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October, 2012:

EU’s Dalli insists on innocence in tobacco scandal

John Dalli: “I did not have any idea or awareness about any communication about this issue”

Former EU health commissioner John Dalli has insisted on his innocence in an alleged attempt to peddle influence, days after he resigned.

He was asked about a fresh allegation that a businessman with links to him had sought 60m euros (£49m; $79m) from a Swedish company.

“These are really fantastic figures,” he told New Europe TV in an interview.

He said at the time he had absolutely no idea of any approach to the tobacco firm made on his behalf.

Mr Dalli, a former Maltese cabinet minister, has argued that he is the victim of a tobacco lobbying campaign to block tough new legislation – the Tobacco Directive – to make smoking less attractive.

‘Down payment’

Tobacco producer Swedish Match said it had been asked to pay 60m euros, and in return the commissioner would water down the new legislation.

“I can say that those are the amounts we are talking about, and I’d also like to stress that for us the amount of money does not matter,” PatrikHildingsson, a spokesman for the Swedish company, told AFP news agency.

He said the alleged bribe would have been paid in two instalments, with 10m euros due before the new legislation was enacted, and the remaining 50m euros to be paid when the new rules were in place.

On Tuesday, the European Commission announced Mr Dalli’s resignation, saying that the EU’s anti-fraud office (Olaf) had established that a Maltese businessman had tried to use his contacts with Mr Dalli for financial gain.

Olaf said it had not found “conclusive evidence of the direct participation of Mr Dalli but did consider that he was aware of these events”.

‘Snus offer’

Swedish Match complained to the commission in May that a Maltese entrepreneur had used his contacts with Mr Dalli to try to gain financial advantages from the company.


  • A moist tobacco which is placed under the lip
  • Produced in various flavours, including liquorice, lemon, coffee, aniseed, elderflower, cranberry and mint
  • Banned in all EU states except Sweden

The entrepreneur had allegedly offered to influence legislation regarding an EU export ban on snus, a smokeless tobacco taken orally.

No transaction was concluded between the company and the entrepreneur and no payment was made, the commission said.

Olaf’s final report and its recommendations were being sent to the attorney-general of Malta, the commission added.

Mr Dalli, 64, became the EU’s commissioner for health and consumer policy in 2010.

His official biography shows that his career in Maltese politics stretches back more than a quarter of a century.

First elected an MP in 1987 for the centre-right Nationalist Party, he was a cabinet minister in several governments, serving as finance minister three times.

Commission Vice-President Maros Sefcovic is taking over Mr Dalli’s duties on an interim basis until a new commissioner of Maltese nationality is appointed.

Tobacco smuggling falls despite industry protests over tax rises

Rates of tobacco smuggling into the UK have fallen despite earlier claims from the tobacco industry that tax rises would prompt an increase in the illicit trade, official figures show.

An estimated nine per cent of cigarettes consumed in the UK in 2010/11 were illicit, compared with 11 per cent in the previous year, according to HM Revenue & Customs.

There was also a reduction in smuggled hand-rolled tobacco, from 42 per cent to 38 per cent.

Tax revenues have simultaneously grown while the use of illicit products has declined.

Robin Hewings, Cancer Research UK’s tobacco policy manager, commented: “The tobacco industry claims that cigarette smuggling is ‘booming‘, ‘set to grow‘ and that the UK is becoming the European ‘hotspot‘.

“Today’s figures show the opposite. This is yet another instance of the tobacco industry making claims that turn out not to be true.”

Rates of tobacco smuggling have been falling for a decade now, he added.

He explained that the decline has been achieved thanks to improved enforcement and joint working between governments to prevent the tobacco industry from facilitating the illicit trade.

He said: “The tobacco industry claims that plain packs will increase tobacco smuggling.

“Independent experts are clear their claims do not make sense. Today’s figures show why it is generally best not to trust what they say.”

Tobacco duty was increased by inflation plus one per cent at the March 2010 Budget, followed by a rise of inflation plus two per cent at the March 2011 Budget.

After those two Budgets, lobbyists for the tobacco industry repeated their claims that increased taxation and tougher regulations on tobacco use would consequently increase illicit trade.

The Tobacco Manufacturers Association (TMA) suggested after the 2010 Budget that “the largest tax increase on tobacco products in 10 years” would stimulate increased illicit activity.

After the 2011 Budget the TMA referred to the tax increase as “a complete lack of joined-up thinking as taxation is the acknowledged driver of the illicit tobacco trade”.

Commenting on the latest figures, ASH chief executive Deborah Arnott said the ongoing decline of the illicit tobacco trade is “good news for the British economy”.

