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Employers need specific workplace vaping rules

| February 17, 2015

A recent UK employment tribunal case has sounded a warning that an employer wishing to dismiss an employee for vaping might not be able to fall back on its conventional smoking policy to justify the action taken, according to a piece on quoting Stuart Jones, head of employment and pensions at Weightmans.

The case in question did not concern a dismissal, but a constructive dismissal, and the tribunal found that the employer had ‘reasonable and proper cause’ for all of its actions.

However, the tribunal identified as a ‘point of concern’ that, while the employer clearly considered vaping to be the equivalent of smoking, it was not clear that the employee had breached any policy by using an electronic cigarette. She had not been informed of the specific rule she had broken because there was no rule in force prohibiting the use of electronic cigarettes. The only potentially relevant policy in place was a conventional no-smoking policy.

Jones commented that if an employer decided that a ban on electronic cigarettes was necessary and appropriate, it would need to consider amending any existing no-smoking policy to explicitly prohibit electronic cigarettes. And any policy would have to extend to third parties, such as visitors.

If an employer chose to restrict, rather than ban electronic cigarettes, a clear policy on usage was advisable. Employers would need to think also about how any changes would be communicated to employees. Avoiding misunderstanding around this relatively novel issue was crucial.

Dismissal in the absence of a designated policy or provision might potentially be fair, but was more likely to be fair where an employer could point to a breach of a specific rule. While all cases would turn on their own facts, a clear and consistently applied policy would certainly strengthen an employer’s position where dismissal was contemplated.

Banks increase support for tobacco production

| February 16, 2015

Tobacco farmers have received an estimated 58 percent of Zimbabwe’s cumulative agricultural bank loans this summer. This translated to about $600 million of the estimated $1 billion that banks budgeted as production support for agriculture during the 2014-2015 season.

The country is targeting to produce 222 million kilograms (kg) of the crop this season, up from 216 million kg from the previous season.

Zimbabwe Farmers’ Union (ZFU) Executive Director, Paul Zakariya said banks have an appetite to finance tobacco production ahead of other crops because of the limited risks that arise when the crop is auctioned.

“Banks are more keen to support tobacco because of the solid stable policy environment under which the crop is performing.”

“This also relates to the organized marketing of tobacco through the stop-order system, which allows banks to easily follow through on their loans,” said Zakariya.

Tomra advances to the final of European Business Awards

| February 16, 2015

Tomra has been named as a Ruban d’Honneur recipient and one of 10 finalists now being considered for the 2014-2015 European Business Awards in the category “The Business of the Year with Turnover of €150 million or higher.”

The European Business Awards recognize and reward excellence, best practice and innovation in companies across Europe. The competition is free to enter and open to organizations of all sizes and from any industry sector. Now in its eighth year, The European Business Awards has engaged with over 24,000 businesses from 33 European countries this year.

In the first stage of this year’s competition Tomra was named as one of 10 National Champions from Norway. In the second stage just completed 110 Ruban d’Honneur recipients were chosen from 709 National Champions by a panel of judges made up of European business and political leaders, academics and entrepreneurs. Tomra will now go on to compete in the third and final round of judging resulting in 11 overall category winners to be announced later this year.

“We are very proud to have been recognized as one of Europe’s most dynamic companies by the esteemed and thorough European Business Awards judging process,” said Stefan Ranstrand, Tomra president and CEO. “It is indeed an honor to have attained the Ruban d’Honneur distinction, and we look forward now to participating in the final round of the European Business Awards review.”

Tomra will now be competing against nine other companies to win the overall 2014-2015 European Business Awards’ Business of the Year category.  This award will go to the outstanding company that best demonstrates exceptional financial returns, strong growth and innovation strategies, and market leadership in its sector. Judges will look for evidence of inventiveness, ethical credentials, good stakeholder relationships and long-term planning balanced by the flexibility to deliver consistent results in dynamic market conditions.


JTI buys Ploom name and product; Ploom becomes Pax Labs

| February 16, 2015

JTI will acquire Ploom’s ModelTwo and pods product line—including the Ploom trademark—and general intellectual property related to ModelTwo and pods. Concurrent with the transaction, Ploom will buy back JTI’s minority stake in order to focus on Ploom’s successful PAX business and an expanding product portfolio.

Ploom’s new corporate name will be Pax Labs.

Financial details of the transaction were not released. The transaction is expected to close during the first quarter of 2015.

“This partnership has afforded both parties many mutual benefits, and we are proud of our success with the pods product line,” says James Monsees, Pax Labs founder and CEO. “Both companies will profit from this fresh approach. Operating as Pax Labs, our focus on vaporization delivery products will fuel continued growth, especially as we enter new market segments.

“In addition to Pax, our industry-leading, loose-leaf vaporization product, we anticipate rapid rollouts of new products and further expansion into international markets.”

Pax is an open system vaporizer that heats loose-leaf tobacco. It is currently available in the U.S. and Canada. To date, more than 500,000 units have been sold.


Singapore struggles with underage smoking

| February 16, 2015

Underage smoking looks to have increased in Singapore, though the rise could be down in part to better detection systems, according to a story by Hoe Pei Shan and Pearl Lee for the Straits Times.

Some schools have turned to using detection devices to help them catch offenders, and some of the latest devices, which measure carbon monoxide levels, can detect smoking from up to two days previously.

Such devices are used also in Health Promotion Board smoking cessation programs that are run in schools.

One secondary school is planning to install cigarette smoke detectors in the common areas of five of its male toilets. It wants detectors that can log the exact location and time when someone smokes, and send an alert to the school’s general office and a message to a staff member’s mobile phone.

The representative of a company that distributes cigarette smoke detectors was quoted as saying that such products had been used in Singapore for more than a decade, but that demand from schools had been low because most found the devices too costly. But he said he began getting enquiries from schools last year.

A toilet with four cubicles should ideally have two detectors, he added, each of which might cost $500 to $700.

Meanwhile, the deputy director of the Singapore Children’s Society was quoted as saying that “it would take more influence than detection to curb the problem of underage smoking”.

Last year, more than 6,200 people below the legal age of 18 were caught smoking, about 17 percent more than the 5,311 caught during 2013, according to data from the Health Sciences Authority (HSA).

Most underage smokers caught were 15 to 17 years old, but some were still in primary school.

Selling cigars off the back of Havana expectations

| February 16, 2015

Despite recent announcements about the relaxation of trade relations between Cuba and the US, Havana cigars are not yet available in the US, legally; but that doesn’t mean these cigars aren’t providing an opportunity for retailers.

According to convenience store wholesaler LA Top Distributor, publicity surrounding the trade relaxation means that many convenience stores and tobacco retailers have been flooded with phone calls from customers asking if they have Cuban cigars for sale.

In a press note issued through PRNewswire, the company said that while convenience store owners were not able to obtain Cuban cigars for their customers, every phone call represented a great opportunity to sell to potential customers a high quality cigar alternative.

The note goes on to give three suggestions about how to sell a different-origin cigar to somebody who has called up about Cuban cigars.

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