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December 1st, 2012:

Tobacco plain packaging laws come into effect

Posted Sat Dec 1, 2012 12:52pm AEDT

Related Story: Tobacco firm reprimanded for plain packaging breach

The Federal Government’s plain packaging laws for cigarettes come into force today.

The new rules come into force today and mean cigarettes must be sold in olive-green packets with graphic health warnings.

The only marker of difference between products will be the brand name written on the packet in a uniform style.

The Australian Council on Smoking and Health President Mike Daube says it is a historic achievement.

“The tobacco industry has opposed this more ferociously than anything I’ve seen in 40 years work on tobacco which shows you how much impact they fear it’s going to have,” he said.

“Overall, this is just a stunning success – not just for tobacco control, but for public health [as well].”

The Cancer Council Queensland says plain packaging will help to reduce smoking rates.

“Approximately 3,400 Queenslanders are killed as a result of tobacco each and every year,” spokeswoman Rachel Hull said.

“That’s things like heart disease, cancer of course, stroke and other chronic illnesses and so certainly we really want to reduce that tragic toll and really encourage and support people to quit smoking.”

Big Tobacco at home in Brussels

European Commission:
Paris. A road sign modified by artist Clet Abraham

Paris. A road sign modified by artist Clet Abraham


The resignation of Health Commissioner John Dalli last month lifted the lid on the influence of the tobacco industry in the European Commission. That influence has even penetrated OLAF, Europe’s anti-fraud office, writes Der Spiegel. Excerpts.

Christoph Pauly

The influence of the tobacco industry in the European Union has raised an increasing number of questions since the resignation of John Dalli, former European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection.

Did José Manuel Barroso really force him out? And what role did the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) play in the case? Never before has the tobacco industry had so much influence in Brussels.

In Brussels, every meeting with a representative of the tobacco industry is a test of will – even for occasional smokers. Scarcely had we arrived when a spokesman for Philip Morris (Marlboro, L & M) slipped a packet of cigarettes into our hands. Instead of a brand name, the packaging has a picture of a man with a cancerous tumour in his throat.

“This is defamation,” says the Philip Morris representative before showing us another packet featuring another cancer patient. The European Commission would like to print such images on all cigarette packaging to shock smokers, he protests, before lighting up a cigarette with evident relish.

Journalists are not the only ones to hear complaints from the industry. Tobacco manufacturers have clearly managed to win influence over part of the European Commission. A series of internal documents obtained by Der Spiegel indeed reveals that several people from office of the President of the Commission oppose any strengthening of the tobacco regulations. Even the head of the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) has doubts about the legislation. In that light, Jose Manuel Barroso and the agents of OLAF have therefore played a not insignificant role in the resignation of the European Commissioner for Health a month ago.

Circumstantial evidence

“There is no conclusive evidence” against Dalli, the head of OLAF, Giovanni Kessler, admitted before the Committee on Budgetary Control of the European Parliament. But “the circumstances” don’t put him in a good light, he insisted. While the President of the European Commission is still refusing to publish the OLAF inquiry, recent documents are reinforcing suspicions that have been circulating the capital for weeks, that Dalli may have fallen victim to a conspiracy.

The former European Commissioner, who used to be a heavy smoker, undeniably wanted to strengthen EU tobacco legislation, and was proposing harsh curbs on the sale and advertising of many products containing nicotine.

The President of the Commission, on the other hand, appeared to be in no hurry to put this idea into effect. Ireland’s Catherine Day, Secretary General of the European Commission and as such the most powerful woman in Brussels, repeatedly saw to it personally that brakes were put on the procedure.

On July 25, Day, who had been Barroso’s closest ally for the last seven years, sent Paola Testori Coggi, the head of SANCO (Directorate General for Health and Consumers) a two-page letter that could easily have been sent by a tobacco industry representative.

In it she expressed “serious doubts” about the directive. She criticised the “general prohibition of smokeless tobacco products,” questioned “the treatment of products containing nicotine” and expressed reservations about “the provisions for the sale of cigarettes.”

Resignation setback

On September 23, Day sent a second letter to Paola Testori Coggi. She demanded that the directive not be presented before the Summit of Heads of State and European Governments scheduled for mid-October. Certain details, she wrote, could still be modified, and no controversy should be stirred up before the summit.

The Director General of SANCO could not understand why, as the details of the Dalli proposal had been public for some time – and had sown panic in the tobacco industry. The goal was to move onto the next stage as quickly as possible to get the proposal adopted by the Commission before the end of the year.

Today, one thing is sure: John Dalli’s resignation has set back the draft directive, and the reality is that it is highly unlikely to be adopted before the end of the mandate of the current Commission in 2014.

