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Cigarette seizures in Ireland plummet

| February 25, 2014

Retail groups and opposition politicians in Ireland have said that not enough is being done to clamp down on criminal gangs responsible for smuggling up to one billion cigarettes into Ireland every year, according to a story in the Irish Independent.

Figures released by the Department of Finance last week showed that 40.8 million cigarettes were confiscated last year, fewer than half of those seized during 2012 and 80 per cent down on the 2010 figure.

Retailers Against Smuggling (RAS), which represents tobacco-sellers in Ireland, said smugglers were continually developing new ways to transport cigarettes into the country.

Meanwhile, retailer groups in Ireland are said to be concerned that government plans to introduce standardized packaging for licit cigarettes will increase smuggling.

Warnings on hold pending legal ruling

| February 25, 2014

Ceylon Tobacco Company (CTC) has said that it will continue to produce and supply its cigarettes in their current packs despite parliamentary approval last week of the Ministry of Health’s Tobacco Products (Labeling and Packaging) Regulations, according to a story in The Island.

Sri Lanka’s parliament on Tuesday unanimously approved the imposition of graphic health-warnings covering the top 80 per cent of the front and back of cigarette packs, cartons and other packaging.

CTC said that it had challenged these regulations in the Court of Appeal, which had reserved its judgment until May 12.

Implementation of the regulations had been stayed in line with an interim order issued by the Supreme Court on September 20.

Thailand to report on WTO compliance

| February 25, 2014

The World Trade Organization’s Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) is set to meet this week for an update on issues raised by the Philippines over Thailand’s compliance with a ruling about taxes imposed on imported cigarettes, according to a story in The Philippine Star.

A notice posted on the WTO’s website showed that a status report from Thailand on its treatment of cigarettes from the Philippines is part of the agenda of the DSB’s meeting due tomorrow.

In 2011, the WTO ruled that Thailand’s taxes on imported cigarettes from the Philippines violated global trading rules.

The ruling followed a complaint filed by the Philippine government on behalf of Philip Morris Philippines against Thailand before the WTO in 2008.

In October last year, the Philippines posed questions to the Thai government about its decision to prosecute Philip Morris Thailand for alleged under-declaration of customs value on cigarette imports from the Philippines between 2003 to 2007.

The Philippines’ trade undersecretary, Adrian Cristobal Jr, said earlier this month that while Thailand might have complied with recommendations of the DSB, his government wanted to make sure the recent development did not go against the WTO’s decision.

Would you mind leaving me alone?

| February 24, 2014

A self-proclaimed ‘ordinary old man’ has politely asked the chair of the Hong Kong Council on Smoking and Health whether she would mind leaving him alone.

At the start of a whimsical piece published in the comments and letters section of the South China Morning Post, Lee Lung-wing, of Tseung Kwan O, Hong Kong, introduced himself as being – as well as being an ordinary old man – a smoker.

‘I have lived for 70 years and spent much of my youthful time on the mainland during the Cultural Revolution,’ he wrote.

‘Ms Lisa Lau, chair of the Hong Kong Council on Smoking and Health, resembles the admirable and well-intentioned revolutionaries of my time. She wrote [a letter] pleading for public support to save my life by increasing tobacco tax (“Raising tobacco tax is a guaranteed measure to save more lives”, February 19).

‘Thank you, Ms Lau. I cannot commend your cause more. However, as a smoker for nearly half a century, I have come to the conclusion that it is my choice to be a smoker and it is my life that is at stake. Would you mind leaving me alone? I am old and my life might not be worth your effort saving.’

Lee’s piece, which goes on strongly to support efforts to stop young people smoking, is at: http://www.scmp.com/comment/letters/article/1432605/war-smoking-will-achieve-same-result-war-drugs.

WHO says own target tax not enough

| February 24, 2014

Hong Kong is expected to increase tobacco tax by between about 11 and 24 per cent on Wednesday, according to a story in the South China Morning Post.

Financial Secretary, John Tsang Chun-wah, is expected to increase the flat HK$34 duty on a pack of 20 cigarettes by between HK$4 and HK$8, meaning that the tax rate would be above the World Health Organization’s recommended rate of 70 per cent on all brands.

But this is not enough for some.

Meeting the recommended international standard for tobacco tax was not enough for Hong Kong: it could and should go further, a WHO official was quoted as saying.

Dr. Carmen Audera-Lopez, acting team leader of the WHO’s tobacco-free initiative in the Western Pacific region, said the expected increase in tobacco tax would make up only for inflation since the last rise in 2011.

Tenants banned from using e-cigarettes

| February 24, 2014

Tenants at an apartment complex in the US have been told that they ‘are not allowed to use electronic cigarettes’, according to a story by WHSV-TV3 Channel 3.

Presumably, this means that they will not be allowed to use electronic cigarettes in their apartments.

Tenants of the Harrisonburg [Virginia] Redevelopment and Housing Authority recently received a notice with details of a tobacco smoking ban due to be imposed on July 1.

But, according to the notice, tenants living in the J.R. Polly Limeweaver Apartment complex also ‘are not allowed to use electronic cigarettes’.

The story said that the reasons given for the imposition of the ban on electronic cigarettes included ‘an effort to decrease health effects’, maintenance costs, the risk of fire and the cost of fire insurance.

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