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Updated: December 12, 2013

December 6, 2013 — The Cheapest Way to Quit Smoking
According to a recently published study, the most cost-effective method of turning a smoker into an ex-smoker is the digital smoking cessation course, LivingFree. Read more.

August 7, 2013 — The Cost of a Smoker: $5,816
A smoker costs a private employer in the United States an extra $5,816 per year compared with a nonsmoker, according to an analysis of data collected from earlier studies on the costs of smoking. The largest cost, at $3,077 annually, came from taking smoking breaks. The second largest cost, at $2,056, was related to excess health care expenses. The remaining costs came from increased absenteeism and lost productivity at work. Read more.

June 8, 2012 — Comic Web Series Comes With a Quit-Smoking Sponsor
The American Legacy Foundation is sponsoring an online comics how in an effort to reach audience that is becoming increasingly interested in watching online video —people in their upper 20s and lower 30s. By some estimates, the tobacco industry spends $29 million each day promoting its products; this stop-smoking effort is budgeted at less than $5 million. Read more.

February 1, 2012 — Smoking rates rise in France despite five years of public smoking ban
Although France's anti-smoking laws have failed to reduce the country's smoking rate, they have led to reductions in cancer risk among barmen and waiters. The proportion of 18-75-year-olds who are regular smokers has risen to 30% (from 28%) since 2005. This is largely the result of more women smoking — 28.7% smoked every day in 2010 as compared to 26.9% in 2005. France's public tobacco ban is widely ignored and minimally enforced. Two-thirds of those polled admitted to being exposed to tobacco smoke in a location where smoking was prohibited as some point during the previous six months; one-third said they had come across it at work. Read more.

January 19, 2012 — The American Lung Association releases tenth annual State of Tobacco Control
This report outlines the progress and backsliding of key tobacco control policies at both the federal and state levels. According to the document, "Most states' efforts over the past year to protect children and curb tobacco-related disease have been, in a word, abysmal." By their estimation, states regressed in 2011.

  • No state passed a comprehensive smokefree workplace law. Nevada weakened its current law.
  • Tobacco prevention and quit-smoking programs in a number of states experienced funding cuts or were virtually eliminated, including a highly successful program in Washington State.
  • For the first year since 2003, no state raised its tobacco tax significantly. New Hampshire actually cut its cigarette tax by a dime per pack.
The federal government fared better. Successes included:
  • Rollout of a comprehensive quit-smoking benefits to millions of federal employees and their families.
  • Announcement that the federal government will give states partial reimbursement for quit-smoking counseling services furnished to Medicaid enrollees through state toll-free numbers called quitlines.
  • U.S. Food and Drug Administration unveiling new graphic warning labels for cigarette packs, which will include the national 1-800-QUIT-NOW telephone number to call for help with quitting.

January 16, 2012 — Geisinger stops hiring tobacco users
As of Feb. 1st, Geisinger Health System, based in Danville, Pa., will hire only those who test negative for nicotine during the routine drug testing that is part of the pre-employment physical. The testing is carried out after an offer has been made but before the person starts the job. This policy change affects new hires for part-time and full-time positions, but not current employees. Those who test positive will be given a list of smoking cessation resources and allowed to reapply after six months. Read more.

January 2012 — Employer Case Study: Johnson and Johnson
GBC Health released a detailed case study about Johnson and Johnson's efforts globally to address tobacco use in the work place.

January 13, 2012 — Universities are going tobacco-free
In recent weeks, two large University systems in the United States have announced steps to eliminate tobacco entirely from their campuses. Over the next two years the University of California will implement a complete ban on cigarettes and all other tobacco products from its campuses. Students and staff alike will be prohibited from smoking anywhere on a UC campus - including outdoor spaces, parking lots and private residences. Beginning March 1st, campuses of the City Colleges of Chicago will be tobacco-free zones. The City Colleges' board of trustees approved the new policy which prohibits tobacco use (not just cigarette use) on all college properties, affecting more than 120,000 students and 5,800 faculty and staff and all visitors.

January 4, 2012 (Pravda) — 2012: The world has changed
On January 1st tobacco and alcohol taxes in Russia rose. The tax rate on cigarettes is now $12 (360 rubles). On July 1st, taxes will increase again to $13 (390 rubles).
Read More ...

December 14, 2011 (Associated Press) — Dutch No-Smoking Drive Takes a Hit
The Dutch government is retreating on national efforts to curb the country's high tobacco usage. Their plans will handicap tobacco control programs by:

  • Reducing spending on anti-smoking advertising campaigns,
  • Ending funding for tobacco cessation programs through the health care system, and
  • Closing the National Tobacco Control Center.
According to Inge Freriksen, a health ministry spokeswoman, "the Netherlands had chosen 'a different manner of prevention' - one that focuses on educating children on the dangers of smoking.

