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March 14th, 2016:

Official Note Verbale issued on TI Interference & ITIC

Has the International Tax and Investment Center (ITIC) been talking to your government? What recommendations has it been proposing? The FCTC Convention Secretariat (FCS) has issued a Note Verbale warning Parties about the ITIC and its activities, and to reject the tobacco industry’s interference in addressing tobacco smuggling problem.

The FCS has warned governments that the ITIC, which has 4 transnational tobacco companies on its Board, has been working to further the interest of the tobacco industry. The ITIC has been organising regional and global meetings where the meetings feature discussions on tobacco taxation and promote tax policies favouring the industry rather than the recommendations of the FCTC especially Article 6 and its Guidelines.

The ITIC will be holding its next annual Asia-Pacific Tax Forum in Jakarta, on 23-25 May 2016. It has routinely invited government officials, especially from customs departments, to attend its meetings. On its website and publications, the ITIC promotes photos of its own executives posing with officials from Asia to illustrate its close association with Asian governments.

Smuggling of tobacco is a problem is faced by many countries in the region. Big Tobacco (PMI, BAT, JTI and IB [Imperial Brands]) has blamed substantial excise tax increases and high tobacco taxes as the problem. Additionally, the industry promotes its own ‘Codentify’ system to solve the smuggling problem.

The FCS’s Note Verbale advices governments not to accept ‘Çodentify’ to address the illicit trade in tobacco products. The Note Verbale reminds Parties to “reject partnerships and non-binding or non-enforceable agreements with the tobacco industry”.

In addition, Article 8.12 of the Protocol on Elimination of Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products, explicitly states that a Party’s obligations shall not be performed by, or delegated to, the tobacco industry. An expert paper, The Tobacco Industry and the Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products provides further information on the tobacco industry’s behaviour in addressing tobacco smuggling.

For information on TI denormalization, check out SEATCA’s Tobacco Industry Watch website.

Doctor Explains Why E-Cigarettes Are Just As Dangerous As Tobacco Cigarettes

Currently there is “no regulation on a federal level of e-cigarettes,” Dr. Cuomo said.

There’s a misconception that e-cigarettes may be a better alternative to tobacco cigarettes, but according to Margaret Cuomo, the author of A World Without Cancer, the two are both dangerous. In the video above, watch Cuomo explain the risks involved when you smoke e-cigarettes and how they’re being marketed to kids and sold to minors.

Correction: A previous version of this video misidentified one of the chemicals in the e-cigarette smoke as tin; it is zinc. It has been updated to correct a misstatement that tobacco smoke does not contain some chemicals found in e-cigarette smoke. A reference to risks of cancer associated with e-cigarettes has also been removed; rather, some compounds found in e-cigarettes are associated with risks of cancer and liver disease.

Cigarettes to rise to A$40 a packet under Turnbull plan to force smokers to fund their own health care

Malcolm Turnbull is set to follow Bill Shorten’s lead and hit smokers in the hip pocket with a proposed tax increase that would see a packet of cigarettes cost $40.

A government source has revealed the Turnbull government is looking to introduce a proposal to increase the tobacco excise in the May budget after changes to negative gearing and GST failed, the Daily Telegraph reported.

Turnbull, who previously supported a higher tobacco excise to fund private health insurance rebates, is believed to be taking a more watered down approach than opposition leader Bill Shorten who claimed Labor’s proposal would raise revenue by $47 billion over a decade.

Labor announced that if it wins office the party would increase the excise by 12.5 per cent each quarter until 2020 to pay for the Gonski school funding policy.

Mr Shorten said Labor’s proposal is a health measure to decrease the number of Australian people smoking.

Labor MP Jim Chalmers said the issue would open up another front in the civil war eating up the Liberal Party.

He pointed out that Treasurer Scott Morrison and former prime minister Tony Abbott are on the record opposing any increase to cigarette taxes.

Federal MP Ewen Jones reckons giving up smokes was the best thing he ever did, amid speculation the federal government might follow Labor and hike the tax on cigarettes.

The Queensland coalition backbencher acknowledged the massive cost of smoking to the community and public health system with cancer patients ‘getting bits and pieces chopped off’.

‘One of the greatest things I’ve ever done is given them up,’ he told reporters in Canberra on Tuesday.

Mr Jones said he had not heard any concrete proposals from his side of politics on changes to the tobacco excise.

‘No government or party comes towards smokers with a position of policy purity – it is an income stream,’ he said.

Government MP Andrew Laming, who is an eye specialist, argued increasing the excise would hit addicts and low-income people the hardest.

It would also come at the ‘price of their family’s well-being’.

Dr Laming said Labor could not calculate how much money the measure would raise because it was a consumption tax and impossible to model.

‘They spend the money before they’ve got it,’ he told reporters.

Senator Ricky Muir said it was the first he had heard that the government was considering slugging smokers to pay for income tax cuts, although there had been whispers.

‘I think it’s at the point now where raising the price of cigarettes is proven not really to stop the diehard smokers who have been doing it for a long time,’ he told Seven Network.

The Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party senator said it was ‘something I will get to look into in the future’ providing he still held his senate seat.

The 2013 National Drug Strategy Household Survey report found that around 13 per cent of the Australian population smoke.

Each year the habit is estimated to kill 15,000 Australians and costs the nation around $31.5 billion, according to the Department of Health.