks, pay J$18 per stick inside the Hagley Park Road store, compared to the J$30-J$35 per manufactured stick sold on the local market.

The minimum purchase per customer is 10 sticks, which costs J$250, including tobacco, tubes, and machine use.

Noting that of all the Caribbean territories, Jamaica is one of the most lucrative tobacco markets, price-wise, Susan McKenzie said Tuesday that the start-up costs for the first outlet at The Domes was just about US$100,000 (J$8.6m).

This included design of the club-like decor and installation of three machines ranging from a desktop to a 200-stick, multiple-carton machine.

The newness of the venture makes it a bit difficult to predict performance, but if its commercial appeal tracks with US stores, then a rough estimate for sales would be "32,400 pounds, or 32,000 cartons, and one box with the minimum amount of machines in the smallest Jamaican 'territory'," said Susan McKenzie.

"The gross income from one carton of 200 sticks is J$3,000 plus GCT," she said.

The term 'territory' is an internal designation of geographic distribution zones as demarcated by RYO Jamaica.

RYO Jamaica wants, eventually, to take the retail chain nationwide through a network of operators.

"We have divided Jamaica into 24 territories each with the potential of five or six machine locations. We are seeking operators for the other 23 zones in Jamaica and hope to build out the network within three years," said Susan.

According to the entrepreneur, Tobacco Central will provide all machines and consumables needed for operation. Operators who install machines will buy them outright and then pay Tobacco Central a royalty fee that will cover servicing. Tobacco, sticks, and other consumables would be paid for separately.

Susan said that Kingston as a designated territory was being considered for another five U-Roll'em stores. The second is set to open at the end of September in a "high-traffic area", she said, in response to the demand of current clientele to locate shops within a three-mile radius of their homes.

The development of stores, McKenzie noted, however, is not a core-expansion strategy. The company wants instead to distribute the machines - which she claims can pull traffic into any shopping location - but the outlets are being pursued to demonstrate the business to potential partners and as training centres.

All 24 Jamaica territories, based principally on major towns, are expected to be taken up in three years. Locations, McKenzie said, will be routinely inspected for quality of service.

McKenzie said the RYO Filling Station Machine, since its placement on the market in 2008, has cut rolling time of one carton of 200 sticks from the one hour on standard machines to eight minutes.

The machines are distributed by a list of authorised RYO agents, whose names and locations are listed on the company's website.

The names of the McKenzies and their two companies do not appear on the list, but Susan says Tobacco Central's deal with RYO was signed 12 months ago and that the website does not capture international agents.

"The terms are private. The website is for US distributors, and an update is currently being developed for international clients," she said.

"Anyone can call to find out who is the Caribbean distributor."

Tobacco Central was formed one year ago in Florida. While the original intent was to open five to seven stores in the state in the first year, the McKenzies said RYO Filling Station Machine LLC offered them the Caribbean distributorship instead.

Jamaica is their RYO venture, where McKenzie says her market research shows neither anti-smoking cigarettes campaigns nor the cut in income occasioned by the recession has made a dent in local demand for cigarettes, although Jamaicans have been searching for cheaper alternatives.

That search led to the grabba market - small dollops of tobacco sold in packets large enough to make a hand-rolled cigarette.

At U-Roll'em, store clients are offered "fresh" tobacco as well as tubes, cases, lighters, and other ancillary products. McKenzie touts as one of the biggest selling points the use of pure tobacco with no additives or fillers.

Smoking is personal, she said, and customers have responded well to the offer to roll their own products at a cheaper cost and free of additives.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Rolling With It

Given all the people who’ve quit smoking cigarettes and the rising cost of online cigarettes in an already tough economy, it’s surprising to see businesses opening throughout South Florida with names such as Miami Smokes, Cigarette Station, Ciggy Mart and Tobacco Factory. These new stores, which offer an alternative to smokers tired of forking over $66 for a carton of cigarettes, allow customers to make their own cigarettes store for as little as $19 for the equivalent of a carton.

Cigarette manufacturers must obtain a license and pay hefty fees and taxes, including a federal excise tax of $1.01 per pack of cigarettes. But those people who make buy cigarette online for personal use are not, for tax purposes, considered manufacturers. The shops opening in South Florida and around the nation help smokers take advantage of that personal-use exemption. Their customers can make discount cigarette online using a hand-cranked device that takes 90 minutes to produce the equivalent of a carton; an electric tabletop machine estimated to take up to 35 minutes; and RYO Machine Rental’s RYO Filling Station. This last machine weighs more than 700 pounds and can churn out 200 cigarettes online in eight minutes. The owners of Golden Smokes in Hollywood and Flat Out Smokes in Fort Lauderdale claim their stores will soon open with machines that work twice as fast as RYO Filling Stations.

These stores plan to sell tobacco, cigarette tubes and smoking cigarettes accessories, and to offer verbal instructions on how to operate the machines. “We, as a retailer, are not allowed to put the tobacco in the machine or touch the tubes,” says Rick Stevens, of Golden Smokes. “It’s completely up to the customer.”

Stevens will use a chart to replicate a customer’s favorite brand of cigarette. “If they smoke cigarettes Marlboro Light but want it a little more bold, we can adjust that,” he says. “So I’m looking at it more like a connoisseur.”

He says the tobacco is grown in America and free of chemicals, additives and the steep federal tax that was levied on “roll-your-own tobacco” two years ago. Before the passage of the Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act (CHIPRA) of 2009, the federal excise tax on a pack of discount cigarettes was 39 cents, and roll-your-own and pipe tobacco were taxed $1.09 per pound. But the act increased the per-pack federal excise tax to $1.01 and raised the tax on roll-your-own tobacco to $24.78 a pound. The tax on pipe tobacco went up to $2.83-per-pound. The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) acknowledges that the disparity between the two tax rates created a reason for people to use pipe tobacco rather ?than roll-your-own when making their own cigarettes. The agency also has noted that no regulatory standard, other than some statutory definitions, differentiates the two products.

