Experts discuss TPD and #plainpacks legislation that came into effect today!

Today the laws around tobacco packaging have changed! Under new regulations voted for by MPs, tobacco and cigarettes can only be sold in plain, standardised packaging.

The decision to make these changes as a public health measure to protect children’s health was informed by the work of many researchers across the tobacco field. The UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies, its stakeholders and our researchers welcome this move to protect the UK population from being advertised to by tobacco branding and attractive images.

A systematic review of evidence of standardised packaging carried out by the Institute of Social Marketing at the University of Stirling showed that standard packs are less appealing, make health warnings more effective, and reduce the ability of the packaging to mislead consumers about the harms of smoking.

Under the new regulations, all tobacco products will be sold in dark green packages, with brand features and bright colours replaced with large graphic images of the effects of smoking and health warnings.

Gerard Hastings, Professor of Social Marketing said: “The introduction of plain packaging is another giant step forward in the fight against tobacco, which is still killing tens of thousands of people every year in Britain. Over the last two decades we have blocked the tobacco industry’s pernicious marketing in the media, in our shops and now on the pack itself.  The big winners will be our children, who will escape being groomed for addiction and early death in the interests of private profit. Today is a day which every parent, every teacher and every child can cheer to the roof tops.”

Martine Stead, Deputy Director of the Institute for Social Marketing said: “We have examined evidence of the potential impact of standardised packaging from Australia, New Zealand, the UK, Canada and France. The evidence is clear: putting cigarettes into plain packs makes tobacco products, and smoking in general, less appealing to young people. People pay more attention to health warnings when packs have no distracting branding on them. The colour is also important as people assume white packs are somehow less harmful than darker coloured packs. This confusion disappears when all packs are the same dark colour.”

Crawford Moodie, Senior Research Fellow, said: “Australia remains the only country to have fully implemented plain packaging. Large national surveys with both adults and youth there show since the regulation was introduced, prevalence and consumption has declined, with fewer adults and young people smoking now than at any time since these surveys began. ,There’s also been an increase in the average age of smoking initiation and the proportion of never smoking. The evidence in favour of plain packaging is now stronger than it has ever been.”

Dr Jenny Hatchard, Research Fellow at the University of Bath said “Our research showed that tobacco company claims that plain packaging “wouldn’t work”, would increase the illicit trade in tobacco and would damage the economy were largely unfounded and based on low quality research. Yesterday’s High Court decision is an important moment for plain packaging and the positive impacts it will have on health.  However, it also sends an important message that public health legislation cannot and should not be undermined by the poor quality evidence and opposition tactics of powerful corporations whose products damage our health.”

Also happening today are changes to the current rules around tobacco related products including e-cigarettes. This includes restrictions around advertising and promotion of e-cigarettes and how products containing different levels of nicotine are regulated.

Commenting on the developments to e-cigarette regulations, Linda Bauld, Professor of Health Policy, said: “Electronic cigarettes are now used by 2.8 million adults in the UK, with almost half of these users being ex-smokers. All existing research suggests that while e-cigarettes shouldn’t be promoted to children who have never smoked, they offer a far safer alternative for people who currently use tobacco.

New EU regulations on e-cigarettes are contained in one specific part of the TPD – Article 20 – which imposes new restrictions on these devices. TPD limits on nicotine concentration, tank size and e-liquid containers are not well supported by existing evidence. Only time will tell if Article 20 has unintended consequences, and this needs to be the focus of future careful research and monitoring.”

Side note: The evidence that e-cigarettes can help and have helped people stop smoking is growing and some people are worried that Article 20 of the TPD will affect the success of these products and have a substantial impact on the almost 3 million current vapers currently in the UK. This lead the House of Lords to table Article 20 of the TPD until June 20th at which time representatives will vote whether or not to implement that part of the legislation. With the EU referendum due soon after, the result of the vote will have huge ramifications on voters’ decision to vote to stay/leave the EU, a debate that is increasingly becoming polarised from both sides of the argument. Read more here.

Text taken from University of Stirling, University of Bath and UKCTAS.net

 

Advertisements

UKCTAS researchers’ evidence used in High Court decision to allow plain packaging.

Implementation of plain packaging for cigarettes and loose tobacco will go ahead on schedule today (Friday, 20 May 2016) after yesterday’s ruling from the UK High Court, which found in favour of the Department of Health.

The ruling relied partly on two key pieces of peer-reviewed research from the Tobacco Control Research Group at the University of Bath to conclude that evidence submitted by the tobacco industry to the public consultation on plain packaging ‘generally fell below best practice’ as it was not peer-reviewed, benchmarked against internal documents, did not make use of global literature and was not verifiable.

The research papers, published in BMJ Open and PLOS Medicine in 2014, had found that tobacco industry evidence:

  • Was of significantly lower quality than research supporting the measure.
  • Used techniques, such as misquoting, to encourage government and the public to question the quality of the evidence supporting standardised packaging;
  • Failed to include evidence showing the central importance of packaging in marketing their products; evidence which is present in internal tobacco company documents made public via litigation; and
  • Did not consistently and transparently disclose their links to the evidence they cited.

Lead author of one of the papers, Dr Jenny Hatchard, said ‘Our research showed that tobacco company claims that plain packaging “wouldn’t work”, would increase the illicit trade in tobacco and would damage the economy were largely unfounded and based on low quality research.

‘Yesterday’s High Court decision is an important moment for plain packaging and the positive impacts it will have on health.  However, it also sends an important message that public health legislation cannot and should not be undermined by the poor quality evidence and opposition tactics of powerful corporations whose products damage our health.’

To hear Jenny speak on BBC radio click here.

