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February, 2015:

Ireland Passes Plain Packaging Law

Ireland has become the second country in the world to pass a plain packaging law that is mandatory for tobacco products. Legal action from the tobacco industry is expected to follow.

Australia passed a similar measure in 2012. Under Ireland’s new rules, all branding, logos, coloring will be banned off of packaging. The new packaging will be uniform with graphic health warnings.

The legislation had cross-party support and passed without a vote. It now gets sent to the President to pass into law after a vote in the upper house. The new rules will become effective in May. 2017.

Currently Britain is debating a similar measure.

Ireland is home to 6.3 million people over 32,595 square miles.

Below is an example of the Australia Plain Packaging. Every tobacco product in Australia looks like this.
Image used with permission of Miami Cigar & Company.

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Study: Smokers may tap into multiple sources for nicotine

The first peek at a major study of how Americans smoke suggests many use combinations of products, and often e-cigarettes are part of the mix.

It’s a preliminary finding, but it highlights some key questions as health officials assess electronic cigarettes.

“Are e-cigarettes a step toward a cigarette smoker getting off of cigarettes? Or are e-cigarettes a crutch so they can get nicotine in places and times when they wouldn’t normally be allowed to smoke cigarettes?” asked Dr. Andrew Hyland of the Roswell Park Cancer Institute, the primary investigator for a huge government study of trends in smoking and tobacco use.

Hyland’s study is one of a number of projects that scientists are watching as they explore the public health implications of e-cigarettes. Here are some things to know:


At a meeting of nicotine researchers late Thursday, Hyland presented preliminary findings from the first 20,000 people to enroll in the study, a baseline as the Food and Drug Administration and National Institutes of Health track how use of tobacco products, or alternatives like tobacco-free e-cigarettes, is evolving.

A fraction — 28 percent of adults and nearly 9 percent of youths — reported they currently use any type of tobacco product, Hyland said.

About 40 percent of those current tobacco users report using two or more products. And half say battery-powered e-cigarettes are one of the multiple products they use, Hyland found. In fact, the most common combination was cigarettes and e-cigarettes.

Mitch Zeller, director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products, said the early findings showing use of more than one type of tobacco product are compelling and underscore “how popular e-cigarettes have become.”

Ultimately, the PATH study — it stands for Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health — will follow 46,000 people ages 12 and older over five years, a source of information as FDA decides how to regulate tobacco-related products.


Policymakers are debating the health effects of “vaping” as it grows in popularity. Many anti-smoking advocates consider e-cigarettes a safer alternative for smokers who can’t or don’t want to quit altogether.

E-cigarettes work by heating liquid nicotine into an inhalable vapor. They contain fewer toxic substances than burning traditional cigarettes. But health officials warn that they shouldn’t be considered harmless and say much more needs to be known about long-term effects.

Critics ask if they keep smokers addicted or even act as a gateway to hook new users who eventually try tobacco.


Concern about e-cigarettes grew after a different government study in December found some teens who’d never smoked a real cigarette were trying out the electronic kind.

“Is it a passing fancy or something that sticks with them?” Dr. Wilson Compton, deputy director of NIH’s National Institute on Drug Abuse, said in an interview with The Associated Press. He hopes that over the next few years, the new PATH study will help tell.

The FDA has proposed regulating e-cigarettes, including banning sales to minors, a step that many states already have taken.


No one knows if experimenting with e-cigarettes poses as much risk of hooking someone as experimenting with regular cigarettes, Compton said.

Nicotine levels vary widely by type of e-cigarette, from small amounts to nearly as much as a traditional cigarette, he said. Users learn to puff a bit differently as they draw in vapor, and even the voltage in the device’s wires may affect nicotine delivery, he explained. NIDA plans to fund development of what Compton calls a “standard e-cigarette” that will be a yardstick for comparison with the different e-cigarettes on the market.

US tobacco giants settle smoking lawsuits

Three major US tobacco companies – Philip Morris, RJ Reynolds and Lorillard – have agreed to pay $US100 million to settle more than 400 lawsuits claiming that smoking damaged people’s health.