Pipe tobacco has become the key ingredient at shops that are appearing in South Florida at roughly the same rate as Wells Fargo bank buildings. The Wall Street Journal reported that in the 14 months following the federal tax placed on rolling tobacco, pipe tobacco sales in the United States tripled.

While many smokers appear to love the shops, tobacco companies, anti-smoking cigarettes proponents and government officials are less receptive to them. In Arkansas, the shops prompted a law that banned the use of in-store commercial rolling machines starting in 2012. And in September 2010, the TTB announced that retail establishments using commercial cigarettemaking machines would be considered manufacturers under the Internal Revenue Code. By that time, David Rienzo, the assistant attorney general of New Hampshire, had sued two roll-your-own shops, arguing that companies using commercial rolling machines — some of which he said are marketed as “typically providing a whopping 300 percent return on investment in the first year” — are profiting from cheap cigarette online being made in their stores, and therefore are manufacturers subject to fees and taxes.

Phil Accordino, an owner of the Ohio-based RYO Machine Rental, which claims to have more than 1,000 RYO Filling Station machines in 35 states, including Florida, has argued that allowing customers to use such machines does not make a shop owner a manufacturer any more than a grocery store becomes a coffee manufacturer by letting customers grind beans. Accordino contested the TTB’s ruling and was granted a preliminary injunction allowing stores using his machines to continue operating — at least for now. After Michigan’s Treasury Department subsequently advised 300 shops that it considered them to be manufacturers, RYO sought and won another preliminary injunction in an Ohio court. That decision is reportedly being appealed in the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati.

As legal matters surrounding rolling machines continue wending through the courts, the TTB is evaluating how to distinguish pipe tobacco from roll-your-own and has stated that its findings may lead to new rule proposals. Meanwhile, the roll-your-own smoke cigarettes shop trend marches on. Smokers want cheaper cigarettes for sale and more alternatives, and people who provide a means for them to achieve that goal stand to profit.

Ciggy Mart, which opened last month in Palmetto Bay and soon will open another store in Miami, invites customers to “avoid paying federal manufacturing excise taxes” by making cigarettes for sale from a variety of “all-natural and chemical-free tobacco” from the fields of North Carolina. General manager Scott Acker says customers can produce cartons using three options that take anywhere from eight to 90 minutes to complete and cost from $19.90 to $27.90.

Cigarette Station, which opened stores in Hialeah and Homestead and is planning six more, also offers several options, including the RYO Filling Station. Josh Gimelstein, who owns the business with his two brothers, says their father was a cigar and cigarette manufacturer and that their 86-year-old grandmother still works daily at Zelick’s Tobacco Corporation, her store on Lincoln Road in Miami Beach.

Roll-your-own shops are as much about offering natural tobacco as they are about affordability, says Gimelstein, whose prices begin at $21.99 a carton. “You’re going back to an era when people rolled their own, before they started adding horrible chemicals to their tobacco,” he says. In addition to pipe tobacco, Gimelstein plans to sell certified organic tobacco.

While he acknowledges that cigarettes for sale are unhealthy, he says his goal is to allow customers to choose the best possible tobacco within their budgets. He says the concept has been warmly received, and the Hialeah store is selling more than 30 cartons a day just seven weeks after opening.

Stevens, of Golden Smokes, says he and partners Same Yorlendis and Tim Foran, all of whom work together at a Fort Lauderdale company that sells marine-waste-management systems, are anxious to open their shop. So is their co-worker Bill Demler, who will open Flat Out Smokes with partner Colleen Shobert.

These co-workers became interested in the roll-your-own concept after their general manager opened a store in Washington state. Within six weeks, Stevens says, the store was selling 65 cartons a day. Stevens and his partners approached RYO Smoke Smart about purchasing a $5,000 territory and two $25,000 rolling machines. Stevens says the $5,000 will ensure RYO Smoke Smart will not sell another machine in his territory, which he says is about five square miles. Demler and Shobert struck a similar deal and have decorated their shop with a Key West-style theme. Both shops planned to open in early June. But the machines have yet to arrive from RYO Smoke Smart, which Stevens says has experienced “manufacturing delay after manufacturing delay.”

Corey Fischer, the president and CEO of RYO Smoke Smart, didn’t return City Link’s phone calls, but Golden Smokes and Flat Out Smokes are scheduled to open Sept. 5. “Our machines are to be delivered the week prior,” Stevens says. “We’re keeping our fingers crossed.”

Jonathan Silva, the manager of Tobacco Factory, doesn’t need superfast machines at his shop in a Pompano Beach strip mall. The former signmaker owns several electric tabletop devices estimated to produce a carton’s worth of cigarettes for sale in 20 minutes. Customers load the tobacco, insert a tube, push a button, hear a whir, remove their cigarette, and repeat the process until they’re finished. In addition to tobacco and cigarette tubes, Silva plans to stock hookahs, cigars, packaged cigarettes, rolling papers and other smoking cigarettes needs. He’ll also sell coffee and bowls of yuca soup from an old family recipe.

His Fresh Choice machines don’t promise a carton in four minutes, or even eight, but they also weren’t a $25,000 investment. Fresh Choice sells its machines for $499; Silva sells them for only a dollar more. “They’re household items,” he says. “You can put them in a house, buy the tobacco from us and roll your own.”

Charging $2.83 a pack and $18.87 a carton, Silva isn’t worried about competition from stores that use faster machines. “I tell everybody, ‘We have more time than money nowadays,’ ” he says. “If it’s going to take a little longer, and you’re gonna save the money you have, it’s a big deal.”

By using Fresh Choice machines, Silva’s business may escape the federal scrutiny faced by his competitors, who are wondering how long they’ll be able to keep things rolling. It seems their ability to continue connecting smokers with a faster means to make less-expensive cigarettes for sale will be decided by the courts.

