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Archive for November, 2012

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Government likely to be unmoved by smoking ban protest in Sofia

| November 23, 2012

About 2,500 people turned out yesterday to protest outside the parliament building in Sofia, Bulgaria, against the tobacco smoking ban that was imposed in enclosed public places in June, according to a Sofia Globe story.

The protest was organised by a hotel and restaurant association and on social networks. Organisers object to what they described as the huge financial losses suffered by the hospitality sector because of the stricter anti-smoking laws.

Before June, all establishments bigger than 70 square meters had to have separate smoking and non-smoking areas, while smaller establishments had the choice of being either fully-smoking or non-smoking. Since then the ban has been total.

It seems unlikely that the protest will change the government’s mind. Previous campaigns by restaurant and bar lobby groups and an attempt by a group of independent MPs to table legislation to revert to the previous law have met with a government response that there will no backtracking.

EU health commissioner in waiting says tobacco directive is first priority

| November 23, 2012

Dr. Tonio Borg says that he is looking forward to starting work as European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Affairs, with the tobacco products directive being the first item on his agenda, according to a story by Keith Micallef for the Malta Independent.

The European Parliament on Wednesday approved Borg’s nomination by 386 votes to 281 with 28 abstentions. The European Council was expected to approve the appointment within a matter of days.

Borg is replacing John Dalli who resigned last month.

Québec’s budget is illicit trade charter

| November 22, 2012

In raising taxes on licit tobacco products in its latest budget, the Québec government has set out a welcome mat for organized crime to increase its stake in the province’s tobacco market, according to a note posted by Imperial Tobacco Canada on its website.

“Given the availability of cheap illegal products, raising tobacco taxes is an irresponsible, short-sighted cash grab decision by the government of Québec,” said Caroline Ferland, the company’s vice-president, corporate affairs.

“Québec has simply pandered to its anti-tobacco lobby and handed over the tobacco trade to illegal traffickers.”

The Government of Québec acknowledges that it is already losing more than $225 million a year because of illegal tobacco sales and Imperial says that increasing taxes on tobacco products will make a bad situation worse.

There were more than 200 smoke shacks in Québec that were ready to meet the increased consumer demand this tax increase would generate, the company added.

“We understand that the government is looking for a quick way to fill its coffers,” said Ferland.

“Raising tobacco taxes will only drive smokers to illegal, untaxed sources.

“The government will not reap the reward it expects.”

Display ban challenge in Scotland

| November 22, 2012

Imperial Tobacco is to launch a Supreme Court challenge against the implementation of a cigarette display ban in Scotland, according to a story by Louise Wilson for the Edinburgh Journal.

Imperial, which is concerned about the cost to retailers of their implementing the ban and about the boost the ban will give to the illicit tobacco trade, believes the ban is anti-competitive and against the principle of adult choice.

It believes also that the Scottish government is not empowered to implement this type of ban.

“Imperial Tobacco is challenging the competence of the Scottish government to legislate for a tobacco display ban and a tobacco vending sales ban inScotland,” a spokesman was quoted as saying.

“We believe that a proper interpretation of the Scotland Act reserves the power to legislate on these issues toWestminster.”

Imperial Tobacco said also there was no evidence to suggest the bans would lead to a decrease in smoking amongst young people.

“There has been no reduction on smoking in countries where similar bans have been introduced,” the spokesman said.

Tobacco smoke breaks translate into higher levels of productivity

| November 22, 2012

Workers at a firm in Leeds, England, are being offered regular ‘sweet breaks’ after their boss discovered smokers were more productive after popping outside to smoke, according to a story by Ian Garland for The Sun.

Larry Gould, the CEO of translation company, thebigword, was said to have been shocked to find employees got more done immediately after taking a cigarette break.

And in a bid to get the same level of productivity out of his non-smoking staff, he has set up counters stocked with sweets and fruit on every floor of the firm’s Yorkshire HQ.

Workers are encouraged to get a regular sugar fix while they socialise with colleagues – in return for a small donation that will go to a local charity.

The full story is at http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/4655411/boss-offers-sweet-breaks-to-non-smoking-staff.html.

US smokers pay umpteen taxes, for the MSA and higher insurance premiums

| November 22, 2012

Health insurance companies in the US would be allowed to set their premiums for smokers at 1.5 times the level of those for non-smokers under proposed new rules.

According to a story by N.C. Aizenman for the Washington Post, the Obama administration proposed new rules on Tuesday that would loosen some of its 2010 health-care-law mandates on insurers while tightening others.

But while the law permits insurers generally to set their premiums for tobacco users higher than those for non-smokers, they wouldn’t be allowed to do so in a case where smokers were enrolled in smoking-cessation programs.

This and other changes were included in the fine print of three regulations the Department of Health and Human Services proposed to flesh out key parts of the statute. For the most part, the regulations, which will be open for comment until December 26, would simply codify mandates in the law or in earlier administration guidance.