Cigarette pack plan 'won't increase smuggling'

Monday, 25 March 2013  at 10:46

That is the message from the UK's All Party Parliamentary Group on Smoking and Health. 

The All Party Parliamentary Group say there is "no good evidence" that standardised cigarette packs would lead to more smuggling, an argument held by those opposed to plans to legislate standardised packaging in the UK.

Tobacco companies have said plain packs could easily be illicitly copied, but the politicians said security features could still be used on standard packs.

One MP said the UK has a good record in recent years in tackling the illicit tobacco trade.The government consulted last year on mandatory standardised packs.

The results of that consultation, held from April to August, are still being considered. The All Party Parliamentary Group on Smoking and Health said that existing packaging was already "cheaply and readily" copied.

Politicians want to discourage children from smoking
Members said enforcement agencies do not rely on pack design to test whether packs are illegal - instead they use a number of security features, all of which could also be present on standardised packs.

Group chairman, Liberal Democrat MP Stephen William, said: "The UK has a good record in recent years in tackling the illicit tobacco trade, although it remains a serious challenge.

Group chairman, Liberal Democrat MP Stephen William

"Contrary to tobacco industry propaganda there is no good reason to think that standardised packs will increase illicit trade.

"The tobacco industry knows that standard packs will cut the number of children pulled into this lethal addiction - that's why they are running an expensive and mendacious campaign to try to scare the government off."

According to charity Cancer Research UK about 207,000 11- to 15-year-olds take up smoking every year in the UK. It said figures from an annual 'Smoking, Drinking and Drug Use Among Young People in England' survey suggested 570 children smoked for the first time every day.

The charity urged the government to commit to plain, standardised packaging of tobacco, which is considered less appealing to youngsters.

The parliamentary group called on the health secretary to follow Australia's lead and introduce plain packs in the next parliamentary session.

Last December Australia became the first country in the world to introduce plain packaging for cigarettes.
All tobacco company logos and colours were banned from packets. Instead there is a uniform colour with anti-smoking messages and photographs.

The tobacco company name and brand variant are allowed in small print at the bottom of the pack.

To Red the story on the BBC website, click here

Calls for standardised packaging as children starting smoking has risen by 50,000 A Year

Friday, 22 March 2013  at 09:35

The Huggington Post report this morning that the number of children who have taken up smoking has risen by 50,000 in just one year, research suggests.

About 207,000 children aged 11 to 15 started to smoke in 2011, a sharp rise from 157,000 in 2010, Cancer Research UK said.

The charity said the figure equates to 567 children taking up the habit each day.

Almost one in three (27%) of under-16s have tried smoking at least once, a study by the charity found.
It urged the Government to commit to putting all cigarettes in plain standardised packs.

Last April, 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.
Sarah Woolnough, executive director of policy and information at Cancer Research UK, said: "With such a large number of youngsters starting to smoke every year, urgent action is needed to tackle the devastation caused by tobacco.

"Replacing slick, brightly-coloured packs that appeal to children with standard packs displaying prominent health warnings is a vital part of efforts to protect health.

"Reducing the appeal of cigarettes with plain, standardised packs will give millions of children one less reason to start smoking.

"These figures underline the importance of sustained action to discourage young people from starting.
"Smoking kills and is responsible for at least 14 different types of cancer. Standardised packaging is popular with the public and will help protect children.

"We urge the Government to show their commitment to health and introduce plain, standardised packs as soon as possible."

In December, Australia became the first country in the world to put all tobacco products in standardised packs.

Cigarette packets and other products are all sold in a standardised colour, with only the brand name and graphic warnings visible.

To read the full story, click here.

Anti plain pack ads banned as "misleading"

Thursday, 14 March 2013  at 11:08

A number of publications including Campaign Live have reported adverts challenging the Government's proposals for plain, standardised packing produced by JTI have been banned by the Advertising Standards Authority. The ads are said to be "misleading" and lack "substantiation".

