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Leaf growers want say at FCTC meetings

| July 3, 2014

The International Tobacco Growers’ Association (ITGA) yesterday urged the World Health Organization to engage with growers when parties to the WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) developed polices impacting growers’ livelihoods, according to a Xinhua News Agency report.

ITGA President Francois van der Merwe said at the end of a two-day regional annual meeting in the Zimbabwean capital Harare that tobacco growers were concerned about their exclusion from FCTC meetings where crucial decisions were made about regulating the tobacco industry.

“We don’t know what they are going to propose,” Van der Merwe said in reference to the meeting of the FCTC’s Conference of the Parties scheduled for Moscow in October. “We are worried because we have not been involved.”

Van der Merwe said the ITGA had produced a seven-point declaration in which it called for reasonable, sensible and evidence-based proposals by the FCTC to regulate the sector.

More women smoking in Bahrain

| July 3, 2014

A recent report from Bahrain’s Health Ministry has indicated that smoking among women is on the rise, according to a story in the Gulf Daily News.

The incidence of smoking among women currently stands at 7 percent, up from 5.7 percent in 1991.

The News story attributed the rise to “various reasons,” but suggested that women were picking up the habit while still at school because of peer pressure.

Officially, cigarettes were not sold to minors, the paper said, and the idea of selling cigarettes to young women was considered taboo.

However, the paper added that, according to [unnamed] sources, schoolgirls were able to obtain cigarettes “very easily.”

The News story pointed out, too, that many of the country’s doctors, health officials and teachers were smokers.

Committee supports third-party tax audits

| July 3, 2014

Members of the Philippines’ House Ways and Means Committee have endorsed a proposal to assign a nongovernment organization to monitor tax compliance at cigarette companies, according to a story by Gil Cabacungan for the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Representatives Emil Ong and Roy Señeres said they would file a resolution deputizing the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Alliance of the Philippines to conduct third-party audits of tax payments by cigarette companies.

The development comes amid fears that the sin tax reforms of 2012 have been undermined by chronic tax-evasion schemes, specifically the use of “duplicate tax stamps.”

The alliance expressed concerns over a recent study commissioned by Philip Morris International that showed the Philippines had lost an estimated PHP15.6 billion in revenue because the sale of tax-dodging cigarettes had increased nearly three-fold to PHP17.1 billion last year, from PHP6.1 billion in 2012.

An earlier story, however, quoted the Bureau of Internal Revenue Commissioner Kim Henares as saying the proposal to use third-party agents would violate the tax code.

Illicit trade one-fifth of Bulgarian market

| July 3, 2014

Every fifth cigarette in Bulgaria is illicit, according to a Novinite story quoting a survey commissioned by World Concern, a Christian-based global relief and development organization.

Novinite attributed the high level of illicit trade to excise duties that double the price of cigarettes.

However, it quoted the BVT channel as having reported that Bulgaria suffered “losses” of nearly BGN500 million due to the “unpaid excise duty” on tobacco products.

The authorities have reported positive results in the fight against contraband, however. During 2013 alone, customs agents seized 44 million cigarettes and nearly 0.250 tonnes of tobacco.

Nevertheless, according to data obtained by BVT from various nongovernmental organizations, cigarette smugglers in Bulgaria make more money than drug dealers make.

Age limit checks beefed up in Davao City

| July 3, 2014

The Council of Davao City, the Philippines, is expected to add to an existing ordinance prohibiting minors from buying and selling alcoholic drinks and cigarettes a requirement that buyers present valid documents indicating their birthdates.

According to a story in the Sun Star (Davao), the council passed the proposed amendment at its first reading on Tuesday.

Based on the provisions of the draft ordinance, all business owners would be “mandated to determine the age of their would-be buyers by requiring them to present their identification documents that establish or indicate the person’s age before selling or serving to them liquors and cigarettes.”

Identification documents include a whole range of government-issued IDs, including drivers’ licenses and other documents, such as school and employee IDs.

In addition, the proposed ordinance would prohibit people from sending minors on errands to buy cigarettes and alcohol.

Imperial could play role in any merger between Reynolds and Lorillard

| July 2, 2014

Imperial Tobacco could help smooth the path toward the acquisition by Reynolds American of Lorillard, according to a story by Richard Craver for The Winston-Salem Journal.

Such an acquisition has been the subject of speculation since early March.

Imperial, which operates as Commonwealth Brands in the U.S., is said to have U.S. growth ambitions, and the current speculation is that it might buy Reynolds’ non-growth cigarette brands that include Kool, Winston, Salem, Doral, Misty and Capri.

Those brands combined hold a 7.3 percent U.S. market share, and their sale might be enough to persuade the Federal Trade Commission to approve the purchase of Lorillard.

Craver’s story is at http://www.journalnow.com/eedition/mapping/could-imperial-play-role-in-rumored-reynolds-deal/article_7007c455-dfe4-5789-9349-80993ad316d9.html.

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