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Plain Packaging

Big Tobacco is losing the fight to stop plain packaging of cigarettes

Dr Enrico Bonadio, a Senior Lecturer in the City Law School, says the tobacco industry’s bid to avoid plain packaging by relying on legal arguments around trade and intellectual property rights, is being systematically dismissed by courts around the world.

https://www.city.ac.uk/news/2017/may/big-tobacco-is-losing-the-fight-to-stop-plain-packaging-of-cigarettes

You may already have seen the tobacco packs currently sold in the UK: a dark, murky green colour with large graphic health-warning images and scary messages aimed at informing current and potential smokers about the devastating consequences of tobacco consumption. They have no colourful logos, with the brand name just displayed in small characters in a standard font.

These packs are now required by new regulations which entered into force in May 2016. There has been a one-year transitional period for the sell-through of old stock – and from May 20 2017 all tobacco products on sale in the UK must comply with the new rules.

The legislative move has been recommended to all countries by the World Health Organisation to reduce the attractiveness of smoking and eventually reduce consumption. Australia was the first country to introduce such strict packaging requirements in December 2012. France and, of course, the UK have since followed suit.

It follows significant research that shows these new standardised cigarette packs are much less appealing to consumers – and young people especially.
The industry’s legal defeats

No wonder tobacco companies have challenged the measure in the courts. They have argued that it is useless, too harsh – and is an infringement of their fundamental and intellectual property rights, especially trademarks. Yet, their claims are based on weak arguments and have been rejected by both the High Court of England and Wales and the Court of Appeal.

The tobacco industry has faced numerous courtroom defeats of late. Last year Uruguay won a landmark case against the Swiss giant Philip Morris International. The company had sued the Latin American state after it introduced two measures affecting tobacco packaging and trademarks. These were mandatory graphic health warnings covering 80% of cigarette packets (a measure very close to plain packaging) and the obligation for tobacco companies to adopt a single presentation for their brands, dropping for example the “gold” and “blue” descriptors, that could lead smokers to believe one variant was safer than another.

The fact that the courts sided with Uruguay would have been encouraging to other countries aiming to introduce controls on tobacco packaging. And even greater encouragement came recently from a World Trade Organisation ruling which deemed that the plain packaging requirements introduced by Australia as compliant with international trade and intellectual property rules – and are therefore a legitimate public health measure.

The decision has not been officially announced, but a confidential draft of the interim ruling was leaked to the media and the final decision is expected later this year. The Australian measure had been challenged at the WTO tribunal by Cuba, Dominican Republic, Indonesia and Honduras, countries whose economies strongly rely on the tobacco industry.

A domino effect

This is a blow to the industry. The short-term consequences of the WTO ruling – Imperial Tobacco’s shares fell more than 2% after the decision was leaked – reflects the longer-term danger that this ruling poses. It will likely convince other states to introduce plain packaging legislation without fear of violating international trade and intellectual property laws. It basically gives them a green light by removing the regulatory chilling effect that such legal action has produced on countries that wanted to follow Australia’s example.

After all, more and more countries seem interested in adopting standardised packaging. As well as France and the UK, Ireland and Norway will introduce packaging restrictions later in 2017, and Hungary in 2018. Many other states are debating similar measures, including New Zealand, Canada, Belgium, Slovenia, Belgium, Singapore and Thailand.

So, a legislative trend has started which aims to restrict the ability of tobacco manufacturers to make their products appealing to consumers by using eye-catching words, logos or ornamental features on the pack. And attempts by Big Tobacco to stop it by relying on legal arguments around trade and intellectual property rights are being systematically dismissed by courts around the world.

Ultimately, the industry needs to accept the fact that its ability to use fancy brands, especially on packaging, may be reduced by governments for public health reasons. Also that a company’s property rights are not absolute or untouchable. Not only does it not have enough legal basis – as has now been confirmed by several courts and tribunals – but it also disregards legitimate policies adopted by democratically elected governments.

Cigarette plain packaging is here – but a tobacco-free society looks a long way off

The UK has, almost, led the world when it comes to tackling one of the tobacco industry’s leading promotional tools.

https://inews.co.uk/essentials/news/health/cigarette-plain-packaging-tobacco-rules-introduced/

 

Australia was the first country to require cigarettes to be sold in plain, standardised packaging in December 2012. The United Kingdom became the second to pass similar legislation, on 20 May last year, with Ireland and France following suit.

