Yearly Archives: 2012

UK: Concerns from Japan Tobacco about UK Plain Pack Consultation

July 9, 2012

The British government has already decided to require cigarettes to be sold in plain, brand-free packets even though it has not yet completed its consultation on the issue, cigarette maker Japan Tobacco claimed on Friday.

The group, which sells Benson & Hedges and Silk Cut cigarettes in Britain, believes Health Secretary Andrew Lansley’s anti-smoking stance and a flawed consultation process suggests the government will push ahead with so-called plain packaging.

“There are worrying indicators that the Department of Health has decided to introduce plain packaging,” Martin Southgate, managing director of the UK for Japan Tobacco International (JTI) told a briefing on Friday.

“The government is trying to fit the evidence to meet a pre-determined view,” he added.

The Department of Health said no decision would be taken until the consultation had ended and the evidence analysed as it looks at ways to cut the number of young people taking up smoking and assist existing smokers who are trying to quit.

“We’re in the consultation process, and we have made no decision. We remain open-minded,” a department spokeswoman said.

Britain kicked off a three-month consultation process back in April on plain packaging as it looked to deter a habit which it says is responsible for over 100,000 UK deaths a year and puts pressure on the public health system.

It extended the process by a month to August 10 on Thursday after receiving thousands of responses and it said it wanted to make sure everyone who wanted to contribute can.

Just before the consultation was launched, Lansley was quoted in media interviews as saying “we no longer see smoking as a part of life” and that he wanted tobacco companies to have “no business” in the UK.

Australia is the only nation with firm plans to introduce plain packaging which will ban eye-catching designs and branding from cigarette packages with the packs displaying the product names in a plain typeface with graphic health warnings.

The Canberra government plans legislation to take effect by December, but big cigarette companies including Japan Tobacco are mounting legal challenges to fight the move in the Australian High Court.

JTI’s Southgate argues there is no credible evidence to suggest plain packaging will reduce youth smoking and it will exacerbate illicit trade which accounts for a fifth of the cigarettes smoked in the UK and loses the government around 3 billion pounds a year in lost excise tax.

“We are concerned that the Department of Health will aim to justify plain packaging using the best guess and subjective views of its preferred panel of individuals and that these people will be already involved in tobacco control work and studies,” he said.

The group, No 3 in the tobacco world after Philip Morris and British American Tobacco, is to spend 2 million pounds over the coming months on an advertising campaign against plain packaging which starts this weekend.

Japan Tobacco took over Gallaher in 2007 giving it a near 40 percent share of the UK cigarette market behind Imperial Tobacco at just over 45 percent, but ahead of BAT with just a 6 percent market share.

All three are opposed to plain packaging saying there is no evidence that such a move would have an effect and that it would simply increase illicit trade in cigarettes.

Source: Reuters (July 6, 2012)


Russia: Pictorial health warnings in 2013

May 25, 2012

Grim graphic images depicting the impact of smoking on human health will appear on all cigarette packs in Russia starting in May 2013, the Health and Social Development Ministry said on Friday.

The ministry published on its website a list of 13 pictures that are to adorn cigarette packs. Visual images range from sick infants to blackened lungs while accompanying warnings including “Self-Destruction,” “Periodontitis” and “Erectile Dysfunction.”

Cigarette and tobacco packs in Russia currently only bear written warnings to smokers.

Russia is the world leader on smoking, with more than 39 percent of the adult populace, or 43.9 million people, being addicted to tobacco, according to WHO’s Global Adult Tobacco Survey, held in 2007, said acting Health and Social Development Minister Tatiana Golikova.

Smoking kills about 400,000 Russians a year, Golikova said.

Seventy-eight percent of smokers in countries that depict consequences of smoking on cigarette packs approved the introduction of gruesome illustrations, Golikova said. Countries that put graphic images of the consequences of smoking include Australia, India and European Union members.

The Russian government is mounting an anti-smoking campaign which is to include stricter rules on smoking in public places and a drastic increase in cigarette prices in the form of taxation.

Source: RIA Novosti (May 11, 2012)

Kazakhstan: Picture warning regulations

May 25, 2012

Kazakhstan has finalized requirements for a series of 12 rotated picture-based health warnings to appear on 40% of the package front (in Kazakh) and on 40% of the package back (in Russian).  The picture warnings will start to appear on packs part way through 2013.

The regulations were signed by the Prime Minister on November 22, 2011 (Regulation 1366).  The regulations come into effect 10 days after official publication.  The warning requirements in the regulations come into force 18 months after the regulations come into effect.

