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Monthly Archives: January 2011

Altria 2010 Full Year Results

Altria’s 2010 full-year reported diluted EPS increased 21.4 percent to $1.87 versus $1.54 in the prior-year period. Reported full-year results increased due primarily to higher OCI from cigarettes and smokeless products, which included lower asset impairment, exit, integration and implementation costs. These factors were partially offset by lower OCI from financial services and cigars. Full-year comparisons were also impacted by higher 2009 corporate asset impairment and exit costs, and higher net tax benefits in 2010, as well as 2009 transaction costs and financing fees related to the acquisition of UST LLC (UST). Altria’s 2010 full-year adjusted diluted EPS increased 8.6 percent to $1.90, as shown in Table 1 below.

“Altria successfully navigated a challenging economic environment in 2010 and delivered strong results to our shareholders,” said Michael E. Szymanczyk, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Altria. “Altria grew its adjusted diluted earnings per share by nearly 9 percent in 2010, and increased its quarterly dividend rate by 11.8 percent, reflecting the underlying financial strength of our businesses. Altria’s total shareholder return in 2010 was 32.9 percent, outpacing the S&P 500’s total return of 14.8 percent for the eleventh straight year.”

UST Acquisition

The UST acquisition was accretive to Altria’s 2010 adjusted diluted earnings per share. Altria completed the acquisition of UST and its subsidiaries, U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Company LLC (USSTC) and Ste. Michelle Wine Estates Ltd. (Ste. Michelle), in January 2009.

Cost Management and Restructuring Charges

Altria and its companies achieved cost savings of $65 million in the fourth quarter of 2010 and $317 million for the full year of 2010. Altria expects to achieve approximately $145 million in additional cost savings by the end of 2011 for total anticipated cost reductions of $1.5 billion versus 2006, as shown in Table 2 below.

In the fourth quarter of 2010, Altria incurred pre-tax charges of $21 million for integration and implementation costs, UST acquisition-related costs and corporate exit costs. For the full year of 2010, Altria incurred pre-tax charges of $153 million primarily associated with Philip Morris USA Inc.’s (PM USA) Manufacturing Optimization Program for asset impairment, exit and implementation costs, as well as costs related to the UST acquisition and integration.

Tax Events

In the fourth quarter of 2009 and 2010, Altria recorded net tax benefits of $50 million and $31 million, respectively, primarily from the reversal of tax accruals that are no longer required and the reversal of tax reserves and associated interest related to the expiration of statutes of limitations, and the closure of a state audit. These net tax benefits are reflected in Schedule 1, “Provision for income taxes.”

For the full year of 2010, Altria recorded net tax benefits of $279 million, primarily from the reversal of tax reserves and associated interest related to the closure of various federal and state audits, the expiration of statutes of limitations and tax accruals that are no longer required. Income taxes in 2010 included the reversal of tax reserves and interest of $169 million related to Altria’s former subsidiaries, Kraft Foods Inc. (Kraft) and Philip Morris International Inc. (PMI), in the second quarter of 2010, which is reflected in Schedule 3, “Provision for income taxes.” This $169 million tax benefit was fully offset by reductions of corresponding receivables from Kraft and PMI, which are also reflected in Schedule 3, “Reduction of Kraft and PMI tax-related receivables.”

Full-year income tax comparisons also reflect 2009 tax events, consisting primarily of a $53 million benefit from the utilization of net operating losses and the reversal of $88 million of tax reserves and interest related to Kraft, which is reflected in Schedule 3, “Provision for income taxes.” This $88 million tax benefit was fully offset by a reduction of a corresponding receivable from Kraft, which is also reflected in Schedule 3, “Reduction of Kraft and PMI tax-related receivables.”

Excluding the tax events during 2009 and 2010, Altria’s full-year effective tax rate on operations was 36.7 percent and 35.6 percent, respectively. The 2010 rate was lower due primarily to an increase in the domestic manufacturing deduction effective January 1.

Altria anticipates that its 2011 full-year effective tax rate on operations will be approximately 35.3 percent.

Pension Plans Contribution

In January 2011, Altria made a voluntary $200 million pre-tax contribution to its pension plans. At the end of 2010, Altria’s pension plans were 81 percent funded on a Projected Benefit Obligation (PBO) basis.

Share Repurchase Program

On January 26, 2011, Altria’s Board of Directors authorized a new $1 billion one-year share repurchase program. Stock repurchases under this program depend upon marketplace conditions and other factors. The share repurchase program remains subject to the discretion of the Board and replaces the previous 2008 to 2010 share repurchase program that was suspended in September 2009.

2011 Full-Year Guidance

The business environment for 2011 is likely to remain challenging, as adult consumers remain under economic pressure and face high unemployment. Altria’s tobacco operating companies face a number of uncertainties as they enter 2011. In the cigarettes segment, PM USA is continuing to see significant competitive activity and is cautious about the outlook for state excise tax increases. In the smokeless products segment, USSTC is just beginning to execute its plans for Skoal and, in the cigars segment, John Middleton Co. (Middleton) faces an especially challenging business environment.

Altria forecasts that 2011 full-year guidance for reported diluted EPS will be in the range of $2.00 to $2.06. This forecast includes estimated net charges of $0.01 per share related to SABMiller plc (SABMiller) special items, partially offset by estimated gains on sales of land and buildings.

Altria forecasts that 2011 full-year guidance for adjusted diluted EPS, which excludes these special items, will be in the range of $2.01 to $2.07, representing a growth rate of 6 percent to 9 percent from an adjusted base of $1.90 in 2010. Due to cigarette trade inventory movements and the timing of new tobacco product launches in 2010, as well as the uncertainties discussed above, Altria expects the first half of 2011 to be more challenging for income growth comparison purposes than the second half of 2011. Altria expects adjusted diluted earnings per share growth to build and accelerate as the year progresses.

The factors described in the Forward-Looking and Cautionary Statements section of this release represent continuing risks to this forecast.

Altria also anticipates that in 2011 capital expenditures will be approximately $200 million, and ongoing depreciation and amortization will be approximately $250 million.

Cigarettes for $2.70 a Pack, but You Have to Help

The small group that gathered at lunchtime inside a strip-mall storefront in Skokie had not come to eat. They had come to Smokes & roll cigaretteSuch to admire the new $30,000 machine that spits out a carton of custom-made cigarettes in eight minutes flat — at $27 a carton. That’s $2.70 a pack, or about a third of what smokers would pay at the CVS pharmacy across the street.

The cigarettes are so cheap because the machine uses pipe tobacco instead of cigarette tobacco. There’s not much difference between the two. The pipe tobacco is a coarser cut, but more important, it’s taxed at roughly $2.80 a pound — about 10 percent the rate of cigarette tobacco (nearly $25 per pound).

The popularity of custom-made cigarettes has resulted in a spike in the amount of pipe tobacco entering the American market, and a precipitous corresponding drop in roll-your-own tobacco labeled for cigarettes.

Through the first nine months of 2010, more than 20.5 million pounds of pipe tobacco had entered the national marketplace compared with 10 million pounds in the same period in 2009, according to the most recent data from the Treasury Department’s Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. Meanwhile, through the first nine months of 2010, the federal government had levied taxes on 5.5 million pounds of roll-your-own cigarette tobacco — less than half of what they registered in the first 10 months of 2009.

Taxes in Illinois are a sore point among anti-smoking advocates, who were disappointed earlier this month when the State Legislature voted against adding $1 to the cigarette tax. Although cigarette taxes in Cook County and Chicago are considerably higher, the state levies a tax of just 98 cents a pack — a sum that earned Illinois’s tax rate a “D” from the American Lung Association.

The roll-your-own machine at Smokes & Such, which hums and bangs like an oversize printer in need of service, is only one of five in the state. Customers choose a type of tobacco and filter, the materials are loaded into the machine, and the customers push a button to start the production process. This small but critical step means the customers are technically making their own cigarettes — exempting the machine’s owners from state regulations and tax requirements.

No one knows how long this loophole will last, and Marcia Smith, co-owner of Smokes & Such, said she was conflicted about the machine’s growing popularity.

“On the one hand, I think people should be able to choose what they smoke,” she said. The machine, she said, allows customers to see exactly what goes into their cigarettes — in this case, she added, just tobacco. “But I know these machines are under government scrutiny, and as an industry we’re not looking for a lot of publicity.”

If last Wednesday’s crowd is any indication, it’s too late to worry about letting the cat out of the bag. The machine is something of a celebrity among area smokers, drawing in people from other areas..

Lawmakers appear stalled in their attempts to close the tax loopholes that enable roll-your-own cigarette franchises. In September, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau issued a ruling prohibiting companies from selling cigarettes made by roll-your-own machines, only to be slapped down in December by a Federal District Court in Ohio, which issued a preliminary injunction barring the agency from enforcing the ruling. The office of Attorney General Lisa Madigan of Illinois released this comment: “This scenario poses a number of complicated legal issues that we will work with the Department of Revenue to address.”