Companies had a year’s grace period where they could get rid of old stock that no longer complied with the rules. The new legislation means all wording on cigarette packs must be confined to a uniform size and designed on a muddy green background. There is to be no misleading information such as “low tar” or “organic”, and a ban on flavoured cigarettes and flavoured rolling tobacco

In the UK, standardised packaging was introduced in addition to implementation of the revised EU Tobacco Products Directive (TPD). The UK’s legislation goes further than the EU requires on tobacco taxes, on advertising and on packaging and labelling – a case of the UK leading the continent rather than the other way around. This is one area of public health, at least, that Brexit will not effect.

“This is a measure the UK led Europe in introducing and the legislation was passed with strong cross party political support,” Deborah Arnott, chief executive of health charity Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), told i: “It therefore seems highly improbable if not impossible that any incoming government would see fit to reintroduce brightly coloured and glitzy branding on cigarette packs.”

As far as what impact the measures will have, Ms Arnott says it is “too soon to tell” for the UK. “The impact was always expected to be longer-term as young people today have grown up with the glitzy packaging, but the evidence from Australia is that we can expect to see an increase in attempts to quit and decrease in smoking prevalence before too long.”

£2,000 a year

Cancer Research UK (CRUK) estimates that the average smoker will still spend more than £2,000 each year on tobacco, enough to fill a family’s food trolley for six months, buy a pair of Premier League season tickets, or even take the kids to Disneyland, the charity says. It believes price – new ‘minimum duty’ means cigarettes can not be sold for less than £8.82 – is one of the biggest deterrents to smoking and that the higher the price of a pack, the more people will quit.

Alison Cox, CRUK’s director of prevention, said: “Smoking is still the single largest preventable cause of death in the UK and kills around 96,000 people every year – this cannot continue. For decades the tobacco industry has got away with promoting their products in slickly designed packaging, which distracts from the true lethal and addictive nature of the contents.”

She said the full introduction of the new rules over the weekend “marks a momentous victory in the battle for a tobacco free future”.

She added: “Standardised packs will help protect the next generation from an addiction that kills around half of all regular smokers. But there’s still a lot more to do – there is a real opportunity for the next government to help the UK’s 9 million smokers quit for good.”

Big tobacco has already tried to get around the rules. The maker of Marlboro cigarettes had been by selling branded durable tins that look just like ordinary cigarette packets – taking advantage of the grace period. in the run-up to the change, Philip Morris distributed tin containers, the same size as a 10-pack of cigarettes, to shops around the country, including big chains such as Sainsbury’s, Londis and Budgens, with the apparent aim to allow consumers to use the tins as refills.

Plain packaging campaigner Alex Cunningham, the Labour MP for Stockton North said that the move was an “immature trick” and an attempt by the company to “retain” its branding. “I hope people will soon put them into their bins and they’ll find their way to the recycling centre,” he said.

‘This will save lives’

Smoking remains a leading cause of preventable death in the UK, accounting for around 80,000 deaths a year in England alone. The British Medical Association (BMA), which has lobbied in favour of standardised packaging for many years, said the new regulations are “a significant step forward and will save lives.”.

Professor Parveen Kumar, BMA board of science chair, said: “We know that children who recognise brand images including packaging, are far more likely to start smoking. Standardised packaging will help to eradicate this marketing power for tobacco companies, and will increase the impact of health warnings.

“We must not stop there though. Doctors want to see a tobacco-free society by 2035, and the BMA is calling on the next government to introduce a new ‘Tobacco Control Plan’, replacing the current, outdated strategy on smoking, and a ‘polluter pays’ levy on tobacco companies. This would generate funding to support smoking cessation programmes, and would see many more smokers kicking the habit.”

Brands Test Limits as UK Introduces Plain Tobacco Packaging

The UK is now the second country in the world and the first in Europe to require cigarettes to be sold in plain, standardized packaging, following the lead of Australia, which implemented the first such measure in December 2012.

http://brandchannel.com/2017/05/22/uk-tobacco-plain-packaging-052217/

In May 2016, new EU legislation dictated how tobacco products are manufactured, produced and sold across Europe. The revised rules, called the Tobacco Products Directive, banned certain products from sale such as flavored cigarettes (except menthol). Retailers were given 12 months, until May 20th, to sell old products and comply with the new laws, or face stiff fines or criminal prosecution.

