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Commission: no opinions on plain pack proposals

| March 13, 2015

The EU Commission has not delivered opinions on the recent notifications by Ireland and the UK relating to the introduction of standardized tobacco packaging.

Legislation requiring the imposition of such packaging has been passed by Ireland, and has been passed by the UK’s lower house in respect of England.

Tobacco companies have said they will sue the Irish government over the legislation and have threatened to sue the UK government if it is passed there in the upper house.

The Commission declared that it had not delivered opinions on the notifications in answer to a question from the Hungarian MEP, Norbert Erdős, who had asked a series of questions relating to the future of the European leaf tobacco producing sector.

His second question asked: ‘How will the Commission guarantee that generic (neutral) packaging does not lead to a price war between processers, who will do anything to maintain their market position, pushing down procurement prices for raw materials, thus squeezing out better quality tobacco?’

In reply, the Commission said that if a member state planned to introduce any provision on technical standards and regulations, it had to notify the Commission of the draft legislation. ‘It is assessed under Directive 98/34/EC which is a tool for assessing its compliance with EU law before adoption,’ the Commission said. ‘The assessment is based on information provided, scientific studies and impact assessments relating to various stakeholders. The Commission did not deliver an opinion on the recent UK and Irish notifications relating to plain packaging.’

Erdős had asked also what effect would the ending of EU subsidies for tobacco production have on smoking and on public health. And how did the Commission propose to prevent imports of less tightly controlled or illegally imported tobacco from gaining ground?

In reply, the Commission said that it could not pursue policies that encouraged leaf tobacco production, while at the same time aiming to protect citizens from the hazardous effects of tobacco consumption. Direct subsidies for production of tobacco had been phased out. ‘The Commission is committed to fighting the illicit trade in tobacco products together with member states and has presented its strategy in June 2013,’ it said. ‘Also the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) contains strict measures in this respect.’

Finally, Erdős asked how the Commission proposed to resolve the issue of employing the mostly unskilled people who had lost their jobs thanks to the phasing out of tobacco production.

The Commission said that with any structural changes in tobacco production the EU rural development policy offered numerous instruments that provided financial assistance for the re-orientation of the tobacco sector towards alternative sources of income. ‘Provided that the workers’ redundancies can be linked to trade related globalisation or to the global financial and economic crisis, member states have the possibility to apply for support from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF),’ the Commission said.

Singapore to hold plain packs public consultation

| March 13, 2015

A public consultation on standardized tobacco packaging is due to be carried out in Singapore at the end of this year, according to a story by Rachel Au-Yong for the Straits Times quoting the Parliamentary Secretary, Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim.

If implemented, tobacco product packaging would lose its ‘trademarks, logos, colour schemes and images’, but keep its health warnings.

Australia is the only country to have imposed standardized tobacco packaging, but Ireland has passed legislation requiring such packaging and the UK is on the way to doing the same.

Associate Professor Faishal announced the public consultation as one of several tobacco control measures, during the debate on the Health Ministry’s budget.

The government would continue to help smokers quit through health campaigns and the ministry would push also to ban point-of-sale displays of tobacco products later this year.

New and emerging tobacco products that appealed to young people might be banned, he said.

In a statement, the ministry said that some countries had prohibited the sale of tobacco for oral use, while others had prohibited electronic cigarettes.

Shisha, which was described as ‘one such emerging product’, had been banned in Singapore in November last year ‘to prevent its proliferation and entrenchment in Singapore’.

It was intended that other types of emerging tobacco products would be treated in the same manner later this year.

JTI’s loses volume but gains share in February

| March 13, 2015

Japan Tobacco Inc’s domestic cigarette sales volume during February, at 8.3 billion, was down by 7.6 percent on that of February 2014, 8.9 billion, according to preliminary figures issued by the company today. The February 2014 figure was up by 3.7 percent on that of February 2013.

Volume during January-February, at 16.5 billion, was down by 6.9 percent on that of January-February 2014, 17.7 billion, which was increased by 3.7 percent on that of January-February 2013.

JT’s market share stood at 60.4 percent during February, up from 59.5 percent during January. It was 59.9 percent during January-February and 60.4 percent during January-December 2014.

JT’s domestic cigarette revenue during February, at ¥46.7 billion, was down by 4.7 percent from its February 2014 level, ¥49.0 billion, which was increased by 3.6 percent on its revenue of February 2013.

Revenue during January-February, at ¥93.5 billion, was down by 4.0 percent on that of January-February 2014, ¥97.3billion, which was increased by 3.5 percent on its revenue of January-February 2013.

Public campaign supporting bigger warnings in India

| March 13, 2015

India has seen the launch of a nation-wide campaign aimed at garnering public support for bigger graphic health warnings on tobacco products, according to a story in the latest issue of the BBM Bommidala Group newsletter.

The campaign, which is running under the slogan, Lives Bachao Size Badhao, or Save lives, increase the size, is gathering signatures for a petition on behalf of an oral cancer survivor, Sunita Tomar.

It is planned that the petition, which is running online and on the streets, will be handed to the Indian Minister for Health and Family Welfare, J.P. Nadda.

New study reveals vapor health concerns

| March 12, 2015

RTI International, a leading nonprofit U.S. research institute, has released a study exploring the potential public health concerns associated with vapor emitted from e-cigarettes. The organization’s research paper—titled “Exhaled electronic cigarette emissions: What’s your secondhand exposure?”—examines the toxins in e-cigarette vapors and the impact they could have on people exposed to secondhand “smoke.”

Although the long-term impact of exposure to e-cigarette vapor is still unknown, the study—which was authored by Jonathan Thornburg, Ph.D., director of Exposure and Aerosol Technology at RTI—found that emissions from e-cigarettes contain enough nicotine and other chemicals to cause concern.

Nonusers who are exposed to secondhand vapor are potentially breathing in aerosol particles similar in size to those found in diesel-engine smoke and smoke produced by traditional cigarettes. Because e-cigarettes lack regulation, the type and amount of chemicals and potential toxins they may contain could vary greatly depending on the device being used.

RTI is particularly concerned with the lack of regulation regarding e-cigarettes and the surge in marketing and sales that has occurred as a result. The e-cigarette category experienced annual sales that doubled yearly to $1 billion in 2013, according to RTI.

E-cigs are medical devices, says Swedish Court

| March 12, 2015

E-cigarettes and e-liquids that contain nicotine are medical devices rather than consumer products and therefore require licensing, a Swedish appeals court has ruled.

In a previous case from July 2014, Sweden’s medical products agency convinced the administrative court in Uppsala that nicotine-containing e-cigarettes should be deemed medical devices and that as many as 30 products should be banned from sale to consumers. An e-cigarette supplier in Malmo challenged the ruling shortly after, and the prohibition was lifted until the appeal was heard. Sales of e-cigarettes were allowed to continue during the appeals process.

Following the appellate court’s most recent ruling, however, it is now illegal to import, distribute or sell e-cigarettes and nicotine-containing e-liquids commercially in Sweden, and violators could face penalties of approximately $80,000 per offense. Further appeals of the court’s most recent decision are planned and could result in another temporary suspension of the ban until a final decision is made by Sweden’s supreme administrative court. E-cigarettes and e-liquids that do not contain nicotine are unaffected by the ruling.

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