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India mulls over tobacco buying age of 25

| June 24, 2014

The Indian Health Ministry is considering a plan to lift the minimum age for buying tobacco products from 18 to 25, according to a story in the most recent issue of the BBM Bommidala Group newsletter.

Health Secretary Lov Verma said the ministry was writing to the state governments, which are responsible for such matters, asking them to lift the age.

The ministry said also that it would submit further suggestions to the states, including raising VAT on tobacco products and creating greater awareness about the dangers of smoking.

Philippines might bring in minimum price

| June 24, 2014

The Philippines’ Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) has suggested setting a minimum price for all cigarettes sold in the country “to ensure a level playing field” and discourage more people from taking up smoking, according to a story in The Philippine Star.

BIR commissioner Kim Henares broached the idea during a forum held yesterday, at which she was asked about the steps the government was taking about the proliferation of PHP1 per-stick cigarettes.

The second part of the so-called sin tax law (Republic Act 10351) was introduced in January 2013 with the aim of making tobacco more unaffordable to the public.

Henares said the implementation of the sin tax law in January 2013 had resulted in increased revenues for the government and that she saw no need to amend the “landmark reform.”

“I think you should lobby for a law which will require a minimum price, and not to touch the sin tax law anymore,” she told the forum delegates. “Lobby for a law that cigarettes in the Philippines should not be sold at below a certain price.

“If your complaint is about the cheapness of the price, then you go to the cost, you put a floor on the price. I don’t know how much it should be but the price is not an issue for the BIR.”

Another Davidoff to be launched in Korea

| June 24, 2014

Imperial Tobacco is to launch in South Korea a new version of Davidoff, according to a story in The Korea Herald.

The product will be launched through KT&G, with which Imperial has had a brand licensing agreement since 2010.

Roberto Ascoli, a divisional director at Imperial, said the licensing agreement had been a win-win strategy.

“They [KT&G] are the ones who have an infrastructure to quickly distribute and support brands,” Ascoli said. “And from their side, they also needed a partner with a premium brand—a brand that will compete with Marlboro and Dunhill. So there was a very much mutual benefit in working together.”

Ascoli’s remarks came during a short visit to Korea to discuss the imminent launch of the new Davidoff.

Sales of Davidoff also have benefited from KT&G’s market dominance, Imperial officials said, though they declined to reveal the figures.

KT&G is the dominant player in Korea, with a 62.6 percent market share in the first quarter.

Stressed-out and smoking in Hong Kong

| June 24, 2014

Many Hong Kong women take to cigarettes because of stress, according to a story in The Standard, quoting the Council on Smoking and Health.

And 60 percent of them don’t even think about quitting.

According to government census figures, there were at least 96,800 women smokers in 2012, compared with 56,100 in 1990.

And according to the government’s Thematic Household Survey Report, about 60 percent of female smokers had never tried to quit.

In a two-part study, the council and the University of Hong Kong looked into the cases of 73 female smokers in 2010 and surveyed 3,306 more women who were smoked, had quit or had not started in 2011–2012.

Researchers said the first part of the survey indicated that stress and moods were among the main reasons why women started and continued smoking.

In the second part, 45 percent of 1,274 current and former smokers said they started to smoke because of curiosity and 37 percent blamed peer influence.

William Li Ho-cheung, assistant professor at the HKU School of Nursing, said about 15 percent took up smoking due to emotional reasons that included feeling sad or bored (7.5 percent), being under pressure (4.9 percent) and needing to control negative emotions (2.2 percent).

Council chairwoman Lisa Lau Man-man said there should be increased resources for smoking cessation services and more emotional support for female smokers.

Huge rise in e-cigarette use

| June 24, 2014

Almost 30 million people across Europe now use e-cigarettes, according to a Reuters News story.

The people who use these devices are most likely to be aged between 15 and 24. They are most likely to smoke tobacco regularly while trying to quit.

The rising number of e-cigarette users has led to a staggering growth in the availability of these products, with about 10 new brands coming to market every month.

Writing in the journal Tobacco Control, researchers in the U.S. said their findings underlined the size and speed of growth in the market for e-cigarettes, and the need for more research into their potential risks and benefits.

Ireland provides some plain-packs details

| June 23, 2014

Ireland is circulating through the World Trade Organization details of the bill it intends to enact in respect of the “retail packaging of all tobacco products, the appearance of cigarettes and the presentation of tobacco products.”

Under the bill, retail packaging of all tobacco products would have to be of a prescribed color (outer and inner surfaces) and not have decorative ridges or embellishments. Colored adhesives would be banned.

Brand and variant names would appear, but only as prescribed, and marks or trademarks, other than health warnings or barcodes, would be banned.

Packs could not contain any inserted or affixed items other than those required by law.

And any wrapper would have to be transparent, uncolored, without decorative ridges, etc., and without marks or trademarks. Wrappers could not have anything attached to them other than a tear strip as prescribed.

Cigarettes would have to be covered in white paper, have a white filter tip with a covering that could be white or imitation cork. Brands and variant names would be permitted, but only as prescribed.

Inner linings would have to be of a prescribed color and material.

The retail packaging of tobacco products could not contain any audio effects, scents or any feature designed to alter the packaging after sale by retail.

Secondary legislation will be drafted to cover regulations governing the color, font type, font size, appearance and position of where the brand and variant name may be printed on tobacco products.

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