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November 12th, 2011:

Cost of tobacco

BEIJING, Nov. 11 (Xinhuanet) — Tobacco research is a battlefield where cigarette producers and tobacco control researchers fight for funds.

Those intent on helping cigarette smokers quit the habit have to compete for funds with tobacco producers, and in such an unequal battle they are the losers almost all the time.

This is because the government departments such as the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Science and Technology, and National Natural Science Foundation don’t set aside funds for tobacco control research. The limited amount of money that is available for this purpose is in the hands of the State Tobacco Monopoly Administration, which controls tobacco production, marketing, imports and exports.

A researcher’s experience may illustrate the odd relations between tobacco producers and tobacco control researchers. Zhao Baolu, a research fellow with the Institute of Biophysics under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, turned to the Beijing Cigarette Factory in 1988 for cooperation on a new kind of filter tip that would reduce the risks for smokers. Joining Zhao’s experiment, the tobacco producer put tea polyphenols, which are believed to suppress the carcinogens that cigarettes contain, into its new filter tips.

The cooperation, however, didn’t please Zhao. He found smokers smoked more because tea polyphenols make the cigarettes taste lighter.

Consequently Zhao concentrated his research on helping smokers quit. And the factory stopped funding him.

He then applied to the State Tobacco Monopoly Administration for money, which, not surprisingly, was unforthcoming as it was akin to asking a tiger for its skin.

Since then, the tobacco companies have continued to dispute, distort, minimize or ignore the unfolding evidence against smoking.

In 2010 the tobacco industry generated 604.55 billion yuan ($95 billion) in taxes and profit, a sum of money that is large enough to overcome even the government’s desire to control tobacco.

A non-governmental environmental organization investigated 51 restaurants in Beijing this week and found only 10 had banned smoking since May 1 when China banned smoking in all indoor public and work places.

The fact that most Chinese restaurants continue to be filled with tobacco smoke cannot be separated from the government’s weak regulations and abysmal law enforcement on tobacco use.

The overall effective tax rate of 40 percent on a packet of cigarettes in China is much lower than the international average, which ranges from 65 to 70 percent. Yet raising taxes and prices have proved to be the most effective means of reducing smoking.

The government needs to show the political will to take on the powerful tobacco industry and raise the cost of cigarettes.

(Source: China Daily)

Govt to tighten norms for on-screen smoking

12 Nov. 2011

After banning real-life smoking in public places, government has decided to tighten norms for on-screen smoking too. From November 14 no TV programme or film can easily show smoking scenes or any other tobacco products.

The government believes tobacco use in films influences young people towards smoking. Hence, in an attempt to discourage tobacco consumption, particularly smoking, the Union ministry of health and family has made it compulsory to have health spots and scrolls talking about ill-effects of tobacco, compulsory in all old and new films and TV programmes showing smoking scenes.

Accordingly, all new films and TV programmes must have strong editorial justification for display of tobacco products and the actor concerned must give a disclaimer of 20 seconds each regarding the ill-effects of the use of such products. This disclaimer has to be used in the beginning and middle of the film or the television programme.

The films and programmes must also carry strong anti-tobacco health spots or messages, of minimum 30 seconds duration each at the beginning and middle of the film or the TV programme.

Besides, a strong anti-tobacco health warning must be there as a prominent scroll at the bottom of the screen during the period of such smoking scene.

For old movies and TV programmes produced before November 14, 2011, displaying tobacco products or its use have to be telecast at such timings that are likely to have least viewership. They also must carry anti-tobacco health spots or messages and anti-tobacco health warnings.

To restrict blatant display of tobacco brands in old films and TV programmes, the new rules make it mandatory to crop /mask display of brands of cigarettes or any other tobacco product, their closeups. In new films and TV programmes such scenes have to be edited or blurred by the producer prior to screening. The ban on display of tobacco product or its usage also extends to promotional materials and posters as well.

The government has also decided to place a representative of health ministry in the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) to monitor such scenes from now. Films with heavy use of tobacco products are likely to get “A” certificate.

The new norms are likely to trigger fresh debate as in the past too, actors and directors have protested against ban on smoking scenes.

Tougher anti-tobacco rules for Television, films

Updated on Saturday, November 12, 2011, 08:28

New Delhi: Henceforth, every time an actor is seen taking a puff on screen, a prominent scroll warning that smoking is injurious to health will run at the bottom. What`s more, the actor will personally read out the ill-effects of smoking, say the new health ministry rules to be effective from Monday.

According to the rules, all filmmakers depicting usage of tobacco will have to show a message or spot of minimum 30 seconds at the beginning and middle of the concerned film or TV programme.

For films or programmes being made after Monday, a strong editorial justification for display of tobacco products or their use shall be given to the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) along with a UA certification.

A representative from health ministry will also be present in the CBFC.

It will also need a disclaimer of minimum 20 seconds duration by the concerned actor regarding the ill effects of the use of such products in the beginning and middle of the film or television programme.

Also, the names of brands of cigarettes and other tobacco products will also have to be cropped or blurred.

“India has the largest film producing industry and films have played a key role in the process of social change and in influencing the Indian culture. Thus, for the tobacco industry, films provide an opportunity to convert a deadly product into a status symbol or token of independence,” a statement from the ministry said Friday.

“The role of movies as vehicles for promoting tobacco use has become even more important as other forms of tobacco promotion are constrained,” it said.

According to a combined study by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the health ministry, tobacco usage was shown in nearly 89 percent movies in 2005 compared to 76 percent in 2003.

Nearly 75 percent of the movies showed the lead character smoking in 2005 and 41 percent showed the brand.


Tobacco companies to battle on NZ ground

Description: Proposed new packs are dull green, without any manufacturer branding

SAT, 12 NOV 2011 6:25P.M.

By Brook Sabin

The biggest tobacco supplier in New Zealand is vowing to fight the government if they introduce controversial plain cigarette packages.

3 News has obtained documents revealing the dull-green packs may be introduced here next year, and already the battle lines are being drawn.

The Australian government has this week become the first country in the world to pass a law introducing the dull-green packs but they are being sued.

And New Zealand’s biggest supplier says it will take every action necessary to stop the move here.

Tobacco companies are funding these television campaigns in Australia, furious the government there is introducing these plain cigarette packs.

They are dull green, without any manufacturer branding.

But anti-smoking lobbyists say it is nothing to do with being nanny-state. It is about profit.

ASH director Ben Youdan says you cannot advertise cigarettes on television or on sports sponsorship or in magazines

“That’s been banned for a long time, so the packaging is the last billboard I suppose for smoking.”

And it is a billboard our government could be next to stub out.

Cabinet papers obtained by 3 News under the Official Information Act show the government has agreed to “actively consider the introduction of plain packaging here in 2012”.

We took the document to ASH.

“I think it’s excellent news, the New Zealand government has made a commitment to get New Zealand essentially smoke free by 2025. That’s 13 and a bit very short years to do that so I think it’s really important to look at what are the most immediate steps we need to take.”

The Australian government became the first country in the world to pass plain packaging legislation this week but they are also being sued.

Professor Jane Kelsey says the big tobacco companies like Phillip Morris and British American Tobacco use every legal tool that they can get their hands on to stop tobacco control policies from coming through.

The issue could be a major headache for New Zealand officials trying to negotiate a free trade agreement with America at the APEC summit which started in Honolulu today.

That is because an agreement could give American tobacco companies the power to sue our government for changing their packaging unless a special provision is negotiated.

The largest tobacco supplier in New Zealand, British American Tobacco, would not appear on camera but released a statement saying they will take every step necessary to protect their intellectual property and stop plain packaging being introduced here.

3 News

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