In tandem with the new EU rules taking effect, the UK government’s plain packaging legislation came into force, introducing standardized packaging of tobacco products to limit the impact of logos, colors, brand images or promotional information on packaging other than brand names and product names that are displayed in a standard colour and typeface.

Standardised packaging design, including; shape, size, material and opening mechanisms. The UK’s Standardised Packaging Regulations aim to unify (and not make stand out) the material, size, shape and opening mechanisms of tobacco packaging; create a drab, off-putting color (a sickly brownish green) of tobacco packaging, as well as standarized font, size and positioning of text.

No glossy finishes to catch the light now; the tobacco packs come with a matt finish. Prices aren’t printed on the packaging, but health care warnings have increased in size with graphic images depicting the adverse health impact of smoking. Text is only in Helvetica font, with no logo or typeface of a brand name or variety name permitted.

Failure to comply with retailer guidelines for selling e-cigarettes and tobacco products may result in a three month custodial sentence, a fine, or both, following a summary conviction.

Health groups have welcomed the measure and are hopeful as new smoker numbers continue to decline in the UK with about 17% of the UK adult population currently smokers. Smoking advocates decry the move as an anti-choice effort by a nanny state that “infantilise” consumers and will make no difference to public health. Smokers’ rights group Forest also told the BBC that the new rules “treat adults like naughty children.”

No matter: they’re stuck with the compulsory standardised packaging with larger, health warnings on two-thirds of the front and back of any packet is “the ugliest colour in the world.”

Hazel Cheeseman, a member of ASH (Action on Smoking and Health), told the BBC that the packaging itself has been shown to be a “form of advertising” that cigarette companies call “their silent salesman. Branding and advertising is one of the things that helps to recruit young people into smoking. So removing the branding features, making the health warnings bigger and more prominent, is intended to protect young people from taking up smoking in the future.”

Two-thirds of smokers start before age 18, according to Cancer Research UK, so the organization supports removing branding from cigarette packs in order to reduce their attractiveness to children. Research has shown that young people are attracted to the color and design of cigarette packs.

Scotland was the first country in the UK to support plain packaging for tobacco products in a change that could lead to 300,000 fewer smokers in the UK over the next year.

Testing the legislation, Marlboro-maker Philip Morris introduced durable tins that look like ordinary cigarette packets. The tins, available at chains including Sainsbury’s, Londis and Budgens, sport Marlboro’s logo and distinctive branding, the required deterrent photos and the warning message, “Smoking kills.” No chance they’d get away with that, the Guardian reports.

“Research shows that packs of 10 appeal to young people and the price conscious,” said Karen Reeves-Evans, of the Tobacco Control Research Group at the University of Bath. “By offering packs of 10 in reusable tins, Philip Morris International is knowingly increasing the lifespan of packs of 10 and promoting its brand, if smokers decant their cigarettes into these small branded tins. The fact that these tins appeared almost immediately prior to the branding and size restrictions coming into force is suspicious.”

Alex Cunningham, Labour MP for Stockton North added, “It’s against the whole spirit of what’s intended with the plain packaging legislation. The tobacco companies will stop at nothing in order to retain their branding and sell a product that everyone knows has such tremendous health risks. It’s an immature trick and I hope people will soon put them into their bins and they’ll find their way to the recycling centre.”

Philip Morris rival JTI Gallaher also issued aluminum tins for its Benson & Hedges, Mayfair and Camel brands in the run-up to the plain packaging laws, described by Ireland’s former health minister James Reilly as “extremely cynical.”

As tobacco brands and activists balk at the changes, Alison Cox, Cancer Research UK’s director of prevention, told the Guardian that “Today marks a momentous victory in the battle for a tobacco free future. Standardised packs will help protect the next generation from an addiction that kills around half of all regular smokers.”

What’s keeping Indonesia, China addicted to smoking?

A World Trade Organisation ruling backing Australia’s hard line on cigarette packaging highlights a gulf between Asia and much of the rest of the world

http://www.scmp.com/week-asia/society/article/2094162/whats-keeping-indonesia-china-addicted-smoking

It was during a trip to Egypt in 1995 when Edison Siahaan first felt that something wasn’t quite right with his throat. Four decades had gone by since he started smoking at the age of 15. His voice had been raspy for years. Maybe this was just the dry air tickling the back of his throat.

