South Korea’s Health and Welfare Minister, Moon Hyung-pyo, said yesterday that he hoped to see cigarette prices nearly doubled during the next six years so as to reduce the country’s smoking rate, according to a story in The Korea Herald.
Moon said prices should be raised to at least WON3,300 ($3.24) per pack immediately, partly to reflect the general rise in consumer prices, and to WON4,500 by 2020.
The average price of cigarettes among OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries is $6.40 per pack, but more than 70 percent of the cigarettes sold in South Korea are priced at $2.46 (WON2,500) per pack or less.
The most recent price increase on cigarettes – WON500 per pack – was brought in during 2004.
“I believe we must actively work to cut the country’s smoking rate if we believe that the high smoking rate is becoming a serious issue,” Moon said.
“The most effective policy is to raise the tobacco tax,” he said, noting that the country’s overall smoking rate had dropped by about 15 percent when the government raised cigarette prices in 2004.
This is not a new story. In the middle of June, the Herald reported that the health ministry was planning to raise cigarette prices.
The June announcement came after the country received a notice from the World Health Organization that Korea should raise cigarette prices by 50 percent.
Prices were low at the US’ first flue-cured auction of the season at Old Belt Tobacco Sales, Rural Hall, North Carolina, on August 26, according to a story by Christopher Bickers in his Tobacco Farmer Newsletter.
‘About 125,000 pounds (out of 200,000 offered) sold in the range of $1.10 per pound, with a practical top of $1.50,’ said Bickers.
’This was way below the average of 2013, and there was considerable tag tearing [farmers refusing to accept the prices offered].’
Authorities in Thailand might soon regulate and levy taxes on shisha tobacco and electronic cigarettes, according to a Phuket News story quoting officials at the Ministry of Finance.
Neither product is currently registered under any Thai laws; so both are illicit before the law.
However, shisha, known in Thailand as baragu, is increasingly popular among Thais and widely sold in nightclubs and restaurants; while electronic cigarettes have recently entered the Thai market.
Thai officials believe that amending the Tobacco Act of 1996 to include shisha and electronic cigarettes would allow the state to legitimize, regulate, and tax these products.
22nd Century Group said yesterday that it had become a member of the US tobacco Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) through the acquisition of NASCO Products, a federally licensed tobacco product manufacturer and participating member of the MSA since 2005.
In a story for Benzinga.com, Eddie Staley said that with 22nd Century’s super-premium priced brands RED SUN® and MAGIC® having become MSA products, the company would ramp up production within the next 30 days and would launch sales and distribution efforts across the US.
Since the introduction of 22nd Century’s brands in early 2011, sales have been intentionally curtailed by the company in order to limit the complexity and costs associated with becoming a signatory of the MSA.
“We are very pleased to have been approved by the Settling States as a participating manufacturer of the MSA so that we can now sell our brands under the MSA, which will assist in producing sustainable revenue for the company,” said Joseph Pandolfino, founder and CEO of the 22nd Century Group.
British American Tobacco Uganda (BATU) is to discontinue its leaf growing and export business after 86 years with the loss of 147 jobs, according to a story in New Vision.
BATU’s managing director, Jonathan D’souza, was said to have told reporters that the decision to quit was reached after the company’s biggest client, British American Tobacco Global Leaf Pool Ltd, had decided instead to use Alliance One International.
“We will now focus on importing and distributing cigarettes and growing our brand equity,” he said.
Tobacco was an agricultural crop, and like any agricultural crop it was affected by many risks, especially weather changes, said D’souza. It was also a low-return business.
“I do not think the shareholders should be disappointed,” he was quoted as saying.
A shisha ban in Jeddah cafés has contributed to a rise in the rental prices for small flats, which are now in demand by Saudis wishing to smoke with their friends, according to an Arab News story.
“There is no place in Jeddah for Saudi youth to meet with their friends,” a young Saudi man told the News.
“Most of the Jeddah cafés have been closed by municipal authorities. Therefore, I have rented a small flat with my friend to smoke shisha and have tea to spend our leisure time,” said Abdul Aziz Mubark.
Meanwhile, a former member of the Real-Estate Committee of the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Abdullah Al-Gharbawi, told Arab News that there were now a lot of young Saudis willing to rent small flats.
“This has contributed to a rise in rents by up to 30 percent,” he said.