ASH Daily news for 20 February 2015



  • Imperial: Tobacco levy “wrong-headed”
  • Wirral MEP attacks e-cigs tax plan
  • Most complained-of ads were in 2014
  • Up in smoke: Belief that shisha pipe ‘filters out’ heavy metals
  • New report finds tobacco industry exaggerates extent of illicit tobacco trade and proven strategies exist to prevent it
  • Ireland: Government ‘not intimidated’ by plain packaging legal threat
  • Australia: BAT claims plain packs foster smuggling

    Imperial: Tobacco levy “wrong-headed”

    Imperial Tobacco has launched a strong defence of the contribution it makes to the Exchequer in the face of a possible tobacco levy.

    The Government consultation on proposals to tax tobacco profits has closed and Imperial Tobacco submitted a 17-page document highlighting its opposition to the mooted policy.

    It comes after the Oxford Economics consultancy reported earlier this week that it could actually reduce the total tax take from the tobacco industry. Its analysis – funded by the tobacco industry – suggested that the costs of any windfall tax after the general election would be passed on to consumers, with a consequent fall in demand and overall consumption.

    In its opposition to the proposals Imperial said that as well as potential falls in tax revenue it would have the side effect of more illegal smuggling and would hit dividends paid to shareholders, a particular problem for pensioners who rely on such income given low returns on savings.

    See also:
    – New tobacco levy would boost illicit trade sales, Convenience Store

    Source: South West Business – 19 February 2015

    Wirral MEP attacks e-cigs tax plan

    News that the European Commission is considering increasing tax on electronic cigarettes has been criticised by a Northwest Euro MP.

    The commission wants European member states to consider the “best way to achieve fiscal equal treatment” between electronic cigarettes and normal tobacco products.

    Tax policy makers from across Europe met in Brussels on Wednesday to discuss whether electronic cigarettes should be covered by excise duty.

    Any such move would increase the cost of the alternative smoking product.

    MEP Paul Nuttall, UKIP deputy leader, said: “The British Government must stand up against these measures.

    “They are far healthier than traditional cigarettes but the ever-controlling European Commission – normally hell-bent on protecting its citizens from harm – has its eyes on a tax grab.

    “As well as being a healthier alternative they are a source of jobs for innovative British companies and that should be assisted and not hindered by this retrograde step.”

    He said it has been shown electronic cigarettes help smokers give up tobacco, and that should be encouraged.

    Source: Wirral Globe – 19 February 2015

    Most complained-of ads were in 2014

    Ads for electronic cigarettes are among those that recieved high numbers of complaints in 2014, a year that saw the release of the three most complained-about ads ever.

    Two ads for VIP electronic cigarettes were banned following 199 complaints, with the ASA ruling that they depicted the products being exhaled in a way that created a strong association with traditional tobacco smoking. This placed them in the top ten of the most complained about ads for 2014.

    The ASA said the fact that the three most complained-about ads ever appeared last year reflected the rise of social media, which allowed members of the public to voice and co-ordinate their concerns.

    Source: Yahoo! News – 20 February 2015

    Up in smoke: Belief that shisha pipe ‘filters out’ heavy metals

    Contrary to popular belief, only a minimal amount of heavy metals are removed in the ‘filtration’ process when smoking shisha, also known as hookah, according to research published in the open access journal BMC Public Health. On average, 3% of heavy metals present in tobacco are removed and this would not be enough to protect users from exposure to these toxins.

    Shisha is often thought to be less severe than cigarette smoking due to ‘filtering’ by bubbling through water. Yet, a typical shisha smoking session, which can last up to an hour, can expose someone to 100-200 times the volume of smoke in a single cigarette.

    See also:
    – Hookah health warning: Smoke from shisha pipes contains dangerous levels of lead and uranium which can increase the risk of cancer, Daily Mail

    Source: Medical Xpress – 19 February 2015

    New report finds tobacco industry exaggerates extent of illicit tobacco trade and proven strategies exist to prevent it

    The following is an extract of a statement of Matthew L. Myers, President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids:

    “The tobacco industry’s favorite argument against tobacco tax increases and other policies to reduce tobacco use is that such measures will cause an increase in the illicit tobacco market. But a new report issued today by the National Research Council and the Institute of Medicine finds that the industry’s claims regarding the illicit market are “inflated” and that federal and state governments have effective tools to address the problem.

    As today’s report finds, “From a purely economic standpoint, taxes that raise the price of cigarettes are socially desirable in that they discourage smoking while at the same time generating government revenues” (p. 1-6).

    There is no need to speculate. Despite any illicit trade that occurs, the evidence is crystal clear that higher tobacco taxes are highly effective both at reducing smoking and other tobacco use and raising revenue. ”

    See also:
    – Understanding the U.S. Illicit Tobacco Market, National Academies Press

    Source: On Top of Politics – 19 February 2015

    Ireland: Government ‘not intimidated’ by plain packaging legal threat

    The Irish government has vowed to press on with its plan to implement plain packaging legislation for cigarettes despite facing a potential legal challenge from tobacco multinational Japan Tobacco International (JTI) Ireland.

    Speaking outside the Irish governmental buildings in Dublin, James Reilly, minister for children and youth affairs, said the government “will not be intimidated” by external forces.

    JTI Ireland, which owns brands including Benson & Hedges and Silk Cut, had threatened the Irish government with legal action and given it until Friday (February 20) to retract the draft law or face legal action.

    See also:
    – Second Tobacco firm issues legal threat over State plans,
    – Why the Government should ignore the current threat from the tobacco industry, The Irish Times
    – Rule of law must be the bedrock of society,
    – Big Tobacco’s argument against plain packaging is deeply flawed, The Irish Times
    – Cabinet urged to keep plain packaging plans, Irish Examiner
    – If big tobacco sues, then remember this is an industry which kills people,
    – Minster for Health urges law firm to sever ties with tobacco industry, The Irish Times
    – Review sought of law firm arrangements with child agency, The Irish Times

    Source: World IP Review – 19 February 2015

    Australia: BAT claims plain packs foster smuggling

    The Australian unit of global firm British American Tobacco plc (BAT) has revealed that one of its well-known brands has been illegally counterfeited in the olive green plain packaging format and sold in Australia for the first time.

    In a statement, BAT said it “believed the counterfeit packs were made in China and have been smuggled into Australia by criminals as a test run to gauge interest in the new product from the market.”

    Australian spokesman Scott McIntyre said: “There are many issues with the counterfeit packs which don’t make them compliant with plain packaging laws.”

    Source: The Rakyat Post – 20 February 2015