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Archive for August, 2013

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Tobacconists tour Imperial R&D facility

| August 27, 2013

The Imperial Group’s flagship research and development facility in France has, for the first time, played host to a visit by French tobacconists.

The laboratories, at a site in Fleury-les-Aubrais, near Orléans, have recently undergone a €1.5 million modernization and extension program.

The 30 tobacconists were invited on a guided tour of the facility as part of a customer engagement exercise with Imperial’s retail partners in France.

Before the tour, the group met with Olivier Piton, R&D Centre director, who talked about the detailed analysis carried out on tobacco products.

“They seemed very interested in visiting our laboratories and impressed by the way we manage the quality and security of our products,” Piton said.

“It was good to be able to share with them our scientific expertise and product knowledge.”

Piton, pictured bottom right, with some of the tobacconists during the tour of the Fleury-les-Aubrais facility.

Piton, pictured bottom right, with some of the tobacconists during the tour of the Fleury-les-Aubrais facility.

Altria quarterly dividend declared

| August 27, 2013

Altria said on Friday that its board of directors had voted to increase the company’s regular quarterly dividend by 9.1 percent from $0.44 to $0.48 per common share.

The dividend is payable on Oct. 10 to shareholders of record as of Sept. 16. The ex-dividend date is Sept. 12, 2013.

The new annualized dividend rate is $1.92 per common share, representing a yield of 5.7 percent based on Altria’s closing stock price of $33.56 on Aug. 22.

“Today’s dividend increase reflects Altria’s intention to return a large amount of cash to shareholders in the form of dividends and is consistent with Altria’s dividend payout ratio target of approximately 80 percent of its adjusted diluted earnings per share,” according to a note posted on Altria’s website. “Altria has increased its dividend 47 times in the last 44 years.

“Additionally, Altria announced that its board of directors authorized a $700 million expansion of Altria’s current April 2013 share repurchase program, from $300 million to $1 billion. Altria expects to complete the program by the end of the third quarter of 2014. The timing of share repurchases depends upon marketplace conditions and other factors. The program remains subject to the discretion of Altria’s board of directors.”

Deadline approaching for crucial EU Tobacco Products Directive vote

| August 23, 2013

With members of the European Parliament due to vote on a proposed new Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) on Sept. 10, the U.K. smokers’ lobby group Forest has revised its No Thank EU campaign.

The revised TPD, if passed in its present form, would, among other things, ban menthol and slim cigarettes, ban small pouches of roll-your-own tobacco, and severely restrict the shape and size of cigarette packs. It would require also that health warnings cover up to 75 percent of the front and back of packs.

When the campaign website (www.NoThankEU.com) was launched on July 29, it gave people the opportunity to sign an online petition and the option of their giving Forest permission to send, on their behalf, a letter opposing the TPD to their MPs and MEPs.

This week, Forest launched a revised website, action.nothankeu.com, which makes it simple for people to write directly to their elected representatives in Westminster and Brussels.

In announcing its original campaign in July, Forest said it would give retailers and consumers the opportunity to register their opposition to the proposed regulations.

“Prohibition doesn’t work,” said Forest Campaigns Manager Angela Harbutt. “Retailers will be robbed of income from outlawed products. Denied choice, consumers will be driven to the black market, where there will be a flourishing trade in banned goods.

“The directive is proceeding with indecent haste. Members of parliament have been denied the opportunity to scrutinise the proposals yet the impact on retailers and consumers in Britain is potentially enormous.

“Regulations like this should be a matter for elected politicians in Westminster, not unelected bureaucrats in Brussels. We urge retailers and consumers who share our concern to make their opinions known by supporting our campaign.”

Forest is supported by British American Tobacco, Imperial Tobacco Limited and Gallaher Limited (a member of the Japan Tobacco Group of Companies).

No health concerns from e-cigarettes

| August 23, 2013

A recent U.S. study has found that chemicals in electronic cigarettes pose no health concerns for users or bystanders, according to a press note from the Consumer Advocates for Smoke-free Alternatives Association (CASAA) released through PRNewswire.

The study, by professor Igor Burstyn, of the Drexel University School of Public Health, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is said to be the first definitive study of electronic cigarette chemistry.

