Monthly Archives: June 2011

US: Smoking quit line calls spike with new labels

June 29, 2011

Smokers nationwide have deluged quit lines in the days since the Food and Drug Administration announced that cigarette packs must carry labels with nine new graphic photos beginning in fall 2012.

The American Lung Association has reported triple-digit jumps in the number of calls for help to some state hotlines, including one state where calls were up 200 percent.

“I think it’s very fair to say the increase in calls came as a result of the announcement of the new warning labels,” said Erika Sward, the association’s director of national advocacy.

The FDA estimates 213,000 people will quit smoking as a result of the new emphasis on the hazards of smoking. Images – including those of a man smoking through a hole in his throat and diseased lungs – will cover each cigarette package, which also will display a toll-free number, “800-QUIT-NOW.”

That number will put smokers in touch with quit lines in their states.

“What we have seen is, if you tell smokers about (the graphic labels), they are going to call the number. It’s important for states to put more funds into their quit lines between now and next fall,” Sward said. “The worst thing that can happen is no one is there when someone is ready to quit.”

The state’s Department of Public Health funds the Illinois Tobacco Quitline, “866-QUIT-YES,” which provides access to registered nurses, registered respiratory therapists and counselors

The Cook County Department of Public Health reports that children are more likely to start smoking if they have a parent who does and that most smokers report developing their habit at age 13 or 14.

The American Lung Association hopes the new labels and the quit lines will put a dent in these numbers.

“We want to see the highest number of people get the help they need to quit as result of these labels and we want kids to never start. This is one step on the way to what we know is needed to stop this terrible thing from happening,” Sward said.


Source: The Chicago Tribune (June 29, 2011)

EU uneasy with plain packaging

June 29, 2011

THE European Union has raised concerns about moves to introduce plain packaging for cigarettes, at World Trade Organisation forums in Geneva.

The EU’s concerns came to light as tobacco giant Philip Morris yesterday launched a legal challenge to the Gillard government’s plan to introduce plain packaging, as revealed in The Australian yesterday. The court case exposes taxpayers to potential compensation claims independently estimated to run as high as $3 billion.

Health Minister Nicola Roxon has said the European Union was “looking closely” at plain packaging “and has encouraged us in going down this path”. But The Australian understands the EU expressed concerns about the measure at the most recent meeting of the WTO Technical Barriers to Trade committee.

There are fears plain packaging contravenes the international intellectual property legal framework by placing restrictions on the use of trademarks.

The Australian understands the EU raised questions about the scientific data considered in preparing the policy, the impact assessment process and other alternatives to stop smoking. It is also understood the EU asked how Australia had taken into consideration its obligations under other WTO treaties such as the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, or TRIPs, the cornerstone of the international intellectual property regime.

Opposition trade spokeswoman Julie Bishop called on Trade Minister Craig Emerson to show the government was complying with TRIPs and other treaties with its plain-packaging plans.

“He must guarantee that not only will this plain packaging legislation be compliant with our international obligations but that he has obtained specific legal advice to that effect,” Ms Bishop said.

“Given Labor’s lack of credibility on this issue, as it continues to solicit donations from tobacco companies, I want to see actual evidence of the advice as we cannot just take Labor’s word for it.”

Dr Emerson justified the government’s stand in response to queries from the International Chamber of Commerce and the US House of Representatives Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific. “Australia’s plain packaging policy is entirely consistent with our international obligations,” Dr Emerson says in the letters obtained by The Australian.

“As a member of the World Trade Organisation, Australia has the right to take measure necessary to protect public health. These measures will be implemented in a way that is consistent with our intellectual property, trade and investment obligations.”

Ms Roxon said yesterday the government had taken legal advice before introducing the new laws and believed it was on “very strong” legal ground in introducing plain packaging of cigarettes.

The Health Minister refused to answer questions about the size of the legal budget the government has set aside to cover the cost of challenges brought by the tobacco industry. When asked whether lawyers would be the biggest winners out of plain packaging laws, Ms Roxon said: “I think the public stand to be the biggest winners out of this measure.”


Source: The Australian (June 28, 2011)


Philip Morris battles Australia on cigarette packaging

June 27, 2011

Tobacco giant Philip Morris has threatened to sue the Australian government over its plan to introduce plain, brandless packing for cigarettes.

Australia’s government has proposed to ban logos and branding on tobacco packaging.

Hong Kong-based Philip Morris Asia said the legislation violated an investment treaty between Australia and Hong Kong.

