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JT in Dow Jones Sustainability Index

| September 17, 2014

Japan Tobacco Inc. has been included for the first time in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI) Asia Pacific, one of the most prestigious stock indices for socially responsible investment (SRI), JT announced today in a press note posted on its website.

‘The DJSI is a collaborative initiative by S&P Dow Jones Indices of the United States and RobecoSAM2 of Switzerland,’ the press note said.

‘It assesses the sustainability performance of companies, based on economic, environmental and social criteria.’

Of about 600 major companies in the Asia-Pacific region, including Japan, 148 companies, including 65 Japanese companies, were named in the DJSI Asia Pacific this year.

‘In accordance with its management principles, the JT Group, which sells products in more than 120 countries and regions, balances the interests of consumers, shareholders, employees and wider society, fulfills responsibilities towards them, and aims to exceed their expectations,’ JT said.

With this in mind, the company added, the JT Group worked to help solve sustainability issues in countries where it operated and would continue to carry out various initiatives to contribute to the sustainability of societies.

NZ health expert labels campaign against e-cigarettes as “ridiculous”, “crazy”

| September 16, 2014

Ordering nicotine-containing electronic cigarettes off the shelves in Auckland, New Zealand, has been described as “ridiculous” by a health official and respected anti-smoking campaigner, according to a story by Matthew Theunissen for the Herald on Sunday.

Despite their sale being illegal according to Ministry of Health rules, electronic cigarettes containing nicotine have been widely available over the counter in Auckland.

But in the past few weeks, the ministry has dispatched smoke-free enforcement officers to inform retailers such sales are prohibited.

Public health specialist, Dr Murray Laugesen, who has been researching electronic cigarettes since 2007, labelled the ministry’s decision “ridiculous” and said it would drive people back to smoking tobacco.

He said electronic cigarettes were less harmful than were traditional cigarettes, a view shared by the World Health Organization.

“The ministry itself says half of combustible cigarette smokers will die from smoking so what is being set up is a ridiculous policy which enables people to keep on smoking something which is going to kill them,” said Laugesen. “It’s a crazy policy.”

Casual smokers lifting numbers in NY

| September 16, 2014

The number of adult New Yorkers who smoke, which fell for years under the anti-tobacco mayor, Mike Bloomberg, last year surpassed 1 million for the first time since 2007, according to a story by Jennifer Fermino for the New York Daily News.

According to new data from the city’s health department, 16.1 percent of adults smoked last year, up from a low of 14.0 percent in 2010.

Fermino said the numbers were striking for a city that had led the US in adopting anti-tobacco measures, such as banning smoking in bars, restaurants and parks. The rise in the number of New York smokers during 2013, the last year for which data were available, occurred even as smoking rates fell across the country.

However, Fermino added, the national rate of 18 percent remained higher than the rate in New York.

Health officials blamed the city’s smoking spike on several factors, one of which was the cutting from $13.5 million to $7.1 million of the city’s annual tobacco control budget, which pays for anti-smoking programs and marketing campaigns.

In addition, the city’s anti-tobacco efforts in recent years have not been focusing on what officials describe as the new breed of consumers – casual smokers in their mid-20s to early 40s.

“I think you are seeing a really different smoking population, and that means we need to talk to them,” said Christine Johnson Curtis, a deputy city health commissioner.

Leaf growing abandoned over tax impost

| September 16, 2014

British American Tobacco Uganda’s decision to stop supporting leaf growing in the country was taken partly because of the imposition of a leaf tobacco export tax of US20 cents per kg, according to a story by Paul Tentena for the East African Business Week.

The tax was introduced as part of the June budget.

“The profitability from our leaf export will be significantly eroded by the recent imposition of a leaf export tax at 20 US cent,” BATU’s managing director, Jonathan D’Souza, was quoted as saying.

“We’re engaging with relevant stakeholders to highlight the impact of this tax on our leaf growing operation at a time when we cannot pass on this tax to our customers in view of the timing of the leaf growing season and the global over-supply of tobacco.

“This situation is further compounded by the proposed repeal of existing tobacco growing regulations in the draft 2014 Tobacco Control Bill that is currently being reviewed by Parliament,” D’Souza added.

More than 14,000 growers are expected to be affected by BAT Uganda’s decision.

Bribes smooth contraband’s passage

| September 16, 2014

Syndicates are prepared to offer bribes of up to RM40,000 (US$16,000) per shipping container to Customs officers in exchange for the ‘smooth passage’ of contraband cigarettes and liquor into Malaysia, according to an AsiaOne report citing a Mingguan Malaysia story.

An unnamed source was quoted as saying that as well as using containers, the syndicates also used vans to smuggle goods.

“They will only smuggle goods at a certain time using vehicles that have received the ‘green light’ from high ranking officials from the Customs Department,” he said.

The source further alleged that corrupt custom officials worked in teams.

“The smuggling vehicle will only pass through Customs when members of the ‘team’ who have been paid are on duty. If there is any inspection, it will only be for show,” said the source.

He alleged that the RM40,000 bribe would be divided among the members of the team, which consists of those from the inspection unit, enforcement, port police, documentation unit and data entry unit.

“If they let two containers pass per day, they will get about RM80,000 of easy money,” the source was quoted as saying.

Imran Khan asked to oust tobacco

| September 15, 2014

A consumer rights campaigner has urged the chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) political party, Imran Khan, to direct the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government to eradicate tobacco cultivation from the province, according to a story in the Express Tribune.

In a press note issued last week, the executive co-ordinator of The Network for Consumer Protection, Nadeem Iqbal, demanded that the PTI leadership make Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa a tobacco free province by shifting tobacco activities to non-hazardous businesses.

Iqbal hailed the PTI chairman’s decision to build another cancer hospital in Peshawar and he vowed to stand by Khan in his battle against cancer.

But Iqbal expressed concern that tobacco, which was ‘the main cause of cancer’, was cultivated on a large scale in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

He was said to have drawn Khan’s attention to hundreds of tobacco fields in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, the province where PTI is currently in power.

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