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Altria quarterly dividend declared

| December 12, 2013

The Altria Group said yesterday its board of directors had declared a regular quarterly dividend of $0.48 per common share, payable on Jan. 10 to shareholders of record as of Dec. 26.

The ex-dividend date is Dec. 23.

Ottawa social housing to ban smoking

| December 11, 2013

Tobacco smoking will be banned from social housing units in the Canadian city of Ottawa starting from June next year, according to the latest proposal from Ottawa’s Community Housing Corp. (CHC).

Writing in the Ottawa Citizen, Derek Spalding said that the new no-smoking policy was widely popular among residents who lived in the 14,800 units operated by the housing provider.

A survey of residents from 2012 showed that 69 percent of the 3,700 people who responded preferred to live in a smoke-free building, while 46 percent said they were bothered by secondhand smoke from a neighbouring unit.

CHC CEO Jo-Anne Poirier hopes the new policy will address the health hazards associated with smoking, including that posed by the risk of fire.

“We get a lot of complaints from people who live next to smokers,” she said. “There’s also a cost-saving aspect to it as well. Repairing a unit after a smoker moves out costs more.”

The new policy will apply only to new leases, so smokers who have leases already will be able to continue to smoke in their homes.

They will not, however, be permitted to smoke in common areas, including parking lots and parks.

French court ruling could spell end of specialist e-cigarette stores

| December 11, 2013

A court in France ruled on Monday that e-cigarettes qualify as tobacco products and as such can be sold only by licensed tobacconists, according to a story by Sam Ball for France 24.

The ruling threatens to put specialist e-cigarette sellers across the country out of business.

It was made by a court in Toulouse following a complaint by a tobacconist in the nearby town of Plaisance-du-Touch against e-cigarette seller Esmokeclean after it set up shop close by the tobacconist.

The tobacconist claimed that Esmokeclean was violating France’s public health code through advertisements at its shop, and at its online store and on its Facebook page.

Tobacco products may be sold in France only at registered outlets under a state-imposed monopoly, and their advertising is banned.

The court decided that, in acting as a substitute for cigarettes, e-cigarettes constituted tobacco products, and therefore Esmokeclean was violating these laws.

It ordered the company to stop selling and advertising e-cigarettes, saying that doing so constituted “unfair competition” to registered tobacconists.

A lawyer for Esmokeclean said the company would appeal against the ruling.

Commenting on Monday’s ruling, France’s Electronic Cigarette Stakeholders Group (CACE) said that e-cigarettes comprised a consumer product and not a tobacco product, and it accused the court in Toulouse of having exceeded its powers.

There are an estimated 1.5 million vapers in France and about 140 e-cigarette stores, a number that had been estimated to rise to 300 by the end of this year.

There has been significant debate in the country over how e-cigarettes should be treated under French law and, in part, the trend has been to lump these products together with tobacco cigarettes. A report by a panel of experts earlier this year recommended that e-cigarettes should be banned in all places where traditional cigarettes are prohibited, and it recommended the imposition of a ban on the sale of e-cigarettes to minors.

‘Complete transparency’ at e-auctions

| December 11, 2013

Tobacco growers in the Indian state of Karnataka have sold more than 53.41 million kg of flue-cured at an average price of INR137.35 per kg, according to a story in the latest issue of the BBM Bommidala Group newsletter.

At the same stage of the 2012–2013 sales season, growers in the state had sold 43.52 million kg for an average price of INR121.45 per kg.

K. Narasimhaiah, regional manager with the Tobacco Board of India, said there had been complete transparency at the e-auctions and that growers were realizing better prices this season.

“CCTV cameras are being installed on all the platforms and the entire auctions are being recorded,” he was quoted as saying.

Average prices were as follows: bright grades INR164 per kg (INR140 per kg in 2012–2013); medium grades INR146.75 per kg (INR128 per kg); and low grades INR91.23 per kg (INR89.85 per kg).

Although the board had previously said it was going to try to complete the Karnataka sales in January, it now says the auctions will continue to about the end of February.

Failure of TPP talks an ‘interim victory’

| December 11, 2013

The failure to reach agreement during negotiations in Singapore on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is being seen as an interim victory for campaigns by the Center for Policy Analysis on Trade and Health (CPATH) and its allies.

CPATH said in a press note issued through PRNewswire yesterday that it wanted to extricate tobacco control measures and other public health protections from nullification by corporate trade rules.

It said that multinational tobacco companies were systematically exercising rights found only in trade agreements to challenge lifesaving public health protections. “Medical and public health organizations worldwide, and our legal advisers, explored the problems and possible solutions during the four years of TPP negotiations, and concluded that the only genuine solution would be to carve out (or remove) tobacco control laws and regulations from trade agreements,” the press note said. “Malaysia has advanced just such a proposal. This would set a standard in trade law that would complement the global consensus on fighting the tobacco epidemic enshrined in the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, to which all TPP countries are signatories.

“The U.S. Trade Representative has not agreed, nor exercised leadership towards a viable resolution. U.S. trade policy is set in secret, driven by 600 corporate advisers.”

CPATH’s co-director Ellen R. Shaffer paid tribute to the public health and medical community for consistent support. She said that partners and colleagues in the U.S. and in TPP countries, such as the South East Asia Tobacco Control Alliance and the Malaysian Council for Tobacco Control, had issued strong calls to protect public health.

“Their compelling statements on the domestic sovereign rights of countries to adopt and maintain measures to reduce tobacco use and to prevent its harm have helped make public health and tobacco a central issue in TPP negotiations,” Shaffer said.

CPATH said that other U.S. proposals for the TPP would jeopardize global access to affordable medicines, require that countries allow the patenting of surgical methods, place restraints on public health insurance programs and subject government formularies and reimbursement programs to greater interference from pharmaceutical companies.

“We must restore democratic practice and principles of economic and social sustainability to the trade negotiations process,” said CPATH co-director Joseph E. Brenner. “We need a 21st century trade agreement. Carving out tobacco could signal the dawn of that century.”

New Mode unites four Mevius products

| December 11, 2013

Japan Tobacco Inc. is to integrate four of its Less Smoke Smell products under the new name of Mevius Mode.

Two of the products are currently within its Mevius D-SPEC line, and two are within its super-slim Mevius Style Plus line.

The flavor and aroma of these products will remain the same, but they will be sold in updated packaging.

The company said that the changes were aimed at making it clearer to consumers that these products were all part of the Mevius Less Smoke Smell lineup.

They were also aimed at introducing more consistency into the packaging design of products within the Mevius brand.

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