Yearly Archives: 2010

Camel Lures Aspiring Hipsters to Cigarettes with Williamsburg-Themed Packaging

Nov 12, 2010

You’re just another rebellion-minded young kid with ambitions to be like one of those people you associate yourself with. That’s correct, you want to be a hipster. And where do these hipsters live? Well, you know they live in Williamsburg, in Brooklyn, where the PBR flows like water and irony is the lingua franca. But if an uncool cigarette company put Williamsburg-themed art on its packs, would you smoke them? Camel thinks you will!

The RJ Reynolds company – still best known for dispatching a sunglasses-clad version of its animal namesake onto the battlefields of the war to get kids addicted to nicotine – has rolled out a line of its smokes that feature skylines of other “hipster cities” such as Austin and Seattle, The Brooklyn Paper reports.

Camel is betting on the fact that an association with what they call “the most famous hipster neighborhood” will get more people hooked, or at least sell more to the already-addicted.

Brooklyn Paper has the promotional material. It’s painfully earnest!

“It’s about last call, a sloppy kiss goodbye and a solo saunter to a rock show in an abandoned building …” said the promotional material, possibly written by a team of marketers who have never been to Williamsburg. “It’s where a tree grows.” (Groan.)

The marketing campaign promises its customers will earn “serious street cred” for trying the Williamsburg brand, and noted that Camel met with some “modern-day pioneers” with “lighthearted angst and rebellion” in the neighborhood to try the brand out.

Oh, the Williamsburg kids, with their lighthearted angst and everything! Don’t you just want to be them? To join them in their Rock ‘n’ Roll lifestyle? It’s just an overpriced pack of Camels away.

Not surprisingly, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz and Williamsburg Councilman Steve Levin are both against this ad campaign.

“As a former smoker, I know there is no way to responsibly use cigarettes,” Markowitz told Brooklyn Paper. “So when we say that Williamsburg and Brooklyn are smokin’, we mean smokin’ hot – not smokin’ cigarettes!”


Source: The New York Observer (November 11, 2010)

Plain Packaging & Legal Issues

Nov 9, 2010

The new Labor minority government is committed to introducing plain packaging of cigarettes. The tobacco companies or those who advocate on its behalf have claimed that such moves would either breach the Australian Constitution or international legal obligations relating to protection of trade marks. Neither assertion is correct.

Since that conference in 1994, the worldwide and Australian regulatory environment relating to promotion of cigarettes has become significantly more restrictive. The regulatory moves that have been made, lead to the next step of introducing plain packaging. As its own documentation reveals, the tobacco industry had no case against the legality of plain packaging in 1994 and its legal position is even weaker in 2010. There are no constitutional or international legal impediments to the implementation of the proposals.


Source: Lawyers Weekly

New US warnings: Proposed images

Nov 10, 2010

The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act (Tobacco Control Act) in the United States requires the FDA to finalize picture health warnings by June 2011. The new health warnings will consists of nine full color health warnings that cover the top half of the “front” and “back” of cigarette packages.

The FDA has released a series of images for each of the nine health warnings and is seeking public comment through January 9 2011. Visit to view the proposed images.


Source: US Food and Drug Administration (November 2010)

New Canadian warnings delayed

Nov 10, 2010

The federal government is abandoning its responsibility to protect the health of Canadians by failing to introduce stronger warnings on cigarette packages, says a new editorial published in the country’s leading medical journal.

After spending several years and millions of taxpayer dollars studying, creating and focus-group testing updated warning labels for tobacco products, the federal government announced at a closed-door meeting with provinces and territories in September it was stepping away from the plan.

An editorial published Monday by the Canadian Medical Association Journal harshly criticizes the about-face as a “senseless” and “ill-conceived” policy change, and even questions whether it’s a result of the government bowing to pressure from the tobacco industry.

“The federal government is abdicating its responsibility to Canadians in fighting tobacco,” Paul Hébert, CMAJ editor-in-chief, said in an interview.

