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Universal to webcast results conference call

| January 20, 2015

Universal Corporation is due to webcast a conference call to be held on February 3 following the release of its results for the third quarter of fiscal year 2015 after market close on that date.

The conference call, which will begin at 17.00 Eastern Time, will be hosted by Candace C. Formacek, vice president and treasurer.

A live webcast of the conference call will be available on a listen-only basis at www.universalcorp.com.

And a replay of the webcast conference call will be available at that site until May 5.  A taped replay of the call will be available from 20.30 Eastern Time on February 3 through February 17 at (855) 859-2056, using the telephone replay identification number 70319833.

Ban on smoking in films would be ‘really ridiculous’

| January 19, 2015

Some of the best-known Italian directors, producers and scriptwriters have put their names to a letter opposing a proposal to ban smoking from films and television, according to a Dpa story.

The group of 20 artists, including Oscar-winning directors Paolo Sorrentino and Gabriele Salvatores, wrote a letter to La Repubblica newspaper saying they felt they needed to express their ‘astonishment’ and ‘concern’ about the proposal.

They said any attempt to limit the possibility of representing people’s lives in film would be ‘really ridiculous’, and would amount to an interference with artistic freedom and liberal principles.

Last week, the ministry of health said it was considering regulating smoking scenes in films and national television series, as well as banning smoking in parks, stadiums and beaches, and in cars with children on board.

Only ‘good’ customs should be shown on television

| January 19, 2015

The Maldives’ Health Protection Agency (HPA) has expressed concern over the display of hookah smokers at the Cultural Festival organized by the Maldives Broadcasting Corporation, according to a story in Haveeru Online.

People smoking hookahs were shown during the festival as representing one of the age-old but dying Maldivian traditions and customs.

Some television channels, it was claimed, had been broadcasting such scenes without the required warnings about the harmful effects of smoking, which was in contravention of the Tobacco Act.

HPA epidemiologist Dr. Aishath Aroona said on Saturday that the agency had held discussions with the relevant authorities about hookah smoking being displayed in such a promotional manner.

She said that only ‘good’ customs should be promoted as part of Maldivian culture, while smoking the hookah – being harmful to health – was not a good custom.

Cigarette firms said to be threat to consumer choice

| January 19, 2015

Big cigarette companies in the US are encouraging the government to help snuff out competition from small start-ups trying to sell electronic cigarettes, according to a piece in the National Review Online by Gregory Conley, president of the American Vaping Association.

‘When the success of America’s largest companies is threatened, they often turn to the government for a helping hand,’ Conley said. ‘They have been doing that for at least the past century. In recent years Congress gave more than $1 trillion in bailouts to banks, car companies, and credit lenders in the midst of great financial turmoil. But that kind of generosity isn’t the only way Uncle Sam has helped many of America’s biggest companies maintain market share. Using the growing bureaucracy’s powerful regulations, many corporations have worked hand in hand with government to snuff out competition.’

Conley went on to say that a recent example of this offensive was Big Tobacco’s actions against the thousands of small start-ups that were helping people quit smoking. ‘Cigarette companies are spending millions of dollars to push product bans, higher taxes, and expensive regulations on their competitors,’ he said.

Conley appeared to be most concerned about the attacks being mounted against premium vapor products, the sorts of refillable products that have been credited with the most success in weaning smokers from traditional cigarettes.

‘Reynolds [American]’s push for more-coercive taxation, burdensome regulations, and even bans on their competitors make sense, as no company wants to see its consumers switch to products it doesn’t sell,’ Conley said. ‘Unfortunately, if the FDA [Food and Drug Administration] and state lawmakers merely accept the agenda being pushed by Reynolds and other large cigarette companies, public health and market freedom will suffer. It’s time lawmakers and bureaucrats realize this and stop trying to protect cigarette companies from consumer choice.’

The full story is at: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/396466/big-tobaccos-war-vaping-gregory-conley

JT’s domestic sales down by 2.3 percent last year

| January 19, 2015

Japan Tobacco Inc’s domestic cigarette sales volume during December, at 10.2 billion, was down by 2.3 percent on that of December 2013, 10.4 billion, according to preliminary figures issued by the company on Friday. The December 2013 figure was up by 1.1 percent on that of December 2012.

Volume during January-December, at 112.4 billion, was down by 3.6 percent on that of January-December 2013, 116.5 billion, which was down by 0.3 per cent on that of January-December 2012.

JT’s market share stood at 60.2 percent during December, at 60.4 percent during January-December and at 60.5 percent during January-December 2013.

JT’s domestic cigarette revenue during December, at ¥57.7 billion, was up by 1.2 percent from its December 2013 level, ¥57.0 billion.

Revenue during January-December, at ¥631.1 billion, was down by 1.3 percent on that of January-December 2013, ¥639.6 billion.

Meanwhile, JT said on Thursday that it was changing the names of three of its products with the addition in each case of the word ‘Aromatic’; so, in March, when the changes are due to come into effect, the three products will be known as: Pianissimo Lucia Menthol, Pianissimo Pétil Menthol One, and Pianissimo Fram Menthol One.

These products will be the subject of redesigns, too; though while the packs are being changed and LSS (less smoke smell) technology applied to them, their tastes and aromas are being retained.

Altria to webcast full-year results discussions

| January 19, 2015

Altria is due to host a live audio webcast at www.altria.com from 09.00 Eastern Time on January 30 to discuss its 2014 fourth-quarter and full-year business results.

The results will be issued in a press release about 07.00 on the same day.

During the webcast, which will be in listen-only mode, chairman and CEO Marty Barrington and executive vice president and CFO Howard Willard will discuss the results and answer questions from the investment community and news media.

Pre-event registration is necessary and can be made at www.altria.com.

An archived copy of the webcast will be available, also at www.altria.com, or through the Altria Investor App, which is available for download at www.altria.com/irapp, or through the Apple App Store or Google Play.