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Scary packs incite quit attempt – but not this year

| March 19, 2015

Graphic health warnings on cigarette packs have been met with a mixed reception in Namibia, where they are now a requirement under an amendment to the Tobacco Control Act 2010, according to a story in The Namibian.

Some smokers who spoke to the newspaper were quoted as saying they were definitely scared and some made promises to quit when they saw the packaging.

But others said their addiction to smoking overrode their fear and they would continue to buy cigarettes anyway.

Sitting in the middle, perhaps, is 36-year-old John Karumba, who has been smoking for the past seven years and who says he changes the “casing” so that he doesn’t have to look at the scary graphics.

And one smoker, identified only as Charlie, has a short-term strategy at least. Because shops still have stocks of pre-graphic-image products, he makes sure that he asks for the ones in the old packs that do not have the graphic images.

Charlie probably summed up the attitudes of a lot of smokers who are seen as wanting to quit. “It is very discouraging to see those photos,” he said. “But I will not stop smoking now, maybe next year.”

SMI to lose CFO and COO next month

| March 19, 2015

Schweitzer-Mauduit International said yesterday that its executive vice president, CFO and treasurer Jeffrey A. Cook would retire on April 3, while its COO Stephen Dunmead would resign from the company on April 15, according to a Thomson Reuters story relayed by the TMA.

The company said Bob Cardin, the company’s controller, would assume the role of acting CFO and report to CEO Frederic Villoutreix until a permanent replacement was found for Cook.

There were no immediate plans to replace Dunmead, whose responsibilities would be assumed by Villoutreix.

“I am very appreciative of the contributions made by Mr. Cook and Mr. Dunmead during their respective tenures at SWM and wish them well in their future endeavors,” said Villoutreix.

Trade minister tries to brush away TPPA fears

| March 18, 2015

Australia’s Trade Minister Andrew Robb has described concerns raised by diverse groups about the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) as a “scare campaign” that is “designed to frighten people about any sort of trade agreement”, according to an Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) story relayed by the TMA.

The agreement is being negotiated in secret by representatives of Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the US and Vietnam.

Medical doctors have previously raised concerns about the TPPA, saying that while the Australian government has stated it would not enter into an agreement that compromised public health, independent assessment of the implications for public health was severely limited by lack of transparency in the negotiations.

In an interview with the ABC, Robb said he had not made a decision on whether to support the inclusion of an Investor-State Dispute Settlement or ISDS mechanism in the TPPA.

The ISDS mechanism would allow a corporation to sue a government if legislation affected the company’s profitability.

“We want provisions that mean that governments can take public health policy decisions or environmental decisions and not be subject to the ISDS, now that’s pretty straightforward,” he said.

But consumer group Choice and Australian food manufacturing company Dick Smith said the inclusion of an ISDS in the TPPA could see the Australian government sued over planned changes to food labeling laws.

Meanwhile, the Australian Industry (AI) Group is concerned that once the deal is signed it cannot be amended.

The AI Group has lobbied the government to have greater access to the negotiations. Robb maintains the government has held 1,000 consultations with groups including Choice, the AI Group and unions.

Expert says plain packs do not infringe trademarks

| March 18, 2015

A senior lecturer in law at City University London has said that the tobacco industry’s argument that standardized packaging legislation violates their trademark rights is not convincing, according to a story relayed by the TMA.

Writing in The Conversation, Enrico Bonadio, said manufacturers would still be able to distinguish their products from those of competitors because they would be allowed to display the brand name on the packs, albeit in a standardized font.

And he made the point that trademark registrations did not offer owners a ‘positive right’ to use the protected mark, but only a ‘negative right’ to prevent counterfeiters from copying it. That meant governments could introduce measures, such as standardized packaging, that prohibited or restricted owners’ use of trademarks on public interest grounds.

“That trademark registrations do not offer a right to use the sign also lends weight to the conclusion that plain packaging does not constitute a de facto expropriation of tobacco brands and does not expose the countries which adopt this measure to the risk of having to pay damages in compensation to tobacco producers under the European Convention on Human Rights and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights,” Bonadio said.

Indian bidi workers fear industry could be wiped out

| March 18, 2015

Hundreds of bidi workers, bidi contractors and union members have held a massive protest against the Indian government’s ‘ban on tobacco products’, according to a story.

The protest, which included members of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions and of the All India Trade Union Congress, was held yesterday outside the District Collector’s office in Manipal, Karnataka.

The protesters were told by one speaker that, under the government’s plans, tobacco products would disappear completely by 2020, though it wasn’t clear whether this was a reference to the fact that the government is considering implementing Articles 17 and 18 of the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control that aim to phase out tobacco cultivation by 2020.

Nevertheless, the speaker said that if the plan went ahead, the Prime Minister should arrange alternative jobs for bidi workers because their livelihood would be taken away.

It was estimated that one million people earned their living from the bidi industry.

The story is at:

Zimbabwe’s tobacco exports earn $200 million

| March 17, 2015

Zimbabwe has earned $211.9 million from tobacco sales thus far this year. China continues to be the leading importer after buying 19.3 million kg worth $166.7 million since the beginning of the marketing season. Zimbabwe exports Virginia tobacco to more than 50 countries on all but two continents.

South Africa ranks as the second-biggest importer of the golden leaf, after buying 3.5 million for $13.5 million at $3.77, according to the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board. Mauritius, which bought 1.3 million kg worth $5.4 million at $4 per kg, ranks as the third-highest importer. Other top importers include Russia and the United Arab Emirates. Zimbabwe produced 216.2 million kg of Virginia tobacco in 2014.

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