среда, 25 июля 2012 г.

Santa Monica Shelves Smoking Ban

The City Council failed to put on the books Tuesday night new regulations that would have snuffed out smoking—medical marijuana included—in all newly-constructed apartments and condos in Santa Monica. The rules, which would have also required tenants in existing units to tell their landlords if they smoke, were approved two weeks ago on a 4-2 vote.

 But the ordinance required a second vote before becoming law, and in what Mayor Richard Bloom called a "very unusual move," the ordinance failed on its second pass. "What we’re simply doing is giving more thought to this," said City Councilwoman Gleam Davis, who was absent from the previous meeting. Bloom and City Councilman Terry O'Day supported the rules July 10, but changed course Tuesday, saying they now believe the council needs to better assess how the smoking ordinance would affect medicinal marijuana users and landlords.

"I have some concerns about this ordinance as we adopted it and include some of the issues that have been raised to me after-the-fact about medical marijuana users," said O'Day. "I think the council and the ultimate decision-making will benefit from future discussion regarding medical marijuana," said Bloom. The ordinance said landlords would be required to keep track and make public where smoking tenants lived. Units occupied by residents who failed to disclose their smoking statuses would automatically become "non-smoking."

Every unit that became vacant after the law were passed, would be designated "non-smoking," regardless of its prior designation. Those who smoke in "non-smoking" units would have faced fines upwards of $100. Councilman Bob Holbrook said he would not be deterred in his support for the regulations after receiving emails from longtime residents referring to him as a "Nazi" and "Hitler." "My motive is strictly a public health measure," he said. "It’s just time that we made homes and living spaces safe for people... we [would] certainly save them a lifetime of diseases that’s going to occur for sure."

Outdoor smoking ban proposed for Granville

The Village of Granville will have a chance to decide if it wants to jump into the forefront of a campaign to ban smoking in outdoor areas at businesses and government jurisdictions in Licking County. Mary Richardson, health educator with the Licking County Health Department, broached the idea of the village becoming the first municipality in the county to adopt a tobacco-free policy at Village Council's July 18 meeting. She said the policy was an opportunity to further extend the existing ban on smoking indoors, in order to protect people from the health hazards of second-hand smoke.

 Village Manager Steve Stilwell said he hasn't seen a written proposal from the health department for such a program and wants to study what other communities have done before reacting. "I want to present examples to the council ... and give them an opportunity to decide if those examples make sense for the village," he said. Last week, the Licking County Commissioners approved a ban on smoking and tobacco use of any kind on all county-owned or leased premises and in all county-owned vehicles and equipment.

The policy allows the commissioners to designate outside smoking areas at least 100 feet from any entrance or exit. In addition to preventing non-smokers from inhaling second-hand smoke, tobacco-free policies are designed to encourage employees and community members to quit by making it less convenient to smoke, Richardson said. She said $1,000 grants are available to jurisdictions that pass tobacco-free ordinances. The grants can be used for such costs as putting up signs and communications with residents. The 2010 Community Health Assessment conducted by the Licking County Health Department found trachea, bronchus, and lung cancers were the leading causes of cancer deaths in Licking County.

The assessment also found 27 percent of Licking County adults smoke. A handful of businesses and other agencies in the county already ban outdoor smoking on their properties, including two businesses in Granville, Owens Corning Science & Technology Center and Love Yourself and Earth salon and day spa, according to the health department.

Grant money aimed at smoke-free rentals

Public health officials in La Crosse County will use part of a $450,000 state grant to persuade more landlords to ban smoking in their apartment buildings. Apartment Association of the La Crosse Area president Pamela Strittmater says that besides the health benefits for renters, it’s a safety and cleanliness issue. She says many landlords are already on board.

 The La Crosse Tribune reports that over the next couple years, $6.6 million will be distributed statewide through the Transform Wisconsin initiative. It’s focused on promoting tobacco-free living, healthy food and active communities.

