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Reasons for stock activity unknown

| September 19, 2014

Universal Corporation said yesterday that it had noted the recent activity in its common stock during this week.

‘Subsequent to the release of our quarterly earnings last month, we have not issued any release, and we are not aware of any other such release that would have resulted in this week’s unusual activity in our common stock,’ it added.

Malawi growers paid 10 percent less for better crop at time of high inflation

| September 18, 2014

Tobacco growers in Malawi were paid 10 percent less for their tobacco during the selling season that recently closed than they were paid during the previous season, according to an APA News Agency story.

And this fall in prices occurred at a time of high inflation and in respect of a crop whose quality was improved.

In 2014, growers were paid an average of $1.90 per kg for the 188 million kg sold, whereas in 2013 they were paid $2.11 per kg for the 168 million kg sold.

According to Trading Economics citing Reserve Bank of Malawi figures, the inflation rate in the country averaged 14.09 percent from 2001 to 2014, and reached an all time high of 37.90 percent in February 2013. In August this year it stood at 24.50 percent.

The Tobacco Control Commission chief executive officer, Bruce Munthali, told APA that while growers brought good quality tobacco to market, buyers offered lower prices than they did last year when the leaf’s quality was lower. Munthali said the low prices offered by international buyers had not affected only Malawi but neighbouring countries also.

‘Alarming smoking prevalence in Austria’

| September 18, 2014

Austrians seem to be bucking the trend by smoking more than ever before, according to a story in The Local citing Zoltán Massay-Kosubek, the policy co-ordinator at the European Public Health Alliance.

No figures were given to support the claim that smoking was on the increase, but the rise was put down mainly to younger people entering the market.

And it was suggested that one reason why younger people were entering the market was that Austria’s minimum age for purchasing tobacco was 16.

But the report suggested too that while young people were entering the market, relatively few people were quitting. Austria was lagging behind the rest of Europe in getting smokers to quit their habit.

Massay-Kosubek was said to have told The Local that there were “two main causes of the alarming smoking prevalence in Austria: one the inappropriate enforcement of existing anti-tobacco legislation and two, the lack of ambition as regards regulating tobacco and smoking”.

The full story is at:

Tobacconists thrive on declining market

| September 18, 2014

In a story for Bloomberg Businessweek, Patrick Clark poses an interesting question: Why are specialist tobacconists thriving in the US when the market for their products is shrinking?

Smoking in the country has been declining for decades, Clark points out, but retailers specializing in tobacco sales are booming.

The number of tobacco shops in the US apparently doubled between 1998 and 2012, to more than 9,000, according to Census data.

That growth coincided with rising cigarette taxes, indoor smoking bans, and other policies aimed at reducing the habit.

The share of US smokers within the overall population fell from 23.5 percent in 1999 to 19 percent in 2011, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Interviews with industry experts and smoking researchers don’t lead to a single, clear answer to Clark’s question, but the full story includes some suggestions and insights:

Call for annual above-inflation tax rises

| September 18, 2014

The Malaysian Public Health Specialists Association (PPPKAM) has urged the government to comply with its commitment in the World Tobacco Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) by increasing the tax on tobacco products every year starting with Budget 2015, according to a Bernama story.

The PPPKAM’s president, Dr Mohamed Rusli Abdullah, said in a statement that non-tax-related increases in the retail prices of cigarettes were ‘for the sake of profiting by the industry’.

He said the WHO and the World Bank had proposed periodic increases in tobacco taxes to ensure that the prices of all tobacco products rose by at least five percent more than the rate of inflation every year.

Price hike will hit those on low-incomes

| September 17, 2014

A group of smokers in South Korea has called on the government to shelve its plan to hike cigarette prices, saying the increase would be a further burden on low-income people, according to a Yonhap News Agency report.

Last week, the government announced it would try to raise the price of cigarettes by about 80 percent, from WON2,500 per pack to WON4,500 per pack, starting next year. The plan requires parliamentary approval before it can go into effect.

“We oppose the push for a sharp increase in cigarette prices,” members of ‘I Love Smoking’, an on-line community of smokers, said during a news conference in front of the National Assembly in Seoul on Monday.

“Low-income people will have no choice but to bear the brunt of the planned jump in cigarette prices.

“The government should drop the plan and come up with a more acceptable solution.”

The smokers’ group said it would stage an on-line campaign to collect smokers’ signatures in a bid to thwart the government plan.

Officials said that the price hike plan was aimed at cutting the country’s high smoking rate, but critics claimed that it might be designed to increase tax revenue.

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