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Smokers could face two years in jail

| May 23, 2014

Two hundred and thirty-nine people were fined for smoking at bus stops in a recent crackdown conducted by the Malaysia’s health ministry, according to a story in The Star.

Another 17 were said to have been caught smoking inside buses and, though the story didn’t mention it, presumably fined.

“The operation was conducted in 2,317 public vehicles and 251 public transportation terminals,” said health ministry Director-general Dr. Noor Hisham Abdullah.

Smokers were caught also at taxi stands, train stations and ferry terminals, and on jetties and ferries.

One hundred and ninety-nine fines were issued to the owners of public vehicles for failing to display “no smoking” signs in their vehicles or failing to display the correct signs.

And eight people were fined for possessing illicit cigarettes.

Those who fail to pay their fines in the stipulated time are liable to be taken to court where they could risk maximum fines of MYR10,000 or even two years in prison.

Low prices despite Philippines’ sin tax

| May 23, 2014

Despite the introduction of the “sin tax law” last year, the prices of cigarettes in the Philippines continue to rank among the lowest in the world, according to a story in the Sun Star quoting the results of a study.

The so-called sin tax law (Republic Act 10351) was introduced in January 2013.

At US$0.58 a pack, popular cigarette brands in Cambodia and the Philippines had the lowest prices in the world, said the Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA), citing a recent study by the World Health Organization’s regional office for the Western Pacific.

The WHO and SEATCA said that imposing higher taxes on tobacco products was among the most cost-effective means of reducing tobacco use and the consequent damage to health and economic development.

Nevertheless, SEATCA recognized the efforts of the Philippines in making cigarettes more inaccessible in the country with the passage of Republic Act 10351.

Reynolds Building sale announced

| May 23, 2014

R.J. Reynolds Tobacco said yesterday that it had sold the historic Reynolds Building in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, for $7.8 million to a partnership comprising the PMC Property Group and Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants.

The building is to be converted into a mixed-use building comprising a “boutique hotel, restaurant and upscale apartments.”

“From the beginning our goal was to take extra time, care and effort ensuring we did this the right way,” said Andrew D. Gilchrist, president and chief commercial officer at RJRT.

“We wanted to come to the best result not only for us but also for the city of Winston-Salem and the building itself, considering its historic significance.

“We are confident that we have found the right owners to successfully transform this beautiful building while still honoring its place in the community, and once again make the Reynolds Building a centerpiece of downtown activity.”

Located in downtown Winston-Salem, the Reynolds Building is a 22-story art-deco style building completed in 1929.

Designed by the highly acclaimed New York architectural firm of Shreve and Lamb, the Reynolds Building was selected as the 1929 Building of the Year by the National Association of Architects and later served as the model for the Empire State Building.

RAI judged likely to acquire Lorillard

| May 22, 2014

It looks increasingly likely that Reynolds American (RAI) will acquire Lorillard, according to a research note issued by Bonnie Herzog, managing director of beverage, tobacco and convenience store research at Wells Fargo Securities (WFS).

In part, Herzog’s position is based on news reports that came out yesterday afternoon indicating that RAI was in “active discussions” to buy Lorillard.

But it is based too on WFS’s RAI-Lorillard merger analysis published on March 3 and on the belief that such a merger would be value creating for the shareholders of both RAI and Lorillard.

Herzog said also that British American Tobacco could either acquire or, more likely, form a strategic partnership with the combined RAI-Lorillard entity.

Given that it formed a partnership, BAT would be likely to contribute capital to help finance the deal and maintain in the combined entity the 42 percent stake it has in RAI.

E-cigarettes highly efficient quit aids

| May 22, 2014

E-cigarettes are considerably more effective than over-the-counter treatments such as nicotine gum and patches at helping people to quit smoking, according to a story in The Independent quoting the results of a new study by researchers at University College London (UCL).

One leading expert was quoted as saying it would be “perfectly reasonable” for the devices, which would soon be licensed as medicines, to be prescribed on the National Health Service (NHS).

Despite concerns that the recent rise in popularity of e-cigarettes might be renormalizing smoking, UCL professor Robert West said that these devices had proven to be highly efficient quit-smoking aids, which could “substantially improve public health.”

The UCL study looked at the success rate of nearly 6,000 quitters. Those who used e-cigarettes were 60 percent more likely to report succeeding than either those who tried to quit with over-the-counter nicotine replacement therapies, or those who quit without help.

E-cigarettes were found to be as effective as prescription medicines, but the group of smokers with the highest quitting success rate were those who used free NHS stop-smoking services.

Trademark dispute over Blu e-cigarettes

| May 22, 2014

Zippo Manufacturing Company (ZMC), maker of the Zippo® lighter, and its subsidiary ZippMark, said on Tuesday that they were suing LOEC Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Lorillard, for alleged trademark infringement, according to a ZFC press note issued through PRNewswire.

Zippo’s lawsuit, in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, seeks to prevent LOEC from selling its e-cigarettes under the brand name “blu” because of Zippo’s ownership of the trademark BLU® for its line of blue-flame butane lighters.

“Despite our attempts to resolve this matter amicably, Zippo has been compelled to seek the court’s assistance to protect our Blu trademarks,” said Zippo president and CEO Gregory Booth.

“Zippo is instantly recognizable because we have long understood the value of our brand and the need to vigorously protect it against use by others.

“Our Blu trademarks are similarly valuable and will be similarly protected.”

Zippo’s trademark infringement claim was said to have come in response to LOEC seeking a declaratory judgment of non-infringement.

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