Ohio higher ed panel: Ban all tobacco on campuses

Ohio higher education officials voted unanimously Monday to urge the state’s public campuses to ban all sales and use of tobacco products, including smoking outdoors. The Ohio Board of Regents’ resolution comes after a review showed such policies bring health benefits to both smokers and nonsmokers and cut costs for education institutions, said Chairman James Tuschman. Tuschman said Ohio can set an example, since it often serves as a test market for new tobacco products aimed at young people.

The Regents’ recommendation extends to all Ohio’s campuses, including Ohio State, one of the nation’s largest universities. Currently, OSU bans only indoor smoking and some outdoor smoking around its health facilities. The university said Monday it will review the issue. At least seven public colleges or universities in Ohio currently have tobacco bans, including Miami University, Hocking College, and the health science campus of the University of Toledo. Regent Patricia Ackerman said she backed the resolution “as someone who smoked my first cigarette at age 14, as someone who went to college and viewed as a true act of liberation making that first official act of freedom purchasing a pack of cigarettes.”

 Statistics show Ackerman was not alone: 40 percent of smokers either begin or become regular smokers starting in college. The board is led by Chancellor Jim Petro, who picked up the smoking habit on campus. “I began smoking in college and continued to smoke for 40 years. It has adversely affected my health,” said Petro who was diagnosed in 2009 with laryngeal cancer that could have been caused by smoking. He is cancer-free now. “By approving this resolution and recommending that policies be implemented on our campuses, the Board of Regents can have a significant and positive effect on a student’s life.” Ohio Health Director Ted Wymyslo said reaching young people is critical. Ohio, like many states, has cut funding to his smoking prevention programs amid several years of tight budgets.

Tobacco industry mistrusted over excises

Anti-smoking groups have told MPs that the tobacco industry is likely to undermine tax increases which aim to discourage smoking. The Finance and Expenditure Select Committee is hearing submissions on a bill which implements the Government's excise increases announced in this year's budget.

Under the legislation, the excise tax will increase by 10 percent a year at the beginning of each of the next four years, in addition to the annual inflation-indexed increase. The of ASH director Ben Youden, told the committee on Wednesday morning that a factor they have to consider is the tobacco industry's ability to undermine excise increases with pricing strategies.

Reynolds American net income up on higher prices

Cigarette maker Reynolds American's net income climbed more than 35 percent in the second quarter as higher prices and cost-cutting helped it recover from year-ago results that had been dragged down by legal charges. But the nation's second-biggest tobacco company also saw a much steeper decline in the number of cigarettes it sold than the rest of the industry. The Winston-Salem, N.C., company said heavy promotional activity by its competitors drove its cigarette volumes down nearly 7 percent to 18.1 billion cigarettes, compared with an estimated total industry volume decline of 1.7 percent. Its R.J. Reynolds Tobacco subsidiary sold 4 percent less of its Camel brand and volumes of Pall Mall fell 3.6 percent. Camel's market share fell slightly to 8.3 percent of the U.S. market, while Pall Mall's market share fell 0.2 percentage points to 8.4 percent.

 The company has promoted Pall Mall as a longer-lasting and more affordable cigarette as smokers weather the weak economy and high unemployment, and has said half the people who try the brand continue using it. Still Reynolds has faced pressure from its competitors looking to attract more smokers looking to save money. "There's a lot of price competition in the marketplace, there's a lot of promotions out there," CEO Daniel M. Delen said in a conference call with investors. "Because there are so many low-priced offers, particularly from other premium brands in the marketplace, what we're actually seeing currently is the amount of new trialists out there for the (Pall Mall) brand has gone down significantly over time."

 Reynolds reported net income of $443 million, or 78 cents per share, for the three-month period ended June 30. That's up from $327 million, or 56 cents per share, a year ago when the company recorded charges related to a legal case that hurt its results. Adjusted earnings were 79 cents per share, beating analysts' expectations of 76 cents per share. Its shares fell 39 cents to close at $45.35 Tuesday. Revenue excluding excise taxes fell 4 percent to $2.18 billion from $2.27 billion a year ago. Analysts polled by FactSet expected revenue of $2.24 billion. Reynolds American and other tobacco companies are also focusing on cigarette alternatives such as snuff and chewing tobacco for future sales growth as tax hikes, smoking bans, health concerns and social stigma make the cigarette business tougher.

