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Storm blows up over windfall tax plan

| September 24, 2014

The UK’s tobacco industry was said to have reacted with ‘fury’ to a plan by the opposition Labour Party leader, Ed Miliband, to impose an additional tax on Britain’s tobacco companies to help pay for National Health Service (NHS) spending, according to a story in The Guardian.

Imperial Tobacco said Labour’s plans to raise at least £150 million by taxing companies according to market share amounted to an attack on a legitimate business sector.

A spokesman for the company said the idea was totally unwarranted and unjust, and should be dismissed immediately.

“The idea put forward today [Tuesday] fails to acknowledge the wider contribution made by Imperial to society, and will place further pressure on jobs and livelihoods,” the spokesman said. “Earlier this year we announced the closure of our Nottingham cigarette factory, citing in part the impact of excessive tobacco regulation and taxation.”

The Guardian said the industry argued that it contributed £12.3 billion a year to the exchequer, while the costs of smoking to the NHS were estimated at between £2.7 billion and £5.2 billion.

The industry trade body, the Tobacco Manufacturers’ Association, also opposed the Labour Party’s plan. “This anti-business idea is illogical and ignores a major cause of lost tobacco tax, the illegal market,” said Giles Roca, director general.

Meanwhile, Miliband told delegates at the annual party conference in Manchester that it was fair to impose additional costs on an industry that makes “soaring profits on the back of ill health”.

The UK is due to hold a general election on May 7 next year.

The full story is at:

Russians comply with smoking bans

| September 24, 2014

The overwhelming majority of Russian cafés and restaurants are obeying the ban on tobacco smoking in public places, according to an ITAR-TASS story quoting results of monitoring conducted by Consumers International, an international consortium of consumer-advocacy groups.

Between 93 and 94 percent of the monitored cafés and restaurants were found to have been observing the smoking ban.

But the hospitality sector was said to be less compliant. Violations were exposed in almost 34 percent of inspected hotels; ashtrays were found in just over 32 percent of hotels, and more than a quarter of inspected hotels were offering rooms for smokers or had smoking rooms.

Russia’s most recent anti-tobacco laws came into force on June 1, 2013, and June 1, 2014.

Nikolay Gerasimenko, a deputy chairman of the health committee of the Russian State Duma, said on Tuesday that the popularity of smoking was going down.

“Cigarette production has decreased,” he told a news conference. “The process began three years ago but proceeded rather slowly – by not more than three percent a year. The biggest slump in production took place in the first quarter of 2014 after excise duties had been raised.”

Gerasimenko cited the results of polls conducted by the WCIOM polling agency that indicated the number of smokers had decreased by seven percent during the first six months of the current year.

Isis lifts smoking ban to ‘boost popularity’

| September 24, 2014

The Islamic State (also known as Isis) has made a Sharia-law U-turn in the Iraqi city of Kirkuk by stubbing out its cigarette ban in an attempt to boost popularity among the local population, according to a story by Gianluca Mezzofiore for the International Business Times.

A resident of Hawija, 55 km southwest of Kirkuk, was said to have told Almada Press that Isis had lifted the embargo on shops selling cigarettes in the province and its towns.

In June, Isis imposed Sharia laws that banned the use of drugs, alcohol and cigarettes in the Nineveh province days after capturing the provincial capital Mosul.

Isis explained its opposition to smoking by calling it a ‘slow suicide’ and saying that ‘every smoker should be aware that with every cigarette he smokes in a state of trance and vanity is disobeying God’.

But, according to the Al Arabiya website, Isis changed its mind ‘as an attempt to gain popularity after the group’s extremist actions began to appal residents, particularly after security forces, aided by international support, began to attack Isis’.

The full story is at:

Plain packaging domino effect predicted

| September 24, 2014

Ireland could create a “domino effect” internationally by becoming the first country in Europe to introduce plain packaging for tobacco products, according to a story by Paul Cullen for The Irish Times quoting one of Australia’s leading public health experts.

Professor Mike Daube said the introduction of plain packaging in Ireland would have huge international implications because other countries were likely to follow Ireland’s lead.

“I cannot think of anything that could be done to tackle tobacco more effectively than Ireland introducing this measure,” said Daube of Curtain University, Perth, who chaired the Australian government’s committee that recommended plain packaging. “We showed it could be done, but we are a low-population country on the other side of the world.”

It was important the Irish government was not bullied out of proceeding by the “zombie arguments” of the tobacco industry, Daube told a meeting organized by the Irish Cancer Society in Dublin.

The full story is at:

Promotions at Reynolds Tobacco

| September 24, 2014

Michael P. Auger, currently vice president of trade marketing development for R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, is due to be promoted to the position of executive vice president of trade marketing for the company, effective January 1.

Auger will replace Robert D. Stowe, who is to retire.

At the same time, Colin M. Uffindell, currently an area vice president of trade marketing for R.J. Reynolds, is due to become vice president of trade marketing development for the company, replacing Auger.

And Chris Gaskin, currently senior director of consumer marketing for R.J. Reynolds, is due to be promoted to area vice president of trade marketing for the company, replacing Uffindell.

Tax speculation blowing in the wind

| September 23, 2014

A ‘novel windfall tax’ on the profits of UK tobacco companies would be used by a future Labour government to part fund its plans for reinvigorating the nation’s National Health Service, according to a story by political editor, Patrick Wintour, for The Guardian.

Wintour said that in his final Labour party conference speech before next year’s general election, the opposition leader, Ed Miliband, would tell sceptical voters today that ‘he can bring the country back together and offer six ambitious goals, including changes to the NHS, designed to overcome “the greatest challenges of our age and transform the ethics of how Britain is run” over the next decade’.

However, a BBC News report said that the shadow business secretary, Chuka Umunna, had declined to comment on reports in The Guardian and The Times that Labour was planning a one-off tax on the profits of tobacco companies, saying he was “not aware” of any plans for a windfall tax of any sort.

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