New Public Policy publication: International Legislative News. 

    Last  issue: August 14, 2007



Non US 

April 22, 2007 - May 22, 2007

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AUSTRALIA. PRODUCT CONTENT.   Speaking at the Ministerial Council on Drug Strategy meeting in Adelaide, Australia on May 17th, John Hyde, parliamentary secretary to Western Australian Health Minister Jim McGinty, said that the government will soon require tobacco companies to disclose information regarding the additives found in cigarettes.  Hyde said that the move, which has the backing of health ministers across the country, is in line with Western Australia's strong stance against smoking and could help prevent thousands of premature tobacco-related deaths. He also said that the nearly 120 additives that are found in cigarettes, including sulfur and acetone, make them the only legally available consumer product that kills people when it is used as intended, adding that the State wants consumers to be made aware of the potentially lethal chemicals in cigarettes. He said that according to recent research, the State has the lowest smoking rates among both adults and children in the country. Smoking rates can decline further if the contents of a cigarette are disclosed, Hyde said. Meanwhile, the Commonwealth has agreed to support the State's move to prohibit advertising of fruit-flavored and confectionery cigarettes, and has also commended the State's efforts in curbing the sale and advertising of tobacco products over the Internet ( 5/17).


PRODUCT CONTENT.SA. South Australia's Mental Health and Substance Abuse Minister Gail Gago said the Federal government has agreed to support the State's decision to ban the sale of fruit-flavored and split-pack cigarettes.   Gago said South Australia banned those products in 2006 by enacting temporary 12-month exemptions from the "Mutual Recognition" laws requiring any product sold in one State to be available in other States and in New Zealand.  Since the exemptions expire in November 2007, Gago sought support from the Federal government and other States for a continuing national ban, she said.  "The Federal Government also agreed today to look at further options to ban these products through customs regulations," she said (Adelaide Advertiser 5/16).


BHUTAN. TOBACCO CONTROL.   Although Bhutan banned sales of cigarettes and other tobacco products starting December 2004 and prohibited smoking in public places as of March 2005, the government has yet to draft the Tobacco Control Legislation to support the current countrywide ban on sales of tobacco products and public smoking, with black market activities in tobacco sales on the rise.  In a recent meeting held in Thimphu to discuss the drafting of the legislation, no consensus could be reached over a discussion as to whether entertainment centers like discotheques, snooker rooms and bars should build designated smoking areas. An unnamed participant in the meeting said prohibiting smoking in entertainment areas would be impractical because many smokers visit those places. However, Director of Public Health Ugyen Dophu said permitting entertainment centers to build designated smoking areas will go against the ban aimed at making the nation smoke-free, and may instead encourage people to smoke. The current anti-smoking legislation drafted by the health ministry prohibits smoking in public places, including parks, shops, schools and public transport, while exempting tourists, diplomats and people working in non-governmental organizations from the purview of the ban. People violating the measure face a fine of US$ 225 per violation, while businesses not complying with the measure face the risk of losing their license (Indian News Agency 5/20).


CHILE. SMOKING.   According to the Chilean Gastronomy Association, about 60% of restaurants in Chile have chosen to ban smoking altogether on their premises even though the country's anti-smoking legislation, the first phase of which took effect in August 2006, allows restaurants having an area of more than 100 square meters to build airtight designated smoking rooms that do not fall under common spaces such as restrooms, hallways and kitchens.  Restaurants were given time until May 2007 to create fully separate non-smoking sections with the installation of ventilation systems in their establishments. Achiga President Fernando de la Fuente said a majority of restaurants defined themselves as non-smoking in an attempt to comply with the law immediately, while carrying out the necessary renovations to cater to their smoking patrons. Under the measure, individuals violating the ban will face a fine of US$ 30, while business owners allowing smoking on their premises will be fined US$ 120 (Santiago Times 5/17).


