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Tobacco Reporter announces 2014 Golden Leaf Awards

| October 6, 2014

Tobacco Reporter presented its 2014 Golden Leaf Awards on Oct. 2 during a festive ceremony at The Greenbrier resort in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, USA. The event was part of the Global Tobacco Networking Forum, which brought together hundreds of industry representatives and other stakeholders from around the world. Five companies were recognized for their achievements in areas such as innovation, corporate social responsibility and commitment to quality. The Golden Leaf Awards are sponsored exclusively by BMJ of Indonesia.

Alliance One International won a Golden Leaf Award in the Most outstanding service to the industry category for its Grower Management System (GMS), a standardized real-time global data capture system.

The industry faces rapidly expanding reporting requirements, driving mainly by manufacturers and anticipated regulation. The source of much of this data is at the primary producer level.

AOI contracts more than 250,000 growers. Using mobile devices, GMS allows the company to instantly gather information about location, scale of operation, cultural practices employed, crop inputs, curing management and reforestation, among other parameters. In doing so, GMS underpins the industry’s focus on Good Agriculutral Practices and Agricultural Labor Practices.

Having access to such information in real time reinforces sustainable and compliant tobacco production. Through back-office functions, GMS will link with grower accounting systems, product-integrity programs and support traceability in the packed product. A derived benefit has been improved allocation of management and field staff time.

GMS was developed in house. Microsoft certified the GMS app to be included in the Windows Phone Store in October 2012.

It is anticipated that GMS will also lend greater visibility to debt recovery, a critical parameter of the integrated production system, as a leaf supplier bears the principal risk with direct financing of growers.

GMS in current form is tobacco-centric, but readily lends itself to a much broader application in agriculture at large.

The Tobacco Board of India won a Golden Leaf Award in the Most impressive public service initiative category for its implementation of an electronic auction system, which has made the marketing of flue-cured tobacco in India more transparent and accountable.

With production of about 800 million kg, India is the world’s second-largest producer of tobacco, exporting leaf to more than 100 countries. The Tobacco Board is responsible, among other things, for ensuring fair prices to tobacco growers and establishing auction platforms for the sale of Virginia tobacco.

For more many years, tobacco was auctioned manually in India. Despite its obvious success, the auction system had certain shortcomings, including susceptibility to human errors, lack of traceability and scarcity of information for stakeholders.

The Tobacco Board realized these problems could be eliminated only through quality communication aids, electronic auctioning and effective information management.

The e-auction solution was developed on a high-performance and reliable platform to effectively manage the automation process. The system has not only simplified the administrative procedures but also removed any ambiguity by ensuring that, once recorded, the winning bid cannot be tampered with.

Not only farmers have benefited from the new systems. The large amounts of data generated allow buyers to make quicker and better-informed decisions.

Tomra Sorting Solutions won a Golden Leaf Award in the Most promising new product introduction category for its Opus Tobacco Sorter, which helps tobacco processors address a negative side effect of the increasingly popular mechanical harvesting.

Rather than relying on manual labor, tobacco growers are increasingly using machines to harvest tobacco. Among other things, this allows them to clear larger fields, thus increasing efficiency and productivity.

But mechanical harvesting also has a downside. Machines are less effective at removing leaf from its stalk than humans are. This can present a problem for tobacco processors and cigarette manufacturers. Because stalks are woody, they behave complete differently than tobacco stems when processed.

If not removed, stem stalks can turn to slivers during cutting, which in turn can pierce cigarette paper. The result is efficiency losses, drops in yield and possibly lower product quality.

Presented with this problem, Tomra capitalized on its experience in multiple industries, combining technology already used for tobacco applications with solutions it had developed for the food industry.

Taking advantage Tomra proprietary camera and laser technologies, the “tobacconized” Opus sorter detects and rejects both traditional NTRM and the woody stem stalks, allowing the customer to avoid production stoppages, reduce waste and minimize energy consumption.

Shishapresso was recognized with a Golden Leaf Award in the Most exciting newcomer to the industry category.

While the cigarette industry has witnessed many innovations over the years, including mechanized production, the introduction of filters and special papers, the shisha business has remained largely unchanged. Today’s shisha smokers consume their tobacco in essentially the same way they did centuries ago.

Shishapresso is determined to change that. The company has developed a solution that eliminates the mess and hassle involved with the preparation of a hookah. Involving only three easy steps and a hookah, Shishapresso’s capsule and specially designed shisha ceramic head ensure a consistent smoking experience.

The Shishapresso capsules are filled with the finest shisha tobacco molasses, made from quality European Virginia tobacco leaves that are infused with quality flavors. Each capsule contains exactly the right amount of tobacco, the right texture and a unique foil-hole pattern. Smokers can select from 20 different flavors.

Shishapresso capsules are available in the U.S. and will be launched globally.

White Cloud Electronic Cigarettes won a Golden Leaf Award in the BMJ Most committed to quality category. While most e-cigarette manufacturers rely on Chinese manufacturing, which is cheaper due to lower labor cost and less-stringent government regulations, White Cloud is committed to setting up fully automated, U.S.-based operations.

In a major step toward that goal, the company relocated production of its e-cigarette cartridges entirely to the United States in May. Prior to that, the company was already sourcing and manufacturing its White Cloud e-liquid in the U.S.

