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Partnering in Ireland to fight smuggling

| February 25, 2014

Imperial Tobacco’s business in Ireland is helping to support a high-profile initiative to highlight the impact of illicit trade on the nation’s economy.

A campaign has been launched by the Retailers Against Smuggling (RAS) group with the backing of Imperial’s John Player brand to raise awareness of the level of unpaid duty on tobacco and fuel.

‘The Stop Smuggling campaign’s website includes a ‘debt clock’, which calculates how much revenue is being lost in real time and urges the public to help by reporting any illegal sales,’ according to a note posted on Imperial’s website.

“Illicit trade poses a serious threat to the livelihoods of our trade partners so it’s important for us to help support worthwhile initiatives such as this,” said Deirdre Healy, corporate affairs manager in Ireland.

Meanwhile, Benny Gilsenan, of RAS, said that Ireland lost more than €390 million a year to smuggling.

“These activities fund criminal gangs and deprive Ireland of much needed money at a time when our country can ill afford it,” he added.

Cigarette seizures in Ireland plummet

| February 25, 2014

Retail groups and opposition politicians in Ireland have said that not enough is being done to clamp down on criminal gangs responsible for smuggling up to one billion cigarettes into Ireland every year, according to a story in the Irish Independent.

Figures released by the Department of Finance last week showed that 40.8 million cigarettes were confiscated last year, fewer than half of those seized during 2012 and 80 per cent down on the 2010 figure.

Retailers Against Smuggling (RAS), which represents tobacco-sellers in Ireland, said smugglers were continually developing new ways to transport cigarettes into the country.

Meanwhile, retailer groups in Ireland are said to be concerned that government plans to introduce standardized packaging for licit cigarettes will increase smuggling.

Warnings on hold pending legal ruling

| February 25, 2014

Ceylon Tobacco Company (CTC) has said that it will continue to produce and supply its cigarettes in their current packs despite parliamentary approval last week of the Ministry of Health’s Tobacco Products (Labeling and Packaging) Regulations, according to a story in The Island.

Sri Lanka’s parliament on Tuesday unanimously approved the imposition of graphic health-warnings covering the top 80 per cent of the front and back of cigarette packs, cartons and other packaging.

CTC said that it had challenged these regulations in the Court of Appeal, which had reserved its judgment until May 12.

Implementation of the regulations had been stayed in line with an interim order issued by the Supreme Court on September 20.

Thailand to report on WTO compliance

| February 25, 2014

The World Trade Organization’s Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) is set to meet this week for an update on issues raised by the Philippines over Thailand’s compliance with a ruling about taxes imposed on imported cigarettes, according to a story in The Philippine Star.

A notice posted on the WTO’s website showed that a status report from Thailand on its treatment of cigarettes from the Philippines is part of the agenda of the DSB’s meeting due tomorrow.

In 2011, the WTO ruled that Thailand’s taxes on imported cigarettes from the Philippines violated global trading rules.

The ruling followed a complaint filed by the Philippine government on behalf of Philip Morris Philippines against Thailand before the WTO in 2008.

In October last year, the Philippines posed questions to the Thai government about its decision to prosecute Philip Morris Thailand for alleged under-declaration of customs value on cigarette imports from the Philippines between 2003 to 2007.

The Philippines’ trade undersecretary, Adrian Cristobal Jr, said earlier this month that while Thailand might have complied with recommendations of the DSB, his government wanted to make sure the recent development did not go against the WTO’s decision.

Would you mind leaving me alone?

| February 24, 2014

A self-proclaimed ‘ordinary old man’ has politely asked the chair of the Hong Kong Council on Smoking and Health whether she would mind leaving him alone.

At the start of a whimsical piece published in the comments and letters section of the South China Morning Post, Lee Lung-wing, of Tseung Kwan O, Hong Kong, introduced himself as being – as well as being an ordinary old man – a smoker.

‘I have lived for 70 years and spent much of my youthful time on the mainland during the Cultural Revolution,’ he wrote.

‘Ms Lisa Lau, chair of the Hong Kong Council on Smoking and Health, resembles the admirable and well-intentioned revolutionaries of my time. She wrote [a letter] pleading for public support to save my life by increasing tobacco tax (“Raising tobacco tax is a guaranteed measure to save more lives”, February 19).

‘Thank you, Ms Lau. I cannot commend your cause more. However, as a smoker for nearly half a century, I have come to the conclusion that it is my choice to be a smoker and it is my life that is at stake. Would you mind leaving me alone? I am old and my life might not be worth your effort saving.’

Lee’s piece, which goes on strongly to support efforts to stop young people smoking, is at:

WHO says own target tax not enough

| February 24, 2014

Hong Kong is expected to increase tobacco tax by between about 11 and 24 per cent on Wednesday, according to a story in the South China Morning Post.

Financial Secretary, John Tsang Chun-wah, is expected to increase the flat HK$34 duty on a pack of 20 cigarettes by between HK$4 and HK$8, meaning that the tax rate would be above the World Health Organization’s recommended rate of 70 per cent on all brands.

But this is not enough for some.

Meeting the recommended international standard for tobacco tax was not enough for Hong Kong: it could and should go further, a WHO official was quoted as saying.

Dr. Carmen Audera-Lopez, acting team leader of the WHO’s tobacco-free initiative in the Western Pacific region, said the expected increase in tobacco tax would make up only for inflation since the last rise in 2011.

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