CZECH REPUBLIC. SMOKING.   Committees of the Czech Republic's lower house of Parliament, the Chamber of Deputies, are currently discussing a draft amendment to the country's anti-smoking law proposed by Deputy Boris Stastny of the Civic Democratic Party that would require restaurants, bars and cafes to have separate well-ventilated areas for smokers and limit smoking in common areas of tenant houses, children's playgrounds and public transit stations. Meanwhile, Alena Steflova, director of the Czech office of the World Health Organization (WHO), said although the nation signed the WHO's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in 2003, it has yet to ratify the treaty (CTK National News Wire 5/15)


INDIA. LABELING   Gutkha manufacturers in India are trying to get a court injunction to delay by three months the implementation of a Union Health Ministry directive requiring all tobacco products to carry health warnings on their product packs as well as the printing of the "skull and crossbones" image, effective June 1st.  Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss has ordered gutkha manufacturers to change the packaging of their products so that the pouch measures 7x7 cms and carries a photograph of a skull with two crossed bones. In addition, the pouches should carry health warnings in both English and Hindi stating that "tobacco use leads to painful death" covering 80% of the pack area while the remaining 20% space could be used to print the name of the brand, company, ingredients and weight (Hindustan Times 5/20)


INDIA. TAXATION.   The Indian government's decision to impose a 12.5% value added tax (VAT) on cigarettes and other tobacco products, which has raised the retail price of cigarettes, will likely prompt smokers to switch to cheaper alternatives such as gutkha, zarda, snuff, chewing tobacco and beedis, according to industry sources.  In its budget for the current fiscal year, the government included a 5% increase in the specific excise tax on cigarettes, while increasing the excise tax on beedis (excluding cess), which has been static since 2001, from Rs 7 (US$ 0.17) to Rs 11 (US$ 0.27) per 1,000 pieces for non-machine made and from Rs 17 (US$ 0.42) to Rs 24 (US$ 0.59) per 1,000 units for machine-made beedis. Retailers have already raised the price of cigarettes but the government has yet to release figures on VAT revenues. Cigarette makers noted that a 12.5% VAT translates to a 29% increase in excise taxes (Business Standard 5/17)


ROMANIA. LABELING.   Romanian Minister of Public Health Eugen Nicolaescu said cigarette companies in the country will be required to print graphic health warnings on packs, effective July 1, 2008.  Nicolaescu said some cigarette company representatives have urged him to delay the implementation of the measure saying they are not prepared to comply with it. He said the measure is intended to dissuade teens from smoking, adding there is no question of delaying its implementation (Tobacco Bulletin 5/14).


TANZANIA. FCTC.   World Health Organization's Communications (WHO) Officer Momodou Gassama announced that on April 30, 2007, the Republic of Tanzania ratified the WHO's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.  Gassama announced that on April 30, 2007, the Republic of Tanzania ratified the WHO's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.   However, Gassama expressed concern over the Republic of Gambia's reluctance in ratifying the treaty, which it signed in 2003, adding that given the increasing number of tobacco-related illnesses and deaths in developing countries across the world, Gambia should initiate necessary steps to control tobacco supply and consumption (Foroyaa Newspaper 5/16)

VENEZUELA. AGRICULTURE.   Venezuelan Health Minister Erick Rodriguez said he is drafting a bill whereby tobacco growing "as an economic activity" will be phased out until cigarette consumption is abolished and "anyone who wants to smoke will have to import cigarettes."  If the proposal actually is implemented, it is expected to affect not only the country's leaf growers but also Cigarerra Bigott (BAT) and Tabacalera Nacional (Philip Morris). Cigarrera Bigott is the market leader in Venezuela and acquires virtually all the domestic leaf production. Forty-three percent of the leaf that Cigarerra Bigott acquires comes from the State of Cojedes. The States of Portuguesa and Carabobo are also major leaf producers. Cigarrera Bigott is a major government revenue contributor (El Universal 5/15).


VIETNAM. TOBACCO CONTROL.   Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung issued a directive banning smoking and the sale of cigarettes and other tobacco products in almost all public places, while requiring cigarette makers to print the warning "Smoking will cause lung cancer" on packs, starting March 2008.  Dung said the move is in line with the World Health organization's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which the nation ratified in December 2004. The directive also prohibits all forms of tobacco advertising, trade promotion and sponsorship, while banning the sale of cigarettes through vending machines, over the telephone or on the Internet. Dung directed the local authorities to launch a public information campaign on the health risks of smoking (Vietnam News Agency 5/17)




AUSTRIA. SMOKING.   Austrian Health Minister Andrea Kdolsky said April 27th that the government will not impose a complete smoking ban in restaurants and would instead require large restaurants to split their dining areas 50-50 between smoking and nonsmoking sections.  Small restaurants can decide whether to ban or allow smoking inside, and they will be required to put up a sign indicating their choice.  The measure will be reinforced from January 1, 2007 (Agence France Presse 4/27).


