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December 27th, 2013:

Daily Mail: E-cigarettes could be outlawed by Brussels plan to treat them as tobacco products because they are ‘too realistic’

by Matt Chorley of the Daily Mail:

E-cigarettes could be banned under rules drawn up in Brussels to curb nicotine levels.

European officials claim the devices ‘normalise the action of smoking’ and should be subject to the same rules as other tobacco products.

But critics warn plans to impose nicotine limits mean all e-cigarettes currently on sale in Britain would be outlawed.

E-cigarettes with high levels of nicotine or which taste like tobacco could be banned under new EU rules. (Daily Mail)


Bloomberg: U.K. Tobacco Stocks Slide on Government Plain Packaging Review

by Clementine Fletcher, for Bloomberg News:

Imperial Tobacco Group Plc and British American Tobacco Plc (BATS) fell in London after the U.K. reversed its position on plain cigarette packs, announcing a review of how the policy is working abroad.

Imperial fell as much as 3.2 percent, while BAT slid as much as 1.7 percent after Health Minister Jane Ellison said the U.K. will assess the subject, only four months after the government postponed plans to introduce plain packaging.

“We think the time is right to look at it,” Ellison said in an interview on BBC Radio 4. “What the government said in July was that it would look at the emerging evidence.”

Australia became the first country to introduce plain packaging in December. All cigarettes in the nation must be sold in uniform packs, with the brand name displayed on a brown background on the bottom quarter of the pack. The law is being challenged at the World Trade Organization and at arbitration.

According to Chris Wickham of Oriel Securities, who has a buy recommendation on Imperial Tobacco, plain packaging has made little difference to sales where it has been tried.

“Evidence from Australia so far shows no impact on market trends,” Wickham wrote in a research note today. “Furthermore, brands continue to drive cigarette market trends even in a plain-pack market.”

Still, today’s U.K. news is disappointing “given expectations that global tobacco legislation would become more evidence- or scientifically-based,” the analyst wrote.

‘Modest Amount’

Imperial Tobacco, the second-biggest maker of cigarettes in Europe, gets 20 percent of profit from the U.K., according to Oriel estimates. BAT makes only “a modest amount” of money in the region, Wickham said.

Imperial traded down 66 pence, or 2.8 percent, at 2,295 pence at 9:32 a.m., giving the company a market value of about 22 billion pounds ($36 billion). BAT fell 29.5 pence, or 0.9 percent, to 3,243.5 pence, valuing it at 61 billion pounds.

BAT supports “balanced and evidence-based tobacco regulation that helps governments to achieve their public health objectives,” Kingsley Wheaton, director of corporate and regulatory affairs at BAT, said by e-mail today.

Australian plain-packaging measures haven’t reduced legal sales of tobacco in the country and have “coincided with an increase in illicit trade,” Wheaton said. He called for “much more robust research” by the U.K. government into tobacco-control regulation.

Spokespeople for Imperial Tobacco were not immediately able to comment when contacted by Bloomberg News.

28 Nov 2013

DW: Blowing smoke in the Brussels tobacco war

by Alois Berger and Sonya Diehn of Deutsche Welle:

As the European Union hammers out final details of a new tobacco products directive, revelations about the extent of industry lobbying have made waves – and maybe even turned the tide.

European Parliament member, Matthias Groote, a Social Democrat from Germany, was puzzled when he found out that he had been categorized as “tobacco-friendly.” Perhaps his willingness to discuss had been misinterpreted, he thought. “I’m accustomed to talking with all sides, and listening to arguments that do not come out of a textbook,” Groote told DW.

Groote, in his position as head of the EU parliamentary health committee, plays an important role in European tobacco policy – and he is among those sitting at the table in discussions over a compromise on the directive. In October, the European Parliament approved a draft law that would require graphic and descriptive warnings covering 65 percent of cigarette packs, ban the sale of flavored cigarettes and regulate e-cigarettes.

Now, the European Parliament and European Council of Ministers – an EU body traditionally considered to be somewhat more industry-friendly – are seeking to finalize the legislation before it is presented to member states.

The extent of the tobacco industry’s lobby – revealed in recently leaked documents – has not only caused a stir, but has also likely affected the directive’s outcome.