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Smoking prevalence down to 12.9 percent in Taipei

| February 17, 2015

Taipei’s smoking prevalence among adults aged 18 and above dropped from 18.9 percent in 2008 to 12.9 percent last year, the lowest level among Taiwan’s major cities and counties, according to a story in the Taipei Times quoting Ministry of Health and Welfare statistics.

The Taipei Department of Health is crediting its stringent ban on smoking in all indoor public spaces and some outdoor venues, along with the growing awareness of the health risks of tobacco use, for the drop of 130,000 in the number of city residents who smoke.

But the drop is said to be the result also of cessation programs. According to the Times’ story, while 20 percent of ‘men’ who relied solely on willpower to quit smoking succeeded, 32.5 percent of ‘Taipei residents’ who used the second-generation Smoking Cessation Program were successful.

The program was implemented in March 2012, but, since January 12, it has offered smoking cessation drugs that are fully covered by the National Health Insurance system in 3,049 hospitals, clinics and community pharmacies nationwide.

Smokers using the service are required to pay only a medical registration fee ranging from NT$50 to NT$250 per visit, and 20 percent of the cost of medication, with a cap of NT$200 per prescription. Previously, they had to pay all of the costs beyond the maximum weekly subsidy of NT$250.

Punjab cracks down on electronic cigarette vendors

| February 17, 2015

The charging of four vendors in the Punjab, India, for selling electronic cigarettes and liquid nicotine has made the pages of the Hindustan Times and drawn a comment from Hussan Lal, described as ‘Commissioner FDA and Punjab Secretary Health and Family Welfare’.

As well as being charged with the sales offences, the four vendors have been charged also with ‘violating the directive issued by the state government to make the state tobacco free’.

They are said to have been charged under various sections of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, part of which bans electronic cigarettes.

Lal was quoted as saying that as many as 20 districts of the Punjab had ‘already been declared tobacco free’.

Meanwhile, Ajay Singla, state drug controller, Punjab, said electronic cigarettes contained nicotine in chemical form which was a “lethal and addictive chemical”.

Under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, nicotine was allowed to be manufactured only as nicotine gums or lozenges. “Every other product which contained nicotine is illegal,” he said.

Employers need specific workplace vaping rules

| February 17, 2015

A recent UK employment tribunal case has sounded a warning that an employer wishing to dismiss an employee for vaping might not be able to fall back on its conventional smoking policy to justify the action taken, according to a piece on cipd.co.uk quoting Stuart Jones, head of employment and pensions at Weightmans.

The case in question did not concern a dismissal, but a constructive dismissal, and the tribunal found that the employer had ‘reasonable and proper cause’ for all of its actions.

However, the tribunal identified as a ‘point of concern’ that, while the employer clearly considered vaping to be the equivalent of smoking, it was not clear that the employee had breached any policy by using an electronic cigarette. She had not been informed of the specific rule she had broken because there was no rule in force prohibiting the use of electronic cigarettes. The only potentially relevant policy in place was a conventional no-smoking policy.

Jones commented that if an employer decided that a ban on electronic cigarettes was necessary and appropriate, it would need to consider amending any existing no-smoking policy to explicitly prohibit electronic cigarettes. And any policy would have to extend to third parties, such as visitors.

If an employer chose to restrict, rather than ban electronic cigarettes, a clear policy on usage was advisable. Employers would need to think also about how any changes would be communicated to employees. Avoiding misunderstanding around this relatively novel issue was crucial.

Dismissal in the absence of a designated policy or provision might potentially be fair, but was more likely to be fair where an employer could point to a breach of a specific rule. While all cases would turn on their own facts, a clear and consistently applied policy would certainly strengthen an employer’s position where dismissal was contemplated.

Banks increase support for tobacco production

| February 16, 2015

Tobacco farmers have received an estimated 58 percent of Zimbabwe’s cumulative agricultural bank loans this summer. This translated to about $600 million of the estimated $1 billion that banks budgeted as production support for agriculture during the 2014-2015 season.

The country is targeting to produce 222 million kilograms (kg) of the crop this season, up from 216 million kg from the previous season.

Zimbabwe Farmers’ Union (ZFU) Executive Director, Paul Zakariya said banks have an appetite to finance tobacco production ahead of other crops because of the limited risks that arise when the crop is auctioned.

“Banks are more keen to support tobacco because of the solid stable policy environment under which the crop is performing.”

“This also relates to the organized marketing of tobacco through the stop-order system, which allows banks to easily follow through on their loans,” said Zakariya.

Tomra advances to the final of European Business Awards

| February 16, 2015

Tomra has been named as a Ruban d’Honneur recipient and one of 10 finalists now being considered for the 2014-2015 European Business Awards in the category “The Business of the Year with Turnover of €150 million or higher.”

The European Business Awards recognize and reward excellence, best practice and innovation in companies across Europe. The competition is free to enter and open to organizations of all sizes and from any industry sector. Now in its eighth year, The European Business Awards has engaged with over 24,000 businesses from 33 European countries this year.

In the first stage of this year’s competition Tomra was named as one of 10 National Champions from Norway. In the second stage just completed 110 Ruban d’Honneur recipients were chosen from 709 National Champions by a panel of judges made up of European business and political leaders, academics and entrepreneurs. Tomra will now go on to compete in the third and final round of judging resulting in 11 overall category winners to be announced later this year.

“We are very proud to have been recognized as one of Europe’s most dynamic companies by the esteemed and thorough European Business Awards judging process,” said Stefan Ranstrand, Tomra president and CEO. “It is indeed an honor to have attained the Ruban d’Honneur distinction, and we look forward now to participating in the final round of the European Business Awards review.”

Tomra will now be competing against nine other companies to win the overall 2014-2015 European Business Awards’ Business of the Year category.  This award will go to the outstanding company that best demonstrates exceptional financial returns, strong growth and innovation strategies, and market leadership in its sector. Judges will look for evidence of inventiveness, ethical credentials, good stakeholder relationships and long-term planning balanced by the flexibility to deliver consistent results in dynamic market conditions.

 

JTI buys Ploom name and product; Ploom becomes Pax Labs

| February 16, 2015

JTI will acquire Ploom’s ModelTwo and pods product line—including the Ploom trademark—and general intellectual property related to ModelTwo and pods. Concurrent with the transaction, Ploom will buy back JTI’s minority stake in order to focus on Ploom’s successful PAX business and an expanding product portfolio.

Ploom’s new corporate name will be Pax Labs.

Financial details of the transaction were not released. The transaction is expected to close during the first quarter of 2015.

“This partnership has afforded both parties many mutual benefits, and we are proud of our success with the pods product line,” says James Monsees, Pax Labs founder and CEO. “Both companies will profit from this fresh approach. Operating as Pax Labs, our focus on vaporization delivery products will fuel continued growth, especially as we enter new market segments.

“In addition to Pax, our industry-leading, loose-leaf vaporization product, we anticipate rapid rollouts of new products and further expansion into international markets.”

Pax is an open system vaporizer that heats loose-leaf tobacco. It is currently available in the U.S. and Canada. To date, more than 500,000 units have been sold.

 

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