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December, 2007

Possible drastic tobacco excise hikes
Sofia - Bulgaria’s draft budget bill includes drastic hikes to excise duties on tobacco. Cigarette duties will rise by 34% starting in January in the first step of a three-year program that will see the duty rise to €64 per thousand cigarettes by 2010, from the current €31.

EU takes Finland to court over Aland Islands oral tobacco use
Helsinki - The European Commission said it is taking Finland to the EU courts for the second time for failing to comply with the bloc’s laws on prohibiting oral tobacco use in the Aland Islands.

The commission will ask the courts to impose a €2.03 mn penalty on Finland, and if Helsinki fails to comply before the judgment, a daily penalty of €19,829.

EU laws from 2001 on the manufacture, presentation, and sale of tobacco products prohibits placing tobacco for oral use on the market. Under EI law, tobacco for oral use means “all products for oral use, except those intended to be smoked or chewed, made wholly or partly of tobacco.”

Tobacco firms see boosting profits
Jakarta - Indonesian tobacco firms bought 13% more excise stamps in the first nine months of 2007, according to recently-released industry data, suggesting full-year output in the world’s fifth-largest tobacco market may beat forecasts.

The higher excise stamp purchases - used for production usually within two to three months after the purchase - are seen by analysts as an indication of stronger profits for local cigarette makers. Industry data showed Indonesian companies bought excise stamps worth 30.9 tn rupiah in the first nine months of the year, up 13.1% from the year-ago period.

More than a third of the Indonesian population smokes today compared to a little over 25% about a decade ago.

New Zealand
Pension fund quits tobacco
Wellington - The New Zealand government’s pension fund is selling its tobacco stocks, dubbing them “inconsistent with responsible investment standards,” in a recent announcement. The New Zealand Superannuation Fund said it was selling nearly NZ$38 mn (about US$28.1 mn) worth of tobacco stocks assessing environmental, social, and governance issues against relevant international conventions, New Zealand law, and government policy.

Thai Cabinet OKs $474 mn tobacco factory
Bangkok - The Thai Cabinet has approved a plan for Thailand Tobacco Monopoly to build a new factory with a five-year investment budget of US$474 mn.

The plan is aimed at improving the productivity of the tobacco industry and strengthening its ability to compete with foreign companies, according to a government document.

The factory is expected to produce 32 bn cigarettes annually, and the investment funds will come from revenues of the Thailand Tobacco Monopoly.

United States
New York bill would ban internet cigarette sales
New York - New York State Rep. Anthony Weiner wants to snuff out illegal on-line cigarette sales by making them a felony and by banning the delivery of cigarettes through the mail.

Weiner said his goal is to cut down on tax-free Internet sales, which cost New York City some $40 mn a year in lost revenue and have been linked to terrorist groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas. A recent federal study found that Hezbollah raised $1.5 mn from illegal cigarette sales from 1996 to 2000.

The bill comes on the heels of a similar US Senate bill, introduced this past March.

Nicotine may offer Parkinson’s relief
Sunnyvale - Nicotine may help ease some of the debilitating tremors and twitches caused by Parkinson’s disease and its treatment, according to a study led by Maryka Quik of the Parkinson’s Institute and Clinical Center in Sunnyvale, California.

The finding, to be published in the Annals of Neurology, suggests it may be possible to improve the lives of patients. Dr. Quik noted that, “It may be the only drug that is useful for reducing dyskinesias without making Parkinson’s disease worse.”

Tobacco International - December, 2007

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