Monthly Archives: April 2011

Malta: Pictorial tobacco warnings become mandatory

April 27, 2011

Pictorial warnings on the packaging of tobacco products sold in Malta will be mandatory next Wednesday, although the authorities are concerned that non-compliant cigarette packets may still remain exposed for sale then.

The warnings have been introduced through a legal notice which was issued in 2009 and which brings Malta in line with EU regulations.

The new warnings may include colour photographs from a library compiled by the European Commission and have to cover at least 45% of the external area of the most visible surface of the packet. The warnings will be changed at least once a year to ensure their impact is not softened.

Many graphically show the potential health effects of smoking, while others may urge people to seek help to stop smoking, providing a telephone number they can call.

They replace the text-only warnings which have been standard for a number of years, and aim to provide a more powerful deterrent effect.

The new cigarette packets have already started to appear on the market, but the Environmental Health Directorate within the Public Health Regulation Department observed that “monitoring of the local market evidently indicates that various amounts of cigarette packets not bearing the combined the pictorial health warnings may still remain exposed for sale” after the new warnings become mandatory.

It warned that retailers which fail to comply with legislation face legal action, and urged them not to accept further non-compliant tobacco products and ensure that all non-compliant stock they currently possess is removed from sale by June 22.


Source: (April 25, 2011)

Australia to have world’s largest package health warnings

April 12, 2011

As part of the Thrusday April 7 release of a draft plain packaging bill, the Australian government also announced that it would be increasing the size of picture warnings to 75% of the front and 90% of the back of cigarette packages, and a comparable size for other tobacco products.

This will result in Australia having the largest cigarette package health warnings in the world, with an average of 82.5% of the front and back.  Taking into account the proposed measures for consultation in Australia and Canada, the new world rankings for size would be as follows (ranked as an average of the package front and back):

82.5%   Australia (75% front, 90% back) (proposal in consultation period)
80%      Uruguay (80% front, 80% back)
75%      Canada (75% front, 75% back) (proposal in consultation period)
65%      Mauritius (60% front, 70% back)
65%      Mexico (30% front, 100% back)

Australia has not yet announced the content of its new picture warnings.  The new size requirements are not contained in bill released on April 7.  The new size and content will be implemented through a separate regulatory mechanism.


Source: Plain packaging of tobacco products consultation paper (April 7, 2011)

New Zealand: Plain packs?

April 8, 2011

New Zealand is likely to follow Australia’s lead on requiring tobacco to be sold in plain packaging, Associate Health Minister Tariana Turia says.

Australian health minister Nicola Roxon has drafted legislation requiring tobacco companies to print their brand name in a specific font

If the legislation is passed, cigarette packs would have to be sold in an ugly olive green because research showed this was the least attractive colour for smokers, Ms Roxon has said.

British American Tobacco Australia argued the proposal would infringe international trademark and intellectual property laws and could see ongoing court action.

Australia would be the first country in the world to mandate plain packaging of cigarettes.

Mrs Turia said the Government had already announced it would monitor progress on Australia’s proposal to see if it could be done in New Zealand.

“We are very supportive of today’s announcement by Australian health minister Nicola Roxon and it is my expectation that New Zealand will inevitably follow their lead and look to introduce the plain packaging of tobacco products.”

The Government had already committed to making the country smokefree by 2025.

Government officials were talking to Australian counterparts on alignment and would report back to Cabinet by June 30.


Source: The New Zealand Herald (April 7, 2011)

Australia: Plain Pack Bill

April 7, 2011

The Australian Government has released a proposal legislative bill for plain packaging, as well as a consultation paper. The documents propose specific requirements for plain packaging, including pack colour, font size, as well as restrictions on the colour of cigarettes themselves. The documents also describe new research conducted on behalf of the Australian government.

In April 2010 the Australian Government announced that all tobacco products sold in Australia would be required to be sold in plain packaging by 1 July 2012. The Government’s legislative proposal on plain packaging aims to prevent tobacco advertising and/or promotion on tobacco product packaging in order to: 1) reduce the attractiveness and appeal of tobacco products to consumers, particularly young people; 2)  increase the noticeability and effectiveness of mandated health warnings; 3) reduce the ability of the tobacco product packaging to mislead consumers about the harms of smoking; and 4) through the achievement of these objectives in the long term, as part of a comprehensive suite of tobacco control measures, contribute to efforts to reduce smoking rates.