Volume for its smokeless tobacco brands that include Grizzly and Kodiak rose nearly 11 percent compared with a year ago. Its share of the U.S. retail market grew 1.7 percentage points to 32.4 percent. The company on Tuesday also said it will begin a test market in the Des Moines, Iowa, area of a nicotine gum under the Zonnic brand aimed at helping people stop smoking. In 2009, Reynolds bought a Swedish company Niconovum AB, which makes nicotine gum, pouches and spray products. The test market set to begin during the third quarter will be the first of its products to be sold in the U.S. Reynolds American also reaffirmed its full-year adjusted earnings forecast in the range of $2.91 and $3.01 per share. Analysts expected earnings of $2.95 per share.

Medical marijuana should be left to communities to decide, legislator says

Two dozen people gathered Tuesday night at Birmingham's Baldwin Public Library to hear a state lawmaker say a bill he sponsored could close a gap in the state law on medical marijuana and make it easier for "little old ladies" to get the drug. State Rep. Mike Callton, a Republican from Barry County, north of Kalamazoo, said his bill would let each Michigan city, township and village decide for itself whether to allow "provisioning centers" for distribution of medical marijuana. Many medical users say Michigan needs a system of public distribution centers, often called dispensaries -- although Callton said he avoids that term because it became controversial after state Attorney General Bill Schuette declared dispensaries illegal.

The meeting was held in the heart of Oakland County, scene of numerous police raids and criminal prosecutions of dispensaries in 2010 and 2011 by county authorities, who repeatedly have said they were obligated to shut down dispensaries. Other counties have taken different tacks, including Wayne and Washtenaw, where dispensaries have remained open as cases to determine their legality work their way to the Michigan Supreme Court. "How many of you have been arrested?" Callton asked the crowd. Ten people raised hands. "How many have had your property seized?" he asked next. Six hands went up. "And how many of you live in fear of being arrested?"

Nearly every hand went up. Callton is sponsoring House Bill 5580, which he said would guide municipalities on how to regulate marijuana distribution centers. Attorney Michael Komorn of Southfield said it also would reduce the ways some county prosecutors and sheriffs have curtailed legal access. The bill is in the House Judiciary Committee. Callton expects it won't come to a vote in the full House until next year. Callton said he's one of a handful of Republican lawmakers who say Michiganders should have fewer obstacles to obtaining medical marijuana.

That represents a big change of heart for the chiropractor, who said he voted against allowing medical marijuana in Michigan when the statewide vote was held in 2008, but then began seeing patients who benefited from medical marijuana. One was "a sweet 75-year-old lady, definitely not a hippie," who was able with medical-marijuana candies to control her tremors from Parkinson's disease "enough to get a good night's sleep again," he said. Members of the Birmingham Compassion Club hope the bill passes, said club director Chad Carr. "A lot of us need protection" from overzealous police, Carr said.

PhytoSPHERE Systems, a Medical Marijuana Inc Portfolio Company, to Bring Production Facilities to Europe through Canipa Holdings

Medical Marijuana, Inc. MJNA -6.67% a leading hemp industry innovator, is pleased to announce that PhytoSPHERE Systems, a portfolio company of MJNA that develops pharmaceutical grade medicinal hemp production facilities, is expanding its production facilities to Europe. This expansion will be done through MJNA's newly formed portfolio company Canipa Holdings, which has established an office and team in the city of Bucharest, Romania, to handle its European product launch and distribution.

Canipa Holdings has been formed to assist Medical Marijuana Inc.'s expansion and marketing efforts into Europe. Canipa Holdings will focus its efforts on obtaining European product and marketing approvals for the entire line of Medical Marijuana Inc.'s portfolio of products as well as obtaining various licenses for the production of industrialized varieties of hemp. About PhytoSPHERE Systems LLC PhytoSPHERE Systems, LLC is the world's leading cannabinoid based biotechnology company that builds and develops growing, packaging and extraction technologies and deploys them in self-contained, highly efficient state of the art facilities as well as traditional hemp agricultural facilities, for the pharmaceutical and neutraceutical raw ingredients markets.

