Yearly Archives: 2013

European Parliament approves draft of new Tobacco Directive

October 10, 2013

A draft law to make tobacco products less attractive to young people was passed by Parliament on Tuesday. All packs should carry a health warning covering 65% of their surface. Fruit, menthol flavours and small packs should be banned, and electronic cigarettes should be regulated but as medicinal products only if they claim curative or preventive properties, says the approved text.

“We know that it is children, not adults, who start smoking. And despite the downward trend in most member states of adult smokers, the World Health Organization figures show worrying upward trends in a number of our member states of young smokers”, said rapporteur Linda McAvan (S&D, UK). ” We need to stop tobacco companies targeting young people with an array of gimmicky products and we need to make sure that cigarette packs carry effective warnings. In Canada, large pictorial warnings were introduced in 2001 and Youth smoking halved” she added.
Health warnings: two-thirds of the pack, front and back
Current legislation requires that health warnings cover at least 30% of the area of the front of the pack and 40% of the back. MEPs want to increase this to 65%. The brand should appear on the bottom of the packet.

Packs of fewer than 20 cigarettes would be banned. However, MEPs rejected calls for a ban on slim cigarettes.

E-cigarettes
E-cigarettes should be regulated, but not be subject to the same rules as medicinal products unless they are presented as having curative or preventive properties. Those for which no such claims are made should contain no more than 30mg/ml of nicotine, should carry health warnings and should not be sold to anyone under 18 years old. Manufacturers and importers would also have to supply the competent authorities with a list of all the ingredients that they contain. Finally, e-cigarettes would be subject to the same advertising restrictions as tobacco products.

Additives listed, flavours banned
MEPs oppose the use of additives and flavourings in tobacco products that would make the product more attractive by giving it a characterising flavour. Additives essential to produce tobacco, such as sugar, would be authorised, as would other explicitly listed substances in stated concentrations. To obtain an authorisation for an additive, manufacturers would have to apply to the European Commission.

Combating illegal trade
To reduce the number of illegal tobacco products on the market, member states should guarantee that single packets and transport packaging are identified with a mark enabling them to be traced, say MEPs.

700,000 deaths per year in the EU
Twelve years after the current directive entered into force, smoking remains the principal preventable cause of death and about 700,000 people die of it each year. Over the years, measures taken to discourage smoking have helped to reduce the proportion of EU citizens who smoke from 40% in the EU15 in 2002 to 28% in the EU 27 in 2012.

Next steps
Ms McAvan was granted a mandate to negotiate a first-reading agreement with EU ministers. This mandate was approved by 620 votes to 43, with 14 abstentions.

Once the legislation is approved by the Council and Parliament, EU member states will have 18 months in which to translate the directive into their national laws, to run from the date when it enters into force. The deadline for phasing out flavours in general is three years, with five additional years for menthol (total eight years). Tobacco products that do not comply with the directive will be tolerated on the market for 24 months, and e-cigarettes for 36 months.

Source: European Parliament News (October 8, 2013)

Scotland government to introduce plain packaging legislation

September 5, 2013

On September 3, 2013, Scotland reaffirmed that it would be moving forward with plain packaging, with the intent that legislation would be introduced next fiscal year, in 2014-15.

On September 3, 2013, Scotland reaffirmed that it would be moving forward with plain packaging, with the intent that legislation would be introduced next fiscal year, in 2014-15.

The Scottish Government stated: “Scottish Ministers regret the UK Government’s decision not to proceed with legislation to introduce plain packaging for cigarettes and other tobacco products. The Scottish Government is determined to take forward this important public health measure, and will consult on the issue in the coming months, with the intention of introducing legislation in 2014-15.”

The statement was made as part of the Scotland Government’s formal programme, “Empowering Scotland: The Government’s Programme for Scotland 2013-2014″.  See page 74, paragraph 67:http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2013/09/8177/downloads#res433229

Scotland’s announcement on Sept. 3 reiterates previous statements of the Scotland Government and the desire to implement plain packaging.  What is clear now is that Scotland is going to move ahead on its own, without waiting for UK-wide legislation.

