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Company team building hit by cigarette price hike

| January 28, 2015

The massive tobacco-product tax increase imposed in South Korea on January 1 has had considerable repercussions, at least one of which was probably not foreseen, according to a story in The Korea Herald.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that there might have been a reduction in the number of company dinners being held as team-building exercises. This is because the consumption of alcohol, an important feature of such ‘hoesik’, makes it more difficult for those who quit smoking in response to the tax and price increase to maintain their resolve.

During the first fortnight of 2015, the price of many local cigarettes jumped from WON2,500 ($2.30) to WON4,500 ($4.15) a pack.

The huge increase has been particularly disruptive because it was brought in against a backdrop in which there had been no price increases for about 10 years.

The Herald story said the ugly side effects of the tobacco tax policy had included the personal use of corporate credit cards for buying cigarettes, illegal cigarette sales online, and increasing visits by non-smoking travelers to the cigarette sections of duty-free shops.

The last two effects mentioned here cannot have come as a surprise. Current duty-free prices for popular brands of cigarettes range from $18 to $19 a carton, while the same cigarettes bought in a normal outlet in Korea retail for $41.

Some illegal online cigarette sales have involved people of previously good character who hoarded the products before the price rise and who possibly did not realize that only state-authorized retailers could sell tobacco products.

Illicit tobacco sold by carpet shops, road sweepers

| January 28, 2015

Philip Morris Ltd is aiming to roll out a retailer education program across the UK later this year as part of its campaign to fight the illegal tobacco trade, according to a Talking Retail story quoting the Independent Retail News.

PML carried out a trial program in the city of Manchester and is now evaluating the feedback from the retailers who took part in what is called the ‘Ex-It’ campaign.

“We are looking at a national launch this year,” corporate affairs director, UK and Ireland, James Barge, was quoted as saying. “We are highly encouraged by the early results.”

PML used its newly created sales force to educate unaffiliated retailers in the city about the impact the illegal tobacco trade can have on their businesses and local communities.

The campaign included POS (point-of-sale) posters with messages such as ‘I care about the community, that’s why I don’t sell illegal tobacco’.

Manchester was chosen after a survey showed that the amount of illicit tobacco products available in the city had doubled over a year.

Test purchasers in the city were able to buy illicit tobacco products on 32 separate occasions over a three-day period, through fast food outlets and shops, including carpet shops, and even from road sweepers.

RAI to webcast results conference call

| January 28, 2015

Reynolds American Inc. is due to host a conference call and webcast from 09.00 Eastern Time on February 10 following the release of its fourth-quarter 2014 financial results.

The speakers will be Susan M. Cameron, president and CEO, Thomas R. Adams, CFO, and Morris L. Moore, vice president of investor relations.

The conference call and webcast will be available on a listen-only basis at www.reynoldsamerican.com, where registration is available and a replay is due to be made available.

The conference call numbers are (877) 390-5533 (toll-free) and (678) 894-3969 (international).

Andhra looks to have produced above-target crop

| January 28, 2015

Flue-cured tobacco production in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh is likely to reach 190-200 million kg, according to a story in the latest issue of the BBM Bommidala Group newsletter quoting initial estimates.

The Tobacco Board of India had set a crop target of 172 million kg for the state.

Meanwhile, the Indian Tobacco Association is seeking to have the start of flue-cured auctions in Andhra, which was set for the third week of February, delayed until those in the state of Karnataka are finished.

Ninety six days into the Karnataka auction season, 49.52 million kg of flue-cured had been sold for an average price of Rs113.60 per kg.

The Board’s target is 102 million kg.

China expecting increase in smoking among women

| January 27, 2015

Current data indicates that the smoking rate among women in China is ‘very likely’ to rise ‘even further’, according to a story by Mason Coltrane for Yibada.

Coltrane said the issue of smoking among women was no longer confined to the northern rural regions of the country where middle-aged and elderly women had traditionally smoked cigarettes while not working or during harsh winters.

According to the Women of China website, concentrations of women smokers now occurred in eastern urban locations because young career women had taken up the practice.

Additionally, smoking among adolescent female smokers was said to have become a major concern.

Even as far back as 2005, a national survey found that 23 percent of teenage girls had admitted to smoking; and 68 percent of this group had smoked a whole cigarette prior to their becoming 13 years of age.

The number of teenagers smoking in 2005 represented almost a 15-percent rise from that of seven years earlier.

TPP concerns voiced by 47 Australian groups

| January 27, 2015

There is mounting opposition in Australia to the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP); opposition that mirrors that in the EU to the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

According to a Scoop (New Zealand) story, an unusually diverse mix of 47 Australian community groups have written an open letter to the Trade Minister citing mounting evidence that the TPP is not in the national interest and demanding that the agreement’s text be released for public scrutiny before it is signed.

The groups include those with interests in public health, the environment, unions and workers’ rights, churches and development aid.

“The TPP talks have missed many deadlines over the last five years because community groups in many TPP countries have pressured governments to resist US proposals which would benefit US pharmaceutical, media, IT and tobacco industries at the expense of peoples’ rights,” Dr. Patricia Ranald, co-ordinator of the Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network, was quoted as saying.

Concern was expressed that TPP proposals would extend monopolies on medicines and thereby delay access to cheaper generic products; that the TPP included no agreement on legally enforceable workers’ rights to organise and improve working conditions; and that the TPP would allow foreign investors to sue governments over changes to domestic laws aimed at protecting special places such as the Great Barrier Reef.

“The European Union has responded to community pressure and announced that it will publish the full text of the Trans-Atlantic trade deal [TTIP] between the EU and the US before it is signed,” said Ranald.

“Australia and other TPP countries should follow this example and agree to release the TPP text before it is signed for public and parliamentary debate. This is the only way to test if it is in the national interest.”

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