PhytoSPHERE's highly efficient growth, packaging and extraction technologies provide clients with a compact, safe, pollutant-free facility which will allow them to: Completely control the cultivation environment Greatly increase plant yields that significantly exceed traditional methods Reduce per-unit costs compared to traditional methods by eliminating the use of pesticides, fungicides and herbicides. Produce Pharmaceutical grade extracts. Establish antibacterial environments and packaging systems. 

Control post production processing with proprietary standardization methods. PhytoSPHERE's core technologies consist of: A module that places rows of plants in a manner to accelerate growth rates. Computer operated sprayers that ensure even distribution of nutrients to plants. A proprietary antibacterial product clipping, curing and packaging system, allowing for a truly pharmaceutical grade method of cultivation. An extraction and production process for cannabinoid based compounds derived from the cannabis and /or hemp plants, which uses standardized processes and technology to create the world's leading pharmaceutical grade extracts / oil / raw ingredients.

понедельник, 16 июля 2012 г.

New Law In Santa Monica Affects The Smoking Community

Miami Lakes, FL (PRWEB) July 16, 2012 Smokers renting or seeking to rent in Santa Monica, CA should consider the benefits of electronic cigarettes. The City Council of Santa Monica approved a new law banning smoking in apartments. Among many benefits with EverSmoke Electronic Cigarettes, smoking anywhere ranks high in the list. EverSmoke offers a safe environment for the smoker and the non-smoking community. There are no lingering scents, bad breath or yellow teeth associated with an EverSmoke e-cig.

The electronic cigarette surpasses other leading e-cig brands with its superior technology, insuring a clean smooth draw that produces maximum vapor. Since EverSmoke produces such a realistic smoking experience, it is the ideal product for traditional cigarette smokers to switch to while enjoying the same smoking experience and not having to worry about breaking the new Santa Monica law. According to The Santa Monica Daily Press, apartment residents are now required to designate their unit as non-smoking or smoking.

If there is no response from the request then the resident loses their right to smoke. Also, all tenants smoking preferences will become public information to every resident in said apartment complex. One of the concerns about smoking inside apartments is the tendency to stain walls and penetrate carpets with odor. However, with EverSmoke the substance that comes out of an e-cig may look like smoke, but it is actually pure water vapor, which will leave no tar, ash or lingering smells in any home.

An EverSmoke cartridge is filled with a nicotine solution instead of tobacco so the consumer can obtain all the same experiences that come with traditional cigarette smoking. EverSmoke commented on the new law stating “By smoking an EverSmoke e-cig, nobody has to worry about how their apartment smells, what their neighbors think or who might complain about any smoke and you have your own privacy!

This is the perfect solution to Santa Monica’s new law and helps smokers switch to the better smoking alternative; it’s turning a negative into a positive!” The Basic Starter Kit has what one needs to begin enjoying the freedom and satisfaction of smoking anywhere without all the harmful side effects. The Basic Starter Kit includes a lithium ion standard battery, a portable wall charger, a USB charger and five nicotine cartridges. The flavored cartridges are offered in Very Vanilla, Cherry Crush, Cool Menthol, Peppermint Party, Coffee Creation, Classic Tobacco, Golden Tobacco, Royal Tobacco, Piña Colada and Peach Passion. All flavors come in four different strengths: Full Flavored, Light, Ultra-Light and no nicotine.

The economics of cigarette taxes

The Congressional Budget Office recently took a look at how cigarette taxes affect the federal budget. It found that a 50-cent cigarette tax hike would save the government money as Americans got healthier, but nearly all of that new revenue would get wiped out as people started living longer.

If cigarette taxes went up there would—perhaps unsurprisingly—be fewer smokers. Demand for cigarettes tends to be relatively elastic and responsive to price, especially among younger smokers. The CBO estimates that 4.3 percent fewer 18- to 24-year-olds would smoke by 2021 if a 50-cent tax hike were added today. Health care costs would drop as government programs would see fewer tobacco-related diseases.

