Clear The Air News Tobacco Blog Rotating Header Image

August, 2012:

Big tobacco brands to target teens to shore up smoking rates as plain packaging bites

  • by: Health Reporter Jordanna Schriever
  • From: AdelaideNow
  • August 29, 20128:00PM

Cigarette flavours may be used to attract teen smokers. Picture: Nigel Parsons Source: AdelaideNow

CIGARETTE companies will ramp up their fight to attract more teenagers using marketing tactics to prevent smoking rates from falling, experts warn.

Their tactics will target teenagers and include reduced prices, sexier names and flavour variations, and their preferred brand would always be in stock.

Associate Professor Jenni Romaniuk, international director at UniSA’s Ehrenberg-Bass Institute for Marketing Science, said the companies would use “product innovation” techniques to vary formulations – and create new flavours to encourage teenagers to connect with a certain brand.

“Companies will not be able to use their packaging to appeal to consumers or appear more glamorous, so they need to find new ways to attract new customers,” she said.

Professor of Public Health at the University of Sydney Simon Chapman said most smokers take up the habit between the ages of 16 and 19 years.

“It’s very, very rare for anybody to take up smoking after the age of about 23,” Prof Chapman said.

“If they don’t get that group smoking their brand then, really, they’ve lost an investment of a lifetime.

“Smokers tend to be pretty loyal and stick with brands through their smoking career.”

The move is expected to follow a recent motion that was passed in Tasmania’s Parliament that called on the Government to create a “smoke-free generation”.

Under the plan, anyone who was born after the year 2000 would be banned from buying cigarettes when they turn 18.

South Australian Health Minister John Hill said that any strategy to stop young people from smoking was “worth considering”.

Cancer Council SA chief executive Professor Brenda Wilson said the motion recognised that most smokers became addicted during their teens.

SA Health figures show 20.7 per cent of South Australians aged 15 and over smoke either daily or occasionally.

A spokeswoman for Drug and Alcohol Services SA said the primary target of the South Australian Tobacco Control Strategy 2011-2016 was to reduce the percentage of young cigarette smokers aged 15-29 to 16 per cent by 2016.

John Loof: Tobacco is a dying industry however you view it

By John Loof

5:30 AM Tuesday Aug 28, 2012

Tobacco companies are demanding the right to sell more cigarettes in New Zealand. Photo / PeterMeecham

The argument against plain packaging is based on perverse logic, writes John Loof, chief executive of the Cancer Society Auckland.

A corporate giant came out last week with a major public relations campaign. It issued a statement on its website saying it acknowledges that its product is harmful. At first view you would think it should be congratulated for its frankness.

Most of us would then expect this organisation to say something like, “and we are doing everything in our power to reduce the harm to our customers.”

Strangely, this organisation has no such plans. Its aim is to continue to manufacture this product, to gain greater market share and to find new customers.

Imagine for a moment a car maker, an electronics company or food manufacturer stating that its product was indeed harmful but that it had no intention of doing anything about it. There would be calls for legal action, a recall of products and the public would likely abandon that particular brand in droves. Regrettably, this isn’t an easy choice for consumers in this example as they are chemically addicted to the product.

By now you have probably guessed that the corporate giant in this scenario is British American Tobacco, which has launched a campaign to persuade us that plain packaging of cigarettes is a bad idea.

It is a real Alice in Wonderland moment when a company acknowledges the harm done by its products while campaigning for more marketing freedom. The Australian Government hasn’t been fooled by this perverse logic and it appears our Health Minister, Tony Ryall, doesn’t buy it either.

All manner of dire consequences are predicted by the tobacco industry, such as the growth of a black market and violations of international trade agreements. There is no evidence to suggest that smokers will seek out criminal gangs for a pack of Rothmans and if there are fewer smokers there will be no demand for black market cigarettes anyway.

The trade agreement argument is a particularly shameful and immoral one. Tobacco companies are demanding the right to sell more cigarettes in New Zealand against the policies of our democratically elected Government which is seeking to improve health outcomes for its citizens.

The highest court in Australia ruled this as being unconstitutional and hopefully this was a show of strength and purpose that has put the tobacco industry on notice that it has a real fight on its hands.

Every year 5000 New Zealanders lose their lives to smoking-related diseases.

Opponents of tobacco control often point to a simplistic and ideological solution by saying the Government should either make tobacco illegal or leave it alone. Organisations like the Cancer Society and those working in the field of public health wish it were that easy.

If it were possible to prohibit tobacco tomorrow we would do it, but lessons learned from alcohol prohibition and control of illegal drugs need to be heeded.

