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November 12th, 2016:

India to preside next edition of COP7 in Geneva in 2018

The eighth edition of the Conference of Parties (COP7) to WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) will be held in Switzerland’s Geneva under the presidency of India.

The global anti-tobacco conference is likely to be held in the later part of 2018.

“India will preside the eighth edition of the Convention of Parties of WHO which will be held in Geneva,” said a senior official from the Health Ministry.

The World Health Organisations Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) is the world’s biggest convention to frame the anti-tobacco policies.

According to FCTC website, the COP elects at each regular session its President as well as five vice-presidents. These officers, each representing a WHO region, constitute the Bureau of the Conference of the Parties.

According to Rule 21 of the Rules of Procedure of the COP, they shall commence their term of office at the closure of the session and shall serve until the closure of the following regular session of the Conference of the Parties, including for any intervening extraordinary session, the website said.

The Seventh Session of COP7 to WHO FCTC was hosted by India for the first time and culminated today.

About 1,500 delegates participated in the conference from around 180 countries along with other observers in official relations with the WHO FCTC Secretariat in Geneva.

Vaping Clampdown? | Royal College of Physicians, John Britton Talks COP7

Is the World Health Organization poised to kill millions of people? Just as vapers in several countries began to feel like events may finally be turning in favor of e-cigarettes as a harm reduction tool, the harsh realities of the global public health movement shattered any optimism.

The World Health Organization is just wrapping its Conference of the Parties to the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, known as COP7, in India and according to professor John Britton, Chair of the Tobacco Advisory Group at the Royal College of Physicians in Britain (RCP), the future for vaping looks bleak.

The RCP, Public Health England and the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies have all endorsed e-cigarettes as a vital tool in the battle to end the tobacco epidemic.

Tune in to this special edition of RegWatch and learn why officials from England’s top public health organizations fear that pending WHO regulatory action on e-cigarettes could kill millions of people.

COP7 seeks more muscle to curb the global tobacco epidemic

The World’s largest tobacco control conference- ‘Conference of the Parties (COP) to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO- FCTC)’ kick-started in Greater Noida, New Delhi, last Monday (Nov. 7) drawing more than 1,300 delegates from 180 countries. The seventh session (COP7) of this six-day conference sought to find means to curb the tobacco epidemic which claims the lives of more than six million people globally every year. WHO-FCTC was adopted by the World Health Assembly in May, 2003 and came into force on February 27, 2005. It has since become one of the most rapidly and widely embraced treaties in the history of United Nations.
Sri Lanka’s success story

The COP is the governing body of the Convention which meets regularly to review its implementation and take decisions necessary to promote its effective implementation. During the opening day it was announced that Mozambique is to become the 181st Party to the Convention and Zimbabwe was welcomed as the most recent Party to accede to the Convention. Delivering the keynote address at the inauguration, President Maithripala Sirisena brought under the spotlight the strides Sri Lanka has taken as a country in fighting the tobacco epidemic. This was globally applauded. He reminded the international audience that we were among the first few countries in the South East Asian region to sign the FCTC and to later ratify it. In line with the FCTC,our own Tobacco and Alcohol Act was passed in 2006 which led to the birth of the Tobacco and Alcohol Authority (NATA). Applauding the good work of NATA, President remarked, “I believe our NATA is rather unique because it is perhaps the only such organization that covers both tobacco and alcohol.”

While referring to the recent increase in tobacco taxes by nearly 10%, President Sirisena also mentioned the country’s ambitious plans to move for plain packaging, drawing inspiration from other countries where the measure is already in place. Among the notable strides the country has taken, the President cited pictorial warnings which cover 80% of the surface of cigarette packs and the completion of the Global Youth Tobacco Survey earlier this year.

Embracing a shared ambition

Bringing the much discussed topic of illicit trade of tobacco products under the spotlight, the President urged more parties to ratify the convention so that it can become law. Drawing attention to the equally pressing concern on ‘smokeless tobacco’ both at home and in the region, President noted, ” a large body of scientific evidence shows the strong link between smokeless tobacco use and several serious outcomes, mainly, mouth cancer. I would urge the FCTC to address the issue of smokeless tobacco also very seriously in the years to come. The cost of neglect can be very high.”