Stewart Awdisho of Chicago has been smoking since he was 17. Now 41, he favors Winston Blue Lights but arrived at Smokes & Such on the recommendation of his aunt, who tried the roll-your-own machine and loved it. Mr. Awdisho was offered a sample cigarette made with light tobacco, and a few minutes later he returned, smiling. “It’s really good, yeah,” he said. “Maybe even better than my usual. I don’t know, it just tastes cleaner.”

That’s a familiar claim among proponents of roll-your-own cigarettes — that they’re healthier because they don’t contain the chemicals in commercially manufactured cigarettes.

Chris Smith, a local landscaper who stopped in to buy a carton of cigarettes and a handful of lottery tickets, said he didn’t put much weight on either side of the “healthier” cigarette debate. “Price,” he said. “That’s the only reason I’m here.”

By JESSICA REAVES, jreaves@chicagonewscoop.org

Wiz Khalifa: Smoking kush, Rolling Papers

Wiz Khalifa is making his name right in 2011 as the world’s leading pot achiever. The bicoastal Pittsburgh/LA rapper is stirring up wiz khalifasomething new every day.

On Wednesday night, Wiz and DJ Bonics hit the stage of the George Lopez’s “Lopez Tonight” with a rousing version of “Black and Yellow” that had the crowd members up out of their seats and cheering, especially on that line about everyone that he’s with being “Taylored.” Wiz showed off a new yellow stripe in hair to go with this carefree charisma.

The night before he was on Ustream with a loose, rambling 20-minute talk revealing the name of his new Atlantic debut (“Rolling Papers”) and drop date (March 29). Smoking a joint and sitting alone at the computer in his new LA apartment after midnight West Coast time, he explained that the album title goes “deeper” than the obvious connotation.

“The second reason why I call it that,” he said, “is when I left Warner Bros. [without every releasing anything], I got my rolling papers… I was able to walk, I was able to leave, I was able to do my thing. That’s another pair of papers I really needed in my life.”
He added that “Rolling Papers” also refers to his new creative process.

“I quit writing like a long time ago,” he said. “Not like I don’t write my own songs. But I stopped physically writing them down or putting them into my Blackberry or iPhone or something like that. I write notes down, but I don’t write whole verses. So it was like I was saying goodbye to the paper.”

He said the album, which will feature contributions from Snoop Dogg, Rick Ross, Curren$y and Too Short, among others, will be “about more than just weed though. It’s about my life and my carer and how I got to where I am now.”
He said a track list and artwork for “Rolling Papers,” an album that Warner execs are surely kicking themselves over right now, will be coming in two weeks.

Meanwhile, word is that he will be dropping a new video, “On My Level,” with Too Short on Thursday.

Altria profit Rises on higher prices for Marlboro cigarettes

Altria Group Inc., the largest U.S. tobacco company, said fourth-quarter profit increased 27 percent, helped by higher prices for marlboro packMarlboro cigarettes and snuff sales.

Net income rose to $919 million, or 44 cents a share, from $725 million, or 35 cents, a year earlier, the Richmond, Virginia-based maker of Copenhagen snuff said today. That matched the average of eight estimates in a Bloomberg survey.

Altria raised prices for cigarettes twice in the past year, countering a 7 percent decline in shipments in the quarter. Altria, which became the largest smokeless tobacco company in 2009 with Chief Executive Officer Michael Szymanczyk’s acquisition of UST Inc., also benefited from increasing demand for snuff.

The company said adjusted profit for 2011 will rise to $2.01 to $2.07 a share. Analysts projected $2.03, the average of 11 estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

Marlboro Cigarette, the top-selling U.S. cigarette, increased its retail market share by 0.6 percentage point to 42.3 percent, helped by the introduction of a new variety, Skyline Menthol, in the quarter. The share of all cigarette brands slipped 0.2 percentage point to 49.2 percent. The company increased prices by 8 cents a pack on Dec. 6 and by the same amount on May 10.

Altria fell 20 cents to $24.07 at 10:53 a.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. Before today, the stock had declined 1.4 percent this year, after advancing 25 percent in 2010.

By Chris Burritt, cburritt@bloomberg.net.

Imperial Tobacco Group Rolls Out Anaqua’s IP Management Solution

Boston, – Anaqua, a leading provider of intellectual asset management software and services, and Imperial Tobacco Group, a leading international tobacco company, have entered into a multi-year agreement for use of the ANAQUA Enterprise IAM solution to manage the company’s global trademark portfolio.

Imperial Tobacco Group is one of the world’s leading brand owners with trademarks in more than 200 countries. “We needed a system that would allow us to access and analyze our portfolio more easily and at the same time support close collaboration with our law firms,” said Stephen Reid, the company’s Senior IP Counsel. “We looked at several tools in the marketplace and were very impressed with Anaqua’s potential to support collaboration with the wider community involved in our global trademark activity. The implementation of the system went smoothly even with our large portfolio.”

“I am delighted to welcome another global brand leader to our client community,” said Priya Iyer, CEO of Anaqua. “We have a proven track record with large trademark portfolio clients like The Coca-Cola Company, Microsoft, Kimberly-Clark, Diageo and many others. Our continuous focus on innovation and significant investments in productivity enhancements, personalization tools, dashboards and reporting keeps the best in class ANAQUA Trademark solution ahead of the market. Our streamlined Enterprise implementation methodology allows clients to reduce their cost of implementation and be up and running quickly.”

FDA Loses Second Court Battle over E-Cigarettes

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has lost another round in its battle to regulate electronic cigarettes as drug-delivery devices rather than as tobacco products, The Wall Street Journal reported Jan. 24.

E-cigarettes are battery-powered devices that heat cartridges of liquid containing nicotine to create a mist that users inhale. The FDA classifies them as drug-delivery devices like nicotine patches and gums – products that it must approve before they can be marketed.

In December, a three-judge appeals panel in the District of Columbia (D.C.) disagreed with the FDA’s position. The panel ruled that the FDA could only regulate e-cigarettes as drug delivery devices if purveyors made claims that their products would help people quit smoking or had other benefits.

The FDA appealed the decision, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit sided with the e-cigarette industry. The agency is now considering whether to take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

E-cigarette distributors and manufacturers argue that their products are alternatives to cigarettes and should not be subject to pre-approval, as smoking cessation products now are. If e-cigarettes were regulated as tobacco, it would be easier to put new devices on the market.

“We are very pleased with the court’s decision not to rehear the case,” said Gregory Garre, a lawyer for an e-cigarette distributor. “The fact that the full court unanimously declined the government’s rehearing request underscores the force of the panel’s original decision.”

Spain protest against anti-smoking law

Hotels and restaurants in the northern Spanish town of Palencia closed on Wednesday to protest the country’s tough anti-smoking law which anti smoking protesttook effect this year.

About 100 professionals from the sector also staged a demonstration, some carrying banners saying “If you don’t smoke, we don’t get paid. Let us live” and “Total ban, sector ruined.”

Another said “Zapatero, you should have been a hotelier,” referring to Socialist Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero.

Trade associations said 60 to 70 percent of the hotels and restaurants in the town of around 80,000 people closed for the day.

It was the first major demonstration against the anti-smoking law, one of the strictest in Europe, since it was introduced on January 2.

The new law bans smoking in all enclosed public spaces, including bars, restaurants and nightclubs and makes it illegal to smoke in children’s parks or anywhere on school or hospital grounds.

The hotel and restaurant industry fears the law could cut sales by between five and 15 percent.

Last week, the Spanish Hotel and Catering Association launched an effort to obtain half a million signatures on a petition to demand that parliament change the legislation.

Spain has had an anti-smoking law since January 2006 but the impact was barely noticeable.

It banned smoking in the workplace, on public transport and in shops. But it allowed owners of bars, restaurants and cafes to decide whether to ban smoking or not. Most, faced with a drop in business, naturally chose to permit their customers to light up.

U.S. military battles smoking in the ranks

Three improvised bombs exploded last Easter outside a Baghdad government building, and Sgt. 1st Class Malcolm Russell, a California Army reservist deployed in Iraq, was on high alert, his adrenaline pumping.

When calm finally arrived, Russell reached for a pack of smokes, lit up and inhaled. “I’ll never forget that drag, with the hair-raising moments we had. It brought down the stress,” he said.

Russell, 34, has lived the horrors of war, but it is his addiction to cigarettes, he said, that has been the toughest battle of all.

When it comes to quitting, “I’m trying to win the war. Sometimes it feels like I’m losing the battle,” said Russell, who is back home and, two weeks ago, began a smoking cessation class at Mercy General Hospital in Sacramento, Calif., where he oversees security.

