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August 14th, 2016:

Tobacco giant shrinking size of some cigarette packs as smokers to be hit with another tax rise

A TOBACCO giant is shrinking the size of some cigarette packs as smokers are set to be hit with another tax rise.

Retailers will start phasing in Dunhill brand packs of 23, culled from 25, from next month. The wholesale price of the new packs will be the same as the bigger size now.

British American Tobacco Australia spokesman Nicholas Booth said: “Dunhill smokers told us that instead of paying a higher price after the next tax hike in September, they’d prefer to have slightly fewer sticks and have the price stay the same.

“The wholesale price will be the same as the pre-tax Dunhill 25.”

A double whammy 12.5 per cent federal tobacco excise increase, plus indexation, takes effect from September 1.

The current tobacco tax take on a single cigarette is AUD 53.7 cents — a grab ranging from AUD $10.75 for a pack of 20, to AUD $26.85 for a pack of 50.

Next month’s increase is expected to see smokers cough up at least AUD $1.30 to AUD $3.35 more tax per pack, depending on size.

Retail price changes vary depending on competition and margins.

Public health campaigners say a series of 12.5 per cent annual tax hikes pencilled in for the next four years will further reduce smoking rates because of soaring prices.

The Dunhill downsize adds to a string of shrinking packs including Freddo Frogs, laundry liquid, deodorants and potato chips such as Pringles.

“British American Tobacco Australia is working with retailers to roll out Dunhill 23s from September,” Mr Booth said.

“The product remains the same with all Dunhill 25s variants transitioning to this pack size by the end of the year.

“Like most fast moving consumer goods companies we have a portfolio of products we offer our consumers and this is constantly reviewed.

“The introduction of Dunhill 23s is in response to feedback from consumers.”

September’s 12.5 per cent tobacco excise increase is in addition to twice-yearly indexation linked to average weekly ordinary-time earnings. The indexation amount for September will be determined soon.

Cigarette makers have warned that steep excise rises are fueling the illegal tobacco black market.

Tobacco processing gobbles up forests in Cox’s Bazar hills

Zainul Abedin , a fisherman at Chakaria in Cox’s Bazar, worries when the hills erode and come crashing down to fill up the Matamuhuri River.





It adversely affects his income.

But why the hills eroding and chunks of it come crashing down ever so often!

“That happens when you hack down trees on the hills for processing tobacco” Zainul replies to a question.

“That’s why we don’t get fish near tobacco fields,” he added.

The fisherman said he often fail to catch fish worth even Tk 30 on some days.

Other locals agreed with Zainul and blamed tobacco processing on relentless cutting of trees.

Tobacco and deforestation

A Tobacco Atlas report has blamed tobacco cultivation for 31 percent deforestation in Bangladesh.

Half the forests in south-eastern districts of Bangladesh have been lost to tobacco cultivation in the past century, according to Centre for International Forestry Research.

Chakaria resident ‘Mahbub’ said tobacco cultivation has destroyed the forests on the sides of the rivers Matamuhuri and Sangu.

Mahbub had once been known as ‘Pata Mahbub’ (the word ‘Pata’ denotes tobacco leaf in the area) for introducing tobacco cultivation in the area in the early 1980s.

He said he left tobacco cultivation after experiencing its negative impact on the forests.

“We had countless foxes, deer, monkeys, boars in the forests. Now there is nothing,” Mahbub said.

According to non-government organisation Ubinig, tobacco was cultivated on 4,000 acres of land in Chakaria in 2012.

Tobacco output from two acres of land need 10 tonnes of wood to burn for processing the tobacco leaves.

So around 20,000 tonnes of wood was needed for burning to process the tobacco cultivated that year.

A total of 3,838 acre was used for tobacco cultivation in Cox’s Bazar in 2014-15 fiscal, Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics says.

The tobacco planters have not left the hilly forests next to Chakaria.

The Department of Agricultural Expansion reports tobacco cultivation was introduced in the hilly districts after 1960s.

Anti-tobacco organisation Progga says around 6,000 furnaces to dry up tobacco leaves were set up in Bandarban in 2014.

The organisation, referring to the Export Promotion Bureau, says Bangladesh exported tobacco worth $7 million in 2005-06 fiscal.

The earnings from exporting tobacco rose to $ 47 million in 2013-14 fiscal year, indicating a huge rise in cultivation.

S.C. insurer BlueCross Blue Shield going after tobacco users

Some tobacco users who have been lying about their smoking status to skirt higher health insurance premiums will be expected to shell out more money this fall.

A spokeswoman for BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina said the company is currently reviewing medical records to determine which patients enrolled in Affordable Care Act plans use tobacco.

If those patients aren’t already paying a higher surcharge for their tobacco use, Patti Embry-Tautenhan said BlueCross BlueShield will contact them soon and ask them to pay more by Oct. 1. The surcharge will apply to future premiums, she said. The company will not impose the fee retroactively.