Health campaigners at ASH Scotland (Action on Smoking and Health – Scotland) have welcomed the news that the Scottish Government has committed to a timescale to introduce plain, standardized packaging for tobacco products.

ASH Scotland Chief Executive, Sheila Duffy, said:

“It is fantastic news that Scotland will be moving ahead with this crucial commitment to protect children. There is a delay, but this will give the Scottish Government time to get the detail right, in the face of certain opposition from tobacco companies worried about their profits. What is important is the urgent need to protect young people in Scotland from the promotion of tobacco products.”

Notes:

1)    ASH Scotland is the independent Scottish charity taking action to reduce the harm caused by tobacco.

2)    Australia was the first county to remove branding and logos from tobacco packaging, last December, on the basis that this would make tobacco products less appealing, particularly to young people. Several other countries have expressed an interest in the measure, and the four UK administrations collaborated on a public consultation last Summer.

Source: ASH Scotland (September 4, 2013)

EU lawmakers vote to ban menthol, flavoured cigarettes and introduce larger warnings

July 10, 2013

Lawmakers at the European Parliament on Wednesday approved a ban on menthol and other flavored cigarettes as part of broad legislation that will sharply restrict how tobacco products can be sold across the 28-nation European Union.

Lawmakers at the European Parliament on Wednesday approved a ban on menthol and other flavored cigarettes as part of broad legislation that will sharply restrict how tobacco products can be sold across the 28-nation European Union.

The legislation would also require most “electronic” cigarettes-battery-powered devices that turn a liquid nicotine mixture into an inhalable mist-to be regulated like medicines. That could subject the increasingly popular devices, used primarily by smokers to help quit, to extensive safety testing in some EU countries where they are now unregulated.

The rules add another barrier to the sales efforts of tobacco giants such as British American Tobacco and Imperial Tobacco Group. Governments around the world are cracking down on tobacco products. Australia has arguably been most aggressive, with rules that went into effect this year banning all logos or brand imagery on cigarette boxes, replacing them with gruesome images of tobacco-related diseases.

Wednesday’s vote, in a key committee of the parliament, means the ban on flavored cigarettes is likely to become law, since EU national governments also banned menthols as part of their version of the legislation last month. The entire parliament must now vote on the law, though the result will be similar, people following the legislation said.

The legislation targeted flavored cigarettes because experts believe they hold a special appeal for children.

But there are other differences between the parliament and the national governments that must be resolved before the new rules can become law and enter into force over the next three years.

Among them is a ban on “slim” cigarettes that was backed by the parliament but not by the national governments, which chose instead to ban slim cigarette packaging designed by cigarette makers to look like lipstick or perfume in an effort to appeal to younger women.

Also, the parliament’s version of the legislation would require that 75% of the surface area of cigarette packaging contain pictorial health warnings. The version backed by national governments calls for just 65% of cigarette packaging to contain the warnings.

Menthols account for about 5% of the EU cigarette market and slims about 6%, according to the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm.

“We still believe that elements of the…proposal, such as enlarged health warnings and a ban on various products consumed by many millions of adults, remain disproportionate; are unlikely to succeed in addressing public health objectives; and potentially breach European Union Law,” a British American Tobacco spokesman said.

Packaging restrictions aren’t the most effective measures to cut smoking, said Rey Wium, a tobacco industry analyst at Renaissance Capital in London. Indoor smoking bans have a bigger impact, he said.

“The best way of curbing smoking is through excise tax increases,” Mr. Wium said. “The biggest risk to the companies is abnormal, or ‘shock’ excise tax increases, substantially above inflation.”

“The tobacco industry has been operating in a dark environment for quite some time,” he added. “I don’t think this European directive will make life extraordinarily different for them.”

Source: The Wall Street Journal (July 10, 2013)

 

Pictorial health warnings on packs in Jamaica

June 26, 2013

As of Monday, July 15, smoking in public places in Jamaica will be banned, Minister of Health, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson, announced on June 25. The Public Health (Tobacco Control) Regulations 2013 outline places where smoking will be prohibited. The regulations will also require the use of large, graphic health warnings on tobacco products, instead of the text only warnings currently used. This will be effective within six months.

