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Saudi Arabia urged to increase tobacco taxes

| May 18, 2015

A health expert in Saudi Arabia has urged the authorities to increase cigarette prices after becoming concerned at the increasing number of young people, particularly schoolchildren, becoming addicted to smoking, according to a story in the Arab News.

Professor Mohammad bin Jabir Yamani, chairman of the Naqaa society, was quoted as saying that the percentage of smokers among young people varied from 13 to 15 percent, and that the percentage was rising among school-aged children.

He said that his society had treated about 10,000 smokers, of whom 60 percent had given up smoking.

Yamani said the society was co-ordinating with other societies and the Ministry of Health to raise the prices of tobacco products in Saudi Arabia because they were lower than those in other parts of the world.

Tobacco growers still the butt of price story

| May 15, 2015

Zimbabwe’s flue-cured tobacco growers are continuing to suffer the effects of lower prices, which have fallen nearly 10 percent year-on-year.

Growers sold 92.2 million kg of flue-cured for US$267.7 million at an average price of US$2.90 per kg as of May 8, according to a story by Tatira Zwinoira for Newsday Zimbabwe, relayed by the TMA and quoting Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board figures.

During the corresponding period of last-year’s sales season, growers sold 96.1 million kg of flue-cured for US$308.7 million at an average price of US$3.21 per kg.

On the basis of these figures, the average price has fallen by 9.6 percent year-on-year.

Zimbabwe’s growers are not alone in suffering from lower prices. A story last month in the BBM Bommidala Group newsletter indicated that, with sales almost completed, the average price paid to growers in the Indian state of Karnataka had been 16 percent down on that of the 2013-14 season.

The story said too that prices had fallen by 14 percent in Brazil, 10 percent in Zimbabwe, eight percent in the US and four percent in Tanzania.

It will be interesting to see whether or not these lowered prices are reflected in the prices of cigarettes; rather like lowered oil prices are eventually translated into lower fuel prices at the pumps.

Trademark group joins battle against plain packs

| May 15, 2015

The International Trademark Association (INTA) has joined the legal battle against standardized packaging for tobacco products ‘in order to champion property rights’, according to a Breitbart story.

The INTA says that standardized packaging regulations should be rejected or repealed because, it believes, they violate various international treaties and national laws on trademark protection that safeguard the long-established principle that intellectual property rights are private rights.

Instead, it proposes that ‘less drastic measures’ such as public health campaigns and tax increases should be used as an alternative to the ‘expropriation’ of tobacco trademarks.

The INTA goes further than just defending the private property rights of the trademark owners and aims to show that standardised packaging rules produce unintended consequences detrimental to both competition and the consumers governments intend to protect.

The amicus brief filed by the INTA submits that consumers may become confused and unable to rely on the quality expected of familiar brands, that new brands will be barred from entering the market, that counterfeiting will be simplified, and that the cost of the product will likely decrease as price becomes the only differentiating factor.

JT’s cigarette volume up hugely in April

| May 15, 2015

Japan Tobacco Inc’s domestic cigarette sales volume during April, at 9.2 billion, was up by 37.2 percent on that of April 2014, 6.7 billion, according to preliminary figures issued by the company today. The April 2014 figure was down by 30.2 percent on that of April 2013.

Volume during January-April, at 34.6 billion, was down by 6.6 percent on that of January-April 2014, 37.1 billion, which was increased by 1.8 percent on that of January-April 2013.

JT’s market share stood at 60.4 percent during April, at 60.0 percent during January-April, and 60.4 percent during January-December 2014.

JT’s domestic cigarette revenue during April, at ¥52.1 billion, was increased by 37.4 percent from its April 2014 level, ¥37.9 billion, which was down by 28.5 percent on its revenue of April 2013.

Revenue during January-April, at ¥196.4 billion, was down by 3.9 percent on that of January-April 2014, ¥204.5 billion, which was increased by 2.0 percent on its revenue of January-April 2013.

Lorillard declares quarterly divided

| May 15, 2015

Lorillard has declared a quarterly dividend on its common stock of $0.66 per share. The dividend is payable on June 10 to stockholders of record as of the close of business on June 1.

But the dividend is dependent on whether or not the proposed acquisition of Lorillard by Reynolds American goes ahead.

‘As previously announced, on July 15, 2014, Lorillard and Reynolds American Inc. … entered into a definitive agreement in which Lorillard agreed to be acquired by Reynolds in a cash-and-stock transaction,’ Lorillard said in a note posted on its website.

‘The transaction remains subject to regulatory approval and the additional customary closing conditions contained in the merger agreement.

‘Although no assurance can be given if and when the transaction will be completed because it remains subject to regulatory approval and other customary conditions, the transaction is expected to close in the first half of 2015.

‘If the transaction is completed after the record date, Lorillard will pay the dividend to stockholders as of the record date. If the transaction is completed on or before the record date, the dividend will not be paid.’

Altria to webcast shareholder meeting

| May 15, 2015

The Altria Group is due to host a live audio webcast of its 2015 Annual Meeting of Shareholders starting at 09.00 Eastern Time on May 20.

Directions for the required pre-event registration are at

An archived copy of the webcast, which will be in listen-only mode, will be available on or through the Altria Investor App. The free app is available for download at or through the Apple App Store or Google Play.

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