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October 27th, 2016:

India’s tobacco industry, government face off ahead of WHO conference

By Aditya Kalra

NEW DELHI, Oct 27 (Reuters) – India’s $11 billion tobacco industry has urged the government to take a softer line on tobacco control efforts when it hosts a World Health Organization conference in New Delhi next month, but officials say the government will not bow to “pressure tactics”.

Delegates from about 180 countries will attend the Nov. 7-12 WHO conference on the sole global anti-tobacco treaty: the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). In force since 2005, the treaty aims to deter tobacco use that kills around 6 million people a year.

The industry in India, the world’s third-biggest tobacco producer, wants Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government to soften its stance on what it says are tough FCTC measures that threaten livelihoods among the estimated 46 million people linked to the sector.

In documents obtained by a Reuters reporter under India’s Right to Information law, industry and farmer groups wrote to officials across government asking to attend the conference and be part of India’s delegation, in an effort to protect their interests.

Global tobacco firms have criticised the biennial event for not being transparent, in part because proceedings have in the past not been open to the public, including industry representatives.

The tussle comes at a time when the Indian industry is smarting from measures imposed this year forcing companies to print bigger health warnings on tobacco products.

A tobacco farmers’ group this month questioned the legality of India implementing the FCTC treaty, and asked the Delhi High Court to compel the government to allow farmers to attend the WHO conference. A judge last week asked the government to “consider” the plea, but did not rule on the other requests.

“If we take them in the delegation, the government of India may feel embarrassed,” said one health ministry official, who didn’t want to be named because of the sensitivity of the matter. “We will not act on these (lobbying documents)”.

The FCTC secretariat in Geneva told Reuters it welcomes India’s decision, saying its guidelines state that no country should have delegation members linked to the tobacco industry.

Conference decisions on treaty provisions – designed for eventual implementation at national level by signatories – have a direct bearing on the global tobacco industry that Euromonitor International estimates is worth $784 billion this year.

Topics for debate at the conference include alternative livelihoods for tobacco farmers, e-cigarettes and trade and investment issues.


The nation’s main cigarette industry body, the Tobacco Institute of India (TII), and farmer groups wrote to the agriculture ministry demanding to have their views represented and to be allowed into the WHO conference.

In a Sept. 28 letter, the TII said “there is no obligation on any signatory to the FCTC to comply with or implement any provision of the FCTC”. The WHO, however, says the treaty is legally binding on its member countries.

The ministry also received a near-6,000-page petition signed by more than 100,000 farmers seeking protection from FCTC rules.

The TII – which represents cigarette makers including ITC , which is part-owned by British American Tobacco ; and Godfrey Phillips, the local partner of Philip Morris International – also sent the health ministry a ‘handbook’ detailing how FCTC proposals are a threat to farmers’ livelihoods.

It asked the government to ensure that “unreasonable and impractical” proposals are not adopted at the FCTC conference.

The TII did not respond to Reuters queries on the make-up of the Indian delegation or the legality of the FCTC.

In another letter, a group representing traditional Indian cigarette makers urged Modi to ensure the health ministry does not make any anti-tobacco commitments before or after the conference, fearing the potential impact on those tied to the industry.

The health ministry official said the government would consider farmers’ views, but there was “no soft corner for the industry”.

Smoking kills more than 1 million people a year in India, BMJ Global Health estimates. The WHO says tobacco-related diseases cost the country $16 billion annually.

(Reporting by Aditya Kalra, Editing by Tom Lasseter and Ian Geoghegan)

Flavoring Compounds Dominate Toxic Aldehyde Production during E‑Cigarette Vaping

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CDC: Majority of e-cigarette users also smoke cigarettes

A majority of adults who use electronic cigarettes also smoke traditional cigarettes, according to a federal survey released Thursday.

The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention found that 58.8 percent of adult e-cigarette users in 2015 were also current cigarette smokers and another 29.8 percent were former cigarette smokers.

Older e-cigarette users were more likely to have been cigarette smokers, according to the survey.

Among e-cigarette users 45 years or older, 98.7 percent were either current or former cigarette smokers while 1.3 percent had never been a cigarette smoker before. Among adults ages 18 to 24, 40 percent had never been smokers before.

The data is raising new concerns among health advocacy groups.

The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids said the data shows a large majority of adult e-cigarette users in the U.S. are using e-cigarettes in addition to regular cigarettes, rather than in place of them, and that e-cigarettes may be introducing young non-smokers to tobacco use and nicotine addiction.

“If there is a public health benefit to the emergence of e-cigarettes, it will come only if they are effective at helping smokers stop using cigarettes completely, responsibly marketed to adult smokers and properly regulated to achieve these goals,” Matthew Myers, the group’s president, said in a statement.

“They will not benefit public health if smokers use them in addition to cigarettes instead of quitting or if they re-glamorize tobacco use among young people and attract non-smokers,” he added.

Federal e-cig lawsuits officially transferred to North Carolina from California

A series of patent-infringement lawsuits addressing electronic cigarette technology has made the transition from federal court in California to the Middle District of North Carolina.

The transfer was completed Wednesday.

A federal judge in the Central Circuit of California agreed Aug. 8 to R.J. Reynolds Vapor Co.’s request for the transfer, which cited legal precedents when there are limited, if no, operations of the plaintiff and defendant in the current court.

Reynolds Vapor manufactures Vuse, the top-selling U.S. e-cig product with a 37.3 percent market share, at its Tobaccoville plant.

