February 2010 - CigarettesReviews.com | CigarettesReviews.com

Monthly Archives: February 2010

BAT benefits from increased cigarette prices

Raising prices in spite of the recession buoyed profits at British American Tobacco, which makes Dunhill, Kent and Lucky Strike cigarettes.

Revenue for the year to December 31 rose 17 per cent to £14.2bn, boosted by acquisitions and favourable foreign exchange movements as well as higher cigarette prices. Pre-tax profit rose almost 11 per cent to £4.08bn.

Like-for-like volumes fell 3 per cent, but this was outweighed by rising prices for most of BAT’s brands in most countries.

Paul Adams, chief executive, said: “We do think the worst is over in terms of declining industry volumes and downtrading. ”

Sales of three out of BAT’s four core brands grew, but Kent, the company’s premium brand, suffered a 4 per cent drop in sales.

Diluted earnings per share rose 11 per cent to 136.3p and the total dividend rises 19 per cent to 99.5p after a final of 71.6p (61.6p). Rival Philip Morris International announced this month that it would return more than $12bn (£7.9bn) to shareholders via a buy-back. But BAT said its share buy-back programme would remain suspended.

“We’ve given more money to shareholders in dividends this year than in dividends and a share buy-back last year,” said Ben Stevens, finance director. “We’re not indicating that there’s a big acquisition out there, we’re just committed to maintaining our triple B-plus credit rating.”

Mr Stevens said that if BAT was to make acquisitions they would be in North Africa and Asia.

BAT, world’s second-largest listed tobacco company, said it was on track to achieve its target operating margin of 34 per cent by 2012. This year, it saved £239m of its £800m cost-saving target for 2008-12.

The shares fell 51p to close at £21.80.

History-making tobacco treaty now five years old

The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) came into effect, marking an important milestone in public health history on 26th February in 2005.

Already 168 out of 195 eligible parties have joined the treaty through ratification or accession, and more are set to join. Sri Lanka too ratified the FCTC in 2003 expressing its willingness to join the treaty.

Many countries have implemented effective evidence based measures to decrease prevalence of tobacco use and save lives through banning tobacco advertising and sponsorship; through protecting citizens from tobacco smoke exposure; and through mandating pictorial warnings on cigarette packs.

The FCTC is a remarkable achievement because:

It is the first treaty negotiated under the auspices of the WHO, a resounding recognition that international law has a critical role to play in global health.

The treaty catalyzed global action, elevating the importance of tobacco control as a global health and political issue, stimulating policy change at the domestic level and bringing new public and private resources into the field.

The FCTC Conference of the Parties (COP) adopted strong guidelines on four of the convention’s key substantive articles, and work is underway on the development of a number of other guidelines and a protocol.

However, for each success there is an equally difficult ongoing challenge because universal FCTC implementation is still far away, particularly with respect to tobacco taxation, control of illicit trade of tobacco products and any measures that require resources, such as public education and cessation.

Richer parties have also made no significant effort to ensure tobacco control efforts in low and middle income countries receive appropriate technical and financial assistance. FCA would like to see countries include tobacco control in their development agendas to boost funding in this crucial area.

While tobacco kills more than 5 million people a year, tobacco control programs are grossly underfunded. As a result, during the next five years FCA will focus on improving FCTC implementation and increasing resources to adequately fund implementation of measures and policies that are compliant with the treaty.

Framework Convention Alliance would also like to see more stringent measures in place such as 90 per cent graphic warnings on cigarette packages; bans on cigarette package displays and duty free tobacco sales; generic packaging; higher tobacco taxes; more cessation methods; and an effective protocol on illicit trade in tobacco products.

FCA director Laurent Huber said that over the past five years, the number of deaths caused by tobacco has increased and not decreased. “Tobacco use remains high in low and middle income countries and it is increasing among women and young people,” he said. “We have five years of good progress on policy but deaths due to tobacco use continue to rise. Governments need to fund their policy promises to stem the tide of tobacco deaths.”

Chesterfield-based Swedish Match seeks to boost its dipping tobacco

Swedish Match North America is stepping up its efforts to introduce Americans to snus, the traditional Swedish dipping tobacco.

The Chesterfield County-based company has expanded by sixfold the number of stores where it sells snus, even as it ended a joint venture with Lorillard Tobacco Co. to test demand, company officials disclosed yesterday.

This winter, it has crews at Vail and Aspen, Colo.; Jackson Hole, Wyo.; and other ritzy ski resorts, passing out silvery sample cans of its General brand snus.

Snus, which is a type of snuff made from tobacco cured by steam instead of heat in the usual American way, could become one of the hottest new tobacco products on the market. It has a different aroma than moist snuff and does not require users to spit.

Last week, Michael E. Szymanczyk, chairman and chief executive officer of the nation’s No. 1 tobacco company, Henrico Countybased Altria Group Inc., said expanding spitless tobacco products was a top priority.

Altria sells a brand of snus using its potent Marlboro brand name, while No. 2 Reynolds American Inc. sells snus named for its flagship Camel cigarettes.

But Stockholm-based Swedish Match AB thinks it has an important edge — it has been making snus for more than 200 years.

“It’s safe to say that there is a demand for the real thing from Sweden there in the U.S. market,” Lars Dahlgren, president and CEO of the parent company, told analysts yesterday.

“We see that in e-commerce channels, we see that in stores, and they are well-informed U.S. consumers. They are prepared to pay a premium for their real authentic and Swedish type of products,” he added.

Swedish Match’s now-ended joint venture with U.S. cigarette-maker Lorillard Tobacco Co. experimented with marketing snus from cigarette racks in Georgia and Ohio.

“The market has moved on a bit since we went into that,” Swedish Match AB Vice President Emmett Harrison told the analysts.

He said the company now sells snus from refrigerated cases in more than 600 stores, rather than jockeying for space on the same shelves as cigarettes. Snus keeps fresh longer when refrigerated.

The number of stores carrying Swedish Match’s snus is up from just 100 stores at the start of the year, Rich Flaherty, Swedish Match’s locally based president-U.S. sales, said by e-mail after the conference call ended.

Swedish Match believes the U.S. market for snus is running at about 16 million to 18 million cans a year, Harrison said. In contrast, Americans buy more than a billion cans a year of moist snuff.

Meanwhile, Swedish Match expects overall U.S. demand for snuff will continue to grow, probably by about 5 percent this year.

Swedish Match plans to launch peach-flavored Timber Wolf brand pouches next month, Dahlgren said.

Earlier, Swedish Match reported worldwide profit last year rose 39 percent to $435 million, as net sales rose 13 percent to just less than $2 billion.

In the United States, its sales of moist snuff rose 5.9 percent during 2009, buoyed in part by its sponsorship of Ron Hornaday’s No. 33 Chevy in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series as well as of the Bassmaster fishing series.

The company’s mass-market cigar sales rose 23 percent in 2009, while premium brands increased 3 percent.

Its loose-leaf chewing tobacco sales declined 9.3percent, hit hard by steep tax increases in Texas and Florida.

Tobacco giants Fortune, Philip Morris to merge

LONG-TIME bitter competitors Fortune Tobacco of taipan Lucio Tan and Philip Morris have agreed to bury the hatchet and merge their manufacturing and marketing operations in the Philippines, the Manila Standard Today has confirmed.

The merged company, tentatively called PMFTC, will control 92 percent of the still growing Philippine tobacco market.

Philip Morris has scheduled a press conference this noon “to announce a major development that will impact the Philippine tobacco industry,” with no less than Asia-Pacific president Matteo Pellegrini, Tan, and Philip Morris Philippines managing director Chris Nelson attending.

According to sources close to the transaction, the merged company will be controlled by Philip Morris by virtue of its 50-percent-plus one share majority in the new company.

The same sources said the merger was facilitated by Tan’s younger brother, Harry, who was worried about the succession problems that could befall the multi-billion empire given the bitter feud between Lucio Tan, who is turning 76 this year, and the second brother, Mariano Tanenglian.

With the merger, Philip Morris and Fortune Tobacco will effectively divide the Philippine market between themselves, with the US tobacco giant controlling the higher end with its Marlboro cigarettes and Philip Morris brands, and Fortune with its Hope, Fortune, Champion and Boss cigarettes.

Philip Morris maintains a regional manufacturing facility in a 25-hectare complex in Tanauan City, Batangas.

The Tanauan factory, inaugurated in May 2003, can roll out up to 40 billion cigarette sticks a year.

President Casteen joins Altria board of directors

President John T. Casteen, III has been elected to the board of directors of Altria Group, Inc., a Richmond-based corporation and parent company of tobacco and wine businesses such as Philip Morris USA, U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Company and Ste. Michelle Wine Estates.

Altria companies own brands such as Marlboro, Skoal and Black & Mild. Casteen’s appointment increases the board’s membership from nine to 10 directors.

As a board member, Casteen will be one of the individuals tasked with maintaining the overall well-being of the corporation.

“The Board has responsibility for establishing broad corporate policies, setting strategic direction, and overseeing management, which is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the Company,” according to the Altria Web site.

Casteen has been familiar with Altria and Mike Szymanczyk, its chairman and chief executive officer, since February 2007, when Philip Morris USA committed $25 million to the University. About $20 million of that gift was donated toward Medical School research and projects, including a smoking cessation program, according to a University press release.

Overall, Casteen has a large amount of respect for Altria’s management and the direction the company has taken with Szymanczyk, he said in an e-mail.

“This is a company committed to change and innovation,” he said. “It is also a company with deep roots in Virginia. I am honored to join the Altria board and to have the opportunity to become part of the company’s future.”

Casteen also has served on the corporate boards of organizations such as Connecticut Bank and Trust Company, the American Council on Education and New England Education Loan Marketing Corporation. He also chaired the National Board on Oceans and Atmosphere and is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

In his new position, Casteen will work with another member of the University community. Former Gov. Gerald L. Baliles, director of the Miller Center of Public Affairs, has been a member of Altria’s board of directors since 2008.
Rebecca Rubin, Cavalier Daily News

Try to tax Indian cigarettes

ALBANY — A state tax department policy of not enforcing tax collections on Indian cigarette sales was officially rescinded Tuesday by the Paterson administration. But it will still take approval of a new set of regulations before the tax-free sales are halted.