The Committee on Budgetary Control of Parliament will indeed have to shed some light on the role of the President of the Commission and OLAF before that date. The head of the budget control committee, Michael Theurer, therefore finds it “unacceptable” that Jose Manuel Barroso is keeping the OLAF report confidential, preventing any effective democratic control. A special commission of inquiry may have to look into the matter.

Close relationship

Many of the questions circle OLAF. Europe’s anti-fraud office and the tobacco industry are closely linked, Kessler acknowledged before a board of inquiry set up by the Italian parliament this summer. Agreements exist between the European Commission and companies such as Philip Morris and British American Tobacco, and OLAF uses information provided to it by the industry in the fight against smuggling and counterfeiting.

The multinationals also finance the work of investigators and pay in close to €2 billion to the European Union. This collaboration is undoubtedly a success: in one operation, OLAF seized 70 million contraband cigarettes and arrested 35 suspects.

But does this collaboration not bring the investigators a little too close to the industry? Are there not discussions going on at the same time and calling for a little more leeway in the tobacco regulations?

Many MEPs no longer believe in coincidence when they hear Kessler echo the tobacco multinationals. This shadowy affair stretches far beyond the strange resignation of a European Health Commissioner. Today, the credibility of the entire European Commission is at stake. Its president must now respond swiftly and clearly to questions from MEPs. If not, the Dalli Affair could quickly turn into the Barroso Affair.

Australia rolls out world’s first plain cigarette pack law

Submitted by admin on Dec 2nd 2012, 12:00am



An employee in a bookshop in Australia adjusts packaged cigarettes which have to be sold in identical olive-brown packets. Photo: AFP

Agence France-Presse in Sydney

First-of-its-kind measure introduced in effort to strip cigarettes of associations of glamour and stop youngsters from striking up habit

A law forcing tobacco firms to sell cigarettes in plain packets came into effect in Australia yesterday in an effort to strip any glamour from smoking and prevent young people from taking up the habit.

The new law, the first of its kind anywhere in the world, came into force despite a vigorous legal challenge by big tobacco, which argued that the legislation infringed its intellectual property rights by banning trademarks.

All cigarettes will now have to be sold in identical, olive-brown packets bearing the same typeface and largely covered with graphic health warnings.

A cashier at a Sydney newsagent said many customers reported finding the new packaging, which must feature graphic images such as a gangrenous foot, mouth cancer or a skeletal man dying of cancer, off-putting.

Sanjid Amatya, a cashier at a Sydney newsagent, said smokers were asking to pick and choose the images on their packets.

“Some of them don’t care what the picture is,” Amatya said.

Another retailer, Anas Hasan, said the most preferred packs pictured a hand stubbing out a cigarette.

Some smokers were buying cigarette cases so they did not have to look at the images.

“They hate it. I smoke and I hate it,” he said of the new packaging.

The packages make it hard to tell brands apart, complicating deliveries and adding to costs.

“It used to take me an hour to unload a delivery, now it takes me four hours,” said James Yu, who runs the King of the Pack tobacconist in Sydney. “The government should have just banned them altogether and then we’d go OK, fine, we’re done, we’ll shut up shop,” he said.

Others say the laws have boosted their business.

Sandra Ha of Zico Import, a small family business, said demand for cigarette cases, silicon covers to mask the unpalatable packages, had shot up.

Ha said Zico had sold up to 6,000 to wholesale outlets and was awaiting new stock. “This is good business for us.”

Anti-smoking campaigners have welcomed the new law.

Stafford Sanders from Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) Australia said that research had suggested people would be put off by the packaging. “It’s likely to make people more aware of the health warnings,” he said.

The tobacco industry, which lobbied hard against the law, has shifted its focus to potential copycat legislation elsewhere. Ukraine, Honduras and the Dominican Republic have filed complaints with the World Trade Organisation, funded by the tobacco industry, claiming the law unfairly restricts trade, although their trade with Australia is minimal.

Many smokers in Australia remain defiant.

“The pictures don’t affect me. I just ignore them. You just grab a smoke and put it away,” said Victor El Hage as he purchased a pack with a photograph of a mouth tumour. “Honestly, there’s only one reason I’d stop, and that’s my little girl.”

Additional reporting by Reuters



Plain Packets



Source URL (retrieved on Dec 2nd 2012, 6:51am):


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Smoked out

Patrick Reynolds, a grandson of the founder of the R.J. Reynolds tobacco company, speaks to Franklin City Public School students on Thursday. — Andrew Faison | Tidewater News

By Contributor

Smoked out

Published 10:20am Friday, November 9, 2012


Franklin—Patrick Reynolds, a grandson of the founder of the R.J. Reynolds tobacco company, keeps hoping for a tobacco-free society.

