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US legislators disgusted by trade agreement

| March 30, 2015

At least some members of the US Congress who have had access to the previously secret document relating to the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) are said to be disgusted by its contents, according to a New York Times story as reported by Leith van Onselen for the Australian publication MacroBusiness.

The agreement, which has come under fire from a wide range of organizations in a number of countries, is being negotiated in secret by representatives of Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the US and Vietnam.

The Times apparently reported that members of Congress have been reviewing the secret document in secure rooms; so their disclosures are the first to be made public since an early version was leaked in 2012.

But the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education (UCSF) last week published a piece from Public Citizen about the leak of the TPPA investment chapter.

The investment chapter reportedly revealed how the pact would make it easier for US firms to offshore US jobs to low-wage countries while newly empowering thousands of foreign firms to seek cash compensation from US taxpayers by challenging US government actions, laws and court rulings before unaccountable foreign tribunals, the Public Citizen said.

After five years of secretive TPPA negotiations, the text – leaked by Wikileaks – proved that growing concerns about the investor-state dispute settlements (ISDS) system, which the TPP would extend, were well justified.

Meanwhile Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York, the Senate’s No.3 Democrat, was reported by the Times to have described what he had read in the document as “really troubling”.

“It seems to indicate that savvy, deep-pocketed foreign conglomerates could challenge a broad range of laws we pass at every level of government, such as made-in-America laws or anti-tobacco laws,” he was quoted as saying.

“I think people on both sides of the aisle will have trouble with this”…

Meanwhile, Senator Sherrod Brown, Democrat of Ohio, was quoted as saying that while the US Trade Representative would say the US had never lost a case, there were going to be a lot more challenges in the future. “There’s a huge pot of gold at the end of the rainbow for these companies,” he said.

Brown contended that the overall accord, not just the investment provisions, was troubling. “This continues the great American tradition of corporations writing trade agreements, sharing them with almost nobody, so often at the expense of consumers, public health and workers,” he said.

The UCSF story is at: https://tobacco.ucsf.edu/tpp-leak-reveals-extraordinary-new-powers-foreign-firms-challenge-us-policies-and-demand-taxpayer-compensation.

The MacroBusiness story is at: http://www.macrobusiness.com.au/2015/03/tpp-bad-even-us-congress-shocked/.

Activists disgusted by free-cigarette distribution

| March 30, 2015

Tobacco-control activists in Indonesia have threatened to file a law suit against Social Affairs Minister Khofifah Indar Parawansa for distributing cigarettes to an indigenous tribe in Jambi, according to a story in The Jakarta Globe quoting Merdeka.com.

They have given Khofifah two-weeks to apologize for the action or face legal action.

“We will file a legal suit at the district court because the social affairs minister was deliberately ignoring public health by distributing free cigarettes,” Tulus Abadi, operational manager at the Indonesian Consumers Foundation, said at a press conference on Friday.

Khofifah was criticized after a picture circulated on the internet of her distributing care packages, which included cigarettes, to the indigenous Anak Dalam tribe in Jambi.

The minister was visiting the tribe to express her condolences for the death of 11 people who died of starvation.

Khofifah has dismissed the criticism by saying the free cigarette distribution was just a way to get on the good side of the locals.

“I don’t want to argue but you’d better go there yourself,” she said. “Greet them and ask them about their culture. Do not see things from a Jakarta-centric perspective.”

Investors unfazed by standardized packaging

| March 30, 2015

A wave of standardized tobacco packaging regulations threatening to sweep across Europe might be causing panic among global tobacco companies, but investors in those companies seem far from worried, according to a Dow Jones story.

Despite the UK and Ireland this month having passed laws to impose standardized packaging requirements on tobacco products, and despite the fact that France is already discussing similar proposals, tobacco companies have generally outperformed other consumer-goods makers since the start of the year.

Dow Jones noted that shares in Japan Tobacco Inc. and the Imperial Tobacco Group, which together control 85 percent of the $25 billion UK cigarette market and would be most affected by the imposition of standard packaging there, were both up by about 10 percent during the past three months.

Investors were reasoning that decades of anti-tobacco measures in developed countries had barely harmed the investment case for cigarette companies, so why should this one?

New Linx HQ links business with sustainability

| March 30, 2015
Foreground, left to right: Charles Randon, Linx's senior product manager, MD Nigel Hood, MP Jonathan Djanogly, and Linx founders Hill Weinberg and Mike Keeling, at the opening.

Foreground, left to right: Charles Randon, Linx’s senior product manager, MD Nigel Hood, MP Jonathan Djanogly, and Linx founders Hill Weinberg and Mike Keeling, at the opening.

