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April, 2012:

Talking chop

Heartened by recent successes, the government is stepping up efforts to encourage smokers to kick the habit
Elaine Yau (
Apr 24, 2012

On a three-day camp last month in Sai Kung, businessman Chan Chi-kin was in no mood to enjoy the greenery and pristine beaches around him. The 44-year-old, who smoked three packs a day since he was 17, had to summon all his willpower to fend off the urge to light up.

Chan, who had tried to quit on his own but failed, says the camaraderie among the quitters in the camp – organised by Tung Wah Group of Hospitals’ (TWGH) Integrated Centre on Smoking Cessation – boosted his confidence in overcoming his addiction.

“My failed attempt crushed my confidence. I am afraid that I will fail again,” he says. “But the people in the camp supported and motivated me. With others also struck by cravings but unable to light up, I feel I am not alone.”

The first quitting camp in Hong Kong, with seven heavy smokers, was one of several initiatives launched by the government and anti-smoking groups.

Even though Hong Kong has the lowest smoking rate in the world, at 11.1 per cent, smoking still accounts for 6,000 deaths per year in the city. The annual economic loss due to damage caused by tobacco is HK$5.3 billion. As a sign of the government’s seriousness in cracking down on tobacco addiction, investment in smoking cessation has risen from HK$3 million in 2008-09 to HK$80 million in 2012-13.

The first government-sponsored cessation centre was set up by the Council on Smoking and Health in 2000 at the outpatient department of Ruttonjee Hospital. There are now 40 cessation centres under the Health Department and the Hospital Authority.

The government further commissioned TWGH to provide free cessation services in 2009 – it now runs six centres. Last year, a quit-line aimed at youths was set up by the University of Hong Kong’s School of Nursing.

Health Department senior medical and health officer Edmond Ma says Hong Kong must enhance cessation services if it is to further drive down the smoking rate.

“Given the boost in resources, different forms of cessation are available, including counselling and nicotine replacement therapy,” he says.

Ma spelled out the achievements attained by Hong Kong last month at the 15th World Conference on Tobacco or Health in Singapore, where 2,600 delegates from 124 countries shared their anti-smoking strategies. “We need to train more medical personnel in smoking cessation. Helping people to quit requires lots of skills and knowledge,” he says.

The department has trained more than 100 health care workers in the field over the past two years. Novel approaches to kicking the habit are also being used.

Raymond Ho Lei-ming, head of the Tobacco Control Office, says free acupuncture has been available at Pok Oi Hospital since 2010. Sessions can help relieve withdrawal symptoms such as fatigue, lack of concentration and dryness of the mouth. “It has helped around 2,400 people so far,” says Ho.

Tobacco kills one person every six seconds – or about six million people, including 600,000 non-smokers through second-hand smoke – globally every year.

The burden of tobacco-related illness and death is greatest in low- and middle-income countries. As a result of cessation efforts, the developed world accounted for 24 per cent of worldwide tobacco consumption in 2009, a drop from 38 per cent in 1990.

Hong Kong got serious in combating tobacco after China ratified the World Health Organisation (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in 2005. Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah increased the tobacco tax by 50 per cent in 2009. A further 41.5 per cent rise was implemented last year. A pack of cigarettes now costs HK$50, HK$30 of which is tax. An indoor smoking ban in 2009 finally included bars and restaurants previously exempt.

But Judith Mackay, senior adviser to the World Lung Foundation, says Hong Kong should increase the tax further and extend smoke-free areas to the outdoors.

“Taxation and cessation are twins,” she says.

Lisa Lau Man-man, chairman of the Council on Smoking and Health, agrees: “Tax should be raised to a minimum of 75 per cent of the retail price [the level recommended by the WHO].”

Mackay says Hong Kong’s pictorial warnings on packaging are five years old and need to be updated. Quit-line numbers should be placed on the packs, she says.

The latest government figures on smokers’ awareness of cessation services show more than 30 per cent of the 700,000 smokers in the city do not know about them.

Lau says restricting the display of cigarettes at points of sale should be considered, since showing them is itself a form of promotion.

Singapore is considering such a display ban, which would require shops to keep tobacco products out of the sight of customers. In countries where such a ban is enforced, such as Canada and Britain, cigarette packs are kept under the counter and produced only on request.