Most Canadians are familiar with the health warnings that are featured on cigarette packages and other tobacco products. The warnings are designed to inform people about the harmful effects of smoking, such as lung cancer, heart disease and mouth cancer, as well as about the dangers of secondhand smoke. One of the most well-known warnings features a set of blackened, diseased teeth, with the words: “Cigarettes cause mouth diseases.” Canada was the first country in the world to adopt such strong labelling measures when the warnings were introduced in 2000.

But many consumers have become desensitized to the warning labels, which is why they need to be updated and made stronger, Dr. Hébert said.

“[The federal government] started well,” he said. “They didn’t finish well.”

Health Canada had been reviewing the warnings for tobacco products for several years and was considering new labels that would have been larger and, in many cases, much more graphic than the originals.

One of the most powerful new labels that received a strong reaction in Health Canada focus groups was the image of Barb Tarbox, one of Canada’s best-known anti-tobacco advocates, emaciated and dying from smoking-related illnesses. Another features a person’s lips ravaged by mouth cancer.

Public health experts and anti-smoking groups saw the proposed new warning labels as an important step forward in the continued battle to get people to quit.

But at a meeting of provincial and territorial health ministers in September, Health Canada said it wouldn’t be going forward with the proposed changes and that it was focusing instead on the growing problem of contraband tobacco.

The CMAJ editorial questions why Health Canada couldn’t introduce new health warnings while also trying to deal with the contraband tobacco issue, and accuses the government of wasting time and taxpayer dollars. The abrupt shift also raises questions about the government’s motives, according to the editorial.

“In the absence of a logical explanation, Canadians should be forgiven for questioning the government’s motives,” states the editorial. “Many have speculated that the government has caved in to the tobacco industry.”

Health Canada spokeswoman Ashley Lemire said in an e-mail Monday the department could not accommodate an interview request and offered no further explanation of the government’s decision against updating tobacco warning labels. “Health Canada continues to examine the renewal of health warning messages on tobacco packaging but is not ready to move forward at this time,” Ms. Lemire wrote.

The statement added that Health Canada reviews new research about tobacco and various diseases and must determine the effectiveness of new warnings before they are introduced.

Geoffrey Fong, professor of psychology at the University of Waterloo and principal investigator of the International Tobacco Control Policy Evaluation Project, agreed the policy shift is difficult to understand, particularly considering the importance of tobacco warning labels.

“There’s no reason for [the government] not to go full speed ahead,” said Dr. Fong, who is also a senior investigator at the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research. “What company has ever conducted the same advertising campaign for 10 years without change?”

Although new warning labels might not deter some longtime smokers, Dr. Fong said research shows that at any given time, a substantial portion of people who smoke are trying to quit. Continually being exposed to negative messages about smoking and its consequences can help those people think twice about lighting up, and may deter others from taking up the habit, he said.


Source: The Globe and Mail (November 8, 2010)

NZ Maori Select Committee: Plain Packaging

Nov 4, 2010

The Maori affairs select committee tabled its report, “Inquiry into the tobacco industry in Aotearoa and the consequences of tobacco use for Māori.” The report includes recommendations aimed at halving smoking by 2015 and turning New Zealand into a smoke-free nation by 2025. Among other measures, the select committee recommended  the Government require that “…the tobacco industry be required to provide tobacco products exclusively in plain packaging, harmonising with the proposed requirement in Australia from 2012.”


Source: NZ Government Report (November 2010)

Graphic images on cigarette packages in Jersey

Oct 27, 2010

Photographs showing the effect of smoking are to be featured on cigarette packets in Jersey. Deputy Ann Pryke has drawn up regulations which would see photographs of the impact of smoking on individual cigarette and tobacco packets. She says the aim of the regulations are to reinforce current written warnings and to discourage young people from starting smoking. The pictorial health warnings match those currently used across the EU. The regulations – which amend the 1973 Restriction on Smoking act – follow a public consultation, which helped identify 14 pictures which will be stuck on tobacco packets. These include a throat tumour, rotten teeth and an image of a child exhaling smoke.

