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June 25th, 2016:

Big Tobacco suspected of dodging EU antismuggling rules

Tobacco companies have sold their anti-smuggling system to a third party to comply with upcoming EU rules, but critics say the new owner is a front company.

The track-and-trace system, Codentify, helps tobacco firms and customs authorities to find out where a pack of cigarettes was produced and is used to combat smuggling – a multi-billion euro criminal industry in Europe.

It was set up in the wake of cooperation agreements between the EU and the four major tobacco companies, which required the firms to keep track of their products.

Tobacco companies had previously been suspected of smuggling their own goods in an effort to avoid paying taxes.

Codentify was owned by the tobacco industry until last month.

The cooperation agreements, one of which, with Philip Morris International (PMI), is due to expire in less than three weeks, were non-legislative contracts and did not require the track-and-trace system to be separate from the tobacco industry.

However, new EU legislation, as well as upcoming World Health Organisation (WHO) rules, specify that the system should be independently owned.

The WHO has previously expressed criticism of Codentify, which it said lacked transparency “and might have features that only the tobacco industry is aware of”.

Spokespersons for Philip Morris International, and for the joint venture that sold Codentify, told this website via email on Monday that the system now complies with the EU’s new Tobacco Products Directive and the WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).

The FCTC is an international treaty, also signed by the EU, which aims to curb tobacco smuggling.

“Inexto is fully independent from the tobacco industry,” said PMI spokesman Andrew Cave, referring to the Swiss-registered company that bought Codentify.

Inexto is registered in the Swiss city of Lausanne, at an address that is a fiveminute drive from the offices of Philip Morris International (PMI) and British American Tobacco Switzerland.

Inexto was founded this year and owned is owned by a French group called Impala, which has several daughter companies specialising in industries that range from energy to manufacturing.

The receptionist at Inexto’s mother company, Impala, said she did not know Philippe Chatelain, Inexto’s managing director, but told EUobserver he would be called back.

This has yet to happen.

Chatelain, and two other top officials of Inexto, have worked for PMI for over a decade. They left the firm just last month.

EUobserver was made aware of the sale and make-up of the new company by Oscar Larsson, a student at the Open University of London. He runs a blog, called Why It’s Bad in which he is critical of the Codentify tool.

“This is not an innocent purchasing of a legitimate technology,” Larsson told this website in an email.

“These are not just former employees from PMI, they are the dedicated core of the whole Codentify concept. Their names are on the patents and they are the inventors of this intentionally flawed system, designed by the tobacco industry to serve the tobacco industry and not the European Union”, he said.

Other critics of the tobacco industry also questioned the motives behind the sale.

Anna Gilmore, director of the tobacco control research group at the University of Bath, said Inexto could not be considered sufficiently independent from the tobacco industry.

“Given the tobacco industry’s long history of involvement in the illicit tobacco trade, a genuinely independent system would be a threat to the industry,” she told this website via email.

“It is therefore attempting to have governments implement its Codentify system by setting up intermediaries and front organisations to promote Codentify,” she added.

Luk Joossens, advocacy officer of the Association of European Cancer Leagues, said the sale was “a predictable move”, adding that tobacco companies will now “pretend” that Codentify is no longer part of the tobacco industry.

The FCTC’s secretariat, which has taken aim at Codentify before, repeated its opposition in a response to this website.

“Whether or not the new company will truly be independent of the tobacco industry, or if it will continue to defend the interests of the tobacco industry with just one more degree of separation remains to be seen,” said Vera Luiza da Costa e Silva, head of the secretariat of the FCTC.

She added that even if the track-and-trace (T&T) system was independent, it would still lack transparency.

“If the new company’s purpose is to continue to promote Codentify as a T&T system allegedly in compliance with the protocol, then this independence is irrelevant, since … analyses of Codentify have found it to not be compliant with protocol recommendations on T&T,” said Da Costa e Silva The Digital Coding & Tracking Association (DCTA), which owned Codentify until 1 June 2016, said Inexto “is fully independent from any tobacco company”.

