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Tobacco sector working steadily at afforestation

| August 25, 2015

Zimbabwe’s Sustainable Afforestation Association said recently that it had planted 600 ha of eucalyptus in its first year of operation and 3,340 ha in 2014-15, according to a story in the Herald, relayed by the TMA.

The association, which was formed in October 2013 to curb the deforestation caused by the use of wood fuel for curing leaf tobacco, has a long-term target of planting 4,000-5,000 ha per year.

Its operations director, Andy Mills, said that in the meantime the association would expand the range of tree species planted as their growth performances were evaluated.

Curing a kg of tobacco requires nine kg of wood fuel, according to Dr. Dahlia Garwe of the Tobacco Research Board, which means that about 15 percent of the deforestation suffered in Zimbabwe occurs because of the activities of the tobacco sector.

The Forestry Commission estimates that 49,500 ha of native forests are lost to tobacco production every year.

The association, which is funded by a 1.5 percent levy on the value of the leaf purchases of 15 tobacco merchants, spent US$3.7 million in its first two years of operations.

No interest from smaller firms in anti-fraud deals

| August 24, 2015

While the four multinational tobacco companies operating within the EU have signed agreements aimed at reducing the illegal trade in tobacco products, no other tobacco company has expressed an interest in signing such agreements, according to the European Commission.

The Commission was responding to two questions from the Croatian MEP Ivan Jakovčić.

In a preamble to his questions, Jakovčić said that he had spoken about such agreements at the plenary session of the European Parliament on May 18.

‘Since during the debate I suggested that other, smaller tobacco and cigarette manufacturers should also join negotiations on the agreement, I ask the Commission if it has undertaken something in that direction,’ he said.

‘Does the Commission consider that the number of manufacturers joining the agreement should be increased, especially since some are major national or regional producers of tobacco and cigarettes?’

In answer, the Commission said the EU and member states had concluded anti-fraud agreements with the four major tobacco manufacturers in Europe, and it said it had signalled its readiness to discuss similar arrangements with other relevant manufacturers in the sector in order to fight the illegal tobacco trade.

‘However, so far no manufacturer has expressed interest in doing so,’ it said.

Meanwhile, the Commission said it had not yet taken a position regarding the possible prolongation of any of the existing agreements. ‘As such, the Commission is not currently in negotiations with any tobacco producer,’ it added.

Seized Jin Ling cigarettes sent for analysis in Ireland

| August 24, 2015

Ireland’s gardaí has sent for analysis a number of seized Jin Ling cigarettes amid fears they may contain asbestos, according to a story by Fiona Magennis for the Drogheda Independent and Irish Independent.

About 20,000 cigarettes were seized at Drogheda market during an operation by Drogheda gardaí following a tip off. Thousands of counterfeit CDs and DVDs also were seized during the raid.

The gardaí has sent the cigarettes for analysis because batches of Jin Ling cigarettes seized previously in Great Britain were found to contain industrial chemicals and asbestos.

Speaking on LMFM radio, Benny Gilsenan, from the organization Retailers Against Smuggling, said his organization welcomed the seizure and the news that the confiscated cigarettes were being analyzed to assess what they contained.

Gilsenan said he understood the lure of cheap cigarettes for those who were compelled to smoke, but he urged consumers not to risk their health by purchasing these dangerous products.

In 2007, 258 million Jin Ling cigarettes were seized by authorities in EU countries.

Cuba increases leaf production despite drought

| August 24, 2015

This season’s tobacco harvest in Vueltabajo, Cuba’s main leaf-production region, increased by 3,400 tonnes over that of last year despite a nationwide drought, according to an Indo-Asian News Agency story citing the Communist Party daily, Granma.

Industry leaders in Vueltabajo, Pinar del Rio, were quoted as saying that 16,204 tonnes of tobacco had been harvested so far and that the total might increase by 100 tonnes.

With about 16,000 ha under cultivation, the 2014-2015 production level signalled the beginning of the recovery of tobacco production in Cuba, Granma reported.

But it acknowledged that the season had been impacted by the country’s worst drought in 115 years.

Meanwhile, an additional 1,000 ha are expected to be planted to tobacco for the 2015-2016 season.

The tobacco sector is Cuba’s fourth-largest revenue generator and employs roughly 150,000 people on a regular basis, though the workforce can swell to 250,000 at the peak of the harvest.

Grim preliminary analysis of e-cigarettes

| August 24, 2015

A senior medical consultant in Malaysia has said that the major concern over electronic cigarettes is that many people misuse the device by adding drugs such as marijuana and heroin, according to a story in The New Strait Times.

A study on electronic cigarette addiction conducted by the Institute of Respiratory Medicine (IPR) since 2013 is expected to be completed early next year.

IPR’s senior medical consultant, Professor Datuk Dr Abdul Razak Abdul Muttalif, described the issues surrounding electronic cigarettes as controversial: there were pros and cons.

He said the IPR had gone through a number of papers on electronic cigarettes published by different bodies around the world.

Some of them agreed that electronic cigarettes should be banned while others concluded that they should be controlled.

Abdul Razak said electronic cigarette vapers were likely to experience an acute or short term effect such as coughing and tiredness.

“The chronic or long term effect of it is cancer, heart disease and many other chronic diseases,” he said.

“The major concern now is that many people misuse the device by adding drugs such as marijuana and heroin, which will do more harm to the body, and this will be very difficult for the authorised bodies to control.”

Altria raises dividend

| August 24, 2015

The Altria Group’s board of directors on Friday declared the company’s regular quarterly dividend at $0.565 per common share, up 8.7 percent on the previous dividend of $0.52 per common share.

The quarterly dividend is payable on October 9 to shareholders of record as of September 15. The ex-dividend date is September 11.

In making the announcement on its website, Altria said that the new annualized dividend rate was $2.26 per common share, which represented a yield of 4.1 percent based on Altria’s closing stock price of $54.73 on August 20.

‘Today’s dividend increase reflects Altria’s intention to return a large amount of cash to shareholders in the form of dividends and is consistent with Altria’s dividend payout ratio target of approximately 80 percent of its adjusted diluted earnings per share,’ the company said on its website.

‘Altria has increased its dividend 49 times in the past 46 years.’

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