Gov. David A. Paterson announced a proposed set of rules to break the decades-long dispute over tax-free tobacco sales, which critics say could be costing the state as much as $1 billion a year in revenues. The new plan envisions the tax being collected “upstream” at the wholesale level and not at Indian retail shops.

The proposed rules require cigarette manufacturers to sell cigarettes only to licensed stamping agents that certify they are not supplying tax-free retailers, such as the dozens of businesses on the Seneca Nation reservations, with cigarettes missing an official state tax stamp; they face perjury charges for lying.

The latest move comes as the State Senate Finance Committee is poised to issue subpoenas as early as today to a broad segment of the tobacco industry.

Sen. Carl Kruger, a Brooklyn Democrat who has railed against the lost tobacco excise taxes because of Indian and bootleg sales, is targeting nearly every aspect of the cigarette supply chain with a legal request for information that “could fill a dump truck,” said one government source.

The lawmaker wants to get details on the extent of the state’s untaxed cigarette industry; one state estimate has claimed nearly 40 percent of smokers buy untaxed or low-tax cigarettes “regularly.”

The Paterson administration today also will propose legislation to put in statute its new plan to permit a set number of tax-free cigarette sales to the state’s nine tribes for personal consumption by their members.

It would bypass a law already on the books that calls for coupons to be used by Indians to buy their own tax-free cigarettes. The legislation would lift a current injunction imposed by a state court judge in Buffalo against the state’s enforcement of the coupon-based law.

The release of the proposed rules kicks off a 45-day comment period and a review period that could see enactment in six months, according to an administration official. Government sources said any agreements struck in the coming months to resolve the issue with individual Indian tribes could supersede the new rules.

The proposal comes as Paterson also is trying to push through a $1-per-pack excise tax increase, to $3.75, the nation’s highest. The move would further increase the profitability of bootleg and Indian cigarette sales unless a new collection mechanism is adopted.

The new regulations would result in licensed stamping agents, which basically serve as middlemen between manufacturers and retailers, paying the taxes to Albany. Besides certifying they are making only legal, taxable sales, wholesalers would have to list the source of their cigarettes with the tax department.

Manufacturers would have a legal burden, as well, because they would have to collect the certifications from wholesalers — meaning they could not sell their products to any wholesaler unless that supplier has certified to the tobacco companies that they do not sell any illegal tax-free cigarettes.

The Seneca Nation did not comment on the proposal.

“It seems reasonable to me,” Russell Sciandra, director of the Center for a Tobacco Free New York, said of the proposed rules.

The plan also calls for an “adequate” number of cigarettes to be supplied tax-free to Indian tribes for personal consumption of its members. In the case of the Senecas’ 7,967 members, it would mean a total of 167,000 tax-free packs being supplied to the tribe every quarter — or 21 packs every three months for every man, woman and child enrolled as a Seneca.

In all, the state’s nine tribes—with a total of 31,000 members — would receive 648,000 packs of tax-free cigarettes per quarter. Licensed stamping agents would be in violation of state law if they supply an amount beyond the approved allotment for each tribe.
By Tom Precious

Kansas smoking ban passes

TOPEKA | In a landmark move, the Kansas House passed a statewide public smoking ban Thursday and sent it to Gov. Mark Parkinson.

If Parkinson signs the legislation as expected, Kansas will join nearly 40 states that have some statewide restrictions on where smokers can light up.

The ban would go into effect July 1.

Today’s vote was 68-54. Supporters said they were tired of waiting as ban proposals languished for years on the legislative agenda.

“While we continue to debate and debate… people are dying,” said Rep. Barbara Bollier, a Mission Hills Republican and a physician. “People are becoming ill, and they are asking you to help them.”

In the end, supporters of the ban used a procedural move to force a vote on the legislation on House floor Thursday. Since the Senate has already passed the measure it now goes straight to Parkinson, who has said he supports a ban.

The proposed ban would prohibit smoking in bars, restaurants, workplaces, 80 percent of hotel rooms and taxi cabs. Casino floors, tobacco shops, private clubs and designated smoking rooms in hotels would be exempt.

The ban will not replace stricter local smoking bans now in place. Some 39 Kansas cities and counties – including most in the metro area – already ban smoking to some degree.

For years health advocates pushed bills to outlaw smoking in bars, restaurants and workplaces only to see them snuffed out or tabled by skeptical lawmakers.

Last year the Senate endorsed the legislation but the House never voted on the measure. Lawmakers who pushed for a statewide ban for years told their colleagues that Thursday’s vote would be one they could tell their grandchildren about.

“If you care about improving the health of Kansans, this is the most important vote you can make this year, perhaps in your entire legislative career,” said Rep. Jill Quigley, a Lenexa Republican.

Earlier this year, critics of a ban had proposed legislation earlier this year that would allow restaurants and bars to opt out by paying a fee. But supporters of a stronger ban objected to that bill, saying it was disingenous.

Critics of a statewide ban said smoking bans should be left to local governments. They called it hypocritical for the state to ban smoking in private businesses but not state-run casinos.

“You’re going to be shutting down bars and restaurants that have been in business for decades,” said Rep. Scott Schwab, an Olathe Republican. “At what point has government gone too far?”
By David Klepper on February 25, 2010

Herbert threatens veto of cigarette tax, other bills

SALT LAKE CITY — Gov. Gary Herbert said Wednesday he’s got a set of pens “greased up and ready to go” to veto a cigarette tax increase and other issues being considered by the 2010 Legislature.

The GOP governor told the Deseret News any tax increase would hurt the state’s economic recovery and said he’s concerned lawmakers are cutting the budget too deeply, particularly in public and higher education.

Republican legislative leaders shrugged off Herbert’s warnings.

“It’s just posturing,” said Senate Majority Leader Scott Jenkins, R-Plain City. “It’s about time, in fact. This is OK. We kind of expect it.”

House Majority Leader Kevin Garn, R-Layton, said there just isn’t enough money to do what the governor wants, especially without tax increases.

“Well, he’s put himself and us in a box if he wants more,” Garn said.

Herbert, though, vowed to “push back” in a number of areas that would be cut by the legislative Republicans’ reductions over his recommended budget for next fiscal year, which starts July 1.

Those areas include cutting 29 UHP troopers as well as trimming an additional $3.5 million from the prison budget, which would mean early release of 213 inmates.

There’s no need for Utahns to worry, Herbert said, about the Department of Corrections releasing inmates early, as called for in the budget endorsed by GOP leaders Tuesday.

“I’m confident that won’t happen,” he said. Still, he said state agencies are going to have to “tighten their belts. It’s going to pinch a little.”

But the governor was very clear that he sees no need to cut public and higher education.

GOP lawmakers would take an additional $60 million from colleges and universities, and are threatening to reduce public education funds.

Herbert said lawmakers should be looking at dipping deeper into the Rainy Day Fund and postponing some road projects to plug the holes in the budget.

They should take another $50 million from the fund, he said, which would still leave the balance at more than $200 million. Plus, he said, there’s a list of some $113 million in road projects that can wait until the state is in better financial shape.

Garn said using more one-time money out of the Rainy Day Fund is not something lawmakers are willing to do. And roads have long been a top priority of Republicans in the Legislature.

The governor insisted his plan will work. “We absolutely can get through this, protecting education, maintaining basic levels of service in government and do it all without raising taxes and having a balanced budget,” he said.

GOP lawmakers are looking more closely at raising the tax on a pack of cigarettes to raise some $24 million, but Herbert said he’d likely stop that.

“I’m very reluctant to use the ‘v-word’ at any time. But certainly that, the veto, certainly is on the table. It’s an option,” Herbert said. “I’ve got a couple of pens already out there, greased up and ready to go.”

Senate Minority Leader Pat Jones, D-Holladay, said the threat of a veto from the governor “will throw cold water” on the tobacco tax increase despite support from the public.

Herbert also said he would consider vetoing SB109, a bill that would give the governor the power to appoint the chief justice of the Utah Supreme Court.

“It has the perception that somehow we will interject politics into the selection of the chief justice,” the governor said in an interview. “I just think there’s no reason.”

Jenkins, the sponsor of that bill, already has said he won’t pursue it. Herbert chuckled when asked if he put a stop to the legislation.

“You want me to tell you all my secrets? I think they knew I was not too inclined to support that bill,” the governor said.
Jenkins, though, said Herbert never talked to him about the bill. “I was going to hold it anyway,” the Senate majority leader said. “He’s a big powerful guy, and I don’t want to get in trouble with him.”

The governor also said he’ll make a decision by Friday whether to veto yet another bill, SB11. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Margaret Dayton, R-Orem, says Utah alone will decide regulations on guns produced and used solely in the state.

Herbert said it’s not a gun bill but an interstate commerce issue that may be unconstitutional and could cost the state plenty to defend.

“I’m getting mixed messages as far as the cost, whether it could be done pro-bono, whether the attorney general could absorb it in his existing budget,” the governor said.

But he met later Wednesday with Attorney General Mark Shurtleff and was planning to talk with other attorneys before deciding what to do. Herbert said he wants “some assurances at least that there’s not going to be some kind of extraordinary fiscal cost to this bill.”

Jenkins said he believed the Senate could override a veto by the governor on SB11. “He’s a little concerned about it? That’s just too bad. We passed it,” he said. “Now he’s got to make his decision.”

Finding the two-thirds majority required for a veto override on a tobacco tax increase would be harder, Jenkins acknowledged. The GOP Senate caucus has yet to support or reject the measure.

Herbert just returned from Washington, D.C., where he was able delay and stop shipments of depleted uranium to Utah and resolve the issue of new national monuments in the state.

“If I could be as productive every time I go to Washington, I need to spend more time there,” he said with a smile. “And if our congressional delegation could be as productive as I was this past week, I think that would be a step in the right direction.”

