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Jamaican production down 43%

| August 22, 2014

Chief technical director for Jamaica’s Ministry of Agriculture, Dermon Spence, told the Jamaica Observer that preliminary figures for 2014 show a 43 percent decrease in tobacco cultivation when compared to 2011, the most recent year, prior to 2014, for which a survey was done.

“The last survey we did was in 2011 and it showed that the actual number of farmed acres was 311. The preliminary data for 2014 showed a decrease to 175. The actual number of farmers also declined, from 573 in 2011 to 488 for far this year,” he said.

While taking some credit for the decline in production, the ministry acknowledged that historically, Hurricane Gilbert and the relocation of tobacco companies to Trinidad and the subsequent loss of cultivation contracts made significant dents in the amount of tobacco planted on the island nation.

Totally Wicked to challenge TPD

| August 21, 2014
British e-cig manufacturer Totally Wicked said it received permission from the U.K.’s Administrative Court to seek a judicial review by the EU Court of Justice of the revised Tobacco Products Directive (TPD), specifically Article 20 pertaining to e-cigarettes.
The company claims that the TPD article “represents a disproportionate impediment to the free movement of goods and the free provision of services, places electronic cigarettes at an unjustified competitive disadvantage to tobacco products, fails to comply with the general EU principle of equality, and breaches the fundamental rights of electronic cigarette manufacturers.” 
A hearing is scheduled for October 6th in the Administrative Court to determine if the matter is to be referred to the EU court, a hearing is likely to take place in 2015.

Russia suggests tobacco embargo

| August 20, 2014

Vladimir Gutenyov, first deputy chairman of the Russian State Duma Committee for Industry, said on August 19th that the government would possibly take into account the recommendations of some experts about the need to impose an embargo on the import of tobacco and alcoholic products from the EU and the U.S., according to the ITAR-TASS news agency. 

The retaliatory response was a reaction to the West’s sanctions policy.Gutenyov said it was also necessary to consider a new scheme of regulation of tobacco products and alcoholic beverages as a separate issue. He said Russia had reserved the right in the process of its accession to the World Trade Organization to impose temporary restrictions, in the event of a security threat to domestic producers.

Amcor closing Neumunster plant, opening one in East Java

| August 20, 2014

Australia-based packaging solutions provider Amcor announced that due to an overcapacity in Western Europe, its tobacco packaging unit in Neumunster, Germany, will close by December 31, 2014.

The company also announced its plans to build a new tobacco packaging plant in East Java, Indonesia, which is expected to be fully operational by late 2015 to support “growth of its customers in emerging growth markets.”

Production of the Neumunster operation will be transferred to other Amcor sites across Western Europe. It also established measures to “provide appropriate compensation and outplacement services” for its employees, it said.

Ghilardi leading Goebel, new CEO coming in 2015

| August 20, 2014

Roberta Ghilardi has been heading business operations at the Darmstadt-based mechanical engineering company Goebel Schneid- und Wickelsysteme GmbH since 1st August 2014. The previous CEO, Dr Ralf Enderle, will remain with the company. A new CEO will lead the company starting in 2015.

Roberta Ghilardi has a degree in engineering and has worked for IMS Deltamatic Group since 2000. As head of Business Process Reengineering and Controlling, she is primarily responsible for the integration of new companies into the Italian mechanical engineering group. She has also successfully managed projects to optimise quality and processes. Roberta Ghilardi will conduct her duties as interim CEO at Goebel.

After obtaining his doctorate from the Department of Mechanical Engineering at TU Darmstadt, Dr Enderle began his professional career at Maschinenfabrik GOEBEL GmbH in 1985. He first worked as an assistant before becoming the head of the design department for slitter rewinders. He was later named Technical Director for the Paper and Films business unit. In 2001, Dr Enderle was appointed to the management of the newly founded GOEBEL Schneid- und Wickelsysteme GmbH and became its CEO in 2010.

‘Small Tobacco’ tax in Texas toppled

| August 19, 2014

The 55-cents-per-pack fee that the state of Texas, USA, imposes on smaller tobacco manufacturers is an unconstitutional tax, an appeals court ruled, according to Courthouse News Service.

House Bill 3525, which Texas lawmakers approved in 2013, levied fees on tobacco companies that did not participate in the 1997 and 1998 settlements Texas reached in the Master Settlement Agreement with Philip Morris Inc, R.J. Reynolds, Brown & Williamson and Lorillard.

When the Legislature passed HB 3525 to protect the Big Tobacco settlement funding, the Texas Small Tobacco Coalition and manufacturer Global Tobacco filed suit in Travis County Court.

They challenged the fee as a tax in violation of the Texas Constitution, which requires taxes to be “equal and uniform.” They also argued the fee violated the equal protection clause and due process clause of the U.S. Constitution.

In granting the plaintiffs summary judgment and entering a permanent injunction, the trial court found the new law unconstitutional “in its entirety.” A three-judge panel with the 3rd District Court of Appeals unanimously affirmed the ruling Friday.

Protecting the market share of one company over another “does not justify the unequal treatment of identical products,” Justice David Puryear wrote for the court. “Few would take issue with goals of reducing underage smoking or recovering costs of medical care related to smoking,” the 10-page opinion states. “However, imposing a tax on only one class of identical products is not equal and uniform under Texas law and cannot be upheld.”

“Only two other [U.S.] states, Minnesota and Mississippi, have assessed a per-cigarette tax on non-settling manufacturers,” Puryear wrote. “The other states established ‘escrow statutes’ that require tobacco manufacturers other than Big Tobacco to either join the master settlement agreement as a subsequent participating manufacturer or remain a non-participating manufacturer. In escrow-statute states, non-participating manufacturers must make annual deposits into escrow accounts, creating ‘a pool of funds from which settling states may secure damage awards from [non-participating manufacturers] for any successful cigarette-related claims.’ After twenty-five years, funds remaining in the escrow accounts, along with any earned interest, are returned to the non-participating manufacturers.”