Clear The Air News Tobacco Blog Rotating Header Image

July 22nd, 2011:

Tobacco prices up in smoke

When President Robert Mugabe embarked on the infamous and chaotic land reform programme in 2000, Zanu (PF) officials and supporters immediately benefited and many recipients of land hoped to cash in on commercial farming.

Chinese buyers from Tian Ze debate tobacco quality.

Chinese buyers from Tian Ze debate tobacco quality.

Elisha Mavhezha, a small-scale tobacco farmer based in Headlands, expected handsome rewards from the just ended tobacco selling season, but instead recorded huge losses.

“I ventured into tobacco farming in anticipation of better returns, but all my hope has been transformed into nightmares. I had to sell two oxen to buy the inputs for my tobacco preparations. I used more than US$2000 in expenses for my two hectares, but when I went to Boka Tobacco Auction floors my crop fetched poor prices, a feat that forced me to sell another ox to settle my labour costs and other debts,” he said.

“These buyers are crooks. It is good as giving them our tobacco for free. They don’t want to pay good prices to us because we, as black people, are now in control of the farms. In the past whites made a lot of money through farming, but now blacks own those farms and we have failed to make money. We also want to drive new cars like what they (whites) did,” said the fuming farmer, adding that he had remained poor despite his efforts.

Forced out of business

Other farmers in the Headlands area said the poor tobacco price would force them out of tobacco farming if no corrective measures were taken before the next season. They complained that the Tobacco Industry Marketing Board (TIMB) was doing nothing to protect them.

Topira Mutasa, a retired colonel, who is a resettled farmer on Rungutai Farm described the situation as a “big swindle”.

“These buyers are ripping farmers off. Their acts are bent to frustrate and push farmers out of business. We are no longer able to pay transporters, our workers and bank loans,” he said.

The farmers said some of the buyers offered between 98 cents and one dollar per kilogram; a price they said was a mockery of their business. A more respectable price would be US$4 per kilogram.

“Do you think the farmers are going to plant tobacco next season when things went like that last season? This is the highest level of slave trade. Where is TIMB? Where are those farm organisations? Who will protect us then?” asked the ex-Colonel.

Ministers profit from farmers’ loss

The small-scale farmers also accused some top Zanu (PF) ministers of profiteering at the expense of the small-scale farmers.

“These buyers pay good prices of up to US$5.50 per kilogram to selected and feared Zanu (PF) cabinet ministers and officials. These ministers and senior officials have failed to protect us because they know that they are OK. What about us small-scale farmers who are powerless. Is this what the land reform is all about?” asked another tobacco small-scale farmer who requested not to be named for fear of victimization.

Popular businessman and former football personality, Lovemore Gijima Msindo, who is also a tobacco farmer said the government should bring sanity to the tobacco industry.

“The government should now subsidise the small-scale farmers that have already been ripped off. If it fails to do that then many farmers are not going to plant tobacco next season. If people quit tobacco farming it will be a disaster for the nation,” he added.

Chinese buyers unfazed

Chinese companies buying on behalf of the Chinese market said what they had been offering (US$3.60 per kilogram) was the best price.

“A number of farmers are not registered and this affects our planning capabilities. We already sourced money from international markets that is in accordance with available tobacco, that’s why we settle for these prices,” said Ting Yang, a buyer from Chinese firm, Tian Ze.

“Maybe those low offers were on poor quality tobacco,” he added. While the number of indigenous small-scale farmers has increased, less of the top quality “lemon tobacco”, which is used to flavour cigarettes, has been grown. “Flavour tobacco is in short supply,” said Nathan Harawa a resettled small scale farmer from Rusape.

US-based buyers Standard Commercial, Universal and Dimon have traditionally bought the bulk of Zimbabwe’s crop to flavour cigarette brands, such as Marlboro and Camel. However, Zimbabwean tobacco, once considered by buyers to rival US varieties, has now been excluded from blends used by the biggest cigarette makers because the quality and quantity of the crop is declining.

