Yearly Archives: 2017

Plain packaging to begin in September in Ireland

Minister for Health, Simon Harris and Minister of State, Marcella Corcoran Kennedy today announced that the legislation for the standardised packaging of tobacco is to come into force in September 2017. This follows the signing of the commencement order today by Minister Corcoran Kennedy for the standardised packaging provisions of the Public Health (Standardised Packaging of Tobacco) Act 2015.

The aim of standardised packaging is to make all tobacco packs look less attractive to consumers, to make health warnings more prominent and to prevent packaging from misleading consumers about the harmful effects of tobacco.

The signing of this order means that all tobacco products manufactured for sale in Ireland from 30th September 2017 must be in standardised retail packaging. There will be a wash through period allowed, meaning any products manufactured and placed on the market before the September date will be permitted to stay on the market for a 12 month period (i.e. until 30th September, 2018).
Standardised packaging means that:

  • all forms of branding – trademarks, logos, colours and graphics – are to be removed from tobacco packs,
  • The brand and variant names would be presented in a uniform typeface for all brands and
  • the packs would all be in one plain neutral colour.

Minister Harris said “Smoking is a significant cause of ill-health in Ireland. Almost 6,000 people die from tobacco related disease and tobacco use. That is 6,000 families who go through the pain of losing a loved one when the stark reality is that these deaths are unnecessary and avoidable. It has been estimated to cost Irish society a total of €10.7 billion annually in healthcare, productivity and other costs. The Government is committed to changing that and standardised packaging of tobacco products is one such evidence-based measure that will assist in achieving our overarching goal of having Ireland tobacco free by 2025″.

Minister Corcoran Kennedy said “The tobacco pack is the last advertising medium for the tobacco industry in Ireland and so is a critically important form of promotion. Standardised packaging is the next step in tackling the promotion and advertising of tobacco. There is strong evidence emerging from Australia, that introducing standardised packaging is both effective and proportionate in reducing the toll of tobacco use on the population. Research has shown that younger people are more influenced by brands. Ireland has the lowest age of children starting to smoke among all the EU Member States and almost 80% of smokers in Ireland start when they are children. Standardised packaging will reduce the attractiveness of tobacco products and forms a key part of Ireland’s strategy to reduce tobacco use, particularly uptake among children and young people.”

Minister Corcoran Kennedy and Minister Harris paid tribute to their colleague Dr James Reilly for initiating this process when he was health minister. The Ministers also thanked the Non-Governmental Organisations for their continued support for this initiative.

ENDS
Notes to Editors

  • The development of legislation for the introduction of standardised packaging for tobacco products is one of the key actions identified in the 2013 Tobacco Free Ireland policy document. Tobacco Free Ireland sets a target for Ireland to be tobacco free by 2025. In practice, this will mean a smoking prevalence rate of less than 5%. The current daily smoking rate for those aged 15 and over is 19%. The two key themes underpinning the policy are protecting children and the denormalisation of smoking. The policy addresses a range of tobacco control issues and initiatives and contains over 60 recommendations, including the introduction of standardised packaging of tobacco products. It was the first policy document to be published under the Healthy Ireland Framework. The introduction of standardised packaging for tobacco advances Ireland in meeting the obligations set out in the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.
  • Ireland now joins Australia, the United Kingdom and France in having such legislation enter into force.

Source: Department of Health (March 29, 2017)

Tobacco company loses appeal against picture health warnings in Kenya

A court has dismissed an appeal seeking to stop tougher tobacco control measures that include graphic warning and annual levies to treat cancer patients.

British American Tobacco filed an appeal seeking nine months to implement health warnings contained in the 2014 Tobacco Control Regulations, which took effect in September last year.

They claimed it would cost about Sh93 million in one financial year to print the prescribed health warnings in order to comply with the regulations.

But Court of Appeal judge David Azangla’s Friday ruling quashed their case.

The Health ministry through state counsel Mohamed Adow successfully argued that BAT had already complied with the regulations as cigarette packets with graphic warnings are already in the market.

This is the second time the cigarette makers have lost their case.

In March last year, the High Court ruled against BAT, igniting proceedings at the Court of Appeal.

Sources within the company said they will not move to the Supreme Court to challenge the regulations.

In the meantime, cigarette makers are required to print gory anti-smoking images on all of their cigarette packets, a measure they had slowly started to comply with to even as they challenged it in court.

Each company must also pay to a central fund two per cent of the value of tobacco products it manufactures or imports every financial year.

The money will mainly fund the treatment of Kenyans sickened by tobacco products.

Friday’s ruling is a major win by the ministry of health, the International Institute for Legislative Affairs, Kenya Tobacco Control Alliance, and KEFSHA.

Across the world, countries are now moving to graphic warnings to discourage people from smoking, to prevent cancer and other non-communicable diseases.

A recent study showed smokers in Kenya are falling behind other countries in understanding that smoking leads to debilitating health effects, such as heart disease and stroke.

Only two-thirds of male smokers were aware that smoking causes heart disease – the second-lowest of 14 countries, higher only than China.

The study said Kenyan tobacco users want more information on tobacco packages to become better informed about the harms of tobacco use.

The study was done by an international research team at the Kenya Ministry of Health, the Kenya Medical Research Institute, the International Institute for Legislative Affairs, the University of Nairobi, and the University of Waterloo.

Source: The Star, Kenya, John Muchangi (February 17, 2017)