A judge awarded a combined $US100 million ($A126.72 million) to the plaintiffs in the lawsuits filed in Florida by smokers or their families, seeking damages for injuries caused by smoking.

As part of the settlement, Philip Morris USA, maker of Marlboro cigarettes; RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company; and Lorillard Tobacco Company will collectively pay $US100 million to the plaintiffs, one of the law firms representing them said in a statement on Wednesday.

‘We are very pleased that after many years of litigation, the parties were able to reach agreement. This settlement will provide immediate compensation to our clients, many of whom are very elderly,’ said lawyer Robert Nelson, of Lieff Cabraser Heimann Bernstein, who helped negotiate the deal.

Under the terms of the agreement, Altria unit Philip Morris USA, the largest US tobacco company, and RJ Reynolds, the second-largest, will each pay $US42.5 million to resolve the federal cases. Lorillard will pay $US15 million.

The settlement only involves cases that are pending in federal court, the law firm noted, not cases filed in state court. The tentative agreement is subject to the approval of all the plaintiffs.

The settled cases are part of the so-called Engle cases, a Florida class-action lawsuit filed against the cigarette companies in 1994. They were also part of a 2006 Florida Supreme Court decision to decertify the class action, saying the $US145 billion in punitive damages to the entire group was ‘excessive’.

However, the top court opened the door to individual lawsuits, and allowed the findings to stand in the case, including that smoking cigarettes harmed health and the tobacco companies had knowingly concealed the health effects of cigarettes or their addictive nature.

‘Today’s agreement is in the best interest of the company,’ said Murray Garnick, senior vice president and associate general counsel at Altria, in a separate statement.

‘As for the Engle progeny cases in state court, we will continue to defend ourselves vigorously, including appealing adverse verdicts.’

– See more at:

WHO: Treaty Making Inroads in Global Tobacco Epidemic

The World Health Organization said its landmark tobacco control treaty is making inroads in slowing the global tobacco epidemic. But as it observes the 10th anniversary of the entry into force of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, the U.N. agency warns the fight to prevent millions of tobacco-related premature deaths is far from over.

The World Health Organization said it is celebrating a number of successes in reducing tobacco use during the past 10 years.

Since the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control entered into force, the U.N. agency notes the number of countries introducing graphic pictures and health warnings on cigarette packages has increased from five to 50.

It finds more than 80 percent of the 180 countries ratifying the treaty adopted new tobacco control legislation or strengthened existing laws. Technical Officer with the Framework Convention Tibor Szilagyi told VOA countries implementing measures required under the Convention are seeing positive results.

“They have started seeing decreases of let us say 15 to 30 percent in the past 10 years in tobacco use prevalence, which means that millions of deaths have been averted by the implementation of this treaty,” stated Szilagyi.

But the World Health Organization reports about six million people a year die prematurely from causes related to tobacco, the majority in low- and middle income countries. It warns tobacco use will account for more than eight million deaths each year by 2030, if the epidemic is unchecked.

The agency accuses the tobacco industry of using its economic power to influence governments not to enact control policies. It said the industry uses slick media campaigns to entice women and young people to pick up the smoking habit.

Dr. Szilagyi said countries in Africa are targets of these ploys and many have succumbed to the economic temptations dangled before them. But he notes many do not. He said Kenya, Mauritius, and South Africa among others have resisted the tobacco industry and made strong progress in implementing the Convention.

He said another challenge is emerging tobacco products. “This includes electronic cigarettes and electronic nicotine delivery systems and non-nicotine delivery systems, but also those products, which have been traditionally used in some countries, but not in others,” he explained. “For example, water pipe tobacco, which becomes trendy and widespread among mostly young people in those countries where water pipe was not traditionally used.”

The Framework Convention continues to be strengthened through additional protocols. Parties to the Convention are in the process of promoting ratification of a new protocol dealing with illicit trade in tobacco products.

