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August 19th, 2012:

South Africa will follow Australia’s example by trying to ban the display of brand names on tobacco packets

Johannesburg — South Africa will follow Australia’s example by trying to ban the display of brand names on tobacco packets, according to a report on Thursday.

“… We will do it, definitely,” Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi was quoted as telling The Times newspaper.

“Rest assured, I am extremely excited.”

On Wednesday, the High Court of Australia ruled that the measures did not breach the country’s constitution. They stipulate that, from December 1, tobacco products be sold in drab, uniform packaging with graphic health warnings.

Four companies had challenged the law, claiming it infringed their intellectual property rights and was unconstitutional.

However, the court rejected the argument by British American Tobacco, Japan Tobacco International, Imperial Tobacco and Philip Morris.

Australian Attorney General Nicola Roxon said Britain, Canada and New Zealand were considering similar measures, and that China, South Africa and the European Union had followed the case with interest.

Motsoaledi has said previously that if the Australian government won the case, South Africa would follow suit.

UK Plain Tobacco Packs Review Ends

LONDON–A U.K.-wide consultation on government plans to introduce mandatory plain packaging for tobacco closed Friday, as the government seeks to make smoking less attractive and improve public health.

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley has said while he is “open-minded” about the public consultation, the government believes attractive branding encourages smoking, which remains a significant challenge to public health.

More than 300,000 children under 16 years try smoking each year and 5% of children aged 11 years to 15 years are regular smokers, according to government data.

Tobacco manufacturers, including British American Tobacco PLC (BATS.LN), Imperial Tobacco PLC (IMT.LN) and Japan Tobacco Inc. (2914.TO), say there is no evidence that plain packaging influences tobacco consumption among young people. (CLEAR THE AIR says: so this is why they are spending $ millions worldwide to fight generic packaging which will remove their last line of advertising attraction = the packet appeal = ‘the silent salesman’.)

“We are concerned that the [government’s] research into the potential benefits of plain packaging relies on insufficient and unreliable evidence that fails to prove the crucial link between packaging and any reduction in smoking,” said Phil Morse, UK & Ireland general manager for British American Tobacco.

The industry lobby is also concerned that generic packs–which would prevent manufacturers from using logos or colors–will bring about rises in illicit trade and intellectual property infringements.

It says plain packaging affects consumer choice and adds a rise in counterfeit consumption would lead to manufacturing job losses, as well as hitting the revenue of shopkeepers. (THIS IS A POLICING MATTER)

If the policies are implemented, the U.K. would become the first European Union country to introduce plain cigarette packs, representing a further blow to the industry as it resists a wave of measures in the country to curb smoking. Laws banning the display of tobacco products in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are due to be enforced in all shops from April 2015. There are also bans on vending machine sales and on smoking in public places.  Australia has passed a law to introduce plain packaging for cigarettes that is due to come into effect at the end of this year, despite strong opposition from tobacco companies who are challenging the move in the courts.

Write to Simon Zekaria at

Download PDF : Mackay on UK Consultation on Plain packaging 2012

Tobacco shares remain in rude health

Big Tobacco may have suffered a loss in the High Court yesterday, but a look at the share prices of tobacco companies shows the market sees a future in smoking.

While most tobacco stocks eased on the news of the court’s ruling on the plain packaging of cigarettes, shares in the companies are still up dramatically over the past year – underscoring the loyalty investors have for these lucrative companies and the booming markets they are tapping in Asia.

The Chinese and Eastern Europeans smoke at bloody breakfast.

Shares in Imperial Tobacco fell 1.7 per cent, or 44 pence, to £24.89, yet they are up 24.3 per cent over the past year. British American Tobacco stock fell 65 pence, or 2 per cent, to £33.80, but are up 27.5 per cent for the year.

“Those stocks still have a defensive quality to their earnings in turbulent times notwithstanding the sustained anti-smoking movement,” said CCZ Statton Equities director DaveHofman.

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The major tobacco companies were also targeting Asia for growth where, despite the efforts against smoking in the West, there was “still a massive smoking market”, he said.

The tension between health officials and the market was highlighted by the federal government’s victory yesterday when the High Court upheld the legality of Labor’s plain packaging laws against the wishes of five big tobacco companies. The change will force all cigarettes in Australia to be packed and sold in plain olive boxes – a world first.

The outcome has been hailed by public health officials in Australia and elsewhere as a blow to the global tobacco industry which is blamed for millions of deaths each year.

Shares in Philip Morris eased 0.2 per cent overnight in the US to $US92.97 but are up 34.6 per cent in past year. Japan Tobacco fell 4.8 per cent, or 124 yen, to ¥2439 yesterday, the biggest decline since March 15, 2011. Yet for the year, the stock is up 44 per cent.

Mr Hofman said China has a huge smoking population, as does Indonesia, which has created large opportunities for the companies. “[Those countries] aren’t anywhere near as advanced as the West in terms of anti-smoking lobbies,” he said.

“We get a bit myopic in Australia, being the land of regulation.”

Peter Warnes, head of equity research for Morningstar Australasia said: “Why do people still think tobacco stocks are a good investment? Because nicotine is addictive.” Also China and Eastern Europe would remain key markets for global tobacco companies, he said.

“The Chinese and Eastern Europeans smoke at bloody breakfast,” Mr Warnes said.

Australia, with a population of only 23 million, is a “backwater” in terms of global marketing compared to markets in Asia, he said.

Whether European or English-speaking countries adopt Australia’s cigarette packaging laws because their legal systems are similar to Australia’s, one thing was certain, he said: “It won’t happen in China.”

Read more:

Smoking ban must be amended

SCMP Sunday 19/8/2012

With the law banning smoking in eating places having been in place for some time, it is really disappointing to see how it has been enforced.

At present, a smoker will only be prosecuted by tobacco control officers when they catch him/her red-handed during regular patrols or spot checks acting on complaints.

So a law-abiding citizen has to suffer when someone is found smoking in a restaurant.

Calling 999 is useless, as the police won’t do anything about such smokers.

For me, I am used to calling the 1823 and lodging a complaint. But one will ask how effective it is when the officers can only take action afterwards.

I suggest the law should be amended so that restaurant owners will also be prosecuted. Of course, more officers and patrols can help to improve the situation.

Lawrence Choi, Sha Shui Po