Japan Passes Legislation to Legalize Marijuana-Derived Medicines

The Japanese National Diet, during its regular session, has successfully passed a legislative amendment aimed at legalizing marijuana-derived medicines. The amendment seeks to address existing legal gaps regarding penalties for recreational use.

Until now, Japan only permitted marijuana-derived drugs for clinical trials, but patients have long sought access, particularly to cannabidiol (CBD) products derived from the plant. These products, approved for use in Europe and the United States, are known to treat conditions such as severe epilepsy.

Under the new amendment, the use of marijuana-derived medicines will be allowed, and cultivation of the plant will also be permitted to gather raw materials for pharmaceuticals and other products. The amendment received majority support in the Japanese House of Representatives this Wednesday, backed by the ruling coalition.

The revision to the Cannabis Control Act will take effect one year after promulgation, introducing new regulations concerning marijuana and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a psychoactive substance found in the cannabis plant.

In a groundbreaking move for the country, these substances will be categorized as narcotics, subject to regulations under the National Control of Narcotics and Psychotropic Substances Act, prohibiting and penalizing possession, transfer, or consumption of these substances.

While cultivation, possession, and sale of marijuana have been prohibited and penalized in Japan, the use of these specific substances has not been punished. This will change after the legal revision, with recreational use potentially leading to imprisonment for up to seven years.

The reason for the absence of penalties for marijuana use in Japan has been the wide traditional uses of hemp cultivation, such as for clothing, seasoning, or significant Shinto-related religious ceremonies.

However, in response to a rise in arrests related to marijuana, particularly among individuals in their twenties, Japanese authorities have decided to regulate this. The new changes will introduce two different marijuana cultivation licenses, one for pharmaceutical production and another for various purposes, including the manufacturing of hemp products such as clothing.

These legislative changes related to marijuana cultivation will take effect two years after promulgation.

Public Consultation on Banning Tobacco Sales to Those Born After January

The public consultation regarding the prohibition of tobacco sales to individuals born after January 1, 2009, is set to conclude this Wednesday (December 6), with plans to introduce new legislation in the coming year. However, warnings from the UK’s Public Health Minister, Baroness Andrea Leadsom, suggest that major tobacco companies are actively working behind the scenes to thwart this policy.

Baroness Leadsom wrote, “We are aware that, on the other side, the tobacco industry is actively attempting to undermine this policy. The tobacco industry talks about the freedom of choice for consenting adults, but we all know that once disease strikes, there is no freedom of choice. The industry has consistently sought to obstruct and delay tobacco reform.”

In clandestine lobbying efforts, the tobacco industry is urging the government to raise the legal smoking age from 18 to 21, a move that insiders believe is aimed at preventing the enforcement of a smoking ban on anyone turning 14 this year.

With New Zealand abandoning its own anti-smoking plans, insiders note that England would become the sole country planning to phase out tobacco sales.

The government is expected to respond to the public consultation on the smoking ban in the new year, simultaneously unveiling its response to consultations addressing adolescent smoking issues. Subsequently, the government will introduce the Smoking and E-Cigarette Act.

Research by Landsman Economics, commissioned by the anti-smoking charity ASH, indicates that if no one in England purchased tobacco, the overall benefits to the national economy would amount to £13.6 billion.

Conservative MP Bob Blackman from Harrow East supports the study, adding, “As a former local council leader and parliamentarian, I am acutely aware of the harm smoking poses to the entire local economy, not just to the National Health Service, as smoking-related illnesses and disabilities necessitate social care a decade earlier.”

Simultaneously, a survey conducted online by “Forest,” a lobbying organization funded by tobacco giants Imperial Tobacco and Japan Tobacco International, reveals that 58% of the public supports allowing individuals aged 18 and above to purchase tobacco.

Newport City Centre Fruit Shop Owner Prosecuted for Illegally Selling E-Cigarettes to Minors

Shahram Bakir Ahmed, the proprietor of the “Four Seasons” fruit shop on the central business street of Newport, is facing legal action from the local government. Earlier this year, the Trading Standards Office received information that a teenager under the age of 18 had purchased an electronic cigarette from Ahmed’s shop.

Police officers had previously visited the store to explain regulations regarding the sale of age-restricted products and left detailed information packs for clarification. However, just a month later, the store faced another complaint after a woman purchased a nicotine-containing electronic cigarette, specifically an “Elf Bar” disposable e-cigarette.