Our Government has set a target to be a smoke-free New Zealand by 2025. To do this requires a number of strong measures including tax increases, continued support for people to quit, more smoke-free spaces and places where children aren’t surrounded and influenced by adults who are smoking.

We have removed the ubiquitous marketing displays of tobacco products in the corner dairy and now it is time to further reduce the marketing opportunities available to tobacco companies by introducing plain packaging. There is much evidence that children find the bright colours on the packets appealing and recognise cigarette branding from a very early age.

Research tells us that in New Zealand children as young as 14 are starting to smoke. We also know that if people are not smoking by the age of 18 they are unlikely to start. This categorically means that the key target audience to increase the uptake of tobacco products is people in their early teens who are very susceptible to marketing tactics and packaging.

In years to come there will likely be further restrictions on the sale and purchase of tobacco products. All these practical measures will result in the percentage of adults who smoke reducing inexorably from today’s figure of around 20 per cent to less than 5 per cent by 2025.

The proverb “He muka no te taura whiri” tells us that it takes many strands to make one rope. We know we need a very strong rope to haul back the tobacco industry from continuing to profit at the expense of the lives of New Zealanders. British American Tobacco should pause and reflect very carefully on the real meaning of its own words. It needs to once and for all recognise that it is part of a literally dying industry.

We may not be able to rewrite history for the tens of thousands of people who have died as a result of a tobacco-related illness but we can begin to build a healthier smoke-free future for our children.

By John Loof

Non-smokers benefit most from smoking ban: study

Non-smokers benefit most from smoking ban: study

August 27th, 201Description: Non-smokers benefit most from smoking ban: study2 in Health
After the smoking ban was introduced in Bremen, Germany, the rate of ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) diminished by 26% in non-smokers but remained almost constant in active smokers, according to research presented today at the ESC Congress 2012. The results were presented by Dr Johannes Schmuckerfrom Germany.

Many European countries have passed anti-smoking legislation which bans smoking from restaurants, bars and public buildings. After implementation of such a smoking ban on 1 January 2008 in the metropolitan area of Bremen in northwest Germany (800,000 inhabitants) a 16% decline in ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) was observed. STEMI is the severest form of myocardial infarction.

For the study, 3,545 STEMIs in the Bremen-STEMI-Registry which occurred between 2006 and 2010 were analyzed. Figure 1 shows the average number of STEMIs per month in the total population, smokers and non-smokers in 2006-2007 and 2008-2010. DrSchmucker said: “There were more non-smokers than smokers, which explains why the non-smokers group had more STEMIs registered.”

For the total population in 2006 and 2007, before the smoking ban was passed, averages of 65 STEMIs were registered per month. In 2008 to 2010, after the smoking ban was passed, the number fell by 16% to an average of 55 STEMIs per month. “This confirms that the smoking ban had a positive impact on the population as a whole by decreasing the number of STEMIs,” said Dr Schmucker.

A nearly constant rate of STEMIs was observed in active smokers during 2006-2010. In 2006-2007 active smokers had an average of 25 STEMIs per month. In 2008-2010, they had an average of 26 STEMIs per month, a 4% increase. Dr Schmucker said: “Active smokers are inhaling such high doses of tobacco smoke that being exposed to lesspassive smoke in public venues is not going to change the risk for that particular group.”

In non-smokers there was a 26% decrease in STEMIs, from an average of 39 STEMIs per month in 2006-2007 to an average of 29 STEMIs per month in 2008-2010. The steepest decline in the non-smoking group was detected in young non-smokers; in this group the average number of STEMIs per month was 31% lower in 2008-2010 compared to 2006-2007.

“The reduction in the occurrence of this severest and deadliest form of myocardial infarction in the metropolitan area of Bremen can be partially attributed to the commencement of anti-smoking legislation,” said Dr Schmucker. “Non-smokers and especially non-smokers under the age of 65 benefited most from the implementation of the law, indicating the harmful effects of passive smoking. This suggests that expanding anti-smoking legislation could reduce the occurrence of STEMIs even further in the future.”

Provided by European Society of Cardiology

“Non-smokers benefit most from smoking ban: study.” August 27th, 2012.