The feature that was published in Campaign Live goes on to say:

Benson & Hedges and Silk Cut-owner Gallaher has had three ads challenging the Government's proposals for plain cigarette packaging, banned by the ad watchdog.


Banned: one of three ads from cigarette producer Gallaher to fall foul of the ASA
Banned: one of three ads from cigarette producer Gallaher to fall foul of the ASA

The ads, created by Big Al's Creative Emporium, were banned on the grounds that they had breached the CAP code and were "misleading" and lacking in "substantiation".

The Advertising Standards Authority examined the ads after receiving complaints about the claims in the ads from the charities ASH (Action on Smoking and Health) and Cancer Research

Gallaher, which includes Benson & Hedges and Silk Cut among its brands, released three national press ads claiming there was "no evidence" that plain cigarette packaging would discourage young people from buying cigarettes.

Text in one of the ads stated: "This same policy was rejected in 2008 because there was no credible evidence."

The company said that after the 2008 Consultation on the Future of Tobacco Control, the Government had considered and put forward a range of control measures, including a ban on displaying tobacco products for sale, but had not taken forward proposals to introduce plain packaging for cigarettes.

Gallaher, which is part of Japan Tobacco International (JTI), also highlighted various statements made by ministers after the 2008 consultation was published, which they said reinforced the fact that the Government had rejected the idea to introduce plain cigarette packaging.

In one such statement, they quoted Alan Johnson, the secretary of state for health in 2009, who said: "There is no evidence base that it [plain packaging] actually reduces the number of young children smoking.

"We want to keep that under review, and when there is an evidence base for it, it could well be another important measure to meet our goal, which is to reduce the number of young people smoking."
This they interpreted as a rejection of the policy.

However, the ASA’s assessment concluded that Gallaher’s assertions in the ads that the Government had strictly rejected the proposals were incorrect and misleading, as Johnson had said the proposals would kept "under review" and "could well be another important measure".

The ASA also verified with the Department of Health (DoH) that this was the Government’s current position on the matter.

The DoH advised that, while the proposal was not pursued in the new [2008/9] legislation, the Government had kept open the potential for it to be pursued at a later date and it was not correct to say there had been an outright rejection.

The ASA ruled the ads must not appear in their current form and told JTI not to claim the Government had rejected the policy of plan packaging and not state or imply it had not been introduced because of a lack of evidence.

A statement issued by JTI said that it was disappointed by the ASA's decision and that it would not use the advertisements again, but that it would not withhold from voicing concern on the issue in the future.

To read the full story, click here

Tobacco shares fall on possible UK regulation

Thursday, 7 March 2013  at 09:26

Following the story in the Guardian 'Plain packaging for cigarettes in new crackdown' published yesterday, 6th March, Bloomberg Business Week report on the effects to the share price of tobacco companies.

The piece reads:

Tobacco company shares fell in trading Wednesday on the news that the British government may follow Australia's lead and impose plain packaging for cigarettes.

The UK publication The Guardian reported that ministers there will introduce plain packaging for cigarettes after becoming convinced that the branding is a key factor in why young people start to smoke. The report says that the legislation will be announced in the Queen's speech in May. It is also expected to ban smoking in cars carrying anyone younger than 16.

Australia's law, which replaces logos on tobacco packs with graphic warnings about the health impact of the products, took effect in December and is gaining some global support.

Nearby New Zealand is also considering imposing a similar packaging rule but is waiting until a challenge to Australia's law is resolved.

Tobacco companies lost a legal challenge in Australia's highest court last year, but the World Trade Organization has agreed to hear a complaint about the law from several tobacco-growing countries. New Zealand, Norway and Uruguay have lined up behind Australia in the WTO case.

The news that the British government may also follow suit sent the shares of major tobacco stocks down by early afternoon.

