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PMI says EU failed to do homework on revision of tobacco products directive

| December 20, 2013

Philip Morris International says that proposed revisions to the EU’s Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) will be a gift to black market criminals but a blow to government revenues and to people working in the licit tobacco industry.

“The EU has ignored its own standards for proportionate, evidenced-based policymaking during the five years that the Tobacco Products Directive has been under consideration,” said PMI’s EU region president, Drago Azinovic.

He was commenting on an agreement reached between the European Commission, Parliament and Council on the proposed TPD revisions.

“Discussions in Council and the European Parliament might have marginally amended the original text, but the EU’s failure to do its homework will be a gift for the criminals profiting from the black market in tobacco, and a blow to the hundreds of thousands of people working in the legal industry and member state governments now faced with filling budget gaps,” said Azinovic.

“Instead of further harmonizing the internal market, a stated objective of the directive, measures in the TPD will further erode property rights that the EU Charter protects. This sends a worrying signal to other sectors of the economy that depend on legal certainty and a rigorous defense of intellectual property rights.”

The new directive has still to be formally adopted by the European Parliament and the Council, which will vote on it only after the legal-linguistic revision of the text has been finalised. And once the directive is adopted member states will have two years to transpose the new rules into national law.

Some of the key proposals for revision of the TPD were published here yesterday under the heading: EU to back ‘tobacco products that taste and smell like tobacco products’.

White Cloud starting recycling program for its e-cigarettes and batteries

| December 20, 2013

White Cloud Electronic Cigarettes has said that it is partnering with Big Green Box to offer a US recycling service for its products, including its batteries, according to a PRNewswire story.

Big Green Box is a federally-approved recycling company based in Anaheim, California.

The service will ensure that White Cloud meets the standards of electronic-waste disposal set by the US Department of Transportation and the United Nations.

It will provide customers with the opportunity to recycle their rechargeable electronic cigarette batteries and Fling disposable electronic cigarettes.

“Try to think about this for a moment: there are 20 to 50 million metric tons of electronic waste disposed off every year, worldwide,” said White Cloud’s managing director, Danielle Steingraber. “Right now, only 12.5 per cent of e-waste is currently recycled, but we can do our part to help change that.”

The PRNewswire story went on to say that while it might seem that a few electronic cigarette batteries in the trash could make any real environmental difference, as the number of electronic cigarette users continued to rise worldwide, it would quickly become critical that electronic cigarette users recycle.

Canadian court refuses to hear appeal by foreign-entity tobacco companies

| December 20, 2013

The Supreme Court of Canada has refused to hear an appeal by foreign tobacco companies trying to extricate themselves from a lawsuit over health-related costs, according to a Canadian Press story.

The Ontario government is seeking billions of dollars in health-care costs that it alleges are attributable to tobacco-related illnesses.

The companies argued they were foreign entities and the Ontario courts did not have jurisdiction to determine claims against them.

The companies were listed as: British American Tobacco (Investment) Ltd., B.A.T. Industries PLC, British American Tobacco PLC, Carreras Rothmans Ltd., R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. and R.J. Reynolds Tobacco International Inc.

Ontario’s lawsuit stems from a 2009 law that gave the province a statutory right to sue manufacturers over tobacco-related health costs.

The Supreme Court, as is usual, gave no reasons for refusing to hear the appeal.

Tobacco firms faced with compensation claim by national health insurance body

| December 20, 2013

South Korea’s National Health Insurance Service (NHIS) said on Wednesday that it will file a suit against cigarette manufacturers ‘as early as next year’, according to a story in The Korea Times.

“The NHIS will file a suit against tobacco companies to recover medical costs which it has incurred due to smoking-related diseases,” NHIS president Kim Jong-dae wrote in a blog post.

And an unnamed official at the NHIS confirmed the plan. “This is the official stance of the NHIS,” she said. “We plan to file a suit against tobacco makers as early as in the first half of next year.”

