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PMI declares regular quarterly dividend

| March 11, 2015

Philip Morris International’s board of directors today declared a regular quarterly dividend of $1.00 per common share, payable on April 10 to shareholders of record as of March 26.

The ex-dividend date is March 24.

Meanwhile, PMI announced that Carlos Slim Helú was due to retire from the board of directors at the Annual Meeting of Shareholders in May.

“Carlos has served on the board since our spin-off in 2008, and for many years prior to that on the board of our former parent company,” said Louis C. Camilleri, chairman of the board.

“We have benefited tremendously from Carlos’ dedicated service and invaluable advice. We are indebted to him and he leaves with our most heartfelt gratitude.”

Sweeping penalties for tobacco spitters

| March 10, 2015
Don't even think about it.

Don’t even think about it.

The state health department of Maharashtra, India, is considering a proposal that would require anyone caught using or spitting smokeless tobacco products in public places to work as a government sweeper for a day, reports The Economic Times.

The proposal also calls for suspending the driver’s license of anyone caught spitting on the road, as current fines do not appear effective.

The use of oral tobacco remains widespread throughout India.

Pax Labs launches Pax 2

| March 10, 2015
PAX 2 will be available in  the colors charcoal, platinum, "flare" and topaz

PAX 2 will be available in the colors charcoal, platinum, “flare” and topaz

Pax Labs, a San Francisco, California, USA-based company that develops alternatives to traditional cigarettes, today announced the launch of its most innovative product yet: the Pax 2.

Geared toward consumers on the go, the product is 25 percent smaller than the original Pax, making it the most pocketable loose-leaf vaporizer on the market, according to Pax Labs developers. Pax 2 also boasts up to 30 percent longer battery life than its predecessor and heats loose-leaf material in as few as 45 seconds. Because the product heats material rather than burning it, no combustion occurs in the process. Instead, Pax 2 releases active ingredients and natural oils into a vapor, eliminating the emission of secondhand smoke that accompanies combustible cigarettes.

The Pax 2 features lip-sensing technology that adjusts the device’s temperature automatically during use. This prevents the unnecessary heating of material and provides more consistent draws. Additional Pax 2 features include auto-cooling, four temperature settings, a user-friendly interface, AC and USB charging options, two interchangeable mouthpieces, a steamlined profile and enhanced LED communication interface, as well as a 10-year warranty.

The original Pax was introduced more than two years ago and has sold more than half a million devices. Since its introduction, Pax developers have combined advanced technology with a knowledge of consumer needs to create the Pax 2, which company co-founder James Monsees deems “the most intelligent, premium and highest-performing vaporizer on the market.”

The Pax 2—which comes in such colors as charcoal, platinum, flare and topaz—retails for $279.99 at select stores across the United States and is also available online at

Illicit cigarettes increasing share of Greece’s market

| March 10, 2015
Just say no

Just say no

Greece could ‘lose’ more than €1 billion a year in tax revenue to the sale of illicit cigarettes by 2019, according to a story in the International Business Times citing Euromonitor figures.

Illicit cigarettes were said to have accounted for 21 percent of the cigarettes consumed in the country last year, up from 18 percent in 2013.

And it was suggested that illicit cigarettes’ share of the market could exceed 25 percent by 2019, given further tax hikes and the continuing use of Greece as a transit hub.

The figures are based on an average cigarette price of €3.80 per pack as of 2014 and an average tax burden of 85 percent of the retail sales price.

Greece was said to have ‘lost’ about €740 million in 2014 and €565 million in 2013 to the illegal cigarette trade.

Euromonitor’s tobacco analyst Shane MacGuill was quoted as saying that the growth in the illegal trade was fueled by tax and price increases, along with the expanding availability of illicit white cigarettes from the United Arab Emirates and Eastern Europe.

The government and industry needed to curb demand for illicit products by moderating tax hikes and informing consumers about the nature of the illegal trade, MacGuill said.

The industry launched in 2014 a campaign against illegal trade called ‘Say No to Illicit Tobacco Products’, and Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis included combating cigarette smuggling in a list of reforms submitted to eurozone officials in February as part of a deal to secure an extension on the country’s economic rescue deal.

However, some people are of the opinion that the rescue deal, and particularly the associated austerity package, is further impoverishing the people of Greece and therefore making it more, not less, likely that some will be forced into the arms of the illegal trade.

Malawi growers live in hope of fairer prices

| March 10, 2015

malawiWithout disclosing the names of the companies, the government of Malawi said it had licensed three leaf dealers from China, Egypt and South Africa to participate in the 2015 marketing season that started on March 4, according to a story by Thula Chisamba for Malawi24.

The move is aimed at increasing competition in a country where many growers believe that they are not being treated fairly.

An Anadolu Agency story in October said that tobacco growers felt they were between a rock and a hard place: falling prices on the one hand and government apathy on the other.

One grower quoted in the story said that buyers were not giving farmers a fair deal; they were taking away the tobacco at a price of their own choosing.

Another said that he was paid an average of £0.80 per kg for his tobacco, which was not enough to repay the loans he took out to buy the agricultural inputs he needed.

Meanwhile, Bruce Munthali, chief executive of the Tobacco Control Commission, was quoted by Chisamba as saying that licensing the three buyers would create “stiff competition” on the market and deliver fairer prices to farmers.

Tobacco growers welcomed the move.

Leaf tobacco prices way down – again – in Zimbabwe

| March 10, 2015

zimZimbabwe’s flue-cured tobacco growers sold 775,997 kg of leaf at an average price of US$1.55 per kg during the first three days of the marketing season that opened on March 4, according to a Newsday Zimbabwe story citing figures from the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB).

During the corresponding period of the previous marketing season, 940,864 kg was sold at an average price of US$2.41 per kg.

The TIMB attributed the volume decline to delayed rains that hit production, and to growers withholding their crop in the face of low prices, which were down by nearly 36 percent on those of the previous season.

And the previous marketing season was not a good one for growers. A Zimbabwe Standard story in March 2014 quoted growers as describing prices as ‘low by any standards’ and ‘daylight robbery’. A Zimbabwe Herald story, also published in March 2014, said that seasonal average prices were so far 29.7 per cent lower than those of 2013.

Growers are no doubt finding it difficult to come to terms with successive price decreases of 29.7 percent and 36 percent, given that the prices of cigarettes don’t seem to be going down.

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