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May 27th, 2016:

WHO calls on countries to get ready for plain cigarette packaging

Generic, drab cigarette packages may soon be on Canadian shelves

Following Australia’s example, the World Health Organization is calling on other countries to “get ready” for plain packaging of cigarettes.

In an editorial published in the medical journal The Lancet, the WHO says plain packaging is a big step forward in reducing tobacco use and its related health risks.

Australia was the first country to adopt legislation for plain packaging in 2012. Just last week, the U.K. and France implemented their own legislation. Ireland will soon be next, and several other countries are considering a move to the generic packs.

A tougher packaging law was part of the Canadian government’s election platform. According to the Canadian Cancer Society, the prime minister’s mandate letter to Health Minister Jane Philpott said plain packaging should be a top priority.

Ban on branding

“It’s not rocket science,” says David Hammond. He’s an associate professor at the University of Waterloo, and part of his research focuses on interventions such as labelling and packaging to reduce chronic illness.

“The brands, the logos, they’re there to appeal to young people,” he says. Take the Marlboro man, for instance, the rugged horseman once commonly seen in tobacco ad campaigns. “That’s one of the most valuable brands and images in the world,” says Hammond. “People associate those images with positive images of smoking, whether that’s being sexy or masculine.”

Plain cigarette packaging like the type already used in Australia has a standard size. No more tall narrow packs like the “superslims” and “lipstick” packs, which target young females. The package is a neutral colour, “sort of drab, olive brown,” with plain type fonts, says Hammond.

It prevents packages from serving as “mini-billboards that promote tobacco,” according to a news release from the Canadian Cancer Society. But the graphic health warnings and pictures will remain.

“Anything that we can do to prevent people from starting in the first place or encourage people who are smokers to quit by offering them assistance is something,” says Robert Reid, with the University of Ottawa Heart Institute and a researcher in smoking cessation.

Smoking is the leading cause of preventable disease and death in Canada, where there are more than five million smokers.

“We’ve had bans on advertising for tobacco products. This is really, in many ways, just an extension of that, because the package has become one of the ways tobacco companies do market their brands extensively,” says Reid.

In Australia, the introduction of generic smoking packages has helped reduce smoking, Hammond says. “There’s no indication that there would be any difference in terms of the impact in Canada.”

The theme for this year’s World No Tobacco Day on May 31 is plain packaging of tobacco products. “These recent victories against Big Tobacco are another triumph for public health,” says the editorial in the Lancet.

‘Public relations stunt,’ tobacco rep says

A spokesperson for one tobacco company likened the proposed plain packaging legislation in Canada to nothing more than “a public relations stunt by the federal government mainly orchestrated by a few but loud anti-tobacco lobbyists.”

In an email to CBC News on Friday, Imperial Tobacco Canada’s Jeff Guiler says the company has the right to have its trademarks on their products.

“We will continue to defend ourselves against what we believe be be ineffective and excessive regulation.”

As to whether the tobacco giant will take on the Liberal government on its proposed plain packaging proposal, “we will have to wait and see what the government will introduce before making a final decision.”

The U.K. ruling “will only encourage countries like Canada to move even more quickly,” says Hammond. Canada, like other countries, “have all their ducks in a row, and have indicated their desire to implement plain packaging,” he says.

Secretary-General, in Message for International Observance, Supports Plain Packaging of Tobacco Products to Reduce Demand, Ensure Healthy Lives

Following is UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s message on World No Tobacco Day, observed on 31 May:

Cigarettes and other tobacco products kill almost 6 million people every year. Sustainable Development Goal 3 aims to “ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages”. As part of that approach, Governments have committed to strengthen the implementation of the World Health Organization (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in all countries to reduce the proportion of people who use tobacco.

On World No Tobacco Day 2016, the United Nations is lending its support to one simple measure with proven effectiveness in reducing demand: the plain packaging of tobacco products. As laid out in the United Nations tobacco control treaty, this entails restricting or prohibiting the use of logos, colours, brand images or any promotional information other than brand and product names displayed in a standard colour and font.

Tobacco use is one of the largest causes of preventable non-communicable diseases, including cancers, heart and lung disease. It also diverts valuable household income.