As of Monday, July 15, smoking in public places will be banned, Minister of Health, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson, announced on June 25.

“Come July 15, no longer will our workers and children have to involuntarily inhale tobacco smoke, with its over 40 carcinogens,” the Minister emphasised.

Dr. Ferguson was making his contribution to the 2013/2014 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives.

The decision on the ban was made by the Minister, who exercised his powers under the Public Health Act, and with the approval of Cabinet. This has resulted in the implementation of the Public Health (Tobacco Control) Regulations 2013.

The Regulations outline places where smoking is prohibited, such as all enclosed places, public transportation, workplaces, government buildings, health facilities; sport, athletic and recreational facilities for use by the public; educational institutions; areas specifically for use by children, and places of collective use, such as bus stops.

They also require the use of large, graphic health warnings on tobacco products, instead of the text only warnings currently used. This will be effective within six months.

“The measure is expected to reduce the number of children who begin smoking and increase the number of smokers who will quit,” Dr. Ferguson said.

In addition, the Regulations include requirements for tobacco product disclosures, which will enhance the Government’s capacity to monitor the extent of the tobacco epidemic and produce the data needed to inform further tobacco control measures.

The 2010 Global Youth Tobacco Survey undertaken by the National Council on Drug Abuse indicates that just over 40 per cent of young persons aged 13 to 15 years have smoked at least once, and alarmingly, over 19 per cent of those who have ever smoked started under the age of 10 years.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) statistics, tobacco kills up to half of its users and kills nearly six million people each year, including more than 600,000 non-smokers exposed to second hand smoke.

The statistics also show that across the globe, every six seconds someone dies from tobacco related illness; one in 10 adults every year dies because of tobacco; and nearly 80 per cent of the world’s one billion smokers live in low and middle income countries like Jamaica.

Source: Jamaica Information Service (June 26, 2013)

Ireland to implement plain packaging

May 28, 2013

Tobacco companies may soon be forced to use plain packaging when selling cigarettes in the Republic of Ireland.

The Irish government is planning new regulations on tobacco packaging, aimed at reducing the level of smoking.

Health Minister James Reilly brought the matter before the Irish cabinet on Tuesday.

His cabinet colleagues gave the go-ahead for the drafting of legislation and Mr Reilly said he hoped the new law would be in force by early next year.

The aim is to make tobacco packets look less attractive to consumers and to make health warnings more prominent.

Banned logos

In 2012, Australia was the first country in the world to introduce plain pack cigarettes.

All tobacco company logos and colour themes were banned.

Instead, the cartons had to be produced in one uniform colour, with graphic anti-smoking photographs and messages.

However, tobacco companies have argued against the move, citing that plain packs could easily be copied by illegal manufacturers.

They have claimed it could lead to an increase in smuggling.

Last year, the UK government ran a public consultation on the introduction of mandatory, standardised packaging.

Source: BBC News Europe (May 28, 2013)

For additional information, please visit http://www.dohc.ie/press/releases/2013/20130528.html

Ireland: Minister moves on plain packaging

April 5, 2013

Health Minister James Reilly has said he will bring a memorandum to Government shortly to provide for the introduction of plain packaging on tobacco products.

Health Minister James Reilly has said he will bring a memorandum to Government shortly to provide for the introduction of plain packaging on tobacco products.

The Minister said under the proposal, cigarette packets would no longer have branded logos on them but would contain the graphic images and health warnings that already exist, with a small area of the packet allowed for the brnd name.

The Minister said he was concerned that attractive cigarette packaging had been shown to be a major factor in children taking up smoking.

Australia has recently passed legislation to ban logos from cigarette packages and to make plain packaging mandatory.

Dr Reilly was speaking at the launch of the report ‘Healthy Ireland’, a Government framework for action to improve people’s health and well-being.

The  report contains 64 recommendations aimed at initiating action between  Government departments, State agencies and other bodies targeted at  tackling issues such as obesity, smoking, cancer and alcohol abuse.

Source: Niall Hunter, irishhealth.com (March 28, 2013)

US to redesign picture warnings following court decision

March 20, 2013

The federal government, facing a court-imposed deadline and fierce opposition from the tobacco industry, has decided to abandon its legal fight to require cigarette makers to place large, graphic labels on their products warning of the dangers of smoking.

