Archive for September, 2013

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PMI looks to reorganize in Switzerland

| September 30, 2013

Philip Morris International said today that it had opened an employee consultation on the company’s intention to restructure its global and regional functions based in Switzerland, a reorganization that might involve up to 170 positions being either eliminated or transferred to other countries.

“The intended restructuring aims to reduce complexity and reallocate resources to better support PMI’s long-term growth around the world,” PMI said in a note posted on its website.

Approximately 140 of the 170 positions under consideration will concern the company’s workforce in Lausanne, and the remaining 30 are in global functions based in Neuchatel.

PMI employs about 3,000 people in Switzerland, just over 1,950 of whom work in the global and regional functions that are the subject of the proposed restructuring.

“We remain fully committed to Switzerland and to the cities of Neuchatel and Lausanne, which are home to both our global and Swiss market operational structures,” said Kevin Click, PMI’s senior vice president for human resources.

“Any decision will be taken after thorough evaluation, but I believe a realignment of our global functions is necessary to ensure that we stay optimally equipped to service our markets and foster the growth of our business.

“We realize that this period of uncertainty will be extremely difficult for our employees, particularly those who may be regretfully impacted.

“We are fully committed to [supporting] our people throughout this process.”

Following the conclusion of the employee consultation, PMI said it would finalize any related plans and notify employees and the cantonal authorities accordingly. If restructuring plans proceeded, any impacted employees would be provided with comprehensive support, both financially and through job search consultancy.

“Since 2008 we have added more than 400 jobs in Switzerland and invested 700 million CHF, including in our state-of-the-art Research & Development Center in Neuchatel and our new Data Center in Bonvillars,” said Click.

“We have a long and proud history in Switzerland which we look forward to continuing for many years to come.”

The restructuring plans are said not to involve several other PMI entities in Switzerland, including the company’s Swiss market affiliate Philip Morris SA and PMI’s R&D Center and manufacturing facility in Neuchatel.

Earlier this year, PMI’s chairman and then-CEO, Louis C. Camilleri, said that the 2012 Annual Report was dedicated to the company’s employees and showcased the considerable breadth of talent that it enjoyed around the world. “Our company is blessed with a diverse pool of superb talent that, with unwavering passion and commitment to excellence, is the driving force behind our performance,” he said.

Smokers should be tested for COPD

| September 30, 2013

Ninety percent of people suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) developed the condition after tobacco use or exposure to secondhand smoke, National Taiwan University principal and lung cancer specialist, Yang Pan-chyr, said on Saturday at a John Tung Foundation press launch of its online COPD self-assessment.

According to a story in the Taipei Times, Yang said 80 percent of smokers had little knowledge of the threat of COPD posed by smoking, and that only a small portion of them sought medical attention.

COPD is linked to repeated lung infections caused by smoking, environmental pollution and toxic substances emitted from burning coal.

“All these factors would lead to the narrowing of the airway, which would block the airflow and cause breathing difficulty,” Yang said.

“Many people afflicted by the disease mistake it for asthma, which is different from COPD in being caused by allergens instead of permanent damage to the airways.”

The foundation said that COPD could be accompanied by cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, cancer, diabetes or other systemic conditions, significantly compromising the quality of a person’s life.

But by quitting smoking and with early treatment the impact of the disease could be reduced.

People aged 40 and over with a history of smoking or exposure to chemical substances, powders or other air pollutants should have routine tests so as to facilitate early detection, the foundation added.

‘Golden leaf’ takes on new meaning

| September 30, 2013

Cigarette papers are selling in the U.S. for up to $5 each—but they do have an outer layer of gold leaf, according to a story by Joanna Prisco for ABC.

Historically, Prisco wrote, hand-rolling cigarettes were an economical alternative to factory-made products, but a new product had taken the ritual to a luxurious counterpoint and was attracting “self-described ‘ballers’ within the hip-hop community as well as other, ahem, high rollers.”

