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February, 2013:

Stay Order refused on new tobacco packaging law

Stay Order refused on new tobacco packaging law

Friday, 22 February 2013 11:50

The Appeal Court today refused to issue a stay order sought by the Ceylon Tobacco Company to quash the Gazette notification for pictorial warnings on cigarette packets.

The CTC filled a case challenging the Tobacco Products (Labelling and Packaging) Regulations No. 01 of 2012 published by the Minister of Health in the Government Gazette Extraordinary No 1770/15 dated 8 August 2012. The Health Minister, Health Ministry Secretary and the National Authority on Tobacco and Alcohol have been cited as respondents in the petition.

The regulations, gazetted in August says, “No packet, package, carton or label of any tobacco product shall contain any message which is “false, misleading or deceptive concerning the effects or hazards on health from the use of any tobacco product or from any emission arising out of the use of any tobacco product”.
Pictorial health warnings on the dangers of smoking covering not less than 80 per cent of the outside of a cigarette packet as specified by the Health Minister’s gazette notification will come into effect from March 1.

The petitioner sought the Court to quash regulations gazetted by the Health Minister on August 8, 2012 and cited Health Minister Maithripala Sirisena, Minstry Secretary and the Chairman of the National Authority on Tobacco and Alcohol as respondents.

The regulations were prepared by the Health Minister under the National Authority on Tobacco and Alcohol Authority Act of 2006.

The regulations state as follows:

1. These regulations may be cited as Tobacco Products (Labelling and Packaging) Regulations and shall come into operation on the date on which a period of three months from the date of the publication of these regulations in the Gazette expires;

2. No packet, package, carton or label of any tobacco product shall contain any message which is false, misleading or deceptive concerning the effect or hazards on health from the use of any tobacco product or from any emission arising out of the use of any tobacco product;

3. No packet, package, carton or label of any tobacco product which is distributed, sold or offered for sale shall contain any term, description, trade mark, figurative or any other sign that directly or indirectly creates or is likely to create, by the use of words such as “low”, “light”, “ultra”, “mild”, or “extra” and impression that the tobacco product sold in such packet, package or carton is less harmful than any other tobacco product which is distributed, sold or offered for sale;

4. No manufacturer, importer, retailer, storekeeper, agent or seller of any cigarette packet, package or carton containing cigarettes, shall produce, supply, distribute, sell or offer for sale any such packet, package or carton unless every packet, package, or carton containing cigarettes which is distributed, sold or offered for sale carries the specified health warning as depicted in the Schedule to these regulations;

5. The pictorial health warning as is specified in the Schedule to these regulations shall be printed on both sides of every Cigarette packet, package or carton containing Cigarette and shall cover an are of not less that 80% of the total area of a packet, package or a carton;

6. Every packet, package, carton or label which is used in connection with the sale of any tobacco product shall have printed thereon information on the relevant constituents and emissions of the tobacco product contained in such packet, package, carton or label including Formaldehyde and other toxic contents if any;

7. Every tobacco product whether sold in a packet, package and carton shall have printed thereon the date, month and year of production thereof;

8. Every health warning and other information relating to any emission printed in any packet, package, carton or label of any tobacco product shall be printed thereon in a font size which is not less than 10 and shall be in all three languages;

9. The health warning on any packet, package, carton or label of cigarette product shall not be concealed by any other marks or pictures and shall be printed on either a black background in white letters or on a white background in black letters;

10. Every cigarette manufacturer of the different brands of cigarette products shall ensure that, there shall be printed on any packet, package or carton containing cigarette product, only on type of pictorial health warning of each category as is set out in the Schedule to these regulations and such pictorial health warning shall be changed once in every six months.

