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Ombudsman to look at tobacco lobbying

| July 7, 2014

The transparency NGO Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) has said that European Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly is set to investigate what CEO sees as the European Commission’s failure properly to implement World Health Organization’s rules for contacts with tobacco lobbyists, according to a story in Malta Today.

The EU is a signatory to the WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which obliges governments to limit interactions with the tobacco industry and ensures the transparency of those interactions that occur.

CEO said that in recent years commission officials had held meetings with tobacco industry lobbyists wanting to influence the EU’s Tobacco Products Directive.

Many of these meetings were said not to have been disclosed online.

At least 14 undisclosed meetings were said to have involved top commission officials from the Secretariat-General and members of commission President Barroso’s cabinet.

Dalli wants resignation request annulled

| July 7, 2014

The former EU health commissioner, John Dalli, wants the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in Luxembourg to annul a request by Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso that Dalli resign over allegations that he had held secret meetings with Swedish Match, according to an EUObserver story.

Dalli wants the commission to pay a symbolic €1 in damages for the “nonfinancial” harm he has suffered, and compensation for his loss of earnings as a commissioner.

Dalli left office in 2012 amid allegations of solicited bribes, allegations that he has always strenuously denied.

Barroso is due to appear at the ECJ today to answer judges’ questions as a witness, before lawyers from both sides present their arguments tomorrow.

Barroso’s head of cabinet, Johannes Laitenberger, is also expected to be in Luxembourg, as is the head of the commission’s legal services, Luis Romero Requena.

Dalli’s former head of cabinet, Joanna Darmanin, and former spokesperson, Frederic Vincent, are also due to attend.

Cigarette prices increased again in Egypt

| July 7, 2014

Prices of local and imported cigarettes and alcohol have been increased in Egypt from today following a decision by President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi to raise sales taxes on these products, according to an Ahram Online story quoting an announcement in the official gazette.

The new taxes will raise the price of an EGP9 pack of local cigarettes by EGP1.75, the prices of EGP9–EGP15 products by EGP2.25, and the prices of packs previously selling for more than EGP15 each by EGP2.75.

Packs of Cleopatra, the cheapest and best-selling Egyptian cigarette, will sell for between EGP8 and EGP8.75, up from EGP6.25 and EGP7.

Medium-priced brands such as L&M will retail for EGP14.25 per pack, up from EGP12.

And high-price brands such as Marlboro will sell for EGP19.75 per pack, up from EGP17.

The prices of imported brands such as Dunhill will rise from EGP17 to EGP27.25 per pack.

The finance ministry last increased taxes on cigarettes in February: by EGP0.50–EGP0.75 per pack for local brands and EGP1–EGP1.50 for imports.

US cigars under threat from FDA plans

| July 4, 2014

The president of J.C. Newman Cigar, Eric Newman, has launched a campaign urging the public to submit comments to the US Food and Drug Administration asking the agency to exclude from its proposed deeming regulations the sorts of cigars made at Newman’s factory in Tampa, Florida, according to a story by Susan Thurston for the Tampa Bay Times.

The FDA, which already regulates cigarettes, cigarette tobacco and smokeless tobacco, in April issued proposed deeming regulations covering other ‘tobacco’ products not yet covered by its regulations, including cigars, pipe tobacco, hookahs, nicotine gels, electronic cigarettes and certain dissolvables that are not regarded as smokeless tobacco.

Newman said that if the FDA approved tighter controls that treated cigar manufacturers as if they were cigarette manufacturers, complying with those controls would be so cumbersome and cost prohibitive that his factory would be forced to close.

“The lifeblood of any business is new products and services, and these regulations would make it impossible to introduce new products,” he said “It would require 5,000 hours of product testing and analysis. We’d be regulated out of business.”

The full story is at

Anti-tobacco law implementation delayed

| July 4, 2014

Delays in finalizing the Rules associated with Bangladesh’s 2013 anti-smoking law are holding up full implementation of the law, according to a story in The Financial Express.

The Smoking and Use of Tobacco Product (Control) Rules were drafted by the Health Ministry in November last year but had to be amended following scrutiny by government lawyers.

The continuing delay seems to be associated with a demarcation dispute involving the ministries of health and law and concerning whether tobacco manufacturers should be given nine months (health ministry) or 18 months (law ministry) to incorporate graphic warnings on to their packs.

In the meantime it is not possible to implement fully the Smoking and Use of Tobacco Product (Control) (amendment) Act 2013 because of the absence of the Rules, which define certain of the provisions in the primary legislation, including technical matters to do with the graphic health warnings and the extent of public places.

E-liquid business potential “staggering”

| July 4, 2014

An e-liquid company in Ireland formed by ex-smokers has said it is creating 80 new jobs and that its head count could rise from 300 to 1,000 within a year, according to a story in the Irish Times.

The company, Healthier Smoker, says that 40 of the new jobs will be created in its 150 retail outlets and store concessions throughout the country, while another 40 will be in its 24,000 sq ft Waterford production facility, where €10 million is being invested in an expansion.

Healthier Smoker, which was formed two years ago, has gone from producing 1,000 bottles of e-liquid a week 18 months ago to producing 50,000 bottles per week.

It expects to be producing two million bottles per week by the autumn.

Spokesman, Stephen Ryan, said the company was “leading the way” in international best practice.

“Even the Chinese are buying from us in preference to their own manufacturers,” he said.

“The fact that we have a 95 per cent retention rate among people trialling the liquids speaks for itself and the response from customers certainly attests to it.”

The potential of the business was “staggering,” he added, with Ireland capable of becoming a “world-class center of excellence” for the production of e-liquids.

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