Shine Papers are described as 24K rolling papers combining edible gold leaf with a slow-burning interior paper.

Prices are said to range from $55 to $60 for a pack of 12, depending upon whether they are purchased directly from the company or online.

“It’s definitely not an everyday product because of the price point,” said Shine Papers’ owner, Dave D., who declined to provide a last name.

“But the people who feel like they are that person are showing a lot of support for it and returning to reorder.”

Imperial drives teamwork in Taiwan

| September 30, 2013

Imperial Tobacco’s office-based people in Taiwan have been learning more about the work of the field force sales team in an initiative to build business understanding and teamwork spirit.

As part of the One-Day Sales Programme, Imperial Tobacco employees from non-sales functions shadow a trade marketing executive, assisting them on their retailer visits.

“By learning about availability and visibility management, as well as the implementation of the local trade loyalty scheme, those taking part increase their awareness of products, trade customer needs and the market as a whole,” according to a note posted on Imperial’s website.

“Following the day-long visit, learning reports are submitted to gather feedback and suggestions from delegates.”

“We’re glad that non-sales staff have been making the effort to understand the field force’s daily sales operations, and they’ve provided insightful feedback for improvement,” said Eric Lim, head of sales and trade marketing in Taiwan.

Meanwhile, Doris Chang, head of human resources in Taiwan, said that the program had really helped to elevate mutual understanding between the field force and office-based staff. It was a great mechanism to drive people engagement in the workplace, she added.

Tobacco and whiskey shop expands

| September 30, 2013
Part of the expanded shop in Glasgow.

Part of the expanded shop in Glasgow

In the face of Scotland’s hostile smoking climate, the country’s oldest cigar shop, Robert Graham, has had to move into larger premises in the heart of Glasgow, former home of the Tobacco Lords, 18th century tobacco merchants who became hugely wealthy plying their trade.

Robert Graham, which was established in 1874 and is one of Scotland’s oldest and most renowned whiskey suppliers, is an associate company of C.Gars, which was launched in 1997 and is now one of the world’s largest specialist cigar merchants.

“Our original shop was only 200 square feet and a well-known oasis for Glasgow’s smokers,” said Mitchell Orchant, managing director of C.Gars.

“Since Scotland’s smoking ban was introduced, our business has grown to such an extent we’ve had to move to brand new premises in West George Street.

“At just over 2,000 square feet, our new tobacco shop is now Scotland’s largest, and one of the largest in the U.K.

“One of the reasons for its continued success is that Scotland’s smokers and tobacco-tolerant visitors like to enjoy the finer things of life. This has long been the case in Glasgow, which owes part of its architectural heritage to the 18th century Tobacco Lords.

“Unlike the Tobacco Lords, Glasgow’s cigar smokers are now forced to light up in their own homes rather than in public. But it hasn’t stopped 21st century cigar smokers—rather, the reverse …”

Indonesia criticized over pack challenge

| September 25, 2013

Tobacco control activists have criticized the Indonesian government for challenging Australia’s decision to impose standardized cigarette packaging, according to a story in The Jakarta Globe.

It was reported here yesterday that Indonesia had made a formal request to the World Trade Organization for consultations on Australia’s regulations, which could be the first step toward a trade dispute. It is the fifth country—behind Ukraine, Honduras, the Dominican Republic and Cuba—to challenge Australia at the WTO.

Tara Singh Bam, the technical advisor at the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, was quoted as describing the government’s decision as “unfortunate.”

Indonesia was notorious as being the only country in the Asia Pacific that had not signed the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), he said, and this decision would “only make things worse.”

Meanwhile, Kartono Muhammad, an anti-tobacco campaigner, said the government’s challenge through the WTO was a questionable move, both from a health and financial perspective.

“It’s funny: Why bother challenging Australia’s decision to protect its people when the policy itself does not affect us directly?” he said.

“Since 2011, Indonesian cigarettes are practically no longer sold in Australia, so economically, Australia’s policy on the plain packaging will not affect us.”