Monthly Archives: August 2010

Philippines: Court upholds picture health warnings

Aug 20, 2010

THE Department of Health (DOH) on Wednesday said that they are now more confident in fighting the people’s right to information after they won its first victory against tobacco companies.
The Health department together with health and law professionals celebrated their victory after the Parañaque court denied an injunction in a case filed against the agency by Telengtan Brothers and Sons, or the La Suerte Cigar and Cigarette Factory.

“This order is a victory for the DOH and the Filipino public. It’s very tragic that we have all these tobacco companies filing cases left and right questioning the validity of an AO [Administrative Order 2010-0013] that was crafted with nothing but the health of the Filipino people in mind. The fight is far from over, but this is a positive development,” said Health Undersecretary Alex Padilla.

“The denial of the injunction gives us hope. Out of the top ten causes of mortality in the Philippines, at least seven are smoking-related. This is more than enough reason to stop tobacco consumption and save lives,” Dr. Daniel Tan, a World Health Organization awardee on tobacco control in the Philippines said also in a statement.

He lauded the health department for taking the huge step forward in protecting the people’s right to know about the ills that cigarettes bring.

“The AO should be celebrated, not questioned,” Tan added.

“This is a welcome development. Injunctions are issued to prevent injustice. Which is more unjust, the loss of profits to tobacco companies or the cancers and other deadly diseases that half their loyal customers will die of?” Lawyer Ipat Luna an environmental law expert said in a statement.

The health department said that after the issuance of AO 2010-0013, five tobacco companies have filed cases in various courts assailing its validity. In two of five cases, preliminary injunctions have been issued in their favor. An injunction, once granted, retains the status quo among parties.

However, the regional trial court denied the injunction because it would preempt a decision on the validity of the AO, the principal issue in the case.

The court also stated that as the penalties are not even operative yet, Telengtan Brothers and Sons’ “rouse of a possible violation of the law becomes a little bit imaginary in the meantime, and would not stand to prejudice petitioner.”

The May 24 AO is requiring tobacco manufacturers to put images of tobacco-related illnesses in their cigarette packs, and prohibiting them to use misleading tags such as “low tar,” “light,” “ultra-light,” “mild,” “extra,” “ultra” and similar terms.

The AO said that tobacco companies are expected to comply by ensuring that all cigarette packs have graphic information within 90 days from its effectivity, or by September 10 this year.

Graphic health information has shown to be very effective with the youth. Some studies also show that the pictures inspired smokers to quit the habit, with almost half of them smoking less frequently because of the new graphic information.


Source: The Manila Times (August 19, 2010)

France: Plain Cigarette Packs Considered

Aug 18. 2010

CIGARETTE manufacturers and tobacconists have reacted with anger to a proposed law that would ban logos and other branding from packets sold in France.

An MP in Nicolas Sarkozy’s governing UMP party is about to submit draft legislation to parliament that, if passed, would make every cigarette packet in France identical.

Logos would be banned, with the name of the brand instead appearing in a small box at the bottom of the packet, in a uniform typeface on a sombre background.

The rest of the front of the packet would be taken up by a large shock image of the damage smoking does to the body.

Bas-Rhin MP Yves Bur, a long-standing anti-smoking campaigner, said the plain packaging would help stop making the cigarette “an object of desire”.

He told Le Parisien: “Packaging is the only means the tobacco industry has left of advertising. It is an incredible marketing tool. A lot of work goes into the colours and the logos to attract young people.”

Anti-smoking group the Comité National Contre le Tabagisme said the uniform packaging would “allow thousands of lives to be saved by ridding cigarette packets of their cool image”.

British American Tobacco said the idea was “incredibly stupid” and taking away a packet’s defining characteristics would lead to more contraband cigarettes appearing on the market.

The Confédération des Débitants de Tabac, which represents tobacconists in France, said there was no evidence that the plain packaging would stop people buying cigarettes.

The group also said that having an array of identical-looking packets would make tobacconists’ work more difficult.

The Health Ministry says it would like to wait and see what effect new shock pictures on packets have on cigarette consumption before considering a further step towards plain packaging.

Every cigarette packet sold in France will have to carry photos of the damage smoking does under a law passed earlier this year.

One of 14 images will take up 40% of the space on the back of every packet sold in France, with messages such as “Smokers die early” and “Smoking causes deadly lung cancer”.

