Nov. 30, 2009

Cigarette haul worth £7,500 taken from Martin's

CIGARETTES worth more than £7,500 have been stolen from a newsagents in Canute Place.
The burglars broke into Martin’s via the roof in the early hours of Thursday, November 19, and as well as stealing the cigarettes an amount of cash was also taken. 
When the Guardian contacted Martin’s they were unavailable to comment on the incident.
Sgt Andy Preece, from Knutsford neighbourhood policing team, said: “The investigation is still on going but we are confident that we may get some where.
“We are waiting for CCTV from the shop and although the system was having problems we are hopeful that it has still been recorded.”

Nov. 27, 2009

Price of beer soon to rise as govt re-imposes ad-valorem tax

Government is considering re-imposing ad-valorem tax on alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, as well as on tobacco products.This means the prices of these products could soon go up.
Excise duty on these products is fixed, but with the re-introduction of the ad-valorem tax, a percentage will be charged on the ex-factory price of each item.
This implies that the amount paid as tax could go up when the product price goes up.
Government says it is bringing back the ad-valorem tax because a study it carried out over a 10-year-period shows the State is losing money by not imposing specific taxes on these products.Although government is yet to come out with the percentage it intends to charge, businesses are already expressing displeasure over the new move.

Nov. 23, 2009

Map Togo to ban smoking in public

Togo is considering a bill to ban smoking in public. The Ministry of Health of the West African country said tobacco related deaths in the country has reached alarming proportions and it is about time it saves its citizens. Smoking prevalence in the tiny country is 31.3% and civil society organizations are helping to save the situation.
A representative of the Minister of State for Health, Dr. Sadjo-Hetsi Dzrevon said: “Tobacco has killed a lot of people in Togo that is why the ministry of health is concerned and working with NGOs to stop this dangerous trend”.
The National Alliance of Consumers and Environment of Togo said in a document: “Tobacco consumption is spreading more and more, especially among the youth. The tobacco industry is increasingly directing its harmful advertising toward young people by sponsoring youth oriented cultural activities. Even though the state has banned tobacco advertising in public and private media, the advertising still exists in many forms in Togo.”
At the moment there is an ongoing legislative process on tobacco control which is expected to culminate into a national legal document that will support the promotion and implementation of the framework convention on tobacco control.
“If these documents are adopted by the legislators it will strengthen existing structures on the ground and also provide a more reliable data on tobacco control in the country.
“Before now we have no consistent data on Tobacco control, with this situational analysis document, we now have a document that we can rely on, we now have a guide that will help us to work on policies. The document is very important for stakeholders working on tobacco control issues in Togo,” Dr. told AfricaNews reporter in Lome.He said: “At the ministry of health we are happy that there is now a reference document that will guide legislation and necessary action on tobacco control.”

Nov. 20, 2009

Remember ‘blue seal’ cigarettes

A SWISS company is proposing to put in place a system where tax stamps will be affixed on every pack of cigarette and every bottle of liquor to raise more revenues for the government.
The company, SICPA, wants to make it appear affixing stamps on highly taxable goods is a fool-proof way of curbing smuggling and tax evasion by manufacturers. The reality is that it is selling a fraudulent bill of goods. 
It’s only about 20 years now that cigarettes and liquor have been free of the green BIR stamp on every pack and bottle (imported liquor still carries the strips). The rationale for doing away with the strips was that they constituted additional cost to consumers and that it was far more simple to just monitor the withdrawals of cigarettes and alcohol products from the manufacturing plants.
Also, tax strips proved to be ineffective in curbing smuggling which the system originally was meant to combat. Remember "blue seal" cigarettes? The term was derived from the color of the manufacturers’ stamps at the top of the pack. Over the manufacturers’ strips, BIR stamps were supposed to be laid to show tax had been paid.
SICPA claims its stamps cannot be counterfeited. In this land of fake peso bills, diplomas, passports and even visas, does SICPA really want us to believe its stamps could not be faked? Even a reasonable facsimile would do as in the previous experience with BIR stamps. The BIR stamps, it will be recalled, were also printed in security paper with watermark. A close look at the genuine BIR stamps and the fakes would show which was which. But to repeat, this did not discourage the smugglers.
But the biggest objection to the SICPA proposal is that it will raise prices by an estimated P1.50 a pack, a cost that will be passed on to consumers. Out of that P1.50, about P1 will go to the government and P0.50 to SICPA.
Given that kind of sharing, why does not the government simply increase the specific tax on cigarettes across-the-board by P1 a pack? The government collects the same revenues. The consumer gets a P0.50 break.
The only loser would be SICPA and, presumably, its sponsors who are ramming the proposal down the throat of the BIR.