DCTA is a joint venture by British American Tobacco, Imperial Tobacco Limited, Japan Tobacco International, and Philip Morris International.

“The three individuals you reference are no longer employees of any tobacco manufacturer and their jobs transferred to Inexto as part of the technology sale,” a DCTA spokesperson said by email, without revealing his or her name.

“Their deep knowledge of the technology, combined with their understanding of the complexities involved in the tobacco supply chain, means they offer Inexto unique expertise which will be necessary as the technology continues to evolve as a world-class, open source solution”.

The European Commission did not respond to requests for a comment.

Maori MP walks off set during TV tobacco debate

Maori Party co-leader Marama Fox called Imperial Tobacco a peddler of death and destruction.

Maori Party co-leader Marama Fox called Imperial Tobacco a peddler of death and destruction.

A fiery exchange on TV3’s The Nation this morning.

Imperial Tobacco’s Axel Gietz announced the company wouldn’t rule out a fight with the New Zealand government if plain packaging went ahead, before being attacked by Maori co-leader Marama Fox.

Fox joined Dr Gietz on the show and the MP became angry during the discussion, accusing the tobacco spokesman of “peddling death and destruction and misery on our people”.

She also compared Dr Gietz to Nazi propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels.

After 17 minutes, Fox took off her mic and walked off set.

Dr Gietz didn’t react or rise to Fox’s comments.

As Fox made her departing remarks, The Nation host Lisa Owen pleaded for civility, reminding the MP that Dr Gietz was an invited guest.

Earlier on the show. Dr Gietz said a lawsuit against the Kiwi government would be a last resort, but they would defend the right to use their brands.



PLANO, Texas, June 24, 2016 /PRNewswire/ — WorldVentures, ranked 25 Healthiest Employers in North Texas as named by the Dallas Business Journal and Healthiest Employers, is dedicated to promoting the overall health and wellness of their employees and their families through the Living Well program and partnership with Humana Vitality. As part of that commitment, the company has established a tobacco-free workplace effective July 18.

Employees will no longer be able to use any traditional, vapor or chewing tobacco products at any of the three U.S. buildings (two in Plano, Tex., and one in Greenville, S.C.). Those who wish to use tobacco products will be directed offsite to clearly marked designated areas.

The announcement comes on Clean Air Action Day, June 24, a campaign with Air NorthTexas.

“We’re very proud to be recognized for our wellness program among some of the most respected companies in North Texas,” said WorldVentures CEO Dan Stammen. “2015 was only the first year of our Living Well program through HumanaVitality and our smoking cessation program through TrestleTree®, and our entire team has already accomplished so much.”

WorldVentures successfully achieved a 59.9% participation and an overall 25% engagement. WorldVentures also achieved a 35.6% Tobacco Quit Rate for employees and spouSES participating in TrestleTree. And there are many success stories about dramatic weight loss and the health-related benefits as a result. This was done by having corporate wide activities like nutrition talks, runs, walks, rallies, challenges, on-site biometric screenings and health fairs.

WorldVentures and HumanaVitality partner in the creation and execution of short-term and long-term strategic plans to drive employee engagement that are intended to elevate the FOCus on health and wellness, including physical, but also intellectual and financial.

About WorldVentures

WorldVentures Marketing, LLC is the leading international direct seller of vacation club memberships and is on a mISSion to help people achieve more fun, freedom and fulfillment by offering DreamTrips™ Members premium vacations at reduced prices. WorldVentures combines the power of the Internet with the strength of the direct-selling industry to market its DreamTrips Memberships. WorldVentures is a privately held company based in Plano, Texas, with active Representatives and Members in 29 countries.

Media Contact:
Connie Glover
Manager, Public Relations
WorldVentures Holdings, LLC

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SOURCE WorldVentures Marketing, LLC