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Zimbabwe’s flue-cured prices down by 6.9 percent

| June 19, 2015

Zimbabwe’s flue-cured tobacco growers are expected to deliver more than the previously-expected 165 million kg this season, according to a story in The Herald yesterday.

However, prices, as expected, have remained below those of last season.

The Herald story said that growers had so far this season sold 160 million kg of flue-cured for US$473.983 million: for an average price of US$2.96 per kg.

At the same point of last season, 177 million kg of flue-cured had been sold for $564 million: for an average price of $3.18 per kg.

Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board chief executive Dr. Andrew Matibiri was said to have described this year’s average price as being close to that of last year, but it is 6.9 percent down.

Multinationals threaten to sue over Hungary contract

| June 19, 2015

Three multinational tobacco companies are threatening to sue the Hungarian government if it does not launch a tender for a 20-year contract for the supply of tobacco products to retailers, according to a Reuters story relayed by the TMA.

Philip Morris International, JTI Hungary and Imperial Tobacco Group had earlier questioned the government’s decision to award the contract to British American Tobacco and Taban Trafik without calling an open tender.

PMI, JTI and Imperial said the selection process had been ‘untransparent and discriminatory’, and had violated the country’s obligations stemming from its EU membership.

The three companies said also that the new system ‘discriminates against foreign-owned firms and is against Europe-based firms that do not manufacture their products in Hungary’.

In a statement issued yesterday, the three companies said that the arrangements left them in a vulnerable position because they would be required to provide their sensitive pricing and inventory data to a close competitor. This seems to indicate that a tender for the contract would have to exclude bids from manufacturers whose products are sold in Hungary.

KT&G: another tobacco multinational emerging

| June 19, 2015

KT&G expects that its cigarette exports will exceed its domestic sales this year, according to a story in The Korea Times.

A company spokesperson was quoted as saying that KT&G, which accounted for 63 percent of the domestic market, exported 43.4 billion cigarettes to 50 countries last year. Export volumes were up by 27 percent on those of 2013.

The company sold about 56 percent of its output in Korea and shipped the remaining 44 percent overseas.

And this year exports were expected to exceed domestic consumption.

“At first, we set up a presence in the Middle East, Russia and Central Asian nations,” the spokesperson was quoted as saying. “But then, we entered the United States, Turkey, Indonesia, and countries in Eastern Europe and Africa. We have successfully diversified our markets.”

KT&G established plants in Turkey in 2008 and in Iran in 2009. It opened production facilities in Russia in 2010, producing mostly ESSE super-slim cigarettes. In 2011, the company acquired an Indonesian cigarette maker to expand its reach in Southeast Asia.

KT&G’s Shintanjin plant in Daejeon is said to have played a pivotal role in the company’s international expansion.

The Shintanjin plant, which began operation in 1965, recently underwent a renovation and is now capable of producing nearly 50 billion cigarettes annually. The factory employs 1,000 workers and makes ESSE and other super-slim cigarettes.

Timing of emerging-products ban questioned

| June 19, 2015

Singapore’s announcement that it is to ban emerging tobacco products comes at a time when a growing number of public health experts around the world are acknowledging that innovative non-combustible tobacco products can benefit public health, according to a TodayOnline story quoting Philip Morris Asia’s vice president corporate affairs Johan Von Zweigbergk.

The ban, due to come into effect on December 15, is said to include smokeless cigars, cigarillos or cigarettes, dissolvable tobacco or nicotine products, any substance containing tobacco or nicotine intended for use with an electronic nicotine delivery system, and any product containing nicotine or tobacco that may be applied to the skin, implanted, or injected.

Zweigbergk said Philip Morris International had invested US$2 billion in recent years in research and development of potentially reduced-risk products and was working with scientists and governments across the world to establish scientifically the potential of these products to reduce harm.

As a global leader in tobacco control and a center of scientific excellence, Singapore should “continue to value science-based regulation, monitor market developments and remain open to innovative technologies” so that its estimated 600,000 cigarette smokers had access to potentially less harmful products, Zweigbergk was quoted as saying.
The story was relayed by the TMA.