The Customs Union of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia has been considering adopting a technical regulation on package warnings that would apply to all three countries.  If such a regulation is adopted, depending on the timing, then the new Russian requirements may not come into force and instead would be replaced by the requirements of the Customs Union regulation.

There are at least 55 countries/jurisdictions that have finalized requirements for picture warnings.

To view the 12 picture-based warnings, and a copy of the Regulations, visit:

Additional information can be found at:

Source: Rob Cunningham

Canada: Tobacco companies file lawsuit over health warnings

April 30, 2012

Hit by federal regulations and massive class action lawsuits, two of Canada’s tobacco companies have struck back with legal action of their own.

Imperial Tobacco Canada Ltd. and JTI-Macdonald Corp. have launched proceedings in Ontario Superior Court to attempt to strike down cigarette package warning regulations that came into effect last fall.

The new regulations require 75 per cent of packages to be filled with health warnings, up from the previous level of 50 per cent.

In separate lawsuits filed in Ontario Superior Court, the companies claim the restriction infringes on their right to freedom of expression under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The new legal front opens as the companies face down a $27-billion class action lawsuit in Quebec Superior court brought on behalf of cigarette addicts and patients who have suffered tobacco-related illnesses. Dozens of lawyers are fighting it out in a trial expected to last well into 2013.

In the Quebec class action, the tobacco companies have maintained it was up to the federal government to warn smokers since research about smoking-related illness and death started to emerge in the 1960s.

“Now that the government has required improved warnings, the industry is trying to strike them down,” said Rob Cunningham, a senior policy analyst at the Canadian Cancer Society.

In a press release John Clayton, Imperial’s vice-president of corporate affairs, accused the federal government of “avoiding the country’s number one tobacco problem, the illegal tobacco market (that) avoids all taxes and current regulations.”

The statement skirted the main legal challenge for the company posed by a 2007 Supreme Court of Canada decision that found the 50 per cent cigarette label rule was a reasonable restriction on freedom of expression given Parliament’s aim to reduce smoking.

“They opposed 20 per cent, they opposed 50 per cent. It’s a highly objectionable legal strategy,” Mr. Cunningham said.

Imperial, the biggest of the two companies which filed its suit Wednesday, declined interview requests. JTI-Macdonald filed its suit without announcing it early this month.

Canada was the first country to require 50 per cent warnings in 2001 but the new regulations only bring the country back to the lead pack for tough packaging regulations, according to Mr. Cunningham.

Australia goes further requiring even larger warnings and bland generic company labelling.

Source: Globe & Mail (April 26, 2012)


UK: Pack Design

April 27, 2012

Tobacco companies are designing cigarette packs to resemble bottles of perfume or with lids that flip open like a lighter to lure young people into smoking.

Research published yesterday reveals the lengths to which the industry has gone to make its packs attractive to new generations of smokers as opportunities for promoting its products have been progressively reduced.

Responding to last week’s launch of a public consultation on tobacco packaging by the Department of Health, Cancer Research UK said the findings provided “a chilling insight” into the power of branding and marketing by the tobacco industry.

The research shows children aged from six to 11 are drawn to the slickly presented packs, responding with remarks such as, “It makes you feel you’re in a wonderland of happiness”, “It reminds me of a Ferrari” and “Yeah, pink, pink, pink.” Jean King, director of tobacco control for the charity, said: “Children are drawn to the colourful and slick designs without having a full understanding of how deadly the product is inside the pack. It is time to end the packet racket.”

The range of designs has proliferated over the last decade, since print and billboard advertising of tobacco was banned 10 years ago. Long, slender cigarettes contained in pastel coloured packs indicating femininity, style and sophistication are targeted at young women. Packs of 14 cigarettes are designed to look like packs of 20 but sell at a lower price.

Tobacco companies have admitted that packaging is key to promoting their products. An internal memo from Philip Morris obtained by researchers read: “When you don’t have anything else packaging is our marketing.”

Cancer Research UK yesterday launched an appeal for signatures to its petition calling for the removal of all branding from tobacco packaging.

Eight focus groups of 15-years-olds assembled by the charity showed clear differences between boys and girls when asked to pick their favourite pack. Girls chose Silk Cut and Vogue Superslims which they related to perfume, make-up and chocolate. Boys preferred Marlbro Bright Leaf, Lambert and Butler and B&H slide packs which suggested maturity, popularity and confidence.