She added: “Once again it is clear that there is no reason to believe tobacco industry propaganda about the relationship between illicit trade, tobacco taxes, plain packaging or other tobacco control measures.”

Copyright Press Association 2012

Tobacco sales licensing rules in Guernsey to be debated

BBC 18 October 2012 Last updated at 23:12 GMT

Deputy Hunter Adam

Deputy Adam said smoking was the main cause of premature deaths

Tobacco retailers in Guernsey will have to obtain an annual licence, if proposals by the Health and Social Services Department are approved.

Health Minister Hunter Adam also wants to give police the power to confiscate cigarettes and “smoking paraphernalia” from under-18s in public places.

The department has proposed licence fees of between £300 and £1,000, depending on the size of the retailer.

Deputies will debate the proposals at their meeting on 28 November.

Additional measures include restricting the display of prices, which has been viewed as a potential loophole following the outlawing of prominent product displays.

The licensing regime would be policed by officers from the Office of Environmental Health and Pollution Regulation, who “already visit virtually all of the tobacco outlets”.

‘Preventable death’

Deputy Adam said the licence fee would be set in such a way as to ensure the cost of administration and enforcement were covered, as well as signage and training.

A further proposal suggests it should cover the cost of the Quitline service, which helps those attempting to give up smoking.

However, the Treasury and Resources Department has warned that some retailers may choose not to sell tobacco products anymore, if a licensing regime is introduced.

This, it said, would reduce the funds available.

A previous tobacco licensing regime, introduced in 1904, was repealed in 1980 because it cost more to administer than was being raised through fees.

Deputy Adam said the proposals were primarily aimed at reducing the prevalence of smoking, especially among children.

“Smoking remains the major preventable cause of premature death and ill health in the Bailiwick,” he said.

The latest proposals form part of a Tobacco Control Strategy agreed by the States in 2008.

If approved, it is estimated the legislation would come back before deputies for final approval early in 2013.

Big Tobacco Companies Resist Admissions Of Wrongdoing

Tobacco Companies Wrongdoing

By David Ingram

WASHINGTON, Oct 15 (Reuters) – U.S. tobacco companies told a federal judge on Monday they should not be required to tell the public they manipulated nicotine levels to make cigarettes more addictive, or that they repeatedly lied about the health effects of light cigarettes.

The companies – including Altria Group Inc and Reynolds American Inc – have been fighting with the U.S. Justice Department for six years about the wording of what are known as “corrective statements.”

The statements are part of the penalty the companies must pay after U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler, in a historic 2006 decision, found that the tobacco industry engaged in a multi-decade fraud to deceive the public.

Labels with the statements are set to run eventually in newspapers, on cigarette packaging and elsewhere.

The labels are separate from those that have run on U.S. cigarette packaging for decades, and from new graphic labels proposed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Although Kessler’s decision concluded that the companies manipulated nicotine and lied about health effects – and an appeals court upheld her decision – the companies maintain they did nothing wrong.

To force the companies to advertise those conclusions would mean spreading a message they do not believe, in violation of their speech rights, Noel Francisco, a lawyer for several companies, said at a hearing on Monday.

“Simply because the court found it, doesn’t mean it can force us to say it,” Francisco told Kessler. The statements need to be purely factual and non-controversial, he said.

A Justice Department lawyer said the proposed statements are factual, based on Kessler’s 2006 decision, and that the public needs to be aware of the extent of the companies’ lying.

“The tobacco companies would love these statements to be generic health warnings. They would love these statements to be about their products and not about them,” said the Justice Department’s Daniel Crane-Hirsch.

Kessler said she would rule on the proposed wording of the “corrective statements” soon.

The dispute is the latest round in a legal fight between the government and major cigarette-makers dating to the Clinton administration.

In 1999 Justice Department lawyers accused the companies of running a fraud against Americans by denying or downplaying the effects of their products.

One 1954 newspaper ad, for example, dismissed experiments suggesting a link between cancer and smoking. “We accept an interest in people’s health as a basic responsibility, paramount to every other consideration in our business,” the ad said.

Kessler ruled that the companies violated the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, a 1970 law designed for use against organized crime.

She rejected a Justice Department proposal that the companies pay billions for anti-smoking campaigns, but she did bar them from using terms such as “low tar” or “light” in their cigarette marketing, and she required them to make corrective statements to the public.

Tobacco giant drops appeal

October 14, 2012

Philip Morris, the major tobacco producer, has decided not to pursue its legal challenge of a Norwegian law that forbids retailers from displaying tobacco products. The company’s Norwegian unit, Philip Morris Norge, had claimed the law hindered trade of legal products and failed to document the health benefits justifying such a hindrance.