Tobacco in the EU : Exposure to second hand smoke reduced, but still too high, says Commission report

Tobacco in the EU : Exposure to second hand smoke reduced, but still too high, says Commission report

Other available languages : FR DE DA ES NL IT SV PT FI EL CS ET HU LT LV MT PL SK SL BG RO

European Commission

Press release

Brussels, 22 February 2013

Tobacco in the EU : Exposure to second hand smoke reduced, but still too high, says Commission report

Protection from second hand smoke has improved considerably in the EU, according to a report published by the Commission today. 28% of Europeans were exposed to second hand smoke in bars in 2012 – down from 46% in 2009. The report is based on self-reporting by the 27 Member States, following the 2009 Council Recommendation on Smoke-free Environments (2009/C 296/02), which called upon governments to adopt and implement laws to fully protect their citizens from exposure to tobacco smoke in enclosed public places, workplaces and public transport. The report dispels concerns about smoking bans impacting negatively on the revenues of bars and restaurants, by showing that the economic impact has been limited, neutral and even positive over time. However, the report also illustrates that some Member States are lagging behind, in terms of comprehensive laws protecting public health, and enforcement.

Tonio Borg, European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy, said: “The report published today shows that Member States have made steady progress in protecting their citizens from second hand smoke. Citizen’s exposure to smoking, however, still varies widely across the EU and there is a long way to go to make “Smoke Free Europe” a reality. I urge all Member States to step up their efforts to enforce legislation, commend those who have adopted ambitious smoke free laws and urge the others to follow-suit”.

Exposure to second hand tobacco smoke is a wide-spread source of mortality, morbidity and disability in the EU. According to conservative estimates1, more than 70 000 adults in the EU died due to exposure to tobacco smoke in 2002, many of them non-smokers or employees exposed to second hand smoking at their workplaces.

The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control calls on all of its signatories (176 parties) to provide effective “protection from exposure to tobacco smoke in indoor workplaces, public transport, indoor public places, and, as appropriate, other public places”. Guidelines were adopted in 2007 to help parties meet their obligations.

It was against this background that the Council adopted a Council Recommendation on Smoke-free Environments in 2009, calling on Member States to introduce measures to provide effective protection against exposure to second hand smoke no later than November 2012.

Other key findings of the report:

  • All Member States report that they have adopted measures to protect citizens against exposure to tobacco smoke.
  • National measures differ considerably in extent and scope. About half of the Member States have adopted or strengthened their smoke-free legislation since 2009. Many also started earlier.
  • Enforcement seems to be a problem in some Member States. Complex legislation (i.e. legislation with exemptions) is found to be particularly difficult to enforce.
  • The actual exposure rates for EU citizens dropped overall from 2009 to 2012 (e.g. for citizens visiting drinking places the exposure rate dropped from 46% to 28%). There are however very significant differences between Member States.
  • Belgium, Spain and Poland are examples of countries where the adoption of comprehensive legislation led to very significant drops in exposure rates within a short period of time.
  • The positive health effects of smoke-free legislation are immediate and include a reduction in the incidence of heart attacks and improvements in respiratory health.
  • Public support for smoke-free legislation is very high in Europe. A 2009 survey showed that a majority of Europeans are supportive. This is also supported by national surveys which reveal that support increased after introduction of effective measures.

For more information on smoke-free legislation in the EU see:

Commissioner Borg’s website:

Follow us on Twitter: @EU_Health

Contacts :

Frédéric Vincent (+32 2 298 71 66)

Aikaterini Apostola (+32 2 298 76 24)


Fifty years since smoking and health

… 50 years since the publication of the landmark report Smoking and health in 1962. Edited by Professor John Britton, chair of the … previous achievements in tobacco control and the future of smoking in Britain; how to prevent smoking; how to help smokers who want to …

Commercial resource – juliedalton – 26/09/2012 – 09:35 – 0 comments – 0 attachments

Passive smoking ban will cut smoking in the home

… by the Royal College of Physicians shows that a ban on smoking in enclosed public places is likely to reduce the amount of smoking in the home. The report, written by international experts and …

Press Releases – admin – 16/07/2012 – 11:45 – 0 comments – 0 attachments

Over 78,500 children have started smoking since consultation on standardised tobacco packaging ended

… it is estimated that 78,500 children will have started smoking in the UK, a number which grows by 430 every day. Now the Smokefree … clock is ticking. Every day hundreds more children take up smoking – children who need protecting from tobacco industry marketing. The …

Press Releases – andrew.mccracken – 14/02/2013 – 14:27 – 0 comments – 0 attachments