BELARUS. TAXATION.   Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko signed a measure to raise the excise tax on imported cigarettes by 30% on those in the price range of 60,000-125,000 rubles (US$ 28-58) per 1,000 pieces and by 40% on those exceeding 125,000 rubles per 1,000 pieces.  For the medium price segment, the excise tax will rise 30% to 6,960 rubles (US$ 3.24) per 1,000 pieces in June. For the premium cigarettes, the increase of 40% brings the rate to 7,500 rubles (US$ 3.49) per 1,000 pieces in June. The excise tax on imports of cigarettes lower than 60,000 rubles per 1,000 pieces will remain unchanged (TASS 5/14).


ADVERTISING.   The Belarusian parliament has adopted a measure banning tobacco advertising as of January 1, 2008.  The ad ban is part of the country's efforts to adopt the provisions outlined in the World Health Organization's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.  The commerce ministry asked that the ad ban be introduced gradually (Tobacco Journal International 4/27).


BULGARIA. PRIVATIZATION.   Bulgartabac Holdings' press office said on April 27th that three Bulgarian firms have placed their bids for an 85.35% stake in its tobacco processing plant Dupnitsa BT.  The highest bid of 0.22 leva (US$ 0.15) per share is 91,101 leva (US$ 63,500) more than the minimum asking price of 10,000 leva (US$ 7,000) for the entire package. The holding said the value of the submitted bids will be the sole criterion for selection of the buyer. Dupnitsa shares were last traded on the Bulgarian Stock Exchange on March 7, 2006, when 4,050 shares were sold for 2.70 levs (US$ 1.88) each (Bulgarian Telegraph Agency 4/27)


HUNGARY. TAXATION.   Association of Hungarian Tobacco Industry is expecting the cigarette excise tax to increase by 7% in 2008.  The tax rate increased by 2.8% on April 1st and will rise by another 2.8% in September, as the government takes steps to bring it in line with the EU minimum of € 64 (US$ 87) per 1,000 cigarettes ( 4/26)


As of April, the specific excise tax in Hungary is HUF 7,420 per 1,000 cigarettes and there is a 27.75 per cent of TIRSP (Retail Selling Price, all Taxes Included) ad valorem excise as well. The minimum tax required is HUF 13,730 per 1,000 cigarettes. Hungary already meets the EU requirement of the total tax reaching 57 per cent of the retail price, but, according to Patai, there is a backlog in respect to the specific excise. The Hungarian state earned HUF 223 billion in excise tax on tobacco and a further HUF 67 billion in VAT in 2006 - about 2 per cent of total budget revenues.

IRELAND. SMOKING.   Smoking was prohibited in all indoor public places in Northern Ireland, UK, including pubs, clubs and restaurants, effective 6.00 am, April 30th, with individuals who violate the measure facing a fixed penalty notice of £ 50 (US$ 100) and business owners facing fines of up to £ 2,500 (US$ 5,000) if they fail to enforce the ban (Press Association Newsfile 4/29).


PORTUGAL. SMOKING. On May 3rd, the Portuguese Parliament approved a law that will ban smoking in most public places including restaurants, bars and discotheques smaller than 100 square meters as well as in workplaces, public offices, healthcare facilities and schools within a year.   Any indoor smoking would be restricted to designated areas having separate ventilation systems.  Under the measure, individuals violating the ban will face a fine of up to € 1,000 (US$ 1,400), while business owners permitting smoking on their premises will be fined up to € 2,500 (US$ 3,400).  Dr. Luis Negrao of the Cardiology Association said the ban will help curtail mortality rates due to smoking-related illnesses, while protecting nonsmokers from the reported health risks of environmental tobacco smoke.  England is scheduled to implement a total smoking ban in most enclosed public places from July 1st, while Ireland, France, Spain, Northern Ireland and Wales have already implemented similar bans (Reuters 5/4)