Flat Out Smokes’ Demler says he initially was concerned about potential rulings, but after conducting some research, he felt confident enough to venture into the business. “Something might come along down the road,” he says. “But what it is, I think, is, 'Just get into the business, try to make your money and if it happens, it happens.’ ”

Monday, August 22, 2011

Sexy Girls Smoking Cigarettes

A very nice video made by DiscountCigarettesBox with a collection o pics with beautiful girls which are smoking cheap cigarettes.

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Sunday, August 21, 2011

Cigarettes As An Art

John Ravenal, VMFA Curator of Modern & Contemporary Art talks about creating a 40-foot long carpet that uses cigarettes online to depict a tiger skin.

A half-million cheap cigarette online shaped into a 40-by-15 foot carpet depicting the coat of a tiger is being created at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts by a Chinese artist fascinated by Virginia's historical connection to tobacco.

The work, being assembled by hand in VMFA's parking deck, is the third installment of Chinese contemporary artist Xu Bing's "Tobacco Project," which explores the production and culture of tobacco through the artist's eyes.

"He was interested in Richmond because of its rich connection to tobacco," said John Ravenal, the museum's curator of modern and contemporary art. "He was fascinated" with the region's tobacco farms, warehouses and factories, some of which he toured.

"He loves agriculture and industry, and he spent time on a farm himself as a young person as part of (China's) cultural revolution," Ravenal said.

Xu Bing's interest in tobacco extends to the texture of the leaf itself, as well as the "visuals" associated with the product's packaging and advertising, Ravenal said. "A lot of aspects of the exhibition are a celebration of the culture of tobacco," he added.

To gain further inspiration, Xu Bing, who also is vice president of the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing, conducted research at the Library of Virginia and the Valentine Richmond History Center.

Xu Bing, 56, launched his Tobacco Project more than 10 years ago at Duke University, where he was an artist in residence. From there, he traveled to Shanghai to create the second installment of the trilogy.

He is collaborating with six former graduate students from Virginia Commonwealth University's School of Arts to make the tiger skin carpet and other works, which include a 440-pound block of compressed tobacco embossed with the text, "Light as smoke."

Other items include books of poetry printed on cigarette paper and matchbooks, and a 40-foot-long reproduction of an ancient Chinese landscape painting on a scroll that will have a 40-foot-long cigarette burned down the length of it, Ravenal said.

Xu Bing is using tobacco as a subject and art medium to explore its historical and contemporary impact on human culture and trade. The exhibit will include positive and negative aspects, including Xu Bing's personal connection to a country where 50 percent of the men smoke cigarettes and his father's death of lung cancer at 64.

"He has his own kind of tragic connection," Ravenal said.

The largest piece of the Richmond exhibition will contain 500,000 "1st Class" cigarettes , a discount brand. The museum, through its exhibition budget of privately donated funds, purchased the discount cigarettes – about 35,000 packs – at roughly wholesale price from a source in North Carolina, Ravenal said.

"One of our former trustees comes from a tobacco family, and she has a connection with someone who was high up in the tobacco industry," Ravenal said.

The former VCU grad students assembling the carpet, which should be completed by late August, are gluing "handfuls" of buy cigarette online at a time to the carpet base. The orange-and-white tiger image is being created by the placement of the cheap cigarettes : the filter end is positioned upright for the color orange, the ignited end for the color white.

Xu Bing, who spent two weeks here in February planning and making templates, will return to Richmond several days before the exhibition opens Sept. 10 to "kind of fine-tune the installation," Ravenal said.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Trafficking Untaxed Cigarettes

A 39-year-old New York man was sentenced Tuesday to 21 months in prison for purchasing cheap cigarettes in Delaware bearing counterfeit state tax stamps and selling them for a profit in New York City.

Eduard Ifraimov, who emigrated from Russia in 2002 and received his U.S. citizenship seven years later, was arrested April 23, 2010, on charges of trafficking in untaxed cigarettes, receipt of counterfeit cigarette tax stamps and money laundering following a two-year investigation.

The investigation was conducted by the Delaware Division of Revenue, U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and other law enforcement agencies.

At the time of his arrest, investigators said Ifraimov had avoided paying more than $975,000 in taxes on the cigarettes online purchased.

Ifraimov was sentenced by federal Judge Sue L. Robinson to serve 21 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release, said Assistant U. S. Attorney Edmond Falgowski, who prosecuted the case.

The investigation found that Ifraimov was buying large amounts of cigarettes -- taxed and untaxed -- in Delaware and transporting them to New York where they were sold avoiding the New York City and state taxes.

An ATF agent, posing as a smuggler in untaxed cigarettes, worked undercover between August 2009 and Ifraimov’s arrest, purchasing more than 23,000 cartons of buy cigarettes for $900,000.

Falgowski said on each carton of cigarettes, Ifraimov avoided paying $42.50 in taxes.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Arrest Made In Cigarette Theft Ring

One man was arrested Wednesday and police were looking for two others following thousands of dollars in cigarette thefts.

On July 19, two men broke into a Sinclair gas station, 2322 E. 4500 South, about 3:10 a.m., and immediately started filling garbage bags with cigarettes.

"Hundreds of packs of cigarettes store were taken worth thousands of dollars," said Unified Police Lt. Justin Hoyal.

At one point, one of the men took a small trash can and also filled it with cigarettes. The entire operation lasted only a minute, he said.

A woman stood outside the store as a lookout while the two men grabbed the loot. A store surveillance camera recorded the crime. Copies of the video were distributed to the media, which soon led to a tip that broke the case, Hoyal said.

Sean Clos, 27, was booked into the Salt Lake County Jail for investigation of felony burglary and felony theft. Investigators say they have identified the two others believed to be involved and were working to take them into custody.

The group is believed to be responsible for four or five cigarette burglaries in the valley, Hoyal said. Investigators believe the cheap cigarettes were being traded for drugs. Details about who was receiving the online cigarettes and handing out drugs were still being investigated.

Clos' criminal history includes charges of felony theft and various misdemeanors dating back to 2002.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Claflin To Become Smoke-free Campus

Claflin University will enact a no-smoking cigarettes policy on campus beginning Saturday.