The U.S. military has vowed to join the national fight against smoking, saying it is stepping up its efforts to help military personnel kick their tobacco habits.

Earlier this month, the Navy banned smoking inside submarines. It was the latest sign of a cultural sea change within the U.S. armed services after years of condoning the cigarette addictions of generations of enlisted men and women.

Until the Vietnam War, cigarettes were part of military meal rations: a few smokes served with green tins containing breakfast, lunch or dinner.

These days, the anti-smoking message is plastered across bases and websites that urge the country’s 2.2 million warriors to battle their cravings for tobacco, even offering online poker and video games to help soldiers ward off cravings for cigarettes.

Last June, the government’s health plan for military families, TRICARE, launched a telephone help line to dispense anti-smoking advice and counseling.

Under pressure from public health officials and anti-tobacco forces, who say smoking drains military budgets and undermines combat readiness, the Department of Defense has vowed it will eventually go tobacco-free. But the Pentagon has yet to say when.

“There’s been a long history of the tobacco industry integrating itself in the culture of the military,” said Dr. Darryl Hunter, a radiation oncologist who treated military personnel, many of them smokers, for nine years at Travis Air Force Base in California before going to work for Kaiser Permanente.

“Tobacco is the single largest cause of loss of life and health-related expenditures,” said Hunter, who is also an Air Force reservist.

In 2006, military hospitals provided $564 million in services for tobacco-related conditions. The Department of Veterans Affairs spent more than $5 billion in 2008 to treat pulmonary disease, much of it traced to smoking.

While the smoking rate among military personnel has plunged over the years, from 51 percent in 1980 to 30 percent today, it remains at least 10 percent higher than that of civilians.

The proportion of smokers is even higher among military personnel deployed overseas, particularly to such volatile regions as Iraq and Afghanistan, where cigarettes help relieve the stresses of combat and the tedium of duty.

In 2007, the departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs asked the national Institute of Medicine to suggest ways to reduce tobacco use among the enlisted and veterans.

The result was a 2009 report that urged the U.S. military to take the war on tobacco more seriously and produce a comprehensive strategy to curb the use of cigarettes, chew and other tobacco products.

The Navy responded in April by announcing a ban on smoking in submarines.

“Despite our atmosphere purification technology, there are unacceptable levels of secondhand smoke in the atmosphere of a submerged submarine,” Vice Admiral John Donnelly said last year.

Dr. Michael Fiore, a former major in the U.S. Army and director of the Center for Tobacco Research and Intervention at the University of Wisconsin, acknowledged the military’s progress but said it needs to do more.

“Veterans who smoke survive the battlefield,” he said, “only to come back home and die from disease, such as lung cancer, heart attacks, strokes, emphysema — the list goes on.”

New York takes another step towards banning e-cigarettes

ALBANY, N.Y. — New York takes a big step that could make it the first state to ban electronic cigarettes.

The Assembly Health Committee passed a measure on Tuesday that will prohibit the sale of e-cigarettes until the F.D.A. can decide if the battery-operated devices are safe and effective. The plastic cigarettes contain nicotine which gives users the flavor smoking, but the “smoke” actually is water vapor.

Manufacturers say the device delivers all the pleasures of smoking without the health threat. Some users claim that it has helped them to cut down or eliminate the use of tobacco.

Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal, Democrat of Manhattan, who sponsored the bill, says she quit smoking twelve-and-a-half years ago, telling NEWS10, “If I can quit without e-cigarettes, then anybody can do it.”

But John Ceccherelli says he drove from the Binghamton area, three hours to Albany, to ask lawmakers not to ban the devices, saying they helped him to stop smoking.

Speaking of the bill’s sponsor, he said “She’s gonna’ kill people. It’s a godsend, it’s a miracle.”

The bill most likely will be approved by the full Assembly and then goes to the Republican-controlled Senate.

By JOHN McLOUGHLIN

Are High-tech Cigarettes Safe?

Thirty years after her first smoke, Stefanie Burns has joined the choir of more than 1 million ex-smokers who sing the praises of the e-cigarettes smokeelectronic cigarette and credits it with her successful attempt to quit.

The battery-powered device can resemble a cigarette or a pen but uses the heat of an atomizer to deliver nicotine in vapor form.

“I had tried the gum, the patch and cold turkey,” says the mother of two, “but this works.”

Since being invented in 2003 by Hon Lik and introduced globally by 2006, the electronic cigarette, or e-cig, has given rise to a number of online distributors seeking to cut into the U.S. tobacco market which, according to the United States Industry Guide, generated $90.8 billion of total revenue in 2008.

Philadelphia resident John Poole co-founded one such outlet — Ecigg.org — in June 2010.

His e-cigarette models sold well from the beginning, but really have caught on in the new year. “Our sales in January have already been better than December,” says Poole, reasoning the uptick is related to folks making the New Year’s resolution to quit smoking. “It’s partially because we’re getting the word out.”

Referred to as “e-liquid” or “e-juice” and available at 7-Eleven, the nicotine solutions are sold separately in hundreds of different flavors for use in refillable cartridges.

Denise Geier of Gibbsboro has tried plenty of flavors since first trying e-cigarettes 12 months ago but prefers her own blend: peach-mango.

Geier, 53, made the switch by accident, intrigued by the e-cig possibilities after being introduced to them by a vender at the 2010 Philadelphia Home Show. “I only bought them to use in places I couldn’t smoke,” Geier says. “I didn’t buy it to quit.”

Like many of the world’s 1.2 billion smokers, Geier had tried to kick her 37-year addiction, experimenting with the patch, the nicotine inhaler “and just about every device you can quit with.”

“I kind of resigned myself to the fact that I wasn’t going to quit smoking,” says Geier. “I always thought if I could just find a way of getting the nicotine without the hazards of the cigarette, that would be great.”

By freeing herself from a daily cigarette dependence of 1 1/2 packs, Geier estimates having saved roughly $3,000 since she switched last January.

Taking many forms, including that of a tobacco cigarette, e-cigarettes each generally have the same basic components: a mouthpiece, a heating element, a rechargeable battery, and various electronic circuits.

Burns knows e-cigarettes aren’t completely healthy or, for that matter, regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, which has classified them as a drug delivery device. But it’s safe to assume they do less harm than a typical cigarette as they exclude tobacco and a host of other ingredients.

“It doesn’t have the carcinogens and the 1,000 chemicals found in cigarettes,” Poole says.

Executive director of New Jersey Global Advisors on Smokefree PolicyKaren Blumenfeldsays she’ll withhold skepticism of these products once their safety is proved.

“Doctors once claimed cigarettes were safe, that they’re good for your sore throat,” says the director of the onprofit. “Anyone that claims that these e-cigarettes are safe … there’s no basis for that.”

Blumenfeld adds she wouldn’t have as much of a problem if their folly didn’t put others at risk.

“The smokers of cigarettes who have switched to e-cigarettes are once again polluting the air that people breathe,” she says. “I love that people are trying to quit smoking, but they are not cognizant that others are not safe. They emit a vapor smoke that could be harmful to other people.”

Blumenfeld mentions that e-liquids are largely unregulated and contain propylene glycol, which is a key ingredient in antifreeze but also one found in tobacco cigarettes and some foods.

Mike Ridges of Medford, N.J., heard such scares before. Then he scrutinized them.

“I have looked into the safety of the product and learned of the false scares,” Ridges says.

Ridges says the fact that e-cigarettes address one of the often overlooked addictions gives it the upper hand over other tobacco alternatives.

“It mimics the hand-to-mouth effect like no product can,” Ridges says. “As the years go by, and there’s more research on nicotine dependence, I bet it will show the habit is more addictive than the nicotine.”

While e-cigs are used by many to wean themselves from nicotine dependence altogether, Ridges does not have plans to quit anytime soon. “It’s not 100% safe, but it’s probably 100% safer than inhaling the smoke from a cigarette,” Ridges says. “I am very content with using e-cigarette for the rest of my life.”

That is, if e-cigs should continue to e-exist.

New Jersey recently has sought to include the electronic cigarette under the New Jersey Smoke Free Air Act.

“The fear is, when the FDA goes to regulate, do they overregulate and in that overregulation do they say the nicotine levels need to be lower,” ponders Poole. “And this is my biggest fear: do they ban non-tobacco, non-menthol flavoring?”Though he doesn’t understand the war New Jersey wages, Poole wouldn’t want e-cigs to entice kids or anyone new to smoking. “There’s still some percent of nicotine in it,” he says. “It’s really a smoking alternative. It’s not something you should take up out of the blue.”

While a lot seems to be unknown about e-cigs, Burns knows she can sleep easily with her decision. “The good thing about it is I don’t breathe heavy anymore. I don’t cough anymore in the morning, that terrible smoker’s cough,” she confesses.

