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Archive for July, 2013

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Graphic health warnings? No fear

| July 23, 2013

The introduction of standardized packaging in Ireland will not force smokers to quit their habit nor prevent smoking initiation, according to Patrick Basham, who co-authored The Plain Truth: Does Packaging Influence Smoking?

Writing in The Irish Times, Basham, who directs the Democracy Institute and is a Cato Institute adjunct scholar, took aim at both the Irish Minister of Health James Reilly, who has declared his intention to introduce standardized cigarette packs next year, and the EU’s health commissioner, Tonio Borg, who wants to mandate gruesome, super-sized warnings on packs of cigarettes as part of a revised Tobacco Products Directive. (Both institutes have been the recipients of tobacco-industry funding.)

“Though fear is both policymakers’ weapon of choice for stopping people from smoking, it simply won’t work,” wrote Basham, who later in his piece pointed out that several independent research studies published during the past two years had found graphic health warnings to be an utter failure.

Basham’s piece can be read in full at http://www.irishtimes.com/news/health/terror-campaign-directed-at-smoking-applies-a-faulty-logic-1.1469572.

Although … on the other hand …

| July 23, 2013

Ministers in the U.K. government now have “no excuse” to delay plans to require cigarettes to be sold in standardized packs, according to a story in the electronic Telegraph quoting health campaigners.

The campaigners were basing their claim on the results of a study that found that tobacco sold in standardized packaging was “less appealing” and made smokers “prioritize quitting.”

Earlier this month the government came under heavy fire for abandoning—for the time being at least—the idea of introducing standardized tobacco packaging.

The government put the matter out to public consultation and, following that consultation, decided to await the outcome of Australia’s pioneering adoption of standardized packaging.

Since Dec. 1, 2012, Australia has required that all tobacco products be sold in packaging designed on behalf of the government to be as ugly as possible. Packs are hugely dominated by graphic health warnings, are otherwise a standard olive color, have no logos or other design features, and have brand and variant names in a standardized font and position.

Research into the strategy, published in the online journal BMJ Open, was conducted to find out the effects the policy was having in the early stages, according to the Telegraph story.

The authors interviewed 536 cigarette smokers in the Australian state of Victoria during November 2012, when standardized packs were already available. Smokers smoking cigarettes from standardized packs comprised 72.3 percent of respondents, while the remainder were still using branded packs with smaller health warnings.

The researchers found that, compared to smokers using cigarettes from branded packs, smokers using cigarettes from standardized packs were 66 percent more likely to think their cigarettes were of poorer quality than those of a year ago, and they were 70 percent more likely to say they found them less satisfying. They were also 81 percent more likely to have thought about quitting at least once a day during the previous week.

“Overall, the introductory effects we observed are consistent with the broad objectives of the plain packaging legislation,” the authors said. “We await further research to examine more durable effects on smokers and any effects on youth.”

… but then again

| July 23, 2013

British American Tobacco’s Australian unit has disputed the findings of a cancer charity’s study that standardized cigarette packaging lowers the appeal of cigarettes and increases the desire to quit, according to a Bloomberg News story.

Australia’s introduction of standardized packaging legislation had had “no noticeable impact on legal tobacco sales in the first six months,” BAT Australia spokesman Scott McIntyre was quoted as saying in an emailed statement. “Smokers are still purchasing cigarettes just as they were before it was introduced.”

The study, funded by Cancer Council Victoria, surveyed 536 smokers during the rollout of the standardized pack legislation in November, when branded packs were still on sale.

Promotions aimed at Chinese students

| July 23, 2013

Anti-smoking activists have condemned an advertising campaign that offers junior and senior high school graduates discounts on buying packs of cigarettes at graduation celebrations in Jiangxi Province, China, according to a story in the Global Times.

The Chinese Association on Tobacco Control has said that it has reported the campaign to central government authorities.

Co-organized by the China Tobacco Jiangxi Industrial and its Nancheng county branch, the campaign is said to be aimed at promoting the sales of Jinsheng, a local cigarette brand, via a website targeting school students in Fuzhou, Jiangxi Province.

The website promises that students will get one pack of Jinsheng cigarettes free for every pack they buy at all graduation dinners in co-operating restaurants from June 25 to Sept. 30.

According to China’s protection of minors law, shopkeepers are forbidden from selling tobacco to underage children, though no age limit is specified in China’s tobacco laws.

Imperial Canada in train disaster relief

| July 23, 2013

Imperial Tobacco Canada said yesterday it had made a $10,000 donation to the Salvation Army to support the charity’s emergency and disaster services for the community in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec.

On July 6, a train carrying oil exploded in this small lakeside town, killing more than 50 people.

“Our thoughts have been and continue to be with everyone in the community,” said Caroline Ferland, vice president, corporate and regulatory affairs. “Our entire family of employees join me in expressing our deepest sympathy to the people who are affected by this tragic train derailment.”

The Salvation Army’s efforts in Lac-Mégantic included delivering water, food, blankets and other disaster relief services to survivors.

ITG gives equipment to IT Schools Africa

| July 23, 2013

Imperial pictureThe Imperial Tobacco Group has donated more than 300 computer monitors and a number of laser printers to a charity that helps schools in Africa.

IT Schools Africa took the equipment away following Imperial’s move from its former head office in Bristol, U.K., and has distributed it to schools in Zimbabwe.

Imperial’s new global head office has been equipped with new IT equipment, which meant that some of the existing technology was no longer needed.

“Knowing we’d have a large number of monitors available, we wanted to ensure they were put to good use,” said Tony Rickard, corporate center IT manager.

“The charity was running an appeal for flat screens for use in schools, which we considered a very valuable re-use of the redundant equipment.

“It is great to know that rather than being disposed of, the equipment is being used for a good cause.”

Ron Pearce, of IT Schools Africa, said his charity was very grateful for Imperial’s generous support.