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Philippines to release delayed tobacco tax funds

| February 16, 2015

Tobacco growers in flue-cured producing provinces of the Philippines are due to share in at least P3.5 billion (US$79 million) of tobacco excise tax revenue, which the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has agreed to release this month, according to a story in the Manila Bulletin.

The long-awaited release of the funds that relate to 2012 and 2013 was announced on Friday by the DBM Secretary.

The release had been delayed by legal problems, but the disbursement of funds is now expected to go ahead following guidelines set by the DBM and the National Tobacco Administration, under which tobacco growers are due to benefit directly.

DBM records indicate that out of the P3.5 billion, P1.1 billion is destined for Ilocos Sur; P531 million for Ilocos Norte; P469 million for La Union; and P432 million for Abra.

Dividend dependent on Sri Lanka’s Super Gain Tax

| February 16, 2015

Ceylon Tobacco Company’s (CTC) sales in Sri Lanka fell by 11 percent last year, according to a Colombo Page story quoting a CTC financial statement.

At the same time, its government contributions during the 12 months to the end of December fell by four percent to Rs73.6 billion.

The downturn seems to have been partly the consequence of competition from products in the ‘non-regulated’ segment, and partly the result of an increase in bidi volumes, which, according to Sri Lanka Customs statistics, have grown by almost 200 percent since 2008 and which now account for about 42 percent of total tobacco consumption in the country.

Meanwhile, CTC said it was awaiting further clarification on the base and application of the one-off Super Gain Tax announced as a part of the government’s interim budget proposals on January 29 before determining its impact on cash flow and its ability to distribute a final dividend for 2014.

Call for TPPA proposals to be discussed in public

| February 13, 2015

A New Zealand health expert has said that the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) would effectively prevent governments from enacting health policies for fear of being sued, according to an Independent Newspapers story.

New Zealand health advocates and their counterparts in some of the other countries involved in the TPPA negotiations have, through The Lancet medical journal, raised concerns about the agreement.

The TPPA is being negotiated between 12 Pacific Rim countries and would affect an estimated 700 million people.

Twenty seven signatories from Australia, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, the US and Vietnam have called for the public release of details of the trade deal and public discussion about its consequences on access to healthcare.

Dr. Erik Monasterio, co-lead author and senior clinical lecturer at the University of Otago, Christchurch, said information made available on Wiki Leaks about the trade deal had shown that the TPPA would allow corporations to extend the patent period for branded medications and that this would delay the entry of generic – and cheaper – alternatives on to the market.

The TPPA would effectively prevent governments from enacting health policies for fear of being sued, Monasterio said.

“The Investor State Dispute Settlement mechanism allows corporations to sue governments – if they put into place polices that will interfere with the value of their profit,” he added.

JT’s cigarette volume down in January

| February 13, 2015

Japan Tobacco Inc’s domestic cigarette sales volume during January, at 8.3 billion, was down by 6.1 percent on that of January 2014, 8.8 billion, according to preliminary figures issued by the company today. The January 2014 figure was up by 3.6 percent on that of January 2013.

JT’s market share stood at 59.5 percent during January, and at 60.4 percent during January-December 2014.

JT’s domestic cigarette revenue during January, at ¥46.8 billion, was down by 3.2 percent from its January 2014 level, ¥48.3 billion.

Wales to ban smoking in cars carrying young people

| February 13, 2015

A ban on tobacco smoking in cars carrying young people will be imposed in Wales on October 1, Health Minister Mark Drakeford has confirmed.

According to a BBC News story, the ban, which will come in on the same day as one in England, will not include electronic cigarette vaping.

Health charities were said to have welcomed the move to ban smoking in cars carrying someone under the age of 18.

The police will be responsible for enforcing the ban as part of their road safety duties, and people caught flouting the new law will face a £50 on-the-spot fine.

Not too many people are likely to be caught, however.

A BBC News story of a few days earlier told how, according to government figures, the number of traffic police in England and Wales and fallen by 23 percent in four years – from 5,635 at the end of March 2010 to 4,356 at the end of March 2014.

The motoring organization, the RAC, was quoted as saying that the figures meant those breaking laws “will not get caught”.

The Home Office said crime had fallen by more than a fifth under the current government.

‘This is your mother: I’m disappointed in you’

| February 13, 2015

Researchers at two universities in Western Australia have developed a plastic case into which smokers can place their cigarettes but remove them only at the cost of hearing some form of quit smoking message, according to a story.

Smokers can record their own voice, that of somebody else or any other sound that reminds them of the reasons why they want to quit, and that soundtrack will play every time the case is opened.

Associate Professor Paul Chang from Edith Cowan University’s School of Psychology and Social Science said the idea was to tap into the smoker’s own motivations for quitting.

“To change behaviour, it is very important for people to have their own personal motivation to do so,” he said.

“The hope is that by reminding smokers of their own personal reason for quitting every time they open the packet will give them a powerful motivation to quit once and for all.

“One thing I think that could be particularly effective for parents who smoke would be to get their children to record the message encouraging them to kick the habit.”

Others might think that a more effective message for young men would be one from their mothers that said, in a resigned manner: “I’m afraid I’m rather disappointed in you”.

The other university involved in the study was Curtain University.

The story is at:

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