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Public campaign supporting bigger warnings in India

| March 13, 2015

India has seen the launch of a nation-wide campaign aimed at garnering public support for bigger graphic health warnings on tobacco products, according to a story in the latest issue of the BBM Bommidala Group newsletter.

The campaign, which is running under the slogan, Lives Bachao Size Badhao, or Save lives, increase the size, is gathering signatures for a petition on behalf of an oral cancer survivor, Sunita Tomar.

It is planned that the petition, which is running online and on the streets, will be handed to the Indian Minister for Health and Family Welfare, J.P. Nadda.

New study reveals vapor health concerns

| March 12, 2015

RTI International, a leading nonprofit U.S. research institute, has released a study exploring the potential public health concerns associated with vapor emitted from e-cigarettes. The organization’s research paper—titled “Exhaled electronic cigarette emissions: What’s your secondhand exposure?”—examines the toxins in e-cigarette vapors and the impact they could have on people exposed to secondhand “smoke.”

Although the long-term impact of exposure to e-cigarette vapor is still unknown, the study—which was authored by Jonathan Thornburg, Ph.D., director of Exposure and Aerosol Technology at RTI—found that emissions from e-cigarettes contain enough nicotine and other chemicals to cause concern.

Nonusers who are exposed to secondhand vapor are potentially breathing in aerosol particles similar in size to those found in diesel-engine smoke and smoke produced by traditional cigarettes. Because e-cigarettes lack regulation, the type and amount of chemicals and potential toxins they may contain could vary greatly depending on the device being used.

RTI is particularly concerned with the lack of regulation regarding e-cigarettes and the surge in marketing and sales that has occurred as a result. The e-cigarette category experienced annual sales that doubled yearly to $1 billion in 2013, according to RTI.

E-cigs are medical devices, says Swedish Court

| March 12, 2015

E-cigarettes and e-liquids that contain nicotine are medical devices rather than consumer products and therefore require licensing, a Swedish appeals court has ruled.

In a previous case from July 2014, Sweden’s medical products agency convinced the administrative court in Uppsala that nicotine-containing e-cigarettes should be deemed medical devices and that as many as 30 products should be banned from sale to consumers. An e-cigarette supplier in Malmo challenged the ruling shortly after, and the prohibition was lifted until the appeal was heard. Sales of e-cigarettes were allowed to continue during the appeals process.

Following the appellate court’s most recent ruling, however, it is now illegal to import, distribute or sell e-cigarettes and nicotine-containing e-liquids commercially in Sweden, and violators could face penalties of approximately $80,000 per offense. Further appeals of the court’s most recent decision are planned and could result in another temporary suspension of the ban until a final decision is made by Sweden’s supreme administrative court. E-cigarettes and e-liquids that do not contain nicotine are unaffected by the ruling.

UK government, tobacco firms on collision course

| March 12, 2015

The UK’s lower house yesterday voted by 367 to 113 in favor of requiring that cigarettes and roll-your-own tobacco should be sold only in standardized packaging from May next year, according to a Telegraph story relayed by the TMA.

The measure now has to be debated by the country’s upper house.

The requirements would apply only to England initially, but Wales has indicated that it would follow suit, while Scotland and Northern Ireland are considering the issue.

A Reuters story indicated that a YouGov opinion poll conducted in February found that 72 percent of the British public supported standardized tobacco packaging while 15 percent opposed it.

British American Tobacco said yesterday that it would start a legal challenge against the UK government if the upper house also supported the bill.

“This legislation is a case of the UK government taking property from a UK business without paying for it,” said Jerome Abelman, corporate and regulatory affairs director, in a press note posted on the company’s website. “That is illegal under both UK and European law.

“Legal action is not something we want to undertake, nor is it something we enter into lightly – but the UK government has left us with no other choice after running what can only be described as a flawed consultation process. Any business that has property taken away from it by the state would inevitably want to challenge and seek compensation.”

In a note to editors after the end of the press note, BAT admitted that it had not been successful in its challenge of Australia’s standardized packaging legislation, which came into effect in December 2012. But it said that that failure had been 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.