The policy is applicable to all students, employees, volunteers and visitors, the university announced Thursday.

"This policy will positively impact the health of all people affiliated with Claflin University," said Dr. Leroy Durant, vice president for student development and services. "Smoking is the root cause of many health problems and we expect this policy to promote a smoke-free lifestyle on our campus and beyond."

The new policy defines smoking cigarettes as the burning of tobacco products including, but not limited to, cigarettes, cigars, cigarillos and pipes. Beginning Sept. 16, any person found in violation of the policy will be issued a $25 fine.

As with most colleges and universities, Claflin previously had a policy discouraging smoking cigarettes and banning it inside buildings.

According to the American Nonsmokers' Rights Foundation, Claflin will join some other South Carolina institutions with the smoking cigarettes ban: Aiken Technical College, Francis Marion University, Lander University, USC Upstate, the Piedmont Technical College System and York Technical College.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Cigarette Disposal Units Around Town

The Little Compton Town Council discussed potential options to prevent and limit litter around town at Thursday night's meeting. This issue was initially brought up in the spring by residents Robert Marra and Sandy Farr representing the Sogkonate Garden Club.

"They contacted us about a month ago" said Town Council President Robert Mushen, regarding an email. "I actually missed our initial meeting, which pushed this back slightly, but we are attempting to keep this a prioritized issue and get something done relatively quickly. They are both individuals with a vested interested in this."

The item discussed was the potential to require certain businesses and other locations around town to have trash barrels and cigarette disposal units placed outside their establishments. This would extend to "basketball courts, baseball fields, tennis courts, Ponderosa, beaches and landings, Town Hall, the Little Compton Community Center, school, library, restaurants, coffee shops, liquor stores and post office," according to Marra's e-mail.

This potential program would place no additional burden on the town itself, as the responsibilities for emptying and collecting trash would fall upon said businesses.

Town councilors talked about how Little Compton has 55 gallon drums freely availible for any business that wants one, but acknowledged that a smaller size would likely be more convenient for most businesses. Other suggestions the town is looking into include investigating any grant opportunities with the endeavor, taking more action at the town transfer station and potentially developing a "Adopt-A-Road" program, similar to the state's Adopt-A-Highway program.

Little Compton is also looking to increase their utilization of community service workers towards roadside cleanup. This would be done through cooperation with both Portsmouth High School and the Little Compton chief of police.

One of the primary concerns is how to effectively balance clean-up efforts in town and along roads. According to Mushen, one of the letter's "main stated concerns was the amount of cigarette butts around town," a problem that would be considerably lessoned by having disposal units readily availible.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Discarded Cigarette Butts Found At Edmond Wildfire

Fire investigators say discarded buy cigarettes may have started Thursday's wildfire that burned 200 acres and threatened homes in northeast Edmond.

Firefighters will monitor the area throughout the weekend to make sure the fire doesn't flare up, said Assistant Fire Chief Tim Wheeler.

Investigators found more than two dozen fresh cigarette butts on the north side of Coffee Creek Road and west of Sooner Road, where the fire started, Wheeler said.

“They were scattered out in that area,” he said. “There were of different varieties. They had been discarded less than 24 hours. They were not weathered, ran over or been in the sun.”

Wheeler said people shouldn't throw cigarettes from vehicles, especially during the hot, dry weather Oklahoma is experiencing.

“We want to caution those who choose to smoke cigarettes to be careful,” Wheeler said. “Discarding cigarettes online out the window, first of all, is littering but it can also cause wildfires like this.”

This was the second wildfire in the area in the past three weeks.

No one was injured in Thursday's fire and no homes were destroyed.

Edmond firefighters were assisted by seven other fire departments and the Oklahoma Army National Guard, which brought in two helicopters to help put out the fire.

The assistance and lack of wind helped keep the fire under control, Wheeler said.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Five Ways to Make Your Own Fun When in Antarctica

According to this article by Dr. Kanwal Vilku, the first Indian woman to set foot on that continent:

5. Have an anchor baby:
Some Americans actually try to have babies at their stations (they have four). I used to find this crazy. Then I learnt that they were pressing for Antarctic ‘citizenship’. The continent is very rich in minerals, and American settlers want to stake claim to the land.
4. Paint pictures using unconventional materials:
In the evenings, if it wasn’t my turn to run chores, I would sit in my room and paint. I used expired medicines and mixed them with wall paints for my work.
3. Think about the colds you’re not catching:
Nobody ever falls ill with fever or an infection there because of the absence of viruses and bacteria.
2. Have a cuppa, inside a glacier:
I was very keen to see the submerged Indian station Dakshin Gangotri before we returned. For a long time, it was inaccessible. But the day before we were heading back, the weather cleared. Though we had already given back the snow clothes assigned to us, I decided to go. A small group came along. We were freezing without the special clothes. One container was still above water then. With great difficulty, one of the doors was prised open. We went inside and made a cup of tea. In Antarctica, the rule is to leave everything just as it was. This is so that if anyone gets lost, s/he can find food and so on in the closest shelter. We, too, left the kettle and cups back in their place before leaving.
1. Overcome sex and age discrimination to become the first woman from your country to set foot in the Antarctic.

If you are not female, or if your country has already sent a woman to Antarctica, then I'd stick with the most traditional Antarctic pastime of all: penguin-watching (see 0:45).

Fire-Safe Cigarettes

Fire-safe buy cigarettes have made a huge difference in the number of residential cigarette-related fires in the last two years, but this year they've had a negative impact on the city's wildfires.

Since Oklahoma legislators passed a bill in 2008 requiring cheap cigarettes to meet fire safety standards, officials have seen a decline in house fires caused by smoking cigarettes materials.

There were 404 of these type fires in Oklahoma City in 2008, 290 in 2009 and 269 in 2010, Fire Battalion Chief Tim Adams said.

“The thing about these cigarettes online is that they're aimed at reducing fatality fires,” Adams said. “Even one death is too many.”

