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Cigarette firms said to be threat to consumer choice

| January 19, 2015

Big cigarette companies in the US are encouraging the government to help snuff out competition from small start-ups trying to sell electronic cigarettes, according to a piece in the National Review Online by Gregory Conley, president of the American Vaping Association.

‘When the success of America’s largest companies is threatened, they often turn to the government for a helping hand,’ Conley said. ‘They have been doing that for at least the past century. In recent years Congress gave more than $1 trillion in bailouts to banks, car companies, and credit lenders in the midst of great financial turmoil. But that kind of generosity isn’t the only way Uncle Sam has helped many of America’s biggest companies maintain market share. Using the growing bureaucracy’s powerful regulations, many corporations have worked hand in hand with government to snuff out competition.’

Conley went on to say that a recent example of this offensive was Big Tobacco’s actions against the thousands of small start-ups that were helping people quit smoking. ‘Cigarette companies are spending millions of dollars to push product bans, higher taxes, and expensive regulations on their competitors,’ he said.

Conley appeared to be most concerned about the attacks being mounted against premium vapor products, the sorts of refillable products that have been credited with the most success in weaning smokers from traditional cigarettes.

‘Reynolds [American]’s push for more-coercive taxation, burdensome regulations, and even bans on their competitors make sense, as no company wants to see its consumers switch to products it doesn’t sell,’ Conley said. ‘Unfortunately, if the FDA [Food and Drug Administration] and state lawmakers merely accept the agenda being pushed by Reynolds and other large cigarette companies, public health and market freedom will suffer. It’s time lawmakers and bureaucrats realize this and stop trying to protect cigarette companies from consumer choice.’

The full story is at: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/396466/big-tobaccos-war-vaping-gregory-conley

JT’s domestic sales down by 2.3 percent last year

| January 19, 2015

Japan Tobacco Inc’s domestic cigarette sales volume during December, at 10.2 billion, was down by 2.3 percent on that of December 2013, 10.4 billion, according to preliminary figures issued by the company on Friday. The December 2013 figure was up by 1.1 percent on that of December 2012.

Volume during January-December, at 112.4 billion, was down by 3.6 percent on that of January-December 2013, 116.5 billion, which was down by 0.3 per cent on that of January-December 2012.

JT’s market share stood at 60.2 percent during December, at 60.4 percent during January-December and at 60.5 percent during January-December 2013.

JT’s domestic cigarette revenue during December, at ¥57.7 billion, was up by 1.2 percent from its December 2013 level, ¥57.0 billion.

Revenue during January-December, at ¥631.1 billion, was down by 1.3 percent on that of January-December 2013, ¥639.6 billion.

Meanwhile, JT said on Thursday that it was changing the names of three of its products with the addition in each case of the word ‘Aromatic’; so, in March, when the changes are due to come into effect, the three products will be known as: Pianissimo Lucia Menthol, Pianissimo Pétil Menthol One, and Pianissimo Fram Menthol One.

These products will be the subject of redesigns, too; though while the packs are being changed and LSS (less smoke smell) technology applied to them, their tastes and aromas are being retained.

Altria to webcast full-year results discussions

| January 19, 2015

Altria is due to host a live audio webcast at www.altria.com from 09.00 Eastern Time on January 30 to discuss its 2014 fourth-quarter and full-year business results.

The results will be issued in a press release about 07.00 on the same day.

During the webcast, which will be in listen-only mode, chairman and CEO Marty Barrington and executive vice president and CFO Howard Willard will discuss the results and answer questions from the investment community and news media.

Pre-event registration is necessary and can be made at www.altria.com.

An archived copy of the webcast will be available, also at www.altria.com, or through the Altria Investor App, which is available for download at www.altria.com/irapp, or through the Apple App Store or Google Play.

