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PMI declares quarterly dividend

| June 11, 2014

The board of directors of Philip Morris International today declared a regular quarterly dividend of $0.94 per common share, payable on July 11 to shareholders of record as of June 26.

The ex-dividend date is June 24.

Call for minimum tobacco pricing

| June 10, 2014

An Australian independent senator is pushing for the introduction of minimum pricing for cigarettes to counter British American Tobacco’s launch of what is said to be the lowest priced licit cigarette on the market at A$13 for a pack of 25, according to a News Interactive Network story.

‘Senator Nick Xenophon has accused the tobacco giant of circumventing laws to discourage people from smoking,’ the story said.

Xenophon’s concern seems to be that BAT is using pricing as a way of keeping people smoking even though they are faced with the graphic images of the standardized tobacco packs introduced in Australia in December 2012: that the fear invoked by the terrible images is assuaged by a lower price.

He plans to ‘consult with public health experts on the most effective disincentive price but wants to see a minimum of $20 for a 25-pack’.

This was the best option to combat a “deeply cynical” campaign aimed at boosting the ranks of younger smokers, he said.

BAT was quoted as saying that it was simply seeking to remain competitive as sales of cut-price cigarettes soared.

It was clear when the idea of standardized packs was mooted that the removal of one competitive weapon, pack design and appeal, would lead to the sharpening of another – price.

U.K.-based opponents of plain tobacco packaging launch online campaign

| June 10, 2014

U.K. campaigners against the standardized packaging of tobacco today launched an online campaign against the policy.

The No, Prime Minister campaign was created by the smokers’ group Forest, which runs the Hands Off Our Packs program.

The campaign features a letter that opponents of standardized packaging can send to the prime minister, David Cameron.

According to the letter, there is no credible evidence that children start smoking because of packaging, or that standardized packaging would deter children from smoking.

It calls on Cameron to wait until the 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.

“Plain packaging is yet another attack on retailers and adult consumers,” said Simon Clark, director of Forest. “People are sick of being nannied by government. Britain needs to be protected from excessive regulation, not controlled by more and more legislation.

“A four-month government consultation resulted in over 665,000 responses with a substantial majority, 427,888, opposed to the policy. We urge the prime minister to respect the outcome of that consultation which members of the public responded to in good faith.”

The online ad campaign will run for 72 hours and will have total exposure on websites and blogs including Guido Fawkes, Conservative Home, Labour List, Liberal Democrat Voice, Left Foot Forward, UK Polling Report, Political Betting and Newsbiscuit.

Meanwhile, campaigners have responded to an open letter published in the BMJ in which more than 600 doctors, nurses and other NHS [National Health Service] professionals urge Cameron and the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to publish draft regulations on standardized tobacco packaging.

The letter warns there is a “relatively short time left” for the regulations to be introduced if they are to be voted on before next year’s general election, and asks the government to confirm they will be published in the next few weeks.

But Clark said the government was right to take its time.

The impact of standardized packaging on retailers and consumers could be extremely damaging, he said.

Evidence suggested that plain packaging could fuel the trade in illicit products and lead to the U.K. being flooded with fake cigarettes.

Urging the government to “keep an open mind” on standardized packaging, Clark said that if the consultation on the regulations was to have any meaning, ministers had to keep an open mind.

“A decision to introduce standardized packaging must be based on hard evidence that it will stop the next generation of children smoking,” he said.

“Conjecture and subjective opinion, which is all we’ve seen so far, are not enough.”

Bhutan ban remains but penalties relaxed

| June 10, 2014

Bhutan has amended for the second time the Tobacco Control Act it introduced in 2010, but the ban on the distribution and sale of tobacco products remains in force, according to a Kuensel Online story.

The National Assembly on Friday endorsed by 37 votes to five with two abstentions the Tobacco Control Act 2014, which has reduced the penalties applicable to those who breach provisions of the act.

Many observers will be pleased with the amendment because the original penalties were seen by them to have been unnecessarily harsh.

But even the new penalties amount to more than a rap on the knuckles.

According to the amended act, a person found cultivating, harvesting, manufacturing or trading tobacco or tobacco products is liable to pay a fine equivalent to a minimum of 12 months and a maximum of 35 months of the national daily wage. And if the offence is repeated, the person is liable to be charged with a fourth-degree felony.

The authorities have taken, too, a more pragmatic approach to the import of tobacco products. Fearing the proliferation of black market activities, the amendment allows for a three-fold rise in the permissible import of tobacco products.

A person can now bring into the country ‘900 cigarettes, 1,200 bidis, 150 cigars, and 750 grams of other tobacco or tobacco products a month,’ according to the story.

Call for full advertising ban in China

| June 10, 2014

Health professionals and tobacco control experts in China have called for tobacco advertising to be outlawed “fully,” according to a story in the People’s Daily.

They are concerned that a draft amendment to the country’s advertising law fails to stipulate such a ban explicitly.

The draft amendment was reviewed at an executive meeting of the State Council chaired by Premier Li Keqiang, and will be submitted to the legislative body after further revisions.

According to the draft, tobacco advertisements are not allowed on the radio, in movies, on television, as part of videos, in newspapers, journals, books and electronic publications, or as part of mobile communication networks or the Internet.

Tobacco advertising is banned also in waiting rooms, theaters, meeting halls, sports gymnasiums and stadiums, libraries, cultural halls, parks, hospitals, schools, and on public transport.

Liang Xiaofeng, deputy director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said the wording of the ban had loopholes that might be used by tobacco companies.

Meanwhile, Wu Yiqun, deputy director of the Beijing-based nongovernment organization Think Tank Research Center for Health Development, said tobacco advertising had a huge negative psychological impact on the public, especially on teenagers.

“It took 20 years before the advertising law was amended, it may take another 20 years if we fail to include an explicit tobacco advertising ban in the law this time,” Wu said.

The current advertising law came into effect in 1995.

Orion to manufacture Goodrich low-nicotine cigarettes

| June 9, 2014

Goodrich Tobacco Co., a subsidiary of 22nd Century Group, has signed a letter of intent with Orion, a cigarette manufacturer in Poland, to contract manufacture the company’s proprietary tobacco products to be distributed in the European Union.

Goodrich produces tobacco with very low nicotine levels. The firm will export its proprietary leaf from the United States to Orion. Orion will manufacture the finished cigarettes under the brands owned by Goodrich Tobacco, including Gold Magic, which yields only 0.037 mg of nicotine per cigarette, according to independent laboratory tests.

Previously, Goodrich entered into an exclusive distribution agreement with Wilshire Marketing for the Gold Magic brand in Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg.

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