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Time being called on smoking in youth-rated films

| June 22, 2015

Time Warner, the parent company of the Warner Bros. movie studio, has become the first company to agree to hold a shareholder vote on smoking in movies, according to a press note issued by the shareholder advocacy non-profit group, As You Sow (AYS).

According to the note, issued through PRNewswire-USNewswire, the resolution was proposed by AYS and the non-profit healthcare provider Trinity Health.

‘A 2012 U.S. Surgeon General report concluded that “there is a causal relationship between depictions of smoking in the movies and the initiation of smoking among young people”,’ the note said. ‘Based on a subsequent 2014 Surgeon General report, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention … concluded in 2014: “Giving an R-rating to future movies with smoking would… prevent one million [1,000,000] deaths from smoking among children alive today”.’

“This is a historic opportunity for Time Warner,” said Andrew Behar, CEO of AYS. “For the first time, shareholders will be informed that the company’s products are putting millions of children at risk.”

The press note cited the recent Walt Disney annual meeting where Disney CEO Bob Iger announced that Disney would prohibit smoking in all future films. Disney was the first major movie studio to make such a public announcement, though the language of the policy had not yet been released.

AYS published a memo in support of the Time Warner shareholder resolution, noting that Time Warner’s policy to reduce tobacco depictions in movies allowed for ‘compelling creative reasons’.

‘The number of tobacco images that Time Warner delivers to kids each year is subject to extreme fluctuations,’ AYS said. ‘According [to] the University of California San Francisco’s Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education, Time Warner eliminated nearly all smoking in its youth-rated films in 2010. But in 2013, its films accounted for 5.6 billion impressions, which was 44 percent of all tobacco impressions delivered by top-grossing youth-rated films.’

“Tobacco in youth-rated movies is an unnecessary liability,” said Austin Wilson, environmental health program manager at AYS. “This crisis is an opportunity for the company to demonstrate its leadership and its commitment to health.”

Little support for standardized packs in Denmark

| June 22, 2015

Most members of the Danish parliament are against the imposition of standardized cigarette packs, according to a story in Dansk Handelsblad.

A survey conducted by the newspaper among the parties that make up the Danish parliament had shown that only one, the Socialist People’s Party (SPP), would like to see the introduction of standardized cigarette packs.

The SPP sees the imposition of such packs as being part of efforts to prevent young people from starting to smoke.

The other parties felt that it should be left up to the companies to design their products.

Age, class divides among Indonesia’s smokers

| June 22, 2015

Most of Indonesia’s smokers are young and from the ‘lower middle class’, according to a story in the Jakarta Post quoting the Antara News Agency.

Hasbullah Thabrani, who was described as an ‘expert in tobacco consumption’, was said to have told the agency that the majority of Indonesian smokers were between the ages of 16 and 25.

He said that cigarette consumption in Indonesia increased by 20 percent each year, causing negative health on people during their productive years.

The majority of smokers were said also to be from the ‘lower middle class’ because rich people were already aware of the dangers of smoking.

Hasbullah called on the government to take action to control the increasing rate of cigarette consumption.

“The one and only way is by increasing cigarette taxes, which will also protect farmers and producers from bankruptcy,” he said.

Ramadan creates good conditions to quit smoking

| June 22, 2015

Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Health on Friday urged Muslim smokers to take advantage of the holy, fasting month of Ramadan to quit smoking, according to an Arab News story.

A ministry spokesman, Khalid Al-Mirghalani, was quoted as saying that Ramadan created a conducive environment for smokers to quit their habit because during that period Muslims abstained from smoking from dawn to dusk.

It would not be difficult for smokers to continue the abstention, he surmised.

“The hand that touches the holy Qur’an during the month would definitely refuse to touch tobacco,” he added.

Otherwise, the spokesman said, those interested in quitting their habit could avail themselves of the facilities and expertise available at 44 anti-smoking clinics spread throughout the Kingdom.

The clinics would remain open daily from 21.00 to 03.00 during Ramadan.

Saudi Arabia’s annual tobacco consumption exceeds 40,000 tons worth nearly SR12 billion ($3.2 billion), according to figures from a study by the Khair Anti-smoking Association, a private company based in Makkah.

Consulting company dedicated to vapor segment is formed

| June 19, 2015

On June 19, 9.8 Group, TNV Ventures and Wingle Group announced the formation of Calumet Advisors, a strategic consulting company dedicated to the fast-growing e-cigarette and vapor segment. The new company was formed in response to an increasing demand for business advisory services, technology guidance and strategic thinking.

Calumet Advisors is a partnership of respected and widely recognized industry veterans who have years of experience working with clients ranging from Big Tobacco and Big Pharma to small and medium enterprises and financial services.

Included in the partnership are 9.8 Group, a holding company with a portfolio of consulting companies in various verticals, represented by founder and president Givi Topchishvili; TNV Ventures, an international expert advisory group in tobacco and vapor regulatory affairs, as well as public policy issues, represented by Ron Tully; and Wingle Group, a China-based consulting service and authority on e-cigarette technologies, accessories and e-liquid manufacturers, represented by founder and CEO Dmitri Churakov.

“The complexity of the regulatory landscape and the dynamic nature of the industry makes managing the technology curve, cohesive business planning and brand development challenging for both established players and new market entrants to the U.S. market,” says Tully. “We believe Calumet Advisers, with its strengths in policy issues, market analysis and evaluation of emerging technologies, will provide Calumet’s clients with a solid platform from which they can make informed decisions about the U.S. vape market.”

Canada implements restrictions on flavored cigars

| June 19, 2015

Rona Ambrose, Canada’s Minister of Health, on June 18 announced the adoption of new measures that will further restrict flavors in cigars that could appeal to youth.

In 2009, the Cracking Down on Tobacco Marketing Aimed at Youth Act banned the use of certain additives—including flavors like chocolate and bubble gum—in cigarettes, little cigars and blunt wraps in an effort to make them less attractive to children and young adults.

Manufacturers, however, began producing resized cigars in the prohibited flavors. The recently announced amendments target these products and close the loophole by preventing manufacturers from changing the weight of little cigars or removing their filter in order to continuing marketing certain flavors.

The proposed amendments prohibit most flavors and selected additives in cigars that weigh more than 1.4 grams but no more than 6 grams, as well as in cigars that use tipping paper or do not feature a wrapper fitted in spiral form.

The amendments are scheduled to come into force Dec. 14.

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