Earlier this year, Dutch researchers predicted that without stronger anti-smoking policies, almost a million people in the Netherlands would die prematurely due to tobacco-related diseases between now and 2040. Estimates are that given the Netherlands recent tobacco policy changes, smoking-related diseases would kill as many as 600 additional people by 2020.

The Netherlands is home to Europe's biggest tobacco industry, translating into more than 4 billion euros ($5 billion) worth of tobacco product sales last year. About 27% of people in the Netherlands smoke. The country's lung cancer rate (about 93 people per 100,000) is higher than the Western Europe average.
Read more ...

December 14, 2011 (Institute of Medicine) — Report Specifies Research FDA Should Require Before Allowing 'Modified Risk' Tobacco Products to Be Marketed
"A new Institute of Medicine report specifies the types of research that the Food and Drug Administration should require before allowing tobacco companies to sell or advertise 'modified risk' tobacco products as being capable of reducing the health risks of tobacco use. While modified risk tobacco products could be one part of a comprehensive strategy to lower tobacco-related death and disease in the U.S., especially among tobacco users who are unable or unwilling to quit entirely, little is currently known about the products' health effects and whether they pose less risk than traditional tobacco products. Examples of modified risk tobacco products may include e-cigarettes and tobacco lozenges."
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December 13, 2011 (Khaleej Times Online) — Current Packaging for Tobacco to Stop in July
Beginning in August 2012, tobacco products sold in the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.) will have pictorial warnings that cover 50% of the packaging.
Read more ...

