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Malaysia steps up illicit trade battle

| March 17, 2014

Malaysia’s fight against smuggled cigarettes has gone into full swing with the Royal Malaysian Customs Depart­ment conducting raids nationwide since the beginning of the month, according to a story in The Star.

The raids, conducted under the Ops Outlet name, are part of renewed efforts by the department to curb the sales of smuggled cigarettes that are said to be costing the government about MYR1.9 billion in uncollected taxes annually.

Customs deputy director-general (enforcement) Datuk Matrang Suhaili said that while 2014 was the fifth year in which Ops Outlet was being carried out, this was the first time the department was pushing for more drastic measures.

“We are looking for harsher punishment for offenders, such as compulsory jail time for those who would usually be slapped with just a fine,” he said. “This issue is serious and we are treating it as such.”

So far, 44 dedicated Ops Outlet strike teams involving 200 members have been formed to conduct checks on outlets suspected of selling illicit cigarettes.

Anger over tobacco place at rules meet

| March 14, 2014

Anti-tobacco campaigners have protested against the involvement of tobacco companies in drafting Bangladesh’s Smoking and Tobacco Product Usage (Control) Rules 2014, according to a story in The Financial Express.

The advocacy group Progga, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and the Anti-Tobacco Media Alliance jointly registered the protest, saying there was no scope for involving the tobacco industry in enacting the rules.

And they supported their contention by quoting Article 5.3 of the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

The campaigners voiced concerns specifically about the presence of two representatives each from the Bangladesh Cigarette Manufacturers’ Association and the Bidi Shilpa Malik Samity at a meeting held at the law ministry on Wednesday to review the draft rules.

The Legislative and Parliamentary Affairs Division of the ministry had invited the tobacco representatives to the meeting.

JT’s domestic sales ahead in February

| March 14, 2014

Japan Tobacco Inc.’s domestic cigarette sales volume during February, at 8.9 billion, increased by 3.7 percent on that of February 2013, 8.6 billion, according to preliminary figures issued by the company today. The February 2013 figure was down by 3.2 percent on that of February 2012.

Volume during April 2013–February 2014, at 107.4 billion, was up by 0.9 percent on that of April 2012–February 2013, 106.5 billion, which increased by 8.3 percent on that of April 2011–February 2012.

JT’s market share stood at 61.5 percent during February, at 60.8 percent during April 2013–February 2014, and at 59.6 percent for the full year to the end of March 2013.

JT’s domestic cigarette revenue during February, at ¥49.0 billion, was increased by 3.6 percent from its February 2013 revenue, ¥47.3 billion.

Revenue during April 2013–Febuary 2014, at ¥589.4 billion, was increased by 0.6 percent on that of April 2012–February 2013, ¥586.1 billion.

Nonsmoking establishments certified

| March 14, 2014

The King Hussein Cancer Foundation and the King Hussein Cancer Centre (KHCC) is due to start issuing “smoke-free zone” certificates to institutions that ban smoking in all their indoor facilities, according to a story in The Jordan Times quoting a KHCC official.

The certification program aimed to highlight the efforts of institutions committed to the Public Health Law, which prohibited smoking in public areas, said Rasha Bader, head of planning and project management at the KHCC’s Cancer Control Office.

The program aimed also to create “positive incentives” for others.

Participation in the program is open to restaurants, cafés, schools, hospitals and companies with a minimum of 80 employees, in addition to commercial complexes and malls, according to Bader.

Eligible institutions should be smoke-free since their establishment or for a minimum of nine months from World No Tobacco Day, which is marked annually on May 31.

Myanmar turns down tax rise proposal

| March 14, 2014

Myanmar’s Union Parliament has rejected a private member’s bill proposing a 200 percent tax increase on tobacco products and alcoholic beverages, according to an Eleven story.

MEPs voted instead to maintain the current “vice tax” rates, which amount to 100 percent on cigarettes and 50 percent on other tobacco products and alcohol.

In submitting her proposal, National League for Democracy MP Khin San Hlaing said the number of drinkers was on the rise in Myanmar, resulting in more crimes and alcohol-related health problems. Tobacco usage, she added, increased health care costs.

“If we want to reduce the local consumption of such products, we need to impose more taxes on them. If we want more consumption, we should decrease the tax,” she said.

“[Tobacco products and alcoholic drinks] are very dangerous for future generations of the country. We should impose more tax on them as an effort to put a stop to consumption. I propose that we increase the tax to 200 percent for the sake of the national interest.”

New e-liquid addresses vapor concerns

| March 14, 2014

JAC Vapour has launched an e-liquid that emits no vapor when exhaled, according to a company press note issued through PRNewswire.

The company described Clear Steam as being the first British-made, branded e-liquid that emitted no vapor.

It said the innovative product could revolutionize vaping in public spaces.

Existing e-liquids emit a visible vapor when puffed by e-cigarette consumers, something that has led to calls for the use of these devices to be banned in public places, as has happened in the case of cigarettes and cigars.

JAC says Clear Steam has the same strength, flavor and throat hit as does its other e-liquids.

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