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Labor aiming to hurt the poor – for their own good

| November 24, 2015

Australia’s shadow treasurer Chris Bowen has said that the Labor party is ‘keenly aware’ that its proposal to push the price of cigarettes to $40 a pack by 2020 would hurt the poor, according to a story by Eliza Borrello for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

The government has been increasing its cigarette tax take regularly under a policy that saw the penultimate increase of 12.5 percent imposed on September 1. A pack of 25 cigarettes currently retails for $25-30.

But the Labor Party has said that if it came to power in elections due next year it would continue the policy of increasing taxes.

Bowen was quoted as saying that financially poor people smoked more than did the better off, and that these poor people died earlier, in part because of their smoking.

“That is offensive to us as the Labor Party,” he said. “This is a measure which will make a contribution to doing something about that.”

Increasing tobacco taxes by 12.5 per cent four more times until 2020 would reap $47.7 billion in revenue over 10 years, according to the Parliamentary Budget Office, and Labor claims that its policy would generate ‘savings’ of almost $50 billion over the medium term while almost doubling the rate at which people quit smoking.

Labor’s health spokeswoman Catherine King said that her party wanted to put the savings towards budget consolidation, but also “towards very important health initiatives”.

British American Tobacco Australia was quoted as saying that Labor’s proposed cigarette tax increases would drive the trade in illegal tobacco.

Company spokesman Scott McIntyre said the change would only push smokers into the black market, which accounted for 14 percent of all tobacco consumed in Australia.

Tobacco grower registrations down in Zimbabwe

| November 24, 2015

The number of Zimbabwean farmers who have registered so far this year to grow tobacco is down by more than 20 percent on the number who had signed up by the same point of last year’s registration period, according to a Newsdzesibabwe story.

In its latest bulletin, the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) said 69,092 farmers had so far registered for the 2015-16 season, down from the 86,992 who had registered by the same point of last year.

New registrations were said to be down from 16,140 to 8,755.

About 15,421 ha have been put under tobacco so far this year, which is said to indicate that more growers are shifting to irrigation to mitigate the effects of uncertain rainfall.

Earlier this year, many flue-cured Virginia growers complained about what they saw as the poor prices being paid for their 2014-15 tobacco – prices that did not cover the cost of production.

Buyers on the other hand complained that the tobacco on offer generally was of low quality, in part due to the weather conditions.

It is almost certain, however, that a worldwide oversupply of flue-cured tobacco was a major factor in prices being down.

A reduced grower base in Zimbabwe will help bring about a better supply/demand balance, especially with growers in Brazil having suffered some unhelpful weather conditions.

Pakistan lay-offs down to tax-led illegal trade

| November 23, 2015

Philip Morris Pakistan (PMPK) is laying off 141 employees from its purchasing and processing departments but says that it is committed to continuing to operate in Pakistan, according to a story in The Nation.

PMPK, formerly Lakson Tobacco, apparently told the paper that the decision to axe the employees had been taken as a result of an unprecedented rise in Pakistan’s illegal cigarette trade that had seriously impacted legal sales.

The reduction in legitimate sales had led to a decline in the company’s leaf purchasing and processing operations, which had necessitated a reorganization. The Nation quoted sources in the commerce ministry as saying that, with high taxes in place, it was not possible for the company to compete with brands that evaded taxes and that therefore were more affordable than were taxed cigarettes, and that made a ‘mockery of pictorial health warning laws’.

PMPK managing director Alejandro Paschalides described the decision to lay off the employees as having been extremely difficult yet necessary.

“Due to significant growth of illicit cigarette trade in the country, we have to review our plans and operations to ensure we are best positioned for future growth,” he was quoted as saying. “We understand that this is difficult news for our employees, particularly those who are directly impacted. We will provide them with support and assistance during this time and we are committed to ensuring that they are treated fairly and with respect. We genuinely appreciate the contributions that each and every employee has made over the years”.

PMPK remained committed to operating in Pakistan, he added.

JT product to offer ‘ultimate smoking experience’

| November 23, 2015

Japan Tobacco Inc has said that it will launch in mid-December a cigarette that will provide the ‘ultimate smoking experience’.

In a note posted on its website, the company said that ‘fastidious attention’ had been paid to every detail of Mevius Prestige, which would be sold exclusively at the duty-free stores of five airports: Narita, Haneda, Chubu, Kansai, and Fukuoka.

Mevius Prestige, which uses more than 100 types of tobacco, is said to combine a ‘rich, unprecedented flavour with a light, smooth feel on the throat’.

It is a super-king-sized filter product that delivers 10 mg of tar and 1.0 mg of nicotine. The product’s AFT (Advanced Filter Technology) filter is said to contain microscopic longitudinal holes, making it possible to enjoy ‘a deep smoking experience’. ‘In addition, the ideal hardness of the filter and the refined embossment of its tip produce a comfortable feel in the mouth,’ the note said.

‘Moreover, the cigarette paper has a grid-like pattern that provides [a] sense of luxury, so that it can also be enjoyed visually.’

The new product is sold in 20-piece metallic cases with seals ‘so the Mevius flavor and aroma can be enjoyed from the moment it is opened’.

Multiple layers of a wood-grain pattern and a carbon-like design are combined on the package so as to give it a high-quality texture and a stylish look.

Mevius is offered in a special gift box containing 10 packs, for which the retail price is ¥ 12,800 ($106).

Reynolds launches Vuse Connect Solo

| November 20, 2015

vuseR.J. Reynolds Vapor Co. is launching Vuse Connect Solo power units in the United States on Nov. 24.

The units feature Bluetooth low-energy technology that enables adult tobacco consumers to pair the device with a mobile app to monitor things such as battery level, battery life and cartridge levels.

The power units will be available for purchase only online, at, which is restricted to age-verified adult tobacco consumers who are 21 years of age or older.

The Vuse mobile app also allows adult tobacco consumers to lock the unit to help prevent use of the device by youth and others.

The Vuse Connect Solo power unit works with traditional Vuse cartridges that are already on the market and available for purchase at retail by adult tobacco consumers.


Lobby group welcomes ban on tobacco lobbyists

| November 20, 2015

The doors to the Dutch government have been closed against the tobacco industry and its lobbyists, according to an anti-tobacco lobby group, the Framework Convention Alliance.

In a note posted on its website, the alliance said that while a court in the Netherlands had denied a civil society suit brought against the government because of its contacts with the tobacco industry, the action had produced a new policy that laid out rules for future interactions.

The Youth Smoking Prevention Foundation (YSPF) had apparently challenged government dealings with the industry on the basis of Article 5.3 of the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).

Article 5.3 was quoted as requiring that ‘in setting and implementing their public health policies with respect to tobacco control, Parties [to the convention] shall act to protect these policies from commercial and other vested interests of the tobacco industry in accordance with national law’.

Days before the court sat to hear the arguments, the government distributed a document, ‘Clarification of implementation of Article 5.3 of the WHO-Framework Convention’, to both houses of Parliament.

“Although the wording of the document is at some points a little vague, it is now written down how government at all levels – national, regional and local – must behave in relation to the tobacco industry,” said Wanda de Kanter, co-founder and chair of the YSPF.

“It means that from now on the doors of government are closed for the tobacco industry and its lobbyists. This will end the extensive influence of the tobacco industry that time and again tries to raise doubts by issuing defective research and reports.”

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