But it wasn’t dry air and it wasn’t a tickle. It was cancer. Doctors excised a portion of his trachea leaving a hole the size of a nickel at the base of the throat. He lost his bank job because for a year following the surgery he couldn’t speak. Even now, what passes for speech makes him sound like the emperor from Star Wars only with more hissing. Now 79, Siahaan, a kindly old gent with a full head of hair, is tough to look at. “I see kids smoking all the time here,” he says, gesturing back and forth along the length of the street from his front room. “It makes me sick to think they are going to ruin their life. I point at this hole in my throat and say to them: do you want to look like this?”

Asian men already account for the lion’s share of the world’s tobacco related illnesses, yet a World Trade Organisation ruling this week that upheld tough anti-smoking rules introduced in Australia in 2012, showed that if anything, the gap in attitudes between Asia and the rest of the world may be widening.

“Tobacco in China is absolutely devastating,” says Dr Angela Pratt who helps handle external relations at the World Health Organisation’s office for the Western Pacific in Manila.

In China, roughly 300 million people smoke, according to the WHO. Most of these are men. More than half of Chinese adults are smokers and two-thirds of young Chinese men start smoking. While smoking rates are steady, the absolute number of smokers is rising in line with population growth. Chinese smokers account for 44 per cent of all the cigarettes puffed in the world. At current rates 200 million Chinese will die this century from tobacco-related illnesses, Pratt says. “That’s a huge burden. The people afflicted are often the sole income earners,” she says.

This week, the WTO ruled that Australia’s plain packaging rules, which ban branding and distinctive colouring from packs of cigarettes, were a legitimate public health measure. The ruling knocked back a complaint from Indonesia, Cuba, Honduras and the Dominican Republic, who said the rule amounted to an illegal trade barrier. As the former chief of staff to the Australian health minister who introduced the plain packaging measures, Nicola Roxon, Pratt helped develop the policy, bulletproofing it from court challenges from tobacco companies and governments.

“We were proud to be taking on plain packaging,” Pratt recalls. “But we wanted to be sure to be able to defend it.”

Together with graphic warnings and taxes that will push cigarettes up to A$40 (HK$230) per pack by 2020, the measure is credited with accelerating the fall in Australia’s smoking rate. The most recent figures show about 13 per cent of Australian adults smoke and less than five per cent of school children. A dozen countries, from Canada to Chile and Britain to Uruguay are either introducing similar rules or seriously considering them.

At the other extreme is Indonesia. The most recent figures, which date back to 2013, show 240,000 Indonesians die every year from tobacco related illnesses. Two-thirds of Indonesian men and boys, over the age of 15, smoke, according to the Ministry of Health.

Most troubling are the numbers of new young smokers throughout the archipelago, says Dr Widyastuti Soerojo, chair of the tobacco control unit at the Indonesian Public Health Association. She says some 16 million Indonesian youngsters between the ages of 10 and 19 experiment with smoking every year – a rate of about 44,000 every day.

Indonesia is among the few countries that are not signatories to the United Nation’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which among other things aims to curb the appeal of smoking for children.

Indonesia television and billboards feature handsome intrepid men jumping out of planes or into business meetings. Roadside kiosks individually sell clove cigarettes, known as kretek, for as little as 10 US cents each.

Governments in Jakarta and local governments in vote-rich provinces, such as Central Java and East Java, fend off calls for more curbs on smoking saying they provide badly needed jobs to rural families.

But mechanisation and growing taste for machine-made cancer sticks rather than hand-rolled types, belie that argument. Tobacco accounts for about half of one per cent of all jobs in Indonesia, according to the Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance. Campaigners are quick to point out the country’s richest families have tobacco to thank.

The Hartonos, Indonesia’s richest family and worth US$17 billion, own kretek maker Djarum.

Indonesian cigarette sales totaled US$16 billion in 2015. Sampoerna, which is more than 90 per cent owned by Philip Morris, is Indonesia’s most valuable company.

“The government treats tobacco like it’s a normal industry but really this is neocolonialism by tobacco companies,” Dr Soerojo says.

In China, the culprit for health advocates is the China National Tobacco Corporation, which controls more than 98 per cent of the local market. Implementation of the UN tobacco convention falls to the Ministry of Industry, which is also home to the body that owns China Tobacco. “A parallel would be, back when I was with the health ministry, meetings were chaired by a representative of Philip Morris,” Pratt said. “There’s plenty of room for conflict of interest.”

