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Plain packs report finding ‘defies logic’

| April 4, 2014

British American Tobacco said yesterday it was disappointed to hear that Sir Cyril Chantler had concluded that standardized tobacco packaging could be an effective measure for public health in the U.K., despite recognizing “there are limitations to the evidence currently available.”

“Therefore, based on the evidence included in [Chantler]’s report, the conclusion that plain packaging is an effective measure for public health defies logic,” BAT said in a note posted on its website.

In November, Chantler, a pediatrician, chairman of University College London Partners and nonexecutive chairman of the Quality and Clinical Risk Committee of NHS (National Health Service) England, was asked by the government to undertake an independent review of the public health evidence for standardized tobacco packaging.

BAT urged the U.K. government to look at the data from Australia, where, it said, after one year it was clear the plain packaging experiment had failed.

“The data shows that plain packaging has not had a positive effect on public health in Australia,” BAT said. “What’s more, the government must consider the wider implications of this policy given the increase in the illicit tobacco market and A$1billion in lost taxes to the Australian government.

“Since plain packaging was introduced in Australia:

  • The amount of tobacco sold equated to an increase of 59 million cigarettes, the first increase in Australian tobacco volumes in over five years;
  • The 3.3 percent average annual decline in Australian smoking rates from 2008 to 2012 has eased, down to 1.4 percent in 2013;
  • Illicit trade in tobacco has increased from 11.8 percent to 13.3 percent, boosting profits for the black market and the criminals that run it.”

BAT said it believed plain packaging failed to respect its minimum guaranteed rights on trademark protection, contravened EU law, affected property rights under U.K. law and infringed the U.K.’s obligations under international law.

“We are clearly not alone in this view given five sovereign states are all at various stages of challenging Australia’s decision to introduce plain packaging via the World Trade Organization with 35 countries, the highest ever, expressing an interest to observe and potentially contribute,” BAT added.

“We support sound regulation that is consultative, evidence-based, delivers its policy aims and factors in potential unintended consequences providing it doesn’t infringe on our legal rights as a business.

“Given the evidence from Australia included in [Chantler]’s report shows plain packaging has failed, we don’t see how the U.K. government could justify implementing this policy.

“We hope the U.K. government continues its logical and pragmatic approach by dismissing plain packaging and looking at alternative tobacco control measures following the announced consultation.”

No robust evidence to back plain packs

| April 4, 2014

Imperial Tobacco said yesterday that it believed there was no robust evidence to support standardized packaging, though it promised to review the Chantler report.

In November, Sir Cyril Chantler, a pediatrician, chairman of University College London Partners and nonexecutive chairman of the Quality and Clinical Risk Committee of NHS (National Health Service) England, was asked by the U.K. government to undertake an independent review of the public health evidence for standardized tobacco packaging.

“The U.K. government has previously made it clear that any decision on plain packaging will be based on the ‘wide range of relevant considerations,’ including the public consultation last year in which two-thirds of respondents said that they were against plain packaging,” Imperial said in a note posted on its website.

“The evidence from Australia, the only country in the world to introduce plain packaging, is clear: There has been no impact on the level of tobacco consumption, but illicit trade has increased from 11.8 to 13.3 percent of total consumption. An updated KPMG report on illicit trade in Australia is due to be published later this month.

“The legislation in Australia remains subject to an ongoing legal challenge by a number of countries [that] have filed complaints with the World Trade Organization, stating that plain packaging violates international rules on intellectual property and international trade obligations.”

Plain packs report disregards evidence

| April 4, 2014

In its response to the Chantler Report and the U.K. government’s statement on standardized packaging, Philip Morris International said Sir Cyril Chantler had chosen to disregard the evidence on standardized packaging from Australia—the only country to have implemented it. (In November, Chantler, a pediatrician, chairman of University College London Partners and nonexecutive chairman of the Quality and Clinical Risk Committee of NHS [National Health Service] England, was asked by the government to undertake an independent review of the public health evidence for standardized tobacco packaging.)

“Instead he has based his conclusions exclusively on the same questionable research that failed to make the case for plain packaging when the government found insufficient evidence to proceed with the policy last year,” PMI said.

“Plain packaging has failed to cut smoking rates, has not deterred youth smokers and has been accompanied by a dramatic growth of the black market. In Australia, legal tobacco sales actually rose in the year following the introduction of plain packaging.

“As the government today made clear, Sir Cyril Chantler’s review looked only at one element of the potential impact of plain packaging. The prime minister and the government have committed to look at the wider evidence on the economic, legal and crime impacts of plain packaging.

“The government should not rush to proceed without holding the full impact assessment they have promised.”

Secondhand smoke in perspective

| April 4, 2014

The mayor of Santee, California, USA, has enraged anti-smoking activists by playing down the dangers of secondhand tobacco smoke, according to a report by Natasha Zouves for 10 News.

Santee recently received a failing grade from the American Lung Association for allowing people to smoke in city parks, but Mayor Randy Voepel was unabashed.

“Here’s the deal—I’m not a smoker,” he was quoted as saying. “I might smoke one cigar every month, but cigarette smoking is especially stupid. And if you want to be stupid, you have the freedom to be stupid in Santee.”

But Voepel said he didn’t see secondhand smoke as a “serious” issue.

“You will suck in more carcinogens on your daily commute in the morning than you ever will smelling some faintly wafting secondhand smoke.”

The full report is at http://www.10news.com/news/mayor-of-santee-f-stands-for-freedom.

Spitting image given makeover

| April 4, 2014

An inventor has come up with a portable spittoon and is now offering to license or sell it to manufacturers or marketers through InventHelp.

The SPITTY is said to provide a convenient place to spit while chewing smokeless tobacco, eliminating the need to carry empty cans and cups.

The invention is lightweight, portable, easy to use and easy to clean, according to an InventHelp press note.

It is said to be sanitary—it helps prevent spills—and discreet, and it is producible in design variations.

There are further details about InventHelp’s Invention Submission Services at www.inventhelp.com.

Snus gets another clean bill of health

| April 3, 2014

Swedish researchers who two years ago reported that snus use was not associated with heart attacks have now concluded it is not associated with stroke, according to professor Brad Rodu writing on the R Street Institute website.

Rodu is a professor of medicine at the University of Louisville (UofL), USA. He holds an endowed chair in tobacco harm reduction research and is a member of the James Graham Brown Cancer Center at UofL.

The new study, published in the Journal of Internal Medicine, is the product of a collaboration of scientists from the Karolinska Institute; Sweden’s Umeå, Uppsala and Lund universities; and the University of Milano-Bicocca in Italy.

“It is well known that nicotine does not cause cancer, but its role in cardiovascular diseases has been difficult to determine,” said Rodu.

“Studying users of Swedish snus, who consume large quantities of smoke-free nicotine over decades, the Swedish researchers concluded that nicotine was unlikely to be a contributor to heart attacks or strokes.

“Smokeless tobacco and nicotine have been demonized for no valid scientific reasons. The Swedish findings are vitally important to all consumers of nicotine and tobacco products, including e-cigarettes.”

Unlike tobacco cigarettes, which are said to account for 700,000 preventable deaths each year in the EU, snus is banned in the EU outside of Sweden.

The R Street Institute piece is at http://www.rstreet.org/2014/04/01/no-stroke-risk-with-snus/.

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