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Huge rise in e-cigarette use

| June 24, 2014

Almost 30 million people across Europe now use e-cigarettes, according to a Reuters News story.

The people who use these devices are most likely to be aged between 15 and 24. They are most likely to smoke tobacco regularly while trying to quit.

The rising number of e-cigarette users has led to a staggering growth in the availability of these products, with about 10 new brands coming to market every month.

Writing in the journal Tobacco Control, researchers in the U.S. said their findings underlined the size and speed of growth in the market for e-cigarettes, and the need for more research into their potential risks and benefits.

Ireland provides some plain-packs details

| June 23, 2014

Ireland is circulating through the World Trade Organization details of the bill it intends to enact in respect of the “retail packaging of all tobacco products, the appearance of cigarettes and the presentation of tobacco products.”

Under the bill, retail packaging of all tobacco products would have to be of a prescribed color (outer and inner surfaces) and not have decorative ridges or embellishments. Colored adhesives would be banned.

Brand and variant names would appear, but only as prescribed, and marks or trademarks, other than health warnings or barcodes, would be banned.

Packs could not contain any inserted or affixed items other than those required by law.

And any wrapper would have to be transparent, uncolored, without decorative ridges, etc., and without marks or trademarks. Wrappers could not have anything attached to them other than a tear strip as prescribed.

Cigarettes would have to be covered in white paper, have a white filter tip with a covering that could be white or imitation cork. Brands and variant names would be permitted, but only as prescribed.

Inner linings would have to be of a prescribed color and material.

The retail packaging of tobacco products could not contain any audio effects, scents or any feature designed to alter the packaging after sale by retail.

Secondary legislation will be drafted to cover regulations governing the color, font type, font size, appearance and position of where the brand and variant name may be printed on tobacco products.

ITGA strongly opposes plain packs

| June 23, 2014

The International Tobacco Growers Association (ITGA) has reiterated its objections to what it calls the worrying developments surrounding the EU’s revised Tobacco Products Directive (TPD), which came into force on May 20.

After the publication of the directive, it said, some EU member states were proposing to introduce standardized packaging, which was a development too far given the mandatory checks the EU still had to perform, first with its own treaty and second with international trade rules, including those of the World Trade Organization.

The ITGA said it would remain vigilant also in respect of secondary legislation, which included a stricter regulation of ingredients. The association added that it wanted to make sure no extreme measures were taken that might discriminate against certain tobacco varieties.

Despite previous assurances by the EU Commission and Parliament that the TPD would not lead to a deterioration in the living conditions of people whose livelihoods depended on tobacco growing in Europe, the current proposals would do exactly that, the association believes.

ITGA President Francois van der Merwe said there was currently a chance to appeal to the Dialogue Groups on agriculture (DG-AGRI) to raise tobacco producers’ concerns at the sixth Conference of the Parties (COP6) of the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in Moscow later this year. “[The] ITGA calls on the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States Council of Ministers to take this opportunity to remind the EU that the TPD should not become a technical barrier to trade,” he said.

Van der Merwe said the revised proposals were a declaration of an “out and out war” against the tobacco industry. These measures would contradict the so-called “public health” issues they were supposed to support because they would encourage contraband and counterfeit products made from cheap, suspect-quality tobacco that did not meet the health and environmental norms of many countries, inside and outside the EU.

Van der Merwe believes that pack standardization will have far-reaching negative consequences. Pack standardization measures would serve only to worsen the already rampant global problem of counterfeiting and piracy of tobacco products, he said. And it would trigger a price war between manufacturers as they attempted to distinguish themselves from their competitors, with the major casualties being tobacco growers.

Any reduction in leaf production, which would happen if the revised TPD proposals were pushed through, would have a significant knock-on effect, especially in the developing world, said Van der Merwe. In Malawi, for example, more than 1.9 million families were employed in the tobacco sector, which meant that about 70 percent of the adult population of the country was dependent on leaf tobacco production and the associated activities down the line. Tobacco made up 53 percent of Malawi’s exports and 15 percent of its GDP.

The ITGA said it strongly condemned current attempts to impose standardization on tobacco products as blatantly unacceptable discrimination imposed by misguided public health officials within the EU and some of the African, Caribbean and Pacific group of states.

Vietnam asked to delay raising taxes

| June 23, 2014

The Vietnam Tobacco Association (VTA) has asked the government to delay raising the excise tax on tobacco until smuggling has been “considerably” reduced, according to the news website VnEconomy.

The association made its recommendation after both the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Health proposed increasing the tobacco tax to 105 percent of the per-pack retail price from the current 65 percent, saying that the move was needed to curb smoking in Vietnam.

Vu Van Tien, deputy director general of the Vietnam National Tobacco Corp., was quoted as saying that local businesses faced huge problems caused by rampant smuggling.

Increasing the excise tax would only exacerbate smuggling given that Vietnamese people were all tightening their belts, he said.

Vu suggested also that the government consider ending its practice of exporting confiscated tobacco, claiming the measure had yet to prove effective.

The practice began as a pilot project in August 2012 after local governments complained that they lacked the funds to seize and destroy smuggled tobacco. So to offset those costs, the government allowed these localities to export high-quality tobacco that they’d seized from smugglers.

During its recent announcement, the trade association offered to support various agencies in fighting tobacco smuggling by providing a bounty of VND3,500 for every pack of smuggled or counterfeit cigarettes seized by the local authorities.

Imperial supplying emergency food aid

| June 23, 2014

Imperial Tobacco is helping support victims of the continuing conflict in the Central African Republic (CAR) with emergency food aid.

In a note posted this morning on its website, Imperial said an estimated 140,000 people had been affected by the civil war that began last year, with many taking refuge from the fighting either in the capital, Bangui, or in neighboring Chad.

The company’s subsidiaries, Socacig in the CAR and MCT in Chad, had asked the Altadis Foundation for help in supporting the relief effort currently underway.

As a result, donations totalling €11,200 were paying for staple foodstuffs such as rice, milk, sugar and oil to be distributed through local agencies.

“The situation affecting the CAR has become a humanitarian disaster not only for this country but also for its neighbours,” said Ines Cassin, the foundation’s general manager.

“In such cases, the foundation’s remit is to help meet the emergency needs of the victims and alleviate their suffering.”

New packs make a stand for phone users

| June 20, 2014

South Korea’s KT&G said yesterday it had launched four cigarette packs that can be used as smartphone stands, according to a story in the Korea Joong Ang Daily.

The “smart pack” packs are being used with four versions of the company’s Tonino Lamborghini brand.

KT&G said the new design was an idea suggested by customers on its website.

The smart packs comprised a good example of how KT&G listened to its customers and used their suggestions to improve its products, said Kwon Min-seok, head of the company’s branding team.

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