Still, there’s progress. Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen, with a combined population of more than 60 million, have banned smoking in public areas. China hiked taxes on cigarettes in 2015. The move resulted in a 20 per cent jump in the retail prices of the cheapest brands. Owing to its massive market, that move alone resulted in a more than 2 per cent drop in world tobacco consumption in 2016.

In Indonesia, smoking is banned in most public spaces but enforcement peters out the further one travels from the centre of Jakarta. Indonesia introduced graphic warnings on packaging in 2012 and hiked excise taxes on cigarettes by 15 per cent in 2016. Even so, additional hikes for this year were scotched. Glimmers of light are on the horizon, says WHO’s Pratt, but plain packaging is still “a long way off”.

For Siahaan, his government’s halting go-slow approach is proof that cigarettes are insidious, and for him, more ruinous than narcotics. “At least with drugs you can get help,” he gasps. “For cigarettes, you see them everywhere.”

Tobacco firms denied plain pack appeal

The UK supreme court has made a final decision, denying tobacco firms permission to appeal against plain packaging.

http://www.packagingnews.co.uk/news/markets/tobacco/tobacco-firms-denied-plain-pack-appeal-12-04-2017

The decision means that all cigarettes sold in the UK after 20 May must come in the standardised packaging that’s been increasingly appearing in shops during the trial period over the last year.

There will also no longer be packs of 10 cigarettes available in a move designed to deter young people from taking up smoking. For the same reason menthol cigarettes are being phased out but more gradually. They will disappear from shelves by May 2020.

Last November, British American Tobacco, Imperial Brands, Japan Tobacco International (JTI) and Philip Morris International went to the supreme court after the court of appeal claiming that the plain pack law would infringe their human and intellectual property rights but he appeal was rejected.

Any hopes the companies might have had that there was still a slim chance a challenge could be mounted will have been dashed by the final ruling.

The health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, welcomed the supreme court’s decision, saying: “Standardised packaging will cut smoking rates and reduce suffering, disease and avoidable deaths.”

Cigarettes and tobacco: what are the new rules and regulations?

The new rules have been made under new European Union law called the Tobacco Products Directive.

https://inews.co.uk/essentials/news/health/cigarettes-tobacco-new-rules-regulations/

Technically, the law came into force on 20 May last year, but companies were given a 12-month grace period to sell their old packs and bring in standardised packaging.

From next month, all tobacco must be packaged in drab, dark brown packs with no graphic branding.

standardised-packaging

The new packs are the same shape, size and colour, with two thirds of the front and back surfaces covered by pictorial health warnings, and written warnings on the sides.

From 21 May this year, anyone caught selling non-plain packs will face severe penalties.

Smokers will also no longer be able to buy smaller packs of cigarettes and rolling tobacco while menthols will be phased out completely by May 2020.

At the moment, rolling tobacco comes in 10g and 20g packets – but soon 30g will be the smallest size.

The ban includes some flavoured tobacco and cigarettes – including fruit, spice, herbs, alcohol, candy and vanilla.

There are also internal packaging requirements as well as rules for individual cigarette sticks. All other trademarks, logos, colour schemes and promotional images are prohibited.

Cost of cigarettes

A pack of cigarettes is now at least £8.81, which campaigners say is a key factor in making people quit smoking.

Action on Smoking and Health believe that removing the packet of ten cigarettes this means people will have to find that extra money for a packet.

“It will hit poorer and younger smokers harder who are more likely to buy smaller packs,” a spokesperson said.

Smokers’ rights group Forest said the new rules “treat adults like children and teenagers like idiots”.

New vaping laws will also come into force next month restricting sale of e-liquids and e-cigarettes.

Among the rules are: refillable tanks must have a capacity of no more than 2ml, e-liquids can not be sold in quantities greater than 10ml and e-liquid packaging must be child-resistant and tamper evident.

 

What the new tobacco and cigarette packaging laws mean

Ten packs and smaller tobacco bags are out, while standard plain covers are in

http://www.theweek.co.uk/83551/what-the-new-tobacco-and-cigarette-packaging-laws-mean

New laws that standardise the appearance of tobacco packets and limit the range of products on offer come into force next month after a bid to halt the legislation was thrown out by the Supreme Court.

What was the Supreme Court ruling about?