The defendants are expected to include both local and foreign tobacco manufacturers. “The NHIS will sue these companies before a decision is reached in a compensation suit filed by an individual which is pending before the Supreme Court,” Kim said, before adding that the Supreme Court had acknowledged that smoking could cause lung cancer.

If the NHIS sought compensation for the money spent on the treatment of tobacco-related diseases over a number of years, he added, the amount sought in a litigation settlement could climb into the “trillion-won level.”

EU to back ‘tobacco products that taste and smell like tobacco products’

| December 19, 2013

The EU’s Permanent Representatives Committee yesterday approved a revised EU tobacco products directive that, in part, and in the words of a Council press note, aims to ensure that ‘tobacco products taste and smell like tobacco products’.

The new directive has still to be formally adopted by the European Parliament and the Council, which will vote on it only after the legal-linguistic revision of the text has been finalised. And once the directive is adopted member states will have two years to transpose the new rules into national law.

According to the press note, and in the words of the press note, the compromise text of the directive approved yesterday includes the following ‘key measures’:

‘A ban on the placing on the market of cigarettes and roll-your-own tobacco with characterising flavours such as fruit flavours, menthol or vanilla. This is to make sure that tobacco products taste and smell like tobacco products. The ban on mentholated products will apply only four years after the directive being transposed by the member states. Member states will also have to ban the placing on the market of tobacco products containing additives in quantities that increase in a significant or measurable manner the toxic or addictive effect, or the carcinogenic, mutagenic or reprotoxic properties.

‘Combined picture and text health warnings will have to cover 65 per cent of the front and the back of packages of tobacco products for smoking. In addition, each packet of smoking tobacco must carry a general warning (such as “Smoking kills – quit now”) and the information message: “Tobacco smoke contains over 70 substances known to cause cancer”.

‘A ban on any misleading labelling (such as “natural” or “organic”).

‘Introduction of a tracking and tracing system, together with safety features in order to strengthen the fight against illicit trade and falsified products.

‘Member states may decide to ban cross-border distance sales of tobacco products.

‘Member states may introduce more stringent rules on additives or on packaging of tobacco products (such as plain-packaging), subject to certain conditions (such as notification of the Commission).

‘The scope of the directive is extended to electronic cigarettes which will be subject of a number of safeguards (e.g. maximum concentration of nicotine of 20 mg/ml, maximum single use cartridge size of 2 ml). As regards refillable electronic cigarettes, the Commission will have to report on their potential risk to public health at the latest two years after the entry into force of the directive. If for justified reasons related to a serious risk to human health at least three member states have banned refillable electronic cigarettes the Commission is allowed to extend the ban to all member states. Member states may authorise electronic cigarettes under the rules for pharmaceuticals if they meet the provisions of the pharmaceutical legislation. The agreement is aimed at helping smokers to quit while preventing any incentive for young people to start smoking.’

New EU directive ‘just a first step’

| December 19, 2013

The compromise EU tobacco products directive negotiated by the Lithuanian presidency and the European Parliament on Monday, and endorsed by the Committee of Permanent Representatives on Wednesday, is ‘just a first step’, according to the Lithuanian Minister of Health, Vytenis Povilas Andriukaitis.

The compromise directive has still to be formally adopted by the European Parliament and the Council.

A press note issued by the Lithuanian presidency yesterday said that the EU had initiated the review of the directive having considered ‘the pressing need to reduce smoking among youth, decrease the number of smoking-related diseases, tackle the illegal trade, regulate marketing and advertising of tobacco products to discourage the public from smoking’.

“Agreement on [the] tobacco directive is a big step towards a healthier and more prosperous society,” the health minister was quoted as saying.

“It is just a first, but crucial step in protecting the public health and in harmonizing the market of tobacco products at the Union level.

“From the pragmatic point of view it is significant to all stakeholders of the EU internal market, as it establishes clearer rules for manufacturers, retailers and consumers.”

The minister was said to have added that an even more rigorous regulation of the tobacco market would ‘need to be continued in the future, based on the new research and lessons learned’.

So the new directive was just a starting point in implementation of the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

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