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‘Hasty decisions’ on EU tobacco directive will lead to ‘ineffective legislation’

| December 19, 2013

Japan Tobacco International said yesterday that hasty decisions made in respect of the revised EU tobacco products directive (TPD) would lead only to ineffective legislation.

“The TPD has been negotiated hastily, pushed by political agendas, with little consideration given to the effectiveness of the numerous measures and the cost entailed for EU Member States and businesses,” said Ben Townsend, JTI’s head of EU affairs. He was commenting on the agreement reached yesterday between the European Commission, Parliament and Council on the proposal for a revised TPD.

“Policies that are not supported by strong evidence and that do not consider market dynamics are bound to fail – they do not deliver any public health benefits,” he said.

In a note published on its website, JTI said many of the measures of the revised TPD were disproportionate and were a threat to the internal market from an innovation, competition, consumer choice and cross-border trade standpoint. ‘Thousands of businesses – wholesalers, retailers, packaging suppliers to name but a few – will need additional time to absorb these radical changes.

‘Oversizing health warnings to 65 per cent with pictures positioned at the top of the pack and standardizing the pack shape and size (minimum of 20 cigarettes per pack and 30 grams for roll-your-own tobacco) will not work, as people already understand the health risks associated with smoking. Rather, these restrictions will confuse retailers and consumers, making it difficult for them to distinguish brands.’

JTI added that it would be much easier for counterfeiters to produce and sell cheap cigarettes that were not regulated, not tested, and not taxed. “The more complex and innovative the packaging is, the more difficult it is to counterfeit,” said Townsend. “Simply put, these restrictions will give counterfeiters a blueprint on how to fake a pack.”

The company said that, like many other measures, the proposal to ban entire product categories such as menthol cigarettes was not based on any sound evidence. If consumers were unable to find their preferred products through legal channels, smugglers would make sure they were available from the boot of their cars.

As a consequence, the TPD would threaten jobs, investment and much needed revenue in EU Member States. “While the legitimate tobacco sector directly and indirectly employs around 1.5 million people across the EU, the illegal trade in tobacco is already costing EU countries around €12.5 billion a year,” said Townsend. “This is what is at stake.”

JTI said that while objections to the TPD had been raised many times by EU member states, members of the European Parliament and a number of important parliamentary committees, it appeared their concerns had fallen on deaf ears.

‘Many of the measures still need to be carefully considered by EU decision-makers before the Parliament and Council come to vote for the final time on the TPD in the New Year,’ JTI added.

PMI defends tobacco-regulations record

| December 18, 2013

Philip Morris International, in a letter to The New York Times, has said that it supports most tobacco industry regulation and uses litigation to challenge regulations only sparingly.

‘As “Tobacco Industry Tactics Limit Poorer Nations’ Smoking Laws” (front page, Dec. 13) points out, governments around the world have enacted hundreds of regulations on almost every aspect of the tobacco industry, PMI said in the letter, which was signed by Julie A. Soderlund, vice president, communications.

‘What is not mentioned is that Philip Morris International supports the vast majority of these regulations, including advertising restrictions, penalties for selling tobacco products to minors, limitations on public-place smoking and reasonable health warnings on packaging.

‘The international trading and investment system has long protected the authority of governments to carry out this kind of legitimate, science-based public interest regulation.

‘When this standard is not met, the rules also ensure due process for all lawful industries. In a very small number of cases, we turn to the legal system as a last resort and ask only for a fair hearing and consideration of our case based on its merits before a neutral body.

‘Proposals denying anyone – including the tobacco industry – access to justice undermine the rule of law, which is at the heart not only of the international trading system but also a free and democratic society.’

The New York Times story, which was reported here briefly on December 13, is at:

Medical monitoring claim turned down

| December 18, 2013

New York’s highest court has ruled that smokers cannot use New   York law to force Philip Morris USA to pay for tests the smokers claim would provide early detection of lung cancer, according to a story by Bob Van Voris for Bloomberg News.

A federal appeals court in Manhattan, applying New York law, had asked the state’s highest court whether it would recognize a cause of action for medical monitoring. The New York Court of Appeals ruled by 4-2 yesterday that the state did not recognize a right to medical monitoring for smokers who weren’t sick.

The suit was filed in 2006 by four smokers seeking court-ordered low-dose computed tomography, or CT, screening tests for Marlboro smokers over the age of 50 throughout the state.

“We believe that the New York Court of Appeals correctly held that there is no basis under the law that supports creating a medical monitoring claim,” said Murray Garnick, Altria Client Services senior vice president and associate general counsel, speaking on behalf of Philip Morris USA. “In so ruling, the New York Court of Appeals has joined with many courts throughout the country in rejecting such a sweeping new cause of action.”

‘In its decision, the court said, “Allowance of such a claim, absent any evidence of present physical injury or damage to property, would constitute a significant deviation from our tort jurisprudence”,’ according to a PM USA note posted on its website.

‘In declining to create a new cause of action, the court expressed serious concerns about the “potential systemic effects of creating a new, full-blown tort law cause of action”. The court concluded that creating a medical monitoring cause of action could result in “effectively flooding the courts” and noted that “there is no framework concerning how such a medical monitoring program would be implemented and administered”.

