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November, 2016:

Tobacco giants lose legal battle over plain-packaging rules as new rules means packets of 10 will disappear

Some of Britain’s biggest tobacco firms have lost a legal battle in the Court of Appeal against plans for new plain-packaging rules

The companies were appealing a high court decision which upheld new rules to force firms to use plain and standardised packing for all their products.

The new rules ban tobacco companies from prominently branding their cigarettes and require that picture health warnings take up 65 per cent of the front and back of every packet.

Packets of 10 cigarettes are no longer allowed, as they do not have enough room for health warnings.

Additionally, promotional messages on packets like “is less harmful than other brands” are also banned.

Firms and shops have a year to get rid of their old stock and implement changes – after that, they will face penalties for breaking the law.

In May, they suffered what anti-smoking campaigners described as a ”crushing defeat” at the High Court.

The day before new regulations come into force, a judge in London had declared that they were ”valid and lawful in all respects”.

Mr Justice Green rejected a judicial review action brought against Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt.

Leading companies then took their case on to the Court of Appeal.

But on Wednesday, three judges in London rejected their challenge against the High Court’s decision.

A number of companies, including British American Tobacco, Imperial Tobacco and Japan Tobacco International, challenged the legality of the ”standardised packaging”

They argued that the Standardised Packaging of Tobacco Products Regulations 2015 would destroy valuable property rights and render products indistinguishable from each other.

Dismissing the appeal, Lord Justice Lewison, Lord Justice Beatson and Sir Stephen Richards ruled that the Health Secretary had “lawfully exercised his powers”.

UK court rejects tobacco companies’ appeal on plain packaging

A UK court has dismissed an appeal brought by some of Britain’s largest tobacco companies over the government’s new plain packaging rules.

In its decision handed down on Wednesday, the court dismissed all appeals brought by British American Tobacco, Japan Tobacco, Imperial Brands and several paper manufacturers.

The companies argued that the law, which went into effect in May, unlawfully deprives them of their intellectual property by banning the use of all marketing on packages, including logos, colors and special fonts.

“This is a victory for public health and another crushing defeat for the tobacco industry,” said Deborah Arnott, chief executive of health charity Action on Smoking and Health.

“This ruling should also encourage other countries to press ahead with standardized packaging, now that the industry’s arguments have yet again been shown to be without foundation.”

BAT, the world’s second-biggest tobacco company, called the decision “disappointing” and said it was considering its options carefully.

(Reporting by Martinne Geller in London; Editing by Louise Heavens, Greg Mahlich)

CEO of Philip Morris, world’s largest tobacco company, says he may phase out cigarettes

Sick of hearing about how cool vaping is? Better get used to it, because the CEO of Philip Morris International recently mused that vapes will one day replace cigarettes — ideally, one day soon. The company has launched its IQOS “smokeless cigarette” in the United Kingdom, Reuters reported Wednesday, a step toward its potentially smokeless future.

“I believe there will come a moment in time where I would say we have sufficient adoption of these alternative products … to start envisaging, together with governments, a phase-out period for cigarettes,” André Calantzopoulos told BBC Radio 4. He added that he hoped that moment would arrive “soon.”

Calantzopoulos heads the world’s largest international tobacco company, its 53 production centers in 33 countries making upwards of 870 billion cigarettes annually.

According to the World Health Organization, tobacco kills some 6 million people globally each year. During his interview with BBC, Calantzopoulos acknowledged the danger.

The CEO believes the IQOS — which is already available in Japan, Switzerland, Italy and a handful of other countries — is a safer alternative to cigarettes because it heats tobacco rather than burning it.

“We produce a product that causes disease and I think the primary responsibility that we have once the technology is available — and today the technology is available — is to develop products like these and to commercialize them as soon as possible,” he said.

Asked if Philip Morris wasn’t motivated by “concern for future business,” rather than concern for consumers, Calantzopoulos noted that PMI didn’t invent cigarettes and that, by 2025, the world will still be home to more than 1 billion smokers.

“I think, for us, [the responsibility] is to offer consumers the best product we can in a category that we all know is addictive and causes harm,” he said.

The IQOS isn’t a typical electronic cigarette running on nicotine juice. Rather, it’s an electronic holder in which consumers can insert mini-cigarettes. According to BBC, a pack of 20 will cost roughly $9.99. The device itself, which comes with a charger, resembles “a small, dumpy mobile phone,” to borrow BBC’s phrasing, and will run consumers around $56.

