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January, 2014:

AFP: French court rules e-cigs fall under tobacco monopoly

from the AFP:

A French commercial court ruled on Monday that e-cigarettes qualify as tobacco products and should only be sold by registered tobacconists.

The ruling by the court in Toulouse is subject to appeal but could eventually see the distribution of e-cigarettes limited by a state-imposed monopoly on tobacco sales.

The decision comes amid a global boom in sales of e-cigarettes — battery-powered, vapour-releasing tubes that are promoted as a healthier alternative to traditional tobacco products.

The case stems from a complaint made by a local tobacconist against the Esmokeclean e-cigarette shop in the southern town of Plaisance-du-Touch.

The court in nearby Toulouse gave its verdict Monday, ordering Esmokeclean to stop selling and advertising e-cigarettes as it was violating the “state monopoly on the sale of tobacco” — a decision that could set a precedent.

Cigarettes and other tobacco products can only be sold in France at registered outlets and their advertising is banned.

The court said e-cigarettes fall into that category despite containing no tobacco.

A lawyer for Esmokeclean said the company would appeal the ruling and in the meantime would be allowed to continue selling and advertising e-cigarettes.

Governments have struggled with how to regulate e-cigarettes since their emergence and growing popularity in recent years.

Supporters claim they are harmless and a valuable tool in helping smokers to quit.

The World Health Organisation has advised against them however, saying their potential health risk “remains undetermined”.

In October European lawmakers rejected a bid to classify e-cigarettes as medicinal products, which would have restricted their sale to pharmacies.

9 Dec 2013

Cigarette packaging and health warnings: the impact of plain packaging and message framing on young smokers



This study examined the impact of pictorial cigarette-warning labels, warning-label message framing and plain cigarette packaging, on young adult smokers’ motivation to quit.


Smokers aged 18-30 years (n=740) from a consumer research panel were randomised to one of four experimental conditions where they viewed online images of four cigarette packs with warnings about lung disease, cancer, stroke/heart disease and death, respectively. Packs differed across conditions by warning-message framing (gain vs loss) and packaging (branded vs plain). Measures captured demographics, smoking behaviour, covariates and motivation to quit in response to cigarette packs.


Pictorial warnings about lung disease and cancer generated the strongest motivation to quit across conditions. Adjusting for pretest motivation and covariates, a message framing by packaging interaction revealed gain-framed warnings on plain packs generated greater motivation to quit for lung disease, cancer and mortality warnings (p<0.05), compared with loss-framed warnings on plain packs.


Warnings combining pictorial depictions of smoking-related health risks with text-based messages about how quitting reduces risks, may achieve better outcomes among young adults, especially in countries considering or implementing plain packaging regulations.

ABC: India urged to follow Australian lead on cigarette plain-packaging

Stephanie March, reporting for ABC:

Anti-tobacco campaigners in India are calling for the country to follow Australia’s lead on plain packaging for cigarettes.

India is the second largest tobacco producing nation in the world and 1 million Indians die each year from cancer caused by smoking and chewing tobacco.

After lengthy court battles the Indian government has now introduced mandatory health warnings on tobacco packets, but health advocates say they’re weak.

Video: India looks to Australia for help in tobacco fight (ABC News)

Dr Ranga Rao, an Oncologist working in Delhi, says he sees some alarming cases.

“I remember a 21-year-old young girl who has been smoking from the age of 13 and she has grown up in the atmosphere of smoking – her parents used to smoke,” he said.

“So she picked up the smoking and she died of lung cancer at the age of 22 and a half.

“Fifty per cent of the people pick up the habit at the age of 12 to 15 years.”

One third of Indians use tobacco – about 400 million people.

It’s estimated the cost of treating tobacco related illness is more than $US5 billion a year.

Cigarettes, chewing tobacco and beedis, known as the poor man’s cigarette are all cheap and readily available to people of all ages.

Dr Monika Arora from the Public Health Foundation of India has done a survey of tobacco users and says the results are worrying.

She says despite the health warnings, many smokers – including children – still find the cigarette packaging appealing.

“They did say that the packs were very, very attractive for them, to the extent that when they looked at one of the pack, they were not sure if it is a candy or a cigarette pack,” she said.

