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November, 2014:

Impact Of Illicit Cigarettes On Philip Morris In Asia

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Plain cigarette packs do not exert Pavlovian to instrumental transfer of control over tobacco-seeking



To gain insight into the potential impact of plain tobacco packaging policy, two experiments were undertaken to test whether ‘prototype’ plain compared with branded UK cigarette pack stimuli would differentially elicit instrumental tobacco-seeking in a nominal Pavlovian to instrumental transfer (PIT) procedure.


Two experiments were undertaken at the University of Bristol UK, with a convenience sample of adult smokers (experiment 1, n = 23, experiment 2, n = 121).


In both experiments, smokers were trained on a concurrent choice procedure in which two responses earned points for cigarettes and chocolate, respectively, before images of branded and plain packs were tested for capacity to elicit the tobacco-seeking response in extinction. The primary outcome was percentage choice of the tobacco- over the chocolate-seeking response in plain pack, branded pack and no-stimulus conditions.


Both experiments found that branded packs primed a greater percentage of tobacco-seeking (overall mean = 62%) than plain packs (overall mean = 53%) and the no-stimulus condition (overall mean = 52%; Ps ≤ 0.01, ŋp (2) s ≥ 0.16), and that there was no difference in percentage tobacco-seeking between plain packs and the no-stimulus condition (Ps ≥ 0.17, ŋp (2) s ≤ 0.04). Plain tobacco packs showed an overall 9% reduction in the priming of a tobacco choice response compared to branded tobacco packs.


Plain packaging may reduce smoking in current smokers by degrading cue-elicited tobacco-seeking.

© 2014 The Authors. Addiction published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Society for the Study of Addiction.

British American Tobacco whacked with £650,000 fine by HMRC for “oversupplying” Belgium cigarette market

British American Tobacco (BAT) has been hit with a fine of £650,000 by HM Revenue & Customs for oversupplying cigarettes to Belgium, which has substantially lower tobacco taxes than Britain.

Apparently, that causes more low-cost cigarettes to be smuggled into the UK.

According to papers seen by the Wall Street Journal, it is the first time a big tobacco company has been fined for “oversupply of products to high-risk overseas markets”, high-risk markets being classified as those that sell cigarettes much cheaper than in the UK.

The penalty for such practises can be up to £5m. But BAT has rejected the charge of oversupplying Belgium and intends to challenge the fine in court. A pack of cigarettes in Britain will set you back £8.47, whereas in Belgium it costs £4.75, according to the Tobacco Manufacturers’ Association.

The Exchequer estimates one in 10 cigarettes sold in the UK is counterfeited, and the government loses as much as £2.5bn each year to the black market. Cigarettes and their producers are seen as an easy target for chancellors seeking to raise money. It has become par for the course in Britain to expect almost every budget to include a rise in tobacco duty.

However, the high price of cigarettes in Britain combined with strong demand has proved an enticing prospect for smugglers. Many cigarette manufacturers fear the scope for black market activity may increase further as a result of the EU tobacco products directive, which will be implemented into national law by mid-2016.

The measures ban flavoured cigarettes, such as menthols, as well as certain pack types like those which contain only 10 cigarettes. In total 45 per cent of the market is set to be impacted by the tobacco products directive.

Impact Of Illicit Cigarettes On Philip Morris In Asia

Illicit cigarettes represents a threat to tobacco companies and tax authorities by subverting the regulation of sales and consumption of cigarettes. This thwarts the attempts made by governments to increase their revenue from taxation and achieve the public health objective of reducing the ill effects of cigarette smoking. As we have written earlier, all forms of illicit cigarettes other than smuggled original cigarettes impact the revenue of tobacco companies such as Philip Morris International (NYSE: PM) adversely (See Excise Taxes, Illegal Cigarettes And Altria: The Case Of Massachusetts).