Besides anti-smoking policies, hard-hitting media campaigns portray the tobacco industry as evil money grubbers, hell-bent on killing people while raking in huge profits.

During a session at the Singapore conference, Norwegian Minister of Health and Care Services Anne-Grete Strom-Erichsen showed an advertisement run on a regional television channel in Norway that is aimed at arousing people’s revulsion against the industry.

A fat, insolent man tells the camera that they only target the black, stupid and poor. While he spouts his mantra “we don’t smoke it, we just sell it”, a pretty young girl is shown buying cigarettes, and her money ends up lining his pockets.

Strom-Erichsen says people should hold the industry in contempt. “Philip Morris took our government to court in 2010, claiming our display ban for tobacco products is in breach of European free trade rules … we will fight the intimidation to fulfil our legal duty to protect public health,” she says.

Michael Eriksen, director of the Institute of Public Health at Georgia State University in the US, says the industry makes US$35 billion in annual profits.

“It’s nearly US$6,000 in profit for every death caused by tobacco,” he says.

Besides media campaigns, Singapore has taken a step further by mobilising its people to become anti-smoking activists. Ang Hak Seng, chief executive of the city state’s Health Promotion Board, says government policies must be supplemented by aggressive bottom-up strategies.

Former smokers have been mobilised to become activists in the board’s outreach activities.

“They help us engage smokers by sharing their personal quitting journey and follow up with the smokers after events,” Ang says.

An initiative called Blue Ribbon was launched recently, in which 10 markets and food centres received a Blue Ribbon award for promoting smoke-free messages to customers.

Residential estates, says Ang, will adopt a voluntary smoking ban in public areas such as common corridors. Grass-roots volunteers, trained by the board as cessation counsellors, will go door to door, handing out blue ribbons and quit kits.

“We provide them with specialised training on how to talk to smokers so that they don’t come across as confrontational and aggressive,” says Alice Ong, a manager with the board’s substance abuse department. “We teach them how to deal with defensive smokers, to ensure that neighbourhood harmony won’t be affected.”

Singapore, whose smoking rate has fallen from 18.3 per cent in 1992 to 14.3 per cent, is leading the Asian charge in combating smoking. Its tobacco tax is 60.7 per cent; it was the first country in the world to ban duty-free cigarettes in 1991; and it has a total of 150 cessation outlets across the island.

Ang aims to mobilise everyone in Singapore to create a social movement to counter smoking.

“International studies show that most smokers have a relapse within eight days of an attempt to quit, and only 5 per cent manage to stay smoke-free beyond 12 months,” he says.

“This is why it is so important for smokers trying to quit to have a community-based supportive network made up of family, friends, ex-smokers and even Facebook acquaintances to encourage them not to give up.”

A 2011 study by TWGH of 301 smokers showed that 42 per cent remained smoke-free for six months, and the figure dropped to 36 per cent after a year.

Smokers were given nicotine replacement therapies (gum, patch, and inhaler), drugs such as bupropion and varenicline, and counselling to help them quit.

Patrick Fok Wai-yin, senior counsellor with TWGH, says support from family and friends can make a huge difference.

“It’s important not to negate the feelings of smokers,” he says. “We acknowledge that smoking brings pleasure to them. Our role is to help them find alternatives.”

Dr Wong Chi-hong, a medical officer with TWGH, says many smokers have misconceptions about nicotine replacement medicines, thinking the drugs will make them resistant to cigarettes. The medicines, in fact, help relieve withdrawal symptoms such as insomnia, irritability and depressed mood.

“Their psychological urges to light up may not go away completely,” Wong says. “They still have to make the effort to suppress them.”

Chan Chi-kin, who takes bupropion, says he still feels the urge to light up under stress, as smoking relaxes him and helps sharpen his mind. He fends off the urge by thinking of his two girls studying at university abroad.

“I must be healthy so my daughters’ studies will not be affected,” he says

Pack Of Cigarettes ‘May Rise To $100′ In NZ

Instead Donald Tsang chose the comfort of Charles HO Tsu Kwok tobacco tycoon’s yacht in Macau 16 days after our 2012 (no tobacco tax increase) budget.

