Monthly Archives: February 2012

India: New pictures?

Feb 15, 2012

This time, when the Directorate of Advertising and Visual Publicity (DAVP) chooses the new set of pictorial warnings for tobacco products they will have to be extra careful.

With the earlier photo – a blurred image that appeared to be resembling footballer John Terry – creating trouble, the Union health ministry has asked the DAVP to give them more options of photos for the tobacco manufacturers, mandating that pictures should be ‘general’.

The health ministry had got into a controversy due to the earlier photo with the managers of England and Chelsea skipper John Terry stating that they will initiate legal action against the Indian government.

While, the health ministry has decided not to ‘withdraw’ that photo clarifying that the photo was developed by the DAVP in consultations with them and the pictures were mere sketches which did not relate to any person living or dead. The officials are of the view that the new photos will give a wider choice to the manufacturers.

“We have asked the DAVP to give at least four new options. This will give the companies a wider choice as it will be their decision to use one of the photos out of the shortlisted ones. Once they have enough options with them they will not make attempts to scuttle pictorial warnings,” said a senior official in the ministry.

Union health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, who held the meeting with the senior officials in the health ministry recently, has asked the officials to convey to the DAVP that the photos should be general, mostly depicting health-related problems caused due to excessive intake of tobacco.

The health ministry had earlier changed the photos from mild to harsh and gory pictures last year after the DAVP submitted pictures showing different facets of mouth cancer and lung cancer to the Union health ministry.

The warnings were notified after the health minister approved it. The warnings were for both smokeless and smoking form of tobacco products.

Source: Deccan Chronicle (February 13, 2012)

US Pictorial Warnings Legal Challenge

Feb 6, 2012

A federal rule requiring large graphic health warnings on cigarette packaging and advertising may violate the free speech rights of tobacco companies, a U.S. district court judge said at a hearing on Wednesday.

In a case that could wind up before the Supreme Court, five cigarette makers are suing to overturn a Food and Drug Administration rule requiring companies to label tobacco products with images of rotting teeth, diseased lungs and other images intended to illustrate the dangers of smoking.

The FDA was directed to adopt the rule by the 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, which requires color warning labels big enough to cover the top 50 percent of a cigarette pack’s front and back panels, and the top 20 percent of print advertisements.

The law gave the FDA broad powers over cigarette and tobacco products for the first time.

Reynolds American Inc’s R.J. Reynolds unit, Lorillard Inc, Liggett Group LLC, Commonwealth Brands Inc, which is owned by Britain’s Imperial Tobacco Group Plc, and Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Co Inc contend that the FDA rule would force them to engage in anti-smoking advocacy against their own legal products.

U.S. District Judge Richard Leon, who last November issued a temporary injunction blocking the rule, said he would issue his final ruling in the case well before April 10. That is the date when the U.S. Appeals Court for the District of Columbia Circuit is scheduled to hear the government’s appeal of Leon’s injunction. The FDA rule was due to take effect this September.

Lawyers said a ruling before April 10 would give appellate judges leeway to rule on the case and the injunction at the same time.

In his injunction order, Leon agreed with cigarette makers that the government had failed to show how the graphic images met legal precedents requiring government-imposed labeling to be factual and uncontroversial.

Leon cast additional doubt on the legality of the rule on Wednesday by suggesting that Congress had ignored legal precedents protecting commercial speech from government control.

“There’s nothing on the record to suggest that Congress gave any clear and thoughtful analysis on the First Amendment implications of this,” the judge said.

In a 2010 case, a federal judge in Kentucky upheld much of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. The ruling is now before the U.S. appeals court in Cincinnati, Ohio.


At the hearing, Leon invited Justice Department attorney Mark Stern to explain why the court should not view the labels as a form of anti-smoking advocacy designed to frighten and disgust the public, which would violate legal precedents that protect companies from “compelled speech”.

Stern said the images were needed to reach adolescent smokers in danger of becoming addicted to nicotine and adult smokers already addicted.

“We want to really get through. We’re not trying to disgust you. We’re trying to remind you,” he told the court.

“It’s no secret that the government wants people to stop smoking. It would be crazy for the government not to want people to stop smoking,” Stern said. “It’s very unusual for people to sell a product, that when used as intended, will kill you.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 46 million U.S. adults, or 20.6 percent, smoke cigarettes. There has been little change in that rate since 2004.

More than 221,000 Americans are expected to be diagnosed with lung cancer in 2011, according to the American Cancer Society. [ID:nN17283205]

In May, the World Health Organization said that tobacco was expected to kill nearly 6 million people worldwide in 2011, including 600,000 nonsmokers. [ID:nLDE74T0AU]

Tobacco company attorney Noel Francisco argued that the graphic labels provide no information that could not be conveyed in written messages like the U.S. surgeon general’s warnings that already appear on cigarette packs and advertisements.

“Consumers are overwhelmingly aware of the risks of smoking,” said Francisco, contending that many people overestimate health dangers associated with smoking.

Cigarette makers have said the regulation would impose a “massive burden” on their operations, including millions of dollars for implementation and the loss of branding.

The case is R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co et al v. FDA, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia, No. 11-01482.

Source: Reuters (February 1, 2012)


Madagascar: Picture warnings for 2012

Feb 2, 2012

Madagascar has become the third country in Africa and at least the 46th country/jurisdiction in the world to require picture-based health warnings for packages of cigarettes.

In Madagascar, on Sept. 30, 2011, Interministerial Decision Nº 28.540/2011 was approved to require picture health warnings to appear on packages of cigarettes and some other tobacco products.  For cigarettes and some other tobacco products, warnings will be required to cover 65% of the front and back of the package, with the picture on the front and a message using text on the back.

There is to be a 3mm black border around the required messages, and which is to be in addition to the space for the messages.  This means that with proper implementation the size of the warning including the border will exceed 75% of the front and back of the package.

There will be two sets of four warnings.  The first set of warnings is to appear for 12 months, and then is to be replaced by the second set.

The text of the warnings will be in Malagasy.

Madagascar joins Djibouti and Mauritius as African countries that have required picture warnings.  In terms of the WHO AFRO Region, only Mauritius and Madagascar have so far required picture warnings (Djibouti is in the Eastern Mediterranean Region).

The Madagascar warnings are to appear on packages 180 days after the Interministerial Decision is published in the Official Journal, which should be about April 2012.

Terms such as “light”, “ultra-light”, “mild” and “flavoured” in Malagasy or in any other language are prohibited on packages of tobacco products.

Cigarette cases are prohibited.

To view the Interministerial Decision (which includes the picture images to be required) and the related Decree approved December 14, 2010 (which enables the Interministerial Decision), visit:

The Interministerial Decision and the Decree are in French.

The full title of the Interministerial Decision is:

ARRETË INTERMINISTERIEL Nº 28.540/2011 Fixant les modalités d’application du décret nº2010-1008 du 14 décembre 2010 portant conditionnement et étiquetage des produits du tabac en vente à Madagascar