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Health minister delivers fighting talk

| January 14, 2014

Sri Lanka’s health minister, Maithripala Sirisena, has said he is prepared to face up to any challenge that the fight against smoking might throw up, according to a story in the Daily News.

Addressing a gathering after an “anti-smoking walk” in Colombo on Monday, he said, “No one will be able to stop our fight against smoking.”

“I have many challenges and threats as the health minister, but my effort to save over 20,000 Sri Lankans who die annually due to smoking will not be stopped,” he added.

The story said that laws were being prepared that would require cigarette manufacturers to include graphic health warnings covering 80 percent of packs.

It wasn’t clear whether this meant 80 percent of the total surface area, or 80 percent of one or more sides.

UAE looks at imposing plain packaging

| January 14, 2014

Anti-tobacco proposals have been put forward in the UAE that would impose “plain packaging” on cigarettes and double the price of tobacco products within two years, according to a Gulf News story quoting a health ministry official.

And these are perhaps more than proposals. “The law is expected to be enforced throughout the GCC by 2016,” said Dr. Wedad Al Maidour, head of the ministry’s National Tobacco Control.

Wedad was quoted as saying that it had been proposed that the warning on cigarette packs should be increased to cover 70 percent of the pack, whereas at present it took up half of the pack. It was not clear whether this meant 70/50 percent of the pack or 70/50 percent of one or more sides of the pack.

And Wedad appealed to governments to help raise the price of tobacco products. Cigarettes and tobacco were very cheap in the GCC, she said, where a pack of 20 cost just AED7.

In comparison a pack cost £8 (AED48) in the U.K., where tax on tobacco was regularly increased.

Anti-tobacco campaign to be televised

| January 13, 2014

A three-month anti-tobacco campaign on Bangladeshi television is seeking to create awareness about the adverse impacts of tobacco and motivate people to abide by the provisions of the country’s new tobacco control act, according to a story in The Financial Express quoting a UNB news agency report.

The campaign, which is said to have been organized by Progga (Knowledge for Progress) and supported financially by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and Bloomberg Philanthropists, will appear on five private television channels.

The new control act, called the Smoking and Use of Tobacco Products Control (Amendment) Act, 2013, provides for three months imprisonment and a fine of BDT100,000 for those found to have published or broadcast tobacco advertisements; so just about the only television exposure people will have to tobacco products will be through the campaign.

A quarter of French cigarettes illicit

| January 13, 2014

Sales of cigarettes in France, which dropped about 7.6 percent last year, were impacted by high taxes and, to a lesser extent, the growing popularity of e-cigarettes, according to an Agence France Presse story.

Pascal Montredon, the head of the French association of tobacco shop owners, blamed the drop in sales on recent tax hikes.

Later this month the third tax hike in a little over one year will go into effect, at which point 80 centimes will have been added to the price of a pack of cigarettes.

The price of the most popular brand will have risen by about 11 percent to €7, while the price of the cheapest brand will have gone up by about 12 percent to €6.50.

Montredon said the high prices had encouraged the expansion of illegal imports, which he estimated as accounting for nearly one in four of the cigarettes smoked in France.

The growing popularity of e-cigarettes, which for the moment were tolerated in many places where smoking was banned, must have had an impact, added Montredon, but not as big an impact as the parallel market had had.

Mighty gets behind tobacco dust sales

| January 13, 2014

The Philippine tobacco company Mighty Corp. has said it will promote the use of tobacco dust as an organic fertilizer and pesticide so as to help at least 3 million tobacco farmers and their families earn more money than they currently earn, according to a story in the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

“We are going to help the National Tobacco Administration (NTA) promote the use of tobacco dust by our millions of fishermen all over the country,” said Oscar P. Barrientos, executive vice president of Mighty Corp., in a statement.

“This means an exponential increase in the purchase of tobacco dust.

“We are helping both tobacco farmers increase their yield and fishermen increase their catch.”

The NTA has for some time been promoting the use of tobacco dust as an organic fertilizer that acts too as a pesticide to control the increase in the population of snails and other predators in fish ponds.

Tobacco business levy to end in Scotland

| January 13, 2014

An extra business rate that has been levied on Scotland’s larger shops selling alcohol and tobacco will end in 2015, according to a BBC Online story quoting Scottish ministers.

The news was welcomed by the Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC), which has opposed the tax.

The levy was aimed at larger retailers selling alcohol and tobacco, mainly supermarkets, to make them contribute to public health measures.

Retailers say that about 240 stores have had to pay a business rates bill 28 percent higher than the equivalent store in England.

The levy is expected to have raised about £95m during the three years that it will have been in place.

A Scottish government statement said it had made it clear the levy would last for one spending review period only and that 2014–2015 would be the final year.

“That has always been the position and is clearly set out in legislation,” it said.

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