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Call for auction sales as demand for Zambia’s tobacco drops by a third

| July 25, 2014

Tobacco sales in Zambia during the first 64 days of this year’s marketing season were down by 30 per cent on those of the same period of last year, according to a Zambia Daily News story quoting Tobacco Association of Zambia (TAZ) figures.

Tobacco sales during April to July amounted to 8.7 million kg, down from 12.4 million kg.

TAZ finance and administration manager Owen Simukoko attributed the decline in sales in part to delays in the start of the marketing season.

He said also that the global demand for tobacco had been reduced because of over-production in some countries.

Simukoko was quoted as saying too that TAZ agreed with the Tobacco Board of Zambia and buyers that the commodity should be ‘sold through an auction system to deal with [the] issue of the crop being in the hands of independent traders’.

Tit-for-tat at Bahrain airport

| July 25, 2014

A Bahraini man, who was caught smoking a cigarette while driving his car, has been charged with denigrating Ramadan, according to an ArabiaBusiness.com report quoting a Daily Tribune (Bahrain) story.

The man was referred to the Lower Criminal Court where he was remanded in custody for seven days pending an investigation.

Bahrain prohibits smoking, drinking and eating in public during daylight hours in the holy month of Ramadan.

Earlier this month, an Egyptian woman was charged with smoking in public during daylight hours, an offence that allegedly took place as she was being questioned by a Customs officer at Bahrain International Airport.

The 32-year-old had been escorted into the lieutenant’s office after she apparently tried to avoid having her bags checked at the airport, claiming that she was late for her flight.

The Gulf Daily News reported that she allegedly insulted the officer, knocked his hat off and lit a cigarette in his office.

She explained that she lit the cigarette because she was not fasting.

And she was reported to have said that she knocked the policeman’s hat off accidentally as she waved her hands while explaining that she was late for her flight.

The woman was released on bail.

New Peace initiative in Japan

| July 25, 2014

Japan Tobacco Inc. said today that it intended to launch in early September two new products under its Peace brand, which has been renowned for its rich aroma since it first appeared on the market as Peace (10) in 1946.

The new products are said to have been formulated using a ‘lavish blend of select Virginia tobacco leaves, offering an even richer aroma than the Peace brand is known for’.

‘In addition, flavored ingredients are carefully chosen to complement the unique aroma of the Virginia leaves.’ JT said in a press note posted on its website. ‘A ”new trimming process” offers an even richer aroma, with no roughness, by flash heating the fine cut tobacco.’

In its website note, JT said that Peace Aroma Royal 100′s Box (10 mg) and Peace Aroma Crown 100′s Box (6 mg) had been developed out of a desire to offer consumers a more luxurious and relaxing smoking experience.

They will retail in boxes of 20 cigarettes for ¥500 per box.

Universal to webcast conference call

| July 25, 2014

Universal Corporation is due to webcast a conference call from 17.00 hours Eastern Time on August 7 following the release of its results for the first quarter of fiscal year 2015 after market close on that date.

The conference call will be hosted by Candace C. Formacek, vice president and treasurer.

A live webcast of the conference call will be available online on a listen-only basis at www.universalcorp.com.

A replay of the webcast will be available at the same site until November 6, and a taped replay of the conference call will also be available from 20.30 hours on August 7 until August 20 on (855) 859-2056 using the telephone replay identification number 76784375.

Attempt to block Lorillard acquisition

| July 24, 2014

A Lorillard investor is going to court in an attempt to block the company’s billion dollar acquisition by Reynolds American, claiming the deal favors the buyer, according to a story by Sophia Pearson for Bloomberg News.

Reynolds said on July 15 that it would acquire Lorillard for cash and stock in a deal that values Lorillard at $68.88 a share.

But, according to the complaint made public yesterday in Delaware Chancery Court, the proposed deal is the product of a flawed process and provides little benefit to stockholders.

‘To the detriment of the company’s shareholders, the terms of the merger agreement substantially favor Reynolds and are calculated to unreasonably dissuade potential suitors from making competing offers,’ the investor, Vincent Valentino, said in the complaint. He is seeking to represent all Lorillard shareholders.

Valentino said that Lorillard shareholders wouldn’t benefit from a transaction that, as part of the deal, would see Imperial Tobacco Group acquire brands such as Kool and Blu e-cigarettes for $7.1 billion.

The complaint claims too that the deal is ‘unfair and inadequate because, among other things, the intrinsic value of Lorillard is materially in excess of the amount offered’.

Irish anti-tobacco campaigner inspired by US damages award against Reynolds

| July 24, 2014

An Irish anti-smoking campaigner has welcomed a US jury’s decision to order R.J. Reynolds Tobacco to pay $23.6 billion in punitive damages and are urging the government to mount its own court action, according to an Irish Daily Mail story.

The damages award is the subject of an appeal.

Professor Luke Clancy, of Dublin’s Tobacco Free Research Institute, was reported to have welcomed the jury’s ruling and said it should give the Irish government the confidence to take its own class or group action in the courts against tobacco companies.

“I have always advised that the government should take this on,” said Clancy, who is a respiratory consultant physician. “I think that would benefit the state and help to pay the medical costs being inflicted on the state.”

A jury in the Escambia Court, Florida, imposed the punitive damages award the day after it had determined that the widow of Michael Johnson Sr, Cynthia Robinson, should receive $17 million in compensatory damages in the ‘Engle’ case, even though the jury determined Johnson was 30 per cent responsible for his own illness.

Engle cases have been heard since a Florida Supreme Court decision in 2006 decertified a $145 billion class-action lawsuit filed by Howard Engle but allowed former class members to file individual lawsuits stating that cigarettes caused their respective illnesses.

Meanwhile, Ireland could have to pay hundreds of millions in compensation to tobacco manufacturers if standardized tobacco packaging is introduced there, according to a story in the Irish Times quoting Exane BNP Paribas.

The international research and equities firm, which is backed by France’s biggest bank BNP Paribas, said it believed the tobacco industry had a robust case against standardized packaging – a case that would allow it to claim billions in compensation in Europe.

In a note to investors in tobacco stocks, Exane BNP Paribas said it had taken legal advice on the potential arguments that could be used to seek compensation if standardized packaging could not be blocked altogether by big tobacco companies.

‘The strongest of the legal arguments, in our view, surrounds deprivation of

intellectual property,” it said.

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