The New Zealand government says the $100 a pack suggestion is "probably unlikely".

The price of a packet of cigarettes is set to rise significantly as New Zealand looks to stamp out smoking

11:14am UK, Monday April 23, 2012

The cost of a packet of cigarettes in New Zealand could rise to as much as $100 dollars – around £50 – by 2020 amid moves to stamp out smoking.

The Ministry of Health wants New Zealand to be smoke free by 2025 and the suggested increase gives the first hint of the drastic measures being discussed.

A document released under the Official Information Act to the country’s 3 News website features a number of pricing scenarios – with the most extreme showing a single cigarette costing the equivalent of £2.50.

One option being considered is a 10% increase on a pack of 20 cigarettes year-on-year from 2013 to 2025, meaning it would cost $40 (£20) a pack by 2024.

But a second scenario would see packs at $100 each by 2020, achieved by an immediate shock rise of 30% to 60%, with on-going increases of 30% each year after that.

New Zealand aims to be smoke free by 2025

This model would reach the 2025 target to stamp out smoking completely, but is described in the paper as “probably unrealistic”.

The most likely model would see a shock tax increase next year, and then a 10%-a-year rise, which would mean a packet of cigarettes costs around $60 (£30) by 2025.

Other ideas discussed in the document include regulating tobacco as a highly toxic substance, a ban on smoking in cars with children, a doubling of anti-smoking media campaigns and removing tobacco from duty-free sale.

The briefing paper said: “If we are to continue to lower smoking prevalence we need to both increase the numbers who successfully quit smoking, and reduce smoking initiation among young people.

“Tobacco taxation is the single most effective intervention available to drive down smoking prevalence figures.”

The Ministry of Health has said that the paper is an internal policy discussion and does not represent Government policy.

Global ignorance of tobacco’s harm to cardiovascular health costing lives

Download PDF : 297783

From Tootsie Rolls to tobacco: What’s in your CPP fund

H. J. Heinz  is just one of hundreds of companies the Canadian Pension Plan fund has investments in.

H. J. Heinz is just one of hundreds of companies the Canadian Pension Plan fund has investments in. (Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press)



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Next time you’re sucking on a Tootsie Roll, just think — you’re sucking on your financial future.

You may also be sipping on it during your morning coffee or slowly squirting it out on your favourite hotdog.

That’s because Tootsie Roll Industries, Tim Hortons Inc. and H.J. Heinz Company are just a few of the hundreds of companies Canadians have a stake in as part of their Canada Pension Plan fund.

Income taxSpecial report: How to make the most of your tax returnWhat you need to know to keep more of your hard-earned dollars in your pocket

The fund, managed by the Toronto-based CPP Investment Board (CPPIB), was set up in 1997 by the federal government and provinces to invest the contributions not needed to pay for current benefits to the CPP.

The investment philosophy is simple – “maximize investment returns without undue risk of loss.”

“It was set up to build a diversified global portfolio, to help contribute to the sustainability of the CPP,” said Don Raymond, senior vice-president and chief investment strategist for the CPPIB.

And those investments are diversified among different assets, like real estate holdings, bonds and public equity investments that include 2,600 international and 500 Canadian public companies.

A list of some of the companies in the CPP fund portfolio

Air Canada, Athabasca Oil Sand Corp, B2 Gold Corp

Bank of Montreal, Bombardier, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, Canadian Tire

Haliburton, Heniken, H.J. Heinz Company, Home Depot, Johnson and Johnson, Kraft Foods,Lockheed Martin

Imperial Tobacco Group, Lululemon Athletica, Lockheed Martin

MasterCard, Mitsubishi Corp, Nintendo, Nissan Motor Co.,

Pepsi, Philip Morris International, Procter and Gamble, Rogers, Qantas, Quebecor,

Rolls Royce Group, Shoppers Drug Mart, Telus, Tim Hortons Inc., Time Warner

Toshiba, Toyota Motor Corp., Tootsie Roll Industries Inc, Wal-Mart

(As of March 31, 2011)

For example, take the Rockefeller Center and the McGraw-Hill Building shown in the opening credits of Saturday Night Live – Canadians own a part of them.

