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Long-running $20 billion Canadian class action ends

| December 12, 2014

A class-action lawsuit that targets three Canadian tobacco manufacturers for nearly $20 billion ended yesterday after almost three years of testimony, according to a Canadian Television story.

Judgement was reserved.

While the trial began in March 2012, the legal proceedings date back to 1998.

The plaintiffs include an estimated one million Quebecers who argued the companies are liable because they knew they were putting out a harmful product and hid the health effects of tobacco.

The suit involves separate groups of plaintiffs – some who became seriously ill from smoking and others who said they couldn’t quit.

The defendants are Imperial Tobacco Canada; Rothmans, Benson & Hedges; and JTI-Macdonald.

They argued that the negative health effects of tobacco had been common knowledge for decades and that there was no conspiracy to conceal anything.

The Canadian Television story is at:

A blog that has been running since the beginning of the trial, Eye on the Trials, can be accessed here:

JTI Lilongwe warehouse opened by Malawi President

| December 12, 2014

Malawi’s President, Professor Peter Mutharika, yesterday opened a new Japan Tobacco International warehouse at its site in Lilongwe, where the company has also carried out substantial upgrades to its tobacco processing line, according to a story in the Nyasa Times.

The investments are said to have been worth more than K5 billion.

“This is a great day, not only for JTI, but for the tobacco industry and indeed for Malawi since this investment offers hope to us all that tobacco will still be grown in this country for several years to come,” the President said at the opening ceremony.

Mutharika went on to say that the government of Malawi was committed to passing a new law that would support the sustainable production and sale of tobacco, and thereby protect the livelihoods of the country’s smallholder growers.

JTI’s senior vice president, Paul Neumann, said JTI would continue working towards harnessing Malawi’s potential as a leading producer of Burley, and the company’s head of business in Malawi, Fries Vanneste, said that JTI’s approach would improve the profitability of growers and the stability of the Malawian tobacco market.

“We provide support not only to individual growers, but also invest in entire communities to improve access to water, healthcare, and better education,” Vanneste said.

JTI Malawi employs more than 1,300 people and works directly with more than 11,000 growers.

Bangladesh media supports growers’ demands

| December 12, 2014

Tobacco growers in Bangladesh have urged the government to support them in producing alternative crops, according to a story in The Financial Express.

They also want the government to formulate and implement policies for thwarting tobacco cultivation.

The farmers were said to have made these ‘demands’ at a press conference entitled Voice of victims: Non-profitable tobacco farming, allurement to harmful profit held on Wednesday at the National Press Club.

The Anti-Tobacco Media Alliance was said to have taken the initiative to support the farmers in placing their demands.

The Express story quoted conference participants as saying the government had no policies in place to control tobacco growing and that tobacco companies were encouraging marginal and helpless farmers into growing tobacco.

But the farmers were said to prefer tobacco cultivation for the ‘temporary profit’ it offered.

JT’s domestic volume sales down in November

| December 12, 2014

Japan Tobacco Inc’s domestic cigarette sales volume during November, at 8.7 billion, was down by 8.8 percent on that of November 2013, 9.5 billion, according to preliminary figures issued by the company today. The November 2013 figure was down by 0.9 percent on that of November 2012.

Volume during January-November, at 102.2 billion, was down by 3.7 percent on that of January-November 2013, 106.1 billion, which was down by 0.5 per cent on that of January-November 2012.

JT’s market share stood at 60.1 percent during November, at 60.4 percent during January-November and at 60.5 percent during January-December 2013.

JT’s domestic cigarette revenue during November, at ¥49.0 billion, was down by 5.8 percent from its November 2013 level, ¥52.0 billion.

Revenue during January-November, at ¥573.4 billion, was down by 1.6 percent on that of January-November 2013, ¥582.6 billion.

Health body seeks higher tobacco prices in China

| December 11, 2014

China is considering raising tobacco taxes and cigarette prices to reduce the number of smokers in the country, according to a Xinhua News Agency story.

Yao Hongwen, of the National Health and Family Planning Commission, was said to have told a press conference yesterday that the commission would work together with other agencies to push hard for a tax increase.

“China is now on the course of fiscal and tax reform, which provides us with a rare chance to take advantage to raise tobacco taxes and prices for tobacco control,” said Yao.

The Chinese government raised tobacco taxes in 2009, but a report published by the World Health Organization in May said the increase had had no impact on tobacco consumption because it had not been passed on to the consumer.

The report said tobacco was very cheap in China and had become even more affordable in recent times as average incomes had risen along with China’s rapid economic growth and development.

French MPs vote down ‘automatic’ tax increase

| December 11, 2014

Cigarette prices in France will remain unchanged in the new year after MPs voted to throw out a planned 30 cent tax rise, according to a story in The Connexion.

The change of heart by the National Assembly came after intense lobbying by tobacconists and manufacturers.

The automatic tax rise had been due to come into force on January 1 but has now been struck out by an amendment to the law.

It means the cheapest pack of 20 cigarettes will stay at €6.50, with more expensive brands retailing at about €7.00.

Socialist MP Razzy Hammadi said that if the increase had been applied it would have widened the price gap between French cigarettes and those in neighbouring EU states, which would have encouraged more smokers to buy abroad.

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