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New York announces cigarette tax hike

BY Jenna Duncan

ALBANY, N.Y. A statewide hike in cigarette taxes effective today drove the price of cigarettes in New York up $1.25 spike per pack. Officials said that the influx will bring an additional $265 million to the state in tax revenue per year.

Officials predicted that total cigarette taxes should generate about $1.3 billion for the state in fiscal 2008-2009.

New York health commissioner Richard Daines said, “This is a public health victory. We know one of the really effective tools to get people off of their nicotine addiction is to the raise the price.”

The total state tax per pack is set at $2.75, up from $1.50. Previously, the statewide average price per pack was $5.82, but that average l is slated to go up to $8. In most retail stores in New York City, smokers should expect to pay about $10 per pack.

Daines said officials estimated that approximately 140,000 New Yorkers will stop smoking due to the tax increase.

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Wrigley releases details of merger with Mars

BY Jenna Duncan

CHICAGO Wrigley Jr. Co. has revealed some of the details of a possible merger with Mars in preliminary paperwork filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

A proxy filed last week said that if Wrigley backs out of the $23 biillion deal, it now would have to pay Mars $690 million. On the other hand, if Mars pulls out it must pay $1 billion to Wrigley.

Mars raised its per share bid after Wrigley said the initial offer of $76 per share was too low. On April 17, Mars raised the bid to $77 per share, but later made a final offer of $80 per share. Wrigley accepted and a merger agreement was announced April 28.

Reports said that a recent meeting between Wrigley chairman, William Wrigley Jr., Mars president, Paul S. Michaels, and Mars chief financial officer, Olivier C. Goudet, went smoothly.

“Michaels and Goudet also said that this was a friendly proposal to be discussed on an exclusive basis and that Mars would withdraw its proposal if the board of directors of the company was not interested in pursuing the combination or if the company wanted to conduct any type of auction process,” the statement said.

Other details of the change include Mars’ plans to transfer Skittles and Starburst brands to Wrigley. The company has said that it believes Skittles and Starburst would benefit from the confectioner’s “sugar” line, rather than staying in Mars’ chocolate-heavy lineup.

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FDA adds isomaltulose to list of tooth-safe sweeteners

BY Jenna Duncan

ROCKVILLE, Md. Isomaltulose, an artificial sweetener, is getting a boost from the Food and Drug Administration after being added to a list of non-cariogenic carbohydrate sweeteners. The ruling is effective immediately and proponents and marketers of the sweetener now may promote its non-association with dental caries.

“FDA is taking this action to complete the rulemaking initiated with the interim final rule,” the FDA said in an article released in the Federal Register May 27.

Manufacturers using isomaltulose in products like gum will now be permitted to make claims like “does not promote tooth decay” and “may reduce the risk of tooth decay.” Items with the sweetener must be completely sugar-free and must not bring the user’s plaque pH to a level lower than below 5.7 for up to 30 minutes after use.

In 2006, Cargill petitioned to have isomaltulose added to the FDA’s list alongside other sweeteners like D-tagatose and sucralose. Isomaltulose is marketed as a sweetener by such companies as Beneo-Palatinat (Palatinose) and Cargill (Xtend).

The FDA approved the entry of isomaltulose to the non-cariogenic list because it proved not to be “fermented by oral bacteria to an extent sufficient to lower dental plaque pH to levels that would contribute to the erosion of dental enamel.”

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