In this article we analyze the impact of illicit cigarettes on Philip Morris’ Asia Division, which contributes ~36% of the stocks value as per our analysis. This is more than any other division, even though in terms of EBITDA margins, Asia trails the European Union, the largest market by revenue before excise taxes. The cigarette market (in terms of number of units sold) in Europe however is forecast to decline at an alarming rate and drop by almost 20% by 2021. Asia on the other hand is expected to show a small but steady growth rate of a little less than 1% CAGR in the same period. This makes Asia the largest component of Philip Morris in our discounted cash flow model, and hence makes any threat to its revenue potential in this region a matter of serious impact.

International Tax and Investment Center and Oxford Economics were contracted by Philip Morris to study the illegal cigarette market in 14 Asia Pacific region countries. They are the 10 ASEAN member countries, Australia, Hong Kong, Pakistan, and Taiwan. The study found that while people in these countries smoked ~760 billion cigarettes in 2013, 10.9% of these were illicit. In countries excluding Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar, the number of illicit cigarettes increased over 20% year on year. The major contributor to this increase was Philippines which tripled its illicit cigarette consumption in one year. [1]

Types Of Illicit Cigarettes

The study under consideration has classified the illicit cigarettes consumed in Asian countries under four heads. Counterfeits, which constitute~3% of illicits and have been defined by the researchers as cigarettes that are illegally manufactured and sold without permission of the trademark rights holder. Contrabands are cigarettes bought legally in low excise tax countries and smuggled to high excise tax countries to be sold below the tax-inclusive market price of these products. They constitute 13% of the illicit cigarettes consumed in Asia in 2013. Domestic illicits are manufactured and sold in the same country without paying the excise taxes. These constitute 40% of the illicit cigarettes consumed in Asia in 2013. Cigarettes that cannot be identified as legal or falling into any of the three categories above are classified as unspecified, and constitute 44% of illicit cigarettes which seems too large a chunk to be uncertain about. [1]

Aspersions Cast On The Study

Industry independent research has suggested that the estimates of illicit cigarettes from industry sponsored research may be biased towards the higher side. [2] This is because the tobacco industry has vested interests in overstating the illicit tobacco problem. The first of these is the need to leverage the dependency of illicit cigarettes on high excise taxes as an argument against high excise taxes on cigarettes. Secondly, the existence of counterfeits are blamed on plain packaging laws, and cited as a reason for repealing these. Thirdly, since the regulator does not hold Philip Morris responsible for illicit variants other than contrabands, there exists the motive for these to be over-stated. ((Towards A Greater Understanding Of The Illicit Tobacco Trade In Europe))

Quantifying The Impact On Philip Morris

With the uncertainty about the size of illicit cigarette market in Asia and the composition of its unspecified component notwithstanding, we try to ascertain the likely losses to Philip Morris in Asia from illicit tobacco under certain restrictive assumptions. The first of these will be that the rest of Asia follows the same patterns of illicit tobacco consumption as that of the countries under study. While this includes countries as diverse as India and Japan, we are encouraged to gloss over this diversity on account of the inclusion of countries similar to them such as Pakistan and South Korea in the study. Our second major assumption is that cigarettes under the category unspecified have not been purchased from Philip Morris and hence do not contribute to the company’s revenues. Thirdly, we assume that all tobacco companies’ revenues are affected equally by illicit cigarettes, so that we can apply industry-wide data to individual firms without further consideration.

The loss of revenues to Philip Morris occurs because of the incidence of counterfeiting, domestic illicits and unspecified illicits. Contrabands are expected to augment company revenues in countries where they are purchased by the smugglers. Of the ~760 billion cigarettes consumed in the countries under study in 2014, ~83 billion were illicit, of which ~11 billion was contraband. Hence, the tobacco industry lost out on 72 million units worth of sales due to illicit tobacco. This represents 9.5% of total tobacco consumption. Therefore, for every 90.5 dollars earned by the tobacco companies through legal sale of cigarettes, 9.5 dollars was lost to illicit cigarette sellers, an opportunity loss of 10.5%. Given that Philip Morris earned $10.5 billion net of excise taxes from Asia in 2013, it lost out on potential sales worth ~$1.1 billion in Asia due to the incidence if illicit cigarettes.

