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PM USA hosting solar power project in Virginia

| March 20, 2015

Philip Morris USA has become the latest company to partner with Dominion Virginia Power under the Solar Partnership Program by hosting what will become the largest solar installation in Virginia, according to a Dominion press note issued through PRNewswire.

Dominion is currently installing about 8,000 ground-mounted solar panels at the PM USA Park 500 facility on Bermuda Hundred Road in Chesterfield County. When completed, the 2,450 kW solar array will generate enough electricity under optimum conditions to power 500 homes.

“At Dominion, we are constantly looking for the best way to produce energy safely, efficiently and in an environmentally responsible manner,” said Ken Barker, vice president of Technical Solutions. “This initiative is another step toward fulfilling Dominion’s commitment to substantially increase our solar generation portfolio in the Commonwealth. In Philip Morris, we are fortunate to have a partner that shares our commitment to clean, sustainable energy.”

The PM USA solar project is part of Dominion Virginia Power’s Solar Partnership Program in which Dominion leases rooftop or ground space at commercial, industrial or public facilities for the installation of solar panels. The program is designed to expand Dominion’s understanding of community-based solar energy by studying its impact and assessing its benefits while supporting and encouraging solar energy growth in Virginia. The energy generated by the solar panels is delivered to the power grid. Dominion is authorized to construct and operate up to 30 megawatts of company-owned solar facilities, enough to power up to 7,500 homes.

“PM USA understands the effect that nature may have on our business, which is why we continue our efforts to reduce environmental impacts at our manufacturing facilities,” said Greg Ray, PM USA senior vice president for smokeable manufacturing. “We are proud to host this solar project at our Park 500 plant, as it is adjacent to our award-winning on-site water treatment plant installed in 2008. These combined facilities will offer a real-world laboratory to showcase how manufacturing operations can work to reduce environmental impact and protect our vital natural resources.”

Chan’s aim is to put tobacco industry out of business

| March 19, 2015

The World Health Organization’s chief, Dr. Margaret Chan, has urged global action to drive tobacco companies out of business, according to a Medical Xpress story.

Speaking at the World Conference on Tobacco or Health (WCTOH) yesterday, Chan welcomed the steps taken by several companies, led by Australia, to introduce standardized tobacco packaging.

And she called for similar action to be taken by other nations.

Chan apparently told reporters that tobacco companies “use all sorts of tactics including funding political parties, individual politicians to work for them…”

“There is nothing they would not exploit to undermine the governments’ resolve and determination to protect their own people,” she was quoted as saying.

“It’s going to be a tough fight… [but] we should not give up until we make sure that the tobacco industry goes out of business.”

The WCTOH, which is being stage in Abu Dhabi, started on Tuesday and is due to end on Saturday.

This, the 16th WCTOH, has been billed as a scientific conference for the presentation of the latest developments in tobacco control and global efforts to reduce tobacco use in all its forms.

Plain packs push more smokers to quit attempts

| March 19, 2015

A comprehensive evaluation of Australia’s standardized tobacco packaging legislation is said to have found that the proportion of smokers who attempted to quit increased from about 20 percent before the packaging was imposed to nearly 27 percent afterwards, according to an Aap Newsfeed story relayed by the TMA.

Standardized packaging was found to be associated with more persistent thoughts of quitting and quit attempts, while the larger health warnings were found to increase adult smokers’ motivation to quit.

And the combination of standardized packaging and prominent health warnings was said to have made cigarettes less appealing among teenagers.

The evaluation, which was carried out by the Cancer Council Victoria (CCV), involved interviews with more than 5,000 Australian adult smokers before and after the standard packaging legislation was introduced in December 2012. And it involved also a separate survey of 6,000 high school students.

The results of the evaluation were presented to the World Conference on Tobacco or Health, currently being staged in Abu Dhabi.

CCV CEO Todd Harper was quoted as saying that the evaluation would confirm the tobacco industry’s worst fears about the effectiveness of standardized packaging. “What we can expect now is the tobacco industry will increase their efforts globally to try and persuade government to try and not introduce plain packaging,” he said.

Scary packs incite quit attempt – but not this year

| March 19, 2015

Graphic health warnings on cigarette packs have been met with a mixed reception in Namibia, where they are now a requirement under an amendment to the Tobacco Control Act 2010, according to a story in The Namibian.

Some smokers who spoke to the newspaper were quoted as saying they were definitely scared and some made promises to quit when they saw the packaging.

But others said their addiction to smoking overrode their fear and they would continue to buy cigarettes anyway.

Sitting in the middle, perhaps, is 36-year-old John Karumba, who has been smoking for the past seven years and who says he changes the “casing” so that he doesn’t have to look at the scary graphics.

And one smoker, identified only as Charlie, has a short-term strategy at least. Because shops still have stocks of pre-graphic-image products, he makes sure that he asks for the ones in the old packs that do not have the graphic images.

Charlie probably summed up the attitudes of a lot of smokers who are seen as wanting to quit. “It is very discouraging to see those photos,” he said. “But I will not stop smoking now, maybe next year.”

SMI to lose CFO and COO next month

| March 19, 2015

Schweitzer-Mauduit International said yesterday that its executive vice president, CFO and treasurer Jeffrey A. Cook would retire on April 3, while its COO Stephen Dunmead would resign from the company on April 15, according to a Thomson Reuters story relayed by the TMA.

The company said Bob Cardin, the company’s controller, would assume the role of acting CFO and report to CEO Frederic Villoutreix until a permanent replacement was found for Cook.

There were no immediate plans to replace Dunmead, whose responsibilities would be assumed by Villoutreix.

“I am very appreciative of the contributions made by Mr. Cook and Mr. Dunmead during their respective tenures at SWM and wish them well in their future endeavors,” said Villoutreix.

Trade minister tries to brush away TPPA fears

| March 18, 2015

Australia’s Trade Minister Andrew Robb has described concerns raised by diverse groups about the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) as a “scare campaign” that is “designed to frighten people about any sort of trade agreement”, according to an Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) story relayed by the TMA.

The agreement is being negotiated in secret by representatives of Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the US and Vietnam.

Medical doctors have previously raised concerns about the TPPA, saying that while the Australian government has stated it would not enter into an agreement that compromised public health, independent assessment of the implications for public health was severely limited by lack of transparency in the negotiations.

In an interview with the ABC, Robb said he had not made a decision on whether to support the inclusion of an Investor-State Dispute Settlement or ISDS mechanism in the TPPA.

The ISDS mechanism would allow a corporation to sue a government if legislation affected the company’s profitability.

“We want provisions that mean that governments can take public health policy decisions or environmental decisions and not be subject to the ISDS, now that’s pretty straightforward,” he said.

But consumer group Choice and Australian food manufacturing company Dick Smith said the inclusion of an ISDS in the TPPA could see the Australian government sued over planned changes to food labeling laws.

Meanwhile, the Australian Industry (AI) Group is concerned that once the deal is signed it cannot be amended.

The AI Group has lobbied the government to have greater access to the negotiations. Robb maintains the government has held 1,000 consultations with groups including Choice, the AI Group and unions.

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