Subsequent complaints against the store included allegations of illegal tobacco sales, unauthorized sales, and selling e-cigarettes to minors. As a result, the shop has been issued a closure order under the Anti-Social Behaviour Act and will remain closed until the expiration of the extended closure order on January 25, 2024.

Following a trial at Cwmbran Magistrates’ Court, Ahmed (32 years old, residing on Oaktree Road in Caterham, Surrey) was fined £1,345, encompassing fines, legal costs, and additional fees. He admitted to some of the violations.

James Clarke, Cabinet Member for Strategic Planning, Housing, and Regulation in the city, expressed, “We made it abundantly clear to this shop that selling e-cigarettes to individuals under the age of 18 is illegal, and there is no excuse for selling such products.”

Currently, the UK government is in discussions across its four nations to restrict the sale of e-cigarettes to children, with plans to introduce relevant legislation in the UK in the new year.

Health Secretary Andrea Leadsom informed the House of Commons that legislation regarding tobacco and e-cigarettes will soon become law. The proposed legislation aims to limit the flavors and descriptions of e-cigarettes to ensure they are not targeted towards children.

Two Swindon Stores Under Investigation for Illegally Selling E-Cigarettes to Minors

Two undisclosed shops in Swindon are currently under investigation for selling electronic cigarettes to minors, a practice that violates the legal age restriction. The names of the reported stores have not been disclosed as the investigation is ongoing.

In the United Kingdom, the sale of electronic cigarettes is only permitted to individuals aged 18 and above. However, the vibrant colors and enticing flavors of these products have proven to be attractive to children.

The Swindon City Council is now considering the implementation of legal measures to address the issue. Jim Grant, a council member and cabinet member for local communities and partnerships, expressed growing concerns about the popularity of disposable e-cigarettes among minors, stating, “We are increasingly worried about the appeal of disposable e-cigarettes and their prevalence among underage individuals; they should not have access to these products.”

Grant further emphasized the need for action to curb the trend. “We need to protect our young population from the potential harms associated with e-cigarette use,” he added.

Both the Swindon City Council and local law enforcement are urging the public to act as the eyes and ears of the community by reporting instances of stores selling age-restricted products to minors. The collaboration between the community and authorities aims to uphold and enforce standards that safeguard the well-being of the youth.


What is UK Government’s Smokefree Generation Plan?

The Health and Wellbeing Committee of the Westmorland and Furness Council in the UK has thrown its support behind the government’s proposed “Smokefree Generation” plan, aiming to reduce the number of smokers to below 5% of the population by 2030.

The government’s recommendations to curb smoking include criminalizing the sale of tobacco products to anyone born on or after January 1, 2009, and restricting the flavors and descriptions of e-cigarettes to prevent them from being appealing to children.

Additional measures in the government’s plan involve regulating the displays in retail outlets to keep e-cigarettes out of children’s sight and limit the sale of disposable e-cigarettes, a response to the rise of e-cigarette use among children.

Katrina Stephens, the Director of Public Health for Westmorland and Furness Council, previously emphasized that smoking remains the leading cause of premature deaths in the region.

According to the UK Public Health sector, smoking is responsible for 84% of lung cancer deaths and increases the risk of stroke by at least 50%. The government has set a target to achieve a smoke-free England by 2030, meaning that the smoking population should be less than 5% by that year.

Stephens noted that to achieve this goal in Westmorland and Furness, around 10,000 individuals in the region will need to quit smoking, eliminating the need for others to take up the habit.

Cancer Council NSW and nib Foundation Collaborate on Innovative Smoking Cessation Platform for Australian Youth

The Cancer Council NSW in collaboration with the nib Foundation has announced a groundbreaking initiative aimed at developing and evaluating a new online platform over the next three years to assist Australian youth aged 14-24 in quitting smoking.

With funding support from the nib Foundation, totaling up to AUD 950,000, the project is set to make significant strides in curbing youth smoking habits.

Launched in July 2023, the project is slated to conclude in June 2025. The online platform will deliver tailored smoking cessation support services designed specifically for young people. Additionally, it will provide relevant information for parents, caregivers, and healthcare professionals.

This initiative marks Australia’s first comprehensive smoking cessation support platform, utilizing multiple channels to target and transform the trends in tobacco and e-cigarette usage among teenagers. The project holds promise in reshaping the landscape of youth smoking habits in the country.

Delay Expected in Announcement of Mint-flavored Tobacco Ban, Public Health Officials Say

In a recent development, officials from national public health organizations, dedicated to removing mint-flavored tobacco from the market, have indicated that the much-anticipated ban on mint-flavored tobacco may not be announced by the end of the year and could potentially be postponed until 2024.

