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Hong Kong to press ahead with e-cigarette sales ban

| August 20, 2015

Authorities in Hong Kong are determined to press ahead with a ban on the sale of electronic cigarettes despite a recent British study suggesting that vaping electronic cigarettes is about 95 percent less harmful than is smoking traditional tobacco cigarettes, according to a story in the South China Morning Post.

The study, carried out on behalf of Public Health England, an agency of the Department of Health, concluded that electronic cigarettes should be promoted as a means to help smokers quit their habit.

The Asian Vape Association, formed by five major electronic cigarette companies operating in Hong Kong, heralded the British report as a major turning point.

It urged the government to consider regulating the ingredients of e-liquids instead of banning the products outright.

“The report proves that electronic cigarettes are indeed an effective tool for harm reduction,” said Nav Lalji, founder and chairman of the association.

“We urge the Hong Kong government to advocate e-cigarettes as a safer alternative instead of completely banning them.”

But Hong Kong’s Food and Health Bureau seems set to proceed with the proposed ban on electronic cigarette sales sometime this year.

Health officials are said to believe that electronic cigarette manufacturers target young people and market their products as trend-setting.

According to a 2010 study, Hong Kong’s smoking rate was 11.1 percent of people above the age of 15.

Tobacco does well in Indonesian brand evaluation

| August 20, 2015

Four tobacco brands have made it into the top 10 of Indonesia’s most valuable brands.

At number five, A Mild is the top tobacco brand with a value of US$5,882 million.

Surya, valued at US$1,939 million, is at number eight; Dji Sam Soe, valued at US$1,767 million, is at number nine; and Marlboro, valued in Indonesia at US1,669 million, is at number 10.

WPP, which describes itself as the world’s biggest communications services group, and Millard Brown, said to be a leading global research agency, yesterday released the first BrandZ ™ ranking of Indonesia’s top 50 most valuable brands.

The combined value of the Top 50 brands is $64.6 billion.

The strong performance of tobacco brands was one of the key findings of the evaluation, which combined financial data with the perceptions of consumers.

There are seven tobacco brands in the Top 50, accounting for a total value of $14.8 billion.

US leaf production set to fall by 18 percent

| August 20, 2015

Leaf tobacco production in the US this year is forecast to reach 717 million pounds, down by 18 percent on last year’s production, according to United States Department of Agriculture figures published by Christopher Bickers in his Tobacco Farmer Newsletter.

Flue-cured production is estimated to be down by 17 percent to 473 million pounds and Burley production is expected to be down by 26 percent to 157 million pounds.

Estimates of other-types production are: fire-cured, down by four percent to 56.6 million pounds; dark air-cured, down by five percent to 16.6 million pounds; cigar types, unchanged at nine million pounds; and Southern Maryland, down six percent to 4.4 million pounds.

The full story can be accessed by contacting Bickers at

Ireland to continue monitoring e-cigarettes

| August 20, 2015

Ireland’s Department of Health has said it will continue to monitor evidence on the harms and benefits associated with the use of electronic cigarettes, according to a story by Elaine Edwards for the Irish Times.

The department was responding to the results of a study published yesterday by Public Health England that said electronic-cigarette vapor was 95 percent safer than was traditional-tobacco-cigarette smoke.

The Department of Health and Children said that though electronic cigarettes did not contain tobacco, they did contain nicotine, which it described as ‘a highly addictive substance which is the driver for cigarette smoking’.

‘Hence, there are legitimate concerns about the public health benefits of allowing such products to exist without regulation,’ the department said in a statement.

‘Because they are a relatively recent product there is limited scientific information available to balance the potential harms and benefits that might arise from more widespread public use.

‘Against that background, and whilst more research is awaited on the harms and benefits, there is a need to ensure that there is some regulation of e-cigarettes.’

E-cigarette study suggests ‘gateway’ effect

| August 19, 2015

A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) suggests that use of e-cigarettes by youth who had not previously smoked could lead to use of combustible cigarettes and other smoked tobacco products.

The JAMA study examined whether teens who reported ever using e-cigarettes were more likely to initiate use of combustible (smoked) tobacco products, such as cigarettes, cigars and hookah.

The study involved 2,530 students from 10 public high schools in Los Angeles who reported never using combustible tobacco at the start of the study (when the students were in the nineth grade) and were re-assessed six months and 12 months later.

The researchers found that students who had ever used e-cigarettes (222 students at the start of the study) were more likely to report initiation of combustible tobacco use over the next year. These students were also more likely to initiate use of each individual combustible product, including cigarettes, cigars and hookah.

In April, the CDC reported that current (past-month) e-cigarette use among high school students jumped from 4.5 percent in 2013 to 13.4 percent in 2014. (It was 1.5 percent in 2011).

Current e-cigarette use now exceeds current use of regular cigarettes (9.2 percent of high school students smoked cigarettes in 2014).

The researchers did not evaluate the likelihood of e-cigarettes helping smokers quit their habit.

The study is available here.


Imperial’s stick equivalent volumes down

| August 19, 2015

Imperial Tobacco’s total tobacco volume during the nine months to the end of June, at 207.4 billion stick equivalents, was down by three percent on that of the nine months to the end of June 2014, 213.3 billion, according to an interim management statement issued today.

Underlying volume was down by six percent.

Growth Brands volume was up by 15 percent, from 91.7 billion to 105.4 billion; or by 10 percent on an underlying basis.

Meanwhile, tobacco net revenue was down by four percent from £4,632 million to £4,435 million; or flat on an underlying basis.

Specialist Brands net revenue was said to have been up by three per cent, supported by growth in modern variants of Golden Virginia (hand-rolling tobacco) in the UK, Skruf (snus) in Scandinavia and premium cigars in both the US and Europe. Specialist Brands accounted for 12 per cent of reported tobacco net revenue, up 30 basis points.

In announcing the results, chief executive Alison Cooper said Imperial had enjoyed a good third quarter that had built on the progress made in the first half.

“Our continued focus on improving the consistency and quality of our performance has delivered excellent results from our Growth Brands which continue to grow net revenue, volume and market share,” she said.

“We’ve strengthened our performance in Returns Markets and maintained positive momentum in Growth Markets.

“We completed the US acquisition towards the end of the quarter and I am pleased with the successful start we’ve made in implementing our commercial and integration plans for ITG Brands.”

Meanwhile, Imperial reported that its stand-alone subsidiary Fontem Ventures was continuing to develop well, with blu electronic cigarettes growing encouragingly in the UK and an enhanced strategic approach starting to be rolled out in the US.

The development and licensing of a range of patented technologies was ongoing at Fontem.

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