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New RAI website to raise awareness of U.S. black market in cigarettes

| May 30, 2014

A new website has been launched with the aim of raising awareness of the black market cigarette trade in the U.S.

Sponsored by RAI Services Co., a subsidiary of Reynolds American Inc., the new website aims also to encourage states to pass stiffer penalties for smuggling and devote more resources to enforcement.

“Cigarette smuggling costs states an estimated $5.5 billion annually,” said a note posted on RAI’s website announcing the new website.

The new website, www.thenewtobaccoroad.com, is said to show how Interstate 95 has become a key transit route for cigarette smuggling from southern states to the Northeast. “The illegal profits that are being derived from these operations benefit an organized-crime infrastructure already experienced in transporting illegal drugs and other contraband, and fostering violent crime up and down the I-95 corridor,” said the RAI note.

The website aims to provide “important information of interest to lawmakers, law enforcement officials and concerned citizens on how serious the problem of cigarette smuggling really is, and what federal and state governments can do about it.”

It features access to recent studies and news reports on the prevalence and cost of cigarette smuggling for the major states along I-95.

Gamucci is ‘Best Electronic Cigarette’

| May 30, 2014

Gamucci was crowned the U.K.’s “Best Electronic Cigarette” brand at the recent Consumer Choice Awards 2014, organized by Brand Weekly.

The innovative awards are based on the views of consumers who nominate and vote for products and services.

This new approach to awards reflects the growth of social media and other online platforms that have caused consumers increasingly to look to other consumers for recommendations on the best products and services on the market.

The e-cigarette award was one of the awards that generated most consumer votes, alongside those for Best High Street Retailer and Best Consumer Mobile App.

Gamucci was launched on the U.K. market in 2007 and is now sold in 55 countries.

“From inception, Gamucci invested heavily in R&D to develop the world’s first disposable electronic cigarette and integrated cartomizer technology, for which it has been granted a U.K. patent and has a U.S. patent pending,” the company said in announcing its award. “In the U.K., its products are available at Tesco, Waitrose, WHSmith and a number of other leading retailers.”

Meanwhile, in a joint statement, Taz and Umer Sheikh, co-founders of Gamucci, said it meant a great deal that consumers had voted for Gamucci as their e-cigarette of choice.

“This shows that product quality is becoming increasingly important as the market continues to develop.

“In a category where brand loyalty and intimacy is still lacking and the market place is very crowded, this is a massive vote of confidence for Gamucci ‘the brand.’

“A lot of expertise lies behind the product, and our customers recognize that they will get the same consistent and enjoyable experience each and every time.”

JTI announces shareholder meeting

| May 30, 2014

Japan Tobacco Inc. is due to hold its ordinary general meeting of shareholders starting at 10 a.m. on June 24 at the Tokyo Prince Hotel.

Harm reduction should form basis of progressive regulation, says BAT

| May 29, 2014

British American Tobacco is calling on the World Health Organization and governments around the world to adopt a policy of tobacco harm reduction as a more progressive approach to tobacco regulation, according to a note posted on the company’s website.

In support of its call, BAT quoted WHO estimates that suggest there are now one billion smokers across the globe and that by 2050 this number could increase to 2.2 billion.

“For governments seeking to reduce tobacco use, we believe it’s time for new, more progressive approaches to be considered,” said Kingsley Wheaton, director of corporate and regulatory affairs. “One such solution is to offer adult smokers a choice of substantially less risky products such as e-cigarettes.

“This approach is what many refer to as ‘tobacco harm reduction.’ However, for this to work, governments and the public health community need to embrace this concept and the products that support it.”

BAT seems to have spoken out at least partly because recent media reports have suggested that less risky nicotine products such as e-cigarettes could be classified as tobacco products by the WHO. Such a classification could prompt governments eventually to subject e-cigarettes to hefty excise duty, public smoking bans and severe marketing restrictions, all of which would hamper their growth and development.

“If e-cigarettes are classified as tobacco products, then the associated regulatory hurdles will mean smokers will find it harder to access less risky alternatives—this can only be a bad thing for public health,” said Wheaton.

“We hope the arguments being made by the scientific community, the industry and public health campaigners will demonstrate the need for policy makers to carefully consider the benefits of tobacco harm reduction and give it their full support.”

BAT said it invested about £170 million a year in research and development that was enabling it to develop an expanding range of alternative tobacco and nicotine products, and that had allowed it to launch its first e-cigarette, Vype.

“We believe we can and should be a part of this debate and possible solutions, given our knowledge of consumers and our global reach,” said Wheaton.

“Tobacco harm reduction provides a progressive public health policy direction. We welcome the opportunity to collaborate on making this policy a global reality.”

Plain packaging not a done deal in U.K.

| May 29, 2014

Ahead of the U.K. government’s consultation on standardized packaging regulations, the smokers’ group Forest is urging retailers and consumers to write to the prime minister, David Cameron, declaring their opposition to the policy.

Forest believes that such regulations could be included in the Queen’s Speech on June 4, which will outline the government’s agenda for the coming session of parliament.

A website, No Prime Minister (www.noprimeminister.org.uk), includes a letter that can be sent to Cameron.

“There is no credible evidence that children start smoking because of the packaging, or that ‘plain’ packaging will deter children from smoking,” the letter reads.

“A four-month government consultation in 2012 resulted in over 665,000 responses, with a substantial majority (427,888) opposed to the policy.

“Before pressing ahead with legislation, I urge you to wait until government has studied the impact of the tobacco display ban, which will not be fully implemented until 2015, and the introduction of larger health warnings which are being introduced in 2016 as part of the EU’s revised Tobacco Products Directive.”

According to the website, “Standardized packaging is the start of a slippery slope that will eventually lead to other potentially unhealthy products, including alcohol, sugary drinks and fast food, being sold in dull, uniform packaging.”

“The argument that plain packs will stop children smoking is based not on hard evidence but on conjecture,” said Simon Clark, the director of Forest, which runs the Hands Off Our Packs campaign and is responsible for the No Prime Minister website.

Urging retailers and consumers to write to the prime minister, Clark made the point that whereas a lot of people believed that standardized tobacco packaging was a done deal; it was not.

“There is still everything to play for so people must make their views known to government, and the prime minister in particular,” he said.

“If you feel strongly about this issue act now. It’s not too late to make a difference.”

Uganda’s proposed tobacco control bill under fire from Kampala traders

| May 29, 2014

The Kampala City Traders’ Association (Kacita) has thrown its weight behind those opposing some aspects of Uganda’s proposed Tobacco Control Bill, according to a story in The Observer.

Kacita’s chairman, Everest Kayondo, described the law as “draconian and [one that] would cost Uganda business opportunities.”

If the bill were passed in its current form, he said, it would cost billions of shillings in taxes, and hundreds of farming jobs in northwestern Uganda.

The traders have taken issue with provisions of the bill that ban the sale of tobacco products within half a kilometer of public institutions such as schools, hospitals and public offices, and that ban the display of tobacco packs in retail outlets.

“If people have invested their money, they need to sell and make a profit,” said Kayondo.

Recently, Elly Karuhanga, the chairman of British American Tobacco Uganda (BATU), advised MPs to consider the economic benefits of the tobacco trade.

The Uganda Revenue Authority ranked BATU the sixth-largest taxpayer in the country in 2010–2011, the latest year for which rankings are available.

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