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Egypt to construct tobacco-processing factories 

| April 23, 2015

The Egyptian government plans to construct two tobacco-processing factories in Malawi to support the country’s tobacco industry, according to the Malawi News Agency.

The Egyptian Ambassador to Malawi, Maher El-Adawy, said the construction of these factories will help spur economic growth because the crop is regarded as the country’s main forex earner.

“We have always been in a good relationship with Malawi, and we are happy to support it, especially in the tobacco industry because we know that tobacco is the main forex earner, and by doing so we will help the country’s economy to grow,” El-Adawy said.

El-Adawy also indicated that construction of the two factories will not only spark economic growth, but also aid in job creation.

“We believe the construction of the two factories will also create employment for some quarters of the Malawian society thereby helping them to improve their lives,” he said.

According to the World Bank, 90 percent of Malawi’s tobacco is exported to other countries for processing due to the country’s currently limited tobacco-processing capabilities.

“Much of our tobacco is exported for processing because we do not have the capacity to do so,” said Malawi’s minister of information, tourism and culture, Kondwani Nankhumwa. “So by having these two tobacco processing factories, Malawi will start processing the tobacco on its own and sell the products on our own for a profit.”

One factory will be built in Lilongwe; the location for the second factory is still being decided by the government. Construction of both factories is expected to begin soon, according to El-Adawy.

Malawi is one of the top 10 producers of tobacco in the world, with the crop accounting for the majority of the country’s agricultural export earnings.

Closures expected in Indonesian tobacco industry

| April 23, 2015

As much as 15 percent of the workforce at tobacco-related companies in East Java, Indonesia—or more than 23,000 workers—are at risk of being laid off this year, according to a story in the The Jakarta Post.

Based on 2014 data, the number of people working in East Java’s tobacco and tobacco products industrial (IHT) sector was 159,117, according to East Java Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin) vice chairman Dedi Suhajadi. The sector’s workforce also decreased by 21,300 workers in 2014 from 180,466 workers in 2013.

“Many IHT entrepreneurs are affected,” Dedi said. “This is attributable to the annual increase in tobacco tax, government regulations and groups that interfere with the concentration of IHT entrepreneurs in meeting tax obligations.”

The government raised the IHT tax target to IDR141.7 trillion in 2015 from IDR111.21 trillion in 2014. Over the past five years, the average increase in IHT tax was 16.09 percent.

Data from the East Java Manpower and Transmigration Office indicated that 790 IHT companies were still operating in 2014, however, only about 200 were producing on a regular basis. In 2011, there were about 1,100 cigarette factories, according to Dedi.

“Those that have gone out of business are small- and medium-scale factories. Only the large-scale companies are surviving,” said Dedi.

Between 2009 and 2013, approximately 4,900 cigarette factories closed their doors.

Strict laws to limit tobacco ads in China

| April 23, 2015

Lawmakers in China may introduce tough new restrictions on tobacco advertisements, according to a story in the China Daily. A draft revision to the country’s 20-year-old Advertisements Law will be voted upon tomorrow; the revision was discussed Tuesday at the bimonthly session of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress and is likely to be ratified.

The draft indicates that no tobacco advertisements should be displayed in public places or published in mass media outlets. While many lawmakers advocate a complete ban on tobacco advertisements in China and maintain that public health should be the country’s top priority, others recognize that the production of tobacco provides a significant source of income for farmers who reside in areas that are not suitable for other types of agriculture.

China signed the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in 2003.

Study recommends raising tobacco purchase age

| March 16, 2015

A study presented to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on March 12 supports the theory that raising the tobacco purchase age to 21 from 18 will substantially reduce the number of 15- to 17-year-olds who start smoking and decrease the number of early deaths and low birth weights due to smoking.

Conducted by an Institute of Medicine committee, the study—titled “Public health implications of raising the minimum age of legal access to tobacco products”—reviewed existing information about tobacco use initiation as well as developmental biology and psychology.

Results of the study indicated that, if the minimum age of legal access to tobacco products were increased to 19, smoking prevalence would decrease by an estimated 3 percent by the time today’s teenage users become adults. Additionally, the study found that a 12 percent decrease would occur if the minimum age of legal access were raised to 21, and a decrease of 16 percent would take place should the minimum age be raised to 25.

The committee that conducted the study was chaired by Richard Bonnie, a law professor at the University of Virginia, and researchers used the SimSmoke and CisNet cigarette smoking models to gather information. Researchers also concluded that increasing the minimum age of legal access to 21 would result in 45,000 fewer deaths from lung cancer, 249,000 fewer premature deaths, 438,000 fewer babies born with a low birth weight, 286,000 fewer pre-term births, and 4.2 million fewer years of life lost among those born between 2000 and 2019.

$2.87 per pack tax possible in Calif.

| May 14, 2013

California lawmakers chose not to make smokers pay more for health insurance,  but they may be more willing to make smokers pay more for cigarettes.

A new bill proposing to raise the tax on tobacco by $2 per pack of cigarettes  cleared its first two committee votes last week in predictably partisan votes. SB 768, by Sen. Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles), would raise  the price of cigarettes to more than $8 a pack and generate about $1.4 billion a  year. De León proposes the money be used to offset costs of medical care for  tobacco-related diseases, anti-tobacco education and smoking-cessation  programs.

The Senate Governance and Finance Committee approved the bill in a 5-2 vote  and the Senate Committee on Health approved it 6-2. All “yes” votes were  Democrats. All “no” votes were Republican.

“Taxpayers pay $3.1 billion a year to subsidize this industry,” de León told  the health committee, citing an estimate for California’s annual medical costs  for tobacco-related diseases and health problems.

“On a fiscal level, the price is much too high, and taxpayers have been  footing the bill for much too long,” de León said.

California, which hasn’t increased taxes on tobacco since 1998, now charges  $0.87 cents on each pack of cigarettes and ranks 33rd in the country in tobacco  taxation. De Leon’s bill would move the state into fourth place.

Sticky story: 3rd-hand smoke gives guests gooey fingers

| May 14, 2013

Anyone who has ever walked into a “non-smoking” hotel room and caught the distinct odor of cigarette smoke will not be surprised by the findings of a new study: When a hotel allows smoking in any of its rooms, the smoke gets into all of its rooms, the study suggests, according to a story in USA Today.

Nicotine residues and other chemical traces “don’t stay in the smoking rooms,” says Georg Matt, a psychologist from San Diego State University who led the study, published Monday in the journal Tobacco Control. “They end up in the hallways and in other rooms, including non-smoking rooms.”

The study found smoke residue on surfaces and in the air of both smoking and non-smoking rooms in 30 California hotels where smoking was allowed. Levels were highest in the smoking rooms, but levels in non-smoking rooms were much higher than those found at 10 smoke-free hotels.

Volunteers who stayed overnight in the smoking hotels also ended up with sticky nicotine residues on their fingers, whether they stayed in smoking rooms or not. Urine tests found additional evidence of nicotine exposure in those who stayed in smoking rooms, but not those who stayed in the non-smoking rooms.