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Today in business: 5 things you need to know
Europe cracks down on tobacco, Brooklyn home prices hit a record, and more
 
A tobacco retailer in France: Flavored and menthol cigarettes could soon be banned in Europe.
A tobacco retailer in France: Flavored and menthol cigarettes could soon be banned in Europe. John Van Hasselt/Corbis

1. EUROPE CRACKS DOWN ON TOBACCO
On Wednesday, a committee of the European Parliament voted to ban menthol and other flavored cigarettes, enlarge health warnings on tobacco packaging, and tighten regulations on e-cigarettes. Some think the policies, if passed, won't do much to reduce smoking-related health problems. "The best way of curbing smoking is through excise tax increases," a tobacco industry analyst told the Wall Street Journal. [The Wall Street Journal]

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2. MICROSOFT REORGANIZES
On Thursday, Microsoft said it would dissolve its eight product divisions and reassemble them into four divisions, in the hopes of creating a more cohesive team to better compete with the likes of Apple and Google. The changes, which will affect virtually all executive management positions, are meant to encourage cooperation and make more rounded products that utilize Microsoft's expertise in hardware, software, and services. Apple and Google recently have moved to consolidate oversight on different divisions, as well. [The New York Times]

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3. BROOKLYN HOME PRICES TOUCH RECORD HIGH
The median home price for condominiums, co-ops, and one- to three-family homes in Brooklyn, New York, hit a record high of $550,000 last month, up 15 percent from a year earlier. Meanwhile, inventory in the borough was a record low of 4,704, dropping 19 percent in just one year. The astronomical cost of buying real estate in neighboring Manhattan, combined with high rents and low mortgage interest rates, have led more buyers to seek apartments in Brooklyn, sucking up supply and boosting prices. [Bloomberg]

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4. LAWMAKERS APPROVE LIVING WAGE BILL
Local lawmakers in Washington, D.C., voted Wednesday to approve a bill requiring some large retailers to pay their employees 50 percent more than the city's minimum wage. The bill passed just one day after Walmart warned that the change would affect its plans to open three stores in the area. "The question here is a living wage; it’s not whether Walmart comes or stays," said council member Vincent B. Orange. [The Washington Post]

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5. RETAILERS SEE HIGHEST GAINS SINCE JANUARY
Sales at stores that have been open for at least one year rose 3.9 percent in June, the highest growth rate since January's 4.5 percent. Discounts on summer goods, warmer weather, and a stronger economy — the U.S. added 195,000 jobs in June — all helped boost sales. Costco, Stein Mart, and Fred's were among the stores with the highest boosts. [The Washington Post]

 
Carmel Lobello is the business editor at TheWeek.com. Previously, she was an editor at DeathandTaxesMag.com.

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