Plain packaging reduces the attractiveness of tobacco products, restricts tobacco advertising and promotion, limits misleading labeling, and increases the effectiveness of health warnings.

On this World No Tobacco Day, I call on Governments around the world to get ready for plain packaging.

Tobacco funded ITIC attacking SEATCA

Currently, the International Tax and Investment Center (ITIC) is holding its 13th Annual Asia-Pacific Tax Forum in Jakarta, Indonesia. Civil society organisations working in the area of tobacco control have shown since years the close links between ITIC and the tobacco industry. Now ITIC employed a lawyer to intimidate the reputable Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance SEATCA with a letter full of false accusations and misinformation.

Campaign against tobacco control organisation

The Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance SEATCA has a long history of closely monitoring the tobacco industry and also the International Tax and Investment Center ITIC.

Lately, in October 2015, SEATCA reviewed ITIC’s ASEAN Excise Tax Reform Manual, which has been heavily promoted among government officials. The review critisized particularly the chapter on tobacco which shows inherent contradictions and an apparent negligence of international best practices on tobacco taxation.

Last month, SEATCA received a letter from Dr. Gary Johns on behalf of ITIC, accusing them of disseminating false information and lacking transparency.

Interestingly, he uses Germany1 as an example, suggesting that Germany would assess the work of ITIC as not violating Article 5.3 of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC). But there is no trace of Germany taking any official position vis-à-vis the ITIC and its lobbying.

Nevertheless, Germany is not a tobacco control champion at all – it is the biggest exporter of cigarettes in the world and at the bottom of the European tobacco control scale. The country lacks advertising bans and hasn’t substantially increased tobacco taxes for years – showing its negligence of one of the most effective tobacco control measures. So, Germany cannot be drawn upon as an exemple of effective implementation of the WHO FCTC.

Two examples of ITIC’s interference

When in November 2014 delegates of the FCTC Parties met in Moscow for the Conference of the Parties (COP), they were about to adopt guidelines for the FCTC article 6 on tax and price measures. A day before the meeting kicked off, ITIC hosted a private briefing to “ensure there is a balanced approach to important excise taxation issues“ and invited tax officials of the COP delegations. In response, the FCTC secretariat issued a note verbale to remind FCTC Parties about their commitments made under FCTC article 5.3.2 Finally, the guidelines on Article 6 were adopted as proposed – despite the ITIC intervention.

In May 2015, amidst political debates about stronger tobacco control measures in India, ITIC co-organized the Asia Pacifc Tax Forum in New Delhi. The World Bank initially was set to sponsor the event and to participate. As the chief guest to the opening ceremony the Indian Minister of State for Finance was listed as were key government tax officials. After public health experts raised their concern about the tobacco funding of ITIC, the World Bank as well as the Minister withdrew their participation and financial support.

What is the ITIC?

The International Tax and Investment Center (ITIC) describes itself as an independent clearinghouse for best practices in taxation and investment policy that facilitates “a ‘neutral table’ engagement“3 with the public, private and academic sector.

ITIC’s main sponsors are large multinational corporations from the oil, alcohol and tobacco industries, including representatives from all leading transnational tobacco companies4 on its Board of Directors. Internal tobacco industry documents5 disclose its role in facilitating the tobacco industry’s access to government officials.

In November 2014, the Director General of the World Health Organisation, Dr. Margaret Chan, stated in her address to the COP of the FCTC in Moscow about the International Tax and Investment Center (ITIC):

„Please, do not be fooled by them6. Their agenda, at least, is easy to see: to undermine your power, your efforts to adopt the robust, expert-driven proposed guidelines on tobacco tax and price policy.“

Tobacco tax is a health policy

Tobacco taxation is not just another tax burden to consumers, nor is it just another revenue for governments. Tobacco taxation is a health policy. Scientific research published in 2012 comes to the conclusion:

„Significant increases in tobacco taxes are a highly effective tobacco control strategy and lead to significant improvements in public health.“

Thus, tobacco taxation is a tool for preventing premature deaths from tobacco use. Consequently, the 180 parties, that have embraced the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), have committed themselves to use tax and price measures to achieve their principle aim: „to protect present and future generations from the devastating health, social, environmental and economic consequences of tobacco consumption and exposure to tobacco smoke“.

