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November, 2006

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Tobacco companies to alter packages
Toronto Faced with the prospect of tougher government regulations, tobacco firms in Canada have agreed to stop using terms like "light" and "mild" in cigarette ads and branding, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Imperial Tobacco, Rothmans Benson & Hedges, and JTI-Macdonald announced that they would phase out use of the terms between now and July 31, 2007. "I am pleased that the tobacco companies have agreed to voluntarily discontinue use of these descriptors in advance of anticipated regulations requiring their removal," said Sheridan Scott of Canada's Competition Commission.

The decision will affect 79 cigarette brands and 18 types of loose tobacco.

Use of the terms has already ceased in the European Union and Australia; in the United States, a federal judge recently ordered tobacco companies to stop calling cigarettes "light," "mild," and "low-tar," but the companies are appealing the ruling.

Parliament votes to ban tobacco advertising
Berlin The lower house of the German parliament has voted overwhelmingly in favor of a ban on tobacco advertising that would bring it in line with European Union directives.

Under the bill, cigarette manufacturers will still be able to advertise on billboards and on cinema screens after 7 p.m.

But it will bring an end to tobacco advertising in the print press, on television and the Internet and at sports events that are broadcast on television.

Germany has long been considered a haven for smokers and cigarette manufacturers while rules on public smoking and tobacco advertising grew stricter elsewhere in Europe.

The ban was highly controversial here and Berlin even went to the European Court of Justice to fight the EU directive on forbidding tobacco advertising.

But the government realized the challenge was doomed in June when an advocate general of the court recommended dismissing it.

Shortly afterwards, Consumer Protection Minister Horst Seehofer announced plans to implement an ad ban.

CEPS, Philip Morris partner to fight smuggling
Accra, Ghana The Customs, Excise and Preventive Services (CEPS) and Philip Morris, the sole producers of Marlboro cigarettes, have signed a memorandum of understanding to share information and knowledge in the fight against the smuggling of fake cigarettes into the country.

Philip Morris is expected to help train CEPS officials on how to properly scan containers and detect fake cigarettes.

The Country Director of Philip Morris, Jallo Diallo, signed on behalf of his company, while the Commissioner of CEPS, Emmanuel Doku, signed on behalf of CEPS.

Diallo commended CEPS for its vigilance and arrest of the fake cigarettes. He said the action had sent a strong signal to the international community about the seriousness of the service to fight smuggling.

Doku said apart from the health hazard that smuggling of fake cigarettes posed, it also denied the country the needed revenue for development.

United States
High court sides with Altria
Washington, D.C. The U.S. Supreme Court let stand a ruling that threw out a $10.1 billion verdict against Philip Morris USA in a lawsuit that accused the Altria Group Inc. unit of misleading consumers about the risks from smoking "light" cigarettes.

The justices rejected an appeal by the plaintiffs of the Illinois Supreme Court ruling that ordered the dismissal of the class-action lawsuit that accused the company of defrauding customers into thinking "light" cigarettes were safer than regular ones.

The Illinois Supreme Court ruled the U.S. Federal Trade Commission has authorized tobacco companies to characterize their products as "light" or "low tar and nicotine."

It said a section in the Illinois Consumer Fraud Act exempts a company from being punished for behavior allowed by a specific regulatory body.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. "The Illinois Supreme Court erred in interpreting federal law as giving any authoritative legal effect to" the consent orders entered into by the FTC and specific tobacco companies, they said.

The initial $10.1 billion judgment was handed down by a trial court judge in 2003. The Illinois Supreme Court then took the unusual step of hearing the case on appeal directly from the trial court.

Philip Morris urged the U.S. Supreme Court to reject the appeal. The U.S. Supreme Court denied the appeal without any comment or recorded dissent.

Tobacco International - November, 2006

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