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.
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.
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.
Imperial Tobacco’s cigarette factory in Antsirabe has been recognized for the high level of respect and care shown to employees.
Imperial’s subsidiary Sacimem was among 150 businesses to take part in a government scheme to evaluate health and safety as well as employee well-being.
The Sacimem factory, with 143 employees, was chosen as the best in the region and received a trophy in recognition of this from the work ministry.
Hervé Lamy, lead factory manager Indian Ocean, accepted the award and hosted a tour of the site.
“I’m very proud to accept the award on behalf of the company as it demonstrates the level of commitment we have made to our employees at this factory,” he said.
Research in South Africa has cast doubt on previous claims about the extent and effects of the illicit cigarette trade in South Africa.
In the conclusions to a research paper published yesterday by Tobacco Control, professor Corné van Walbeek of the School of Economics at the University of Cape Town said that, other than in 2010, there was no evidence that the illicit trade was significantly undermining government revenue.
And claims that the illicit trade had consistently increased during the past 15 years, and had continued its sharp increase since 2010, were not supported.
Van Walbeek indicated that the research had been undertaken after tobacco industry claims that the illicit trade in cigarettes had increased sharply since the 1990s and that government had lost substantial tax revenue.
He set out to determine whether cigarette excise tax revenue had been below budget in recent years, compared with previous decades, and to determine trends in the size of the illicit market since 1995.
The research found that cigarette excise revenues were 0.7 percent below budget for 2000–2012 on average, compared with 3 percent below budget for beer and 4.7 percent below budget for spirits.
It found that there was no evidence that the illicit trade in cigarettes in South Africa increased between 2002 and 2009, though it found that there was a substantial increase in 2010, which probably peaked in 2011.
And it found that in 2012 tax-paid consumption of cigarettes increased by 2.6 percent, implying that the illicit market share decreased an estimated 0.6 percentage points.
The research is published as an open access paper at http://tobaccocontrol.bmj.com/content/early/2014/01/15/tobaccocontrol-2013-051178.full.pdf+html.
Six members of the Iowa House and Senate have written to Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller and attorneys general in 22 other states, asking whether new international trade deals will affect the ability of states to legislate in the public interest—for instance in respect of tobacco.
According to a story in the Des Moines Register, the letter refers to deals being negotiated by the U.S. trade representative, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which is intended to enhance trade and investment in the nine participating countries.
Thirty-seven legislators from other states have also signed the letter, which they said seeks insight into agreements they believe are being developed in a shroud of secrecy. The letter is addressed also to the National Association of Attorneys General.
One of the Iowa signatories, Chuck Isenhart said he had concerns whether Iowa’s continued support for the biofuels industry could come under outside attack under provisions of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. In addition, questions had been raised about the defensibility of tobacco prevention policies and consumer protections, he said.
Geoff Greenwood, a spokesman for Miller, said Miller shared concerns about how the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement could, for example, impact Iowa’s ability to regulate tobacco products. “We will review the concerns that several state legislators have brought to our attention, and we look forward to discussing them,” he said.