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October 3rd, 2011:

Tobacco law gets kick in the butt

iol pic Cigarette oct 3

All cigarettes in South Africa will have to extinguish themselves automatically if the smoker does not puff after a few minutes, if an amendment to the tobacco act is passed.

The amendment, due to be introduced into the Tobacco Products Control Act from November next year, is aimed at reducing house fires caused by negligent smokers.

“Cigarettes cause 6 percent of fires in South Africa and are the leading cause of fires in homes,” said Dr Yussuf Saloojee, executive director of the National Council Against Smoking.

Retailers would have 18 months to get rid of old stock.

Also on the cards are more severe limitations on tobacco advertising. “Although tobacco advertising is illegal in South Africa, retailers still use posters in their shops to encourage customers to buy the products,” said Saloojee. “Retailers will still be allowed to sell tobacco products, but they must not advertise (them).”

The council and the Department of Health will host a workshop in Joburg on Wednesday to assess the Tobacco Products Control Act, “where we will review the current status of the amendment, such as how many people it affects, and the prevalence of it in South Africa”, said Saloojee.

The act, passed in 1993, aimed to regulate smoking in public places and ban tobacco sales to under-16s. Some aspects of advertising, such as labelling, were regulated.

The act was amended in 1999 and all advertising of tobacco products was banned, and laws regarding smoking in public became more severe. It was amended again in 2007, to bring it in line with international conventions.

Measuring the effect of cigarette plain packaging on transaction times and selection errors in a simulation experiment


Introduction Australia has introduced legislation to force all cigarette packaging to be generic from 2012 onwards. The tobacco retail industry estimates this will result in transaction times increasing by 15–45 s per pack and is spending at least $A10 million of tobacco industry funds on an advertising campaigns claiming that the increased time and errors associated with plain packaging will ultimately cost small businesses $A461 million per annum and endanger 15 000 jobs. We undertook an objective experiment to test these claims.

Methodology Participants (n=52) were randomly assigned to stand in front of a display of either 50 plain or coloured cigarette packets and then were read a randomly ordered list of cigarette brands. The time participants took to locate each packet was recorded and all selection errors were noted. After 50 ‘transactions’, participants repeated the entire experiment with the alternative plain/coloured packs. Afterwards, participants were asked in an open-ended manner whether plain or coloured packaging was easier to locate and why.

Results The average transaction was significantly quicker for plain compared with coloured packs (2.92 vs 3.17 s; p=0.040). One or more mistakes were made by 40.4% of participants when selecting coloured packaging compared with only 17.3% for plain packaging (p=0.011). Qualitative results suggested that the colours and inconsistent location of brand names often served to distract when participants scanned for brands.

Conclusion Rather than plain packaging requiring an additional 45 s per transaction, our results suggest that it will, if anything, modestly decrease transaction times and selection errors.

Cigars to get plain packaging

Oct. 3, 2011

The Govt has released details of how plain-packaging would work for tobacco products other than cigarettes.

The Govt has released details of how plain-packaging would work for tobacco products other than cigarettes.

Cigars, cigarillos and loose and chewing tobacco are the next targets in the federal government’s plain-packaging campaign.

Health Minister Nicola Roxon on Monday released a consultation paper explaining how plain-packaging rules for tobacco products other than cigarettes would work.

Legislation requiring plain, olive green tobacco packaging is now before parliament.

This new consultation will help the government develop regulations on how that legislation, once law, would apply to products other than cigarettes.

The consultation paper proposes that the packaging tobacco products are sold in would be in the same colour with no company branding or logos.

They would still have dominant and graphic health warnings.

Ms Roxon said the government wanted the approach to plain packaging to be the same as far as possible across all tobacco products.

‘Whether you are talking about cigarettes, cigars or pipe tobacco, all are addictive and all are harmful,’ she said in a statement.

As many of these products are manufactured overseas, the government’s proposals would allow them to be imported without the plain packaging.

But they must be covered in the drab colour before they go on sale.

Options discussed for this include stickers that completely cover the product’s original packaging, or purpose-made sealed bags or cigar tubes.

Cigar bands would have to be removed, replaced or covered with a sticker.

The government proposes that brand names and variants could be printed on the plain packaging, as with cigarettes, or they could be handwritten on a white rectangle on the packaging or a white sticker.

Submissions on the proposals are open until October 28.

The discussion paper can be found at