By Steve Wood, Courier-Post

Full Smoking Ban in Bulgaria On Hold until 2014

The full smoking ban in Bulgaria has been postponed for January 1, 2014, the private TV Channel bTV announced.

The agreement has been reached during a meeting between Prime Minister, Boyko Borisov and representatives of hotel and restaurant owners, who are quoted saying they were deeply grateful to Borisov for the “pleasant surprise” and vowed to “be ready” by 2014.

The full smoking ban was voted by the previous Parliament and was supposed to become effective on July 1, 2010, but the new majority of the Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria (GERB) party amended the ban and adopted new rules providing for partial smoking restrictions.

The restrictions became effective in December 2010, and owners of small establishments were supposed to decide if the facility would be smoking or non-smoking while those of larger ones were mandated to have separate smoking and non-smoking spaces. Just days ago, the Health Ministry announced the full smoking ban for small establishments would be introduced in the summer.

The series of postponements are explained with allowing owners to make gradual expenses to upgrade the facilities and include ventilation equipment and non-smoking areas.

According to cabinet experts, the measure would lead to the bankruptcy of 10% of restaurants and coffee shops, to BGN 550 M less in annual turnover and would leave 15 000 employees on the streets. Losses for the State amount to BGN 94 M in unpaid Value Added Tax (VAT), BGN 11 M in unpaid corporate tax, BGN 23 M from unpaid insurance contributions for laid-off workers and BGN 8 M for unemployment compensations.

Results from the December 2010 partial ban, show the turnover of facilities with separate smoking and non-smoking areas went down by 30%.

Ban synthetic marijuana

No fewer than 17 bipartisan bills to outlaw the sale and use of “synthetic marijuana” have been filed in the current General Assembly marijuanasession. In a year when the entire General Assembly is up for re-election, banning synthetic marijuana is one thing risk-averse legislators can agree on.

Synthetic marijuana is made from chemicals related to mothballs. The chemicals are nothing like marijuana, although the effects may be similar. The synthetics contain carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in amounts large enough to make tobacco look like health food in comparison.

The comparative safety of organic marijuana, by contrast, is well established.

The bills all contain one major flaw. They criminalize personal use. Zero tolerance has done little other than burden otherwise law-abiding citizens with criminal records. Consider the U.S. experience with natural marijuana. Despite more than 850,000 arrests annually, the U.S. has double the rate of marijuana use as the Netherlands, where marijuana is legally available.

Among the primary users of synthetic marijuana are military personnel. This is because synthetic marijuana does not show up in drug tests. Virginia legislators are about to pass a drug law that will disproportionately impact men and women in uniform, some of whom may be self-medicating. Marijuana is widely used by veterans to self-treat post-traumatic stress disorder.

The way marijuana treats PTSD is really quite simple. It helps people forget. This is a godsend to soldiers and veterans haunted by memories of war. Israel has a well-established medical marijuana program. PTSD is a common doctor-approved justification for medical use among Israeli Defense Forces veterans.

The Virginia bills all propose making possession of synthetic marijuana a Class 1 misdemeanor punishable by up to 12 months in jail. Can Virginia even afford to put more nonviolent offenders behind bars? Is this really a top priority during an economic downturn that has resulted in layoffs of police, firefighters and teachers?

The drug war has given the land of the free the highest incarceration rate in the world, with absolutely nothing to show for it. For the same reasons alcohol prohibition failed, the drug war has been doomed from the start. We’re shortchanging our children’s future by prioritizing incarceration over education.

Banning the over-the-counter sale of synthetic marijuana is easily done. The feds have largely accomplished this already. Criminalizing users unnecessarily entails expanding big government. Thanks to education efforts, legal tobacco use has steadily declined, without any need to criminalize tobacco smokers.

More drug war is not the answer. A better solution is to ease up on penalties for natural marijuana. The use of synthetic marijuana is an unintended side effect of the war on real marijuana. Consumers are turning to potentially toxic drugs, made in China and sold as research chemicals before being repackaged as incense for sale in the U.S.

Virginia is about to embark on an endless cat-and-mouse game. Banning the over-the-counter sale of synthetics is one thing, but policing the Internet is another entirely. Chinese chemists will tweak formulas to stay one step ahead of the law and two steps ahead of the drug tests. New versions won’t necessarily be safer.

This is, of course, an election year. The root cause of the punitive nanny state is political opportunism. Drug prohibition finances organized crime at home and terrorism abroad, which is then cited by shameless politicians to justify throwing good money after bad policy.

It’s long past time to stop pretending marijuana is more dangerous than legal alcohol, tobacco or prescription narcotics. Marijuana is not nearly as harmful (or exciting) as Virginia’s criminal penalties suggest. Virginia legislators will be making changes to the state’s Drug Control Act. Those changes should include marijuana decriminalization.

Robert Sharpe is a board member of the Virginia Chapter of the National Organization for the Reform Marijuana Laws. His last commentary was about a General Assembly bill to decriminalize marijuana; that bill died last week in committee.

By Robert Sharpe

Restrictions on the export of cigarettes leaving Bulgaria

Restrictions on the export of cigarettes before January 1 2010 used to mean that only one carton of cigarettes (containing 200) was cigarettes priceallowed when leaving Bulgaria.

On January 1 2010, these restrictions were lifted, meaning that any quantity of cigarettes could be bought. The export of cigarettes for private use is no longer limited, provided EU duty is paid in Bulgaria.

Unfortunately, the relevant authorities seem ignorant of the new rules. Mick Walker contacted The Sofia Echo to tell us his experience of the hazards of what could be called cigarette tourism.

“When I buy my cigarettes, I buy for six to 12 months. And as I smoke more than two cartons a week (400+) l purchase at least 50 cartons at a time,” Walker told us. “When these are running low in approximately six months’ time, I return to purchase more. Why do I do this? The answer is simple financial sense. The cigarettes I smoke in the UK that I get from Bulgaria cost 4.90 leva* for a pack of 20 cigarettes (a carton of 200 cigarettes costs 49 leva). In the UK the same pack of 20 cigarettes would cost me 14.11 leva and a carton of 200 would cost me 141.10 leva!”

In May 2010, however, Walker was prevented from taking his cigarettes and returning to the UK.
“Bulgarian customs stopped us from taking them as they were imposing the pre- January 1 2010 regulations whereby only 200 cigarettes were allowed. We had documentation to prove otherwise but they would not listen and they tried every trick in the book to confiscate them. They even tried to get us to board the aircraft without our purchases as the flight departure was imminent. My friend and I refused to take the flight and left the airport.”

Walker then contacted the UK embassy. “We had to show them the changes. Eventually we got a letter of apology from the UK embassy and the deputy director of Sofia airport’s customs. They said we could fly the next day as all customs officers at the airport had been informed of our situation and the new regulations. We flew out the next day with no problems whatsoever.”

Unfortunately, Walker was stopped again on a subsequent trip to Bulgaria. Only showing them the letter persuaded the staff to let him proceed. Walker has a friend who says that British Customs (UKBA) have also tried to rob them of their cigarettes.

“I dread to think how many people have suffered and how much money is involved? A suitcase of 50 cartons is worth 7055 leva. If one’s friend had the same, the total would be 14 110 leva,” he said. “We shall continue to shop for our cigarettes in Bulgaria because we have our magic letter. Others are not so fortunate and when they have their cigarettes illegally confiscated by Bulgarian customs they will never shop in Bulgaria again. This damages the Bulgarian economy.”

The British Embassy in Bulgaria, contacted by The Sofia Echo, confirmed that the UK customs requirements on the British Embassy travel advice on their website was incorrect at that time and that Walker had alerted them to this fact. The travel advice was then updated within 24 hours.

The UK’s rules on importing cigarettes from another EU country are set out on HM Customs and Revenue’s website.

“The customs authorities in Bulgaria, like in all other EU member-states, have jurisdiction to check commercial cigarette exports and to check that all exports have had the duty paid in Bulgaria. The customs authorities follow Bulgarian legislation, not UK travel advice,” the UK embassy told The Sofia Echo.

Top Best Selling Brands of Cigarettes in USA

Marlboro was the top popular cigarette brand used most often by past month cigarette smokers, followed by Newport, Camel, Basic, and Doral. Other brands reported by at least 2 percent of past month smokers were Winston, Kool, GPC, Salem, and Virginia Slims.

best cigarettes - marlboro


Demographic Differences in Cigarette Brand Use

Prior research has shown that cigarette brand use varies by age, gender, and race. Among past month smokers, Marlboro cigarettes was the brand used most often in the past month by youths aged 12 to 17, young adults aged 18 to 25, and older adults aged 26 or older. Older adults aged 26 or older reported a greater diversity of brand preference compared with youths and young adults. Among past month smokers, the 5 brands used most often by youths and young adults accounted for 91 percent of youth smokers and 89 percent of young adult smokers, whereas the 5 brands used most among smokers aged 26 or older accounted for only 62 percent of smokers in this age group.

