Archive for February, 2013

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JTI welcomes call for inquiry into tobacco lobbying at European Commission

| February 22, 2013

Japan Tobacco International said today that it welcomed a proposal by some members of the European Parliament for a special inquiry into tobacco lobbying at the European Commission.

“Open and transparent lobbying activities to inform elected officials and civil servants over policy decision-making clearly serve the public interest,” said Thierry Lebeaux, head of EU affairs at JTI.

In a note posted on its website, the company said it hoped that such an inquiry ‘would be given all ways and means to carry out a full investigation into lobbying practices and solidly question all lobby groups, whether from commercial or not-for-profit organizations’.

In 1996, JTI said, the European Parliament was the first to introduce regulation of lobbyists leading to the adoption of a code of conduct.

“Despite strengthening it over time with various measures, some elected officials are now under the impression that the process is being abused,” said Lebeaux. “We would welcome the opportunity to participate and demonstrate our perfect compliance with the European Transparency Initiative and the European Parliament’s Code of Conduct for lobbyists”, he added.

The European Commission and Parliament had recognized that all interested parties had the right to argue their case and present their point of view to EU institutions, all in the public interest, according to the JTI note. ‘Preventing any party from doing so abuses the rules. Using the non-binding and wildly misapplied guidelines on Article 5.3 of the Framework Convention for Tobacco Control as means of excluding and censoring tobacco companies is intellectually dishonest. As the Commission rightly underlined earlier this month, “Those Guidelines contain no specific compulsory requirements on holding meetings or on the publicity of such meetings”.

‘JTI is one of several interested groups – with relevant expertise – seeking to inform government bodies about the revision of the Tobacco Product Directive.

‘Elected representatives and officials should have unfettered access to the facts, information and opinions that all of these groups can provide, even if only to reject them.’

“Only through clarity and openness can the EU achieve sound public policies and appropriate regulation for any industry,” said Lebeaux.

Campaigners want a consumer-focused tobacco bill not a business-focused bill

| February 22, 2013

Indonesia’s National Commission on Tobacco Control (KNPT) has called on the House of Representatives to draft a new bill aimed at protecting consumers from the adverse impacts of tobacco, according to a story in The Jakarta Post.

The commission wants the House to drop plans for the tobacco bill that is already scheduled for inclusion in this year’s legislative program.

Speaking during a meeting with the House Legislative Body on Wednesday, KNPT commissioner, Hakim Sorimuda Pohan, said the country already had a number of regulations on tobacco production and trading, but lacked regulations that could mitigate the impacts of smoking on the country’s more than 60 million smokers.

The House has previously rejected two bills aimed at tackling the negative impacts of tobacco.

Meanwhile, the Indonesian Consumers Foundation believes that the current bill was given the go-ahead as a result of intense lobbying by the Indonesian Tobacco Society Alliance in an attempt to protect the nation’s tobacco industry.

On Wednesday, tobacco farmers staged a protest demanding that the House continue deliberating the bill, arguing that it would protect them from the global anti-smoking campaign.

Maxim design aims for one big impact

| February 22, 2013

KT&G is putting one million limited-edition packs of its The One Impact cigarette on the market for a four-week period, according to a story in The Korea Herald.

The outer packaging of The One Impact Maxim Edition was designed in collaboration with Maxim, said to be the world’s best-selling men’s monthly magazine.

The aim is to attract young adult male smokers in their 20s and 30s, who comprise about 70 per cent of The One Impact sales.
This is the first limited-edition version of The One Impact brand, which was launched in 2011 as a low-tar (1.0 mg) product and which is available in five permanently-available versions.

The One Impact Maxim Edition, which also delivers 1 mg of tar, sells for the same price as regular versions of the brand: Won2,500 per pack.

Standardized packaging could extend to alcohol, fast food and soft drinks

| February 21, 2013

One of the organizations that contributed to New Zealand’s public consultation on standardized packaging for tobacco products is concerned that the decision to go ahead with imposing such a requirement will set a precedent for other products, according to a Yahoo! New Zealand News story.

The New Zealand government has said that it is to push on with plans to bring in such a packaging requirement for tobacco products, though it will not implement it until the resolution of World Trade Organization disputes involving Australia, the only country so far to have introduced such packaging.

The chief executive of the Association of New Zealand Advertisers, Lindsay Mouat, said that if the government could step in to legislate over cigarettes, it could be pushed into legislating in other areas too.

“Some may take this as an opportunity to seek plain packaging in other sectors, such as alcohol, fast food, carbonated beverages and the like,” he said.

Mouat added that plain packaging meant brands lost their identity. “It limits the opportunity for those brands to introduce new products, products that may be considered better for you,” he said.

“In actual fact, it has some unintended consequences of reducing choice for consumers.”

But opposition leader, David Shearer, supports the policy, and does not believe it is vulnerable to the intellectual property arguments being mounted by tobacco companies.

In any case, he said, New Zealand was willing to take on the tobacco companies.

“The most important thing is that our population stays as healthy as they possibly can,” he said.

Chile prepares for tobacco smoking ban

| February 21, 2013

Chile’s anti-tobacco lobby is looking forward to the imposition of a new law that is due, from March 1, to ban tobacco smoking in enclosed public places such as pubs, restaurants and discos, according to a UPI story quoting The Santiago Times.

Co-ordinator Lezak Shallat, of Chile’s Free Tobacco organization, said smoking cost the country $2.5 billion in health expenses.

Chile had the highest smoking rates in the Americas and, among young people, it had the highest smoking rates in the world, Shallat said.

But at least some business organizations are opposed to the tobacco smoking ban.

President Fernando de la Fuente, of the Chilean Association of Gastronomy, told a news conference the legislation would hit local businesses the hardest.

He said that 40 per cent of venues in the Santiago metropolitan area did not have outdoor terraces and therefore would have to ban smoking completely. Sales were expected to drop as a result, de la Fuente added.

Japanese government prepares to sell shares in Japan Tobacco

| February 21, 2013

The Japanese government’s sale of a $10 billion stake in Japan Tobacco Inc. is expected to kick off within days after bankers met on Tuesday to discuss details of  the sale, according to a Reuters story quoting ‘sources close to the deal’.

Japan’s Ministry of Finance, which owns just more than 50 per cent of the company, has been planning to sell up to one-third of its holdings to raise funds for rebuilding areas devastated by the earthquake and tsunami that struck the country on March 11, 2011.

Japan’s parliament in 2011 passed a set of bills including those providing for tax hikes and government sales of its shares in state-owned companies to help finance the $270 billion it expects to spend rebuilding the northeast coastal areas where the earthquake and tsunami hit.

The conditions for a sell-down have improved in recent months, with Japan’s stock market rising by more than 30 per cent during the past three months and JT’s shares up 36 per cent.

Government officials were quoted by Reuters as saying the timing for the sale had not been decided. However, the estimated proceeds of a sale were incorporated into the budget for the fiscal year to the end of March.

Japanese law requires that the government holds at least one-third of JT’s shares.