RUSSIA. TAXATION.   The bill on amendments to the tax code which was devised by the Finance Ministry has been approved by the State Duma in the second reading. The document specifies index rates for excise taxes imposed on all tobacco products for the period 2008 to 2010. The rates are to be kept intact for RYO and pipe tobacco for the sake of legal import of those products. Cigarette excise taxes are to be indexed by 20 per cent: the specific component of the excise tax for filter tips and ovals/papirosy (Russian cigarettes) is to be indexed by 20 and 28 per cent a year correspondingly, whereas the ad valorem component is to be raised by 0.5 per cent each year (Tobacco Journal International 5/2)


SLOVAKIA. SMOKING.   The Slovak Public Health Authority recently introduced in Parliament a draft amendment to the country's anti-smoking law that would prohibit smoking in restaurants with an area exceeding 50 square meters and ban cigarette sales through vending machines and in food shops, starting 2008.  The proposed measure, drafted by the Health Ministry and the Public Health Authority, is intended to protect patrons from exposure to environmental tobacco smoke and curb underage cigarette sales (SITA 5/7).


TURKEY. PRIVATIZATION.   The Turkish privatization authority OIB said the tender process for the block sale of Tekel's cigarette arm will likely be launched within 15 days, and five investors - two foreign investment funds, another involved in both fund and investment activities and two firms having partnerships with Turkish companies - are reportedly showing interest in the offer.  However, the government is wary of launching the privatization process before the general elections in November 2007, since it believes that the price may be lower than expected due to the uncertain political environment ahead of the election. The OIB said the land belonging to Tekel will be sold separately from the company. The agency is expecting the highest proceeds from the sale of the operation site in the Kartal district of Istanbul. The OIB said the successful bidder will be allowed to move the machinery and other equipment from the site in Kartal within a time frame, after which the site will be offered for sale for tourism and trade activities. The Turkish government failed twice in its earlier attempts to privatize Tekel's cigarette arm. In its first attempt, the government rejected JT International's US$ 1.5 billion bid saying the offer was too low, while the second attempt failed to attract any bidders (Zaman 4/30)

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has reportedly agreed to a demand by the Turkish Labor Unions Confederation (Turk-Is) to delay the privatization of Tekel's cigarette arm until sometime after the general elections in November.  Turkish Daily News had reported last week that Erdoğan has ordered the privatization authority OIB to announce a tender by the end of April.  In February, the government said it will postpone the tender until the company raises its market share to above 40%.  The Turkish government failed twice in its earlier attempts to privatize Tekel's cigarette arm.  In its fist attempt, the government rejected JT International's US$ 1.5 billion bid saying the offer was too low, while the second attempt failed to attract any bidders (Intellinews 4/12).


UNITED KINGDOM. RETAILING.   In the letter to UK Public Health Minister Caroline Flint, James Lowman, CEO of the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS), said the move to raise the minimum legal age for buying cigarettes and other tobacco products from 16 to 18, starting October 1st, will likely result in staff abuse by violent customers.  According to data compiled by the ACS, which represents 33,000 local retailers, there were 134,000 incidents of assaults on UK retailers in 2004. The group believes that the recent announcement may aggravate the violence. In response, a spokesperson of the health department said it is unlikely that retailers may be abused by teenagers, but added that those indulging in violence would face serious criminal penalties. The spokesperson said retailers will receive guidelines on how to deal with abusive customers (Press Association Newsfile 5/8)


BAHRAIN. SMOKING.   Smoking will be banned in shopping malls in Bahrain effective May 31st when World No Tobacco Day will be observed across the globe, according to a report in the Bahrain Tribune.  The management of major malls, including Seef, Marina, Sitra, Bahrain and Dana has agreed to introduce the smoke-free policy. Under the regulation, first time offenders will face a fine of 20 dinars (US$ 53), while repeated violations will result in a fine of 500 dinars (US$ 1,300) (AME Info 5/14).


KENYA. SMOKING.   Simon Kiarie, director of Environment of the Nakuru Municipal Council in Kenya, confirmed an April 5th notice in the Kenya Gazette which says that Nakuru is the first town in the country to adopt a bylaw that prohibits smoking in most public places in the area.  Kiarie said the council would soon publish in the press a notice concerning the requirements of the anti-smoking bylaw.