Reduced health care spending would, in the short term, reduce the deficit. Gains in health care would soon be followed by gains in longevity. And when Americans live longer, the government pays out more benefits through programs like Medicare and Social Security.

Court rekindles lawsuit over Camel cigarettes loyalty program

A appeals court on Friday revived a potential class action lawsuit against Reynolds American Inc over the cancellation of its "Camel Cash" customer loyalty program. Subsidiary R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company urged consumers to buy Camel cigarettes, save Camel Cash certificates included in the packs, enroll in the program and redeem the certificates for merchandise featured in RJR catalogs, according to the opinion. RJR ceased redeeming the certificates in 2006, making the unredeemed Camel Cash worthless.

Ten individuals who joined the program sued, and a lower court judge dismissed the case. However, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday revived the litigation, saying RJR must defend some claims including breach of contract. The 9th Circuit sent the case back to a federal court in Los Angeles for further proceedings.

 An RJR representative could not immediately be reached for comment. The case in the 9th Circuit is Amanda Sateriale et al., individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, 11-55057.

Exercise the Right to Exercise Without Smoke

Exercise walks are the foundation for my daily routine. For me, a day without exercise is like a day without water. I need them to release my manic energy, to clear my mind and to improve my overall physical health. Not to be dramatic, but it was my team of doctors who put me on this regime. Essentially, walking is my medicine. For the most part my exercise walks have been less stressful than they were last summer. So far I have had zero incidents with dogs or potential serial killers. They are not doing as much utility work in my neighborhood like they were last year so I don’t have to breath in as many fumes while I walk the 90 degree hills.

 Well, I should rephrase that. I’m not breathing in construction fumes while I walk, but I am breathing in cigarette smoke. I don’t know where she came from, but there is a woman who is ruining my daily walk. She has consistently been walking at the same time as me for the past three weeks now. I don’t mind sharing the public roads with a fellow walker, but this individual is not exercising. I don’t know what her deal is but she walks dressed in work attire. She is constantly chain-smoking cigarettes the entire time while simultaneously screaming on her cell phone. It doesn’t matter how loud I adjust the volume on my iPod, I can still hear her.

 On two separate occasions she actually stopped her phone conversation to try to tag along on my walk. Generally I am a really friendly person who loves to make new friends. However, I cannot stand the smell of cigarette smoke. Especially when I am covered in sweat and breathing extremely hard. I’m also a people-pleaser so I can’t just ask the woman to leave me alone or put out her tobacco stick. It’s against my nature. This inappropriately dressed smoker is causing me quite the pickle, my dear readers. As of last week my new technique was to start talking on my iPhone extremely loud when I began to approach her on the road.

She seems to leave me alone if she thinks I’m taking an important call. So the minute that she’s in my eyesight I place the phone to my ear and start screaming things like, “Sell low. Buy big!” or “Lady Gaga can’t afford me”. I’m not sure what any of that means, but the woman leaves me alone. Sadly the phone trick still doesn’t solve the problem of her chain smoking near me while I’m walking. I think I’m just going to have to start wearing one of those SARS masks. Perhaps I should write a local commissioner about creating an exercise smoking ban? I mean they have them in bars and restaurants. Why not have them where people are exercising as well? Oh right. That whole civil liberty thing, huh? Well, I guess she can exercise her freedom to smoke while I just plain old exercise. Seems fair. Doesn’t it?

Tobacco Bonds Could Go Up in Smoke, Moody’s Says

Three-quarters of the $20 billion tobacco bonds rated by Moody’s Investors Service could go into default if cigarette consumption continues to decline at the current rate, the ratings firm said in a report today. The bonds are sold by states and backed by payments from cigarette manufacturers that flow from a legal settlement in the late 1990s.

The size of those payments will depend on how many cigarettes Big Tobacco actually sells in the future and estimates of that figure are rapidly shrinking because less people are smoking. Declines in cigarette purchases are running between 3% and 4% a year, and unless that rate tapers off, 74% of the bonds Moody’s rates will miss payments, the firm said. Even the drop in consumption slows to between 2% and 3%, one-third of the bonds could default.

