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February 27th, 2015:

Challenge to NZ after 10 years of global tobacco control

Smokefree Coalition challenges New Zealand after 10 years of global tobacco control

Smokefree Coalition media release,

Embargoed until 12am, 27 February 2015

The Smokefree Coalition wants New Zealanders everywhere to mark the tenth anniversary of an international tobacco control treaty by striking a blow against Big Tobacco.

Today is the 10 year anniversary of the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), the first global public health treaty. New Zealand was among the first nations to ratify the treaty, which today has 180 Parties.

“Targeting tobacco first was no accident. The world knew that, without collaborative worldwide action, it faced one billion deaths from tobacco consumption in the 21st century,” says Smokefree Coalition Executive Director Dr Prudence Stone.

“If tobacco was introduced to the market today, it would swiftly be outlawed like many other psychoactive substances have been. But unfortunately, it was introduced long before its fatal effects were known. Now, despite a mountain of evidence condemning it as a killer, we are faced with an industry-promulgated health problem that caring governments everywhere must try to regulate and control.”

The Smokefree Coalition calls on the New Zealand public to support the Government’s commitment to make our country smokefree by 2025, by condemning the tobacco industry, particularly in the eyes of their children. It asks for adults who smoke to shield their children from exposure, and to encourage them to mistrust tobacco company messages and marketing, which are targeted toward their children starting smoking.

“Half of smokers’ lives are cut short by smoking. The industry needs new customers if they are to stay in business. Children do what adults model, so we call on adults everywhere to model responsible and protective smokefree behaviour.”

Dr Stone says New Zealand was once seen as the global leader in tobacco control when the FCTC was first ratified.

“Our Smoke-free Environments Amendment Act banned smoking in all workplaces and now requires graphic warning labels on tobacco packaging. Until 2016 tobacco excise tax will increase annually, forcing the tobacco industry to price its products beyond what youngsters can afford. Retailers must now hide tobacco products from display, and at New Zealand’s border the duty-free allowance for tobacco has been drastically reduced.”

But Dr Stone is concerned that New Zealand’s lead is slipping. Australia legislated plain packaging of tobacco products in 2012. Ireland, England and even the Solomon Islands are following suit, while New Zealand is stalled in fear of Big Tobacco’s threats of litigation.

Scotland, Wales and England have announced brave plans to ban smoking in cars carrying children, while our own Government seems content with health promotion appeals.

Above all, New Zealand remains without a solid Government strategy toward its Smokefree 2025 goal.

The Smokefree Coalition says 27 February is an ideal moment for New Zealanders to reflect and for the Government to pat itself on the back for some great achievements since ratifying the FCTC 10 short years ago. But it asks whether, in 10 more short years, we will have achieved our goal of being the first smokefree nation in the world.

“Without regaining our world leadership and finding the courage for needed legislation changes, New Zealand risks losing the endgame to Big Tobacco,” says Dr Stone.

“And the loss will be measured in real lives and quality of lives among our family members and friends.”

Half a million children predicted to die from smoking as MPs head toward a vote on standard cig packs

Around 500,000* children will die from smoking when they are adults unless more is done to cut smoking rates according to new Cancer Research UK figures released today (Friday).

“For too long tobacco has been allowed to cause illness and death. If we’re serious about health, we must do more to reduce smoking rates.” – Sarah Woolnough, Cancer Research UK

Based on current smoking rates Cancer Research UK estimates that of today’s 12 million under 16 year olds, 2.7 million will become smokers as young adults. This could lead to around half a million smoking related deaths unless rates fall.

This shocking statistic has prompted the charity to renew its call for MPs to back the introduction of plain, standardised tobacco packaging when they vote on the issue in the coming weeks.

Smoking rates have fallen to around a fifth of the population but the decline has slowed in recent years. Cancer Research UK wants to sharpen the decline to help reduce the number of young people who start smoking and go on to become addicted to tobacco.

With overwhelming support from both the public and health communities – as well as backing across the political spectrum – Public Health Minister, Jane Ellison announced in January (link is external) that the Government would vote on standardised tobacco packaging before the general election in May.

These new packs would then be introduced across the UK in 2016.

Sarah Woolnough, Cancer Research UK’s executive director of policy, said: “Our latest calculations reveal the appallingly high number of lives that will be lost unless we move faster to reduce the lethal impact of tobacco.

