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EU shifted TPD policy significantly after tobacco industry lobbying

| August 14, 2014

Tobacco industry lobbyists were successful in influencing some aspects of the EU’s new Tobacco Products Directive (TPD), according to research carried out by the University of Oxford, the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, and the University of Bath.

The TPD, which governs the laws, regulations and administrative provisions of the member states concerning the manufacture, presentation and sale of tobacco and related products entered into force on May 20 and member states are required to bring into force by May 20, 2016, the laws, regulations and administrative provisions necessary to comply with the directive.

The researchers concluded in their paper published in Tobacco Control that tobacco industry lobbying was associated with ‘significant policy shifts’ in the TPD legislation towards the industry’s submissions.

‘In the light of the [World Health Organization's] Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, additional governance strategies are needed to prevent undue influence of the tobacco industry on EU policy making,’ they said.

The researchers used what they described as novel quantitative text-mining techniques to evaluate the impact of industry pressure.

The positions of 18 stakeholders including the tobacco industry, health NGOs and tobacco retailers were evaluated using their text submissions to EU consultations and impact assessments.

The researchers found that the Commission’s position shifted towards the tobacco industry’s position and that that transition reflected an increasing use of words pertaining to business and the economy in the Commission’s document.

If the industry was successful in changing policy, at least parts of it don’t believe that it was successful enough.

At the beginning of July, it was announced that subsidiaries of Philip Morris International was seeking review of the TPD by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU).

“We believe that the EU’s Tobacco Products Directive disrupts the balance that the EU treaties establish between the union and the member states,” said Marc Firestone, PMI’s senior vice president and general counsel in announcing the court challenge.

“The directive claims to improve the internal market in tobacco products, but its provisions go in the opposite direction. The directive includes a mix of product bans, mandates, and delegations of authority that raise serious questions under the EU treaties about consumer choice, the free movement of goods, and competition…”

Andhra Pradesh’s crop target unchanged

| August 14, 2014

The Tobacco Board of India has fixed Andhra Pradesh’s 2014-15 flue-cured tobacco crop target at 172 million kg, which is unchanged from that of the previous season, according to a story published in the latest issue of the BBM Bommidala Group newsletter.

The new crop size was set despite calls by merchants for the target to be increased to 177 million kg.

The board’s chairman, Dr. K. Gopal, said the board had decided not to increase the crop size because of its obligations concerning the welfare of flue-cured tobacco growers and because of global market trends.

The chairman urged growers to concentrate on the quality of the tobacco they grew rather than on expanding the land they used for tobacco cultivation.

He suggested that growers be restrained while planting because over-production would lead to a fall in prices.

Growers in Karnataka, India’s other flue-cured tobacco growing state have been authorized to produce 104 million kg, up from 102 million kg last season.

LOGIC is first in US convenience stores

| August 14, 2014

LOGIC Technology has captured the number one position for volume sales of electronic cigarettes in US-wide convenience stores, according to a company press note citing Nielsen’s C-Track Database.

At the same time, the company has maintained its ‘strong hold’ on the number two position based on the value of sales across the US.

LOGIC currently accounts for 24.3 percent of volume sales and for 22.9 percent of the value of those sales.

“The latest Nielsen Brand Rank report further solidifies our place within this dynamic industry, and we are thrilled to claim the number one position for total US unit share,” said Miguel Martin, president of LOGIC, in announcing the figures.

PMI ready to sue UK over plain packaging

| August 13, 2014

Philip Morris International is prepared to sue the UK government should it implement a law requiring cigarettes to be sold in standardized packs, according to a Reuters story.

Last week the government completed its second public consultation on standardized packaging; the first having been conducted during 2012.

Reuters said that in its response to the consultation, PMI had told the UK government, in part, that it was ‘prepared to protect its rights in the courts and to seek fair compensation for the value of its property’.

‘”Standardized packaging” is a euphemism for government-mandated destruction of property,’ PMI was quoted as saying. ‘It is unlawful, disproportionate, and at odds with the most basic requirements of the rule of law.’

The government said in April it wanted to implement standardized packaging after a review found it could reduce the incidence of children taking up smoking. It published draft regulations in June and launched a six-week consultation that ended on Thursday.

Meanwhile, it was reported last week that three EU countries had lodged objections to Ireland’s standardized tobacco packaging proposals.

Portugal, Bulgaria and Slovakia are said to have objected in recent weeks on the basis that the proposals are incompatible with EU rules on the free movement of goods and services, among other issues.

And in July it was reported that Ireland might have to pay ‘hundreds of millions’ in compensation to tobacco manufacturers if standardized tobacco packaging were introduced there.

The international research and equities firm, Exane BNP Paribas, which is backed by France’s biggest bank BNP Paribas, said it believed the tobacco industry had a robust case against standardized packaging – a case that would allow it to claim billions in compensation in Europe.

Ontario urged to ban vaping in public

| August 13, 2014

A report by health officials in Toronto, Canada, will recommend that Ontario should ban electronic cigarette use wherever tobacco smoking is currently banned, according to a story by Don Peat for the Toronto Sun.

The report is due to be presented to the Board of Health on Monday.

The health officials want to ban also the sale of flavored electronic cigarettes, electronic cigarette displays in retail stores and the sale of electronic cigarettes to those under the age of 19.

The report says that if the province refuses to regulate electronic cigarettes within six months, the city and Dr. David McKeown, the chief medical officer of health, should develop municipal regulations to ban electronic cigarette use in Toronto wherever tobacco smoking is banned.

At the same time, the board of health is being asked to urge federal health officials to crack down on electronic cigarettes.

Kate Ackerman, of the Electronic Cigarette Trade Association of Canada, which is in favor of restricting sales of electronic cigarettes to minors, warned there would be a “backlash” to the Toronto Public Health proposals.

Ackerman called the proposed policy a prohibition based on fear.

Concerns over Gibraltar/Spain smuggling

| August 13, 2014

The EU is calling on Spain and Gibraltar to crack down on tobacco smuggling across their common border, citing concerns about the involvement of organized crime, according to a story by Ashifa Kassam for The Guardian.

Cigarette imports into Gibraltar are said to have tripled between 2006 and 2011, and one Spanish government official was said to have told the El País newspaper that current imports – 117 million packs last year – suggested that each of the approximately 30,000 residents of Gibraltar, including nursing children, must be smoking nine packs of cigarettes each day.

Wrapping up a one-year investigation, the European Anti-Fraud Office (Olaf) said in a statement that it had ‘raised a number of concerns’ with UK and Spanish officials regarding its investigation into the increase of cigarette smuggling across the frontier. While the report was not made public, Olaf noted ‘a significant increase in the size of the Gibraltar market for cigarettes over the past four years’ and ‘indications of the involvement of organized crime’.

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