Nov. 17, 2009

Fatal fire blamed on cigarettes

A 50-year-old man has died after an early morning house fire in Stranraer in the south west of Scotland.
The blaze in the ground floor bedsit broke out at about 0530 GMT in Corsewall Crescent. 
Dumfries and Galloway firefighters required breathing apparatus and managed to recover a man from the house, but he failed to survive. 
Investigators later blamed the fire on discarded smoking materials which lit combustible materials in the house.

Nov. 13, 2009

Tobacco Warehouse Has Second Fire In 2 Days

- Fire officials along with the Kentucky State Police are investigating two fires that happened over the weekend in Maysville.
The fires took place on Friday evening and Sunday afternoon at a former tobacco warehouse on Elizabeth Street. 
The Maysville Fire Department, Lewisburg Volunteer Fire Department and Maysville-Washington volunteer fire department were dispatched to both fires. 
When firecrews arrived at the scene they discovered heavy smoke coming from the building.
A Maysville firefighter says Sunday's fire started in the basement of the building.
Fire chief, Eric Bach says he would consider the fires suspicious, but they are still determining if it was arson. An arson investigator and state police officials are trying to determine the cause of the blazes.
There were no reports of injuries.

Nov. 10, 2009

Light cigarettes will not help you quit, study says

Don't light up that Marlboro Light assuming it's a good way to start weaning yourself off cigarettes.
People who switch to "light" cigarettes are 50 percent less likely to stop smoking than people who puff away on standard brands, according to a new report in the journal Tobacco Control.
Many people believe light cigarettes are healthier than regular smokes, even though they're not, said Dr. Hilary Tindle, lead author and an assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. So when people shift to light brands they may lose motivation. 
Also, it's possible that people who switch are "hardened" smokers who haven't been successful at giving up their habits in other ways, she said.
The study analyzed data from a government-sponsored survey of more than 31,000 smokers. Thirty-eight percent had switched to light cigarettes, and of that group, 43 percent said they'd changed because they wanted to stop smoking, among other reasons.
People who switched were more likely to try to quit than those who didn't (51 percent versus 41 percent), but less likely to actually stop smoking (9 percent versus 17 percent).
Cigarette-makers don't disagree. "Light cigarettes will not help you quit smoking," said Bill Phelps, a spokesman for Altria Group Inc., which owns Philip Morris USA, maker of Marlboro Light. "People concerned about the health effects of smoking should quit altogether. There is no safe cigarette."

Reynolds raising cigarette prices

A decline in demand is not keeping R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. from raising the list price on its cigarette brands by 6 cents or 8 cents a pack for wholesale customers.
The price increase, announced yesterday, will take effect Monday.
David Howard, a spokesman for Reynolds, said that the company doesn’t comment on its pricing strategy, but the decision comes five days after Philip Morris USA announced a price increase of 6 cents a pack, which went into effect yesterday. 
Reynolds is raising list prices less than a week after reporting that its cigarette-shipment volume fell 11 percent in the third quarter to 20.6 billion cigarettes. Reynolds said that the industry decline was 12.6 percent.
Howard said that the list price is increasing 6 cents a pack for its growth brands - Camel and Pall Mall - and also for Doral, GPC, Kool, Misty, Salem and Winston. All but GPC are considered as support brands.
The list price is being raised 8 cents a pack for its other brands, which include Capri, Eclipse, Lucky Strike, More and Vantage.
Charles Norton, the portfolio manager of the USA Mutuals Vice Fund, said that Reynolds is likely to be able to sustain the third price increase related to its cigarettes since September 2007.
In March, Reynolds raised the list price in the range of 41 cents to 78 cents a pack for wholesale customers, including 41 cents to 44 cents for most of its growth and support brands. 
The increase was in response to Congress passing the 62-cent increase in the federal excise tax to pay for expansion of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. That tax increase went into effect April 1. 
In September 2007, Reynolds raised its cigarette prices by a range of 5 cents to 15 cents a pack, including 15 cents for Camel. 
“Strong pricing power is one of the underpinnings of our positive view of tobacco, which is a much more important driver of earnings than volume,“ Norton said. 
Reynolds said in its third-quarter report that it had a slight market-share drop in cigarettes to 28.2 percent. The market share for Camel, the lead Reynolds cigarette brand, dipped slightly to 7.7 percent. Pall Mall’s market share was at 5 percent, up 2.3 percentage points from a year ago. 
A temporary price discount in the spring on Pall Mall attracted smokers wanting to spend less on cigarettes in the recession. Even after the discount ended in May and prices were raised to counter the excise-tax increases, Pall Mall maintained a higher market share. 
The company began another discount promotion for Pall Mall on Oct. 5.
Reynolds also raised its full-year earnings projections last week to a range of $4.60 to $4.70 a share - from $4.40 to $4.60 - as a sign of confidence in its strategies.

