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Korean smokers brace for price hike

| September 12, 2014

The South Korean government wants to increase cigarette prices by 80 percent next year. Under the proposal, a KRW2,500 ($2.42) pack would cost KRW4,500 come Jan. 1. The government would also start adjusting cigarette prices to inflation rates, which would result in more frequent cigarette price rises in the future. Cigarette prices in Korea have been flat since 2004.

The government hopes its proposal will increase revenue and reduce smoking. At 44 percent in 2013, South Korea’s male smoking rateis the highest among Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development countries. The government wants to reduce that figure to 29 percent by 2020.

The Ministry of Strategy and Finance expects the price hike to cause a 34 percent drop in overall sales of tobacco products and generate an additional KRW2.8 trillion in tax revenues.

Korea’s cigarette prices are currently among the lowest in the world, while its tobacco tax rates are below the World Health Organization’s recommendation of 70 percent.

Tobacco companies cautioned that the measure would encourage smuggling from countries such as China, where tobacco prices are much lower. It also warned of an increase in consumption of illegally produced, low-quality cigarettes, which may be more harmful to health than higher-quality varieties.

Regulatory authorization for nicotine inhaler

| September 12, 2014

The U.K. Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has granted a product license for general sale to Kind Consumer’s Voke nicotine inhaler. The company will now submit a variation to the license to support full-scale commercialization by its commercial partner, Nicoventures.

“We are pleased to announce that the Voke Inhaler has been licensed in the U.K. as a medicinal product after a detailed review process by the MHRA,” says Chris Moyses, chief medical officer, Kind Consumer.

“It is a great achievement for the team to have successfully navigated the process to marketing authorization during which we have satisfied all questions raised by the MHRA. The technology contains no electronics, heat or combustion and will rival e-cigarettes and nicotine-replacement therapies when launched.”

Voke is licensed for use to relieve and/or prevent craving and nicotine-withdrawal symptoms associated with tobacco dependence. It is indicated to aid smokers wishing to quit or reduce prior to quitting, to assist smokers who are unwilling or unable to smoke, and as a safer alternative to smoking for smokers and those around them.

The marketing authorization application comprised pharmaceutical, non-clinical and clinical data on the Voke Inhaler, including a clinical pharmacokinetic study comparing the Voke Inhaler with a commercially available pharmaceutical product. In addition, the Voke Inhaler includes a CE-marked medical device.

“It took over a decade to design and develop Voke, combining strict pharmaceutical safety standards while retaining the real consumer experience of the product,” says Alex Hearn, chief product officer, inventor of the technology and founder of Kind Consumer. “This invention, promises to make a real difference in offering smokers a safer alternative to smoking.”

“Achieving the first authorization for the Voke Inhaler as a licensed medicine is a major milestone for the company,” says Kind Consumer CEO Paul Triniman. “The Voke Inhaler will be commercialized by Nicoventures Ltd., now engaged in ensuring that automated manufacturing capacity will be in place, as well as the marketing plans to bring this advance in nicotine technology to smokers.”

High taxes mean high times for the illicit tobacco trade in Hong Kong

| September 11, 2014

One out of three cigarettes smoked in Hong Kong last year was illicit, according to a story in the South China Morning Post citing a study by two overseas think tanks.

The displacement of licit by illicit cigarettes was said to have cost the government more than HK$3.2 billion in ‘lost tax revenue’.

The multi-state Illicit Tobacco Indicator study conducted by UK-based Oxford Economics and the US-based International Tax and Investment Center (ITIC) suggested that the illicit cigarette consumption rate in Hong Kong accounted for up to 33.6 percent of the 1.8 billion cigarettes smoked there last year.

Of the 14 countries studied, Hong Kong had the third highest consumption rate after Brunei and Malaysia, which ranked first and second, respectively.

The findings were contested by the Hong Kong Council on Smoking and Health. A study carried out by the council and the University of Hong Kong showed the illicit-cigarette consumption rate during 2012 was between 8.3 percent and 14.0 percent.

The report by ITIC and Oxford Economics for the same year suggested the figure was 35.9 percent.

ITIC president, Daniel Witt, was quoting as saying the high rate of illicit-cigarette consumption last year was caused by substantial tax increases on cigarettes, which had forced smokers to seek a cheaper alternative. He said cigarette taxes had risen by 50 percent between 2008 and 2009.

Witt was said to have ‘shrugged off’ suggestions that the study could be biased because it was partly funded by Philip Morris International.

Huge warnings to appear on Thai packs

| September 11, 2014

A law requiring the inclusion of graphic health warnings that take up 85 percent of the front and back of cigarette packs is due to come into force in Thailand on September 24, according to a National News Bureau of Thailand story.

The new warnings, which come in 10 varieties, are said to be the biggest to be required anywhere.

Failure to display the new warnings will leave the malefactor liable to fines of up to 20,000 baht.

A quit-smoking hotline number is also due to be shown on packs, presumably in small letters.

Vietnam’s smuggling season in full swing

| September 11, 2014

Vietnam is on high alert for the Mekong Delta flooding season, which usually occurs from September to November. Partly, this vigilance is about watching for tobacco smugglers, who can take advantage of the waterways formed by the flooding.

But they hardly need to wait for the flooding season. According to a story, already this year Vietnam has demonstrated that it has a thriving tobacco smuggling trade.

Nearly 8,000 incidences of smuggling were discovered during the first eight months of this year, bizhub reported, citing figures from the Market Watch Department of Vietnam’s Ministry of Industry and Trade.

The authorities were said to have already dealt with 4,700 cases, imposing VND14 billion (US$636,000) in fines and confiscating one million packs of smuggled tobacco, along with eight cars, 432 motorbikes and seven boats that were used to transport the products.

Only 21 cases were prosecuted, however, because those transporting fewer than 1,500 packs of cigarettes are not subject to criminal prosecution.

The report quoted the chairman of the Viet Nam Tobacco Association, Vu Van Cuong, as saying that profits from smuggling tobacco had doubled in recent years; so more people were becoming involved, finding new roads and waterways across borders, and transporting under 1,500 packs of cigarettes at a time to avoid criminal prosecution if caught.

And what had become a border-town activity had now spread across the country, Cuong added.

Online registration to close Monday

| September 11, 2014

Online registration for next month’s CORESTA (Co-operation Centre for Scientific Research Relative to Tobacco) Congress, which is available at, is due to close on September 15.

After that date, only onsite registration will be available.

The congress is due to be held at the Château Frontenac, Québec City, Canada, on October 12-16.

The theme of the congress is ‘Building on experience to shape the future’.

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