The charity has designed a standardised pack, coloured olive brown, carrying government health warnings and a covert marking as protection against counterfeiters. Teenagers shown the pack described it as “boring and smelly.” One said: “God, are my lungs this colour as well?”

Professor Robert West, director of tobacco research at University College London, said lighter coloured packs were perceived as healthier and the presence of branding reduced the impact of health warnings. He said: “Tobacco companies claim they don’t market their products to children. But the truth is their products are attractive to children. This is about protecting children.”

Around 20 per cent of adults in the UK smoke and each percentage point reduction could prevent 3,000 deaths, he said. Australia is to introduce plain packs from December but is facing a legal challenge from the industry. France, Turkey, Hong Kong and Brunei are reviewing their policy and New Zealand has said it favours plain packs in principle.

Jaine Chisholm Caunt, secretary-general of the Tobacco Manufacturers’ Association, said: “There is no reliable evidence that plain packaging will reduce rates of youth smoking.”

Source: The Independent (April 26, 2012)

Australia: Plain packs

April 26, 2012

The government of Australia, which wants to impose the world’s first-ever ban on logos printed on cigarette packaging, has a unique marketing challenge: How to create a product package whose intent is to repel consumers.

A proposed Australian law, being watched by governments globally and challenged by companies including British American Tobacco Plc, would require cigarettes to be sold in dark olive- brown packages, with corporate logos replaced by graphic images of diseases blamed on smoking, and a uniform font previously associated with Microsoft Corp.’s (MSFT) (MSFT) Windows software. The choice of color and font was based on studies by Australian health authorities, who sought to minimize the packs’ attractiveness.

That research dovetails with decades of polling and experimentation by companies such as BAT (BATS) and Imperial Tobacco Group (IMT), who have long viewed their packages as “silent salesmen.” The Australians took all that knowledge and turned it on its head in a fit of anti-marketing. Logos on tobacco packaging are slated to be banned in the country from December, dealing a body blow to the $661 billion global industry.

“Making choices to dissuade, or prohibit the packages from standing out or drawing attention, is not the norm, but the design process is really the same,” Jeff Bellantoni, chair of the package design program at the Pratt Institute’s School of Art & Design in New York, said in an interview.
International Interest

New Zealand, Canada, Belgium, Iceland and France have all shown an interest in implementing a plain-packaging law like Australia, which accounts for 0.3 percent of global tobacco volumes, according to Euromonitor International research. The U.K. government this month called for reactions to standardize tobacco packaging, which tobacco companies claim would illegally seize their trademarks and increase sales of illicit smokes.

If Australia’s High Court upholds the law, brands such as Dunhill, made by British American, and Philip Morris International Inc.’s (PM) (PM) Marlboro would lose their iconic logos and recognizable imagery overnight. All that would remain is the brand name, written in a font known as Lucida Sans, on a pack whose color is known in the design trade as Pantone 448C.

Neither choice was random. The Australian health department hired Sydney-based research company GfK Blue Moon to come up with the most repellent packaging possible. GfK selected both the color and font to “unplug the product” from its marketing, creating a gap between the tobacco in the pack and its association with anything elegant, masculine, or exciting, according to Scott Morris, associate professor of food engineering and packaging at the University of Illinois.

Legible Font

Known mostly for being legible, Lucida was designed by the Bigelow & Holmes studio in 1985. Designers Charles Bigelow and Kris Holmes wanted to create a font that transmitted well onto laser printers. The Lucida family includes a sans-serif version, without small lines at the end of the characters. Microsoft has licensed it for use on its Windows systems.

“Lucida Sans is one of the least graceful sans-serif typefaces designed,” Tom Delaney, a senior designer with New York design and identity consultant Muts & Joy, said in an e- mail. “It’s clumsy in its line construction.”

Pantone 448C, meanwhile, isn’t a color found on most product packages, for good reason. Australia commissioned GfK to find a color that was “the least appealing” and contained cigarettes that were lowest quality, according to GfK’s 2011 report.

To aid its search, GfK could consult studies done by tobacco companies, who have come to rely on packaging more as traditional avenues of advertising, such as television and print, have been shut by regulators.

Social Visibility

Cigarette packages are different from other consumer product containers, in that smokers retain the pack until it’s finished, and frequently display it in public. Such social visibility means cigarettes are known as “badge products,” which associate the user with the brand’s image.

Most importantly, perceptions of cigarettes can be changed by altering the color or shade of color on a pack, through a process called “sensation transfer.” Lightening the tone is a common practice, as it reduces the perception of a cigarette’s strength. Red conveys a strong smoke, blue is associated with lower-tar, and white is usually the lightest smoke available.