PMI hopes the IQOS will appeal more to cigarette smokers than e-cigs have. And while such alternatives appear to be far safer than traditional cigarettes, as Deborah Arnott, chief executive of Action on Smoking and Health, told BBC Radio 4, “We still need to be very cautious about what the industry’s up to.” Tobacco companies’ foremost interest is in selling tobacco.

“If Philip Morris really wants to see the end of smoking, then they have to stop promoting smoking to new young smokers around the world,” she said. “If these products can help adult smokers quit, then all well and good, but they still need regulating as tobacco products.”

For his part, Calantzopoulos vowed that Philip Morris will do “everything we can to convince them [smokers] to switch to this product.”

Big Tobacco threatens Supreme Court fight after losing plain packaging appeal

The world’s largest tobacco companies have threatened to take their battle against the Government’s plain packaging policy to the UK’s highest courts after losing their latest appeal against the branding crackdown.

The court of appeal today upheld legislation that forces all tobacco products to use uniform packaging in a ruling described by anti-smoking groups as a “crushing defeat” for the tobacco industry.

The latest blow to cigarette-makers British American Tobacco, Imperial, Japan Tobacco International and Philip Morris International follows their failed court challenge in May this year, one month after the new anti-tobacco legislation came into effect.

Under the new rules all tobacco packaging must be olive green and include large images showing the negative health consequences of smoking as a visual deterrent.

Tobacco companies have repeatedly branded the move unlawful and say it will be ineffective at reducing smoking rates. They will continue to oppose the regulation despite a second legal defeat. The exception to the industry-wide defiance is PMI, which said in May that it would focus on developing its smoke-free products rather than fight the case.

Daniel Sciamma, the UK managing director of Japan Tobacco, said that the company was already considering an appeal to the Supreme Court.

“This commercial vandalism sets a dangerous precedent for other targeted industries, who must be concerned that their brands will now be under threat. We obviously disagree with the court’s decision as it endorses the confiscation of our brands,” Mr Sciamma said.

Meanwhile BAT warned that the court decision “does not necessarily mark the end of the challenge” and a spokesman for Imperial said that it was reviewing the judgement before considering its legal position.

Jefferies analyst Owen Bennett said the impact of plain packaging would weigh most heavily on Imperial and Winston and Camel maker Japan Tobacco, which both rely on the UK for around 15pc of their overall earnings

For Marlboro maker PMI and BAT, the UK market makes up less than 1pc of their business.

Despite the minority exposure to the UK market the tobacco companies still have a strong incentive to fight the clampdown, which could spur similar legislation in other markets.

“Seeing results such as this may actually encourage other markets to follow suit,” said Mr Bennett, adding that should other countries wish to implement plain packaging in the years ahead then the outcome of any challenges would most likely be the same.

ASH reaction to new Philip Morris IQOS ‘heat not burn’ product

Tobacco company Philip Morris has today launched IQOS, a potentially ‘reduced risk’ tobacco product in the UK. The device uses compressed tobacco in a ‘mini-cigarette’ form in a vapouriser. Unlike electronic cigarettes which vapourise nicotine suspended in a liquid, the IQOS heats and vapourises tobacco.

Globally, smoking killed 100 million people in the 20th century, many more than all deaths in World Wars I and II combined. If current trends continue tobacco-related deaths will number around 1 billion in the 21st century, mainly in low and middleincome countries. [1] In the UK alone, smoking still kills nearly 100,000 people every
year. [2]

ASH believes, therefore, in line with the Royal College of Physicians, that in the interests of public health it is important to promote the use of e-cigarettes, NRT and other non-tobacco nicotine products as widely as possible as a substitute for smoking in the UK. [3] Vapourised tobacco may also be substantially less harmful as the tobacco is not combusted to produce smoke.


Particularly because of the tobacco industry’s long record of deceit over the health risks of smoking, there is an urgent need for independent research into the level of harm these products may cause. Philip Morris accepts that IQOS is likely to be as addictive as smoking, so the risks of youth uptake need to be investigated. Furthermore, because the product is expensive, there also needs to be research on the economic and social cost of dependence, and not just on any physical harm. We understand that the UK Government has asked the independent Committee on Toxicity to look at the data; this is welcome but not sufficient. It should be noted that the tobacco industry, including Philip Morris, was found by the Judge in the recent case on standardised packaging to have submitted evidence which fell “significantly below internationally accepted best practice.” [4]

Although Philip Morris claims to be working towards a world without smoking, the company is still reliant on conventional tobacco and admits that it will continue to be so for many years to come. [5] In countries with relatively weak legislation, PMI is still using marketing and advertising tactics designed to promote smoking to young people, for example through its “Be Marlboro” campaign. [6]

ASH therefore believes that unless and until independent evidence shows that IQOS and similar products are substantially less harmful than smoking then these products should be regulated in the same way as other tobacco products.

