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August 11th, 2014:

“Pictures don’t lie, seeing is believing”: exploring attitudes to the introduction of pictorial warnings on cigarette packs in Ghana



To compare perceptions of text and pictorial warning labels on cigarette packs among Ghanaian smokers and nonsmokers and to explore their views on the introduction of pictorial warnings in Ghana.


Qualitative study involving 12 focus group discussions with 50 smokers and 35 nonsmokers aged 15 years and older in Kumasi, Ghana. Semistructured discussion guides along with visual discussant aids were used to explore the perception, acceptance, and potential use of pictorial warning labels in Ghana.


Health warnings combining text and a picture were perceived by both smokers and nonsmokers to communicate health messages more effectively than text-only or picture-only warnings. The effect of text-only warnings was considered limited by low levels of literacy and by the common practice of single stick sales rather than sales of packs. Of the 6 health warnings tested, lung cancer, blindness, stroke, and throat/mouth cancer messages were perceived to have the most impact on smoking behavior, including uptake and quit attempts.


Warning labels combining pictures and text have the potential to reduce smoking uptake, increase quit attempts, and reduce smoking appeal among smokers and nonsmokers in Ghana. Measures to prevent single stick sales, or to promote health messages to purchasers of single sticks, are required.

Plain packs for tobacco would save £500m in first year, says PHE

Caroline White

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Standardised packaging for cigarettes and hand rolling tobacco could not only prevent countless smoking related deaths, but also chalk up £500 million in savings in the first year of its introduction, Public Health England has calculated.

The calculations have been submitted as part of PHE’s response to the Government’s consultation on whether to introduce mandatory plain packs for tobacco. The consultation closes today. It builds on PHE’s submission to Sir Cyril Chantler’s review on standardised packaging in January 2014.

In June 2014, the Department of Health published draft regulations for proposed requirements for the packaging of tobacco, to include policies on the colour of the packet, allowed text and typeface, and requirements for the appearance of individual cigarettes.

Recent official data from Australia, where standardised packaging has been in force since December 2012, show a 3.4% fall in tobacco sales by volume in the first year following the introduction of the measure.

If that was mirrored here, PHE predicts that total savings across England would be around £500 million, based on the estimated number of smokers in each local authority and unitary authority and the total spend on tobacco in the UK for 2012-13.

As tobacco is a major cause of health inequalities, the benefits would be most felt in areas of greater social deprivation, says PHE. This is because plain packs would not only reduce the ill health caused by smoking, but also increase families’ disposable income, and enable the money to be spent on other things in local economies.

Retailers have argued that the measure would hit their profits, but PHE says that they make relatively little profit from tobacco sales. On average, only 7-9% of the cost of tobacco is retained by the retailer, compared with 20-30% for food and drink products.

The estimated figures show potential knock-on local economic benefits of: £61.3 million in London; £9.2 million in Birmingham; £4.4 million in Hull; and £3.3 million in Plymouth.

Professor Kevin Fenton, National Director of Health and Wellbeing, Public Health England, said: “Smoking remains the biggest cause of premature mortality in England, accounting for 80,000 deaths every year. Standardised packaging is a powerful measure that would help to save lives.

“The evidence from Australia is adding to the substantial and irrefutable case that the absence of attractive packaging works to reduce the number of smokers, as well as encouraging others to cut down.”

He added: “Only last week we saw smoking levels among young people at an all-time low. The introduction of standardised packaging will be a major boost to our tobacco control efforts – helping move us closer towards achieving a tobacco free generation, which is now in our reach.”

John McClurey, an independent newsagent and member of Gateshead Council, said the PHE figures were “good news for local businesses.”

He continued: “Traders like me are well aware of the tiny profit from tobacco products – I make similar profit from a pack of chewing gum as a £6 pack of cigarettes. What my customers save by quitting or never starting to smoke, they can spend on other goods or services in the area – providing a real boost to the local economy.”

Plain packaging for tobacco an investment in kids’ health

Thursday, 7 August 2014, 10:01 am
Press Release: New Zealand Plunket Society

7 August 2014

Plain packaging for tobacco an investment in Kiwi kids’ health – Plunket

Plunket welcomes the Health Select Committee’s recommendation that the Bill to remove branding from tobacco products go ahead, saying the policy is ‘an important investment in the health of New Zealand children’. (The Select Committee’s report is here:

The Health Select Committee considered over 15,000 submissions on the Smoke-free Environments (Tobacco Plain Packaging) Amendment Bill and recommended it is passed, with the name of the proposed legislation altered to ‘standardised packaging’. Plunket was among organisations to make a submission to the Select Committee backing the Bill as a necessary measure to protect the health and well being of our current and future generations.

