Monthly Archives: November 2016

Turkey to introduce plain packaging in 2017

The Health Ministry has announced new restrictions on cigarette sales as Health Minister Recep Akdağ revealed a rise in the rate of smokers in a country hailed for its exemplary anti-tobacco campaigns.

Speaking at a parliamentary session where the budget for his ministry was being discussed yesterday, Akdağ said they plan to introduce plain packaging for cigarettes, a plan scrapped during the tenure of his predecessor and cigarette displays in stores will be covered to prevent attraction.

Akdağ said smoking among adults has decreased to 23.2 percent in recent years but it rose again to 27.3 percent and they needed “a serious program” to tackle the issue. “In 2017, we will introduce plain packaging where the brand of cigarettes will almost be invisible and sellers will be obliged to store the cigarettes in closed cases instead of transparent displays,” Akdağ said.

Smoking is one of the habits most associated with Turks and even led to the emergence of the expression: “To smoke like a Turk.” Today, the country, which has a high prevalence of smokers, is marking the seventh year since the most comprehensive smoking ban came into force. Figures show the ban, along with escalated taxes and free treatment for smokers, helped decrease smoking in the country. A World Health Organization (WHO) report released in 2015 showed a 12 percent decline in tobacco sales and a decline in the prevalence of tobacco smoking from 31.2 percent to 27.1 percent in the four years prior to the report.

Plain packaging is a practice that has had mixed success in the countries it has been implemented. The thinking behind the idea is that young people are the main target for tobacco companies who attract customers with shiny packaging.

The Health Ministry also plans to ban smoking in public parks, gardens and other public places, but specific areas will be designated for smoking.

In 2009, Turkey banned smoking in all indoor spaces, including restaurants, bars, cafes and similar establishments and, one year later, the ban was extended to smoking in various sites such as stadiums, mosque courtyards and hospitals. Then Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, a staunch teetotaler, is largely credited for the effective implementation of the ban that significantly limited space for smokers. Erdoğan did not abandon his anti-smoking policy after he was elected president and even though he officially has no say in daily politics, he personally sees that people he comes across give up the habit, seizing their cigarette packs before having them “pledge” to quit smoking until their next meeting. Turkey is among the top seven countries that have passed 100 percent smoke-free laws, according to the WHO. Moreover, Turkey is one of the few countries combating smoking effectively with efforts to curb smoking by helping addicts. Smokers are provided with Bupropion HCI and Varenicline, two drugs used as smoking cessation aids and nicotine replacements.

Source: Daily Sabah (November 14, 2016)

Canadian Cancer Society releases international report on cigarette package warnings

The Canadian Cancer Society has released the 5th edition of its report, Cigarette Package Health Warnings: International Status Report.

The report finds that there are now more than 100 countries and territories that require graphic picture warnings.

The report ranks 205 countries and territories based on the size of their health warnings on cigarette packages and lists countries that have finalized requirements for picture warnings.

Cigarette Package Health Warnings report in English

Cigarette Package Health Warnings report in French

Health groups suing FDA over delay in implementing larger picture warnings on cigarette packs

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is being sued over its delay in issuing a final rule about graphic health warnings on cigarette packs and ads.

The legal action was launched by eight public health and medical groups — including the American Cancer Society — and several individual pediatricians. They filed suit Oct. 4 in federal court in Boston.

Besides the cancer society, the organizations involved in the lawsuit are: the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Massachusetts Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, and Truth Initiative.

Under a 2009 federal law, the FDA was given until June 22, 2011 to issue a final rule on graphic cigarette warnings covering the top half of the front and back of cigarette packs, and 20 percent of cigarette advertising.

The FDA met the deadline but the specific warnings required by the agency were struck down in August 2012 by an appeals court. However, the ruling applied only to certain images proposed by the FDA and did not affect the underlying requirement of the 2009 law.

In March 2012, another appeals court upheld the law’s requirement for graphic warnings and the U.S. Supreme Court turned down a tobacco industry appeal of that ruling.

The court decisions mean the FDA is still legally obligated to require graphic health warnings on cigarette packs and ads, according to the lawsuit plaintiffs.

The FDA said in March 2013 that it planned to issue a new rule on those warnings but has yet to do so, even though several of the groups involved in the lawsuit have repeatedly urged the FDA to take action, according to a news release from the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

The lawsuit alleges that the FDA’s failure to issue a new rule is “agency action unlawfully withheld” and seeks a court order requiring the FDA to issue a new rule.

“The FDA has been in violation [of the 2009 law] for more than four years. During that time, over 3 million Americans, the vast majority of them minors, have begun to smoke on a regular basis. Half of them will die prematurely as a result of tobacco-related disease,” according to the lawsuit.

A 2013 study of graphic cigarette warnings in Canada suggests that if the United States had implemented such warnings in 2012, as planned, the number of adult smokers in the United States would have fallen potentially by as much as 8.6 million in 2013.

Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States. Tobacco kills more than 480,000 Americans and costs about $170 billion in health-care expenses each year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Source: CBS News (October 4, 2016)