Deborah Arnott, Chief Executive of health charity ASH said:

“Philip Morris states that this is potentially a reduced risk product. If smokers switch to electronic cigarettes or other products that can be shown to cut the risks to their health, this could lead to a big improvement in public health. But we need independent evidence to support any claims made by the tobacco industry.

Philip Morris claims to be moving towards a post smoking future but, like other tobacco companies, it is still actively promoting smoking around the world, using methods that would be illegal in the UK. From past experience nothing the tobacco companies say should be accepted at face value. Fully independent research and assessment will be crucial if IQOS and related products are to be accepted as useful in fighting the smoking epidemic.”


Notes and Links:

Action on Smoking and Health is a health charity working to eliminate the harm caused by tobacco use. For more information see: ASH receives core funding from Cancer Research UK and the British Heart Foundation.

Ireland’s investment body could be stopped investing in tobacco – but doesn’t invest very much in tobacco

The NTMA’s investments in the companies are made through fund managers.

A LAW HAS been proposed that would see Ireland’s Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF) banned from investing in tobacco companies.

The proposal was floated by Fianna Fáil Seanad Spokesperson on Health and Mental Health, Dr Keith Swanick.

Under questioning by the Seanad in October, Minister of State Eoghan Murphy confirmed that the taxpayer, through the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) and ISIF has equity holdings in three separate tobacco companies.

Swanick says that situation cannot be allowed to continue.

His Public Health (Prohibition of Tobacco Investments) Bill 2016 would make it illegal for the continuation of investments such as these and would ensure that no further investment in tobacco companies can take place with taxpayer’s money.

“This is a shocking situation and it is not tenable for the Government to turn a blind eye to these investments in tobacco companies. It is incredible to believe that the state holds investment in tobacco companies and it makes a complete mockery of the stated objectives of a tobacco free Ireland by 2025, the cornerstone of ‘Tobacco Free Ireland’.”

However, just 0.02% of ISIF’s total assets are invested in tobacco firms and, a spokesperson told, they may not continue investing in them anyway.

“Historically, exclusion has not been part of ISIF’s Responsible Investment strategy – with the only exclusions from the Fund being mandated by legislation. To date, the Cluster Munitions and Anti-Personnel Mines Act (2008) is the only relevant legislation and the ISIF operates a prohibited securities list of 19 companies on this basis.

ISIF management and the NTMA Board’s Investment Committee are currently reviewing the Sustainability and Responsible Investment Policy to examine the potential of adding to the list of excluded investment categories. This process is expected to be completed by the end of the first quarter of 2017.

In relation to investment in tobacco companies, on the basis of preliminary and unaudited figures for end Quarter 3 2016 i.e. as at 30 September 2016 ISIF had equity holdings in three tobacco companies with a value of €1.5 million or 0.02% of its total assets.

The state also has small equity investments in international companies involved in the development of armaments, such as Canadian group Bombardier, French firms Thales and Boeing, and the US’s Airbus Group and United Technologies.

The NTMA’s investments in the companies are made through fund managers, rather than the organisation actively selecting the firms or industries.

Tobacco exposure ups behavioural issues and dropout rates in children

Exposure to tobacco smoke is immensely toxic to the developing brain.

Children exposed to tobacco smoke in early childhood adopt anti-social behaviour, engage in proactive and reactive aggression, and face conduct problems at school, even drop out at age 12, a research has showed. Exposure to tobacco smoke is toxic to the developing brain at a time when it is most vulnerable to environment input, the researchers said. ‘Young children have little control over their exposure to household tobacco smoke, which is considered toxic to the brain at a time when its development is exponential,’ said lead author and Professor Linda Pagani from the University of Montreal in Quebec, Canada. Parents who smoke near their children often inadvertently expose them to second- and third-hand smoke. Abnormal brain development can result from chronic or transient exposure to toxic chemicals and gases in second-hand tobacco smoke. These compounds eventually solidify and create third-hand smoke. In the study, the researchers found compelling evidence that suggests other dangers to developing brain systems that govern behavioural decisions, social and emotional life as well as cognitive functioning.