Linx Printing Technologies’ new £8 million UK headquarters was opened on Thursday by the Huntingdon MP Jonathan Djanogly.

The 41,000 sq ft purpose-built facility is at Compass Point Business Park, St. Ives, Cambridgeshire.

It has brought together Linx employees who were previously in separate buildings in a different area of St Ives, where Linx had been based since 1989.

The new facility, which took 43 weeks to complete, houses the company’s research and development laboratories, sales and administration offices, manufacturing and assembly lines, storage and distribution areas, and customer training facilities.

Linx says it has put sustainability at the forefront of the new building’s design. ‘Energy use is minimised by the highly-insulated composite panels used primarily in the building’s construction, heat recovery technology within air handling units and the use of low-energy LED lighting in most areas,’ the company said in a press note.

‘Solar panels on the roof will mean Linx itself can generate up to 13070 kWh per year, which will abate 6914kg of carbon dioxide emissions.

‘In addition, the installation of a cycle locker room and showers is intended to make it easier for staff to cycle, rather than drive, to work.’

“The new headquarters building not only underlines Linx’s commitment to developing the leading coding and marking equipment for customers and the best working environment for employees, but also our environmental credentials as a conscientious local employer and an international manufacturer,” said Linx MD Nigel Hood.

“This new facility will enable Linx to build even further on our success with state-of-the art product development, manufacturing, training and service facilities that will allow us to compete at the highest level in global markets.”

Meanwhile, Djanogly said businesses such as Linx made an invaluable contribution to the UK’s growth and were responsible for nearly half of the jobs created there.

“It is very encouraging to see a well-established company like Linx investing in the local area by expanding its facilities and growing its business,” he said.

TDC launches online e-cigarette platform

| March 27, 2015

tdc-genesisTDC has launched a new online platform for its e-cigarette machinery portfolio: www.ecigmachinery.com. Customers and stakeholders now have direct access to all that the ITM Group has to offer in terms of e-cigarettes.

Among other things, the website contains information about TDC’s Genesis machinery and about the company’s view on next-generation e-cigarette machinery. A blog on e-cigarette news is available, as well.

As a bonus, TDC will start publishing a free, bi-monthly online magazine about the e-cigarette industry, E-Cig by TDC, which can also be accessed through www.ecigmachinery.com.

 

 

Australia’s plain packaging a failure, says Democracy Institute

| March 27, 2015
Patrick Basham

Patrick Basham

Scholarly, private, and government research data show that Australia’s plain packaging experiment has failed to reduce smoking, yet it has damaged small retailers, while simultaneously boosting the illicit tobacco trade. These are the findings of a new report released in Australia on March 26 by the Democracy Institute, a politically independent research organization based in Washington and London.

“There’s a clear policy lesson,” says the report’s author, Patrick Basham, who has written two books on plain packaging, The Plain Truth: Does Packaging Influence Smoking? (2012) and Erasing Intellectual Property: Plain Packaging of Consumer Products and the Implications for Trademark Rights (2011).

“On both public health and economic grounds, it would be unwise for other countries to climb aboard the plain-packaging bandwagon at the very moment that it’s headed for the evidentiary ditch,” concludes Basham.

The report’s key findings are:

  • The smoking rate has been unaffected by plain packaging. However, some national and specific state data show an increase in smoking prevalence since the introduction of plain packaging. T
  • Tobacco consumption has increased since late 2012, with industry sales volumes rising.
  • There has been a significant increase in the rate of under-age smoking.
  • There has been a noticeable rise in the demand for cheaper cigarettes.
  • Plain packaging is shifting smokers towards lower priced tobacco products rather than quitting their habit; consequently, the number of people quitting has dropped.
  • Plain packaging has stimulated the illicit tobacco trade, as it is becoming easier for counterfeit or illegal tobacco to enter the Australian market.
  • Plain packaging has placed a financial, administrative, and customer service burden upon small retailers.
  • Australia’s adoption of plain packaging is a catalyst for economically damaging trade disputes with some of her most important trading partners, such as Indonesia.

“The failure of plain packaging should not come as a surprise to Australian policymakers,” argues Basham in the report. He explains that, prior to the decision in 2011 to move ahead with plain packaging, “they were explicitly warned about the policy’s probable negative outcomes. Their leap of faith on plain packaging has damaged public health and cost the government billions in lost revenue.”

The report, An Australian lesson: the plain packaging experiment is a failure is available for download online at www.democracyinstitute.org.

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