Philip Morris USA yesterday made its annual Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) payment, which this year amounts to about $3.5 billion, after adjusting for various items related to the Non-Participating Manufacturer adjustment disputes.
‘Since signing the tobacco settlement agreements in 1997 and 1998, PM USA has paid the states more than $70 billion,’ the company said in a statement posted on the website of its parent company, Altria.
‘MSA payments provide states valuable resources to fund tobacco cessation and underage tobacco prevention programs.
‘PM USA believes states should use MSA payments to fund these programs at levels recommended by the Centers for Disease Control.’
PM USA said it had deposited a portion of yesterday’s payment into the Disputed Payments Account, in accordance with the terms of the MSA and calculations made by the independent auditor.
More than 200,000 young Thais buy single cigarettes because they cannot afford to buy packs, according to a story in The Nation quoting a public-health researcher from Mahidol University.
Saranya Benjakul cited a 2011 survey that found also that more than 400,000 Thais aged 15-18 were smokers.
The poll results are being given another airing as the government gets ready to pass a new tobacco-control bill that, in part, will ban the sale of single cigarettes.
The bill has come under fire, partly from tobacco growers who believe that some of the bill’s measures will negatively affect their livelihoods.
Nanthawan Wichitwathakarn, a public-health lecturer at Thammasat University, has urged tobacco business operators, for the sake of children, to stop objecting to the ban on the sale of individual cigarettes.
Nanthawan said the sale of individual cigarettes was encouraging young people to smoke because they could not see the warning messages and disgusting pictures on cigarette packs.
The sale of individual cigarettes had already been prohibited in 97 countries, including Laos, Singapore and Brunei, she added.
A ‘Bioboost’ research project under way in Norway is using genetically engineered tobacco plants as a ‘factory’ to produce enzymes that can break down biomass from forest-based raw materials, potentially leading to the economic and sustainable production of biofuels, according to a Science Daily story relayed by the TMA.
The project is being led by Dr. Jihong Liu Clarke of the Norwegian Institute for Agricultural and Environmental Research (Bioforsk).
The first step in the production of forest-based biofuels requires that the biomass is broken down to sugar with the use of a cocktail of enzymes.
But the current high cost of producing the enzymes – in a fermentation-based system – is a major impediment for cost-effective biorefinery.
Now, researchers are using genetically engineered tobacco plants as a potential replacement for the energy-demanding fermentation-based systems.
Dr. Liu Clarke said producing the enzymes in plants was cheap because plants could use free carbon dioxide and energy.
And the tobacco plant was ideal for this purpose because it had many large leaves that provided “good” biomass; it grew quickly; and it could be harvested three or four times a year.
The US’s biggest tobacco companies are suing the Food and Drug Administration over recent guidelines that they claim overstep the agency’s authority in respect of tobacco-products packaging, according to an associated press story.
Lorillard and units of Reynolds American and Altria filed the lawsuit on Tuesday in the US District Court for the District of Columbia, claiming the FDA’s guidance infringes on their commercial speech.
The FDA gained authority to regulate tobacco in 2009 with the passing of the Tobacco Control Act, which handed it the power to pre-review new tobacco products that were significantly different from products already on the market.
Last month, the agency issued guidelines intended to help manufacturers determine which new products require FDA review.
But the tobacco manufacturers allege that the FDA is asserting overly-broad authority to approve or deny any labeling change that would make a product ‘distinct’.
The company lawsuit argues that the FDA only has prior review of tobacco labels claiming a ‘modified risk’.
The FDA said in a statement that it did not comment on litigation.
A N$14 billion tobacco and maize project mooted for Namibia’s Zambezi region has received environmental clearance from the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, according to a story in The Namibian.
The Chinese company, Namibia Oriental Tobacco, has applied for 10,000 ha in the Zambezi Region for tobacco and maize production.
The environmental impact assessment submitted by the company states that the primary purpose of the farm will be tobacco production, though maize will be planted on a rotational basis in order to prevent or minimise the occurrence of tobacco related pests and diseases.
The company endorsed the project by stating that from 1995 to 1997 trials in tobacco production in Namibia’s Omaheke, Oshikoto, Otjozondjupa, Okavango (East and West) and Omusati regions were conducted and that they had shown tobacco could be a ‘very profitable option’.
It said also that tobacco produced in Namibia could fill the market niche created by the reduction in tobacco production in Zimbabwe.
A letter seen by The Namibian addressed to the company from the environment ministry showed that the project still needed to receive authorisation from the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry for the clearing of a state forest.
Authorisation for water abstraction would also need to be obtained from the department of water affairs in the same ministry.
France’s lower house of parliament yesterday passed a number of measures, one of which would require cigarettes to be sold from May next year in standardized packaging with graphic health warnings, according to a story by Emile Picy for Reuters, relayed by the TMA.
The measures include, too, a ban on smoking in cars carrying ‘children’ and a ban on the use of e-vapor products in offices and on public transport.
Beyond tobacco, the measures include one aimed at fighting anorexia and one aimed at ensuring that doctor consultations are generally free for patients at the point of use.
The bill will now go to the upper house.