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Activists say tax increase insufficient

| June 13, 2014

Environmental activists in Bangladesh yesterday demanded that the government impose a higher tax on cigarettes than has been proposed in the budget bill for fiscal 2014–2015, according to a story in The Financial Express quoting a UNB News Agency report.

Speaking during a press conference, the activists said that 98 percent of smokers in the country smoked cigarettes, and the “current tax of 17.72 percent” would not be useful in preventing smoking.

The press conference was organized by the Campaign for Clean Air, a nongovernment organization, to press home its budget-related demands, which include an increase in funding for the environment sector.

Pointing up Greece’s growing illicit trade

| June 13, 2014

Imperial Tobacco has joined forces with other major tobacco companies in Greece in presenting a public awareness campaign about the growing problem of illicit trade.

“This cross-industry initiative is being highlighted with adverts in national newspapers and on radio, as well as online and with 500,000 leaflets,” according to a note posted on Imperial’s website.

“The ‘Say No to Illicit Tobacco Products’ campaign is aimed at trade partners and consumers and has the backing of the Greek government and law enforcement agencies.”

Rebecca Karapanagiotidou, HR manager SE Europe and CORA manager Greece, said that one of the priorities was to make as many people as possible aware of the adverse effects of illicit trade.

“This campaign builds on our ongoing engagement activities to gain support in jointly tackling the significant growth we’ve seen in illegal tobacco products,” she said.

Imperial said that the illicit trade currently accounted for about 21 percent of the cigarettes and about 12 percent of the fine-cut smoked in Greece.

JT’s cigarette sales down year-on-year

| June 13, 2014

Japan Tobacco Inc.’s domestic cigarette sales volume during May, at 9.2 billion, was down by 10.3 percent on that of May 2013, 10.2 billion, according to preliminary figures issued by the company today. The May 2013 figure was increased by 0.4 percent on that of May 2012.

Volume during January–May 2014, at 46.3 billion, was down by 0.9 percent on that of January–May 2013, 46.7 billion, which was down by 0.8 percent on that of January–May 2012. (JT is in the process of changing its accounting year from April–March to January–December, and this is only the second time that, in presenting its monthly sales figures, it has given year-to-date figures calculated from Jan. 1.)

JT’s market share stood at 59.7 percent during May, at 60.8 percent during January–May and at 60.5 percent for January–December 2013.

JT’s domestic cigarette revenue during May, at ¥51.4 billion, was down by 7.8 percent from its May 2013 revenue, ¥55.8 billion.

Revenue during January–May 2014, at ¥255.7 billion, was down by 0.2 percent on that of January–May 2013, ¥256.3 billion.

Kentucky MSA payment dispute settled

| June 13, 2014

Philip Morris USA and other cigarette manufacturers have reached an agreement with Kentucky to resolve non-participating manufacturer (NPM) adjustment disputes under the Master Settlement Agreement (MSA), according to a note posted on the company’s website.

This brings to 23 the number of MSA states (including the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico) that have settled these disputes.

“We think this resolution is good for the Commonwealth of Kentucky and for PM USA,” said Denise F. Keane, executive vice president and general counsel, at Altria, on whose website the note also appeared.

“We have always said we are open to resolving these disputes in a manner that makes sense to the states and to us, and that remains the case.”

“Under the settlement announced today [Thursday], Kentucky will receive its share of funds that have been set aside over a number of years in a disputed payments account, which will have the net effect of offsetting reductions in Kentucky’s MSA payment earlier this year,” the note said.

“PM USA and the other companies will receive credits against future MSA payments.

“In September 2013, an arbitration panel determined that six states—including Kentucky—failed to diligently enforce laws in 2003 requiring NPMs to make escrow payments.”

WHO dictating tobacco tax policies

| June 12, 2014

The World Health Organization appears to be dictating tobacco taxation policy in a number of countries, including South Korea.

According to a story in the Korea Herald, the Ministry of Health and Welfare said yesterday that it planned to raise cigarette prices, which have been fixed at WON2,300-2,500 a pack for the past 10 years.

Later in the Herald piece, a Welfare Ministry spokesperson, Im Jong-gyu, was quoted as saying that the Finance Ministry understood why prices should be increased.

Meanwhile, the announcement of the proposed price increase was said to have come about two weeks after the country received a notice from the World Health Organization that Korea should raise cigarette prices by 50 percent.

The WHO advises countries that have signed its Framework Convention on Tobacco Control that their tobacco tax should represent at least 70 percent of the retail price. But tobacco tax in Korea, which has signed the treaty, amounts to about 62 percent of the retail price of cigarettes.

Philippines to require graphic warnings

| June 12, 2014

A Philippine legislative committee on Tuesday approved a bill that would compel cigarette manufacturers to include graphic health warnings on their packs,  according to a story in The Gulf Today.

The committee, composed of senators and congressmen, passed the bill directing the Department of Health to issue 12 templates of pictures and illustrations that warn about the dangers of smoking.

The full Senate and House of Representatives are expected to formally pass the bill before it is signed into law by President Benigno Aquino III.

The warnings will occupy the lower half of the front and back panels of cigarette packs.

The current written warning says that smoking is dangerous.

The bill requires also that the Department of Education include information about the hazards of smoking in school curriculums.

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