Plain tobacco packaging a sound move

Friday, 22 February 2013  at 16:10

Stuff.co.nz wrote today: "Plain tobacco packaging a sound move"


TARIANA TURIA: Plain packaging would reduce the last hint of glamour from smoking.
TARIANA TURIA: The Government says plain packaging will reduce the last hint of glamour from smoking.

OPINION: The Government has spent the past 12 months consulting the public on plans to make tobacco companies sell their wares in plain packets. The tobacco industry has spent the past year instructing their lawyers to prevent a move that would curtail their ability to peddle a product that kills 5000 New Zealanders a year.

The Government is right to push ahead with plain packaging for cigarettes and loose tobacco. Packaging is one of the few remaining methods tobacco companies have to market their products. They do so using bright colours and images to promote tobacco in a way that disguises what it really is - a highly addictive substance that causes debilitating and fatal diseases.

Requiring tobacco to be sold in plain packets will stop branding being used to divert attention from health warnings. It will also help prevent young people from taking up smoking.

Those who argue that plain packaging for tobacco is inconsistent because alcohol, which also causes health problems, will not face the same restrictions miss the point. Alcohol can be safely consumed in moderation. Cigarettes cannot.

To read the story in full, click here

New Zealand to legislate plain standardised packs

Tuesday, 19 February 2013  at 10:12

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


Media release from associate minister of health, Tariana Turia read:


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."

'Clock ticking' over tobacco packs

Friday, 15 February 2013  at 09:18

Yesterday, Thursday 14 February, The Daily Express in the UK were amongst a number of media channels reporting the news released by the Smokefree Action Coalition (SFAC). The piece read:

Almost 80,000 children have taken up smoking while health officials have considered whether or not to introduce plain packs for cigarettes, campaigners have said.

Brightly coloured packages are one of the last marketing ploys that tobacco companies use to lure people to their products, according to a coalition of health organisations.

In April last year, the Government launched a consultation on plans to introduce mandatory standardised packaging for tobacco products. Health campaigners have welcomed the proposal, but opponents claimed it would lead to increased smuggling and job losses.

Information generated by the consultation, which closed in August, is still being analysed by health officials.
The Smokefree Action Coalition said that in the six months the officials have been considering the responses to the consultation, 78,500 children have taken up smoking - an estimated 430 every day. The coalition, made up of various health organisations including the British Medical Association, medical royal colleges, charities and academic institutions, has called upon ministers to publish the results of its consultation.

In December, Australia became the first country in the world to put all tobacco products in standardised packs. Cigarette packs and other products are all sold in a standardised colour, with only the brand name and graphic warnings visible.

Deborah Arnott, chief executive of health charity Action on Smoking and Health, said: "The evidence is clear that heavily branded, brightly coloured packs are attractive to children. It's been six months since the consultation closed and the clock is ticking.

"Every day, hundreds more children take up smoking - children who need protecting from tobacco industry marketing. The Government must commit now to legislation to put all tobacco products in standard packs."
A Department of Health spokeswoman said: "We have received many thousands of responses to the tobacco packaging consultation. We are currently in the process of carefully collating and analysing all the responses received.

"The Government has an open mind on this issue and any decisions to take further action will be taken only after full consideration of the consultation responses, evidence and other relevant information".

To read the whole story, click here.

Over 78,500 children have started smoking since UK Government’s consultation on standardised tobacco packaging ended

Thursday, 14 February 2013  at 10:16

This Valentine’s day the Smokefree Action Coalition [1] is calling on the Government to take action and “have a heart” by committing to legislation to make all tobacco packaging standard.  Today is the tenth anniversary of the implementation of the ban on tobacco advertising and the seventh anniversary of the Commons vote for smokefree legislation.  Valentine’s Day is therefore an ideal date for the Government to make its decision known.

Since the consultation on the legislation ended just over six months ago, it is estimated that 78,500 children will have started smoking in the UK, a number which grows by 430 every day. Now the Smokefree Action Coalition, an alliance of over 190 health organisations including the BMA, medical royal colleges, public health bodies, academic institutions and health charities, is calling on the Government to publish the results of its consultation and announce that it will go ahead with legislation.

Currently in the UK, there are no restrictions on the way tobacco multinationals are allowed to promote their brands through packaging. The packs are now the principal form of tobacco promotion and are designed to attract existing and potential consumers with colourful and eye-catching imagery.

Deborah Arnott, Chief Executive of health charity ASH said: 

“The evidence is clear that heavily branded, brightly coloured packs are attractive to children.  It’s been six months since the consultation closed and the clock is ticking. Every day hundreds more children take up smoking - children who need protecting from tobacco industry marketing. The government must commit now to legislation to put all tobacco products in standard packs.”