An opposition MP has introduced a private members bill into the Indian parliament calling for logos and company branding to be totally removed from tobacco products.

Dr Arora says it’s based on plain packaging legislation passed in Australia last year.

“For Australia it was a big battle because they didn’t have a precedent to follow but for any country that is following, now it’s easier,” she said.

An Australian study has shown plain packaging makes smokers think about quitting more often.

The Indian legislation is yet to be debated in parliament and supporters of it are predicting staunch opposition from the tobacco industry.

Dr Arora says some politicians are also likely to oppose the changes.

“They have constituencies which are predominantly rolling beedis, so there is an interest why they should protect beedis, why they should protect tobacco products, smoking products,” she said..

The ABC asked India’s two biggest tobacco companies – Godfrey Philips, which is part owned by Phillip Morris and the Indian Tobacco Company – for comment on the legislation.

Neither company responded to the request.

29 Oct 2013

COSH: Support Tobacco Tax Increase” Online Signatory Campaign

Dear heads of environmental groups in Hong Kong,

“Support Tobacco Tax Increase” Online Signatory Campaign for Prevention of Youth Smoking and Promotion of Smoking Cessation

In order to prevent youth smoking and encourage smoking cessation, Hong Kong Council on Smoking and Health (COSH) advocates the Government to adopt multi-ponged tobacco control policy, including raising tobacco tax. However, the Government has frozen tobacco tax for two consecutive years and tobacco tax in Hong Kong is still below the World Health Organization suggested at least 70% of the retail price.

We are inviting support for raising tobacco tax from all sectors in Hong Kong. The name and the logo of organizations and individuals will be submitted to the Chief Executive and the Financial Secretary by stages for formulation of the Policy Address and Budget 2014-15.

You are cordially invited to join us by completing and returning the enclosed Reply Slip (Appendix A) on or before 24 January 2014. Reasons for Raising Tobacco Tax (Appendix B) are listed for your reference. Please also help disseminate this meaningful event to your colleagues/members/students and invite them to support at our website (

Raising tobacco tax is a most effective measure to encourage smoking cessation and is a global trend. Your support will be counted and is crucial for the success of this event. Please join us to strive for a smoke-free Hong Kong!

Should you have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact Mr Lawrence CHU from COSH Secretariat on 2185-6388.

Yours sincerely,



Vienna LAI

Executive Director

Do smokers support smoke-free laws to help themselves quit smoking?

Download (PDF, 504KB)

SCMP Editorials: China must do more to discourage its people from smoking; Cadres’ smoking ban good but not enough, Chinese media say

from the SCMP Editorial:

After Xi Jinping’s crackdown on official extravagance, many mainland officials must have felt that smoking remained one of their few pleasures. It is also a habit shared by more than 300 million compatriots. This helps support more than 20 million growers on the land, 500,000 employed in factories and 10 million involved in retailing, but it also kills an estimated 1.2 million a year through related causes. The Communist Party’s Central Committee and State Council are therefore to be commended for asking officials to “take the lead” in toeing the line on a smoking ban in public places. Flouting of the ban by officials has made a mockery of China’s ratification in 2005 of the WHO framework convention on tobacco control, which includes a ban on smoking in indoor workplaces and public areas. How can smokers be expected to take it seriously?

The tallying of the social and fiscal benefits claimed by the state tobacco monopoly against attempts to quantify the terrible health and economic costs is bizarre. In a rare regulatory filing last year, China National Tobacco Corp revealed it made more than 300 million yuan (HK$381 million) a day in net profit in 2010. The industry paid an estimated 753 billion yuan in industrial-commercial taxes in 2011. No matter how profitable it may be, governments have no business being in the tobacco business except to run it down and get out of it, regardless of arguments that if the government doesn’t control it, someone else will. That is a matter for law enforcement.

The authorities have banned officials from smoking in schools, hospitals, sports venues, public transport vehicles or any other venues where it is banned. That is a start. Given the social tentacles of tobacco addiction, such as dependence on it for livelihoods, the government cannot close the industry down overnight. But it can learn from other places that have cut smoking rates drastically, including Hong Kong, by raising tobacco taxes progressively to make the habit ever more expensive, especially for young people before they earn enough to afford to become heavy smokers.