“Because tobacco users must self-identify, it allows for potential abuse of the system, which ends up costing all of us,” she said. “However, our experience is that a very small percentage of our members use tobacco and do not pay the surcharge. And we are in the process of communicating with those members.”

More than one in five South Carolina adults smoke, the eighth highest smoking rate in the country.

But federal numbers also show 9 percent of Obamacare customers in this state own up to smoking, suggesting that some adults may be lying about their tobacco status.

The federal health care law allows insurers to charge higher premiums to customers who smoke.

BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina and its subsidiary, BlueChoice, impose a 20 percent surcharge for tobacco users who have purchased health insurance on

South Carolina Department of Insurance Director Ray Farmer said Aetna, which also sells Obamacare plans in this state, imposes a 10 percent surcharge for tobacco use.

Reach Lauren Sausser at 843-937-5598.

On the contrary: ‘I was a smoker, and will always be a smoker’

The real issues are not covered by the media and the health departments across countries.

States in this country may be queuing up to ban e-cigarettes that are now thought to be as harmful as regular cigarettes, but founder of, Mr Heneage (H) Mitchell believes the ban is illogical and not in the interest of smokers at all.

“Who has come up with these guidelines? The health departments have their own agenda and so do the pharmaceutical companies, who finance the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. It is completely against WHO’s democratic principles. The pharmaceuticals are just anxious to protect their own smoking cessation market,” he asserted in a chat with Deccan Chronicle, declaring, “I was a smoker and am still a smoker.”

Based on his almost 15 years as a leading commentator on the tobacco industry across Asia, he believes the regulations are consumer un-friendly and ignore their best interests. Having spent over a decade as managing editor and co-publisher of a leading publication of the region’s tobacco industry, he has witnessed first-hand the enormous changes sweeping the tobacco regulatory environment throughout Asia and deplores what he describes as a ” constant erosion of smokers’ rights and freedoms.”

The real issues are not covered by the media and the health departments across countries. I realised that the justifications for many of the regulations do not stand up to scrutiny.

A harmless alternative to smoking such as the e-cigarette has to face the same regulatory nightmares, which are thrown at the tobacco industry,” he lamented.

Calling the restrictions on consumer access to less harmful alternatives to smoking of conventional tobacco products as “highly alarming,” he stresses that the health departments are misguided.

“But e-cigarette should be subjected to stringent manufacturing standards and that is where the emphasis should be. Banning is not the answer. Vaping is an extraordinary alternative for smokers, who are addicted. Vaping works,” he emphasised, arguing that the ban was not based on fact but ” on the hatred for tobacco products.”

“It is illogical. False opinion is being presented as fact. In fact, they are an effective gateway away from smoking for users, who vape essentially harmless, but addictive nicotine and also wish to avoid the deadly carcinogens, tar and more than 3,000 other dangerous components found in tobacco smoke that leads to the early death of at least 50 per cent of smokers. Independent, peer-reviewed evidence from around the world, particularly from the UK and the EU, where a great deal of effort and time has been invested in researching vaping, clearly shows e-cigarettes to be 95 to 99 per cent safer than conventional tobacco products,” he maintained.

He went on to point out that, “Bodies such as the UK Royal College of Physicians, Public Health England, Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), British Lung Foundation, Cancer Research UK, and the Royal Society for Public Health are all espousing the use of e-cigarettes as a viable and desirable alternative to smoking and are recommending vape products to users of conventional tobacco products to wean them away from the deadly risks associated with smoking.”

“The health departments have essentially bought into the line that e- cigarettes are just as harmful as any tobacco product, but where is the evidence? You cannot impose an irrational policy on which the lives of millions of smokers depend.”

Drink drive accused says e-cigarette put him over the limit

Scientific evidence to be presented in case against alleged drink driver

Evidence from a scientist is due to be presented next month in a case in which an alleged drink driver is attempting to prove alcohol in an e-cigarette put him over the limit, a court was told on Thursday.

The case is believed to be one of the first of its kind in Northern Ireland and a judge says he is looking forward to hearing the details.

Aaron David Galbraith, 35, of Dunluce Park, Ballymena , is charged with driving with excess alcohol in his breath at Tully Road outside the Co Antrim town in November last year.

Defence lawyer Stewart Ballentine told a previous court he wanted to investigate whether alcohol in an electronic cigarette accounted for his client allegedly being almost twice the legal drink limit and the scientist was drafted in.

The accused allegedly had an alcohol/breath reading of 65 – with the legal limit being 35.

Mr Ballentine also told the earlier sitting his client was “constantly using” an e-cigarette at the time of the alleged offence and was adamant he had not consumed any alcohol.

Ballymena Magistrates Court was told on Thursday the case will be heard next month.

District Judge Des Perry told a previous court he was very interested in the outcome of the potentially ground-breaking case.