Health policies such as tobacco taxation must be protected from the vested interests of the tobacco industry. Four tobacco multinationals are sitting on the ITIC board of directors. How can ITIC claim to have no vested interests?

Statement on ITIC in Support of SEATCA

Together with the Philippines, Netherlands, India, and the European Commission ↩
Article 5.3 provides that health policies must be protected from commercial and other vested interests of the tobacco industry. ↩
Text altered from an ealier website version talking about “providing its sponsors a seat at the policy making table“. ↩
BAT, PMI, JTI and Imperial Brands (IB) ↩
These documents were made public through U.S.-based litigation settlements in 1998. ↩

Agenda Susupan Industri Rokok dalam International Tax and Investment Center (ITIC)

Today, the 13th Annual Asia-Pacific Tax Forum was initiated by the International Tax and Investment Center (ITIC) opened in Jakarta. Institutions which claims itself as a research and education nonprofit institution that is independent claims will bring tax reform in Indonesia. But in fact, behind the ITIC approach to the Indonesian government, to infiltrate the hidden agenda of the tobacco industry.

In 2015, ITIC met with Indonesian Vice President Jusuf Kalla. During the meeting, President of ITIC Daniel Witt gave the book Excise Tax in ASEAN: A Guide to Reform Ahead of AEC 2015 to the Vice President. Witt says that the book discusses among others the implementation of customs clearance for cross-border trade, for example excise for commodities such as cigarettes, alcohol, and so on. This book has also been given to the Finance Minister Bambang Brodjonegoro. This is the initial step approach kepemerintah ITIC Indonesia.

The first thing that must be asked is whether the independent ITIC? In fact, on the board of directors ITIC stands four major tobacco industry, Philip Morris (PMI), Japan Tobacco International (JTI), British American Tobacco (BAT) and Imperial Tobacco. Two years after being founded, ITIC revealed that they provide access or support in policy making for the sponsor,
including the transnational tobacco companies.

ITIC has been lobbying various nations to oppose the tobacco tax policies. They make a tax manual which essentially facilitate the investment climate but tucked inside a chapter on tobacco tax. Their will is clear, namely that the government did not raise high taxes on cigarettes, something which is contrary to international rules, including the World Bank.

In May 2015, the World Bank withdraw financial backing for the 12st Annual Asia-Pacific Tax Forum in New Delhi, India, which is being organized by ITIC. The World Bank refused to give support and the Indian government did not send top officials to the forum. All done for the protection of society by giving exemption on tobacco products.

On this occasion, Dr. Doug Bettcher, head of WHO’s Communicable Diseases said, “ITIC has published numerous false endorsements tobacco industry excise tax, investment, and the illegal trade in tobacco products. ITIC has used their international conference to lobby government officials on the taxation of tobacco. ”

Therefore, in his statement, Bettcher also said that WHO urge all countries not to get involved with the institution also took the academics and the schools in making kebijakan.Namun this economy, at this time, it seems the Indonesian government, in this case the Ministry of Finance, middle fooled by ITIC in the same holding of the forum.

In order to improve the investment climate, the government should be consistent with the dignity of Excise Act, namely controlling consumption through an increase in tobacco excise rates. ITIC strongly pro an increase in tobacco taxes, they will weaken the government’s intention to scare the increase of illegal cigarettes.

In addition, the establishment of a sovereign government tax rates, rather than follow the direction of ITIC who have an interest to increase its business in the ASEAN markets, particularly in Indonesia.

“What do ITIC in countries that approached actually just a camouflage for the hidden agenda that infiltrated the cigarette industry bigwigs. This is one of their strategies in order to perpetuate its business, and the way they are very subtle. Government officials, especially in Kementeri Finance, the potential to be affected. This is very dangerous for tobacco control efforts in an attempt protection of people, “said Kartono Mohamad, Chairman of the Tobacco Control Support Center (TCSC) as well as Advisory Board Member National Commission on Tobacco Control.

