Archive for March, 2014

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Philippines’ sin tax fails to cut smoking

| March 28, 2014

The Philippines Senate wants to summon cigarette manufacturers and officials of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and the Bureau of Customs (BOC) to explain why the country’s year-old “sin tax” law has failed to reduce smoking among Filipinos, which was the rationale behind the law.

According to a story in The Philippine Star, Senator Juan Edgardo Angara, chairman of the congressional oversight committee on comprehensive tax reform (COCCTR), said he wanted the BIR and BOC to provide accurate data on tobacco importation, cigarette production, tobacco taxes and cigarette excise.

Angara noted that there had been persistent reports of alleged smuggling of leaf tobacco and other cigarette-making materials.

He said he wanted to get information from the BIR and BOC officials about why smuggling continued to proliferate and whether there was truth in reports that some cigarette manufacturers were evading payment of cigarette taxes.

Angara said that he and his fellow lawmakers were unhappy with the presentations given by the BIR and BOC during the last hearing of the COCCTR.

“It’s really important for the BOC and BIR data to match, because if tobacco used for producing cigarettes are mixed with undeclared imported tobacco leaves, then [tax] collection will suffer,” Angara said.

Nobody happy with parks smoking ban

| March 28, 2014

Smokers and non-smokers alike have lodged complaints about a non-tobacco-smoking parks plan in Taiwan’s Taoyuan County, which aims to increase their number to 376 by next month, according to a story in the Taipei Times.

The county government defended the move as following Ministry of Health and Welfare policy.

In theory, the new plan could impact about 300,000 people—the number of smokers in the county’s population, according to Taoyuan County Department of Health data.

On hearing the news of the parks-ban expansion, [unnamed] smokers lodged complaints saying that the parks were open, public areas, and that because the smoke dissipated quickly, air quality was minimally impacted.

However, [unnamed] nonsmokers were quoted as saying the parks were the equivalent of a city’s lungs.

They said citizens exercised there and that clean air was important for children and pregnant women, who often used the parks’ recreational facilities.

The group of nonsmokers were said to have accused the county government of paying lip service to the policy.

They said that, in the years since it established designated nonsmoking parks, not a single fine had been issued.

TFWA expanding upward in Singapore

| March 28, 2014

The organizers of the TFWA (Tax Free World Association) Asia Pacific Exhibition & Conference are opening up a second level of floor space at the Marina Bay Sands complex in Singapore.

The event, which is due to be staged May 11–15, will, as last year, occupy underground level B2, but it will, in addition, take in the street-level Hall A.

The organizers say that the 18.5 percent increase in floor space will help accommodate “the nearly 250 exhibitors confirmed to date plus others in the pipeline.” “Wider aisles between the stands, more restaurant facilities and additional seating areas will further enhance the experience for both exhibitors and visitors,” they added.

PMI schedules annual meeting for May 7

| March 28, 2014

Philip Morris International said yesterday that it would hold its 2014 Annual Meeting of Shareholders at 9 a.m. on May 7 in the Empire State Ballroom of the Grand Hyatt New York for the following purposes:

  • To elect 10 directors;
  • To ratify the selection of PricewaterhouseCoopers SA as independent auditors for the company for the fiscal year ending Dec. 31, 2014;
  • To vote on advisory resolution approving executive compensation;
  • To vote on two shareholder proposals, if properly presented at the meeting; and
  • To transact other business properly coming before the meeting.

Damning verdicts on e-cigarette research

| March 27, 2014

Recent U.S. research that has been widely reported to have shown that e-cigarettes are ineffective for smoking cessation has been branded as “complete garbage” by a highly respected public health professor.

Researchers from the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at UCSF (the University of California at San Francisco) published a research letter in JAMA Internal Medicine that purported to show that e-cigarettes were ineffective for smoking cessation.

But a blog by Dr. Michael Siegel, a professor in the Department of Community Health Sciences, Boston University School of Public Health, has debunked both the methodology used and the conclusions drawn.

Siegel’s blog is at

Seigel was not the only person to attack the research. The American Council on Science and Health decried the fact that it was a “phony summary of a phony study” that got most of the attention.

The council’s verdict is at

Canadian doctors call for authorization of sales of e-cigarettes with nicotine

| March 27, 2014

A group of doctors, professors and health advocates are calling on the Canadian federal government to authorize the sale in Canada of e-cigarettes containing nicotine.

Writing in The Gazette on behalf of the group, Gaston Ostiguy said e-cigarettes offered a safer and more acceptable alternative to regular cigarettes for smokers to appease their addiction.

No doubt, tremendous strides had been made over the years to impose a strict regulatory framework on regular cigarettes, he said, and more could be done. But it was wishful thinking that one day nicotine use would be eradicated. The vast majority of smokers wanted to quit, but studies showed that only 10 percent of them were still abstinent after trying to quit during the previous year.

“In such a context, we believe that the time has come for tobacco control to move beyond the usual approaches of education, total nicotine cessation and prevention,” Ostiguy said. “In a landmark report published in 2007, the Royal College of Physicians makes a compelling case why harm reduction should no longer be ignored by health authorities to lower the death and disease caused by tobacco use.”

Ostiguy’s piece is at