The federal government, facing a court-imposed deadline and fierce opposition from the tobacco industry, has decided to abandon its legal fight to require cigarette makers to place large, graphic labels on their products warning of the dangers of smoking.

The decision marks a setback for the Food and Drug Administration, which two years ago announced that it would require tobacco manufacturers to include ghastly images on all cigarette packages. The proposed labels included pictures of disease-ridden lungs, the corpse of a smoker and a man exhaling smoke through a tracheotomy hole. They also included the number of a stop-smoking hotline, 1-800-QUIT-NOW.

The FDA said in a statement Tuesday that it will go back to the drawing board and “undertake research to support a new rulemaking consistent with the Tobacco Control Act,” the 2009 law that requires the agency to find ways to reduce the estimated 440,000 annual deaths attributable to tobacco use.

Shortly after the FDA rolled out the new requirements in 2011, some of the country’s largest cigarette makers, including R.J. Reynolds Tobacco and Lorillard, sued the agency, arguing that the labels were too broad and violated the companies’ First Amendment rights. The Justice Department countered that the images merely contained factual information about the health risks of smoking.

Richard J. Leon, a federal district court judge, granted a temporary injunction in late 2011, and in February 2012 he ruled in favor of the tobacco companies, a group that did not include Richmond-based Altria, parent company of the nation’s largest cigarette maker, Philip Morris USA.

In a 19-page opinion, Leon ruled that the proposed requirements went too far because they were “neither designed to protect the consumer from confusion or deception, nor to increase consumer awareness of smoking risks.” Rather, he wrote, they were intended to evoke emotional responses that would provoke people to quit smoking or never start.

“Although an interest in informing or educating the public about the dangers of smoking might be compelling,” Leon wrote, “an interest in simply advocating that the public not purchase a legal product is not.”

Last August, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit upheld the D.C. District Court’s decision, finding that the requirement indeed ran afoul of the First Amendment.

Facing a deadline to appeal to the Supreme Court, the Justice Department declined, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said in a letter to House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) dated March 15. “In these circumstances, the Solicitor General has determined, after consultation with [the Department of Health and Human Services] and FDA, not to seek Supreme Court review of the First Amendment issues at the present time,” the letter said.

Warnings on cigarette packs and in advertising first appeared in the mid-1960s, and smoking rates fell steadily for decades. Since 2004, the numbers have largely stayed level at about 45 million U.S. adult smokers.

Dozens of countries already require graphic warning labels similar to those proposed by the FDA, and a survey by the World Health Organization found that they were more effective than text-only labels in deterring smoking.

Source: The Washington Post (Brady Dennis – March 19, 2013)

Sri Lanka: Court rejects tobacco company’s stay order on pictorial warnings

Feb 25, 2013

Sri Lanka’s Court of Appeals today refused to issue a stay order sought by the major cigarette company in the country Ceylon Tobacco Company (CTC) to stop the government from labeling cigarette packets with graphic warnings.

Sri Lanka’s Court of Appeals today refused to issue a stay order sought by the major cigarette company in the country Ceylon Tobacco Company (CTC) to stop the government from labeling cigarette packets with graphic warnings.

The CTC filed the case at the Appellate Court challenging regulation made by the Minister of Health under the National Authority on Tobacco and Alcohol Authority Act.

According to the regulation, the pictorial health warning shall be printed on both sides of every Cigarette packet, package or carton containing Cigarette and shall cover at least an 80 percent of the total area of a packet, package or a carton.

Health Minister Maithripala Sirisena and the Health Ministry Secretary had been cited as the first and second respondents respectively.

Source: Colombo Page (February 22, 2013)

Thailand: Cigarette warning labels to get even bigger

Feb 21, 2013

Thailand will have world’s largest warning labels on cigarette packs.

The size of the warnings, which are dominated by scary photos that show the unhealthy consequences of smoking, will be expanded to cover 85 per cent of the pack, up from the current 55 per cent, Public Health Minister Pradit Sinthawanarong said yesterday.

After a meeting with national tobacco control board, Pradit said the board agreed to issue a ministerial declaration to increase the size of the warnings.

