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Malaysia cracks down on illicit sales

| May 28, 2014

Malaysia’s Customs Department officers have seized 131 million smuggled cigarettes since the launch of a nationwide operation in January, according to a story in the New Straits Times.

The seized products were said to be worth MYR73.64 million in value and unpaid duties.

Customs Director-general Datuk Seri Khazali Ahmad said his officers had checked 2,618 premises, as of May 15, and found 999 to have been selling illicit cigarettes.

He said 227 traders had been charged: 129 with selling and the rest with possessing smuggled cigarettes.
“The longest jail term was six months,” he added.

Khazali said the department had established new and efficient strategies for its latest crackdown, known as Op Outlet.

He said one of the strategies had been to establish in every state “strike teams” that focused on raiding premises identified as selling illicit cigarettes.

The premises were identified by firstly carrying out test purchases at those outlets suspected of selling illicit cigarettes.

Cigarette prices to rise in Cambodia

| May 28, 2014

Cigarette prices in Cambodia are expected to increase from about $0.58 to about $0.64 a pack from July when taxes are due to rise, according to a story in The Phnom Penh Post.

Taxes currently account for 20 percent of the retail price of a pack of cigarettes, but that is set to rise to 30 percent.

An announcement about the increase was made on Friday during an Asean (Association of Southeast Asia Nations) Tobacco Taxation and Illicit Trade workshop held at the World Health Organization’s Western Pacific Regional Office in Manila.

Heng Sothy, deputy chief of the Audit Bureau within the Department of Taxation, was quoted as saying that the department had decided to increase the tax to promote people’s health.

But one anti-tobacco group said the increase would not be enough to encourage smokers to quit or to stop others taking up the habit.

Safety award for Imperial in Macedonia

| May 28, 2014

Imperial Tobacco’s subsidiary in Macedonia has won a national workplace health and safety award for the second year in a row.

Imperial Tobacco TKS at Skopje was recognized by the Macedonian Association for Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) for demonstrating best practices.

“This award comes as we mark almost four years without any lost time accidents, and we are delighted to be recognized as a leading company in this field,” said Tanya Mizovska, OHS coordinator for Macedonia, who attended the association’s fifth annual awards held last week to coincide with World Health and Safety at Work Day.

“We have won this award as a result of the dedication of all our people to health and safety in the workplace.”

New Nepalese plant starts production

| May 27, 2014

Surya Nepal has started production at its new cigarette plant at Seratar in the district of Tanahun, according to a story in Republica.

The company has invested NPR4.5 billion in the factory, which employs about 200 people and is set on 145 ropani (7.3 ha).

Currently, the factory is running 16 hours a day in two shifts, but the plan is to operate it around the clock. “We can produce 10 million sticks of cigarettes in a day by operating the factory for 16 hours,” said Ravi KC, corporate vice president of Surya Nepal.

The company had been producing cigarettes from its plant in Simara for the past 22 years, but the new plant is the first to be built in the hilly regions.

Local industrialists say the opening of such a big factory in western Nepal will encourage other investors to open factories in Pokhara and surrounding areas.

Low auction prices force growers to make illegal shift to contract selling

| May 27, 2014

Some of Zimbabwe’s flue-cured tobacco growers are diverting their crops to contract floors so as to earn higher prices than those being offered over the auction floors, according to a story in the Zimbabwe Herald.

Officially, contract buyers purchase tobacco only from contracted growers, but some farmers not under contract are said to be using contracted growers’ registration numbers to sell their crops on the contract floors.

The Herald story said that most of the growers involved in this practice were aware that it was illegal, but said they had no choice since buyers were offering unattractive prices at the auction floors.

A Karoi farmer was quoted as saying that she had sold part of her crop over the auction floors but had been disheartened by the prices.

“Tobacco production is my mainstay,” she said.

“I have to go back to the fields, and with the prices being offered at auction floors, I will never be able to finance my crop. I am selling the remaining tobacco through the contract floors.”

The average price paid at the contract floors stands at $3.13 per kg, 20.8 percent higher than the average price at auction, $2.59 per kg.

Andhra flue-cured auction prices soar

| May 27, 2014

Flue-cured tobacco prices have been soaring at auctions underway in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, according to a story in the most recent issue of the BBM Bommidala Group newsletter.

Northern black soils tobaccos were said to have touched a new high of INR168 per kg at the Thorredu auction platform.

And Northern light soil tobacco peaked at INR176 per kg at the West Godavari platform.

Seventy days into the selling season, 81.08 million kg of tobacco had been sold for an average price of INR121 per kg.

Fifty-seven percent of the tobacco sold has comprised bright grades.

Meanwhile, the Tobacco Board of India is proposing to employ in the future a GPS (global positioning system) to monitor remotely the condition of crops and to help with early intervention in the fields.

The board is preparing also to webcast the proceedings at all of the Andhra and Karnataka auction platforms so as to provide  efficient monitoring.

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