We will not be bullied on plain cigarette packets, says Reilly

Minister says Ireland close to becoming first EU country to introduce plain packaging

Ireland is on the verge of being the first EU country to pass a law paving the way for the introduction of plain packaging for cigarettes, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Dr James Reilly has told the Dáil. He said the House should share in the sense of satisfaction.

“We do so despite legal threats from the lawyers for the tobacco industry,’’ Dr Reilly added. “We do so despite an extraordinary legal letter demanding that we stop and stop immediately.’’

Dr Reilly was speaking during the final stage debate on the Public Health (Standardised Packaging of Tobacco) Bill 2014, providing for the measure. The Bill will pass through the Oireachtas next week after the Seanad passes a number of technical amendments.

JTI Ireland, owner of the Benson & Hedges and Silk Cut brands, has strongly opposed the legislation, which was first introduced by Dr Reilly when he was Minister for Health. The Minister said the Dáil would not be “intimidated’’ by such action. “We will pass such laws as we believe to be correct,’’ he added.

Dr Reilly said he wanted to send a message to children around the country on a lesson that could be learned. “Remember if a bully tries to intimidate you with actions, you should stand firm and be true to what you believe to be right,’’ he added.

Ireland, said the Minister, had always been a leader on tobacco control. “We have ranked at the forefront in introducing measures to protect our country’s health from the scourge of smoking,’’ he added. “Standardised packaging is the latest strand in the comprehensive range of tobacco control legislation we already have in place.’’

He said he was confident the research available demonstrated that standardised packaging would have a positive impact on health and that it was a proportionate and justified measure.

It could reduce the appeal of tobacco products and increase the effectiveness of health warnings and the ability of branded tobacco packaging to mislead people about the effects of smoking. “And these are important points when we consider that almost 80 per cent of smokers start when they are children,’’ Dr Reilly added.

He said he was pleased the Irish public, including TDs and Senators, had not, and would not, allow themselves to be manipulated by the arguments of the tobacco industry against the measure.

Fianna Fáil health spokesman Billy Kelleher commended the Minister for his personal efforts in bringing the legislation to the House. The Government, parliament and people should be resolute and stay the course in the face of threats, intimidation and bullying tactics from organisations whose sole purpose was to sell a product that harmed and killed people on a daily basis, he added.

Flavour chemicals in electronic cigarette fluids

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Personal tobacco pack display before and after the introduction of plain packaging with larger pictorial health warnings in Australia: an observational study of outdoor café strips.



We tested whether prevalence of cigarette pack display and smoking at outdoor venues and pack orientation changed following the introduction of plain packaging and larger pictorial health warnings in Australia.


Between October and April 2011-12 (pre-plain packaging, pre-PP) and 2012-13 (post-plain packaging, post-PP), we counted patrons, smokers and tobacco packs at cafés, restaurants and bars with outdoor seating. Pack type (fully branded, plain or unknown) and orientation were noted. Rates of pack display, smoking and pack orientation were analysed using multi-level Poisson regression.


Pack display declined by 15% [adjusted incident rate ratio (IRR) = 0.85, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 0.79-0.91, P < 0.001], driven by a 23% decline in active smoking (IRR = 0.77, 95% CI = 0.71-0.84, P < 0.001) between phases. The decline in pack display coincided with the full implementation of plain packaging from December 2012, was stronger in venues with children present and was limited to mid and high socio-economic status (SES) areas. The proportion of packs orientated face-up declined from 85.4% of fully branded packs pre-PP to 73.6% of plain packs post-PP (IRR = 0.87, 95% CI = 0.79-0.95, P = 0.002). Alternatively, the proportions concealed by telephones, wallets or other items (4.4% of fully branded packs pre-PP and 9.5% of plain packs post-PP; IRR = 2.33, 95% CI = 1.72-3.17, P < 0.001) and in an external case (1.5-3.5% of all packs; IRR = 2.79, 95% CI = 1.77-4.40, P < 0.001) increased. Low SES areas evidenced the greatest increase in pack concealment and the greatest decline in face-up pack orientation.