The move to automation was made possible by the development of the company’s new proprietary cartridge, Cleardraw 2, which allows for automated production rather than the traditional hand filling techniques typically used by companies in China. Automated filling in the end market promotes not only greater quality control and better regulatory compliance, it also ensures fresh ingredients.

White Cloud’s development in quality and innovation comes on the heels of the recent FDA proposal for more stringent regulations within the e-cigarette industry. While the proposal was largely focused on marketing and age-restriction, it signaled a shift toward increased FDA control over e-cig production and manufacturing standards, which White Cloud believes makes automated production in the end market more important moving forward.

 

Questions over effectiveness of tobacco-funded EU anti-smuggling campaign

| September 29, 2014

A report being presented to the European Parliament’s Budgetary Control committee raises concerns over the effectiveness and monitoring of the deal under which the four biggest international tobacco manufacturers co-operate with the European Commission in the fight against the illegal trade in tobacco, according to a New Europe story.

The four companies pay about €200 million a year towards funding initiatives aimed at combating contraband, which is said currently to account for more than one in 10 of the cigarettes sold in the EU.

Bart Staes, a Belgian Green member of the European Parliament is presenting a report to the committee that suggests there are some uncertainties about what the funds are used for.

“Some of the member states earmark the payments to fight cigarette smuggling, while others direct the money to the general budget,” said Staes.

“The Commission has so far not provided the committee on Budgetary Control and the European Parliament with the movements on this account and the necessary explanations.”

Staes was quoted as saying the Commission had not followed up by asking the member states what the funds had been used for.

In addition, while the tobacco firms had to make payments if their cigarettes were discovered being smuggled, the payments made in 2012 had accounted for only about 20 million of the 3.8 billion cigarettes confiscated in the EU that year. The 3.8 billion figure presumably refers to all cigarette brands seized, as well as counterfeit products.

Hospital staff must be nicotine free

| September 29, 2014

A US hospital has said that from next year it will no longer hire anyone who uses nicotine in any form, a prohibition that includes electronic cigarettes, nicotine patches and nicotine gum, according to a story by Jon Kelvey for the Carroll County Times.

The Carroll Hospital Center campus at Westminster, Maryland, has been a no-smoking zone since 1998, but on Thursday it extended its ban to nicotine products, apparently claiming that such products were as hazardous as smoking was.

Beginning January 1, applicants for positions with the Carroll Hospital Center will be tested for nicotine along with the usual pre-employment drug screening, according to Leslie Simmons, president and CEO of the center.

Those who failed would be offered a free 90-day supply of smoking cessation products: their choice of nicotine patches, gums or other products, he added.

“It is $750, for a 90-day supply, and we would provide that for free,” Simmons said. “We would encourage them to reapply and retest in 90 days. We are not trying to make this punitive; we are really trying to help people.”

It was not clear from the story whether products with niacin would be included in the list of banned substances.

Vietnam to raise special tobacco taxes

| September 29, 2014

Vietnamese lawmakers have agreed to raise the special consumption tax imposed on tobacco, beer and spirits from 2016, according to a story in VietnamPlus.

They accepted a proposal put forward at a National Assembly Standing Committee meeting by the chairman of the Committee on Financial and Budgetary Affairs, Phung Quoc Hien, that a 70 percent tax be imposed on tobacco from January 1, 2016, and a 75 percent tax from January 1, 2018. The current rate is 65 percent.

Vietnam is said to have about 15 million smokers and a death toll from cigarettes that is expected to rise from the 40,000 of 2008 to 50,000 by 2023.

Last year, the prime minister approved a national strategy on tobacco harm control and prevention that has a target of reducing smoking among young people from the current rate of 26 percent to 18 percent by 2020.

The strategy targets reducing the male smoking rate to 39 percent and the female rate to 1.4 percent.

Time limit on cigarette sales unlawful

| September 29, 2014

The European Commission has formally requested that Estonia change its excise duty legislation as it relates to the marketing of cigarettes.

The Commission’s ‘reasoned opinion’ on Estonian tobacco excise was included last week in a memo listing September’s 147 infringement decisions against member states.

The Commission said that in Estonia, a time limit was set for the sale of cigarettes that was linked to the fiscal stamp on the packaging.

Three months after a new tax stamp design was introduced, cigarettes bearing the old design were banned from being sold.

But under EU law, excise duty on tobacco products had to be charged at the rate applicable on the date on which they were released for consumption.

There was no provision under EU legislation that allowed member states to limit the distribution of tobacco products already released for fiscal reasons.

Therefore, this sale prohibition was not justified, the Commission said in its reasoned opinion, which is the second step in EU infringement proceedings.

According to such proceedings, if Estonia does not bring its rules into compliance within two months, the Commission might refer the matter to the European Court of Justice.

Suspected Swazi smuggler shot dead

| September 26, 2014

A man suspected of cigarette smuggling has been shot dead by soldiers near Lugongolweni, not far from the town of Siteki, Swaziland, according to a story in The Times of Swaziland.

The man, a Swazi, in the company of two other men, had allegedly crossed illegally from Mozambique with cigarettes in their car.

He was said to have been shot during a scuffle that ensued after the men had been ordered to stop by an army patrol that had followed their vehicle from a checkpoint that the men had successfully negotiated a few minutes earlier.

The other two men were said to have escaped into the bush.

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