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FDA walking an e-cigarette tightrope

| June 13, 2014

E-cigarettes might be closer to smoking cessation devices than to regular cigarettes, and regulators are keeping “an open mind” on their potential health benefit, according to a story by Edney Anna for Business Week (Bloomberg), quoting Mitch Zeller, head of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Tobacco Products (CTP).

Zeller said the agency was exploring expedited reviews for tobacco products based on risk and toxicity levels as it prepared its e-cigarette rules.

He said he wanted advocates and foes to view nicotine-containing products as a continuum—from cigarettes to their electronic counterparts to cessation gums and patches.

“Cigarettes are designed to create addiction,” Zeller said on Wednesday at a Washington conference. “Ultimately it’s not the nicotine that kills. It’s all about the delivery mechanism.”

But, according to a National Association of Convenience Stores story, Zeller said the CTP did not yet know the extent to which e-cigarettes were harmful.

And, he added, it did not know if e-cigarettes were more likely to help current smokers transition away from tobacco use, or if they are more likely to encourage nonsmokers to begin using tobacco.

The FDA is responsible for implementing the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, which was enacted in June 2009. The law, which gives the FDA broad authority to regulate the manufacture, marketing and retail sale of tobacco products, initially granted the FDA jurisdiction over cigarettes, roll-your-own tobacco and smokeless tobacco products. But, in April, the FDA proposed extending its authority to cover additional products such as e-cigarettes, cigars and hookah tobacco.

Meanwhile, a story by Toni Clarke for Reuters said the FDA was working to develop strong product standards for e-cigarettes and other nicotine delivery devices that would protect public health and enable the agency to withstand legal challenges.

Zeller had said the CTP was exploring potential product standards in the areas of addiction, toxicity and product appeal as it prepared to gain regulatory authority over e-cigarettes and other nicotine-delivery devices.

The establishment of product standards was one of five priorities for the division over the next few years, Zeller said. The priorities included putting in place regulations for approving new products and monitoring them after they reached the market, ensuring that the agency had in place a strong compliance and law enforcement presence in every state, public education and the formulation of an FDA-wide nicotine policy that recognized some products were less risky than others.

Uganda’s growers upset over tobacco bill

| June 13, 2014

The Uganda Tobacco Growers Association (UTGA) has petitioned the speaker of parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, to consider their views on the Tobacco Control Bill, which is yet to be tabled.

The farmers are opposed to a number of provisions within the proposed bill, including one that bans the sale and display of tobacco products in specified places and another that prohibits the display of tobacco products at points of sale.

Morris Candia, a tobacco grower for the past 15 years and a spokesman for the 60,000 member association, said that if the bill were passed into law as it was, poverty levels would spike among households that depended on tobacco to meet their daily expenses.

Activists say tax increase insufficient

| June 13, 2014

Environmental activists in Bangladesh yesterday demanded that the government impose a higher tax on cigarettes than has been proposed in the budget bill for fiscal 2014–2015, according to a story in The Financial Express quoting a UNB News Agency report.

Speaking during a press conference, the activists said that 98 percent of smokers in the country smoked cigarettes, and the “current tax of 17.72 percent” would not be useful in preventing smoking.

The press conference was organized by the Campaign for Clean Air, a nongovernment organization, to press home its budget-related demands, which include an increase in funding for the environment sector.

Pointing up Greece’s growing illicit trade

| June 13, 2014

Imperial Tobacco has joined forces with other major tobacco companies in Greece in presenting a public awareness campaign about the growing problem of illicit trade.

“This cross-industry initiative is being highlighted with adverts in national newspapers and on radio, as well as online and with 500,000 leaflets,” according to a note posted on Imperial’s website.

“The ‘Say No to Illicit Tobacco Products’ campaign is aimed at trade partners and consumers and has the backing of the Greek government and law enforcement agencies.”

Rebecca Karapanagiotidou, HR manager SE Europe and CORA manager Greece, said that one of the priorities was to make as many people as possible aware of the adverse effects of illicit trade.

“This campaign builds on our ongoing engagement activities to gain support in jointly tackling the significant growth we’ve seen in illegal tobacco products,” she said.

Imperial said that the illicit trade currently accounted for about 21 percent of the cigarettes and about 12 percent of the fine-cut smoked in Greece.

JT’s cigarette sales down year-on-year

| June 13, 2014

Japan Tobacco Inc.’s domestic cigarette sales volume during May, at 9.2 billion, was down by 10.3 percent on that of May 2013, 10.2 billion, according to preliminary figures issued by the company today. The May 2013 figure was increased by 0.4 percent on that of May 2012.

Volume during January–May 2014, at 46.3 billion, was down by 0.9 percent on that of January–May 2013, 46.7 billion, which was down by 0.8 percent on that of January–May 2012. (JT is in the process of changing its accounting year from April–March to January–December, and this is only the second time that, in presenting its monthly sales figures, it has given year-to-date figures calculated from Jan. 1.)

JT’s market share stood at 59.7 percent during May, at 60.8 percent during January–May and at 60.5 percent for January–December 2013.

JT’s domestic cigarette revenue during May, at ¥51.4 billion, was down by 7.8 percent from its May 2013 revenue, ¥55.8 billion.

Revenue during January–May 2014, at ¥255.7 billion, was down by 0.2 percent on that of January–May 2013, ¥256.3 billion.

Kentucky MSA payment dispute settled

| June 13, 2014

Philip Morris USA and other cigarette manufacturers have reached an agreement with Kentucky to resolve non-participating manufacturer (NPM) adjustment disputes under the Master Settlement Agreement (MSA), according to a note posted on the company’s website.

This brings to 23 the number of MSA states (including the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico) that have settled these disputes.

“We think this resolution is good for the Commonwealth of Kentucky and for PM USA,” said Denise F. Keane, executive vice president and general counsel, at Altria, on whose website the note also appeared.

“We have always said we are open to resolving these disputes in a manner that makes sense to the states and to us, and that remains the case.”

“Under the settlement announced today [Thursday], Kentucky will receive its share of funds that have been set aside over a number of years in a disputed payments account, which will have the net effect of offsetting reductions in Kentucky’s MSA payment earlier this year,” the note said.

“PM USA and the other companies will receive credits against future MSA payments.

“In September 2013, an arbitration panel determined that six states—including Kentucky—failed to diligently enforce laws in 2003 requiring NPMs to make escrow payments.”

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