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January 15th, 2013:

First they came for the tobacco companies…

First they came for the tobacco companies…

Tuesday, 15 January 2013, 2:06 pm
Press Release: Pirate Party New Zealand – PPNZ

First they came for the tobacco companies…

Media companies and Anti-Smoking groups are trying to pry confidential documents from government departments as they battle against freedom of information.

Pirate Party Communications Manager Max Coyle says that The Pirate Party is expressing concern that these organizations are trying to bog down tobacco companies in their Official Information Act requests relating to changes in government legislation which will impact their industry.

“To make matters worse, Associate Health Minister Tariana Turia herself is blockading democracy and the freedom of information and publicly acknowledging that she will push ahead with her agenda regardless of the need to disclose information and give the affected parties time to prepare and plan for the upcoming changes, and respond to them where needed.”

The companies are requesting information from the Ministry of Health under the Official Information Act 1982 for documentation relating to plans to ban brand marks and logos on cigarette packets. ‘Anyone who is in New Zealand, or a New Zealand citizen overseas or corporate body that operates in NZ can request official information. The purpose of the OIA Act is to increase the availability of official information to promote more effective public participation in the making and administration of laws and policies, and to promote the accountability of Ministers of the Crown and government officials.’ (Ministry of Justice – ‘Official Information: Your Right To Know’)

So under the definitions set out by the Ministry of Justice, it makes sense that these companies need this information to to participate in the making and understanding of the laws which will affect them, and more importantly to hold Ministers like Tariana Turia to account for her actions and what has been well documented as her personal crusade against the companies trade.

“The Pirate Party stands for free and open government and the accessibility of information to all is absolutely crucial to that. The importance of transparency and the general participation in govt outweighs any concerns about Tobacco, which can be adressed perfectly adequately through transparent democratic means. Our interest is in the ethical treatment of this matter and making sure the personal views of Government Ministers are not clouding the issue and halting requests for information allowed by law. We are also concerned with the media treatment of this with headlines such as ‘Tobacco firms use ‘stalling’ strategy’ when the parties that seem to be stalling this are the media outlet and the Government, this misrepresentation of the events is not what’s necessary for an informed citizenry.” Max Coyle said.

“The Official Information Act is a crucial part of the functioning of an open and accountable government in NZ. To begin to deny requests or to take an inordinate amount of time to process them is unacceptable. This incident is not a one off with the Ministry of Education stalling and frustrating the OIA requests made by schools and parents regarding school closure plans in Christchurch. We are consistently seeing information being withheld and attempts to access it stalled by this administration, and we are not amused.”


Lawyers tight-lipped on tobacco covers—debate/lawyers-tight-lipped-on-tobacco-covers

Lawyers tight-lipped on tobacco covers

14 January, 20130 comments

Latest from Comment & Debate

Legal experts are refusing to comment on whether Australia’s largest tobacco franchise is violating state laws by offering customers free covers designed to hide the graphic images on cigarette packs.

Tobacco Station Group stores are giving away covers that feature the company’s logo and web address to customers who buy tobacco products. The franchise has more than 300 stores in states and territories across Australia, including Victoria, WA and the ACT.

Under Victoria’s Tobacco Act 1987, WA’s Tobacco Products Control Act 2006 and the ACT’s Tobacco Act 1927, a retailer must not supply a gift or prize in connection with the sale of a tobacco product.

A number of law firms were approached to ascertain whether the covers could be deemed gifts or prizes and, therefore, be in beach of the legislation. Corrs Chambers Westgarth, which has represented British American Tobacco Australia (BATA) and Herbert Smith Freehills declined to comment, citing client sensitivities. A number of top-tier and mid-tier firms that are not affiliated with tobacco companies also refused to weigh in on the issue, claiming their partners did not possess sufficient knowledge of the relevant legislation.

The Department of Health and Ageing is reportedly investigating whether Tobacco Station Group’s covers violate federal tobacco laws. Health Minister Tanya Plibersek revealed in a statement that the Tobacco Plain Packaging (TPP) Act, which came into force on 1 December, had so far led to 15 complaints, all made against retailers.

“The Department of Health and Ageing is investigating the complaints and has found some to be unsubstantiated. Where evidence suggested non-compliance, warnings were issued and educational material about the legislation was made available,” she said.

One of the “unsubstantiated” complaints appears to have been made against Queensland-based sticker manufacturer Box Wrap. In December, the company was given the all-clear to distribute stickers that wrap around cigarette packs and feature images of the Australian flag, animals and cartoons.

The stickers challenged plain packaging with the slogan ‘It’s your box, it’s your choice’. But, under the federal TPP Act, it is not an offence to sell a cover if it is sold separately to the cigarette packet, is not applied at the time of supply, and does not contain any tobacco product advertising.

Last year, global tobacco giants lost a High Court challenge against the Government’s plain packaging legislation. Chris Round, a partner in K&L Gates’ IP practice, said at the time that the tobacco companies did not have strong grounds for their argument that the legislation amounted to an acquisition of trademarks without proper compensation, a breach of Section 51(xxxi) of the Australian Constitution.