Philip Morris Norge suffered what some local legal experts called a “crushing defeat,” however, when the Oslo City Court (Oslo Tingrett) upheld the state law. The court ruled that the ban on exposure of tobacco products (now kept out of site for consumers who must ask for them) did not hinder trade and  would be legitimate even if it did.

A spokesman for Philip Morris Norge refused to say why the company had decided not to appeal the city court ruling, calling its analysis of the ruling “internal information.”

A state prosecutor told newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) that the state was “very well satisfied” with the outcome of the court case. He thinks the ruling can have consequences outside Norway’s borders as well, since it was the first test in the European economic area of the legality of such a ban on tobacco display, and other countries have evaluated imposing similar bans. staff

Tobacco packaging: Call to scrutinise lobby groups’ claims

The New Zealand Herald

By Kieran Campbell KieranCampbell Email Kieran

7:17 PM Thursday Oct 11, 2012

American lobby groups condemning the Government’s bid for plain packaging on cigarettes are attempting to muddy the debate and their arguments should be scrutinised, a marketing professor says.

At least two US lobby groups have backed claims by British American Tobacco (BAT) in a campaign costing hundreds of thousands of dollars that there is no evidence plain packaging will reduce smoking.

Today BAT stood by its comments that recent research by Otago University proved little about real smoker behaviour.

However Professor Janet Hoek, from the university’s department of marketing, said BAT’s claims were “illogical”, “unsupported” and ignored a “well-established evidence base”.

American lobby groups the Institute for Policy Innovation (IPI) and Chamber of Commerce have released statements saying plain packaging will not aid public health but rather pose risks for international trade.

Prof Hoek said any comments in the debate should be scrutinised closely.

“We know the tobacco industry has funded … groups in New Zealand [in the past]. That became very apparent during the whole debate over the removal of tobacco retail displays a couple of years ago,” Prof Hoek said.

“So we know that they have their tentacles reaching out and that they are trying to create groups to give them a veneer of public respectability.

“I think we’ve got to scrutinise those sorts of claims very carefully.”

IPI, which is funded by donations from businesses and individuals, released a paper voicing opposition to the Government’s proposed plain packaging legislation, including what it says are implications on trademarks and overseas trade.

The IPI would not disclose the individuals and organisations that contribute to its $1.5 million per year funding, but BAT said it did not donate money to the organisation.

The US Chamber of Commerce, which says it represents “the interests of more than 3 million businesses of all sizes, sectors, and regions”, also stated its opposition to the legislation and said there were alternatives to deal with the public health problems of smoking.

Prof Hoek said the university’s research had revealed “pretty strong evidence that plain packaging is going to be good for health and that it will protect future generations of children from taking up smoking, which is, let’s face it, a deadly addiction”.

“I think what these organisations are trying to do is to muddy the waters because I think the waters are actually very clear and the research base is very strong,” she said.

“I think we can rely heavily on people’s common sense [to judge criticism of plain packaging]. I think they are trying to muddy the waters but I think they are being spectacularly unsuccessful in their attempts.”

By Kieran Campbell KieranCampbell Email Kieran


Copyright ©2012, APN Holdings NZ Limited

Tobacco smugglers face criminal charges

11 Oct 2012. Tobacco smugglers will face criminal charges and penalties up to 10 years imprisonment under changes to the customs law approved by the Senate, the Australian Associated Press (AAP) reported.
Attorney General Nicola Roxon issued a statement saying criminalization was necessary because current penalties for smuggling tobacco products are low and illegal tobacco poses significant health risks, the AAP reported. (pi)

Tough smoking ban on sidewalks marks 10 years in Chiyoda Ward

October 11, 2012


On a recent weekday afternoon in Akihabara, in Tokyo’s Chiyoda Ward, a pair of ward patrol officers collared a foreign man violating a unique and strict ordinance that has been in effect for 10 years.

The duo, former police officers and donning yellow polo shirts, showed the culprit, a 30-year-old Spanish tourist, literature on the ward’s ban on smoking on the sidewalks, written in English as well. They told him he had to pay the fine, 2,000 yen ($25.60).

“When I traveled to Mexico, we could smoke in the street, not inside shops though,” the man said, although he paid the fine without much protest.

Chiyoda Ward, home to the Diet building, the prime minister’s office and many other central government ministries and agencies as well as a cluster of popular electronic shops in Akihabara, became the first local government in the nation to impose such a smoking ban in 2002.

Like the Spanish tourist, an average 81 percent of the violators each year pay their fine, according to the ward. The rest do not, even though they promise to send the fine in later.

Fines collected totaled 110 million yen over fiscal 2002-2011.

