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Universal declares quarterly dividends

| May 20, 2015

Universal Corporation’s board of directors has declared a quarterly dividend of $0.52 per share on the company’s common shares, payable on August 10 to shareholders of record at the close of business on July 13.

The board declared also a quarterly dividend of $16.875 per share on its Series B 6.75 percent Convertible Perpetual Preferred Stock, payable on June 15 to shareholders of record as of 17.00 Eastern Time on June 1.

At the same time, the board set the date of the Annual Meeting of Shareholders as August 4. It will be held from 14.00 at the company’s headquarters building. The board set the record date for the meeting as June 12.

Some Australian illicit products labeled ‘illegal’

| May 19, 2015

The Australian tobacco industry’s claim that the illegal trade in tobacco products has been increasing seems to have been borne out, at least in respect of New South Wales (NSW).

According to a story by Nicole Hasham for the Sydney Morning Herald, NSW Health has said that its inspectors have detected increased sales of illicit tobacco that is sold in packs without health warnings and that is sometimes labelled ‘illegal tobacco’.

Over the past two years, illegal sales were said to have been detected 28 times at retailers throughout Sydney. Of those, 13 have not yet been prosecuted.

One problem seems to be that the health department’s powers extend only to photographing and taking samples of illicit tobacco. Inspectors are unable to seize the products.

Health inspectors say also that retailers caught with illicit tobacco frequently claim it is not for sale, despite possessing large quantities beyond that which could reasonably be considered for personal use.

In part, the debate about the illegal trade was sparked by British American Tobacco Australia saying it would consider launching a cheap make-your-own cigarette brand to compete with illicit products. By producing cigarettes at home with this type of tobacco and a high-tech making machine, smokers could make 25 cigarettes for about A$9, which would offer a saving against the price of the cheapest factory-made brands: A$15 per pack of 25.

Cancer Council NSW tobacco control manager Scott Walsberger was quoted as saying that the BAT Australia plan was a “desperate attempt by the industry to recruit and retain smokers”. He said data had shown that the use of illicit tobacco had declined in recent years.

But NSW Labor’s health spokesman Walt Secord said international research had shown that illicit tobacco consumption was expected to surpass licit tobacco sales worldwide within five years. He offered bi-partisan support for “sensible and tough proposals,” such as tougher laws and community education.

EU urged to go beyond TPD in fight against tobacco

| May 19, 2015

An Irish member of the European Parliament has urged the EU to do more to fight the “scourge” of tobacco.

Writing in the Parliament Magazine, Brian Hayes said the passing of the EU Tobacco Products Directive did not mark the end of the scourge of tobacco use in Europe. More needed to be done.

And some member states were exceeding their obligations, he said. Ireland, despite strong objections from the tobacco industry, was the first member state to pass legislation to introduce standardized packaging, and now other countries, including the UK and France, were following suit.

Hayes said also that another strategy could involve increasing tobacco product prices. Studies had shown that high prices comprised a deterring factor for smokers. In Ireland, the largest single annual decline in smoking rates was nine percent between June 2009 and June 2010. The origins of this could be traced back to the preceding year’s budget in which €0.50 was added to the excise duty on a pack of cigarettes.

‘Arguments will be made that we are over-regulating the tobacco industry,’ Hayes wrote, ‘but if we sit back and do nothing the 700,000 Europeans that die in 2015 from smoking could be a significantly higher figure in 10 years’ time.’

Hayes’ piece is at: https://www.theparliamentmagazine.eu/articles/opinion/more-must-be-done-stub-out-scourge-tobacco-use-europe

E-cigarettes recalled, e-liquids subject of warning

| May 19, 2015

The South Korean government has ordered a recall of some electronic cigarettes and issued a warning over others, according to a Yonhap News Agency story.

It ordered the recall of 10 electronic cigarettes over concerns expressed by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy that their power cord plugs could cause fires or electric shocks if they were exposed to an alternating current of more than 3,000 volts.

The 10 products in question were said to have been manufactured in China.

At the same time, the government has warned of the dangers posed by some e-liquid containers.

In a joint study with the Korea Consumer Agency, the government had apparently found that four e-liquids out of 25 reviewed contained at least 11 percent more nicotine than they were supposed to contain.

The Yonhap report said this meant that those who used them might ‘unknowingly intake more nicotine than they wish to or can’.

The study found also that most e-liquid containers lacked warnings, while 15 of them did not have childproof bottle caps.

The government said it would move to require the use of childproof bottle caps on all products, and intensify its management of products ‘containing nicotine and other harmful substances’.

Global nicotine forum program finalized

| May 19, 2015

The organizers of the Global Forum on Nicotine have announced that the final program for the event is now available at: http://gfn.net.co/2015-programme.

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 in the Marriott Complex’s Wook Restaurant, starting at 19.30 on June 4.

Registration is available at http://gfn.net.co/2015-registration.

Benefits of growing tobacco in Fiji “immense”

| May 18, 2015

Leaf tobacco production has increased slowly but steadily in Fiji, according to a story in The Fiji Times.

The newspaper gave no production figures but said that about 500 Western Division farmers were involved in tobacco farming.

And British American Tobacco Fiji leaf growing manager, Khondoker Abdul Matin, was quoted as saying that, overall, the number of its contract growers, about 60 percent of who were based at Sigatoka and 40 percent at Nadi, had increased.

“We have a high tech greenhouse in Nadi that grows all of the seedlings, which are then delivered to the farmers,” he said.

“Before they even start planting we give them technical advice and give them seedlings, fertilisers and equipment that they need to plant and grow the leaves…

“Each farmer is taken on a contract basis and, according to their performance, their contracts are renewed.”

The Times reported BAT Fiji farmer of the year Taina Waqa, who harvested 3,969 kg per ha, as saying that the benefits of being involved in tobacco farming were immense.

“I am very grateful for the help I have received so far and the success I have experienced in this farming; it has really helped me support my family,” she said.

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