Following Australia’s 2012 policy of plain packaging and larger pictorial health warnings on cigarette and tobacco packs, smoking in outdoor areas of cafés, restaurants and bars and personal pack display (packs clearly visible on tables) declined. Further, a small proportion of smokers took steps to conceal packs that would otherwise be visible. Both are promising outcomes to minimize exposure to tobacco promotion.

Tobacco industry ‘should be sued by government’ over smokers’ health costs

Australian Council on Smoking and Health says new research showing smokers’ mortality rates is ‘a national catastrophe’

The Australian government should sue the tobacco industry after landmark research found Australian smokers have a three times greater chance of dying today than a lifelong non-smoker, the president of the Australian Council on Smoking and Health says.

Up to 1.8m of Australia’s 2.7m smokers are likely to die from their habit if they continue to smoke, losing an average of 10 years of life expectancy, the first Australian large-scale study on smoking and mortality, published in the international journal BMC Medicine, found.

The study findings highlighted the extreme hazards faced by the 13% of Australians who smoked, an author of the study and director of the University of Melbourne’s global burden of disease group, Professor Alan Lopez, said.

“Australia still has a smoking problem,” he said. “Saying Australians are getting fatter, and shifting the focus towards diet and obesity should not mean we forget about tobacco, which is still a major public health problem.”

The research was led by Sydney’s Sax Institute using data from their 45 and Up study. Researchers linked health information from 204,953 study participants aged 45 and over from NSW, with data from the register of births, deaths and marriages.

Previous research from the Sax Institute found pack-a-day smokers had a fourfold risk of dying early, while the risk of death for lighter smokers was more than doubled.

The president of the Australian Council on Smoking and Health, Mike Daube, said the study revealed smoking as a “national catastrophe” because even though Australia had among the lowest smoking rates in the word, its effects were widespread.

“That smoking will kill 7.5% of Australians means it deserves a massively increased focus, and we need to keep increasing taxes on tobacco, step up public health campaigns and limit the number of outlets that sell it,” Daube said.

“It is time for the Australian government to follow what the US did about 20 years ago and sue the tobacco industry for costs incurred because of smoking, and force them to make internal documents public.

“That would bring in tens of billions of dollars which would help the budget, and enable stronger action on smoking.”

Known as the Master Settlement Agreement, the 1998 court action involved 46 US states and several of the largest US tobacco companies. The tobacco industry was forced to pay the states more than US$200bn in compensation and make public previously secret documents.

The chief executive of the Public Health Association of Australia, Michael Moore, said the research confirmed smoking as Australia’s most preventable cause of death and disease, killing even more people than previously believed.

It meant politicians and policymakers must do “everything possible” to encourage smokers to quit, he said.

“We cannot stand by and see yet more generations of Australians dying, often painful deaths, because they smoked,” he said.

“Public health leaders campaign on smoking not because of any moral fervour, but because it kills people. Now we know that it kills even more than we had thought. That is cause for deep concern and a call for strengthened action.”

Smoking ‘worse than previously thought': two thirds expected to die early

Two thirds of Australian smokers will be killed by their habit unless they are able to quit, according to a new study from the Australian National University.

The research, which was published in the international journal BMC Medicine, found smoking just 10 cigarettes a day doubled the risk of dying prematurely and that on average, smokers died 10 years earlier than non-smokers.

ANU researcher Professor Emily Banks said the study was “a huge wake up for Australia”.

“We knew smoking was bad but we now have direct evidence from Australia that shows it is worse than previously thought.

“Our findings show that up to two in every three of these smokers can be expected to die from their habit if they don’t quit and this highlights the importance of staying the course on tobacco control.”

The four-year study assessed the health outcomes of more than 200,000 people who participated in a program coordinated by the Sax Institute in Sydney.

Professor Banks said Australians should be proud of reducing smoking rates to just 13 per cent of the population – a world leading result – despite around 2.7 million people continuing to smoke.

The report found the average duration of a smoking habit was 38.5 years with the majority smoking for more than 35 or more years, consuming at least 15 cigarettes a day.

