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ITG to respond to additive-free warning

| August 28, 2015

ITG Brands is to respond to a warning from the US Food and Drug Administration about its use of the term ‘additive free’ in relation to its Winston brand of cigarettes, according to a story by Toni Clarke for Reuters, relayed by the TMA.

The FDA has warned Santa Fe Natural Tobacco (Reynolds American), ITG Brands and Nat Sherman that advertising traditional cigarette products as ‘additive free’ or ‘natural’ is in violation of federal regulations.

ITG reportedly said that it believed its products complied with all US federal and state regulations and disagreed with the FDA’s position on the issue.

But it said it would respond to the agency’s warning letter in the coming days.

The wording that the FDA objects to is said to appear only on Winston’s cartons, and not on packs or advertisements.

ITG said that Winston, which had been owned by ITG for only 76 days (Winston was one of the brands sold off when Reynolds American acquired Lorillard), had been marketed with its current packaging for more than 15 years in compliance with an agreement with the US Federal Trade Commission.

In an August 24 letter, about 30 health organizations, including the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Heart Association and the American Thoracic Society, urged the FDA to take action against Reynolds American Inc and its subsidiary Santa Fe Natural Tobacco for the marketing of Natural American Spirit cigarettes.

The brand’s sales had risen by 86 percent between 2009 and 2014 while cigarette sales nationally declined 17 percent, the letter said.

In announcing its results for the second quarter of this year, Reynolds said that Natural American Spirit’s market share had risen by 0.3 of a percentage point to 1.8 percent.

Imperial joins battle against Latvian illegal trade

| August 28, 2015

Imperial Tobacco has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Latvian State Revenue Service jointly to tackle the illegal trade in tobacco.

In a note posted on its website, Imperial said that KPMG’s latest Project Sun report had revealed that Latvia had the highest proportion of illegal cigarette trade in the EU last year.

The illegal trade was said to have accounted for more than 29 percent of total consumption and to have deprived Latvia’s treasury of €80 million in tax revenues.

Imperial said the agreement, which was the first to be signed between the Latvian authorities and a tobacco company, created a framework for sharing intelligence and driving effective action against the criminals involved in the trade.

Latvia is a major transit country for illicit tobacco, with significant numbers of Russian and Belarusian products passing through on their way to countries such as the UK and Ireland.

“This Agreement demonstrates Imperial’s continuing commitment to co-operating with global authorities to prevent illegal tobacco products from finding their way onto the legitimate market,” Reimund Ameskamp, Imperial’s general manager Northern Europe, was quoted as saying.

Inara Petersone, director general of the Latvian State Revenue Service and Fedor Zhavaronkov, senior anti-illicit trade manager, Imperial Tobacco, at the signing ceremony.

Inara Petersone, director general of the Latvian State Revenue Service and Fedor Zhavaronkov, senior anti-illicit trade manager, Imperial Tobacco, at the signing ceremony.

Limited edition of Ettan launched by Swedish Match

| August 28, 2015

Swedish Match is launching a special design edition of its Ettan brand of loose snus for the autumn season.

In a note posted on its website, Swedish Match said that 82,000 cans of Ettan Jakt would be produced and sold from the end of August at OKQ8 outlets throughout Sweden, in Swedish Match’s stores in Stockholm, Gothenburg and Strömstad, as well as at selected tobacconists mainly in Northern Sweden.

“It feels particularly appropriate to honor Ettan, which is one of Sweden’s oldest snus brands,” brand manager Mediha Budak Gustafsson was quoted as saying.

“Ettan has been around since 1822, is strongly associated with tradition and has a loyal customer base.

“For many years, the design has been virtually unchanged, but I think that consumers will appreciate the new concept. Particularly in Northern Sweden, where about every seventh snus user carries a can of Ettan in his/her pocket.”

Ettan loose, which is the single most widely sold snus product in Northern Sweden, is said to be characterized by its pure, strong tobacco flavor. The basic recipe is unchanged from when it was created: tobacco, salt and water.

Ettan Jakt picEttan will be manufactured according to Swedish Match’s GOTHIATEK® quality standard.

FDA targets ‘natural’ tobacco claims

| August 27, 2015

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has warned Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Co. and ITG Brands that advertising traditional cigarette products as “additive free” or “natural” is in violation of federal regulations, reports The Winston-Salem Journal.