Four tobacco giants took legal action in a last-ditch attempt to stop the introduction of mandatory plain packaging on cigarettes sold in the UK.

They argued the law would infringe their human and intellectual property rights by making their products indistinguishable. In addition, they also questioned evidence that plain packaging would deter smokers.

However, Judge Nicholas Green, who heard the original application for a judicial review of the 2015 legislation, ruled the regulations “were lawful when they were promulgated by parliament and they are lawful now in the light of the most up-to-date evidence”.

What happens on 21 May?

All cigarette packets will come in a single shade of “opaque couche” – a muddy green which The Sun describes as “the world’s ugliest colour”.

Brand names will be written in a standard font, size and location on the pack, while health warnings will cover at least 65 per cent of the box or packet. They can also no longer carry words such as “lite”, “natural” or “organic” and menthol cigarettes will be phased out completely by 2020.

Smokers will additionally not be able to buy smaller packs of cigarettes or rolling tobacco. Packets of ten are being axed, as are 10g (a third of an ounce) and 20g packs (0.7oz) of rolling tobacco.

Amanda Sanford, spokeswoman for Action on Smoking and Health (Ash), told the Liverpool Echo that banning smaller packers was intended to deter younger smokers who are more likely to buy them because they are cheaper.

Technically, the law came into force on 20 May 2016, but tobacco companies were given a 12-month period to standardise packaging and dispose of old stock. From 21 May this year, anyone breaking the new rules faces strict penalties.

Is this a good move?

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said standardised packaging “will cut smoking rates and reduce suffering, disease and avoidable deaths”, while government chief medical officer Dame Sally Davies says she was “thrilled” the tobacco industry was not allowed to appeal.

However, smokers rights group Forest said the new rules “treat adults like children and teenagers like idiots”.

Is the UK the first country to do this?

No. Australia led the way with a law that meant tobacco products on sale after 1 December 2012 had to carry plain packaging and French packaging legislation came into effect at the start of 2017. Similar laws in Ireland, Hungary and New Zealand have not yet been rolled out.

How tobacco firms flout UK law on plain packaging

Brands use competitive price labels to avoid restrictions on marketing

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/apr/09/tobacco-companies-flout-law-plain-packaging

An insider in the tobacco industry has revealed some of the unscrupulous tactics it is using to avoid new restrictions governing the marketing of cigarettes that come into force next month.

One strategy – sticking competitive pricing labels on packets, a move designed to attract cost-conscious poorer smokers who make up the majority of the market – is already in breach of the regulations, according to legal advice obtained by Action on Smoking and Health (Ash).

The whistleblower, until recently employed by Imperial Tobacco, one of the UK’s largest companies, told the Observer that all four of the industry’s main players were employing a range of branding initiatives involving pack design to differentiate their products before the new regulations come into force on 20 May. From this date, cigarettes must be sold in dark green packs of 20 that carry health warnings covering at least 65% of the box.

Plain packaging was first introduced in May last year. “Any branded stock you see out there now will have been produced before 20 May last year,” said the whistleblower who used the pseudonym, Martin Sempah. “So the cigarette companies have been on a massive stock building exercise to make sure they have their branded packs in the market for as long as possible, to leverage the brand benefit.” But, under the new regulations, any packs manufactured after 20 May last year must be devoid of eye-catching price labels, something that severely limits the tobacco companies’ ability to market them aggressively.

“Price with cigarettes is massive,” Sempah said. “It’s what drives growth in market share. You get your price mark wrong and you can lose market share and millions. The issue for Imperial was that from 20 May 2016 until 20 May 2017 they’d have branded packs out there but no way of controlling the price on them.”

The solution was to employ a separate agency to add promotional price stickers to the packets’ cellophane wrappers, a practice known in the trade as “stickering”, that, according to Sempah, involved “millions and millions” of packs and which the tobacco firms insist is not in breach of the regulations because it is not part of the manufacturing process.

Imperial employed an agency called Clipper to add the stickers, Sempah said. Ash has written to the other three major tobacco companies –JTI, BAT and PMI – saying it is aware that they have been employing a similar strategy.

The health organisation has received a legal opinion from Peter Oliver, a barrister at Monckton Chambers, that suggests the strategy breaches the regulations which state that cigarette packets must be wrapped in cellophane that is “clear and transparent” and must not be “coloured or marked”.

