Monday, June 30, 2008

Philip Morris presents at JP Morgan Global Tobacco Conference

NEW YORK - Philip Morris International Inc.’s (NYSE / Paris Euronext: PM) Chief Operating Officer André Calantzopoulos will address investors today at the JP Morgan Global Tobacco Conference at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in London.
The presentation and Q&A session are being webcast live, in a listen-only mode, beginning at approximately 9:25 a.m. London Time
. An archived copy of the webcast, together with selected slides, will be available on the same site until 5:00 p.m. ET on Friday, July 18, 2008.
Highlights of the presentation include Philip Morris International’s (PMI) key brand strategies and an update on major market performances.
The presentation may contain projections of future results and other forward-looking statements that involve a number of risks and uncertainties and are made pursuant to the Safe Harbor Provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995.
PMI is subject to other risks detailed from time to time in its publicly filed documents, including the Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q for the period ended March 31, 2008. PMI cautions that the list of important factors is not complete and does not undertake to update any forward-looking statements that it may make.

Scottish city to offer smokers food vouchers in return for quitting cigarettes

LONDON — Authorities in a Scottish city are offering smokers food vouchers if they quit.

Health officials in Dundee say ex-smokers will be given $25 a week on an electronic card. The credits can be redeemed in stores for fresh food and groceries, but not alcohol or cigarettes.

Participants in the pilot program will get help giving up cigarettes and will have to undergo weekly carbon monoxide breath tests to prove they have not started again.

Authorities said Saturday that the project will start in the fall. They hope it can help 900 people quit smoking over the next two years.

Dundee is Scotland's fourth-largest city and has one of Britain's highest smoking rates.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Use tobacco money to balance budget

Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki says he hopes legislators consider approving his plan that could raise $600 million to $775 million in revenue without increasing taxes to address the budget shortfall.

"These are extraordinary times, and Nevada needs to take extraordinary measures," Krolicki said Thursday by phone from Beijing, where he is heading a state trade mission.

Under his plan, the state would sell bonds and use the revenue to cover current debts. The bonds would be repaid from the annual payments the state receives from tobacco companies.

Nevada receives about $50 million a year from the tobacco industry to compensate for the medical costs to the state of tobacco-related illnesses.

"The situation is so dire now it makes sense to use tobacco securitization to balance the state budget," Krolicki said. "You can't nickel and dime your way out of a $1 billion budget shortfall."

Legislators next week are scheduled to go into a special session to cut $100 million to $200 million more in state spending because of falling tax revenues. Lawmakers and Gov. Jim Gibbons already have approved $914 million in cuts to the two-year budget that ends June 30, 2009.

Krolicki's plan isn't without its critics.

In a letter Wednesday to Gibbons, state Treasurer Kate Marshall said her office has been unable to secure the "working papers" on the assumptions Krolicki used to arrive at the estimated proceeds from his plan. If the Legislature considers the proposal, Marshall said, she wants to work with the attorney general "to determine the extent to which such action would put the state at risk of engaging in fiduciary failure."

Marshall also pointed out that Krolicki in 2003 told the Senate Committee on Government Affairs that a tobacco securitization plan would be a "tremendous fiduciary failure" and should not be used to "balance today's budget."

At the time, Krolicki was state treasurer.

Krolicki said that in earlier sessions he advocated legislators issue bonds against the tobacco money. But at the 2003 session, he said, he opposed the plan because "it is too expensive and the market is not right."

The situation has changed dramatically since 2003, Krolicki said, and the plan is needed because there is no guarantee Nevada will continue to receive money from the tobacco industry at current levels.

The tobacco money now is used to cover some of the expenses of the Millennium Scholarship and SeniorRx programs.

"It is one of the few options that can raise a considerable amount of money without raising taxes or substantially harming a considerable amount of people," Krolicki said.

Legislators and the governor are looking at ways to cut spending without laying off workers.

Krolicki said his plan is available on his Web site and in handouts he has distributed to the media. He said he proposed creation of a working group, which would include the treasurer, to review the plan before any bonds were sold.

"I would be pleased to work with her (Marshall) and show how the model works," he said. "She is making noise now in a nonconstructive way."

Since Marshall assumed his job in January 2007, the two have been at loggerheads.

Krolicki has been investigated by the Nevada Division of Investigation because of concerns Marshall raised over his handling of a college tuition program and office e-mail messages. No charges have been filed against him.

