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November, 2008

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US Supreme Court starts term with tobacco fraud case

Washington, DC - The first case of the United States Supreme Court current term was a case in which smokers who claimed they were defrauded by cigarettes marked “light” were seeking compensation.

According to the New York Times, “The justices accepted, some provisionally and others explicitly, that the term ‘light’ can be misleading when referring to levels of tar and nicotine.” Though “light” cigarette brands register lower levels of tar and nicotine when analyzed by the Federal Trade Commission, “human smokers compensate by puffing harder, smoking more cigarettes or inhaling deeper.”

In light of this, Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. said that the trade commission’s position seemed unintelligible, and if the figures presented by the commission were inaccurate or not useful, then the trade commission “should have prohibited them a long time ago.”

This case, Altria Group Inc. v. Good, centers on the question of whether or not smokers should be allowed to use “light” cigarettes under state law, while some claims are banned under federal law.

The three plaintiffs involved have sued Altria and Philip Morris USA for fraud under the Unfair Trade Practices Act in Maine, saying that they were injured by relying on what they called the companies’ false statements. The defendants used the Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act, which says that no prohibition “shall be imposed under state law with respect to the advertising or promotion,” so long as the cigarettes in question follow federal labeling requirements.


China
Anhui Tobacco Industry to promote cigar production development
Beijing - The tobacco company in China’s Anhui Province, Anhui Provincial China Tobacco Industry Corporation, is planning to promote the development of cigars and cigar production as a new point of economic growth for the provincial tobacco industry.

In September, both General Manager Zhu Jianhua and Deputy General Manager Lu Anning of Anhui Provincial China Tobacco Industry Corporation held an on-site inspection for a group of local tobacco manufacturers at the corporation’s cigar-producing subsidiary in Mengcheng City of the province.

During the course of the inspection, Zhu mentioned that there were broad prospects for the development of China’s cigar markets, and that Anhui Provincial China Tobacco Industry Corporation (APCTIC) has included the promotion of cigar production in its development plan.

He also said that APCTIC would be formulating both medium- and long-term cigar productions in addition to obtaining and developing the technologies and equipment necessary to engage this industry.


Namibia
Government urged to act on piracy
Windhoek - The Copyright Society of Namibia (NASCAM) recently expressed disappointment in its government for ignoring calls to crack down on violations of intellectual property rights via counterfeit production and piracy.

Businesses that are effected by piracy and counterfeiting include artists, music labels, film producers, music retailers, video rental owners, and tobacco. NASCAM said that “We need to protect these sectors in order to keep them in business.”


United Kingdom
Governments lose US$20 bn due to cigarette counterfeits
London - British American Tobacco (BAT) issued a worldwide statement to governments, saying that this year, US$20 bn in unpaid tobacco taxes and excises will be lost due to counterfeiters and smugglers, and that the World Health Organization’s policies and protocols need strengthening if they are “really to help governments.”

Though BAT firmly supports the WHO’s protocols on illicit trade, BAT estimates that over 335 bn illicit cigarettes will be consumed this year.

Smuggling is not the work of small operators alone, says BAT: “Organized crime is increasingly dominant. Just one 12 meter freight container with 8.5 mn cigarettes, smuggled into the UK and sold at half the recommended retail price, can net the criminals around US$2 mn in profit.”


Tobacco International - November, 2008
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