Among white smokers, Marlboro was the brand used most often in the past month followed by Camel cigarette. Marlboro also was the brand used most often by Hispanics, followed by Newport. Among blacks, Newport was the brand used most often, followed by Kool.

Among past month smokers aged 12 or older, males and females were more likely to smoke Marlboro than any other brand. Newport was the second most used brand among males and females.

Camel was the third most used brand among males, while Basic was the third most used brand among females.

Geographic Differences in Cigarette Brand Use

Marlboro was the cigarette brand used most often by past month smokers in the Northeast, Midwest, South, and West. Newport was the second most smoked brand in the Northeast, Midwest, and South, while Camel was the second most smoked brand in the West. Among white smokers, Marlboro was used more often than any other brand in all four geographic regions, Newport was ranked second in the Northeast, and Camel was ranked second in the West.

Among black smokers, Newport was used more than any other brand in all four geographic regions and Kool was the second most smoked brand in the Midwest and South. In the Northeast, Marlboro was the second most smoked brand while Basic was ranked second in the West. Among Hispanic smokers, Marlboro was used more often than any other brand in the Midwest, South, and West. In the Northeast, Marlboro and Newport were used by similar percentages of Hispanic smokers.

New York smoking taxes

New York state discourages smoking by charging the highest tobacco tax in the nation, but could do more to provide services for New York statesmokers who want to quit.

That’s according to the American Lung Association’s “State of Tobacco Control 2010” report, released Thursday. In addition to praising New York for a substantial increase in the tax on a pack of cigarettes, the ALA report gives the state high marks for smoke-free air laws.

New York received an A both for cigarette taxes and air laws, and an F for both coverage of cessation services and tobacco prevention and control spending.

“While we’re obviously pleased with the progress we’ve made in increasing the state tax on cigarettes and expanding smoke-free areas, the reality is that more than 25,000 New Yorkers are still dying every year from tobacco-caused disease,” said Scott T. Santarella, president and CEO of the American Lung Association in New York.

“These poor grades mean that the state is failing to adequately protect the public health of its residents and that’s a tragedy,” he added.

Last year the Lung Association in New York lobbied hard for the $1.60 per pack cigarette tax increase. The organization says the tax increase is expected to save 31,000 lives and prevent 23,000 kids from starting to smoke. The Association also urged state officials to maintain funding for the state’s tobacco control program. The program has been slashed by more than 30 percent since 2007.

The state’s failing grade for cessation services is a major disappointment in the report, the Lung Association in New York says. The CDC recommends states fund comprehensive tobacco cessation services, which means coverage of all FDA approved tobacco cessation treatments and few or no barriers to accessing coverage.

In New York, most drugs are covered but counseling is limited or unavailable in most plans.

New York was one of six states that raised cigarette excise taxes.

Only Kansas passed a strong smoke-free air law in 2010. New York is one of 27 states that have passed comprehensive laws protecting the public and workers from the dangers of secondhand smoke. In addition, New York has made significant progress on smoke-free outdoor ordinances at the local level, the ALA says.

Both Kenmore and the Town of Tonawanda last year passed ordinances banning smoking in several outdoor areas, such as parks, playgrounds and recreational fields.

Godfrey Phillips to launch new Marlboro variants

Godfrey Phillips India (GPI), the second largest cigarette maker, plans to launch Matlboro online variants and manufacture the cigarette

new marlboro cigarette

Marlboro sells for Rs 100 a pack and competes with Classic, Benson and Hedges.

locally, as it seeks to boost market share in the Rs 19,000-crore industry, KK Modi told Financial Chronicle here on Thursday.

“Only the rolling of Marlboro cigarettes is done here. As we bring new variants, we will be able to find equivalent raw materials for local manufacturing,” said KK Modi, chairman of KK Modi Group, which owns 46 per cent stake in GPI. He didn’t give a timeframe for introduction of the locally made Marlboro.

The firm is boosting the Marlboro brand portfolio after US-based tobacco giant Philip Morris handed over the brand’s distribution to GPI in mid-2009.

GPI has already started testing two Marlboro variants — clove mix and a cheaper, smaller sized Marlboro regular cigarette — in some parts of the country.

Marlboro started selling in India in 2003, but Philip Morris bypassed GPI and struck an agreement with a local distributor, Barakat Foods & Tobacco, for the brand’s distribution, as it did not want the brand to be given to a company not controlled by it. However, the agreement ended in 2009. Philip Morris owns 25 per cent in GPI. The joint venture company GPI was set up by Philip Morris and KK Modi in 1979.

Marlboro, available in lights and regular tastes, sells for Rs 100 a pack and competes with Classic from ITC and Benson and Hedges. ITC holds over 60 per cent share of the cigarette market.

GPI also sells Pan Vilas tobacco masala and tea brand Tea City apart from making cigarette brands Four Square, Red & White and I-Gen. “We are looking to diversify into more products. We look to launch two to three new brands every year,” Modi said.

GPI is likely to launch cigarette brands from the Philip Morris stable including the likes cigarette-store.biz/online/lm, cigarette-store.biz/online/parliament, Chesterfield and Bond Street.

GPI has two manufacturing units in Mumbai and Ghaziabad and is looking to soon open a third facility in Thane, near Mumbai.

“We are present in only 40 per cent of the country with a market share of 30 per cent, but this will increase gradually. Technology is growing in milder products and the aim is to compete with the best in the world,” Modi said. Speaking about impact on cigarette demand following the recent ban on smoking in public places, Modi said, “Cigarette market growth has stabilised with the rise in population.”

By Saahil Anant, New Delhi

Ferrari looks set to renew Marlboro sponsorship

Marlboro is very close to extending their sponsorship deal with Scuderia Ferrari until 2014, according to Autosport.Ferrari and Marlboro sponsorship

Philip Morris, the largest quoted tobacco company by global market share, and owner of Marlboro cigarettes, wants to stay in Formula 1 as main sponsor of Ferrari F1 team for at least four years, despite tobacco advertising is forbidden in the Great Circus. The sponsorship deal with Scuderia Ferrari expires at the end of the season, but a spokesman of the company confirmed that the deal is on the verge of being extended.

“We see no obstacles in the way of extension. Our relationship with Ferrari is a real partnership built over a period of over 20 years of constant, mutual support,” said a Philip Morris spokesman for Autosport.

“All conditions (for extension) have been met,” said a Ferrari F1 Team spokesman whenasked about the sponsorship deal with Marlboro, adding that the final details of the new deal have been set and the deal will be sealed shortly.

The new sponsorship deal might be confirmed the earliest on January 28, when Ferrari F1 team will launch their new F1 car for the 2011 season.

Tobacco advertising is forbidden in Formula 1 and in numerous European countries, but Marlboro moved forward as Ferrari partners. Last year, the two parties were in the media spotlight with a scandal, after several organizations accused Ferrari that the Scuderia logo symbolizes the bar codes of Marlboro brand. Later, Scuderia Ferrari presented a new logo for their F1 Team, which will be used starting this season.

France’s dead stars reappear in puff of smoke

Jean-Paul Sartre, who died in 1980, will soon be able to smoke cigarettes in public again. And the great comic film-maker Jacques Tati will shortly be allowed to take up his beloved pipe too, 28 years after his death.

French parliamentarians have voted to recommend a “cultural exception” to an anti-smoking law which has led to the “healthily correct” editing of images of celebrated smokers from the past. The cultural affairs committee of the National Assembly decided that such censorship was “worthy only of totalitarian regimes” and priggishly exceeds the spirit of a 1991 law which restricts the advertising of tobacco and alcohol.

If, as expected, both houses of parliament take the committee’s advice, dead celebrities in movie or exhibition posters will no longer have to have their cigarettes or pipes amputated. The issue became an international cause célèbre in 2009 when a Paris festival for the centenary of Jacques Monsieur Hulot Tati was ordered to remove the actor and director’s celebrated pipe from an advertising poster. The festival organisers suggested the offending object should be replaced with the words, “This is a pipe” (recalling a painting by the surrealist artist René Magritte). Even this was refused, as a form of tobacco promotion. So the organisers used a poster of Tati cycling with a child’s toy windmill gripped in his teeth.

In 2005, the French existentialist philosopher, Jean-Paul Sartre – the apostle of individualism and self-made morality – was forced, posthumously, to stop smoking. A poster for an exhibition on his centenary at the Bibliothèque Nationale used a celebrated image of Sartre with a cigarette drooping from his lower lip. The cigarette was, however, missing.

