Monthly Archives: June 2014

UK publishes draft plain packaging regulations

June 26, 2014

Plain packaging for cigarettes will come a step closer when ministers announce regulations to enact the historic move on Thursday.

The Department of Health’s confirmation that it is finally bringing forward the regulations will delight doctors and health charities, who have been growing increasingly concerned about ministers’ failure to do so by their promised deadline.

When the government’s review on plain packaging of cigarettes reported on 3 April, Jane Ellison, the public health minister, embraced its endorsement of the plan and said she would bring forward draft regulations by the end of that month.

This will finally happen on Thursday through a written ministerial statement to MPs.

The government initially supported plain packaging, but then dropped the plan in July 2013, amid suspicions that the Conservatives’ election strategist, Lynton Crosby – a lobbyist who had been involved in opposing the move in Australia – had persuaded David Cameron not to pursue it. However, widespread anger in the medical community and the Department of Health’s continuing support for plain packaging forced a rethink.

Thursday’s move will not necessarily guarantee plain packaging will be pushed through before the general election in May. The statement will say there will be a further, short public consultation and negotiations with the EU, which will take about six months, before the plans are enacted in the UK.

The new, second consultation is thought to be necessary to help the government defeat any legal moves to delay or outlaw plain packaging by tobacco firms, which fear it will damage their profits.

In December 2012 Australia became the first country in the world to introduce plain packaging. The move was widely supported by doctors as a way of deglamourising smoking and deterring children from smoking.

New Zealand and France have pledged to follow suit, while Ireland has recently introduced primary legislation to do the same.

Ellison has said that if standardised packaging were introduced “it would be very likely to have a positive impact on public health”.

The government’s review, by Sir Cyril Chantler, said the importance of plain packaging should not be underestimated.

Simon Gillespie, chief executive of the British Heart Foundation, said it had taken “far too long” for the government to publish plans on how standardised packaging would be implemented in the UK.

“Tobacco is a killer product and it is misleading for it to be presented in glitzy packaging. Every day of delay allows the tobacco industry to tempt more young people into adopting a deadly habit,” he said.

“The government is fast running out of parliamentary time. It must now act with speed and decisiveness to ensure this crucial public health measure is law before the election.”

Source: The Guardian (June 26, 2014)

Note: The ‘Consultation on the introduction of regulations for standardised packaging of tobacco products’, includes draft regulations and is available at:

Ireland becomes first EU country to introduce plain packaging legislation

June 10, 2014

The Minister for Health, James Reilly, T.D. announced today that the Government has approved the publication of the Public Health (Standardised Packaging of Tobacco) Bill 2014 and the presentation of the Bill in the Seanad.

“Ireland will be the first country in the European Union to introduce such legislation and the third country worldwide. Australia introduced plain packaging legislation in November 2011 and the New Zealand Bill had its first reading in Parliament on 11th February this year. I understand that other EU countries are also considering such legislation” said the Minister. “This represents a significant step forward in our tobacco control policy and our goal of being a smoke free country by 2025”.

If enacted the Bill approved today will control the design and appearance of tobacco products. It will remove all forms of branding including trademarks, logo, colours and graphics from packs, except for the brand and variant name which will be presented in a uniform typeface. The objective of the Bill is to make tobacco packs look less attractive to consumers, to make health warnings more prominent and to reduce the ability of the packs to mislead people, especially children about the harmful effects of smoking.

“One of my key goals as Minister for Health is to prevent our children and young people from starting to smoke. Approximately 5,200 Irish people die each year from diseases caused by smoking. These are all preventable, avoidable deaths” said the Minister. “Given all we know about the dangers of smoking, it is not acceptable to allow the tobacco industry to use deceptive marketing gimmicks to lure our children into this deadly addiction and to deceive current smokers about the impact of their addiction. The introduction of standardised packaging will remove the final way for tobacco companies to promote their deadly product in Ireland. Cigarette packets will no longer be a mobile advertisement for the tobacco industry”.

The tobacco industry has invested heavily in pack design in order to communicate specific messages to specific groups. This Bill will take away one of the industry’s means of promoting tobacco as a desirable product. As the majority of smokers start when they are children, packaging elements are, by definition, directed mainly at young people. The reality is that 1 in every 2 children who smoke will become a smoker and for those who become addicted 1 in every 2 of them will die of a tobacco related disease. The consequences for them, their families and the health services are enormous.

“There is a wealth of international evidence on the effects of tobacco packaging in general and on perceptions and reactions to standardised packaging which support the introduction of this measure. I am confident that the legislation will be supported and justified on public health grounds and by the fact that it will contribute to reducing the number of lives lost by smoking tobacco products. ’ Minister Reilly concluded.

Source: Irish Department of Health (June 10, 2014)

France considering move to plain packaging

June 9, 2014

France is considering a move to brandless packets to curb smoking, instituting one of the world’s toughest anti-tobacco policies in the home of chain-smoking singer Serge Gainsbourg and no-filter Gauloises cigarettes.

Health Minister Marisol Touraine is due to present a law next month that would stop cigarette manufacturers from printing their distinctive logos on packages, Le Figaro newspaper reported on Friday.

Plain packaging, with the cigarette brand written in small lettering under a graphic health warning, would be among a raft of radical measures to curb smoking, including a ban on using e-cigarettes, or “vaping”, in public places, Le Figaro said.

Australia pioneered plain packaging for cigarettes in 2012 and Britain, New Zealand and Ireland all plan similar bans.

In a statement, France’s Health Ministry said it was studying several options to curb smoking.

“We are far from the point of taking any decisions and no particular course of action has been determined so far,” the ministry said.

With its cafe culture and chain-smoking Nouvelle Vague movie stars, France earned a reputation as a smokers’ paradise after World War Two. Iconic dark-tobacco brands like Gitanes, favoured by Gainsbourg, who smoked up to five packs a day, and Gauloises, preferred by philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre, grew hugely popular, in part thanks to their stylish packaging.

While the reputation sticks, smoking rates in France have since plummeted. Less than a third of the population now lights up regularly, which is about average for the European Union and down sharply from nearly 60 percent in the 1960s.

Tough anti-tobacco laws were introduced in 1991 which banned smoking in public places, forced cigarette manufacturers to display health warnings on packets and forbade large-scale advertising on billboards and TV.

Advocates of plain packaging argue that stripping packets of eye-catching logos is effective in reducing smoking among young people. Currently, one in three French people aged 15 to 19 is a smoker, according to the Health Ministry.

As French smoking rates have declined, so has the country’s once-vibrant tobacco industry. The state-owned Seita brand that produced Gauloises and Gitanes was bought by Britain’s Imperial Tobacco in 2008, and much of its production moved abroad.

In April, Imperial Tobacco announced the closure of the largest Gauloise cigarette factory in France, prompting the factory’s 327 workers to go on strike and hold five managers hostage on the worksite, near Nantes, this week.

The managers were released on Thursday after a day of captivity.

Source: Nicholas Vinocur, Reuters UK (May 30, 2014)