Monthly Archives: February 2011

Canada: Graphic new tobacco warning labels unveiled

Feb 22, 2011

One displays a photo of a cancerous, white tongue. Another shows an empty crib next to a stark warning that second-hand tobacco smoke ups the risk of sudden infant death syndrome.

These are among the full set of 16 new proposed warning labels for cigarette packs unveiled Friday by Health Canada, along with draft regulations on how the government’s new anti-smoking campaign will work.

The suggested warning labels will cover 75 per cent of the packages. The proposed campaign will also include a national “quitline” – a number smokers can call to obtain information on giving up the habit.

While four of the proposed labels were released in December, the other twelve – along with several other images that will appear on packages of small cigars, were not made public until today.

The Heart and Stroke Foundation was quick to praise the messages, which include several graphic images, including the face of a corpse in a body bag and an eyeball receiving an injection.


Source: The Globe and Mail (February 18, 2011)


India: Ban on plastic smokeless packs

Feb 11, 2011

The Union ministry of environment and forests on Monday notified the Plastic Waste (Management and Handling) Rules 2011, which bans the use of plastic materials in sachets for storing, packing or selling gutka, tobacco and pan masala. As a result, attractive plastic sachets of gutka and pan masala will no longer be available.

In a state that has the second highest percentage of tobacco-chewers in the country (after Bihar), the move comes as the one of the biggest public-health initiatives in recent times, say anti-tobacco activists and doctors. “Colourful plastic packages attract teenagers towards taking up gutka and pan masala. If the packaging is not attractive, the number of new tobacco-chewers will significantly drop,” said Dr Usha Ranjan Parija, who heads the Research Centre for Tobacco Control at Acharya Harihar Regional Cancer Centre in Cuttack.

The latest Global Adult Tobacco Survey India 2010 says the percentage of smokeless tobacco users in the above-15 age-group in Orissa is above 30 per cent as against the national average of 25.9 per cent.

Itishree Kanungo, project co-ordinator, VHAI-Aparajita, a voluntary organization spearheading the anti-tobacco movement in the state, said plastic sachets are very convenient for the buyers, sellers and makers. If plastic packing is banned, storage and transport will be difficult.”

Users will find it difficult to keep gutka in their shirt or trouser pockets unless it is packed in plastic. This will definitely reduce tobacco consumption, said Dr G Biswas, another oncologist in the city.

Tobacco vendors, however, said a change in packaging will not make any difference to the sale. “Users will buy it anyway. These products would not be any less attractive even if they are packed in paper,” said a shopkeeper at Kalpana Square in the state capital.

However, gutka users themselves think that unless it is packaged nicely, it will cease to attract consumers. “If Gutka not packed properly, it will lose its flavour. I will quit if plastic sachets are no more available,” said Satyabipra Patra, a 28-year-old corporate employee who chews gutka for the last nine years.

Doctors say chewable tobacco products such as gutka have proved to be a bigger curse on health than smoking in the state. “Around 28 per cent of the cancer patients in Orissa get the disease because of their habit of tobacco-chewing,” said Dr Sanjoy Panda, an oncologist. Smokeless tobacco users have an increased risk of oral cancer, he added. Dr Panda cited various surveys and said over 57 per cent households in the state have tobacco-chewers. According to the National Family Health Survey III (2005-06), 42 per cent of the people in the state chew tobacco.


Source: The Times of India (February 10, 2011)

US: Graphic warnings and emotion

Feb 4, 2011

The USDA is mandating bolder health warnings on cigarettes in an attempt to get people to quit.

The days of the small Surgeon General’s warning on the side of cigarette packs are ending. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has announced that it is mandating bolder health warnings on cigarette advertising and packages in an attempt to get people to quit and to remind would-be smokers of tobacco’s dangers.

It is the biggest change in tobacco warnings in 25 years. Some of the 36 graphic images suggested by the FDA are daunting: a mottled brown diseased lung; an emaciated, hollow-eyed cancer patient; a close-up of a diseased mouth with an open sore and rotting teeth.