This is supported by the economist who is also Vice Chairman of the Institute of Demography, University of Indonesia, Abdillah Ahsan, who said, “The government should be careful on the recommendations given ITIC. The state could be used as a tool by the tobacco industry to make profits through tobacco control policies are weak, especially the tax policy is very effective to reduce consumption. ”

The government must be aware that the ITIC sponsored by tobacco companies multinational has a hidden agenda to influence the economic policies taken by the government, especially on the issue of tobacco control, as in the case of tax / cigarette taxes, given what has been done ITIC countries other. Therefore, the government should not make a commitment on the ITIC. Tax reform is a record that should be reviewed, especially in the Tobacco Tax Section as it will sacrifice the people who become the target market for the benefit of cheap cigarettes industry. @ ANDI Digul

Philip Morris International Launches New Initiative to Fight Smuggling and Related Crimes; Pledges USD 100 Million to Fund Projects

Philip Morris International Inc. (PMI) (NYSE /Euronext Paris: PM) announced today a major new initiative — “PMI IMPACT” — to help confront smuggling and related crimes.

“Tobacco is controlled by state regulations; stopping smuggling is the way to enforce the regulations.”

The centerpiece of PMI IMPACT is a prestigious council of external independent experts whose seven members have impeccable credentials in the fields of law, anti-corruption and law enforcement. The experts will oversee grants to enable innovation in three key areas in the fight against smuggling and related crimes – research, education and awareness, and action.

PMI IMPACT will issue a request for funding proposals later this year. Proposals can come from private, public, or non-governmental organizations. PMI has pledged USD 100 million to fund the first three rounds of grants.

“Progress against illegal trade requires ideas, resources, and actions — and that’s why we’re excited to launch PMI IMPACT. We’re especially grateful that distinguished experts have agreed to guide this effort and look forward to broad response to the upcoming request for proposals. In parallel, PMI is continuing to control its own supply chain and to support international protocols against illicit trade,” stated André Calantzopoulos, Chief Executive Officer of PMI.

Illegal trade is an entrenched phenomenon that depends on and sustains extensive criminal activity. Estimates put the total retail value of illegally traded goods at USD 650 billion, with active black markets for countless products, ranging from pharmaceuticals, food, and tobacco to weapons and wildlife. The most atrocious of all illegal trade, human trafficking, is beyond any financial estimate.

Commenting on PMI IMPACT, expert council member and former Senior Prosecutor for the US Department of Justice, Suzanne Hayden stated: “Illegal trade thrives today, in part, because of a loose alliance of criminal networks that operate with impunity and take advantage of open borders, corrupt officials, disparate legal systems and under-resourced enforcement. We on the Council look forward to reviewing proposals for innovative and creative solutions from public and private alliances to tackle the problems created by global illegal trade.”

Despite much progress, there is still significant illegal trade in many types of tobacco products. For criminals, there is often more profit and less risk in smuggling tobacco than, for example, illegal drugs.

According to PMI IMPACT council member Luis Moreno Ocampo, who was the first Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court: “Tobacco is controlled by state regulations; stopping smuggling is the way to enforce the regulations.”

PMI IMPACT is one of several major programs that the company supports to promote sustainable business practices and address complex social problems. The company is also a signatory of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

More information on PMI IMPACT is available online at

About Murdering Bastards Philip Morris International Inc. (“PMI”)

PMI is the world’s leading international tobacco company, with six of the world’s top 15 international brands and products sold in more than 180 markets. In addition to the manufacture and sale of cigarettes, including Marlboro, the number one global cigarette brand, and other tobacco products, PMI is engaged in the development and commercialization of Reduced-Risk Products (“RRPs”). RRPs is the term PMI uses to refer to products with the potential to reduce individual risk and population harm in comparison to smoking cigarettes. Through multidisciplinary capabilities in product development, state-of-the-art facilities, and industry-leading scientific substantiation, PMI aims to provide an RRP portfolio that meets a broad spectrum of adult smoker preferences and rigorous regulatory requirements. For more information, see and

Philip Morris International media office
T: +41 058 242 4500

Expert Council

A council of independent experts evaluates the project proposals, selects the applications for the award of grants by PMI, and reviews the progress and the results of the projects during their implementation. PMI IMPACT is honored to be able to rely on the profound expertise of the Expert Council members in the fields of law, anti-corruption, and the fight against organized crime and illegal trade.