Producers and tobacconists have until the middle of next year to use up their existing stocks.


Source: The Connexion (August 11, 2010)

Canada: Delay on New Warnings

Aug 18, 2010

OTTAWA – Tobacco companies can breathe a sigh of relief thanks to the delay of Health Canada’s plan to force them to increase the size of health warnings to cover most of the surface of cigarette packages.

Health Canada shared mock-ups of supersized new warning labels with public-health advocates more than a year ago – with regulations that were expected to be tabled in January to increase the warning size from their current 50 per cent to at least 70 per cent of the package’s surface.

The larger, more graphic images would also be accompanied by a national toll-free quit line.

Even industry appeared resigned to the fact that changes were coming, despite companies maintaining that the government should be focused on the illegal cigarette market, where cigarettes are sold without any health warnings or safeguards against youth access.

Last September, a senior executive for Imperial Tobacco Canada told an audience in Sao Paulo, Brazil, of pending Canadian regulations to increase graphic warning labels. But months have since passed, and the file is stalled.

“We know the department is completely ready to do the last stages of the regulatory process, and the indications that we had received that this would be happening by now have been withdrawn,” said Cynthia Callard, executive director of Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada.

“We haven’t been told why it’s been withdrawn. It seems to have disappeared into a big black hole in the centre of government. We’re concerned in part because of the mystery around why things aren’t moving forward.”

Health Canada settled on bigger warnings and updated visuals after its own public-opinion research showed many smokers had dulled to the government’s graphic messages covering half the panel on cigarette packs, introduced in Canada in 2000 as an international first.

Independent research pointed to the same trend, showing a decline in salience of warning labels in Canada over time.

“After 10 years, there’s a phenomenon called wear-out of warning labels. With advertising or any kind communication, if you repeat the same communications over and over again, then it starts losing its effect,” said Geoff Fong, professor of psychology and health studies at the University of Waterloo, and lead researcher for the collaborative International Tobacco Control Policy Evaluation Project.

The official process to modernize Canada’s tobacco product labels began in August 2004, nearly four years after Canada became the first country in the world requiring tobacco companies to blanket half the pack with government-mandated graphic warning labels.

They include: a limp cigarette with the words, “Tobacco use can cause impotence;” a hospitalized man with the tagline “Cigarettes cause lung cancer;” and a close-up of a cancerous mouth with the line “Cigarettes cause mouth diseases.”

“The government’s been working on this for years now and there has been some very unfortunate and inexplicable delays in a new round of cigarette packaging warnings,” said Rob Cunningham, a tobacco control specialist at the Canadian Cancer Society.

“Other countries are leapfrogging over Canada in terms of the size and improved content,” he added, pointing out some of the 39 countries that followed Canada with warning labels are already on their second and third round of updates.

In a statement to Postmedia News, Health Canada said the department “continues to examine this issue” and “to review public-opinion research on the effectiveness of health-warning messages.

“The findings from this research will help Health Canada have messages that will be noticed and effective for all Canadians.”

Source: The Montreal Gazette (August 12, 2010)

Spain to require picture warnings

Aug 4, 2010

Spain has finalized requirements for pictorial warnings on cigarette packages effective May 26, 2011, twelve months after publication in the offficial bulletin.

Spain becomes the seventh EU country to require pictorial warnings, joining Belgium (2006), Romania (2008), UK (2008), Latvia (2010), France (2011) and Malta (2011).  Some non-EU countries (Switzerland, Norway and Turkey) have also required pictorial warnings based on images taken from the European Commission library of 42 images.  Worldwide, at least 39 countries/jurisdictions have required picture warnings.

Spain’s Royal Decree 639/2010 was approved on May 14, 2010 and published in the official bulletin (Boletin Oficial del Estado) on May 26, 2010.  A correction modifying one of the required images was published in the official bulletin on June 3, 2010.

Other tobacco products covered by the new requirements for picture warnings (e.g. roll-your-own tobacco) will have 24 months to comply, until May 26, 2012.

In adopting the new decree, Spain has specified that the 3-4mm border surrounding the warning is to be in addition to the space for the warning, and therefore in compliance with the EU Directive.  Thus the effective space used (including the border) will be about 43% of the front and 53% of the back, whereas previously warnings have appeared in Spain on 30% of the front and 40% of the back (including the border).


Source: Royal Decree (Spanish) (May 26, 2010)