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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.”

UAE bans sales of e-cigarettes

| March 25, 2014

The United Arab Emirates’ Ministry of Health has rejected requests from shop owners for permission to sell e-cigarettes and electronic shisha pipes, according to a story in The National.

Officials told The National’s Arabic-language paper, Al Ittihad, that a number of municipalities had referred store owners to the ministry for advice on applying for licenses to sell e-cigarettes.

However, officials at the ministry said the sale of e-cigarettes had been banned after the products had been examined and found to be harmful to health.

Apparently, the officials dismissed claims that e-cigarettes could help people quit smoking.

They said that such products had not been proved to be safe, so their sale could not be allowed in the UAE.

The ban was said to be part of the ministry’s efforts to fight all forms of smoking and tobacco.

NDC appoints new president

| March 25, 2014

Drew Cheshire has been appointed president of NDC Infrared Engineering.

Cheshire joins NDC from Scott Fetzer (a Berkshire Hathaway company), where he was the general manager of Meriam Process Technologies.

Prior to that, Cheshire held senior management roles with Ronan Engineering, Teledyne, Jay Industrial Technologies and Emerson Process Management.

Cheshire replaces Dr. Bromley Beadle, who recently retired from NDC as president following 18 years with the company.

Not taxes—’public health contributions’

| March 24, 2014

A French Senate committee has called for the government to rename its “behavioral” taxes so as to make them appear to comprise more than just a revenue grab.

According to a Tax News story, the committee said the government should look to link these levies and value-added taxes to health sector targets.

And the term “behavioral taxes,” it added, should be referred to as “public health contributions.”

The committee pointed to the high number of parliamentary and governmental initiatives submitted during the past few years for new taxes, such as the sugary drinks tax, and increases to existing indirect taxes on tobacco, beer and spirits.

Tobacco retail concessions go begging

| March 24, 2014

Just 127 retail tobacco sales concessions were awarded in Hungary in the latest government tender, which comprised 992 in all, according to an MTI story quoting the Vilaggazdasag daily.

The National Tobacco sales Non-profit company (NDN) said 567 valid applications had been submitted in respect of the tender, the fourth such tender called since Hungary introduced a state monopoly on retail tobacco sales last year.

The successful stores are required to sign 20-year concession contracts by April 11.

Data from the tax office show 5,922 shops have a customs license for tobacco sales at present.

Vilaggazdasag said a fifth tender was likely to be called for the remaining concessions, mostly for tobacco sales in villages, where business prospects are limited by small populations.

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