‘In 2011, a federal district court ruled that there was no legal basis for claims made by plaintiffs in Caronia requesting that the company pay for annual low-dose CT scans for long-term smokers to determine whether they have lung cancer. The trial court dismissed the lawsuit finding that plaintiffs’ claims were legally invalid.’

Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman said in a dissent that the majority of the court “resolutely stands frozen in time”, refusing to grant the smokers an opportunity to claim access to technology that could save lives.

“The common law must evolve with advances in scientific understanding to fashion relief and provide redress for wrongs newly understood, particularly when such relief can prevent devastating disease and death,” Lippman said.

Philip Morris Fortune Tobacco attacked over low-price plans for Philippines

| December 18, 2013

A health group has lashed out Philip Morris Fortune Tobacco Corp. (PMFTC) over its plan to manufacture cheaper cigarettes to compete with a local brand, saying this would defeat the purpose of the ‘sin tax’ law, according to a story in the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

PMFTC has asked the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) to allow the company to come up with cheaper versions of its leading brand Marlboro, so as to level the playing field against local brand Mighty.

“If you are going to allow other players to produce low-priced cigarettes to catch up with others, then smokers will just choose cheaper brands instead of quitting,” said Emer Rojas, president of the New Vois Association in a statement. “In the end you will not only perpetuate smoking but you are in fact promoting it.”

Rojas said the primary objective of the sin tax law, which was approved in December last year, had been to raise the prices of cigarettes so as to discourage smoking and help smokers quit.

In a letter to the BIR last month, PMFTC, the joint venture of multinational Philip Morris International and Fortune Tobacco, sought permission to manufacture four variants of its Marlboro products as low-priced cigarettes.

PMFTC argued that the sales of Marlboro had dropped significantly because smokers were choosing cheaper cigarettes, such as Mighty, as a result of the higher levies imposed on premium brands.

It said that in order for the company to regain its dominance of the market (90 per cent, according to Rojas) , the government had to allow it to come up with four low-priced variants of Marlboro.

According to a piece in The Philippine Star, PMFTC president Paul Riley told the BIR the company’s production volume had declined to 68 billion sticks this year from 92 billion in 2012, and that it expected a further decrease next year to 48 billion.

New card from Incada for New Year

| December 18, 2013

Iggesund, whose intricate Christmas cards have become something of a hallmark of Christmas, this year has produced a booklet of seven cards depicting the holiday season internationally.

The booklet’s material is Iggesund’s folding box board Incada, which was chosen to celebrate the launch earlier this year of a new generation of Incada and to mark Iggesund’s recent switch to biomass as the sole energy source used to produce Incada.

Van Heertum Design (VHD), of Tilburg, the Netherlands, was commissioned to design the card and manage its production. The starting point was the new Incada with its higher whiteness and increased stiffness.

“Based on these ingredients we then searched for the design motifs,” said Rob van Heertum of VHD. “We thought Incada’s natural white would be perfect for a snowy scene, and winter is a good representation of the holiday season. Though for a global company like Iggesund, we mustn’t forget that on the other side of the equator from Europe, this time of year is not cold but warm and colourful.”

The sheets featuring the seven inner cards and the front and back covers went through a five-colour offset press several times and were then hot foil stamped or foil embossed. The word ’NEW’ was then die cut through all seven cards to symbolise both the new Incada and the New Year.

“The main production challenge lay in registering and die cutting the seven different cards,” van Heertum said. “After printing, the sheets were transported to the hot foil printer, where three print runs were done on a Starfoil machine.

“We used both foil embossing and hot foil flat. Then the die lines and die cuts were done. On a WPO 304 the letters were cut and pushed out and the fold lines were realised. Then Drukkerij Tielen did the finishing. The cards were cut, gathered, ordered, glued and stitched.”

For this project, Drukkerij Tielen did the offset printing and finishing, Drukkerij Hensen foliedrukkers and Kurz Benelux the hot foil stamping and foil embossing, and TSO Packaging Printers the die cutting with tools from KDS Stansvormen.

Incada heads into a New Year. Photo: Rolf Andersson.

Incada heads into a New Year.
Photo: Rolf Andersson.

E-cigarette regulation rumpus threatens whole EU Tobacco Products Directive

| December 17, 2013

Disagreement over how to regulate electronic cigarettes is holding up a deal on the EU’s revised Tobacco Products Directive, according to a story by Charlie Dunmore for Reuters.

In talks aimed at finalizing legislative proposals by the end of the year, the European Parliament has pushed for a light touch approach to electronic cigarettes, which it regards as a less harmful alternative to smoking, but EU governments are seeking more restrictive rules.

The main sticking point is the parliament’s demand that e-cigarettes can be sold with refillable nicotine cartridges, rather than as single-use items as demanded by member states.

Unless negotiators can reach a compromise in two final rounds of talks this week, the row could delay by up to two years the adoption of the new TPD.

The alternative would be to leave electronic cigarettes unregulated at EU-level as at present, leaving individual governments to decide what rules – if any – to apply.

Dunmore’s story is at:

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