The campaign began in 1996 when the postal service published a stamp with the image of the writer André Malraux, who died in 1976. His habitual cigarette had been removed.

There have also been recent incidents of censorship, involving posters for films about two other celebrated, and long-deceased, chain-smokers, the fashion designer Coco Chanel and the singer and song-writer Serge Gainsbourg.

The 1991 law banned all images of smoking and most images of drinking from French adverts. No prosecution has ever been brought against a film or exhibition poster with an “old” smoking image but advertising agencies have imposed self-censorship on their clients.

Even the man who sponsored the original law, the former health minister Claude Evin, has criticised the editing of the Sartre and Tati posters as “absurd” and “excessive”. A Socialist member of parliament, Didier Mathus, drafted an amendment to the law which allows a more “subtle” approach for “cultural works” which include images of smoking.

In other words, a tobacco company could still not use pictures of Jean-Paul Sartre to sell cigarettes; a film company or museum could use a picture of a smoking Sartre to publicise a movie or exhibition. Mr Mathus said the anti-smoking law was being used to create “grotesque reinterpretations and falsification of a history” worthy only of a totalitarian state.

The state-sponsored anti-smoking body, L’Office Français du Tabagisme (OFT) urged members of the culture committee of the National Assembly to reject the change. The controversy was being exploited by the tobacco lobby, the OFT said, to create a breach in the law which could be widened later.

All but one member of the committee voted this week to approve the amendment and send it to the upper and lower houses of parliament.

By John Lichfield in Paris

New tobacco store rolls out fresh ideas

With a pack of cigarettes costing nearly double the high price of gas and big tobacco companies making their product even worse for users’ health, smokers are stuck between a company that just wants to them to stay addicted and a government that depends on tax revenue from the product.

Joining a growing movement, the four-month-old Tobacco Source in Margate has found quick and growing success selling chemical-free, freshly rolled cigarettes at a price that probably hasn’t been seen since the 1980s.

Customers at the store select from several types of tobacco and which of three types of cigarette tube they’d like it packed in, paying $24.98 for the materials to make 200 cigarettes, before going two doors down in the same shopping center where they roll all 200 of them in less than 10 minutes, said store manager Jack Swager.

The higher-quality, lower-price smokes have quickly given the store a base of about 2,500 regular customers, Swager said, with a dozen or more new faces showing up every day.

With patience and interest, he said has watched people flock to the business simply because they feel that what Tobacco Source offers is worth it, and the store already is expanding, with a second location set to open in North Lauderdale in a few weeks.

The healthier, natural smoking option, is proving to be surprisingly popular, Swager said.

“People who can afford to pay for big brand cigarettes don’t want to incur the price,” Swager said. “People will literally sit here for as long as an hour, waiting for the machine, and you never hear them complain. It’s amazing.”

Where did the idea come from?

This is a relatively new concept nationwide, it’s open in several states but the whole the thing has only been in existence less than a year. The idea was developed by a collective of tobacco farmers looking for a place to sell. The [tobacco] industry used to buy from indie farmers but now they grow their own, so the farmers got together with an entity to sell it.

Why hasn’t this kind of store been opened before?

I don’t believe it was feasible. People didn’t want to take the time and effort to roll them one at a time. But with the machines we have it is more timely and cost effective. Also, I think people underestimate the cost. They’re frustrated with the taxes and they’re frustrated with the FDA and the chemicals that companies are allowed to put in the tobacco. There’s a movement in this country to get away from the poison and things we deem not healthy – people don’t want it any more.

Is it fair to call this a healthier way to smoke?

Absolutely. In the last year…they started to put fire safety chemicals that help put the cigarette out that’s made from something used in carpet glue. It’s considered not toxic unless put near high temperatures or high flames, and then its considered toxic. And it tastes horrible…Why would anybody incur the expense to add all these chemicals if it doesn’t enhance the flavor of the tobacco? That and the other things they’re putting in them are only there to enhance the addiction. The physical addiction to nicotine is within 72 hours.

You also had some recent legal issues with operating the store?

The issue was that we had product and machines in the same space [so] that made us a manufacturer…We didn’t want to be the example that got raided so we closed down and opened a second storefront, moved the machines to the other storefront in a separate business and kept the tobacco here. So you buy the tobacco here, and then go there to rent the machine from a separate corporation and business. It’s similar to a micro-brew business where you can produce your own beer there – you can drink your beer, but they can’t sell you any beer.

How many kinds of tobacco do you carry?

We have 11 different kinds of tobacco, from very, very light to full flavors. We have organic tobacco. We have mentholated tobacco. We have a full-flavored tube, a light tube that limits the amount of smoke you take in and then we have mentholated tubes [for the tobacco]. All of our tobacco is domestically grown, it’s all natural and chemical free. Believe it or not, the old-timers appreciate this the most – they remember the time before all the chemicals were added to cigarettes.

By Stephen Feller, sfeller@tribune.com

Will Cigarettes Be Made Illegal in the Future?

Will cigarettes be illegal in the future? The battle over cigarettes is heating up – and recent news shows that momentum to criminalize tobacco smoking continues to build in the United States and around the world.

Last week the New York Times reported on the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan’s war on cigarette smokers. Back in 2005 Bhutan banned the sale of tobacco but made little headway as smugglers brought in cigarettes from India. Now the country is enforcing the ban by allowing authorities to break down doors looking for illegal cigarettes. People who sell illegal cigarettes are now facing five year sentences. Breaking down doors and long sentences over the tobacco plant! Sounds familiar? If it does, it’s because that’s how the U.S. deals with the marijuana and coca plants.

And the creeping criminalization of tobacco is not only happening in far away places, but right here in the “Land of the Free.”

The Wall Street Journal reported last week that the FDA is looking into banning menthol cigarettes. The argument by some antismoking groups is that menthol cigarettes are enticing to adolescent smokers and have been marketed to the African American community. A ban on menthols would build on the FDA’s ban last year on flavored cigarettes and cloves.

While I support many restrictions on public smoking, such as at restaurants and workplaces, and I appreciate public education campaigns and efforts aimed at discouraging young people from smoking, I believe the prohibition of menthols would inevitably lead to harmful and unintended consequences.

For millions of people, menthols are their smoke of choice. I have no doubt that someone is going to step in to meet this demand. What do we propose doing to the people who are caught selling illegal menthol cigarettes? Are cops going to have to expend limited resources to enforce this ban? Are we going to arrest and lock up people who are selling the illegal cigarettes? Prisons are already bursting at the seams (thanks to drug laws) across the country. Are we going to waste more taxpayer money on criminalization and incarceration?

The prohibition of flavored cigarettes also moves us another step closer to total cigarette prohibition. Last year it was cloves. This year it may be menthol. And why not all cigarettes next year? Cigarettes kill; 400,000 people die prematurely every year from smoking. When we analyze the harm from drugs, there is no doubt that cigarettes are the worst. Considering how harshly we deal with less harmful drugs like marijuana, by that same flawed logic cigarettes should be illegal too.

But with all the good intentions in the world, outlawing cigarettes would be just as disastrous as the prohibition of other drugs. After all, people would still smoke, just as they still use other drugs that are prohibited, from marijuana to cocaine. But now, in addition to the harm of smoking, there would be a whole range of “collateral consequences,” such as black market-related violence, that crop up with prohibition.

Remember, banning marijuana and coca plants have led to 35,000 deaths in Mexico due to prohibition over just the past four years. Imagine what banning the tobacco plant would do. We would have a black market, with outlaws taking the place of delis and supermarkets, stepping in to meet the demand and provide the desired drug.

Instead of buying your cigarettes in a legally sanctioned place, you would have to hit the streets to pick up your fix. The cigarette trade would provide big revenue to “drug dealers,” just as illegal drugs do today. There would be shootouts in the streets and killings over the right to sell the illicit substance.

We need to realize that drugs that already have an established demand, whether cigarettes or marijuana or alcohol, will always be consumed, whether they are legal or illegal. Although drugs have health consequences and dangers, making them illegal – and keeping them illegal – will only bring additional death and suffering.

By Tony Newman
AlterNet

Imperial launches new duty-free Davidoff packaging

Imperial Tobacco is to launch a new packaging for its Davidoff Classic and Davidoff Lights and Davidoff Gold cigarettes to celebrate the Chinese New Year. duty-free Davidoff packagingExclusive to duty-free and travel-retail, the new outer sleeve with a gold floral design embellished with Chinese calligraphy will be available at key locations throughout Asia as well as selected airports in the Middle-East, Europe and the US.

According to the supplier, the special edition will create “additional awareness and excitement around the Davidoff brand” in a 15-day period of expected growth in passenger figures and higher propensity for gifting.