He also asserted that Sri Lanka is also very concerned with the wider issues related to health, therefore take Sustainable Development Goals very seriously. His concluding observations, “our shared ambition should be to ensure the full implementation of the FCTC to see its powers tapped fully to eliminate the harm from tobacco and passive exposure to tobacco smoke everywhere in the world,” undoubtedly resonated a robust global message.

Graphic warnings on the rise

It is significant that a few days after President Sirisena’s keynote address at COP 7, the Canadian Cancer Society has released a status report which ranks Sri Lanka as the sixth in the world with graphic warnings covering 80 percent of tobacco packages. The report finds that more than 100 countries around the world have required graphic warning labels on tobacco products – a lifesaving measure that now impacts more than half the world’s population. The number of countries requiring graphic warning labels has steadily increased over the past two years.

The Canadian report which ranks 205 countries and territories based on the size of warning labels required, demonstrates the tremendous progress that is being made in addressing the world’s leading cause of preventable death. Around the world, tobacco companies depend on package design to build brand recognition and promote sales.

Packaging establishes brand imagery that is often completely opposite to the realities and dangers associated with tobacco product use. But the new report shows that countries are largely acting to limit the tobacco industry’s use of packaging to lure new users.

Challenges for India

The Indian Minister of Health and Family Welfare, J.P. Nadda, addressing the gathering at the inauguration noted that the challenges faced by India in the exercise of controlling tobacco are “formidable, both in their number and in their complexity.” The Indian Health Minister also called for a multi-pronged approach supported by international collaborations to counter not only health costs but also social and economic costs the tobacco epidemic entail. Reiterating the urgency to counter tobacco menace, the Minister said that it costs India a colossal amount of state funds to treat tobacco-related diseases.

The photographic exhibition at the conference venue which mirrored the health and social toll the tobacco menace has on the community, finely personified the words of the Indian Health Minister. Images of little girls as young as five years, engaged in rolling of beedi (which is a deep-seated industry in India) with their mothers to meet the ends meet, pregnant women and adolescent girls with their tobacco-stained palms, spoke volumes of this global health hazard which not only snuffs out over six million lives every year in their most productive years but also impedes sustainable development.

More support for low and middle income countries

Among the highlights of the preliminary sessions of the Conference was the launching of a project by the Convention Secretariat to strengthen the implementation of the global tobacco control treaty. Under this initiative which is to be delivered by WHO FCTC Secretariat in collaboration with UNDP and other partners, a number of low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) will be eligible to receive direct support to implement tobacco control strategies and policies. The project will bring together support from across the UN to accelerate the implementation of the Convention.

According to a recent press release of the Convention Secretariat, if current tobacco use patterns persist, tobacco will kill about one billion people in the 21st Century. By 2030, over 80 percent of the world’s tobacco-related mortality will be in LMICs. The treaty is an evidence-based ‘blueprint’ for tobacco control policies. Tobacco use will be reduced if a country has a high level of WHO FCTC implementation, it notes. The Secretariat observes that the significant harms of tobacco use on developing countries are usually understood primarily as health issue.

‘This overlooks the extensive impact of tobacco on social, economic and environmental progress. Tobacco control is a development issue and its success relies on the work of other sectors such as commerce, trade, finance, justice and education. This is why the international community agreed to include the implementation of the WHO FCTC in the UN’s new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)’, it notes.

Under this initiative, countries will be offered support to create and strengthen coordination mechanisms and action across sectors to implement the WHO FCTC, including treaty obligations to ban tobacco advertising and promotion, ensure tobacco packaging entails health warnings, end smoking in enclosed public and workplaces, increase tobacco taxes and protect public health policies from tobacco industry interference. The five-year project will open call for expressions of interest inviting LMIC governments wishing to join implementation from 2017.

The project will be backed by UK’s development funding. The project aspires to help countries set national priorities, scale-up effective investments, strengthen policy coherence, and develop institutional capacities for fully-fledged tobacco control efforts.

Championing sustainable development

In promoting the new project, the Head of the FCTC Secretariat Dr Vera Luiza da Costa e Silva said: “The implementation of the WHO FCTC is critical in advancing sustainable development. Through the new project, we will take implementation of the WHO FCTC to a new level by providing support and guidance to developing country Parties.”