Expert Council Members

Mahmoud Cherif Bassiouni

Professor Bassiouni is Emeritus Professor of Law at DePaul University where he taught from 1964-2009. He was a founding member of the International Human Rights Law Institute at DePaul University, serving as President and then President Emeritus. He was one of the founders of the International Institute of Higher Studies in Criminal Sciences (ISISC) where he served as General-Secretary, Dean and then President. He also served as the Secretary General, President and Honorary President of the International Association of Penal Law.

Professor Bassiouni was a Guest Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington D.C., a Visiting Professor of Law at New York University Law School, a Fulbright-Hays Professor of International Criminal Law at the University of Freiburg and a non-resident Professor of Criminal Law at University of Cairo.
Since 1975, Professor Bassiouni has been appointed to 22 United Nations positions. He has also served as Chair of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry and as a consultant to the U.S. Department of State and Department of Justice on projects related, among others, to the international traffic of drugs and the international control of terrorism.

To date, Professor Bassiouni has authored 27 books, edited 45 books, and authored 265 articles on International Criminal Law, Comparative Criminal Law, Human Rights, and U.S. Criminal Law that have been published in various law journals and books.

Suzanne Hayden

Ms. Hayden has spent thirty years in public service and law enforcement serving as a senior advisor to members of the US government (Justice, State, Treasury, Intelligence and Defense) and to International Organizations: International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the International Anti-Corruption Academy (IACA). Ms. Hayden is a licensed attorney in the United States.

A former Senior Prosecutor for the US Department of Justice, Ms. Hayden served as lead prosecutor on over 30 money laundering and drug trafficking organized crime cases and coordinated international investigations on drugs, illicit trade and counterfeiting. She was US DOJ’s first National Security Coordinator and was the DOJ representative to the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the global standard setter for combatting money laundering and terrorist finance.

She has worked throughout the world providing technical assistance and legislative drafting as a senior prosecutor in the Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section and was a resident legal advisor in Russia and Turkey. As a prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, Ms. Hayden established the UN’s first financial investigation unit and led the financial investigation of Slobodan Milosevic.

She currently provides technical assistance and advice to organizations in the public and private sectors, in the area of integrity building, anti-corruption, anti-money laundering and countering complex financial crime and terrorist financing.

In the past, Ms. Hayden also consulted for PMI on law enforcement matters.

Alain Juillet

Mr. Juillet is the President of the Club des Directeurs de Sécurité des Entreprises (CDSE) and of the Académie de l’Intelligence Economique.

Previously, Mr. Juillet served as the Head of Corporate Development at Pernod Ricard, General Director of Suchard, Deputy Managing Director of Union Laitière Normande, General Manager of Générale Ultra Frais, General Director of France Champignon, CEO of Marks & Spencer France and Senior Advisor of the Orrick Rambaud Martel law firm.

Between 2002 and 2003, Mr. Juillet served as Intelligence Director for the French General Directorate for External Security (DGSE) of the French Ministry of Defense, and then assumed the role of Senior Official in charge of economic intelligence to the Prime Minister’s office until 2009. In 2009, he received the rank of Honor Legion Commander of France.

Paul Makin

Dr. Makin served in the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), where he was responsible for establishing commercially sustainable information networks for businesses, in particular small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in developing countries. The networks also supported South-South cooperation and trade amongst developing countries.

Dr. Makin was also responsible for establishing mutually beneficial cooperation agreements with leading IT companies in order to harness the use of information and communication technologies for promoting sustainable industrialization throughout the developing world as a means of improving livelihoods in developing countries.

While Director of the UNIDO Regional Office in Egypt, Dr. Makin ensured that the Organization cooperated with Egypt in the fields of reducing poverty, providing job opportunities, spreading technology, improving the environment, promoting productivity and boosting SMEs in order to enhance competitiveness in foreign markets.

Dr. Makin holds a PhD in chemistry from the University of Liverpool.