Shares of Phillip Morris International Inc., based in the United States but with operations overseas, fell 67 cents to $91.61 in afternoon trading. The shares of Imperial Tobacco Group PLC lost 2.4 percent and British American Tobacco PLC fell 1.3 percent in trading in London.

Click here.

Guardian: 'Government to legislate for plain cigarette packaging this year'

Wednesday, 6 March 2013  at 14:37

The Guardian in the UK yesterday published: 'Government to legislate for plain cigarette packaging this year' 

The story which has since been picked up around the world goes on to say:

Ministers are to introduce plain packaging for cigarettes along the Australian model with legislation this year, after becoming convinced that the branding is a key factor in why young people start to smoke.

The legislation, to be announced in the Queen's speech in May, is also expected to ban smoking in cars carrying anyone aged under 16 years. Ministers acknowledge that the ban is likely to be difficult for the police to enforce, but they believe peer group pressure will have an impact similar to the ban on drivers using mobile phones.

David Cameron referred to the possibility of introducing plain packaging last week, without putting a timetable on it. Ministers are convinced that the ban is necessary to take the next step to reduce smoking in the UK.

"We are going to follow what they have done in Australia. The evidence suggests it is going to deter young smokers. There is going to be legislation," said a senior Whitehall source said.

The move comes after a Lancet study of 19 countries found the UK falling down the health wellbeing league table. It found Britain's pace of decline in premature mortality has fallen well behind the average of 14 other original members of the European Union as well as Australia, Canada, Norway, and the United States over the past 20 years. A key reason was the durability of a range of public health issues, including diet, drink and drugs.

Smoking causes over 100,000 deaths every year in the UK and the Policy Exchange thinktank has estimated it costs society £14bn. Despite a massive reduction in the numbers smoking since the 1950s, it is still estimated that one in five British people smokes. There is already a complete ban on cigarette advertising, and in one of the Labour government's most controversial moves, smoking in public places was also banned. The 2009 Health Act ended open display of tobacco products, mainly in supermarkets, from April last year and will come into force for all other shops from April 2015.

Ministers are also looking to see if the troubled families unit headed by the families tsar, Louise Casey, can start to design interventions to improve the diets of some of the 120,000 families it is already seeking to help.
Research shows that poorer families are far more prone to obesity, and immune to public health messages. In schools research is showing that it is wealthier families that are taking up healthy food options.

The Department of Health started a consultation in March 2011 on plain packaging which ended last August last year. Research for the department by the University of Stirling found that "plain pack colours have negative connotations, weaken attachment to brands, project a less desirable smoker identity, and expose the reality of smoking".

The study also found that non-smokers tended to find plain packaging less appealing than did smokers, and younger respondents tended to find it less appealing than did older respondents. Around two thirds of smokers say they started smoking before they were 18.

Since December in Australia cigarettes must be sold in uniform drab olive-green packets with graphic health warnings. The only marker of difference between products is the brand name written on the packet in a uniform style. New Zealand has promised to follow the Australian lead.

The Australian attorney-general, Mark Dreyfus, has defended the packaging saying "it is anti-cancer, not anti-trade". There has been some evidence that smokers are now trying to cover up the packaging with plasters.

To read the whole piece, click here.


Pacific health officials discuss plain packaging of cigarettes

Tuesday, 5 March 2013  at 15:07

ABC Radio in Australia have broadcast a programme discussing plain, standardised packaging laws. The programme suggests that plain cigarette packaging laws could soon be a reality for the Pacific.
Australia and New Zealand have both moved towards plain cigarette packaging and the move is likely to impact on other countries in the Pacific.

Professor Simon Chapman from the University of Sydney is a public health advocate and was heavily involved in leading the Australian world first of plain packaging for cigarette.

He's just returned from the Pacific where he says there is interest in plain packaging and says momentum will build in the Pacific.

To listen and read more on the discussions surrounding plain, standardised packaging of tobacco products between Pacific health officials, 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