Nine graphic warnings are scheduled to be selected by June 2011 and manufacturers will be required to include one of the warnings on cigarettes for sale in the United States, beginning Oct. 22, 2012.

But will the plan work?

Ross Buck, a professor of psychology and communication sciences in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, has done extensive research into human motivation, emotion, and risk communication. He says the vivid warnings should have more of an impact than the Surgeon General’s cautionary text because they evoke emotion and therefore resonate at a deeper level with individuals who encounter them. Buck suggests the harsher warnings are necessary to counter the aggressive marketing campaigns of big tobacco companies.

“Advertising campaigns for tobacco products have long promoted unhealthy smoking behavior by linking their brands to positive images and emotions in messages that have been directed particularly toward young people,” says Buck. “Such advertisements have been utilized with great success for decades, effectively creating sustained increases in tobacco use and diverting attention from potentially harmful effects, resulting in the mindless acceptance of risk on the part of consumers. These enormously effective emotional appeals belie the small ‘warning labels’ currently imposed on tobacco and alcohol packaging in the United States. Those warnings are not effective because they are not noticeable and they do not evoke emotion.”

Canada has been displaying graphic warnings on cigarettes since 2001. Since then, 39 other countries have adopted similar requirements for pictorial warnings on cigarettes including Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, Chile, Thailand, Egypt, Iran, Panama, and Uruguay, which has the world’s most stringent warnings covering 80 percent of all cigarette packaging.

Buck has been studying warning labels around the globe for some time as part of his research into the role emotion plays in dictating human motivation and behavior. Buck recently co-authored a chapter titled “Emotion, Warnings and the Ethics of Risk Communication” for the soon-to-be-published Handbook of Risk Theory (Springer, 2011). He shared authorship of the article with Rebecca Ferrer, a 2009 UConn Ph.D. and research fellow with the Behavioral Research Program at the National Cancer Institute.

“Emerging research on decision-making has found that emotion plays a critical role in reaching optimal conclusions,” Buck says. “Although often overlooked in academic research on persuasion, emotions are employed with great effectiveness in advertising and marketing. Advertisements and commercials are not intended only to demonstrate the useful features of a product; rather, they are designed to associate the product with positive emotions through branding.”

In order to sell their products, many companies load their advertising with uplifting music while vigorous, strong, beautiful, and healthy people frolic around loving and enjoying life. These ads associate the product with positive emotions of pleasure, pride, satisfaction, and accomplishment, according to Buck. Even when warning information must be provided – as in television advertisements detailing the possible side effects of drugs – it is typically presented in pleasant, reassuring contexts so that it is likely that the viewer will overlook and dismiss the dangers, he says.

To be effective, warnings sometimes need to be a bit shocking and unpleasant, Buck says.”A warning must command attention, stimulate memory, evoke emotion, convey consequences, and communicate safe behavior. An effective warning must therefore be conspicuous, memorable, and, in some cases, unpleasant.”

Federal officials hope the attention-getting warning labels will place renewed emphasis on smoking as a serious health threat as the country’s anti-smoking efforts have waned in recent years. About one-fifth of the nation’s adults, or 46.6 million people, and nearly a fifth of the country’s 3.4 million teenagers, are smokers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Public health officials estimate that roughly 1,000 teenagers and children become regular smokers every day and another 4,000 try smoking for the first time. About 400,000 people die every year from smoking-related health problems and treating illnesses related to smoking costs the nation’s health care system more than $96 billion a year.

Buck says the full-color, graphic warning labels are a low-cost intervention that has had proven success. And while graphic warning labels may stimulate people’s emotions and encourage them not to smoke, like the current warning labels on cigarettes, they must be changed occasionally so that individuals don’t get numb to the message.

“It is well known that even highly unpleasant images can lose their impact with repetition,” says Buck. “It is important that they be regularly refreshed to maintain their effectiveness.”


