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JT keen to complete Santa Fe deal this week

| September 29, 2015

Japan Tobacco Inc. is in the final stages of negotiations to buy Reynolds American Inc.’s Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company subsidiary, possibly excluding the US rights to the Natural American Spirit brand, according to a Nikkei Asian Review (NAR) story relayed by the TMA.

JT is said to be aiming to reach an agreement on the deal, thought to be worth about US$5 billion, sometime this week.

The NAR said that JT was hoping to accelerate its global growth by obtaining the marketing rights for Santa Fe’s Natural American Spirit.

JT has used acquisitions to start and expand its overseas cigarette business, starting with the 1999 purchase of RJR Nabisco’s non-US operations.

The Santa Fe deal would be JT’s biggest acquisition since its 2007 purchase of the UK-based Gallaher Group for US$14.7 billion.

Exporters walk away from tobacco with volcanic ash

| September 28, 2015

Thousands of tobacco farmers in Jember, East Java, have been struggling to market their tobacco this year after their plants were completely or partly damaged by the recent eruptions of Mount Raung, according to a story in The Jakarta Post.

Suwarno, a farmer of Na Oogst tobacco in Balung district, was quoted as saying that previous harvests had fetched Rp80,000 (US$5.42) per kg.

But this season, 2,000 kg of newly harvested tobacco from Suwarno’s one-ha field lie in his barn while buyers stay away.

“I was lucky that I still could harvest the tobacco, even though no one’s bought it,” he said. “Other farmers just let their tobacco rot in their fields because they couldn’t afford to harvest it.”

Suwarno, who leads the Jember branch of the Association of Indonesian Tobacco Farmers (APTI), said he had spent about Rp75 million on planting and maintaining his tobacco before Mt. Raung, located on the border between the Jember, Bondowoso and Banyuwangi regencies, erupted several times between early July and late August.

Meanwhile, Abdurrachman, a Vor Oogst tobacco farmer from Pakusari district, took a sample of his tobacco to a local cigarette company, which told him that every three kg of his tobacco contained about 300 g of volcanic ash.

A recent meeting involving local authorities, farmers and exporters ended, according to Suwarno, in deadlock after the exporters that usually bought tobacco from the growers decided not to buy Na Oogst tobacco and only to buy Vor Oogst tobacco under strict conditions.

Abdurrachman has asked the government to intervene by, for example, providing compensatory aid to farmers, whom he said could be considered victims of natural disaster.

“We ask the government to be fair,” he said. “Most of the farmers depend on this year’s yield for next year’s production costs. Without compensation or aid, how will they survive?”

Plight of Andhra growers ‘extremely grave’

| September 28, 2015

The plight of tobacco growers in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh has been described by two leading tobacco growers’ associations as ‘extremely grave’, according to a Webindia story.

The Kondepi Tobacco Growers’ Association and the Kaligiri FCV Tobacco Growers’ Association were quoted as saying that they were disturbed by the ‘growing number’ of suicides among tobacco growers in the state.

They said that the government should examine grower livelihoods before embarking on ‘extreme regulations’.

‘There is no alternative to tobacco farming in our area because of the soil and climatic conditions,’ they said.

Cafés in Belgium not enforcing smoking ban

| September 28, 2015

Three thousand inspections by the Public Health Minister’s office in Belgium has led that body to conclude that 16 percent of cafés do not enforce tobacco control legislation, according to a story in the Brussels Times.

“This is fewer than last year but the figure needs to be reduced faster,” said Paul Van den Meerssche, who is in charge of such inspections, in answer to questions from the Mediahuis press group.

Smoking in cafés has been banned since 2011 and owners risk heavy fines if they do not enforce the legislation.

“Fines went up at the end of the previous legislative term, said Van den Meerssche. “The maximum fine went from 1,600 euros to 5,000 euros, and cafés can now be shut down.”

Nevertheless, smoking goes on and plainclothes inspectors are sometimes verbally or physically abused.

Chinese student charged ‘pollution fee’ for smoking

| September 28, 2015

A student at Yuying Middle School in northwest China’s Yan’an city has had to pay Yuan400 (about $62.7) for smoking on campus, according to a China Daily story citing the Xi’an-based China Business View.

A post circulated on Weibo, China’s twitter-like service, indicated that the payment was described as a ‘pollution fee’.

Some comments on the post expressed doubt over the school’s right to levy such a fee and questioned how the money would be used.

Zhang Bingke, head of the school’s administrative office, said the fee was introduced only this semester after previous measures aimed at stopping students from smoking had failed.

Zhang said the new measure was not backed by any official policy but that it had been effective.

Stressing the ‘educative meaning’ of such a measure, the school authority nevertheless promised to return all the fees to the parents of students.

DNA holds key to why some smokers remain healthy

| September 28, 2015

The mystery of why some people seem to have healthy lungs despite a lifetime of smoking has been explained by UK scientists, according to a story by James Gallagher for BBC News.

Many, but not all, smokers will develop lung disease, but so too will some who have never touched a cigarette in their lives.

A study involving more than 50,000 people showed that favorable mutations in people’s DNA enhanced lung function and masked the deadly impact of smoking.

The Medical Research Council scientists said the findings could lead to new drugs to improve lung function, but that not smoking would always be the best option.

The full story is at:

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