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Korea to ban product discriptors

| June 30, 2014

Cigarette makers in South Korea will be banned from using such words as light, low tar and pure on cigarette packaging from next year, reports The Korea Times.

The Ministry of Strategy and Finance announced revised decrees on Sunday to forbid tobacco makers from using such misleading words on packages or in advertisements.

The rules will go into effect on Jan. 22. Violators will face up to a year in jail or a fine of up to WON10 million.

The rules also call for cigarette manufacturers to make low-ignition propensity cigarettes beginning July 22, 2015.

Manufacturers who fail to produce fire-safe cigarettes after that date could have their licenses revoked.

Zimbabwe sales near to 2001 peak

| June 30, 2014

Zimbabwe sold nearly 190 million kg during the 2013–2014 season, surpassing the target of 180 million kg, reports New Zimbabwe, quoting the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB).

Auction and contract sales fetched a combined $604.7 million.

Although auction marketing is set to end soon, contract sales would continue until further notice, TIMB added.

In 2013, 166 million kg of tobacco worth $616 million was sold.

TIMB chief executive officer Andrew Matibiri said he hoped the remaining crop to be sold under the contract system would push production figures for 2014 to 200 million kg.

If met, the target would be slightly lower than the country’s peak production of 231 million kg in 2001.

China has been the largest buyer of Zimbabwean tobacco over the past years.

Seoul may link cigarette prices to inflation

| May 10, 2013

South Korea may link cigarette price hikes to the growth of consumer inflation in an effort to reduce smoking and secure more revenue, reports The Korea Herald.

Tobacco prices have been frozen at KRW2,500 ($2.28) per pack for more than eight years. The health ministry earlier said average cigarette prices need to be raised to KRW7,000 per pack to reduce the country’s smoking rate to what it called a desirable level.

However, an official at the finance ministry argued for a more moderate approach, saying increases by more than KRW2,000 could have unintended side effects.

Korea’s overall smoking rate dropped from 28.8 percent in 2005 to 27 percent in 2011, according to health ministry numbers.

Tobacco firms may face health care lawsuits by Korea’s national insurer

| April 12, 2013

Korea’s state-run National Health Insurance Service (NHIS) is considering filing lawsuits against cigarette companies to seek compensation for rising health care costs from smoking-related illnesses, according to a story in The Korea Herald.

NHIS’ president Kim Jong-dae, said that tobacco companies should no longer be free of responsibility for smoking-related diseases that cost massive amounts of money to treat every year.

He was not quoted as having explained why he thought this was the case but he did say the NHIS would hold a forum with lawyers next week to study how much the treatment of tobacco-related illnesses costs its fund and to check whether tobacco litigation would be valid.

This would be the first time that a Korean public body had sued local and foreign tobacco companies over health care costs.

In 2011, the NHIS was said to have spent WON1.56 trillion on treating smoking-related diseases.

The Herald story quoted unnamed legal experts as saying litigation could involve trillions of won because the NHIS could claim for recovery of their tobacco-related health care costs for the past 10 years.