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Altria declares dividend

| December 11, 2014

Altria said yesterday that its board of directors had declared a regular quarterly dividend of $0.52 per common share, payable on January 9 to shareholders of record as of December 24.

The ex-dividend date is December 22.

ECLT members commit to fighting child labor

| December 10, 2014

Members of the Eliminating Child Labor in Tobacco Growing Foundation  signed a Pledge of Commitment and Minimum Requirements on combating child labor.

As part of the pledge, ECLT members commit to work collaboratively with the relevant local, national, regional and international stakeholders to progressively eliminate all forms of child labor from the tobacco supply chain

The pledge states, “ECLT Foundation Board Members respect and recognize the principles and rights enshrined in the International Labor Organization (ILO) Conventions and Recommendations on child labor.”

The members’ aim to align their actions with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. The organization wants to address the complex child labor problem holistically and throughout the members’ respective tobacco-sourcing supply chains.

The International Tobacco Growers Association (ITGA) joins in the pledge and commits to raising awareness as part of its membership to the ECLT.

The International Labour Organization said, “We welcome the adoption of the pledge by ECLT members and hope that it will result in greater and ever more coherent efforts to end child labor in all its forms in tobacco growing communities worldwide.”

Save the Children Switzerland noted, “The ECLT member pledge is a key drive towards ensuring children are removed from child labor, and ensuring the tobacco industry holds itself accountable for a minimal set of provisions throughout its supply chain.”

Snus cooler labeling abuse allegations rebutted by SM

| December 10, 2014

Swedish Match says it will defend itself vigorously against an allegation that it abused is dominant position on the Swedish Market when implementing a uniform labeling system for snus coolers.

In a note posted on its website, SM said the Swedish Competition Authority had conducted an investigation regarding a uniform labelling system for snus coolers owned by Swedish Match and placed in retail outlets.

‘On December 9, 2014, the Competition Authority submitted a lawsuit to the Stockholm district court,’ it said.

‘In its submission, the Competition Authority alleges that Swedish Match, when implementing the labelling system, has abused a dominant position on the Swedish snus market in breach of the competition legislation.

‘Swedish Match does not agree with this allegation and will defend the case vigorously.’

SM went on to explain that standardized labels were widely used for different consumer goods categories on the Swedish market in order to create an orderly and transparent category presentation.

‘Swedish Match implemented its labelling system for the same purpose,’ the note said. ‘The labelling system applied uniformly to Swedish Match’s own products and to products of other manufacturers.

‘The implementation of the labelling system started at the end of 2012, but it was shortly thereafter withdrawn.

‘Swedish Match is of the opinion that the labelling system did not impact sales of other manufacturers, complies with market standards and that the Swedish Competition Authority has based its opinion on false assumptions about the purpose of the labelling system.’

The Competition Authority is seeking penalties of SEK38 million (about US$5 million).

 

Davidoff unveils new Winston Churchill cigar range

| December 10, 2014

A new range of Davidoff Winston Churchill cigars is due to go on sale early next year, according to a press note issued through PR Newswire.

In creating the new range, Davidoff said, the aim had been to craft exceptional cigars ‘as uniquely diverse as the man who inspired them’.

‘The Davidoff Masterblenders have embraced and accomplished an exciting challenge: blending cigars of a complex character with a rich mixture of fine qualities drawing on and harmonising the tobaccos of Nicaragua, Mexico, Ecuador and the Dominican Republic,’ the note said.

‘The Great Man’s persona, the trait of character, was the inspiration for the chosen formats.’

“We feel sure that Sir Winston would have enjoyed sharing one of these exceptional cigars which surely do justice to one of the most celebrated cigar lovers in history: the aristocrat, the artist, the commander, the raconteur, the statesman, the traveler – these are cigars of character,” said Hans-Kristian Hoejsgaard, CEO of Oettinger Davidoff.

Meanwhile, Randolph Churchill, Sir Winston’s great-grandson said a great cigar was Churchill’s favourite travelling companion and, whether he was being statesman, commander, or dinner party guest, he was rarely without one.

“As a descendent of American pioneers, through his mother Jennie Jerome of New York, and of aristocratic British military figures – the Dukes of Marlborough – through his father, he knew the significance of history and the value of time. And he always had time for a cigar.”

The Davidoff Winston Churchill cigar range comprises a Petit Corona (41 ring gauge x 4 ½ inches); a Robusto (52 RG x 5 1/4); a Churchill (47 RG x 6 7/8), and a Toro (54 RG x 6).
Each is available in wooden boxes of 20 that have been crafted in an elegant white design showcasing the silhouette of Sir Winston Churchill.

The cigars will be available at selected Appointed Merchants in the US, starting in February, and at Depositaires/Davidoff Flagship Stores worldwide from March.

Minister bows to pressure over regulatory changes

| December 9, 2014
For many Indian farmers, tobacco remains the most reliable source of income.

For many Indian farmers, tobacco remains the most reliable source of income.

The Indian government seems likely to defer the introduction of amendments to the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act, one of which would have prohibited the sale of single cigarettes, according to a story in the latest issue of the BBM Bommidala Group newsletter.

Earlier, the Health Ministry had seemed inclined to go ahead with the amendments, which had been recommended by an expert panel.

However, the government came under pressure from tobacco manufacturers, tobacco growers and areca nut growers.

And then the health ministry came under pressure from other ministries, which urged caution until inter-ministerial consultations could be held and until issues relating to the identification of alternative crops to tobacco were resolved.

The health minister was apparently told that the proposed regulatory amendments would not curtail tobacco use but result only in a shift in consumption patterns towards cheaper tobacco products.

He agreed to consider all matters pertaining to tobacco growers and the tobacco industry before making any policy changes.

Korea prepares for price-driven smuggling surge

| December 9, 2014

South Korea’s customs office said Monday that it would crack down on tobacco smuggling ahead of a cigarette price hike that is expected to hit smokers from the start of next year, according to a story in The Korea Herald.

The government is set to raise tobacco prices by WON2,000 (US$1.78) per pack, or about 80 percent in respect of the average per-pack price.

The South Korea Customs Service (KCS) has said that it will strengthen its monitoring of shipments of duty-free cigarettes that could be routed back to the domestic market using fake documentation.

It has said that it will keep a close watch on those believed to be involved in tobacco smuggling and tourists suspected of purchasing more cigarettes than the government-imposed 10-pack ceiling for duty free.

And it said it will co-operate with police and the prosecution service to prevent the sale on the domestic market of duty-free cigarettes supplied to US soldiers stationed in Korea.

The KCS is concerned that the price hike could lead to a repeat of the surge in smuggling that occurred about a decade ago, when the most recent previous price increase came into force.

According to the agency, it intercepted cigarettes worth about WON1.7 billion being smuggled into Korea during 2004, and this figure jumped to WON11.2 billion during 2005.

Even without any price rises, the value of intercepted cigarettes has surged in recent times: to WON43.7 billion last year and to WON66.8 billion during this year to November.

There was no indication of why this surge had occurred: whether it was down to increased smuggling, better detection, increased values being applied to seized products or a combination of all three.

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