Effectiveness of text versus pictorial health warning labels and predictors of support for plain packaging of tobacco products within the European Union



Tobacco product warning labels are a key health communication medium with plain packaging noted as the next step in the evolution of tobacco packaging. We assessed the self-reported impact of text versus pictorial health warnings and the determinants of support for plain packaging of tobacco products in the European Union (EU).


The Special Eurobarometer 385 survey was analyzed for 26,566 adults from 27 EU countries in 2012. The self-reported impact of warning labels (text or pictorial) and determinants of EU-wide support for plain packaging were assessed using multivariate logistic regression.


Current smokers in countries where cigarette pictorial warnings were implemented had higher odds of reporting that health warning labels had any effect on their smoking behavior (making a quit attempt or reducing number of cigarettes smoked per day) compared to respondents in countries with text-only warning labels (adjusted odds ratio, aOR = 1.31; 95% confidence interval, 95% CI: 1.10-1.56). Population support for plain packaging of tobacco packs was higher in countries where cigarette pictorial warnings already existed (aOR = 1.17; 95% CI: 1.07-1.28).


These findings indicate that the implementation of pictorial warnings at an EU level may have a positive behavioral impact among smokers and pave the way for population support for plain packaging in the EU.

Punitive Fines Planned For Adults Who Smoke in Cars With Kids

A ban on smoking in cars when children are present is likely to be passed before Christmas, with the ban coming into force next October. Under the planned law, car drivers will face fixed penalty fines of £60 or points on their licence if anyone in the car is found to be smoking while children are on board. Drivers who dispute the charge in court could face fines of up to £10,000 if found guilty, whilst passengers would get a lesser fine of £800.

Smokers’ rights campaigners have called the proposals “disappointing” and pointless, as few drivers smoke when children are present. They have also warned that smoking in the home will be the anti-tobacco lobby’s next target.

In January of this year Parliamentarians backed an amendment to the Children and Families Act by a ratio of 2:1, giving the Health Secretary new powers to move a ban on smoking in cars. It was a decision whose “time had come”, according to Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron, but his Deputy, Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg disagreed, calling the move illiberal, and said that it sought to “sub-contract responsible parenting to the state”.

Following that vote, the Department for Health has been consulting on the proposed changes ahead of a vote on their introduction, predicted to take place in mid-December. The consultation documents explains that “under the proposed regulations, existing smoke-free legislation as set out in the Health Act 2006 will be extended, so that it would be an offence to: – smoke in a private vehicle with someone under age 18 present; and – fail to prevent smoking in a private vehicle with someone under age 18 present.”

Under the plans, drivers will be liable to be issued with a fixed penalty charge of £60 if caught either smoking with children present, or for allowing passengers to smoke when children are present. If the case goes to court, drivers will leave themselves liable to a maximum fine of £10,000 for drivers who fail to prevent someone else smoking, or £800 for a passenger caught smoking, according to the Daily Mail.

Anti-tobacco lobby group ASH is strongly supporting the proposal, giving four reasons for opposing smoking in cars: “Firstly, there is the harm to the smoker from inhaling tobacco smoke. Secondly, there is harm to other occupants of the vehicle from inhaling second-hand smoke.

“Thirdly, there is the potential harm that children will perceive smoking to be normal adult behaviour. Fourthly, there is potential harm to the driver, passengers and other road users from the driver’s temporary loss of control of the vehicle when lighting or extinguishing a cigarette.”

They cite a study undertaken in Taiwan which showed that smoking in cars “almost doubled car death risk”.

But smokers right campaigners are unconvinced. Simon Clarke, director of Forest told Breitbart London “We’re disappointed. There was no need to legislate because these days very few people smoke in a car with children.

“The overwhelming majority of adults know it’s inconsiderate so what’s the point of yet another law designed to tarnish all smokers with the same brush?

“Worryingly this marks a significant intrusion by the state into people’s private space. A ban on smoking in the home will be the next target.

“Politicians seem to think they can micro manage every aspect of our lives. The Coalition promised a common sense approach but they’re no different to the previous government which is why so many people are turning to Ukip.”

Meanwhile, despite strong opposition to e-cigarettes by the European and British governments, the product is set to be advertised on British television today. It will be the first advert showing someone smoking in 50 years, following a ban on advertising cigarettes on British television passed in 1965. A ban on all tobacco advertising followed in 2002, the Telegraph has reported.

