Monday, May 26, 2008

Smokes in literature

Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Brontë
Once upon a time, the smell of cigar smoke was thought to be delicious, arousing. In the proposal scene of Brontë's novel, Jane catches the whiff of Rochester's cigar - "I know it well" - in the garden at Thornfield. It mingles with "sweet-briar and southernwood, jasmine, pink, and rose". With the heroine giddy on these blended scents, only one outcome is possible.
Sherlock Holmes, by Arthur Conan Doyle
It was also thought that clever people smoked, and became cleverer when they did so. Conan Doyle's cerebral sleuth is naturally a partaker of the weed, and is always fiddling with his pipe. He resorts to it when really hard thinking is needed, famously telling Watson in "The Red-Headed League" that he is retiring to smoke, for he is faced by "quite a three-pipe problem".
Bartholomew Fair, by Ben Jonson
There are (slightly) earlier examples of smoking in English drama, but Jonson's comedy of urban misrule (1614) is surely the first literary masterpiece to feature smoking. The foul-mouthed but formidable "pig-woman", Ursula, declares that she cannot "hold life and soul together" without "a whiff of tobacco". "Where's my pipe now? Not filled? Thou errant incubee!" she shouts at Mooncalf.
Madame Bovary, by Gustave Flaubert
In the 19th century, when women go to the bad they shamelessly take to cigarettes. Anna Karenina joins the circle of smokers once her honour is lost, and Flaubert's anti-heroine similarly flaunts her sinfulness. "Her looks grew bolder, her speech more free; she even committed the impropriety of walking out with Monsieur Rodolphe, cigarettes in her mouth."
All Quiet on the Western Front, by Erich Maria Remarque
From Mailer to Tom Clancy, the stoical smoke is an indispensable interlude of any credible story of soldiers in battle. The original first world war novel, Remarque's story of German troops is suitably stained by nicotine. "Over our heads a cloud of smoke spreads out. What would a soldier be without tobacco?"
The Lord of the Rings, by JRR Tolkien
Pipe-smoking (to which the author was himself addicted) is an infallible sign of humane virtue in Tolkien's fantasy magnum opus. Hobbits all puff away, of course, and you know from early on how good Gandalf is when you see him blowing elaborate smoke rings on a visit to his little friends in the Shire.
Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh
The glum Catholic convert Charles Ryder looks back during wartime to a better world of his youth: long Oxford days, strawberries and Château Peyraguey with Sebastian Flyte, and lovely "fat Turkish cigarettes". "We lay on our backs . . . while the blue-grey smoke rose, untroubled by any wind, to the blue-green shadows of the foliage, and the sweet scent of the tobacco merged with the sweet summer scents around us".
The Big Sleep, by Raymond Chandler
Everyone seems to smoke in Chandler's novels, women often with particular panache. Philip Marlowe himself smokes with a kind of world-weary soulfulness, as when confronted by a sudden revelation in The Big Sleep. "I sat there and poisoned myself with cigarette smoke and listened to the rain and thought about it."
Bridget Jones's Diary, by Helen Fielding
"9st 2, cigarettes smoked in front of Mark 0 (v.g.), cigarettes smoked in secret 7, cigarettes not smoked, 47* (v.g.)". Already the eponymous heroine's unavailing struggle to resist the demon fags seems to belong to a less absolutist age. How many does Renée Zellweger get through in those films?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Imperial Reports Lower Profit, to Raise $10 Billion

Imperial Tobacco Group Plc reported a 45 percent drop in first-half profit on costs for buying Altadis SA and said it will sell stock worth 4.9 billion pounds ($10 billion) to current investors to help fund the takeover.
Net income dropped to 233 million pounds in the six months through March from 421 million pounds a year earlier, the Bristol, England-based company said today in a statement. That missed the 370 million-pound median estimate of five analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.
Imperial agreed to buy Madrid-based Altadis in July of last year, months after unveiling the acquisition of U.S. cigarettes maker Commonwealth Brands. Most of the Spanish company's sales come from its domestic market and France, adding to its allure for Imperial, which is expanding in new locations because its main U.K. and German markets are shrinking.
``The focus will be to see how Altadis is performing,'' Rogerio Fujimori, an analyst at Credit Suisse in London, said yesterday. The takeover gave Imperial, Europe's second-largest cigarettes maker, cigarette brands including Gauloises and the world's largest manufacturer of cigars.

