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UK newspapers prepare cigar’s obituary

| January 3, 2014

Cigar smoking could all but disappear from Britain within little more than a decade if the current decline in the habit continues, according to an Electronic Telegraph story quoting the Financial Times.

The Telegraph story said that UK’s consumption of cigars had fallen by four-fifths over the past two decades and could die out altogether by 2026 on current trends.

Soaring duty rates, bans on smoking in enclosed public places and anti-tobacco campaigns in general are believed to have contributed to the fall in the popularity of cigars.

British smokers bought 2.1 million kg of cigars in 1992 but this fell to 0.4 million kg last year, according to figures from HM Revenue & Customs.

Imperial Tobacco estimates that there are only about 300,000 regular cigar smokers left in Britain, down from 700,000 a decade ago.

And a retributive New Year

| January 3, 2014

Malaysians can be jailed for buying illicit cigarettes under new regulations that took effect on Wednesday, according to a story in The Star.

Amendments to the Control of Tobacco Product Regulations 2004 stipulate that it is not only illegal to sell illicit cigarettes; it is also illegal to buy them.

Under the amendments gazetted in June, the buyer, just like the seller, faces a maximum fine of RM10,000, up to two years in jail, or both.

Bulgaria’s oriental tobacco growers threaten protests over slow sales

| January 2, 2014

Bulgaria’s National Association of Tobacco Growers has threatened to stage protests from next week unless sales of classical oriental tobacco start in earnest, according to a Novinite story.

Tsvetan Filev, chair of the association, said on Tuesday that growers wanted tobacco buying companies to start purchasing their ‘Basma-type’ tobacco by January 5.

Otherwise, he said, they would hold mass rallies in front of the companies’ headquarters, block arterial roads, and set fire to bales of tobacco on January 6.

Filev was said to have told Darik radio that so far buyers had bought only 300 tonnes of the 13,000 tonnes of Basma-type tobacco estimated to have been produced.

He said he was concerned that the delay in buying would reduce the tobacco’s quality, 70 per cent of which had been packed into bales.

All of the country’s production of Virginia and Burley tobacco was said to have been bought, along with 60 per cent of the Kaba Kulak oriental tobacco.

After several years of stability, the international market for classical oriental tobacco is in some difficulty. Each of the four countries that grow classical oriental tobacco – Turkey, Greece, the FYR Macedonia and Bulgaria – have this year produced bigger crops than were anticipated.

And, for a number of reasons, the major end-users of oriental tobacco are looking this year to reduce their purchases.

Such a situation is putting downward pressure on grower prices, and this is likely to cause delays to the start of purchasing.

Health body to enforce smoking bans

| January 2, 2014

China’s National Health and Family Planning Commission (NHFPC) is to follow the example set by the country’s central authorities and build a non-smoking environment in all government-affiliated institutions, according to a story in the People’s Daily.

The General Office of the Communist Party of China’s Central Committee and the State Council, the country’s cabinet, jointly released a notice on December 29 demanding that Chinese officials take the lead in obeying smoking regulations.

The notice, which appeared on the website of the State Council, reiterated that a smoking ban was in force in certain public places. It said that officials were prohibited from smoking in public, including in schools, hospitals, sports venues, and public vehicles. Officials were banned also from offering cigarettes to others at work and from buying cigarettes with public funds.

Mao Qun’an, spokesman for the NHFPC, said all health and family planning department staff would be prohibited from smoking in no-smoking areas, and some staff members would be appointed to prevent others from smoking.

Sales of tobacco products were banned in health and family planning institutions, said Mao, as were tobacco advertisements, promotions and sponsorships.

The wages of sin just went up again

| January 2, 2014

The prices of tobacco and alcohol products were increased in the Philippines yesterday as the second phase of the country’s so-called sin-tax law came into force, according to a Philippine Daily Inquirer story.

The tax on lower-priced cigarettes was increased to P17 a pack and that on higher-priced cigarettes to P27 a pack.

The taxes on both lower- and higher-priced tobacco products are due to rise until 2017, when all tobacco products will be taxed at P30 per pack.

Republic Act 10351, generally known as the sin tax law stipulates that a portion of the revenues collected from sin taxes will be allocated to projects that will benefit tobacco farmers and workers nation-wide.

A portion of the revenues will go, also, to health care and the improvement of medical facilities nationwide.

Turkish smokers hit by tax increase

| January 2, 2014

Turkey has raised taxes on tobacco products, new passenger cars, alcoholic drinks and mobile telephones, according to a Reuters story quoting an announcement in the country’s Official Gazette on Wednesday.

Under the new arrangements, the minimum tax on a pack of cigarettes was lifted to 3.75 lira from 3.22 lira.

The brief announcement of the tax increases did not explain why they had been brought in or how much new revenue they were expected to generate.

But Reuters said the central bank was struggling to curb inflation, which was thought to have ended the year at about seven per cent, and support the lira, which lost 17 per cent of its value against the US dollar last year.

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