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April, 2009
Renegade-Auction

UK Government may gain control of package branding

London - A group of British MPs have made amendments to the Health Bill, which is making its way through Parliament, with a view to restoring the proposal to limit the branding of cigarette packs. The bill would allow the Health Secretary to ban or restrict the sale or supply of tobacco products if they are sold in packaging that does not comply with regulations. If passed, the Health Secretary would also be allowed to dictate the color of cigarette packs, their shape, the trademarks displayed on them and any labeling.

The existing Bill also includes proposals to ban cigarette displays in shops - a move that small shopkeepers campaigned against last year on the grounds that it could hit their sales and cost them millions of pounds in having to refit stores and counter displays.

Tobacco companies - for whom branded packs are the only remaining form of advertising in the UK - have always argued that plain packaging would lead to more counterfeit cigarettes entering the UK, hitting the Government's tax take from tobacco.

The National Federation of Retail Newsagents (NFRN), which represents 30,000 newsagents and convenience stores, said that the proposals could drive people away from small shops and into large supermarkets, where customers know that tobacco is stocked, causing thousands of shops to close.


China
Tobacco holds steady
Jiangsu - In eastern China’s Jiangsu Province, the commercial sector of the tobacco industry sold 127.3 bn cigarettes (2.546 mn cases) in 2008, generating 12.366 bn yuan (1.77 bn US dollars) in taxes and profits, up 11.2%, with profits reaching almost 10.3 bn yuan (about 1.47 bn USD), up approximately 13.5% since last year.

In response to the global economy, the tobacco monopoly authorities of Jiangsu have managed to guarantee smoother operations of the tobacco market through better regulation of the market order. By these means, the monopoly authorities believe that the provincial tobacco industry will succeed in maintaining promotion of economic efficiency.


Croatia
Croatia alters tobacco tax to please EU
Zagreb - Croatia recently decided to end preferential treatment for the country's sole tobacco manufacturer, which has angered the European Union, and tax local and foreign cigarettes equally.

Failure to give equal footing to foreign tobacco manufacturers and Tvornica Duhana Rovinj (TDR), has for months blocked progress in the 'tax chapter' of Zagreb's EU accession talks. TDR's market share in Croatia is 85%, while it takes some 27% of the market in former Yugoslavia where smoking is very popular.

"The European Commission had found our proposal for three levels of cigarette taxes unacceptable, because it said this would discriminate against foreign cigarette makers," Finance Minister Ivan Suker told a cabinet session.

Croatia submitted the original proposal in April last year. It has since agreed to amend it, in consultation with Brussels.

"The Commission has welcomed our readiness to neutralize the tax differences for cigarettes and demanded equal tax treatment as soon as possible," Suker said while presenting amendments to the tobacco tax law.

Croatia started negotiating EU membership in 2005, hoping to conclude the talks this year and join the bloc in 2011. However, progress has been blocked since neighbor and EU member Slovenia imposed a veto because of an old border row. (For more indepth coverage see “TDR and Croatia” on page 36.)


United Kingdom
G20 Summit exempt from smoking ban
London - Foreign dignitaries attending the G20 summit in London will be exempt from the smoking ban enacted in 2006 that stops anyone from smoking in enclosed public places. The leniency required an amendment to the legislation enforcing the ban. Certain “smoking rooms” will now be allowed in the Excel Exhibition Centre in Docklands in east London during the summit. The announcement provoked instant recrimination from libertarians and publicans. Many working men's clubs have faced precipitous falls in income since the ban, after a second vote in parliament denied private members clubs the right to allow members to opt-in to smoking leniency.

"Our government are accommodating, rightly so, the political leaders from across the globe, yet they are not prepared to accommodate millions of their own citizens," said Andy Davis, chairman of Freedom2Choose.


United States
Utah State senate approves bill to ban online cigarette sales
Salt Lake City - The Utah State Senate has just passed legislation that will result in the ban of online tobacco sales. This means that residents of Utah will not be allowed to order smokes via the internet, a practice that is currently a booming business.

The bill must now be voted on by the House before it actually becomes a law. People caught purchasing cigarettes over the internet, could face a fine of up to $5,000.


Blunt Wrap makers sue city over tobacco sales ban
Boston - Three manufacturers of tobacco-based rolling papers are suing the city of Boston over the city's new tobacco regulations, which include a prohibition on 'blunt wrap' sales. The recent ban also prohibits the sale of cigarettes in pharmacies and in stores on college campuses. However, tobacco products - excluding blunt wraps - can be sold in other stores. The Boston Public Health Commission contends that the wraps, sold in fruit flavors, appeal to underage users and are "used almost exclusively for illicit purposes" like smoking marijuana, according to executive director Barbara Ferrer. "If they treated us like every other tobacco product, we wouldn't be filing this suit. But they singled us out," said James Brett, who represents the blunt wrap makers.

Tobacco International - April, 2009
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