Imperial Tobacco brand marketing global duty-free Nigel Ng said: “With this festive edition of Davidoff, we are able to connect our consumers more closely to the brand. The presentation is perfect for this widely celebrated holiday—either as a gift or for self-purchase. We are very excited about this offer and are looking forward to creating further similar initiatives for the duty-free market.”

The Davidoff Chinese New Year edition will be launched in the first week of January at airports in Hong Kong, Seoul, Singapore, Tokyo, Osaka, Shanghai, Beijing, Dubai, Sharjah, Doha, Amsterdam and certain US locations.

Draper buys Bethesda Tobacco

W. Curtis Draper Tobacconist, the oldest tobacco shop in the District, has acquired Bethesda Tobacco for an undisclosed sum.

Draper owners John Anderson and Matt Krimm announced the deal Tuesday, saying they will rename Bethesda Tobacco as W. Curtis Draper Bethesda.

They bought the store, 4916 Del Ray Ave., from current owner Michael Copperman. Bethesda Tobacco opened in 1994.

W. Curtis Draper, at 14th and G streets NW, has been in business since 1887 and has been profiled many times over the years, including articles in The New York Times and Cigar Aficionado.

Anderson and Krimm have hired Paul Spence, formerly mid-Atlantic regional sales manager for cigar manufacturer CAO International, as managing partner and general manager of their new Bethesda store.

By Jeff Clabaugh
Washington Business Journal

Cigarette Advertising and Teen Smoking Initiation

A new study out of Germany shows that tobacco marketing entices teens to smoke.

Of the 2,102 public school students in Germany surveyed, 277 young people who had never smoked before took up the habit after viewing tobacco advertising. Those who saw the most ads were 46% more likely to try cigarettes than those who saw no tobacco ads, according to the research.

Study co-author Dr. James D. Sargent, a professor of pediatrics and family and community medicine at Dartmouth Medical Center in New Hampshire, says the findings add weight to the idea of having the U.S. Food and Drug Administration better control tobacco marketing. Although ads for cigarettes are prohibited in the U.S., tobacco companies are still targeting teens with other forms of marketing, critics of the tobacco industry suggest.

Sargent, who has done extensive research on the influence of media on teen behaviors, worked with German researchers to produce the study, published online Jan. 17 in advance of print publication in the February issue of Pediatrics.

Students involved in the study ranged from ages 10 to 17, with an average age of 12.5 years, when the study began. They were shown 12 ads with branding removed — six for cigarettes and six for other products, including candy, cars and cell phones. They were asked to identify the product advertised and recall the brand if they could.

After nine months, 13% of the students who had seen tobacco ads began smoking. The more ads they saw, the more likely they were to start smoking, the study found. Nineteen percent of teens in the high-cigarette ad recall group started smoking compared to 10% in the low-cigarette ad exposure group.

Ads for other products such as cell phones and candies fail to trigger the same psychological mechanisms that make children take up the smoking habit, according to the study.

“Our results support the notion of a content-related effect of cigarette advertisements and underlines the specificity of the relationship between tobacco marketing and teen smoking,” the authors write. “Exposure to cigarette advertisements but not other advertisements is associated with smoking initiation.”

The researchers say tobacco ads work because companies aim their messages at young people, who are particularly susceptible to even subtle meanings, such as hints that smoking is tied to masculinity in the case of males and to thinness, sex appeal and independence for girls.

“Adolescents are in the process of identity formation, when they face emotional instability and social self-consciousness,” according to the study.

Greece to police ignored smoking ban more strictly

ATHENS, – Greece said on Tuesday it will enforce a largely ignored smoking ban with hundreds more inspectors, the third time in recent years it has tried and failed to stop the EU’s heaviest smokers flouting the ban.

“The Greek state cannot continue to be made a laughing stock,” Health Minister Andreas Loverdos told reporters. “We are starting tomorrow — the ban will be fully implemented.”

Most cafes and restaurants had shrugged off the latest, Sept. 1 ban and taxi drivers smoke with impunity while driving.

Loverdos said the government would launch a fresh campaign against smoking and hire hundreds of additional inspectors to slap fines on business owners and smokers.

Inspectors can impose up to 10,000 euros ($13,350) in fines on bar and restaurant owners tolerating smoking and up to 500 euros for smokers who break the law. But only a handful of penalties have been imposed despite widespread violations.

Most restaurants have kept ash-trays on their tables despite the ban or put them back after losing costumers to more smoker-friendly places. Some organised street protests against the ban, saying applying it would drive customers away at a time when business was already hit by recession.

“This decision comes at a time when the economy is in deep recession, it will lead to shutting down thousands of businesses and at least 80,000 jobs will be lost,” said Yiorgos Kavathas, general secretary of the Greek restaurant owners federation.

Smoking-related health costs are two billion euros a year, health ministry data says, about 60 percent of total tobacco tax revenues in 2009.

Greece has increased excise tax and VAT on tobacoo to 23 from 19 percent as part of EU and IMF austerity steps.

By Ingrid Melander and Renee Maltezou

What will people do if cigarettes are taxed more?

IDAHO FALLS – We talked to many people today and they all have one thing in common, cigarettes will be too expensive.

“They are already so expensive I think. My husband smokes, and it is a lot of money,” said Brenda Parkinson, a non-smoker, but her husband smokes.

This new proposal isn’t news to everyone.

“Yeah I know a lot of people that smoke. And a lot of people that know about it. When I first heard about it a month ago, I was like that’s… I can’t say those words,” said Brenton Hammon, a smoker.

Right now the tax is 57 cents, the new tax would increase by a 1.25 making it a 1.82. The money would help rising healthcare costs from smoking-related diseases.

“If fewer people are smoking or starting to smoking, in the long run we will be better off because we will be paying less in healthcare to help those people with the long term diseases,” said Casey Barger, a non-smoker.

“Some people will buy it, but it will be hard, a lot of people will start quitting because it is so expensive,” said Brenton.

“If people want to smoke I don’t think the price is going to matter,” said Brenda.

Brenton says his mother wouldn’t pay for the cigarettes once they are over five dollars.

“I know my mom won’t pay seven bucks a pack for a of smokes, I guarantee it,” said Brenton.

“I wish they would quit making them all together,” said Brenda.

The Tobacco store behind me even has a petition for people to sign against the proposed tax increase.

As of now the new bill should be proposed around February 1, 2011.

By Tammy Harmer

Reynolds sale Lane Limited to the Scandinavian Tobacco Group

Reynolds American Inc. announced the sale of Lane Limited to the Denmark based Scandinavian Tobacco Group for $205 million cash. The deal is expected to close by middle of 2011. The Scandinavian Tobacco Group will acquire the two Lane facilities in Tucker, presently employing 110 workers, and operate them all by themselves.

Reynolds’ decision to sell the subsidiary is a step to concentrate more on the key brands in the cigarette, moist snuff and modern smoke-free categories of the tobacco business. Lane Limited is based in Tucker, and its brands include Kite and Bugler Roll-Your-Own tobacco and Captain Black pipe tobacco. However, the subsidiary reportedly contributes 4 cents per share to the annual earnings of Reynolds American, the Winston-Salem based company.

Scandinavian Tobacco Group leads the world in pipe tobacco sales, and shares the lead position internationally on the basis of cigar sales. It has a strong position within fine-cut tobacco in Scandinavia. The company deals with ‘other tobacco products’ and manufactures brands like Cafe Creme, Henri Wintermans, Colts and Mercator, and Swedish Match’s Macanudo, Partagas, Punch and La Paz. In October, 2010, it formed a 49/51 joint venture combining all its tobacco business with the cigars and pipe tobacco business of Swedish Match.

Reynolds is restructuring its units to facilitate maximization of cigarette manufacturing efficiency and expand smokeless tobacco production capacity. It closed down two of its units in May, 2010, in Winston-Salem and Yabucoa and moved the operation of these plants to its largest facility in Tobaccoville. Reynolds also disclosed its decision to close down Whitaker Park plant by the middle of 2011. Meanwhile, another operating company of Reynolds, American Snuff Company is enhancing its smokeless tobacco processing and manufacturing capacity by investing in facilities in Memphis and Clarksville, Tenn.

The tobacco market giant and parent of several tobacco companies including R.J. Reynolds are cutting down on costs to fend off the loss that gets triggered by rising ban on smoking coupled with several regulations placed on tobacco companies by governments across the globe. They have slashed more than 80% of their local workforce in the past three decades and reduced full-time workers from 15,000 to 2,600.

Cigar group wants Idaho to ban ‘blunt wraps’

The Cigar Association of America wants Idaho to outlaw “blunt wraps,” a type of roll-your-own cigar wrapper, as drug paraphernalia. Russ Westerberg, lobbyist for the group, told the Idaho Senate Judiciary Committee today that “blunts” traditionally were cigars rolled in a single, continuous tobacco leaf, which had a blunt end as opposed to a tapered end. “In recent times, the term ‘blunt’ has become associated with marijuana or joints,” he told lawmakers.

