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July 6th, 2012:

Japan Tobacco feels UK has decided on plain packets

Fri, Jul 6 2012

* Believes UK govt has decided before consultations end

* Claims UK is trying to fit evidence to meet its view

* UK Health Department says no decision had been made

* Consultation period continues until Aug. 10

By David Jones

LONDON, July 6 (Reuters) – The British government has already decided to require cigarettes to be sold in plain, brand-free packets even though it has not yet completed its consultation on the issue, cigarette maker Japan Tobacco claimed on Friday.

The group, which sells Benson & Hedges and Silk Cut cigarettes in Britain, believes Health Secretary Andrew Lansley’santi-smoking stance and a flawed consultation process suggests the government will push ahead with so-called plain packaging.

“There are worrying indicators that the Department of Health has decided to introduce plain packaging,” Martin Southgate, managing director of the UK for Japan Tobacco International (JTI) told a briefing on Friday.

“The government is trying to fit the evidence to meet a pre-determined view,” he added.

The Department of Health said no decision would be taken until the consultation had ended and the evidence analysed as it looks at ways to cut the number of young people taking up smoking and assist existing smokers who are trying to quit.

“We’re in the consultation process, and we have made no decision. We remain open-minded,” a department spokeswoman said.

Britain kicked off a three-month consultation process back in April on plain packaging as it looked to deter a habit which it says is responsible for over 100,000 UK deaths a year and puts pressure on the public health system.

It extended the process by a month to August 10 on Thursday after receiving thousands of responses and it said it wanted to make sure everyone who wanted to contribute can.

Just before the consultation was launched, Lansley was quoted in media interviews as saying “we no longer see smoking as a part of life” and that he wanted tobacco companies to have “no business” in the UK.

Australia is the only nation with firm plans to introduce plain packaging which will ban eye-catching designs and branding from cigarette packages with the packs displaying the product names in a plain typeface with graphic health warnings.

The Canberra government plans legislation to take effect by December, but big cigarette companies including Japan Tobacco are mounting legal challenges to fight the move in the Australian High Court.

JTI’s Southgate argues there is no credible evidence to suggest plain packaging will reduce youth smoking and it will exacerbate illicit trade which accounts for a fifth of the cigarettes smoked in the UK and loses the government around 3 billion pounds a year in lost excise tax.

“We are concerned that the Department of Health will aim to justify plain packaging using the best guess and subjective views of its preferred panel of individuals and that these people will be already involved in tobacco control work and studies,” he said.

The group, No 3 in the tobacco world after Philip Morris and British American Tobacco, is to spend 2 million pounds over the coming months on an advertising campaign against plain packaging which starts this weekend.

Japan Tobacco took over Gallaher in 2007 giving it a near 40 percent share of the UK cigarette market behind Imperial Tobacco at just over 45 percent, but ahead of BAT with just a 6 percent market share.

All three are opposed to plain packaging saying there is no evidence that such a move would have an effect and that it would simply increase illicit trade in cigarettes.

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State smoking ban doesn’t affect restaurant sales

By ASSOCIATED PRESS | Posted: Friday, July 6, 2012 11:17 am | (14) Comments

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MILWAUKEE — When Wisconsin enacted a workplace smoking ban in in 2010, the state’s hospitality industry worried the move would drive away customers. But two years on, the industry says its sales were largely unaffected.

State tax-collection data show that sales at restaurants and taverns increased 1 percent in 2010 and 2 percent last year, mirroring national trends, according to a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel report.

The ban “wasn’t a boon to our industry, but it doesn’t seem to have hurt our sales,’’ said Pete Hanson, a spokesman for the Wisconsin Restaurant Association.

While sales were up overall for the industry, the subcategory of bars and taverns did see a decrease of about 4 percent in that period, Hanson said. However, he noted that trend has been going on for a number of years and couldn’t necessarily be attributed to the smoking ban.