Source: (February 3, 2011)


Imperial better placed for plain packaging threat

Feb 2, 2011

Britain’s Imperial Tobacco looks better placed than rivals with more expensive brands if plain packaging rules for cigarettes spread from developed to emerging markets, as health warnings did.

New rules are being explored in Australia and Britain, but analysts say the real risk from plain packaging is if it spreads to emerging markets, where it would slow consumers moving to more pricey and profitable brands.

Smokers in big emerging markets such as Brazil, Russia and Indonesia aspire to top western brands such as Marlboro and Lucky Strike cigarettes, which confer status on the individual and bigger margins to the maker.

Plain packaging interferes with that mechanism, helping makers like Imperial, with its focus on low-priced brands such as Lambert & Butler.

In mature markets, where Imperial makes 70 percent of its profits, packaging changes are expected to have a relatively low impact on smokers’ choices.

London-based BAT has a 50-50 split of earnings from mature and developing markets, and three of its four top brands — Lucky Strike, Kent and Dunhill — are premium priced.

“Plain packaging looks to be far less risky for value players … So far, Imperial Tobacco looks better placed versus its peers,” said analyst Chas Manso at Evolution Securities.

“We believe plain packaging would be negative for the entire tobacco industry, but we are doubtful it would represent a nemesis, especially not in mature markets. But it could knock out the main premiumisation driver in emerging markets.”

BAT’s two biggest global markets are in Brazil and South Africa, and analysts say the key to profitability there is luring smokers from cheap local to premium brands.

“With the price gap between premium and discount brands across the global typically around 35-40 percent, those with big brands in emerging markets will suffer,” said one analyst.

These include the world’s three biggest cigarette groups Philip Morris International, with its Marlboro brand, BAT and Japan Tobacco, with its Camel cigarette brand.

Analyst Adam Spielman at Citi says industry profitability depends on consumers paying premiums for some brands, and plain packaging would reduce the power of the brand, especially expensive brands growing strongly in emerging markets.

“We certainly don’t see plain packaging as any sort of positive for the industry. We think the uncertainty it provokes would well weigh on the multiples,” he said.

Worries over slow global recovery and plain packaging have rattled tobacco shares; Imperial and BAT have underperformed the FTSE 100 by 9 and 6 percent so far this year.

BAT shares trade on 12.4 times 2011 forecast earnings and Imperial 9.5 times, well below top-rated consumer stocks such as Reckitt Benckiser on 15 times, and analysts say concern over plain packaging could widen that gap.


Australia and Britain are looking at rules to force cigarette makers to sell their products in plain packages with the brand name in a standard typeface, removing the allure of attractive packaging, colours and logos.

Australia aims to introduce it by 2012. Its new government has not included the measure in its first legislation programme, but analysts expect a bill within 12 months.

Britain is considering introducing plain packaging and will publish a Tobacco Control Plan this winter to confirm its plans, while the European Union is expected to recommend that plain packaging should be considered.

Other countries are moving in a similar direction. Canada announced that health warnings would be required soon to cover 75 percent of both sides of the pack, and Uruguay has passed laws for 80 percent coverage. Analysts say the effect will be more or less the same as plain packaging.

Uruguay’s move could influence other emerging markets such as neighbouring Brazil, BAT’s biggest market.

No other countries have yet announced such plans.

Analysts add if plain packaging succeeds in commoditising the industry, it could raise pressure for takeovers to cut costs, and Evolution’s Manso says BAT and Japan Tobacco could be prompted into a break-up bid for world No. 4 Imperial.

Manso says BAT and JP have higher cost bases in Europe than Philip Morris and Imperial, and this may prompt them into a bid for the smaller Imperial, which would have to be a joint break-up bid to get around anti-trust problems.

A BAT spokeswoman said the group was strongly opposed to plain packaging as it removed the last way it can differentiate its product from its rivals and says the measure would simply encourage the production of more counterfeit cigarettes.


Source: FOREXYARD (February 1, 2011)