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PMI applauded for US tobacco policy

| November 13, 2014

The Child Labor Coalition (CLC) has applauded Philip Morris International for adopting a new US tobacco-buying policy that, the CLC says, ‘could well lead to reduced child labor in US tobacco fields’.

Under the new policy (see PMI announces new U.S. tobacco purchasing model story, November 5), PMI is outsourcing its US tobacco purchasing to Universal and Alliance, and these companies will require growers supplying PMI tobacco to comply with PMI’s child labor policy, which prohibits hazardous tobacco work for workers under 18.

“We’re encouraged that one of the 10 largest tobacco companies has taken this step,” said Sally Greenberg, executive director of the National Consumers League and co-chair of the CLC, whose 34 member organizations fight exploitative child labor.

“Much work remains to be done to ensure that Philip Morris’s child labor policies are implemented properly in the field and we think an outright ban of child work on American tobacco farms would be more protective, but this is an important step in the right direction and we applaud them for it.”

In a press note, the CLC pointed out that US federal law allowed children 12 and older to work on farms for unlimited hours, as long as there was no conflict with schooling.

‘There is no minimum age for children who work on small farms, and the children of farm owners are exempt from any protections when working on their parents’ farms,’ the press note said.

‘In May, Human Rights Watch researchers released a report, Tobacco’s Hidden Children: Hazardous Child Labor in United States Tobacco Farming, which found that a majority of the more than 140 child tobacco workers interviewed has experienced nicotine poisoning while working in US fields.’

Theme chosen for 2015 nicotine forum

| November 13, 2014

The 2015 Global Forum on Nicotine, which is due to be held in Warsaw, Poland, on June 5 and 6, is taking as its theme: The only place where science and policy meet.

The organizers of the event said in a recent press note that the science of nicotine was developing rapidly, regulatory issues were high on the political agenda and consumers were becoming anxious about the long-term availability of nicotine delivery products.

There was a nascent consensus amongst a body of scientists and public health representatives about the relative safety of new nicotine and other non-combustible products, though others in tobacco control were still sceptical and the debate continued.

It was imperative that scientists and those concerned with policy had an open forum where the latest evidence could be examined and options for effective policy discussed so as to satisfy the requirements of safety and the responsible use of new products.

The forum’s program is here: http://gfn.net.co/2015-programme

And registration is here: https://register.kachange.eu/gfn2015/

PMI to webcast conference presentation

| November 13, 2014

Philip Morris International is due to host a live audio webcast at www.pmi.com/webcasts of a presentation and question-and-answer session by CEO André Calantzopoulos during the Morgan Stanley Global Consumer & Retail Conference starting about 10.20 hours Eastern Time on November 19.

The webcast, which will be in listen-only mode, will provide live audio of the entire PMI session.

It can be accessed also on iOS or Android devices by downloading PMI’s free Investor Relations Mobile Application at www.pmi.com/irapp.

An archived copy of the webcast will be available at www.pmi.com/webcasts until 17.00 on December 18.

Presentation slides and script will be made available at www.pmi.com/presentations.

Lawsuit targets BAT’s role in Reynolds deal

| November 12, 2014

The plaintiff in a lawsuit targeting Reynolds American Inc.’s $27.4 billion offer for Lorillard Inc. wants the deal blocked, saying that British American Tobacco (BAT) is protecting its 42 percent Reynolds stake at the expense of public shareholders.

The Beatrice Corwin Living Irrevocable Trust is suing Reynolds, its board — which includes top executive Susan Cameron — and BAT for breach of fiduciary duty in the deal announced July 15, according to an article in the Winston-Salem Journal. The plaintiff accuses Reynolds’ board of directors of agreeing to the new BAT investment, along with a “joint technology-sharing strategy for next-generation products,” as a means of keeping BAT from taking majority ownership of the company. A 10-year moratorium on BAT acquiring additional Reynolds stock ended July 30.

The plaintiff says the non-BAT directors wanted Reynolds to remain independent in order to keep their director seats that paid in fiscal 2013 between $90,000 and $378,000 (for Chairman Thomas Wajnert) in cash fees and between $229,880 and $459,760 (Wajnert) in stock awards.

“The threat of a complete takeover gave BAT additional leverage to impose its terms on the Reynolds board during those negotiations,” according to the complaint.

The lawsuit was filed Aug. 8 in Guilford County Superior Court and was moved Aug. 12 to the N.C. Business Court. The plaintiff wants class-action status and a jury trial.

Indian states crack down on tobacco

| November 11, 2014

An attempt at heading off the growing incidence of cancer in the Indian state of Bihar has led to a ban on a number of non-combustible oral products containing tobacco, but has exempted cigarettes, bidis and raw tobacco or khaini, according to a story in the latest issue of the BBM Bommidala Group newsletter.

Bihar’s chief minister, Jitan Ram Manjhi, declared on November 7, National Cancer Awareness Day, a ban on tobacco products such as pan masala, zarda, packaged khaini and scented areca nut or sugandhit supari.

The ban is being imposed under the Food Standards and Safety Act.

Bihar is the 11th Indian state to introduce such a ban on the huge range of oral products that combine tobacco with other ingredients. India has 29 states, including Telangana, which was formed this year, and seven union territories.

The latest ban in Bihar is an extension of a ban on gutkha that was imposed in 2012.

It will apply for one year to the manufacture, storage, distribution and sale of all chewable products, except raw tobacco.

At the same time, the Himachal Pradesh state administration is considering banning the sale of single cigarettes.

Health Minister, Kaul Singh Thakur, said the ministry had recently received approval from the law department regarding making the necessary amendments to legislation, which would be ‘introduced in the Assembly soon’.

Meanwhile, the Delhi state administration, as part of its plan to make the state tobacco-free, has launched an initiative to turn the departments of transport, health, education and the police into tobacco-free zones where it would be illegal even to carry tobacco products.

Rising tide of tobacco taxes in Maldives

| November 11, 2014

The Maldives’ Minister for Finance, Abdulla Jihad, said on Monday that the government would propose a tax increase on tobacco products of 300 percent, according to a Haveeru Online story.

Speaking during a Budget Committee meeting, Jihad said that it was planned also to increase import duty on tobacco and other products.

The current import duty on tobacco products is 150 percent.

“We are considering increasing import duty mostly on luxury items, or items harmful to the environment or health,” Jihad was quoted as saying.

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