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No interest from smaller firms in anti-fraud deals

| August 24, 2015

While the four multinational tobacco companies operating within the EU have signed agreements aimed at reducing the illegal trade in tobacco products, no other tobacco company has expressed an interest in signing such agreements, according to the European Commission.

The Commission was responding to two questions from the Croatian MEP Ivan Jakovčić.

In a preamble to his questions, Jakovčić said that he had spoken about such agreements at the plenary session of the European Parliament on May 18.

‘Since during the debate I suggested that other, smaller tobacco and cigarette manufacturers should also join negotiations on the agreement, I ask the Commission if it has undertaken something in that direction,’ he said.

‘Does the Commission consider that the number of manufacturers joining the agreement should be increased, especially since some are major national or regional producers of tobacco and cigarettes?’

In answer, the Commission said the EU and member states had concluded anti-fraud agreements with the four major tobacco manufacturers in Europe, and it said it had signalled its readiness to discuss similar arrangements with other relevant manufacturers in the sector in order to fight the illegal tobacco trade.

‘However, so far no manufacturer has expressed interest in doing so,’ it said.

Meanwhile, the Commission said it had not yet taken a position regarding the possible prolongation of any of the existing agreements. ‘As such, the Commission is not currently in negotiations with any tobacco producer,’ it added.

Seized Jin Ling cigarettes sent for analysis in Ireland

| August 24, 2015

Ireland’s gardaí has sent for analysis a number of seized Jin Ling cigarettes amid fears they may contain asbestos, according to a story by Fiona Magennis for the Drogheda Independent and Irish Independent.

About 20,000 cigarettes were seized at Drogheda market during an operation by Drogheda gardaí following a tip off. Thousands of counterfeit CDs and DVDs also were seized during the raid.

The gardaí has sent the cigarettes for analysis because batches of Jin Ling cigarettes seized previously in Great Britain were found to contain industrial chemicals and asbestos.

Speaking on LMFM radio, Benny Gilsenan, from the organization Retailers Against Smuggling, said his organization welcomed the seizure and the news that the confiscated cigarettes were being analyzed to assess what they contained.

Gilsenan said he understood the lure of cheap cigarettes for those who were compelled to smoke, but he urged consumers not to risk their health by purchasing these dangerous products.

In 2007, 258 million Jin Ling cigarettes were seized by authorities in EU countries.

Cuba increases leaf production despite drought

| August 24, 2015

This season’s tobacco harvest in Vueltabajo, Cuba’s main leaf-production region, increased by 3,400 tonnes over that of last year despite a nationwide drought, according to an Indo-Asian News Agency story citing the Communist Party daily, Granma.

Industry leaders in Vueltabajo, Pinar del Rio, were quoted as saying that 16,204 tonnes of tobacco had been harvested so far and that the total might increase by 100 tonnes.

With about 16,000 ha under cultivation, the 2014-2015 production level signalled the beginning of the recovery of tobacco production in Cuba, Granma reported.

But it acknowledged that the season had been impacted by the country’s worst drought in 115 years.

Meanwhile, an additional 1,000 ha are expected to be planted to tobacco for the 2015-2016 season.

The tobacco sector is Cuba’s fourth-largest revenue generator and employs roughly 150,000 people on a regular basis, though the workforce can swell to 250,000 at the peak of the harvest.

Grim preliminary analysis of e-cigarettes

| August 24, 2015

A senior medical consultant in Malaysia has said that the major concern over electronic cigarettes is that many people misuse the device by adding drugs such as marijuana and heroin, according to a story in The New Strait Times.

A study on electronic cigarette addiction conducted by the Institute of Respiratory Medicine (IPR) since 2013 is expected to be completed early next year.

IPR’s senior medical consultant, Professor Datuk Dr Abdul Razak Abdul Muttalif, described the issues surrounding electronic cigarettes as controversial: there were pros and cons.

He said the IPR had gone through a number of papers on electronic cigarettes published by different bodies around the world.

Some of them agreed that electronic cigarettes should be banned while others concluded that they should be controlled.

Abdul Razak said electronic cigarette vapers were likely to experience an acute or short term effect such as coughing and tiredness.

“The chronic or long term effect of it is cancer, heart disease and many other chronic diseases,” he said.

“The major concern now is that many people misuse the device by adding drugs such as marijuana and heroin, which will do more harm to the body, and this will be very difficult for the authorised bodies to control.”

Altria raises dividend

| August 24, 2015

The Altria Group’s board of directors on Friday declared the company’s regular quarterly dividend at $0.565 per common share, up 8.7 percent on the previous dividend of $0.52 per common share.

The quarterly dividend is payable on October 9 to shareholders of record as of September 15. The ex-dividend date is September 11.

In making the announcement on its website, Altria said that the new annualized dividend rate was $2.26 per common share, which represented a yield of 4.1 percent based on Altria’s closing stock price of $54.73 on August 20.

‘Today’s dividend increase reflects Altria’s intention to return a large amount of cash to shareholders in the form of dividends and is consistent with Altria’s dividend payout ratio target of approximately 80 percent of its adjusted diluted earnings per share,’ the company said on its website.

‘Altria has increased its dividend 49 times in the past 46 years.’

E-cigarette report ‘an incredibly important milestone’

| August 21, 2015

British American Tobacco has welcomed a report issued this week by Public Health England that, in part, says vaping electronic cigarettes is about 95 percent less harmful than is smoking tobacco.

“This report by Public Health England, which concludes that e-cigarettes are significantly less harmful to health than cigarettes, is an incredibly important milestone for the e-cigarette industry and its consumers, said BAT’s chief scientific officer, Chris Proctor, in a note posted on the company’s website.

“The review helps to de-bunk the myths around e-cigarettes and equip adult smokers with the facts they need to make informed choices.

“There are many misconceptions around this new product category and this review has provided adult smokers with greater clarity around the relative safety of e-cigarettes which should give them greater confidence to use them rather than cigarettes.

“We’re confident that by making research on the relative safety of e-cigarettes available to consumers, and by ensuring proper product quality and safety, this important product category with the potential to have a positive impact on public health can prosper.”

The report entitled ‘E-cigarettes: an evidence update’, concludes that:

  • Vaping electronic cigarettes is about 95percent less harmful than is smoking tobacco;
  • Nearly half the UK population doesn’t realize that vaping electronic cigarettes is much less harmful than is tobacco smoking;
  • There is no evidence so far that electronic cigarettes are acting as a route into smoking for children or non-smokers;
  • Almost all of the 2.6 million adults using electronic cigarettes in Great Britain are current or ex-smokers; and
  • Electronic cigarettes have the potential to help smokers quit smoking.

In its note, BAT said that it was committed to offering adult smokers a range of quality reduced risk products that provided them with greater choice and assurances regarding product quality.

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