To enable full stakeholder and community engagement in the process, the exposure draft of the Bill and the Consultation Paper are being released for public comment. The Consultation Paper outlines the Government’s approach to implementing plain packaging, its response to design testing and targeted consultations, and provides an explanation of the key provisions of the exposure draft Tobacco Plain Packaging Bill 2010.

The proposed bill and consultation paper can be viewed at: Submissions must be received by the Department of Health and Ageing by 5.00pm, 6 June 2011.

Source: Australian Government, Department of Health and Ageing (April 2011)


India: Pictorial warnings unclear

April 6, 2011

Even as the government is delaying the notification of new pictorial warnings on tobacco products, a health ministry official Monday said they have received feedback that the present pictorial warnings are unclear to people.

‘We have had feedback that people don’t understand pictorial warnings on tobacco. If there is a picture of lungs X-ray, some people are not able to understand. Again scorpion is a sign of poison, but some are not able to understand,’ health ministry additional secretary Keshav Desraju told reporters here.

The present pictorial warnings on tobacco packs feature lungs X-ray, a cross section of lungs with related cancer, and a scorpion.

‘Globally, pictorial warnings have proved to be deterrent to tobacco use,’ he said.

When asked about the new pictorial warnings which were supposed to be enforced from December last year, the senior official said: ‘New warnings will come, consultations are going on,’ he said, without giving a time frame.

Desraju, however, said he was unaware of any pressure from tobacco lobbies behind the delay in the implementation of new pictorial warnings.

‘Many of the buyers in urban areas understand the meaning of the symbols but they still buy. Ultimately, it’s the people who will have to understand that it’s bad for them,’ he added.

A survey done by an anti-tobacco advocacy group last year said that only 20.6 percent of cigarette smokers, 15 percent of bidi smokers and 13.2 percent of smokeless tobacco users either read or looked at the warning labels.


Source: (April 4, 2011)


Picture health warnings in Ukraine

April 5, 2011

Ukraine has announced that pictorial health warnings will be required on cigarette packages by October 2012. Packages must display one of ten warnings. Approximately 29% of adults in Ukraine are current smokers: 50% of men and 11% of women.

Plain packaging: Industry campaign backfires

April 1, 2011

A major tobacco-industry funded advertising blitz has backfired, with new research revealing the “It won’t work, so why do it” campaign persuaded more people to support the plain packaging of cigarettes than oppose it.

The Cancer Council Victoria survey of 2,101 Victorians who recalled the ad campaign found has found that more than eight out of ten (86.2%) respondents said the ad didn’t affect their view of plain packaging 8.4% of respondents said the ad actually increased their support of plain packaging.

Only 3.9% of respondents felt the ad reduced their support of plain packaging.

Additionally, just over half of those surveyed (56.5%) recognised the ads, under the moniker of the ‘Alliance of Australian Retailers’, were funded by the tobacco industry.

Quit Executive Director Fiona Sharkie said the study showed the public wasn’t falling for the industry’s dirty tricks.

“The fact that more people actually supported plain packaging after seeing an ad that was meant to turn them against it really shows how laughable this multi-million dollar campaign is. The public isn’t buying it. Plain packaging will not cause mass job losses or make the jobs of retailers incredibly hard. Research shows plain packaging will stop young people taking up smoking. That’s why it’s being implemented and has the industry running scared,” she said.

Ms Sharkie said although the public wasn’t falling for the ads, it was concerning that just over half of respondents knew the ads were funded by the tobacco industry.

“Alarmingly it’s only a small majority of people who know who’s behind this campaign, and that’s exactly what the tobacco-industry wants. It knows people don’t trust it, but hope it will trust this sham front group the ‘Alliance of Australian Retailers’,” Ms Sharkie said.

“It’s vital more Australians realise who’s orchestrating this campaign: it’s not shopkeepers, but big tobacco putting profits over saving lives.”


Source: International Business Times (March 28, 2011)