Passive smoking and children

… ‘Protecting children is a health priority. Adult smoking behaviour must radically change to achieve that. This report identifies … by Sir Liam Donaldson, Chief Medical Officer) Passive smoking is a major hazard to the health of millions of children who live with …

Commercial resource – admin – 26/09/2012 – 09:31 – 0 comments – 0 attachments

RCP comments on calls to ban smoking in vehicles

Commenting on the BMA’s review of evidence on passive smoking in vehicles, professor John Britton, chair of the Royal College of … (RCP) Tobacco Advisory Group, said: ‘Passive smoking is still a real issue, particularly in children and the vulnerable. …

Press Releases – andrew.mccracken – 18/07/2012 – 14:45 – 0 comments – 0 attachments

One hundred million years of life will be lost by those smoking now

… since the publication in 1962 of its first ever report on smokingSmoking and health , the Royal College of Physicians sets out a stark warning …

Press Releases – andrew.mccracken – 31/08/2012 – 14:34 – 0 comments – 0 attachments

Ending tobacco smoking in Britain

… SKU: PUB15111000(001) Preventing people from starting smoking, and helping smokers to stop smoking are crucial if the massive burden of premature death and disability …

Commercial resource – juliedalton – 26/09/2012 – 09:59 – 0 comments – 0 attachments

Despite falling death rates, we must not be complacent about smoking

… of Oxford, will say that despite falling death rates from smoking in the UK, we must not be complacent about current smoking rates and continue to press home the message ‘Smoking kills– …

Press Releases – andrew.mccracken – 18/10/2012 – 13:35 – 0 comments – 0 attachments

Smoking and health (1962)

… A report of the Royal College of Physicians on smoking in relation to cancer of the lung and other diseases … This report highlighted the link between smoking and lung cancer, other lung diseases, heart disease and … it made a strong epidemiological case for the harm done by smoking. It called on government to implement a raft of public health measures …

Commercial resource – juliedalton – 26/09/2012 – 09:35 – 0 comments – 0 attachments

Smoking and the young

… 000 (003) The harmful effects to health caused by smoking are well known, and its prevalence in the adult population of the UK is … for children, where in the last decade the prevalence of smoking remained the same – and even increased slightly for girls. This …

Commercial resource – admin – 26/09/2012 – 09:30 – 0 comments – 0 attachments

RELATIVE RISKS GLOBALLY (accessed 2013 with most recent figures)

Smoking kills more people each year than shark deaths, hypothermia, murder, suicide, drowning, death on the roads, industrial accidents, prescription and illegal drugs, tuberculosis and AIDS combined, and more than twice as many as alcohol. There is no other consumer product or risk factor that remotely resembles this degree of risk.

3,200 people die in Hong Kong annually from air pollution versus 7,000 from tobacco related diseases of which 23% are passive smokers.

Is there a priority here ?


Tobacco          6

Alcohol           2.5

HIV/AIDS       1.7

TB                   1.4

Road                1.3



6 million

Tobacco kills nearly six million people each year, of whom more than 5 million are users and ex users and more than 600 000 are

non-smokers exposed to second-hand smoke.

Unless urgent action is taken, the annual death toll could rise to more than eight million by 2030.



1.7 million people died of AIDS-related illnesses worldwide in 2011



1.4 million died from TB in 2011.

Road deaths


1.3 million people die each year as a result of road traffic crashes.

Alcohol WHO

2.5 million deaths each year.

USA American Cancer Society Accessed 22 February 2013

About half of all Americans who keep smoking will die because of the habit.

Smoking cigarettes kills more Americans than alcohol, car accidents, suicide, AIDS, homicide, and illegal drugs combined.

Published on South China Morning Post (

Home > Make Hong Kong more family-friendly says women’s survey

Submitted by admin on Feb 23rd 2013, 12:00am



Howard Winn

Living dangerously

A few more reasons why the dangers of smoking should be taken seriously: tobacco kills nearly six million people each year, of whom more than 5 million are users and ex-users and more than 600 000 are non-smokers exposed to second-hand smoke. Unless urgent action is taken, the annual death toll could rise to more than eight million by 2030, according to the World Health Organisation.

