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March, 2009
SMOKE Magazine - Cigars, Pipes, and life's other desires

China's anti-tobacco crusaders demand gory warning pictures

Beijing - Recently, China’s tobacco control authorities have been seeking support to urge tobacco manufacturers to print warning pictures on cigarette packaging.

During the course of February, the National Tobacco Control Office (NTCO) initiated the move with several websites asking the State Tobacco Monopoly Administration to ensure the efficacy of warnings on cigarette packs with pictures.

Currently, Chinese cigarette packs carry text warnings that read “smoking is harmful to your health,” but it is claimed by some studies that 70% of consumers are ignorant or numb to the warning. The aforementioned survey sampled 16,521 people in 40 cities and counties of 20 provinces.

Wu Yiqun, Executive Vice Director of the Think Tank Research Center for Health Development, pointed out that other countries around the world use pictoral warnings.

"In Great Britain, for instance, one picture on a cigarette pack is a smoker with throat cancer. In Brazil, the picture is heart operation. In Australia, the pack shows black and yellow teeth of a smoker," Wu said.

When asked about the prosepect of pictoral warnings, Wen Tao, a senior official with the Hongta Group (one of China’s leading tobacco manufacturers), said, "Although it is in line with the International practice and will be inevitable, such a move will definitely impact the tobacco sales in the long run."

Snus deregulation in Australia?
Canberra - According to one academic, snus should be made legal in Australia. Originally banned in 1991 as part of an Australian effort to reduce tobacco product related expansion, Dr. Gartner of the University of Queensland’s school of Population Health, has called for new legislation that would allow it back into the Australian market.

“And, if cigarettes are still going to be available then it seems reasonable to allow these people another option that is a lot less harmful,” Dr Gartner said.

Though currently outlawed across the vast majority of the European Union, Dr. Gartner has said that Sweden, the country of origin for snus, recorded no increase in the rates of oral cancer or cardiovascular disease, and in addition, tobacco-related deaths in Sweden were among the lowest in the developed world.

Due to current laws, the tobacco industry could still be prevented from advertising it if legalized, but it should be pointed out that its introduction into the market could allow for additional tightening of cigarette related regulations and legislation.

“I understand there might be concerns about bringing in more tobacco products, but [currently] we’ve got the toughest regulation possible on these products which are actually a lot less harmful than cigarettes are,” said Dr. Gartner.

China’s Cigar Push
Beijing - Sichuan-Chongqing Regional China Tobacco Industry Corporation - the operator of the tobacco industries in the Sichuan Province and Chongqing City - has been designated by the State Tobacco Monopoly Administration (STMA) to build China’s largest cigar making base in Sichuan Province.

At a conference held in February, Sichuan-Chongqing Regional China Tobacco Industry Corporation announced that it had started a venture with foreign companies in the field of large-scale cigar production, and plans to sell approximately 800 mn cigars during the course of 2009, valued at 200 mn yuan (US$29 mn).

In addition to having sold 360 mn throughout 2008, Sichuan-Chongqing Regional China Tobacco Industry Corporation has been ranked first in terms of sales and volume of output regarding cigars.

Farmers push for higher excise rates for tobacco
Manila - Recently, farmers urged the Philippine government for push for higher excise rates for tobacco products and cigarettes while rejecting claims that the current tax structure was to blame for the decline in consumption.

An Ilocos-based advocacy group, Solidarity of Peasants Against Exploitation, said that the decline is due to the practice of contract growing, rather than that of a so-called more efficient and punitive tax system.

The advocacy group’s leader, Avelino Dacanay, said in a statement that 52.5% of tobacco farmers had dropped out of play from 2003 to 2006, and that during the same time there was a drop of just over 50% in tobacco laborers, all of which coincided with the growth of contract farming.

Dacanay recommended the increase of cigarette and tobacco product excise collections, as he claims that it would allow tobacco-growing provinces to obtain greater economic benefits.

Finance Secretary Margarito Teves has plans to recalibrate the current excise structure, thereby generating up to P60 mn more each year from tobacco and cigarette makers, and claims that an increased excise tax would be the death of the industry, pointing out that between 2002 and 2005, about the same time when tobacco farmers and laborers dropped, consumption grew.

United States
National Tobacco Company to close Louisville manufacturing and distribution facility by end of 2009
Louisville - National Tobacco Company (NTC), a subsidiary of North Atlantic Trading Company Inc., recently announced that by the end of the 2009, it will stop all tobacco product manufacturing and distribution from its facility in Louisville.

The production of NTC’s loose leaf tobacco brands (the primary function of the Louisville facility) will be moved to Owensboro under an agreement with Swedish Match North America.

NTC will continue to retain marketing, distribution, and trademark rights over its brands, and plans concerning NTC’s Roll-Your-Own tobacco manufacturing facility will be announced in the future.

Ron Tully, Vice President of Public Affairs, said, “NTC has come to this decision because the Louisville facility, built in the early 1900s, operates well below capacity, is energy inefficient, and consists of a series of unconnected, multi-story buildings with limited weight-bearing floors that cannot satisfactorily support modern manufacturing techniques. Declines in overall tobacco industry volumes, and increasing regulatory burdens on the industry also contributed to the decision to cease production and distribution at this facility.

“The Company deeply regrets the impact of this decision on our employees, their families and the Louisville economy. This decision is not the fault of any of our employees, many of whom have over 30 years of service, or are second or third generation employees.”

Tobacco International - March, 2009
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