“Plunket strongly supports this Bill and we welcome the Select Committee’s recommendation that it be passed into law. The best Australian evidence shows it is effective at increasing attempts to quit smoking, as well as discouraging young people from starting,” said Clair Trainor, Plunket Senior Policy Analyst. “This represents a huge untapped health gain for New Zealand children. The sooner we get on and reduce children’s exposure to second-hand smoke and to tobacco advertising in the home, the quicker we’ll start to improve these children’s respiratory health – and that of future generations.”

She said children’s exposure to tobacco advertising from packaging was considerable: “The latest Census data indicates that as many as six out of ten New Zealand children live in households where tobacco is smoked by an adult who lives there. Our own data finds Māori and Pacific children living in highly deprived areas are up to three to four times more likely to live with a smoker than those in middle or low areas of deprivation. This Bill would mean that children of smokers are no longer exposed to tobacco branding on packs inside their homes, which would bring their tobacco advertising exposure into line with that of other Kiwi kids.”

Plunket supports the Government’s goal of halving tobacco consumption by 2015 and achieving a smoke-free New Zealand by 2025, and says the law change is essential if the Government is to achieve the goal it set itself in 2011.

Elaine Gordon, Plunket Clinical Advisor said the health risks to children from exposure to second-hand smoke were significant, and reducing the risks form a central part of Plunket’s work: “Second-hand smoke is a known risk factor in Sudden Unexpected Death of an Infant (SUDI – also known as SIDS or cot death) as well as coughs, colds, respiratory problems such as bronchiolitis, pneumonia, asthma and ear infections including glue ear. Children with asthma are especially sensitive to second hand smoke. It may cause more asthma attacks and the attacks may be more severe, requiring trips to the hospital.

“Plunket works in partnership with families and whānau to connect them with services that will support them to become smoke-free. During Plunket visits we have conversations and share information with families and whānau about the benefits of being smoke-free. All Plunket nurses are trained to deliver cessation support and in some cases Nicotine Replacement Therapy.”

She said that plain packaging was an important part of the range of policies and support services needed to protect children from the serious health impacts of second-hand smoke.


• Since introducing plain packaging in 2012, Australia’s Commonwealth Treasury reports tobacco clearances (including excise and customs duty) fell by 3.4% in 2013. The Australian Bureau of Statistics has reported that in the March quarter 2014 the consumption of tobacco was the lowest ever recorded.

• The Smokefree 2025 commitment was made by the Government in response to the Māori Affairs committee’s inquiry into the tobacco industry and the consequences of smoking for Māori.

• In August 2013 the New Zealand Medical Journal reported Māori children are at twice the risk of being exposed to second-hand smoke in the home.

• Smoke exposure assessment, cessation support, and the promotion of smoke-free environments is a part of Plunket’s everyday work to help give every child the best start in life. This includes advocating for plain packaging on tobacco products to prevent harmful advertising messages reaching the under fives.

• Along with more severe health impacts, children who are regularly exposed to second-hand smoke cough and wheeze more, have more difficulty getting over colds, and miss many more school days than children who aren’t exposed. Second hand smoke can cause other symptoms including stuffy nose, headache, sore throat, eye irritation, and hoarseness.

Boeing enters partnership to turn tobacco into jet fuel

by Blair Hanley Frank, Geekwire

It’s been a few decades since smoking was allowed on airplanes in the U.S., but Boeing is now turning to tobacco as a way to make flying a plane cleaner for the planet.

The company announced today that it has partnered with South African Airways and SkyNRG to turn a type of tobacco plant into a sustainable biofuel for aviation, rather than relying on traditional jet fuel to power engines. The program is supposed to be a win-win: the new fuel will be better for the environment, and maintain the livelihoods of South African tobacco growers without promoting smoking.

“By using hybrid tobacco, we can leverage knowledge of tobacco growers in South Africa to grow a marketable biofuel crop without encouraging smoking,” South African Airways Group Environmental Affairs Specialist Ian Cruickshank said in a press release.

The hybrid tobacco plant that the companies plan to use for biofuels is known as Solaris, and is “effectively nicotine-free.” Right now, the plants are undergoing test farming in South Africa, and SkyNRG is ramping up production of the plants for a larger roll-out. At first, the company expects that the plants’ seeds will be used to make oil that can then be turned into a biofuel.

But in the future, Boeing said that it expects there to be a number of manufacturing processes that could take a whole Solaris plant and use it for fuel, rather than just the seeds.

6 Aug 2014