Archive for May, 2013

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EU tobacco directive opposition mounts

| May 28, 2013

Bulgaria has formally backed Greece in its opposition to some of the revisions proposed by the EU Commission at the end of last year to the Tobacco Products Directive, according to a Bulgarian News Agency story quoting a press note issued by the Ministry of Agriculture and Food.

Both countries produce leaf tobacco – mainly oriental tobacco, which is a small but key element in many American-blend cigarettes.

Bulgaria and Greece are concerned largely with the proposed revisions that would tend to standardize tobacco products and their packaging.

The Commission has proposed packaging regulations that, while not quite along the lines of Australia’s ‘plain packaging’ are certainly tending in that direction. It has called for the prohibition of flavourings and the banning of certain categories of products, including slim cigarettes.

The Agency story said that these measures would have a ‘disastrous impact on employment in tobacco production’.

In Bulgaria, more than 200,000 people worked in the tobacco production sector, more than in any other EU member state, the press note said.

A declaration by Greece, supported by Bulgaria, Spain, Poland, the CzechRepublic, Hungary, Cyprus, Italy, Romania and Croatia, argued that the proposed new rules put forward by the Commission would seriously affect the livelihood of more than 500,000 EU citizens employed in tobacco growing and processing.

EU tobacco directive proposals fall short of regulatory best practice

| May 28, 2013

The Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA) undertaken by the European Commission on its proposed revisions to the 2001 Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) is not sufficiently robust when reviewed from the perspective of regulatory best practice, including the Commission’s own guidelines for RIA’s, according to Oxera, an economics consultancy, in a report commissioned by Japan Tobacco International (JTI).

“The aim of Oxera’s review was not to question the objectives behind the proposals; we support sound tobacco regulation,” said Dr. Gunnar Niels, director at Oxera. “However, from the perspective of best practice in public policy, regulation and economic analysis, we concluded that the RIA is not sufficiently robust and contains a number of significant shortcomings. This is not to say that there is no underlying economic case for some of the proposed regulations, or other forms of tobacco regulation. However, a more robust RIA would benefit regulatory decision-making in this area”, he added.

According to a note posted on JTI’s website, Oxera highlighted four key shortcomings; the first of which concerned a lack of clarity in respect of the objectives. ‘While the overall objective of the TPD revision is said to improve the functioning of the internal market, a number of aspects of the proposed regulations seem to go against criteria that are normally considered to be part of a well-functioning market, including innovation, competition, consumer choice and cross-border trade. In fact, most elements of the RIA seem to be driven primarily by public health considerations, identified as an additional objective, rather than the internal market.’

The baseline scenario was said not to be clearly defined and not to be based on available evidence. ‘The RIA assumes without any supporting evidence that the current trend towards decreasing tobacco consumption will stop if regulations remain unchanged, and that any further reduction in consumption would be attributed to the proposed regulations rather than existing regulations or other factors.’

There was a reliance on assumptions rather than evidence. ‘The RIA assumes that the TPD would result in a 2% reduction in tobacco consumption within five years of the proposed regulation changes. The 2% reduction in tobacco consumption is assumed rather than derived from evidence or from analysis. In addition, the cost-benefit analysis has been applied solely to the final proposed package of measures, rather than to the individual areas separately. This goes against the Commission’s own guidelines.’

And there was a limited reference to evidence or analysis in the RIA to support the proposals. ‘There is limited reference to evidence in the RIA to support the proposals on packaging; ingredients and other tobacco products; and track and trace.’

“This report further demonstrates that the proposal to revise the EU TPD has not been properly thought through, said Thierry Lebeaux, head of EU Affairs at JTI.

“In the interest of quality regulation, we hope that Oxera’s conclusions will be taken into consideration before any new measures are voted on,” he concluded.

Call for 70 per cent tax increase

| May 28, 2013

Forty MPs have urged the government of Bangladesh to increase by 70 per cent the taxes on bidis, cigarettes and jarda (smokeless tobacco), according to a story in The Financial Express.

The MPs, who wanted to see the increase included in the 2013-14 Budget, were trying to thwart the efforts of about 170 MPs who were said to be seeking to protect the bidi industry.

