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Tobacco attracting new growers in Zimbabwe

| January 12, 2015

Sixteen thousand four hundred farmers registered with Zimbabwe’s Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) to grow tobacco for the first time during the 2014/ 15 season, according to a story in The Herald quoting TIMB figures.

This influx of new growers meant that, by January 2, 87,852 farmers had registered to grow tobacco, up from 86,006 the previous year.

Zimbabwe expects to produce about 220 million kg of tobacco during the current season.

Production to be restarted at Nepal’s Janakpur plant

| January 9, 2015

Nepal’s Minister for Industry, Mahesh Basnet, has said that preparations have been made for resuming production at the Janakpur Cigarette Factory, according to a story in My Republica quoting a National News Agency report.

Basnet said the factory would resume operations soon ‘with the consent of the people’, which was possibly in part at least a references to the former factory workers who were in a long-running dispute over compensation.

The factory, which was established in 1965 with the support of the Russian government, has been closed for about three years.

It used to manufacture popular brands of cigarettes such as Yak, Gaida and Deurali.

However, with the entry of Surya Tobacco into the market, its near monopoly ended and it started incurring losses. By the end of 2010/11, the company had a cumulative loss of Rs170.80 million. The factory cited the use of obsolete machines as one of the reasons leading to its collapse.

But other factors were said to include unnecessary political intervention in the factory’s operation and the appointment of its chief, and general overstaffing.

Now, according to Basnet, the factory’s management is being privatized. The management would be handed over to the private sector but the lands and buildings would remain the property of the government, he said.

Call for doubling of cigarette tax in Hong Kong

| January 9, 2015

A Hong Kong-based anti-tobacco-smoking pressure group is calling on the government to double the tax it imposes on cigarettes in a bid to get more smokers to quit their habit, according to a story by Elizabeth Cheung for the South China Morning Post.

Doubling cigarette taxes would reportedly cause the price of these products to rise from about HK$55 to HK$93.

The Council on Smoking and Health, which is calling for the tax hike, believes the increase would cut the smoking rate from 10.7 percent of over 15-year-olds – about 650,000 people – to between 9.5 and 9.9 percent in one to two years.

Tobacco tax in the city was raised by 300 percent in 1983, which led to a 4.6 percent fall in the number of smokers over two years to 18.7 percent.

Cigarette tax has gone unchanged in 12 budgets since 1999, though there have been two huge increases during this period: 50 percent in 2009 and 41.5 percent in 2011.

Savvy smokers switch to e-cigarettes to skirt tax hike

| January 9, 2015

South Korea’s anti-forces are having to fight a rearguard action as their success in getting the government to impose an eye-watering tax increase at the beginning of this year is creating a surge in interest in electronic cigarettes.

An idea of the state of panic that is being created by these devices can be judge from media reports. The Korea Times managed to find a house in Gyeongsan, North Gyeongsang Province, where an electronic cigarette had exploded while being charged overnight. Nobody was hurt and nothing, apart from the electronic cigarette, was damaged.

The Ministry of Health and Welfare is said now to be focusing on the safety of electronic cigarettes. “We found that the gas emitted by electronic cigarettes contains nicotine twice as much as in a traditional cigarette,” Ryu Geun-hyeok, the ministry’s bureau chief of health policy, was quoted as saying.

“Inhaling an e-cigarette 150 times consecutively could even kill you,” he added.

Ryu was later quoted as saying that the ministry ‘will continue to work hard to prevent health damage caused by second-hand smoking from e-cigarettes’.

But smokers seem to be a little savvier than the ministry is. According to the ministry, 11 percent of males and six percent of females have smoked an e-cigarette at least once in their lifetime, and these numbers are expected ‘to shoot up in the near future’.

Tales of the unexpected

| January 9, 2015

The headline over a blog by a prominent US health campaigner yesterday read: Alaska Health Department airs first pro-smoking television ad since 1970.

But, if you’re in the cigarette business, you shouldn’t get too excited until you read on.

Dr. Michael Siegel, a professor in the Department of Community Health Sciences at Boston University School of Public Health, was making the point that the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services had started running a television spot that ‘undoubtedly promotes smoking by strongly discouraging smokers who might otherwise quit from using electronic cigarettes’.

‘The commercial will likely also cause ex-smokers who have quit via electronic cigarettes to return to cigarette smoking,’ Siegel writes.

‘Worst of all, the commercial lies to the public by attributing to electronic cigarette diseases for which there is no evidence of an association with vaping.’

The blog is at:

Meanwhile, another blog by Siegel announces the winners of the ‘2014 Anti-Smoking Myth of the Year Award’, a category for which competition was extremely strong.


US senator brands TPP a disastrous trade agreement

| January 8, 2015

A US senator has made a scathing attack on the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), listing 10 ways in which it would harm working families, according to a piece by Jason Easley in PoliticusUSA.

Senator Bernie Sanders branded the TPP a disastrous trade agreement designed to protect the interests of the largest multi-national corporations at the expense of workers, consumers, the environment and the foundations of US democracy.

It would negatively impact, too, some of the poorest people in the world, he said.
The TPP was a treaty that had been written behind closed doors by the corporate world. Incredibly, while Wall Street, the pharmaceutical industry and major media companies had full knowledge as to what was in the treaty, US people and members of Congress did not. They had been locked out of the process.

‘Let’s be clear: the TPP is much more than a “free trade” agreement,’ Sanders was quoted as saying in a statement.
‘It is part of a global race to the bottom to boost the profits of large corporations and Wall Street by outsourcing jobs; undercutting worker rights; dismantling labor, environmental, health, food safety and financial laws; and allowing corporations to challenge our laws in international tribunals rather than our own court system.’

The Politicus piece, including what Sanders sees as the 10 ways in which the TPP would be harmful, is here.

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