Tobacco Asia

Volume 20, Number 1

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12 tobaccoasia FRONT PAGE NEWS 卷首新闻 India Illegal Trade Doubles High taxes on cigarettes have given rise to an illegal industry and tobacco consumption shifting to cheaper non-cigarette forms, said the Tobacco Institute of India recently. "Due to the punitive taxation on cigarettes since 2012-13, the legal cigarette industry in India has dropped from 110 billion sticks in 2011-12 to 95 billion sticks in 2014-15 and is expected to drop further in the current year," said a statement issued by the Tobacco Institute of India. Illegal cigarette trade comprising international smuggled and locally manu- factured tax-evaded cigarettes accounts for as much as 1/5th of the cigarette industry in India. According a recent FICCI Study "Illicit Markets – A Threat to our National Interests" the overall market for illegal cigarettes in India is now estimated at 22.8% of the cigarette industry resulting in a huge revenue loss of more than Rs.9,000 crores (US$1.5 billion) to the national exchequer. Citing an analysis done by the World Health Organisation in 2015, the Institute said that cigarette taxes (excise duty and state VAT) in India are amongst the highest in the world. "In fact, cigarette taxes in India are 14 times higher than USA, nine times higher than Japan, seven times higher than China, five times higher than Australia, and three times higher than Malaysia and Pakistan," said the statement. Constant increase in duty rates has rendered the legal industry unable to counter the growing illegal filter cigarettes. This has put the legal cigarette industry at a severe disadvantage while enabling a much higher arbitrage opportunity to the illegal operators. Illegal cigarettes are readily available at marketplaces, paan shops, and hawkers' stalls across the country. Indeed, cigarette sellers prefer to stock these brands as their low prices ensure higher trade margins. As a result, illegal cigarette trade has almost doubled since 2004 in the country. According to Euromonitor International, a renowned global research organization, India is now the 4th largest illegal cigarette market in the world. Another undesirable outcome of the growth of illegal trade is that it further undermines the tobacco control policies of the government and affects farmer earnings. Since contraband products do not use local tobaccos any increase in illegal trade will necessarily impact the livelihood of tobacco farmers in the country as demand for domestic tobaccos falls further. Bigger Warnings in 2016 In November 2015, the Rajasthan High Court ruled that graphic warnings on cigarette packs will have to cover at least 85% of the packaging on both sides of tobacco products. The new rule will have to be implemented from April 1, 2016, the Court said. Currently pictorial warnings cover only 40% of one side of tobacco products such as cigarettes. "We are not inclined to hear you, will hear only about the implementation of the order," observed the Rajasthan High court in response to a plea by a group claiming to be private tobacco vendors. The group had unsuccessfully tried to convince the court to delay an order on bigger pictorial warnings claiming they needed time to diversify their business. The Court said bigger tobacco warnings were supposed to be imple- mented in April last year, but the action was deferred due to more time requested by a Parliamentary panel examining the subject. The head of the Panel, BJP lawmaker Dilip Gandhi had sparked a controversy when he suggested that there was no Indian study linking tobacco use to cancer. New Zealand Plain Packaging Praised Tobacco control campaigners in New Zealand say they are thrilled with their government's decision to press on with plain packaging for tobacco products. The country's prime minister John Key said recently that he expected the Maori Party-devised plain-packaging regime to advance "sooner rather than later" after new advice from officials said the prospects of a legal challenge were diminishing. Various studies showed that plain packets were "significantly less attrac- tive" to young adults, she said. Packets with standardised colours and fonts also led to less smoking around others, going without cigarettes, or increased thinking about quitting. Ash director Stephanie Erick said that Australia's plain-packaging policy had provided "huge benefits", including a fall in smoking rates and a rise in people wishing to quit, although existing research is inconclusive at best. New Zealand had been keeping an eye on the outcome of legal challenges against Australia's plain packaging, one from tobacco firm Philip Morris and another from tobacco-producing countries via the World Trade Organisa- tion (WTO). Australia won the case against Philip Morris in December and the WTO challenge is still ongoing, but Mr Key said he received advice late last year that the country's government was on a "firm footing" to progress plain packaging because several other countries – including the UK and Ireland – had introduced it without being challenge under the WTO. The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), signed on February 4, also allows tobacco control measures, so New Zealand could advance anti-smoking policies without risking a legal challenge. US Post Op E-Cigs Using electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) may help patients around the time of surgery reduce the risks for postoperative complications, according to the research team at the Mayo Clinic Department of Anesthesiology. Cigarette smoking is a known risk factor and quitting or cutting down before or after surgery by using e-ciga- rettes seems to help mitigate this risk showed the study aimed to determine the feasibility of achieving this goal, regardless of the patients' intent to attempt long-term abstinence. Of the 75 patients who participated in the study, 67 (or 87%) tried ENDS during the study period. At 30-day follow-up, 34 (51%) who had used ENDS planned to continue using them. This led to an average cigarette con- sumption decrease from 15.6 per person

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