Philip Morris is the world’s largest tobacco company.

The company said it had sent a legal notice to the Australian government setting a mandatory three-month period for the two sides to negotiate on the issue.

It warned that if no agreement was reached in that time, it would seek financial compensation.

“Failing that we aim to go ahead with a compensation claim for the loss to our business in Australia that would result from plain packaging,” said Philip Morris Asia spokeswoman Anne Edwards.

The company said that the amount of potential compensation would be decided by a panel operating under the United Nations International Trade rules.

“We estimate it may be in the billions (of dollars) but ultimately it will be up to this panel to decide,” said Ms Edwards.

The tobacco industry has been up in arms against the proposed changes, which are expected to be implemented from January 2012.

It has been running TV advertisements hinting that the changed laws are turning Australia into a “nanny state”.

British American Tobacco, another big cigarette company, has said that the government’s plans infringe international trademark and intellectual property laws.

However, Australia’s Prime Minister Julia Gillard said that she would push ahead with the new packaging laws.

“We’re not going to be intimidated by big tobacco’s tactics, whether they’re political tactics, whether they’re public affairs kind of tactics out in the community or whether they’re legal tactics,” said Ms Gillard.

“We’re not taking a backward step. We’ve made the right decision and we’ll see it through,” she added.


Source: BBC News (June 27, 2011)

US: Pictorial Health Warnings

June 23, 2011

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Tuesday June 21, 2011 announced the final 9 picture-based warnings that will appear on the top 50% of the front and back of cigarette packages.  The warnings include a toll-free quitline number.  As of Sept. 22, 2012, manufacturers will not be able to manufacture cigarettes without the new warnings on packaging, and as of Oct. 22, 2012, manufacturers will not be able to distribute cigarettes without the new warnings on packaging.

Picture warnings will also be required on the top 20% of cigarette warnings.  (The US does not have a ban on tobacco advertising.)

For the main FDA web page with information on the new graphic warnings, click here.

This FDA website on the warnings includes:
– the warnings themselves, including in high resolution versions
– versions of the warnings with Spanish text
– a frequently asked questions document

This is an unpublished version of the document, 476 pages in pdf.  The published version (same content, fewer pages) will appear in the June 22, 2011 version of the Federal Register, seemingly in both html and pdf formats.  The Federal Register website is


Bolivia: Pictorial Health Warnings

June 8, 2011

Bolivia’s Minister of Health & Sports issued a Regulation on May 25, 2011, which will require pictorial health warnings on all tobacco packages.

There will be 7 pictorial warnings printed on 50% of the front, and 50% of the back of all cigarette, cigar, and loose tobacco packages.

The new warnings must appear on packages 180 days after the government publishes the images in a national news publication.


Australia: Pack innovations

June 7, 2011

ASH Australia has compiled a collection of recent innovations in packaging. New elements include stickers to help cover the health warnings, and new shapes and sizes. Browse through the pictures here.

Australia: Political support for plain packaging

June 3, 2011

IT WAS a long time coming – too long – but the federal Coalition is to be congratulated for declaring its support for the introduction of plain packaging of cigarettes in Australia. It appeared that the government would have been able to pass its legislation anyway, with the backing of the cross-benchers and some Liberal MPs who had vowed to follow their consciences and cross the floor of Parliament if their party had resolved to vote against the bill.

But it would have been an unsatisfactory outcome for an important public health advance to be introduced in the face of opposition from the alternative government. Australia’s move to implement some of the most stringent anti-smoking laws in the world will now have bipartisan support, and that is as it should be.

The desirability of such laws cannot be questioned: about 15,000 deaths a year in Australia are attributed to smoking-related causes; tobacco retains its status as the single biggest cause of disease and premature death in the country; and the cost of smoking to the national economy is calculated to be about $32 billion a year.

Nor should the effectiveness of the new regime be doubted. Plain packaging will help remove any last vestiges of glamour surrounding this dirty, deadly habit.

Under the new laws, cigarette packets will continue to carry confronting warnings that smoking can cause disease and death, but brand logos and designs will be banned. That may have little tangible effect on people already addicted, but it should help to discourage potential future smokers, especially the young, from taking up the habit.

According to Cancer Council Victoria, since the phasing out of tobacco advertising and sponsorship, the packet has become the industry’s key marketing tool. But the best evidence that these laws will have the desired effect is the aggressive lobbying against them by Big Tobacco. Why would they bother if, as some industry leaders laughingly claimed, plain packaging would have no effect on sales?

