Dec 7, 2009
National Cigarette and Health Committee (SSUK) legal advisor Turgut Kazan has announced that tobacco manufacturers PhilSA, Philip MorrisSA and British American Tobacco (BAT) have filed a lawsuit with the Council of State to shrink the mandatory size of new graphic images which will be obligatory to print on cigarette packages starting on Jan. 1, 2010.
The companies complain that the requirement of putting images on the front of cigarette packages in an attempt to reduce tobacco consumption by exposing the adverse consequences of smoking will prevent competition in the sector. The images necessitated by the regulations must cover at least 65 percent of the packages, the companies note, arguing that this will make it virtually impossible to put their brand logos on the packages. The companies also argue that the new obligation infringes on their commercial freedoms as bestowed by international trade rules.
Kazan said the Thorax Association, which includes doctors who specialize in eye diseases within the SSUK, will be involved in the case as an interested party. “The tobacco companies have demanded a stay of execution before. The case is in the Council of State’s docket currently,” Kazan noted. He claimed that the regulations are not in conflict with rules of competition or any relevant international laws, adding that they had full confidence that the Council of State will settle the case accordingly.
SSUK President Elif Dağlı also argued that the graphic images covering 65 percent of the packages does not contradict EU standards, which she claimed allows these images to cover more than 50 percent of cigarette packages. “It would be unacceptable to deprive Turkey of its right to protect its public health while other countries are conducting similar campaigns without any obstacle,” she noted. She said selling tobacco products in embellished, attractive packages is very harmful. Currently, 22 million people in Turkey are smokers, she asserted, adding that $20 billion is spent on tobacco products. “This money is being completely burned away and lost. Not only is our money lost, but people’s health is also seriously harmed,” she said and added that another $30 billion is lost in terms of health expenditures to cure smoking-related diseases. Dağlı also rejected claims from tobacco companies that the images have no deterrent effect on smoking, saying, “All studies have proven that theseimages are very effective indeed and cause a nearly 5 percent decline in cigarette consumption.”
Source: Today’s Zaman (December 7, 2009)
Dec 2, 2009
Gruesome images of decaying teeth, blackened lungs, tumours and even dead people, will become the latest additions to the warnings on tobacco packets in Malta, this newspaper has learnt. The colour illustrations are officially scheduled to be printed on cigarette boxes by April 2011, and on other tobacco products by October 2011. The rules will implement European Union laws introduced back in 2003 on using photographs to depict the health consequences of smoking. Tobacco packages will now carry a combined warning with pictures, which will be rotated at least once a year to guarantee the regular appearance of all of the additional warnings. Pictures will warn smokers of the prospects of lung and throat cancer, accelerated ageing, the harmful effects of second-smoke on family relatives and infants, and dental decay. Tobacco deaths account for over 500,000 deaths every year in the European Union. According to a March 2009 Eurobarometer survey, 26% of EU citizens aged 15 and over smoke daily. But another half claim they have never smoked and 22% say they have quit smoking. In fact, 54% of Maltese respondents claim they have never smoked.
The proportion of smokers is the highest in Greece (42%), followed by Bulgaria (39%), Latvia (37%), Romania, Hungary, Lithuania, the Czech Republic and Slovakia (all 36%). Interestingly, the Maltese rank second after Italy in mostly favouring the smoking ban in restaurants at 80%. They are however less enthusiastic about the smoking ban in bars, with 65% in favour of the ban. A great majority of Maltese (65%) also think anti-smoking messages are not very effective in Malta.
Support for labelling
Supporters of pictorial health warnings on cigarette packages believe more smokers report getting information about the risks of smoking from packages than any other source except television. Pack-a-day smokers are potentially exposed to the warnings over 7,000 times per year. Pictures increase the vividness of health communications, and are consistently rated by smokers to be more effective and engaging than text-only warnings, because they arouse emotion through “graphic” depictions of health risks. In 2002, a survey of 9,058 smokers was conducted across four countries to determine the effectiveness of such images on cigarette packages. In Canada, where pictorial warnings on packages included information about the risks of impotence, smokers were nearly three times more likely to agree that smoking causes impotence when compared with smokers from the US, UK and Australia where there were no such images. The results confirmed that warnings that are graphic, larger and more comprehensive in content are also shown to be more effective in communicating the health risks of smoking.
Source: Malta Today (November 1, 2009)