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Namibia leaf project gets environmental clearance

| April 15, 2015

A N$14 billion tobacco and maize project mooted for Namibia’s Zambezi region has received environmental clearance from the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, according to a story in The Namibian.

The Chinese company, Namibia Oriental Tobacco, has applied for 10,000 ha in the Zambezi Region for tobacco and maize production.

The environmental impact assessment submitted by the company states that the primary purpose of the farm will be tobacco production, though maize will be planted on a rotational basis in order to prevent or minimise the occurrence of tobacco related pests and diseases.

The company endorsed the project by stating that from 1995 to 1997 trials in tobacco production in Namibia’s Omaheke, Oshikoto, Otjozondjupa, Okavango (East and West) and Omusati regions were conducted and that they had shown tobacco could be a ‘very profitable option’.

It said also that tobacco produced in Namibia could fill the market niche created by the reduction in tobacco production in Zimbabwe.

A letter seen by The Namibian addressed to the company from the environment ministry showed that the project still needed to receive authorisation from the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry for the clearing of a state forest.

Authorisation for water abstraction would also need to be obtained from the department of water affairs in the same ministry.

France takes major step towards standardized packs

| April 15, 2015

France’s lower house of parliament yesterday passed a number of measures, one of which would require cigarettes to be sold from May next year in standardized packaging with graphic health warnings, according to a story by Emile Picy for Reuters, relayed by the TMA.

The measures include, too, a ban on smoking in cars carrying ‘children’ and a ban on the use of e-vapor products in offices and on public transport.

Beyond tobacco, the measures include one aimed at fighting anorexia and one aimed at ensuring that doctor consultations are generally free for patients at the point of use.

The bill will now go to the upper house.

Tobacco sales ban within 250 meters of schools

| April 15, 2015

It will be illegal to sell tobacco products within 250 meters of Jordan’s schools and health institutions from October 1, according to a story in The Jordan Times describing new Health Ministry regulations.

Under the regulations, shops will be allowed to display tobacco products only at payment points, and cigarette packs will have to be sealed and only within the seller’s reach.

Commenting on the new rules, Firas Hawari, director of the King Hussein Cancer Centre’s cancer control office, said the farther the source of cigarettes was from schools the harder it was for students to consume tobacco. He would like to see the distance extended to 500 meters.

“Students have very limited time… especially while waiting for their parents to pick them up,” he was quoted as having told the Times.

Hawari said that the new regulations for displaying cigarettes at shops and supermarkets could contribute to minimising smoking among young people, an issue he described as “one of the biggest problems in Jordan”, but one for which there was “very limited awareness among decision makers and citizens”.

To further curb smoking among children, he called for increasing the prices of tobacco and firmly enforcing the Public Health Law, which bans selling tobacco to children under the age of 18 and prohibits smoking in public areas.

Hawari said that while 30 per cent of Jordanians were smokers, smoking rates among health-sector workers stood at about 40 percent.

Additives think tank to seek evidence for court case

| April 15, 2015

As part of measures being taken in support of a damages suit being brought against major tobacco companies by South Korea’s state health insurer, the Health Ministry plans to establish a think tank to research the additives used in cigarettes manufactured and distributed in the country, according to a story in The Korea Herald.

The National Health Insurance Service last year filed a lawsuit against KT&G, British American Tobacco and Philip Morris seeking damages of WON53.7 billion (US$52 million) for the costs of treating tobacco-related diseases.

The think tank, which is due to be established in August, will conduct research to determine if local tobacco makers use additives to make their products more addictive.

“The think tank’s researchers will conduct studies to determine if the products contain any harmful additives…,” an official from the Health Ministry was quoted as saying.

“Any findings that prove the harmful effects of tobacco will be submitted to the court as evidence.”

Gesture politics employed in Beijing’s tobacco wars

| April 14, 2015

The authorities in Beijing, China, are asking citizens to vote on what would be a suitable hand gesture to indicate to people that they should desist from smoking, according to a China Daily story.

Most countries have hand gestures that can be appropriated for this purpose, but Beijing seems to be looking for a specially-conceived gesture that will not give offence in ways unconnected with smoking.

The move is part of a pre-launch campaign for anti-tobacco measures that are due to come into effect on June 1.

Members of the public are able to vote for one of three gestures:

  1. Covering your nose with your hand to signal ‘I am bothered by your smoke’;
  2. Forming a ‘T’ shape with your hands to say ‘Please stop smoking’;
  3. Holding up your hand to signal that ‘Smoking is not allowed here’.

Local citizens can cast their votes through the official ‘Smoke Free Beijing’ Wechat account or by telephoning 12320. The gesture with the highest votes will be declared the winner.

As part of the anti-tobacco measures being introduced, people will be banned from smoking in Beijing’s work places, along its public walkways, aboard public transportation, and while waiting in queues.

Those found to be in violation of the new regulations will be fined up to Yuan200 in the case of individuals and Yuan10,000 in the case of companies.

Previous anti-tobacco measures introduced in China have frequently fallen by the wayside because they have not been enforced. But Fang Laiying, the director of the Beijing Health and Family Planning Commission, said that the city’s local public health ministry, the tobacco monopoly and the local department of commerce would monitor violations of the new regulations on local streets.

Nevertheless, the specific procedures for monitoring violations are still under discussion, according to Liu Zejun, director of the Beijing Patriotic Public Health Campaign Committee.

US court votes to allow EU lawsuit against Reynolds

| April 14, 2015

A US federal appeals court voted 8-5 on Monday to allow an EU lawsuit to proceed against RJR Nabisco its affiliates and successors that alleges RJ Reynolds violated the US Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), according to a story by Richard Craver for the Winston-Salem Journal.

The lawsuit, initially filed in October 2002, alleges Reynolds directed, managed and controlled a decade-long global money-laundering scheme with Colombian and Russian criminal organizations.

The case was heard by the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York. In April 2014, a three-member panel of the appeals court ruled the EU and its countries were within their rights to sue in US courts.

David Howard, a spokesman for Reynolds, was quoted as saying the decision was disappointing.

‘We are disappointed in (Monday’s) seven-to-five [sic] decision of the Second Circuit not to reconsider the panel’s ruling that RICO applies extraterritorially, and we agree with the four dissenting opinions that this important issue warrants further review,’ Howard said in an email to the Journal.

‘Moreover, we have many other strong legal grounds for securing dismissal of this case, and we look forward to presenting them to the district court on remand.

‘We continue to believe that this lawsuit is entirely baseless in both law and fact.’

Craver’s story is at: http://www.journalnow.com/business/business_beat/court-allows-eu-suit-against-reynolds-to-move-forward/article_e4c28ba0-e231-11e4-b1f2-f397007fabce.html.

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