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Finland issues road map toward the elimination of tobacco use by 2040

| July 7, 2014

Finland’s Ministry of Social Affairs and Health has issued an action plan on tobacco that is said to show how the country can achieve its aim of eliminating the use of tobacco products by the end of 2040.

The Roadmap towards a smoke-free Finland includes “measures to prevent smoking initiation and to help stop smoking, as well as initiatives for extending smoke-free habitats and preventing new products from reaching the market,” according to a ministry press note.

“In addition to health promotion measures, changes to legislation are set out as well as better ways of implementing the current legislation.

“The attractiveness of tobacco products should be reduced by standardizing packaging, so that the products come in unbranded general packages.

“Tax on tobacco should be raised on a regular basis, taking into account traveler imports and illegal market trends.

“To extend smoke-free habitats, housing companies should be able under certain conditions to restrict or prohibit smoking in residential properties. Smoking should be banned in private cars when minors are present, as well in playgrounds, amusement parks and on beaches.

“Municipalities and workplaces are encouraged to declare themselves smoke-free.”

The plan comes down hard on e-cigarettes and seems to be based on a quit-or-die ideology rather than a harm-reduction one.

“In addition, the plan presents improved support in health care for stopping smoking, prevention of market access for new tobacco products, regulation of e-cigarettes containing nicotine in the Finnish Medicines Act, as well as banning the use of e-cigarettes in the same premises where smoking is prohibited.”

The minister of health and social services, Susanna Huovinen, was quoted as saying the ambitious objectives of the Tobacco Act could be achieved.

“Through systematic work we have been able to substantially reduce smoking in Finland.

“We know that smoking usually starts in adolescence. The plan in particular wants to protect children and young people from tobacco.

“The majority of smokers regret having started smoking at a young age.”

Finland has already had considerable success in reducing smoking. Only about 16 percent of Finnish 15- to 64-year-olds smoked daily in 2013. And only about 13 percent of 14- to 18-year-olds smoked in 2013, down from 26 percent in 2001.

Smoking was said in the press note to be the single largest “cause” of health inequality between socioeconomic groups in the Finnish population, and together with alcohol explained about half of the health inequalities.

Imperial closing Kyrgyzstan factory

| July 7, 2014

Imperial Tobacco has announced that it is closing its cigarette factory in Kyrgyzstan, according to a story in The Times of Central Asia quoting the press service of the Kyrgyz government.

The Reemtsma Kyrgyzstan factory in the capital Bishkek, which exports some of its output to Afghanistan, Mongolia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, was said to have had a capacity in excess of its production needs.

The decision to close the Bishkek factory was made after an analysis of the company’s worldwide production footprint, which is also leading to the closure of the company’s only U.K. factory and one at Nantes, France.

Kyrgyzstan’s deputy prime minister, Valery Dill, visited the Reemtsma Kyrgyzstan factory last week and called on Imperial to take care of the factory employees who will lose their jobs.

Ombudsman to look at tobacco lobbying

| July 7, 2014

The transparency NGO Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) has said that European Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly is set to investigate what CEO sees as the European Commission’s failure properly to implement World Health Organization’s rules for contacts with tobacco lobbyists, according to a story in Malta Today.

The EU is a signatory to the WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which obliges governments to limit interactions with the tobacco industry and ensures the transparency of those interactions that occur.

CEO said that in recent years commission officials had held meetings with tobacco industry lobbyists wanting to influence the EU’s Tobacco Products Directive.

Many of these meetings were said not to have been disclosed online.

At least 14 undisclosed meetings were said to have involved top commission officials from the Secretariat-General and members of commission President Barroso’s cabinet.

Dalli wants resignation request annulled

| July 7, 2014

The former EU health commissioner, John Dalli, wants the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in Luxembourg to annul a request by Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso that Dalli resign over allegations that he had held secret meetings with Swedish Match, according to an EUObserver story.

Dalli wants the commission to pay a symbolic €1 in damages for the “nonfinancial” harm he has suffered, and compensation for his loss of earnings as a commissioner.

Dalli left office in 2012 amid allegations of solicited bribes, allegations that he has always strenuously denied.

Barroso is due to appear at the ECJ today to answer judges’ questions as a witness, before lawyers from both sides present their arguments tomorrow.

Barroso’s head of cabinet, Johannes Laitenberger, is also expected to be in Luxembourg, as is the head of the commission’s legal services, Luis Romero Requena.

Dalli’s former head of cabinet, Joanna Darmanin, and former spokesperson, Frederic Vincent, are also due to attend.

Cigarette prices increased again in Egypt

| July 7, 2014

Prices of local and imported cigarettes and alcohol have been increased in Egypt from today following a decision by President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi to raise sales taxes on these products, according to an Ahram Online story quoting an announcement in the official gazette.

The new taxes will raise the price of an EGP9 pack of local cigarettes by EGP1.75, the prices of EGP9–EGP15 products by EGP2.25, and the prices of packs previously selling for more than EGP15 each by EGP2.75.

Packs of Cleopatra, the cheapest and best-selling Egyptian cigarette, will sell for between EGP8 and EGP8.75, up from EGP6.25 and EGP7.

Medium-priced brands such as L&M will retail for EGP14.25 per pack, up from EGP12.

And high-price brands such as Marlboro will sell for EGP19.75 per pack, up from EGP17.

The prices of imported brands such as Dunhill will rise from EGP17 to EGP27.25 per pack.

The finance ministry last increased taxes on cigarettes in February: by EGP0.50–EGP0.75 per pack for local brands and EGP1–EGP1.50 for imports.

US cigars under threat from FDA plans

| July 4, 2014

The president of J.C. Newman Cigar, Eric Newman, has launched a campaign urging the public to submit comments to the US Food and Drug Administration asking the agency to exclude from its proposed deeming regulations the sorts of cigars made at Newman’s factory in Tampa, Florida, according to a story by Susan Thurston for the Tampa Bay Times.

The FDA, which already regulates cigarettes, cigarette tobacco and smokeless tobacco, in April issued proposed deeming regulations covering other ‘tobacco’ products not yet covered by its regulations, including cigars, pipe tobacco, hookahs, nicotine gels, electronic cigarettes and certain dissolvables that are not regarded as smokeless tobacco.

Newman said that if the FDA approved tighter controls that treated cigar manufacturers as if they were cigarette manufacturers, complying with those controls would be so cumbersome and cost prohibitive that his factory would be forced to close.

“The lifeblood of any business is new products and services, and these regulations would make it impossible to introduce new products,” he said “It would require 5,000 hours of product testing and analysis. We’d be regulated out of business.”

The full story is at

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