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Nepal: Cigarettes in short supply as result of wholesaler hoarding

| June 23, 2015

Several popular brands of cigarettes are in short supply in Nepal’s Kathmandu Valley due to hoarding and black-marketing by some wholesalers, according to Republica. Some wholesalers have begun to hoard cigarettes following media reports that the government was planning to hike excise duty on cigarettes through the budget for fiscal year 2015-2016. In addition to reducing supply, some wholesalers are also accused of raising prices in an arbitrary manner.

“It is very difficult to get [cigarettes] as per our demand,” retailer Ram Kumar Rai told Republica. “Not only are wholesalers reducing supply, they are also overcharging us for cigarettes.”

Rai said he was charged npr50 ($0.44) more for a box of Surya cigarettes containing 10 packets. “The wholesaler asked me to pay npr1,450 for a box of cigarettes which cost only npr1,400,” he said.

Retailer Madhav Timalsina, of Sundhara, paid npr1,500 for the same pack. “Wholesalers have been overcharging us, citing short supply,” he told Republica. “We are not getting cigarettes as per our demand, as wholesalers are hoarding them anticipating duty hike in upcoming budget.”

Meanwhile, manufacturers maintain that they have not reduced the supply of cigarettes.

“We have increased supply by around 10 percent recently,” Ravi KC, vice president of Surya Nepal, told Republica. “Our authorized dealers and cycle-boys have not reported us about shortage and hoarding of cigarettes.”

Department of Commerce and Supply Management officials have vowed to intensify market monitoring and to take action against anyone found guilty of hoarding cigarettes or participating in black-marketing.

Hawaii raises tobacco sale age to 21

| June 23, 2015

Hawaii became the first U.S. state to raise the tobacco sale age to 21 when Governor David Ige signed the landmark legislation on June 19. The law, which will take effect Jan. 1, 2016, is part of the state’s effort to reduce smoking rates among young people and to make the next generation of Hawaiians tobacco-free.

Hawaii joins 68 cities and counties in eight states that have already raised the tobacco age of sale to 21. The California Senate recently approved similar legislation prohibiting the sale of tobacco products to those under the age of 21, and the legislation is now before the state’s General Assembly.

Tobacco use claims approximately 1,400 lives in Hawaii and costs $526 million in health care bills each year. Increasing the tobacco sale age to 21 is expected to reduce tobacco use among youth and young adults, decrease the number of smoking-related deaths, and keep tobacco products out of schools, where younger teens may obtain tobacco from older students. According to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, tobacco companies spend more than $27 million annually in Hawaii to market tobacco products, and 95 percent of current adult smokers began smoking before they turned 21.

Call for Singapore to rethink ban on low-risk products

| June 23, 2015

Two British tobacco policy experts have called on Singapore’s Minister for Health to put on hold its recently-announced bans on electronic cigarettes and low-risk tobacco products. They have called for a policy rethink, starting with a thorough review of the evidence.

In a detailed letter to the minister, Gan Kim Yong, the two veterans of the European and international struggle against tobacco-related disease argue that banning low risk alternatives to smoking would be unscientific, unethical and harmful to health – and effectively a protection of the cigarette trade at the expense of the health of smokers.

They have called on Singapore to reassert its world leadership in tobacco control by showing that it can regulate these products in a way that exploits their huge potential to reduce harm while minimising any risks. They say that, by achieving world best practice in regulating these products, Singapore could position itself in the forefront of bringing forward the ‘global endgame’ of the disease and death caused by smoking. Such a development would be important given the influence Singapore had on many countries.

“It makes no sense to ban these very low risk alternatives to smoking while leaving cigarettes freely available on the market,” said Professor Gerry Stimson of Imperial College London. “It means that people who can’t or won’t quit using nicotine will carry on smoking, get sick and probably die from it.”

People would continue to use nicotine whether others liked it or not, Stimson said, but the risk of cancer and respiratory and cardiovascular disease from products delivering nicotine could be virtually eliminated if nicotine were taken with products that did not create toxic smoke and tar. Unfortunately it was these products that were being banned in Singapore.

Meanwhile, Clive Bates, a longstanding tobacco control campaigner, said these products had the potential to make cigarettes and smoking obsolete by 2040 and that there was no case to ban them now. “If we want to eradicate the death and disease caused by tobacco then allowing users to switch to an alternative nicotine product that [is] at least 95 percent lower risk is a really good policy” he said.

“Singapore has always been a leader in tobacco control but we think it’s taking a wrong turn by banning these products. A far better strategy is to use carefully designed regulation to encourage them to gradually destroy the cigarette trade and save thousands of lives.

“Prohibition of low risk alternative products doesn’t mean users quit, it means they carry on smoking.”

Vapor market could hit US$50 billion by 2030

| June 23, 2015

Euromonitor International said yesterday that the value of sales within the global e-vapor category had nearly doubled between 2013 and 2014, when they reached US$6.0 billion.

E-vapor sales last year had eclipsed those of nicotine replacement therapy products which had totaled US$2.4 billion, it added.

The number of vapers reached 13 million worldwide in 2014, but the US dominated the e-vapor market with sales of US$2.8 billion.

Other markets with high e-vapor sales were the UK, Italy, Poland and France.

But Bosnia-Herzegovina, Switzerland, Japan, the US and Egypt had the fastest growing markets.

Euromonitor said the vapor market was estimated to increase at a compound annual growth rate of 29.3 percent to reach US$23.0 billion in 2019.

Zora Milenkovic, Euromonitor’s head of tobacco research, said however that these forecasts would have to be cut if legislation such as that to do with e-vapor taxation and public vaping bans became widespread.

If legislation remained as it is, the vapor market could surpass US$50 billion by 2030, Milenkovic added.

Zambian tobacco growers left with 3,000 tonnes

| June 23, 2015

Buyers have left Zambian farmers with more than 3,000 tonnes of unsold tobacco, according to a story by Julius Phiri for the Times of Zambia.

The Tobacco Board of Zambia’s (TBZ) CEO, Samson Muyembe, was quoted as saying that the independent tobacco farmers had been left with their crops after buying companies had decided to prioritize buying from contracted growers.

However, he said farmers should remain calm because TBZ had entered into negotiations with Tombwe Processing Limited (TPL) to buy the tobacco. He said the negotiations would end soon.

He said also that Pemba and Alliance One were still buying tobacco from farmers in Eastern Province.

Tanzania to establish grower-compensation fund

| June 23, 2015

Anti-tobacco campaigns being conducted by the World Health Organization were among factors to blame for a fall in leaf tobacco prices being paid for the crop on both local and world markets, the Tanzania National Assembly has been told.

But, according to a story in the TSN Daily News, the deputy minister for Agriculture, Food Security and Co-operatives, Godfrey Zambi, said that tobacco prices on the world market had been fluctuating due to a number of other factors including competition among major producers of the crop and the quality of the tobacco produced.

Zambi made these comments while responding to a question by Mpanda Rural MP, Moshi Kakoso, who had asked the government whether it would compensate local tobacco farmers for the declining prices on the world market.

In response, the deputy minister cited the WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control as being among the factors that had led to a reduction in the consumption of tobacco products and declining leaf tobacco prices.

“In the wake of these developments, the government will continue to look for markets in various countries to ensure our farmers are paid handsomely for their products,” Zambi said in response to the question.

According to the deputy minister, the government intends to work with responsible stakeholders to establish a special fund to compensate farmers when prices fall on the world market.

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