More mainland girls smoke than officials claim, says researcher

Published on South China Morning Post (

Home > More mainland girls smoke than officials claim, says researcher

More mainland girls smoke than officials claim, says researcher

Submitted by admin on Jan 15th 2013, 12:00am



Alice Yan

Researcher says real figure is about four times higher than officials claim

The number of mainland girls who smoke may be higher than the authorities recognise, a Shanghai-based health research team has found.

According to a two-year study led by Ma Jin of the Shanghai Jiao Tong University’s school of public health, up to 14 per cent of girls on the mainland could be smokers, much higher than the rate estimated in an earlier government study.

The China Tobacco Control Blueprint (2012-2015), issued by seven state ministries and the State Tobacco Monopoly Administration last year, put the number of mainland teenagers who smoke at 11.5 per cent. It said only 3.6 per cent of girls smoked, compared with 18.4 per cent of boys.

Ma’s study, published in The Lancet medical journal last month, also reported that the number of adult women smokers on the mainland reported by authorities could be a third lower than the actual figure.

Ma said his survey gave a more accurate picture of mainland tobacco-use in comparison with a similar study led by State University of New York Professor Gary Giovino published in the same journal in August.

According to Giovino’s study, which analysed tobacco use in 16 countries, more than half of mainland males over the age of 15 smoked. The figure was only 2 per cent for females. The study estimated the mainland has 301 million smokers. The results from his study matched estimates of mainland authorities.

Ma said Giovino’s study used a self-report method which was regarded as reliable in some Western countries, but it “severely” underestimated the true number of smokers on the mainland.

“Young students, especially girls, and adult women tend to cover up their identities as smokers because of pressure from society, which generally regards smoking as bad behaviour for students and women,” he said.

Ma’s study, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Shanghai’s municipal government, canvassed 11,104 people, which included students aged 12 to 20 and their parents from five city districts.

The students are from 18 high schools, 45 junior middle schools and five technical schools, and these schools are located in five central and suburb districts in Shanghai

“We focus on young people’s smoking activities because many smokers initiate this addiction when they are young,” Ma said.

His team first asked the students to answer a questionnaire, based on a World Health Organisation questionnaire template on juvenile smoking behaviour. The questionnaire found 13.6 per cent of boys and 5.2 per cent of girls smoked. But Ma thought the figures were far too low in light of his everyday observations.

So his team adopted a “capture-recapture” method – resampling the schools – to adjust the results.

They concluded that the real smoking rates for boys should be 18.3 per cent and 14.2 per cent for girls.

“The actual number of smokers in China could be substantially higher than 301 million,” Ma wrote in The Lancet. “Such underestimation could hinder our ability to assess the progress of current and future intervention efforts.”

Compared with Western countries, where a high percentage of teenagers let their parents know of their habit, in Shanghai, only 2.9 per cent of boys’ parents and 0.6 per cent of girls’ parents were aware that their children smoked, Ma’s survey found.

He said most students were encouraged to smoke by their peers and ignored all the health warnings because they thought holding a cigarette and blowing a smoke ring was “cool”.

Wu Yiqun , deputy director of the Beijing-based Think Tank Research Centre for Health Development, said the number of juvenile smokers on the mainland had been increasing over the past decade and children were taking up the habit at a younger age.

“Preventing children and teenagers from smoking is vital for our smoke-control campaign because people pick up habits when they are young and smoking is especially bad for their health since their bodies are growing,” she said.

Three years ago, the Ministry of Education launched a nationwide “non-smoking schools” movement which bans smoking in outdoor and indoor areas at primary and middle schools and kindergartens.



mainland girls


Source URL (retrieved on Jan 15th 2013, 6:31am):

Make HK a non-smoking territory

Published on South China Morning Post (

Home > Weibo is key to combating mainland corruption

Submitted by admin on Jan 15th 2013, 12:00am



Howard Winn

Make HK a non-smoking territory

Chief Executive C.Y. Leung has been urged to take a tough line with tobacco control measures in his policy address tomorrow. The letter is signed by senior public health academics from HKU and Chinese University, well-known anti-smoking lobbyist Judith Mackay, the Hong Kong Council on Smoking and Health and Clear the Air. The signatories ask for measures to reduce smoking prevalence in Hong Kong to 5 per cent before 2022 compared with the current 11 per cent. Hong Kong would then be recognised as a non-smoking territory by the World Health Organisation. The signatories argue this will require raising excise tax to at least 80 per cent of the retail price, which they say is proven to prevent youth smoking while reducing adult smoking, premature deaths and health care costs. In addition, the government should provide more assistance for those that want to quit. The letter points out that cigarettes are considerably cheaper in Hong Kong than in many other territories, including Singapore, Britain, New York, Australia and France. They also want tougher steps taken against smuggling and the sale of duty-free cigarettes. The signatories suggest all public areas should be tobacco-free, including the entire outdoor areas of restaurants and pubs, whether 50 per cent roofed or otherwise. They also recommend that preventing smoking should be a condition of liquor licences. They note that at present many licensees allow or encourage smoking in order to steal custom from premises that obey the law.

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Source URL (retrieved on Jan 15th 2013, 6:01am):


The case for Ofsmoke: the potential for price cap regulation of tobacco to raise £500 million per year in the UK

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Illicit trade, tobacco industry-funded studies and policy influence in the EU and UK

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