Sir Richard Thompson, President of the Royal College of Physicians, said:

“As a young doctor I was depressed to see so many patients in their 50s and 60s suffering because they had started smoking as children. Back then there was very little we could do, but now we have the opportunity to help protect our children by implementing standardised packaging.”

Dr Harpal Kumar, Cancer Research UK's Chief Executive, said: 
"Around 430 children start smoking in the UK every day. With one in four cancer deaths caused by smoking, this is far too many children who are pulled into the lethal addiction. More than 80,000 Cancer Research UK supporters were among the 200,000 people calling on the Government to introduce plain, standardised cigarette packs   Our supporters run marathons and climb mountains to bring forward the day when we beat cancer. When the Government has a practical way to help prevent cancer, we urge it to act.” 

Louise Morris, 36, a mother and former smoker from Newcastle who was influenced by cigarette packaging as a child, also wants the Government to act. She said: 

"I started smoking with a group of friends when I was 13 years old. We all thought it was really fashionable to smoke the brand of cigarettes that looked the most attractive and I remember smoking cigarettes in a shiny gold packet because it made us feel like we were smoking a glamorous brand of cigarettes that looked more expensive compared to everyone else’s cigarettes.”
There is no evidence that standardised packaging will bolster the illegal tobacco trade as some tobacco multinationals suggest. [2] Branded tobacco packaging is no obstacle to counterfeiters and standardised packs would carry the same covert markings currently used to distinguish legal from illicit tobacco products. Legislation which ensures tobacco packaging is free from attractive designs will, above all else, help to discourage children from starting to smoke. [3]

Smoking is a childhood addiction, not an adult choice. [4]  More than 150,000 children start smoking each year in the UK. [5]  Half of all lifelong smokers will die from their addiction, amounting to over 100,000 people last year in the UK. [6]

Putting tobacco products in standardised packs is a popular measure. Opinion research shows that 62% of the public support the plain, standardised packaging of tobacco products, with more smokers supporting than opposing the measure. [7]  Over 200,000 people have expressed their support for the introduction of plain, standardised packaging of tobacco products in the UK. Internationally, standardised packaging is already in place in Australia which became the first country to implement such legislation in December 2012.  It’s time for the UK to follow suit. 

For more information, go to http://www.smokefreeaction.org.uk/plain-packaging.html

The Clock is ticking. 

To put the clock on your webpage, use the script below:

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<script type="text/javascript">
function deathclock() {
            var base_time   = new Date(Date.UTC(2012,7,10,0,0,0,0));  /* <---------(yyyy,m,d,h,m,s,ms) Base date and time = 1 Jan 2013 00:00:00am UTC (Note 0 = Jan, 1 = Feb, ... 11 = Dec) */
            var base_deaths = 0;      /* <--------- Number of deaths at base date (usually 0, but not necessarily) */
            var year_deaths = 156950; /* <--------- Number of deaths per year    */
            base_time       = base_time.getTime()/1000;
            var curr_time   = new Date();
            curr_time       = curr_time.getTime()/1000;
            var elapsed     = curr_time - base_time;
            var curr_deaths = base_deaths + year_deaths*elapsed/(365*24*60*60);
            curr_deaths     = curr_deaths.toFixed(0);
            curr_deaths     = curr_deaths.toString();
            var display     = '';
            for (var i = 0; i < curr_deaths.length; i++) {
                        if (i != 0 && i%3 == 0) display = '<span class="deathclock-sep">,</span>' + display;
                        display = '<span class="deathclock-digit">'+curr_deaths.charAt(curr_deaths.length-i-1)+'</span>' + display;
            html = '<div id="deathclock-display">' + display + '</div>';
            var clock_div = document.getElementById('deathclock-div');
            clock_div.innerHTML = html;

<!-- Part 2: CSS style -->

#deathclock {
            padding: 10px 15px;
            width: 120px; /* <-- inner width of box - add 30px (2x15px) to get outer width  */
            background-color: black;
            border: 5px solid yellow;
#deathclock .title {
   font-family: arial, helvetica, sans-serif;
            text-align: center;
            font-size: 16px;
            color: yellow;
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            border: 5px solid white;
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            background-color: white;
            text-align: center;
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            width: 4px;  /* <--------- width of thousands separator (comma) */
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#deathclock .text {
            clear: both;
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   font-family: arial, helvetica, sans-serif;
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            color: white;
#deathclock a {
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<!-- Part 3: HTML text -->

