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Altria to host 3Q results webcast

| October 17, 2014

Altria Group is due to host a live audio webcast starting at 09.00 Eastern Time on October 30 to discuss its 2014 third-quarter business results, which will be the subject of a press note issued at 07.00 on the same day.

The webcast, which will be in listen-only mode, can be accessed at altria.com or through the Altria Investor App.

During the webcast, chairman and CEO, Marty Barrington, and executive vice president and CFO, Howard Willard, will discuss the company’s results and answer questions from the investment community and news media.

Pre-event registration is necessary and directions are posted at www.altria.com.

An archived copy of the webcast will be available on altria.com or through the Altria Investor App.

The free app is available for download at www.altria.com/irapp or through the Apple App Store or Google Play.

Going, going, gong

| October 17, 2014

Dr. Tonio Borg has been honoured by the World Health Organization as his term as EU health and consumer policy commissioner draws to a close, according to a story in the Malta Independent.

Dr. Zsuzsanna Jakab, director of the WHO’s Regional Office for Europe, presented a certificate of appreciation to Borg on behalf of the WHO director general during a ‘high level co-ordination meeting on health measures’ held in Brussels yesterday.

The certificate was said to be in recognition of the EU Commission’s ‘outstanding contribution to tobacco control’.

Borg replaced John Dalli as Malta’s EU Commissioner after the latter resigned in circumstances that have never been fully disclosed to the public.

COP calls for allocation of tax revenues to finance tobacco control programs

| October 16, 2014

The Conference of the Parties (COP) to the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) yesterday hurriedly adopted behind closed doors guidelines on tobacco-product price and tax measures, further demonstrating the FCTC’s habit of infringing on issues of national sovereignty, according to a press note from Japan Tobacco International.

COP6 is being held in Moscow this week.

“Public health authorities are not fiscal experts”, said Michiel Reerink, global regulatory strategy vice president at JTI. “Yet, one-size-fits-all decisions were rushed [through] in the absence of a vast majority of governments’ taxation experts, who should have the last say on their individual fiscal policies.”

The press note went on to say that the COP had once again shown a complete lack of respect for several Parties by blatantly ignoring their wish to express reservations about the guidelines, particularly those regarding the minimum benchmark tax of 70 percent and the allocation of tax revenues to finance tobacco control programs. Two years ago, at COP5 in Seoul, Korea, Parties had adamantly opposed the same recommendations. Despite this, the draft guidelines presented in Moscow were largely unchanged and adopted at record speed.

“While the guidelines are not binding for governments, ministries of finance will be under pressure to adopt them in their national law” said Reerink. “Yesterday’s decision not only represents an alarming attempt to erode countries’ sovereignty on taxation policies, but also violates COP6’s own requirement to make ‘every effort’ to reach agreement by consensus.”

When making decisions on tobacco tax policies, countries take into account a number of considerations: income growth developments, the impact of price increases on the affordability of tobacco products, the existence of illegal trade (and tax authorities’ ability to enforce compliance), inflation and regional sensitivities such as cross-border trade.

“Tax experts around the world recognize that ignoring these considerations is counterproductive and could lead to serious consequences, including a major increase in illegal trade, depriving governments of important tax revenues and undermining other government policy objectives – including public health”, said Reerink.

JTI reported that during the October 15 vote on FCTC’s Article 6, the public and the media were once again locked-out from the proceedings. It said, too, that there was a last minute decision to cancel press briefings.

India to impose huge health warnings

| October 16, 2014

India is set to impose new regulations that will see 80 percent of the front and back faces of tobacco packs covered with health warnings, according to a story by Sanchita Sharma for the Hindustan Times.

The new regulations will see, too, a ban on the manufacture and sale of electronic cigarettes.

Photographs of cancers will occupy 65 percent of the front and back of tobacco packs while 15 percent of the surfaces will be used for text warnings.

Four photographs have been shortlisted for the new warnings, which are expected to be included on packs by April 1 next year.

Currently, warnings appear only on one side of packs, covering 20 percent of the entire pack.

“These are part of stringent rules introduced to lower tobacco addiction among the young, such as increasing the legal age for tobacco use to 21 years,” said Union Health Minister, Harsh Vardhan.

The new rules on electronic cigarettes, meanwhile, seem merely to codify a ban that applies by default. “E-cigarettes are not approved by the Drug Controller General of India, therefore its sale and use is illegal in India,” an official of the directorate of health services was reported to have said.

Thailand bans e-cigarette imports

| October 16, 2014

Thailand’s Cabinet on Tuesday approved a ban on the import of hookah-style water pipes and electronic cigarettes, copying a move by neighboring Cambodia earlier this year, according to a Yahoo News story.

Deputy government spokesman major general Sansern Kaewkamnerd said the ban, which had been proposed by the Commerce Ministry, was imposed for health reasons.

The Public Health Ministry had originally suggested the move, saying these products were luring young people into smoking.

Those caught violating the ban face a maximum jail term of 10 years or a fine of five times the product’s value, or both.

Cambodia in February banned the import, sale and promotion of electronic cigarettes and shisha tobacco.

PMI a leader in carbon performance

| October 16, 2014

A new Global Leaders Report issued yesterday by the leading environmental non-governmental organization, CDP (formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project), awarded Philip Morris International a Band A rating, a Leadership Status for Carbon Performance and a 96 percent score for Carbon Disclosure based on the company’s activities to mitigate climate change in its supply chain during 2013, PMI reported in a note posted on its website.

This was said to be the best CDP ratings score for PMI, which was the only tobacco company to make the ‘A list’.

“Environmental sustainability is central to our business strategy,” said CEO, André Calantzopoulos. “We have established ambitious emission reduction targets and work closely with every participant in our value chain to deliver against these targets. Our excellent results in this year’s CDP Leaders Report are an important and welcome recognition of our efforts.”

PMI said that it was one of only three consumer staples companies to achieve ‘Performance Leadership Status’ in the 2014 CDP S&P 500 report. ‘For the first time, this year’s report also correlates a corporation’s environmental rating with their economic performance, using Return on Equity (ROE) as a key metric,’ said the press note. ‘PMI scores at the top of the premier quartile of S&P 500 companies in this ranking…

‘PMI today also announced its decision to support the CDP ‘Road to Paris 2015’ initiative to receive business community endorsement of long-term carbon emission reduction targets that are scientifically sound and consistent with limiting global warming.’

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