Illicit Tobacco and Nicotine Markets

Scientists wanted: Recruited by Juul, many researchers say no. Most large public relations agencies swear off e-cigarette clients.

Man fined $20,000 after he’s busted trying to smuggle 9,000 cigarettes into Australia from UAE. This huge haul of dodgy cigarettes was seized in raid on UK shop. Ireland retailer ‘staggered’ by smuggling surge.

Cigarette smugglers find safe harbor in Montengro, again. Synonymous with cigarette smuggling in the 1990s, Montenegro is again the hub of a global tobacco smuggling scam funneling millions of copycat cigarettes into the EU through the use of ‘ghost’ ships, shell companies and fake paperwork.

Volumes of detained cigarette contraband have tripled in Lithuania reaching a value of 11 million euros.

Revenue vs public health in Pakistan. Several studies have shown that the share of illicit trade in cigarettes is far less than that claimed by the industry. Therefore, activists request that the government increase taxes on cigarettes.

Survey finds 36 illegal e-cigarette brands in India.

Will Philippines cigarette smuggling worsen with sin tax hike? The proposed law prohibits selling tobacco products at a price lower than the combined taxes with penal provisions against violators of not less than 10 times the amount of the excise tax plus value and imprisonment of four to six years.


Illicit Tobacco and Nicotine Markets

British American Tobacco pays Uganda $24,000,000 in taxes despite illicit cigarette trade persistence. Brazil studies reduction of cigarette tax to curb smuggling. Updated research quantifies relationship between cigarette taxes and smuggling.

Philip Morris social media snafu hurts its image turnaround. Health groups push technology firms to police Philip Morris marketing. Philip Morris going totally smokeless, looks to quit nicotine, executive says. Feel the burn.

Vaping regulations will empower the black market.

£60,000 fine for UK shopkeeper caught with illegal cigarettes. Man caught with 1,500 cartons of cigarettes on I-81, Augusta County, Georgia.

Cannabis News Round-Up

California Senate passes legislation to create state-chartered cannabis banks. California lawmakers already want to roll back a key promise of marijuana legalization. California marijuana industry is a mess, new data shows. How legalization changed Humboldt County, California. Marijuana sales in east poised to rival western markets including Colorado, California.

Social equity becomes a key question in New Jersey, other states. With New Jersey legal pot on hold, is decriminalization next? New Jersey lawmakers forge ahead with trio of pot bills. Money messed up New Jersey marijuana legalization’s justice angle. Plan to stop most weed arrests in New Jersey just advanced, but there’s a lot more work to do.

Is there enough political support for New York legalization? Activists want Westchester, New York to just say no to legalized marijuana. New York marijuana legalization bill could prevent police searches of cars based on smell of pot. What New York can learn from Mexico about marijuana legalization.

As Connecticut marijuana legalization falters, supporters eye constitutional amendment. Maine hopes to avoid pitfalls during marijuana legalization push.

Legal weed bill is back in Delaware, and a battle is brewing.

Most of Illinois says marijuana should be legal. Opinions on legalizing marijuana mixed in DeKalb County, Illinois. Illinois should take the slow road on marijuana. Illinois marijuana legalization proposal unclear on what information about pot companies could be kept secret. Legalizing pot in Illinois will harm minority-owned businesses and communities. What does the legalization in Illinois mean?

North Dakota marijuana legalization group withdraws petition for rewrite.

Why pot legalization is dividing Democrats.Biden’s shift on marijuana came days before fundraiser with pro-legalization donor. Marijuana legalization goes mainstream with first-ever forum in Capitol complex. State treasurers group endorses marijuana banking legislation. Using marijuana revenue to create jobs. Let’s really talk about marijuana: I sold the stuff as a kid, and I’m proud to lead the push to decriminalize and end the stigma associated with pot records.

Cannabis News Round-Up

Two corporate weed giants are entering New Jersey market. What will that mean for mom-and-pop sellers after legalization? NAACP, Catholic Conference warn of commercialization of marijuana in Illinois. Pot opponents express concerns over safety, commercialization. Support builds for bill to allow banks to assist pot businesses. Without banking bill, federal pot legalization is a three-legged horse until 2021. Wall Street chokes on cannabis bank bill. Michigan Attorney General joins coalition for change to marijuana banking law. Joe Biden supports decriminalization, not legalization. In 1989, Joe Biden believed the difference between marijuana and alcohol is that one can be used responsibly. Cannabis stocks can be a lucrative—but risky—bet.

Efforts to legalize marijuana in New York are at an impasse. Cuomo retreats from legal marijuana promises. New York marijuana: What to know about cannabis jobs, pot college and immigrant weed workers. With recreational pot unlikely, New York medical marijuana program may grow. Columbia County, New York officials to block pot sales if legalized.

Weed smuggling arrests at LAX have surged 166% since marijuana legalization. Illegal marijuana grows in Pacific Northwest declined after legalization. Pot tax revenue welcome in Boulder. Cannabis lounges are coming to Las Vegas.

Vermont legal pot sales doomed this session. New Hampshire Senate committee votes to delay marijuana legalization bill to 2020. Legal pot hearing sure to draw huge crowd in Maine. Maine pot rules must protect kids, problem users. What will marijuana cafes and concerts look like if they become legal in Massachusetts?