This year, there have been 168 fires in the city from smoking cigarettes materials. Tinder-dry conditions have boosted the fire danger and fire-safe cigarettes are no protection against a wildfire if a lit cigarette is discarded carelessly.

Cigarette fire deaths

Lorraine Carli, spokeswoman for the National Fire Protection Association, said cigarette fires were the leading cause of home fire deaths in the U.S. That's why a national campaign was launched several years ago urging tobacco companies to manufacture fire-safe discount cigarettes and all states to require them.

She said 40 percent of smoking cigarettes material-related fire victims are 65 or older and 34 percent are children of smokers.

“This was a great initiative and will make a significant difference in the fire problem,” she said.

“Back in the '70s or so, we'd see 8,000 a year die in home fires. That number has now dropped to 3,000.”

Oklahoma City fire statistics lump fire deaths and injuries together. There were eight in 2008, five in 2009, seven in 2010 and one this year.

Falling asleep

Adams said cases in Oklahoma City often involve people falling asleep with lit cigarettes for sale that catch couches, mattresses and other household objects on fire.

Midwest City Fire Marshal Jerry Lojka said elderly people and those impaired by alcohol or medication seem more likely to fall asleep with cheap cigarette online still burning.

He said he has been a supporter of fire-safe buy cigarette online for several years and worked to get the Oklahoma legislation passed.

“We basically said to Philip Morris, ‘we're going to move ahead with this. We're going to pound on this until we get it,'” Lojka said. “We're tired of having people die in house fires with unattended cigarettes.'”

Lojka said he's had several people accuse him of ruining the taste of their cigarettes.

“I've gotten my fair share of negative feedback from smokers,” Lojka said. “If we can save lives, that's good with me. We haven't had a fatality in two years. It's working and that was our goal.”

Azam Kahan, manager at the SM No. 2 Quick Stop in Oklahoma City, said people didn't seem to care about the different taste, adding “they just want cheap cigarettes.”

National campaign

New York was the first state to pass the initiative in 2004 and has since seen a reduction in the number of smoking cigarettes material-related fires, Carli said.

She said Oklahoma wasn't an early adopter of fire-safe cigarettes, but it wasn't the last state to jump onboard either.

“The last state to go in effect was Wyoming,” Carli said.

“Once the ball got rolling, there was less and less opposition.”

Some smokers in Oklahoma were upset about the change, claiming the buy cigarette online had an awful taste and were more likely to burn their clothes. All 50 states have now passed legislation in an attempt to reduce cigarette-related fire deaths, Carli said.

She said the NFPA's campaign has helped educate people about the dangerous of cigarette-related fires and the benefits of having safer cigarettes.

“A quarter of people who died were not the smokers,” she said. “It's not only a fire safety issue for people who smoke cigarettes but people who live with smokers.”

Sunday, August 14, 2011

UM Tobacco Ban Sends Strong Message

The University of Montana is finally, officially, 100 percent tobacco-free. It and UM-Western can now be counted among the nearly 250 campuses that have completely banned tobacco.

This change - which UM has been gradually working toward for about a year - is worthy of note, and of cheer.

The new policy at UM and UM-Western forbidding the use of discount cigarette online and other tobacco products on campus took effect on Aug. 1. It sends a strong message - one that will hopefully help counter the worrisome trend of rising tobacco use among college students.

In fact, the Montana Collegiate Tobacco Prevention Initiative reports that college students are the only age group currently seeing an increase in tobacco use.

By now, the horrible health effects of regular tobacco use are well known, yet an estimated 46 million people - or 1 in 5 adults - in the United States are smokers, according to the Centers for Disease Control. It's no coincidence that 1 in 5 deaths in the U.S. is directly attributed to cigarette use, making smoking cigarettes the leading cause of preventable death in this country. What's more, an estimated 1 in 5 Americans between the ages of 18 and 14 are current smokers, according to a 2009 CDC report.

Montana falls slightly below the halfway point on a state ranking for cigarette smoking cigarettes rates, at 28th place. This translates into more than 138,000 smokers, or more than 18 percent of the state's adult population.

These folks put not only their own health at risk, but also risk the health of those around them who may be exposed to second-hand smoke. While the harm caused by secondhand smoke cigarettes does not seem to be as widely known as the effects of direct tobacco use, the information is slowly spreading.

Which is perhaps why a full 80 percent of campus-goers at UM-Western support a ban on tobacco use, according to a 2009 survey by the Tobacco Free Task Force at Western.

At UM, smokers have had plenty of time to adjust to the idea of a tobacco-free campus. Last year, the university prohibited smoking cigarettes within 25 feet of any building on campus. A ban that covers the entire campus is a logical - and welcome - extension.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Shelly Vetoes Smoking Ban, Cites Protection

Shelly, who recently has received multiple kudos from national anti-smoking cigarettes advocates, faulted the legislation for lacking language he said was needed to emphasize the importance of protecting Navajo infants and children from the dangers of smoke cigarettes and tobacco usage.

In an Aug. 5 letter to Speaker Johnny Naize and the Navajo Nation Council, Shelly said, "I ran on a platform of health, education, economic prosperity, open government and technology. I re-pledge my commitment to protect our Navajo people from cancer or diseases caused by exposure to second hand smoke cigarettes or tobacco use."

The bill would have exempted casinos until all their construction debts were paid. At that point, the Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise would have to implement a smoking cigarettes ban at the direction of the Council.

Even with those considerations, "the passage of this legislation does not adequately address any given employees who are subjected to a smoking cigarettes workplace environment," Shelly said.

He emphasized the health problems caused by tobacco use, particularly from secondhand smoke.

"It is critical to acknowledge the reality of the health risk, proven by scientific evidence, and the reason why there is a need for a smoke-free policy," Shelly said. "Secondhand smoke cigarettes exposure can cause cancer, cardiovascular diseases in adults, and respiratory diseases in children and adults."

Shelly said he rejected the bill, approved during the Council's summer session, because it is the government's responsibility to protect the health of the people, especially those who cannot protect themselves.

