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Archive for March, 2013

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Retailer concerns about standardized packaging proved valid in Australia

| March 28, 2013

Australian retailers who worried that standardized packaging of tobacco products would negatively affect their bottom lines had good reason to be concerned, according to a Convenience Store story quoting new research.

‘The Impact of Plain Packaging on Small Retailers’ report from Roy Morgan, commissioned by Philip Morris and with Australasian Association of Convenience Stores (AACS) support, is the first major comprehensive review of the impact of standardized packaging on retail outlets – 450 in all.

The findings largely echo the concerns retailers held leading up to the introduction of the legislation and include:

* Ninety per cent of small retailers experienced increases in the time taken to serve tobacco customers and 75 per cent reported additional time spent communicating with these customers about tobacco products.

* Seventy-three per cent of retailers faced increased frustration from adult tobacco customers, and 59 per cent have seen an increase in the frequency of staff supplying the wrong products, primarily due to difficulty in recognizing and distinguishing between brands.

* Nearly half of small retailers believe plain packaging has negatively affected the level of service they are able to provide their non-tobacco customers.

* The large majority of small retailers find it takes more time to order stock and around 80 per cent have experienced an increase in the occurrence of out-of-stock items since the transition.

* The majority of small retailers reported their staff now has a heavier workload.

* Almost two-thirds of small retailers have spent additional time training staff as a result of the changeover, while 40 per cent have faced additional costs from training staff members.

* Two-thirds of small retailers do not perceive that governments consider the needs of small businesses at all in its tobacco legislation, while the same amount report their feelings towards the government are now less favorable as a result of the plain packaging legislation.

* Seventy-seven per cent of small retailers said plain packaging is having a negative impact on their business overall.

* Small retailers are concerned that plain packaging will result in an increase in illicit trade.

* Couriers delivering stock face longer waiting times in store, a loss of productivity and potentially increased costs…

Scotland to impose standardized packs, and ‘smoke-free’ status by 2034

| March 28, 2013

Campaigners have criticised the Scottish government’s support for standardised packaging of tobacco.

Support for the measure is included in a new tobacco-control strategy that includes also provision for “education” programs for young people and that aims ultimately to create a smoke-free nation by 2034, defined as one where fewer than five percent of the population smokes.

Smoking rates in Scotland have fallen from 31 percent in 1999 to 23 percent in 2011, but remain as high as 40 percent in the most deprived communities.

To meet the 5 percent target, the strategy sets out a series of milestones, which will see smoking reduced to 17 percent by 2016, 12 percent by 2021 and 9 percent by 2026.

“We support all reasonable measures, including education, that will discourage children from smoking,” said Simon Clark, director of the smokers’ group Forest, which runs the Hands Off Our Packs campaign.

“Plain packaging is unreasonable because there is no credible evidence that it will have any impact on youth smoking rates.

“There is a real risk that standardised packaging, like excessive taxation, will encourage illicit trade and if that happens, those at greatest risk will be children, because criminal gangs don’t care who they sell cigarettes to.

“Plain packaging is designed to denormalize a legal product and millions of adult consumers. What next? Alcohol, fizzy drinks and fast food?”

Open season on smokers in Quakertown, Pa.

| March 28, 2013

While it is illegal to smoke in parks in Quakertown, Pennsylvania, U.S., it will soon be legal to carry unconcealed firearms there, according to a story in the Doylestown (PA) The Intelligencer.

The town bans firearms at the moment, but that ban has been found to run foul of state law that states county and local governments do not have the authority to restrict anyone from possessing or transporting firearms.

Apparently the unconcealed carrying of firearms is legal in public without a permit by law-abiding citizens everywhere in Pennsylvania, except in Philadelphia, and in schools, courthouses, federal buildings and state parks.

So Quakertown cannot legally keep someone with a gun who has broken no law out of its parks, and the regulations will have to be changed.

‘”The bitter irony of this comes through in the proposed revision to the borough ordinance,” The Intelligencer report said.

“Under the new rules, park goers will still be prohibited from smoking, drinking alcohol and carrying other weapons, such as knives and bombs.

“But a six-shooter on the hip, or a 9 mm in the pocket or purse, will be OK.

“It seems the activity with the most potential for disrupting the peace and serenity in the parks, and creating an atmosphere of apprehension and fear, is the one that will soon be allowed.”

Danish bill a loose cannon

| March 28, 2013

The Danish government has put forward a bill to ban the sale of loose snuff in Denmark, according to an Esmerk Danish News story.

But the bill is not expected to be passed because a majority in the parliament is against it.

The government put forward the bill following a requirement from the European Commission based on an existing EU ban.

The bill will be given its first reading on April 4, and, despite the opposition, the government is hoping to be able to introduce a ban in 2014.

OLAF defends Dalli investigation

| March 28, 2013

The EU anti-fraud agency, OLAF, has hit back at allegations that it encouraged a company at the center of an investigation into events surrounding the resignation of a health commissioner to “lie”, according to a story in The Parliament Magazine.

John Dalli, the then commissioner for health and consumer affairs resigned in October, shortly before the EU Commission unveiled its proposed revisions to the Tobacco Products Directive.

OLAF has warned of the risk of political interference in the ongoing inquiry into the former commissioner.

The rebuttal and warning came after the French Greens MEP, José Bové, said a representative of Swedish Match had told him they were asked by Olaf to “lie” when addressing a parliamentary committee.

The MEP alleges that OLAF instructed Swedish Match to “stick to their original version of events” when a company representative addressed the committee on budgetary control “even though they knew this version of events was no longer true”.

However, OLAF has issued a statement strenuously rebutting the allegations.

It said it “rejects the suggestion that it has failed to respect fundamental rights or has otherwise breached procedural rules” during the investigation and in the transmission of its final report to the Maltese authorities on the Dalli case.

“Specifically, Olaf denies that it has attempted to influence the evidence given by any witness.”

Olaf said too that all evidence was collected lawfully and that it denied allegations by Bové that it conducted wiretapping or illegally recorded telephone conversations.

Malawi under producing flue-cured

| March 27, 2013

Growers of flue-cured tobacco in Malawi are poised for increased earnings this year because demand for this type is said to be high on the international market, according to a Zodiak Online story.

On Friday, flue-cured fetched as much as US$3.70 per kg at the Chinkhoma auction floors.

Tobacco Control Commission (TCC) chief executive Bruce Munthali, said that Malawi was expected to produce about 16 million kg of flue-cured this season, which was far below market demand.

Meanwhile, a story by Kingsley Jassi for The Daily Times reported that the flue-cured industry had asked the government to waive the duty on coal imported for curing tobacco as a way of promoting the production of flue-cured.

Munthali was quoted as saying that the industry wanted to use coal rather than firewood to cure tobacco because of environmental concerns over the latter.

He said that demand for flue-cured was huge, but that Malawi’s production had dropped recently.

But there were indications from the industry, he added, that production of flue-cured tobacco could be increased if farmers were helped in controlling the cost of production, including the cost of imported coal.

On the Burley front, the TCC reported that Malawi had earned US$3 million from tobacco sales in the first week of the 2013 selling season, according to a Capital Radio story.

TCC spokesperson, Juliana Chidumu, apparently told the radio station that slightly more than two million kg of tobacco had been sold, up from one million kg by the same stage of the previous season.

Chidumu attributed the earnings to “good prices offered by buyers at the Lilongwe and Chinkhoma auction floors.

However, producers delivering tobacco to the Limbe floors were said not to be happy with the prices they were getting.