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FCTC Defines Tobacco Packaging and Display as a Means of Advertising and Promotion$1287834.htm

Are plain packs the future?

Tuesday, 14, Apr 2009 12:00

By staff

The government needs to force tobacco companies to wrap their products in plain packaging and stop using the term ‘light’, a leading MP has said.

Charlotte Atkins, a member of the Health Select Committee, said “research has found that current tobacco packaging is misleading by implying that some tobacco products are less harmful than others”.

The Staffordshire Moorlands Labour MP has helped table a parliamentary motion drawing attention to a recent article adopted by the World Health Organisation Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which defines tobacco packaging and display as a means of advertising and promotion.

The parliamentary motion “believes that misleading packaging is in contravention of the EU directive on tobacco products and that research also shows that removing colours and brand imagery from packs increases the effectiveness of health warnings and supports the prohibition of retail display of tobacco products”.

Ms Atkins said she wanted to the government “to introduce measures to require plain packaging of all tobacco products by regulation”.

A Department of Health spokesperson confirmed to that the issue of ‘unbranding’ cigarette boxes was under review but that no decision had yet been taken.

Tobacco giants to fight threat to branding

Siobhain Ryan | April 18, 2009

Article from: The Australian
ONE of the world’s biggest cigarette companies, British American Tobacco, has foreshadowed a High Court challenge if the Rudd Government adopts ambitious anti-smoking measures proposed by its hand-picked health taskforce.

British American Tobacco Australia, alongside Philip Morris, Imperial Tobacco and the US Chamber of Commerce, have launched a stinging attack on a National Preventative Health Taskforce proposal to make Australia the first country in the world to mandate plain packaging for cigarettes.

In submissions to the taskforce’s technical papers, published on Wednesday, they warn the proposal to ban company branding on cigarette packs could breach Australian and international law.

BATA said such a prohibition could leave the Government exposed to a lawsuit in the High Court, arguing such an acquisition of property — including brand logos and pack designs — on unjust terms would breach the Australian Constitution.

“Attempts to introduce plain packaging into Australia would see BATA take every action necessary to protect its brands and its right to compete as a legitimate commercial business selling a legal product,” its submission says.

The Government’s taskforce wants to halve the number of Australians smoking by 2020, calling for higher taxes and tougher regulation of a habit that has cut short the lives of 900,000 Australians since 1950.

Stripping the branding, colours and imagery from cigarette packs would “cost the taxpayer nothing and offers the prospect of shattering the image of cigarettes as an ordinary consumer item”, the taskforce argued in a technical paper last year.

“There is good evidence that this would have a profound effect on young image-conscious teenagers,” the paper concluded.

The taskforce, which will finalise its recommendations mid-year, already has the backing of the Victorian and ACT governments for its plain packaging proposal, the submissions reveal.

VicHealth has called for the reform to be introduced within 12 months.

Other measures proposed in the “make smoking history” technical paper include increased taxes on tobacco, enlargements of health warnings to take up 90-100 per cent of cigarette packs, prohibitions on tobacco internet and point-of-sale promotions, and an end to the industry’s “corporate responsibility” donations.

But the plain packaging proposal in particular faces major resistance from the heavyweights of the tobacco industry, as well as the US corporate world.

Philip Morris said such an “extreme and disproportionate” measure would strip tobacco companies of some of the most valuable commercial property in the world — their trademarks, brand logos and pack designs.

“(It) would constitute an expropriation for which compensation is due,” it said.

Brad Huther, the Washington-based senior director of the US Chamber of Commerce, challenged the proposal’s “disregard” of established international norms of intellectual property.

“Our major concern is that it would constitute an unequivocal violation of international trade and intellectual property agreements, and would actually help drive the market towards illicit traffickers at the expense of legitimate businesses and put consumers at risk of using substandard products,” he wrote in his submission.,25197,25349731-2702,00.html

From The Times – April 27, 2009

Tobacco promotion

Tobacco industries need to be stopped from exploiting loopholes in legislation

Sir, A major review by the National Cancer Institute published in August confirmed that tobacco promotion is a many-headed beast, taking in such devices as sponsorship, advertising in shops and the placement of products in films, as well as the use of conventional media dispalys such as billboards (letters, April 20, 21, 22 & 24).

The review also concluded that this promotion both recruits children to the tobacco and reinforces their smoking. That is why the Government saw fit to prohibit all tobacco advertising in 2003, and our own research shows that this legislation is indeed protecting children.

The tobacco industry has responded, as the High Court warned us it would in 2004, by exploiting loopholes in the legislation — of which it has found two. First it has invested huge sums in display gantries at point of sale, turning many corner shops into shrines to tobacco and duping small shopkeepers into doing its dirty work for it. Parliament is now acting to end this chicanery.

