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Indonesia to curb ‘surging demand’

| July 4, 2014

The Indonesian government is expected soon to issue regulations aimed at curbing the production and sale of locally-made alcoholic drinks and cigarettes, according to a story by Linda Yulisman for The Jakarta Post.

The move comes amid what is described as ‘surging demand from the domestic market’.

Panggah Susanto, director general of agriculture and chemical industries at the Industry Ministry, was quoted as saying his office would issue a regulation primarily aimed at controlling illegally produced liquor.

But another regulation would be issued to manage the production of cigarettes, including clove cigarettes, and show the country’s commitment to tobacco control.

Panggah was said not to have given details about his regulatory plans for cigarettes, and it seemed as though at least part of his proposal would be aimed at cutting production by reducing demand. Under the plans, increases in cigarette excise duties would be used to raise prices and put cigarettes beyond the financial reach of at least some smokers.

But the picture is not clear and the Industry Ministry is said to have asked the Finance Ministry to reduce the excise imposed on hand-rolled clove cigarettes to avert further factory shutdowns.

South Korea’s men still smoking strongly

| July 4, 2014

South Korea’s adult male smoking incidence, at 37.6 per cent, is second only to that of Greece, 43.7 per cent, among the 34 countries that make up the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), according to a story in The Korea Economic Daily.

The average adult male smoking incidence among OECD countries is 24.9 per cent.

In the same story, the Daily reported that, according to OECD Health Data 2014 published by the Ministry of Health and Welfare on July 2, Korea’s death rate from suicide as of 2012 was 29.1 persons per every 1,000, the highest rate among OECD members.

Leaf growers want say at FCTC meetings

| July 3, 2014

The International Tobacco Growers’ Association (ITGA) yesterday urged the World Health Organization to engage with growers when parties to the WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) developed polices impacting growers’ livelihoods, according to a Xinhua News Agency report.

ITGA President Francois van der Merwe said at the end of a two-day regional annual meeting in the Zimbabwean capital Harare that tobacco growers were concerned about their exclusion from FCTC meetings where crucial decisions were made about regulating the tobacco industry.

“We don’t know what they are going to propose,” Van der Merwe said in reference to the meeting of the FCTC’s Conference of the Parties scheduled for Moscow in October. “We are worried because we have not been involved.”

Van der Merwe said the ITGA had produced a seven-point declaration in which it called for reasonable, sensible and evidence-based proposals by the FCTC to regulate the sector.

More women smoking in Bahrain

| July 3, 2014

A recent report from Bahrain’s Health Ministry has indicated that smoking among women is on the rise, according to a story in the Gulf Daily News.

The incidence of smoking among women currently stands at 7 percent, up from 5.7 percent in 1991.

The News story attributed the rise to “various reasons,” but suggested that women were picking up the habit while still at school because of peer pressure.

Officially, cigarettes were not sold to minors, the paper said, and the idea of selling cigarettes to young women was considered taboo.

However, the paper added that, according to [unnamed] sources, schoolgirls were able to obtain cigarettes “very easily.”

The News story pointed out, too, that many of the country’s doctors, health officials and teachers were smokers.

Committee supports third-party tax audits

| July 3, 2014

Members of the Philippines’ House Ways and Means Committee have endorsed a proposal to assign a nongovernment organization to monitor tax compliance at cigarette companies, according to a story by Gil Cabacungan for the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Representatives Emil Ong and Roy Señeres said they would file a resolution deputizing the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Alliance of the Philippines to conduct third-party audits of tax payments by cigarette companies.

The development comes amid fears that the sin tax reforms of 2012 have been undermined by chronic tax-evasion schemes, specifically the use of “duplicate tax stamps.”

The alliance expressed concerns over a recent study commissioned by Philip Morris International that showed the Philippines had lost an estimated PHP15.6 billion in revenue because the sale of tax-dodging cigarettes had increased nearly three-fold to PHP17.1 billion last year, from PHP6.1 billion in 2012.

An earlier story, however, quoted the Bureau of Internal Revenue Commissioner Kim Henares as saying the proposal to use third-party agents would violate the tax code.

Illicit trade one-fifth of Bulgarian market

| July 3, 2014

Every fifth cigarette in Bulgaria is illicit, according to a Novinite story quoting a survey commissioned by World Concern, a Christian-based global relief and development organization.

Novinite attributed the high level of illicit trade to excise duties that double the price of cigarettes.

However, it quoted the BVT channel as having reported that Bulgaria suffered “losses” of nearly BGN500 million due to the “unpaid excise duty” on tobacco products.

The authorities have reported positive results in the fight against contraband, however. During 2013 alone, customs agents seized 44 million cigarettes and nearly 0.250 tonnes of tobacco.

Nevertheless, according to data obtained by BVT from various nongovernmental organizations, cigarette smugglers in Bulgaria make more money than drug dealers make.

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