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Bad year for cigarette litter-bugs in Abu Dhabi

| December 29, 2014

Abu Dhabi law-enforcers this year fined 816 people for throwing cigarette butts on the road, according to an Emirates 24/7 story.

‘Most of those fined were caught red-handed dumping their cigarette butts on the ground in public places despite repeated warnings by the Abu Dhabi municipality’, the story reported.

Municipality officials said inspectors caught the offenders during routine patrols in public places.

Hundreds of inspectors were deployed daily through the emirate for this purpose.

There was no mention of whether anybody was prosecuted for discarding other types of litter.

Call for e-cigarettes to be included under MSA

| December 24, 2014

Three leading US Democrats have written to 29 state attorneys general urging them to classify electronic cigarettes as cigarettes under the Master Settlement Agreement.

‘This action would have an immediate and much needed impact because it would stop the e-cigarette makers from marketing their products in ways that are appealing to kids,’ said the December 19 letter signed by Rep. Henry A. Waxman, Sen. Dick Durbin, and Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr.

‘Bringing e-cigarettes under the MSA would not remove them from the market or make them unavailable to adults who may see them as a safer alternative to conventional cigarettes.

‘But it would bar the manufacturers from targeting youth, using cartoons and youth-oriented sponsorships to promote their products, and advertising on outdoor billboards.’

The 29 attorneys general targeted by the December 19 letter were those who, in a joint letter of August 8, had supported the Food and Drug Administration’s proposed rule that would bring e-cigarettes under its control, and that suggested ways in which the proposal should be strengthened in key ways, such as prohibiting characterizing flavors in newly deemed tobacco products.

The December 19 letter writers expressed concern that it could be months before the FDA finalized the proposed rule and urge the attorney generals to use their authority under the MSA to take immediate action.

Members of Congress first raised the idea of action under the MSA in a letter to attorneys general dated February 12.

Smokers should not exhale while driving in Taiwan

| December 24, 2014

People in Taiwan caught smoking while driving on ‘busy roads’ will be liable to a fine of NT$600 under a package of amendments to the Road Traffic Management and Penalty Act due to come into force next year, according to a story in The China Post.

The sequence of actions involved in smoking while driving, such as lighting a cigarette, exhaling smoke and holding a cigarette, are all punishable acts under the new rules.

The Post said that according to the text of the amendments, the critical point was whether others were affected by these acts, which were most applicable to busy roads. The penalties were to be applied only when other people were in close proximity to the smoking driver because the object of the exercise was to protect other road users.

Meanwhile, the United Evening News reported that the dangers the Department of Railways and Highways had in mind when designing the measures to protect other road users included ash floating into the eyes of pedestrians.

Additionally, it was thought that people who were near a smoker might be burnt by the sparks flying off a cigarette, and that traffic safety might be impacted by the smoke.

The department was said to have made the new rules after receiving ‘several’ complaints from the public. The date for the imposition of the new rules has not been set but it is expected to fall sometime in the first half of next year.

Foreign buyers would ensure good prices at auction

| December 24, 2014

The Indian Commerce Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, has agreed to consider favourably a request to allow foreign buyers to participate directly in tobacco auctions, according to a story in the latest issue of the BBM Bommidala Group newsletter.

The belief is that the presence of foreign buyers would ensure that growers were paid a ‘good price’ for their tobacco.

At present, foreign buyers obtain their leaf needs through partnerships with local merchants.

The Mysuru-Kodagu (Karnataka) MP, Pratap Simha was quoted as saying that the minister had agreed to set up the necessary services to facilitate the participation of the foreign buyers.

The MP led a delegation to the ministry on behalf of tobacco growers in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.

The delegation included also the Tobacco Board chairman, K. Gopal, and MPs from Andhra Pradesh.

Meanwhile, the minister reportedly said that requests that foreign direct investments should be allowed in the tobacco sector would be explored.

Engle progeny cases major burden on Florida courts

| December 23, 2014

Tobacco cases are taking their toll on Florida’s court system, according to a story in Northwest Florida News.

The Florida Supreme Court has called on state lawmakers to fund three additional circuit judge positions next year, including one in Northwest Florida.

Robin Wright, the administrator for the First Judicial Circuit, said need for another circuit court judge existed even though caseloads in Northwest Florida had decreased in recent years.

“The caseloads are trending down, but the cases are more complicated,” Wright said.

Particularly draining had been the tobacco cases that had arisen out of a 2006 court ruling.

Eighty tobacco cases had been filed in the First Judicial Circuit since the ground-breaking decision in Engle v. Liggett, and the 10 [so-called Engle progeny cases] thus far tried had taken a minimum of three weeks to complete.

African leaf producers to protest against plain packs

| December 23, 2014

Zimbabwe and other Sadc (Southern African Development Countries) leaf tobacco producers plan to lobby at a forthcoming World Health Organization (WHO) convention against the imposition of standard tobacco-products packaging, according to a story in the Zimbabwe Standard.

The countries say the move to standardized packaging prejudices their economies and promotes the sale of illicit cigarettes.

Since December 1, 2012, Australia has required that all tobacco products be sold in packaging designed on behalf of the previous Labor government to be as ugly as is possible. Packs are hugely dominated by graphic health warnings, are otherwise a standard olive color, have no logos or other design features, and have brand and variant names in a standardized font and position.

Several other countries are considering imposing standardized tobacco packaging, though some are awaiting the outcome of challenges to the Australian regulations currently before the World Trade Organization.

The Standard said that Zimbabwe’s tobacco industry employed thousands of people and that tobacco accounted for 10.5 percent of the country’s gross domestic product.

Last year, Zimbabwe had accounted for 44 percent of all leaf tobacco exports from Sadc, while Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Mozambique, Zambia and Malawi had accounted for 15 percent of global leaf tobacco exports.

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