Andrew Heaven from the Public Health team told BBC Jersey the written warnings on packets aren’t enough. Mr Heaven said: “We think that these pictorial warnings will reinforce the written warnings that current exist on tobacco packaging. “That, with all the other initiatives we have got around tobacco control will further reduce the prevalence of smoking.”

The graphic images on cigarette packaging is one part of the island’s tobacco control strategy. The strategy will include a range of measures which aim to reduce harm caused by smoking in Jersey. It includes plans to reduce the number of children and young people starting smoking, protecting families and communities from tobacco related harm and motivating and helping smokers to quit. If approved, pictorial warnings could be on tobacco products by 2011.


Source: BBC Jersey (October 25, 2010)

Philippines pictorial warnings: Legal battle

Oct 22, 2010

THE Health Department scored its first victory in compelling cigarette manufacturers to put pictures of diseased tissues and organs caused by smoking on cigarette packs, and after a Batangas court dismissed Philip Morris and Fortune Tobacco Corp.’s plea asking it to dump the department’s order.

The Tanauan Regional Trial Court dismissed the cigarette maker’s plea in an order dated Sept. 23. The Manila Standard obtained a copy of the decision by Judge Arcadio Manigbas of Branch 83.

Manigbas ruled that Philip Morris represented the same interests in the petition filed by Lucio Tan’s Fortune Tobacco in Marikina on June 3 this year.

The court upheld the Health Department’s Administrative Order 2010-0013 prohibiting cigarette companies from using the terms “low tar,” “light,” “ultra-light,” “mild,” “extra,” and “ultra” in cigarette packets.

But the case in Batangas is only one of five filed by the tobacco firms against the department in their battle against graphic warnings in cigarette packs.

The tobacco firms filed similar cases against the department in June in Marikina, Parañaque, Malolos and Pasig, with the Malolos and Parañaque courts favoring them.

Health Undersecretary Alexander Padilla said the decision in the Batangas case was an “occasion where the right to health of Filipinos prevailed over the moneyed interests of a transnational tobacco company,”

“With this win, the public should expect them to start complying instead of pursuing these duplicitous suits,” Padilla said.


Source: Manilla Standard Today (October 20, 2010)

Canada: New picture warnings delays

Oct 6, 2010

After more than six years of study, design and focus groups, the federal government has halted its plan to require tobacco companies to update the warnings on the side of cigarette packages with larger and more grotesque images.

Health Canada told provinces and territories attending a closed-door meeting in Newfoundland two weeks ago that its tobacco strategy will instead concentrate on the problem of contraband cigarettes, an issue that has been highlighted by the tobacco industry.

The decision to walk away from the complex task of changing and enhancing the nine-year-old messages that are emblazoned on cigarette packages comes after the expense of much time, effort and millions of dollars of public money.

The move surprised the provinces, which had been looking forward to the establishment of a toll-free line to help smokers quit. The number of that hotline was to have been incorporated into the new package design.

Ida Chong, B.C.’s Minister of Healthy Living and Sport, said she had been eager to see the national “quit line” up and running.

“It was a bit of a disappointment,” Ms. Chong said Monday of the federal decision to abandon the package-renewal program. “We know that warning labels to tobacco packages do work. We know that a quit line is helpful.” At the health ministers’ meeting, she said: “a number of us said we would have liked to move on these issues.”

Officials of other provinces contacted by The Globe and Mail on Monday also expressed disappointment in the federal government’s decision. Health Canada would say only that it “continues to examine the renewal of health warning messages on tobacco packaging but is not ready to move forward at this time.”

The federal department had been examining the benefits of requiring tobacco companies to increase the warnings to cover 90 per cent of the packages. It had also been evaluating the impact of new images, including one of a dying Alberta cancer patient, Barb Tarbox, who spent the last months of her life warning Canadians about the consequences of smoking.

Anti-tobacco lobby groups say they believe the government is afraid of taking on the big cigarette companies.

“I would expect that the tobacco industry has been lobbying against these warnings just as they have lobbied against improvements to warnings on tobacco packages over the last 20 years,” said Rob Cunningham, a senior policy analyst with the Canadian Cancer Society.