Douglas Webb, Team Leader on Health and Innovative Financing at the UN Development Programme, welcoming the project, noted: “there is a growing recognition that current tobacco trends and sustainable development cannot coexist. As a committed partner, UNDP welcomes this opportunity to advance tobacco control through better support to national planning, good governance and protection against tobacco industry interference in policy making.”

Tobacco taxation and plain packaging

Applying the global experience to the local terrain, particularly in the realms of tobacco taxation and plain packaging, it is worth navigating through latest literature pertaining to them. The Executive Summary of the WHO Report on the Global Tobacco Epidemic, 2015 (Raising Taxes on Tobacco) notes ‘increasing taxes to a sufficiently high level is an extremely effective – including cost-effective intervention.’ The Report further notes that ‘increased taxes reduce tobacco use, costs government relatively little to implement and increases government revenues, sometimes substantially.’

Referring to the ‘spurious claims’ the industry makes of economic harm caused by higher taxes, the WHO Report dismisses them as those ‘not borne out by the evidence’.

Contrary to the popular claim by the industry that higher taxes lead to increased smuggling and illicit trade, evidence does not validate this, the Report says. ‘But because tobacco taxes are generally better accepted than other types of taxes, it is possible to achieve widespread public support, even among tobacco users, especially if at least some of the new tax revenues are used for tobacco control, health promotion and other public health programmes.’

In December, 2012, Australia became the first WHO Member State to implement fully tobacco plain packaging. Since then several more WHO Member States have shown increased interest in embracing the same. The High Court of Australia (which is country’s apex court) in 2012, dismissed the tobacco industry’s constitutional challenge to tobacco plain packaging on the basis that the scheme did not effect an “acquisition” of its property, the relevant test under the Australian Constitution. The WHO publication titled, ‘Plain packaging of tobacco products- Evidence, Design and Implementation’ notes ‘legal challenges to plain packaging are an example of the tobacco industry’s broader strategy of using litigation to contest regulation, rather than a new phenomenon’.

Citing the findings of several studies, the WHO Report point out that plain packaging ‘reduces the attractiveness of tobacco products, restricts the use of the package as a form of advertising and promotion, limits misleading packaging and increases the effectiveness of health warnings.’

Fortifying the national commitment

As the curtain falls on COP7, WHO Member States are undoubtedly driven to revisit their anti-tobacco policies, seeking means of giving them more teeth to fight this global threat. This global forum becomes very relevant to us as a nation placed in a decisive backdrop of pushing for ambitious policies to counter a global health hazard entailing colossal economic and social loss as well. It is even more relevant to us as a developing nation globally applauded for progressive anti-tobacco policies. Yet, at this juncture we need to remind ourselves that although national strides have been taken, we cannot afford to be complacent but continue to take the baton forward.

Seventh Session of the Conference of the Parties to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control

This document relates to item 5.7 of the provisional agenda

Seventh Session of the Conference of the Parties to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, 7-12 November 2016, New Delhi

FCA Policy Briefing
Report of the Article 19 Expert Group

Key recommendations

COP7 should request the Convention Secretariat to take the following steps to support Parties with implementation of Article 19:

• Make the toolkit, prepared by the expert group, accessible to Parties, including by positing in on the FCTC website and updating it regularly;
• Develop and maintain a database of experts for technical assistance, as well as a referral system that would lead Parties to individuals with demonstrated experience in tobacco litigation.

To ensure ongoing implementation of Article 19, three additional steps should be taken:

• Future COP sessions should monitor progress on Parties’ implementation, including through reports from those with relevant expertise on Article 19;
• For each COP session the Secretariat should prepare an overview of activities related to Article 19, specifically on implementation assistance, including requests for technical assistance and referrals to other relevant organizations;
• COP9 should include an assessment of the toolkit including how it is being utilised by Parties and promoted by the Secretariat.


Implementation of Article 19 presents Parties with an opportunity to hold the tobacco industry liable for its abuses. Unfortunately, according to the Global Progress Report (document FCTC/COP/7/4) the implementation rate of this article is one of the lowest, 34 percent on average. In order to enhance Parties’ capacity to use litigation to hold the industry to account, COP5 established an expert group whose mandate was extended at COP6.

