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Ethiopian city implements tobacco smoking ban

| January 13, 2015

Mekelle, the capital of Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region, has become the first Ethiopian city to ban tobacco smoking in public places, according to a story in The Sudan Tribune.

A bill banning smoking was passed unanimously last year by Ethiopian lawmakers and Mekelle has become the first city to implement the bill’s regulations.

The new law restricts smoking in enclosed public places, such as bars and restaurants, but also in open spaces, including sports venues, schools, hospitals, health centres, and other areas where cultural and religious events take place.

The law requires all public and private bodies to post ‘No Smoking’ signs on their premises and forbids the media from advertising or promoting tobacco products.

According to sources in Mekelle, individuals caught violating the regulations will be fined $50, while bar owners who fail to enforce the new laws will face a $150 fine.

Italy preparing for further tobacco smoking bans

| January 13, 2015

Italy is making moves to ban tobacco smoking in outdoor areas such as parks, beaches and stadiums, and to stop actors lighting up on film and television sets, according to a story in The Local.

And according to a story in La Repubblica, smoking could be banned in cars, ‘especially’ – but presumably not exclusively – when ‘children’ are being carried as passengers.

Ten years after smoking was banned in indoor public places in Italy, the country’s Health Minister, Beatrice Lorenzin, said further restrictions on smokers were being explored.

“Restrictions will be narrowed further,” Lorenzin was quoted as saying.

“We’ll begin with films and cars with children on board, and then we’ll assess eventual new measures. It’s a subject to be explored, and will eventually lead to a debate.”

On January 10 2005, Italy became the third country in Europe after Ireland and Norway to bring in a smoking ban in indoor public places including bars, cafés and nightclubs.

Since the so-called Sirchia Law was introduced, the number of smokers in Italy has fallen from 23.8 percent to 19.5 percent, according to figures from Istat, the national statistics agency, though this is not to say that the smoking ban was the cause of or even part of the cause of the fall.

Italy recently banned smoking in outdoor spaces at schools while the minimum age to buy cigarettes was raised to 18.

Cut-rag and cigarette export awards for Bommidala

| January 13, 2015

Bommidala Enterprises picked up two export awards at the Tobacco Board of India’s Formation Day on Friday

It was judged to be India’s biggest exporter of cut tobacco in 2014 and its third biggest exporter of cigarettes. This was the eighth consecutive year in which the company had won these awards.

Bommidala Enterprises is part of the Guntur-based BBM Bommidala Group, which has interests in unmanufactured tobacco, cut rag, cigarettes and duty-free goods.

Also during the formation day celebrations, 30 tobacco growers from Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka were presented with best grower awards for achieving the highest yielding and best quality flue-cured crops of the 2013-14 season.

And awards were presented also to tobacco traders, packers and buyers, and to five auction platforms for outstanding performances.

EU releasing information on US trade treaty talks

| January 12, 2015

The European Commission last week published a number of documents setting out proposals for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) it is negotiating with the US.

Negotiators had come under pressure from the public over the previously secret nature of the negotiations that many believe would cede even more power to multinational corporations and undermine democracy. Even under current trade rules governments appear powerless to collect equitable levels of taxes from some of the corporations operating on the territories seemingly under those governments’ control.

Protesters in the UK were attacked because it was claimed that they did not understand the treaty; so releasing more information about it should go some way to addressing that problem.

“I’m delighted that we can start the New Year by clearly demonstrating through our actions the commitment we made to greater transparency just over a month ago,” said EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström in a statement posted on a Commission website. “Today’s publication of our specific legal proposals in the context of TTIP marks another first in EU trade policy.”

The statement went on to say that the so-called ‘textual proposals’ being published set out the EU’s specific proposals for legal text that has been tabled in the proposed TTIP. ‘They set out actual language and binding commitments which the EU would like to see in the parts of the agreement covering regulatory and rules issues,’ it said. ‘The eight EU textual proposals cover competition, food safety and animal and plant health, customs issues, technical barriers to trade, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and government-to-government dispute settlement (GGDS, not to be confused with ISDS). Today, the Commission has also published TTIP position papers explaining the EU’s approach on engineering, vehicles, and sustainable development, bringing the total number of position papers it has made public up to 15.’

The Commission reference to ISDS, or Investor-state Dispute Settlements, was presumably made to assuage the fears of those who believe that these instruments are used, for instance, by large corporations to force governments of small nations to act in ways that the corporations see as being not detrimental to their businesses but the governments see as undermining health or environmental policies.

‘To make the online documents more accessible to the non-expert, the Commission is also publishing a ‘Reader’s Guide’, explaining what each text means,’ the statement said. ‘It is also issuing a glossary of terms and acronyms, and a series of factsheets setting out in plain language what is at stake in each chapter of TTIP and what the EU’s aims are in each area.’

“I’m particularly pleased that we’re including explanations in non-technical language to go alongside the legal texts,” said Malmström. “It’s important that everyone can see and understand what we’re proposing in TTIP and – just as importantly – what we’re not.”

‘Although today’s publication is the first time the Commission has published specific EU legal proposals while negotiating a bilateral trade agreement, it has already posted numerous documents online setting out its position in TTIP on a wide range of issues,’ the statement said. ‘In line with its determination to make EU trade policy more transparent, the Commission intends to publish further texts and proposals in the course of the negotiations, as they become available.’

The following is a link to the texts published today:

Most Iranians disapprove of hookah smoking

| January 12, 2015

A survey has indicated that 67 percent of Iranians would support a ban on hookah smoking in coffee houses, according to a Tehran Times story quoting a Hamshahrionline report.

The study by the University of Tehran’s Center for Public Opinion Research was conducted in December among smokers and non-smokers more than 18 years of age living in both rural and urban areas across the country. The margin of error was said to be 5.3 percent.

About 13 percent of the respondents said they had smoked flavored hookah and 14 percent reported having smoked cigarettes during the month prior to the study’s being conducted.

More than 71 percent of the participants believed that hookah smoking was more harmful to health than was cigarette smoking.

And 86 percent of the respondents disapproved of hookah smoking. Women were more disapproving than were men, and villagers were more disapproving than were city people.

Sales down in France but it could have been worse

| January 12, 2015

Volume sales of cigarettes in France dropped by 5.3 percent last year, according to a story in La Tribune citing initial figures from the tobacconists’ federation.

Volume sales of cigars and cigarillos fell by 4.1 percent, while those of fine-cut tobacco went down 3.0 percent.

Cigarette sales did not fall as sharply as they had in 2013, when they decreased by 7.6 percent to 47.5 billion.

Nevertheless, tobacconists will feel relieved that the prices of cigarettes did not increase at the beginning of this year, as had been expected.

Towards the end of last year, French MPs voted down a tax rise that was to have been imposed automatically from January 1.

The change of heart by the National Assembly came after intense lobbying by tobacconists and manufacturers and required an amendment to the law. Socialist MP Razzy Hammadi said that if the increase had been applied it would have widened the price gap between French cigarettes and those in neighbouring EU states, which would have encouraged more smokers to buy abroad.

As things stand, the cheapest packs of 20 cigarettes retail for €6.50 each, while more expensive brands retail for about €7.00.

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