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India to impose huge health warnings

| October 16, 2014

India is set to impose new regulations that will see 80 percent of the front and back faces of tobacco packs covered with health warnings, according to a story by Sanchita Sharma for the Hindustan Times.

The new regulations will see, too, a ban on the manufacture and sale of electronic cigarettes.

Photographs of cancers will occupy 65 percent of the front and back of tobacco packs while 15 percent of the surfaces will be used for text warnings.

Four photographs have been shortlisted for the new warnings, which are expected to be included on packs by April 1 next year.

Currently, warnings appear only on one side of packs, covering 20 percent of the entire pack.

“These are part of stringent rules introduced to lower tobacco addiction among the young, such as increasing the legal age for tobacco use to 21 years,” said Union Health Minister, Harsh Vardhan.

The new rules on electronic cigarettes, meanwhile, seem merely to codify a ban that applies by default. “E-cigarettes are not approved by the Drug Controller General of India, therefore its sale and use is illegal in India,” an official of the directorate of health services was reported to have said.

Thailand bans e-cigarette imports

| October 16, 2014

Thailand’s Cabinet on Tuesday approved a ban on the import of hookah-style water pipes and electronic cigarettes, copying a move by neighboring Cambodia earlier this year, according to a Yahoo News story.

Deputy government spokesman major general Sansern Kaewkamnerd said the ban, which had been proposed by the Commerce Ministry, was imposed for health reasons.

The Public Health Ministry had originally suggested the move, saying these products were luring young people into smoking.

Those caught violating the ban face a maximum jail term of 10 years or a fine of five times the product’s value, or both.

Cambodia in February banned the import, sale and promotion of electronic cigarettes and shisha tobacco.

PMI a leader in carbon performance

| October 16, 2014

A new Global Leaders Report issued yesterday by the leading environmental non-governmental organization, CDP (formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project), awarded Philip Morris International a Band A rating, a Leadership Status for Carbon Performance and a 96 percent score for Carbon Disclosure based on the company’s activities to mitigate climate change in its supply chain during 2013, PMI reported in a note posted on its website.

This was said to be the best CDP ratings score for PMI, which was the only tobacco company to make the ‘A list’.

“Environmental sustainability is central to our business strategy,” said CEO, André Calantzopoulos. “We have established ambitious emission reduction targets and work closely with every participant in our value chain to deliver against these targets. Our excellent results in this year’s CDP Leaders Report are an important and welcome recognition of our efforts.”

PMI said that it was one of only three consumer staples companies to achieve ‘Performance Leadership Status’ in the 2014 CDP S&P 500 report. ‘For the first time, this year’s report also correlates a corporation’s environmental rating with their economic performance, using Return on Equity (ROE) as a key metric,’ said the press note. ‘PMI scores at the top of the premier quartile of S&P 500 companies in this ranking…

‘PMI today also announced its decision to support the CDP ‘Road to Paris 2015’ initiative to receive business community endorsement of long-term carbon emission reduction targets that are scientifically sound and consistent with limiting global warming.’

Tax payers excluded from COP meeting they fund as delegates discuss taxation

| October 15, 2014

The Conference of the Parties (COP) to the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control took a ‘hostile and alarming’ turn on Monday when the public was kicked out of the meeting, according to a story by Drew Johnson for the Washington Times. The sixth meeting of the COP is being held in Moscow from October 13 to 18.

None of the COP delegates believed that taxpayers from around the world had the right to attend a meeting that has devoured almost $20 million in public funds during the past two years in paying for salaries, travel expenses and other costs related to the biennial convention.

Johnson said that WHO officials and delegates argued that banning the public was necessary because of fears that tobacco growers and cigarette company operatives had infiltrated the meeting.

‘Not that it would have mattered if they had,’ Johnson wrote. ‘Public attendees are required to sit silently in the back of the huge convention hall, hundreds of feet from where the debates occur…

‘After the doors were slammed shut and the meeting resumed, it became clear why the delegates chased the public away: They wanted to work on passing a global tax on tobacco in secret.’

Johnson’s piece is at: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/oct/13/johnson-uns-health-agency-works-global-tobacco-tax/#!

Korea’s tobacco tax hike labeled a ‘trick’

| October 15, 2014

South Korea’s Health Ministry has come under fire for using the money raised from tobacco taxes for projects not related to smoking prevention, according to a story in The Korea Herald.

The criticism, which was levelled at the ministry during a two-day parliamentary audit session on Monday and Tuesday, came about a month after the ministry had announced it would raise tobacco prices by 80 percent in the name of improving public health.

According to Kim Yong-ik of the main opposition party, the ministry set aside WON990 million for telemedicine [the remote diagnosis and treatment of patients by means of telecommunications technology] from the National Health Promotion Fund, which is partly raised through tobacco taxes.

Telemedicine has been fiercely opposed by the nation’s health care providers and the lawmaker raised concerns about the legitimacy of the ministry’s recent push to hike tobacco prices by January 2015. “The National Health Promotion Fund is already being used for inappropriate purposes,” he said.

“This makes it even more questionable that the raised tobacco taxes, if implemented, will be used for the right purposes.”

The central government’s proposal on cigarette prices has been criticized by a number of politicians as a ‘trick’ to make up for a tax revenue shortage.

Some progress in ending child labor

| October 15, 2014

The Child Labor Coalition (CLC), whose 34 member organizations fight exploitative child labor, has welcomed the report by the US Department of Labor (USDOL), ‘2013 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor’, which suggests significant progress is being made in the war to reduce child labor internationally.

“The report is another sign that good progress is being made in efforts to reduce child labor around the world,” said Sally Greenberg, co-chair of the CLC and executive director of the National Consumers League.

According to USDOL, nine percent of the countries assessed reported ‘significant advancement’ in their child labor responses, and half of the countries assessed experienced moderate advancement. Thirty six percent were judged to have made minimal or no advancement.

Greenberg said the numbers looked even better if you dug a little deeper. The 13 countries that USDOL said had made significant advancement were mostly ones that had battled substantial child labor problems; so advancement in those countries (Albania, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cote d’Ivoire, Ecuador, El Salvador, Peru, Philippines, South Africa, Tunisia, and Uganda) was very encouraging.

However, CLC coordinator Reid Maki said it was still the case that 168 million children were trapped in exploitative child labor and another 85 million were involved in hazardous work.

USDOL does not grade the progress of the US in the report, which is mandated by the Trade and Development Act of 2000. It does however talk about the ‘US experience’ in two of the report’s thousand pages, acknowledging that there is child labor in the US, particularly in agriculture.

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