3 Jan 2014

Tougher laws needed to ensure officials light the way for health campaign to cut down on tobacco use, commentators insist

FT: EU reaches breakthrough deal on tighter tobacco rules

by Andrew Byrne in Brussels, reporting for the Financial Times:

EU lawmakers approved a deal on Wednesday on stricter tobacco rules that require bigger health warning on cigarette packets and cap the amount of nicotine in so-called e-cigarettes .

The deal, struck between negotiators for the EU’s 28 member states and the European Parliament, will allow a nicotine level of 200mg in a 10ml refillable e-cigarette cartridge – more than in a carton of 200 cigarettes.

The European Commission, the EU’s executive branch, had sought a total ban on refillable nicotine cartridges. The market for e-cigarettes is estimated to be worth $2bn in the US alone and tobacco companies had complained that such restrictions would stifle the industry.

Proponents of a ban on refillables said the health effects of such consumption were uncertain and could be dangerous.

But the ban was opposed by some negotiators from the European Parliament. The compromise deal caps the nicotine level in refillable cartridges and would allow the commission to extend a ban on the products across the EU if three member states introduce one nationally.

Liberal members of the European Parliament have criticised the open-ended threat of a ban on refillable cartridges, which many see as a less harmful alternative to tobacco.

“This creates legal uncertainty that could harm the nascent e-cig industry and the growing number of smokers who are turning to the new electronic products,” said Frédérique Ries, a Belgian Liberal MEP.

The new regulations would also phase out menthol-flavoured cigarettes by 2019 and ban other flavoured tobacco. Packaging rules will force tobacco companies to place graphic health warnings on their product covering 65 per cent of the packet.

Countries will also be allowed to go further on packaging mandates – the Irish government has published draft legislation enforcing plain, non-branded packaging rules for all cigarettes there. The British government has begun a public consultation on the issue.

The EU’s health commissioner, Tonio Borg, said the directive “will ensure that tobacco products look and taste like tobacco products and help discourage young people from starting to smoke.”

The political process around the tobacco products directive has been dogged by controversy. Tobacco companies have been intensively lobbying European parliamentarians and officials on the revised rules for almost two years.

The commissioner responsible for the initiative, John Dalli, was forced to resign last year when the EU’s anti-fraud office alleged that he sought a $60m bribe from a Swedish tobacco firm. Mr Dalli denied the allegation and an investigation cleared him of direct involvement, finding only circumstantial evidence.

Officials familiar with the negotiations said there was an urgency to efforts to have the rules agreed by the end of this week, before the Greek government, seen as softer on tobacco, takes up the EU’s rotating presidency in January. The agreement will be formally approved by MEPs and governments in the coming weeks.

18 Dec 2013

World Lung Foundation: Hundreds of Millions of Chinese Men Could Die From Tobacco Related Diseases

Chinese Version of The Tobacco Atlas Catalogues State of the Tobacco Epidemic And How To Save Millions of Lives

(Download Chinese release)

(Beijing, China) –– More than 50 per cent of Chinese men smoke cigarettes, placing hundreds of millions at serious risk for heart disease, cancer, other lung diseases, and many more serious illnesses, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS) and World Lung Foundation (WLF), co-publishers of The Tobacco Atlas – 4th Edition. Representatives from China Centers for Disease Control, the World Health Organization and the Chinese Association on Tobacco Control joined WLF and ACS in the release of the Chinese version of the Atlas.

The Tobacco Atlas, and its companion website, graphically detail the scale of the tobacco epidemic, progress that has been made in tobacco control, and the latest products and tactics being deployed by the tobacco industry – such as the use of new media, trade litigation, and aggressive development of smokeless products. It also outlines steps governments can take to reduce deaths from tobacco use, such as increasing tobacco taxes, warning people about the harms of tobacco use, protecting people from secondhand smoke and banning tobacco advertising.