By Lisa Riley Roche and Bob Bernick Jr.
Deseret News

Philip Morris Announces New Business Transaction in the Philippines

Philip Morris International Inc. today announced that Philip Morris Philippines Manufacturing Inc. (PMPMI), an affiliate of PMI, and Fortune Tobacco Corporation (FTC), have signed an agreement to unite their respective business activities by transferring selected assets and liabilities of PMPMI and FTC to a new company to be called PMFTC, with each party holding an equal economic interest. The Chairman of PMFTC will be Mr. Lucio Tan, currently Chairman of FTC. PMI will manage the day-to-day operations of PMFTC.

PMFTC is poised to benefit from the complementary nature of each shareholder’s brand portfolio and the cost synergies derived from the integration of manufacturing, procurement and distribution. Both companies have contributed their trademarks to PMFTC which will also manufacture Marlboro and Philip Morris under long-term license agreements.

“This transaction is a tremendous strategic fit for our business that will cement our leadership in South East Asia,” said Matteo Pellegrini, President of PMI’s Asia Region. “We firmly believe it will provide us with the talent, infrastructure and expertise to further build our united portfolio of strong brands in this important cigarette market and will benefit the Philippines economy through the further development and expansion of tobacco growing, exports and investments in people and capital.”

PMFTC’s incremental contribution to PMI’s earnings per share in 2010, a year which will focus on integration, is expected to be immaterial. It is anticipated that PMFTC’s contribution to PMI’s earnings per share will be accretive in 2011, as cost synergies begin to be realized.

The Philippines is one of the largest global cigarette markets with an estimated 2009 volume of 85 billion cigarettes. FTC is one of the five largest privately-owned cigarette companies in the world. PMPMI is present mainly in the premium price segment, while FTC, with leading brands such as Fortune and Champion, which recorded an estimated combined market share of 46.8% in 2009, competes mainly in the value segment.

About Philip Morris International Inc.

Philip Morris International Inc. (PMI) is the leading international tobacco company, with seven of the world’s top 15 brands, including Marlboro, the number one cigarette brand worldwide. PMI has more than 77,000 employees and its products are sold in approximately 160 countries. In 2009, the company held an estimated 15.4% share of the total international cigarette market outside of the U.S., or 26.0% excluding the People’s Republic of China and the U.S. For more information, see www.pmintl.com.

SOURCE: Philip Morris International Inc.

Cigar sellers targeting women smokers

Grab the cigars and the brandy and let’s retire to the smoking room — ladies.Cigar women smokers

Nova Scotia cigar retailers were smiling Tuesday with reports of a new marketing focus on women by Habanos SA, the international distributor of Cuban cigars.

After reporting an eight per cent drop in sales for 2009 for a total of $360 million, the company announced a new focus on thinner and milder products for female puffers to pump up sales.

Special cigars made just for women will soon be appearing in your local tobacco store.

Word will go out that cigars are for men and for women.

“They could be on to something,” said Craig Sievert, at Sieverts Tobacco Store on Barrington Street in Halifax.

“Women like the little flavoured cigars and these are to be banned beginning July 1. There are concerns they are falling into the hands of too many minors,” said Sievert.

The international cigar distributor of popular brands such as Cohiba, Monte Cristo and Partagas, said a search for a new market is required as it is getting more difficult to sell more expensive brands in the post-recession economy, especially with aggressive anti-smoking laws being introduced around the world.

The company is hoping to increase sales with a new brand called the Julieta, a smaller and milder cigar designed with women smokers.

“Women could very well become a source of increased business,” said Bob Gee, who owns Mader’s Tobacco Store in Kentville.

The tobacco sellers agreed more high-grade cigars would be sold if the price came down. A Monte Cristo for those on a budget costs about $15, a Cohiba is about $60 (plus 13 per cent HST). By comparison, a carton of 200 (eight packs of 25s) cigarettes can cost almost $100.

A cigar designed for women would have to be priced right, they said.

Habanos said Monday about five or 10 per cent of its customers are women who buy the products to smoke themselves and not for gifts.

Salt Lake Chamber urges increase in tobacco tax

SALT LAKE CITY — Should state lawmakers raise the tobacco tax or dip further into the rainy day fund to save education? A powerful business group says lawmakers should do both, but the governor and some legislators aren’t so sure.

It’s not often the state’s leading business group, the Salt Lake Chamber, calls for new taxes; but that’s exactly what it did Wednesday.

The Chamber is urging state leaders to hike the tobacco tax $1 from its current rate of 69 cents. It says that will raise about $40 million a year and help prevent potential higher education layoffs of nearly 1,400 faculty members and staff.

“My fear is that all this investing we’ve done in education over the last decades is going to come to a halt and we’re going to lose that competitive advantage that we have in our workforce, which is our No. 1 tool we have in our toolbox for economic development,” says Jeff Edwards, president and CEO of the Economic Development Corporation of Utah.

The Chamber also wants lawmakers to tap into the rainy day fund for $50 million to meet new, lower revenue projections.

“Ladies and gentleman, it’s raining. We need to make sure that we take care of our children and our young adults. We need to make sure that we’re not taking a step backwards,” says Lane Beattie, president and CEO of the Salt Lake Chamber.

Many lawmakers seem ready to look at either option.
“Increasing the tobacco tax from its current rate of 69 cents per pack of cigarettes to the national average of approximately $1.40 would generate an estimated $40 million for the state.” -Salt Lake Chamber

“The battle over there is how much is it going to be? So, is a dollar the amount in the Senate?” asks Rep. Paul Ray, R-Clearfield. “I’d like to think we’re going to be able to keep it as a dollar as we go through; when all is said and done, we’ll come out at $1.70 a pack here in Utah.”

“When you have a business organization step up and call for targeted tax hikes, I think it’s significant,” says Senate Minority Leader Pat Jones, D-Salt Lake City.

Others worry about drawing too much from the rainy day fund, or upping anyone’s taxes.

“Where do you get the money from? And if by taking the money away from taxpayers, and thereby chill the recovery that were occurring, then you just spiral further in debt,” says Sen. Lyle Hillyard, R-Logan.

Gov. Gary Herbert reiterated his “no new tax” stance Wednesday, telling the Deseret News he’s prepared to veto a cigarette tax. He said it would hurt the state’s economic recovery. Instead, the governor favors taking more from the rainy day fund and delaying some road projects.

February 24th,
By John Daley

Bulgaria’s smoking ban reversal temporary

The complete ban on smoking in public areas, due to come into force on June 1 2010, could be postponed until the start of 2011, Finance Minister Simeon Dyankov told private national broadcaster Darik radio on February 22 2010.

The decision, announced by MPs from the ruling GERB party, who came forward with amendments to the public health bill just days earlier, was meant to help Bulgaria’s restaurant and hotel business recover from the economic crisis, Dyankov said.

“I hope that this delay in enforcing a complete ban on smoking in public places will be just temporary because the trend, not just in Europe but in other places, is for banning smoking in public areas,” said Dyankov who has always expressed hostility towards smoking.

He said that postponing the ban was not a step backwards for the ruling majority in Parliament. “If the situation was normal and the economy was doing well, then we might have not taken this decision. Personally, I think that MPs have taken the right decision for the moment,” he said.

Dyankov said that Bulgaria could be out of the crisis by the end of 2010.

The full public smoking ban was approved by the previous government in May 2009. It is supposed to ban smoking everywhere in Bulgaria, incorporating all restaurants, pubs, clubs, cafes and bars.

On February 18 2010, however, GERB MPs said they were ready with amendments aimed at qualifying the full ban on smoking because it could undermine Bulgaria’s tourism and restaurant industry.

The news triggered negative reactions from NGOs and civil organisations but was supported by Prime Minister Boiko Borissov.

The amendments will be more flexible to enable restaurant and bar owners to comply with the ban.

The amendments stipulate that owners of bars and restaurants with an area of up to 100 sq m would be able to determine for themselves whether their premises should be non-smoking areas or not. Owners of facilities with an area of more than 100 sq m, however, will have to provide sections for non-smokers that have no direct link to the smokers’ areas.

Cocaine move into the booming illegal cigarette market

THE SMOKE SMUGGLERS: In the second part of our series, Crime Correspondent CONOR LALLY looks at the role of former republicans and organised crime gangs in the counterfeit cigarette industry

WHEN GARDAÍ and Customs officers staged a major raid on suspected cigarette smugglers in Monaghan last November they found something there weren’t expecting.

Instead of the usual large boxes of cigarettes – either fake imports or legitimately produced smokes on which import duties had not been paid – the authorities found evidence of a very sophisticated operation.

A search of a truck parked in a yard in smuggling country near Carrickmacross, Co Monaghan, yielded enough tobacco, cigarette paper, filters and packaging for 12 million cigarettes.

“It would have been processed into finished packets of smokes at an illegal processing plant somewhere along the Border; that’s how sophisticated the smugglers are now,” said one well-placed source.

The haul, which was valued at €5 million and has been traced back to a Danish port, had entered the Republic by car ferry from Holyhead.

Customs officers checked the container freight using an X-ray scanner at Dublin Port. The X-rays showed that whatever was in the 40ft container was not the paper products mentioned in the shipping documents.

The container was placed under surveillance, and after being collected at the port by a truck driver, was followed to the townland of Creevy, near Carrickmacross, where it was due to be collected by those behind the smuggling operation.

They obviously suspected the authorities were on to them and didn’t turn up to receive the drop; the truck’s lucrative cargo was left to the Garda and Customs team.

The lorry driver was questioned and released. There wasn’t any evidence to identify the borderlands gang behind the haul.

A massive shipment had been taken off the streets, but nobody was caught. It’s a familiar pattern in the booming and expanding cigarette smuggling trade, which cost the exchequer €400 million last year in taxes and duties forgone.

Senior gardaí who spoke to The Irish Times said that during the Troubles the contraband and counterfeit cigarette trade was dominated by the Provisional IRA. Many of those involved were based in Co Louth, across the Border in South Armagh, and at a number of other locations along the Border.

The proceeds of the trade – and that of diesel laundering and smuggling, which the Provisional IRA also specialised in – mainly went to “the movement”.

“At the height of it they weren’t only funding a terrorist campaign both here and in Britain – they also had to find money to look after their people, prisoners’ families and so on,” said one Garda source.