Reynolds accuses Fontem of filing lawsuits in the circuit court as an inconvenience to defendants.

Fontem Ventures BV and Fontem Holdings BV, owned by Imperial Brands PLC of England, had filed at least three lawsuits against Reynolds Vapor. The lawsuits were filed April 4, May 3 and June 22.

Reynolds said all of its witnesses and resources are in the Middle District, as well as some of Fontem in Charlotte and Imperial’s U.S. operations in Greensboro.

“In the interests of justice and for the convenience of the parties and the witnesses, this case should be transferred to North Carolina,” Reynolds’ attorneys said.

Reynolds said it also would be more convenient for the NuMark LLC cases to be transferred to the Middle District since it is much closer to NuMark, based in Richmond.

NuMark, the e-cig subsidiary of Altria Group Inc., filed its response Wednesday to the latest Fontem lawsuit filed against it.

The Fontem companies are suing for what they call unlawful use of seven patented technologies. They focus their claims on patents for rechargeable e-cigs, cartridge refill packs, batteries and disposable e-cigs. Fontem said it obtained patents on its technology in February 2013.

Reynolds claims it has developed internal e-cig technology.

Fontem accuses Reynolds of patent infringement in its Vuse solo rechargeable digital vapor cigarettes and its Connect power units.

For example, Fontem repeats the legal accusation it made against Lorillard that Reynolds Vapor is in infringement with its cartridge technology, in particular when it says it does not allow another e-cig product to be used with Vuse products.

Fontem is suing for an undisclosed amount of damages because of “irreparable harm” done to the companies, including lost market share and lost profits on infringing sales.

Fontem also has filed lawsuits against the other major U.S. e-cig companies: ITG Brands LLC, which makes blu eCigs; NJoy Inc., Ballantyne Brands LLC of Charlotte, maker of the Mistic brand; and Vapor Corp.

Altogether, the Fontem companies have been a party in 89 complaints just in the Central Circuit court, including 15 that are open. The filings began March 5, 2014, with undisclosed settlements reached in some lawsuits.

Smokers shanghaied

The two airports serving Shanghai, China, will ban smoking inside terminal buildings from Sunday, when all indoor smoking rooms are set to be closed, according to a story in the Shanghai Daily citing a statement by the airport authority.

But the authority has set up new smoking areas outside the terminal buildings at the Pudong and Hongqiao international airports.

Two outdoor smoking areas have been set up at Pudong airport’s T1 terminal, and three have been set up at the airport’s T2 terminal. Hongqiao airport has two outdoor smoking areas at each of its two terminal buildings.

The outdoor smoking areas are said to be located at the ‘remote bays waiting areas’ for domestic and international flights at both airports.

The new ban was in accord with the recommendations of the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control as well as with the city’s new smoking control regulation, an official with the airport authority was quoted as saying.

Shanghai’s railway stations have also shut down all indoor smoking rooms.

Meanwhile, the city’s legislative body is evaluating stricter rules that would extend smoking bans to all indoor public venues, including hotels, restaurants, offices and transport facilities. The new rules have to be further evaluated and revised but are expected to come into force by the end of this year.

Vietnam: Zero Duties for Rice, Tobacco–zero-duties-for-rice–tobacco/

Vietnam agreed yesterday to waive all duties on a total of 300,000 tons of rice and 3,000 tons of dried tobacco exported annually from Cambodia to the country, according to a bilateral agreement signed at two back-to-back summits to promote economic cooperation in the Greater Mekong Sub-region.

The bilateral trade enhancement agreement between Vietnam and Cambodia, signed in Hanoi by Commerce Minister Pan Sorasak and the Vietnamese Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh at the 7th Ayeyawady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy Summit (ACMECS 7) and the 8th Cambodia-Laos-Myanmar-Vietnam Cooperation Summit (CLMV 8), also gives special preferential treatment to 39 export items from Cambodia and 29 items from Vietnam.

Soeng Sophary, spokesperson at Cambodia’s Ministry of Commerce, told Khmer Times yesterday that the bilateral agreement between Cambodia and Vietnam had been signed several years ago, but had expired recently.

“So both parties took advantage of these summits to renew it, and at the same time add new items that would be given tariff-free status by two countries,” said Ms. Sophary.

Ms. Sophary, however, clarified that this was the first agreement between Cambodia and Vietnam that included Cambodian rice exports to the neighboring country.

“These rice exports will have to pass through customs checkpoints at the border to crackdown on smuggling and ‘unofficial exports’,” she said.

Ms. Sophary stressed that since Vietnam is one of the leading rice producers in the Mekong region, Cambodia was not expected to export too much rice to its neighbor. However, she said, the agreement was more focused on strengthening diplomatic ties through trade.

“The bilateral agreement has also paved the way for the private sector to be greater involved in trade between Cambodia and Vietnam,” she said.

“Vietnam may not have premium rice like Cambodia, so somehow they need those kinds of premium rice. This is where the private sector can fill in the gap.”

According to the Viet Nam News’ website, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc addressed the opening of the summits.

He reportedly said the CLMV and ACMECS have contributed to important achievements, such as promoting the socio-economic development of each country, helping with the establishment of the Asean Community and aiding peace and stability in the region.

“We are presented with excellent opportunities for the development of CLMV and ACMECS. At these summits, we will discuss new landscapes and together work out ways and means to build dynamic and competitive economies with sustainable and inclusive growth,” Mr. Xuan Phuc was quoted as saying by Viet Nam News.