The Kenyan Parliament unanimously passed in November 2006 the second reading of the Tobacco Control Bill, which would establish the Tobacco Products Control Board to regulate the cultivation, manufacture, distribution, sale, advertising and consumption of tobacco and its products, while prohibiting individuals under the age of 18 from smoking. The bill, which has now proceeded to the committee stage, would require health warnings such as "Smoking Kills" to be displayed boldly on cigarette packs (Nation - Kenya 5/13).


UAE. SMOKING.   A majority of restaurants in Dubai, United Arab Emirates said they are planning prohibit smoking in their establishments as they cannot afford to build separate smoking areas in line with a Dubai Municipality directive requiring shopping malls/restaurants to have designated smoking areas with proper ventilation systems.  The municipality announced that it will implement a smoking ban in public places in a phased manner this year, with the measure scheduled to take effect in shopping malls and amusement centers by September 15th and in restaurants, cinemas and other public places from November 15th. Under the measure, smoking will be completely prohibited in educational establishments, salons, health clubs, Internet cafes, food courts and offices. Zuhoor Al Sabbagh, head of clinics and medical services section at the Public Health Department of the Dubai Municipality, said all establishments irrespective of whether they are big or small must comply with the directive. Meanwhile, some customers welcomed the smoking ban, saying that the move would help protect the public from the reported health risks of environmental tobacco smoke (Khaleej Times 5/11).



CHINA. SMOKING   According to a circular released by the Chinese government on April 25th, all medium-sized and large restaurants and bars in Beijing will be required to either ban smoking or build designated smoking areas on their premises, effective June 1, 2008, two months ahead of the Olympic games, Xinhua News Agency reported.  At least 75% of the restaurants' dining area should be non-smoking, the circular said. According to the circular, smoking will be prohibited at restaurants and bars in all city parks and at major tourist sites. The circular also urged all eating and drinking establishments in the city to start publicizing the smoking ban, which is in line with the city's pledge to host a "Green Olympics." Some fear that the ban could face resistance from smokers in the city (Agence France Presse 4/25).


INDIA. LABELING.   In India, acting on a letter by External Affairs Minister and President of the West Bengal Congress Pranab Mukherjee, in which he strongly opposed Union Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss's proposal to print the "skull and crossbones" sign on beedi packs, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh rejected the move.   Mukherjee, in his letter had said that the sign will likely offend the Muslim community, who are employed in the beedi industry in his parliamentary constituency in Murshidabad, as they unlike Hindus bury their dead, and do not burn them. The new graphic warnings, if made mandatory, could hurt beedi sales, and that could reportedly be the real reason behind Mukherjee's reluctance in accepting the idea (Times of India 5/15).

In a letter sent to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss on May 6th, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi called on the central government to defer implementation of the legislation that would require manufacturers to print "skull and cross bones" health warnings on 50% of the main side of beedi packs effective June 1st, saying the move has threatened the livelihood of 1.5 million beedi workers in the State.   Karunanidhi said the government should initiate measures to curtail smoking, but the new order would further increase production costs of beedi manufacturing in the State where currently the beedi workers get higher wages compared to other States. Karunanidhi said beedi manufacturers in the State have stopped production with some tobacco industry players threatening to go on an indefinite strike from June 1st (Hindu 5/7).

INDIA. TAXATION.   The Karnataka Beedi Association in India is urging the State government to eliminate beedis and leaf tobacco used for the manufacture of beedis from the purview of value added tax (VAT), claiming that the move would hurt the livelihood of thousands of people employed in the sector.  The association said even though the empowered committee of State finance ministers on VAT had decided not to impose VAT on beedis, no action has been taken so far. The association said States such as Madhya Pradesh have already lifted VAT on beedis in light of the potential impact of the move on the beedi sector. The association said the government's directive requiring the printing of skull and bones on beedi packs, effective June 1st, would result in a step decline in beedi sales ( 5/2)


INDIA. SMOKING.   The Indian Ministry of Health and Family Welfare plans to ban smoking in public places in the metro cities of New Delhi and Mumbai by 2009, as part of efforts to protect the public from the reported health risks of environmental tobacco smoke, according to Bhavani Thyagarajan, joint secretary in the health ministry.  Thyagarajan made the announcement at an anti-tobacco event organized by the American Cancer Society and a foundation affiliated to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Thyagarajan said Mumbai could become smoke-free by the time it hosts the world conference on tobacco in 2009 and hopes that New Delhi would ban public smoking in 2010 when the city hosts the Commonwealth Games. Even though smoking is banned in public places in India under the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act 2003, enforcement of the law has been ineffective. Thyagarajan said the government wants to ensure that local governing bodies implement the measure effectively, adding that the Union government is considering establishing a regulatory authority for the effective enforcement of the law (Zee News 4/27). 