Expert Group on Article 19

Between COP5 and COP6, the expert group examined best practices in applying civil and criminal liability as part of Parties’ implementation of Article 19. The group identified seven broad areas in which Parties could develop legislation in order to facilitate tobacco-related liability mechanisms. The expert group stressed that individual country approaches should be tailored to the unique country context, as not all of these legislative options are appropriate to all jurisdictions or types of litigation.

Following the extension of its mandate by COP6, the expert group focused its work on supporting Parties in implementing the recommendations outlined above. To this end, the expert group report (document FCTC/COP/7/13) to COP7 presents a civil liability toolkit to assist Parties that includes:

• Scenarios for strengthening implementation of Article 19;
• An index of procedural reforms relevant to all civil claims.

FCA congratulates the expert group on its work and report, including the toolkit. Tobacco industry liability is a promising but underutilised tool in combating the tobacco epidemic. Given the complexities of 180 different legal systems, the expert group has done an admirable job in outlining key steps that Parties can take to advance the feasibility of civil litigation. FCA fully supports the toolkit, and urges Parties to make full use of it.

Toolkit to support implementation of Article 19

As COP considers the expert group report and the next steps in the implementation of Article 19, FCA hopes that it will take into account a number of issues pertinent to both discussions, particularly in updating the toolkit, in furtherance of the goal that it be a living document.

• In several places in the expert group report, the phrase “smoking-related disease” is used in place of “tobacco-related disease”. These terms should be harmonised to be more inclusive of the tobacco disease burden;
• In paragraph 25 of the toolkit, the expert group recommends that Parties consider the provision of specialist procedures and judges. While certainly beneficial in most situations, in jurisdictions where the tobacco industry is politically powerful such special litigation streams may bring a result opposite to the intentions expressed in paragraph 19. FCA recommends appending paragraph 25 with the clause “as appropriate where this would facilitate just, speedy and inexpensive disposition of all cases in pursuit of the intentions of holding the industry legally accountable”;
• The expert group report includes no separate discussion of criminal liability, which is expected given the great diversity of criminal justice systems and the fact that no criminal case has yet been successful. Legal scholarship suggests that criminal liability may hold in some jurisdictions. FCA urges individual Parties to explore the possibility of holding tobacco corporations and their executive officers criminally responsible for their actions, including those that result in tobacco-related diseases, disabilities and premature deaths;
• Regarding paragraph 21 of the toolkit, FCA takes note of the decision in the Philip Morris International v. Uruguay trade arbitration, which was made public after the meeting of the Expert Group in 2016. In the decision, the panel noted that the FCTC is “evidence-based”, and ruled that Uruguay could rely upon it as the scientific basis for tobacco regulations. FCA recommends that paragraph 21 be amended as follows: “Adopt rules of evidence and preclusion that allow claimants to rely on the FCTC and on findings made, or evidence given, in previous tobacco cases including in other jurisdictions.”

Next steps: Implementation of Article 19

Now that the expert group’s mandate has ended, the COP and the Convention Secretariat should act to ensure implementation of Article 19. The toolkit is meant to be a living document. It should be periodically updated and improved as new evidence, data and Parties’ feedback becomes available. It is imperative that this toolkit be easily accessible to Parties.

At its sixth session in Moscow, the COP requested (document FCTC/COP/6(7)) that the Secretariat: a) develop and maintain a database of experts for technical assistance, and b) prepare and maintain a list of resources for Parties. This request should carry forward along with the recommendations in paragraphs 28 & 29 in document FCTC/COP/7/13 requesting the Convention Secretariat to make the toolkit accessible to Parties as a dedicated mechanism of assistance for implementation of Article 19, to update it regularly, and to make it available online. FCA hopes that the Secretariat will develop a referral system that would lead Parties to individuals with demonstrated experience in tobacco litigation.