Shelly noted that the smoking cigarettes bill did not clearly explain what constitutes "public places" and "reasonable distance."

As for ceremonial and traditional tobacco use, the legislation "leaves the door open for restricting traditional use for ceremonial purposes," he said.

The bill also does not explain how the gaming enterprise will work with the Navajo Nation's Division of Health to address public education and prevention.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Westporters Want Smoke-Free Air At The Beach

The ocean breeze, hot dogs and hamburgers on the grill and even suntan lotion — these are aromas one might expect at the beach. One smell Westport resident Jennifer Tyrrell-Courtney doesn't expect is cigarette or cigar smoke.

"I don't think people should be allowed to smoke cigarettes on the beach," said Tyrrell-Courtney, who was at Compo Beach on Wednesday afternoon with her 6-year-old son Finnegan and au pair Sofia. "I personally don't like it."

In Westport, smoking cigarettes at town beaches and other town parks is not banned or limited to certain areas, said Stuart McCarthy, director of the Parks and Recreation Department. This is in part because the town doesn't receive many complaints about smoking cigarettes, he said.

"I'd have to say, we get one or two calls a year on the issue with either a suggestion or complaint, but certainly not enough to create a groundswell movement toward legislation," McCarthy said.

Any proposed policies regarding the town's parks and recreation properties — such as regulating smoking cigarettes on the beach — would be generated by the Parks and Recreation Commission, not his department, McCarthy added.

Although visitors to Westport's beaches are allowed to smoke cigarettes whenever and wherever they want, Tyrrell-Courtney said she believes smoking cigarettes at the beach should be limited to designated areas only. And she's not alone.

On Tuesday, The Daily Westport asked readers on its Facebook page how they felt about smoking cigarettes on the beach. Reader Elizabeth Beller wrote, "Terrible ... Compo is a family-centered beach. Wish it weren't allowed."

Reader Lynne Openshaw agreed, saying, "Think it should be banned." Likewise, Marita Driscoll wrote, "I would love to ban it all together, but it is a public space."

Parks and Recreation commissioner George Franciscovich said although regulating smoking cigarettes at the beaches isn't something the commission is currently considering, he said he brought up the subject a few months ago at a meeting when New York State was looking into banning smoking cigarettes in parks.

"There really wasn't any interest in pursuing it because we haven't heard anything from our constituents," Franciscovich said. "In a community like Westport, people are not shy about sharing their opinions, so to only have one or two calls a year about it means it's not an issue.

"We do encourage people who have issues to let us know. We're always glad to get input from citizens."

Thursday, August 11, 2011

American Cancer Society Drops Appeal Over Convention Center Smoking

The American Cancer Society has dropped its appeal to the Nevada Supreme Court in a fight over allowing smoking cigarettes in the Las Vegas Convention Center.

The American Cancer Society, which opposes smoking cigarettes because of the health hazards, signed a stipulation this week with the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority to dismiss its 2009 suit due to a law approved by the 2011 Legislature.

The Legislature passed and the governor signed a bill this year permitting smoking cigarettes in the convention center under certain conditions.

The law allows smoking cigarettes in the convention center if an event is closed to the public, if it was produced by a business with ties to tobacco or a professional association for convenience stores, or if it has displays of tobacco products.

The Legislature in 2009 passed a similar exemption, but it was combined with a bill on stalking. The Cancer Society challenged that law, arguing that it violated the constitutional prohibition of having two subjects in one bill.

But Carson City District Judge James Wilson rejected the argument of the Cancer Society, which then appealed to the Supreme Court.

The Cancer Society and the LVCVA filed opening and answering briefs earlier this year, but the Legislature in the final two days of the session in June approved the smoking cigarettes exemption bill that deals with only one subject.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Woman Severely Burned After Smoking In Bed

Careless smoking cigarettes appears to be the cause of a fire last night that has sent a Chattanooga woman to the hospital with severe burns. Chattanooga firefighters were dispatched to a house fire at 3024 Westside Drive just before midnight last night. Captain David Barie with Engine 9 said that when his crew entered the house, there was light smoke.

The homeowner, Davie Cayce, told the firefighters that the fire had been in a bedroom, but he used two portable fire extinguishers to get the flames out. However, as the firefighters began looking around, flames were visible in one of the bedrooms. The firefighters took in a hand-held hoseline and contained the fire to the bedroom.

Mr. Cayce told firefighters that his friend, Edy Baker, 60, had fallen asleep in the bed while smoking cigarettes. The lit cigarette apparently started a fire on the mattress and spread to the rest of the room.

Captain Barie said Ms. Baker suffered severe injuries from the fire. The firefighters treated the victim on the scene and then handed her over to Hamilton County EMS, who rushed her to Erlanger Medical Center. Ms. Baker reportedly had burns to approximately 60% of her body. After her condition was assessed at Erlanger, she was flown early this morning to the Joseph M. Still Burn Center in Augusta, Georgia.

Captain Anthony Moore with the Fire Investigation Division said the physical evidence supports the claim that Ms. Baker's cigarette started the fire when she fell asleep in bed. The cause of the fire will be ruled accidental. The dollar loss from the fire was estimated at $20,000.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Tobacco Free At Rose State

Rose State College in nearby Midwest City today joins a growing list of college and university campuses that have gone tobacco free in recent years.

Oklahoma State University is tobacco free, as is the OU Health Sciences Center, but the University of Oklahoma’s Norman campus policy allows smokers to light up if they are at least 25 feet from building entrances.

Rose State security will begin enforcing the tobacco free policy among patrons today.

Campus operations staff will begin removing all ashtrays and installing “tobacco free campus” signs on each building as well as other high-traffic areas.

The change comes almost a year after the college’s Board of Regents voted unanimously to make Rose State a tobacco-free campus.

Hundreds of similar institutions have banned tobacco use in the past few years. The initiatives are generally driven by student groups and faculty and staff councils.

Monday, August 8, 2011

UM-Western Campus Goes Smoke-free

The University of Montana Western Campus is now officially smoke cigarettes free. Every year, more and more college campuses enact "tobacco-free" ordinances, banning the use of cigarettes, chew, and any other form of tobacco.

