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How would plain packs legislation fare under TTIP?

| February 9, 2015

An Irish member of the European Parliament has sought to widen the standardized-packaging debate by placing it against the background of trade agreements currently being negotiated.

In a written question to the European Commission, MEP Nessa Childers asked whether the Commission considered non-discriminatory standardized packaging legislation, such as that applicable to cigarette packaging, to be a form of acquisition of intellectual property; or whether any claims to intellectual property rights might arise as a consequence of such legislation under present trade agreements or agreements the Commission had a current mandate to negotiate.

Although Childers did not mention specific trade agreements, it seems likely that she had in mind at least the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership that is being negotiated between the EU and the US against a background of considerable public opposition.

Negotiators have come under pressure from the public over the previously highly-secret nature of the negotiations that many believe would cede even more power to multinational corporations and undermine democracy.

Tobacco Promotion Board under fire in India

| February 9, 2015

A group of tobacco control activists and supporters staged a demonstration in Chennai, India, on Saturday demanding the closure of the ‘Tobacco Promotion Board’, according to a story in the Times of India.

Members of the Tamil Nadu People’s Forum for Tobacco Control said that while the health ministry was working on improving the country’s tobacco control law by making amendments to the Cigarette and Other Tobacco Products Act, it failed to see the destructive nature of the tobacco board, which worked for tobacco promotion.

Several doctors, social workers and lawyers were said to have taken part in the demonstration.

High levels of smoking among Saudi’s young women

| February 9, 2015

Sixty five percent of Saudi secondary schoolgirls and 45 percent of the country’s intermediate schoolgirls are ‘smokers’, according to a story in Arab News quoting the results of a recently-published survey.

The survey, conducted by the Faculty of Medicine at the Jeddah-based King Abdulaziz University, said the rates of smoking posed a ‘real threat’ to the health of Saudi women in the long term.

In an earlier study, Najran University was said to have found that one-third of the Saudi population smoked on a regular basis.

And, according to a story in the Al-Madina daily, Saudi Arabia ranks second and fifth respectively at the GCC (Gulf Co-operation Council) and global levels in respect of the proportion of female smokers.

The rise in the number of female teenagers taking up smoking has been blamed on their wider exposure to the cultures of foreign countries through the increased use of social media and mobile applications, and to the spread of electronic cigarettes.

The definition of a smoker, as used by those conducting the surveys, was not given in the story.

Non-duty-paid cigarettes hit legitimate market

| February 9, 2015

Taxed cigarettes’ share of the Philippines’ market declined last year, according to a story in The Philippine Star quoting Philip Morris International’s fourth quarter and full-year report.

PMI was quoted as saying that the estimated industry-wide tax-paid cigarette volume fell by 4.6 percent to about 82.3 billion units last year, reflecting the prevalence of domestic non-duty paid products.

The company said that while its shipment volume in the Philippines decreased by 0.2 percent to 68.4 billion units, its share of the estimated total tax-paid cigarette industry rose by 3.7 percentage points to 83 percent.

In the fourth quarter of 2014, alone, the estimated industry-wide tax-paid cigarette volume had fallen by 12.9 percent to 21.8 billion units, reflecting a higher incidence of non-tax-paid volume.

CEO André Calantzopoulos said PMI remained upbeat about its prospects in the Philippines despite lackluster sales.

“While the Philippines continued to be a challenge and a drain on our 2014 income performance, we have recently witnessed significant positive price movements at the lower end of the market,” Calantzopoulos said.

New CEO for Scandinavian Tobacco Group

| February 9, 2015

Niels Frederiksen will take over on March 1 from Anders Colding Friis as the CEO of the Scandinavian Tobacco Group (STG), according to a story in the Copenhagen Post.

Frederiksen, who has more than 15 years of experience in the tobacco industry, is currently STG’s executive vice president of the global supply chain and a member of the group’s executive board.

Tobacco season to be pushed back

| February 6, 2015

Zimbabwe is likely to push back the start of its tobacco marketing season by about a month from the traditional mid-February period.

Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board Chief Executive Dr. Andrew Matibiri said that most of the dry-land crop, which accounts for most of the tobacco grown, is still in the early stages of maturing.

“Our teams are still going around the country to assess the condition of the crop but it appears that we will be late this year due to the rains.”

“The season is most likely to open in March but a clearer position will emerge when the board meets next week, ” he said.

Dr. Matibiri also said that most farmers who grew the irrigated crop were now curing but this tobacco was largely destined for the contract system.

Zimbabwe’s tobacco is sold under two systems, the auction where individual farmers sell the crop at the auction floors and the contract where farmers are contracted to produce the crop by a contractor who supplies them with inputs.

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