As a result of the ban, few smoke on the ward’s main streets. But Mieko Ishiguro, 57, one of the officers who nabbed the tourist, said some smokers try to sneak a cigarette at a spot that is out of public sight.

Areas around vending machines on the back streets are their favorite hideout, said Manabu Murasaki, 61, the other officer.

Even though the ward’s streets are not completely free off cigarette butts, they are significantly cleaner.

The number of butts left at four locations in the Akihabara district stood at 995 a month before the ban took effect, according to the ward. There were only five butts in the same district in April. Officials tallied the number on four occasions a month.

While smokers find themselves increasingly at a loss as to where to go to have a puff, the ban led to the opening in the ward in July by a private company of three high-tech smoking rooms, called “ippuku” (take a puff).

Smokers enter the room through a gate by presenting an electronic commuter pass that money can be added to. Admission costs 50 yen.

In one room, located on the first floor of a building in the Kanda area, a fresh aroma is sprayed as a customer enters. The air inside is not filled with smoke as thick as expected. Specially coated walls of the room are supposed to disperse odors. Although many smokers apparently don’t linger there, a 48-year-old man was taking time to have a private smoke, checking his cellphone and sipping coffee.

He said he stops by three times a day. The restaurant he is working for imposed a total ban on smoking three years ago.

“I don’t drink, and I have nothing else to enjoy other than smoking,” he said.

Akihiro Hineno, operator of the ippuku, hit upon an idea of setting up such places after he saw a band of smokers congregating around large ashtrays put up on the streets and nonsmokers avoiding them.

Hineno, 43, a smoker himself, became convinced that smokers needed somewhere to go where they will not cause nonsmokers problems.

A total of 1,100 people use his three rooms a day, according to Hineno.

Eighty percent are men, and smokers in their 20s through 40s account for 70 percent of his customers.

While the smoking ban in the streets has contributed to cleaning the ward’s air and streets, it created a new problem.

Smokers are taking refuge in the parks, where they are allowed to smoke under the ordinance.

But with a flurry of complaints from mothers worried about their children’s health and others, the ward began dividing some of its parks into smoking and no-smoking areas.

The Akihabara park in front of JR Akihabara Station now has a smoking section, started from spring.

The park, whose space is equivalent to three tennis courts, devotes 40 square meters on the side of the station to smoking behind an acrylic partition.

The smoking section appears too crowded on weekday afternoons to accommodate the crowd. Street sweepers are constantly picking up butts with steel tongs.

Ward officials acknowledge a need to address the problems in the park.

“The situation has improved significantly, but there are still many smokers who puff outside the smoking section in the parks,” an official said.

Ward officials has been examining the situation at each park since this summer.

The ward is expected to decide by the end of December what to do with about 60 parks it manages, whether to set up smoking areas in some parks or make others entirely no smoking.

According to the ward, more than 70 local governments have adopted an ordinance banning smoking on the streets with a fine for violators.

(This article was written by Minako Yoshimoto and Atsushi Takahashi.)


Smokers face new ban

SALLY GLAETZER | October 09, 2012 12.01am

THE Hobart City Council has rejected an industry push to relax its tough anti-smoking policy for outdoor dining areas and may take the rules a step further with a total ban on smoking on footpaths.

At last night’s council meeting aldermen voted to reject a call by the Tasmanian Hospitality Association to scale back its ban on smoking in outdoor dining and drinking areas within the city. Ald Marti Zucco suggested the council ban smoking along footpaths completely.

He said that would stop people smoking along Salamanca Place altogether, whereas the ban currently applies only to alfresco seating areas along the popular restaurant and bar strip.

“At the moment people smoke outside the barrier of an outdoor dining area. I believe that’s worse than being inside the barrier,” Ald Zucco said.

His motion to investigate the Manly City Council’s extensive ban on smoking in outdoor areas was carried by the council, much to the dismay of Hospitality association general manager Steve Old.

Mr Old said Hobart eateries and bars were already struggling because of the existing regulations.

“So where are these people supposed to smoke?” he said.

“People have a right to choose what they want to do and smoking is not illegal.”

The association had been lobbying the council to bring its smoking rules in line with state legislation, which prevents smoking in outdoor dining areas during meal times only.

Mr Old said the Hobart-specific rules introduced last August had become a policing nightmare for bar staff and security guards, particularly in waterfront areas including Salamanca area, and were causing altercations among late night drinkers who wanted to smoke.

Ald Zucco told the Mercury that despite the motion he put forward at last night’s meeting, he was actually opposed to the council going it alone on smoking regulations. He agreed with Mr Old that the council’s role should be to lobby the State Government on the issue.


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