Very low nicotine cigarettes trial to be published

| June 19, 2015

The biotechnology company 22nd Century Group said on Wednesday that an independent Phase II clinical trial that had explored the efficacy of its very low nicotine tobacco as a smoking cessation aid when combined with pharmacotherapy had been accepted for publication in Nicotine & Tobacco Research.

The study, which was conducted at Queen Mary University of London, was supported by a grant from the Global Research Awards for Nicotine Dependence funded by Pfizer.

‘The results of this study once again confirm the effectiveness of 22nd Century’s very low nicotine tobacco cigarettes as a smoking cessation aid,’ 22nd Century said in a press note issued through Business Wire. ‘The Company’s very low nicotine cigarettes satisfy the behavioral aspect of smoking while delivering only trace amounts of nicotine. Indeed, it is 22nd Century’s fundamental assertion that very low nicotine cigarettes uncouple the behavioral/sensory aspects of smoking from the rapid delivery of nicotine.

‘The Queen Mary researchers noted: “[Very low nicotine cigarettes] have been shown to be satisfying… [and] were also shown to reduce tobacco withdrawal symptoms, including urges to smoke and low mood”.’

The clinical trial compared the combination of very low nicotine cigarettes together with two other treatments: 1) varenicline (Pfizer’s Chantix), and 2) nicotine replacement therapies (patches, lozenges, etc.).

In each case, 22nd Century’s proprietary tobacco cigarettes were said to have provided smokers with a substantial boost in their efforts to stop smoking. ‘Despite providing patients with only a 2-week supply of 22nd Century’s very low nicotine cigarettes (a separately published Phase II clinical trial used a 6 week treatment period) researchers found that participants who received very low nicotine cigarettes had higher quit rates at 1-week, 4-weeks, 6-weeks, and at the study’s maximum 12-weeks,’ the press note said. ‘However, due to the size of the study, researchers were unable to achieve statistically significant results at 6 and 12 weeks.’

The Queen Mary study was said to have concluded that the most pragmatic approach might be to offer an ongoing supply of very low nicotine cigarettes to those who want to continue using them.

‘This conclusion echoes former US FDA commissioner Dr. David Kessler’s recommendation that “the FDA should quickly move to reduce nicotine levels in cigarettes to non-addictive levels… It is the ultimate harm reduction strategy.”’

22nd Century said it was ‘deeply committed’ to commercializing this approach and remained the only company in the world capable of producing virtually nicotine-free tobacco.

Johnson Creek Enterprises updates product line, name and website

| June 18, 2015

Johnson Creek Enterprises has announced the launch of hardware for advanced-level vapers, a new line of high-performance e-liquid and a new name.

“To know your customer is to know your future,” said founder and CEO Christian Berkey. “A growing segment of our customers want the ability to customize their vaping gear.”

To meet consumer needs, Berkey’s team has unveiled the Elite hardware series, which consists of the Vea Elite, an electronic box mod with an authentic DNA40 chip. The DNA40 allows users to control the wattage or temperature, depending upon which coil is used. Also part of the series is the Canteen Elite, a tank system with sub-ohm capabilities.

According to Johnson Creek director of product development Joe Dralle, these products require e-liquid that is formulated differently than e-liquids found in the company’s current lineup.

“Think of it as a high-performance car,” said Dralle. “This tank needs higher octane juice for peak performance.”

The company has developed six new flavors with a high vegetable glycerin base that will bring out each product’s flavor and allow for maximum vapor production.

The updated website will separate the company’s previous e-liquid offerings under the category “Johnson Creek Classics,” while the new flavors will be called “Vapor Liquid.”

Johnson Creek’s current e-liquid brands—as well as the original Vea e-cigarette and its accessories—will remain available to consumers.

“Not all vapers want the advanced gear,” Berkey said. “We are simply adding products to meet the needs of our evolving customer base.”

To better reflect the new product line and offerings, the company will also transition its name.

“Because we all need to move away from ‘smoke’ and embrace ‘vape,’” Berkey said, “I felt the time was right for Johnson Creek 2.0.”

The company will now be known as Johnson Creek Enterprises (dba) Johnson Creek Vapor Company.

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