Passive smoking increases platelet activation in healthy people

Passive smoking increases platelet activation in healthy people August 27, 2012 in Cardiology Enlarge

“It is well known that passive smoking is harmful for cardiovascular health, but the mechanism has not yet been discovered,” said Dr Kaya. “We investigated the effects of passive smoking on the levels of three parameters – mean platelet volume (MPV), carboxyhemoglobin (COHb) and lactate – in an effort to further understand this mechanism. We also looked at the correlation between the three parameters.” Mean platelet volume (MPV) is a well established indicator of platelet activation that is increased in acute thrombotic events. It is suspected that carbon monoxide (CO) plays a major role in cigarette smoke-induced cardiovascular diseases. When CO binds with hemoglobin (Hb) in red blood cells it is called COHb. Lactate accumulates in the blood when the supply of oxygen to blood cells is limited. For the study, 55 healthy nonsmoker volunteers (males 30%; mean age 26±5 years) were prospectively enrolled. Blood samples for measurements of MPV, COHb and lactate were taken at baseline and after spending one an hour in a smoking room. The blood levels of all three parameters were statistically higher after subjects were exposed to passive smoking (see figure 1). COHb increased from 0.8±0.3% at baseline to 1.2±0.4% after one hour in a smoking room (p=0.001). Lactate increased from 0.70±0.2mmol/L to 2.2±0.9mmol/L (p=0.001). MPV increased from 7.8±0.4 femtolitres (fL) to 8.5±0.6fL (p= 0.001). Dr Kaya said: “These results show that passive smoking increases platelet activation and increases CO and lactate levels in the blood.” The researchers found significant correlations between MPV and COHb levels (r= 0.55, p=0.0001) and between MPV and lactate levels (r= 0.65, p=0.0001) after smoking. There was also a remarkable relation between COHb and lactate levels after smoking (r= 0.78, p=0.0001). Dr Kaya said: “Previous studies have suggested that the chemicals in cigarette smoke, especially nicotine and CO, increase platelet-activating factor. The correlations found in our study suggest that the CO in cigarette smoke also increases MPV levels. It is likely that lactate levels increased because oxygen levels in the blood dropped as CO increased.” He concluded: “We have shown that 1 hour exposure to passive smoking increases platelet activation, which could be the mechanism by which it contributes to increased risk of thrombotic events in healthy people. It is likely that prolonged exposure to passive smoking could have even greater effects. Healthy people should avoid exposure to passive smoking so that they do not increase their risk of thrombotic events.” Provided by European Society of Cardiology

Read more at:

Big Tobacco’s property rights trumped by duty to protect youth


Big Tobacco’s property rights trumped by duty to protect youth

Monday, August 27, 2012 • Jeremy Muir

Property rights and the security of intellectual property reduce the risks of doing business and provide the basis for a healthy, thriving economy.

Innovative companies invest huge amounts in research and development because they will own the technologies and techniques they develop.

The same is true for the brands companies invest vast sums in (with much fewer benefits for consumers) . . . hence British American Tobacco NZ’s campaign: “If I Create It, I Should Own It.”

BAT New Zealand is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to counter the Government’s push for plain packaging of cigarettes.

It is on a hiding to nothing, though, with Health Minister Tony Ryall able to confidently say BAT is wasting its money. We can thank our friends across the ditch for this, after Australia’s highest court this month upheld the world’s toughest law on cigarette promotion — prohibiting tobacco company logos on packs.

The Ministry of Health has put out a consultation paper on plain packaging and expects to report back on the findings in October.

Mr Ryall says New Zealanders have turned against tobacco companies and their marketing strategies. This is the crux of the issue, and why Big Tobacco has to accept its fate.

All rights in a civilised society come with an obligation of social responsibility — and it is society that determines how these highly subjective calls are made.

Compared to other addictive drugs, tobacco has a privileged position in society. This is for historical and cultural reasons — and the slow realisation of just how poisonous a product it is, which the industry shamefully fought to suppress.

Yes, British American Tobacco owns its shiny, seductive logos — but its executives will soon have to content themselves with displaying them in their offices.

Society does not want this business to thrive, it wants it to wither and die. Keeping its product behind walls, in plain boxes, and ramping up its price is how it intends to achieve this.

Big Tobacco conquers its new frontier

26 Aug, 2012 03:00 AM

It was tipped to send tobacco companies’ profits tumbling. The plain cigarette packaging High Court victory was hailed by the Attorney-General, Nicola Roxon, as an anti-smoking coup with global implications. Documentary: Sex, Lies and Cigarettes – How Big Tobacco is targeting kids in developing countries

But the latest blow against cigarettes in countries like Australia needs some perspective: health experts warn that while the industry is beginning to lose its grip in developed nations, there is a humanitarian disaster looming in poorer countries, particularly in the Asia-Pacific.

The region is now the world’s biggest tobacco market, with 6 million new smokers recruited in 2009 and another 30 million expected to be added by 2014, based on industry estimates. The World Health Organisation calculates that of the 6 million people who will die from tobacco use this year, 80 per cent will be in the developing world.

