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Emphasis on training as new tobacco season starts

| September 25, 2015

Zimbabwe’s Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) and the Farmer’s Development Trust have started preparing for the 2015-16 tobacco season by training farmers in the sorts of good agricultural practices that should allow them to produce the high quality leaf required by the market, according to a story in The Herald.

The 2014-15 tobacco marketing season was characterized by farmers’ complaints about low prices at the auction floors and by merchants’ complaints about poor quality tobacco being offered for sale.

The training covers everything from seedbed preparation to the presentation of tobacco on the market.

The board is also covering negative factors such as foreign-material nesting, side marketing and paying auction floor workers with the intention of influencing prices.

Speaking at a Nyamazura Training Center, TIMB Manicaland regional manager Emmanuel Matsvaire said the training was being offered to both new and old farmers. “We have 62 farmers on the training programme,’ he said.

The training is free and has been benefiting most farmers who attend.’

Japan in training for pre-Olympics smoking bans

| September 25, 2015

A group of lawmakers within Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) has outlined a bill to ban or segregate tobacco smoking in public places ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, according to a story in The Japan Times.

The bill would call for a ban on smoking in schools and medical facilities, and require smoking areas to be separated in hotels and restaurants.

The group said that smoking restrictions had been introduced in the countries that hosted the Olympics during and after 2008, China, Canada, Britain and Russia, and in the hosts of forthcoming games, Brazil and South Korea.

The bill could be submitted at an extraordinary session of the Diet in the autumn.

JT rumored to be in talks to buy RAI brand assets

| September 25, 2015

Japan Tobacco Inc. is in talks to buy cigarette assets from Reynolds American Inc, according to a Bloomberg story citing ‘people familiar with the talks’.

The story, by Ed Hammond, Aaron Kirchfeld and Ruth David, said that JTI might acquire assets worth about $5 billion, including some in the Natural American Spirit (NAS) brand that is manufactured by RAI’s Santa Fe operating company.

Commenting on the story, Bonnie Herzog, managing director of Beverage, Tobacco & Convenience Store Research at Wells Fargo Securities, said that, based on Wells Fargo’s sum-of-the-parts analysis, it believed Santa Fe was worth $7.6 billion.

‘While we aren’t sure whether RAI is indeed seriously considering selling some or all of Santa Fe assets at this point or which assets are potentially being considered, regardless we believe this is a win-win scenario for RAI shareholders,’ she said.

‘We believe if the speculation proves true, any transaction would monetize an asset that we have long believed to be underappreciated and undervalued by the market. Alternatively, if RAI retains Santa Fe, we believe the market will give proper credit for the true value of the NAS brand especially as the brand continues to grow.’

The Bloomberg story is at:

EU proposes reform of trade dispute provisions

| September 24, 2015

The EU Commission has gone some way to assuage public concerns over the inclusion in the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) of investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) provisions.

Initially, the TTIP was the subject of negotiations between the EU and US to which the general public was not privy, and even now aspects of the process are highly secretive.

Campaigners fear that the ISDS provisions will allow multinational firms, including tobacco companies, to sue European governments in secretive tribunals ruled upon by corporate lawyers.

But according to a story by Erik Tate in The Parliament magazine, on Monday the deputy director general of DG [Directorate General] Trade, Mauro Petriccione, presented the EU Commission’s new draft text on ISDS to the committee on international trade (INTA).

Petriccione was said to have highlighted this move as an unprecedented step by the Commission, since he was not presenting a formal text but a Commission draft. There would be discussions in the Council before it became the text to be used in negotiations with the US.

This was a very special case and an issue of extraordinary importance which had prompted an extraordinary debate. As a result, the Commission had taken the unprecedented step of making the draft public. The Commission had felt that it was inappropriate for it to wait any longer.

Petriccione had noted that there had already been a lot of discussion on this subject, and said the text would attempt to deliver on the EU Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström’s commitment to use the TTIP as an opportunity for in-depth reform of ISDS.

What had become clear in this process was that there was widespread distrust by citizens of commercial arbitration. The European Parliament clearly interpreted this as a move towards a more jurisdictional approach.

Petriccione said that a concept paper had been discussed in the INTA committee in May, and that the new text followed the structure and objectives of that paper. It contained two fundamental elements:

1) Investment Protection. It continued the work of the Commission to ensure that investment protection standards were clear, well-defined, operational, and could be decided upon in a court of law. Most importantly, the standards would not prevent a government from regulating in the public interest.

2) Public Justice. It represented a move from a system of private justice to one of public justice, in which decisions were taken by public judges in order to restore confidence in their impartiality, judgement and competence to do the job properly.

These were the exact requirements of the European Parliament’s TTIP resolution. The resolution defined protection in a precise legal manner, explicitly mentioned the right to regulate and proposed a new system of resolution which was public, transparent, and included the possibility of appeal to correct any mistakes of law.

The main element, which was new to the proposal, was the article on the right to regulate, which ensured that the right to regulate for public policies was fully preserved.

The provision also clarified that investment protection provisions did not prevent governments from changing the legal framework – known as the non-stabilization clause – even if this had a negative impact on investment expectations.

The full story is at:

Occasional smoking on the rise in Denmark

| September 24, 2015

Forty six percent of Danish upper-secondary students smoke either daily or occasionally, according to an Icenews story citing a new survey by the State Institute of Public Health (SIPH).

The survey is said to have revealed a huge increase in the number of young smokers over the past two decades.

The research, which questioned 75,000 16-19-year-olds in Denmark’s fitness centers, showed that though there had been a fall from 17 percent to 12 percent in the number of people smoking on a daily basis during the past 20 years, there had been a big increase in the number of occasional smokers.

SIPH professor Janne Tolstrup reportedly said that people had not come to grips with how huge a problem smoking was to the public’s health.

She said that considering how much work had been done during the past 20 years to advise young people against smoking, the results could not be viewed as a success.

But Health Minister Sophie Lohde denied claims that the numbers proved preventative measures being taken in Denmark are a failure.

Izmir meeting’s online registration due to close

| September 24, 2015

Online registration for CORESTA’s October agronomy meeting is due to close on Sunday.

The CORESTA Agronomy & Leaf Integrity and Phytopathology & Genetics Joint Study Groups Meeting (AP2015) is due to be held in Izmir, Turkey, on October 25-29.

Online registration will close on September 27, following which only onsite registration will be available.

Registration and details about accommodation are available at

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