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Singapore struggles with underage smoking

| February 16, 2015

Underage smoking looks to have increased in Singapore, though the rise could be down in part to better detection systems, according to a story by Hoe Pei Shan and Pearl Lee for the Straits Times.

Some schools have turned to using detection devices to help them catch offenders, and some of the latest devices, which measure carbon monoxide levels, can detect smoking from up to two days previously.

Such devices are used also in Health Promotion Board smoking cessation programs that are run in schools.

One secondary school is planning to install cigarette smoke detectors in the common areas of five of its male toilets. It wants detectors that can log the exact location and time when someone smokes, and send an alert to the school’s general office and a message to a staff member’s mobile phone.

The representative of a company that distributes cigarette smoke detectors was quoted as saying that such products had been used in Singapore for more than a decade, but that demand from schools had been low because most found the devices too costly. But he said he began getting enquiries from schools last year.

A toilet with four cubicles should ideally have two detectors, he added, each of which might cost $500 to $700.

Meanwhile, the deputy director of the Singapore Children’s Society was quoted as saying that “it would take more influence than detection to curb the problem of underage smoking”.

Last year, more than 6,200 people below the legal age of 18 were caught smoking, about 17 percent more than the 5,311 caught during 2013, according to data from the Health Sciences Authority (HSA).

Most underage smokers caught were 15 to 17 years old, but some were still in primary school.

Selling cigars off the back of Havana expectations

| February 16, 2015

Despite recent announcements about the relaxation of trade relations between Cuba and the US, Havana cigars are not yet available in the US, legally; but that doesn’t mean these cigars aren’t providing an opportunity for retailers.

According to convenience store wholesaler LA Top Distributor, publicity surrounding the trade relaxation means that many convenience stores and tobacco retailers have been flooded with phone calls from customers asking if they have Cuban cigars for sale.

In a press note issued through PRNewswire, the company said that while convenience store owners were not able to obtain Cuban cigars for their customers, every phone call represented a great opportunity to sell to potential customers a high quality cigar alternative.

The note goes on to give three suggestions about how to sell a different-origin cigar to somebody who has called up about Cuban cigars.

Philippines to release delayed tobacco tax funds

| February 16, 2015

Tobacco growers in flue-cured producing provinces of the Philippines are due to share in at least P3.5 billion (US$79 million) of tobacco excise tax revenue, which the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has agreed to release this month, according to a story in the Manila Bulletin.

The long-awaited release of the funds that relate to 2012 and 2013 was announced on Friday by the DBM Secretary.

The release had been delayed by legal problems, but the disbursement of funds is now expected to go ahead following guidelines set by the DBM and the National Tobacco Administration, under which tobacco growers are due to benefit directly.

DBM records indicate that out of the P3.5 billion, P1.1 billion is destined for Ilocos Sur; P531 million for Ilocos Norte; P469 million for La Union; and P432 million for Abra.

Dividend dependent on Sri Lanka’s Super Gain Tax

| February 16, 2015

Ceylon Tobacco Company’s (CTC) sales in Sri Lanka fell by 11 percent last year, according to a Colombo Page story quoting a CTC financial statement.

At the same time, its government contributions during the 12 months to the end of December fell by four percent to Rs73.6 billion.

The downturn seems to have been partly the consequence of competition from products in the ‘non-regulated’ segment, and partly the result of an increase in bidi volumes, which, according to Sri Lanka Customs statistics, have grown by almost 200 percent since 2008 and which now account for about 42 percent of total tobacco consumption in the country.

Meanwhile, CTC said it was awaiting further clarification on the base and application of the one-off Super Gain Tax announced as a part of the government’s interim budget proposals on January 29 before determining its impact on cash flow and its ability to distribute a final dividend for 2014.

Call for TPPA proposals to be discussed in public

| February 13, 2015

A New Zealand health expert has said that the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) would effectively prevent governments from enacting health policies for fear of being sued, according to an Independent Newspapers story.

New Zealand health advocates and their counterparts in some of the other countries involved in the TPPA negotiations have, through The Lancet medical journal, raised concerns about the agreement.

The TPPA is being negotiated between 12 Pacific Rim countries and would affect an estimated 700 million people.

Twenty seven signatories from Australia, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, the US and Vietnam have called for the public release of details of the trade deal and public discussion about its consequences on access to healthcare.

Dr. Erik Monasterio, co-lead author and senior clinical lecturer at the University of Otago, Christchurch, said information made available on Wiki Leaks about the trade deal had shown that the TPPA would allow corporations to extend the patent period for branded medications and that this would delay the entry of generic – and cheaper – alternatives on to the market.

The TPPA would effectively prevent governments from enacting health policies for fear of being sued, Monasterio said.

“The Investor State Dispute Settlement mechanism allows corporations to sue governments – if they put into place polices that will interfere with the value of their profit,” he added.

JT’s cigarette volume down in January

| February 13, 2015

Japan Tobacco Inc’s domestic cigarette sales volume during January, at 8.3 billion, was down by 6.1 percent on that of January 2014, 8.8 billion, according to preliminary figures issued by the company today. The January 2014 figure was up by 3.6 percent on that of January 2013.

JT’s market share stood at 59.5 percent during January, and at 60.4 percent during January-December 2014.

JT’s domestic cigarette revenue during January, at ¥46.8 billion, was down by 3.2 percent from its January 2014 level, ¥48.3 billion.

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