Luis Moreno Ocampo

Mr. Moreno Ocampo was the founder Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), from 2003 until 2012. During his tenure at the ICC, his office was involved in twenty of the most serious crises of the 21st century including in Iraq, Korea, Afghanistan and Palestine. He conducted investigations for crimes against humanity in seven different countries, including Libya, Sudan, the Ivory Coast and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Previously, Mr. Ocampo played a crucial role during the transition to democracy in Argentina, as the Deputy Prosecutor in the “Junta trial” in 1985 and the Prosecutor in the trial against a military rebellion in 1991.

Mr. Ocampo was a visiting Professor at Stanford University and Harvard University. After the end of his tenure as ICC Prosecutor, he assumed responsibilities as

Chairman of the World Bank Expert Panel on the Padma Bridge project.

Currently, Mr. Ocampo is a lawyer in private practice at New York and Associate at the Carr Center for Human Rights at Harvard University.

Jürgen Storbeck

Mr. Storbeck served as the first Director of Europol between 1999 and 2004.

After law studies and research at different German universities he started his career in law enforcement as a superintendent in the Bundeskriminalamt (BKA) in Wiesbaden, Germany, where he became later the head of the Department of International Cooperation, head of the Central Bureau of Interpol and then head of Serious and Organized Crime Department. After the re-unification of Germany he served in the Federal Ministry of Interior tasked to integrate the CID of the former GDR into the police system of the FRG. In 1992, he took over the establishment of Europol and the administration of its forerunner, the “Europol Drugs Unit”, a post which he held until 1999, when he became Europol’s Director.

Following his tenure in Europol, he was appointed as coordinator of the Federal Ministry of Interior for police cooperation with the States of the Arab Gulf, and from 2006 he served as the Head of the Homeland Security Department of the Ministry of Brandenburg.

He is currently a consultant specializing in crime prevention and enforcement matters, including matters concerning organized crime and terrorism, and, in this capacity, advises governments and public authorities as well as private organizations, including PMI.

Catherine Volz

Ms. Volz served in the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) for more than 18 years, where she held a number of senior roles.

She was Chief of the Human Security Branch of the Division for Operations and supervised the provision of technical advice and assistance to states in the fields of anti-corruption, anti-money laundering, organized crime, rule of law, and criminal justice reform.

Ms. Volz has also served as the Chief of the Treaty and Legal Affairs Branch in UNODC’s Division for Treaty Affairs, and was responsible for assisting states in ratifying and implementing international drug control treaties, and more recently, the U.N. Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its protocols, as well as the U.N. Convention against Corruption.

From 1980 to 1989, she was a senior trial attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice.

For a detailed description of the role of the Expert Council and the PMI IMPACT
grant award procedure, see the Expert Council and Grant Award Guidelines (pdf).

Imperial has £2.3 million invested in tobacco firms via endowment

Investments are indirect but clash with college’s cancer research efforts

This week FELIX revealed that the college has significant investments in several tobacco firms, as part of its endowment portfolio.

Overall, Imperial has invested just under £2.4 million across several tobacco firms, via several equity and hedge funds.

Our findings, made via a Freedom of Information request, show that although Imperial was not investing directly in any tobacco firms, three funds it was paying significant amounts of money into did have tobacco firms in their top ten holdings.

This is somewhat surprising considering Imperial’s long term partnership with Cancer Research UK, the college’s substantial research department dedicated to lung cancer and the fact that eighteen different Imperial departments form part of Imperial’s cancer network, aiming to research and cure the disease.

The firms we’re indirectly investing in include Imperial Brands, who make Camel cigarettes, British American, who produce Lucky Strikes, and Philip Morris, who manufacture the world’s most smoked cigarette – Malboros.

Imperial is investing just over £18 million across three investment funds that have holdings in the tobacco industry, and those are just the ones who were open with where their money goes. FELIX looked at the percentage these funds were investing in tobacco to work out how much of our cash has gone to the controversial corporations.

The £2,384,327.09 that FELIX calculated Imperial is investing in these firms is just a fraction of the £201 million or so the college has invested as part of its total endowment.

Other universities, such as Edinburgh, have divested from tobacco firms, after it was pointed out that the university’s research efforts clashed with such investments.

A college spokesperson told FELIX: “It is College policy to neither undertake research to develop or promote tobacco products, nor to directly invest in tobacco companies.”