To ensure ongoing implementation of Article 19, three additional steps should be taken:

• Future COPs should monitor progress on Parties’ implementation, including through reports from those with relevant expertise on Article 19;
• For each COP session the Secretariat should prepare an overview of activities related to Article 19, specifically on implementation assistance, including requests for technical assistance and referrals to other relevant organisations. This overview should be included under an appropriate COP agenda item, such as “implementation assistance” and/or “mechanisms of assistance”;
• COP9 should include an assessment of the toolkit including how it is being utilised by Parties and promoted by the Secretariat.

Tobacco tax: “a major threat to our existence”

Tobacco tax, per the World Health Organisation, is now recognised as the single most effective measure in fighting ‘the global tobacco epidemic’. But Big Tobacco saw this a very long time ago – which makes you wonder what they’ve been doing about it…

Recognising the threat

Prof. Simon Chapman summarises a great deal of the story in his brilliant article on Australia’s experience, including linking to some fascinating documents from the industry archives.

Tobacco company Philip Morris (Australia) in 1983 said:

… The most certain way to reduce consumption is through price.

Then again in 1985:

… Of all the concerns, there is one – taxation – which alarms us the most. While marketing restrictions and public and passive smoking do depress volume, in our experience taxation depresses it much more severely. Our concern for taxation is, therefore, central to our thinking about smoking and health. It has historically been the area to which we have devoted most resources and for the foreseeable future, I think things will stay that way almost everywhere.

And 1993:

… A high cigarette price, more than any other cigarette attribute, has the most dramatic impact on the share of the quitting population.

Responding to the threat

The 1985 document stands out, as it shows an industry discussion of the importance of tax – ‘a major threat to our existence‘.

Our efforts have been sporadic, reactive, and though we have had some successes, our effectiveness in the tax area has been questionable to say the least…

At this stage, the thinking on how to fight tax rises recognises the importance of mobilising smokers on a ‘fair tax‘ agenda.


Over time, tax features increasingly frequently in the industry archive, and the lobbying partners become ever broader.

A key element is work with economic think tanks, often those of a conservative and/or corporate bent.

Payments are recorded to the Tax Foundation in the United States, for example, and its spin-off the International Tax and Investment Center – on which more anon.

The themes of Big Tobacco’s response to the threat of tax became increasingly focused too, and the same attack lines increasingly embedded in their discourse.

Among these, a key line is that tax rises lead to more ‘illicit’ tobacco consumption (does that kill you faster?). More on this too, soon.

Indonesia antsy over WTO’s expected tobacco ruling in 2017

The Indonesian government and tobacco farmers are waiting anxiously for the result of a dispute settlement against Australia’s plain tobacco packaging policy that they expect will come out in 2017, more than three years after the government submitted a request for consultations with the World Trade Organization (WTO).

The Trade Ministry’s director general for foreign trade negotiations, Iman Pambagyo, said he hoped that the settlement result would be in favor of tobacco-producing countries.

“We expect WTO panelists to announce the result in the first quarter of 2017. We still think that the policy violates the trade rules,” he said.

He added that while Indonesia fully supported the objectives of improving public health and protecting the environment, it was the country’s right to defend its economy against regulations that violated international trade rules, disciplines and obligations.

According to the WTO, on Sept. 20, 2013, Indonesia requested consultations with Australia concerning certain Australian laws and regulations that impose restrictions on trademarks, geographical indications and other plain packaging requirements on tobacco products and packaging.

The move came nearly a year after Australia became the first country that obliges all cigarettes sold in its jurisdiction to be wrapped in dark brown packaging in December 2012.

The Australian government found that it was the least attractive color, particularly for young people.

The policy went into force along with a tax increase to realize the country’s plan to bring down smoking rates from 16.6 percent in 2007 to less than 10 percent in 2018.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics claims that smoking rates decreased to 12.8 percent a year after the policy took effect, compared to 15.1 percent in 2010.

Australia’s move has been copied by the UK and France, which regulate that all cigarette packages manufactured for those countries must be in plain form.

Singapore considered a similar provision last year as well, but dropped the idea after encountering some technical difficulties.

After Indonesia submitted its consultation request to the WTO, several other countries and blocs requested to join the consultations, namely Brazil, Cuba, Guatemala, Nicaragua and the European Union.

The Indonesian Tobacco Farmers Association (APTI) told The Jakarta Post that although Australia was not the main buyer of Indonesian tobacco, more countries would apply similar policies.

