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Growers alarmed by planned TPP tobacco carve-out

| October 14, 2015

The Tobacco Growers’ Association of North Carolina (TGANC) has said that it is alarming and un-American that for the first time in history the White House is actively working to discriminate against its own farmers in trade agreement negotiations.

In a letter to a 15-member North Carolina Congressional Delegation, the TGANC said it had learned that the US Trade Representative had actively pushed for and was responsible for including tobacco carve out language in the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, which involves Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the US and Vietnam.

The letter, signed by TGANC president, Tim Yarbrough, and executive vice president, Graham Boyd, said that the organization understood that throughout the entire agreement negotiations, the delegation, which comprised members of congress, were denied preview of the specific language of the agreement.

‘It is alarming and un-American that for the first time in history the White House is actively working to discriminate against its own farmers in trade agreement negotiations,’ the letter said. ‘Our government is supposed to promote, protect and defend all of American agriculture. Shockingly our current trade ambassador has been very clear that he is more than happy to negotiate a Trans-Pacific Partnership that specifically discriminates against tobacco farm families and their rights to be included in free trade agreements.

‘This administration promised North Carolina’s congressional delegation that they would not unfairly target tobacco growers in the TPP talks and we are profoundly disappointed to learn that this promise has been broken.  If the White House truly believes they are standing up for the best interests of the thousands of farm families and the industries that service their segment of the economy and community, then I invite them to have a real conversation with us and learn that we do not share their views.

‘Tobacco is our state’s largest agricultural export and plays a vital role in promoting economic growth and prosperity. According to economists the TPP … could represent as much a $100 million in increased export opportunity for our farmers. We call on the administration to focus on promoting the best interests of the North Carolina agricultural community and urge our elected representatives in Washington to resist any trade agreement that treats North Carolina and all other American tobacco growers as second-class farmers.

‘Let us reemphasize that the only loser in this carve out will be the American farmer.  The industry of “big tobacco” companies already manufacturers and [sells] products in the many regions of the world the TPP would encompass. The reality is that such products are, and will remain absent of our US grown leaf. Consumers will still maintain the choice to buy and use tobacco products constituted from leaf grown in other inferior regions of the world when compared to the quality and accountability of American grown tobacco under our government’s agronomic and production standards.

‘We respectfully call on the entire delegation to oppose the TPP as it stands and demand the removal of the tobacco language before it comes before congress.  Our state and its economy deserve your support.’

Innovia in security partnership with Rolling Optics

| October 14, 2015

The Innovia Group said yesterday that it had secured a partnership with Rolling Optics, a high-tech firm based in Stockholm, Sweden.

In a press note, Innovia said that Rolling Optics’ expertise lay in the design and production of unique technologies and processes to produce 3D micro-optical designs and 3D effects for the protection of products and brands against counterfeiting.

‘This technology will be applied to Innovia Films’ Rayoface™ Biaxially Oriented Polypropylene (BOPP) films to offer the premium goods industries a proven secure technology that will provide brand security and protection,’ the note said.

Working closely together, the partnership would focus on maximizing global opportunities utilizing Rolling Optics’ expertise and Innovia’s worldwide production, sales and distribution channels.

“Micro-optics is considered to be among the most innovative and disruptive technologies within the security sector,” said Innovia Group CEO Mark Robertshaw. “Our collaboration with Rolling Optics gives us the opportunity to offer leading edge technologies that deliver the next generation of security into a range of growing and attractive market sectors.”

Meanwhile, Chester W. Anderson, the CEO of Rolling Optics, described Innovia as a world-class producer and distributor of high quality films and banknote substrate world-wide. “They will provide us with highly differentiated and unique film for our product and will provide global distribution of our micro-optical 3D films providing added value to their customers across the globe,” he said.

Innovia Films will present Rolling Optics products at Tobacco Reporter’s Tabexpo exhibition in London on October 20-23, and at Labelexpo Asia in Shanghai, China, on December 1-4.

Vapor Corp. acquires three retail stores in Georgia, USA

| October 13, 2015

Vapor Corp., a leading U.S.-based distributor and retailer of vaporizers, e-liquids, e-cigarettes and e-hookahs, has acquired three established retail vape stores in Atlanta, Georgia, USA.

This three-store chain marks the company’s first retail acquisition outside of Florida and brings the total number of store Vapor Corp. owns to 18. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

These acquisition of the Atlanta stores—coupled with the company’s recently announced acquisitions of retail vape stores in Gainesville, Florida, and Fort Myers, Florida, are central to Vapor Corp.’s aggressive expansion efforts to develop a national footprint throughout the U.S.

“Following the completion of our capital raise and successful acquisition of several thriving consumer retail operations in Florida, Vapor Corp. has now expanded its footprint into Georgia, a testament to the early success of our national retail expansion efforts,” said Vapor Corp CEO Jeff Holman. “As the [Southeastern United States] has been an area of focus for our growth, it is only natural for Vapor Corp. to expand into Georgia. Not only is it in our backyard, but we have also identified numerous acquisition candidates that satisfy our strict investment criteria.”

Currently the only pure-play company in the vapor industry that is listed on a major stock exchange, Vapor Corp. plans to increase the number of company-owned retail stores to more than 30 locations by the end of the year. The respective 1,200-square-foot Atlanta stores opened in February 2014, April 2014 and September 2015.

