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China plans to grow tobacco in Crimea

| June 5, 2015

The Crimean government has announced that a visiting delegation of Chinese businessmen intend to invest in tobacco cultivation within the territory, which was annexed by Russia in March 2014. Chinese equipment and technology would be supplied to the semiautonomous territory, which has been fighting to secure foreign investment amid trade sanctions imposed by Ukraine, the United States and the European Union following Russia’s annexation of the region.

“Tobacco is in huge demand in China, and Crimea has a suitable climate and soil for tobacco cultivation,” the delegation’s leader, Chen Zhijun, was quoted by news agency TASS as saying at a meeting with Crimean leader Sergei Aksyonov.

Aksyonov and Chen on June 4 signed a protocol on investment cooperation, according to a press release posted on the Crimean government’s website.

California: Vape Organics formulates organic nicotine for e-cigs

| June 4, 2015

Vape Organics, an e-liquid manufacturer based in Riverside, California, USA, announced on June 2 that it had received U.S. Department of Agriculture certification for its organic nicotine designed for e-cigarettes. According to the company, the product is “both USP grade and uniquely free of any petroleum-derived solvent.”

Vape Organics director of operations Sheerlie Ryngler said that “as consumers are starting to care more about what’s in their e-liquids, we at Vape Organics have risen to the challenge and are doing our part to propel the vape industry forward with certified organic products and long-term vision.” Ryngler also added that consumers appreciate the company’s products, which “harmoniously honor the connection between personal well-being and the well-being of the environment which sustains us.”

According to Vape Organics, the company’s USDA-certified organic nicotine allows consumers to “vape with confidence and peace of mind, knowing that they are using a nicotine delivery option that not only mitigates the harm from tobacco combustion, but also from pesticides.”

Alliance One to scale down operations in Kenya

| June 4, 2015

Alliance One Tobacco Kenya has announced that it will begin to scale down its operations in Kenya, citing a slump in the leaf tobacco sector. As part of the scale-down process, the company will no longer sponsor tobacco farmers that have been growing leaf tobacco on a contract basis and will cease field operations beginning July 1.

Alliance One Tobacco Kenya’s managing director Francis Chege said the company “is proud to have been a part of the tobacco industry in Kenya for the past 25 years, but unfortunately customer demand for the Kenyan supply has declined, and the company has been forced to realign its operations to changing market conditions.”

The company will continue to maintain a small presence in Kenya through its processing base in Thika.

Tobacco giants sue Britain over plain-packaging

| June 4, 2015

Philip Morris International (PMI) and British American Tobacco (BAT) have sued the British government over plain-packaging legislation passed in March. The law, which would take effect from May 2016, requires cigarettes to be sold in packages of uniform shape and size that feature only the brand name and contain prominent graphic health warnings. England is the third and most populous country to introduce plain-packaging laws, following Australia and Ireland.

PMI argues that England’s plain-packaging regulations “unlawfully deprive PMI of its trademarks” and should therefore be overturned, according to an article in The New York Times. London-based BAT stated that the British government had left the company “with no other choice” and released a statement saying that “any business that has property taken away from it by the state would inevitably want to challenge and seek compensation.” Japan Tobacco International has also indicated it would challenge England’s legislation. The tobacco companies are seeking unspecified damages, which could total billions of dollars if granted.

A statement released by the English Department of Health said it would “not allow public health policy to be held to ransom by the tobacco industry” and that it “would not have gone ahead with standardized packaging unless we had considered it to be defensible in the courts.”

Ukraine drops plain-packaging lawsuit against Australia

| June 4, 2015

Ukraine has suspended the legal proceedings it brought against Australia through the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2012, which claimed the country’s plain-packaging laws were trade-restrictive. Instead, the Eastern European nation—which received financial support from British American Tobacco to pursue litigation—has stated it will attempt to seek a mutually agreed-upon solution with Australia to resolve the issue.

Ukraine was the first of five countries to challenge Australia’s plain-packaging laws at the WTO, despite the fact that Ukraine does not currently export tobacco to Australia. The other countries who have launched lawsuits against Australia—Indonesia, Cuba, Honduras and the Dominican Republic—have not announced any plans to drop their lawsuits challenging the strict packaging laws banning company logos and requiring cigarettes to be sold in olive-colored packages with brand names printed in standardized fonts.

According to WTO rules, Ukraine’s suspension could last one year, after which time its right to return to the panel proceedings will lapse. The WTO adjudication panel is expected to rule on the remaining plain-packaging lawsuits in the first half of 2016.

North Korea has fewer smokers, no women smokers

| June 3, 2015

North Korea has banned foreign cigarettes, reportedly as part of efforts to reduce the country’s high smoking rate, according to a story in The Korea Times (Seoul).

“We have also prohibited people from using electronic cigarettes and smokeless cigarettes,” Choi Hyun-sook, a high-ranking official at the health ministry, was quoted as telling the Korean Central News Agency on Saturday.

“To create a social environment where non-smoking is encouraged, the North has enforced strict smoking bans in public areas such as educational institutions or health facilities, and launched hygiene promotion campaigns.”

The official said the anti-smoking movement had helped reduce the smoking rate among men from 50.3 percent in 2009 to 43.9 percent in 2014. There were said to be no women smokers.

“The number of young smokers has sharply decreased due to the toughened education in schools and society,” he said.

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