The same source said while republicans were responsible for sourcing and importing the cigarettes, they worked with “ordinary decent criminals” in the distribution of the contraband around the country.

“You had drivers delivering the stuff to places like markets in towns and villages, to street dealers mainly in Dublin and the other cities, and to shops that would take them and sell them,” said another source.

Senior officers familiar with the trade say since the disbandment of the Provisional IRA, many former members who had organised the cigarette smuggling, and those criminals they had worked with, continue to dominate the illegal trade, working purely for personal gain.

“Some of the drugs gangs are involved, but we still pretty much see a separation between what you could define as smugglers on the one hand and what the media calls gangland,” said a Garda source.

A number of former members of the Provisional IRA based in Co Louth who are now centrally involved in the Real IRA were heavily involved in cigarette smuggling for years, and remain so.

When haulier Ciarán Smyth was shot dead aged 39 in Co Louth in 2001, it emerged he was a key player in the cigarette smuggling trade, who worked with the Real IRA.

The Provisional IRA’s alleged former chief of staff, Thomas “Slab” Murphy, has also been linked to cigarette smuggling. A large quantity of cigarettes was found on his lands during a major Garda raid in March 2006.

The former Provisional IRA men, current Real IRA members and the “ordinary decent criminals” they work with have built an impressive network of contacts internationally – from the US to Eastern Europe and the Far East – from whom they source massive shipments of cigarettes.

The 120 million cigarettes, valued at €50 million, seized in Greenore port in Co Louth last October, for example, have been traced to the Philippines. A criminal syndicate of formerly active republicans and “smuggler criminals” around the Border was behind the haul.

Some gangland figures hit by the recession, mainly due to the falling demand for cocaine from recreational users, have begun to smuggle cigarettes, though the diversification is still in its infancy.

The same small number of gangs has also become involved in growing cannabis plants in industrial-sized growing facilities, a number of which have been found by gardaí in recent months in Meath, Donegal and Wicklow.

“They’re looking to get into anything to make a few extra quid now that the cocaine market has fallen very flat,” said one Garda source.

The Keane gang in Limerick has long been involved in smuggled cigarettes and have had some consignments seized from them.

Some cases taken by the Criminal Assets Bureau (Cab) in recent years offer an insight into the wealth that has been amassed by some smugglers.

Last month, Barry O’Brien of Oaktate, Stonetown, Carrickmacross Road, Dundalk, had three houses and €70,000 in cash seized by the Cab. He was also unable to explain the source of almost €300,000 that had gone through one of his bank accounts. O’Brien was once charged with cigarette smuggling in the North, but fled.

Dublin criminal Noel Duggan (49) became so heavily involved in cigarette smuggling he became known as Mr Kingsize. In 2003, the Cab confiscated a five-storey apartment and retail block owned by him that was valued at €4 million.

The Cab presented him with a demand for €4 million in respect of unpaid taxes after a three-year investigation revealed he was involved in smuggling and distributing cigarettes around the State.

However, Garda sources say crime gangs and traditional smugglers who want to build considerable wealth would need to import and sell a constant flow of cigarettes.

Sources point out that smugglers have to pay for the cigarettes and their transport to Ireland from their country of origin.

Once they reach Ireland they are sold by the key players to black market wholesalers. They can then be sold on a number of times to middle men before they reach street dealers.

“All those people have to get their cut, and the packs of 20 only sell on the streets for half the price of genuine cigarettes, so every pack is being sold for peanuts by the guys at the top of the chain here,” said one source.

Another source points out that drugs gangs have been slow to muscle in on cigarette smuggling because the margin of profit is much smaller than with drugs.

“A packet of 20 cigarettes that sells for around €4 on the streets here can be bought at source overseas for around 50 cent.

“But in South America you can get a kilo of coke for around €800 once you buy in bulk. When you get it to Ireland it’s worth €70,000. You just don’t get that sort of profit in cigarettes.”

Another senior Garda officer offers an interesting view: “The recession means the people going to nightclubs and parties doing lots of cocaine definitely don’t have the same spending power as before. So the drugs trade has been hit very badly.

“But the opposite is happening with the cigarettes. The black market smokes are half the price of the ones sold legitimately in shops, so in the recession that means the demand for them is going to be massive.”

E-cigarette maker welcomes FDA challenge

MIAMI – Despite the ongoing battle between the Food and Drug Administration and electronic cigarette makers, one manufacturer welcomes the challenge as a chance to present its product as a healthier alternative to traditional tobacco.

Green Smoke said it has created an electronic cigarette designed to simulate the smoking experience without carcinogenics. Instead, it emits an odorless vapor of mostly steam, with ingredients like nicotine, water, propylene glycol (an additive used in cake mixes) and others. The nicotine also is available in different strengths.

The company also added that the price for the electronic cigarettes are more cost-efficient than regular tobacco products, with cigarette starter kits ranging from $109 to $270. The starter kits include nicotine cartridges, rechargeable cigarette batteries, home charger and more.

Indiana ranks high in tobacco use

Only West Virginia has more smokers than Indiana, says Forbes.com.

With 26 percent of Hoosier adults reported as smokers, Indiana has the second-highest smoking rate in the nation, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The American Lung Association gave Indiana a failing grade for tobacco prevention control and spending as well as for statewide smoke-free air laws.

However, Indiana received a D for the current cigarette tax rate of 99.5 cents and a C for cessation coverage, with the state Medicaid program and state employee health programs covering the seven recommended cessation medications.

Until Indiana implements a statewide smoke-free air law, it will be hard to address the problem, said Karla Sneegas, executive director of Indiana Tobacco Prevention and Cessation.

The 10 states with the lowest smoking rates all have statewide smoke-free air laws and tax more than $2.00 per pack for cigarettes, Sneegas said. The 10 states with the highest smoking rates do not have smoke-free air laws or tax more than $2.00 for cigarettes.

“That’s a pretty clear indication of what a state needs to do to tackle the problem,” Sneegas said.

Although Indiana is not failing all of the ALA’s graded categories, the high rates are still a great concern, said Jessica Kelly, manager of the Advocacy Network for the American Lung Association of Indiana.

This year, a smoking ban bill that would ban smoking in public areas was introduced in the Indiana General Assembly.

According to Kelly, much of the opposition to the bill came from alcohol, gaming and tobacco businesses.

“There is a fear that during an economic recession, a state-wide smoking ban would hurt these businesses,” Kelly said. “But that really is not the case.”

A better-developed public health infrastructure would be needed as well to tackle issues such as high smoking rates, said John Graham, dean of IU School of Public and Environmental Affairs.

“To reduce smoking, you need a multi-faceted effort that captures family, the community, schools, businesses and advertising,” Graham said. “You just can’t pass one bill like it’s a magic wand and then smoking goes away.”
Feb. 23, 2010

Internal Toyota Document Could Become Smoking Gun

Does the Toyota acceleration matter have its first smoking-gun document?

The U.S. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which is investigating the Toyota recalls and plans to hold a hearing Wednesday, has obtained a document from a Toyota executive, which may have some plaintiffs’ lawyers licking their chops.

The document, from an internal presentation in July 2009 by Yoshimi Inaba, chief of the Japanese auto maker’s North America Toyota operations, notes that Toytoa saved money by lobbying federal officials to limit recalls tied to sudden-acceleration complaints, characterizing the lobbying effort as a key company achievement in 2009. Here’s a WSJ article about the document.

Inaba said that Toyota saved more than $100 million by negotiating an agreement with U.S. safety regulators that led to a limited “equipment” recall of Camry and Lexus ES350 vehicles. “Saved 100M+, w/no defect found,” the document states under a section labeled “Wins For Toyota—Safety Group.”

The company blamed incidents on floor mats, instead of a potentially more costly defect with the car itself. The power point also lists among “wins” the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s decision to close safety investigations of the Toyota Tacoma truck without ordering recalls, and delays to new safety rules that saved the company hundreds of millions of dollars.

Toyota has since recalled about 6 million U.S. vehicles for sudden-acceleration and gas-pedal problems.

Inaba is scheduled to testify before the House Oversight committee, along with Toyota President Akio Toyoda.

Plaintiffs’ lawyers have already made noise about how they will try to portray Toyota as putting profits over safety, possibly in support of a claim for punitivce damages. It’s too early, of course, to say whether this document would bolster such a claim or whether it would ever even be admissible in a case.

A spokesman for California Rep. Darrell Issa, the senior Republican on the House Oversight committee, said the document raises questions about how Toyota responded to years of concerns of sudden acceleration of vehicles.

There are questions “whether Toyota was lobbying for less rigid actions from regulators to protect their bottom-line,” said spokesman, Kurt Bardella. “If anything but the safety of America’s drivers influenced the decision-making process, the entire purpose of NHTSA will be undermined.”

Olivia Alair, a Transportation Department spokeswoman, all called the document “very telling.”
“It’s the responsibility of auto makers to come forward when there is a problem,” she said.

But Toyota said in a statement: “Our first priority is the safety of our customers and to conclude otherwise on the basis of one internal presentation is wrong.”

State smoking ban has cost $2 million

Ohio taxpayers have paid more than $2 million to rid bars, restaurants and workplaces of tobacco smoke since the statewide smoking ban took effect in 2007, a sum that opponents say could be better used elsewhere.

The state has spent $3.2 million so far to identify businesses that are violating the smoking ban, to look for infractions and to process them through the court system, according to information released by the Ohio Department of Health to state Sen. Bill Seitz, a critic of the smoking ban.

Health authorities have issued $1.2 million in fines and collected about $400,000, the health department said.

Critics of the smoking ban, which was approved by 58 percent of Ohio voters in 2006, point to the data as evidence that taxpayers are putting a lot of money toward patchy enforcement of the smoking law while violators shirk their fines.

“Even if they collected every single dime of every fine they’ve issued, they’ve still spent more than $2 million,” said Pam Parker, owner of a Grove City saloon and a regional director of the Buckeye Liquor Permit Holders Association.