The tobacco industry’s second trick has been to refashion its packs using holograms, glitzy colours and intriguing shapes and designs that clearly have great appeal to the young. And there is good evidence that these liveries do deliver strong pro-tobacco messages to the young, and that replacing them with plain packaging resolves the problem.

The business world long ago christened the pack “the silent salesman”. In the case of tobacco it is now time to pension him off.

Professor Gerard Hastings

Director of the CRUK Centre for Tobacco Control Research,

University of Stirling and the Open University


The Case for the Plain Packaging of Tobacco Products

Becky Freeman, The University of Sydney
Simon Chapman, The University of Sydney
Matthew Rimmer, Australian National University College of Law


The global Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) requires nations to ban all tobacco advertising and promotion. In the face of these restrictions, tobacco packaging has become the key promotional vehicle for the tobacco industry to interest smokers and potential smokers in tobacco products. This paper reviews available research into the likely impact of mandatory plain packaging and internal tobacco industry statements about the importance of packs as promotional vehicles. It critiques legal objections raised by the industry about plain packaging violating laws and international trade agreements, showing these to be without foundation. Plain packaging of all tobacco products would remove a key remaining means for the industry to promote its products to billions of the world’s smokers and future smokers. Governments have appropriated large surface areas of tobacco packs for health warnings without legal impediment or need to compensate tobacco companies. Requiring plain packaging is consistent with the intention to ban all tobacco promotions. There is no impediment in the FCTC to interpreting tobacco advertising and promotion to include tobacco packs.

Strong evidence supporting plain packaging for all tobacco products on the eve of Lords vote

ASH news release: Embargo: 00:00 Wednesday 29th April 2009

A new study [1] presented today in Dublin [2] has found a significant link between cigarette branding and ‘false beliefs’ among smokers and children. The authors argue that this link provides strong evidence for the introduction of plain packaging [3] for all tobacco products in the UK.

The study surveyed 516 adult smokers and 806 children aged 11 to 17. They were asked to compare brands on five measures: taste, tar delivery, health risks, attractiveness and either ease of quitting (adult smokers) or the brand they would chose if trying smoking (children).

The study hypothesized that certain brands which were, for example, labelled as “smooth” would be seen less harmful, easier to quit, and more appealing to children. More than half of adults and children reported that brands with the word “smooth”. Adult and child participants routinely made this assumption: for example, more than half of adults and children reported that brands with the word “smooth” on packs would be less harmful to smoke. Children and adults also believed that packs in lighter colours—grey vs. dark red, for example—would be less harmful and easier to quit.

Although it has been illegal to make misleading health claims on tobacco branding since 2003 [4] with descriptors such as ‘light’ and ‘mild’ being banned, 75% of adult smokers incorrectly believed there was a difference in health benefits between brands. This was replicated in the sample of children who have grown up during an era when most forms of tobacco advertising have been banned.

The participants were also asked to compare “normal” branded packs with plain packs—packs with the colours and symbols removed. Both adult smokers and children were much less likely to perceive any difference in terms of health risk when the packs were plain. They were also much less likely to view the plain packs as attractive and something they would like to smoke.

Lead author David Hammond said:

“Research in the US, Canada, Australia and now the UK all support the case for tighter regulations on pack branding. Tobacco packages are portable advertisements that have long been used to reassure consumers about the risks of smoking. In this study, children as young as 12 reported significant levels of false beliefs about the risks of cigarette brands based upon the colours and words on UK packs. Plain packaging has great potential as a public health measure and I urge the UK Government to support this measure.”

On 6th May members of the House of Lords will vote on an amendment, tabled by Lord Patel, to The Health Bill to mandate plain packaging for all tobacco products.

Notes and links:
1. Hammond. D. et al. Cigarette pack design and perceptions of risk among UK adults and youth. SRNT. 28th April 2009.

2. Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco Annual Meeting, Dublin

3. Plain packaging, also known as generic, standardised or homogeneous packaging, means that the attractive, promotional aspects of tobacco product packages are removed and the appearance of all tobacco packs on the market is standardised. Except for the brand name (which would be required to be written in a standard typeface, colour and size), all other trademarks, logos, colour schemes and graphics would be prohibited. The package itself would be required to be plain coloured (such as white or plain cardboard) and to display only the product content information, consumer information and health warnings required under the law. (Department of Health. Consultation on the Future of Tobacco Control. 2008)

4. European Commission: Health and Consumer Protection Directorate-General. Tobacco Product Directive 2001/37/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 June 2001. Jul 18, 2001.

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