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Saudi mobile cessation clinics attract mainly women

| March 24, 2015

Of 9,710 tobacco smokers who attended mobile clinics operated in Saudi Arabia under the Ministry of Health’s Tobacco Control Program (TCP), 8,575, or 88.3 percent were women.

The clinics were said to have ‘played a key role in helping’ 2,296 men and women quit smoking.

Fifty nine percent of those who quit smoking cited health concerns as the main reason, while 14 percent cited religious factors and 13 percent cited family pressure.

TCP launched 10 mobile clinics to provide treatment and awareness services in Riyadh, Jeddah, the Eastern Province, Makkah, Madinah, Taif, Asir, Najran, Jazan and Jouf.

Kawthar Al-Shidwi, head of media and public relations at the TCP, said there were more than 58 anti-smoking centers throughout the kingdom.

Timely adoption of TPD legislation ‘a priority’

| March 23, 2015

The EU Commission has said that the timely adoption of the secondary legislation provided for under the new Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) is a priority.

The Commission made its position clear in answer to questions from the Danish member of the European Parliament, Ulla Tørnæs, who was concerned that it might prove difficult for certain tobacco industry players, particularly those involved in packaging, to comply with legislation in a timely manner.

The Commission said it was proceeding as efficiently as possible, while acknowledging the need to respect legal procedures and produce well-thought-out legislation.

‘Further examination is required in all cases, including consultation of stakeholders,’ the Commission said in its written answer. ‘The industry is involved in the process preceding the proposals for secondary legislation. According to the Commission’s information the industry is already taking the necessary preparatory steps taking into account the key elements of the Directive.

‘Prior to the Commission proposal for a new TPD, representatives of the packaging sector were consulted. They indicated that changes to the design of cigarette packages were frequent practice. They also stated that no major investments would be required if pictorial warnings would be made mandatory.

‘It should be highlighted that in Article 30 the TPD provides for a transitional period during which tobacco products manufactured before the transposition deadline can be placed on the market for twelve months following this date.’

In a preamble to her questions, Tørnæs said that in its work program for 2015, the Commission was focusing on improved legislation. A decisive factor for good legislation was a suitable and predictable implementation period, which gave companies sufficient time to adjust.

Tørnæs made the point that in answer to a previous question, the Commission had addressed the complications caused by delays in delegated legislative acts and implementing acts. In this answer, the Commission had stated that the consequences of a delay had to be ascertained when assessing a particular case.

‘The deadline for implementing the Tobacco Products Directive, Directive 2014/40/EU, is 20 May 2016,’ Tørnæs said. ‘The text of the law will be supplemented by delegated legislative acts and implementing acts. The industry – particularly the packaging sector – will need 12 to 18 months to adjust production so that it complies with the new legislation.

‘According to the indicative plan for the implementation of the Tobacco Products Directive, some of the delegated legislative acts and implementing acts are expected to be published in the last quarter of 2015 or later. This will not give the industry the 12 to 18 months it needs to convert production.’

Tørnæs then posed three questions:

‘Would the Commission explain what consequences delays in delegated legislative acts and implementing acts will have?

‘Would the Commission give earlier examples of directives, where delays in delegated legislative acts or implementing acts made it difficult to comply with the time limit for implementation?

‘Would the Commission describe the steps it took to alleviate these difficulties?’

China ponders electronic cigarette regulation

| March 23, 2015

The Chinese government is considering regulating the manufacture, sale and consumption of electronic cigarettes ‘in the light of uncertainty regarding the health risk/benefit of the devices’, according to a China Daily story relayed by the TMA.

Mao Qun’an, a spokesman for China’s National Health and Family Planning Commission, made known the government’s thinking while speaking on the sidelines of the recently-concluded 16th World Conference on Tobacco or Health in Abu Dhabi, UAE.

Mao said electronic cigarettes were widely available in China, on the streets or at online stores, and in a variety of flavors that could attract the young.

Dr. Margaret Chan, director-general of the World Health Organization, was quoted by the Daily as saying electronic cigarettes would attract young people to smoking.

She recommended that national governments “abandon or at least regulate them”. And Douglas Bettcher, director of the WHO’s Non-communicable Diseases Prevention Department, agreed.

Countries such as the United Arab Emirates and Brazil had banned e-cigarettes, while others had regulated them as tobacco products or as medicinal products. “But the bottom line is to regulate them,” he said.

The Chinese government’s tobacco monopoly is, by a long way, the biggest manufacturer of traditional tobacco cigarettes.

Trade deal dispute provisions need “reforming”

| March 23, 2015

The EU Commission has no intention of excluding Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provisions from the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) despite the fact that 97 percent of the 150,000 responses to a public consultation opposed them.

A story in The Parliament Magazine said the EU trade commissioner Cecilia Malmström had told a hearing in the European Parliament that the consultation was “not a referendum”.

She did concede, however, that the ISDS provisions needed “reforming”.

The commissioner was summoned before parliament’s international trade committee for a discussion on the ISDS mechanism, widely seen as the most controversial aspect of the free trade deal currently under negotiation with the US.

Many fear the inclusion of ISDS in the agreement will result in foreign companies endlessly suing EU governments for legislative actions.

Malmström said that 1,400 bilateral agreements signed by European governments had ISDS in some shape or form.

In the eyes of the Commission, this was a question of how, and not whether to include ISDS in the transatlantic deal.

The commissioner made specific suggestions, but was keen to emphasise that these were preliminary ideas to be discussed further.

Norway consults on standardized tobacco packaging

| March 23, 2015

The Norwegian Ministry of Health and Care Services has published a consultation paper proposing the introduction of standardized tobacco packaging, according to an EMBIN (Emerging Markets Business Information News) story.

The consultation paper discusses also measures to implement Norway’s obligations under the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Article 5.3, which aims to protect public health policy from commercial and other vested interests of the tobacco industry.

UK accused of pursuing failing tobacco tax policy

| March 23, 2015

UK cigarette companies accused the government of pursuing a ‘failing tobacco tax policy’ after it used last week’s budget to continue imposing above-inflation duty increases, according to a story in The Times.

At the same time, the Tobacco Manufacturers’ Association (TMA) claimed the government’s policies towards tobacco were boosting the market for illicit products.

“The illegal market cost the treasury £2.1 billion in 2013-14 and whilst we recognise the government’s commitment to a renewed anti-illicit tobacco strategy, further tax rises will simply undermine these efforts,” Giles Roca, the TMA’s director-general, was quoted as saying.

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