<div id="deathclock">
            <div class="title">The clock ticks</div>
<div class="text">
                        <p>Every day 430 children become smokers in the UK. That's </p></div>
            <div id="deathclock-div">
                        <script language="javascript">setInterval("deathclock()", 50);</script>
            <div class="text">
                        <p>since the consultation on standard packs closed. Tell the Government to act.</p>
                        <p><a href=” http://www.smokefreeaction.org.uk/plain-packaging.html” target=”_blank">Email your MP</a></p>

MPs sent cigarette packs to highlight their deadly design

Tuesday, 12 February 2013  at 11:34

Cancer Research UK today released the news that MPs in the UK are being sent examples of widely available cigarette packets to show how the tobacco industry markets its products to children.

The story online read:

Cancer Research UK is taking the bold step of sending one of a variety of widely sold packs to each MP highlighting the slick designs and colourful packaging that children and young women find appealing.

Raising awareness of the tobacco industry’s sophisticated marketing techniques comes as the government considers the future of tobacco marketing.

The public consultation on whether to remove all branding from tobacco packaging and put cigarettes in standardised packs of the same size, shape and colours closed in August 2012.

Around 80,000 Cancer Research UK supporters responded to the consultation in favour of plain, standardised packaging.

Sarah Woolnough, Cancer Research UK’s executive director of policy and information, said:
“Our figures show that over 150,000 children start smoking every year in the UK. They don’t start randomly. They are enticed, lured and marketed to by the tobacco industry. It’s important to remember that these are lethal products that will kill half of all long term smokers and are the cause of at least 14 different types of cancer.
“Glitzy designs make packs look like music speakers or perfume bottles and reduce the impact of the health warnings. One of the best ways we have found to effectively demonstrate this is to show people real packs of cigarettes.”
To read the full story, click here

Packaging heavyweights meet MPs over plain pack plans

Thursday, 7 February 2013  at 11:37

Liz Gyekye of Packaging News updates on a 'campaign' in the UK against plans for the introduction of the plain, standardised packaging of tobacco products.

Packaging heavyweights have held a meeting with an industry-related group of MPs to argue against plans for plain tobacco packaging

Former packaging industry executive Mike Ridgway is spokesman for the UK Packaging Industry Group, which includes seven packaging producers.

The group is campaigning against plans for plain packaging and briefed the All Party Parliamentary Group  (APPG) for the Packaging Manufacturing Industry yesterday ( 5 February).

The UK Packaging Industry Group includes Weidenhammer Packaging Group, Payne, Parkside Flexibles Group, Chesapeake, and API.

To read the full story, click here

MPs in India back bill on tobacco control

  at 09:40

An article published on 6th Feb 2013 on the website Two Circles, highlights the support for the plain packaging of tobacco products in India.

A private member's bill introduced in the last winter session of parliament to seek strict tobacco control measures in India has received support from Odisha's MPs and health experts, a Biju Janata Dal (BJD) MP said Wednesday.

Several parliament members from Odisha's ruling BJD have expressed their support to the bill, Panda said. Among those who have extended their support include Shashi Bhusan Behera and Dilip Kumar Tirkey -- both members of the Rajya Sabha from the state, he said.
"Plain packaging of cigarettes and other tobacco products is essential to reduce the appeal of tobacco use, especially among youngsters," he added.
"In our country, where more than one million people die annually due to tobacco use and the annual health costs of tobacco related illnesses are a staggering $6.5 billion, this proposed amendment to the Indian tobacco control law will reduce initiation into tobacco use," he pointed out.
 The bill seeks to remove extraneous colours, embossing and misleading elements on tobacco packs, thus eliminating the "badge value" of all forms of tobacco product packaging. Brand and product names can be used in a standardized, prescribed style, font and colour, it says.

The tobacco industry uses attractive packaging and aggressive marketing to lure people into tobacco use. Australia is leading the way by introducing plain packaging as a powerful legislation to counter this industry tactic," said K. Srinath Reddy, president of PHFI.

To read the full story, click here
* This number reflects the total amount of people who have signed up to support the plain packaging of tobacco products, via the Plain Packs Protect Partnership (logos below), British Heart Foundation and Cancer Research UK websites.
Supporters Smoke Free South West Ulster Cancer Foundation ash Ash Scotland Ash Wales British Heart Foundation Cancer Research UK Chartered Institute of Environmental Health Cut Films Faculty of Public Health Fresh Smoke Free North East National Heart Forum NCSCT BTS - Stop Smoking Champions The Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation Royal College of Physicians TCC Tobacco Free Future Trading Standards Partnership South West Smoke Free Lincs - Promoting a tobacco free life