Complaining about the profits of banks and oil companies? Canadians may think twice, since they’re invested in those, too.

And next time Ontario motorists are driving along Highway 407, they may be surprised to learn that they own a 29 per cent chunk of that roadway as well. (In fact, it’s CPPIB’s biggest direct investment in a private asset.)

Fund more than triples

Canadians used to own a $300-million stake in Skype, until it was purchased by Microsoft. But that purchase more than tripled the CPPIB’s initial investment.

Air Canada, Apple, LuluLemon, Best Buy, KraftFoods, Heinken, Wal-Mart — all make up part of the largest single-purpose pension in Canada and one of the largest in the world.

According to the CPPIB website, over the last 10 years, the fund has grown from nearly $49 billion in assets to almost $153 billion. During that time period, the annualized rate of return was 5.7 per cent.

Raymond said the fund needs to earn a 4.2 per cent rate of return above inflation to make the whole plan sustainable.

But Raymond readily admits you can’t earn that kind of return “without taking some investment risk.” (He says as a comparison, the yield of a 10-year bond in Canada is two per cent, but with inflation at two per cent, the real yield is zero.)

When looking for assets, the board tries to find those that will outperform the stocks and bonds already in the portfolio.

“We go and buy a significant chunk of the 407. We have to decide which of those stocks and bonds that we would otherwise own that we’re now going to sell in order to buy that part of the 407,” Raymond said. “If the 407 outperforms over a long period of time those stocks and bonds that we’ve sold, then we’ve added value relative to the reference portfolio.”

In 2006, the fund’s board decided to become “active managers,” Raymond said, meaning the board would choose individual stocks, bonds, buildings and infrastructure assets they thought would outperform the global portfolio that consists of of 65 per cent stocks and 35 per cent bonds.

“By definition, diversification, you expect some investments to perform well and some investments not to perform well. The more diversified you are, the more likely that will happen.”

Not every year has seen growth. In 2009, during the global financial crisis, the fund, like many, took a big hit, plummeting 18.6 per cent and losing $24 billion.

‘It’s more difficult to change the CPP investment board act than it is to change the Canadian Constitution.’—Don Raymond, CPPIB

This sparked a backlash from some critics who complained the top executives of the board received $7 million in bonuses despite the losses.

The fund has also been criticized for some of its holdings, which include oil companies like Haliburton, tobacco companies like Imperial Tobacco and Philip Morris and munitions manufacturers like Lockheed Martin and BAE Systems.

But the fund has a strict “investment only” mandate and, by law, cannot take political or moral considerations into account when choosing investments.

“We have essentially said we will invest in anything that would be legal or a business that would be legal if carried on in Canada,” Raymond said.

Changing that mandate would require the federal government and two-thirds of the provinces representing two-thirds of the population to agree.

“It’s more difficult to change the CPP investment board act than it is to change the Canadian constitution,” Raymond said.

Bigger deals ‘can come back to haunt you’

Leo Kolivakis, publisher of the Pension Plus blog and a former senior investment analyst at the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec and the Public Sector Pension Investment Board, offered praise for the board, saying it has one of the best governance structures in the world.

“I think they’re doing a great job. They’re very good at what they do,” he said, adding that the 5.7 per cent rate of return over 10 years is “decent.”

But Kolivakis said he does have some concerns.

“My biggest concern with any fund of that size is that economies of scale catch up to them, meaning once you’re managing assets they’re managing, you become too big, too lethargic.”

Kolivakis said the size of the fund forces the board to invest in bigger and bigger deals.

“That works well when the economy is doing well and the markets are doing well, but it can come back to haunt you,” he said.

“What I ‘m afraid of is because of their size they’re going to be forced to deploy their capital and possibly make investments that have a lot more risk. But I don’t want to overemphasize that point, because right now they are able to manage their size.”