“Once again, the tobacco companies seem to be stretching the law to snapping point,” said Deborah Arnott, chief executive of Ash. “They have already wasted thousands of legal hours and millions of pounds in fees trying to get the standardised packaging rules scrapped and failed miserably. Now it seems they are trying to get round the rules, by adding stickers to cigarette packs after the 20 May 2016 and claiming that this is not part of the production process. But, as our legal opinion confirms, such claims are false and the behaviour unlawful. We would like to see appropriate enforcement action taken against any tobacco manufacturer engaged in this practice without delay.”

Stickering is only one weapon in the industry’s arsenal, Sempah suggested. “When the regulations came out they started to look for loopholes. They said: how can we use particular varnishes and finishes on our plain packs to make them more tactile in a person’s hands, to make them more attractive? Do we use a different type of foil? If you look at a pack of Marlboro Gold it has got a trademark type of foil – it’s resealable. There are methods they are using to get round the regulations to increase the brand equity in their packs.”

Another strategy is to use key words to signify different “strengths” of cigarette – something that is banned. The word “real” is being used to suggest “full flavour” while “bright” denotes cigarettes that were once labelled ‘light’.

Two, separately wrapped, packs of 10 cigarettes inserted inside a 20-size pack have been developed to appeal to smokers who prefer smaller packs.“They’re going to be investing a lot more in festivals and nightclubs,” Sempah said. “You can’t say ‘sponsored by’ but you can create a fantastic experience which kind of looks like a cigarette brand.

“For example, last year Golden Virginia did stuff at the Latitude festival. They had a bar and a smoking area – all green furniture and green T-shirts for staff. It was a slightly different green from Golden Virginia and it was called Roll and Rock rather than Golden Virginia but at the bar you could only buy Golden Virginia.”

In their written responses to Ash all four tobacco companies and Clipper insisted that they complied with all the regulations. Sempah said most in the tobacco industry doubted the marketing strategies would have much of an impact in the long run. “Nobody really expects this to work, but there’s so many big salaries tied up in marketing in the tobacco companies they have to try to make it work.”

Cigarettes and plain packaging – new dataset says it works

It seems our carrying in good faith last week the data-selective assertions of Canadian journalist and development officer of ‘Students for Liberty,’ Yael Ossowski, that plain cigarette packaging does not work as a harm reduction tool, is way short of the full story. So short as to be untrue, says Yussuf Saloojee, Executive Director of SA’s National Council Against Smoking in his response below. He claims Ossowski is just plain wrong – and provides a wider data-set, making a strong case for plain packaging. Saloojee picks out a more convincing Australian data-set than the one Ossowski used. It’s one of those fields where trillions of dollars are at stake and smoke and mirrors are the order of the day. As I found out when once I tried to sift through the mountains of opposing data submitted by the protagonists in the e-cigarettes debate where the latest arena of battle is harm-reduction. Some international scientific heavyweights stack up on the side of e-cigarettes, like SA-born pioneering long distance swimmer and executive director of the Vitality Institute, Dr Derek Yach. Harm-reduction and preventative wellness medicine and exercise lie at the core of Discovery Health’s business model, hence the choice of former WHO executive Yach to head up their Institute. Yach was behind much of the ANC’s globally-admired, progressive smoking policies and evolving legislation. But he parts company with Saloojee on e-cigarettes and harm reduction, saying it’s the smoke that kills, not the nicotine (which e-cigs deliver, without the more harmful smoke). Here are the results of Saloojee’s foray into the scientific wizardry of Oz where this dataset seems to blow away some of the red outback dust that Ossowski stirred up. – Chris Bateman

http://www.biznews.com/health/2017/03/06/cigarettes-plain-packaging/

By Yussuf Saloojee*

In Australia, the attractive colours and logos that increase the appeal of the cigarette pack, especially to children, have been replaced by honest, truthful information on the dangers of smoking. Cigarettes are now sold in plain packaging – that is, in dark brown packets with pictures of sick smokers on it.

And plain packaging works. Smoking rates have dropped to record lows since its introduction in late 2012.

The latest data from the Australian Secondary Student’s Alcohol and Drug survey show that between 2011 and 2014 the number of 12 to 17 year-old students who have never smoked increased from 77.4% to 80.5%. Adult smoking rates have also fallen. Among Australians aged 14 or older the number of people who smoke daily fell from 15.1% to 12.8% between 2010-13.

There are now 200,000 fewer smokers in this age group.