Smoking kills more people each year than shark deaths, hypothermia, murder, suicide, drowning, death on the roads (1.3 million), industrial accidents, prescription and illegal drugs, tuberculosis (1.4 million) and HIV/Aids (1.7 million) combined, and more than twice as many as alcohol. There is no other consumer product or risk factor that remotely resembles this degree of risk. According to the American Cancer Organisation about half of all Americans who keep smoking will die because of the habit.

Source URL (retrieved on Feb 23rd 2013, 7:27am):

Tobacco giant wants to help you quit smoking

Tobacco giant wants to help you quit smoking

New Scientist-21 Feb 2013

British American Tobacco aims to turn electronic cigarettes into medicines in the UK. It’s a welcome move, but leaves a bitter taste in the mouth

The silent salesman: an observational study of personal tobacco pack display at outdoor café strips in Australia



We sought to determine the relative frequency and nature of personal display of cigarette packs by smokers in two Australian cities where 30% front-of-pack and 90% back-of-pack health warnings have been used since 2006 and comprehensive tobacco marketing restrictions apply.


An observational study counted patrons, active smokers and tobacco packs at cafés, restaurants and bars with outdoor seating. Pack orientation and use of cigarette cases were also noted.


Overall, 18 954 patrons, 1576 active smokers and 2153 packs were observed, meaning that one out of every 12.0 patrons was actively smoking, and one of every 8.8 patrons displayed a pack. Packs were more frequently observed in lower socio-economic neighbourhoods, reflecting the higher prevalence of smoking in those regions. Packs were displayed less often in venues where children were present, suggesting a greater tendency not to smoke around children. Most packs (81.4%) were oriented face-up, permitting prominent brand display. Only 1.5% of observed packs were cigarette cases, and 4.2% of packs were concealed by another item, such as a phone or wallet.


Tobacco packs are frequently seen on table-tops in café strips, providing many opportunities for other patrons and passers-by to be incidentally exposed to cigarette brand names and imagery. Use of cigarette cases is rare, suggesting that smokers eventually habituate to pictorial warnings on branded packs and/or find repeated decanting of each newly purchased branded pack into a case to be inconvenient.

The Philip Morris case illustrates some wider dangers for public health from trade agreements

The Philip Morris case illustrates some wider dangers for public health from trade agreements

Melissa Sweet| Jan 25, 2013 12:52PM |EMAIL|PRINT

Efforts by the tobacco company Philip Morris to claim hefty compensation for Australia’s plain packaging laws under secretive legal processes should alarm those with a concern for public health, according to Dr Patricia Ranald, Convenor of the Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network (AFTINET) and Research Associate, University of Sydney.

The case also has implications for rural health and our access to affordable medicines, she says, and shows the critical importance of excluding investor state disputes from trade agreements.


Why the Philip Morris case raises the alarm for rural health and wider public health concerns

Dr Patricia Ranald writes:

The Philip Morris company is suing the Australian government in an international tribunal under the terms of an obscure Australia Hong Kong investment agreement, alleging that Australia’s 2011 tobacco plain packaging legislation will harm its business and that it deserves to be compensated millions, if not billions of dollars.

The plain packaging legislation had the support of all parties in the Australian Parliament. Tobacco companies, including Philip Morris, then challenged the legislation in the High Court and lost. They alleged that the legislation was a violation of the Australian Constitution because it was an acquisition of their intellectual property on unjust terms, and they deserved compensation.

The High Court found in 2012 that there was no acquisition of property, that plain packaging was justified as a public health measure and that the tobacco companies did not deserve compensation. See

Despite the democratic passage of the legislation through the Parliament and its validation by the highest Australian court, Philip Morris is still seeking to overturn these democratic decisions using a process contained in an obscure Hong Kong-Australia investment agreement.

Known as investor state dispute settlement, this process allows a single foreign investor to sue government for damages in a specially constituted international tribunal if a law or policy harms their investment.