Nov. 9, 2009

Man charged with stealing computer, cigarettes

An Iowa City man has been arrested on charges for participating in several thefts and burglaries, including stealing 350 packs of cigarettes from a Tiffin store.
Eli James Vargason, 18, 1112 Hotz Ave., was charged with third-degree theft, possession of marijuana and drunken driving after he was pulled over for an expired registration about 8:30 p.m. Tuesday. According to the arrest reports, police found a computer case with a mini laptop computer inside that had been reported stolen from a Tiffin man and marijuana.He was then considered a suspect in other ongoing burglary investigations, including an Oct. 31 break-in at the Casey's General Store in Tiffin in which Vargason allegedly smashed the front glass door and took about 350 packs of cigarettes, police said. He was charged with third-degree burglary for that break-in, police said.Vargason remained Friday in the Johnson County Jail on a $16,000 cash bond.

Nov. 5, 2009

Compliance rates on tobacco sting too low: P.E.I.

P.E.I. is planning to toughen the rules for retailers who repeatedly get caught selling cigarettes to minors.The change was prompted by a near record number of stores nabbed during recent compliance checks. Forty-two retailers received a warning, and four more were fined.
The Health Department has been criticized in the past by the Canadian Cancer Society for being too lenient. Retailers only get a warning the first time if they're caught, and a $250 fine if they're caught again. The slate is wiped clean for everyone every three months.
Joe Bradley, manager of environmental health for the province, told CBC News Wednesday the latest results show there's a need to get tougher with repeat offenders.
"We're disappointed. There's no question the compliance on this particular round is probably 80 per cent or a little below 80 per cent, and that's the lowest that we've seen in some time," said Bradley.
"A retailer that has been issued a fine probably would be considered high risk in the future. We're still working on this and we hope to have it finalized within the next couple of weeks or so."
Bradley said retailers will be notified about the changes. He expects new legislation to be in place by Jan. 1.

Nov. 2, 2009

Tobacco prices distort competition

Ireland’s policy of setting a minimum price on tobacco products distorts competition, a legal advisor to Europe’s highest court has said.
In the case of Commission of the European Communities versus Ireland, the Advocate General said binding prices restricted manufacturers’ freedom to set prices, thereby posing a risk to free competition.
The opinion of the Advocate General is not a final judgement, although the court generally follows it 80 per cent of the time.
The European Commission took Ireland to Europe’s highest court in 2008 over its policy of setting a minimum price on tobacco products to protect public health.
Under an agreement with the Irish Tobacco Manufacturers' Advisory Committee, the Department of Health has a minimum price for 20 cigarettes of about €1.30. This was set using information on volume sales supplied by the tobacco companies for filtered and unfiltered cigarettes.
The Government says the agreement with the tobacco manufacturers was made for the primary purpose of preventing low-cost selling of tobacco products in Ireland.
By setting a minimum retail price for a packet of 20 cigarettes it undermines the ability of retailers to provide special cut- price offers on certain brands. Price control is also seen as a viable way to protect children from becoming addicted to cigarettes and to encourage existing smokers to quit, according to the Department of Health.
In his legal assessment of the arguments the Advocate General said “increases in excise duties are therefore a less intrusive measure than minimum prices, which are thus not necessary”.
A statement issued by cigarette company John Player & Sons today aid “while we don’t oppose the Commission’s view that tobacco manufacturers should have the freedom to determine retail prices for their products, the fact remains that the real minimum price for 20 cigarettes in Ireland is the street price of €4 - €5 euro due to widespread illegal cigarette selling.
This greatly incentivises criminals by giving them huge margins while denying Government badly needed revenues. 1 in 4 cigarettes smoked in Ireland today is not even bought in an Irish shop”.