“The policy’s provision will decrease our tobacco exports as antitobacco movements have emerged in other countries,” APTI head Wisnu Brata said.

Djarum, Sampoerna and Gudang Garam are among the companies whose cigarette brands are available in Australia.

Data from the Industry Ministry show that some 6 million people are involved in tobacco farms and businesses across the country. Many of them are export-oriented, such as in West Nusa Tenggara (NTB), East Java and Central Java.

The value of tobacco exports reached US$981 billion in 2015 and $1.02 trillion in 2014. (adt)


In 2008 Tobacco Journal International, splashed ‘Plain packs can kill your business’ on its front cover in response to the UK government consultation on such legislation.

The fear wasn’t the threat that sales would be hit hard, but that high end brand values would be terminally undermined. Why?

Because, exclusive packaging communicates brand image and differentiates high priced brands from value products’. To quote the article, “‘while the cost of production is roughly the same for both…. the profit margin of premium brands is considerably higher than that of low-priced cigarettes’.

The lesson is clear, the top priority for the transnational tobacco industry is profitability rather than sales. This is an industry which made US$ 44.1 billion in 2013, more the combined profits of Coca-Cola, Walt Disney, General Mills, FedEx, AT&T, Google, McDonald’s and Starbucks in the same year. And profits have been rising far more rapidly than sales.

Between 2000 and 2014, global cigarette volume sales increased by 8 percent while retail values increased 121 percent. A trend that plain packaging threatens to bring to a shuddering halt.

FCTC guidelines on Article 11 and 13 were adopted at COP3 in November 2008 encouraging Parties to go ahead with plain packaging. Four years later in 2012 it was Australia which led the way, followed by the UK and France in May 2016. The dominoes are now falling, with the Canadian Cancer Society report published this week showing that four countries now require plain packs (Australia, France, UK, and Hungary) with a another 14 more working on it.

The tobacco manufacturers are using any and every legal avenue to try to stop the contagion from spreading. So far there has been a constitutional challenge in Australia, a bilateral investment treaty case in Hong Kong, a cases in the European Court of Justice, and cases in the UK and French courts.

All so far lost (the World Trade Organisation government to government challenge, with the tobacco industry’s fingerprints all over it, is still pending). But make no mistake there will be others, for this is an existential threat to the tobacco industry described by one of their lawyers in the UK case as the ‘last battlefield’.

For any government hit by plain packaging litigation, the judgement in the UK provides a wealth of ammunition to take the fight to the industry. The central most important argument of the industry demolished by the judgement was that requiring plain packs was tantamount to stealing their ‘property’ and was either illegal or, if it were found to be legal, required multi-billion dollar compensation from the government in question.

Shamefully one of the industry lawyers even made a comparison to slavery, saying, “However strong the objective for taking property away, you will normally compensate,” he told the judge.

“Your lordship will remember the slave owners were compensated when slavery was abolished.” It was an unfortunate example and not one that impressed the judge who pointed out it was the UK parliament, dominated by slave owners, which agreed compensation, not the courts. Not a precedent any court around the world should follow.

Big tobacco’s profits were built on slavery: and while the owners were compensated, the victims of slavery were not.

For more on the UK court judgement see:

Deborah Arnott
Action on Smoking and Health, UK



Cigarettes: Cigarette smoking is more common in the urban areas of India and cigar use is seen in the big cities. Cigarette smoking is on the rise and is now also seen among teenage girls and young women.

Bidi (or beedi): Bidis are a popular form of smoking tobacco in India. they are known as the poor man’s cigarette. A bidi is hand-rolled and contains sun-cured, tobacco loosely packed and rolled inside a rectangular piece of dried tendu leaf and tied with a cotton thread.

Traditionally, bidis are non-filtered and non-flavoured, but bidis for export are often made with filters and flavour (fruits and chocolate) to make them attractive for teenagers.

Chellum (or chillom): This involves smoking tobacco in a clay pipe.

Chillum smoking increases chances of oral cancer and lung cancer. A chillum is shared by a group of individuals, so in addition to increasing their risk of cancer, people who share a chillum increase their chances of spreading colds, flu, and other lung illnesses. A chillum is also used for smoking narcotics like opium.

