Tobacco is big news here, but it’s also making headlines around the world. Here’s a snapshot of what’s going on globally 

IRELAND The first major conference to be held between the EU and the US on cigarette smuggling took place in Ireland in September. With one of the highest tax regimes in the world, smuggling is a serious issue for Ireland, which introduced a tobacco display ban last summer. 

NORTHERN IRELAND Plans to enforce a tobacco display ban as early as this winter are still up in the air. The Assembly has approved the ban on display with Health Minister Michael McGimpsey saying he wanted to bring it into force late this year. However, Democratic Unionist Party politicians are arguing that it should be delayed until 2013 in order to give retailers the time to fund changes to their premises. 

AUSTRALIA Retailers in Australia are gearing up for the introduction of plain packaging of cigarettes. From 2012 tobacco companies will be allowed to print only their brand name in a standard style and there will still be graphic health warnings on the packaging. The move has created a furore in the country, with retailers, trade associations and manufacturers claiming that it will drive smokers away from the convenience channel to the black market. 

PHILIPPINES Proposals to incorporate a hologram-aided tax stamp onto cigarette packaging are being considered. The technology which, according to China-based conglomerate Huagong Tech could not be counterfeited, would curb the smuggling of cigarettes. 

UNITED STATES The US Food and Drug Administration has sent warnings to five makers of e-cigarettes for marketing them illegally as stop-smoking aids, and said it intends to regulate the products as drugs. The FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research accused the companies of making unsubstantiated claims and poor manufacturing practices. Meanwhile, low-priced cigarette manufacturer General Tobacco has said it is to shut down. 

BULGARIA The Bulgarian ministry of finance has proposed a hike in excise for cigarettes. According to the proposals, cigarettes up to 8cm (filter excluded) will be taxed at the regular rate, cigarettes 8-11cm taxed at a double rate, and products 11-14cm at triple rate. 

ZIMBABWE Zimbabwe’s national tobacco crop has doubled this year. About 50,000 smallholder farmers grew 65-70% of the tobacco crop, compared with less than 10% a decade ago. Traditionally, the main buyers were from Western countries, but China is estimated to have bought 33% of the 2010 crop..

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