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US city considers tobacco retail bans and restrictions

| May 20, 2015

A US city council has passed the first reading of a proposed measure to restrict severely retail sales of tobacco and related products, according to an Associated Press story relayed by the TMA.

The proposed measure by the council of Sonoma, California, would ban new businesses from selling cigarettes, cigars, smokeless tobacco and certain other tobacco products.

And it would prohibit existing businesses from selling electronic cigarettes, cigars that retail for under $5 each, and most flavored tobacco products except flavored pipe tobacco.

The bans and restrictions would be effective from September 1.

The measure would require also that the 15 existing tobacco product retailers pay $246 each to obtain licenses.

The council is expected to vote on the measure for a second time in June.

Sonoma began considering the regulations in 2014 after the American Lung Association gave it an ‘F’ for some of its tobacco control efforts.

Indonesia to bring in electronic cigarette ban

| May 20, 2015

The Indonesian government plans to ban the sale of electronic cigarettes amid ‘growing concerns over the product’s negative impact on people’s health’, according to a story in The Jakarta Post.

The Post reported that one in five Indonesians currently smoked and that ‘a high number’ of those smokers were using electronic cigarettes to help them quit the habit, ‘said to cause various serious illnesses, including cancer, chronic respiratory problems and cardiovascular diseases’.

Nevertheless, the Trade Minister Rachmat Gobel said on Monday that sales of electronic cigarettes would be banned in line with concerns recently voiced by the Health Ministry.

“It has been deemed that e-cigarettes pose health risks and that’s why we need to impose a ban,” he said.

There are no domestic electronic cigarette producers; so consumers are said to rely on imports from China.

Tips From Former Smokers go largely unheeded

| May 20, 2015

A $200 million federal anti-smoking campaign ‘Tips From Former Smokers’ was mostly a flop and did not greatly boost the number of non-smokers in the US, according to a story by Nick Tate for NewsMax.

Tate cited the findings of a new analysis published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine by San Diego State University public health researcher John W. Ayers, and a team of investigators at the Santa Fe Institute and University of Illinois Chicago.

The Tips campaign, which was produced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was said to have included about a dozen commercials featuring a smoker who had suffered some frequently shocking debilitation as a result of tobacco use.

But the researchers concluded that the initiative had ‘fizzled more than it popped’ in respect of getting smokers to quit. The findings were based on analyses of Internet searches during the campaign for information on how to quit smoking.

The full story is at:

Universal declares quarterly dividends

| May 20, 2015

Universal Corporation’s board of directors has declared a quarterly dividend of $0.52 per share on the company’s common shares, payable on August 10 to shareholders of record at the close of business on July 13.

The board declared also a quarterly dividend of $16.875 per share on its Series B 6.75 percent Convertible Perpetual Preferred Stock, payable on June 15 to shareholders of record as of 17.00 Eastern Time on June 1.

At the same time, the board set the date of the Annual Meeting of Shareholders as August 4. It will be held from 14.00 at the company’s headquarters building. The board set the record date for the meeting as June 12.

Some Australian illicit products labeled ‘illegal’

| May 19, 2015

The Australian tobacco industry’s claim that the illegal trade in tobacco products has been increasing seems to have been borne out, at least in respect of New South Wales (NSW).

According to a story by Nicole Hasham for the Sydney Morning Herald, NSW Health has said that its inspectors have detected increased sales of illicit tobacco that is sold in packs without health warnings and that is sometimes labelled ‘illegal tobacco’.

Over the past two years, illegal sales were said to have been detected 28 times at retailers throughout Sydney. Of those, 13 have not yet been prosecuted.

One problem seems to be that the health department’s powers extend only to photographing and taking samples of illicit tobacco. Inspectors are unable to seize the products.

Health inspectors say also that retailers caught with illicit tobacco frequently claim it is not for sale, despite possessing large quantities beyond that which could reasonably be considered for personal use.

In part, the debate about the illegal trade was sparked by British American Tobacco Australia saying it would consider launching a cheap make-your-own cigarette brand to compete with illicit products. By producing cigarettes at home with this type of tobacco and a high-tech making machine, smokers could make 25 cigarettes for about A$9, which would offer a saving against the price of the cheapest factory-made brands: A$15 per pack of 25.

Cancer Council NSW tobacco control manager Scott Walsberger was quoted as saying that the BAT Australia plan was a “desperate attempt by the industry to recruit and retain smokers”. He said data had shown that the use of illicit tobacco had declined in recent years.

But NSW Labor’s health spokesman Walt Secord said international research had shown that illicit tobacco consumption was expected to surpass licit tobacco sales worldwide within five years. He offered bi-partisan support for “sensible and tough proposals,” such as tougher laws and community education.

EU urged to go beyond TPD in fight against tobacco

| May 19, 2015

An Irish member of the European Parliament has urged the EU to do more to fight the “scourge” of tobacco.

Writing in the Parliament Magazine, Brian Hayes said the passing of the EU Tobacco Products Directive did not mark the end of the scourge of tobacco use in Europe. More needed to be done.

And some member states were exceeding their obligations, he said. Ireland, despite strong objections from the tobacco industry, was the first member state to pass legislation to introduce standardized packaging, and now other countries, including the UK and France, were following suit.

Hayes said also that another strategy could involve increasing tobacco product prices. Studies had shown that high prices comprised a deterring factor for smokers. In Ireland, the largest single annual decline in smoking rates was nine percent between June 2009 and June 2010. The origins of this could be traced back to the preceding year’s budget in which €0.50 was added to the excise duty on a pack of cigarettes.

‘Arguments will be made that we are over-regulating the tobacco industry,’ Hayes wrote, ‘but if we sit back and do nothing the 700,000 Europeans that die in 2015 from smoking could be a significantly higher figure in 10 years’ time.’

Hayes’ piece is at:

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