It found that there are no health concerns based on generally accepted exposure limits.

“By reviewing over 9,000 observations about the chemistry of the vapor and the liquid in e-cigarettes, Dr. Burstyn was able to determine that the levels of contaminants e-cigarette users are exposed to are insignificant, far below levels that would pose any health risk,” the press note said. “Additionally, there is no health risk to bystanders. Proposals to ban e-cigarettes in places where smoking is banned have been based on concern there is a potential risk to bystanders, but the study shows there is no concern.”

This was the first study funded by the CASAA Research Fund. CASAA describes itself as the leading consumer advocacy group promoting the availability and use of low-risk alternatives to smoking. It is an all-volunteer, donation-funded organization.

In commenting on the study, CASAA President Elaine Keller, said that, over the years, there had been a lot of small studies of electronic cigarette liquid and vapor, but those studies were either ignored or misinterpreted. “Those that showed even the slightest contamination were used for propaganda by those who object to e-cigarettes because they look like smoking,” she said. “We realized that an expert review was needed to give an unbiased explanation of the available scientific evidence for our membership and policy makers. We reached out to our membership and they enthusiastically donated to make it possible.”

Meanwhile, CASAA’s scientific director, Carl V. Phillips, said it had always been clear that using electronic cigarettes posed a much lower risk than did smoking, but that there had been uncertainty about whether continuing to inhale a mix of chemicals posed a measurable risk. “Even those of us who have long encouraged smokers to switch are a bit surprised that even the worst-case-scenario risks are so low,” he said. “This study assures us that e-cigarettes are as low risk as other smoke-free tobacco and nicotine products, like smokeless tobacco and NRT. All of these products are about 99 percent less harmful than smoking, and so smokers who switch to them gain basically the same health benefits as if they quit tobacco and nicotine entirely.”

Phillips said that there had been a call for “regulatory science” by the FDA. “This is exactly the type of science that is needed to make good regulation and informed individual decisions: it summarizes all of the available knowledge and puts the numbers in a useful perspective,” he said.

The study cautioned, however, that electronic cigarette users were inhaling substantial quantities of the main chemicals in these products (propylene glycol and glycerin). And while these chemicals were not considered dangerous and their levels were far below occupational exposure limits, Burstyn suggested ongoing monitoring to confirm that there was no risk.

The chemical contaminants were found to be of even less concern. “While there have been many claims that formaldehyde, acrolein, nitrosamines, metals and ethylene glycol found in e-cigarette vapor poses a health hazard, the study concluded that all of these have been found only at trivial levels that pose no health concern,” the press note said.

The study is available at http://publichealth.drexel.edu/SiteData/docs/ms08/f90349264250e603/ms08.pdf.

Flue-cured field day set for September 5

| August 23, 2013

The Virovitica-based Hrvatski Duhani is to host the Flue-cured Tobacco Field Day 2013 in Croatia on Sept. 5.

This, the 14th such event, will start on Sept. 4 with a welcome dinner at the Pustara Višnjica hotel.

Sept. 5 will be devoted to visiting tobacco fields and trials.

In announcing the event, Hrvatski Duhani said it had made a lot of effort this year to improve its tobacco production in Podravina and Slawonia by reducing costs and improving quality.

The company said it wanted to use the event to present the results of its tobacco trials and raise the awareness of farmers, scientists and customers about its achievements in introducing new technology and breeding new varieties.

Further information about the field day can be obtained from Zlatko Plesa at zlatko.plesa@hrvatskiduhani.hr.

Anti-smoking campaigns have rural aims

| August 23, 2013

Cigarette sales in Sri Lanka have gone down by 7 percent during the past several months due to the government’s efforts at discouraging smoking, according to a Daily News story quoting Health Minister Maithripala Sirisena.

And now the ministry is waiting on a court judgement that is expected to give it the go-ahead to require the imposition of graphic health warnings taking up 80 percent of cigarette-pack surfaces.
“Thailand has already implemented 85 percent of pictorial warning coverage on cigarette packets,” the minister said.

Sirisena is keen that anti-smoking campaigns should reach “difficult and rural areas” where older people continue to smoke.