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Altria to host first-quarter results webcast

| April 10, 2015

The Altria Group is due to host a live audio webcast starting at 09.00 Eastern Time on April 23 to discuss its 2015 first-quarter business results. The webcast can be accessed at

Altria will issue a press release with its results about 07.00 on the same day.

During the webcast, which will be in listen-only mode, chairman, CEO and president, Marty Barrington, and CFO, Billy Gifford, will discuss the company’s results and answer questions from the investment community and news media.

Pre-event registration is necessary through

An archived copy of the webcast will be available on or through the free Altria Investor App, which is available for download at or through the Apple App Store or Google Play.

New Korean center to study health effects of smoking

| April 9, 2015

South Korea’s Ministry of Health plans to set up its own research center dedicated to studying the effects of smoking on health, according to a story in The Korea Times.

The ministry said yesterday that the research center, which would be supervised by the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDCP), would open ‘as early as July’.

The Times said that while the health risks of tobacco were well-known, authorities in South Korea had had to rely largely on other countries’ research data when making policies about smoking and managing court disputes over issues relating to it because they did not have their own data.

Now, in co-operation with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the KCDCP would look into how components of cigarette smoke affected the human body.

The ministry said it had already secured WON4 billion ($35 million) for the project.

The information generated by the research center is expected to be used to help the ministry in its efforts to reduce the country’s smoking rate.

In addition, though the ministry did not mention a WON53.7 billion damages suit that was filed last year by the National Health Insurance Service (NHIS) against tobacco companies, the Times story said that data from the new research center was expected to support the NHIS’ case.

The fourth court hearing in the case is scheduled for May 15.

Pay policy discriminates against smokers in Maldives

| April 9, 2015

Salary increases for the employees of two Maldives broadcasters are to be linked to whether or not the employees are smokers. And, no, the smokers aren’t going to get more than the non-smokers.

The Maldives Media Company, which employs 60 people, said that non-smoking employees at its DhiFM and DhiTV stations would receive 15 percent rises while their smoking employees would receive 10 percent rises.

The company’s chairman, Mohamed ‘Uhchu’ Moosa, was quoted as saying that the decision to have different pay rises was made in order ‘to encourage’ staff to give up smoking.

“We want our staff to give up the habit of their own volition,” Uhchu said. “And to give them a chance to stop injuring their own health.”

He attempted further to justify the discrimination by citing that the entrance to the company’s office was often littered with cigarette filters.

The letter that the MMC sent out to inform staff of the policy, warns that any employee who gives up smoking and then goes back to it will be penalized with ‘a complete dissolution of all salary increments’.

Warnings blamed for graphic excise decline in Nepal

| April 9, 2015

Tobacco product excise revenue in Nepal during the first eight months of the current fiscal year (16 July-15 July) fell by about 5.5 percent, and the assumption is that the drop is partly down to the imposition from May 2014 of graphic health warnings on these products, according to a story in the Daily Republica.

Cigarette manufacturers have acknowledged that tobacco consumption has declined in recent months, compelling them to cut back production.

But they blame the decline also on illegally imported cigarettes, which are said to be ‘rife in the market’, and price increases.

Data compiled by the Inland Revenue Department (IRD) show that the excise revenue fell by 5.5 percent to Rs4.57 billion during the first eight months of the current fiscal year, bucking a trend of continuous growth in recent years.

Officials at the Ministry of Finance blame the decline in tobacco excise revenue for the country’s having missed its revenue target by about two percent during the eight months.

But not everybody is upset by the drop in revenue. The Health Secretary, Shant Bahadur Shrestha, reportedly described the decline in excise duty from tobacco products as an achievement because the policy was not about revenue but about health.

Oman calling time on shisha cafés

| April 9, 2015

Municipal authorities in the Oman capital of Muscat are trying to get shisha café owners to abide by the opening hours set for them, which would mean their closing at midnight, according to a story in the Times of Oman.

This is not the first time that the authorities have appealed to café owners to abide by opening times, but many are said still to open after midnight.

One café worker was quoted as saying that his establishment remained open 24 hours a day. He said they closed only on the two days of the Eid religious festival.

The café had received municipal notices more than once, he added.

The latest letter informed café owners that they would be fined and their licences could be suspended if they were found violating the law.

However, the owners might feel that they are anyway smoking at the last chance saloon.

A complete ban on shisha cafés in Oman has been suggested by Majlis Al Shura (Consultative Council) members who voted to shut them down in view of the health risks associated with them.

Endorsing a health committee recommendation to stop issuing licences to new shisha cafés, the Majlis Al Shura members said that as a transitional measure, existing licensed shisha cafés would be allowed to continue to operate for a short while.

Smoking and exercise down, drinking and obesity up

| April 8, 2015

South Korea’s smoking incidence, which has been trending down since 2009, fell by 0.2 of a percentage point to 24.0 percent last year, according to a story in The Korea Herald, quoting a survey by the Ministry of Health and Welfare among 220,000 adults nation-wide.

At the same time, the smoking rate among men dropped by 0.5 of a percentage point from 45.8 percent to 45.3 percent.

But the rate of drinking among the country’s adults, which is based on those who drink at least once a month, rose to a record high of 60.8 percent last year, up from 59.5 percent in 2013

Drinking rates have been increasing since figures were first compiled by the ministry in 2008.

Obesity rates were up, too, from 24.5 percent in 2013 to 25.3 percent last year.

The only thing apart from smoking that trended down was the number of people taking exercise.

Those who took a 30 minute walk at least five times a week fell from 40.8 percent in 2013 to 37.5 percent last year.

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