And why Hong Kong? Philip Morris is a US-based company, but the US-Australia free trade agreement does not have investor state dispute settlement, which was hotly debated during the negotiations in 2004, and even the Howard government did not agree to it. Philip Morris rearranged its assets to become a Hong Kong investor in Australia, so that it could use the process in the Hong Kong agreement. See

Why does Philip Morris think it can win after losing in the Australian High Court?

Quite simply, the rules of international investment tribunals suit international investors, because they lack the transparency and independence of national court systems. The hearings and transcripts are not made public unless both parties agree. The tribunals lack judicial independence, since advocates can also be arbitrators, and arbitrators are paid by the hour. There is no system of precedents, and no appeals, so decisions lack consistency. And the tribunal’s main focus is whether the investor has been harmed, not whether the legislation is in the public interest.

A recent study by the Transnational Institute in Amsterdam has documented many case studies of these problems, with cases involving public health and environmental regulation.  Even if investors lose, governments have to pay millions in arbitration costs and legal fees. See

As the case progresses, information only emerges if tribunal publishes its rulings on procedural matters, which it did in December. See

So we discover that the Australian Government requested that the hearings to be open to the public (and for transcripts of those proceedings to be published). But Philip Morris refused to agree, so under the rules the request was denied.

Clearly it believes that its own case would suffer if exposed to public scrutiny. The government is publishing its own submissions on a public website—Tobacco-Plain-Packaging.aspx

The Government is challenging the jurisdiction of the tribunal, as well as the substantive issues. Future hearings are scheduled for February, July and September, so it promises to be a long drawn out process. Since both the arbitrators and advocates are paid by the hour, this means the legal fees alone will amount to millions of dollars.

Given this experience, it is no wonder that the Australian government now has a policy to oppose investor state disputes in any trade agreements. It is sticking to this policy in the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement (TPPA) negotiations with the US, New Zealand and Asia other Asia-Pacific countries, and in its negotiations for the Korea-Australia free trade agreement.

Rural health concerns

Some farmers’ organisations have been lobbying the government to abandon its policy for the Korea free trade agreement, because they want the agreement to be concluded quickly, to give them greater access to Korean markets. See

This is a mistaken and short-sighted argument, which if successful would come back to haunt rural communities. Investor state disputes would mean that Australian public policies in areas like regulation of land use, quarantine rules and low medicine prices through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme and other policies which benefit Australia’s rural communities could be challenged, at a cost of millions to the taxpayer.

Two recent cases lodged under the investor dispute rules of the North American Free Trade Agreement demonstrate the potential harm to rural communities.

A US mining company is suing the Quebec provincial government for S250 million over their decision for a moratorium on hydraulic fracking for coal seam gas. Farmers in NSW have influenced the NSW government to have a similar moratorium to examine the environmental and land use implications of hydraulic fracking.

If Australia agrees to ISDS, the NSW decision could be challenged by a single foreign investor. See–ottawa-faces-250-million-suit-over-quebec-environmental-stance

The second case involves the cost of medicines. US pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly has lodged a claim against a Canadian decision to deny a patent for a “copycat” drug, and to allow cheaper generic versions of the drug on to the market. This benefits both Canadian consumers and the Canadian public health system.

If Australia agrees to ISDS, foreign pharma companies could challenge our patent laws and even the procedures of our Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, which ensures that medicines remain affordable to all. Affordable medicines are vital to public health in rural communities See

Investor state dispute rights are threat to national democracy and sovereignty, and should continue to  be excluded from all trade and investment agreements.

• Dr Patricia Ranald is Convenor, Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network (AFTINET) and Research Associate, University of Sydney. For more information see

Press Statement] In the fight against Tobacco, Cancer & Heart Disease, the new Tobacco Directive is a battle that cannot be lost

Brussels, 19 February – Today the chairs of two prominent health groups in the European Parliament (EP) have renewed their support for a strong Directive on Tobacco Products. Representing the largest political groups in the EP, the European Parliament’s MEP Heart Group and the MEPs against Cancer (MAC) have joined forces in the battle against tobacco, cancer and heart disease (1).