At a sitting earlier this year the judge said he found the possible link to drink driving “very worrying because I use these gadgets (e-cigarettes) and I might be committing various criminal offences”.

The judge added he had never noticed any adverse effects from e-cigarettes but said over-indulgence is bad.

At Thursday’s court, Judge Perry who is soon to retire, added he is keenly anticipating the court case.

“I wouldn’t miss it,” he told the court.

The end of vaping?

By Nathan Bowe

Although studies differ on the findings of possible harmful effects of vaping, proponents claim it is far less harmful than the tar and chemicals ingested from smoking cigarettes.4 / 7

Bad news for e-cigarette fans: Vape shop retailers can no longer give out free samples and are limited in their ability to mix e-liquids to create new flavors.

It’s all courtesy of the federal Food and Drug Administration, which has issued new regulations governing the manufacture and sale of electronic cigarettes.

An e-cigarette is a battery-powered device that converts liquid nicotine into a mist, or vapor, that the user inhales.

There’s no fire, no ash and no smoky smell. E-cigarettes do not contain all of the harmful chemicals associated with smoking tobacco cigarettes, like carbon monoxide and tar.

When they go into full effect in two years, the new regulations will “eliminate 99.9 percent of the vaping industry,” said Jenny Hoban, owner of Masterpiece Vapors in Detroit Lakes and Perham.

Less controversial aspects of the regulations went into effect Monday. They include a ban on selling to minors, identification requirements and prohibiting free samples.

Hoban said she has prohibited sales to minors since she opened in Perham in July of 2013.

“We as an industry have self-regulated from Day 1…before it was a Minnesota state statute in January of 2015 or FDA requirement,” she said.

The more onerous regulations are yet to come, she said. E-cigarette manufacturers now have two years to go through a long and expensive application process for each and every product that they intend to sell after 2018.

Their only loophole would be to prove “substantial equivalence” to a product that existed before the Tobacco Control Act’s “deeming date” of Feb. 15, 2007. But that would be nearly impossible since e-cigarettes are such a new technology, Hoban said.

The FDA estimates the applications will take 5,000 hours and cost $330,000 each, but Hoban said some estimates put the cost at as much as $1 million for each product, which includes every potential combination of device, flavor and nicotine strength.

The upshot will be that only the wealthiest corporations, such as Big Tobacco, will be able to afford to stay in the e-cigarette business, Hoban says, and she fears they will sell the least healthy, most addictive blend of e-liquids.

Hoban says the smaller vape shops that offer a good selection of customizable devices and liquids will not survive the new FDA regulations and will be forced to close shop.

To drive home the point, she didn’t open her store in Detroit Lakes on Monday and held a mock “out of business” event there instead.

That alarmed customers, inspiring lots of interest in House Bill 2058, which would essentially grandfather in existing e-cigarette products.

The end result of the FDA regulations, she says is that those who use e-cigarettes will pay more for a limited selection of products, and the e-cigarette industry as a whole will see restricted competition and stifled innovation.

For its part, the FDA says the new regulations are designed to make regulated tobacco products less accessible and less attractive to youth.

“Every day, more than 2,600 kids try their first cigarette and nearly 600 kids become cigarette daily smokers,” the agency said on its website. “Additionally, the CDC and FDA found that during 2011-2015, e-cigarette use rose from 1.5 percent to 16 percent among high school students.”

Many of these children will become addicted before they are old enough to understand the risks, the agency added. “As a retailer, you play an important role in protecting children and adolescents by complying with the law and regulations.”

Ironically, Hoban believes the new regulations will do more to help Big Tobacco and Big Pharma, since it will limit smokers’ ability to quit the habit by switching to e-cigarettes.

“Since we’ve opened we’ve been able to help thousands of people in this area quit cigarettes,” she said. “We’ve had people on their last legs — they tried the patch, they tried the meds, they tried the gum, they tried hypnosis, they tried everything … we’ve seen people go from smoking two packs a day to quitting cigarettes almost immediately.”

Hoban said older people are benefitting from e-cigarettes.

“One guy had been smoking 50 years, he started at age 8 — he was able to quit when he first started vaping. We had a woman in her 90s with COPD symptoms — they cleared up altogether (when she switched to e-cigarettes)…People are so excited about finding something to quit a habit they thought they’d take with them to the grave.”

Hoban said the new regulations cripple her store’s ability to work with customers trying to quit smoking.

“Prior to the regulations we had the ability to tailor (to their needs),” she said. “We could customize flavors and nicotine levels; we could also help customers set up the product and walk them through it so they knew how to use it.”

She believes the FDA regulations were heavily influenced by large corporations, including pharmaceutical companies that sell expensive cancer drugs and make money off smokers that become patients.

“This is Big Pharma trying to protect their future,” she said. “The last few years vaping has exploded. It’s a multibillion dollar a year industry in the United States alone.

This is the little man against big corporations, whether people vape or not, this is about overreaching government agencies destroying small business. This is not what America is about.”