Backers of the smoking ban take the opposite view. They say $2 million over nearly three years is a modest sum to reduce smoking rates in Ohio and protect nonsmokers from secondhand smoke. Since the ban took effect, Ohio’s adult smoking rate dipped from 22.5 percent to 20.2 percent, according to the Ohio Department of Health, although the trend might not be attributable to the no-smoking law alone.

The state Health Department says smoking-related health costs in Ohio come to about $4.37 billion a year, including $1.4 billion to Medicaid, the federal-state health-care program for the poor and disabled.

“I don’t think this has been an unreasonable cost for enforcement,” said Mandy Burkett, chief of the indoor environment section at the Ohio Department of Health. “I think the costs will be recouped by savings in other areas, particularly health-care costs.”

Seitz, a Cincinnati Republican and a smoker himself, said every dollar spent to look for smokers or ashtrays is money that could be used to pay for education, health care or other good causes.

“It’s a matter of priorities,” Seitz said. “We are in unprecedented times.”

He said bars should be able to purchase “smoking licenses” – similar to a liquor permit and costing a few thousand dollars – that would exempt the businesses from the ban. Money from the licenses then could be used to enforce the smoking law at businesses that aren’t exempt.

Seitz’s idea may face the same fate as other proposals to weaken the statewide smoking ban. Attempts to exempt certain businesses, such as fraternal organizations and family-owned bars, have fizzled in the legislature. Public-health advocates regularly trot out polls showing strong public support for the ban.

Seitz’s “smoking license” idea isn’t the only route by which certain businesses might be able to exempt themselves from the ban. Zeno’s, a Columbus bar that the state sued in August for repeatedly violating the ban, is challenging the constitutionality of applying the law to bars that are restricted to people 21 years or older.

“It might be perfectly constitutional to bar smoking in certain buildings or sports stadiums or family restaurants, but here you have a business that’s only 21 and up and that has a bar that’s big enough where someone can sit on one side of the bar and not bother someone on the other side of the bar,” said Maurice Thompson, the attorney for Zeno’s.

Franklin County Common Pleas Judge David Cain has not ruled on the case.

In Franklin County, the number of investigations into suspected violations has ebbed since authorities began enforcing the statewide ban in May 2007. (Many Franklin County jurisdictions, including Columbus, had local no-smoking laws that predated the statewide ban.)

The Franklin County Board of Health investigated 273 cases in 2007, 200 in 2008 and 163 in 2009, according to records. More than half of the cases were dismissed each year.

The health departments in Franklin and Delaware counties, which receive 90 percent of fine revenue for cases they investigate plus a flat rate from the state Health Department, say the ban hasn’t been a big financial burden.

“We haven’t had to add staff to get the investigations done,” said Stephanie DeGenaro, the head tobacco enforcer for the Delaware General Health District.
By James Nash

Cuba looks to women to boost sagging cigar sales

HAVANA, – With anti-smoking laws and the global recession causing sales to fall, Cuba wants to develop a largely untapped market cuban cigarsfor its famous cigars — women.

Habanos S.A. executives said on Monday sales fell 8 percent to $360 million in 2009, so they have created the Julieta, a smaller, milder version of the Romeo y Julieta cigar, aimed specifically at female smokers.

Women now make up only 5 to 10 percent of customers for Habanos, the worldwide distributor of Cuban cigars, marketing director Ana Lopez told a news conference kicking off the annual Habanos cigar festival.

The Julieta is an attempt to overcome perceptions among women that Cuban cigars are made up of “only strong tobacco for men,” she said.

The search for new markets is needed because even though Cuban cigars are considered the world’s finest, sales are slipping with the rise of anti-smoking laws around the world, said Habanos vice president Manuel Garcia.

The 8 percent sales drop in 2009 was preceded by a 3 percent fall, to $390 million, in 2008.

Even with the creation of the Julieta, Garcia said Habanos has only modest hopes for 2010 sales, due largely to a weak economy in Spain, the biggest market for Cuban cigars.

“We think it would be a very good result if we can at least maintain the (sales) we reached in 2009,” he said.

Habanos is a joint venture between Cuba and British tobacco giant Imperial Tobacco Group Plc.

Habanos — which produces other well-known brands such as Cohiba, Monte Cristo, Trinidad and Partagas — has about 71 percent of the sales in its markets, Garcia said.

The U.S. market, the largest in the world with 230 to 250 million cigars smoked annually, is off limits to Habanos due to the U.S. trade embargo imposed against Cuba since 1962.

John T. Casteen III Elected to Altria’s Board of Directors

RICHMOND, Va.–The Board of Directors of Altria Group, Inc. today announced the election of John T. Casteen III to the Board of Directors. With the addition of Mr. Casteen, the Altria Board increases from nine to ten directors.

“With his broad public and private sector experience, I know he will make significant contributions.”

Mr. Casteen has served as the President of the University of Virginia since 1990. He will step down from that position on August 1, 2010 and become President Emeritus at that time.

“I am delighted to welcome John Casteen to our Board of Directors,” said Michael E. Szymanczyk, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Altria. “With his broad public and private sector experience, I know he will make significant contributions.”

Mr. Casteen previously served as the Dean of Admission at the University of Virginia from 1975 to 1982, Virginia Secretary of Education from 1982 to 1985, and president of the University of Connecticut from 1985 to 1990.

Mr. Casteen’s business career has included service as a director of the following companies: Connecticut Bank and Trust Company; New England Education Loan Marketing Corporation (Nellie Mae); Sallie Mae; Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Connecticut, Inc.; College Construction Loan Insurance Association (Connie Lee); Allied Concrete Company; Jefferson Bank Shares, Inc.; Jefferson National Bank; and Wachovia Corporation. He currently serves as director at Sage Publications, Inc.; Jefferson Science Associates, LLC; and the Virginia University Research Partnership, Inc.

Mr. Casteen has been a director of the American Council on Education, a director of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, trustee and chair of the College Entrance Examination Board, commissioner of the Education Commission of the States, member of the Board of Control for the Southern Regional Education Board, commissioner of the New England Board of Higher Education, and chair of the Association of Governing Boards’ council of presidents. From 1991 to 1993, he chaired the National Board on Oceans and Atmosphere. He is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

Pitch made to ban smoking at soccer matches

Winnipeg soccer fields may soon be added to the growing list of areas where, even in the great outdoors, smokers are forbidden to light up.

The Winnipeg Youth Soccer Association wants to ban smoking within 50 metres of any youth game following complaints from referees and parents that the air is being fouled by sideline smokers.

“There were a couple of incidents last year where a referee had to stop a game because somebody had lit up … right on the sideline and it was wafting onto the field,” association president Alastair Gillespie said Monday. “We’re doing this for the protection of the kids.”

‘This is just insanity. People have gone completely insane.’—Arminda Mota, My Choice president

The group is consulting a lawyer and talking with city hall to ensure it has the legal authority to ban smoking on municipal fields during its games, and hopes to implement the rule this spring.

Smokers may be getting used to this kind of treatment. It is growing across the country.

Toronto started banning smoking near all playgrounds and wading pools last year. The Nova Scotia community of Truro bans outdoor smoking along a popular downtown shopping strip. The Edmonton Folk Music Festival, held outside in the city each summer, has a no-smoking area that covers half of the seating area in front of its outdoor main stage.
Weeded out

It’s getting virtually impossible to find a place to light up, according to one smoker’s rights group.

“This is just insanity. People have gone completely insane,” said Arminda Mota, president of My Choice. My Choice was set up several years ago with funding from tobacco manufacturers, although Mota says the group no longer receives money from the industry.

“What (anti-smoking advocates) want is to criminalize smokers, and they want children not to see any smokers anywhere.”

Idling cars and trucks are more of a health threat in the outdoors than second-hand smoke, Mota argued.

But anti-smoking advocates disagree. They point to a 2005 University of Maryland study that found levels of second-hand smoke outdoors did not dissipate to low levels until travelling seven metres or more and that distance increased if there were multiple smokers standing together.

Gillespie is hopeful most soccer moms and dads will support the smoking ban.

“It’s not our desire to offend people or to be looking for trouble,” he said. “I hope people will accept this and if they wish to smoke, they will smoke away from the (field).”

But smokers are getting fed up with the growing list of areas where they can’t light up, Mota said.

“Are we going to live in a world where everybody is bullied because of their way of life?,” she said.

“What they want is to make it virtually impossible to smoke absolutely anywhere, so basically you’re criminalizing law-abiding citizens.”

February 22, 2010
The Canadian Press

No check on violation of anti-tobacco laws

Many public departments and organisations working in the federal capital have no proper mechanism to enforce anti-tobacco laws and any check on violation during duty hours within their premises.

Thousands of people who do not smoked, become victims of second hand smoke as smokers openly smoke cigarettes in government offices which is a clear violation of concerned laws, causing harmful effects on health of non-smokers, citizens complained.

Cognizant of deleterious impact of tobacco, legislation was undertaken by the

Ministry of Health and ‘Prohibition of Smoking and Protection of Non-Smokers Health Ordinance 2002’ was promulgated.

Later, through an SRO the government disallowed designated areas in offices for smokers, which were earlier allowed in the ordinance and totally banned smoking in any public place or office to protect the health of non-smokers.

Prior to issuance of the SRO, all public and private offices were allowed to allocate a separate place for smokers like smokers’ corner within office premises with adequate arrangements.

The citizens demanded that after promulgation of the laws all public and work places have become smoke free therefore smokers should not be allowed to use tobacco in their offices or at public places.

“Why such laws are not being implemented in true spirit and violators are not being stopped to do so. It seems no one is serious to enforce such laws,” Muhammad Aftab, a citizen of federal capital questioned. He added complete implementation of the law and strict action against violators will help to protect health of non-smokers particularly in public offices.

It is pertinent to mention here that Pakistan had signed and ratified multisectoral and multidimensional Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) on May 18, 2004 and November 3,2004 respectively. Under provisions of FCTC, the country is required to bring its laws and policies in line with the global convention.

Dr. Arif Azad, executive director of The Network for Consumer Protection said that tobacco was the main cause of numerous hazards to human health, adding that all national and international obligations should be followed by the concerned authorities in this regard to check on use of tobacco particularly in offices.