“Tobacco products should look and taste like tobacco products – and not be masked by designs or disguised by flavours. This is why the Commission proposal focuses on two key aspects: first, packaging and labelling; and second, flavours,” said Tonio Borg, European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy.

“Smoking is the biggest avoidable health threat in the EU. We know that it is children – not adults – who start smoking. If we can stop children and young people from starting before the age of 25 then we will have gone a long way to solving the problem – and that is why we need to take measures to stop companies marketing cigarettes at the young,” said Linda McAvan MEP (S&D, UK) and Rapporteur for the proposed Tobacco Products Directive.

Tobacco is a major preventable risk factor for cancer (2) and cardiovascular diseases (CVD). Accounting for over 65% of total mortality in the EU, both diseases cause more than 1.2 (3) and 1.9 million (4) annual deaths respectively. “The incidence of cancer and heart disease among smokers is reaching pandemic proportions. This is saddening and shameful and the EU should put an end to it. We must be vigilant against the massive negative industry lobbying campaign which is now moving out of the shadows and trying to delay, block and defeat this legislation,” said Nessa Childers MEP (S&D, IE), Vice President of MAC.

“The proposed Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) was born out of concern. Concern, in particular, about young people who pick up smoking at a time when they have little understanding of the impact this habit has on their future lives and health,” stated Cristian Silviu Buşoi MEP (ALDE, RO), Co-Chair of the MEP Heart Group.

It is now up to the European Parliament to show that it is able and willing to make a difference in people’s lives. The previous Directive, adopted back in 2001, has been outpaced by the tobacco industry’s fertile imagination. As a result, the EU is today ill-equipped to prevent Europe’s youth, in particular girls, from becoming addicted to smoking. (5) A number of countries in the EU, notably Italy and the Czech Republic, have seen large increases in smoking among 15-year old boys and girls. Latvia, Hungary, Estonia and Slovakia have seen increases particularly among girls. (6)

Smoking is a merciless adversary. It takes the lives of 700,000 people in the EU every year, far more than other major cause of death, like car accidents, drugs or murder (7). Despite 50 years of clear evidence that tobacco use is lethal, smoking remains prevalent (8) in many countries across the EU. “The Commission-proposed TPD demonstrates the EU’s commitment to cancer control and complements prevention actions within the European Partnership for Action Against Cancer, but we need to ensure that the Directive is not watered down in any way,” pointed out Alojz Peterle MEP (EPP, SLO) and MAC President.


-Notes to editors

(1) Hosted by the European Parliament’s MEP Heart Group and the Group of MEPs against Cancer (MAC), the lunch debate was co-organised by the European Heart Network (EHN), the European Society of Cardiology, the Association of European Cancer Leagues (ECL), the Smokefree Partnership, the European Public Health Alliance (EPHA), and the Royal College of Physicians (RCP).

(2) Lung cancer has already become the main cause of cancer death among women in the UK and Poland, overtaking breast cancer. In fact, according to research carried out by investigators from King’s College London, over the next thirty years lung cancer among females will rise thirty times faster than males.

(3) Eurostat: Causes of death statistics (Data from September 2012)

(4) 2012 European Cardiovascular Disease Statistics

(5) Women are now smoking nearly as much as men in many European countries and girls often smoke more than boys.– The European Heart Network (EHN)

(6) Health at a Glance: Europe 2012 – Smoking and alcohol consumption among children. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)

(7) Tobacco in the EU: Why we care – The European Commission

(8) World Heart Day Press Campaign ’United for Heart Health’ – MEP Heart Group


. The MEP Heart Group

The main objective of the MEP Heart Group is to promote measures that will help reduce the burden of CVD in the European Union and to raise awareness of the disease among target audiences by a series of dedicated activities. The MEP Heart Group is led by two Co-Chairs, Linda McAvan, MEP and Cristian Silviu Buşoi, MEP. The European Heart Network and the European Society of Cardiology provide support to the MEP Heart Group by running its secretariat. For more information.

. The MEPs Against Cancer (MAC)

The MAC group is an informal all-party informal group of MEPs at the European Parliament committed to actions against cancer as an EU priority and to harnessing European health policy to that end.

