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Philip Morris files suit after approval of tobacco sales ban

BY Alaric DeArment

RICHMOND, Va. Tobacco company Philip Morris USA filed a suit in federal court Wednesday to overturn a San Francisco ordinance that would ban the sale of tobacco products in retail pharmacies. The ban is scheduled to take effect Oct. 1.

“Although called a ban on sales, the purpose and effect of the ordinance is to suppress communications directed to adult smokers, in violation of our constitutional rights,” said Joe Murillo, speaking on behalf of Philip Morris as vice president and associate general counsel for Altria Client Services. “Likewise, the ban unfairly deprives adult consumers of the opportunity to buy tobacco products from legitimate licensed retail businesses.”

The company called the ban “unjust to manufacturers, retailers and adult consumers because it bars ­ without legitimate reason ­ certain retailers from offering legal tobacco products to adult consumers who wish to buy them.”

Walgreens filed an injunction with the San Francisco Superior Court on Sept. 9 to try and stop the ban from taking effect.

Neighboring Marin County has proposed a similar ban, and health officials in Boston have proposed a ban that would affect tobacco sales at retail pharmacies and on college campuses while strengthening anti-smoking laws.

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Panasonic releases new battery model

BY Jenna Duncan

SEACAUCUS, N.J. Panasonic has introduced its newest battery—the EVOLTA model—which has already been listed in Guinness World Records for being the “longest lasting AA alkaline battery cell” used in electronic devices.

The new EVOLTA battery has more internal space than previous versions of Panasonic batteries. It also features improved sealing technology and is produced with new materials such as manganese dioxide and zinc which make it more durable and better-performing, the company said.

To prove the better performance of the new EVOLTA batteries, the company product tested them in devices such as digital cameras, FM radios and other small electronics and found the running life and usage rates to be longer and higher than older Panasonic battery models, Panasonic reported.

Panasonic has also announced the start of its EVOLTA Sweepstakes which runs through March 31, 2009. Prizes include Panasonic products such as a 42-inch Panasonic VIERA plasma HDTV, smaller Panasonic VIERA plasma HDTVs, Blu-ray disc players and 15 LUMIX digital still cameras. Customers can find more information online at www.panasonic.com/evolta.

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Retailing forecasts predict growth, but at a trickle

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON, D.C. The National Retail Federation on Tuesday released its forecast for the upcoming 2008 holiday season, projecting that sales will rise 2.2 percent this year to $470.4 billion.

This gain falls well below the 10-year average of 4.4 percent holiday sales growth and would represent the slowest growth since 2002, when holiday sales rose 1.3 percent, the association stated.

“Current financial pressures and a lack of confidence in the economy will force shoppers to be very conservative with their holiday spending,” stated NRF chief economist Rosalind Wells. “We expect consumers to be frugal this season and less willing to splurge on discretionary items.”

A number of economic indicators point to a challenging holiday for retailers. A struggling housing market and rising unemployment accompanied by meager income gains will continue to hamper the consumer throughout the season.

Food and energy costs will remain high. With the current financial industry crisis continuing to chip away at consumer confidence, NRF does not foresee an economic turnaround until the second half of next year.

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