Investors will have the right to buy one new share for every two held as of May 15, said Imperial, the maker of Lambert & Butler and Davidoff cigarettes. It will sell 338.7 million new shares for 1,475 pence each, 44 percent less than yesterday's closing price in London trading.
Imperial rose 16 pence, or 0.6 percent, to 2,618 pence in London yesterday. The stock has slipped 3.5 percent in 2008, while larger competitor British American Tobacco Plc, the maker of Pall Mall cigarettes, is little changed.
The cigarette maker had said costs related to the Altadis purchase would lop 110 million pounds from first-half profit. The drop in earnings is ``all because of this exceptional charge,'' Fujimori said.
Imperial had said it would sell as much as 5 billion pounds of stock by July to help finance the takeover and retain its investment-grade credit rating. The company has raised its stake in Logista, the Spanish cigarette distributor controlled by Altadis, to about 97 percent following an offer to minority investors this month.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Austria takes tough stance on cigarette imports

Austrian customs officials have started imposing tough fines on persons bringing Czech cigarettes to Austria and in addition they confiscate all the non-permitted cigarettes they find, the daily Lidove noviny wrote Tuesday.
Czechs taking out more than one carton of Czech cigaretteswhile travelling for holiday to Croatia via Austria could be severely punished because the Austrian customs officials have started imposing tough fines on all drivers who violate "the tobacco law" while crossing the Austrian border, the paper says.
Under the law, passed shortly before the Czech Republic joined the Schengen area without border checks last December, one person can only take out 200 pieces of cigarettes with the Czech-language health warning message while travelling from the Czech Republic to Austria.
Drivers have to pay a 50 euro fine for each additional carton of cigarettes if caught and besides, Austrian police confiscate the cigarettes from them, the paper says.
"The time when we just reprimand the people violating the law or simply return cars back to the Czech Republic is over. At present we confiscate everything that crosses the permitted limit," Franz Dorninger, head of the Linz customs administration, told Lidove noviny.
While as recently as in January and February Austrian customs officials were still lenient towards Czechs violating the tobacco law, in March they imposed 47 fines for carrying non-permitted amounts of cigarettes from the Czech Republic to Austria and 48 fines were imposed in April, Dorninger says.
"On average, the drivers who are usually caught having two additional cartons of cigarettes above the one permitted carton on them had to pay a 100 euro fine," he says.
However, statistics does not allow to find out whether the drivers punished were Czechs or Austrians, HN writes.
The Czech Industry and Trade Ministry resents the Austrian police raids on people taking Czech tobacco products out to Austria. On the basis of the EU agreements from January 1, 2008, Austria must allow the import of up to 800 pieces of Czech-made cigarettes per one person, Lidove noviny writes.
However, since Austrian cigarette sellers have threatened to stage a general trike if their government failed to protect them against the cheap Czech competition Vienna has adopted special measures.
Although it has officially confirmed that people are allowed to take to Austria up to four cartons of Czech cigarettes per one person this is only possible if the health warning message is written in German.
The import of cigarettes with the Czech health warning message remains limited to one carton.
"In our opinion, such measure runs counter to the rules of free trade within the EU," Czech Industry and Trade Ministry spokesman Tomas Bartovsky told Lidove noviny.
Industry and Trade Minister Martin Riman has thus called on Austrian Health Minister Andrea Kdolsky in written to abolish the controversial measure.
Riman was not satisfied with Kdolsky's answer in which she pointed to the protection of the health of the Austrian population.
He has thus called on the Association of Czech tobacco products traders to complain about the measure at the European Commission, Lidove noviny writes.
Despite the gradual increase in prices of tobacco products in the Czech Republic they are still cheaper there than in Germany or Austria. Foreigners thus buy roughly one-fourth of the 73 billion pieces of cigarettes annually sold in the Czech Republic, the daily Pravo wrote on Monday.
According to Pravo, foreigners took some 5.6 billion cigarettes out of the Czech Republic last year.
On the other hand, some 1.8 billion cigarettes were taken to the Czech Republic from Poland, Ukraine and Slovakia where tobacco products are substantially cheaper for Czechs, Pravo said.