Text from: University of Bath News

Read more

Policy Brief: Evidence-based policy-making and ‘Better Regulation’: The battleground for standardised packaging of tobacco

BAT bribing politicians to sabotage anti-smoking laws #tobacco @UniofBath TCRG @BBC

British American Tobacco, one of Britain’s biggest companies, has been accused of bribing senior politicians and civil servants in a bid to sabotage anti-smoking laws.

The allegations by whistleblowers from the company, and supported by court documents, relate to the company’s operations in several African countries.

Paul Hopkins, who served in the Irish Special Forces before working for BAT, claims he broke the law for the tobacco firm. “I was a commercial hitman,” he said in an interview broadcast on BBC One’s Panorama.

Commenting on the practice of bribery, Mr Hopkins, who worked for BAT in Kenya for 13 years, said: “It was explained to me in Africa that’s the cost of doing business.”

Several individuals involved with the World Health Organisation’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) were allegedly targeted.

Under the UK Bribery Act, British companies can be prosecuted for bribery which takes place overseas. And anti-smoking campaigners are demanding the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) launch a criminal investigation into BAT.

“Given how Big Tobacco operates, these latest revelations are likely to be just the tip of the iceberg!

That’s why there must be a full and public inquiry to expose the extent and nature of BAT’s illegal acts. No company should be allowed to put its profits before the health and economic well-being of sovereign nation states.”

Prof Anna Gilmore, University of Bath TCRG

“Panorama’s shocking evidence must be investigated without delay. If true, it is hard to imagine any more disgusting act for a British company than to pay decision makers in Africa to prevent legislation being passed to protect children and young people from a future of addiction, disease and premature death caused by smoking.”

Deborah Arnott, chief executive of Action on Smoking and Health

British American Tobacco accused of bribing government officials | The Guardian

The secret bribes of big tobacco paper trail | BBC

British American Tobacco accused of bribing senior politicians in order to sabotage anti-smoking laws | The Independent

 

@EU_Commission #redacted documents mustn’t go unchallenged says Berteletti #tobacco #TTIP

The row over the European Commission’s release of heavily redacted documents documenting its relationship with the tobacco industry is just ‘another dirty drop in an already murky pool’, argues Florence Berteletti.

TTIP-List copy

The adoption of the EU’s revised Tobacco Products Directive should be considered a victory for public health.

However, it also marked the end of five years of controversial lobbying practices by the tobacco industry, which included a multitude of well-documented unsavory events.

One would have hoped that in the aftermath of these events, the European Commission would have learnt some lessons and would now be dealing with the tobacco industry in a different manner.

Continue reading

Hurray for Uganda’s Anti-Tobacco Bill @BaryomunsiChris

Yesterday MP’s in Uganda passed the Anti-tobacco Bill 2014 with some amendments, ending uncertainty over a public health initiative opposed by corporate interests. First moved in March 2014 by Kinkiizi East MP – Dr Chris Baryomunsi (now the junior minister of health for general duties).

The bill seeks to promote and protect the right to health and life as a fundamental human right.

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE BILL

  • Prohibits smoking within 100 metres of any public place.
  • No shisha smoking.
  • Packets should contain a minimum of 20 sticks of cigarettes.
  • Cigarette packets should be fully sealed.
  • Tobacco or its products shouldn’t be prominently displayed.
  • Bans advertising, promotion and sponsorship.
  • The text and pictures comprising the health warnings and messages shall appear together and shall occupy no less than less 75 per cent of the packaging.

Read more @allAfrica.com

Research Report [Unpacking commercial sector opposition to European smoke-free policy: lack of unity, ‘fear of association’ and harm reduction debates]

Objective

Tobacco companies have made extensive efforts to build alliances against comprehensive smoke-free legislation. The article analyses the interaction between actors who opposed the development of the European Council Recommendation on smoke-free environments.

Methods

Drawing on data from 200 policy documents and 32 semistructured interviews and using qualitative textual analysis and organisational network analysis, opponents’ positions on, and responses to, the policy initiative, strategies to oppose the policy, and efforts to build alliances were investigated.

Results

The non-binding nature of the policy, scientific evidence and clear political will to adopt EU-wide measures combined to limit the intensity of commercial sector opposition to the comprehensive EU smoke-free policy. Most tobacco companies, led by the Confederation of European Community Cigarette Manufacturers (CECCM), voiced reservations against the proposal, criticised the policy process and fought flanking measures on product regulation. However, some companies focused on instigating harm reduction debates. These divergent approaches and the reluctance of other commercial actors to demonstrate solidarity with the tobacco sector prevented the establishment of a cohesive commercial sector alliance.

Conclusions

The comparatively limited opposition to EU smoke-free policy contrasts with previous accounts of tobacco industry resistance to tobacco control. While context-specific factors can partially explain these differences, the paper indicates that the sector’s diminished credibility and lack of unity hampered political engagement and alliance building. Industry efforts to emphasise the benefits of smokeless tobacco during smoke-free policy debates highlight the potential of harm reduction as a gateway for tobacco companies to re-enter the political arena.

Read more @ BMJ

“The TTIP grants corporations the same legal rights as nation states, enabling them to sue governments in secret courts to block policies that dent their future profits” Owen Jones

A-packet-of-cigarettes-007“This privileging of corporate interests over democracy is only going to get worse. The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership – a treaty being hammered out between the EU and the US with woefully little scrutiny – could grant companies the same legal rights as nation states, enabling them to sue elected governments in secret courts to block policies that dent future profits. And sure enough – using a similar treaty – Philip Morris sued the Australian government for the same policy…

It used the same tactic against Uruguay’s government for enlarging health warnings on cigarette packages.”

If the law favors Big Tobacco over taxpayers, then the law is a disgrace | Owen Jones