LONDON The number of people in France and Britain who have tried an electronic or e-cigarette has risen sharply in just two years, according to a Europe-wide study published on Tuesday.The research, led by scientists at Britain's Imperial College London, looked at attitudes to and use of e-cigarettes across Europe between 2012 and 2014.It found that France had the highest use of e-cigarettes, with the proportion of those who had tried one nearly tripling to 21.3 percent from 7.3 percent.In the UK the figure rose from 8.9 percent in 2012 to 15.5 percent in 2014 - higher than the European average. Using data from more than 53,000 people across Europe - with at least 1,000 from each country - the study also found the proportion of people across Europe who consider e-cigarettes dangerous nearly doubled to 51 percent from 27 percent. E-cigarettes are metal tubes that heat liquids typically laced with nicotine and deliver vapor when inhaled. The liquids come in thousands of flavors, from cotton candy to pizza.Use of the devices has grown quickly in the last decade, with U.S. sales expected to reach $4.1 billion in 2016, according to Wells Fargo Securities. Experts fiercely debate whether the devices can help people give up smoking and whether they are safe - with some studies raising concerns about the toxicity of some of the ingredients. "This research shows e-cigarettes are becoming very popular across Europe - with more than one in ten people in Europe now having tried one," said Filippos Filippidis, who led the European study and published it in the BMJ journal Tobacco Control.Noting that there are still questions about the long-term risks and benefits of e-cigarettes, he added: "We urgently need more research into the devices so that we can answer these questions." The average number of people across Europe who had tried an e-cigarette rose by 60 percent between 2012 and 2014, to 11.6 percent from 7.2 percent.Most people who reported trying e-cigarettes were former or current smokers, although the number who had never smoked tobacco but had tried them also rose.A Reuters/Ipsos poll on Tuesday found that in the United States use of e-cigarettes and other vaping devices has stalled with about 10 percent of those surveyed using the devices, the same percentage as in a similar poll in 2015. (editing by John Stonestreet)Read more
LONDON The dollar cruised to its third straight week of gains on Friday as stock and commodity markets showed signs that they might be able to manage another U.S. interest rate hike in the coming months.With risk appetite gradually returning after bumpy few days, European shares .FTEU3 opened up 1.2 percent [.EU] and sterling GBP=D4 topped the leaderboard of weekly currency winners on fading Brexit bets.The share gains were helped by a 5 percent jump for Italy's biggest bank UniCredit CRDI.MI. on reports it plans to sell parts of its business to improve its finances and as commodity stocks cheered higher oil and metals prices. The dollar, a dominant force in markets this week, was keeping close to two-month highs after it had passed $1.12 per euro EUR= and 110 yen JPY= for the first time since March, buoyed by a jump in U.S. bond yields. "The question for traders now is whether this Fed rate hike issue is a 'risk-on' or a 'risk-off' situation," said Saxo Bank FX strategist John Hardy. "Our interpretation is that they want to do a June move, especially now Brexit chances seem to have dropped right off." The Swiss franc, the largest beneficiary among currencies of the shakiness that has clouded the global economy since the 2008 financial crash, was set to close at its weakest since a dramatic revaluation in January of last year.German Bund yields were heading for their biggest weekly rise in a month while Britain's pound, despite a dip on the day, was on course for its strongest week against the euro since last October.
WASHINGTON U.S. Senate negotiators on Wednesday tried to reach a deal to provide more than $1 billion to battle the Zika virus that is feared will creep north into the United States with the onset of warmer weather, which breeds mosquitoes that could carry the disease.Senior Senate Democratic aides said details were still being worked out, but votes could come by next week on whether to approve the new money.In February, President Barack Obama requested $1.9 billion in emergency funds, but Republicans balked, with some arguing that $1.1 billion is more in line with what is needed. Many Republicans also want any Zika funds to be offset with spending cuts elsewhere.These are among the details that still have to be worked out, according to aides.Republican Senator Roy Blunt from Missouri and Democratic Senator Patty Murray from Washington, the two senior senators on an appropriations panel that oversees healthcare spending, have been trying to hammer out a deal.An aide to Murray said in a statement: “Senator Murray is having conversations with Chairman Blunt and others about the path forward on emergency funding to respond to Zika." The aide said Murray still supports Obama's $1.9 billion request.Amid congressional inaction, the Obama administration shifted $589 million to help federal agencies prepare for Zika. Most of that money came from a fund to fight the Ebola virus and will have to be replenished, according to officials. Senator Marco Rubio, however, is one Republican pushing for both immediate, emergency funding and longer-term money to be made available starting on Oct. 1 to battle the disease that can cause severe brain deformities in babies born of infected mothers and other illnesses."This is going to be an ongoing issue beyond this year," Rubio said, adding, "We need to jump on it now."There are fears that Rubio's home state of Florida could be the first place in the continental United States to get hit hard by Zika because of its tropical climate. "For the first time, I've seen high-level conversations about a way forward here in the Senate and that's a positive development," Rubio said in a brief hallway interview with Reuters.Republicans in the House of Representatives are still deeply divided over new funding for Zika, according to two senior aides. (Reporting By Richard Cowan; Editing by Bernard Orr)Read more
