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New Nepalese plant starts production

| May 27, 2014

Surya Nepal has started production at its new cigarette plant at Seratar in the district of Tanahun, according to a story in Republica.

The company has invested NPR4.5 billion in the factory, which employs about 200 people and is set on 145 ropani (7.3 ha).

Currently, the factory is running 16 hours a day in two shifts, but the plan is to operate it around the clock. “We can produce 10 million sticks of cigarettes in a day by operating the factory for 16 hours,” said Ravi KC, corporate vice president of Surya Nepal.

The company had been producing cigarettes from its plant in Simara for the past 22 years, but the new plant is the first to be built in the hilly regions.

Local industrialists say the opening of such a big factory in western Nepal will encourage other investors to open factories in Pokhara and surrounding areas.

Low auction prices force growers to make illegal shift to contract selling

| May 27, 2014

Some of Zimbabwe’s flue-cured tobacco growers are diverting their crops to contract floors so as to earn higher prices than those being offered over the auction floors, according to a story in the Zimbabwe Herald.

Officially, contract buyers purchase tobacco only from contracted growers, but some farmers not under contract are said to be using contracted growers’ registration numbers to sell their crops on the contract floors.

The Herald story said that most of the growers involved in this practice were aware that it was illegal, but said they had no choice since buyers were offering unattractive prices at the auction floors.

A Karoi farmer was quoted as saying that she had sold part of her crop over the auction floors but had been disheartened by the prices.

“Tobacco production is my mainstay,” she said.

“I have to go back to the fields, and with the prices being offered at auction floors, I will never be able to finance my crop. I am selling the remaining tobacco through the contract floors.”

The average price paid at the contract floors stands at $3.13 per kg, 20.8 percent higher than the average price at auction, $2.59 per kg.

Andhra flue-cured auction prices soar

| May 27, 2014

Flue-cured tobacco prices have been soaring at auctions underway in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, according to a story in the most recent issue of the BBM Bommidala Group newsletter.

Northern black soils tobaccos were said to have touched a new high of INR168 per kg at the Thorredu auction platform.

And Northern light soil tobacco peaked at INR176 per kg at the West Godavari platform.

Seventy days into the selling season, 81.08 million kg of tobacco had been sold for an average price of INR121 per kg.

Fifty-seven percent of the tobacco sold has comprised bright grades.

Meanwhile, the Tobacco Board of India is proposing to employ in the future a GPS (global positioning system) to monitor remotely the condition of crops and to help with early intervention in the fields.

The board is preparing also to webcast the proceedings at all of the Andhra and Karnataka auction platforms so as to provide  efficient monitoring.

Call for higher taxes in Asean countries

| May 27, 2014

Regional tobacco control groups have called for higher cigarette taxation among Asean (Association of Southeast Asia Nations) countries and a crackdown on the illicit trade so as to reduce consumption, according to a story in the Bangkok Post.

The call came during the Tobacco Taxation and Illicit Trade workshop held at the World Health Organization’s Western Pacific Regional Office in Manila last week.

“Tobacco taxation hasn’t yet been fully implemented in Asean countries,” Bungon Ritthiphakdee, director for the Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (Seatca), was quoted as saying.

“Cigarette prices are still affordable in most countries. Hence, consumption is increasing in the region.”

A Seatca survey found that about 9.25 billion cigarettes were smoked daily in Asean countries.

PM in Pakistan advertising ban challenge

| May 23, 2014

Philip Morris International has filed a petition in the Sindh High Court, Pakistan, challenging a ban on tobacco product advertisements and promotions due to come into force at the end of this month, according to local news reports.

One report in the Business Recorder, while not mentioning PMI by name, said the petition had described the ban on tobacco product advertising and promotions, put in place by the Ministry of National Health, Services, Regulations and Co-ordination, as irrational, unduly harsh and extremely unreasonable.

Tobacco control groups are said to be rallying around the government.

The case is due to be heard at Karachi on May 28.

Possible MERS link with shisha smoking

| May 23, 2014

The shisha café culture may exacerbate the spread of the coronavirus in Saudi Arabia and other Middle East countries, according to an Arab News story quoting a senior physiology professor at King Saud University (KSU).

Sultan Ayoub Meo, professor and consultant at KSU’s King Khalid University Hospital, said shisha smokers, along with their friends and relatives, ran a high risk of transmission of this deadly respiratory disease.

Meo, who is currently supervising a research project on the hazards of shisha smoking, said shisha smoking sometimes involved sharing, over a lengthy period, a water pipe that might contain infected saliva.

“The greater the exposure in terms of duration and amount smoked, the greater the risk of getting MERS,” he said.

MERS, or Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, is a viral respiratory illness first reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012 and caused by a coronavirus called MERS-CoV.

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