The wrappers, which are made of tobacco, often flavored, and sold in cigar stores and convenience stores for little more than a dollar apiece, “are becoming popular with users of marijuana and other illegal substances,” Westerberg said. “If there is a legitimate use, at a minimum any legitimate use of a blunt wrap would pale in comparison with the illegal one,” he declared. “Near as we can tell, there is no legitimate use for a cigar wrap.”

Senators on the panel had some questions, but voted unanimously to introduce the bill. Said Sen. Denton Darrington, R-Declo, the committee chairman, “It is so typical of what we’ve faced within the whole drug culture – they’re always coming out with some new technology to be ahead of us.”

Westerberg told the senators that if there’s any legitimate use for the products, those who legitimately use them can make their case when the bill comes up for a hearing. He said the tobacco in the wrapper, plus the flavoring, are popular with marijuana users because they can help disguise the marijuana aroma. The bill, as introduced, would ban “blunt wraps, including individual tobacco wrappers, also known as wraps or roll your own cigar wraps, that are made wholly or in part from tobacco, including reconstituted tobacco, whether in the form of a leaf, sheet or tube, and that are used to hold any burning material or illegal substance.”

New Cigarette Packet Design

The government proposes selling cigarettes in plain packaging to limit their appeal – could they still look good while warning smokers? We asked graphic design studio Wearebuild.com to light us up.

When we got the brief we already knew about the government’s proposal for unbranded or plain packaging. We chose to approach the design almost from a non-design perspective. Stripping out any superfluous design elements and taking it down to an ultra-“generic” feel was quite liberating.

new cigarettes pack

1-Marlboro Lights.
A lesson in reductionism. OCR-B, a monospace typeface, was chosen for its clarity and genericism. The QR code [beneath the barcode] links to a government website on the effects of smoking and how to quit. We introduced a very small strip of colour to help indicate from a small distance the cigarettes’ brand. This is for two reasons: to aid people selling the cigarettes and to add a small level of anti-piracy measures (the colour would be foiled). I feel this is the most successful version of the three.

2-cigarette-store.biz/online/marlboro/gold.
Information. What is actually in a cigarette? There is no hierarchy, with the brand taken down to the same level as the information. Food packaging now has to list its contents by law – why should cigarettes be any different? This is what is contained in the cigarettes you are about to smoke. This design brings that information to the foreground, and the branding takes a back seat.

3-Marlboro Reds.
The warning message. What are the possible consequences of smoking this packet of cigarettes? Real-time messaging, real consequences. Branding is taken down to a strip of recognisable colour – brand allegiance reduced to a colour strip only. As a designer, this approach is really refreshing: no gloss, just information.

Big tobacco takes fight over plain cigarette packs

BIG tobacco is hoping a new multilateral free trade agreement will enable it to sue the Federal Government if Australia introduces plain packaging for cigarettes in mid-2012 as planned.

Philip Morris wants a clause added to the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), currently being negotiated, which would allow the company to sue the commonwealth for damages internationally.

Health experts are calling on the Gillard Government to fight back by insisting on a counter-clause to make clear the regional agreement couldn’t restrict efforts “to prevent or reduce tobacco use”.

Associate Professor Thomas Faunce says Philip Morris has lobbied the United States Trade Representative regarding the TPPA.

In its submission the tobacco company argues plain packaging amounts to the theft of intellectual property.

Philip Morris also states plain packs, devoid of brand logos, images and colours, would limit “commercial free speech” and restrict competition.

It wants an investor-state dispute settlement provision inserted in the trade agreement that would allow it to sue governments that introduced legislation impeding foreign investment.

“Such provisions grant investors covered by them a right to initiate dispute-settlement proceedings for damages in international arbitration proceedings against foreign governments…without having to first seek damages in domestic courts,” Professor Faunce writes in the latest issue of the Medical Journal of Australia.

“The lawyers controlling such arbitral proceedings are appointed and paid at the behest of the parties and do not necessarily take account of domestic public health and environment protections.”

Professor Faunce, from the Australian National University, expects final negotiations on the TPPA to conclude this year with the agreement to enter into force in 2012.

“It’s very rare that you see a trade deal that’s substantially negotiated stop,” he told AAP.

“But there’s a strong chance we may be able to remove the investor-state clause component or significantly alter its application to Australia.”

Such a provision was expressly excluded from the 2005 bilateral Australia-US Free Trade Agreement.

But Professor Faunce says even if an investor-state clause finds its way into the final TPPA, the Federal Government can protect itself by passing domestic legislation.

“Parties may initiate interpretive declarations restricting the applicability of any investor-state dispute settlement provision … to their public health policies, legislation and regulations,” he writes in the MJA with co-author Ruth Townsend.

Australia could also argue for a clause to be inserted in the agreement stipulating “a non-discriminatory regulation for public health that affects foreign investment is not deemed expropriatory and compensable for damages”.

The journal article notes that last year then trade minister Simon Crean said Australia had “serious reservations about the inclusion of investor-state dispute settlement provision in this agreement”.

“We do not want new layers of red tape under the guise of trade liberalisation,” Mr Crean said.

Labor announced in April last year that cigarettes will have to be sold in plain packets from mid-2012.

If the move is successful it will be a world first.

The Government expects the change to make smoking less appealing to young people who may be susceptible to the lure of branding and packaging.

Pack branding ‘silent salesman’ of tobacco industry

marlboro pack

Cigarette packet branding is the tobacco industry’s “silent salesman” helping hook children and young people, a group of industry experts have warned.

Speaking on Wednesday at a discussion of several studies on the impact of introducing plain cigarette packaging, marketing expert Crawford Moodie said there was a definite link between smokers and tobacco branding.

He told participants in the Brussels event that cigarette packaging was the industry’s “silent salesman”.

The panel of experts conducted studies among young people and young adult smokers, drawing similar conclusions that cigarette packaging clearly has “some appeal”.

Moodie, of the institute of social marketing at Stirling university in Scotland, conducted an online survey, which found that almost one in three young people admitted to choosing a certain brand of cigarettes because they were attracted by the pack’s appearance.

It was also found that even the colour of the pack could mislead people with up to a third of young people associating pack colour with the strength of the cigarettes inside.

Karine Gallopel-Morvan, a lecturer at Rennes university in France, found that a plain pack design with health warnings would deter almost all non smokers from taking up smoking and would reduce the desire amongst smokers to take a cigarette from the pack.

“Tobacco packaging is a powerful advertising tool,” Gallopel-Morvan said. “But plain packaging can undermine this advertising function.”

The European commission has just completed a public consultation on whether the 2001 tobacco products directive should be revised.

There have been growing calls from the anti-smoking sector to introduce plain packaging as part of that revision.

Gallopel-Morvan also added that the tobacco products directive may have more impact if other tools were used as well, such as increasing the price of cigarettes and introducing more smoke free zones in public places.

Plain packaging essentially means that cigarette pack would be free from logos, graphics and designs, and would stick to a standard style with the brand name written in small characters.

Further measures could include ‘scare photos’ covering the majority of pack space and more detailed indications of the harmful substances cigarettes carry plus a series of new health warnings.

It is thought that new plain pack designs will deter children from taking up smoking and support those trying to quit.

Further analysis at the event, organised by the association of European cancer leagues and the Belgian foundation against cancer, came from Guido Van Hal who carried out a study on 15- to 19-year-olds in Antwerp.

The research showed that the appearance of the cigarette package was one of the main motives for buying them.

A professor at Antwerp university, Van Hal said plain packaging had the biggest impact on non regular smokers.

He said that in a group of non regular smokers, “plain packages were seen as a reason not to buy cigarettes, as they were perceived as something of a lesser quality”.

“Therefore, plain packages might prevent this ‘in between’ category of non regular smokers becoming regular smokers,” he said.

Luk Joossens, a tobacco control expert from the Belgian foundation against cancer, added, “Up to 75 per cent of all EU citizens are in favour of putting picture health warnings on all packages of tobacco products and 54 per cent are in favour of banning logos and promotional elements.”

However cigarette manufacturers have raised concerns that the introduction of plain packaging could make it easier for criminals to counterfeit cigarettes.

However, Joossens told the Parliament.com that regardless of the plain packaging it will still be easy to identify counterfeited cigarettes.

“Unique codes and invisible ink along with the quality and packaging will indicate whether the cigarettes are illegal,” he said. “So there is no reason to suggest it will increase illegal trade.”

Moodie dismissed the tobacco lobby’s comment as a smoke screen saying, “This is just what the tobacco industry says to try and scare off policymakers.”

By Ruth Marsden