3rd UPDATE: Ex-Bureaucrats Exit Japan Tobacco Management Duo As Govt Share Sale Looms –
JT taps Executive Deputy President Koizumi as new president, with current
president Kimura to become chairman

— New management team will be the first not to have a former finance
ministry official as chairman or president

— Kimura suggests JT won’t return any short-term gains to shareholders

(Recasts, adds details of value of potential government share sale in 6th

By Hiroyuki Kachi

TOKYO (Dow Jones)–As Japan’s government lines up a multi-billion-dollar
share sale to slash its 50% holding in Japan Tobacco Inc. (2914.TO), the
cigarette giant Monday unveiled a new lead management pairing that for
the first time in 27 years doesn’t feature at least one former

The move comes as the world’s third-largest tobacco company by sales
volume, known as JT, continues to prepare and press the case for the full
privatization it says it needs to better compete with global rivals like
Morris International Inc. (PM) and British American Tobacco PLC (BTI).

JT says it wants to compete on an “equal footing” with its fully
privately owned rivals, and has stepped up efforts to obtain a bigger
slice of growing overseas markets with its global flagship brands, such
as Winston and Camel.

Its $15 billion acquisition of the U.K.’s Gallaher Group PLC in 2007–the
biggest-ever foreign acquisition by a Japanese company–helped it gain
ground in overseas markets such as Russia and the Middle East.

Meanwhile the government is working on plans to sell about 16.6% of the
outstanding shares in JT to raise funds for reconstruction after last
year’s earthquake and tsunami disasters.

At Monday’s closing share price of Y451,000, a 16.6% stake in JT is worth
about Y749 billion, or $9.2 billion. JT said earlier this year it will
consider buying back some of its own shares that the government is
planning to sell.

In a statement Monday, JT said Executive Deputy President Mitsuomi
Koizumi will become its new president and chief executive, while current
president and CEO Hiroshi Kimura will become chairman. Current chairman
and former finance ministry official Yoji Wakui will step down.

Neither of the new management duo previously worked in Japan’s Ministry
of Finance. But ever since the former national tobacco monopoly was
partially privatized in 1985, at least one of these posts — the top two
in the company’s hierarchy — has been occupied by a former finance
ministry official.

However, incoming chairman Kimura said there was no deliberate intention
to rid management of ex-MOF officials.

“We haven’t decided on the latest personnel matters with the firm
intention of removing ex-ministry officials,” he said, stressing that
managers would be chosen based on qualifications, regardless of any
former position in the public or private sectors.

The changes will take effect upon approval at a board meeting to follow a
general shareholders meeting in late June.

As well as seeking investor clearance at the meeting, JT will also field
proposals from minority shareholder The Children’s Investment Fund, a
U.K.-based activist hedge fund, which is seeking a shift in dividend
policy among other things.

Kimura said management had no major differences with the hedge fund,
other than on how soon the company would return profits to shareholders.

Earlier this year, TCI requested that JT management include three
proposals on the agenda for the annual shareholders meeting in June,
people familiar with the matter said. The proposals were a hike in the
dividend payout for this fiscal year through March to Y20,000 per share
from the planned Y4,000; a buyback of 1.6 million common shares by June
2013; and the cancellation of JT’s holdings of its own shares.

Kimura said JT won’t be returning any short-term benefits to
shareholders, and that the company would disclose full details Thursday
along with earnings results for the year ended March.

Earlier this year JT raised its net profit outlook for the 12 months by
17%, citing a steady recovery in its domestic tobacco business in the
wake of last year’s March 11 disasters.

-By Hiroyuki Kachi, Dow Jones Newswires; 813-6269-2789;

NZ set to follow Australia’s lead on plain packaging

Clear the Air says: A group of Hong Kong anti-smoking advocates have agreed to make HK smokefree by 02 Feb 2022 !

The New Zealand government is poised to push for the introduction of plain cigarette packaging legislation.

New Zealand’s associate minister of health, Tariana Turia, says the cabinet has agreed in principle “to introduce a plain packaging regime in alignment with Australia”.

But she says the process will be subject to a public consultation process, which will be undertaken later in the year.

“Plain packaging has the potential to make a significant to our goal of making New Zealand smokefree by 2025, alongside our other policies and programmes to discourage people from taking up smoking and helping smokers to quit,” she said in a statement.

“Smoking is the single biggest cause of preventable death and disease in New Zealand, and we must be prepared to take bold steps towards achieving our goal.”

New Zealand will ban the open display of cigarette and tobacco packs “in all dairies and other shops” from July.

