Clear The Air News Tobacco Blog Rotating Header Image

May 9th, 2009:

Show the Truth – Picture Warinings Save Lives


U.S. Smokers’ Risk of Developing Lung Cancer Has Dramatically and Progressively Increased over the Past Four Decades

The following is a statement of Matthew L. Myers, President Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids:
An important study presented Thursday at a scientific conference in Dublin, Ireland, provides powerful new evidence that U.S. smokers’ risk of developing lung cancer has dramatically and progressively increased over the past four decades. In fact, cigarettes smoked today in the United States may double the risk of lung cancer compared to cigarettes smoked 40 years ago. The study also concludes that changes in cigarette design are the likely cause of this increased lung cancer risk and that regulation of tobacco products could significantly reduce lung cancer rates. The study concludes: “These data suggest that up to one half of current lung cancer occurrence may be attributable to changes in cigarette design and correspondingly that current lung cancer rates might be reduced by up to 50% through regulatory control of cigarette design and composition.”

The researchers’ presentation and related materials can be found at:

The study findings were presented at the 2009 Joint Conference of the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco (SRNT) and SRNT-Europe in Dublin. The study was conducted by researchers David Burns and Christy Anderson of the University of California-San Diego School of Medicine. Dr. Burns is a well-known tobacco control scientist who has served as author, editor or senior reviewer of each of the U.S. Surgeon General reports on tobacco since 1975. He has also edited a series of tobacco control monographs for the National Cancer Institute and is a member of the World Health Organization Study Group on Tobacco Product Regulation.

This study provides some of the strongest evidence to date that how cigarettes are designed and manufactured has a large impact on the amount of death and disease that they cause, and conversely, that effective regulation of tobacco products can reduce disease and save many lives. Lung cancer caused by smoking kills more than 125,000 Americans each year. Preventing half these deaths would save 62,500 lives a year. Tobacco use also causes many other forms of cancer, cardiovascular disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and numerous other serious illnesses that harm virtually every organ in the human body. It is the overall leading cause of preventable death in the United States, killing more than 400,000 Americans and costing the nation $96 billion in health care bills each year.

This study demonstrates why it is critical that Congress quickly enact legislation granting the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulatory authority over tobacco products. Because no government agency has any authority to regulate tobacco products, tobacco companies currently have free reign over how they manufacture tobacco products and what they put in them. They can make changes that make their products more deadly or more addictive without the knowledge of the public or any government agency. Under the pending legislation, for the first time, a science-based regulatory agency, the FDA, would gain authority to regulate the manufacturing, marketing and sale of tobacco products.

Among other things, this legislation would grant the FDA authority to require changes in the design and contents of tobacco products to protect public health, such as the reduction or elimination of harmful chemicals. The bill would also require tobacco companies to disclose the contents of their products, research about their products and changes to their products. They could no longer secretly change their products. The bill would also crack down on tobacco marketing and sales to kids, require bigger and stronger health warnings, strictly regulate health claims about tobacco products and take other steps to protect public health. These regulations would be funded by a user fee paid by tobacco companies.

The House of Representatives approved this legislation on April 2 by a strong, bipartisan vote of 298 to 112. The new study makes it even more urgent that the Senate quickly take up and pass this long-overdue legislation and resist all efforts to weaken it. President Obama has expressed his strong support for the legislation.

For the study, researchers examined lung cancer rates as well as changes in the design and smoke composition of cigarettes in the United States over the past four decades and then compared U.S. and Australian lung cancer rates over time. From this analysis, the researchers reached four major conclusions:

1) The study provides new evidence that among U.S. smokers the risk of developing lung cancer has progressively increased over the past four decades, controlling for amount and duration of smoking.

2) This increase in the risk of lung cancer among smokers coincides with a change in cigarette design over the past five decades. The study suggests that up to one half of current lung cancer occurrence may be attributable to changes in cigarette design.

3) This increase in risk of smoking over time is not evident for squamous cell carcinoma (one type of lung cancer) of the lung and is driven largely by changes in the risk of adenocarcinoma (another type of lung cancer). The increase in adenocarcinoma as a proportion of all lung cancers is much less evident in Australia. This suggests that the difference may be caused by a difference in the cigarettes used in the two countries. One major known difference in cigarettes between the two countries is the lower levels of tobacco specific nitrosamines (a lung specific carcinogen for adenocarcinoma) in Australian cigarettes. The increased risk of adenocarcinoma in the U.S. may be explained by the higher levels of tobacco specific nitrosamines in U.S. cigarettes.

4) These observations strongly support the need for regulation of tobacco, since technology exists to lower nitrosamines in tobacco, and that current lung cancer rates might be reduced by up to 50% through regulatory control of cigarette design and composition.

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.