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WHO advice potentially damaging

| September 8, 2014

A World Health Organization-commissioned review of electronic cigarettes contains errors, misinterpretations and misrepresentations that could lead to policymakers missing the potential health benefits of these products, according to a story by Kate Kelland, quoting tobacco addiction experts.

The background paper on electronic cigarettes acted as a blueprint for a WHO report calling for more regulation of the devices.

“I was shocked and surprised when I read it,” Ann McNeill, a researcher at the national addiction center at King’s College London, told reporters at a briefing. “I felt it was an inaccurate portrayal of the evidence on e-cigarettes.”

McNeill said that while e-cigarettes were relatively new and that the totality of their long-term health impacts was not known, it was clear that they were far safer than were tobacco cigarettes, which killed more than six million people a year.

Peter Hajek of the tobacco dependence research unit at Queen Mary University of London, who co-authored the critique, said it was vital that electronic cigarettes should be assessed in relation to the known harms of tobacco cigarettes.

“There are currently two products competing for smokers’ custom,” he said. “One – the conventional cigarette – endangers users and bystanders and recruits new customers from among non-smoking children who try it.

“The other – the e-cigarette – is orders of magnitude safer, poses no risk to bystanders, and generates negligible rates of regular use among non-smoking children who try it.”

Yet the WHO’s recommendations, if implemented, would make it harder to bring electronic cigarettes to market and could discourage smokers from using them, the experts said, putting policymakers and the public in danger of foregoing the public health benefits electronic cigarettes could have.

The full story is at: http://uk.reuters.com/article/2014/09/04/us-health-ecigarettes-report-idUKKBN0GZ2T420140904

Cigarette price hikes in Korea would cause smokers to quit – by 2020

| September 8, 2014

One in three smokers in South Korea said they would quit if the health ministry caused cigarette prices to be raised as planned, according to a story in the Korea Times quoting the results of a survey released on Friday.

The country’s Health and Welfare Minister, Moon Hyung-pyo, said last week that he hoped to see cigarette prices nearly doubled during the next six years so as to reduce the country’s smoking rate. Moon said prices should be raised from WON2,500 per pack to at least WON3,300 per pack immediately, partly to reflect the general rise in consumer prices, and to WON4,500 by 2020.

Of 1,000 survey participants, 64.5 percent said they would support the price hike, while 35.5 percent said they would not.

Of the smokers surveyed, 70.7 percent said they would object to cigarettes being made more expensive, while 29.3 percent said they would support such a move.

Thirty two point two percent of smokers said they would quit if the price reached WON4,500 won, while 51.6 percent said such a price would not change their habit.

New minister seeks smoke ban in Austria

| September 8, 2014

The new Austrian Federal Health Minister, Sabine Oberhauser, has said she wants to introduce a total ban on tobacco smoking in pubs and restaurants before the next national elections in 2018.

In a television interview shown by the public service broadcaster ORF last week, on the day she was officially sworn in to her new post, Oberhauser said she hoped to push through legislation her predecessor, Alois Stoeger, had not been able to complete.

She said that despite resistance to the plan, she wanted to protect not only customers but also employees of affected businesses.

Ecuadorians need to be taxed well

| September 8, 2014

The President of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, has said that his country was considering introducing taxes on products that were harmful to consumers: alcohol, cigarettes and junk food, according to an Esmerk Latin American News report.

He said the taxes would not only seek to stop people from consuming these products in excess and to the detriment of their health, but also to make consumers contribute more to help cover the cost of treating them when they became ill.

Correa said Ecuadorians needed to improve their health by engaging in new lifestyle, work and consumption habits.

Tax news is dry but important

| September 8, 2014

The New York State Department of Taxation and Finance has addressed one of the major issues in tax administration by defining the difference between ‘big’ and ‘little’ cigars, according to a report by the National Law Review.

After giving details of the definitions (http://www.natlawreview.com/article/case-we-didn-t-know-difference-between-big-and-little-cigars-new-york-state-tax-depa), the Review goes on to say that the importance of the ruling is that little cigars and cigarettes are taxed at the same rate, which is lower than the rate on big cigars.

It then goes on to say: ‘This is probably the most important tax development to come along since the Internal Revenue Service released Revenue Ruling 63-194, 1963-2 C.B. 670, explaining the requirements that a martini would have to meet to be considered a “dry martini” for tax purposes’

Health bodies look to attack tobacco profits by closing cigarette price gap

| September 5, 2014

The Irish Heart Foundation (IHF) and the Irish Cancer Society (ICS) are calling in their pre-budget submissions for tobacco tax measures that would close the price gap between less expensive and premium brands, according to a story by Dan Buckley for the Irish Examiner.

Cigarette prices in Ireland range between €8 and €9.85 per pack,

“We are calling on the Minister for Finance to adjust the structure of tobacco taxation to ensure tax increases benefit the Exchequer, rather than the tobacco industry,” said Kathleen O’Meara, head of advocacy and communications at the ICS.

“Our current tobacco tax structure enables smokers to down-trade to cheaper brands rather than quit, and while this option is available, price increases will be less effective.”

Younger smokers especially have been switching to less expensive brands of cigarettes, according to an opinion poll conducted for the ICS and IHF.

So while about 66 percent of smokers of all ages now choose brands based on price, that rate rises to 74 percent among 18- to 24-year-olds, the countrywide poll of 1,000 adults shows.

“We know that tobacco companies in Ireland make profits of up to 55 percent after duties on sales, compared to regular profit margins of 12-20 percent for consumer goods,” said Chris Macey of the IHF.

“By changing the tax structure we can achieve the double whammy of preventing these firms from keeping smokers hooked through lower prices, while also ensuring they pay more towards the massive health costs associated with their deadly products.”

The ICS and IHF also want an annual price escalator of inflation plus 5 percent on cigarettes, which, if applied, would cause the price of a pack to increase by 50 cents in October’s budget.

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