The final decision will hinge on talks with the public and industry, which Ms Turia says are “a transparent way of reviewing the evidence and testing the case for plain packaging”.

However, Ms Turia says she is “confident” the government can launch the scheme while meeting its international commitments “including a major global treaty on tobacco control as well as a range of multilateral, regional and bilateral trade and investment agreements”.

International tobacco giants have spent this week challenging Australia’s world-first plain packaging laws in the High Court.

The companies say the Australian laws – due to come into effect in November – strip them of their intellectual property.

Britain’s government is also expected to introduce similar laws.

Judges seem wary of overruling tobacco judgment

Judges seem wary of overruling tobacco judgment

Originally published: April 20, 2012 12:01 PM
Updated: April 20, 2012 2:06 PM
By The Associated Press  FREDERIC J. FROMMER (Associated Press)

WASHINGTON – (AP) — A bid by tobacco companies to overrule a court
judgment that they must do corrective advertising about the dangers of
smoking received a chilly response from a federal appeals court Friday.

The companies want U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler’s order overturned
because a 2009 law gave the Food and Drug Administration authority over
the industry, including power to require graphic cigarette warnings. In
2006, Kessler ruled that America’s largest cigarette makers concealed
the dangers of smoking for decades, in a civil case the government had
brought under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations, or
RICO law.

In court filings, the companies — including Philip Morris USA, the
nation’s largest tobacco maker — say that the 2009 law “eliminated any
reasonable likelihood that defendants would commit future RICO
violations,” thus making the need for remedies like corrective
statements moot.

Judge David Sentelle, one of three judges on the appeals court panel,
told a lawyer arguing for the tobacco companies that the logic in their
case “escapes me.”

“Your client is here because they didn’t obey the law,” he said.

The attorney, Miguel A. Estrada, argued that the companies couldn’t
violate the law even if they wanted to, because of the oversight
authority that the FDA now has under the 2009 Family Smoking Prevention
and Tobacco Control Act. He used an analogy of a car thief who is placed
under house arrest, and so is prevented from engaging in the criminal

But Judge Laurence H. Silberman, like Sentelle an appointee of
Republican President Ronald Reagan, had a quick rejoinder, wondering if
“there’s evidence you’ve broken out of your house.”

Estrada said that even if one assumed the tobacco companies were run by
“black-hearted people,” they won’t have an opportunity to violate the
law now.

In a separate case, some of the tobacco companies in this case —
although not Philip Morris — are challenging the 2009 law’s authority
for the FDA to require the companies to use graphic cigarette warning

The nine graphic warnings proposed by the FDA include color images of a
man exhaling cigarette smoke through a tracheotomy hole in his throat,
and a plume of cigarette smoke enveloping an infant receiving a mother’s
kiss. A federal judge in Washington has ruled the FDA’s proposed
warnings violate First Amendment free speech protections and he has
blocked their implementation. That case has been appealed to the U.S.
Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, the same court
from which the three-judge panel in Friday’s case was drawn.

Sentelle told the tobacco lawyer that the companies are trying to get
rid of the very law that they’ve cited in this case. And he noted that
the 2009 legislation specifically says that nothing in the law should be
construed to affect any action pending in court.

Kessler, the judge who ruled against the tobacco companies, has said she
wants the industry to pay for broadcast and print ads, but has not said
what corrective statements should be included in them. The government
wants the companies to admit that they lied to the public about the
dangers of smoking and to pay for an advertising campaign of
self-criticism. The companies have argued the statements are
inflammatory, inaccurate and “designed solely to shame and humiliate”
the companies.

The defendants in Kessler’s corrective statements case include Philip
Morris USA’s parent company, Richmond, Va.-based Altria Group Inc.;
Greensboro, N.C.-based Lorillard Inc., and R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.,
and its parent company, Reynolds American Inc., based in Winston-Salem,

Government discussing timetable for selling its shares in Japan Tobacco

19 April 2012


The government is discussing a timetable for selling its shares in Japan Tobacco Inc. to help pay for earthquake rebuilding and limit expansion of the world’s biggest public debt, according to two Finance Ministry officials.