The law, which bans smoking in public places and workplaces, took effect two years ago Thursday. It prohibits smoking in a wide range of locations, including state or local government buildings, bars, restaurants, stores, hotels, day care centers, and hospitals.

Opponents, especially those in the tavern industry, criticized the ban as an unnecessary intrusion that would deter customers who want to smoke.

Supporters countered that the law would protect the health of both customers and employees, such as waitresses, who would otherwise be exposed to secondhand smoke. They also predicted the ban would attract business from asthmatics and other nonsmokers who previously avoided smoky establishments.

Some taverns compromised by adding open-air shelters when customers can smoke. Kathy Martin, the owner of Dockside Pub and Grille in Beaver Dam, said that solution worked for her but that not every business has the space.

Legally, the enclosed areas where smoking is prohibited are defined as spaces with a roof and at least three “substantial walls.’’ There has been no agreement on what constitutes a substantial wall.

An official with the Tavern League of Wisconsin wonders whether the ban might have contributed to some bars going out of business. Pete Madland, the group’s executive director, said its membership is down over the last two years. The recession was a big reason, he said, but the smoking ban was a “contributing factor.’’

Martin, who is also the president of the Dodge County Tavern League, agreed. Despite adding a new smoking area, business was down 30 percent, she said.

“People were used to coming in, sitting at the bar, and having a drink and a cigarette,’’ Martin said, but now “people don’t stay.’’

Maureen Busalacchi, the executive director of SmokeFree Wisconsin, said it’s nearly impossible to quantify why customers stop coming in, especially when economic times are tough.

When the Legislature is back in session next year, Martin said the Tavern League hopes to pursue legislation that would allow indoor smoking areas that are closed off from the rest of the bar, a solution she says would please both smokers and nonsmokers.

But Busalacchi said SmokeFree Wisconsin would fight any legislation of that nature.

“You start messing around with partially enclosed or that kind of thing, and you end up contaminating all of the air,’’ she said.


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Read more:

JT threatens UK over plain packaging

July 6, 2012 9:04 pm

By Christopher Thompson

Japan Tobacco International, the world’s third-biggest tobacco company by volume, has warned it will take legal action against the UK government if it implements plain packaging for cigarettes.

Speaking at the launch of a £2m advertising campaign sponsored by the company against the plain packaging proposals being considered by the Department of Health, Martin Southgate, JT’s managing director for the UK, said the company would consider taking the government to court to protect its brands if it did not “see sense”.

On this story

“We would be prepared to defend our position if it ended up in court but we don’t want to,” he said.

JT said court challenges would be considered at a UK and European Union level. He added that the company would likely make a decision in September after the UK’s DoH finished its consultation on plain packaging next month.

The warning is the latest escalation in criticism of government proposals by the tobacco industry. It worries that the UK could soon follow the example of Australia, where all tobacco products are due to be sold in identical drab packs with standardised brand names and carrying large health warnings later this year.

Alison Cooper, the chief executive of FTSE 100 constituent Imperial Tobacco, criticised the health department for being “anti-business” in May.

Philip Morris International, the maker of Marlboro, recently commissioned a report which predicted a steep increase in cigarette smuggling and counterfeiting if plain packs legislation was implemented.

JT echoed this concern. The maker of Camel and Silk Cut cigarettes said its relative UK market share could suffer as the share of the illicit trade increased.

Separately Mr Southgate attacked the independence of the health department and said there was evidence the ministry had already made its decision.

“There are indications a decision has already been made to implement [plain packaging] … despite the lack of evidence which exists,” he said.

However, tobacco control campaigners argue plain packs could be an important tool in reducing smoking, particularly among young people who are partly attracted to smoking by brands and colourful packaging, tobacco control campaigners say.

So far only Australia has passed legislation on plain packs.

JT is party to a legal battle there accusing the government of illegally confiscating their brands. The policy is also being considered in the EU.

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