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Taxation policy key to illegal trade in India

| September 7, 2015

India’s tobacco manufacturers are urging the government to adopt new policy initiatives aimed at reducing the illegal sale in cigarettes, according to a story by Writankar Mukherjee for the Economic Times.

They feel that current efforts directed at surveillance and the imposition of harsher penalties cannot curb the trade.

Syed Mahmood Ahmad, the director of the Tobacco Institute of India, which represents tobacco manufacturers, said that in its representations the Institute had emphasized that, given the huge and compelling threat posed by the illegal cigarette trade in India, there was an urgent need for the government to have tobacco regulation and taxation regimes that were not counter-productive; that did not promote the illegal trade in tax-evaded cigarettes or the sale of low-quality cheaper forms of tobacco.

The domestic cigarette industry is said to be under huge pressure due to successive increases in cigarette taxation.

Sales volume has declined by as much as 15 percent during the past two quarters, with the prices of ‘affordable’ sub-65 mm length cigarettes having gone from Rs2 to Rs3-4 per piece, and the prices of regular, long and king-size cigarettes having gone up by about 13-15 percent this year.

As a result, some consumers have shifted to foreign, tax-evaded brands, mainly those from China and countries of Southeast Asia, which are sold at Rs1 per piece.

Some tobacco manufacturers are said now to be focusing more on the mid-to-premium segment and launching variants to protect their margins.

A recent report by UBS Securities India said that while the cigarette volume decline would continue as consumption dropped in the price-sensitive segments, the king-size segment remained the most promising.

Dutch antis move to crush last smoking enclaves

| September 7, 2015

The tobacco control organisation Clean Air Nederland (CAN) has said that it is going to court to force the Dutch government to impose a total ban on smoking in cafés, bars and clubs, according to a DutchNews story.

Currently, cafés can allow smoking if they have a suitable sealed-off area.

Clear Air says this goes against the letter of the law and contradicts all the agreements the Netherlands has entered into.

“It is now time that the health and welfare of all café and restaurant guests is taken seriously,” Tom Voeten, chairman of CAN was quoted as telling broadcaster RTL news.

“The concentration of cancer causing substances is unacceptably high in almost all smoking areas.

“Every year, 3,000 non smokers die because of being unwitting passive smokers.”

Bangladesh sets date for graphic-warning start-up

| September 7, 2015

Tobacco products sold in Bangladesh will have to carry graphic health warnings from March 19, according to a story in The Financial Express quoting an official of the Health Ministry.

A program officer at the National Tobacco Control Cell, M. Mir Nabin Ekram, told a workshop on Friday that the pictures for the graphic warnings had been chosen.

The Smoking and Usage of Tobacco Products (Control) (Amendment) Act 2013 was said to stipulate that graphic health warnings on tobacco products should cover at least 50 percent of a pack’s surface.

Majority oppose ban on smoking in hospital grounds

| September 7, 2015

Almost two-thirds of Scots oppose plans to impose a smoking ban in hospital grounds, according to a story by Scott MacNab for The Scotsman citing a Scottish Parliament survey.

And a greater proportion of people are against plans for a £1,000 fine for anyone caught breaching the ban.

The survey results come days after MSPs on Holyrood’s health committee voiced concerns about the proposal.

Forty six percent of those who took part in the survey strongly disagreed with the proposal to ban smoking across all hospital grounds in Scotland and 16 percent disagreed.

Fifty four percent strongly disagreed with imposing a fine of up to £1,000 on any person convicted of smoking in a no-smoking area in hospital grounds. Sixty eight percent either disagreed or strongly disagreed.

The objections were either due to suspicions that such a ban might include e-cigarettes; or because of a more general objection to government measures that influence an individual’s behaviour.

Eight hundred and forty five Scots participated in the survey, but the researchers pointed out that this group might not have been representative of the Scottish population as a whole.

An Ash Scotland and YouGov survey in March 2014 indicated that 73 percent of a representative sample of the Scottish population was in favour of a ban on smoking in hospital grounds.

Pro-smoking campaign group Forest branded the hospital smoking ban ‘vindictive and inhumane’.

Smoking fines go to help children with cancer

| September 7, 2015

Fines collected from people caught breaking the anti-smoking ordinance in force in Davao City, the Philippines, have been given to a halfway house in Mindanao that provides for children suffering from cancer, according to a story in the Manila Bulletin.

After seeking the approval of the city council, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte turned over to the House of Hope P3.2 million, the income from two years of fines.

The House of Hope, a project of the Waling-Waling Rotary Club of Davao City, serves as a temporary home for children from around Mindanao who have cancer but who have nowhere to stay in the City.

Headed by Dr. Mae Dolendo, the facility also provides counseling services for the children and their parents.

Dolendo said Duterte spent his birthday and Christmas Day with the children and personally bought toys for them.

Council’s smoking ban could be unenforceable

| September 7, 2015

A council in England has proposed banning staff from smoking during working hours – including when they are on short breaks, according to a story in The Guardian.

Nottinghamshire county council, which employs 9,000 people, said the move would improve health, reduce sick leave and increase the time spent working.

Anyone who broke the rules would face disciplinary action.

The proposed rules would extend to all council buildings, land and vehicles, and would prohibit also the use of electronic cigarettes.

Unison, the largest public sector union, said the rules could prove to be unenforceable, while the smokers’ group Forest also criticised the plan.

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