“Where the College delegates investment decisions to its external fund managers, they are instructed not to directly invest in tobacco companies.”

“Some of their investments are, however, in managed funds. The College and its external fund managers have no control over the composition of those funds, which change on a continual basis. The College Endowment Board has a responsibility to optimise investment return to support Imperial’s academic mission but continues to keep its policies under review, which includes looking at ways to avoid even indirect investment in tobacco.”

Tobacco Taxes to Rise by 40 Percent in New Zealand

WELLINGTON – New Zealand is aiming to eradicate smoking in the country by implementing a series of annual tax hikes.

In its budget plan released on May 26th the government of New Zealand announced that it will reinstate a new round of annual tax hikes on cigarettes and tobacco products.

From January 1st 2017 the rate of taxation on the sale of tobacco products will rise by 10 percentage points, with equal hikes set to take place on January 1st each year until 2020.

The extra tax collections will yield an extra NZD 425 million in tax revenues each year.

The new tax hikes are a continuation of a series of 10 percent increases which were enacted each year between 2012 and 2016.

It is currently estimated that approximately 15 percent of people in New Zealand are smokers, although the rate could be as high as 35 percent and 22 percent among Maori and Pacific people, respectively.

The New Zealand government currently has a goal of driving the national smoking rate to below 5 percent by the year 2025.

US$240m tobacco passes through auction floors

A TOTAL of 83,5 million kilogrammes valued at US$239,8 million has been sold as at day 37, official figures from the Tobacco Marketing Board (Timb) show.

During the same period last year, 61,6 million kg worth US$175,6 million were sold representing a 37% increase in tobacco earnings.

The average tobacco price per kg as of day 37 was pegged at US$2,87 up from US$2,85 sold last year.

At least 16,5 million kg of tobacco valued at US$40,9 million was sold at auction floors while 67 million kg worth US$198,8 million was traded at contract floors.

The highest price per kg offered at contract floors was US$6,25 while auction floors offered US$4,99.

Monetary authorities this year moved to compel all tobacco farmers to open bank accounts in a bid to promote financial inclusion, but delays in processing the transactions caused problems at the auction floors.

Compounded by the cash crisis, farmers mostly from rural areas are going for days before receiving their money upon delivering their crop.

Two weeks ago, tempers flared at the auction floors as farmers protested against the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe’s decision to cap the maximum withdrawal at US$1 000 per day.

This year, the number of tobacco growers plunged by 22% from 92 430 last season to 71 728 after farmers failed to raise money for inputs due to poor prices. Production this year is projected to dwindle to 170 million kg from 199 million kg recorded last year.

Golden leaf farming evolved after the land reform programme into a broadbased income generator, bringing a ray of hope for most unemployed rural people to become a new face of economic salvation as 47 000 small-scale farmers ditched other crops preferring the cash crop especially after dollarisation.

Tobacco production reached a record high of 236,13 million kg in 2000. It then declined to new lows of 44,9 million kg in 2008 after the country embarked on the land reform programme in February 2000.

In 2010, production was 58,5 million kg before surging to 123,5 million kg in 2011 and growing further to 132,5 million kg in 2012. In 2013, 144 million kg was produced. In 2014, the country’s production grew to 216 million kg before dropping to 199 million last year.

With Brazil, India and Tanzania having downsized their tobacco production this year, it is estimated that global demand for the golden leaf will increase.

100-day anti-smoking campaign in Beijing to encourage smokers to quit

Beijing: China’s capital Beijing will launch a 100-day anti-smoking campaign from July 1 to encourage more smokers to quit.

The effort will build on the success already achieved since China’s strictest tobacco control regulation took effect in the capital last year, the China Daily reported on Friday.

Since then, tobacco control in Beijing has made significant progress, with smoking in indoor public places decreasing greatly, Mei Hongguang, deputy director for health promotion at the Beijing Municipal Commission of Health and Family Planning, said on Thursday.

During the campaign, launched jointly by the commission and the World Health Organisation, participants will be encouraged to receive professional services at clinics that help smokers quit at 16 major hospitals in Beijing, or they can seek advice and help through three health service hotlines, Mei said.

