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World’s biggest tobacco company vows to phase out cigarettes

In a swish research centre on the edge of a Swiss lake, the world’s biggest cigarette company is re-inventing itself.

Philip Morris International – which makes Marlboro and several other leading brands – has vowed to phase out cigarettes and move into smoke-free products instead.

And the complex of laboratories is a signal of intent.

It’s spent £3.5bn on science and technology so far, clocking up more than 3,000 patents, with another 5,000 pending.

Sky News was given unprecedented access, allowed to see banks of machines that “smoke”, and a laboratory where scientists monitor the impact of chemicals on the tiny hairs inside the lungs and airways.

Fewer than 15% of adults now smoke in the UK, compared to 21% a decade ago

The current focus is on IQOS, an electric device that heats, rather than burns tobacco.

The cooler temperature lowers levels of 15 noxious chemicals found in cigarette smoke by 95%, according to the company’s research.

That doesn’t mean it reduces the risk of smoking-related diseases. Those studies haven’t been done, though blood tests suggest there is a less damaging impact on the body.

Nor have there been head-to-head comparisons with vaping.

The aerosol from heating nicotine liquid has even lower levels of toxic compounds. And while medical authorities endorse vaping as an alternative to smoking, they are so far sniffy about heated tobacco.

Public Health England says there just isn’t enough independent research to recommend it to smokers as a way of reducing risk.

Image:
A laboratory where scientists monitor the impact of chemicals on the tiny hairs inside the lungs

There may well be a big dose of scepticism involved too.

Tobacco killed 100 million people in the 20th Century and for decades the industry denied there was a risk from smoking.

According to anti-tobacco campaigners it even covered up evidence that nicotine was addictive.

So why, they ask, should the industry be trusted now?

There may be another motive for Philip Morris’s shift away from cigarettes.

Smokers in most industrialised nations are already making the same transition.

Philip Morris International has spent £3.5bn on science and technology so far
In the UK fewer than 15% of adults now smoke, compared to 21% a decade ago.

They’re either quitting altogether, or they’re vaping.

So this could be a shrewd move by the company to give smokers a reason to stick with tobacco in some form.

The biggest test is what Philip Morris does in low and middle income countries, where most smokers live and where it continues to make huge profits from its cigarettes.

The current heated tobacco device is well-beyond the means of the world’s poor.

The company says it is committed to devising cheaper versions for every market, a win for the business and arguably for smokers.

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Law

Senate Inches One Step Closer To Passing Bill Overruling Buhari’s Veto On Budget


A bill to compel the President and state governors to lay their annual budgets before the legislature at most 90 days to end of a fiscal year has passed second reading at the Senate.

The second reading of the bill is the second stage of process. If the bill passes the third reading with the required by two-thirds majority, and it gets the concurrence of the House of Representatives, then it becomes a law.

The bill, The 1999 Constitution of Nigeria (Fourth Alteration, No. 28) Bill, was sponsored by Ike Ekweremadu, the Deputy Senate President, and was presented at plenary by Ahmad Lawan, Majority Leader of the Senate.

Rejected by the President in 2018, the bill, if passed, will return Nigeria to the era of January-December budget cycles, while similarly mandating the National Assembly to pass the budget before commencement of the next financial year.

Buhari had declined assent to the bill on the grounds that Section 2 (b) and 3 (b) of the proposal appears not to appreciate the provisions of Section 58 (4) of the 1999 constitution — an argument dismissed by David Umaru, Chairman of the Senate’s Technical Committee on Declined Assent to Bills.

The bill will ensure that the budget is laid not later than 90 days to the end of a financial year,” Umaru said.

“The legislative intent behind this bill is to ensure that we run a normal financial year. Therefore, the provision of Section 58(4) which Mr. President made reference to, does not apply in this regard.

“On the whole, we respectfully submit that the bill is not in conflict with the provision of Section 58(4) of the Constitution as implied by Mr President. It is, therefore, our concerted view that the Senate should override Mr. President’s veto.”

Section 58(4) of the Constitution being spoken of by the President reads: “Where a bill is presented to the President for assent, he shall within thirty days thereof signify that he assents or that he withholds assent.”

