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Australia failing to stand with other nations on standardized packaging

| December 13, 2013

Australia has been accused of failing to defend its standardized tobacco packaging legislation, with one report from regional talks in Singapore describing Australia as a “constant stumbling block” to other nations’ attempts to secure the right to follow suit, according to a story by Peter Martin in the Sydney Morning Herald.

A report from an unnamed observer at the Trans-Pacific Partnership talks was said to have spoken of efforts to “have language adopted to ensure that any nation that adopts strong tobacco control legislation is not sued or at risk.”

“Australia is and has been a constant stumbling block,” the report said. “I totally understand the desire to avoid language that implies that Australia’s position under current law is weak or language that implies additional protection is needed.

“But what I am really trying to understand is … Australia’s resistance to any language on tobacco, and its seeming lack of interest in working on language that would protect Australia and others from future tobacco trade-based litigation.”

The full story is at

EU stepping up fight against illicit trade

| December 13, 2013

EU Ministers of Economy and Finance have adopted council conclusions on stepping up the fight against cigarette smuggling and other forms of illicit trade in tobacco products in the EU, according to a Wired-GOV report. The council conclusions are at

“The conclusions underline the need to enhance the fight against cigarette smuggling, which has considerable negative impact on health and causes substantial negative financial impact on the budget of the EU and the member states, estimated annually at over 10 billion euros,” said Rimantas Šadžius, Lithuanian finance minister and chair of the economic and financial affairs council.

The report (at said an effective response to the threats posed by the illegal trade in tobacco products could be ensured by co-ordinated and concerted efforts at national and European level, and in close co-operation with third countries and international organizations.

Website glitch delays Ploom launch

| December 13, 2013

Technical difficulties have forced Japan Tobacco Inc. to cancel the launch of online sales of Ploom vaporizers, which, according to a Nov. 28 press note, were scheduled to start yesterday.

Sales through the Ploom Online Shop, operated by JT Creative Services, are now due to go ahead once the Internet site’s technical difficulties have been overcome.

The new launch date will be announced on the JT’s corporate website.

The Ploom vaporizer is a pocket-sized smoking alternative device that heats tobacco contained in pods to a constant temperature, vaporizing nicotine and flavors without burning the materials or producing smoke.

In December 2011, Japan Tobacco International and the San Francisco-based Ploom announced that they had entered into an exclusive, long-term cooperation agreement under which JTI would commercialize Ploom’s new generation of ‘smoking alternative products’ outside the U.S.

Ploom was launched—outside the U.S.—in Austria in May, since when JT International has introduced it also in Korea and Italy.

The product is being made available in Japan in two colors, slate (black) and pearl (white), while pods, which are categorized as pipe tobacco by Japan’s Ministry of Finance, will be available in six blends: Gold, Orchard, Cooler, Lugano, Mevius and Pianissimo. Also available will be the multipack with a 12-piece assortment of two pods of each blend.

Each pod can be used for about 10 to 15 minutes.

NZ smoking prevalence at 15.1 percent

| December 12, 2013

The prevalence of smoking in New Zealand has fallen by more than a quarter in six years, according to a story by Martin Johnston for the New Zealand Herald.

Data from this year’s census showed that 15.1 percent of people aged 15 or older smoked daily, down from 20.7 percent in the previous (2006) census.

The Quitline called this a monumental reduction and Associate Health Minister Tariana Turia said it was a huge decline.

Statistics NZ data indicates that the smoking prevalence among Maori declined to 32.7 percent last year, from 42.2 percent in the previous census.

Among non-Maori, it fell to 12.6 percent this year, from 17.8 percent in 2006.

Otago University public health expert, associate professor Nick Wilson, said the overall reduction in the number of smokers seemed credible given the decline in national tobacco sales. Sales fell by 20 percent, to 2.07 million kg between 2006 and 2012.

The government’s official target is that New Zealand will be substantially smoke-free by 2025: subsequently smoke-free being defined as a prevalence of less than 5 percent.

The mid-term target is 10 percent by 2018.

Imperial in new anti-illicit trade compact

| December 12, 2013

Imperial Tobacco says that it has signed a new agreement with the customs authorities in Belgium to help combat illicit trade.

“Belgium is an important country for the movement of illicit tobacco products by criminals due to its location and communication links,” the company said in a note posted on its website.

“The signing of this memorandum of understanding (MoU) builds on existing joint efforts taking place to tackle the problem.

“It renews an existing MoU and also reflects the mutual co-operation set out in the EU-wide agreement signed between Imperial and the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) in 2010.”

Kris De Baets, legal and CORA manager for Belgium and Luxembourg, said the illicit trade and especially transit through Belgium was of great concern.

“This agreement enables the authorities to work with us to further tackle the problem,” he said.

Annual survey said to overestimate illicit cigarettes in some European countries

| December 12, 2013

Researchers say that an annual study overestimates illicit cigarette levels in some European countries and suggests that Philip Morris International’s supply chain control is inadequate, according to a paper published online by Tobacco Control (TC).

Following a legal agreement with the EU, PMI has commissioned from the global accountancy firm KPMG a yearly report, known as Project Star (PS), on what TC described as the European illicit cigarette trade.

The researchers say that PS “overestimates illicit cigarette levels in some European countries and suggests PMI’s supply chain control is inadequate.”

“Its publication serves the interests of PMI over those of the EU and its member states,” they say.

“PS requires greater transparency, external scrutiny and use of independent data.”

The researchers were Anna B. Gilmore, Andy Rowell and Michelle Sims of the Department for Health and U.K. Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies, University of Bath, U.K.; Silvano Gallus and Alessandra Lugo of the Department of Epidemiology, Istituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche Mario Negri, Milan, Italy; and Luk Joossens of the Association of the European Cancer Leagues and Foundation Against Cancer, Brussels, Belgium.

The open access paper can be accessed at

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