“In Australia, male and female smokers were estimated to have the same risks of death 9.6 and 10.1 years earlier than 75-year-old non-smokers, respectively,” the report said.

“Death rates in current smokers were around three times those of people who had never smoked, in both men and women.

“On average, smokers died around 10 years earlier than non-smokers, over the ages examined.”

The report also found mortality rates among heavy smokers were even higher.

“Mortality rates approximately doubled in those smoking around 10 cigarettes per day and four to five-fold those of never-smokers in current smokers of 25 or more cigarettes per day,” the report said.

The survey demonstrated continuing harms of smoking despite tobacco control measures and the need for continuing attention and controls.

“The introduction of plain packaging for cigarettes in Australia in 2012 is an example of the continuing efforts required,” the review said.

Despite the alarming findings, the chief executive of Heart Foundation Kerry Doyle said the government was driving down smoking rates through tax increases and plain packaging.

“Higher tobacco prices have been shown to be the most effective intervention available to governments to reduce demand for tobacco,” she said.

“With smoking being a major cause of cardiovascular disease, including heart attack, stroke and peripheral vascular disease the more deterrents people have between them and smoking, the better.”

The Cancer Council’s tobacco control manager, Scott Walsberger, said it was never too late to stop smoking “no matter what your age or how much you smoke”.

“People often underestimate the urgency for quitting and many are not aware of how damaging even light smoking is for cancer and other preventable illnesses,” he said.

Public Health Association of Australia president Mike Daube said the report demanded a strategic rethink and a ban on all tobacco industry promotion, including lobbying and public relations.

“If anything else caused that death toll it would be seen as a national catastrophe,” he said.

“Australia is a global leader, but 1.8 million deaths – 7.5 per cent of the Australian population – demands a different level of action

“We need a clear plan from governments to reduce that toll to an absolute minimum – further tobacco tax increases, strong mass media campaigns, protection for non-smokers and support for disadvantaged groups.”

Two thirds of smokers will die of the habit – study

The new study from the Australian National University, published in BMC Medicine, provides what the researchers say is the first large-scale direct evidence on the relationship of smoking to mortality in Australia.

It said of Australia’s 2.7 million smokers, 1.8 million would die from preventable cancer.

The paper’s author, epidemiologist Emily Banks, said she studied a sample size of 200,000 people over a four-year period.

“We found that people who were current smokers during that time had around a three-fold increase in the risk of dying over that period, compared to people who had never smoked.

“This means that up to two-thirds of smokers will die from their habit.”

Professor Banks said the study also found even light smoking was lethal.

“People who smoke on average, say, ten cigarettes a day have a doubling in their risk of dying prematurely.

“That’s equivalent to being morbidly obese, so having a body mass index of 35 or more, or drinking a bottle of vodka a day.”

Stopping smoking reduces the risk and the earlier smokers give up the greater the reduction in mortality.

Read the full report here.

Professor Banks said the research showed how the deadliness of smoking had evolved over time, as people continued to smoke for longer.

The President of the Australian Council on Smoking and Health Professor Mike Daube said the research adds pressure on governments to step-up anti-smoking campaigns.

“Seven and a half percent of the population now alive will die because they smoked. It will be pretty similar in New Zealand. If that’s not a top priority for governments I don’t know what can be,” said Professor Daube.

“We’re calling for (increased anti-smoking campaigns) in Australia and I hope that in New Zealand this will determine the government to move towards that smokefree by 2025 target.

“I hope it will ensure they maintain any action they’re taking and that they move ahead with the introduction of tobacco plain packaging, which is such an important step forward,” he said.

The New Zealand Cancer Society’s Health Promotion Manager Jan Pearson said it was a wake up call for the New Zealand government, which she said was not on track to meet its 2025 smokefree target.

“We need more mass media, and we need comprehensive cessation services tailored to community needs. We need effective legislation and regulation, which means higher taxes. We need a sudden increase which tobacco companies can’t manipulate.

“We can achieve the goal, we’ve only got ten years,” Dr Pearson said.