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Ex-EU health chief’s compensation claim rejected

| May 13, 2015

 

The EU’s top court has dismissed a claim for compensation brought by the former health Commissioner John Dalli against the European Commission, according to a BBC Online story.

Dalli left his job as EU health commissioner in 2012 after allegations that he had had improper links with tobacco lobbyists. At the time of his resignation, the Commission was finalizing a new Tobacco Products Directive.

Dalli had said that the former Commission chief, Jose Manuel Barroso, had asked him to resign, but the European Court of Justice ruled that this had not been established.

A statement from the court said that when Barroso met Dalli on 16 October 2012, Barroso decided that Dalli should leave the Commission.

However, Barroso had not uttered a ‘clearly formulated’ request for his resignation, the judges ruled.

‘Since the existence of that request… has not been established, the Court dismisses the action as inadmissible,’ the European Court of Justice said in a statement. ‘The court also rejects Mr Dalli’s claim for compensation.’

The EU anti-fraud agency Olaf had earlier delivered a report alleging that Dalli had held unauthorised secret meetings with tobacco industry representatives.

According to Olaf, a Maltese entrepreneur had sought a ‘considerable’ payment from a Swedish producer of snus after which Dalli would have lifted an EU ban on the product outside Sweden.

Dalli has always denied any knowledge of such an approach by the entrepreneur and all of the allegations made against him.

The court ruled that Dalli may bring an appeal.

New MYO brand to compete against illicit products

| May 13, 2015

British American Tobacco Australia (BATAS) has said that it is planning to launch a make-your-own (MYO) cigarette tobacco brand and suggested that it will be priced competitively with illicit tobacco products, according to a story in the Hobart Mercury relayed by the TMA.

The MYO brand is due to go on sale in 100 g and 25 g packs as part of efforts to discourage smokers from buying illicit tobacco products.

A recent KPMG report indicated that illicit tobacco products accounted for 14.5 percent of total consumption in Australia last year, a 30 percent increase in two years.

The illegal trade was estimated to have deprived the government of the opportunity to collect A$1.35 billion (US$1.1 billion) in tax revenue.

BATAS spokesman Scott McIntyre was said to have attributed the growth in the illegal market to excise tax increases.

McIntyre said that if BATAS were to price its MYO brand competitively with ‘chop chop’, there was potential to capture a huge untapped market share.

Smokers could purchase a high-tech cigarette making machine and make their own cigarettes at home.

MYO cigarettes would be expected to cost about A$9 (US$7.16) per pack of 25 cigarettes, compared to A$15 (US$11.93) per pack for discount brands.

Souza Cruz plans Tabacuba partnership extension

| May 13, 2015

British American Tobacco’s Brazilian affiliate Souza Cruz plans to extend to 2020 its partnership with Cuba’s state-owned Tabacuba in the joint-venture cigarette maker Brascuba, according to a SABI Business News story relayed by the TMA.

Souza Cruz’s plans are based on the potential for economic growth in Cuba after the possible lifting of the US economic embargo against the country.

Brascuba, which currently has an annual turnover of more than US$50 million, plans to establish a new cigarette plant to boost production to 3.8 billion pieces a year.

Universal to webcast results conference call

| May 13, 2015

Universal Corporation is due to webcast a conference call on May 19 following the release of its results for fiscal year 2015 after market close on that date.

The live webcast will be available on a listen-only basis at www.universalcorp.com.

The conference call will begin at 17.00 Eastern Time and will be hosted by Candace C. Formacek, vice president and treasurer.

A replay of the webcast will be available at www.universalcorp.com until August 4.

And a taped replay of the call will be available from 20.30 on May 19 through June 1 at (855) 859-2056, using the telephone replay identification number 47222214.

Banning tobacco business seen as ‘ultimate solution’

| May 12, 2015

South Korea’s top court has ruled that the country’s tobacco business legislation is constitutional, saying that there is no proof that smoking always causes lung cancer, according to a story in The Korea Herald.

The ruling came amid a heated public debate over whether tobacco smoking should be seen as a serious public health threat or as a question of individual rights.

In a seven-to-two decision, the Constitutional Court ruled against nine petitioners, saying that the legislation did not infringe on an individual’s right to health because there was no definite link between habitual smoking and lung cancer.

Even though there was a correlation between smoking and lung cancer, it was not such as to force the government to ban the tobacco business. Lung cancer stemmed from diverse factors.

The court added that the government had paid due attention to public health, noting that it had been closely watching the tobacco industry and had made it mandatory that companies put cautionary images or warnings on cigarette packs.

In 2012, the petitioners, including lung-cancer patients and medical experts, filed a lawsuit against the nation arguing that the legislation was unconstitutional because it enabled the government to allow the sale of tobacco products that undermined public health.

Park Jae-Gahb, one of the petitioners and a professor at the National Cancer Center, expressed his frustration over the ruling. “Smoking is closely related to diseases like lung-cancer and it is a medically proven fact,” he said. “Banning the tobacco business is the ultimate solution.”

Class actions possible in cases of smoke exposure

| May 12, 2015

Israel’s Supreme Court has upheld an appeal of a lower-court ruling and made it possible for people exposed to tobacco smoke in public places to file class-action suits, according to a story in the Jerusalem Post.

The Post reckoned that claims against the owners of premises that do not enforce the no-smoking law could total millions of shekels in each case because each individual in the suit would be entitled to a NIS1,000 ‘fine’ against violators.

The Israel Cancer Association (ICA), represented by attorney Amos Hausner, appeared as a friend of the court in the suit, Efrati vs Espresso Bar Ltd.

The district court had reasoned that because an individual can sue businesses, entertainment venues, or banquet halls over tobacco-smoke exposure, it ruled out class-action suits.

But according to the Supreme Court, anyone complaining about second-hand tobacco smoke exposure can make a claim on behalf of other sufferers.

The ICA welcomed the ruling. ‘The association had encouraged private claims and encouraged law students to assist individuals to file such claims,’ it said in a statement. ‘When private lawsuits’ success was only partial, class actions have become an important component in the enforcement of the law prohibiting smoking in public places, which is unfortunately ignored by many business owners…’

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