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Philippines might bring in minimum price

| June 24, 2014

The Philippines’ Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) has suggested setting a minimum price for all cigarettes sold in the country “to ensure a level playing field” and discourage more people from taking up smoking, according to a story in The Philippine Star.

BIR commissioner Kim Henares broached the idea during a forum held yesterday, at which she was asked about the steps the government was taking about the proliferation of PHP1 per-stick cigarettes.

The second part of the so-called sin tax law (Republic Act 10351) was introduced in January 2013 with the aim of making tobacco more unaffordable to the public.

Henares said the implementation of the sin tax law in January 2013 had resulted in increased revenues for the government and that she saw no need to amend the “landmark reform.”

“I think you should lobby for a law which will require a minimum price, and not to touch the sin tax law anymore,” she told the forum delegates. “Lobby for a law that cigarettes in the Philippines should not be sold at below a certain price.

“If your complaint is about the cheapness of the price, then you go to the cost, you put a floor on the price. I don’t know how much it should be but the price is not an issue for the BIR.”

Another Davidoff to be launched in Korea

| June 24, 2014

Imperial Tobacco is to launch in South Korea a new version of Davidoff, according to a story in The Korea Herald.

The product will be launched through KT&G, with which Imperial has had a brand licensing agreement since 2010.

Roberto Ascoli, a divisional director at Imperial, said the licensing agreement had been a win-win strategy.

“They [KT&G] are the ones who have an infrastructure to quickly distribute and support brands,” Ascoli said. “And from their side, they also needed a partner with a premium brand—a brand that will compete with Marlboro and Dunhill. So there was a very much mutual benefit in working together.”

Ascoli’s remarks came during a short visit to Korea to discuss the imminent launch of the new Davidoff.

Sales of Davidoff also have benefited from KT&G’s market dominance, Imperial officials said, though they declined to reveal the figures.

KT&G is the dominant player in Korea, with a 62.6 percent market share in the first quarter.

Stressed-out and smoking in Hong Kong

| June 24, 2014

Many Hong Kong women take to cigarettes because of stress, according to a story in The Standard, quoting the Council on Smoking and Health.

And 60 percent of them don’t even think about quitting.

According to government census figures, there were at least 96,800 women smokers in 2012, compared with 56,100 in 1990.

And according to the government’s Thematic Household Survey Report, about 60 percent of female smokers had never tried to quit.

In a two-part study, the council and the University of Hong Kong looked into the cases of 73 female smokers in 2010 and surveyed 3,306 more women who were smoked, had quit or had not started in 2011–2012.

Researchers said the first part of the survey indicated that stress and moods were among the main reasons why women started and continued smoking.

In the second part, 45 percent of 1,274 current and former smokers said they started to smoke because of curiosity and 37 percent blamed peer influence.

William Li Ho-cheung, assistant professor at the HKU School of Nursing, said about 15 percent took up smoking due to emotional reasons that included feeling sad or bored (7.5 percent), being under pressure (4.9 percent) and needing to control negative emotions (2.2 percent).

Council chairwoman Lisa Lau Man-man said there should be increased resources for smoking cessation services and more emotional support for female smokers.

Huge rise in e-cigarette use

| June 24, 2014

Almost 30 million people across Europe now use e-cigarettes, according to a Reuters News story.

The people who use these devices are most likely to be aged between 15 and 24. They are most likely to smoke tobacco regularly while trying to quit.

The rising number of e-cigarette users has led to a staggering growth in the availability of these products, with about 10 new brands coming to market every month.

Writing in the journal Tobacco Control, researchers in the U.S. said their findings underlined the size and speed of growth in the market for e-cigarettes, and the need for more research into their potential risks and benefits.

Ireland provides some plain-packs details

| June 23, 2014

Ireland is circulating through the World Trade Organization details of the bill it intends to enact in respect of the “retail packaging of all tobacco products, the appearance of cigarettes and the presentation of tobacco products.”

Under the bill, retail packaging of all tobacco products would have to be of a prescribed color (outer and inner surfaces) and not have decorative ridges or embellishments. Colored adhesives would be banned.

Brand and variant names would appear, but only as prescribed, and marks or trademarks, other than health warnings or barcodes, would be banned.

Packs could not contain any inserted or affixed items other than those required by law.

And any wrapper would have to be transparent, uncolored, without decorative ridges, etc., and without marks or trademarks. Wrappers could not have anything attached to them other than a tear strip as prescribed.

Cigarettes would have to be covered in white paper, have a white filter tip with a covering that could be white or imitation cork. Brands and variant names would be permitted, but only as prescribed.

Inner linings would have to be of a prescribed color and material.

The retail packaging of tobacco products could not contain any audio effects, scents or any feature designed to alter the packaging after sale by retail.

Secondary legislation will be drafted to cover regulations governing the color, font type, font size, appearance and position of where the brand and variant name may be printed on tobacco products.

ITGA strongly opposes plain packs

| June 23, 2014

The International Tobacco Growers Association (ITGA) has reiterated its objections to what it calls the worrying developments surrounding the EU’s revised Tobacco Products Directive (TPD), which came into force on May 20.

After the publication of the directive, it said, some EU member states were proposing to introduce standardized packaging, which was a development too far given the mandatory checks the EU still had to perform, first with its own treaty and second with international trade rules, including those of the World Trade Organization.

The ITGA said it would remain vigilant also in respect of secondary legislation, which included a stricter regulation of ingredients. The association added that it wanted to make sure no extreme measures were taken that might discriminate against certain tobacco varieties.

Despite previous assurances by the EU Commission and Parliament that the TPD would not lead to a deterioration in the living conditions of people whose livelihoods depended on tobacco growing in Europe, the current proposals would do exactly that, the association believes.

ITGA President Francois van der Merwe said there was currently a chance to appeal to the Dialogue Groups on agriculture (DG-AGRI) to raise tobacco producers’ concerns at the sixth Conference of the Parties (COP6) of the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in Moscow later this year. “[The] ITGA calls on the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States Council of Ministers to take this opportunity to remind the EU that the TPD should not become a technical barrier to trade,” he said.

Van der Merwe said the revised proposals were a declaration of an “out and out war” against the tobacco industry. These measures would contradict the so-called “public health” issues they were supposed to support because they would encourage contraband and counterfeit products made from cheap, suspect-quality tobacco that did not meet the health and environmental norms of many countries, inside and outside the EU.

Van der Merwe believes that pack standardization will have far-reaching negative consequences. Pack standardization measures would serve only to worsen the already rampant global problem of counterfeiting and piracy of tobacco products, he said. And it would trigger a price war between manufacturers as they attempted to distinguish themselves from their competitors, with the major casualties being tobacco growers.

Any reduction in leaf production, which would happen if the revised TPD proposals were pushed through, would have a significant knock-on effect, especially in the developing world, said Van der Merwe. In Malawi, for example, more than 1.9 million families were employed in the tobacco sector, which meant that about 70 percent of the adult population of the country was dependent on leaf tobacco production and the associated activities down the line. Tobacco made up 53 percent of Malawi’s exports and 15 percent of its GDP.

The ITGA said it strongly condemned current attempts to impose standardization on tobacco products as blatantly unacceptable discrimination imposed by misguided public health officials within the EU and some of the African, Caribbean and Pacific group of states.

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