Garfield Mahood, the executive director of the Non-Smokers Rights Association, said he has heard that, when the industry learned about the revisions that Health Canada was planning, “things started to slow right down.”

Eric Gagnon, a spokesman for Imperial Tobacco, said his company believes the existing warning labels are sufficient to convey the health risks associated with smoking. Everyone agrees that the biggest issue related to tobacco is contraband, said Mr. Gagnon. “So I think it would be important for Health Canada to put its efforts on the contraband issue.”

JTI-Macdonald, another big tobacco company, also said the government’s priority right now should be solving the huge problem of illegal tobacco.

But it is unclear why the government cannot pursue tobacco smugglers at the same time it is updating the warning labels.

New statistics released on Monday by the federal government show that fewer Canadians are giving up smoking. Between 1999 and 2005, the number of smokers over the age of 15 fell from 25 per cent of the population to 19 per cent. That’s a decline of six percentage points. But between 2005 and 2009, that figure dropped by just one percentage point.

Cynthia Callard, the executive director of Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada, said the tobacco companies have been able to prevent many smoking-related health measures by threatening job losses and legal disputes.

The fact that the federal government’s decision was announced to the provincial ministers behind closed doors, said Ms. Callard, “speaks to the fact that it doesn’t make sense and that there is something fishy going on.”


Source: The Globe and Mail (September 28, 2010)


Australia: Tobacco companies fund anti-plain pack campaign

Sept 13, 2010

HEALTH groups have called on federal authorities to pull ads claiming plain cigarette packaging ”won’t work, so why do it”, after Big Tobacco was revealed to be behind the campaign.

Documents leaked to The Sydney Morning Herald show the tobacco industry is funding the campaign to stop plain packaging being introduced.

Further, it is employing the public relations firm to run the campaign, approving who will do media interviews and managing the strategy for lobbying government.

VicHealth chief executive Todd Harper called for urgent action by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission ”to shut down this dishonest campaign”.

He said the leaked information showed ”how far the tobacco industry was prepared to go to buy the outcome that it wanted” and if the campaign succeeded, more people would die.

The Rudd government in April announced plans for cigarettes to be sold in plain brown packaging from 2012, bearing only graphic health warnings and the brand in black typeface. The TV ads opposing the move claim to be authorised by the Alliance of Australian Retailers.

But the alliance is not paying for the ads – tobacco giant Philip Morris is, as invoices and contracts of engagement show.

Last month prominent health groups complained to the ACCC, urging it to investigate the ”intentionally misleading” ads. Mr Harper said the ACCC should urgently re-open its investigation after the latest revelations.

The Victorian president of the Public Health Association of Australia, Helen Keleher, said the ads were deceitful and a ”backdoor way of advertising the product”. It is illegal to advertise cigarettes on Australian TV, and Professor Keleher said the ban should be extended to all ads funded by the tobacco industry.

Calls to pull the ads come as the tobacco industry prepares to pour $3.97 million, on top of the $5.4 million already spent, into phase two of its campaign, to coincide with the AFL and NRL finals season this weekend.

Now a minority government is confirmed, the group plans to lobby government and opposition MPs to block the legislation. The stakes are high for tobacco giants trying to stop Australia becoming the first country to insist on plain packaging.

The leaked paper trail shows the mastermind behind the campaign is Chris Argent, Philip Morris’s director of corporate affairs. He declined to comment but the documents show he employed PR company The Civic Group, which co-ordinates the alliance campaign.

Alliance spokesman Craig Glasby said disclosing the tobacco funding ”was important and in hindsight we would have done that”. The Civic Group’s Rora Furman said the alliance had been upfront about funding from the tobacco industry.


Source: The Age (September 12, 2010)

Honduras to add 80% graphic health warnings

Sept 3, 2010

On August 21, 2010, Honduras published a new law in the official Gazette that requires 80% picture-based health warnings to be implemented on tobacco packages. The law will come into action in February, 2011, and regulations must be finalized six months after that, in August 2011.

For more information, please visit Honduras’s tobacco labelling page.