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Unseemly scrap over soggy cigarettes

| February 28, 2014

People in Dorset, England, are being allowed by Border Agency staff to collect cigarette packs washed up on a beach, but are then having the cigarettes taken from them by the agency’s staff, according to a story by Samantha Harman for the Dorset Echo.

“We are letting them spend in some cases hours collecting the packets and we then intercept them up after all their hard work and relieve them of their cargo,” Harman quoted an unnamed agency staff member as saying.

The cigarettes apparently came from a container or containers washed from a ship as it crossed the channel in storms earlier this month.

About 11 million cigarettes were estimated to have been in the shipment, which was on its way from Rotterdam to Sri Lanka.

The caption of a picture of five people with plastic bags and a car that accompanied the story described those people as being police and agency staff with “hundreds of packets of cigarettes.”

BAT’s tobacco volumes down last year

| February 27, 2014

British American Tobacco’s cigarette volumes during 2013, at 676 billion, were down by 2.7 percent on those of 2012.

Volumes were increased in the company’s Asia Pacific region by 4.8 percent to 197 billion, but they were down in the Americas by 5.6 percent to 134 billion, down in Western Europe by 7.7 percent to 119 billion, and down in the EEMEA (Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa) by 3.8 percent to 226 billion.

BAT’s tobacco volumes during 2013, at 703 billion, were down by 2.6 percent. Tobacco volumes include, as well as cigarettes, other tobacco products whose volumes are stated in cigarette stick equivalents: 0.8 g of roll-your-own; 0.5 g of make-your-own expanded tobacco; 0.7 g of make-your-own optimized tobacco; one cigar; one pouch of snus; and 2 g of loose snus.

The company blamed the fall in its cigarette volumes on the contracting industry volume in Western Europe and in some key group markets, such as Brazil, Russia, Ukraine, Turkey and South Africa, partially offset by strong performances in Bangladesh, Pakistan, Indonesia, Vietnam and countries of the Middle East.

Other tobacco products were said to have continued to have performed well. Fine-cut volume in Western Europe grew by 1.3 percent to 21 billion sticks equivalent as a result of good growth in Italy, Belgium, Germany and Poland, partially offset by declines in the Netherlands and Greece.

“Our international brands grew by 2.1 percent, of which the four global drive brands (GDB) achieved good volume growth of 1.9 percent,” BAT said in presenting its results.

“Dunhill increased volume by 9.7 percent with growth in Indonesia, South Korea and the GCC, partially offset by declines in Malaysia, due to market contraction, and West Africa. Kent volume was down 2.9 percent on [that of] last year as declines, driven by market contractions in Russia, Japan and Romania, were partially offset by growth in the Middle East and Uzbekistan.

“Lucky Strike volume was down by 6.5 percent, mainly driven by the market contraction in Spain, partially offset by higher volume in Philippines and Russia. Pall Mall volume rose by 4.4 percent with strong growth in Chile, Pakistan and Argentina, partially offset by lower volume in Russia, Serbia, Italy and Hungary.”

Rothmans, which this year is being included as one of the company’s GDPs, was said to have performed well with strong growth in Russia, Ukraine, Algeria and Italy.

BAT’s revenue, at £15,260 million, was more or less unchanged, though it was up by 4 percent at constant rates of exchange.

Adjusted profit from operations was up by 3 percent to £5,820 million, and up by 7 percent at constant rates of exchange.

Reported profit from operations was up by 3 percent to £5,526 million, and up by 7 percent at constant rates of exchange.

“British American Tobacco continued to perform strongly in 2013, with another year of excellent earnings growth and cash flow, partially offset by currency headwinds,” said Chairman Richard Burrows in announcing the results.

“The group’s global drive brands also achieved outstanding growth in market share and volume.

“Difficult trading conditions persist in some parts of the world, notably southern Europe, but these results demonstrate that the group’s strategy continues to deliver robust profit and dividend growth.”

Time needed to comply with EU directive

| February 27, 2014

The Confederation of European Community Cigarette Manufacturers (CECCM) wants EU member states and the tobacco industry at large to be given reasonable time to adjust to the numerous and complex requirements included in the new Tobacco Products Directive.

The new TPD was adopted by the European Parliament yesterday.

The chairman of the CECCM, Michiel Reerink, said in a statement that the CECCM and its member companies had openly contributed to the TPD debate during the past two years. “We have raised our concerns on the effectiveness of measures that will impact the whole tobacco sector and thousands of small- and medium-sized businesses who work with us,” he said. “Many of these concerns were shared by member states, members of the European Parliament and key parliament committees. Despite their expertise and accountability to European voters, many of them [the concerns] have not been heard.”

Reerink went on to say that, throughout the process, the CECCM and its members had clearly stated that the member companies did not market their products to children. “We have repeated that we support the European Commission’s right to regulate tobacco products, as long as legitimate health objectives are achieved,” he said. “Unfortunately, many of the TPD measures are disproportionate and are unlikely to meet these goals. They will more likely lead to a rise in profits for criminal gangs, who sell much cheaper, unregulated products.

“As the TPD approaches Council adoption, we expect diligence to be taken in allowing realistic transition periods for member states and the industry. Due to the complexity of the numerous measures, tobacco companies, packaging manufacturers, machinery suppliers, wholesalers and retailers must imperatively be given sufficient time to comply with the directive.”

TPD a ‘gift’ for black market criminals

| February 27, 2014

Philip Morris International has expressed concern about the implications of some aspects of the new EU Tobacco Products Directive.

“The Tobacco Products Directive adopted by the European Parliament today represents a worrying departure from the EU’s basic standards of proportionate, evidenced-based policymaking, which will further erode intellectual property rights and undermine the EU Charter where these rights are protected,” said the company’s  EU region president, Drago Azinovic, speaking yesterday.

“Instead of further harmonizing the internal market, a stated objective of the directive, measures in the TPD will make the EU less competitive and be a gift for the criminals profiting from the black market in tobacco.

“This will be a blow to the hundreds of thousands of people working in the legal industry and member state governments now faced with filling budget gaps.”

Directive negates need for plain packs

| February 27, 2014

The U.K. smokers’ group Forest, which campaigned against revisions to the EU’s Tobacco Products Directive, has questioned the need for standardized packaging of tobacco after the European Parliament voted yesterday to adopt the revised directive.

The directive will force EU member states to increase the size of health warnings to cover 65 percent of the front and back of the pack.

“If health warnings are going to be even more prominent, dominating both sides of the pack, why on earth do we need plain packaging?” said Simon Clark, director of Forest, which ran the No Thank EU campaign.

“At the very least the government should wait and see what impact the larger warnings have before introducing standardized packs which are opposed by so many people.”

Clark attacked also other aspects of the directive.

“Banning menthol cigarettes and 10-packs is a serious attack on consumer choice that will do little to stop children smoking,” he said.

“The revised directive is typical of the nanny-state mentality that is prevalent not just in Brussels but also in Westminster.”

Altria declares quarterly dividend

| February 27, 2014

The Altria Group’s board of directors yesterday declared a regular quarterly dividend of $0.48 per common share, payable on April 10 to shareholders of record as of March 14.

The ex-dividend date is March 12.

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