But the while the University of Montana Western is hauling away their ash cans like everyone else, they're not planning to just say you can't smoke cigarettes there and penalize you if you don't follow the rules.

"We've chosen to look at it more like an educational process. We don't anticipate that we're going to have people that want to violate it or violate it repeatedly. But we actually have administrators who will deal with those people on a one to one basis by talking with them about the issue and some of the problems that we encounter," explained Director of University Relations Kent Ord.

"We're going to have a few kinks to work out with how the process will work if you do get caught. Right now it's just kind of a warning and if you keep doing it you get sent to the Dean students and they decide what to do. We don't actually have a set plan for how to deal with violators," added UM-Western senior Elida Craven, a tobacco free task force member.

But not all of the students and staff are happy about the change.

"I think a lot of people are frustrated by it, they feel it's their right to smoke. Particularly students who may be addicted to cigarettes, they're going to have to go off campus to smoke cigarettes and that's going to cut into their learning time and make problems," sophomore Amanda Copus told us.

"Basically what we're trying to do is create a healthy environment for everyone, and being tobacco free is a very important part of that," Ord concluded.

UM-Western joins the growing ranks of Montana school's that have decided to go tobacco-free. Montana Tech, Montana State University in Bozeman, MSU in Billings and the University of Montana in Missoula either have, or will soon will have, tobacco-free campuses in the Treasure State.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Smoke-free Ordinance Vital For A Healthier Augusta

Tobacco use remains the No. 1 preventable cause of disease and death in the United States, resulting in more than 430,000 deaths a year from personal use and more than 50,000 deaths annually from secondhand smoke cigarettes exposure.

Additionally, in recent years, the surgeon general determined there is no safe level of exposure. We now know that young children not only are at risk from secondhand smoke cigarettes exposure, but also thirdhand smoke cigarettes exposure from the numerous toxic particles, emitted from a cigarette or cigar, that fall and accumulate on common surfaces such as clothes, furniture and carpet.

In older children, secondhand smoke cigarettes exposure is associated with numerous respiratory illnesses resulting in hospitalizations, an increase in asthma symptoms and increased headaches -- all contributing to increased school absenteeism. Children exposed to second-hand smoke cigarettes have demonstrated poorer cognition scores and often poorer academic achievement.

More than 90 percent of all adult smokers begin the habit before they graduate from high school. Children and teens start smoking cigarettes for a variety of reasons, including modeling the behavior they observe in their parents and older siblings, as well as peer pressure.

ONE OF THE MOST effective strategies for prevention is parent modeling of healthy behaviors among young children and establishing an anti-tobacco environment at home. Also, having good communication between parents and children often deters children and teen smoking cigarettes.

Nonetheless, young teens getting a part- or full-time job in today's economically challenged environment often accept employment opportunities in environments laden with secondhand smoke. Because they are the employees, a clean, smoke-free environment often is not an option, and they feel trapped between a job with a toxic environment or unemployment.

But as a community, we can improve those environs as well. Implementation of smoke-free ordinances has resulted in dramatic, sustained reductions in hospitalizations of children for asthma and adults for heart attacks. Also, research has demonstrated that passage of a smoke-free ordinance does not negatively affect the economic welfare of restaurants and bars, but actually contributes to an increase in economic revenues.

Our neighboring communities already have experienced these healthy advances. One of Augusta/Richmond County's closest neighbors, Columbia County, in recent years successfully adopted a smoke-free ordinance.

In August of last year, a sister city, Savannah, adopted the most comprehensive smoke-free environment legislation in Georgia, essentially closing all the loopholes in the state law by requiring all businesses to become smoke-free. Feedback from bar and business owners has been overwhelmingly positive since the ordinance was implemented last January.

THE SELF-ENFORCING nature of the ordinance resulted in a smooth transition to a smoke-free environment with minimal compliance-related issues. It is anticipated that Chatham County will adopt a similar ordinance this fall. In 1990, Georgia Health Sciences University buildings went smoke-free, and sale of tobacco products was prohibited. Four years ago, the campus strengthened its policy to include outdoor space.

As the established leader in providing health profession education and preparing the future health-care leaders and work force of allied health professionals, dentists, nurses, physicians and biomedical and behavioral scientists, Georgia Health Sciences University strongly encourages healthy settings for people of all ages. This includes a smoke-free environment.

As a community gaining increasing notoriety as a health-care destination, we encourage Augusta's citizens and leaders to come together, agree on what is best for the whole and move forward for health with this simple yet far-reaching effort to ensure smoke-free environments for all.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Navajo Nation President Vetoes Smoking Regulation

Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly on Friday vetoed a smoking cigarettes regulation act passed last month by the tribal council, saying the measure doesn't go far enough to protect the health of Navajos.

Tribal lawmakers voted July 20 to prohibit smoking cigarettes in public places on the vast reservation with an exemption for tribal casinos. Under the bill, the Tribal Council could reconsider the casino exemption once gaming officials pay off their financing debts.

In a statement, Shelly said he overturned the council's decision because "the passage of this legislation does not adequately address any given employees who are subjected to a smoking cigarettes workplace environment."

Shelly added that he was re-pledging his commitment to protect tribal members "from cancer or diseases caused by exposure to secondhand smoke cigarettes or tobacco use."

There was no immediate reaction Friday from Navajo Nation Council members on Shelly's veto.

Some lawmakers see smoking cigarettes or chewing tobacco as a personal right that shouldn't be regulated by the tribal government and have argued that a ban would inhibit gaming revenue.

The legislation acknowledges the health effects of secondhand smoke, but its sponsor pointed to thousands of jobs casinos create through construction and permanent employment and touted it as a compromise. The Navajo Nation operates two casinos in New Mexico and has broken ground on what will be its largest facility east of Flagstaff.