Hookah: A hookah is a device that heats the tobacco and passes it through water before the smoke is inhaled. The use of hookah was once on the decline, but it has increased in recent years. Hookah smoking is thought to be a sign of prestige and is available in highpriced coffee shops, in flavours like apple, strawberry and chocolate.

Hookah smoking is also finding increasing use among college students of both sexes. It is marketed as a “safe” recreational activity but it is not safe

Cheroots: A cheroot is a commercially made roll of heavy-bodied tobacco held together with a binder, fermented and clipped at both ends. In India, Cheroot is manufactured in the state of Tamil Nadu and smoked primarily in Kerala, Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh states.

Chutta: Chuttas are coarse tobacco cigars that are smoked in the coastal areas of India. Reverse chutta smoking involves keeping the burning end of the chutta in the mouth and inhaling it. This practice increases the chance of oral cancer.

Hooklis: These are clay pipes with a wooden stem used mostly by men and mainly in rural North and West India, including Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh. On an average, about 15 grams of tobacco is smoked daily.

Once the pipe is lit, it is smoked frequently.


Smokeless tobacco is very common in India. Methods of consumption include chewing and applying tobacco preparations to the teeth and gums.

Gutka (or Gutkha): Gutka is a preparation of crushed areca nut, tobacco, catechu, paraffin wax, slaked lime and sweet or savoury flavorings.

All states of India have banned the sale, manufacture, distribution and storage of gutka and all its variants as per the Food Safety and Standards (Prohibition and
Restrictions on Sales) Regulation Act, 2011.

However, in order to circumvent the ban on the sale of gutkha, manufacturers are selling pan masala (without tobacco) with flavoured chewing tobacco in separate
sachets, so that consumers can buy the pan masala and chewing tobacco separately and mix it themselves.

On 23 September 2016, the Supreme Court cracked down on the sale of gutkha ingredients, clarifying that it has banned the sale of all forms of chewable tobacco and

Pan (or paan) Masala: This is a commercial preparation containing areca nut, slaked lime, catechu and condiments, with or without powdered tobacco. It comes in
attractive sachets and tins, which can be stored and carried conveniently. Paan masala is very popular in urban areas and is fast becoming popular in rural areas. The Indian market for paan masala is now worth several hundred million US dollars.

Paan with tobacco: Paan chewing, or betel quid chewing, is often erroneously referred to as betel nut chewing. Paan consists of four main ingredients: betel leaf (Piper  betle), areca nut (Areca catechu), slaked lime [Ca(OH2)] and catechu (Acacia catechu).

Betel leaves contain volatile oils such as eugenol and terpenes, nitrates and small quantities of sugar, starch, tannin and several other substances.

Condiments and sweetening agents may be added as per regional practices and individual preferences. Sometime after its introduction, tobacco became an important constituent of paan, and most habitual paan chewers include tobacco.

Gul: The common name of this product is gudakhu. It is used in central and eastern parts of India. The ingredients include tobacco powder and molasses, and it is often used for cleaning teeth, mainly by women.

Commercially produced since 1986, gul is sold in toothpaste-like tubes.

Mishri: It is popular in Maharashtra, especially among women. It is applied to the teeth.

Khaini: Khali is popular in Bihar and other western and central states of India and is used both by men and women. Ingredients include tobacco, slaked lime paste and sometimes areca nut. It is usually prepared by the user from basic ingredients at the time of use.

Kimam: This is a paste placed in the mouth and chewed. The ingredients are tobacco, spices (cardamom, saffron and/or aniseed) and additives. It is prepared by processing tobacco leaves by removing their stalks and stems, then boiling and soaking them in water, flavoured with spices and additives.

The resulting pulp is mashed, strained, and dried into a paste.

Snuff: Snuff applied on gums and teeth especially by women in Gujarat.



In November 2013, the South African Revenue Services (SARS) announced that it wanted 15 local tobacco manufacturers and importers to be prosecuted for tax evasion and illicit trade. At stake was R12 billion (US$858.9 million) in unpaid taxes.

About 18 months later, the acting commissioner of SARS, Ivan Pillay, and 55 other top SARS officials, found themselves unemployed— the result of an aggressive campaign against SARS.