The World’s Largest Consumer and Producer of Tobacco

According to The Tobacco Atlas, 38 per cent of all cigarettes consumed in the world are smoked in China, more than the other top four countries combined. 50.4 per cent of all men smoke, meaning that approximately 340 million people are at significant risk for death from tobacco-related diseases. Tobacco use is already responsible for 12 percent of all deaths among men in China, and that number could rise significantly.

China also produces 41 per cent of the world’s cigarettes, and 43 per cent of the world’s tobacco, which is more tobacco leaf than the other top nine producing countries combined.

Exposure to secondhand smoke is also a significant cause of mortality in China. According to The Atlas, 600,000 people die in China every year from secondhand smoke exposure, most of them women and children. In China, 47% of youth ages 13-15 are exposed to secondhand smoke in the home, further increasing the risk of tobacco related diseases and death for this generation.


Bloomberg: China Party School Proposes Stronger Tobacco Control Laws

from Bloomberg News:

The main training institution of China’s Communist Party proposed legislative changes to tighten tobacco controls and curb the state cigarette monopoly’s regulatory powers, signaling increasing political will to rein in an industry generating more than $95 billion in tax revenue.

The Communist Party’s Central Party School, headed until January by President Xi Jinping, detailed its tobacco-control recommendations in a 200-page document. It includes a proposal to remove the State Tobacco Monopoly Administration’s membership of a government group implementing tobacco control measures.

The document also suggests that the State Council establish a national tobacco control office or designate a specific health department to “take charge, supervising the control of tobacco in all processes from production to sales.” Such a step would overcome a dilemma created by the fact that the regulator and China National Tobacco Corp., the world’s largest and most profitable cigarette maker, are essentially the same organization.

“This is unprecedented,” said Judith Mackay, a Hong Kong-based senior adviser to the World Lung Foundation, who received a copy of the document yesterday. “Work on the book started two years ago, when Xi Jinping was still in charge of the party school.”

While the proposals don’t represent government policy, Mackay said at a briefing in Beijing today that she was led to believe by an official at the school that such recommendations tend to be officially adopted. The document, which Mackay assisted with, was written by Chen Baosheng, Lu Zhongyi, Zhang Zhongjun and six other authors.

Smoking Bans

China’s legislature has been conducting research this year on a proposed national law to ban smoking in public places, an official at the Chinese Centre for Disease Control said.

“Optimistically, I expect that we can have a national smoke-free law in China within a year,” Yang Jie, deputy director of the CDC’s Office of Tobacco Control, said at the same briefing.

China should also legislate to include photographic warnings on cigarette packages similar to those in Hong Kong, and also ban the tobacco industry from conducting promotional activities such as sports and cultural activities, the central party school’s document said.

11 Dec 2013

Child smoking figures strengthen case for plain packs, say researchers

by Sam Wong, published in the Imperial College news:

Almost 600 under-16s take up smoking every day in the UK, suggests research published online in Thorax.

The calculations indicate that in London alone, the daily tally is 67 – more than two classrooms-full.

The researchers say the figures reinforce the importance of introducing standardised packaging for cigarettes, which the government is considering, and other measures to reduce smoking uptake in children.

The researchers wanted to estimate smoking uptake among children to inform prevention campaigns and focus attention and resources on what they say is a “child protection issue”.

Smoking at a young age is an even greater risk to health than starting later in life, they say. Smoking at a young age affects lung development and boosts the risk of progressive lung disease.

In addition, people who start smoking before the age of 15 run a higher risk of developing lung cancer than those who take up the habit later on, even if the cumulative number of cigarettes smoked is smaller.

Dr Nick Hopkinson, from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Biomedical Research Unit at Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Foundation Trust and Imperial College London, said: “Smoking is one of the biggest causes of preventable deaths worldwide. Children are especially vulnerable to long-term health effects, so it’s important that we take action to reduce smoking uptake further.

“These figures emphasise the importance and urgency of introducing standardised packaging for tobacco products to prevent children being lured into nicotine addiction. That should happen alongside other measures that are recognised to be effective, like putting all cigarettes out of sight in all shops, which is due to be implemented in England in Spring 2015, and the extension of smoke free legislation to private vehicles. Banning additives such as menthol which make cigarettes more palatable for children is also an important objective.”