He said smoking causes many diseases and ailments including heart attack, cancer of lungs, oral cavity, esophagus, larynx and diseases like chronic bronchitis and emphysema. He said the organisation is working to raise the level of awareness of policy makers on the issue for making effective policies for tobacco control in the country.

According to health experts, the use of tobacco continues to be a major public health challenge in Pakistan where 100,000 annual deaths occur due to tobacco related diseases.

They added tobacco consumption in the country is increasing manifold as a result of aggressive marketing and promotion of tobacco products by the tobacco industry including multinationals. When contacted an official of Tobacco Control Cell, Ministry of Health said that SRO withdrawal on designated areas for smokers will help cell to have strictly check on law violators with the help of public and concerned departments.

He said a strategic plan of action has been made by the cell with focus on awareness programme for health officials, professionals, teachers, decision makers, administrative staffs etc.

Tobacco Battle Continues

The Obama administration wants the Supreme Court to allow the government to seek nearly $300-billion from the tobacco industry due to a half century of deception. We spoke with a local tobacco farmer about this issue and what might happen if the government gets the money.

The Obama administration wants the Supreme Court to allow the government to seek nearly $300-billion from the tobacco industry due to a half century of deception.

We spoke with a local tobacco farmer about this issue and what might happen if the government gets the money.

“As far as the 50 states, Kentucky ranks the highest in tobacco production, and if something like this were to happen, there’d be many families affected by this,” said Joel Cook, a local tobacco farmer from Simpson County.

Cook just recently sold the last of his tobacco crop, and he’ll start replanting mid-March to once again start the year-long process of growing tobacco.

“As a tobacco farmer, I’d have to strongly stand against that,” said Cook. “It sounds like they’re just trying to take the money away from the tobacco industry for the well-being of others, and I don’t think the tobacco industry should be penalized for anything that’s happened in the past.”

The government says the industry has cost millions of Americans their health and lives.

“Everybody’s aware of the health risks,” said Cook. “It’s on every pack of cigarettes. Smoking is a hazard to your health.”

If the government receives the money, Cook says it would poorly affect the industry which is already going through a crucial time.

“As a burley tobacco farmer, I’m seeing a decrease in the amount of pounds I’m able to grow in this current coming year,” said Cook. “I feel that if the tobacco industry is struck by anything like this, it could really take effect on the tobacco farmer.”

Cook, being one of those farmers, says there may be other crops or cattle he could fall back on.

“There are areas to increase so I can rely on that for my income, but as of right now, tobacco is very critical to my income and putting food on the table for my family,” said Cook.

The decade-long fight went to the high court this past Friday.

While the government wants $300-billion, leading tobacco companies want the court to throw out rulings holding that the industry illegally concealed the dangers of cigarette smoking.

Tobacco Giants Clash Over Virginia’s Excise Tax

RICHMOND, VA. — Two Virginia tobacco giants — Richmond-based Altria Group and Swedish Match’s cheap chesterfield cigarettes County-based North American operations — are clashing over the state’s excise tax, and the battle could have echoes across the country, according to a recent media report.

As reported by the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the question coming between the two is whether or not the state should levy the excise tax by the units sold — as Altria wants, with its relatively more expensive premium brands of snuff — or should it levy a tax that’s a percentage of the price, which is the position urged by Swedish Match now that it has carved out a healthy chunk of the market with its less-costly brands.

“Imagine you’re in a Cadillac and I’m in a junker and we’re driving up to the toll booth. Are you going to feel it’s fair if your toll is twice mine?” said William Phelps, Altria spokesman, in the report.

However, Gerry Roerty, Swedish Match’s vice president and general counsel, sees it differently: “We have a market that’s developed with one kind of tax, where someone has seen market share fall from 80 percent to 50 percent, and now we’re talking about a change,” he told the newspaper. U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Co., long before Altria acquired it in 2009, once had about 80 percent of the smokeless market, according to the report.

The proposed change in the state’s excise tax would mean lower-priced products, such as Swedish Match’s Timberwolf, will likely see higher taxes, while premium brands such as Altria’s Copenhagen and Skoal will pay less, the newspaper reported.

Virginia now taxes smokeless tobacco at 10 percent of the wholesale price. Legislation in the state Senate and House would change the tax to 18 cents an ounce for moist snuff.

Both bills originally left the 10 percent tax on other tobacco, including the old fashioned “loose-leaf” or chewing tobacco, such as Swedish Match’s flagship Red Man brand. But Republican Sen. John Watkins amended his legislation to include a proposal from Swedish Match to tax loose-leaf tobacco on the basis of units of sale. The bill proposes a 21-cent tax on small pouches of loose-leaf chewing tobacco, which are usually 3 ounces and account for most sales, rather than a per-ounce tax. Larger pouches would pay at different rates, a complication that has drawn opposition from the wholesalers who pay the tax.

On a per-ounce basis, the loose-leaf tobacco rates in Watkins’ bill would be lower than the proposed snuff tax, but Swedish Match’s Roerty said that reflects the fact that chewers use about three times as large a pinch at a time as do snuff dippers.

Texas didn’t make that distinction, and with the higher rate it levied per ounce, pushed the price of a carton of 12, 3-ounce bags to close to $100, according to the report.

“People drive to Oklahoma now for Red Man; it’s disappearing from the shelves,” Roerty noted. “Loose-leaf has been shrinking 7 percent to 10 percent anyway, but the Texas tax just about wiped us out. … Wholesalers and retailers say our customers can’t pay that and we’re not going to order it, and I can’t really blame them.”

His hope is that if Virginia makes the change, Texas will listen and follow suit.

Utah Legislature OKs bill restricting sale of e-cigarettes

SALT LAKE CITY — A bill that restricts the sale of electronic cigarettes as well as toughens penalties for people caught using or trying to obtain a false driver’s license or other fake identification was approved unanimously in the House unanimously Friday

HB88 sponsored by Ronda Rudd Menlove, R-Garland, is among four bills targeting new tobacco products generally and is one of two that focus specifically on electronic cigarettes, most of which are available only via the Internet. The Senate approved the bill Thursday.

The plastic device is about the same size as the real thing, but instead of producing smoke after being lit, a battery warms a vial of liquid nicotine in the mouthpiece until it vaporizes as the user inhales.

Opponents of the bill told lawmakers they are kidding themselves if they think that e-cigarettes are marketed to children, adding they are no different from nicotine gum in intent. They are almost exclusively used by smokers as a stopgap between quitting and trying to quit inhaling the 4,000 toxic chemical compounds emitted by a burning cigarette compared to about 20 in the vapor of an e-cigarette.

That didn’t stop proponent Rep. Paul Ray, R-Clearfield, from highlighting the potentially serious, even fatal, effects of tiny doses of nicotine exposure on toddlers. If a child manages to swallow straight nicotine and doesn’t receive immediate medical attention, it will die, Ray said, noting that nicotine is still used widely as a pesticide.

The amount of nicotine in two or three regular filter cigarettes is enough to kill someone. But because nicotine is only partially consumed and is mixed with air going into the lungs over several minutes spread out over many years, risk of nicotine poisoning from cigarette smoke is very low, even for chain smokers, he said.

Following that logic, HB88 is really saying Utah would rather someone who is trying to quit smoking do so only by inhaling nicotine, the addictive drug in cigarettes, in its dirtiest, most unhealthy form, said Spike Babaian, president of the National Vapers Club, a consumer advocacy group for former smokers who have switched to electronic cigarettes.

The argument defies both reality and common sense, Babaian said. Passage of this bill takes away a life-saving choice for Utah smokers, and it leaves smokers who have already successfully switched to e-cigarettes in an impossible situation.

“It’s inhumane, and it certainly isn’t in the interest of public health,” he said.

See the bill le.utah.gov/~2010/htmdoc/hbillhtm/HB0088.htm

By James Thalman
Deseret News
Feb. 19, 2010

Intended consequences from tobacco settlement

One of the central intended consequences of the landmark Cigarette Restitution Fund was to reduce smoking in the general population. Cancer research, substance abuse programs and other efforts to deal with the health and financial effects of smoking on individuals and states were also part of the plan.

According to a recent Capital News Service story, however, those consequences are working at cross-purposes to some extent here in Maryland.

Officially named the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement, the contract was struck in 1998 between the nation’s four largest tobacco companies and the attorneys general of 46 states. The amount of money involved was huge, with the participating companies agreeing to pay a minimum of $206 billion over the first 25 years of the agreement.

Maryland is among the participating states, and has since 2001 been awarded in excess of $1 billion of the $4.4 billion it was allotted in the settlement.

In many states, substantial portions of settlement money has been diverted to purposes other than the smoking-related research and programs originally identified for funding. Some argue that has been and is taking place in Maryland, too.

The fly in the ointment of the restitution fund is that the amount of money the participating tobacco companies are required to pay is based primarily on the number of cigarettes they sell. The bottom line is that that number and the payments that correspond to it have been on the decline since the settlement was struck.

In Maryland, as elsewhere, that means less funding is available to fight smoking, conduct scientific research, and help pay the medical bills resulting from treating those who have smoked. That is a big bill.

In Maryland, fund money has been going into a number of projects, including crop conversion, cancer research and substance abuse prevention. But these programs are now being squeezed by the ever-smaller amounts of funding they are receiving from the settlement.

As might be expected, there is some disagreement over how the money is being spent. In Maryland, some of it has gone to Medicaid, legal fees and other state agencies and programs. That has riled those who believe it should go strictly to preventing smoking, and treating its effects.

Is all this good news or bad news? On balance, we’d say good. Cancer mortality rates have dropped and the prevalence of smoking in both adults and youth has declined appreciably.

A smoke-free society is the ultimate goal, as it would mean a healthier, more productive, less medically expensive population. The long-term trend toward less smoking is the one most important statistic in this story. If that means fewer tobacco settlement dollars for Maryland and other states, it should be worth the price — especially in the long run.

Loophole in Smoking Ban Could Allow Smoking Indoors

Some area bar owners are still upset about the upcoming smoking ban, but talk of a loophole in the law has made many bar owners all ears.

“Why do people go to a bar? They go to a bar so they can enjoy company, drink, and smoke,” My Place tavern owner Larry Kubinski said.