Monday, May 12, 2008

‘Joint effort needed’ to strengthen tobacco law

A TOTAL of 52 participants including mall managers, restaurant and hotel managers, health professionals, legal experts, law enforcement agents and government officials recently attended a National Health Authority’s (NHA) workshop on Tobacco Law number 20 of 2002.
Penalties for violating the law include fines of up to QR5,000, closure of establishment which violates the law and jail of up to six months.
The aim of the workshop, which is one of the activities lined up for the commemoration of the ‘World No Tobacco Day’ was to discuss how to improve the implementation of the law among other things.
The theme for the year is ‘Tobacco-Free Youth’.
The director of the Public health at the NHA, Dr Gail Fraser Chanpong, who declared open the workshop, said that tobacco is a major public health problem in the community and that urgent cigarettes control efforts are needed.
Prof Ravinder Mamtani of the Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar discussed the effects of tobacco and highlighted its effects, including cancer and heart diseases.
“Globally, tobacco kills approximately 5.4mn people annually, that is, one person every six seconds,” he said.
Legal expert at the NHA Asmaa Abdel Halim highlighted parts of the law and also discussed how it organises and controls tobacco sale and smoking in public places.
She stressed the importance of collaboration between all governmental agencies, families, educational institutions and others to reach the goals set by the country.
Head of the Non-communicable Diseases section Adenike Ajani said legislation is one of many strategies that can be used for tobacco control, especially because of its special consideration for the youths.
She added that the law prohibits the sale of tobacco to minors and advertisement that may encourage its use among youths.
Ajani noted that tobacco in the law refers to all kinds of products including water-pipe (sheesha) and chewing tobacco (suwaikah), while adding that there is no safe form of tobacco.
Major Hamad al-Ansari of the Ministry of Interior said that law enforcement officials will continue to support the cigarettes control efforts of the NHA, adding that official channels of collaboration need to be established to strengthen the role of the police officers in the tobacco control.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

New Camel brand contains crushable capsule

Consumers can squeeze this blue capsule inside the filter of the new Camel Crush to release a menthol flavor. The brand is being test-marketed at local Quality Mart stores.

A tiny blue capsule is the key element in R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.'s latest attempt to woo smokers.
The capsule is embedded into the filter of a regular Camel Lights cigarette.
When smokers squeeze and snap the capsule, it releases menthol to change the flavor. The
cigarettes — packaged in a sleek black and blue box and called Camel Crush — is being test-marketed at local Quality Mart convenience stores, and beginning this month in Pennsylvania.
"We're giving the adult smoker the ability to savor two distinct flavors with Camel Crush and customize the experience," said Brian Stebbins, the senior business-unit director for Camel. "They can crush it a little and get a slight flavor over the length of the smoke. They can crush it completely and get a fresh menthol blast."
Reynolds views product innovation as a positive and differentiating way to compete for adult smokers and market share.
However, the capsule also has become the latest target of anti-smoking groups, which claim that product innovations such as Camel Crush and the marketing of
cigarettesare geared toward attracting young consumers.
"Tobacco companies have carefully designed their products to attract new users, almost all of whom are children," said The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids in a February report titled "Big Tobacco's Guinea Pigs."
"Tobacco products are far from simple tobacco leaf rolled in paper or other packaging. They are highly engineered nicotine-delivery devices, finely tuned to appeal to the taste, feel, smell, and other sensations of new and addicted smokers," the report says.
Stebbins declined to say how much Reynolds has spent to develop Camel Crush, but it has been in the works for several years.
"We had to find the proper type of capsule," Stebbins said. "We also had to invent manufacturing machinery to put the capsule in the same place in the filter consistently without breaking it." Reynolds said it has obtained a patent on the machinery.