Uganda: Tobacco Firms Should Be Socially Responsible

I wish to draw attention to the damage tobacco growing has caused to the environment in West Nile, the North, Bunyoro and south-western Uganda.
Several acres of woodland have been felled for flue-cured tobacco production in Maracha, Arua, Koboko, Yumbe, Hoima, and Masindi districts. Forests that would otherwise have filtered carbon emissions and protected arable land from erosion are removed, and temperatures in the tobacco-growing districts are rising.
Firms like British American Tobacco, Leaf Tobacco and Commodity, as well as Continental, in their fallacy, give eucalyptus seedlings to farmers supposedly to replace chopped forests without considering the long maturity period and its impact on the water table.
The tobacco firms do not plough back their high profits yet they hype their cosmetic social responsibility programmes. South African Breweries' "Drive Arrive Campaign" resulted into 10% decline in road accident-related deaths in 1998. What have the tobacco companies done?
Apart from the trivial contribution through the mandatory 2000 Crop Ordinance that Arua enacted, tobacco companies have not done much for the community. Since tobacco growing is laborious and an all-year round activity, many food crops are foregone by tobacco farmers, which has caused food insecurity.
Besides, during peak seasons, students stay home harvesting tobacco, leading to poor academic performance and child labour. Tobacco companies have not trained farmers to invest their little earnings and this leaves them in a cyclical poverty trap.
The negative impact of tobacco growing includes the accumulation of chemical compounds in soils and declining fertility. Tobacco production negatively affects people's health. The effects include nicotine poisoning, pesticide exposure, respiratory effects, musculoskeletal and other injuries.
The Government should assist tobacco growers in West Nile to produce alternative crops that thrive well there without fertilisers or pesticides. The sh48b the Government gets in tax revenues from tobacco exports and products should not shroud the negative effects on tobacco on the population.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Wegmans, DeCicco Markets Ditch Cigarettes

Anti-smoking groups are praising Wegmans Food Markets and DeCicco Markets for discontinuing the sale of tobacco products at their stores.

The American Lung Association of New York State presented Wegmans with the Lung Champion Award to recognize the Rochester, N.Y.-based grocer’s January 2008 decision to stop the sale of such items at all 70 of its locations, which are in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, and Maryland.

“The American Lung Association of New York State commends Wegmans for its leadership in removing cigarettes from store shelves and putting the public health of its employees and customers above profits,” said Deborah Carioto, president of the organization. “Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in this country, and with the single act of halting tobacco sales in its stores, Wegmans has set what I hope will be a trend among major retailers in this country.”

Besides banning the sale of tobacco products, Wegmans now offers a quit-smoking program for its employees. It said 550 are currently enrolled.

“Wegmans believes that the many young people who work in our stores will be affected by the message the company they work for is willing to give up profits out of concern for their health,” said Wegmans vice president Mary Ellen Burris.

Pelham, N.Y.-based DeCicco Markets, with locations in both Westchester and Rockland counties, stopped selling tobacco products at five of its six grocery stores in February. The sixth location, which opened in Ardsley, N.Y. last year, has never carried tobacco products.

DeCicco was honored at the sixth annual “No Thanks, Big Tobacco” appreciation event sponsored by the Elmsford, N.Y.-based Tobacco Control Partners of the Lower Hudson Valley.

Stephens City Town Council approves tax on cigarettes

STEPHENS CITY — A pack of smokes will cost 25 cents more in town when a new tax adopted Tuesday takes effect.

The Town Council voted 6-1 at its regular meeting to approved an ordinance creating a 25-cent excise tax on a pack of 20 cigarettes. Mayor Ray Ewing, Vice Mayor Joy Shull and councilmen Ronald Bowers, John Hollis, Lindel Fravel Jr. and Micheal Grim voted to approve the ordinance on the final reading. Councilman John Harter gave the dissenting vote.

"There were enough people in this town that didn't like the idea, and somebody had to vote against it," Harter said, explaining his vote.

Bowers disagreed.

"I think it's a fair tax because you're putting it on an elected product," Bowers said.

Currently, four businesses within town limits sell cigarettes and would have to charge the tax. Sellers must display a cigarette stamp provided by the town. Taxes will be collected by the town treasurer. The tax per individual cigarette will be 1.25 cents, but the total revenue should be around $25,000, according to Town Manager Mike Kehoe.

In other business, the council:

* Adopted a resolution to address "Virginia's transportation funding crisis," by which the town supports the efforts of the governor and the General Assembly "to act swiftly and decisively to approve legislation that will address the transportation funding crisis at the statewide, regional and local levels."

The resolution also states that such legislation should include new tax and fee revenue, including tolls on new highways, to ensure safe roads, ease congestion, promote economic development and provide consumer choices.

* Held a public hearing on the proposed 2008-2009 budget. No one spoke during the hearing. The total budget is proposed at $1.45 million, compared to $1.66 million for the current fiscal year. The council scheduled a June 12 special meeting at which they plan to vote on the budget.

Also, the council approved a motion extending the deadline to pay real estate and personal property taxes to June 30. Bills were to be due Thursday.

* Voted unanimously to award a contract to American Disposal Inc. for refuse collection. The contract is for one year at $101,192. Evergreen Waste Inc. currently provides the service for nearly $90,000 but submitted a bid of $125,881 for the next year, the second-highest of three bids.

* Voted unanimously to adopt a resolution requesting that the Virginia Department of Transportation reduce the speed limit on U.S. 11 (Valley Pike), 0.95 miles south of the previous town limits, from 55 mph to 45 mph.