“Consumers use things like color as an indication of risk,” said David Hammond, an associate professor at the University of Waterloo’s School of Public Health who has studied tobacco packaging. “It’s effective with tobacco as smokers are motivated to believe their brand is less harmful.”

Red or Blue?

Philip Morris, now called Altria Group Inc. (MO) (MO) in the U.S., once compared smokers’ responses to identical cigarettes packaged in separate blue and red packs. Some smokers found the cigarettes in the blue pack to be too mild, while others felt those in the red pack were too harsh.

GfK recommended eight colors for testing on smokers. Dark colors were perceived as more harmful, and dark brown was the least appealing, carrying connotations of uncleanliness. A lighter-brown color was rejected as it could be perceived by consumers as gold. An olive tint prevents the brown from looking like chocolate, which also has positive associations.

“Pantone 448C is discouragingly drab, both literally and figuratively,” Morris, the packaging professor, said in an e- mail. “You can see that there isn’t much left that connects the brand with any advertising, and it’s certainly unappealing.”

Yet by using Lucida Sans, a common font available to anyone, Australia may have provided tobacco makers with a window of opportunity, according to Jason Smith, founder of Fontsmith, a London-based font design company that has worked with companies such as Xerox Corp. (XRX) (XRX) and the British Broadcasting Corp.

“They probably should have gone for something less familiar,” Smith said in an interview. “There is absolutely nothing to stop the cigarette companies from taking Lucida Sans and using it on the side of a Formula One car, in their own brand colors.”

Source: Bloomberg (April 22, 2012)

Indonesia: New regulations?

April 23, 2012

Indonesian tobacco companies will be forced to place photos of horrific health problems caused by smoking on every pack and advertisers will be banned from showing cigarettes under a planned government regulation.

The Health Ministry provided a photo of an Indonesian-made cigarette packets, sold abroad, featuring pictures of rotting teeth and diseased limbs, as an example.

Under the regulation, photographic health warnings will cover 40 percent of a cigarette pack, along with written warnings.

Coordinating People’s Welfare Minister Agung Laksono said Thursday that the government regulation (PP) on tobacco control would also mandate the designation of smoke-free zones.

“Unlike the existing regulation, the planned regulation will order cigarette makers to put not only written but also pictorial messages on the dangers of smoking on cigarette packages,” he said at a press briefing following a meeting on tobacco control at the Health Ministry.

Indonesia ranks third in the number of deaths due to smoking-related diseases globally, trailing China and India. People from all walks of Indonesian life are smoking, despite health warnings on cigarette packs.

Health Ministry data showed that it spent 2.11 trillion rupiah (US$229.99 million) on tobacco-related illnesses in 2010, with 1.85 trillion rupiah ($201 million) spent on in-patient services and 260 million rupiah ($23,000) for out-patient services.

The regulation would be an implementation of Law No. 36/2009 on health, which mandates a regulation controlling the distribution of addictive substances like tobacco.

But Agung said that smokers would still be allowed to light up.

“Each public facility may set up a smoking section that has direct connection to open air,” he said.

The Constitutional Court (MK) this week issued a ruling requiring the establishment of smoking rooms in every public building.

Article 115 Law No. 36/2009 on health stipulates that the local government must be responsible for the designation and monitoring of smoke-free zones in healthcare facilities, schools and educational centers, playgrounds, places of worship, public transportation and offices.

“Under the planned regulation, local administrations will have the authority to designate smoke-free zones,” Agung said. The regulation will also be more stringent on cigarette advertising, including a ban on displaying images of cigarettes, and the size of billboards and outdoor banners limited to less than 72-square meters.

“We don’t prohibit them to advertise their products but only encourage them to do it in a more responsible manner,” Agung said.

Separately, the Health Ministry’s legal bureau head, Budi Sampurna, said that in an early draft, it was proposed that outdoor advertisements be no larger than 16 square meters. The Indonesian Outdoor Advertisement Association proposed 6 by 12 meters instead.

“We decided that it should not exceed 72 square meters,” Budi said.

Deputy Health Minister Ali Ghufron Mukti said tobacco advertising near schools will be also outlawed.

“Education plays an important role in protecting young people against the bad habit of smoking,” he said, adding the number of young smokers continued to increase, making them more prone to disease.

The 2010 Basic Health Survey (Riskesdas) found that 17.5 percent of smokers were aged 10-14 years, up from 9.5 percent in 2001.