The two officials, who have chosen to remain anonymous, disclosed this information ahead of any official announcement from the Biden administration. They hinted that the delay might be officially announced as early as next week.

Concerns are rising among officials in public health organizations that the ban could be delayed until next year, possibly extending beyond the November presidential elections.

One official expressed deep concern, stating that the ban might not be implemented before the 2024 elections. The official remarked, “In election years, everything becomes more challenging because people are more easily distracted.”

The White House has declined to comment on the matter, leaving the timeline for the potential mint-flavored tobacco ban in limbo.

Japan Tobacco International (JTI) Vietnam Receives “Top 100 Best Workplace in Vietnam” Award

Japan Tobacco International (JTI) Vietnam has been honored with the “Top 100 Best Workplace in Vietnam” award presented by Anphabe.

The “Best Workplace” recognition is based on objective evaluations from 63,878 experienced employees and 9,638 students from 113 universities nationwide across 18 industries. Anphabe has been organizing and measuring employer brand attractiveness for ten consecutive years, with the results audited by the market research company Intage Việt Nam.

This accolade reflects JTI Vietnam’s commitment to providing a positive and engaging work environment for its employees. The company’s efforts to foster a conducive workplace culture have evidently resonated with both experienced professionals and the younger generation entering the workforce.

JTI Vietnam expressed gratitude for the recognition and emphasized its dedication to maintaining and enhancing the quality of the workplace experience for its employees. The company sees this award as a testament to its ongoing commitment to employee satisfaction and overall excellence in the workplace.

The “Top 100 Best Workplace in Vietnam” award underscores JTI Vietnam’s position as a preferred employer in the country and highlights the company’s success in creating a workplace that is not only productive but also conducive to employee growth and well-being.

Westmorland and Furness Council Health Committee Backs Government’s “Smoke-Free Generation” Plan

The Health and Wellbeing Committee of the Westmorland and Furness Council in the United Kingdom has thrown its support behind the government’s proposed “Smoke-Free Generation” plan. These measures aim to reduce the number of smokers to below 5% of the population by the year 2030.

The government’s recommendations to decrease smoking include criminalizing the sale of tobacco products to anyone born on or after January 1, 2009, and restricting the flavors and descriptions of e-cigarettes to eliminate those appealing to children.

The proposed government plan also involves regulating the display of vaping products in retail stores to keep them out of the sight of children and prevent them from being attracted to such products. There is also consideration of limiting the sale of disposable e-cigarettes, given the increase in their use among children.

Katrina Stephens, the Director of Public Health for Westmorland and Furness Council, previously stated that smoking remains the leading cause of premature death in the region.

According to the UK Department of Public Health, smoking contributes to 84% of lung cancer deaths and increases the risk of stroke by at least 50%. The government has set a target for England to achieve a smoke-free status by 2030, meaning that by this year, the smoking population should be less than 5%.

Stephens noted that to achieve this goal in Westmorland and Furness, approximately 10,000 individuals in the region will need to quit smoking, with no new smokers starting the habit.

Russian LDPR Chairman Proposes Heavier Fines for Selling Tobacco and E-Cigarettes to Minors

Leonid Slutsky, the Chairman of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR), has proposed a new legislation aimed at imposing heavier fines on individuals, public officials, and legal entities found guilty of reselling cigarettes and e-cigarettes to minors. Slutsky has submitted the relevant bill for review by the Russian government.

The proposed amendments target the Russian Administrative Offenses Code (KoAP). Under the suggested changes, fines for such offenses would range from 60,000 to 200,000 rubles for individuals, 300,000 to 400,000 rubles for public officials, and 600,000 to 800,000 rubles for legal entities. Additionally, there is a possibility of suspending their activities for up to 90 days.

Slutsky emphasized that existing laws already stipulate penalties for selling tobacco and e-cigarettes to minors, but some traders continue to take risks in pursuit of higher profits. In light of this, the LDPR believes that current sanctions are insufficient to address the issue, prompting the proposal to strengthen penalties for repeated violations.

Earlier reports indicated that the Russian State Duma had passed a law in its third reading, initiating a hike in consumption taxes on tobacco and alcohol starting next year. This change is part of the government’s efforts to address public health concerns.

Prior to this, Russia had imposed fines of up to 25,000 rubles for transporting products within its borders that exceeded specified nicotine content standards. President Vladimir Putin signed the relevant legislation into law.