“And it’s coming because of today’s youth,” Reynolds told 200 Franklin students during a Thursday assembly. “My hope is that maybe we can stop some of these children from smoking, and get some to quit if they are smoking.”

Sponsored by Southampton Memorial Hospital, the appearances by Reynolds, which included Southampton High School and Paul D. Camp Community College, coincided with the hospital campus’ first day of going smoke-free.

“It’s a great feeling to make a difference in someone’s life,” he said. “It’s all about the feeling that maybe I’m making a difference.”

Reynolds’ father, R.J. Jr., died in 1964 from smoking-related illnesses. Patrick Reynolds was 16.

He attributes his father’s death for turning against his family business and becoming one of the nation’s top advocates against smoking.

“The hand that once fed me is the same hand that kills thousands every day,” Reynolds said.

The more he learned about the tobacco industry, the more angry the 63-year-old became with its executives, especially marketing to youth.

“The more I became involved in political campaigns, the more I became committed to the cause and became so committed as an advocate,” he said. “It needs to be brought to the forefront that smoking should not be tolerated anywhere near campuses like Southampton Memorial Hospital. I applaud them for their courage to train their staff as to how to get compliance from patients and staff in this matter.”

According to the American Lung Association, Virginia received failing grades for tobacco prevention, smoking restrictions and cigarette tax. Virginia has the second lowest cigarette tax in the country at 30 cents per pack.

“I urge people to call and write their legislators and ask for changes on these issues,” Reynolds said. “The biggest issue that has to be looked at is raising the tobacco tax; it is shamefully low.”

Franklin High School Assistant Principal Jason Chandler said the program tied into the eighth- through 10-grade health curriculum.

“It was a great way to bring them out of class and provide them some enriching materials for that curriculum,” Chandler said.

Phil Wright, chief executive officer for SMH, said reports indicating Franklin was the fifth sickest locality in the state prompted the hospital’s anti-smoking campaign.

“We felt that was just one of the issues that we should take the lead in the community and go tobacco-free,” Wright said.

Australia’s new plain packaging ‘makes cigarettes taste worse’

Australia’s new plain packaging ‘makes cigarettes taste worse’

Australia’s new plain packaging for cigarettes – which becomes mandatory from Saturday – have been branded “disgusting” by smokers who say they make the cigarettes taste worse.

By Jonathan Pearlman, Sydney

6:43AM GMT 30 Nov 2012

The new packets, which are blank aside from gruesome health warnings, have been filling shelves for the past two months as part of the toughest anti-tobacco measures in the world.

Despite legal battles and claims of “dirty tricks” by tobacco companies, all cigarettes in Australia must now be sold in drab olive packets featuring macabre images of sick babies, dying cancer sufferers and diseased feet, eyeballs and lungs. Smokers’ advice groups have reported being inundated with calls from angry smokers who say their cigarettes now taste “pathetic” and “sickening”.

Joe Xia, who owns a busy convenience store just outside Sydney’s Chinatown, said the packets are “disgusting” and have been annoying customers who dislike the new warnings.

“People still smoke – now they also complain,” he told the Daily Telegraph.

“Nothing will stop them from smoking. But it is hard at night-time. People come from the pub and they see these packets and they get irritated.”

The claims that the taste of cigarettes has worsened prompted tobacco firms to deny the product has changed.

A spokesman for Imperial Tobacco Australia, said people who smoked its cigarettes “can be assured that our high quality products will remain the same”.

“Packaging has never been identified as the reason people choose or continue to smoke,” she said.

The measures, if successful, are tipped to trigger an “olive revolution”, with similar laws being considered in Britain, Canada, New Zealand, China, France, India, South Africa, Norway and Uruguay.

But tobacco firms have fought hard to try to combat the changes, including pursuing various legal actions and declaring the new measures will increase the black market.

The Gillard Government has staved off a High Court challenge and accused the firms of using various tricks to try to flout the laws.

The health minister, Tanya Plibersek, said two manufacturers had tried to make the cigarettes appear more “sophisticated” by stamping the paper with watermarks featuring travel destination codes such as AUS, LDN and NYC. The firms have reportedly agreed to remove the watermarking.

Health experts believe the changes will help to save lives and reduce smoking rates. Studies have shown people, particularly youths, are less likely to take up smoking when the packets are not shiny or colourful.

Professor Simon Chapman, from the University of Sydney, said the packets were designed to prevent smoking among future generations who will never have seen “lovely packaging”. He has called for further measures, including requiring smokers to be issued with licences which would cost an annual fee and restrict people to 50 cigarettes every two weeks.