-Contact information

Javier Delgado Rivera, 2 230 3076

Government sale of Japan Tobacco shares to launch within days – sources

Government sale of Japan Tobacco shares to launch within days – sources

19 February 2013

The Japanese government’s sale of a US$10bn stake in Japan Tobacco Inc, the world’s third-largest tobacco company, is expected to kick off within days after bankers met on Tuesday over deal details, sources close to the deal told Reuters.

Japan’s Ministry of Finance, which owns just over 50% of the tobacco company, has been planning to sell up to one-third of its holdings to raise funds for rebuilding areas devastated by the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami.

Japan’s parliament in 2011 passed a set of bills including tax hikes and government share sales in state-owned companies to help finance the roughly US$270bn it expects to spend to rebuild the northeast coast.

The conditions for a sell-down have improved in recent months, with Japan’s stock market rising more than 30% over the past three months – and Japan Tobacco shares up 36% – as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was swept to power in December elections after promising aggressive monetary and fiscal policies to tackle the country’s prolonged deflation.

Shares in Japan Tobacco closed on Tuesday at ¥2,925, down 0.9% on the day. That would value the stake the government could put up for sale at about ¥977bn (US$10.4bn).

Government officials said the timing for the sale has not been decided, although proceeds for the sale were incorporated into the budget for the fiscal year to end-March.

Japanese law requires the government to hold at least one-third of Japan Tobacco’s 2 billion shares outstanding.

The ministry last June selected JP Morgan Chase & Co, Daiwa Securities Group Inc, Goldman Sachs and Mizuho Securities as underwriters for the offering. Japan’s biggest brokerage, Nomura Holdings, was not selected as an underwriter after its involvement in an insider trading scandal. (Full Story)

The mandated banks invited other banks playing lesser roles in the sale to Tuesday’s meeting, which was called to inform them of the planned schedule for the share sale, the sources said.

Japan Tobacco has said it would buy back about ¥250bn of its shares if the government proceeded with the share sale in the fiscal year to March.

Japan also plans to sell shares of Japan Post Holdings Co, which runs the nation’s biggest savings institution, to raise money for reconstruction. (Full Story)
(Reporting by Mia Tahara-Stubbs of IFR and Emi Emoto of Reuters in Tokyo)

New Zealand is clamping down on smoking, making retailers hide packs below the counter

19 February 2013

Tobacco companies will be forced to remove their logos from cigarette packs in New Zealand – when a challenge to a similar move in Australia is resolved.

The packaging law “will remove the last remaining vestige of glamour from these deadly products”, associate minister of health Tariana Turia said, announcing the plan.

New Zealand already has strict laws on smoking, making retailers hide packs below the counter, while cigarette taxes have been increased.

The new legislation would be similar to an Australian law that took effect in December and replaced logos on packs with graphic warnings including cancer-riddled mouths. The proposed law could be introduced in parliament later this year to take effect when the legal case over Australia’s move ends – next year at the earliest.

Tobacco companies lost a legal challenge in Australia’s highest court last year, but the World Trade Organisation has agreed to hear a complaint about it from several tobacco-growing countries led by the Ukraine.

The Ukraine, Zimbabwe, Honduras, the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua and Indonesia argued that governments should pursue health policies “without unnecessarily restricting international trade and without nullifying intellectual property rights”.

New Zealand, Norway and Uruguay have lined up behind Australia in the WTO case. Uruguay told the trade body it could not remain silent about “the most serious pandemic confronting humanity”.

Ms Turia said the New Zealand government wants to minimise its legal exposure by waiting until the outcome of the Australian challenge. Even so, she said, the government is planning to set aside up to six million New Zealand dollars (£3.3 million) to defend against possible lawsuits from the “very litigious” tobacco companies.

Steve Rush, the New Zealand general manager of British American Tobacco, said that the company is exploring its legal options. “We expect to see numerous repercussions as a result of the government ignoring several international agreements as well as setting a dangerous precedent for other industries,” he said.

New Zealand has set itself a target of eliminating smoking altogether by 2025. Ms Turia said the government would consider introducing further measures, such as banning smoking in cars and public places and further increasing taxes.