Anti-social behaviour is characterised by proactive intent to harm others, lack prosocial feelings, and violate social norms. Such behaviours include aggression, criminal offences, theft, refusal to comply with authority, destruction of property and is also associated with academic problems in later childhood. ‘These long-term associations should encourage policy-makers and public health professionals to raise awareness among parents about the developmental risks of second-hand smoke exposure,’ Pagani said. For the study, published in the journal Indoor Air, the team examined 1,035 boys and girls born in 1997 and 1998. Their parents reported whether anyone smoked at home when their children were aged 1.5 to 7.5 years. At age 12, their children self-reported their anti-social behaviour and academic characteristics. (Read: Children exposed to cigarette smoke may develop early heart disease)

Smoking parents linked to severe asthma

A third of children who have potentially fatal asthma attacks are being exposed to tobacco smoke, a new report has found.

Children’s doctors have become “complacent” in the need to advise parents about the hazards of smoke exposure among children with asthma, according to a new audit from the British Thoracic Society (BTS).

The review has prompted a call for health workers to do more to inform parents about the health risks of second-hand smoke to their children.

Experts reviewed data on 5,500 children admitted to 153 hospitals across the UK with severe asthma attacks in November 2015.

They found that 32 per cent had been exposed to environmental tobacco smoke.

The authors point out that passive smoking is “recognised as an important factor in asthma attacks in children that lead to hospitalisation”.

But two in five hospitals failed to record data on this issue, meaning doctors might need to pay greater attention to asking about exposure to tobacco smoke, they said.

The authors conclude: “Paediatricians may have become complacent about the need to record and advise parents about the hazards of smoke exposure in children with wheezing/asthma.”

Dr James Paton, reader in paediatric respiratory medicine at the University of Glasgow, who led the BTS audit, said: “It’s very worrying that a third of children were potentially exposed to tobacco smoke at home, although more data is needed here.

“When discharging children, health professionals should take the opportunity to talk about the issue with their parents or carers – and offer smoking cessation support as appropriate.”

Duterte urged to sign EO vs public smoking

An anti-tobacco group is urging President Rodrigo Duterte to sign an executive order banning smoking in all public places across the country to fulfill a promise he made.

“We appeal to our dear president, who we know is an ardent anti-smoking advocate, to please sign the smoke-free Philippines EO now. Each day of delay would bring your people closer to becoming victims of the ills of smoking like me as well as those who are not even smoking,” New Vois Association of the Philippines president Emer Rojas, a former chain-smoker who lost his vocal cords due to cancer, said in a statement.

Rojas said the EO would, in particular, help protect non-smokers from second-hand smoke.

He also said it would help save Filipinos, especially the youth, from smoking-related illnesses. He cited the Tobacco Atlas of 2016, which shows 14.5% of Filipinos aged 13 to 15 and 23.8% of adults smoke regularly.

Records show an estimated 240 Filipinos die from tobacco-related diseases daily.

Aside from banning smoking in public places, Rojas said the EO would be the perfect complement to already existing tobacco control measures, specifically Republic Act No. 10351 (Sin Tax Law) and Republic Act No. 10643 (Graphic Health Warning Law).

Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial earlier said Duterte, who has buergers disease, is more than willing to sign the EO. Buerger’s disease is an ailment linked to heavy smoking.

The EO closely follows the smoking ban implemented in Davao City where Duterte was a long-time mayor.

Think tank: Big-time increase in cigarette taxes to force smokers to quit

Public health policy think-tank HealthJustice Philippines Monday pushed for a single-tier tax system for tobacco products, saying other proposed systems would not make smokers quit.

HealthJustice, which won the Bloomberg Award for Global Tobacco Control in 2012, said the industry-proposed two-tier tobacco tax system, which assigns lower tax rates to cheaper cigarettes or those on the “lower-tier,” would not be effective at curbing smoking.

“The two-tier tobacco tax system that the tobacco industry has been pushing for is ineffective and will not encourage smokers to quit or reduce consumption of tobacco products,” HealthJustice consultant Bianca Bacani said in a statement.

Based on government projections, the current multi-tier tax system would eventually shift to single tier by going through a two-tier stage first.

For example, a two-rate structure of P14 and P30 per pack of cigarettes would be implemented for a period of two years, moving on to a uniform rate of P30 per pack on the third year.

“If we don’t make tobacco products substantially more expensive, smokers will continue to shift to cheaper cigarettes instead of shift to a healthy lifestyle,” Bacani said.

She said smokers would sustain their habit and keep smoking. They would even reduce the number of cigarettes they consume.

“This is called downshifting, and it has taken place in many countries after they imposed the two-tier tax tobacco tax,” Bacani said.

HealthJustice also noticed that, as early as 2012, the Department of Finance reported that downshifting in alcohol and tobacco products caused the government to lose P32 billion in revenues.