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Archive for March, 2013

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Britain, or perhaps the UK, is winning, or maybe losing, the illicit tobacco trade war

| March 25, 2013

Britain is said to be ‘winning the war’ against tobacco smugglers who supply addicted smokers deliberately pushed out of the licit market by government policies aimed at making cigarettes too expensive for the financially less well off.

According to a story by Denis Campbell for The Guardian quoting a report on the illicit tobacco trade by the all parliamentary group on smoking and health, 20 per cent of the cigarettes smoked in Britain during 2000 came from the black market, whereas by 2010-11 the illicit share had fallen to nine per cent.

Over the same period, the group was said to have found that the share of the UK’s hand-rolling tobacco accounted for by the illicit trade fell from 60 per cent to 38 per cent.

The group put the drop in the illicit trade down to joint action by HM Revenue & Customs and the UK Border Agency, partnerships involving local police forces, councils and National Health Service organizations.

Meanwhile, the Tobacco Manufacturers’ Association claimed that more recent data showed that the level of cigarettes consumed that were not UK tax paid [some of which would have been imported legally] had risen from 17 per cent in 2011 to 21 per cent in 2012.

Two things stand out. One is that it is not clear whether it is the illicit trade of the UK or of just Britain that has been studied. Taken at face value, the group looked at the illicit trade in cigarettes in Britain and the illicit trade in hand-rolling tobacco in the UK, whereas the TMA-quoted data is about illicit cigarettes in the UK.

The other is that the various factions in this debate are currently jockeying for position ahead of the government’s decision on whether to impose standardized tobacco packaging. A low level of illicit trade in tobacco products would, in some people’s view, tend to favor such an imposition, while a high level would, in other people’s view, tend to argue against standardized packaging.

Tobacco sales licensees to be announced

| March 25, 2013

The names of the successful applicants for licences to sell tobacco under Hungary’s soon-to-be-introduced state monopoly of tobacco retailing are due to be announced by April 23, according to an MTI – EcoNews story.

The story was based on a statement by the communications director for the National Tobacco Trade Non-profit organization, which is overseeing the change to the monopoly system, reported in the daily, Magyar Nemzet.

Legislation approved in September establishes a state monopoly for the retail sale of tobacco products from July 1.

Businesses had until February 22 to apply for the tobacco retail licences.

CEO’s pay increased as profits fall

| March 25, 2013

Reynolds American Inc. paid its CEO, Daniel M. Delen, $8.65 million in fiscal 2012, about two per cent more than he was paid the previous year, according to a story by Michael Felberbaum for Associated Press based on AP’s analysis of a regulatory filing.

Delen received a base salary of $1 million and a $1.2 million performance-based bonus. He also received stock valued at about $6.2 million and other perks worth $203,312.

The pay package came in a year when the company saw its profit fall by 10 per cent to $1.27 billion and its revenue excluding excise taxes decline by three per cent to $8.3 billion.

Cigarette volumes fell by more than five per cent to 68.9 billion and the company’s US cigarette market retail share fell by 1.1 percentage points to 26.5 per cent.

Smokeless tobacco volumes grew by eight per cent and its share of the smokeless market stood at 32.4 per cent.

Reemtsma Liberty Award recognizes Congo civil-war reporting

| March 25, 2013

Richard Gretler (Reemtsma), Bettina Ruehl, Sir Salman Rushdie Reemtsma Liberty Award im Grand Hyatt in Berlin am 20.03.2013 Foto: M.NassJournalist Bettina Rühl has been honoured with the 2013 Reemtsma Liberty Award for her investigative reports on the civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Now in its seventh year, the award, made by Imperial Tobacco’s German business, recognises foreign correspondents working to sustain freedom of the press under harsh conditions.

The decision to honour Rühl was made by a jury of prominent journalists and media experts. Rühl, a freelance journalist working for the German broadcaster ARD, won praise from the jury for exposing war crimes committed in the rainforests of the central African country.

“I’m always impressed by such insightful reports from the world’s crisis areas,” said Imperial’s regional director Central Europe, Richard Gretler.

“But free speech is not a given. The Reemtsma Liberty Award recognises that and honours courageous journalists who go further to report the truth.”

The award was presented last week at a gala ceremony in Berlin attended by more than 400 guests.

A highlight of the evening was the opening speech given by the author Sir Salman Rushdie (pictured, right, with Richard Gretler and Bettina Rühl).

More information is available at: www.liberty-award.de.

JTI is Top Employer

| March 25, 2013

Japan Tobacco International on Friday received Top Employer Europe 2013 certification during an awards ceremony held at the Park Plaza hotel in London.

According to a note posted on the JTI website, 10 JTI offices were recognized for their excellence in human resources management by the CRF (Corporate Research Foundation) Institute. The offices are in Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Switzerland and the UK.

“Hiring the best talents and investing in people development are the cornerstones of JTI’s human resources approach”, says Ilona Alonso, human resources vice president for JTI’s Western Europe Region.

“This recognition, combined with our recent Employee Engagement Survey results, give us the confidence that we are doing things right.”

Meanwhile, Mark Phillips, human resources vice president for the Central Europe region, said there was a strong sense of common purpose at JTI, where more than 91 per cent of employees worldwide supported the company’s goals, objectives and values, and 94 per cent were willing to make extra efforts to help JTI succeed.

“The Top Employer award is yet another reason for our employees to be proud of working for JTI,” Phillips added.

MEPs seek own Dalli inquiry

| March 22, 2013

Members of the European Parliament are asking for their own inquiry into the resignation in October of the former European Commissioner for health and consumer affairs, John Dalli, shortly before the Commission unveiled its proposed revisions to the Tobacco Products Directive, according to a story by Dave Keating for the European Voice.

On March 20, political group leaders were shown declassified sections of a report by the EU investigative arm, OLAF, into the circumstances that led up to the resignation.

But because so much information is said still to be missing, Green group president, Rebecca Harms, has asked that a special committee be set up to look into the issue.

The committee would look not only at the circumstances surrounding Dalli’s resignation, but also at the role of tobacco lobbying in EU decision-making.

The leaders of the other political groups will take a decision next month on whether to set up the committee.

The European Ombudsman has already launched an investigation into Dalli’s resignation and, as part of that investigation, has asked the Commission to hand over all files relating to his departure.

Last month, the ombudsman launched a separate investigation into so-called ‘revolving door’ lobbying at the Commission whereby former Commission employees lobby on behalf of the private sector.

Meanwhile, as reported here, Japan Tobacco International said on February 13 that it welcomed a proposal by some members of the European Parliament for a special inquiry into tobacco lobbying at the 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.