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HEALTH

Tobacco industry opposes greater warnings despite increased sales

Tobacco executives are worried about requirements for more warnings on cigarettes as well as higher tax rates and a growing amount of black market tobacco, all things they say will eat into revenue.

Tobacco industry opposes greater warnings despite increased sales
Photo: DPA

At the industry’s ‘Inter-tabac’ conference in Dortmund on Friday, the industry admitted that German revenues in the first half of the year had reached nearly €11.7 billion, up from €11 billion in the same time period last year.

But they complained about a planned new European Union directive which could force manufacturers to display larger health warnings on cigarette packs from 2014. Many tobacco products would have to be hidden from public view under the new rules.

These requirements alone could slowly strangle the industry, said Adam-Claus Eckert of the Federation of Tobacco Retailers (BTWE). Lobbyists are drawing up plans in Brussels – where the European Union’s institutions are based – to fight the proposals.

The tobacco industry also said that while tax increases could be dealt with, they needed to be clearly spelled out in advance and be reasonable. Taxes on tobacco have been increasing steadily over the last few years – something anti-tobacco activists say discourages smoking. Today a pack of cigarettes in Germany costs around €4.90. With planned tax increases, prices will hit €5.20 in 2015.

Among the biggest challenges for the industry, however, is the massive spread of black market cigarettes. About 20 percent of all cigarettes in Germany are smuggled illegally from countries such as Poland, the Czech Republic and Russia and go entirely untaxed.

The industry and police have created task forces to deal with the problem, but to little effect.

The Local/DPA/mdm

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HEALTH

Monkeypox in Germany: Two teens ‘among new infections’

Two teenage boys between the ages of 15-17 have reportedly been infected by monkeypox, as the number of cases in Germany continues to grow.

Monkeypox in Germany: Two teens 'among new infections'

German news site Spiegel Online first reported the new cases – which are an anomaly for a virus as it has mostly affected gay men – following an inquiry to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI). 

They are among a total of 2,677 people who are confirmed to have contracted the virus in Germany to date. There have not been any fatalities.

Out of these, only five cases were women, according to the RKI. The public health institute said that it does not release information on individual cases.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How Germany wants to contain the monkeypox

The disease – which is not usually fatal – often manifests itself through fever, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes, chills, exhaustion and a chickenpox-like rash on the hands and face.

The virus can be transmitted through contact with skin lesions and droplets of a contaminated person, as well as through shared items such as bedding and towels.

Many of the cases known so far concern homosexual and bisexual men. However, affected people and experts have repeatedly warned against stigmatising gay communities.

How fatal is the disease?

The first monkeypox cases were reported in Germany on May 20th, as the disease continued to spread in West Europe.

At the weekend, the first two deaths outside of West Africa were reported in Spain.

READ ALSO: WHO warns ‘high’ risk of monkeypox in Europe as it declares health emergency

The RKI has urged people returning from West Africa and in particular gay men, to see their doctors quickly if they notice any chances on their skin.

According to the latest estimates, there are 23,000 monkeypox cases worldwide, and Europe is particularly affected with 14,000 cases.

There have been 2,677 monkeypox cases in Germany as of August 2, 2022. Photo: CDC handout

About eight percent of patients in Europe have been hospitalised so far, reported the World Health Association on Monday, mostly due to severe pain or additional infections.

In general, the mortality of the variant currently circulating in Europe is estimated to be low.

READ ALSO: More cases of monkeypox ‘expected’ in Germany

Will a vaccine make a difference?

Since July, a vaccine has been authorised in 27 EU member states and in Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. 

The Standing Committee on Vaccination (STIKO) recommends vaccination against monkeypox in Germany for certain risk groups and people who have had close contact with infected people.

So far, the German government has ordered 240,000 vaccine doses, of which 40,000 had been delivered by Friday. 

Around 200,000 doses are set to follow by the end of September. 

The German Aids Federation (DAH) on Friday called for one million vaccine doses, stressing that the current supplies will fall short of meeting need.

“The goal must be to reduce the number of infections as quickly as possible and to get the epidemic permanently under control,” explained Ulf Kristal of the DAH board in Berlin on Friday.

But this is only possible, he said, if as many people at risk of infection as possible are vaccinated.

“We don’t assume the epidemic will be over when the doses available so far have been vaccinated,” Axel Jeremias Schmidt, Epidemiologist and DAH Consultant for Medicine and Health Policy, wrote in a press release.

As long as there are monkeypox infections, he said, people who are at risk must be offered vaccination. 

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