Some local observers interviewed said the country was at the mercy of Chinese buyers and emphasized that there was need for policy interventions to protect all stakeholders involved.

Research collaboration aims for tobacco-free NZ

The University of Otago, together with Massey University and partners Whakauae Research, and Tala Pasifika, is launching ASPIRE 2025, a new research collaboration designed to help achieve a tobacco-free New Zealand.

Associate Minister of Health and co-leader of the Maori Party, the Hon. Tariana Turia, will launch the new research collaboration at the University of Otago, Wellington at 10.30am Friday July 22.

ASPIRE 2025 will collaborate with all researchers and health groups in New Zealand to conduct world-class original research. It is expected this research will help achieve the New Zealand Government’s goal of minimising tobacco use by 2025.

Philip Morris Int’l 2Q net up on higher prices

AP Tobacco Writer RICHMOND, Va. — Cigarette maker Philip Morris International says its second-quarter net income grew more than 21 percent because it commanded higher prices for its brands. The seller of Marlboro and other brands

Earnings Preview: Reynolds American Inc.

RICHMOND, Va. — Reynolds American Inc., the second-biggest U.S. cigarette company and the maker of Camel brand products, is expected to report rising profit despite lower revenue when it releases its second-quarter results before the stock markets open Friday.

………. read more :

SF judge upholds city’s cigarette pack surcharge

AP SAN FRANCISCO — A San Francisco judge has upheld the city’s 20-cent-per-pack surcharge on cigarettes. Superior Court Judge Ronald Quidachay ruled on Monday that the additional charge was a fee and not a tax and therefore did not need to be approved 

City’s cigarette fee holds up in court (blog)

Queen Street Mall to be smoke-free

The Council will fine people $200 if they refuse to put out their cigarettes. More than 80 per cent of people who responded to a Council survey were in favour of the ban. The Cancer Council has welcomed the ban, but wants the Government to extend it to

Mall smoking ban from September Courier Mail

Smoking Cessation Drug Associated with Increased Risk for Heart Disease | Testing It Up – Drug & Health Testing News

from Testing It Up:

In recent years, there has been an active campaign against smoking, and an increasing number of smokers have made conscious effort to kick their habit. Quitting smoking, however, is easier said than done, such that there are those who have resorted to taking medication to help them in the smoking cessation process.

In a feature on USA Today, however, a new study has associated the quit-smoking drug Chantix to an increased risk in developing heart problems. Study author Dr. Sonal Singh, an assistant professor of general internal medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, shared: “all smokers who take Chantix are at risk for heart attack, stroke or other cardiovascular event.”

These findings were published July 4th, in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ). The study consisted of a review of 14 studies, which involved more than 8,200 smokers or users of smokeless tobacco; most of the participants of these studies did not exhibit evidence of heart disease. An estimated 4,900 of this population took Chantix, while the rest were given placebo.

The results of the study revealed that 52 of the participants who took the Chantix drug experienced serious cardiovascular events, when compared against those who were only taking the placebo.

Dr. Singh shared further: “Chantix is causing the problems it’s supposed to prevent,” in reference to the fact that smoking is among the risk factors for heart disease.

Chantix manufacturer Pfizer, however, disagrees with the study’s findings, and issued a statement that partly said: “The analysis contains several limitations; most notably that it is based on a small number of events, which raises concerns about the reliability of the authors’ conclusions.”

1.2 million contraband cigarette sticks seized

Thursday, Jul 21, 2011

SINGAPORE – Police have seized over 60,000 packets of contraband cigarettes following a three-day crackdown on a distribution network operating in Hougang, Bedok and Yishun.

Three locals and a Chinese national were arrested in the sting operation between July 5 and 7. The contraband amounted to a total of 1.2 million sticks, with tax and duty evasion exceeding $450,000.

