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Legal strategies block tobacco laws

| December 13, 2013

Tobacco companies are pushing back against a worldwide rise in anti-smoking laws using a little-noticed legal strategy to delay or block regulation, according to a story by Sabrina Tavernise for the New York Times.

Tavernise quotes health advocates and officials as saying the industry is warning countries that their tobacco laws violate an expanding web of trade and investment treaties, raising the prospect of costly, prolonged legal battles.

The strategy is said to have gained momentum in recent years as smoking rates in rich countries have fallen and tobacco companies have sought to maintain access to fast-growing markets in developing countries.

Industry officials were quoted as saying that there were only a few cases of active litigation, and that giving a legal opinion to governments was routine for major players whose interests would be affected.

But tobacco opponents, according to Tavernise, say the strategy is intimidating low- and middle-income countries from tackling one of the gravest health threats facing them.

Tavernise’s story is at http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/13/health/tobacco-industry-tactics-limit-poorer-nations-smoking-laws.html?emc=edit_tnt_20131213&tntemail0=y&pagewanted=all&_r=0.

JT’s domestic sales down in November

| December 13, 2013

Japan Tobacco Inc.’s domestic cigarette sales volume during November, at 9.5 billion, fell by 0.9 percent on that of November 2012, 9.6 billion, according to preliminary figures issued by the company today. The November 2012 figure was down by 0.8 percent on that of November 2011.

Volume during April-November, at 79.3 billion, was up by 0.3 percent on that of April-November 2012, 79.1 billion, which was increased by 12.8 percent on that of April-November 2011.

JT’s market share stood at 60.9 percent in November, at 60.7 percent during April-November, and at 59.6 percent for the full year to the end of March.

JT’s domestic cigarette revenue during November, at ¥52.0 billion, was down by 1.1 percent on its November 2012 revenue, ¥52.6 billion.

Revenue during April-November, at ¥435.1 billion, fell by 0.1 percent on that of April-November 2012, ¥435.4 billion.

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 http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/australia-fails-antitobacco-bid-20131212-2zaml.html.

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 http://www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cms_Data/docs/pressdata/en/jha/140011.pdf.

“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 http://www.wired-gov.net/wg/wg-news-1.nsf/0/3BED6583627CF31D80257C3E00447C97?OpenDocument) 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.

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