Bonds most at risk are those with longer maturities, and those that rank subordinate to other bonds, meaning that they will be paid out later, when declining cigarette sales will have higher cumulative impacts. New Jersey’s benchmark $1.26 billion 5% tobacco bond due 2041 is trading between 77 and 80 cents on the dollar this month, up from about 72 cents at the start of the year, according to the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board.

Gary Bettman’s Big Tobacco Playbook

A big problem is brewing on Gary Bettman’s watch: how to deal with an apparent spike in brain trauma among hockey players. The owners hired him in February of 1993 with an agenda that included two goals: one, promote “the product” of hockey to a wider audience, and two, effect a change in the game’s violent image.

 Under his stewardship the NHL has gone from a $400 million business to a $3.3 billion one. Bettman has met the first goal … in part because he hasn’t met the second. Failing to meet that second goal has had consequences. The product he sells, being a permissively violent one, is losing many of its players to central nervous system-related injuries that seem to be direct results of that violence.

 Stripped down to the elements, Bettman is selling a product which presents a significant health risk to those who actually ‘create’ the product, the players. In the 1950s the tobacco industry had a similar problem: faced with rising concerns over the carcinogenic danger of its product to consumers, the industry hired renowned PR firm Hill & Knowlton (H+K) to defend its image in the minds of the public. The tactics pioneered by H+K to defend big tobacco allowed them to make huge sums of money for as long as possible. It doesn’t matter if the product is dangerous to the public or dangerous to those who make it, the tactics remain the same and are so successful that they have been adopted by several industries.
Examples include:
 Aspirin consumers and Reye’s Syndrome
 Makers of Vinyl chloride (PVC) and angiosarcoma of the liver
Makers of chromium 6 and lung cancer
Makers of beta-Naphthylamine and bladder cancer
Makers of benzene and leukemia
Aspartame consumers and cancer
Cell phone users and brain tumors (I’m not saying that aspartame or cell phones cause cancer;

I’m only saying that both the artificial sweetener industry and the cell phone industry are right now employing the big tobacco game plan. The carcinogenic issues are in dispute; the tactics they use to keep it that way are not.) Epidemiologist David Michaels calls it the manufacture of uncertainty. Epidemiologist Devra Davis says the point is to prolong this uncertainty so as to enrich the industry for as long as possible, or until the reality can no longer be denied. So what are some of the plays from the big tobacco playbook and how does it appear that Gary Bettman is using them?

Cigar smokers fuming over new regulations

The consistent growth of a cigar-seeking customer base led Munwar Mohammed, owner of Tobacco City, to rent the space next to his Crystal Lake business for expansion. Now, he’s worried potential cigar regulation might slow that progress. “This comes at a time when we were planning on expanding our humidor. I’m already taking the space next to our store and building a humidor like six times as big as what we have,” Mohammed said. “So this is not good news.”

 As the Federal Drug Administration turns its attention to regulating cigar use under the 2009 Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, those in the premium cigar industry are pushing to be left out of the equation. Pending legislation in the House and Senate would amend the act to exempt premium cigars – defined as a cigar that is “wrapped solely in tobacco leaf, contains no filter, and weighs at least 6 pounds per 1,000 count” – from FDA regulation. If the new legislation doesn’t go through, the premium cigar industry could be facing what some would consider devastating regulation.

The FDA could choose to take measures like banning walk-in humidors and self serve displays, banning certain flavors, limiting marketing and advertising, regulating size and shape of cigars, banning the cigars from individual sale and limiting nicotine, according to Cigar Rights of America. Premium cigar smokers and those in the industry argue the larger, more expensive sticks, which account for about 250 million of roughly 7 billion annual cigar sales, are a different issue than your run-of-the-mill Swisher Sweets or filtered mini-cigars.

“People that don’t use them on a regular basis, those are the ones that enjoy the premium cigars,” said Steve Wright of Cary, an occasional cigar smoker. “As oppose to those other ones that are probably everyday usage like cigarettes.” Bill Spann, the CEO of the International Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association, said widespread cigar regulation neglects to account for the way premium cigars are smoked. He advocates for a more refined definition of what a premium cigar is, which the legislation in the House and Senate would accomplish. “Our products are enjoyed by adults, they’re celebratory in nature, they’re not addictive. Nobody’s ducking outside for a cigar break,” Spann said. “And frankly, you don’t see a teenager on a corner with a $15 cigar.”

