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Court rejects tobacco companies’ appeal

| June 11, 2014

The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected efforts by the tobacco industry to derail thousands of Florida smoker lawsuits and left intact 11 awards totaling more than $70 million, according to a story by Greg Stohr for Business Week/Bloomberg.

Units of Altria Group, Reynolds American and Lorillard had asked the Supreme Court to intervene, saying they weren’t being afforded an adequate chance to mount a defense.

The justices, without comment, turned away 10 appeals affecting 11 cases.

The tobacco companies had said in court papers that they faced the prospect of billions of dollars in damages in more than 4,000 pending lawsuits.

The cases had already produced more than $450 million in liability, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco told the high court.

JT to relaunch Winston products in Japan

| June 11, 2014

Japan Tobacco Inc. is to relaunch two Winston products in Japan in the Winston XS format, which, it says, offers a smoother, finer flavor with a subtly sweet aftertaste, while maintaining the distinctive and balanced taste characteristic of the brand.

XS products are said to incorporate, too, LSS (less smoke smell) technologies, which are present in a number of products sold in Japan, where the technology has long been referred to as D-Spec.

Winston Lights 6 Box and Winston Ultra One 100s Box will be relaunched as Winston XS 6 Box and Winston XS One 100s Box respectively.

They will be made available across Japan from the middle of July.

JT said that Winston was the world’s second biggest cigarette brand (Euromonitor 2013 data) and was available in more than 100 countries.

Imperial to float Logista

| June 11, 2014

Imperial Tobacco said yesterday that it intended to float its European logistics division, Logista, on the Spanish stock market, according to a story by Paul Sandle for Reuters.

Imperial said its indirectly wholly owned subsidiary Altadis would sell a portion of shares in Logista to institutional investors in an initial public offer.

The company said in February that it was reviewing Logista as part of a focus on its core cigarette business.

PMI declares quarterly dividend

| June 11, 2014

The board of directors of Philip Morris International today declared a regular quarterly dividend of $0.94 per common share, payable on July 11 to shareholders of record as of June 26.

The ex-dividend date is June 24.

Call for minimum tobacco pricing

| June 10, 2014

An Australian independent senator is pushing for the introduction of minimum pricing for cigarettes to counter British American Tobacco’s launch of what is said to be the lowest priced licit cigarette on the market at A$13 for a pack of 25, according to a News Interactive Network story.

‘Senator Nick Xenophon has accused the tobacco giant of circumventing laws to discourage people from smoking,’ the story said.

Xenophon’s concern seems to be that BAT is using pricing as a way of keeping people smoking even though they are faced with the graphic images of the standardized tobacco packs introduced in Australia in December 2012: that the fear invoked by the terrible images is assuaged by a lower price.

He plans to ‘consult with public health experts on the most effective disincentive price but wants to see a minimum of $20 for a 25-pack’.

This was the best option to combat a “deeply cynical” campaign aimed at boosting the ranks of younger smokers, he said.

BAT was quoted as saying that it was simply seeking to remain competitive as sales of cut-price cigarettes soared.

It was clear when the idea of standardized packs was mooted that the removal of one competitive weapon, pack design and appeal, would lead to the sharpening of another – price.

U.K.-based opponents of plain tobacco packaging launch online campaign

| June 10, 2014

U.K. campaigners against the standardized packaging of tobacco today launched an online campaign against the policy.

The No, Prime Minister campaign was created by the smokers’ group Forest, which runs the Hands Off Our Packs program.

The campaign features a letter that opponents of standardized packaging can send to the prime minister, David Cameron.

According to the letter, there is no credible evidence that children start smoking because of packaging, or that standardized packaging would deter children from smoking.

It calls on Cameron to wait until the government has studied the impact of the tobacco display ban, which will not be fully implemented until 2015, and the introduction of larger health warnings, which are being introduced in 2016 as part of the EU’s revised Tobacco Products Directive.

“Plain packaging is yet another attack on retailers and adult consumers,” said Simon Clark, director of Forest. “People are sick of being nannied by government. Britain needs to be protected from excessive regulation, not controlled by more and more legislation.

“A four-month government consultation resulted in over 665,000 responses with a substantial majority, 427,888, opposed to the policy. We urge the prime minister to respect the outcome of that consultation which members of the public responded to in good faith.”

The online ad campaign will run for 72 hours and will have total exposure on websites and blogs including Guido Fawkes, Conservative Home, Labour List, Liberal Democrat Voice, Left Foot Forward, UK Polling Report, Political Betting and Newsbiscuit.

Meanwhile, campaigners have responded to an open letter published in the BMJ in which more than 600 doctors, nurses and other NHS [National Health Service] professionals urge Cameron and the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to publish draft regulations on standardized tobacco packaging.

The letter warns there is a “relatively short time left” for the regulations to be introduced if they are to be voted on before next year’s general election, and asks the government to confirm they will be published in the next few weeks.

But Clark said the government was right to take its time.

The impact of standardized packaging on retailers and consumers could be extremely damaging, he said.

Evidence suggested that plain packaging could fuel the trade in illicit products and lead to the U.K. being flooded with fake cigarettes.

Urging the government to “keep an open mind” on standardized packaging, Clark said that if the consultation on the regulations was to have any meaning, ministers had to keep an open mind.

“A decision to introduce standardized packaging must be based on hard evidence that it will stop the next generation of children smoking,” he said.

“Conjecture and subjective opinion, which is all we’ve seen so far, are not enough.”

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