Legislation aimed at imposing in the UK standardized packaging for cigarettes and fine-cut tobacco is due to be put before parliament during the current session, which is scheduled to end on March 30.
Many observers had assumed that the legislation would not be introduced until after May 7, when the UK is due to go to the polls in a general election.
Imperial Tobacco said in a note posted on its website that it was ‘surprised and disappointed by the government’s decision to rush ahead with plain packaging legislation’.
‘After two years of the failed experiment in Australia there remains no credible evidence that plain packaging is having any impact on tobacco consumption rates,’ the note said.
‘Illicit trade, however, has increased significantly.
‘It is regrettable that this issue has been caught up in knee-jerk electioneering at the expense of evidence-based policy making.
‘As we’ve always said, we have a fundamental right to differentiate our brands from those of competitors. Legal action is always a last resort but when legislation is published we will be considering our options.’
If the legislation is passed, it is likely to come into force in May 2016, along with the provisions of the revised EU Tobacco Products Directive, which does not call for standardized packaging.
A British American Tobacco spokesperson described the proposal as “a serious error of judgment given the clear evidence from Australia that plain packaging has not achieved any of its public health objectives and has increased illicit trade to its highest level in seven years”.
“It is also inappropriate for the UK government to pre-empt the findings of its own public consultation by rushing this announcement out.”
Japan Tobacco International has rejected a trade union plan to save 500 jobs at the Gallaher cigarette factory site in Northern Ireland, according to a story by Henry McDonald for The Guardian.
Unite, the union representing most workers at the plant, confirmed on Wednesday that the owners planned to end production there by 2017.
Overall 800 jobs are due to go at the factory even though the unions had proposed new working conditions and up to 300 voluntary redundancies.
Jimmy Kelly, Unite’s regional secretary, described JTI’s attitude to the rescue plan as “contemptuous”.
And Jim Nicholson, the Ulster Unionist MEP, said he was dismayed by JTI’s rejection of the union proposal.
“This is a huge blow to the factory workers, for the Ballymena area, for the Northern Ireland economy as a whole and for all those who have worked so hard to try and secure a future for the plant, he said.”
The story is at: http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/jan/21/gallaher-cigarette-factory-union-northern-ireland.
The health minister of Canada’s Quebec province, Gaétan Barrette, has come out in favour of using electronic cigarettes as a way to quit smoking, according to a story by Geoffrey Vendeville for the Montreal Gazette.
“Electronic cigarettes are a means to quit smoking that is clearly extraordinarily efficient,” he told reporters after a legislative committee meeting on Tuesday, on the occasion of the Quebec Tobacco-free Week (January 18 to 24).
Quebec was expected soon to clear up the legislative “grey zone” covering e-cigarettes, he said, but a spokesperson for the minister assigned to public health, Lucie Charlebois, couldn’t say when a bill would be tabled.
Meanwhile, the borough of Montreal North and the Société de Transport de Montréal have gone their own way.
Those who vape in municipal buildings in Montreal North are liable to be fined $50 for a first offence and $100 the next time.
“I’m not against e-cigarettes as a way to quit smoking,” said borough mayor Gilles Deguire. “In that sense, I say go for it.
“But I don’t see why anyone has to puff in a municipal office building, library, community center or arena.”
Imperial Tobacco is due to hold its Annual General Meeting on January 28.
And, following the conclusion of the AGM, a general meeting will be held to seek shareholder approval for the proposed acquisition of assets in the US.
The presentation transcripts and slides from both meetings will be available on the company’s website following these events.
Beijing residents have been assured that a tobacco smoking ban due to come into force later this year will be enforced, according to a Global Times story quoting the Xinhua news agency.
The Beijing municipal legislature in November passed an anti-smoking bill banning smoking in all indoor public places and workplaces, and on public transport. It is scheduled to take effect in June 2015.
But the public is skeptical about whether the smoking ban will be taken seriously because smokers are still seen puffing away in restaurants, schools and other public spaces in Beijing, despite previous smoking bans in these places.
In response to the public’s doubts, Zhong Dongbo, deputy head of the Beijing Municipal Commission of Health and Family Planning, said the local government would increase law-enforcement teams and launch tip-off hotlines to make sure the new regulation was implemented effectively.
“Local departments will take measures when illegal smoking is reported, and reports from the public and how these reports are handled will be recorded,” Zhong said.
People in Germany who smoke on the balconies of their homes could be sued in the future if their smoking is deemed to be ‘excessive’, according to a story in the Electronic Telegraph.
Germany’s supreme court has ruled that Germans can sue their neighbours for excessive smoking on their balconies.
The court did not define what was excessive, but ruled only against the amount of smoke the ‘average person’ would find bothersome.
However, in the case before the court, a couple had complained that their balcony was rendered unusable in the afternoons and evenings because their new downstairs neighbours smoked 20 cigarettes a day on their balcony.
The Telegraph quoted Wolfgang Janisch, who, writing in the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper, warned that the verdict could ‘pave the way for countless other cases’.