The tobacco industry knows that plain packaging lowers profits, so the industry and its cronies have resorted to falsely claiming that plain packaging is ineffective.

Further, the major cigarette companies are rapidly expanding into the e-cigarette business and would obviously benefit from growth in this market. So, to kill two birds with one stone, the industry proposes that plain packaging laws should be dropped and that e-cigarettes (or ‘vaping’) be promoted to reduce smoking. A win-win for the industry, as a measure that reduces sales would be replaced with one that increases profits.

The problem with this suggestion is that the majority of e-cigarette users still continue to smoke regular cigarettes and there is no health benefit if people both vapor and smoke. While the industry would profit from addiction by selling e-cigarettes alongside regular cigarettes, there would be no public health gain.

The decision to implement plain packaging in Australia was based upon extensive scientific evidence and the law has been upheld by the courts. Numerous other countries, including Ireland, the United Kingdom, France, Hungary, New Zealand, Norway, Chile and Singapore, are persuaded by this evidence and have now adopted or are considering adopting similar measures.

South Africa would be well advised to also do so, as plain packaging will help reduce the over 40,000 deaths caused by cigarettes each year.

Yussuf Saloojee, Exco Director of the SA National Council Against Smoking

Just one $2000 fine issued since tough new plain packaging laws introduced

Big tobacco has exploited a loophole in Australia’s world-first plain-packaging laws, which allowed smokers to ditch the now famous drab packaging.

http://www.smh.com.au/national/health/just-one-2000-fine-issued-since-tough-new-plain-packaging-laws-introduced-20170301-guoiu4.html

The Department of Health has received 1054 individual complaints involving 746 cases since the December 2012 legislation banning tobacco companies from putting their products in anything other than dark olive brown packaging that feature graphic health warnings.

Of those cases, 459 were cleared and 135 warning letters were issued, according to figures revealed in a Senate estimates hearing on Wednesday, with an ACT retailer receiving the only fine, paying $2040 for “non-compliant cigars”.

But the department could not say whether Imperial Tobacco, one of the world’s biggest tobacco companies, received a warning for producing what it described as a “fresher, premium product” for its Peter Stuyvesant brand which allowed customers to shed the government-mandated packaging and use a plain silver soft pack enclosed inside.

The Plain Packaging Act allows lining within the pack, but only foiled back paper, while also outlawing both inserts and onserts (a sticker that can go over existing packaging).

Departmental deputy secretary Wendy Southern told the hearing the Imperial insert, brought to the department’s attention by a media enquiry last year, was found to be an example “where clearly we believed it as circumventing the plain packaging legislation”, but there was some question over whether it constituted a breach.

“The department engaged with the manufacturer through correspondence and basically the company undertook to remove the product from the market,” she said, under questioning from Labor senator Murray Watt.

“So we have one of the biggest tobacco manufacturers in the world, quite deliberately circumventing these laws and nothing happens apart from an undertaking and that’s after several steps in the chain,” the Queensland senator asked.

“The undertaking is to remove it from the market, which is ultimately what we were seeking,” Dr Southern replied, adding that the way the legislation was crafted, there was a process of “escalation”.

The legislation sets out a maximum penalty of $36,000 for manufacturers who don’t comply.

A departmental spokesman told Fairfax Media the “vast majority” of tobacco manufacturers and retailers were obeying the legislation, but on the Imperial Tobacco matter there “were differing views on the compliance of the product with the legislation”.

“As a result of correspondence between the department and the company which did include warnings about the consequences of continued non-compliance, the company made a decision to withdraw the product from the market,” he said.

“The decision by the company to withdraw the product from the market, in this instance, avoided the potential for costly and protracted litigation with an uncertain outcome and achieved the compliance outcome sought by the department.”

He said the department received reports from Imperial on the withdrawal of the packs from sale.

Shadow health minister Catherine King said there was room to revisit the landmark legislation, which was created under the Rudd/Gillard governments, saying it was “critical” the laws were enforced.

“If the government believes the laws need strengthening to do this, then Labor will work with them as a priority. Or else they should explain why companies are being let off the hook,” she said.

The laws have seen early indications of success in other areas, with an Australian National University study finding calls to the quit hotlines increased by 78 per cent during the phase-in period, and sat above average for the next 10 months.

The department estimates 15,000 Australians die every year from smoking-related diseases and costs Australia more than $31 billion in social and economic costs.