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Vietnam to raise special tobacco taxes

| September 29, 2014

Vietnamese lawmakers have agreed to raise the special consumption tax imposed on tobacco, beer and spirits from 2016, according to a story in VietnamPlus.

They accepted a proposal put forward at a National Assembly Standing Committee meeting by the chairman of the Committee on Financial and Budgetary Affairs, Phung Quoc Hien, that a 70 percent tax be imposed on tobacco from January 1, 2016, and a 75 percent tax from January 1, 2018. The current rate is 65 percent.

Vietnam is said to have about 15 million smokers and a death toll from cigarettes that is expected to rise from the 40,000 of 2008 to 50,000 by 2023.

Last year, the prime minister approved a national strategy on tobacco harm control and prevention that has a target of reducing smoking among young people from the current rate of 26 percent to 18 percent by 2020.

The strategy targets reducing the male smoking rate to 39 percent and the female rate to 1.4 percent.

Time limit on cigarette sales unlawful

| September 29, 2014

The European Commission has formally requested that Estonia change its excise duty legislation as it relates to the marketing of cigarettes.

The Commission’s ‘reasoned opinion’ on Estonian tobacco excise was included last week in a memo listing September’s 147 infringement decisions against member states.

The Commission said that in Estonia, a time limit was set for the sale of cigarettes that was linked to the fiscal stamp on the packaging.

Three months after a new tax stamp design was introduced, cigarettes bearing the old design were banned from being sold.

But under EU law, excise duty on tobacco products had to be charged at the rate applicable on the date on which they were released for consumption.

There was no provision under EU legislation that allowed member states to limit the distribution of tobacco products already released for fiscal reasons.

Therefore, this sale prohibition was not justified, the Commission said in its reasoned opinion, which is the second step in EU infringement proceedings.

According to such proceedings, if Estonia does not bring its rules into compliance within two months, the Commission might refer the matter to the European Court of Justice.

Suspected Swazi smuggler shot dead

| September 26, 2014

A man suspected of cigarette smuggling has been shot dead by soldiers near Lugongolweni, not far from the town of Siteki, Swaziland, according to a story in The Times of Swaziland.

The man, a Swazi, in the company of two other men, had allegedly crossed illegally from Mozambique with cigarettes in their car.

He was said to have been shot during a scuffle that ensued after the men had been ordered to stop by an army patrol that had followed their vehicle from a checkpoint that the men had successfully negotiated a few minutes earlier.

The other two men were said to have escaped into the bush.

Party leader brands UK’s standardized pack proposals as “utterly barmy”

| September 26, 2014

Moves to introduce standardized packaging for tobacco products have been labelled as “utterly barmy” by UKIP (UK Independence Party) leader Nigel Farage, according to a BBC News story.

Farage, who called the plans a “counterfeiter’s dream”, was speaking ahead of his party’s conference, which was due to start today in Doncaster.

He reportedly told Asian Trader magazine that he was “totally opposed to tobacco plain packaging with no compromise of any kind at all”.

And he said he was “watching with incomprehension” what was being done to electronic cigarettes. These products had been a huge success and presented a big marketing potential for small shops, “and yet we are doing our best to ban them everywhere”.

Farage added that tax on cigarettes was too high and encouraged smuggling and illegal tobacco products: “It is just nuts, it’s bonkers,” he said.

The leader of UKIP, which has no MPs in the House of Commons but has 24 of the UK’s 73 seats in the European Parliament, said that a “wet middle class” in Westminster and Brussels would also pursue measures against alcohol and sugar, adding: “There is no end to this, absolutely no end to this”.

No place to smoke in Boulder, Colorado

| September 26, 2014

Finding a place to smoke tobacco outdoors is about to get harder in Boulder, Colorado, the US, where public outdoor smoking is already banned on a popular pedestrian mall and around city buildings, according to a story by Greg Campbell for The Daily Caller.

Campbell reported that the existing ban was to be extended to encompass the property of a local high school, a corner of the University of Colorado-Boulder, and some residential neighborhoods, creating a smoke-free outdoor zone encompassing several square blocks in the heart of the city.

The new ban prohibits smoking tobacco and vaping electronic cigarettes in alleys behind businesses, within 25 feet of bus stops, on and within 15 feet of all walking and hiking paths through city parks, and on all city-owned open spaces.

The council even considered banning chewing tobacco in the no-smoking zone, but ultimately agreed to consider a later resolution banning spitting.

The full story is at:

Electronic cigarette trials leveling off

| September 26, 2014

A new government study suggests the number of US adults who are trying electronic cigarettes is leveling off, according to a story by Mike Stobbe for Medical EXpress.

The proportion of adults who have ever used electronic cigarettes rose from about three percent to eight percent from 2010 to 2012.

But there was no significant change last year, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP) study.

The study’s conclusions seem to parallel a modest decline in volume sales of electronic cigarettes during the same period.

The findings come from an annual survey of thousands of adults that has been the CDCP’s only source of electronic cigarette trends since the devices started to be sold in the US in late 2006.

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