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Bangladesh looks to break tobacco tax dependency

| May 26, 2015

The draft of a national tobacco tax policy prepared by Bangladesh’s National Board of Revenue provides for a shift away from ‘dependency on tobacco for internal revenue collection’, according to a story in The Financial Express.

The proposed policy, which includes a time-framed action plan, is said to be aimed at keeping a tight rein on tobacco consumption.

It features also strategies aimed at reducing the illegal trade in tobacco products, the deployment of a health development surcharge and a ban on the sales of ‘bidi or loose cigarettes’.

Recently, Finance Minister A.M.A. Muhith hinted that Bangladesh could introduce cigarette tax changes that were in line with practices used in other countries. According to the country’s tax officials; 54 countries apply specific tax, 37 apply ad valorem, 57 use a mixed-system and 19 have no excise duties on cigarettes.

But Muhith vowed not to be involved in the micromanagement of the price slabs of cigarettes, saying the market should fix its own prices.

Meanwhile, MP Saber Hossain Chowdhury, who is president of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, has suggested doing away with tobacco-product price slabs for the coming financial year.

The government was not getting revenue from the inflated prices of tobacco; so excise duty could be imposed on these “health hazardous items” at a fixed rate, he said.

MEPs concerned over influence of 30,000 lobbyists

| May 26, 2015

Two French MEPs have asked the European Commission whether or not it intends in the future to allow itself to be influenced by pressure groups, including those representing tobacco-industry interests, ‘at the cost of democratic transparency’.

They put the number of lobbyists in Brussels representing all interests at about 30,000.

In a preamble to their question, Sophie Montel and Dominique Bilde said that a recent NGO report by Transparency International had criticised the role of lobbies in the EU and the failure of European institutions to ensure the traceability of political decisions and monitor lobbying activities.

‘Conflicts of interests are apparently arising in connection with moves from the public to the private sector and failure to keep the two separate, thereby encouraging the adoption of financial and other measures likely to favour certain lobbies and revealing the predatory characteristics of the State,’ they said.

‘Given that the number of lobbyists in Brussels in fields such as pharmaceuticals, food, tobacco and alcohol is estimated at around 30 000, does the Commission still intend to allow itself to be influenced by pressure groups at the cost of democratic transparency?’

Indonesia’s electronic cigarette ban not set in stone

| May 26, 2015

Indonesia seems to be having second thoughts on imposing an outright ban on electronic cigarettes – but then again, perhaps not.

A story in The Jakarta Post at the beginning of last week had the Trade Minister Rachmat Gobel saying that sales of electronic cigarettes would be banned in line with concerns voiced by the Health Ministry.

Then, at the end of last week, the Health Ministry secretary-general Untung Suseno Sutarjo was quoted by another Post story as saying that the consumption of electronic cigarettes could help to reduce tobacco consumption though it would not eradicate it.

But he then went on to say that while electronic cigarettes would help to reduced consumption, the ministry had found that “that the impact on health is the same”.

Meanwhile, the health ministry’s head of health promotion, Lily S. Sulistyowati, said the implementation of the regulation would be discussed with the trade ministry. “We will discuss the regulation, Lily said. “The health ministry understands the impact of e-cigarettes, but the product is still permitted to be sold at the moment.”

Next week’s nicotine forum expected to attract 250

| May 26, 2015

Hon Lik, the inventor of the electronic cigarette, is scheduled to address the 2nd Global Forum on Nicotine in Warsaw, Poland, next week.

The Forum is due to be held at the Marriott Hotel in Warsaw, Poland, on June 5 and 6, though an awards ceremony is scheduled to take place during the Forum’s Pre-conference Vape Meet and Party, which will be held on June 4.

The organizers say that the forum is expected to attract about 250 people, including consumers, scientists and researchers, regulators, parliamentarians, policy analysts, manufacturers and renowned experts in the field of tobacco harm reduction. The theme of the conference is ‘A different kind of endgame’ – a reference to safer nicotine products bringing about an end to smoking. Program highlights include:

* Derek Yach, senior vice-president, Vitality Institute, ‘Why nicotine needs to be taken out of tobacco control’;

* Katherine Devlin, president, Electronic Cigarette Industry Trade Association, and Alberto Simeoni, European Committee for Standardization, ‘New standards for e-cigarettes’;

* Riccardo Polosa, University of Catania, ‘E-cigarettes and harm reversal’;

* The Rbutt site launch – a rapid rebuttal website aiming to give journalists rapid critiques of new e-cigarette research.

JT expected to sell beverage business to Suntory

| May 26, 2015

Suntory Beverage & Food has said it will buy Japan Tobacco Inc’s beverage vending machine business for about ¥150 billion ($1.2 billion), according to a Reuters report citing figures from the industry publication Inryosouken.

JT’s withdrawal from the business, which includes the sale of its Roots canned coffee and Momono Tennen-sui flavoured water brands, comes in the face of fierce competition in the nation’s beverages industry.

The company announced in February that it would pull out of the beverage business and stop production and sales of beverages by the end of September.

JT competes against larger rivals, including Suntory and Coca-Cola Co, which last year held more than 20 percent market share each. JT controlled 1.6 percent.

Vapor less toxic according to Cultex study

| May 22, 2015

Cultex Laboratories—a leader in the research and development of cell-based exposure systems and cultivation technologies based in Hannover, Germany—has examined the cytotoxic effects of the vapor emitted by e-cigarettes. Using specially designed exposure models that made it possible to keep cells at an atmosphere that mimicked the real characteristics of a human lung, researchers conducting the in-vitro study exposed healthy human bronchial epithelial cells to e-cigarette vapor.

The study compared e-cigarette vapor containing 0.0 percent and 2.4 percent nicotine with the smoke emitted by combustible cigarettes, and results indicated that the toxicological effects of e-cigarette vapor were 4.5 to 8 times lower than those of tobacco smoke. No differences regarding the cytotoxicology were found between nicotine-free vapor versus the vapor that contained nicotine. Cultex Laboratories will continue its e-cigarette research and plans to analyze the possible long-term effects of e-cigarette use. The full study can be found at

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