Union boss rails at PMFTC, government over job cuts

| January 15, 2015

The Philippines labor group, Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP), has described a decision by Philip Morris Fortune Tobacco Corp. (PMFTC) to cut 640 jobs from its Marikina plant as ‘reeking with treachery’, according to a InterAksyon.com (TV 5) story.

In a press note, the BMP said PMFTC had announced the job cuts barely a month after concluding a collective bargaining agreement with the local union.

And while the company had cited as a reason for the cuts the fall in its market share following the introduction of the so-called sin tax law, it was still the market leader.

BMP’s Gie Relova described the job cuts as heartless because they were made after the employees had returned from holiday. He said that workers had been led to believe that they would be getting a ‘well-deserved’ increase in benefits.

Relova said the company was not bankrupt and was nowhere close to suffering financial losses based on its submitted financial statements to the Security and Exchange Commission during the past three years.

He alleged that the cuts were a form of union-busting, citing the fact that 580 of the 640 employees targeted were union members.

“Riley [president Paul Riley] will not rest until the labor union is fully busted and its [PMFTC’s] workforce entirely made up of contractual employees,” said Relova.

The labor leader took a swipe also at the government, particularly at Senator Franklin Drilon and ‘chief sin tax promoter’, finance secretary Cesar Purisima, who was said to have repeatedly claimed during the deliberations on the Sin Tax Reform Law that increased excise tax collections would not lead to job losses.

He added that: “in their insatiable quest for profit and taxes, both the state and corporations have arranged the workers to be the last to benefit from its own labor, yet the first to be discarded when they fall short of their revenue targets.”

Low tobacco use but high disease rate in Oman

| January 15, 2015

The Executive Office of the Gulf Health Ministries has released a report putting Yemen on top of the list of tobacco consumers in the GCC (Gulf Co-operation Council) and among all Arab nations, according to a story in the Times of Oman.

Saudi Arabia was second on the list and it was followed by Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Qatar.

The Times story did not divulge what the incidence of tobacco use was in most of the countries, but it said that less that 12.3 percent of the Omani population consumed tobacco.

Despite this low consumption rate, the Ministry of Health figures showed that 70 percent of Oman’s residents ‘suffered some kind of ailment related to smoking’.

Iggesund announces upgraded paperboard, services

| January 15, 2015

Iggesund Paperboard has announced that it is going to upgrade its flagship product, Invercote. From July, the bestselling paperboard in the Invercote range, Invercote G, will feature a lightly coated reverse side.

“More and more brand owners want to have access to high-quality reverse side printing, for example in order to print a colour shade or pattern which improves recognition and reinforces their brand,” comments Arvid Sundblad, vice president sales and marketing. “We are developing Invercote step by step, and always in the direction our customers want.”

Currently, Invercote G is triple-coated on the print side with an uncoated reverse, and is available in grammages from 180 to 380 g/m2.

‘Coating the reverse side means that the whiteness on the reverse has also been adjusted up,’ Iggesund said in a press note. ‘Further improvement has also been made to the ‘light-fastness’, which was already the best on the market, and which is crucial for a package to keep looking fresh over time on the retail shelf.’

“This is not a revolution but rather an adaptation to gradually changing customer demands,” said Sundblad. “The reverse side coating is very light – it improves the printing properties, but still keeps the tactile feeling of roughness. But in making this change we have also preserved all the other properties that have repeatedly led to Invercote being ranked by leading brand owners as the European paperboard market’s strongest brand.”

Meanwhile, Iggesund says it has improved and made more transparent its service offering under the name Care by Iggesund.

‘The aim is consistent delivery times but the offering also encompasses everything from a rapid sample service and the dissemination of knowledge to local technical support and a transparent raw materials supply,’ according to the press note.

“It’s crucial to us that anyone who chooses Invercote will not only sleep well at night but also know that the end result will be dazzling,” Sundblad said.

Specifications for the upgraded Invercote G as well as sample and trial material will be available from early February. Deliveries will start on July 1.

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