Mike Daube, a WHO tobacco adviser and president of the Australian Council on Smoking and Health, has accused cigarette companies of perpetrating a ”tobacco holocaust” in poor nations. ”This is an industry absolutely without a moral radar. They are just wilfully imposing a pandemic on developing countries, and they’ve known for more than 60 years that smoking kills. This is going to cause far more deaths than any wars we’ve ever seen.”

Last week, The Lancet reported ”alarming patterns” of tobacco use in developing countries, where consumption is growing by more than 3 per cent a year. At a time when Australia’s adult smoking rate – one of the lowest in the world at 16.6 per cent – continues to drop by about 1 per cent a year, in parts of Asia as many as two-thirds of men are smokers, and women and children are increasingly taking up the habit.

In China, schools are sponsored by the state-run tobacco industry. The biggest commercial player, Philip Morris, has seen net revenue soar in the Asia-Pacific region from $5.6 billion in 2007 to nearly $11 billion last year, and the company has set up production bases in Malaysia, the Philippines and Indonesia. In a statement to The Sun-Herald, a Switzerland-based media adviser for Philip Morris International outlined the market’s potential: ”A home to over half of the world’s population, the Asian region is very important for any global consumer goods company. In terms of tobacco products, tobacco has been used in Asia for centuries and most countries have long-standing local traditions.”

British American Tobacco’s revenue has grown from $1.8 billion to $4.2 billion over the same period in the region. A spokesman, Scott McIntyre, was unapologetic, saying the company has had a presence in the developing world since the early 1900s.

”Just because people live in a developing nation,” he said, ”does that mean they have less of a right to choose what legal products they purchase than Australians? Or do Australian health experts believe they should have control over individuals in other countries. We believe education on the health risks of smoking is the most effective way for governments to reduce smoking rates.”

In China the government-owned China Tobacco Corp generates taxes and profits of about $9 billion a month. China has 330 million smokers. In Indonesia, where the average age to start smoking is under 10, there are 65 million.

Professor Daube said large markets, low taxes, cheap labour, corruption, poor literacy and lax advertising rules made the Asia-Pacific region attractive to tobacco companies. Huge populations with a large youth base were also part of the appeal. ”There’s massive evidence from industry documents that they see developing countries as essentially their saviour market.”

While the traditionally conservative culture in many Asian countries has kept smoking rates very low for women (between 3 and 5 per cent), increased economic and social equality are turning the trend. Aggressive marketing is driving the shift, said Mary Assunta, director of the international tobacco control project at Cancer Council Australia, who has worked in the Asia-Pacific region for 20 years. ”In Indonesia you see cigarette packs in the market that look like lipstick cases and they sell skinny cigarette sticks so they can fit into the purse of young girls very easily,” Dr Assunta said.

The industry denies it targets children, despite cigarette companies sponsoring concerts, sporting events and even schools in some Asian countries. Philip Morris said in its statement it was an ”advocate” for laws banning cigarette sales to minors. But an advertisement last year for Sampoerna, an Indonesian tobacco company bought by Philip Morris in 2005, ran the slogan: ”Dying is better than leaving a friend; Sampoerna is a cool friend.”

Tobacco companies make no secret of their hopes in Asia. Next month Jakarta will host the World Tobacco Asia 2012. Its website boasts that Indonesia is a ”tobacco-friendly market” because it has no smoking bans or restrictions. ”Ensure you take advantage of this growing market,” it says.

Why corporate power is a public health priority

Download PDF : Corporate power Hastings BMJ 12 08

A cross-country study of cigarette prices and affordability

Download (PDF, 390KB)

Tobacco Legislation Amendment Bill 2012

Download PDF : d2b856c6-3294-4f32-d32d-cd2f95e86ed5

Tasmania smokefree generation – why not in Hong Kong too ?

A debate has just concluded in the Upper House of the Tasmanian Parliament.  The motion was:

That the Legislative Council calls on the Government to initiate and promote measures,  including if necessary further legislative measures, to restrict access to tobacco products and reduce smoking and the harmful effects of smoking by

(1) Supporting a tobacco free generation of children born this century in Tasmania;

(2) Banning flavourings, additives and filter ventilation (including menthol) in tobacco products

sold in Tasmania;

(3) Progressively reducing the availability of tobacco products in Tasmania;

(4) Requiring the Education Department to implement evidence-based, monitored and evaluated

anti-tobacco education and smoking cessation programs in all government schools on an

ongoing basis.

After extensive debate, the motion was carried on the voices, with none against.  This is especially interesting as almost all members of the Upper House are independent. The sole Government representative announced that the measure has the Government’s support.