December 9, 2011 (China Daily) — Enforce Ban on Smoking
China struggles with enforcing its January 9th ban on smoking in public places. Only 20 percent of surveyed restaurants in Beijing had banned smoking completely by mid 2011. The country has 300 million smokers (roughly 22% of the population). One major hurdle is the state-owned tobacco industry. It provided the country nearly $80 billion in revenue in 2010.
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December 8, 2011 (Fox News Latino) — Brazil Widens War on Tobacco
"The Brazilian government is a presidential signature away from passing a law that would not only ban smoking in enclosed public places nationwide, but also extend restrictions more than previously thought. But the new law would increase restrictions making it illegal to light up in smoking rooms, or in airports and bars, ban cigarette advertisements everywhere cigarettes are sold, and increase taxes on cigarettes by up to 300%."
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December 5, 2011 (The Boston Globe) — E-cigarettes: Threat or therapy?
"Are e-cigarettes less harmful than real cigarettes? Advocates say they help smokers quit. But health officials aren't so sure."
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December 1, 2011 (The Charleston Gazette) — Tobacco use to hike health insurance costs in South Charleston
"Employees of the city of South Charleston may soon pay more for their insurance - especially if they are tobacco users. City Council members passed two ordinances that will increase the health insurance deductible from $2,500 to $4,000 a year. Tobacco users will be hit with an additional fee of $50 a month for individuals and $100 a month for families."
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November 17, 2011 (The White House) — President Obama: Congratulations to Everyone Taking Part in Today's Great American Smokeout
"Today, Americans from across the country are making plans to quit smoking as part of the American Cancer Society's Great American Smokeout. And this morning, we released a video from President Obama congratulating everyone who is participating in this important event and underscoring our Administration’s commitment to fighting tobacco use."
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November 16, 2011 (The New York Times) — The Smokers' Surcharge
"More and more employers are demanding that workers who smoke, are overweight or have high cholesterol shoulder a greater share of their health care costs, a shift toward penalizing employees with unhealthy lifestyles rather than rewarding good habits. Policies that impose financial penalties on employees have doubled in the last two years to 19 percent of 248 major American employers recently surveyed. Next year, Towers Watson, the benefits consultant that conducted the survey, said the practice — among employers with at least 1,000 workers — was expected to double again."
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November 16, 2011 (ABC News) — The Great American Smokeout: Tips for People Deciding to Quit
"The American Cancer Society continues its tradition today with the 36th Great American Smokeout — a day dedicated to encourage smokers to either quit or set a date to officially put down the pack. According to the CDC, there are still 46 million smokers still in the country and one in five deaths can be attributed to tobacco use. What's worse, 70 percent smokers who try to quit relapse, and experts say that it takes a smoker seven to 10 times to quit for good. Here are seven tips for smokers looking to kick the habit from leading experts."
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November 12, 2011 (Statesman-Journal) — Officials wary of electronic cigarettes
"Smoking for the modern age never looked so easy. It just requires a push of a button, vaporized mist and optional flavors of chocolate, coffee or peppermint. This isn't a futuristic prop from the set of 'The Jetsons.' It's an electronic cigarette and it's been on the market for several years. But the e-smokes are just now catching the eyes of community and health leaders. Across the country, health warnings and bans are being raised regarding the devices, even though little is known about how often they're used or who is using them. 'It's a tobacco product but it's being marketed like a candy cigarette,' said Rene LeBlanc, director for the South Central Public Health District. 'It's mimicking the same smoking behavior but you're being told it's not the same.'"
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November 3, 2011 (Anchorage Daily News) — Providence hospital will screen job applicants for nicotine
"Smokers, if you want a job at Alaska's biggest private employer, forget about it. Providence Alaska Medical Center and its affiliates around the state will stop hiring tobacco users as of Nov. 17. That's when Providence will begin testing prospective employees for nicotine along with illegal drugs."
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October 26, 2011 (The Baltimore Sun) — Baltimore Co. to ban smoking in county-owned vehicles
"Baltimore County plans to prohibit employees from smoking in government vehicles, including police cars and maintenance trucks, a county health official confirmed. Dr. Gregory Wm. Branch, the county health officer, recommended the move to county Administrative Officer Fred Homan last week, citing the health risks of secondhand smoke. 'Secondhand smoke can remain in [homes and cars] through contaminated dust and surfaces, even if smoking took place days, weeks and even months earlier,' Branch wrote in the letter obtained by The Baltimore Sun. 'The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has concluded that secondhand smoke is an occupational carcinogen.'"
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October 22, 2011 (The Economist) — After the tsunami: Old habits die hard
"To a smoker from Europe or America, Japan is a puffer's paradise. A pack of cigarettes in Tokyo, despite a hefty tax increase last year, still costs about half what it would in London or New York. Smoke billows out of bars. There is little social stigma. Yoshihiko Noda, the prime minister, is a two-pack-a-day man. The state, despite signing an international anti-smoking convention in 2004, still owns 50% of the world's third-largest cigarette company, Japan Tobacco."
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October 19, 2011 (Business Wire) — CEOs Lead Cancer Fighting Effort
"Eli Lilly and Co. became the 100th employer to receive CEO Cancer Gold Standard accreditation, recognizing the company's commitment to reducing cancer risk by promoting healthy lifestyle choices, encouraging early detection through cancer screenings, and ensuring access to quality treatment for their own employees and their covered family members. The CEO Cancer Gold Standard™ was created by the CEO Roundtable on Cancer in collaboration with the National Cancer Institute, many of its designated cancer centers, and leading health non-profit organizations and professionals. The CEO Cancer Gold Standard™ calls for companies to evaluate their health benefits and corporate culture and take extensive, concrete actions in five key areas of health and wellness to fight cancer in the workplace. Through the support provided by the CEO Roundtable on Cancer, there is no cost for companies large or small, for-profit or not-for profit to apply for CEO Cancer Gold Standard accreditation. To earn accreditation, a company must establish programs to reduce cancer risk by discouraging tobacco use; encouraging physical activity; promoting healthy diet and nutrition; detecting cancer at its earliest stages; and providing access to quality care, including participation in clinical trials."
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October 8, 2011 (CNN) — Debate: Should cigarette breaks be deducted from working hours?
"Should cigarette breaks be deducted from working hours? The debate rages on in France, where a few companies have begun requiring employees to take their ID cards off when heading outside for a puff, and put them on again when returning to their desks. The issue has come up in other parts of Europe as well. This past summer the registry office in Florence, Italy began docking smokers for their frequent breaks. And as of this week, civil servants in Walloonia, the predominantly French-speaking southern region of Belgium, are also being obliged to deduct their cigarette breaks."
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October 5, 2011 (The New Zealand Herald) — Nicotine on anti-doping hit list
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) is taking initial steps to classing nicotine as a performance-enhancing drug. According to its Lausanne laboratory, WADA and all sport federations should evaluate the inclusion of nicotine to WADA's Prohibited List or/and Monitoring Program. The theorized performance-enhancing effects of nicotine included increased "vigilance and cognitive function," and reduced stress and body weight. There is "alarming evidence" of nicotine use by athletes across 43 sports. Tests on 2,185 urine samples found 15% of athletes actively used nicotine, compared to 25% of the general population. Read More...

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