Source: The Jakarta Post (April 20, 2012)

Australia: Plain pack court case

April 20, 2012

The tobacco industry’s constitutional challenge to enforced plain packaging has hit a central problem: smoking kills.

After six hours of legal argument by the tobacco multinationals in the High Court yesterday, the Chief Justice, Robert French, raised the question of whether previous cases cited by legal counsel to support the companies’ case dealt with a product comparable to cigarettes.

Justice French put it to leading counsel Bret Walker, SC, who had referred to cases dating back to the 1870s in the United States, that none related to a product on the market that carried the risk of serious or fatal disease to all who used it.

”Doesn’t this put it into a different category?” Justice French asked.

Mr Walker said there was no case dealing with public health in the context of this constitutional challenge that he could produce.

He is appearing for two of the five tobacco companies challenging the constitutional right of the federal government to introduce plain packaging at the end of this year. This measure would require the removal of all trademarks and logos from cigarette packets which would have to be coloured a uniform brown and carry prominent health warnings and images.

The companies, British American Tobacco, Philip Morris, Imperial Tobacco, Van Nelle Tabak Nederland and JT International SA, have argued the measure breaches the constitutional requirement that the acquisition of property by the government be on just terms.

To make the case that the government’s measures involve an acquisition, the companies have to show that the government gains a measurable benefit as a consequence, that is apart from the claimed benefits to the public’s health.

The Commonwealth Solicitor-General, Stephen Gageler, SC, later yesterday opened the defence case declaring there could be no acquisition of property unless it could be shown that property had been taken.

Mr Gageler said it would be “incongruous” for the government to compensate a company for requiring a measure that had as its purpose the prevention of harm to the public.

He took up the example of Ratsak rat poison, previously raised in the hearing, as a product where the company was required to print a warning on the pack to keep it away from children.

To liken it to the aim of the plain packaging measures, Mr Gageler said it would be inconceivable for rat poison companies to be paid compensation if they were prohibited from making the product package appealing to children.

The steady increase in regulation of tobacco over the past 30 years might prompt the view that the companies were to be likened to ”frogs slowly boiling”, gradually having their property taken away, he said.

But Mr Gageler said that the increasing restrictions on the tobacco companies and the use of their trademark had not been associated with any diminution of their property.

Source: The Sydney Morning Herald (April 19, 2012)

New Zealand: Plain packaging

April 20, 2012

The New Zealand cabinet has agreed in principle to introduce plain packaging for all tobacco products in New Zealand, following a similar move in Australia.

The packaging will display only health warnings and the contact details for Quitline – the government-funded service helping smokers stub out, Associate Health Minister Tariana Turia says.

“Smoking is the single biggest cause of preventable death and disease in New Zealand and we must be prepared to take bold steps towards achieving our goal,” Mrs Turia said on Thursday.

“We have banned the open display of cigarette and tobacco packs in all dairies and other shops with effect from July 23 this year. Plain packaging is the next step to ensure that once they are in the hands and homes of smokers, the packs don’t promote anything other than our serious health warnings and quit messages.”

There will be a public consultation process on the proposed change, she added.

In December Australia will become the first country in the world to enforce plain packaging of tobacco products.

Lawyers for British American Tobacco, Japan Tobacco International, Philp Morris and Imperial Tobacco Australia told the High Court in Australia this week that plain packaging would extinguish their brands and logos.

Source: The Sydney Morning Herald (April 19, 2012)

Denmark: Picture warnings appearing in stores

April 18, 2012

In Denmark, picture warnings are now appearing on store shelves for packages of cigarettes.  There was an implementation date of Feb. 15, 2012 for cigarettes, with an implementation date of Aug. 15, 2012 for various other tobacco products such as roll-your-own tobacco.

Denmark is one of 10 European Union countries to have finalized requirements for picture warnings, along with Belgium, France, Hungary, Ireland, Latvia, Malta, Romania, Spain, and the United Kingdom.

Denmark’s picture-based tobacco packaging and labelling requirements were initially outlined in to Order No. 172 of Feb. 28, 2011.

This Order was amended by Order 437 of May 2, 2011, which replaced the Annex illustrating the 14 picture-based messages to appear with a new Annex.  To see the set of 14 picture-based warnings appearing now in Denmark, it is the new Annex that should be examined, which can be seen here:

There are at least 49 countries/territories that have finalized requirements for picture warnings.

Source: Rob Cunningham (April 11, 2012)