The warnings pertain to Santa Fe’s Natural American Spirit brand and ITG’s Winston brand. It is the first time the FDA has used its authority under the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act of 2009 to target additive-free and natural tobacco product labeling.

The agency determined that marketing the cigarettes as additive free and natural “represents explicitly and/or implies” that the products offer a modified risk or are less harmful to consumers without having gotten FDA approval as a modified-risk product.

The agency said “failure to obey federal tobacco law may result in the FDA initiating further action, including, but not limited to, civil money penalties, criminal prosecution, seizure and/or injunction.”

The FDA said its authority supersedes that of a 2000 agreement between Santa Fe and the Federal Trade Commission in which Santa Fe agreed to include disclosures that “no additives in our tobacco does NOT mean safer.”

The manufacturers have 15 working days to respond to the warning and explain what actions they plan to take to remedy the violation, according to the FDA.

Proposed EU-US trade treaty mired in secrecy

| August 27, 2015

The European Commission has been accused of a cover-up after refusing to release details of talks between its officials and tobacco companies during negotiations over the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) treaty, according to a story by Paul Gallagher for The Independent.

Corporate lobbying campaigners are said to have published documents that revealed the EU’s executive body had met and corresponded with lobbyists from British American Tobacco and Philip Morris.

But the documents, as released, revealed little else. Almost all of the content, including the names of officials and tobacco lobbyists involved, the issues discussed and even the dates some meetings took place, had been redacted.

The documents relate to ongoing talks between the EU and the US over the proposed TTIP trade deal, as well as separate talks between the EU and Japan.

Critics of the trade talks, which centre on reducing the regulatory barriers to international trade for big business, were quoted as saying the documents back up fears that the TTIP will allow tobacco giants to take legal action against the UK and other European governments who attempt to tighten smoking legislation.

The research and campaign group Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) had argued for full disclosure of the documents citing the EU’s freedom of information law and the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. The latter’s guidelines oblige governments to limit interactions with the tobacco industry to a minimum and to ensure full transparency of those interactions that occur.

Catherine Day, Secretary-General of the European Commission was said to have refused the request; allowing only “partial access” and stating that the documents “contain elements that relate to the Commission’s negotiating position with regards to tobacco in the ongoing bilateral negotiations for a free trade agreement with the USA and Japan”.

“Whilst I fully recognise the importance of transparency in enabling citizens to follow trade negotiations, I take the view that this public interest does neither outweigh the public interest in protecting the Commission’s international relations and decision-making process, nor the commercial interests of the companies in question in this case,” she said.

Day, however, did not seem to address the issue of the financial interests of EU taxpayers who would be required to foot the bill for defending cases in secretive tribunals and for paying any penalties imposed against their governments. Presumably, because of the secretive nature of the tribunals, the taxpayers would not have any way of assessing whether the costs and possible fines they had to pay were in any way fair or proper.

The CEO campaign group has said it was “deeply concerned about the Commission’s secrecy around its relations with tobacco industry lobbyists” and was preparing a complaint to the European Ombudsman.

Campaigners fear that a system of investor-state dispute settlements (ISDS) incorporated within the TTIP will allow multinational firms including tobacco companies to sue European governments in secretive tribunals ruled upon by corporate lawyers.

The full text of Gallagher’s piece is at:

Lebanese growers looking to expand production

| August 27, 2015

Tobacco growers operating in the Akkar district of Lebanon are calling on the government to allow them to expand their harvested areas while increasing the weight of tobacco authorized per permit from 330 kg to 500 kg, according to a story on Al

“We also ask the government to increase the price of 1 kg from LL10,000 to LL12,000 to help farmers in covering their living expenses,” said Abdel Hamid Sakr, head of a syndicate of tobacco farmers in the north of the country.

Sakr said farmers in Akkar were relying on tobacco to make up for their losses after the export of other agricultural products was blocked with the closure of the Nassib border crossing in April. Nassib was the last functioning border crossing between Jordan and Syria.

“Tobacco farming is our only hope for the time being, but it costs us a lot because it needs special pesticides and the cost of irrigation is too high, in addition to the elevated cost of labor,” farmer Youssef Ahmed was quoted as saying.

According to Wikipedia, the name Akkar is derived from the Syriac word, Akkare, meaning farmers.

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