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Aquino signs law on graphic warnings

| July 22, 2014

President Benigno Aquino III has signed a law that will require the inclusion of graphic health warnings on cigarette packs sold in the Philippines, according to a story at GMA News Online.

The new law (R.A. 10643: ‘An Act to Effectively Instil Health Consciousness through Graphic Health Warnings on Tobacco Products’) will require that the bottom half of the front and back panels of cigarette packs are given over to the warnings.

There will be 12 different warnings, which are scheduled to be changed every two years.

Risk of third-hand smoke exposed

| July 22, 2014

Research led by the UK’s University of York has highlighted the potential cancer risk in non-smokers – particularly young children – of tobacco smoke gases and particles deposited on surfaces and dust in the home, according to a HealthCanal story.

The story said that until now, the risks of this exposure to what is known as ‘third hand tobacco smoke’ have been ‘highly uncertain’ and not considered in public policy.

‘However, a new study published in the journal, Environment International, has estimated for the first time the potential cancer risk by age group through non-dietary ingestion and dermal exposure to third hand smoke,’ the story said.

‘The results indicate potentially severe long-term consequences, particularly to children.’

CORESTA registration deadlines near

| July 22, 2014

The organizing committee of CORESTA 2014 has advised that the ‘Earlybird’ registration deadline for the forthcoming CORESTA Congress is August 1.

Up until that date, participants will be able to register for a fee lower than will apply after August 1.

Registration is available at www.coresta2014.org, where hotel accommodation at the congress venue can also be booked.

Online registration will close on September 15, following which only onsite registration will be available.

The congress is due to be held at the Château Frontenac, Québec City, Canada, on October 12-16.

The theme of the congress is ‘Building on experience to shape the future’.

Poland to file complaint over TPD

| July 21, 2014

The Polish government has decided to file a complaint with the Court of Justice of the European Union against the EU’s new Tobacco Products Directive (TPD), according to a Polish News Bulletin story.

The new TPD entered into force on May 20 and member states are required to bring into force by May 20, 2016, the laws, regulations and administrative provisions necessary to comply with the directive.

The complaint is due to be filed under Article 263 of the Treaty, which covers the functioning of the EU.

It will be based on both legal and economic arguments.

Poland will object to the proposed ban on the sale of menthol cigarettes, due to come into force in 2020, on the grounds that this type of cigarette has been on the Polish market since 1953 and could be regarded as a traditional product.

Poland is one of the biggest consumers of menthol cigarettes, which account for more than 20 per cent of the local market.

Menthol cigarettes are said to be manufactured in six factories in Poland, with 70 per cent of the output exported, 50 per cent to the EU, which implies that outlawing the sale of such products would have serious consequences for Poland’s economy.

Reynolds to appeal against $23.6 billion punitive damages award in ‘Engle’ case

| July 21, 2014

R.J. Reynolds Tobacco was hit on Friday with $23.6 billion in punitive damages by a Florida state court jury, one of the largest such awards in US corporate and legal history, according to a story by Richard Craver for the Winston-Salem Journal.

A jury in Escambia   Court had determined the previous day that the widow of Michael Johnson Sr, Cynthia Robinson, should receive $17 million in compensatory damages in the ‘Engle’ case, even though the jury determined Johnson was 30 per cent responsible for his own illness.

Engle cases have been heard since a Florida Supreme Court decision in 2006 decertified a $145 billion class-action lawsuit filed by Howard Engle but allowed former class members to file individual lawsuits stating that cigarettes caused their respective illnesses. One hundred and eighteen Engle cases have been heard; about 8,000 cases are pending.

‘We hope this verdict will send a message to R.J. Reynolds and other big tobacco companies that will force them to stop putting the lives of innocent people in jeopardy,’ plaintiff attorney Willie Gary said in a statement on Friday.

But Jeffery Raborn, assistant general counsel for R.J. Reynolds, said in a statement on Saturday that the damages awarded in the case were ‘grossly excessive and impermissible under state and constitutional law’. ‘This verdict goes far beyond the realm of reasonableness and fairness, and is completely inconsistent with the evidence presented,’ he said.

‘We plan to file post trial motions with the trial court promptly, and are confident that the court will follow the law and not allow this runaway verdict to stand.’

Meanwhile, Susannah Nesmith, writing for Bloomberg News, said the US Supreme Court had ruled in 2003 that punitive damages usually should be no more than nine times actual damages. However, the court had allowed exceptions for especially egregious conduct, she said, and judges had upheld some punitive awards above the 9-to-1 ratio.

Chinese activist asks court for Yuan250

| July 21, 2014

Li Enze, who is suing a Chinese tobacco manufacturer and a Beijing supermarket for Yuan250, has vowed to fight on despite having lost on Friday the second round of his battle, according to a story by Zhuang Pinghui for the South China Morning Post.

Li is suing China Tobacco Jiangxi Industrial and a Beijing supermarket that sold him a 10-pack carton of Jinsheng cigarettes in March last year.

He is seeking Yuan250, or about twice the price of the carton; arguing that a claim that the low-tar cigarettes with Chinese herbs were a safer option than were regular cigarettes amounted to false advertising.

After losing his initial case, Li filed an appeal to a Beijing court. But on Friday the Beijing court upheld the lower court’s ruling.

Li said that he would not give up: that he would apply to the Beijing High Court and, if necessary, the Supreme Court.

But even getting the initial case heard was said to have been unprecedented. It was the first time a claim against a tobacco company had been accepted by a mainland court. All previous attempts had failed.

“I was told the case was accepted as a usual commercial fraud case,” Li was quoted as saying. “It was too late by the time they realized it was a case for tobacco control. I was told it might not be easy to get such a lawsuit accepted by a court in Beijing again.”

Li is also suing the State Tobacco Monopoly Administration for failing satisfactorily to release information about its tobacco-control efforts over the past 10 years. The case was rejected by the Beijing No 1 Intermediate People’s Court last year, but the Beijing Higher People’s Court ruled it should be heard.

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