Monthly Archives: June 2010

Russia adopts EC warnings

June 28, 2010

Russia slapped “smoking kills” warnings on cigarette packages from Saturday in an effort to crack down on an addiction kills up to 500,000 people a year and is on the rise.

According to World Health Organization statistics, 60 percent of Russian men smoke and the number of smokers, particularly among young women, has been growing since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

As many as 350,000 to half a million of Russians die each year of smoking-related causes, clouding the country’s already gloomy demographic. The United Nations warns that the population may shrink from to 116 million by 2050 from 142 million now.

Adopting standards similar to those in the European Union, the Ministry of Health and Social Development requires the anti-smoking message to cover no less than 30 percent of the front of a package and another warning takes half of the back.

The messages range from warnings of lung cancer through wrinkles to impotence and will also come with information on the amount of nicotine and resins

“Introduction of the new technical regulations of tobacco production is one of the steps in the path to limit the use and spread of tobacco production in Russia,” the ministry said in a statement.

But the fight against smoking is a tough one in a nicotine-addicted nation where in 1990 a shortage of domestic cigarettes led to a “tobacco rebellion” on the streets of Russia’s three biggest cities, forcing then-president Mikhail Gorbachev to appeal for an international emergency shipment.


Some 409 billion cigarettes were produced in the country last year, according to data from the Association of Tobacco Producers, or about 2,900 cigarettes per capita.

Russia remains one of the top tobacco clients, with the domestic market almost completely taken by three global players: Japan Tobacco Inc., Philip Morris International and British American Tobacco PLC.

“The number of tobacco producers in Russia is not increasing, not even by one,” the paper Komsomolskaya Pravda cited on Saturday Gennady Onishchenko, the head of Russia’s consumer protection watchdog Rospotrebnadzor, as saying.


Russia joined the World Health Organisation’s anti-smoking convention in 2008, which requires gradual implementation of measures such as bans on smoking in public places and tobacco advertising.

Public awareness campaigns also have been increasing, with messages becoming less subtle.

Billboards two years ago showing a model wearing a dress made of cigarettes have given way to pictures of a sleeping infant with a cigarette placed on its back and the message: “Smoking in child’s presence is a much bigger torture for him

President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin condemned smoking — and alcoholism — calling it a big tragedy of the nation.

But cigarettes remain affordable and available, with most priced at around 1 euro ($1.34) for 20, and unfiltered selling for much less.

Some coffee chains have become smoke-free this year, but many restaurants are filled with fumes and patrons who object get the least prestigious tables.

In June, Russia’s Finance Ministry said it plans to increase the excise tax from the current 250 roubles ($8.05) per 1,000 filtered cigarettes by 44 percent to 360 roubles next year, eventually more than doubling it to 590 roubles in 2013.

But next year’s increase is a fraction of what the Duma, the Lower House of Parliament, proposed in December, when it called for a quadrupling, which would double the price of cigarettes.


Source: Reuters (June 26, 2010)

Malta – Cigarette packets to carry shocking images next year

June 7, 2010

Shocking images showing the effects of smoking will be printed on cigarette packets sold in local shops from the middle of next year.

The warnings will underline the increased risks of cardiovascular disease, cancer, infertility and impotence among smokers, and the harm done to unborn babies and children.

Three in every four Europeans have said they support picture health warnings on cigarette packs, according to a Eurobarometer survey.

Speaking at a press conference to mark No Tobacco Day yesterday, Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Department head Charmaine Gauci said there were 372 deaths attributable to smoking in 2008.

These included lung, trachea and bronchus cancers, heart disease and stroke as well as chronic bronchitis.

Despite the dangers, a fifth of respondents in the last Health Interview Survey, carried out in Malta in 2008, said they had smoked daily for at least a year. Smoking was most common among 45- to 54-year-olds.

A quarter of those interviewed, aged 18 and over, said they were still exposed to second-hand smoke, either at home or outside, despite a ban on smoking in public places introduced in 2004. Health Minister Joe Cassar said smoking in bars and other public places was a sign of disrespect towards others. “We do not need to enforce any law if we all showed respect,” he said.

Dr Cassar said 1.3 million people around the world smoked and every year 4.9 million people died as a result. “Half of smokers risk dying because of smoking-related illness,” he said.

He said health professionals were duty-bound to inform people about the dangers associated with smoking. Research had shown that even a short intervention by health professionals could be very effective in helping people stop smoking.

