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October, 2009

Irish airline to introduce smokeless ‘cigarettes’

Dublin - Smokeless cigarettes (sometimes known as “e-cigarettes”), which look like the real thing but do not have to be lit to provide nicotine to the user, are to be introduced by Ryanair.

Smoking on commercial flights has been illegal since the 1990s, but the airline says it will introduce “Similar Smokeless Cigarettes,” which it says look and feel like a real cigarette and deliver a small amount of nicotine through inhalation.

The new Similar Smokeless Cigarettes are available to passengers over 18 years of age and are sold in packs of 10 on board all of the company’s flights. A company statement said they contained no toxins or chemicals and were harmless to the user and to those around them.

Company spokesman Stephen McNamara said the “cigarettes” were being introduced to help passengers who like to smoke and find it difficult to travel on an aircraft for a couple of hours without getting their nicotine hit.

Illegal cigarettes being smuggled into Australia
Canberra - Smuggling of illegal cigarettes into Australia has hit an all-time high as the Federal Government considers introducing heavier taxes on tobacco products. International flight crews bringing illegal cigarettes through Sydney Airport account for much of the spike in Australia’s tobacco black

market, according to authorities.

Desperate attempts to avoid high tax rates are leading to unregulated tobacco products - often containing contaminates such as rat droppings and metal shavings - being sold under-the-counter at general stores.

Figures obtained by one local paper revealed customs detected 11 shipments of illicit tobacco products comprising 65 tons of leaf and 22 mn cigarettes during the first three months of this year - an attempted tax evasion of more than $27 mn.

Cracking down on public smoking?
Beijing - In a striking case for country of 350 mn smokers, The Wall Street Journal reports that the first Chinese citizen was detained after lighting up in a public market under the country’s new fire-control regulations, which came into effect May 1. Under the new regulations, anyone who smokes or lights an open flame in “a hazardous situation” can be subject to up to five days detention. There have been scattered reports of other Chinese citizens detained for lighting up in public.

One in three cigarette packs contraband
Kuala Lumpur - One out of every three cigarette packs sold in peninsular Malaysia is either contraband or fake. In the states of Sabah and Sarawak, two out of three packs sold are illegal. These numbers were based on a quarterly survey and study conducted by the Customs Department and the Confederation of Malaysian Tobacco Manufacturers (CMTM).

Roll-Your-Own tobacco sales rocket
Madrid - Sales of Spanish RYO tobacco have rocketed so far this year, with an increase of around 60% seen across the country. This is mainly due to financial reasons. Although a pouch of tobacco, together with the rolling papers and filters required, can cost 4.50 euros, it contains enough to make 60 cigarettes, compared to a packet of 20 ready-made cigarettes at an average of three euros.

A person who smokes a packet a day of cigarettes will be able to make a pouch of tobacco last up to four or five days, meaning that as the recession has hit smokers in their pockets, they are looking for ways of economizing rather than giving up.

Some tobacconists have reported their sales have gone up by 200% in the last two years, and that they really began to note the rise in consumption in 2007. RYO tobacco now represents 15% of all sales, with the rest being cigarettes in packets. This trend is more popular amongst the young, and mainly men, although a significant number of female smokers have now switched to tobacco and rolling papers.

United States
Due to higher prices, some smokers start growing tobacco
New York - In urban lots and on rural acres, smokers and smokeless tobacco users are planting Virginia Gold, Goose Creek Red, Yellow Twist Bud and dozens of other tobacco varieties. Although most people still buy from big tobacco, the movement took off in April when the Federal tax on cigarettes went up 62 cents to $1.01 a pack. Large tax increases were also imposed on other tobacco products, and tobacco companies upped prices even more to compensate for lost sales.

Some seed suppliers have reported a tenfold increase in sales as some of the country’s 43.3 mn smokers look for a cheaper way to get their nicotine fix in a down economy. Cigarettes cost an average of $4.35 a pack, home growers can make that amount for about 30 cents.

Provided the tobacco isn’t sold or traded, the Food and Drug Administration doesn’t regulate homegrown tobacco. Most people grow for cigarettes, but some blend their own cigars and chew.

The FDA and US Department of Agriculture don’t keep statistics on home growers, though seed suppliers and Internet buzz suggest strong interest. Seedman.com has sold more than 100,000 packets of tobacco seeds this year, compared with 22,000 in all of 2008, president Jim Johnson said. The Gautier, Mississippi-based company offers 40 varieties of tobacco from around the globe and packages various flavor blends for first-time growers. A grower who purchased one of Johnson’s Oriental and Turkish blends for $24.50 could satisfy a pack-a-day habit for more than three years, according to Johnson’s calculations.

“It’s actually very labor intensive,” said Ed Baker, general manager of Cross Creek Seed Inc. in Raeford, North Carolina, the No. 1 tobacco seed supplier in the US. “There’s a reason why cigarette companies make all that money. If it was that easy, everyone would be growing their own tobacco.”

Cross Creek has seen a big increase in seed requests from home growers but it sells in volume. Its smallest seed offering is 90,000 seeds for $170.

Novices and veterans can find smoker-friendly havens like howtogrowtobacco.com, a web site that offers growing and curing tips, often including angry posts over ever-increasing taxes and smoking restrictions. Philip Morris USA, the nation’s top cigarette maker, and other big companies are unlikely to shudder. Philip Gorham, a tobacco industry analyst with the investment research firm Morningstar, said he had no data on smokers who switched to homegrown. But he doesn’t see it as a mass movement.

Altria employees Give $2.4 mn to local nonprofits
Richmond - Ninety local organizations recently were awarded grants totaling $2.4 mn from employees of Altria Group Inc, donated the money through the Altria Companies Employee Community Fund.

The workplace-giving program, managed by Altria employees, gave grants this year ranging from $5,474 to $50,000 to organizations working in six broad categories: hunger relief, domestic violence, senior services, emergency services, youth services and homelessness.

The employee-supported fund was started in 2000 and has given 793 grants totaling more than $23 mn to local nonprofit organizations.

Tobacco International - October, 2009

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