“We must challenge the idea that tobacco is a normal product if we’re to stop tobacco killing so many people. For too long tobacco has been allowed to cause illness and death. If we’re serious about health, we must do more to reduce smoking rates. Three years ago we began campaigning for cigarettes to be sold only in plain, standardised packaging which evidence shows reduces the appeal of tobacco to children. We are delighted the Government is committed to achieving this, and the time has come to vote to save the lives of future generations.”

There is strong evidence from Australia that standard packaging of tobacco is hitting sales of this deadly product. Between 2010 and 2013 – the period where standard packs were introduced – Australia saw a 15 per cent reduction in smoking prevalence. Data also confirmed that fewer young people are taking up the habit.

Official statistics from Australia also reveal that the level of illegal, counterfeit tobacco has not climbed since the new packs have been introduced.

Reilly to restrict tenders from firms linked to tobacco group

Arthur Cox threatened action against State over plain cigarette packaging

Minister for Children James Reilly is taking steps to prevent any firm which has a contract with a tobacco group from tendering to work for bodies under his remit, among them the child and family agency Tusla.

The development comes on foot of the Minister’s disquiet that solicitors Arthur Cox are simultaneously working as corporate legal adviser to Tusla while acting for Japan Tobacco in threatened legal action against the State over plain cigarette packaging.

The corporate element of Arthur Cox’s work for Tusla is worth €800,000 per annum including VAT, and the company manages some €12 million in annual legal expenditure for Tusla through a network of 31 local solicitors.

Arthur Cox carries out similar work for the Health Service Executive, another of many public clients.

The chief civil servant in Dr Reilly’s department, Fergal Lynch, said in correspondence to the Minister on Wednesday that the it would be “extremely problematic” for Tusla to withdraw from its arrangements with Arthur Cox before its contract expires next February.

All agencies

However, Mr Lynch said the Minister might wish to consider asking all agencies in his remit “to consider a requirement in all future procurements” that firms tendering for services must sign a declaration confirming they have no contractual arrangements with tobacco companies.

“This would send an important message about the principle of non-involvement with the tobacco industry. If you wish I will immediately seek legal advice about the scope for including such a requirement in all future tendering processes, to ascertain if it is legally feasible.”

On Dr Reilly’s instruction this option is now under examination within his department.

It remains unclear, however, whether the introduction of such requirements are permissible within the framework of the law on tendering and competition.

Dr Reilly had instructed Mr Lynch to examine whether Arthur Cox and solicitors McCann FitzGerald, which works for Imperial Tobacco in similar threatened action against plain cigarette packs, had any contractual relationships with his department.

There was no such relationship with either firm – and Arthur Cox’s contract with Tusla is the only arrangement that either company has with any of the agencies under the department’s aegis.

“While it might be argued that there is no direct conflict of interest in these arrangements from a purely legal perspective, you have made very clear your view that it is of concern from a policy perspective for an agency such as Tusla to be advised or represented by a legal firm that also represents international tobacco companies,” Mr Lynch said.

Separately, the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund said it held investments in international tobacco companies which were worth some €10 million at the end of 2014. These investments were previously held by the National Pension Reserve Fund. Only assets covered by the Cluster Munitions and Anti-Personnel Mines Act of 2008 are barred from the fund

Cigarette Smokers Die Early: 4 Disturbing Facts

You know smoking’s bad for you, but one cigarette wouldn’t kill you. Right?

Estimates show that 42.1 million Americans still smoke cigarettes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Yet smoking is the top cause of preventable disease and death in the United States. It contributes to lung cancer, numerous types of other cancers, liver disease, cardiovascular issues and not to mention bad breath and yellow teeth.

Recent findings published in the journal BMC Medicine show that close to two-thirds of smokers will die early from a cigarette-triggered illness, despite excessive warnings about the dangers of smoking.

The study is based on data from more than 200,000 individuals, of which 67 percent were smokers who perished from smoking-related illnesses.

“The relative risks of adverse health effects increase with increasing intensity of smoking,” the study states, “measured by the amount of tobacco smoked per day, and with increasing duration of smoking.”

Furthermore, researchers found that smoking 10 cigarettes a day doubles mortality risk while smoking a pack nearly quadruples it.

Elementary guidance and doctor visits aren’t always enough to sway the public from smoking. Scientists are still working on what it takes to stop these addictions.

Here are some additional facts and statistics on the deadly habit:

1.) Sixteen million people already have at least one disease from smoking
2.) Twenty million Americans have died from smoking since 1964, according to the CDC, including 2.5 million deaths from the exposure to secondhand smoke.
3.) An estimated 8.6 million will live with a serious chronic condition that will result from smoking.
4.) Smokers die 13 to 14 years earlier than non-smokers.