A senior National Board of Revenue official was quoted as saying that the government had not increased taxes on bidis for three years because of the lobbying by the lawmakers.

Smartphone app comes to aid of farmers

| May 28, 2013

The French National Institute for Agronomic Research (INRA) has developed several plant protection applications for smartphones and tablets to help farmers identify and localize diseases on plants in the field.

In order to reduce the use of pesticides on crops, the early and reliable identification of a disease and the detection of emergent pests have proven to be crucial stages in plant protection. In particular, such information enables an alignment of the diagnosis with the most appropriate protection methods.

An INRA team based in Bordeaux and led by Dominique Blancard and Jean-Marc Armand, has developed several applications, but Di@gnoPlant® Tobacco is the first by INRA to be translated into English for international use. The translation was done by CORESTA (Cooperation Centre for Scientific Research Relative to Tobacco).

The Di@gnoPlant® Tobacco application answers two key questions in respect of tobacco plant protection. Firstly, what disease causes the symptoms? And secondly, what control methods can be used?

At the onset of disease symptoms on a crop, a farmer or field technician using Di@gnoPlant is able to identify diseases on a crop using an image identification module.

It is then possible to obtain information on the characteristics of these diseases, based on an INRA database organised into fact sheets that detail the symptoms and biology of the incriminated pest.

And finally, the farmer or field technician can implement optimised protection methods.

‘When developing this project, the scientists had two aims: to build a continuum of diagnostic/advice tools already accessible over the internet thanks to the e-Phytia® website (English version pertaining to tobacco will soon be on line) and make it available in the field using the new information and communication opportunities provided by smartphones and tablets (App store and Google play),’ CORESTA said in a press note.

‘A complementary application, Vigipl@nt, will be developed in the future for “geolocalisation”.’

CORESTA said that it and INRA would continue to collaborate. ‘Thanks to its worldwide networks and links with numerous organisations and universities, CORESTA will regularly supplement and improve the database on tobacco and hopes this application can assist tobacco farmers all over the world,’ it said.

Farmers win crop insurance battle

| May 24, 2013

Tobacco farmers notched a victory Thursday when the U.S. Senate fended off efforts to eliminate the federal insurance program for their embattled crop.

Tobacco farmer organizations had vigorously objected to the proposal, saying elimination of the program would effectively spell the end of U.S. tobacco production.

Tobacco Associates of Raleigh, North Carolina, said discontinuation of the subsidy would have rendered any private multi-peril crop insurance unaffordable. And, without insurance, lending institutions would have become reluctant to provide loans to tobacco farmers. No crop under cultivation in the southeastern United States is as susceptible to wind as tobacco in the peak harvest months of July through October.

In 2012, the farm value of North Carolina leaf tobacco was nearly $770 million.

Tobacco growers outside of North Carolina were relieved, as well.

“It was a significant policy win for Kentucky farmers amid a very anti-tobacco Congress,” University of Kentucky agricultural economist Will Snell said.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell called the amendment’s defeat a “big victory” for the state’s tobacco growers. McConnell personally lobbied a number of his colleagues in leading the fight against the amendment, which he denounced as “another assault by Washington to go after” jobs in Kentucky.

For years, tobacco farmers have been beleaguered by smoking bans and high excise taxes as U.S. cigarette consumption declines.



ITM buys IMAtec

| May 24, 2013

The ITM Group has acquired IMAtec of Luxembourg, a supplier of packing equipment for other tobacco products  (OTP). IMATec’s portfolio includes cigarette paper booklet machines, pouchmakers, clear-wrap kits, shrink kits and end-of-line packaging equipment.

Combining the companies’ teams will allow ITM to offer complete packing solutions from concept to machine acceptance. In addition, it will be able to produce prototypes or mockups and carry out trials at its pilot innovation center. The company will also be offering efficiency improvement services.

The ITM Group manufactures machinery for the entire processing cycle of cigars, cigarettes and OTP. This covers all stages of production in the primary and secondary departments, including logistics and packing, plus after-sales services.