But the new packets have confused shopkeepers who can barely find the small writing on the packets to distinguish between different brands.

Othman Moussa, who has run a tobacconist in Sydney’s Darling Harbour for 24 years, said he knows the layout of his cigarettes shelf and can still find specific packets. But he says if he takes on new staff “it will be a real mess”.

“The main problem for me now is that it is very hard to sort out the deliveries,” he told the Daily Telegraph. “It takes three or four hours to read each brand and separate them – it used to take ten minutes.”

Australia smokers given plain packs


1 December 2012 Last updated at 01:08 GMT

Australia smokers given plain packs

By Duncan Kennedy BBC News, Sydney

Grim health warnings like this are replacing the branding on cigarette packets in Australia

Australia has become the first country in the world to introduce plain packaging for cigarettes.

From now, all tobacco company logos and colours will be banned from packets.

They have been replaced by a dreary, uniform, green/brown, colour accompanied by a raft of anti-smoking messages and photographs.

The only concession to the tobacco companies is their name and the name of the brand variant in small print at the bottom of the box.

“This is the last gasp of a dying industry,” declared Australia’s Health Minister Tanya Plibersek.

Anne Jones of the anti-smoking group Ash (Action on Smoking and Health) agrees.

“Plain packaging has taken the personality away from the pack”, she says.

“Once you take away all the colour coding and imagery and everything is standardised with massive health warnings, you really do de-glamorise the product.”

Cigarette packets were practically the last platform for tobacco companies to advertise themselves.

Commercials on Australian television and radio were banned in 1976. Newspapers followed in 1989.

Targets set

Tobacco sponsorship of sport and cultural events was prohibited in 1992.

That left the packets themselves, which became a target for the current Labor government.

The government’s efforts were led by then-Health Minister Nicola Roxon whose own father, Jack, died from a smoking-related illness when she was 10.

“Start Quote

Plain packaging is here to stay in Australia. We now plan to go after the ingredients contained in cigarettes”

End Quote Anne Jones of Ash

The government argued that with 15,000 smokers dying each year at a cost to society of AU$30bn (£19bn) it had a duty to act.

It set the target of reducing smoking levels from 16% of the population in 2007, to less than 10% by 2018.

In May 2011, Cancer Council Australia released a review of the evidence surrounding the introduction of plain packaging. The review suggested that packaging plays an important part in encouraging young people to try cigarettes.

That was followed by a telling video, released by anti-smoking campaigners, showing children discussing existing cigarette packets.

One boy says the red on one packet reminds him of his favourite car, a girl admires the pink on another packet, while another boy talks about the “heavenly” colours on his box.

The combined messages about the efficacy of logos and colours in selling cigarettes, helped prompt the government to begin its legislative push to introduce plain packaging.

Not surprisingly, the tobacco industry resisted.

A consortium of major companies, including Phillip Morris, Imperial Tobacco and British American Tobacco (BAT) came together to plan a counter punch.

That included an extensive media campaign to try to persuade the public and government of the shortcomings of plain packaging.

Tobacco companies say removing the branding from cigarettes will not stop people smoking

BAT’s spokesman, Scott McIntyre, says: “Plain packaging has always been misleading and won’t stop smoking because branded cigarettes will be smuggled in and because tobacco companies will have to respond to that by cutting prices to stay competitive.”

Despite those arguments, last August Australia’s High Court ruled in favour of the government.

It threw out technical arguments by the tobacco companies that the government was trying to “acquire” their intellectual property rights by removing logos.

“Plain packaging is a game changer,” says Anne Jones, a veteran of anti-smoking campaigns.

“It means that you can take on big tobacco and win.”

It’s known that Britain, France, Norway, India and New Zealand have been among those following the Australian court case closely, to see if there are any lessons for similar plain packaging measures in their countries.

Rare legal set back

But Scott McIntyre of BAT says it is not that straightforward, arguing that the Australian government only won because of the peculiarities of Australian constitutional law.

But there is no doubt that tobacco companies have suffered a rare legal set back, although there could still be further action by them at the World Trade Organization.

“We don’t fear that,” says Anne Jones of Ash.

“Plain packaging is here to stay in Australia. We now plan to go after the ingredients contained in cigarettes.”

Anti-smoking lobbyists like Anne Jones know that packaging changes alone wont significantly curb smoking, especially among established smokers.

Price, availability, information campaigns and health messages play an equally important role.

But cigarette packets will no longer be mini, mobile advertising boards and, for those working to reduce smoking levels, plain packaging is an important stage in the shift to a smoking-free society.

What do you think about the introduction of plain packaging for cigarettes? Would you like to see it in your country? You can send us your views using the form below.

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