Quitting isn’t easy but it can happen. If you need help, here is a good place to start.

Data from the largest US tobacco study show a lot of smokers use multiple products

(Reuters) – Preliminary results from the largest U.S. survey of tobacco consumption show a high number of people use multiple products, adding key data to the debate on the role of e-cigarettes in reducing harm from tobacco.

The results of the study, released Thursday, showed 40 per cent of tobacco consumers use multiple products, such as cigarillos, hookah and cigars. Half of all combinations involved e-cigarettes.

The Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (PATH) Study of 46,000 people, begun in 2011, is designed to answer questions about the tobacco use and behaviour and help shape industry regulation.

Public health officials have long questioned whether smokers attracted to e-cigarettes will use them to quit smoking or simply as an alternative for use in places where smoking is not allowed.

Data released on Thursday did not give definitive insight about why people are using different forms of tobacco. Andrew Hyland, scientific principal investigator on the study and chair of the department of health behaviour at Roswell Park Cancer Institute, said they may be transitioning away from cigarettes, or they may be becoming more entrenched.

The study is expected to provide a wealth of information about tobacco use, smoking behaviour and attitudes and will give the U.S. Food and Drug Administration data to reshape industry regulations.

“We were struck by the proportion of users that engaged in polyuse,” Mitch Zeller, head of the Food and Drug Administration’s tobacco division, said in an interview, referring to the use of multiple products.

Preliminary results were presented to an audience of scientists, researchers and industry representatives at the annual meeting of the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco in Philadelphia.

The most common combination of products among youth and adults was cigarettes and e-cigarettes, data showed.

The results, to be gathered and disclosed over years, are expected to provide for tobacco the type of information that the decades-long Framingham Heart Study has provided about heart disease and its impact on public health.

Although the information about multi-product use is a start, more time will be needed to identify the reasons for such use, study organisers said.

“Is it a step towards people quitting, or are the hooks of nicotine just getting deeper,” said Hyland.

The tobacco industry is rapidly changing with the popularity of electronic nicotine devices.

“The evolution that has taken place in the marketplace makes your head spin,” Zeller said.

Ireland passes tobacco plain packaging law

Dublin: Ireland has become the second country in the world to pass a law introducing mandatory plain packaging for tobacco products, prompting the tobacco industry to threaten legal action.

It follows Australia’s introduction of similar plain packaging legislation in 2012.

Under Ireland’s new rules all forms of branding, including logos and colours will be banned and all products will have have a uniform packaging with graphic health warnings.

“We are creating legislation which will be historic and will be of real importance to the area of public health,” the Minister for Children James Reilly told parliament.

“We are on the verge of being the first country in the EU to pass a law on plain packaging. We are on the verge of being only the second country in the world to pass a plain packaging law,” he said before the bill passed.

The legislation had cross-party support and passed without a vote.

It will be sent to the president to pass into law after a technical vote in the upper house next week, although full implementation of the rules will not be effective until May 2017, when all existing packaging must be removed from sale.

Other EU countries, such as Britain, have indicated they will introduce similar rules.

The move has been met with fierce opposition by tobacco companies who have threatened Dublin with legal action.

“We in this house will not be intimidated by such action. We will pass such laws as we believe to be correct,” Mr Reilly said.

Earlier this month JTI Ireland, owner of the Benson & Hedges and Silk Cut brands, said they would take legal action if the legislation is enacted.

“We have made our views known to the government many times so they should come as no surprise,” a spokesperson for JTI Ireland said after the vote. “If this proceeds we will go to court to protect our rights.”


Ireland Passes Plain Packaging Law

Ireland has become the second country in the world to pass a plain packaging law that is mandatory for tobacco products. Legal action from the tobacco industry is expected to follow.

Australia passed a similar measure in 2012. Under Ireland’s new rules, all branding, logos, coloring will be banned off of packaging. The new packaging will be uniform with graphic health warnings.

The legislation had cross-party support and passed without a vote. It now gets sent to the President to pass into law after a vote in the upper house. The new rules will become effective in May. 2017.

Currently Britain is debating a similar measure.

Ireland is home to 6.3 million people over 32,595 square miles.

Below is an example of the Australia Plain Packaging. Every tobacco product in Australia looks like this.
Image used with permission of Miami Cigar & Company.

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