Gaming officials told lawmakers that business at the casinos would suffer if patrons couldn't smoke, and financing for planned casinos would be in jeopardy should a smoking cigarettes ban include casinos. They expect to repay an estimated $200 million in debt in about seven years.

Under the legislation, smoking cigarettes would have been allowed only in designated areas of the casinos like at slot machines, and in outdoor areas and golf courses. Lawmakers also amended the bill to set aside $150,000 annually from gaming revenues for anti-smoking cigarettes education.

"Although the legislation identifies 'public places,' it does not specifically highlight those places such as schools, playgrounds, parks or places where it is of the highest priorities to prohibit and encourage a healthier environment," Shelly said in his statement.

He added the tribe's Division of Health, Division of Public Safety, Judicial Branch and the Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise "should work together to draft a bill that considers a healthy lifestyle for the Navajo people."

Friday, August 5, 2011

State Snuffs Chiefs Job In Tobacco Prevention Agency

Iowa's top tobacco-control official has lost her job after her division's budget was cut by two-thirds.

Bonnie Mapes, 60, headed the Division of Tobacco Use Prevention and Control since 2004. She took early retirement after her boss, Public Health Director Mariannette Miller-Meeks, told her last month that her position was being cut.

Mapes, whose 2010 salary was $99,189, and Miller-Meeks said Monday that the move was due to the Legislature's decision to cut the division's budget from $7.8 million to $2.8 million, leaving an agency that was too small to require a full-time director.

Sen. Herman Quirmbach, D-Ames and a strident anti-smoking cigarettes voice, complained about the development in a letter released Monday by his staff.

Quirmbach called the move a "firing" and wrote that he was "dismayed."

"Miller-Meeks has told some members of the Tobacco Use Prevention and Control Commission that she intends to seek legislation to disband the division entirely and that she has little interest in developing effective tobacco control policy, despite a statutory responsibility to do so," he wrote.

"Iowa's Division of Tobacco Use Prevention and Control is a national model for cancer prevention. According to the American Cancer Society, Iowa's anti-smoking cigarettes efforts have resulted in a 24 percent drop in coronary heart disease, an 8 percent drop in heart attacks and a 5 percent drop in strokes. Iowa is now No. 2 in the nation for the lowest adult smoking cigarettes rate, and youth smoking cigarettes rates dropped 13 percentage points from 2000 to 2008. ... (Yet) smoking cigarettes remains the No. 1 cause of death in our state, killing 4,400 Iowans each year."

Mapes' division is involved in producing edgy anti-smoking cigarettes ads and providing counseling and medications to Iowans who want to give up cigarettes. Some Republicans have complained about the ads, which are produced as part of the Just Eliminate Lies youth campaign, and Gov. Terry Branstad has said he does not believe they are effective.

Miller-Meeks said Monday that her decision to cut the division director's position was no reflection of Mapes' job performance. She said state leaders had been talking for several years about folding the division's duties into other parts of the health department, and she might ask legislators next session for authority to do so.

Miller-Meeks said she needs to fit anti-smoking cigarettes efforts into a tight budget, and it made more sense to focus the limited dollars on such things as the Quitline Iowa counseling program and local anti-smoking cigarettes organizations rather than a separate state division.

Threase Harms, a Des Moines lobbyist for the anti-smoking cigarettes group Clean Air for Everyone, said Mapes' dismissal raises questions about how serious Branstad is about his frequently stated opposition to smoking cigarettes.

"If they want Iowa to be the healthiest state in the nation, how are we going to do that without addressing the No. 1 cause of preventable deaths?" she said.

Tim Albrecht, a spokesman for Branstad, said the governor is committed to combating smoking cigarettes. He said the governor signed off on Miller-Meeks' decision to terminate Mapes' position, and he said the governor understood the need to cut programs, including the anti-smoking cigarettes ads.

"Given Iowa's severe budget constraints, most departments and agencies saw a decrease in funding," Albrecht wrote.

"Gov. Branstad believes tobacco cessation programs are important and necessary, and believes the money should be spent in a more effective manner. Blanket television advertisements, when 80 percent of the population does not smoke, is probably not the most efficient means of tobacco cessation. The governor continues to look for efficient, effective ways to educate the public on the harmful effects of smoking cigarettes."

Dr. Patricia Quinlisk, the health department's medical director, has been named interim division director.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

City Leaders Want To Ban Flavored Tobacco

There is a new spin on traditional chewing tobacco, and it's being sold to area minors. You can find it in cherry, root beer and cool mint flavors and the city of Fort Myers wants it banned.

Despite the label's disclaimer, the Lee County Health Department says dissolvable tobacco – called Snus - is showing up in the lockers, backpacks and pockets of kids in Lee County.

It's bright colored, candy flavored and smells just like minty or fruity gum.

"I know that kids bring it to my school," said 17-year-old Sarah Stergeon, a student at East Lee County High School.

"Even if they're not using it themselves, their friends are - a lot of them are," said Holly Raven, Registered Nurse for the Lee County Health Department.

The spit-free, dissolvable tobacco comes in two forms - small pills or tiny tea bags. They're easily hidden in the back of a kid's mouth or in their belongings.

The health department says one major concern with the product is that it's easy to shove in a backpack or pocket and it looks like an ordinary mint tin.

Stergeon says her peers are bringing Snus to school - even though many of them are minors.

"It's very upsetting. It's breaking the law. It's like a death trap in a little box," she said.

And according to the Florida Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco, some Lee County convenience stores have been busted for selling tobacco to minors within the past year.

Some stores even placed the tobacco cans in the candy aisle.

"It's upsetting. A lot of the companies and businesses in our county are not doing their job in carding these kids," said Students Working Against Tobacco Coordinator Daniel Gregory.

Now though, the City of Fort Myers is stepping in.

Monday, the Fort Myers City Council signed a resolution that urges tobacco retailers to stop selling and marketing all flavored tobacco in the city limits.

The hope is stores will voluntarily pull the products off the shelves. It's a small step, but Stergeon says she hopes retailers will take notice.

"They're not fooling anyone. We see what they're doing and we're going to stop it," she said.