Dr Cassar said that, apart from one-to-one help, professionals could also help on a community level by preparing plans in support of smoking regulations in public places and help smokers kick the habit.

“Professionals should serve as a model and the Health Department is helping them to stop smoking,” he said. Health care workers were also given courses allowing them to help others quit smoking.

He said restrictions on smoking in public places had helped more people quit smoking, and other countries were adopting similar laws.

The Health Department yesterday announced the three winners of its biannual Quit And Win Competition. Joseph Magro, 34, Reuben Hayman, 23, and Claudine Psaila, 41, managed to stop smoking.


Source: June 1, 2010 (Times of Malta)


Cigarette packs get colorful for ‘light’ label ban

June 7, 2010

Goodbye, Marlboro Lights. Hello, Marlboro Gold Pack.

“Light” cigarettes are going up in smoke by the end of June, but their names and packaging are getting a colorful makeover.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says cigarette packs no longer can feature names such as “light,” “mild,” “medium” or “low,” which many smokers wrongly think are less harmful than “full-flavor” cigarettes.

Cigarette makers are replacing those words with colors such as gold, silver, blue and orange on brands that make up more than half of the smokes sold across the country.

Anti-tobacco advocates say the colors are just as bad as the words, but tobacco companies argue they have a right to let smokers know which products are which.

Companies insist the words tell smokers about the taste, feel and blend of a cigarette, not health risks. The cigarettes usually feature different filters and milder-flavored blends.

Long years of advertising, however, emphasized measurements of lower tar and nicotine in “light” cigarettes, even though those were measured with smoking machines that don’t mirror how real smokers puff. For example, smokers will inhale more deeply or smoke more cigarettes if they’re not getting the amount of nicotine they want.

Studies show that about 90 percent of smokers and nonsmokers believe that cigarettes described as “light” or have certain colors on the packages are less harmful even though “all commercial cigarettes are equally lethal,” said David Hammond, a health behavior researcher at the University of Waterloo in Canada.

Colors shape perceptions of risks on all products, Hammond said. For example, mayonnaise and soda usually use lighter colors on their packaging to distinguish between diet, light and regular products.

He called the removal of those few words on cigarette packs “necessary but not sufficient measures” to improve public health or reduce false perceptions.

“This is essentially mopping up the worst excesses of what the courts in the U.S. have judged to be deceptive advertising,” he said. “Tobacco companies are going to need words to distinguish their brands; it’s just a question of identifying what descriptors or words lead to false beliefs.”

He suggested the FDA take the ban even further and restrict both color and words such as “smooth” and “slim.”

Other countries are considering going even further. The Australian government proposed legislation last month that would make manufacturers sell cigarettes in plain, standard packaging, without colors and logos. More than 40 countries already have laws prohibiting terms similar to what the FDA is banning.

The idea of further packaging restrictions has the industry gasping for breath.

“Absent this information, massive confusion in the marketplace would result,” James E. Swauger, vice president of regulatory oversight for R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., the nation’s second-biggest cigarette company, wrote in a letter to the FDA.

Swauger warned that, if the FDA were to go as far as banning colors, consumers wouldn’t be able to distinguish between brands, and manufacturers could be limited to one type of cigarette per brand because they’d have no other way to distinguish their products.

The company, owned by Winston-Salem, N.C.-based Reynolds American Inc., made slight changes to some of its brands’ packs, but for some, it was simply removing the words like “light” on already colorful packages.

The nation’s largest cigarette company, Philip Morris USA, made more than 150 packaging changes to comply. It also has included inserts in packs and displays at retail locations telling customers to “In the Future, Ask For…” the new name or color of their brand.

For example, the company is replacing its Marlboro Light cigarettes with Marlboro Gold Pack; its Marlboro Menthol Milds will be known as Marlboro Menthol Blue Pack. Philip Morris USA is owned by Altria Group Inc., based in Richmond, Va.

While customers may already see some of the new packaging in stores, calling their smokes by their old names may be a harder habit to break than smoking itself.

“I’ll ask for Newport Light 100s, and I’ll let them decipher it,” said 52-year-old Joe McKenna, a teacher and longtime smoker from Pearl River, N.Y., whose brand made by Lorillard Inc. is now known as Newport Menthol Gold. “It’s just kind of ridiculous in the sense that you know they’re harmful for you.”


Source: June 4, 2010 (The Associated Press)