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Gesture politics employed in Beijing’s tobacco wars

| April 14, 2015

The authorities in Beijing, China, are asking citizens to vote on what would be a suitable hand gesture to indicate to people that they should desist from smoking, according to a China Daily story.

Most countries have hand gestures that can be appropriated for this purpose, but Beijing seems to be looking for a specially-conceived gesture that will not give offence in ways unconnected with smoking.

The move is part of a pre-launch campaign for anti-tobacco measures that are due to come into effect on June 1.

Members of the public are able to vote for one of three gestures:

  1. Covering your nose with your hand to signal ‘I am bothered by your smoke’;
  2. Forming a ‘T’ shape with your hands to say ‘Please stop smoking’;
  3. Holding up your hand to signal that ‘Smoking is not allowed here’.

Local citizens can cast their votes through the official ‘Smoke Free Beijing’ Wechat account or by telephoning 12320. The gesture with the highest votes will be declared the winner.

As part of the anti-tobacco measures being introduced, people will be banned from smoking in Beijing’s work places, along its public walkways, aboard public transportation, and while waiting in queues.

Those found to be in violation of the new regulations will be fined up to Yuan200 in the case of individuals and Yuan10,000 in the case of companies.

Previous anti-tobacco measures introduced in China have frequently fallen by the wayside because they have not been enforced. But Fang Laiying, the director of the Beijing Health and Family Planning Commission, said that the city’s local public health ministry, the tobacco monopoly and the local department of commerce would monitor violations of the new regulations on local streets.

Nevertheless, the specific procedures for monitoring violations are still under discussion, according to Liu Zejun, director of the Beijing Patriotic Public Health Campaign Committee.

US court votes to allow EU lawsuit against Reynolds

| April 14, 2015

A US federal appeals court voted 8-5 on Monday to allow an EU lawsuit to proceed against RJR Nabisco its affiliates and successors that alleges RJ Reynolds violated the US Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), according to a story by Richard Craver for the Winston-Salem Journal.

The lawsuit, initially filed in October 2002, alleges Reynolds directed, managed and controlled a decade-long global money-laundering scheme with Colombian and Russian criminal organizations.

The case was heard by the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York. In April 2014, a three-member panel of the appeals court ruled the EU and its countries were within their rights to sue in US courts.

David Howard, a spokesman for Reynolds, was quoted as saying the decision was disappointing.

‘We are disappointed in (Monday’s) seven-to-five [sic] decision of the Second Circuit not to reconsider the panel’s ruling that RICO applies extraterritorially, and we agree with the four dissenting opinions that this important issue warrants further review,’ Howard said in an email to the Journal.

‘Moreover, we have many other strong legal grounds for securing dismissal of this case, and we look forward to presenting them to the district court on remand.

‘We continue to believe that this lawsuit is entirely baseless in both law and fact.’

Craver’s story is at:

Modified risk application damaged but not sunk

| April 14, 2015

The US Food and Drug Administration’s Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee has concluded that Swedish Match North America’s (SMNA) General snus should not be allowed to carry Modified Risk Tobacco Product (MRTP) warning labels.

Last year, SMNA made an MRTP application to the FDA in which it sought to have changed or eliminated, in respect of its General-branded snus, three of the four warning labels currently carried by smokeless tobacco products in the US. No change was sought to the warning declaring that this product is addictive.

Under the application, one of the changes would see the inclusion of a warning stating, in effect, that while no tobacco product was safe, General snus presented substantially fewer risks to health than do cigarettes.

Such a warning would represent a sea change and the application has been closely watched by both the public health community and tobacco companies.

Some commentators have concluded that the committee’s findings have sounded the death knell of the application, but others argue that the committee’s only other recommendation to date has not been taken up by the FDA.

The FDA is due to reach a conclusion by August of this year.

Cigarette volume sales free falling in Japan

| April 13, 2015

Cigarette sales in Japan during the 2014 fiscal year that ended on March 31 dropped to their lowest level since such statistics were first compiled for fiscal 1990, according to a story in The Japan News citing an industry group.

The Tobacco Institute of Japan was quoted as saying that sales fell by nine percent to 179.3 billion between fiscal 2013 and fiscal 2014.

The decrease was in part a continuation of a long-term decline in smoking rates.

But it was exacerbated by consumer stockpiling ahead of a consumption tax hike in April last year.

Flue-cured tobacco prices plummet in Zimbabwe

| April 13, 2015

As of Thursday, Zimbabwe’s tobacco growers had sold 25.7 million kg of flue-cured for US$67.4 million, according to a New Zimbabwe story.

At the same stage of last season, they had sold 28.7 million kg for US$88.1 million.

The volume had dropped by 10.4 percent and the return to growers had gone down by 23.5 percent.

In the opening week of this year’s sales, growers rioted at the auction floors with prices running at between US$0.10 and US$3.10 per kg.

Raw deal for do-it-yourself tobacco manufacturers

| April 13, 2015

Estonia’s Tax and Customs Authority is banning the retailing of ‘raw tobacco’, according to an Esmerk story.

The raw tobacco has reportedly been sold online, in kiosks and at markets in 1 kg packages not carrying health warnings.

The ban, which will be effective as of May 1, is said to be aimed at reducing the risk of excise duty evasion.

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