Smokers will be invited to interact and share their experiences on social media such as WeChat, he said.

Any resident in Beijing who is over 18 years old and has been smoking for more than a year is eligible to register until June 30, he said.

Participants who successfully quit smoking will have a chance to win prizes worth up to 20,000 yuan ($3,100), Mei said.

Since the start of controls last year, smoking in major public places, such as railways stations and hotels, has decreased, according to a survey conducted by the commission between March and April. The number of cigarettes sold in Beijing last year fell 2.71 percent from 2014, said Gao Xiaojun, the commission’s spokesman.

The survey, which looked at 5,100 residents and 728 businesses, found the greatest smoking decline in restaurants.

Only 6.7 percent of all facilities surveyed were found in violation of the regulation, compared with more than 23 percent a year ago when the regulation was adopted, Gao said.

More than 46 percent of smokers surveyed said they planned to quit, compared with 11.6 percent who said so before the regulation, Gao said.

Health law enforcement officers in Beijing had imposed penalties on more than 1,500 individuals and nearly 400 businesses as of the end of April, levying total fines of more than 1.12 million yuan.

Who is watching WHO’s watch towers?

THE World Health Organisation (WHO) is pulling out all the stops in its effort to turn public opinion against the tobacco industry. This reminds me of an oft-used trope in modern conspiracy theories: that of the puppet-master behind the scenes controlling world affairs, or in this case popular opinion.

The WHO’s launch of monitoring centres in cities worldwide, tasked with unmasking the tobacco industry’s attempts to “interfere” with public health policy, uses an image of a puppet-master as its promotional material. “These units are the watchtowers of the public health movement, helping us see the tobacco-control landscape in greater detail,” said Dr Vera da Costa e Silva of the WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Secretariat.

She announced the monitoring centres in Rio de Janeiro to much pomp and circumstance in March, foreshadowing the opening of dozens more in the coming months — and those that will focus on much more than just the tobacco industry. “They will communicate with professionals at the national level, but they also have an international function in communicating with one another to create a global tapestry describing the behaviour of the tobacco industry across continents,” she proclaimed.

The Brazilian Observatory at Fundação Oswaldo Cruz, the first of these centres, has set its sights on the tobacco industry in that country. “The tobacco industry requires constant monitoring of its power and restrictive legal treatment because it brings no social or economic benefit to the country,” said Silvana Turci, a researcher at the centre. The tobacco industry is not the only target, as this first monitoring centre will also focus on the sugar and fat industries.

The observatory’s website says other industries, including soft drinks, will be monitored, as “there are undeniable similarities” in how they “undermine public policies”.

The WHO is making this a top priority in its aim to monitor international public health. “We must understand the ways in which the industry does this. How does it operate — what is its strategy and what are its tactics? How far is it willing to go? And does it operate different approaches in different parts of the world?” asked Da Costa e Silva.

The monitoring centres aim to create “wiki” systems to track and disseminate the information gathered from their campaigns. An example was put together by the Tobacco Control Research Group at the University of Bath, calling attention to individuals and institutions “promoting a pro-tobacco agenda”.

Such efforts are being funded to implement the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, agreed by the conference of the parties (COP) held in Moscow in October 2014. Practically all countries were represented, and it remains closed only to participating parties and select governmental and nongovernmental organisations.

The next COP is set to take place in New Delhi in November, where the next level of global tobacco regulation is due to be agreed on. The goal of the conference is to advance the “work of the WHO framework convention, strengthening the global battle against the devastating consequences of tobacco use”, according to the website.

Actions taken within this forum are not subject to democratic appraisal, and have generally bypassed national legislatures. There is no mechanism by which to challenge the outcomes of the COP’s agreement. That is a troubling trend for democracy and the rule of law.

In the meantime, the WHO will continue investing in monitoring centres to counteract the “darkness” of sin industries such as tobacco, sugar, alcohol and processed foods.

“Brazil’s observatory exists to help us better understand what the industry is doing,” added Da Costa e Silva. “It’s an important link in our new global chain, and helps us see into areas that were covered by darkness, the darkness that the tobacco industry prefers and embraces.”

• Ossowski is a Canadian journalist living in Vienna. He is a programme director for Students For Liberty.