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Author Archive: TS Donahue

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Aussies to jack up tobacco tax in 2014

| May 14, 2013

The price of a pack of cigarettes will rise by about $0.07 next year in Australia, according to a story in the Herald Sun.

The increase will see the government face a potential re-election tussle with tobacco companies and retailers, who are still smarting over plain packaging laws.

Cigarettes were the only sin tax targeted by Treasurer Wayne Swan’s big-cutting budget. Last year’s budget saw an increase on taxes on beer and cut the number of duty-free cigarettes Australians could bring home after travelling overseas.

The duty free cuts last year were set to raise $175 million by 2015.

A pack of 25 cigarettes will be $0.07 more expensive from the first half of 2014, after a change in indexation that sees tobacco excise keep pace with salary rises. Budget papers did not reveal how much this would raise.

New tender for tobacconists in Hungary

| May 14, 2013

Hungary’s national tobacco company has put out a new tender for tobacconists who were not granted a concession in a recent bid, a government official said on Tuesday.

Thanks to the new tender, tobacconists who would otherwise be obliged to give up their business as of June 30 will be given an opportunity to try again, state secretary at the Development Ministry Janos Fonagy said in parliament on Tuesday in reply to a question by the radical nationalist Jobbik party, according to a story published on the politics.hu website.

Parties of the opposition have sharply criticised the government for the earlier tobacco tender, insisting that members of the ruling Fidesz party influenced the tender process.

Legislation approved last September established a state monopoly on the retail sale of tobacco products from July 1, 2013.

$2.87 per pack tax possible in Calif.

| May 14, 2013

California lawmakers chose not to make smokers pay more for health insurance,  but they may be more willing to make smokers pay more for cigarettes.

A new bill proposing to raise the tax on tobacco by $2 per pack of cigarettes  cleared its first two committee votes last week in predictably partisan votes. SB 768, by Sen. Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles), would raise  the price of cigarettes to more than $8 a pack and generate about $1.4 billion a  year. De León proposes the money be used to offset costs of medical care for  tobacco-related diseases, anti-tobacco education and smoking-cessation  programs.

The Senate Governance and Finance Committee approved the bill in a 5-2 vote  and the Senate Committee on Health approved it 6-2. All “yes” votes were  Democrats. All “no” votes were Republican.

“Taxpayers pay $3.1 billion a year to subsidize this industry,” de León told  the health committee, citing an estimate for California’s annual medical costs  for tobacco-related diseases and health problems.

“On a fiscal level, the price is much too high, and taxpayers have been  footing the bill for much too long,” de León said.

California, which hasn’t increased taxes on tobacco since 1998, now charges  $0.87 cents on each pack of cigarettes and ranks 33rd in the country in tobacco  taxation. De Leon’s bill would move the state into fourth place.

Sticky story: 3rd-hand smoke gives guests gooey fingers

| May 14, 2013

Anyone who has ever walked into a “non-smoking” hotel room and caught the distinct odor of cigarette smoke will not be surprised by the findings of a new study: When a hotel allows smoking in any of its rooms, the smoke gets into all of its rooms, the study suggests, according to a story in USA Today.

Nicotine residues and other chemical traces “don’t stay in the smoking rooms,” says Georg Matt, a psychologist from San Diego State University who led the study, published Monday in the journal Tobacco Control. “They end up in the hallways and in other rooms, including non-smoking rooms.”

The study found smoke residue on surfaces and in the air of both smoking and non-smoking rooms in 30 California hotels where smoking was allowed. Levels were highest in the smoking rooms, but levels in non-smoking rooms were much higher than those found at 10 smoke-free hotels.

Volunteers who stayed overnight in the smoking hotels also ended up with sticky nicotine residues on their fingers, whether they stayed in smoking rooms or not. Urine tests found additional evidence of nicotine exposure in those who stayed in smoking rooms, but not those who stayed in the non-smoking rooms.

Canadian tobacco giants begin defense in $27 billion suit

| May 14, 2013

Three of Canada’s tobacco giants began their defense Monday against a $27-billion class-action lawsuit in Montreal by calling a witness who said the dangers of smoking are no secret.

Historian and professor Jacques Lacoursière testified tobacco’s health risks have been common knowledge for decades. He pointed to over 700 references to the hazards of smoking dating back to the 1950s, including TV and radio reports, school manuals, government releases and health professionals.

One of the many examples included a newspaper article that outlined a significant increase in lung cancer risk following the prolonged use of cigarettes. The proceedings will continue on Tuesday with the plaintiffs’ cross-examination of Lacoursière.

“What these historians miss is all the coverage that came out in the media about how the industry was involved in a conspiracy to hide all that information,” said Damphousse François, the Quebec director of the Non-Smoker’s Rights Association.

“They knew about the health effects of their products, but they didn’t meet the obligation to inform their public about what they knew.”

The class-action lawsuit, which is being touted as the biggest civil case in Canadian history, was first filed years ago. The complainants, two groups of individuals representing a total of 1.8 million Quebecers, allege three tobacco companies did everything possible to encourage addiction:

  • Imperial Tobacco.
  • JTI-MacDonald.
  • Rothmans, Benson & Hedges.

One group involves individuals who have become seriously ill from smoking, and members of the other group say they are unable to quit smoking.

RAI expanding e-cig operations

| May 10, 2013

Reynolds American Inc.’s experiment with making e-cigarettes is about to move to a larger distribution scale, the company said Thursday at its annual shareholders meeting.

The company provided several strategic updates during formal remarks by Daan Delen, its CEO and president, and during a question-and-answer session that wasn’t consumed by farm-worker issues, according to the website equities.com.

Reynolds also said it has placed links on its website — www.reynoldsamerican.com — under the corporate governance header where its 2012 political-oriented contributions are listed. Delen said the company opted for more disclosure after getting requests from various stakeholder groups.

R.J. Reynolds Vapor Co. remains in test markets with its internally developed Vuse e-cigs with no reported sales numbers. Vuse is being sold at Tarheel Tobacco stores at 6311 Stadium Drive in Clemmons, 3193 Peters Creek Parkway in Winston-Salem and in Danville, Va.