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Indonesia’s electronic cigarette ban not set in stone

| May 26, 2015

Indonesia seems to be having second thoughts on imposing an outright ban on electronic cigarettes – but then again, perhaps not.

A story in The Jakarta Post at the beginning of last week had the Trade Minister Rachmat Gobel saying that sales of electronic cigarettes would be banned in line with concerns voiced by the Health Ministry.

Then, at the end of last week, the Health Ministry secretary-general Untung Suseno Sutarjo was quoted by another Post story as saying that the consumption of electronic cigarettes could help to reduce tobacco consumption though it would not eradicate it.

But he then went on to say that while electronic cigarettes would help to reduced consumption, the ministry had found that “that the impact on health is the same”.

Meanwhile, the health ministry’s head of health promotion, Lily S. Sulistyowati, said the implementation of the regulation would be discussed with the trade ministry. “We will discuss the regulation, Lily said. “The health ministry understands the impact of e-cigarettes, but the product is still permitted to be sold at the moment.”

Next week’s nicotine forum expected to attract 250

| May 26, 2015

Hon Lik, the inventor of the electronic cigarette, is scheduled to address the 2nd Global Forum on Nicotine in Warsaw, Poland, next week.

The Forum is due to be held at the Marriott Hotel in Warsaw, Poland, on June 5 and 6, though an awards ceremony is scheduled to take place during the Forum’s Pre-conference Vape Meet and Party, which will be held on June 4.

The organizers say that the forum is expected to attract about 250 people, including consumers, scientists and researchers, regulators, parliamentarians, policy analysts, manufacturers and renowned experts in the field of tobacco harm reduction. The theme of the conference is ‘A different kind of endgame’ – a reference to safer nicotine products bringing about an end to smoking. Program highlights include:

* Derek Yach, senior vice-president, Vitality Institute, ‘Why nicotine needs to be taken out of tobacco control’;

* Katherine Devlin, president, Electronic Cigarette Industry Trade Association, and Alberto Simeoni, European Committee for Standardization, ‘New standards for e-cigarettes’;

* Riccardo Polosa, University of Catania, ‘E-cigarettes and harm reversal’;

* The Rbutt site launch – a rapid rebuttal website aiming to give journalists rapid critiques of new e-cigarette research.

JT expected to sell beverage business to Suntory

| May 26, 2015

Suntory Beverage & Food has said it will buy Japan Tobacco Inc’s beverage vending machine business for about ¥150 billion ($1.2 billion), according to a Reuters report citing figures from the industry publication Inryosouken.

JT’s withdrawal from the business, which includes the sale of its Roots canned coffee and Momono Tennen-sui flavoured water brands, comes in the face of fierce competition in the nation’s beverages industry.

The company announced in February that it would pull out of the beverage business and stop production and sales of beverages by the end of September.

JT competes against larger rivals, including Suntory and Coca-Cola Co, which last year held more than 20 percent market share each. JT controlled 1.6 percent.

Vapor less toxic according to Cultex study

| May 22, 2015

Cultex Laboratories—a leader in the research and development of cell-based exposure systems and cultivation technologies based in Hannover, Germany—has examined the cytotoxic effects of the vapor emitted by e-cigarettes. Using specially designed exposure models that made it possible to keep cells at an atmosphere that mimicked the real characteristics of a human lung, researchers conducting the in-vitro study exposed healthy human bronchial epithelial cells to e-cigarette vapor.

The study compared e-cigarette vapor containing 0.0 percent and 2.4 percent nicotine with the smoke emitted by combustible cigarettes, and results indicated that the toxicological effects of e-cigarette vapor were 4.5 to 8 times lower than those of tobacco smoke. No differences regarding the cytotoxicology were found between nicotine-free vapor versus the vapor that contained nicotine. Cultex Laboratories will continue its e-cigarette research and plans to analyze the possible long-term effects of e-cigarette use. The full study can be found at www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/12/4/3915.

PMI files plain packaging suit against UK government

| May 22, 2015

Philip Morris International today filed suit in the English High Court to contest the UK government’s recently introduced standardized packaging regulations for tobacco products.

In a note posted on its website, PMI said it was seeking a decision that the regulations – which imposed a wholesale ban on logos and visual trademark elements and required all cigarette packaging to look the same – violated English and European Union law.

“We respect the government’s authority to regulate in the public interest, but wiping out trademarks simply goes too far,” said Marc Firestone, PMI senior vice president and general counsel. “Countries around the world have shown that effective tobacco control can co-exist with respect for consumer freedoms and private property.”

PMI pointed out that in April 2015, all tobacco products in the UK were banned from display at retail, and as early as 2016, EU law would require that health warnings for cigarettes cover up to 65 percent of the pack.

PMI’s filing asserts that:

* ‘The regulations unlawfully deprive PMI of its trademarks. A core doctrine of English and EU law is that there must be fair compensation for deprivations of property, a remedy that the regulations do not provide.

* ‘The regulations violate the EU law that says Community trademarks can be used by identical means throughout the EU, which would be impossible if the UK government bans their use in the UK.

* ‘The regulations obstruct the free movement of goods through means that are neither necessary nor proportionate to achieving the UK government’s public health objectives.

* ‘A case from the English High Court is already before the European Union’s Court of Justice to decide whether standardized packaging is permissible under the EU’s recently enacted tobacco product directive. If not, then the UK regulations would be invalid. It would have been far sounder to hear from the Court of Justice before issuing the regulations.’

PMI said that trademarks conveyed a product’s quality and other attributes and helped consumers select from competing brands in a crowded marketplace. In this and other ways, trademarks were the key to a market economy.

In 2014, it added, Marlboro ranked as the ninth most valuable global brand with an estimated value of $67 billion.

“The UK government rushed out the regulations, with many serious questions left unanswered,” Firestone said. “The law protects trademarks because of their essential functions for consumers and in driving competition. By contrast, a wholesale ban on branding distorts the market and treats consumers as if they’re not capable of making their own decisions.”

Low leaf tobacco prices cause concern in Zimbabwe

| May 22, 2015

Zimbabwe’s Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Lands and Agriculture has expressed concern over the low prices being offered at tobacco auction floors this season, according to a story in The Herald.

It has urged stakeholders to educate growers on what they have to do to be rewarded with good returns for their tobacco.

The committee members toured Northern Tobacco, Tianze Tobacco Company and Boka Tobacco Auction Floors, where they were said by the Herald to have expressed dismay at a price cap of $4.99 per kg at a time when prices on contract floors were as high as $6.30 per kg.

Some committee members felt that buyers were exploiting farmers by offering low prices, while others accused the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board of not doing enough to assist farmers, especially on the issue of low prices. Others attributed the low prices to the low quality of the crop being delivered to the auction floors.

The Zengeza West Member of Parliament, Simon Chidhakwa, complained of middlemen buying the tobacco at very low prices outside the auction floors for resale at the floors.

Meanwhile, a story in the Zimbabwean relayed by the TMA said that quality tobacco that in previous seasons had sold for US$4.00 per kg was this season attracting offers of US$1.60 per kg.

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