E-cigarettes, however, do not contain tobacco. Instead they use a nicotine-containing liquid to mimic the effects of smoking, releasing water vapour as a by-product. Consequently, a ruling by the Advertising Standards Authority will allow adverts for e-cigarettes to be broadcast after the watershed, from today.

The first advert is expected to air during the first commercial break in the ITV show Grantchester. Two versions have been made, a 10 second and a 20 second version, both featuring a woman ehailing vapour from an e-cigarette.

Forest’s Simon Clarke told Breitbart London “There’s no reason for e-cigarettes to be over-regulated because there’s no evidence they are harmful and little evidence non-smokers are using them.

“E-cigs are a nicotine delivery product. Nicotine is no more harmful than caffeine. E-cigarettes have the potential to wean millions of smokers off cigarettes but for that to happen they have to be marketed in a way that makes them attractive to smokers.

“Instead some public health campaigners want to suffocate the product with unnecessary rules and regulations. Thankfully, with regard to advertising, the government has adopted a more sensible attitude which we applaud.”

International public health organizations Letter to Russian Eurasian Economic Commission

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Beijing’s revised smoking bill sets a poor example

29 September, 2014

SCMP Editorial

It is bad enough when people become addicted to smoking. It is worse when the state becomes hooked on their habit. While a smoker can find it hard to quit for good, the state can also find it difficult to adjust. The craving in the latter case is for the revenue from commercial-industrial taxes on the tobacco industry, not to mention the enormous profits generated by a state tobacco monopoly on the mainland and the potential for official corruption.

We trust these are not factors behind the decision by the Beijing municipal government to water down a law on public smoking indoors that was hailed by tobacco control advocates as significant progress. The official explanation for it was to remove ambiguity. But the World Health Organisation is not convinced. “It would be a great shame – and a tremendous waste of life – if Beijing’s leaders let special interests derail progress towards passage of a law [for a] comprehensive ban on indoor public smoking,” said Dr Bernard Schwartlander, WHO representative in China.

The proposed law, when unveiled in April, beefed up restrictions on smoking to include all indoor public spaces including public transport. When the bill was presented for a second reading in July, the ban was amended to “shared indoor areas of offices”. This would exempt offices with a single occupant, most likely an official or boss. It conjures up an image of someone sitting in an office wreathed in smoke while staff who enter or work nearby are exposed to second-hand smoke. It also reinforces the perception of one law for the elite and another for everyone else.

This is disappointing in light of plans for a nationwide smoking ban in public places. It makes a continuing mockery of China’s commitments under the WHO framework convention on tobacco control. Smoking is responsible for more than one million deaths on the mainland every year. The cost in lost revenue and profit of reducing it has to be weighed against the economic costs of not doing so. This is one issue on which the nation’s capital should set a good example, not a poor one.

No ifs, no butts: UK’s £100m e-cigarette industry up in smoke?

October 21, 2014

British people are becoming less attracted to smoking both tobacco and e-cigarettes, with a majority favoring a total ban on the use of the electronic devices indoors, new data shows.

The data, collected by pollster YouGov and the Sunday Times, shows around 60 percent of Britons would like to see e-cigarette devices – that imitate real tobacco, but produce a generally harmless vapor – banned in public buildings.

Such a ban would extend to workplaces and shopping centers. In contrast, only 27 percent of people are against the prohibition.

The data comes despite a huge increase in the number of Britons using E-Cigs. The health charity Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) estimates around 2.1 million people in the UK use the devices.

According to the ASH study, which was published in April this year, the majority of users switched to E-Cigs as a way to help them quit smoking.

However, the World Health Organization (WHO) has expressed doubts over claims the devices assist quitting, while the YouGov poll indicates only 9 percent of E-Cig users found the devices helped them kick their habit.

Earlier this year, the WHO advised governments to place stronger limits on the use of e-cigarettes, claiming the chemicals contained in vapors were potentially harmful to children, as well as the environment.

