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Did plain packaging cause rise in sales?

| March 24, 2014

Deliveries of tobacco products to retailers in Australia rose slightly last year for the first time in at least five years, despite the introduction of standardized packaging aimed at deterring smokers from indulging their habit, according to a Reuters story by Martinne Geller quoting industry sales figures.

In 2013, the first full year of standardized packaging, tobacco companies sold* the equivalent of 21.074 billion cigarettes (cigarettes and fine-cut cigarette-stick equivalents) in Australia, according to industry data provided by Philip Morris International. *The sales represent the amount of tobacco shipped to retailers, not retail sales to consumers or consumption.

The sales figure was up 0.3 percent on that of 2012 and reversed four straight years of declines.

The reason for the upturn was unclear, but one suggestion was that, with cigarette sales down (0.1 percent to 18.75 billion) and fine-cut sales up (3.4 percent to 2.32 cigarette-stick equivalents), smokers might be trading down to products that they could afford buy more of.

Meanwhile, a study, commissioned by the Cancer Society of Victoria and published in The British Medical Journal found that among 500 Australian smokers, most believed their cigarettes were less satisfying and of lower quality than before standardized packaging came in, with most also thinking more about quitting.

The full story, which mentions also the illicit trade, is at http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/03/24/tobacco-data-idUSL2N0MI1D720140324.

More women smoking in Shanghai

| March 24, 2014

The proportion of smokers among women living in Shanghai, China, has risen significantly in recent years, according to a story on Ecns.cn.

Delegates at the Shanghai International Lung Cancer Forum were told on the weekend that while 3.7 percent of women in Shanghai smoked in 2011, now the figure has risen to 4.8 percent.

The daily stress of work, a desire for thrills and excitement, and peer group pressure were all cited by delegates as reasons for more women taking up smoking.

U.S. cigarette sales in a (low-tax) state

| March 21, 2014

Fifty-seven percent of cigarettes sold in the U.S. are smuggled from states with lower tobacco taxes than the state in which they are sold, according to a story by Mary Beth Griggs for the Smithsonian Magazine quoting a new study by the Tax Foundation.

This need not be surprising. In New York, smokers might pay $14.50 for a pack of cigarettes, while in Kentucky the retail price might be less than $5.

“As a result, smugglers buy huge numbers of cigarettes in states with lower taxes and resell them in states with higher taxes …,” wrote Griggs. “Whether or not state taxes on cigarettes are too high, the difference between states’ prices does create an incentive to smuggle them across state lines.

“Profits can be huge, and often that money goes towards more dangerous enterprises, like organized crime and drug rings.”

Griggs described the Tax Foundation as a conservative think tank that supported “pro-growth tax reform,” which, she added, usually meant lower taxes.

Griggs’ story, which touches on the international illicit trade and on the situation in Iran in particular, is at http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/cigarette-smuggling-united-states-and-iran-180950201/?no-ist.

Leaf trading in full swing in Philippines

| March 21, 2014

Tobacco trading centers have begun buying tobacco from farmers in the Virginia-growing areas of the Philippines’ Ilocos provinces, according to a story by the Philippine Information Agency quoting the National Tobacco Administration (NTA).

And because the trading season for burley and native tobacco opened officially in the first week of March, growers from across the country may now sell their tobacco directly to accredited trading centers.

Tobacco growers are expected to earn higher net income this season than they did last season because the floor prices across all grades for Virginia have been increased by PHP6 per kg, while the prices of burley and native tobacco have been increased by up to PHP10 per kg.

The NTA said the price of the highest grade of flue-cured Virginia (AA) was now PHP78 per kg, while the prices of the highest grades of burley and native tobacco were PHP61 per kg and PHP66 per kg, respectively.

U.K. visa revoked over cigarette haul

| March 21, 2014

A businessman from Jiangsu Province, China, has been deported from the U.K. after trying to take 35 undeclared cartons of cigarettes into the country, according to a Global Times story quoting a press note put out by the Shanghai Airport Frontier Inspection Station.

The U.K. authorities were said to have seized the cigarettes and revoked the businessman’s two-year business visa.

The businessman, identified only by his surname, Wu, is a commercial representative who often traveled to the U.K.

He said he had intended to give the cigarettes as gifts to clients because of the high taxes they had to pay for tobacco in the U.K.

Before departing for the U.K. from Shanghai Pudong International Airport, Wu was said to have ignored airline staff who warned him that he wasn’t supposed to take so many cigarettes into the U.K.

Because of his deportation, Wu, who arrived back in Shanghai on Wednesday, would be expected to have trouble getting another visa to the U.K.

Colorado rejects smoking-age increase

| March 21, 2014

Lawmakers in Colorado, USA, have overturned a proposal that would have raised the age at which people could buy tobacco from 18 to 21, according to a CBS4 report. Colorado is the third state this year to consider but reject the higher age.

The House Finance Committee rejected the proposal on a 7-6 vote, a breakdown that wasn’t along partisan lines.

The Democrat who cast the deciding vote against the measure said that 18-year-olds were adults who should be persuaded not to smoke, not banned from smoking.

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