Delaware legalization bill announced. Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor finally brought his listening tour to Pittsburgh—and most want legal weed. New Jersey lawmakers kill the bill, say voters should decide. Despite the doom-and-gloom around New Jersey legal weed efforts, some lobbyists still hold out hope. Booker bill would protect students with drug convictions from losing federal college aid.

Michigan to accelerate decisions on unlicensed pot shops, recreational market. Support for Illinois legal pot thinning. Illinois survey that supposedly shows support for legalization is dwindling actually shows it is rising. Marijuana bill may violate Illinois Constitution, prosecutors say. Growing at home might not be allowed after all under Illinois legalization proposal.

Hundreds march in Fort Worth for Texas legalization of marijuana. Why Kansas cops don’t want to legalize marijuana—medical or otherwise.

Women who love weed: can the industry free itself from stoner-bro culture? Retired NBA player Caron Butler to release documentary on pot industry. State-by-state legalization is a mess.

Canada black market is thriving—even after legalization.St. Kitts and Nevis court rules adults can legally use marijuana in private.

Illicit Tobacco and Nicotine Markets

Man who ran one of the largest cigarette smuggling operations in Virginia pleads guilty, will serve 3 1/2 years of 85-year sentence.

Philip Morris suspends social media campaign after Reuters exposes young influencers. Are heat-not-burn products a safer alternative to cigarettes? Reynolds Tobacco blames teen vaping crisis on Juul in fighting FDA plan to rein in e-cigarettes.

Opinion: Progressives blow smoke on sensible solutions.

435,000,000 illegal cigarettes smoked in Ireland last year.

Cannabis News Round-Up

Oregon Senate puts temporary freeze on marijuana production. Oregon marijuana surplus spurs senators to block new grower licenses. As legal marijuana booms, Denver votes on decriminalizing hallucinogenic mushrooms. Colorado senators lead way on national legalization of marijuana. Colorado pot czar: Legal marijuana not a “cash windfall.” San Fransciso’s Haight Street gets a new, legal king of weed.

Massachusetts makes history as first legal marijuana shops on East Coast open. Uxbridge, Massachusetts entrepreneur dreams of selling legal marijuana at a drive-through pot shop. Vermont House committee approves legal marijuana market. Follow-up on the legalization of marijuana in Connecticut.

New York Senator says fate of marijuana legalization depends on Cuomo’s willingness to use political capital. Is New Jersey legal weed fight being hurt by governor’s squabble with top Democrats over corporate tax breaks? Prospects for New Jersey legal weed bill looking grim, insiders say. Want cannabis jobs? Advocate for legalization, says New Jersey panel.

D.C. mayor wants Council to make marijuana sales legal in nation’s capital.

Illinois Governor introduces bill to legalize recreational marijuana. Illinois Representative on recreational marijuana: Not so fast. Opposition to recreational marijuana in Illinois mounts. Illinois legal pot opponents reject Pritzker’s social equity arguments. Police oppose marijuana legalization in Illinois, but want a bigger cut of the proceeds if law passes. Illinois marijuana legalization efforts leave questions for employers. Would Illinois legal marijuana bring dispensaries to DeKalb and Sycamore? Mayors weigh in.

The arc of legal weed bends toward injustice. Merger madness reshapes marijuana business. Attorneys General from thirty-three states urge pot banking reform.Republican congressman tells Democrats to end Trump obsession and focus on marijuana. Why Cory Booker cares so much about legal weed. TSA: “We’re cool,” and we’re not looking for your weed. Breaking the news to mom and dad: I’m selling weed (legally).

New Zealand Cabinet set to consider cannabis referendum. New Zealand government releases details of marijuana legalization referendum. Legalizing cannabis in Australia could create $1 billion in tax revenue.

Illicit Tobacco and Nicotine Markets

Ashes to ashes: How British American Tobacco avoids taxes in low and middle income countries. New head of South African Revenue Service to investigate reports of $140 million in cigarette tax evasion.

Rome, New York police seize over 200 cartons of untaxed cigarettes. After a months-long investigation of the alleged possession, transportation and sale of unstamped cigarettes the Rome Police Department and state Department of Tax and Finance have arrested a local man.

Eight Chinese nationals denied entry to Australia after discovery of 177,000 undeclared cigarettes. Illegal cigs worth $160,000 seized in Malaysia.

Around sixteen percent of all cigarettes smoked in Islamabad, Pakistan are illicit. Tobacco companies play faulty with illegal smokes in Pakistan.

Castleford, UK booze store boss gives up license after 6,000 illicit cigarettes found in toilet.

How to legalize cannabis: the case of Maine

There’s more to legalizing cannabis than setting up a market. The extent of post-prohibition public-health and public-safety problems depends on the details, and especially on price.

One reason I distrust the state-by-state process of legalizing cannabis and prefer a national approach is that the people drafting the laws and writing the regulations tend to reason more or less along these lines:

“Cannabis and alcohol are both intoxicants. We know how to regulate alcohol, so we should handle cannabis the same way.”

