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E-cigarettes reduce need for quit-smoking program

| August 7, 2015

A sharp decline in Scotland in the number of people using a National Health Service (NHS) support program to help them quit smoking has been linked to the rise in popularity of electronic cigarettes, according to a BBC Online story.

The Smoking Matters service in Dumfries and Galloway, for instance, helped 102 people in deprived areas quit smoking during the past year, but this was 251 below target.

And public health consultant Dr. Andrew Carnon said this trend was being mirrored across Scotland. Many people, he said, saw e-cigarettes as a stepping stone to stopping smoking.

Nationwide figures have shown a similar trend to those in the south west of Scotland.

Carnon said that though there was a lack of evidence about the effectiveness of electronic cigarettes, the NHS might have to review and adapt its smoking cessation service in the future.

However, he said he believed that there would always be a need for support services.

Where 19.7 percent illicit cigarettes is record low

| August 7, 2015

An empty pack survey in Lithuania conducted by the National Association of Tobacco Producers has found that 19.7 percent of the packs collected were smuggled into the country from other markets, according to a Baltic News Service story relayed by the TMA.

Although 19.7 percent might seem high, it is the lowest rate since the survey was launched in 2010, when 42 percent of the packs collected were illicit.

The percentage of illicit packs was 32.8 percent in 2011, 32.5 percent in 2012 and 28.9 percent in 2013.

Ramunas Macius, executive secretary of the National Association of Tobacco Producers, attributed the latest decline primarily to improving economic conditions in the country, efforts of law-enforcement agencies to curb smuggling and the Finance Ministry’s decision to raise cigarette excise tax gradually.

But Macius warned that the survey findings suggested that the number of illicit products on the market was still high and that the authorities could not afford to relax.

Grower prices down but AOI’s profits fall

| August 6, 2015

Market prices paid in US dollars for suppliers’ green tobacco have again been generally lower this year, according to Alliance One International’s president and CEO, Pieter Sikkel.

Announcing the company’s results for its first quarter to the end of June, Sikkel said that global leaf tobacco markets were still in oversupply, though the supply/demand situation was beginning to tighten in some regions.

And he predicted that oversupply would ‘further correct through the current crop cycle’.

‘Despite global oversupply and reduced average sales prices, our sales for the first quarter improved 5.9 percent versus last year to $263.8 million primarily due to increased volumes shipped from South America and enhanced customer demand for Asian products,’ Sikkel said.

‘South American and African markets have been delayed by four to six weeks this year mainly related to weather. As a result, we have experienced a slow start that is expected to improve through the year with sales building each subsequent quarter and resulting in improved full-year revenue and adjusted EBITDA when compared to last fiscal year.’

AOI reported that its gross profit had decreased by 2.6 percent to $34.2 million and that its gross profit as a percentage of sales had decreased to 13.0 percent this year from 14.1 percent last year, driven by Brazilian Real hedging expenses, a change in product mix, customer processing requirements and the weather-related delay in crop timing. ‘Mainly as a result of changes in Brazilian Real/US Dollar exchange rates versus our hedging plans, gross profit this year included $1.4 million of foreign currency hedging expense, compared to $2.1 million of foreign currency hedging gains last year, or a $3.5 million change,’ Sikkel said. ‘Benefits from Brazilian Real depreciation versus the US dollar that resulted in hedging expense in the first quarter are expected to be recognized as current Brazilian crop purchases and inventory are sold through later this fiscal year.’

Later in his report, Sikkel said that AOI continued to make progress toward its global plans and strategies. ‘Those plans include investing in sustainable tobacco production where appropriate returns are achievable, eliminating costs from the supply chain and optimizing our global footprint to match future customer requirements,’ he said. ‘We have made solid progress in all these initiatives during the quarter and expect execution of these plans to improve our results and shareholder value.’

Egypt looks to reduce its smoking incidence

| August 6, 2015

Twenty four percent of Egyptians are smokers and 12 percent of the country’s smokers are under 15 years of age, according to a story in the Cairo Post quoting the Health Ministry Undersecretary Amr Kandil.

The ministry was reported to have signed a protocol with the Consumer Protection Agency to support quit-smoking activities and thereby reduce the rate of smoking.

President Abel Fatah al-Sisi raised taxes on local and imported cigarettes and alcoholic beverages by up to 200 percent in July last year.

And a presidential decree of February 22 this year raised sales taxes on both local and imported cigarettes by 50 percent.

Turkey nets record haul of illicit cigarettes

| August 6, 2015

Turkish police have seized 3.5 million packs of cigarettes hidden on trucks arriving from Georgia, according to an Agence France Presse story.

Five trucks loaded with the cigarettes were seized at the Black Sea border post of Sarp on Tuesday following a three-month undercover operation, the customs ministry said in a statement.

‘When the smuggled cigarettes were seized in the operation, the largest shipment of smuggled cigarettes in Turkey’s history was prevented,’ it said.

The illicit cigarettes were said to have been worth an estimated Lira22 million (US$7.9 million).

Fifteen suspects, including five customs officers, drivers and dealers were arrested.

Japan’s flue-cured gets clean bill of health

| August 6, 2015

Japan Tobacco Inc. said today that Japan’s flue-cured tobacco had been tested and found to be free of radioactive contamination.

The Company has been conducting a number of tests for radioactive materials at each stage of the production process of Japanese domestic leaf tobacco in order to allay consumer concerns that arose following the accident at the TEPCO Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in March 2011.

‘Prior to this year’s Japanese domestic leaf tobacco harvest, the company has again been conducting radioactive material testing on leaf tobacco before purchase, with the support of tobacco growers,’ JT said in a note posted on its website.

‘Testing of this year’s flue-cured Virginia tobacco has now been completed, showing none of the leaf tobacco tested exceeded the JT standard value (Radioactive cesium: 100Bq/kg). ‘Further, JT will continue with its scheme of testing domestic leaf tobacco after purchase, and testing and monitoring a number of times at each stage of its production process.’

JT said that testing of the remaining native and Burley tobaccos was scheduled to be held from September.

The results of the upcoming tests would be included on the corporate website:

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