Three vehicles – a saloon car and two goods trucks – used by the syndicate members were also seized by authorities.

Singaporean Ang Wee Koon, 37, was the first to be arrested. On July 5, police uncovered 36,240 packets of duty-unpaid cigarettes in his truck in Bedok. Ang has been charged and sentenced to 21 months of jail.

After a follow-up surveillance operation on July 6 and 7, three others – Chinese national Chen Zushun, 38, Mohamed Shah bin Jantan, 50, and Tan Boon Kiat, 55 – were arrested.

Chen was found with 23,773 packets of duty-unpaid cigarettes in his Yishun flat. Police observed him collecting 10 boxes of contraband cigarettes from Shah and Tan, who had made a delivery to the carpark below his housing block.

Shah and Tan subsequently drove off in their goods truck and car to a Hougang carpark. They were nabbed after police witnessed Shah handing over a box of cigarettes to Tan.

Shah has since been charged and sentenced to 20 months’ jail. Court proceedings are still ongoing for Tan and Chen.

Under the Customs Act and the GST Act, repeat offenders can be fined up to 40 times the amount of duty and GST evaded and/or jailed for up to six years.

Big Tobacco Spent $100 Million Plus on CA Politics in Past Decade

Over the past decade, “Big Tobacco” spent over US$100 million to influence elections and legislative policy in California, according to a report, Tobacco Money in California Politics. The report can be read in full at the Center For Tobacco Policy and Organizing site. A searchable database of campaign contributions on the site provides precise figures about the campaign contributions tobacco companies are making to individual California state assembly members and Senators.

US 9.3 million was spent on campaign contributions and lobbying during the 2009-2010 election cycle. 48 percent of California’s state legislators — 59 members out of 122 — have received campaign contributions from the tobacco industry (a total that was the same in previous election cycles). More than $62 million was spent to oppose Proposition 86, a 2006 ballot initiative that would have increased California’s tobacco tax by $2.60 a pack, to pay for pay for “additional hospital funding, health coverage of children, nursing education, anti-smoking education programs, and funding for nonprofit clinics.” Proposition 86 lost by a narrow margin.

Further, Philip Morris USA Inc. alone spent more than $750,000 on lobbying from April through June of 2009, the second quarter of that year: This was a “record amount for lobbying expenditures in one quarter by any tobacco interest over the last decade,” according to apress release from the American Lung Association about the report. Incidentally, it was during those very three months that the California legislature voted on two budget bills that were of more than a little interest to the tobacco industry. One bill contained atobacco tax increase, while the other bill was also about tobacco taxes (and was already moving forward in the legislative process) — tobacco companies are out to protect their interests, not to mention their profits.

Of all special interests, tobacco companies ranked “near the top” in total spending on campaign contributions and lobbying, says the report.

Nonetheless, in this same time period, smoking rates in California have kept falling and more communities passed policies meant to reduce the impact of smoking in California. The San Jose Mercury News reports that the state’s adult smoking rate is 11.9 percent, a record low. (Money doesn’t all buy results, it’s heartening to know.)

I’m originally from California and, even though I grew up in the years prior to the passing of a anti-smoking legislation, I remember a general attitude of “why would anyone deliberately endanger their health and smoke”? Much more recently, and thankfully, smoking has been banned from restaurants, indoor public places and workplaces (and in casinos)  in New Jersey where we live. In New York, it’s illegal to smoke not only in restaurants but on train platforms and parks and beaches.

A recent study has shown that babies admitted to hospital with bronchiolitis from a household where a parent smokes are twice as likely to need oxygen therapy than babies whose parents do not smoke — and they’re five times as likely to need mechanical ventilation. Does it need to be said again that smoking is not good for you, or for those around you

Read more:

Wales – smoking in cars with children

Welsh assembly takes a new direction on public services

Banning smoking in cars with children is a clear signal that Wales is taking a distinctly different route from England on health and public policy, reports Peter Hetherington