четверг, 5 июля 2012 г.

Senior pushed, robbed of cigarettes on Saskatoon street

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A 66-year-old man in Saskatoon is shaken after he was pushed and robbed of his cigarettes on Sunday afternoon, according to city police. Two women, aged 22 and 23, have been charged with robbery with violence in connection with the incident, which Saskatoon police say took place at about 12:46 p.m. CST. Police say the man, who had a cane, was confronted on the 200 block of 33rd Street West, was pushed down and had his cigarettes taken from him.

The man was not injured but he was "emotionally shaken" by the incident, police said in a release. Witnesses told officers they saw two women running westbound in the south alley of 33rd Street West. The pair was arrested a short time later on the same street. A police dog then found the stolen cigarettes in a lane nearby.

Police did not release the names of the two women accused of robbing the man. They are in custody and are expected to appear before a justice of the peace on Tuesday. In the release, police thanked the witnesses "for their involvement in the reporting and apprehension of the persons responsible for this brazen daytime robbery."

Banned driver caught taking mum's car to buy cigarettes

Teen smoking news read on this link: www.tobacco-news.net/category/teens-smoking

RUNNING out of cigarettes landed a Burry Port youngster in court when he was caught driving while disqualified. Benjamin Samuel, 21, of Llys Ashburnham, took his mother's car without consent while she was on holiday and drove it while disqualified to buy more cigarettes, Llanelli magistrates were told last Thursday. He pleaded guilty to both offences, as well as an offence of possessing 2.44 grams of cocaine — which, when questioned by police, he told officers he had at home.

Prosecuting, Gerald Neave said officers were parked in Cliff Terrace on May 19 when their attention was drawn to a black Renault Megane, which immediately turned off the main road on seeing the police car. "PC Saunders illuminated the blue lights and followed the car into the estate," he said. "As the police turned in, they saw the vehicle had turned off the road into a parking area. "The door was flung open and the driver ran away. "Officers immediately recognised him and knew he was disqualified from driving."

Samuel ran out of sight as he fled through gardens to get away, but officers knew his house was only a short distance away, the court heard, and arrived as he walked in. He was arrested on suspicion of driving while disqualified and taking a vehicle without consent, and in interview told officers he had cocaine on his bookcase. "The PC was aware that there were other officers at the address, and asked Sergeant Heulwen Aston if there were drugs in that location," said Mr Neave. "She confirmed there were."

The street value of the powder was estimated to be £122, magistrates were told. Defending, Daniel Griffiths said Samuel was subject to a 20 month community order for driving with excess alcohol, and that there were concerns about the progress made. "The probation officer thinks it's a good idea to adjourn the case to prepare a report as far as sentencing is concerned," he said. The case was adjourned until tomorrow.

Increased VAT on cigarettes to impact ITC

Read more about smoking ban here, articles and news.

The Uttar Pradesh Government recently increased state VAT applicable for cigarettes to 50% from 17.5%. The implication of this is likely to impact ITC's performance as UP accounts for around 5% of ITC's cigarette sales in value terms. The Street has varying view on the effect of this on the company's stock price. According to Manoj Menon of Kotak Securities, if the company absorbs this incremental tax, it will impact the company's FY13 EPS by 2%.

The report highlights that in FY2007-08, UP had levied a 33% trade tax on cigarettes when most other states had moved to 12.5% VAT (which was reversed within a few months). According to channel sources, trade channels took advantage of the differential tax in UP thereby limiting the impact on the industry. While the firm's view on ITC's stock remains positive, it sees the strong performance of the stock in the near term as limiting the upside in the stock.

Another equity research firm Espirito Santo Securities has recommended a sell on ITC. According to the firm's latest report on the stock, the risk of tax increases on tobacco has heightened and more states may see tobacco taxation as an easy option. ITC is heavily exposed to several of the states with the greatest fiscal vulnerability.