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Benefits of growing tobacco in Fiji “immense”

| May 18, 2015

Leaf tobacco production has increased slowly but steadily in Fiji, according to a story in The Fiji Times.

The newspaper gave no production figures but said that about 500 Western Division farmers were involved in tobacco farming.

And British American Tobacco Fiji leaf growing manager, Khondoker Abdul Matin, was quoted as saying that, overall, the number of its contract growers, about 60 percent of who were based at Sigatoka and 40 percent at Nadi, had increased.

“We have a high tech greenhouse in Nadi that grows all of the seedlings, which are then delivered to the farmers,” he said.

“Before they even start planting we give them technical advice and give them seedlings, fertilisers and equipment that they need to plant and grow the leaves…

“Each farmer is taken on a contract basis and, according to their performance, their contracts are renewed.”

The Times reported BAT Fiji farmer of the year Taina Waqa, who harvested 3,969 kg per ha, as saying that the benefits of being involved in tobacco farming were immense.

“I am very grateful for the help I have received so far and the success I have experienced in this farming; it has really helped me support my family,” she said.

CORESTA extends deadlines for paper abstracts

| May 18, 2015

The deadline for the submission of presentation abstracts for CORESTA’s 2015 study group meetings has been extended to May 22.

The Smoke Science and Product Technology (SSPT) meeting is due to be held at Jeju, South Korea, on October 4-8; while the Agronomy & Leaf Integrity and Phytopathology & Genetics (AP) meeting is due to be held at Izmir, Turkey, on October 25-29.

The call for papers is accessible from the following websites: www.coresta.org;    www.sspt2015.org; and www.coresta-ap2015.org.

In a press note, CORESTA said that authors would receive an immediate e-mail receipt to confirm successful submission of their abstracts, and would be informed of the CORESTA reading committee’s selection towards the end of June.

Industry accused of meddling in public health

| May 18, 2015

Three medical experts have said there is ‘troubling evidence’ that the tobacco industry is bringing its influence to bear on some Asian governments and thereby undermining public health, according to a story in the Hindustan Times citing a paper in the latest issue of the British Medical Journal.

Indeed, British experts Nicholas S Hopkinson and Martin McKee, and K Srinath Reddy of the Public Health Foundation of India, reportedly said that some governments in Asia were complicit in protecting the interests of the tobacco industry.

The paper entitled, ‘Tobacco industry lobbying undermines public health in Asia’, identifies India, Pakistan and Laos as countries where the tobacco industry has targeted control policies.

‘The implementation of tobacco control measures is a political choice,’ the paper said.

‘Although tobacco control will improve the wellbeing of the populations that governments serve, the industry spares no attempt to deter, dilute, or delay effective measures for tobacco control, be it taxation or prominent pictorial health warnings.

‘There is troubling evidence that the tobacco industry is exerting undue influence in several Asian countries, in some cases with the complicity of governments, to thwart public health measures.’

Saudi Arabia urged to increase tobacco taxes

| May 18, 2015

A health expert in Saudi Arabia has urged the authorities to increase cigarette prices after becoming concerned at the increasing number of young people, particularly schoolchildren, becoming addicted to smoking, according to a story in the Arab News.

Professor Mohammad bin Jabir Yamani, chairman of the Naqaa society, was quoted as saying that the percentage of smokers among young people varied from 13 to 15 percent, and that the percentage was rising among school-aged children.

He said that his society had treated about 10,000 smokers, of whom 60 percent had given up smoking.

Yamani said the society was co-ordinating with other societies and the Ministry of Health to raise the prices of tobacco products in Saudi Arabia because they were lower than those in other parts of the world.

Tobacco growers still the butt of price story

| May 15, 2015

Zimbabwe’s flue-cured tobacco growers are continuing to suffer the effects of lower prices, which have fallen nearly 10 percent year-on-year.

Growers sold 92.2 million kg of flue-cured for US$267.7 million at an average price of US$2.90 per kg as of May 8, according to a story by Tatira Zwinoira for Newsday Zimbabwe, relayed by the TMA and quoting Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board figures.

During the corresponding period of last-year’s sales season, growers sold 96.1 million kg of flue-cured for US$308.7 million at an average price of US$3.21 per kg.

On the basis of these figures, the average price has fallen by 9.6 percent year-on-year.

Zimbabwe’s growers are not alone in suffering from lower prices. A story last month in the BBM Bommidala Group newsletter indicated that, with sales almost completed, the average price paid to growers in the Indian state of Karnataka had been 16 percent down on that of the 2013-14 season.

The story said too that prices had fallen by 14 percent in Brazil, 10 percent in Zimbabwe, eight percent in the US and four percent in Tanzania.

It will be interesting to see whether or not these lowered prices are reflected in the prices of cigarettes; rather like lowered oil prices are eventually translated into lower fuel prices at the pumps.

Trademark group joins battle against plain packs

| May 15, 2015

The International Trademark Association (INTA) has joined the legal battle against standardized packaging for tobacco products ‘in order to champion property rights’, according to a Breitbart story.

The INTA says that standardized packaging regulations should be rejected or repealed because, it believes, they violate various international treaties and national laws on trademark protection that safeguard the long-established principle that intellectual property rights are private rights.

Instead, it proposes that ‘less drastic measures’ such as public health campaigns and tax increases should be used as an alternative to the ‘expropriation’ of tobacco trademarks.

The INTA goes further than just defending the private property rights of the trademark owners and aims to show that standardised packaging rules produce unintended consequences detrimental to both competition and the consumers governments intend to protect.

The amicus brief filed by the INTA submits that consumers may become confused and unable to rely on the quality expected of familiar brands, that new brands will be barred from entering the market, that counterfeiting will be simplified, and that the cost of the product will likely decrease as price becomes the only differentiating factor.

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