Imperial Tobacco said also that it would ‘regrettably be left with no choice’ but to challenge standardized tobacco packaging legislation should it pass into law.

Meanwhile, writing on Spiked, Patrick Basham of the Democracy Institute wrote that a court settlement in favor of the tobacco industry could cost the UK treasury up to £12 billion.

If the legal bill to the country’s taxpayers, which include the tobacco companies, is that high, a lot of people will probably want to know why the government, which is seen as a business-friendly government, seemed to ignore the results of its consultation process, why it didn’t go along simply with EU requirements for an increase in the size of health warnings, and why it rushed the proposals through just before the country was going to the polls in a general election, which is due in May.

At least they will expect that the £12 billion is recouped not through dumping more austerity on ordinary people, but through some other means – perhaps a windfall tax on tobacco companies, which both of the major parties have alluded to in the recent past.

Malawi’s leaf smugglers threatened with arrest

| March 12, 2015

Malawi’s Tobacco Control Commission (TCC) has warned cross border traders that they will be arrested if they are found to be smuggling leaf tobacco out of the country, according to a Star Africa story.

Traders are said to have been smuggling leaf tobacco to Zambia and Mozambique because the prices that are offered on the auction floors in Malawi are low compared to those in neighboring countries.

TCC CEO Bruce Munthali said on Tuesday that smuggling tobacco would cripple the nation economically because it depended on tobacco to be a major earner of foreign exchange.

“There are reports that some unscrupulous business people are smuggling the product to neighboring countries; therefore we have issued out a stern warning stressing that once caught they will face the law,” he said.

Those doing the smuggling might be regarded as unscrupulous business people but tobacco farmers in Malawi are possibly desperate to increase their incomes.

This was suggested by a report earlier this week that the government of Malawi had licensed three leaf dealers from China, Egypt and South Africa to participate in the 2015 marketing season.

The move was aimed at increasing competition and came after an Anadolu Agency story in October had said that tobacco growers felt they were between a rock and a hard place: falling prices on the one hand and government apathy on the other.

One grower quoted in the story said that buyers were not giving farmers a fair deal; they were taking away the tobacco at a price of their own choosing.

Another said that he was paid an average of £0.80 per kg for his tobacco, which was not enough to repay the loans he took out to buy the agricultural inputs he needed.

AOI to supply processed Brazilian Burley to PMI

| March 12, 2015

Alliance One International said yesterday that the company’s subsidiary, Alliance One Brasil Exportadora de Tabacos (AOB), was to supply Brazilian Burley to Philip Morris International Management (PMIMSA), as PMIMSA adopted a new leaf supply arrangement in Brazil.

Previously, Philip Morris Brasil Indústria e Comércio had directly contracted and purchased a portion of its Burley tobacco from Brazilian growers. But beginning with the 2016 crop, PMIMSA would purchase this processed Burley directly from AOB. The arrangement was expected to provide enhanced supply chain efficiencies while reducing sourcing complexity. It was said to reflect PMIMSA and AOI’s commitment to Brazilian growers and their communities, and PMIMSA’s intention of remaining a major purchaser of Brazilian tobacco.

AOI and its predecessor companies have operated in Brazil for more than 60 years.

“Alliance One is committed to developing solutions that enhance efficiencies and reduce complexity in our customers’ supply chains, while providing increased value to our stakeholders,” said Pieter Sikkel, president and CEO of AOI. “This arrangement with PMIMSA illustrates that dedication. As a result of this arrangement with PMIMSA, we expect to see benefits for our company beginning in FY2017.

“The sustainability of our grower communities is vital to the success of Alliance One and our customers, and we are excited to further support the tobacco supply chain in Brazil through this new leaf supply arrangement. From working with farmers during the growing season through processing and delivery, we focus on providing customers with a high-quality product that is produced in a compliant manner. We will continue to help growers implement the principles of Good Agricultural Practices as well as our Agricultural Labor Practices code. Alliance One is committed to achieving safe and fair working conditions on farms where we contract.”

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