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PMI a top employer in Europe

| February 11, 2015

Philip Morris International said yesterday that it had been recognized as a top employer in Europe for the third consecutive year, in recognition of the high standards in its working environment.

Certification was said to have been the result of independent assessment by the Top Employers’ Institute, which also recognized PMI’s affiliates as leading employers in 15 countries in Europe.

“The recognition of Philip Morris International as Top Employer is a reflection of the high standards that we hold ourselves to in our people practices, both in the EU region and across the globe,” said Victoria Shevchuk, vice president human resources EU and PMI labour relations.

“We raise the bar every year to remain contemporary in all we do and to promote our dynamic, rewarding and truly diverse work environment, which is a critical success factor for our business.”

PMI is one of 27 companies to be named top employer regionally this year.

National honors went also to PMI teams in Belgium, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Slovakia, Spain, Switzerland, UK and Ukraine, doubling the number of PMI affiliates ranked nationally by the Top Employers Institute in 2013.

“Our comprehensive research concluded that PMI and its certified affiliates provide an outstanding employment environment that offers a wide range of creative initiatives for the employees’ personal and professional development” said Judith Oude Sogtoen, director of international business development, Top Employers Institute.

In a note posted on its website, PMI said it employed more than 82,000 people worldwide, of which about 15,000 were based in Europe. ‘The company offers strong reward and recognition programs, robust training and development programs, as well as challenging career opportunities in a global and diverse work environment,’ it said. ‘In 2014 alone, nearly 1,800 of PMI’s employees worked outside their home country on an international assignment.’

The note went on to say that the Top Employer certification was awarded by the Top Employer Institute following a robust assessment, validated by the auditing company Grant Thornton, of the companies’ practices in a number of areas, including compensation and employee benefits, career development, working conditions and training and development.

Cigar industry mourns Tony Barone

| February 10, 2015

Cigar icon Tony Barone died this week after a brief battle with cancer. Barone’s passing comes less than two years after he retired from Commonwealth-Altadis, following a long and illustrious career.

The family will hold a “life celebration” for Barone on Saturday, on Feb. 14 in Pompano Beach, Florida, USA.

Born in Tampa, Florida Barone was the fourth generation in his family to work with cigars. He started his career at BIC Corp. and later joined Hav-A-Tampa, where he served in various sales and marketing functions.

Barone’s sales skills were legendary. Colleagues said he could sell a million cigars by simply picking up the phone.

Plain packaging ‘consultation’ planned in Norway

| February 10, 2015

The Norwegian government looks set to impose standardized packaging on all tobacco products.

According to a press note issued by the Norway Government Administration Services (NGAS), the government plans to consult on its standardized-packaging proposal, which would apply to cigarettes and snus.

But a note issued by the International Union Against Cancer (UICC) said that the ‘communication’ would aim at creating awareness among young people, policy makers, and interested organizations and groups as to why standardized packaging was an important and necessary measure to reduce the uptake of smoking and positively impact people’s health.

The note was issued after a press conference that included the Norwegian Minister of Health and Care Services, Bent Høie, and the secretary general of the Norwegian Cancer Society, Anne Lise Ryel.

In the NGAS press note, Høie was quoted as saying that it was known that young people were influenced by the appearance of tobacco packaging. ‘Packaging may be what makes them try tobacco for the first time, or what deters them from it,’ he said in the note. ‘No one wants young people to use tobacco, and it’s time to stop the marketing of tobacco products to young people.’

Høie went on to talk of the dangers of smoking and snus consumption. ‘Smoking remains one of our most significant public health challenges,’ he said. ‘Every year, about 6,600 people in Norway die from diseases caused by smoking. Snus (smokeless tobacco) is also harmful to health and can cause cancer, type 2 diabetes and increased mortality connected to a number of diseases. Snus use during pregnancy increases the risk of premature birth and stillbirth.

