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Korea’s health-cost claims could reach court sooner than had been expected

| January 17, 2014

South Korea’s National Health Insurance Service (NHIS) said yesterday that it would decide the details of its compensation suit against KT&G and other tobacco manufacturers at a board meeting on Jan. 24, according to a story in The Korea Times.

“The board will decide when to file the suit and how much it will seek in damages,” an NHIS official was quoted as saying. “If details are approved, the filing can take place as early as a day after the meeting.”

Given this, the NHIS’s legal action against local and foreign tobacco manufacturers is expected to take place earlier than had previously been expected.

Last month, NHIS President Kim Jong-dae said the NHIS would file a suit against tobacco companies to recover medical costs which it had incurred due to smoking-related diseases.

“Tobacco makers should be responsible for health insurance payments for smoke-related diseases, which stood at 1.69 trillion won in 2009,” he said.

JT’s domestic sales rose in December

| January 17, 2014

Japan Tobacco Inc.’s domestic cigarette sales volume during December, at 10.4 billion, was increased by 1.1 percent on that of December 2012, 10.3 billion, according to preliminary figures issued by the company today. The December 2012 figure was down by 4.5 percent on that of December 2011.

Volume during April–December, at 89.7 billion, was up by 0.4 percent on that of April–December 2012, 89.4 billion, which was increased by 10.5 percent on that of April–December 2011.

JT’s market share stood at 61.4 percent in December, at 60.8 percent during April–December, and at 59.6 percent for the full year to the end of March.

JT’s domestic cigarette revenue during December, at ¥57.0 billion, was increased by 0.7 percent on its December 2012 revenue, ¥56.6 billion.

Revenue during April–December, at ¥492.1 billion, was more or less unchanged from that of April–December 2012, ¥492.0 billion.

JT’s consolidated financial results, which will include its domestic tobacco business performance for the third quarter to the end of December, are due to be announced on Jan. 30.

India’s tobacco exports keep rising

| January 17, 2014

India’s tobacco and tobacco products exports are expected to have earned INR50 billion in the financial year to the end of March, 29 percent more than was earned during the year to the end of March 2013, according to a story in the most recent issue of the BBM Bommidala Group newsletter.

Despite this increase in exports, the Tobacco Board of India is concerned that tobacco farming is facing challenges thrown up by local anti-smoking campaigns and by India’s participation in the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

So the chairman of the board, Dr. K. Gopal, has promised growers and traders that technical assistance will be provided to help them produce tobacco whose quality compares with the best in the world.

Smugglers fast-tracking in Malaysia

| January 17, 2014

Smugglers intent on delivering cigarettes to Malaysia are doubling the horsepower of their boats and using their extensive knowledge of channel systems in a bid to outrun Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) officers, according to a story in The Star.

The MMEA says, too, that the Malaysian-based smugglers are working with syndicates from neighbouring countries.

In a previous story, The Star said an Affin Investment Bank research report had Malaysia’s illicit cigarette trade as accounting for 34.5 percent of the total market as at the end of 2013, compared with 20 percent in 2002.

The bank said the key culprit for the “rampant illegal activities” was the increase in cigarette prices over the years resulting from higher excise duties.

Mighty expansion of CSR program

| January 17, 2014

Philippine cigarette manufacturer Mighty Corp. says it will this year embark on a three-pronged assistance program to benefit 65,000 tobacco farmers in the Cagayan Valley and Ilocos Region.

Executive Vice President Oscar Barrientos said the company had allocated PHP10 million for the distribution of agricultural equipment and tools to be used by groups of organized tobacco growers operating on farms without access to aids such as irrigation facilities and small tractors. The company would provide also about 20,000 long-sleeved farm shirts to ease the plight of tobacco farmers.

In addition, the company will launch a scholarship program, in tandem with the National Tobacco Administration (NTA), for children of tobacco farmers in the regions.

And the third component of the social responsibility program will see Mighty Corp. support the annual search by the NTA for outstanding tobacco farmers.

“Through this program, we want to help farmers reach the global productivity level on tobacco growing while increasing their levels of income,” Barrientos said.

“All of these will be extended as grants, not loans. We want to partner with the NTA and the farmers themselves to make sure the grants will reach the right people.”

The story said that Mighty Corp. was seeking the help of the NTA chief, Edgardo Zaragosa, so as to set in motion its expanded CSR program.

Altria to host results webcast Jan. 30

| January 17, 2014

The Altria Group is due to host a live audio webcast at www.altria.com from 9 a.m. Eastern Time on Jan. 30 to discuss its 2013 fourth-quarter and full-year business results.

The company will issue a press note with its business results about 7 a.m. the same day.

During the webcast, which will be in listen-only mode, Chairman and CEO Marty Barrington and Executive Vice President and CFO Howard Willard will discuss the company’s results and answer questions from the investment community and news media.

Pre-event registration can be made at www.altria.com, where an archived copy of the webcast will be made available.

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