NEW ZEALAND. ADVERTISING.   Action on Smoking and Health New Zealand spokeswoman Sneha Paul called for giving an adult rating to films that have scenes portraying smoking, saying that three recent studies involving nearly 15,000 people found that teens who see smoking in movies are more likely to start smoking.  She said the film industry must prove that they are not being paid for the placement of cigarettes in movies (TV3 News 5/9


TAIWAN. SMOKING.   Anti-smoking groups in Taiwan on May 1st urged the legislature to pass the third reading of amendments to the Tobacco Hazards Prevention Act of 1997, which passed the second reading back on January 16th, so that smoking would be banned in all indoor public places no later than 2008.  The groups said the legislature should sort out the controversial provisions in the amendments and pass the third reading during the current legislative session.  Lawmakers have not agreed on the definition of "indoor public areas."  The anti-smoking activists also said the smoking ban is an urgent matter since the smoking rate among females and youths is increasing (Central News Agency 5/1).


BRAZIL. TAXATION.   Apprehending an increase in cigarette smuggling in the country, the Sector Chamber of the Tobacco Productive Chain in Brazil announced on April 27th that it would discuss on May 8th and 9th the possible impact of its decision to increase the Tax on Industrialized Products on cigarettes by about 30%, effective July 2007.  The Sector Chamber said the increase would help the government generate revenues of 1.1 billion reais (US$ 542.2 mn) each year (Gazeta Mercantil 4/27).


MEXICO. TAXATION.   Cigarette companies in Mexico are opposing a proposed increase in the IEPS (Special Tax on Products and Services) from 140% to 150% in 2008 and to 160% in 2009.  Official cigarette sales have been declining by 2% per year over the last 10 years in Mexico, and Philip Morris has reported that consumers are increasing turning to the black market to make their purchases (El Financiero 4/24).




In India, manufacturer of Ghodachap Beedis M. S. Walekar recently filed a petition in the Bombay High Court challenging certain provisions of the Cigarettes and other Tobacco Products (Packaging and Labeling) Rules, 2006 that prohibits cigarette companies from using descriptors such as 'light' and 'mild' on packs, while requiring manufacturers of all tobacco products to print graphic health warnings covering 50% of the principal display area of packs as of February 1, 2007.  

Walekar's petition contends that the provision under Section 3(1)(b) of the measure that requires manufacturers to print graphic images of tobacco-related illnesses covering 50% of the principal display area of packs is "excessive and unreasonable." The petition says "having a packet containing a completely homogenous and specified statutory warning affects consumer categorization, leading to a regime of look-alike and standardized packaging." The petition contends that the space allotted for graphic health warnings on packs leave very little area to place brands and logos, which are distinguishing factors to differentiate one brand from the other. The petition describes as arbitrary the provision that requires manufacturers to carry a skull-and-bones sign, a text health warning that reads "Smoking Kills" or "Tobacco Kills" and a pictorial representation of the tobacco-related illnesses. However, Additional Solicitor General B.A. Desai opposed Walekar's petition saying health messages and pictorial warnings appearing on the packs of cigarettes and other tobacco products in some foreign countries are bolder and easier to read compared to those in India. A division bench comprising Justices F.I. Rebello and R.M. Sawant are scheduled to hear the case on April 30th (DNA - Daily News And Analysis 4/30).



Bayo Ojo, attorney general of Kano State in Nigeria, filed a 1.6 trillion naira (US$ 12.6 bn) lawsuit against BAT Nigeria Limited, International Tobacco Limited, BAT Plc, BAT (Investment) Limited, Philip Morris International and the Tobacco Institute, seeking to recover the healthcare costs of treating smoking-related diseases.  