Experts have hit out at the WHO’s findings, asserting the devices, on balance, are significantly safer than normal cigarettes and that the report did not paint a complete picture of the benefits of using E-Cigs.

“There are currently two products competing for smokers’ custom,” Peter Hajek, of the Tobacco Dependence Research Unit at Queen Mary University, told the Daily Mail.

“One – the conventional cigarette – endangers users and bystanders and recruits new customers from among non-smoking children who try it. The other – the e-cigarette – is orders of magnitude safer, poses no risk to bystanders, and generates negligible rates of regular use among non-smoking children who try it.”

The E-Cig market it worth more than £1.8bn globally. The UK is one of the product’s largest markets, where its total estimated value is nearly £100mn.

According to experts, the vapors from E-Cigs are intended to be a thousand times less toxic than normal cigarette smoke, although there has been no conclusive study into the potential dangers of the vapor.

While the British Medical Association (BMA) has not made any plans to propose curbs on the use of E-Cigs, they have said that controls are needed to ensure it does not undermine existing law relating to cigarette use.

“Stronger controls are needed on where e-cigarettes can be used to protect others from exposure, to ensure their use does not undermine existing restrictions on smoke-free public places … and to guarantee the use of e-cigarettes does not reinforce the normalcy of smoking behavior,” chairman of the BMA board Sheila Collins told the Sunday Times.

The YouGov poll also illustrated a growth in the number of people supporting further bans on smoking in public places, such as parks and outdoor restaurants. More than half of those surveyed wanting to see further limits on smokers.

It is expected that London Mayor Boris Johnson will adopt proposals for public smoking bans in the city before the end of his tenure in 2016.

Cigarettes vs. e-cigarettes: Passive exposure at home measured by means of airborne marker and biomarkers

• This is the first study of e-cigarette exposure at home under real-use conditions.
• Airborne nicotine in homes with smokers were 5.7 times higher than in e-cig homes.
• Cotinine of non-smokers exposed to e-cig and conventional cigarettes was similar.
• Airborne nicotine in homes with e-cig users was higher than control homes.
• Cotinine of non-smokers exposed to e-cig users was higher than in those no exposed.



There is scarce evidence about passive exposure to the vapour released or exhaled from electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) under real conditions. The aim of this study is to characterise passive exposure to nicotine from e-cigarettes׳ vapour and conventional cigarettes׳ smoke at home among non-smokers under real-use conditions.


We conducted an observational study with 54 non-smoker volunteers from different homes: 25 living at home with conventional smokers, 5 living with nicotine e-cigarette users, and 24 from control homes (not using conventional cigarettes neither e-cigarettes). We measured airborne nicotine at home and biomarkers (cotinine in saliva and urine). We calculated geometric mean (GM) and geometric standard deviations (GSD). We also performed ANOVA and Student׳s t tests for the log-transformed data. We used Bonferroni-corrected t-tests to control the family error rate for multiple comparisons at 5%.


The GMs of airborne nicotine were 0.74 μg/m3 (GSD=4.05) in the smokers’ homes, 0.13 μg/m3 (GSD=2.4) in the e-cigarettes users’ homes, and 0.02 μg/m3 (GSD=3.51) in the control homes. The GMs of salivary cotinine were 0.38 ng/ml (GSD=2.34) in the smokers’ homes, 0.19 ng/ml (GSD=2.17) in the e-cigarettes users’ homes, and 0.07 ng/ml (GSD=1.79) in the control homes. Salivary cotinine concentrations of the non-smokers exposed to e-cigarette׳s vapour at home (all exposed ≥2 h/day) were statistically significant different that those found in non-smokers exposed to second-hand smoke ≥2 h/day and in non-smokers from control homes.


The airborne markers were statistically higher in conventional cigarette homes than in e-cigarettes homes (5.7 times higher). However, concentrations of both biomarkers among non-smokers exposed to conventional cigarettes and e-cigarettes’ vapour were statistically similar (only 2 and 1.4 times higher, respectively). The levels of airborne nicotine and cotinine concentrations in the homes with e-cigarette users were higher than control homes (differences statistically significant). Our results show that non-smokers passively exposed to e-cigarettes absorb nicotine.