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BAT benefits from Philippines’ sin tax

| March 11, 2014

British American Tobacco Philippines (BATP) is expecting to enjoy a strong double-digit growth in its operations this year, largely due to robust sales of its low-cost brand, Pall Mall, and the more expensive, menthol-capsule-filtered Lucky Strike Click & Roll, according to a story in The Philippine Star.

BAT Philippines general manager James Lafferty said Pall Mall, which sells for PHP32 a pack, had become the second best-selling brand in 7-Eleven stores.

“We remain a small player in the Philippines but we’re very happy with our market share, which has been improving,” Lafferty was quoted as saying. “We beat all our targets last year.

“We’re very pleased with the government’s efforts to maintain a level playing field. The sin tax rule is a complete victory for the government.”

Lafferty added that higher taxes on cigarettes would not have a significant impact on tobacco consumption or use. Consumption would remain at current levels until 2017, he said.

FCTC ratification not on the agenda

| March 10, 2014

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has no plans to ratify the global convention on tobacco control and will not rush to do so, according to a story in the Jakarta Post quoting a senior presidential aide.

At the end of February, a story on quoting Health Minister Nafsiah Mboi indicated that the president had agreed to ratify the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).

At that time, Nafsiah was quoted as saying the president had supported ratification of the treaty from the beginning; and she expressed the hope that ratification would proceed without problems.

But on Friday, Cabinet Secretary Dipo Alam told reporters at the state palace that Yudhoyono had not said anything about ratifying the convention.

He added that his office, through which legislation, conventions and other bills were channelled before going to the president for signature, had not received anything on the FCTC from the Health Ministry or the office of the coordinating minister for people’s welfare.

Dipo stressed that Yudhoyono was “in no rush” to ratify the FCTC because of the impact it would have on the country’s tobacco growers.

“Tobacco farmers needn’t be overly concerned or start holding protests just yet,” he said. “I don’t believe the president is in any rush to ratify this convention.”

Plain talking about plain packs in Ireland

| March 10, 2014

The smokers’ group Forest has launched a new website to fight plans to introduce plain tobacco packaging in Ireland.

Plain Packs Plain Stupid, which has a sludge-brown background to highlight the dull packaging proposed by Health Minister James Reilly, lists some of the consumer arguments against standardized packs.

It also features a campaign video, The Burning Issue, which features interviews with smokers in Dublin.

“The proposed legislation is not fit for purpose,” said John Mallon, spokesman for Forest Eireann.

“Advocates say plain packaging will deter children from smoking. People start smoking for many reasons, often peer pressure, but packaging isn’t one of them.

“I don’t know any smoker who began because they were attracted by the packet. It’s nonsense.

“Plain packaging is gesture politics. It won’t stop children smoking but it might encourage an illicit market in branded or counterfeit packs.

“We urge the government to abandon this reckless experiment that could do far more harm than good.”

Telling it like it is: Dublin smokers given a voice.

Telling it like it is: Dublin smokers given a voice.

Kenya plant to up processing 41 percent

| March 10, 2014

British American Tobacco Kenya (BATK) has estimated that it will this year process nearly 41 percent more leaf tobacco at its plant at Thika, Kenya, than it processed there last year, according to a story in The Star.

The increase, from 27,000 tonnes to 38,000 tonnes, will be mainly down to the arrival of tobacco from two processing plants recently closed by BAT: one at Kampala, Uganda, and the other at Kinshasa, Democratic Republic.

BATK Chief Executive Chris Burrell said the closure of the two plants would cut operational costs.

“(It) will improve our efficiencies, reduce our unit costs and drive improvements in our frontier markets,” he was quoted as saying.

Are you married? Yes, sir! No, sir!

| March 10, 2014

The Korea Military Academy plans to lift a decades-old ban on drinking, smoking and marrying to reflect social changes, according to a story in The Korea Times.

The army has prohibited cadets from drinking, smoking or marrying while attending the elite military academy since its establishment in 1952.

The bans are said to have been introduced to assist in the maintenance of discipline.
But the proposed new rules aim at relaxing the bans.

“The Army is considering improving the current system to apply separate rules on and off campus, taking into consideration the legal regulations, social trend and education purpose,” a senior Army official was quoted as saying. “Cadets will still be prohibited from those activities while on campus, on duty or in uniform, but they will be allowed on other occasions.”

Presumably, “those activities” refer to the drinking and smoking, unless marriage is being used here as a euphemism. It would not be possible to be married while in uniform or on the base but unmarried while out of uniform or off the base.

U.S. manufacturers urged to quit menthol

| March 7, 2014

The U.S.-based Citizens’ Commission to Protect the Truth is urging Lorillard, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco and Philip Morris USA immediately to stop marketing and selling menthol cigarettes, according to a PR Newswire story.

The commission is described as a group of all “living” former U.S. secretaries of health, education and welfare; U.S. secretaries of health and human services; U.S. surgeons general; and directors of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from every administration, Republican and Democrat, since that of President Lyndon B. Johnson.

In a joint statement the former cabinet officers called menthol “the spoonful of sugar that makes the deadly medicine these companies are selling go down.”

And in letters to these tobacco companies’ chief executives, former Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare Joseph A. Califano Jr. and former Secretary of Health and Human Services Louis W. Sullivan, M.D., chair and vice chair, respectively, of the commission, said such action was imperative to avoid encouraging children and teens to start and continue smoking and to avoid the devastating impact of menthol cigarettes on the African-American community.

At the same time, the commission called upon the Obama Administration to allow the Food and Drug Administration to act on its Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee’s 3-year-old recommendation “that the FDA ban menthol as a characterizing flavor in cigarettes based on the distinguished Committee’s finding that removal of menthol cigarettes from the market would benefit the public health.”

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