“These stores have quickly demonstrated their ability to build strong local reputations and gain significant traction with a growing vaping community,” said Holman. “Vapor Corp. expects an immediate ROI from this acquisition as we continue to establish ourselves as the go-to source for the latest, most innovative vaping products available, for both experienced and novice vaping fans across the country. We look forward to advancing our national retail roll-out plan through the end of the year and into 2016.”

UK tax-increase plan would be counterproductive

| October 13, 2015

The UK’s Tobacco Manufacturers’ Association (TMA) has said that a call by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Smoking and Health to increase the rate at which tobacco taxes are increased is based on economic illiteracy.

According to a BBC story, the tax rate is increased by two percent above inflation each year, but the group wants that raised to five percent.

In a report that will be submitted to the treasury’s Comprehensive Spending Review, the group said that such an increase would generate an extra £100 million annually to spend on anti-smoking projects, and double the rate of decline in smoking.

In response, Giles Roca, director general of the TMA, said the proposals in the group’s report were counterproductive and based on economic illiteracy.

“Every time taxation is increased on tobacco it loses the treasury millions that could have been spent on public services,” he said. “That’s because tax on tobacco has increased by over 40 percent over the last five years, making UK tobacco the most expensive in Europe.

“Smokers are then increasingly switching to cheaper and often illegal products, which loses the Treasury some £2.6 billion each year.

“Small shops also suffer as they struggle to compete with illegal traders selling products at less than half the legitimate retail price.”

Roca said that the UK’s high tax policy provided a clear incentive to organised criminals, who didn’t care who they sold to; as was evidenced in a recent survey by Trading Standards North West that had revealed a disturbing upturn in children gaining access to illegal tobacco products.

“Rather than imposing yet more tax on a legitimate UK sector, which directly and indirectly supports over 60,000 jobs and generates over £12bn in tax revenue, the UK government would be better served by holding an independent review of tobacco tax policy.”

Anger over delay in buying low-grade Andhra leaf

| October 13, 2015

Andhra Pradesh’s State Chief Minister, N. Chandrababu Naidu, is said to have taken strong exception to the fact that buyers failed to meet a September 30 deadline set by the Indian Minister of State for Commerce, Nirmala Sitharaman, for buying Andhra’s entire flue-cured crop.

Andhra overproduced in 2014-15 at a time when demand was low, and the situation was exacerbated by the fact that unhelpful weather conditions meant that much of the crop was of low quality.

According to a story in the most recent issue of the BBM Bommidala Group newsletter, Naidu issued an order that the unsold Andhra tobacco had to be sold within three weeks.

“Traders should buy 10 million kg of low grade [F9 and F10] crop every week and complete the process in three weeks,” he said, while emphasizing that traders had to be sensitive to the problems of farmers.

At the time, 169.08 million kg of the 193.27 million kg of tobacco produced had been sold.

Andhra Pradesh’s Agricultural Minister, P. Pulla Rao, cautioned tobacco manufacturers and traders not abiding by the price range set by the government for the purchase of low grade leaf from farmers that they would not be allowed to take part in future auctions.

“Those not purchasing tobacco at the agreed prices will be banned from auction platforms in the future,” he said.

The minister directed board officials to stop auctions if traders kept rejecting tobacco and said that stringent action would be taken against such traders.

Growers had complained that rejection rates had reached eight percent and that no bids had been made for some low-grades.

Growers are appealing to the Indian Commerce Ministry to extend the Rs20 per kg, one-time compensation declared by Sitharaman to all of the low grades.

A notification issued by the board had limited payments to certain tobaccos, but the growers believe the objective of the financial relief was to ameliorate the acute distress suffered in respect of all the low grade tobacco.

Meanwhile, flue-cured production in the state of Karnataka is thought to have fallen by 20 percent this year due to poor rainfall.

The crop size had been set by the board at 100 million kg, but it believes that no more than 83.5 million kg has been produced.

UAE may ease ban on e-cigarette sales

| October 12, 2015

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is introducing regulations that may ease the ban on the sale of e-cigarettes within the country.

Authorities from Emirates Authority for Standardization and Metrology (Esma) in January sent a draft technical regulation to the World Trade Organization (WTO), which notified them of the UAE’s intention to regulate the sale of e-cigarettes. The document sent to the WTO states that the objective of the regulation is to protect human health by ensuring quality products are available in the market.

The sale of e-cigarettes is currently banned in the UAE, which follows the cautious position adopted by the World Health Organization (WHO), according to a story in the Khaleej Times. Regulation of the sale of e-cigarettes is believed to be based on recent recommendations from the WHO that examine the emerging evidence on the health impacts of electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS), of which electronic cigarettes are the most common prototype, according to the Times.

The health ministry of the UAE has banned the sale of e-cigarettes because experts have not yet determined the long-term effects of such devices on users.

“E-cigarettes are considered as harmful as tobacco and not as a smoking cessation tool,” a source from the ministry was quoted as saying in the Times story. “Currently conflicting studies are going on this matter which cannot be used as justifications to allow products into the country,” added the source.

Despite the ban on e-cigarette sales, the devices have been illegally imported and sold across throughout the UAE.

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