Having slowly come to the right decision on plain packaging of cigarettes, Opposition Leader Tony Abbott should now push for the Liberal Party to join the ALP and the Greens in refusing to accept donations from tobacco companies. Such a decision would reinforce the bipartisan nature of Australia’s anti-smoking project and put an end to lingering suspicions that Big Tobacco has been able to exert excessive influence over Coalition policies, to the detriment of public health.


Source: The Sydney Morning Herald (June 2, 2011)

UK: Controversy over new superslims design

June 1, 2011

Campaigners fume at new designer cigarette – The Northern Echo
June 1, 2011
Barry Nelson

CAMPAIGNERS, MPs and a leading doctor in the region have criticised a cigarette manufacturer for what they claim is a “scheming, calculating and cynical” approach to targeting young women.

The launch of the super slim cigarettes has been branded outrageous and disgraceful.

But the tobacco manufacturer behind the product hit back last night, claiming it was not trying to encourage anyone to take up smoking.

British American Tobacco (BAT), which produces the new Vogue Perle cigarettes, said it was merely attempting to persuade existing smokers to switch to its brands.

Fresh: Smoke Free North- East, which is funded by the NHS, last night claimed BAT is deliberately encouraging young women in the region to smoke by exploiting their obsessions with supermodels and staying slim.

The packs boast of being designed in Paris, and are described as “taller and thinner than a king sized cigarette” with a “compact box that fits easily into a pocket or handbag”.

It has been reported there is a “multi-million pound support package” for the launch of the product at the “ASU30s market” – industry jargon for adult smokers under 30. And it is claimed BAT is hoping Vogue Perle will take off in the North where the most mid-price cigarettes are bought.

Ailsa Rutter, director of Fresh, said: “The tobacco industry clearly sees the North- East as a huge pound sign.

“We have already seen glamorous cigarette promotional staff stalking our bars, but this is the first time we have seen this brand being promoted here.”

The North-East has the highest rate of female smokers in England with 250,000 women adult smokers – 23 per cent of adult women.

Fourteen per cent of girls in the North-East report that they smoke regularly. And 22 per cent of North-East mothers- to-be are still smoking when they have their baby.

Dr Shonag Mackenzie, consultant obstetrician at Wansbeck Hospital in Ashington, Northumberland, treats women every week whose smoking has harmed or damaged their baby’s growth.

She said last night: “I am appalled.

It is simply outrageous that they are allowed to get away with this. I think people will be shocked.

“Babies die because their mothers smoke. That is a reality in my day-to-day life.”

She added: “Young women are obsessed with fashion and staying slim and this is exactly the message this pack is trying to give.

“The frightening thing is that it is young teenage girls who don’t yet smoke but are probably experimenting who are most likely to be influenced by this advertising.”

Dr Mackenzie said this might mean more babies born with health problems, more costs to the NHS and more families losing daughters, mothers and grandmothers at an early age.

Darlington MP Jenny Chapman, said: “I think most people will be very concerned that the tobacco industry is allowed to get away with such a scheming, calculating approach to targeting women here in the North of England.

“Anyone who has lost a mum or daughter to smoking will be particularly appalled.”

Catherine McKinnell, MP for Newcastle North, said: “This cynical approach by the tobacco industry to use marketing to target young women is disgraceful.”

The Government has announced plans to launch a consultation on whether manufacturers should be forced to put cigarettes into plain packets.

Ms Rutter said the development highlights the need to follow the example of Australia and seriously look at plain packaging on tobacco.

She said: “If glamorous designs on packs did not help it recruit new customers, the tobacco industry would not spend millions of pounds on developing them. The packs themselves are as powerful as any TV or cinema advert.”

But a spokeswoman for BAT said last night: “Our marketing is not aimed at encouraging anybody to start smoking, whatever their gender or age – it is about persuading existing male and female adult smokers to choose our brands and not those of our competitors.

“Adult tobacco consumers have different tastes and preferences and we set out to meet them from our portfolio of brands. If adult women who are aware of the health risks associated with tobacco choose to smoke, then that is a personal choice.

“We respect all laws, wherever we operate, and our strict International Marketing Standards require that our product activities should not be aimed at youth nor feature a celebrity, nor link tobacco with professional, sexual, social or sporting success.”


Source: The Northern Echo (May 31, 2011)