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Bidi packs undergo “face-lift” to attract smokers

| June 12, 2015

A number of bidi makers in India have introduced their products in sleek new packaging with filters, exotic flavors and organic ingredients in an effort to attract urban smokers searching for a cheaper alternative in light of a recent rise in cigarette prices, according to The Economic Times. The traditional hand-rolled “cigarettes” wrapped in tendu leaves are also being advertised via new social media campaigns and recently launched websites.

Anwar Ali, owner of Bigarette Co.—which manufactures bidi brands Bigarette, Black Swan, Sumo, 8 AM and Enigma—said bidi is quickly becoming a product of choice for urban consumers looking for less expensive products after the government raised the excise tax by 25 percent for cigarettes of length 65 mm or under and by 15 percent for cigarettes longer than 65 mm.

According to brand strategy expert Harish Bijoor, bidi makers want to make their category “aspirational by Anglicising the brand names and repositioning the bidi as the Indian version of hand-rolled cigar,” and added that “[a] vernacular brand name is always downmarket for Indian consumers and hence the need to launch newer brand names.”

Profits up at ITC

| May 22, 2013

ITC of India reported a net profit of INR19.28 billion ($350.3 million) in the quarter ending March 31, up 19.45 percent from the comparable quarter last year.

The company’s non-tobacco FMCG business contributed a net profit of INR118.7 million during the quarter, compared with a net loss of INR166.8 million in the 2012 quarter.

ITC’s profit for the fiscal year 2013 was INR74.18 billion, up 20.38 percent from INR61.61 billion in 2012, as its full-year net sales increased by 19.39 percent to INR 296.06 billion.

ITC officials said that while the company’s foods business has been profitable for the past few quarters, its nontobacco segment as a whole made a profit for the first time.

Morgan Stanley analysts expect ITC’s earnings growth to continue, pointing to the company’s recent success in the 64 mm segment.

Demand drives crop size increase

| May 14, 2013

The Tobacco Board of India has increased Karnataka’s authorized 2013–14 crop size by about four percent on that of 2012–13, according to a report in the latest issue of the BBM Bommidala Group newsletter.

The crop size has been set at 102 million kg, up from 98 million kg in 2012–13 and 100 million kg in each of the previous two years.

The increase is said to have been driven by international demand for the crop.

Traders had sought a crop of 112 million kg and growers one of 105 million kg at a recent board meeting, the report said.

Revenue drop fires VAT rethink

| May 14, 2013

In an unusual move that has attracted some criticism, India’s Uttar Pradesh state government has slashed the VAT on cigarettes and cigars from 50 percent to 25 percent.

According to a report in the latest issue of the BBM Bommidala Group newsletter, the decision to reduce VAT was taken at a meeting of the state cabinet, which is hoping to halt the loss in revenue that followed an increase in VAT last year.

The level of VAT levied on cigarettes and cigars was increased in 2012 from 12.5 percent to 50 percent.

India reconsiders filmmakers’ smoking disclaimers

| May 1, 2013

At a meeting with the filmmaker on April 17, the Indian Ministry of Health and Family Welfare agreed to consider the possibility of replacing the current anti-smoking disclaimers played in movie theaters with more creative ones, reports The Times of India.

Filmmakers and broadcasters said they are not opposed to laws that prevent glorification of smoking, but want a change in the way the disclaimers are displayed in a film.

Kulmeet Makkar of Film and Television Producers Guild said anti-smoking messages should be pleasant and aesthetic, without affecting creativity.

Makkar said the film industry is opposed to the regulation requiring an editorial justification for including smoking scenes in films, as the rule takes away a filmmaker’s “right to express reality.”

Bollywood movies show 14 billion images of tobacco use every year, according to a study conducted by the nongovernmental organization HRIDAY in collaboration with Imperial College London.

The World Health Organization recommends that movies with tobacco content be given an adult rating. In September 2012, the Indian government started requiring movies that portray tobacco use to include health warnings, but it provided no guidance on ratings.

Careless smokers playing with fire

| April 17, 2013

It could be hard to believe but careless smokers ended up causing more than 2,410 fire accidents and several crores-worth of property loss in the last seven years in the Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh.

A study by A.P. Fire Services Department revealed careless smoking as one of the main causes for the increasing incidence of fire accidents — the other contributing factors being electrical short-circuit, gas leakage, fire crackers and chemical reaction, among others, according to a story published in The Hindu.

According to officials, cigarette butts that were not properly put off before being chucked, sparked fire in several incidents, one such case being the fire mishap that occurred at the multi-storeyed Babu Khan Estate in Basheerbagh a few days ago.

Careless smoking led to 461 fire accidents in the year 2012, 392 in 2011 and 298 in 2010. Perturbed over the increasing mishaps due to casual smokers, the fire department has suggested that owners of the commercial buildings develop separate smoking zones on their premises to reduce such mishaps, Assistant District Fire Officer K. Vijay Kumar said.

Occupants should not dump cartons, waste papers and other flammable substances either in balconies or cellars, he advised. The department usually establishes the exact reasons for the mishap only after examining the premises and assessing the intensity of the blaze, Kumar added.