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South Korea fears tax hike might trigger profiteering

| December 31, 2014

The government of South Korea said yesterday that it will clamp down on any cigarette manufacturers that might have hoarded cigarettes ahead of tomorrow’s huge, mainly tax-induced price rises, according to a story in The Korea Herald.

The finance ministry reportedly said that police and officials from the tax and customs department planned to check the inventories and sales records of all manufacturers to make certain they were not holding for sale in 2015 products they had claimed to have shipped out during 2014.

If a company were to operate in this way, it would be able to pocket at least part of the difference between the amount of tax due in 2014 and that due in 2015 – a considerable amount.

The government announced earlier this year that cigarette taxes would increase by an average of WON2,000 a pack, a massive rise given that, pre-increase, some cigarettes were selling for WON2,000 a pack.

The hike is due to the imposition of a special excise tax and other indirect taxes on cigarettes.

Meanwhile, the government says that it plans to keep tabs on cigarettes sold through the Internet.

The Herald reported ‘official sources’ as saying that some individuals had bought cigarettes in 2014 so as to hoard them before selling them for a profit in 2015.

Taiwan told to follow Korea’s anti-tobacco footsteps

| December 31, 2014

An-anti-tobacco organization has called on Taiwan’s government to increase cigarette tax by NT$20 a pack, increase the size of health warnings to cover 80 percent of pack surfaces, ban smoking in indoor public places, including places of work, and bring electronic cigarettes under the Tobacco Hazards Act.

According to a story in the Taipei Times, the John Tung Foundation on Monday urged the government to follow in South Korea’s footsteps in bolstering anti-smoking measures.

From tomorrow, South Korea is to prohibit smoking in all bars, restaurants and cafés, and impose a tax-induced increase of 80 percent on cigarette prices.

The foundation’s chief executive officer Yao Shi-yuan was quoted as saying that, since Taiwan implemented a regulation requiring warning labels covering 35 percent of cigarette pack surfaces in 2009, the number of countries that had adopted similar policies had increased from about 30 to 77.

“Nevertheless, as a nation that prides itself on its tobacco prevention achievements, it ranks fourth from the bottom on the size of cigarette warning labels worldwide,” Yao said.

“In addition, people are still allowed to smoke at bars and semi-open spaces, and the country has not increased the cigarette tax in 28 years.”

E-cigarettes one of UK’s fastest-growing products

| December 31, 2014

Electronic cigarettes, sports nutrition bars and gluten and dairy-free food were the fastest growing products sold in UK supermarkets and grocers during the last year, according to a story by Simon Neville for The Independent, citing new data from Nielsen.

Nielsen reported that electronic cigarette sales increased by 50.0 percent year-on-year, while sales of nicotine replacement products, such as patches and gum, dropped by 6.1 percent.

The electronic cigarette market, which is currently estimated to be worth £91.3 million a year, is expected to be worth £340 million next year.

Supermarkets have been particularly keen to cash in on the craze, partly because tobacco counter displays are banned at larger stores.

And pharmacies, too, have started selling the products for the first time.

Meanwhile, landlords have revealed that electronic cigarette shops are some of the fastest-growing outlets on the high street.

Adam Leyland, editor of industry magazine The Grocer, who analysed the Nielsen data, said that Ten Motives had overtaken E-Lites as the leading brand in the UK.

The story is at: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/grocers-light-up-as-ecigarette-sales-soar-50-per-cent-in-a-year-9949381.html#.

Public places bans backed by environmentalists

| December 30, 2014

Environmental experts have called for strict implementation of India’s ban on tobacco smoking in enclosed public places as a way of restricting where cigarette butts are discarded, according to an IANS (Indo-Asian News Service) story.

The non-biodegradable nature of a cigarette butt, which comprised a hazardous solid waste, meant that it was challenging to deal with, environmentalist M.K. Prasad was quoted as saying in a statement.

The butts contained dangerous chemicals such as cadmium, arsenic and lead.

‘Stricter implementation of laws on public smoking will not only improve public health but also restrict environmental damage,’ said Prasad.

‘Developed countries have woken up to this fact and have undertaken steps to identify the enormity of the problem. According to one estimate, the overall littering rate for cigarette butts in America is 65 percent.’

Cigarette price hike triggers violence in South Korea

| December 30, 2014

As the clock ticks towards the end of December, some smokers in South Korea are becoming increasingly agitated about the tax hike due to come into effect on January 1.

A story by Lina Jang for Korea Bizwire has described how a few smokers have become violent when faced with empty shelves and government-imposed guidelines limiting the number of cigarettes they can buy.

The main trigger for such lawlessness has been the government’s decision to increase the prices of cigarettes hugely after 10 years without increases.

As was reported here yesterday, with the increase in place, KT&G’s brands such as Esse, The One and Raison will retail at WON4,500, up 80 percent from WON2,500 now. Lower-tier cigarettes including This, Hallasan and Lilac will retail for WON4,000, up 100 percent from WON2,000 now.

The Bizwire story said that growing numbers of smokers were rushing to nearby convenience stores with the apparent aim of building stocks of cigarettes as a cushion against the January 1 price hike.

New anti-smoking campaign concentrates on rot

| December 30, 2014

Public Health England (PHE) yesterday launched a new campaign to highlight how ‘smoking damages the body and causes a slow and steady decline in a process similar to rotting’, according to a GOV.UK press note.

The note said the campaign was starting as a new expert review commissioned by PHE had highlighted the multiple impacts that toxic ingredients in cigarettes could have on the human body.

While many smokers knew that smoking caused cancer and harmed the lungs and heart, the new report highlighted how it damaged also: bones and muscles; the brain; teeth; and eyes.

The campaign is said to tackle also some common misconceptions around hand-rolled tobacco.

The consumption of hand-rolled cigarettes had increased significantly, the note said. In 1990, 18 percent of male smokers and two percent of female smokers said they smoked mainly hand-rolled cigarettes, but by 2013 these figures had risen to 40 percent for men and 23 percent for women.

New figures showed that 49 percent of smokers who only smoked hand-rolled cigarettes wrongly believed these products were less harmful than were manufactured cigarettes. ‘In fact, hand-rolled cigarettes are at least as hazardous as any other type of cigarette,’ the note said.

Digital and print billboards will show a hand-rolled cigarette full of decaying tissue, while an online viral will see a father casually rolling a cigarette formed of rotting human flesh.

These images are supposed to demonstrate that ‘every cigarette rots you from the inside out’.

The full press note is at: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/stop-the-rot-new-campaign-highlights-how-cigarettes-rot-the-body-from-the-inside.

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