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Czech Republic approves ban on smoking in restaurants, bars

| June 5, 2015

The Czech government has approved a draft bill that will ban smoking in bars and restaurants. Previous governments have attempted to enact the same restrictions but ran into opposition, leaving the Czech Republic as the last EU member to allow unrestricted smoking in restaurants. One quarter of Czechs smoke, according to Eurobarometer.

“With this law, the Czech Republic will embark on a path where the majority of advanced western European countries have gone a long time ago,” said health minister Svatopluk Nemecek, after the center-left cabinet approved the measure. The draft bill must still pass parliament before it can be signed into law by President Milos Zeman.

Seventeen of the 28 EU states have a total ban on smoking in indoor public places, public transport and workplaces, and many other member states have restrictions on smoking in various places.

In addition to bars and restaurants, the proposed legislation would also ban smoking—including the use of e-cigarettes—at concerts and indoor entertainment and sports facilities.

The bill also includes a provision that requires bars and restaurants to offer at least one non-alcoholic drink on their menu at a price that is cheaper than the cheapest alcoholic drink.

Iggesund expands its presence in North America

| June 5, 2015

Iggesund Paperboard is expanding its distribution in the United States by making its flagship product, Invercote, available from coast to coast. The company has established an inventory position and sheeting capabilities in Pomona, California, USA, with the objective of making its flagship product—which is already available in more than 100 countries—readily available for quick-turn market demand.

“We’ve been in the U.S. for more than 30 years, but our distribution footprint has been concentrated on the East Coast,” says Rickard Österlindh, president of Iggesund Americas. “Now is the time to increase our presence on the West Coast, where we know there is a density of brand owners who will appreciate the quality level we offer with Invercote.”

Invercote is a niche product in the United States and is manufactured using a multi-layer construction that prevents it from cracking on the fold, unlike many domestically produced paper and paperboard grades.

“Invercote’s unique attributes truly distinguish it from other products in the marketplace, and as such Iggesund will seek to identify applications where those properties add value,” says Österlindh. “That’s why we’re also reinforcing our U.S. sales organization by recruiting people who can help increase sales both in areas where we had no previous presence and those where we already have a position.”

Iggesund will focus its sales and marketing efforts on premium packaging and graphical print applications, building on a previously established foundation of offset and digital print business.

The company’s enhanced distribution efforts in the U.S. are part of Iggesund’s goal to become a unified global entity by strengthening its service platform outside Europe.

China plans to grow tobacco in Crimea

| June 5, 2015

The Crimean government has announced that a visiting delegation of Chinese businessmen intend to invest in tobacco cultivation within the territory, which was annexed by Russia in March 2014. Chinese equipment and technology would be supplied to the semiautonomous territory, which has been fighting to secure foreign investment amid trade sanctions imposed by Ukraine, the United States and the European Union following Russia’s annexation of the region.

“Tobacco is in huge demand in China, and Crimea has a suitable climate and soil for tobacco cultivation,” the delegation’s leader, Chen Zhijun, was quoted by news agency TASS as saying at a meeting with Crimean leader Sergei Aksyonov.

Aksyonov and Chen on June 4 signed a protocol on investment cooperation, according to a press release posted on the Crimean government’s website.

California: Vape Organics formulates organic nicotine for e-cigs

| June 4, 2015

Vape Organics, an e-liquid manufacturer based in Riverside, California, USA, announced on June 2 that it had received U.S. Department of Agriculture certification for its organic nicotine designed for e-cigarettes. According to the company, the product is “both USP grade and uniquely free of any petroleum-derived solvent.”

Vape Organics director of operations Sheerlie Ryngler said that “as consumers are starting to care more about what’s in their e-liquids, we at Vape Organics have risen to the challenge and are doing our part to propel the vape industry forward with certified organic products and long-term vision.” Ryngler also added that consumers appreciate the company’s products, which “harmoniously honor the connection between personal well-being and the well-being of the environment which sustains us.”

According to Vape Organics, the company’s USDA-certified organic nicotine allows consumers to “vape with confidence and peace of mind, knowing that they are using a nicotine delivery option that not only mitigates the harm from tobacco combustion, but also from pesticides.”

Alliance One to scale down operations in Kenya

| June 4, 2015

Alliance One Tobacco Kenya has announced that it will begin to scale down its operations in Kenya, citing a slump in the leaf tobacco sector. As part of the scale-down process, the company will no longer sponsor tobacco farmers that have been growing leaf tobacco on a contract basis and will cease field operations beginning July 1.

Alliance One Tobacco Kenya’s managing director Francis Chege said the company “is proud to have been a part of the tobacco industry in Kenya for the past 25 years, but unfortunately customer demand for the Kenyan supply has declined, and the company has been forced to realign its operations to changing market conditions.”

The company will continue to maintain a small presence in Kenya through its processing base in Thika.

Tobacco giants sue Britain over plain-packaging

| June 4, 2015

Philip Morris International (PMI) and British American Tobacco (BAT) have sued the British government over plain-packaging legislation passed in March. The law, which would take effect from May 2016, requires cigarettes to be sold in packages of uniform shape and size that feature only the brand name and contain prominent graphic health warnings. England is the third and most populous country to introduce plain-packaging laws, following Australia and Ireland.

PMI argues that England’s plain-packaging regulations “unlawfully deprive PMI of its trademarks” and should therefore be overturned, according to an article in The New York Times. London-based BAT stated that the British government had left the company “with no other choice” and released a statement saying that “any business that has property taken away from it by the state would inevitably want to challenge and seek compensation.” Japan Tobacco International has also indicated it would challenge England’s legislation. The tobacco companies are seeking unspecified damages, which could total billions of dollars if granted.

A statement released by the English Department of Health said it would “not allow public health policy to be held to ransom by the tobacco industry” and that it “would not have gone ahead with standardized packaging unless we had considered it to be defensible in the courts.”

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