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Meeting to discuss US small-town tobacco-sales ban ends in chaos

| November 13, 2014

A meeting called to discuss a proposal that would see a ban imposed on the sale of tobacco in a small US town was ended prematurely after shouting broke out over a no-clapping rule, according to a story by George Barnes for the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.

If the proposal is accepted, Westminster (population 7,277 in 2010 according to Wikipedia), in Worcester County, Massachusetts, would become the first community in the US to ban all tobacco sales.

The list of banned items would include cigarettes, chewing tobacco and electronic cigarettes. Barnes reported that at the start of the meeting the Board of Health chairperson, Andrea Crete, had laid down rules that had included treating people with respect and banning clapping for speakers.

Even so, one person had been removed before the meeting started, and Crete warned that others would be removed if they were disrespectful.

After a few people spoke and clapping occurred, the participants were warned. Crete warned those attending again after a few more spoke.

Then shouting broke out over her warning and she took action. “This hearing is ended,” she said, and the crowd erupted, with one man shouting over and over, “Freedom! Freedom! Freedom!”

Some people began singing ‘God Bless America’.

Police escorted Crete and other Board of Health members out of the building, but not before she told reporters she was disappointed at having to end the hearing.

The hearing drew dozens of national and regional media representatives, including a news team from Norway.

Premium cigars light up US market

| November 13, 2014

The US last year imported more premium, non-Cuban cigars than it did in 1996, which is generally reckoned to have been the high-point of the ‘cigar boom’ of the 1990s.

According to a press release from Shmuli’s Cigars and Accessories, the US imported more than 317 million hand-rolled, non-Cuban cigars during 2013, up by about eight percent from 293 million during 1996.

By comparison, the production of Cuban cigars was said to have declined by about 30-40 percent during the past 10 years and to have reached only about 100 million last year.

‘While the Cuban cigar market struggles, a once small, non-Cuban cigar market has grown exponentially over time – all the likely result of the now 50-year-old U.S. trade embargo against Cuba,’ the press note said.

PMI applauded for US tobacco policy

| November 13, 2014

The Child Labor Coalition (CLC) has applauded Philip Morris International for adopting a new US tobacco-buying policy that, the CLC says, ‘could well lead to reduced child labor in US tobacco fields’.

Under the new policy (see PMI announces new U.S. tobacco purchasing model story, November 5), PMI is outsourcing its US tobacco purchasing to Universal and Alliance, and these companies will require growers supplying PMI tobacco to comply with PMI’s child labor policy, which prohibits hazardous tobacco work for workers under 18.

“We’re encouraged that one of the 10 largest tobacco companies has taken this step,” said Sally Greenberg, executive director of the National Consumers League and co-chair of the CLC, whose 34 member organizations fight exploitative child labor.

“Much work remains to be done to ensure that Philip Morris’s child labor policies are implemented properly in the field and we think an outright ban of child work on American tobacco farms would be more protective, but this is an important step in the right direction and we applaud them for it.”

In a press note, the CLC pointed out that US federal law allowed children 12 and older to work on farms for unlimited hours, as long as there was no conflict with schooling.

‘There is no minimum age for children who work on small farms, and the children of farm owners are exempt from any protections when working on their parents’ farms,’ the press note said.

‘In May, Human Rights Watch researchers released a report, Tobacco’s Hidden Children: Hazardous Child Labor in United States Tobacco Farming, which found that a majority of the more than 140 child tobacco workers interviewed has experienced nicotine poisoning while working in US fields.’

Theme chosen for 2015 nicotine forum

| November 13, 2014

The 2015 Global Forum on Nicotine, which is due to be held in Warsaw, Poland, on June 5 and 6, is taking as its theme: The only place where science and policy meet.

The organizers of the event said in a recent press note that the science of nicotine was developing rapidly, regulatory issues were high on the political agenda and consumers were becoming anxious about the long-term availability of nicotine delivery products.

There was a nascent consensus amongst a body of scientists and public health representatives about the relative safety of new nicotine and other non-combustible products, though others in tobacco control were still sceptical and the debate continued.

It was imperative that scientists and those concerned with policy had an open forum where the latest evidence could be examined and options for effective policy discussed so as to satisfy the requirements of safety and the responsible use of new products.

The forum’s program is here: http://gfn.net.co/2015-programme

And registration is here: https://register.kachange.eu/gfn2015/

PMI to webcast conference presentation

| November 13, 2014

Philip Morris International is due to host a live audio webcast at www.pmi.com/webcasts of a presentation and question-and-answer session by CEO André Calantzopoulos during the Morgan Stanley Global Consumer & Retail Conference starting about 10.20 hours Eastern Time on November 19.

The webcast, which will be in listen-only mode, will provide live audio of the entire PMI session.

It can be accessed also on iOS or Android devices by downloading PMI’s free Investor Relations Mobile Application at www.pmi.com/irapp.

An archived copy of the webcast will be available at www.pmi.com/webcasts until 17.00 on December 18.

Presentation slides and script will be made available at www.pmi.com/presentations.

Lawsuit targets BAT’s role in Reynolds deal

| November 12, 2014

The plaintiff in a lawsuit targeting Reynolds American Inc.’s $27.4 billion offer for Lorillard Inc. wants the deal blocked, saying that British American Tobacco (BAT) is protecting its 42 percent Reynolds stake at the expense of public shareholders.

The Beatrice Corwin Living Irrevocable Trust is suing Reynolds, its board — which includes top executive Susan Cameron — and BAT for breach of fiduciary duty in the deal announced July 15, according to an article in the Winston-Salem Journal. The plaintiff accuses Reynolds’ board of directors of agreeing to the new BAT investment, along with a “joint technology-sharing strategy for next-generation products,” as a means of keeping BAT from taking majority ownership of the company. A 10-year moratorium on BAT acquiring additional Reynolds stock ended July 30.

The plaintiff says the non-BAT directors wanted Reynolds to remain independent in order to keep their director seats that paid in fiscal 2013 between $90,000 and $378,000 (for Chairman Thomas Wajnert) in cash fees and between $229,880 and $459,760 (Wajnert) in stock awards.

“The threat of a complete takeover gave BAT additional leverage to impose its terms on the Reynolds board during those negotiations,” according to the complaint.

The lawsuit was filed Aug. 8 in Guilford County Superior Court and was moved Aug. 12 to the N.C. Business Court. The plaintiff wants class-action status and a jury trial.

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