The owner of My Place in Neenah just put up about $30,000 into a new outdoor smoking patio, but according to how the smoking ban law is written, he might not need the patio.

“I was totally unaware of it,” Grand Chute building inspector Cary Nate admits. “I thought it was considered an indoor smoking ban like everybody is talking about it — but it’s not an indoor smoking ban, it’s an enclosed-area smoking ban.”

The law, which takes effect in July, bans smoking in nearly every public, enclosed space.

But the law defines an enclosed space as having a roof and two walls which have “an opening that may be used to allow air in from the outside that is less than 25 percent of the wall’s surface area.”

What that basically means is, any room that has two walls and at least 25-percent window coverage that opens to the outside air, you bypass the smoking ban.

The Grand Chute building inspector says a few bar owners have discussed opening up their bars but none has filed for a building permit yet.

“What I feel uneasy about is this going to change by July 5th and the work people have done and the money spent on projects be for vain,” Nate said.

Kubinski says if he would’ve known about this loophole, he wouldn’t have bought the patio, he would have invested in windows.

“If I would have been able to put windows in, $10,000, I would have saved money.”

The Wisconsin Department of Commerce is looking at closing this loophole. It’s holding a hearing about that in April.

The My Place owner says if the language in the law stays the same, he will be buying some more windows.

“I’ll definitely put in the windows so they will be here and they can smoke inside,” Kubinski said.

By Chris Hrapsky

Ottawa accused of wanting U.S. smokes off the market

WASHINGTON — A group of Republican and Democratic lawmakers has joined a U.S. tobacco industry battle with the Harper government over accusations Ottawa is seeking a global ban on American-style blended cigarettes.

The fight, which was triggered last year by Canada’s new anti-smoking legislation, has escalated amid claims Health Canada is now pursuing international restrictions on flavouring ingredients that remove the harsh taste of burley tobacco in Marlboro and other popular U.S. brands.

The conflict features tobacco industry charges of Canadian “duplicity” and claims that “rogue” bureaucrats have a hidden agenda to eliminate American-style cigarettes from the global market.

Health Canada, meantime, contends Canada’s goal is simply to bar cigarettes with flavours — such as vanilla, licorice and chocolate — added to appeal to youth.

In the past month, seven members of Congress from districts in Kentucky, Virginia and Indiana have written to Prime Minister Stephen Harper asking him to intervene. Specifically, they fear Ottawa is using Canada’s restrictions as a model for new prohibitions being considered for the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

“We believe Canada’s approach has gone too far,” Indiana congressmen Baron Hill and Brad Ellsworth wrote in a Feb. 4 letter to Harper. “If your government pushes these provisions through the FCTC process, the result could devastate the burley farmers in our state.”

The dispute with Canada began with Parliament’s passage of the Cracking Down on Tobacco Marketing Aimed at Youth Act, which prohibits the addition of flavours designed to market cigarettes and little cigars to children and youth.

The bill bans a variety of candy and fruit-flavoured tobacco products with flavours like tropical passion, cherry or chocolate.

But U.S. lawmakers and producers of several American-style brands — including Matlboro online, cigarette-store.biz/online/camel and Winston — said the Canadian law also sideswipes cigarettes blended with burley, a harsh-tasting air-cured tobacco.

They contend “mild” flavourings added to those brands mitigate the naturally sharp taste of burley, without adding any of the flavour’s characteristics to the cigarette itself.

Canada’s legislation is “so broad that it bans traditional blended products containing burley tobacco, even though they taste like tobacco, and not like the confectionary or fruit flavours which could be marketed to young people,” Representative Ed Whitfield, a Kentucky Republican, wrote in a separate Jan. 25 letter to Harper.

Philip Morris International, one of the world’s largest tobacco companies, has been heavily involved in organizing opposition in Congress to the Canadian law.

A bigger concern for the cigarette makers, however, are draft guidelines for the international Framework Convention on Tobacco Control that were circulated at a meeting in Amman, Jordan last October.

Canadian officials were among the “key facilitators” for a working group that proposed nations “prohibit or restrict the use of flavouring substances” in cigarettes.

“From the perspective of public health, there is no justification for permitting the use of ingredients, such as flavouring agents, which help make tobacco products attractive,” according to a copy of the draft guidelines.

Health Canada spokesman Philippe Laroche said Canada was one of 24 countries involved in the WHO working group. The draft guidelines “are not modeled after any one country’s particular approach” to tobacco control, he said.

But Kentucky farmer Roger Quarles, president of the Burley Tobacco Growers Co-operative Association, called Health Canada “a rogue government agency” that is being “less than forthcoming” about its actions.

“Health Canada is once again showing duplicity on the issue of banning blended cigarettes that contain burley tobacco,” said Quarles.

“The fact is Health Canada’s efforts, if successful, will wipe out an entire category of legitimate tobacco products under the guise of a candy-flavored ingredients ban.”

Quarles said the better approach is a more limited ban on ingredients with “characterizing flavours” that make cigarettes taste more like candy than tobacco. The U.S. Congress passed legislation along those lines last year.

“Canada could have followed this responsible model, but Health Canada has a larger agenda and that is to take American-style cigarettes off the market,” Quarles said.

In a response to questions about the Canadian legislation first posed last October, Health Canada said U.S. manufacturers “may be required to reformulate” their cigarettes to continue selling them in Canada.

Some of the ingredients known to be used in American-style blended cigarettes include vanilla, honey, chocolate, coconut and maple, Laroche said.

The addition of those flavours make the cigarettes “more appealing to youth and this is exactly the kind of tobacco industry marketing tactic that we want to prevent in order to protect our vulnerable youth,” he said.

While American-style cigarettes represent less than one per cent of the market in Canada — where milder flue-cured tobacco is favoured among smokers — but they are dominant in other places around the globe.

About 80 per cent of the U.S. burley crop is exported.
By Sheldon Alberts, Canwest News Service

Tasting Havana’s Perfect Smoke

In the Embajadores room at the Habana Libre hotel the air is thick with the sweet, honeyed smoke of cigars. Outside, Havana’s La Rampa street bustles with the sound of the early-evening crowd. A queue forms around Coppelia’s parlor, a favorite with the locals, reputedly making the best ice cream on the island. Beyond, a short walk away, lies the Malecón, the weathered promenade that snakes its way around Havana’s northern coastline, busy filling up with Cubans who go there to meet, flirt, smoke and exchange gossip.

Back inside the Habana Libre, once the headquarters of Fidel Castro’s revolutionary armed forces, the Embajadores room is virtually full. Around 500 cigar aficionados, a mix of distributors, importers, specialists and enthusiastic smokers have gathered for the premiere of Trinidad’s Robusto T.

On that evening a year ago, it is the first time the cigar is smoked anywhere in the world. Among the aficionados it is well received. Of the many descriptions heard that night is woody, spicy, full-bodied and creamy. Many people compliment it on having a wonderful draw.

As the cigars are handed out on trays, all eyes turn to a small group of VIPs notable for their late arrival. Among them is David Soul, better known as the actor who played Hutch in the television series “Starsky and Hutch.” For a moment he’s in danger of upstaging Fidelito, Fidel Castro’s son, a regular at such occasions. Welcome to night three of the Festival del Habano, a week-long celebration of the Cuban tobacco industry. If you thought the world of wine appreciation was niche, try cigars.

One year on, anyone who is anyone in the cigar world will this weekend be flying into Havana’s Jose Marti International Airport for the 12th annual festival. They will get five days of cigar tastings, tobacco-plantation visits, seminars, factory tours and smoking, lots and lots of smoking.

It is, says Simon Chase, a former director of London-based cigar importer Hunters & Frankau and a festival regular, a chance to rub shoulders with the movers and shakers in the Cuban tobacco industry and experience the tradition of Cuba’s cigar lineage first hand.

It was through Mr. Chase that I enjoyed my first experience of cigars in 2004. My first lesson was not to inhale — as with wine, cigar appreciation is all about the taste. (Although it is worth pointing out that the U.S. National Cancer Institute warns that there is no safe tobacco, and cigar smoke, like cigarette smoke, contains toxic and cancer-causing chemicals that are harmful to both smokers and nonsmokers.)

“One tastes a cigar and smokes a cigarette,” Mr. Chase told me. “In that sense it is an entirely different experience. Like a fine wine, each cigar is a blend of aged tobacco. So one doesn’t inhale, one gently puffs, rather like sipping vintage Bordeaux.”

With this in mind I was invited a few years ago to judge in a contest to ascertain which brand of Cuban cigars matched best with Scotch whisky. After sipping and puffing my way through a number of combinations, I found that the sweeter the beverage the better the match. So port and rum work very well with most cigars. Some whiskies and particularly red wine (although premium aged blends and sweeter single malts tend to be an exception to the rule) do tend to dry the palate, which can leave a nasty, bitter flavor. In the end we chose Macallan, a whisky noted for its mahogany color and distinctive nose of dried fruit, chocolate orange, wood spices and full, rich oak flavor; which we paired with a Partagas Piramides cigar.

It was on that first trip to the Festival del Habano that I was struck by the similarities between wine appreciation and cigar appreciation. Both are agricultural products, have long and distinguished histories, command the same attention to detail in production and packaging, and can age for many years.

Moreover, as a great wine is defined by the terroir of its vineyard, so the character of a fine cigar is intimately connected with the land where the tobacco grows.

A key fixture of the festival is a visit to one of Cuba’s tobacco-growing regions. The early-morning drive from Havana to Vuelta Abajo in the westernmost corner of the Pinar del Rio tobacco-growing province passes through a patchwork of fields filled with lush, green plants.

Visually, I found it reminiscent of Chile’s Maipo valley, although instead of vineyards there are tobacco fields. Around 80,000 acres of tobacco are planted each year in the region. The growing process lasts around 10 months ending with the harvest between January and March.

After the harvest, the leaf is taken to the farmer’s curing barn where it is hung, dried and gathered together before undergoing a natural fermentation. This process sweats out the impurities, reducing acidity, tar and nicotine, and creating a finer, purer flavor. The leaves are then hand-sorted into sizes before being baled up and transferred to the warehouse, where they are left to age for three years.

