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Tobacco tax rise a ‘tokenistic penalty’

| October 17, 2013

Anti-tobacco activists in Ireland have condemned as inadequate the latest tobacco duty rise of 10 cents, according to a story in Northern Ireland’s Belfast Telegraph.

The Irish Cancer Society accused the government of applying a “tokenistic penalty,” according to the Telegraph, and the Heart Foundation branded the increase a missed opportunity.

The increase was less than had been expected by Health Minister Dr. James Reilly, who has said he wanted to see 50 cents added to the price of a pack of cigarettes in every budget.

Nevertheless, the increase leaves Ireland as one of the most expensive places in which to smoke licit cigarettes, and the second most expensive country in Europe.

Only Norway has more expensive cigarettes in Europe.

Tobacco smoking ban amendment tabled

| October 17, 2013

Bulgaria’s Socialist Party, part of the ruling coalition, has tabled an amendment to the Health Act that would ease the ban on tobacco smoking in enclosed public places, according to a Novinite story.

The draft amendment has been signed by nine Socialist members of parliament in a move that is seen in some quarters as highly controversial but that has the support of people working in sectors hurt by the ban.

If the amendment were passed, the ban would become a restriction in night clubs, restaurants, cafés, bars, airports and casinos that could provide designated, separate smoking areas.

The smoking ban was introduced in June last year by the GERB government of former Prime Minister Boyko Borisov.

Spas Panchev, deputy chair of the parliamentary group of the Bulgarian Socialist Party, said last week that the full smoking ban in enclosed public places had to be dropped before winter.

This sparked a wide public debate on the issue.

President Rosen Plevneliev has threatened to veto the amendment if it is passed by parliament.

Tobacco-industry research declared off limits by several medical journals

| October 17, 2013

Health editors at the BMJ, Heart, Thorax and BMJ Open have said they will not consider the publication of studies that have been funded in part or wholly by the tobacco industry, according to a story in The Information Daily.

The editors were reported to have said their new policy was consistent with that of other journals.

It aimed to show that they were committed to publishing work that only improved knowledge of health and disease, and that had no links to a product with a detrimental effect on health.

“Critics could argue that the publishing of research funded by these companies does not equal endorsement, but the editors believe that this view ‘ignores the growing body of evidence that biases and research misconduct are often impossible to detect,’” the Daily story said.

“It has been argued that instead of improving knowledge, the tobacco industry ‘has used research to deliberately produce ignorance and to advance its ultimate goal of selling its deadly products while shoring up its damaged legitimacy.’”

The full story is at

Teenagers move from cigarettes to nas

| October 17, 2013

Some Russian teenagers are quitting cigarettes for a type of chewing tobacco popular in Central Asia, according to a BBC Online story.

Nas or nasvai is made of tobacco mixed with slaked lime and wood ash to form a pellet that, when held under the tongue, packs a powerful nicotine hit.

It has been banned in Russia, but migrants from Central Asia import it and the authorities are concerned that, because it sells at a fraction of the price of cigarettes, it ends up in the mouths of young people.

The Ferghana news agency, which covers Central Asian stories from Moscow, says nas is still flying off trestle tables at street-corner markets to the general indifference of local police, four months after the ban came into effect.

Report proposes halving UK tobacco tax

| October 16, 2013

A report published yesterday by the U.K.’s Institute of Economic Affairs proposes cutting taxes on fuel, alcohol and tobacco by half, scrapping green energy subsidies and reducing VAT from 20 percent to 15 percent.

The report, Aggressively regressive: The ‘sin taxes’ that make the poor poorer, says that reducing taxes in this way would put money back in the pockets of those who are in greatest need of it.

“All told, the poorest households pay 37 percent of their gross income in direct and indirect taxes,” a report press note said.

“To put it another way, the single biggest expenditure for people in poverty is tax. This leads us to the conclusion that the most effective way for the state to lift people out of poverty is to stop taking their money.”

Christopher Snowden, the author of the report, is due to take part in Tobacco Reporter’s Global Tobacco Networking Forum at Cape Town, South Africa, next month.

The report can be accessed at

India’s Q1 tobacco exports buoyant

| October 16, 2013

India’s tobacco exports got off to a good start in the first quarter of this financial year, which ended on June 30, according to a story in the most recent issue of the BBM Bommidala Group newsletter.

In total, 82,540 tons of tobacco and tobacco products worth INR17.10 billion were exported during the three months from April to June.

The total included 73,363 tons of leaf tobacco valued at INR13.96 billion, and 9,177 tons of cigarettes and other tobacco products valued at INR3.13 billion.

India exports its tobacco and tobacco products to more than 100 countries.

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