A combination of a market sale and a buyback by JT is possible, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of ministry policy. The government wants to avoid going to market at the same time as Japan Airlines Co., the officials said.

Japan Tobacco is considering buying back shares if the government sells, spokesman Hideyuki Yamamoto said Tuesday. JT can’t comment on the timing of a share sale, Yamamoto said.

Based on Tuesday’s closing share price, the government would raise about ¥2.33 trillion were it to sell its entire 50.01 percent stake. A law passed last year allows for the sale of about one-third of the government’s holding, according to the Finance Ministry’s website.

JT is the fastest growing of the world’s five largest listed cigarette makers in terms of revenue, Bloomberg data show. Challenges for the company include an Australian law that will require cigarettes to be sold in plain packages as of Dec. 1, a move opposed by Philip Morris, Imperial Tobacco Group, British American Tobacco and Japan Tobacco.

JT’s stock is down almost 50 percent since the last share sale by the government in June 2004, when the price stood at ¥843,000. Any repurchases of stock by the company will help prevent dilution of share value if the government decides to cut its holding, Executive Deputy President Masakazu Shimizu said Feb. 8.

The Democratic Party of Japan proposed in September selling the government’s majority stake to help pay for recovery work after last year’s earthquake and tsunami.

Dubai plans 200% hike in tax on tobacco products

19 April 2012

Dubai: Beginning August, residents of Dubai might have to pay much more to take a puff. The authorities are planning to impose a 200 per cent increase in tax on sale of tobacco products in the markets of the emirate, a top official revealed on Wednesday.

The Dubai Health Authority (DHA) considers this will be a revolutionary step to deter the consumers from continuing with smoking, apparently reducing the sales of cigarettes in Dubai, one of the lowest-priced cities for cigarettes, compared to international prices. The present tax on cigarettes in the city is below 100 per cent.

Currently, the average price for a packet of 20 cigarettes in the UAE is Dhs7, while cheap brands are available for as low as Dhs2 in the Emirates. Usually, the price of a cigarette packet in Europe and other parts of the world is higher at about $7.

Speaking at the World Congress of Cardiology in Dubai, Qadhi Saeed Al Murooshid, director-general of the DHA, indicated that the authority is currently preparing for the legislation, which will come into effect in the Emirate from August onwards.

“Dubai Municipality will take necessary steps to implement the new regulation, which is aimed at curbing the consumption of tobacco products among the population,” he added.

“This is in the wake of the fact that the number of cardiovascular diseases (CVDs), which is mainly due to the tobacco use, has increased alarmingly, making it the No.1 cause of death in Dubai and the UAE,” elaborated Al Murooshid.

However, there is no immediate nationwide plan to implement 200 per cent increase in tax for tobacco products. Earlier, the Ministry of Finance had applied a 100 per cent tax on the import of cigarettes to the country, even though there was a recommendation for 200 percentage increase, which was not incorporated in the law for technical reasons.

Smoking is estimated to cause nearly 10 per cent of the CVDs, the second leading cause of the CVD, after high blood pressure, says a study issued by the World Heart Federation (WHF) on Wednesday at the World Congress of Cardiology.

Sydney C Smith, President of the WHF, said that tobacco harms the cardiovascular health of smokers and non-smokers exposed to secondhand smoke, but significant gaps in knowledge of these risks have been found in studies.

“Non-smokers who breathe secondhand smoke are 25 to 30 per cent more likely to develop CVD. There’s no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke, which kills over 600,000 people worldwide each year. Of all adult deaths caused by secondhand smoke, more than 87 per cent were from CVD,” he explained.

NZ -Cabinet in favour of plain packaging

19 Apr 2012. The cabinet has agreed in principle to introduce plain packaging for all tobacco products in New Zealand, reports Herald Sun.
The packaging will display only health warnings and the contact details for Quitline, the government-funded service helping smokers stub out, Associate Health Minister Tariana Turia says.

New Zealand banned the open display of cigarette and tobacco packs in all dairies and other shops with effect from 23 July 23 this year. “Plain packaging is the next step to ensure that once they are in the hands and homes of smokers, the packs don’t promote anything other than our serious health warnings and quit messages,” says Turia.

There will be a public consultation process on the proposed change. (pi)