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Licit cigarette sales plummet after Macau tax hike

| August 19, 2015

Sales of licit cigarettes in Macau have dropped by about two-thirds following the tripling of tobacco excise, according to a Business Daily story quoting one retailer.

The government hiked tobacco excise last month, from MOP0.5 a stick to MOP1.5 (US$0.19)

“Our sales have plunged 60 per cent to 70 per cent following the implementation of the new tax…,” said the general manager of Hing Cheong Hong Tobacco Company, Sunny Iao, during a telephone interview.

“Other industry retailers, as I know, have also experienced such drops in their sales.”

TPPA would hinder New Zealand’s smoke-free goal

| August 18, 2015

New Zealand’s Trade Minister, Tim Groser, is continuing to mislead people about the way that the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) would affect health, according to a Voxy story quoting Dr. Gay Keating of Doctors for Healthy Trade.

“Saying that the TPPA won’t stop government making health regulation is like saying that there is nothing to stop anyone buying a house in Auckland,” Keating, a public health specialist and researcher, was reported to have said. “The TPPA will make it much harder and much more expensive for government to get to its goal of Smokefree Aotearoa [New Zealand] by 2025.

“Recent statements from the Minister have repeated carefully-contrived half-truths. He keeps saying that the government will not be prevented from regulating in the public interest. That is simply misleading.

“Of course the TPPA won’t have a clause that New Zealand can’t make smoke-free regulations. But the TPPA would let companies sue us if we followed World Health Organization advice and brought in stricter controls on tobacco. The TPPA would make it too expensive and too risky to bring in those law changes. The Minister is being misleading. Under the TPPA there will be nothing to stop us passing smoke-free laws except the potentially exorbitant price tag,” she said.

The TPPA, sometimes referred to as the TPP, has come under fire from a range of organizations in a number of countries. It is being negotiated in secret by representatives of Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the US and Vietnam.

Not much is known about the TPPA negotiations because of the strict secrecy surrounding them and the little information that has emerged has been courtesy of Wikileaks.

But it is understood that the TPP would include ISDS (investor state dispute settlement) provisions and it is these that are proving to be one of the most controversial issues. As far as is known, ISDS provisions would allow a company that invested in a country to sue that country if regulations were enacted that harmed its business, even in the event that those regulations were designed to improve the health of the nation. Such actions are possible now, but they have to be conducted before a court of law in the country concerned. Under ISDS, such actions would be brought before tribunals operating in secret outside of the country’s judicial system. None of the tribunal’s deliberations would be made public despite the fact that taxpayers would have to foot the bill for the defense and, if the company were to prevail, whatever judgement were made against the country.

Tobacco firms the most financially transparent

| August 18, 2015

A four-year investigation by Fairfax Media into the financial statements reported by multinational firms operating in Australia has found that tobacco companies issue the cleanest sets of numbers of any group of multinationals in the country, according to a story by Michael West for the Age newspaper, relayed by the TMA.

Philip Morris (Australia), British American Tobacco (Australasia Holdings) and Imperial Tobacco Australia were said to abide by accounting standards and to pay taxes every year to state and federal governments.

Collectively they appeared to have the cleanest sets of numbers released by any group of multinationals in the country, even providing ‘general purpose’ accounts audited by PricewaterhouseCoopers rather than the ‘special purpose’ accounts that required a lower standard of disclosure and were ‘furtively favoured by most multinationals’.

Multiple factors influencing teem smoking propensity

| August 18, 2015

A South Korean teenager whose parents are both smokers is more than four times as likely to smoke than is a teenager with non-smoking parents, according to a story in The Korea Herald citing a government report published yesterday.

The report, released by the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, surveyed 75,000 middle- and high-school students last year. It showed that 17.8 percent of Korean teens whose parents both smoked were smoking as of last year, while 4.3 percent of teenagers with non-smoking parents were smoking.

The study found too that Korean teen smokers were more influenced by their mothers than by their fathers. Thirteen point six percent of teenagers with smoking mothers but without smoking fathers were smoking last year, while 6.4 percent of those with smoking fathers but without smoking mothers were smoking.

Korean teens are significantly influenced also by their friends and siblings. While only 0.8 percent of Korean teens whose close friends don’t smoke were smoking last year, 13.5 percent of those whose friends do smoke were smoking. Also, 15.8 percent of teens whose siblings smoke followed suit, compared to 4.27 percent of those without smoking siblings.

The report showed that the smoking rate among teenagers who attend schools that focus on job training was significantly higher than among those who attend schools that concentrate on academic study. The smoking rate for students who attend vocational schools was 25.6 percent, while that of students at academic schools was 10.9 percent.

Other correlations were found in the socioeconomic status of the parents and in academic performance. While 11.8 percent of teens who declared a low household income level were smoking last year, 7.2 percent of those in high-income homes were smoking.

The proportion of smoking teens who said their school performance was low (15.2 percent) was four times higher than those who said they were doing well at school (3.8 percent).

Teen smoking was said to be associated with mental health and teen drinking.

Complaint filed over JTI’s planned plant in Taiwan

| August 18, 2015

A group of anti-tobacco activists in Taiwan filed a complaint on Monday accusing three cabinet agencies of dereliction of duty and legal violations after they gave the go-ahead or failed to object to the building of a factory by an international tobacco company, according to a Focus Taiwan News Channel report.

The complaint was filed with the Control Yuan, which is the government body that investigates civil servants and public agencies over accusations of improper behavior.

The John Tung Foundation CEO, Yau Sea-wain, the Consumers’ Foundation vice chairman, Yu Kai-hsiung, and two celebrity volunteers filed the accusations against the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA), the Ministry of Health and Welfare and the Health Promotion Administration.

The activists called on the Control Yuan to stop the construction by Japan Tobacco International of a factory in the Tainan Technology Industrial Park in southern Taiwan.

Citing the Statute for Investment by Foreign Nationals, Yau said the regulations prohibited foreign interests from investing in sectors that were harmful to people’s health.

The MOEA, however, has classified the tobacco manufacturing sector as an industry in which foreign and expatriate investors are ‘restricted’ from investing, not ‘prohibited from investing.

Health authorities were accused of failing to alert the MOEA as it reviewed the JTI investment application in 2013 that Taiwan observes the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control of the World Health Organization, Yau said.

Under the convention, tobacco is defined as a lethal product and therefore WHO member-governments are restrained from providing preferential treatment to the establishment of new tobacco companies or an expansion of the industry.

Imperial to issue interim statement

| August 18, 2015

Imperial Tobacco said yesterday that it would issue an interim management statement tomorrow.

Imperial’s financial year runs from the beginning of October to the end of September.

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