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June, 2007


Certification for Hitkari Multifilters Ltd.

Hitkari Multifilters Ltd. (HML), has been awarded the prestigious SA 8000:2001 Certification by NQAQSR, New Delhi, for successful compliance with the requirements of ‘Social Accountability Management System.’

According to Arun Hitkari, managing director, this certification is one more illustration of social commitment and responsibility of the organization. He firmly believes in making continued efforts to progress and contribute towards national priorities of creating economic wealth while being a socially responsible and accountable organization. He aptly summarizes this by saying that “we conduct our business to enhance the social and economic capital of our country.”

HML having already been certified for ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001, the SA 8000 certification is one more manifestation of its strong commitment to being and remaining a socially responsible corporate with the strong belief to think beyond profit and loss account as businesses can only operate with a social license.

With the establishment of OHSAS management system, in the last year, HML has already sought to integrate QMS, EMS and OHSAS together in one coherent QHSE (Quality, Occupational Health and Safety and Environment) Management System.

In addition to conducting its commercial activities in a socially accountable manner, Hitkari Multifilters has contributed to various social causes. The company sponsors a trust for orphans, helps finance a Mumbai hospital and sponsors a school nearby one of its manufacturing facilities, among other charitable causes. It has also established a fund to assist widows of police officers killed in the line of duty.

Meanwhile, the company continues working toward further improvements in the quality of its filter rods. For example, Hitkari Multifilters is currently considering the implementation of Six Sigma. “In the filter rod business, those who successfully contain cost, reduce waste, provide international quality and are willing to accept a reasonable profit margin will win the race,” says Arun Hitkari.

HML is one of the very few filter rod companies in the world to have received four accreditations i.e. ISO 9001, ISO 14001, OHSAS 18001, and SA 8000.

Cigarillo Ceasefire: Middleton Settles Lawsuit Against Swisher

Swisher International, Inc. and John Middleton, Inc. announced today a settlement of the three-year legal dispute brought by Middleton against Swisher regarding their Black & Mild and Blackstone cigarillo brands respectively. Under the terms of the settlement, Swisher has agreed to:
  1. Modify the trade dress of its Blackstone Mild Vanilla Tip Cigarillo by changing the shade of its brown wrapper, altering the design of its plastic tip, and modifying the ivory color of that tip.

  2. Change the graphics used on its Blackstone packages and displays to further separate the word mild from the brand name Blackstone, and will also make other minor changes in its package, display, and advertising graphics.

  3. In the future, avoid producing any tip cigarillo product which features more than two or five style elements of Middleton’s Black & Mild cigar as specified in the settlement agreement.

  4. Withdraw its opposition to Middleton’s pending trademark application related to the trade dress of the Black & Mild cigar. Middleton will agree to refrain from asserting any claim against any Swisher product based on that trademark or registration provided that such product complies with the conditions in the settlement agreement.
The changes have been agreed to take place by the end of the year.

Carolina Tobacco Company Expands Private-Label Brands Production

Competing in today’s tobacco industry presents unique challenges for merchants. Around the world, new legislation and initiatives intended to increase taxation are being introduced—adding to the industry’s existing burden.

In addition to altering the buying habits of consumers, successful efforts increase each merchant’s cost of carrying inventory. As such, many tobacco merchants are looking for ways to hedge against the increasing costs of inventory and lower percentage gross profit to improve their return-on-investment.

Carolina Tobacco Company, which produces private-brand, price-value category cigarette products on a contract-production basis for a variety of international clients, has seen the trend impact merchants throughout the world.

“As increased taxation increases inventory costs throughout the world, we’ve seen a growing trend by retailers toward expanding price-value categories in stores,” offered David Redmond, President of Carolina Tobacco Company. “Likewise, we’ve had more interest in our capacity and ability to create private-label brands.”

To meet the growing demand for its proprietary brands in the US and increasing number of private brands seeking a manufacturer with the experience, facilities, and capacity to manufacture high-quality, price-value cigarette products, Carolina Tobacco Company expanded the capacity of its South African manufacturing facility located in Johannesburg, South Africa.

“The dramatic increase in demand for our products in the US and private brands internationally necessitated that we take action,” stated Redmond. “Now, in addition to having an experienced team that can develop and produce high-quality products that meet exacting specifications we require, we have a state-of-the-art, high-capacity facility that will meet our needs for years to come.”

Tobacco International - June, 2007
U.S. Tobacco Cooperative

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