The next step mirrors the blending art found in the wine and Scotch whisky industry as each tobacco plot produces a variety of flavors, which the master blender, or ligador, selects. The final blend is then rolled in the many factory houses dotted around Havana. In that sense, it is one of the world’s last luxury-goods items to be produced on a mass scale by hand.

As a shorthand guide, those wanting a full-bodied rich cigar should look out for Partagas, Cuaba, Bolivar and Ramon Allones. Perhaps a little lighter, but still heavy are Cohiba, Montecristo, Vegas Robaina and Trinidad. Romeo y Julieta, Quintero, Punch and H. Upmann offer a lighter smoke. The most delicate flavors are achieved by Hoyo de Monterrey, San Cristobal de la Habana and Guantanamera, which creates a nutty, intense and fragrant flavor.

This year, at the 12th festival, there will be a presentation of a new size of Romeo y Julieta cigar created with women smokers in mind. Mr. Chase welcomes the development but says, ironically, it is the male interest that has fueled the recent interest in the product.

“One thing about cigar smoking is that it is predominantly a male preserve,” he says. “Over the years there have been quite a lot of male bastions assailed and taken over by the other gender. Here is one [cigar smoking] which is still a male preserve.”

Ranald Macdonald, managing director of the London-based restaurant group Boisdale, has been taking a group to the festival for the past 10 years. He says that the pace of economic change in Havana has been such that a decade has been comparable to 40 years in Europe. As a result there has been a general improvement in cigar manufacturing, and thus the overall quality of cigars has never been higher.

“Cigars now taste so much better than they did 10 years ago,” Mr. Macdonald says. “This is down to a number of improvements but to give one example, from 2002 they have been freezing cigars which has eliminated tobacco-eating pests such as weevil.”

This weekend, Mr. Macdonald’s group will be scouring the cigar shops of Havana to stock up on a year’s supply of tobacco.

“Havana is one of the most enigmatic places on earth,” he says. “And everything about it, from where it sprung from in the 17th century to what it went through in the 20th century to where it is now, makes Europe feel rather dull.” I’ll smoke to that.

The 12th Festival del Habano takes place in Havana from Feb. 22 to 26.

By Will Lyons
Printed in The Wall Street Journal

Japan Stocks Fall After U.S. Raises Rate

Japanese stocks fell the most in two weeks after the Federal Reserve raised the rate it charges banks for direct loans for the first time in more than three years, raising concern economic stimulus programs are being phased out.

Mitsui & Co., which counts commodities as its biggest source of profit, slid 3.2 percent as commodity prices declined. Real-estate companies collectively retreated after K.K. daVinci Holdings said its liabilities probably exceeded assets. Japan Tobacco Inc. sank 2 percent on a newspaper report the health ministry will urge all local governments to ban smoking in public places.

The Nikkei 225 Stock Average fell 2.1 percent to close at 10,123.58 in Tokyo. The broader Topix index slid 1.7 percent to 889.08, with all of its 33 industry groups retreating. Both gauges had their biggest drops since Feb. 5.

“The U.S. economy isn’t in such good shape that the central bank had to raise the discount rate,” said Yuuki Sakurai, chief executive officer of Fukoku Capital Management Inc. in Tokyo, which manages the equivalent of $7.5 billion. “If people think the Fed assumes the U.S. economy is resilient enough for a rate hike, they will start to expect stimulus measures to be withdrawn. That will be bad for markets.”

The Nikkei 225 has advanced 0.3 percent for the past five days, a second weekly advance, as a Fed report showed manufacturing in the New York region posted a bigger-than- estimated increase this month. The average daily value of stocks traded in Tokyo fell 24 percent this week as investors awaited the reopening of China’s market after the Lunar New Year holiday.

‘Further Normalization’

Before this week’s holiday, China ordered banks to set aside more deposits as reserves in an attempt to reduce lending and slow economic growth.

The Federal Reserve Board lifted the discount rate charged to banks for direct loans by a quarter point to 0.75 percent, saying the change is intended as a “further normalization” of the Fed’s lending facilities. Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index slid 1.1 percent. The dollar jumped to 92.09 per yen today from 90.91 at the 3 p.m. close of Tokyo stock trading yesterday.

Stocks across Asia tumbled after YTN television reported North Korea declared a firing zone off its west coast near the maritime border with South Korea.

“Concern about geopolitical risk stoked pessimism,” said Norikazu Kitta, a strategist at Nikko Cordial Securities Inc.

Mitsui, Japan’s No. 2 trading company by market value, fell 3.2 percent to 1,352 yen, while bigger rival Mitsubishi Corp. sank 1.7 percent to 2,212 yen. Crude oil for March delivery dropped 1.4 percent today, while copper slumped 1.6 percent.

Real Estate Shares

Mitsui Fudosan Co., the nation’s biggest property developer, and closest competitor Mitsubishi Estate Co. retreated 4.3 percent. Real-estate companies as a group posted the steepest drop among the Topix’s 33 industry groups.

K.K. daVinci, which manages investments mainly in real estate, said a slump in the property market prompted the company to write down inventory, which probably reduced its assets to less than liabilities. The stock plummeted by its daily limit of 1,000 yen or 19 percent.

“Real-estate companies have to sell their properties as the end of this fiscal year on March 31 is drawing near,” said Fukoku’s Sakurai. “I’m cautious about property stocks.”

Japan Tobacco, the world’s No. 3 listed cigarette maker, slid 2 percent to 322,000 yen. Health Minister Akira Nagatsuma told reporters today that the government will issue a recommendation on passive smoking this month. He didn’t provide details.

By Masaki Kondo, Businessweek
February 19, 2010

The Cigarette Book. By Chris Harrald and Fletcher Watkins.

SATIRIST Auberon Waugh argued that smokers are heroes because they die young and don’t clutter up hospitals, put a terrible strain on their children, or spend everything they have on nursing home fees.

The late great Waugh is quoted in The Cigarette Book as suggesting that “passive smoking” is no more a danger to health than “passive hamburgers” or computer games.

Here at last is a book by Camden authors Chris Harrald and Fletcher Watkins that celebrates the glory of one of the most disgusting, dangerous habits known to man, with fascinating nuggets of information and a wry sense of humour.

Famous writers like Camden Town’s own dear Beryl Bainbridge, as well as Martin Amis and journalist Lynn Barber, own up to their fag addiction.

Ms Bainbridge is described as a “true folk hero” among smokers. Her closely observed novels owe much – as she would be the

first to say – to the kick-start effect of her cigarettes. “You’re sitting at that damned machine, you know, you’re stuck and you light up and you put it out and you light up.”

When she tried to give up smoking: “…suddenly all the words drifted out of my head.”

Amis says in a quote taken from the Paris Review: “I think someone must have told me at some point that I write a lot better when I’m smoking.”

Lynn Barber from the Observer is a shameless two packs a day smoker. “Cigarettes have given me constant, reliable pleasure for over 40 years,” she says.

Stalin, according to writer Simon Sebag Montefiore, was a “furious” smoker who decreed that only he would be allowed to light up at important meetings. No doubt this would increase the feeling of stress and unease among his underlings.

The legendary Soho boozer and smoker, the late Jeffrey Bernard, fell on his head in the street – not for the first time, by any means – and needed 17 stitches. When he was in the Middlesex Hospital, again not for the first time, his doctor brought a group of students to his bedside announcing: “This gentleman is Mr Jeffrey Bernard, who closes his veins each day with 60 cigarettes and opens them again with a bottle of vodka.”

Poet, drinker and bon viveur Dylan Thomas is reported as seeing a sign in a Swansea pub: “Please don’t drop cigarettes on the floor as they burn the hands and knees of customers as they leave.”

This can be compared with the official sign seen hanging over a urinal in a US military bathroom: “Please don’t throw cigarette butts in toilets.” And scrawled underneath: “It makes them soggy and hard to smoke.”

Who remembers Dr Kildare, played by dashing Richard Chamberlain? In 1961, in the early episodes, we’d see him handing a cigarette to a patient, and together they would light up and bond in smoke.

More recently, Britain’s most famous smoker is probably Bet Lynch from Coronation Street, played by Julie Goodyear. When Ms Lynch finally left the show, the Manchester Evening News calculated that in 26 years the fictional character smoked 569,400 cigarettes.

Actor Sir Laurence Olivier (1907-89) had a cigarette brand-named after him. The deal for Olivier-tipped cigarettes, made by Gallaher, the makers of Benson & Hedges, was that he received two pence for every 1,000 cigarettes sold. He was given a £2,000 advance against the first year’s royalties – money for old smoke.

He also received 500 packs of 20 every week, for his own use and to distribute to his friends – a handsome 10,000 cigarettes a week.

Olivier was loyal to his brand. Ian McKellen remembers starting work at the National Theatre Company founded by Olivier and finding that “there was a cigarette machine only ever filled with the Olivier brand, although it was capable of dispensing half a dozen different ones.”

Everyone of a certain age remembers the 1959 TV advertisement “You’re never alone with a Strand.”

It featured a moody man, who looked like a cross between Frank Sinatra and James Dean, in a raincoat and hat. The music was a big hit, but the campaign was a failure.

People associated the brand with the wrong kind of loneliness – a loser’s loneliness rather than the Dean/Sinatra kind.

US President Lyndon Baines Johnson managed to manipulate the Senate with a phone in one hand and a cigarette in another. An observer described him at a dinner party “chain smoking one cigarette on top of another and pouring down Scotch whiskey like a man who had a date with a firing squad.”

When he finally gave up he was asked if he missed smoking.

“Every minute of every day”, was the poignant reply.

Perhaps the greatest question of all is: Why do people smoke? Many smokers fail to provide a satisfactory answer, beyond mumbling about habit. Writer David Krough says there’s none of heroin’s ecstasy, alcohol’s sudden brightening of personality, or marijuana’s giddiness: “To the casual, non-smoking observer, it’s as if smokers have gotten the worst of both worlds: drug addiction, without drug euphoria.”

• The Cigarette Book. By Chris Harrald and Fletcher Watkins. ­Quartet £17.50