GREGOIRE LAKE, Alberta Canadian officials showed some optimism on Sunday they were beginning to get on top of the country's most destructive wildfire in recent memory, as favorable weather helped firefighters and winds took the flames southeast, away from oil sands boomtown Fort McMurray.There was still no time line, however, for getting Fort McMurray's 88,000 inhabitants back into what remains of their town, or when energy companies would be able to restart operations at evacuated sites nearby. The wildfires have cut Canada's vast oil sands output in half. "It definitely is a positive point for us, for sure," said Alberta fire official Chad Morrison in a news briefing, when asked if the fight to contain the flames had a reached a turning point. "We're obviously very happy that we've held the fire better than expected," said Morrison. "This is great firefighting weather, we can really get in here and get a handle on this fire, and really get a death grip on it." The wildfire scorching through Canada's oil sands region in northeast Alberta since last Sunday night had been expected to double in size on Sunday, threatening the neighboring province of Saskatchewan. But with the fire moving into its second week, light rains and cooler temperatures helped hold it back, giving officials hope that they could soon begin assessing the damage to Fort McMurray, close to where the fire started."As more and more fire has burned out around the city and the fuel around the city starts to disappear ... we are starting to move into that second phase of securing the site and assessing the site," Alberta Premier Rachel Notley told the same media briefing. Officials said it was too early to put a time line on getting people back into the town safely.LONG TIME TO CLEAN UPThe broader wildfire, moving southeast through wooded areas away from the town, would still take a long time to "clean up," Morrison cautioned. Officials previously warned that the fire could burn for months. Alberta's government estimated on Sunday that the fire had consumed 161,000 hectares (395,000 acres). That was less than a previous estimate, but authorities warned the fire would likely grow overnight. Fort McMurray is the center of Canada's oil sands region. About half of the crude output from the sands, or 1 million barrels per day, has been taken offline, according to a Reuters estimate.Oil prices jumped almost 2 percent in trading early on Monday, as Canada's fire contributed to tightening supply.The inferno looks set to become the costliest natural disaster in Canada's history. One analyst estimated insurance losses could exceed C$9 billion ($7 billion). Officials said on Sunday the fire had done minor damage at CNOOC unit Nexen's Long Lake facility, in the site's yard. It was the first reported damage to an energy industry asset since the fire began. Morrison said air tankers, helicopters and bulldozers had kept the blaze from reaching a Suncor Energy Inc facility, which Suncor identified as its base oil sands mining site north of Fort McMurray, and a Syncrude facility. Suncor said on Sunday it would allow employees to return to work as soon as it was safe to do so. "We are hopeful that this will be soon," the company said in a statement, adding it planned to use temporary camps for employees and was arranging for workers to commute from Calgary and Edmonton. Syncrude said its oil sands project about 35 km (22 miles) north of Fort McMurray had shut down completely on Saturday morning, the first time in its 38-year history, because of smoke from the wildfire. “We are not currently under threat from the actual fire, it’s smoke that’s presenting health hazards," a spokesman said. Notley is set to meet with energy executives on Tuesday to talk about the impact of the fire and how the province can help them resume operations. FORT MCMURRAY STILL OFF LIMITS Even though the fire has largely pushed through Fort McMurray, the town is still too dangerous to enter. Nearly all of Fort McMurray's residents escaped the fire safely, although two people were killed in a car crash during the evacuation. The town's 160 firefighters worked nearly non-stop in the first days of the fire, even as some of them lost their own homes, said fire captain Nick Waddington. Thousands of evacuees are camped out in nearby towns but stand little chance of returning soon, even if their homes are intact. The city's gas has been turned off, its power grid is damaged and the water is undrinkable.Provincial officials said displaced people would be better off driving to cities such as Calgary, 655 km (410 miles) to the south, where health and social services were better."We are thinking about relocating in Edmonton for the time being. Maybe stay a year," said Kyle Mackay, 27, a mechanic for equipment trucking company Northern Diesel, who fled from Fort McMurray to Lac la Biche, about three hours' drive south, and is now staying with friends.His girlfriend, Sarah Smith, who left separately, is pregnant and due to be induced into labor in Lac La Biche on Monday morning. "It's really stressful, but I know we'll get through it," said Mackay. Some evacuees are keen for people to return to the place known as 'Fort Mac,' or 'Fort McMoney' for its well-paid oil jobs."I'm trying to convince people Fort McMurray is a good place to return and rebuild," said Curtis Phillips, who has worked in the media in the town, speaking at a "reception center" in Lac La Biche providing food, shelter and services for the displaced. "People will return because of the high salaries and benefits," he said. Officials said on Sunday that 34 wildfires were burning, with five out of control. There are more than 500 firefighters battling the blaze in and around Fort McMurray, with 15 helicopters and 14 air tankers. (Additional reporting by Ethan Lou, Allison Martell, David Ljunggren and Nia Williams; Writing by Bill Rigby; Editing by Alan Crosby and Peter Cooney)Read more