However, Section 58(5) also adds: “Where the President withholds his assent and the bill is again passed by each House by two-thirds majority, the bill shall become law and the assent of the President shall not be required.”

As earlier reported by SaharaReporters, the Senate on Wednesday passed seven of the at least 16 bills rejected so far this year by the President.

The bills are the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB), National Institute for Hospitality and Tourism Bill, National Research and Innovation Council Bill, Stamp Duties Act (Amendment) Bill, National Agricultural Seed Council Bill, Agricultural Credit Guarantee Scheme Fund (Amendment) Bill and Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Act 2010 (Amendment) Bill.

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EU issues strong warning to US

The European Union, on Wednesday warned the United States against potential moves that would impact European interests in Cuba.

U.S. media reported earlier that the Trump administration might later on Wednesday reverse waivers which had previously been in place to protect foreign companies from lawsuits in the U.S. for their dealings with Cuba.

There have been years of waivers for a provision in a 1996 domestic law of the U.S., known as the Helms-Burton Act, that safeguarded foreign companies from U.S. lawsuits.

However, the Trump administration will reportedly do away with the waivers, potentially opening foreign businesses including those from Europe to lawsuits.

A spokesman for the European Commission told a briefing in Brussels that “the European Union reiterates its strong opposition to the extraterritorial application of unilateral restrictive measures which it considers contrary to international law.’’

“The EU is ready to protect European interests including European investments and the economic activities of EU individual and entities in their relations with Cuba,’’ he added.

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Ex-President shoots self dead to avoid arrest

Peru’s former President, Alan Garcia died in a hospital in Lima, on Wednesday after shooting himself, as police arrived at his house to arrest him in connection with a bribery probe, authorities said.

Garcia, who had repeatedly denied wrongdoing, was 69, NAN reports.

President Martin Vizcarra said on Twitter that he was “consternated” by Garcia’s death, and sent his condolences to his family members.

Garcia shot himself in the head after police arrived at his home to arrest him in connection with a bribery investigation, the interior ministry said.

“Garcia, 69, underwent emergency surgery at the Casimiro Ulloa hospital and suffered three cardiac arrests,’’ Health Minister Zulema Tomas said in broadcast comments.

Garcia was one of nine people a judge ordered to be arrested in connection with an investigation into bribes distributed by Odebrecht, the Brazilian construction company.

Local TV channel America reported Garcia was in a coma and showed images of his son, supporters and lawmakers arriving at the hospital, where police in riot gear stood by.

A skilled orator who led Peru’s once-powerful Apra party for decades, Garcia governed as a nationalist from 1985 to 1990 before remaking himself as a free-market proponent and winning another five-year term in 2006.

He had denied wrongdoing involving Odebrecht and blamed his legal troubles on political persecution.

“Others might sell out, not me,” Garcia said in broadcast comments on Tuesday, repeating a phrase he has used frequently as his political foes became ensnared in the Odebrecht investigation.

Interior Minister Carlos Moran said at a news conference that Garcia had told police he needed to call his attorney after they arrived at his home in Lima to arrest him.

“He entered his room and closed the door behind him.

“Within a few minutes, a shot from a firearm was heard, and police forcibly entered the room and found Mr. Garcia sitting with a wound in his head,” Moran said.

In 2018, Garcia asked Uruguay for political asylum after he was banned from leaving the country to keep him from fleeing or obstructing the investigation, while Uruguay rejected the request.

Garcia would have been the third former president in Peru to have been jailed in the Odebrecht case.

Ollanta Humala spent nine months in pre-trial detention in 2017 to 2018 and Pedro Pablo Kuczynski was arrested without charges recently.

A fourth former president, Alejandro Toledo, is fighting extradition from California after a judge in Peru ordered him jailed for 18 months in connection with Odebrecht in 2017.

However they have all denied wrongdoing in connection with Odebrecht.

In Peru, criminal suspects can be ordered to spend up to three years in jail before trial if prosecutors can show they have evidence that likely would lead to a conviction and the suspect would likely flee or try to interfere in the investigation.

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