The plot involved the Sunday Times newspaper, which published false stories about an apparent “rogue” unit in SARS that supposedly spied on President Jacob Zuma and that set up a brothel aimed at infiltrating the ruling African National Congress Party. The paper subsequently apologised for printing the stories.

But in the wake of the articles, Pillay and the SARS head of enforcement, Johan Van Loggerenberg, were suspended and, after reaching a settlement with SARS, resigned..

A key player in the downfall of Van Loggerenberg is Pretoria attorney Belinda Walter. Walters and Van Loggerenberg first met during investigations of the illicit trade in tobacco and subsequently had a brief romantic liaison. It was after the break-up of their relationship that claims emerged that SARS was running a ‘rogue’ unit first emerged.

Ms Walter was allegedly a doubleagent.

She was an informant to the government’s State Security Agency (SSA) and also to British American Tobacco (BAT), to whom she gave confidential information on smaller rival manufacturers.

In order to infiltrate the rival companies, Ms Walters proposed creating an association, the Fair Trade Independent Tobacco Association (Fita), to represent these companies. The first Fita meeting was held late in 2012, at Walter’s offices, and she was elected chair.

In a court application, a rival has accused BAT of “corporate espionage” and working with government agencies to try to put it out of business.

BAT allegedly spent about $3.6 million a year to bribe politicians, gangsters and government officials in South Africa. The company is accused of money laundering, corruption, spying and the use of state resources to target competitors— all in the name of ‘fighting’ the illicit trade in tobacco.

BAT’s money gave it a seat on the official Illicit Tobacco Task Team, which includes representatives from the Hawks (a state agency tasked with fighting priority crimes), the SSA, South African Police, National Prosecuting Authority and the Tobacco Institute of South Africa.

This structure gives BAT access to state intelligence and the ability to influence who the state targets among BAT’s direct competitors.

A warning from the South Africa experience is that co-operating with the tobacco industry is harmful to democracy. It will use its influence to direct the powers, actions and resources of the state for the benefit of the industry.

Yussuf Saloojee
National Council Against Smoking
South Africa


Plain packaging is a key tobacco control measure that is seeing significant and growing international momentum. Four countries have required plain packaging, and at least 14 are working on it.

The new EU Tobacco Products Directive expressly provides that plain packaging is an option for the EU’s 28 member countries. At COP7, Sri Lanka’s president announced that the country’s health minister was bringing forward a plain packaging proposal.

The fifth edition of the Canadian Cancer Society report Cigarette Package Health Warnings: International Status Report launched at COP7, provides an overview of the status of plain packaging worldwide.

Under plain packaging, health warnings remain on packages, but tobacco company branding, such as colours, logos and design elements are prohibited, and the brand portion of each package is required to be the same colour, such as an unattractive brown. The brand name still appears in a standard font size, style and location. The package format is standardised.

Plain packaging puts an end to packaging being used for product promotion, increases the effectiveness of package warnings, curbs package deception, reduces the appeal of tobacco products, and decreases tobacco use. FCTC Guidelines for implementing Articles 11 and 13 recommend that countries consider implementing plain packaging.

Plain packaging is supported by extensive evidence. The tobacco industry has strongly opposed plain packaging, a signal of just how important plain packaging is. If plain packaging were not effective, then why would the tobacco industry be so opposed?

Tobacco industry opposition in part has come through legal challenges, but the tobacco industry has lost five out of five court decisions: Australia (two cases, 2012, 2015); France (2016); United Kingdom (2016); and European Court of Justice (2016). As well, a legal claim against Uruguay’s significant packaging restrictions (though not plain packaging) was dismissed (2016).

Packages should not be used as mini-billboards to promote tobacco, or to convey that a brand has a “personality” or a lifestyle image.

Packages should not be sold in formats that undermine health warnings, or in special shapes such as superslim packs that associate smoking with fashionability, thinness
and weight loss.

In light of the compelling rationale for plain packaging, many more countries are expected to move this measure forward.

Plain packaging is the right thing to do, and is inevitable. The worldwide trend has become unstoppable.

Rob Cunningham
Canadian Cancer Society