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Jim Schneeberger to retire from AOI

| April 2, 2015

Jim Schneeberger, global business relationship director of Alliance One International and its predecessor companies, will retire on April 3, after 27 years of service. Schneeberger has served in several business relationship management positions throughout his career, most recently leading the Philip Morris International Global BRM team. Graham Kayes will take over the Philip Morris International Global responsibility in the interim.

Crude animal studies should cede to in vitro methods

| April 2, 2015

The tobacco industry and regulatory authorities should support more-relevant and less-costly in vitro toxicology testing methods over unreliable animal testing, according to a review of research advances published this week in the comment pages of the peer-reviewed scientific journal Alternatives to Laboratory Animals.

The article by researchers with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) comes as the US Food and Drug Administration’s Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee prepares to evaluate the US’ first application to market a group of tobacco products with reduced risk claims. The products will be evaluated on April 9 and 10 at the FDA’s White Oak campus in Silver Spring, Maryland.

PETA and PCRM examined more than 50 technologically advanced tobacco toxicology studies that had been reported since 2009, when the last comprehensive review of such methods was conducted. In the 2009 review, non-animal methods were deemed not to be quantitatively reliable enough to allow ‘valid comparisons of substantially different tobacco products’.

But things have moved on and the PETA and PCRM researchers found that the 2009 observations ‘no longer accurately describe the study of tobacco product toxicology in vitro’.

‘Since 2009, when the Tobacco Control Act became law, the field of tobacco toxicology has shifted toward the use of predictive methods based on human cell culture and away from poisoning animals,’ said PETA researcher and author Joseph Manuppello. For example, scientists could now expose reconstituted human bronchial tissue to whole smoke and measure perturbations in toxicity pathways.

PETA is concerned about the use of animals in tests supporting marketing applications. ‘The US Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act gives the FDA authority to regulate the marketing of tobacco products,’ PETA said in a press note. ‘The FDA lists animal studies among those that it recommends for assessing the toxicity of tobacco products. PETA is concerned that large numbers of animals may be used in studies to support tobacco product marketing applications.

‘Because of this concern, last December, PETA and PCRM participated in a workshop with representatives from the FDA, industry, and academia, as well as other NGOs, to discuss modern and humane in vitro models available to replace crude and inaccurate animal tests for evaluating the role of tobacco exposure in causing lung disease, specifically chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

‘Workshop participants agreed that guidance from the FDA, specifically on in vitro test methods, would likely reduce animal testing conducted in support of tobacco product applications.’

A report from the workshop was presented on March 23 at a Society of Toxicology ancillary meeting in San Diego, California.

BAT arms itself for UK standardized packaging battle

| April 2, 2015

British American Tobacco has appointed a legal team led by Andrew Lidbetter of London-based international law firm Herbert Smith Freehills to fight the UK government’s legislation requiring standardized packaging for cigarettes and roll-your-own tobacco sold in England, according to a City AM story relayed by the TMA.

BAT has enlisted also Nigel Pleming QC and Geoffrey Hobbs QC, who work on intellectual property issues.

Tobacco companies have said that standardized packaging will infringe on their intellectual property rights and one well-placed observer has estimated that UK taxpayers could be hit with a bill for £12 billion if the government loses.

BAT failed when it challenged Australia’s standardized packaging legislation, which came into effect in December 2012.

But in March, the company said that that failure was due to a ‘unique requirement in the Australian constitution that meant it would only win the case if it could prove the Australian government had received a benefit by removing its brands’. ‘That requirement does not exist in the UK,’ BAT said.

Meanwhile, a senior lecturer in law at City University London has said that the tobacco industry’s argument that standardized packaging legislation violates their trademark rights is not convincing.

Writing in The Conversation, Enrico Bonadio said manufacturers would still be able to distinguish their products from those of competitors because they would be allowed to display the brand name on the packs, albeit in a standardized font.

Call for chairman’s sacking over cancer-link question

| April 2, 2015

A tobacco control group has called for the removal of the chairperson of India’s Committee on Subordinate Legislation, which recently called for more discussions over a proposal to increase the size of cigarette pack health warnings to 85 percent, according to a merinews story.

The Tamilnadu People’s Forum for Tobacco Control (TNPFTC) described as preposterous a statement by BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) MP Dilip Kumar Gandhi that there was a need for an Indian study to prove that tobacco causes cancer.

“Does this [smoking] cause cancer or does [it] not?,” the MP was reported by New Delhi Television to have said. “What are the impacts? We have never done our own survey.”

S. Cyril Alexander, state convener of the TNPFTC said in a press statement that the chairperson had completely ignored the health studies that had been done by the Health Ministry.

Malawi’s growers promised good prices at auction

| April 2, 2015

Malawi’s Tobacco Control Commission (TCC) has published auction-floor minimum and maximum buying prices for leaf tobacco.

According to a StarAfrica story, the minimum Burley price has been set at US$0.85 (MK379) per kg, while the maximum has been set at US$4.50 (MK2,007) per kg.

The minimum flue-cured tobacco price has been set at US$0.25 (MK129) per kg and the maximum at US$4.00 (MK1,784) per kg, while the minimum dark fire-cured price has been set at US$1.00 (MK446) and the maximum at US$3.40 (MK1,516) per kg.

TCC CEO, Bruce Munthali, said on Tuesday that tobacco production was estimated to have dropped this season by 10 million kg, or five percent, to 181 million kg from last year’s 191 million kg.

The fall in output was blamed mainly on unhelpful weather conditions.

“Despite natural calamities like heavy rains, floods and dry spells which affected the output of tobacco in the country, the quality of the leaf is still good,” Munthali said.

He said that tobacco growers could expect good prices for their tobacco because of strong competition among buyers.

The tobacco market is set to open on April 8.

Rosier appointed president of Solvay Acetow

| April 1, 2015

Solvay Acetow, a leading global producer of cellulose acetate tow for cigarette filters, has appointed Philippe Rosier as the company’s new president. Rosier succeeded Olivier Ferrary at the end of March.

Rosier began his career in the Solvay Group in 1988, serving as project manager at Acetow’s production plant in Primester, United States. In 1996 he became the strategy and business development director of Acetow, and from 1999 on, he served as general manager of various activities in plastics and energy within the Solvay Group. Rosier became president of the Global Business Unit Solvay Energy Services in 2012.

“Having known Solvay Acetow for many years, I am very pleased to take over the responsibility as president of this company that has been impressively dynamic and innovative within the past years,” said Rosier.

“What makes Solvay Acetow unique and strong are our highly-skilled and motivated employees. Solvay Acetow’s sales, technical and marketing team will further increase their efforts to deepen our customer satisfaction and intimacy by improving product and service quality as well as supply chain and manufacturing excellence.”

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