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Korea tobacco lawsuit could be delayed

| March 26, 2014

South Korea’s National Health Insurance Service (NHIS) seems to be rethinking its proposed tobacco-company lawsuit.

According to a story in the Korea Times, the NHIS said on Jan. 16 that it would decide the details of its compensation suit against KT&G and other tobacco manufacturers at a board meeting on Jan. 24.

And in a story filed after the board meeting, the Times said the NHIS had decided to file a damages suit against KT&G and other tobacco companies seeking up to WON333 billion.

The decision to go ahead with the claim was made despite the fact that the Ministry of Health and Welfare opposed the suit.

Yesterday, a story in The Korea Economic Daily said the NHIS was poised to launch its suit, but it mentioned only KT&G, not other tobacco companies, and the amount of compensation to be claimed was still to be determined—somewhere between WON53.7 billion and WON230.2 billion.

There even seemed to be some doubt about whether the suit would go ahead, at least anytime soon.

Ahn Sun-young, legal counsel at NHIS, said the lawsuit would be launched within the next month at the latest. However, he added that the suit might be delayed because the government was not enthusiastic about its prospects.

And recently the Ministry of Strategy and Finance expressed doubts about the litigation. “Although fully in agreement with the principle, the National Health Insurance Service will have a hard time to prove criminal intent on the part of the tobacco company,” the ministry was quoted as saying.

Fresh promotional idea from Essentra

| March 26, 2014

UK pic2Essentra Packaging (EP) says that its latest label, AquaSense™, is designed to help maintain and control the moisture content of make-your-own tobacco packs and thus ensure the contents stay fresh and do not dry out.

The new product is said to be already in use with a “major manufacturer on the European market.”

Part of EP’s Protect range, AquaSense™ is the first example of Essentra’s Active Label Technology that has been developed and jointly patented in conjunction with Essentra Porous Technologies.

According to an EP press note, an absorbent AquaSense™ pad included in the packaging (shown) and available on opening is placed by the consumer under a running tap or in a glass of water. The pad soaks up only a specific amount of water that it then releases over time to keep the contents fresh, control humidity and reduce product waste due to drying out.

The pad can be supplied in a variety of formats and sizes and is designed to meet the specific protection needs of make-your-own tobacco packs and tubs.

And it can be used to deliver high-impact promotional graphics and messages that appear with the addition of the water.

“The project has been a great example of how we can leverage the significant expertise throughout Essentra to design a product to meet the customer and wider category need,” said Martin Dallas, commercial director for Essentra Packaging & Securing Solutions.

Graphic warning (of a different kind) to be subject of Reemtsma award

| March 26, 2014

A competition to find the best images captured by photo-journalists during the past 12 months has been launched ahead of the 2014 Reemtsma Liberty Award (RLA).

Now in its eighth year, the RLA recognizes journalists who work under the most testing conditions to sustain freedom of the press.

And this year a photographic category has been added with a shortlist of 20 images, such as the one shown here,UK2 picture2 on the Liberty Award Facebook page.

The three images with the most ‘likes’ will be awarded a prize and exhibited during the RLA evening being staged in Berlin on April 10.

“We wanted to recognise professional and non-professional photographs that capture the spirit of freedom,” said Svea Schröder, media relations manager Germany.

“The images used to illustrate news stories can be equally as important and just as dangerous to gather as the written or spoken word.”

Graphic warnings set for Indonesia packs

| March 25, 2014

Manufacturers will be required to include graphic health warnings on cigarette packs sold in Indonesia from June 24, according to a story in The Jakarta Post quoting en.tempo.co.

The Indonesia pack coordinator with the Southeast Asia Initiative on Tobacco Tax, Widyastuti Soerojo, was quoted as saying the Health Ministry had prepared five pictures that manufacturers would have to use.

She said the pictorial warnings depicted, among other things, oral and lung cancer.

“Hopefully, this will also be effective in reducing the number of smokers in Indonesia, which has continued to increase,” Widyastuti said.

Indonesia is due to become the fifth ASEAN member country, after Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia and Brunei, to require graphic warnings on tobacco packaging.

BAT sustainability report launched

| March 25, 2014

British American Tobacco has launched its latest sustainability summary report, “Value shared: A tobacco company for the 21st century.”

The report is said to focus on harm reduction, sustainable agriculture and corporate behavior, and on how BAT’s work in these areas is helping to build value for both the business and its wider stakeholders.

“It’s about creating shared value and making sure that what we do as a business doesn’t just benefit our shareholders, but can also have a much wider, positive impact for society,” said Chief Executive Nicandro Durante.

One of the key topics covered in the report looks at how the company is developing tobacco and nicotine products that offer a less risky alternative to conventional cigarettes.

This was described in a note posted on the company’s website as an area of future growth for the business that could have a major, positive impact on public health.

The note said that BAT had launched its first e-cigarette, Vype, in the U.K. in 2013, and it added that further products under development included a new nicotine inhalation device and heat-not-burn products.

“Of course, emphasising harm reduction is the responsible thing to do, but if it helps to meet genuine consumer demand, it also makes commercial sense, said Durante. “It’s what any sustainable business would do.”

The press note made the point that tobacco growing was one of the most significant parts of BAT’s supply chain, so sustainable agriculture was also an important focus for the business. By working directly with more than 100,000 farmers on sustainable farming practices, the company could protect the long-term security of its leaf supply while helping to improve the social and environmental impact tobacco growing could have. During the past six years, the BAT group is said to have planted more than 170 million trees and invested more than £25 million in community projects focused on sustainable agriculture.

The report is said to detail BAT’s views on regulation, its commitment to transparency, its work with global partners and the investment of more than £50 million during 2013 in the fight against tobacco trafficking.

It includes also details of the group’s “responsible marketing practices and youth smoking prevention activities.”

And it indicates how the group has made “significant progress” in reducing its environmental impact by achieving a 45 percent reduction in carbon dioxide equivalent emissions from its year-2000 baseline.

“We won’t stop making sure we get the basics right, like being transparent and acting with integrity wherever we operate,” said Durante. “I believe we’re making real progress in delivering on our commitments to society.”

Smoking reduction plan goes awry

| March 25, 2014

The government of Malaysia’s bid to contain smoking by raising taxes on tobacco products is being undermined by illicit cigarette sales, according to a story in the New Strait Times.

And this is hardly surprising given that illicit cigarettes sell for as little as MYR3 per pack, while licit products retail for between MYR10 and MYR12 per pack.

Despite an attempted nationwide crackdown, the sale of illicit cigarettes is said to be rampant, especially in rural areas.

According to the Times story, many low- and middle-income earners have switched from premium- or lower-priced brands to “kretek (clove cigarettes) and other illicit cigarettes brands.”

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