Lai See

Going up in smoking

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 09 January, 2014, 11:51pm
UPDATED : Friday, 10 January, 2014, 12:35am

The percentage of people who smoke globally has declined since 1980, but more people than ever are smoking due to population growth, according to a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in a special issue devoted to tobacco.

The study, Smoking Prevalence and Cigarette Consumption in 187 Countries, 1980-2012, shows smoking among women has declined by 42 per cent and 25 per cent among men. But substantial population growth between 1980 and 2012 contributed to a 41 per cent increase in the number of male daily smokers and a 7 per cent increase for females.

Countries with the heaviest prevalence of smoking among men in 2012 included Timor-Leste at 61 per cent, Indonesia with 57 per cent, and Kiribati at 54 per cent. Countries with the lowest prevalence of male smokers included Antigua and Barbuda (5 per cent), Sao Tome and Principe (7 per cent), and Nigeria (7.5 per cent). The highest countries for women were Greece (34.7 per cent), Bulgaria (31.5 per cent), and Kiribati (31.3 per cent), while the countries with the least female smokers included Eritrea (0.6 per cent), Cameroon (0.6 per cent) and Morocco (0.7 per cent). The prevalence of smoking in Hong Kong, according to other studies, is 11 per cent.

Iceland, Mexico and Canada have seen the biggest overall declines over the past 32 years, while Lithuania, Serbia, and Bulgaria have increased over the period.

According to the Global Burden of Disease study, co-ordinated by Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, tobacco led to 5.7 million deaths and 6.9 per cent of years of life lost.

"Greater numbers of smokers will mean a massive increase in premature deaths in our lifetime." said Alan Lopez, Laureate Professor at the University of Melbourne.


Bankers crying all the way to the courts

We await with some interest the outcome of Tadjudin Sunny v. Bank of America, currently underway in Hong Kong's High Court. Tadjudin was a trader with Bank of America who was fired by the bank in 2007, after making three-quarters of the profits of its Asian distressed debt trading group to avoid paying the performance bonus she was entitled to, according to her lawyer.

The court heard she received lower bonuses than she deserved in 2005 and 2006 due to arbitrary performance reviews and no bonus in 2007 despite generating 76 per cent of the group's US$28.6 million in profits in the 30-month period, Bloomberg reported. The bank's "scandalous and unconscionable conduct", breached implied terms of her employment contract, her lawyer said. "She was entitled to be paid bonuses that represented her profits."

This will have interesting consequences for the industry whichever way the verdict goes, but particularly if she wins her case. Bankers unhappy with their bonuses will be flocking to the courts.


'A heroine' quits

Charlene Chu, who was the first ratings analysts to sound the alert over the mainland's debt levels, is to leave Fitch after eight years with the company. Her warnings that the mainland's debt could spark a crisis preceded Fitch's April downgrade of the country's long-term local-currency debt rating, the first cut by one of the top three rating companies in 14 years, Bloomberg reported.

Chu, who was senior director and head of China financial institutions, says she will remain in Beijing to work on her 89-year-old cousin's memoirs. Her departure will be a blow for Fitch since she had a considerable following. She was "a heroine" and "deserves a medal of honour for her stark warnings about the Chinese credit bubble", global strategist at Societe Generale, Albert Edwards told Bloomberg.


Idling engines

We see that guys at Guardforce have evidently settled on Hennessy Road outside the Wan Chai MTR as a good spot for lunch. Following our report on Wednesday, there was another Guardforce truck parked near the Southorn playground yesterday lunchtime with its engine running in breach of the law. Guardforce operatives continue to abuse the idling engine law which allows them to keep their engines running when providing protection services which does not, as far as we are aware, cover lunch.


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