‘Smoking among young people has declined over the past decade, and five percent of 16-24 year olds smoke. We have however seen a sharp increase among young people who use snus in the last decade…

‘The large increase in snus use among youth started after the snus industry began developing products that appeal to young people, including snus boxes with new designs, new colors and flavorings such as vanilla, menthol and licorice. My goal is to prevent children and young people from using tobacco.’

The NGAS note said the Ministry of Health and Care Services would publish the consultation on the proposal at the end of February.

Under the proposal, all tobacco packaging would have to use a specific color (dark or dull green perhaps), brand and variant names would have to use a standardized color, font, size and location on the package, and manufacturer’s logos and other design elements would be banned.

E-cigarettes not as addictive as tobacco counterparts

| February 10, 2015

A leading US health expert has said that electronic cigarettes do not seem to be anywhere close to tobacco cigarettes in respect of their potential to cause addiction.

Writing on his Rest of the Story blog, Dr Siegel, a Professor in the Department of Community Health Sciences, Boston University School of Public Health, said that electronic cigarettes were probably much closer to nicotine gums, which were not particularly addictive.

Siegel was commenting on a new study published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence (Etter JF, Eissenberg T. Dependence levels in users of electronic cigarettes, nicotine gums, and tobacco cigarettes. Drug and Alcohol Dependence 2015; 147:68-75.)

The primary reason for electronic cigarettes’ lower addictive potential is thought to be down to their ‘inferior’ nicotine delivery system, compared with that of tobacco cigarettes, a phenomenon that Eissenberg demonstrated in a previous study.

‘While use of electronic cigarettes by youth remains an important concern, it does not appear that there is major potential for huge numbers of youth to become quickly addicted to these products, despite the fact that they contain nicotine,’ said Siegel.

The Rest of the Story is at:

AOI planning ‘comprehensive global restructuring’

| February 10, 2015

In announcing yesterday its third quarter results to the end of December, Alliance One International’s CEO and president, Pieter Sikkel, said that the company was planning a comprehensive global restructuring program to position it better for the future.

The restructuring program would start during the fourth quarter and be completed over18 months.

‘As part of the plan we will look to further improve efficiencies in our operations around the world, continue to reduce our cost structure and optimize our global footprint,’ said Sikkel. ‘Improvements to our global footprint will include rationalizing certain markets that are not meeting performance metrics and do not represent strong future opportunities, while maximizing core markets where investments have been made over the past four years.

‘We are starting to see crop production volumes decrease in line with manufacturers’ requirements for global crops that should better balance supply with demand in the future. We will continue to monitor industry conditions that have impacted some of our customers’ volumes, as we execute on plans to make our operations more efficient, provide additional value-added services and reduce sourcing complexity…’

During the third quarter, AOI’s total sales and other operating revenues decreased by 25.3 percent to $488.9 million, primarily due to a 21.9 percent decrease in full service volumes.

Reduced volumes were said to have been due mainly to the delayed timing of shipments from Africa and North America, the deconsolidation of a Brazilian subsidiary following completion of a joint venture in March 2014, less favorable weather conditions in some sourcing markets and the impact of tobacco oversupply in the global market.

‘As a result of the oversupply, prices paid to tobacco suppliers in Brazil and Africa were lower this year, which reduced our average sale prices and tobacco costs on a per kilo basis,’ AOI said in a note posted on its website. ‘Also reducing average sale prices and tobacco costs per kilo was the impact of product and customer mix in Asia and Africa.

‘Processing revenue and cost of services increases were mainly related to a larger US flue cured crop this year that led to increased customer requirements.

‘Primarily the result of lower volumes, gross profit decreased 16.8 percent to $69.7 million.

‘As a result of customer and product mix in Africa and Asia, as well as lower conversion costs in North America due to the larger US flue cured crop this year, our gross profit as a percentage of sales improved from 12.8 percent to 14.3 percent.

Imperial to issue interim statement

| February 10, 2015

UK-based Imperial Tobacco is due to issue an Interim Management Statement on February 12.

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