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Complaint filed over use of tobacco-goods surcharge

| February 4, 2015

A smokers’ rights group yesterday filed a complaint with Taiwan’s Control Yuan, urging the watchdog organization to look into recent allegations that the Health Promotion Administration (HPA) had misused the health and welfare surcharge on tobacco products, according to a story in the Taipei Times.(Wikipedia describes the Control Yuan as being one of five branches of Taiwan’s government; specifically an investigatory agency that monitors the other branches of government.)

The Taiwan Smokers’ Rights Promotion Association (TSRPA) made the move about a week after several Taiwan Solidarity Union legislators accused the administration of having allowed different government agencies to use 30 percent of the surcharge revenue, which amounts to nearly NT$30 billion (US$949 million) a year, on unrelated matters.

“The administration has dismissed the allegations by claiming that there is nothing illegal about the matter,” said TSRPA director-general Chen Chi-an during a press conference in front of the Control Yuan. “It has also threatened to take legal action against whoever reports, shares or comments on such unfounded rumors.”

Chen said the agency’s “condescending response” had prompted the association to lodge the complaint against the HPA director-general Chiou Shu-ti on three grounds: dereliction of duty; benefiting specific individuals and political parties; and inadequate implementation of government policies.

The association urged the Control Yuan also to investigate appropriations of the tobacco surcharge’s revenue over the past few years.

The story said that Chiou could not be reached for comments as of press time but added that at a separate event earlier in the day she had said that the Tobacco Control Act stipulated that the surcharge on tobacco sales should be reviewed and adjusted every two years, but that six years had passed since the last increase in the levy.

“There are three major obstacles standing in the way of another increase: corporations, corporations and corporations,” Chiou was quoted as saying.

She said her agency’s plans were to raise the surcharge and sales tax on cigarettes by NT$20 and NT$5 per pack respectively in the near future, a plan that she said could reduce the nation’s smoking rate by 20.8 percent, prompt 740,000 smokers to quit and create a long-term benefit of about NT$296 billion to society.

Japan Tobacco moves to sharpen tobacco focus

| February 4, 2015

In announcing today its decision to withdraw from the beverage business, Japan Tobacco Inc said that enhancing the competitiveness of its tobacco business was the priority for its resource allocation.

In a note posted on its website, JT said that its board of directors had resolved to withdraw from the manufacture and sale of beverage products in Japan and that it expected to discontinue such operations by September.

‘After carefully considering the growth strategy for the manufacture and sale of JT beverage products, the company has concluded that it will be difficult to make a profitable contribution to the JT Group in the mid- to long-term,’ the note said in part.

JT entered the beverage business in 1988.

Flue-cured export earnings up hugely in Zimbabwe

| February 3, 2015

Zimbabwe’s flue-cured exports in January, at 23.5 million kg, were up by 327 percent on those of January 2014, 5.5 million kg, according to a story in the Zimbabwe Herald.

Export prices were said to have averaged $7.70 per kg in January, up from $4.22 per kg during January 2013.

As a result, flue-cured export earnings increased by 680 percent from $23.2 million to $181.7 million.

Zimbabwe’s 2014 flue-cured tobacco marketing season ended with 216.2 million kg having been sold, 30 percent more than was sold during the 2013 season, according to a story in The Herald in September.

Earnings were increased by 12 percent from USS612.1 million to US$685.2 million, but growers had to put up with an average price that was down by 14 percent from US$3.67 per kg to US$3.17 per kg.

One observer claimed in November that Zimbabwe could up its tobacco export earnings to about $6 billion if it made those exports in the form of cigarettes.

Administrators lead the way in South Lebanon

| February 3, 2015

Public administration buildings in South Lebanon are due to become tobacco smoke-free zones from March 1, according to a story by Mohammed Zaatari for the Daily Star that quoted an announcement by the South Lebanon Governor Mansour Daou.

The ban, part of Law 174, which prohibits smoking in all public places, will apply to all public administration buildings in the southern governorate, as well as police and military offices.

Those found to be in violation of the law will be liable to a fine of up to LL135,000.

The governor described the decision as a “civilizing” measure intended to curb the consequences of smoking, which he said were huge and affected everyone.

“We officials in public administration should be the first to implement Law 174 to serve as an example to others,” he added.

Smokers, however, will not be left with nowhere to go; as happens in some parts of the world, because special smoking zones will be created outside.

“They [smokers] will have to bear the cold of the winter and the sun of the summer and we will provide the ashtrays,” Daou said.

Sustainable pack debate opened up by Iggesund

| February 3, 2015

Iggesund Paperboard is working with the American crowdsourcing company Crowdspring to challenge the world’s designers to improve existing consumer packaging.

“Every day we all see examples of packaging that could be improved by a better choice of materials or a better design,” said Staffan Sjöberg, who is in charge of the project at Iggesund. “Now we’re giving designers all over the world the chance to contribute their ideas on how to replace packaging made of glass, plastic or metal with solutions that use paperboard.”

Sjöberg said that Iggesund was not looking for inexpensive ideas that could be put into commercial use. Instead, the aim was to get a picture of how global designers believed they could steer packaging development in a more sustainable direction.

“We will not claim any commercial rights to the ideas that come in,” Sjöberg said. “We’re just interested in getting a snapshot of how designers believe they can improve the packaging they see in the shops they visit on a daily basis. We want to publish the ideas and maybe reproduce some of them in physical form but we are not interested in exploiting them commercially.”

For Crowdspring the collaboration with Iggesund Paperboard is an unusual project. Normally the online marketplace’s services are used when someone wants either a number of inexpensive design proposals or a wide range of ideas.

“This is an unusual reason for initiating a project with us,” said Mike Samson, who is co-ordinating the project with Iggesund. “But we believe its combination of sustainability and innovative thinking will attract many of the thousands of designers listed in our database.”

Lorillard to announce results February 11

| February 3, 2015

Lorillard said yesterday that it would release its fourth quarter and full year 2014 results on February 11, before the market opens.

The news release is due to be made available under the Investor Relations section of Lorillard’s website at www.lorillard.com.

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