The lawsuit comes close on the heels of a US$ 21.6 billion claim filed recently by Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, attorney general of Lagos, on behalf of the State government and the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth, accusing cigarette companies of fraudulently targeting youth and minors by advertising and marketing their products through music, cinema and fashion, despite being aware of the health risks of smoking. The Kano lawsuit seeks restitution, compensatory and punitive damages and disgorgement of profits made by the cigarette companies. The plaintiffs also claimed that the mandatory health warnings printed on cigarette packs is ineffective, since they are printed only in English, which is not followed by a majority of customers in the State, while tobacco companies publicize their products in both English and the local language. The lawsuit claims that cigarette companies concealed the health risks of smoking as well as environmental tobacco smoke, stalled efforts to develop safer cigarettes and manipulated the "addictive" nature of cigarettes (This Day 5/14).


After hearing initial arguments from Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, attorney general of Lagos, Nigeria, and other officials in the US$ 21.6 billion lawsuit against several cigarette companies, Justice Atinuke Ipaye of the High Court of Lagos State set the next hearing for May 18th when defendants are expected to submit their preliminary claims.  Prof. Osinbajo filed the lawsuit on behalf of the State government and the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth (ERA/FoEN) accusing cigarette makers of fraudulently targeting youth and minors by advertising and marketing their products through music, cinema and fashion, despite being aware of the health risks of smoking. The lawsuit names BAT Nigeria Limited, International Tobacco Limited, BAT Plc, BAT (Investment) Limited, Philip Morris International and the Tobacco Institute. The plaintiffs are seeking relief aimed at regulating smoking in the State by urging the court to issue a mandatory injunction against the defendants to cease the marketing, promotion, distribution and sale of cigarettes and other tobacco products to minors; to prevent the defendants from portraying misleading images such as direct depictions, graphics, advertorials, images, words, messages, sponsorships and branding targeted at youth and minors. In addition, the lawsuit is seeking the compulsory disclosure and dissemination of all research relating to smoking and health. Analysts are closely monitoring the case in light of similar developments in the US. They believe that the case could trigger a wave of similar actions against the tobacco industry. In a written witness statement on oath included in the lawsuit, Akinbode Oluwafemi, program manager of ERA/FoEN, said tobacco companies are diverting their resources and promotional machinery to developing countries in Africa. He claimed that at every musical concert that BAT Nigeria sponsors it distributes free Benson and Hedges cigarettes to youth (This Day 5/8).

Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, Attorney General of Lagos, Nigeria, filed a US$ 21.6 billion lawsuit in the Lagos State High Court on behalf of the State Government and the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth, Nigeria against several cigarette companies, accusing them of fraudulently targeting youth and minors by advertising and marketing their products through music, cinema and fashion, despite being aware of the health risks of smoking. The lawsuit names BAT Nigeria Limited, International Tobacco Limited, BAT Plc, BAT (Investment) Limited, Philip Morris International and the Tobacco Institute(Vanguard 5/3).  



Officials at the Saudi Arabia's Health Ministry said the government has filed a lawsuit scheduled to go on trial in September 2007 that seeks more than US$ 2.7 billion per year in compensation for the costs of treating smoking-related illnesses from some international cigarette companies, Khaleej Times reported.  However, the government did not reveal the names of cigarette companies it plans to sue. Some international companies, including Philip Morris International, BAT and Altadis, operate in Saudi Arabia (Mena Report 5/20).



On May 1st, the Seoul Administration Court in South Korea overruled a Ministry of Finance directive preventing a local company from establishing its own tobacco manufacturing plant because it had only 3.5 billion won (US$ 3.8 mn) in capital, less than the minimum 30 billion won (US$ 32.3 mn) required by the government to set up a plant.  The court ordered the ministry to revoke its decision, ruling that the regulation is ambiguous and unfair as it prevents new entrants into the market. In 2004, the plaintiff, who is a distributor, sought the finance ministry's permission to set up the plant, but was denied consent on the grounds that he failed to meet the financial requirement. The ministry said the requirement is aimed at protecting public health. It is unclear if the ministry would appeal the ruling. Currently, only three companies - KT&G, BAT and Philip Morris - have tobacco manufacturing plants in South Korea (Yonhap News Agency 5/2).




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