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December 24th, 2015:

BAT scandal: We received letter from Raila office, no action was taken, says KRA

No action was taken to suspend freezing Mastermind Tobacco Kenya’s accounts as asked by the Office of the Prime Minister, KRA has said.

CEO John Njiraini said tax demands against MTK were legitimate and “are not influenced by any party and will be defended at the right forum in the Tax Tribunal courts”.

“Tax matters are handled strictly in accordance with the legal provisions of which taxpayers or their appointed tax consultants are well appraised,” Njiraini said in a statement on Thursday.

In a letter dated May 4, 2010, former PM Raila Odinga “intervened” to stop Kenya Revenue Authority from freezing Mastermind’s accounts over non payment of taxes amounting to billions.

Njiraini urged all parties who feel aggrieved by the commission’s demands to avoid advancing partisan positions and “to await the rulings of the property mandated organs”.

“We consider ongoing public commentary on MTK tax issues to border on contempt of the property constituted judicial processes.”

This comes after the office of the Prime Minister wrote to then KRA boss Michael Waweru to “immediately suspend notices issued to Mastermind Kenya asking for payment within 50 days”.

Raila was Prime Minister at the time.

“You are requested to put on hold the enforcement action you have instituted against Mastermind Tobacco Kenya Limited in order to facilitate further review of the matter,” read the letter signed by acting PS Andrew Mondoh.

On December 23, the EACC said it will investigate the scandal surrounding British American Tobacco and MTK after they were invited by KRA.

Njiraini said the Authority held discussions with EACC after media reports highlighted “alleged unethical relations between staff of BAT and unspecified staff at KRA.

Here Are The Indian States That Drink, Smoke And Smoke Up More Than Others

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European court gives the go ahead for plain cigarette packs

“A wonderful Christmas present for children” – Minister gives ecstatic reaction

Minister for Children James Reilly has welcomed a European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruling that clears the way for plain packaging laws for tobacco products in Ireland.

The court has made a preliminary ruling this morning against tobacco giants Philip Morris and British American Tobacco.

They took proceedings to the ECJ over an EU directive which would see health warnings on two thirds of tobacco packaging.

The Children’s Minister James Reilly wants to go one step further in Ireland and ban tobacco branding on packets altogether.

He says: “Tobacco companies may have more manoeuvres, but the Irish Government stands ready to meet any challenge on the way to implementing this law.”

In its ruling this morning, the ECJ said the new EU tobacco directive of 2014 is valid.

Legislation to introduce plain packaging of tobacco products was unanimously passed by both houses of the Oireachtas, without any dissent.

Dr Reilly says more than 5,000 people a year die from smoking-related illness in Ireland.

World Lung Foundation Activity Report 2005-2015

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Will a 100% rise in tobacco taxation help quit smoking?

It will happen in 2017. GCC countries are in the process of determining the value added tax on tobacco imports.

Tax on tobacco in the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) will go up from 100 per cent to 200 per cent in 2017. Governments hope to encourage more citizens and expatriates to kick the habit of smoking, Obaid Humaid Al Tayer, Minister of State for Financial Affairs, has said.

He announced this after attending a Federal National Council session.

In the 101st meeting of the Financial and Economic Committee represented by the ministers of finance and economy in the member states last month, GCC countries had agreed to impose “selective taxation” of 100 per cent on tobacco and its products. This is similar to the 100 per cent customs duty charges in the UAE.

“While there is a problem in collecting the charge on tobacco tax at present, there are some emirates that convert the charge between the local and federal treasury on a fifty-fifty basis,” he said.

He disclosed that the GCC countries are in the process of determining the value added tax on tobacco imports.

An economist, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said: “The move will support the budgets of the GCC member countries by increasing the revenues through increasing the tax rate as is the case in many other countries.

“The decision will contribute effectively to increasing the prices of tobacco. This will help reduce tobacco consumption on the local level.”

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), tobacco consumption is one of the largest public health hazards the world has ever had to confront. Over 5 million people are killed each year – an average of one human every six seconds.

More than 80 per cent of the 1 billion regular smokers around the globe live in low- and middle-income countries. It is in these countries where the burden of tobacco-linked diseases and death is heaviest, according to a WHO report.

According to a study released on the sidelines of the ‘Tobacco or Health’ conference held in Abu Dhabi recently, Kuwait topped the list of GCC countries with the largest number of smokers. In Kuwait, 31.3 per cent of the population smoke; while in Bahrain, 23.8 per cent do. In Saudi Arabia, 22.2 per cent smoke; in Qatar, 19.4 per cent; in UAE, 18.1 per cent; and Oman, 13 per cent.

In Saudi Arabia, six million people are smokers, and cigarette sales in the kingdom are worth $2 billion. In Iraq, 7 million smokers spend $500 million every year on cigarettes.

Tobacco firms’ challenge to plain packaging stubbed out

EU advocate says 2014 EU tobacco directive calls for plain packaging on cigarette packs

The introduction of plain packaging rules for cigarettes is provided for in the 2014 EU tobacco directive, an advocate general to the European Court of Justice has said. She rejected arguments against the directive by major global tobacco groups.

Advocate general Juliane Kokott issued her opinions on a number of applications against the directive taken by tobacco firms and, in relation to one issue, Poland. Her opinions will be considered by the court which will make its findings at a later date.

Ms Kokott found the directive’s requirements relating to the size, shape and minimum content of cigarette packets were proportionate and made a particular contribution to the visibility and efficacy of health warnings.

New requirements to have health warnings covering 65 per cent of the front surface and back surface of a packet were neither arbitrary nor disproportionate, and it was right that the directive prohibited true statements which cast a tobacco product in a deceptively positive light.

“Even an organically farmed cigarette, for example, is still a product that is extremely harmful to health.”

Basic design

She also said that since the directive specified only a basic design for cigarette packets, “it also still leaves scope for additional national packaging standards, for example in respect of the colouring of surfaces not reserved for warnings (possibly through to the introduction of ‘plain packaging’).”

She said none of the arguments invoked by Poland against the prohibition on menthol cigarettes were well founded and its case should be dismissed. The new rule comes into effect in May 2020.

The flavouring of cigarettes could camouflage the generally very bitter and even pungent taste of tobacco smoke and create a serious risk of initiation for non-smokers into tobacco consumption, she said.

She also said the rules concerning e-cigarettes were moderate and not disproportionate. It was not manifestly wrong or unreasonable to accept that e-cigarettes possibly caused harm and could develop into a gateway to traditional tobacco consumption.

The directive’s implementation into British law is being challenged in the English high court.