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April 29th, 2010:

$17 a packet: Parliament socks smokers

smoking_220x14729925Last updated: April 29, 2010

Source: New Zealand Herald

A huge increase in the price of cigarettes and tobacco was bulldozed through Parliament last night by Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia in a move designed to cut the 5000 smoking-related deaths each year.

All MPs except four of the five Act members supported the surprise move under extraordinary urgency.

It was announced just before 5pm and passed all its stages 118 votes to 4.

The law sets in place three sets of increases in excise of 10 per cent each time, at midnight last night; January 1, 2011; and January 1, 2012.

By then, a typical pack of 25 cigarettes will cost $17.

Loose tobacco for roll-your-own cigarettes was hit with a 24 per cent increase last night, to put it on an equal footing with tailor-mades. It will also be subject to 10 per cent rises next year and the year after.

Mrs Turia, who is Associate Health Minister, said about a third of tobacco use in NZ was of loose tobacco. Users were predominantly young, poor and Maori and Pacific Islanders, and would be most sensitive to price rises.

She described the legislation as “an investment in our future”.

Exposure to smoking in the home and tobacco use itself resulted in 5000 deaths a year, Mrs Turia said.

She said it would be irresponsible to dismiss smoking as a recreational past-time, “to minimise the impact of harm caused by justifying tobacco use as a private pleasure that one should be free to indulge in the privacy of one’s home and not acknowledge the addictive nature of this tobacco use”.

The last time tobacco excise was increased was under Labour in 2000, when it went up by 14 per cent.

Quitline was last night bracing to be swamped by callers wanting to quit today because of the price rise.

The rise in 2000, which totalled 20 per cent once tax and industry increases were also applied, led to calls to the state-funded service nearly tripling to 16,000 a month.

Public health groups welcomed the tax increase, but some said it should have been much bigger.

Tobacco expert Dr Murray Laugesen said 80,000 people who quit after the 2000 price rise started smoking again within four months.

But this time it would be different because nicotine replacement therapy was now subsidised, and the Government had gone some way towards taxing roll-your-owns, which are thinner, the same amount as factory-mades.

Smokefree Coalition chairman Professor Robert Beaglehole said the potential first-round price increase on a packet of 25 cigarettes, which he put at 5 per cent – the Government anticipates 8 per cent – “is simply not enough to deal with this problem”.

“We are calling for annual 20 per cent increases in the product price for the next five years.”

He and Action on Smoking on Health director Ben Youdan feared the tobacco industry might cut margins to offset the effect of the tax rise.

Mrs Turia said she smoked for a short time when she was aged about 16 and left home to go nursing. “I started going out with [husband] George at the same time and he refused to take me out. He was a real smoking Nazi.”

* Australia will force tobacco companies to adopt plain packaging, removing all colour and branding logos within two years, Government sources said late last night.

The law will be in force by January 2012.

By Audrey Young and Martin Johnston

Cigarettes up, and plain packaging compulsory to help stub out smoking

679px-cigarettes_health_warning_australiaLast updated: April 29, 2010

Source: Sydney Morning Herald

THE Rudd Government will launch a twin assault on smoking today by announcing steep increases in tobacco excise and laws requiring cigarettes and other tobacco products to be sold in plain packaging from 2012.

The excise increase, which will help fund the government’s health reforms, will be short of that required to lift the price of a packet of cigarettes to A$20, as recommended by the government’s Preventative Health Taskforce.

There was speculation last night that the excise increase would add at least $2-$3 to a pack of 25.

How the generic pack of cigarettes will look.

In what the Rudd government is hailing as a world first, it will also announce legislation to mandate standard packaging for all tobacco products, a move likely to incense the $9-billion tobacco industry. From January 1, 2012, all brands of cigarettes will be sold in plain boxes. The boxes will be the same colour and carry large, graphic health warnings. The brand of the cigarette will appear in a small font. The font style and size, as well as the position of the brand will be uniform.

The laws will ban the use of any colours, logos, brand imagery or promotional text that would in any way distinguish one brand of cigarettes from the other.

The government is trying to shift the policy emphasis to health after its decision to shelve its emissions trading scheme until at least 2013 has been roundly condemned by all sides.

The changes to tobacco packaging are based on research which found packaging is a subtle form of advertising that significantly influences smoking rates and habits. The government will test various packages before settling on a final design.

Labor is anticipating a nasty fight with the industry. The party does not accept donations from the tobacco industry, whereas the Liberal Party does.

Smoking kills 15,000 Australians a year despite the proportion of the population aged over 14 which still smokes having dropped from 30.5 per cent in 1988 to 16.6 per cent in 2007.

The government wants to reduce the rate of smokers to 10 per cent by 2018.

Tobacco Product Placement: Films Just Can’t Quit Smoking!

There’s nothing better than a good cigarette!  At least that’s what’s portrayed in many of the films these days, many of which are rated acceptable for children and teens.  Yes, I said these days.  Is this surprising, considering all of the recent anti-smoking hype that’s circulating?

Pulp Fiction

Yesterday, Science Daily published a report that identified some pretty interesting trends.  While the depiction of smoking has declined over the past 20 years, tobacco product placement and imagery has not.   The analysis identified brand appearances and smoking paraphernalia for brands, such as Marlboro and Silk Cut, were found for five-minute intervals in more than 15 films, which accounted for more than 50% of each year’s box office success.

According to the article, “Two thirds of films classified for under 18s and over half (61%) classified for under 15s featured tobacco intervals. Between 2004 and 2008, of the films containing tobacco intervals, 92% were rated as suitable for those under 18.”

A study done by UCSF states there is a direct correlation between youngsters that watch smoking in movies and those that start smoking.

Tobacco companies pay big bucks to movie studios to have their products placed in films.  The films created by these studios account for more than 90% of children’s on-screen tobacco exposure.  Ouch!  That’s why several groups are petitioning to have an automatic “R” rating placed on all films that have tobacco products in them.

I’m not here to harp on smokers.  I smoked years ago, and I can’t say that I would have never tried a cigarette if I hadn’t seen them in movies.  But I do know that most teens are influenced by the people they look up to, and there are hundreds of tough, sexy, glamorous, cigarette-toting characters in the blockbuster movies we watch today.  Is it really necessary