There will be 10 picture warnings showing in graphic detail the consequences of smoking, including laryngeal cancer, heart failure, stroke, oral cancer, sexual dysfunction, lung cancer, emphysema and chronic bad breath.

The declaration will come into effect 180 days after publication in the Royal Gazette.

Worldwide, 63 countries have picture warnings on cigarette packs. In Australia, the warnings cover 82.5 per cent of the pack. Uruguay and Sri Lanka have 80 per cent, and Brunei and Canada 75 per cent. In Southeast Asia, only Thailand, Malaysia, Brunei and Singapore have the picture warnings. Thailand became the fourth country in the world to do so, starting in 2005.

Source: The Nation – Puangchompoo Prasert (February 2, 2013)

New Zealand: Government moves forward with plain packaging

Feb 19, 2013

The New Zealand Government has decided it will bring in legislation to put tobacco products into plain packaging.

The Government has decided it will bring in legislation to put tobacco products into plain packaging.

In April last year the Government had agreed ‘in principle’ to introduce a plain packaging regime in alignment with Australia pending the outcome of a public consultation process. The public consultation closed on 5 October 2012 and Cabinet considered a report on the consultation outcomes on Monday.

Plain packaging for tobacco will mean cigarette packs and tobacco pouches will have much larger pictorial health warnings and be stripped of the marketing imagery tobacco companies use to promote their products. The colours and design of the packs will be standardised in regulations designed to maximise the impact of the health warnings. Tobacco brand names will have to be printed in standard type fonts and sizes.

In announcing the decision to legislate for plain packaging, Associate Minister of Health Hon Tariana Turia said the consultation process generated a lot of interest and the written submissions provided useful information to inform Cabinet’s decision-making. Ultimately, Cabinet is satisfied that plain packaging is an important tool to improve the health of New Zealanders.

Around 300 substantive written submissions were received, as well as a further 20,000 plus postcards, form letters and signatures on petitions either in support or opposing plain packaging.

“I’d like to thank everyone who submitted on this important issue,” said Associate Minister of Health Tariana Turia.

“While opinions were divided, with many smokers and tobacco retailers expressing opposition, overall the consultation process confirmed that plain packaging will be an effective means of reducing the appeal of smoking and removing the impression that tobacco may be less harmful than it is.

“The evidence from experimental studies, marketing experts and the tobacco industry’s own documents is overwhelming. We cannot continue to allow tobacco companies to use sophisticated packaging designs to promote their products as if they were ordinary everyday consumer goods.

“Currently the packaging does everything it can to attract consumers, and increase the perceived appeal and acceptability of smoking. The bright colours and other design elements divert people’s attention away from the health warnings which tell the truth about just how deathly dangerous smoking is.”

Mrs Turia said the move to plain packaging would make more explicit what tobacco is- a product that kills 5,000 New Zealanders each year.

“Current tobacco packaging not only helps promote smoking to young and vulnerable people, it also helps keep smokers smoking. This move to plain packaging will remove the last remaining vestige of glamour from these deadly products.

“I am delighted that New Zealand is on track to be the second country in the world to legislate for plain packaging. This is another major step on the pathway to becoming a Smoke-free nation by 2025.

“There is a risk that tobacco companies will try and mount legal challenges against any legislation, as we have seen in Australia

“In making this decision, the Government acknowledges that it will need to manage some legal risks. As we have seen in Australia, there is a possibility of legal proceedings.

“To manage this, Cabinet has decided that the Government will wait and see what happens with Australia’s legal cases, making it a possibility that if necessary, enactment of New Zealand legislation and/or regulations could be delayed pending those outcomes.

“The Ministry of Health will now begin developing the detailed policy which will include the size and content of health warnings. I intend to introduce the legislation to Parliament before the end of this year.

“Once again, I would like to acknowledge the community health workers, the NGO’s, medical practitioners and government agencies for their work on reducing the extreme harm caused by tobacco consumption and in achieving our long term goal of a Smoke-Free Aotearoa. I know that when we look back in 20 years this decision will be the right one.”

Source: Scoop Independent News (February 19, 2013)