There are two things wrong with that.

First, cannabis is like alcohol in some ways but unlike it in others, so it needs a different control regime. (E.g., it’s not clear that we should criminalize cannabis use in public, use by minors, or stoned driving; doing so risks a kind of “backdoor re-criminalization.” In each case the link to aggression and violence that is so marked with alcohol is weaker, or may not even exist, with cannabis.)

Second, the current alcohol control regime leads to an estimated 88,000 excess deaths per year, and incredible amounts of disease and misery. That doesn’t look like a successful policy to me, and applying that policy to cannabis would be a clear case of “Doing the same thing and expecting a different result.” If you were to ask a state alcohol regulator about the prevalence of Alcohol Use Disorder among high-school students, or the number of alcohol-involved murders or suicides, you’d mostly get a blank look. A liquor board usually understands its job as making sure the taxes are paid, that the premises are orderly, and that licensees don’t sell directly to minors. The impact of alcohol on public health is the province of the health department, while its impact on public safety is a problem for the police and the prosecutors.

So with cannabis. Most state regulators are more interested in creating an orderly legal market that can displace the illicit market than in serving a broader policy vision that includes minimizing the predictable bad side-effects of commercial legalization.

BOTEC Analysis was hired by Maine’s Office of Marijuana Policy to review a draft set of regulations, which were pretty much as we expected. 

The introduction to our comments, explaining what we were trying to do, is pasted in below the fold.  While the comments are linked to specific sections of the Maine regulations, some of the ideas might be of interest to regulators elsewhere, and to legislators and advocates drafting new legalization statutes. 

Continue reading “How to legalize cannabis: the case of Maine”

Illicit Tobacco and Nicotine Markets

FDA authorizes Philip Morris to sell heat-not-burn cigarettes in the US. Philip Morris CEO: Smokeless “transformation” for the company is like no other. FDA authorizes smokeless IQOS cigarettes, restricts digital marketing to prevent youth exposure. IQOS exposure impairs human airway cell homeostasis: direct comparison with traditional cigarette and e-cigarette. FDA deals blow to IQOS. This should change everything: using the toxic profile of HNBs as a performance standard to phase out combustible cigarettes. Philip Morris shifts focus to heat-not-burn. Philip Morris rebuffed by World Health Organization as it tries to rewrite narrative. Philip Morris obtains a pan-EU injunction against an IQOS copycat from China. Philip Morris CEO lashes out at Hong Kong e-cigarette ban. Philip Morris CEO ridiculed for ‘staggeringly hypocritical’ campaign to ‘end smoking’—despite still selling cigarettes.

Big Tobacco is morphing into Big Vape. FDA chief accuses Juul, Altria of reneging on promise to combat teen vaping. A tale of two Juul pods: China‘s counterfeits pose a threat to US. Over 1,000 counterfeit Juul pods seized by border protection; there’s big profit in the fakes. Altria is paying a desperate price for Juul. Juul looks to Altria for more sway in DC. Altria-Juul deal worries anti-tobacco groups.

Strategies for eliminating smoked tobacco. Why tobacco product regulation is no magic bullet. UK tobacco companies are using e-cigs as a Trojan Horse, experts warn.

Analysis of tobacco industry pricing strategies in 23 European countries. Smoke Signals: Monitoring illicit cigarettes and smoking behavior in Colorado to support tobacco taxes. Decrease in the proportion of illicit cigarette use in Brazil: What does it really mean?

Illicit Tobacco and Nicotine Markets

UK and Dubai Customs seize 450 metric tons of illicit tobacco. Criminal gangs supplying illegal tobacco in Norfolk, UK. More than 1 million euros of smuggled cigarettes seized by Irish Revenue officials. Danish police arrest seven in raid on smuggling network. UK fake cigarettes: how to tell what’s real.

Malaysia is world’s largest consumer of illegal cigarettes. Malaysian man jailed for trying to smuggle millions of cigarettes into Australia. Australian authorities stub out illegal cigarette market. Policing the illicit trade of tobacco in Australia. Super big data and multi-stage information spatial system estimates of coastal tobacco smuggling in Taiwan. Philippines government cracks down on cigarette smuggling, counterfeiting.

The Western Balkan region is notorious for tobacco smuggling. Time to Quit: Tobacco tax increase and household welfare in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

South African Revenue Service seeks to track illegal cigarettes to their source. Tackling South Africa illegal tobacco trade could bring in 55% of recent tax shortfall.

A decade of cigarette taxation in Bangladesh: Lessons learnt for tobacco control. The myth of Pakistan‘s illicit cigarette trade. Philip Morris Pakistan closes factory due to rising illicit trade.

Menthol cigarette smokers react to Ontario‘s menthol cigarette ban. Ontario is finally ready to bust contraband tobacco. Here’s how Quebec did it. Japan Tobacco wins court protection in Canada over $1.32 billion smoking suit.

Economic determinants of smoking prevalence and regulation in high- to low-income countries: is corporate power the smoking gun?

Hong Kong Customs haul of illicit electronic smoking devices jumps 32% after announcement of ban.

Jordan charges 29 in fake smokes scandal.