In the UK, as many as 100 Conservative MPs are expected to vote against plans to impose standardized packaging for cigarettes and fine-cut tobacco, according to a story in The Daily Telegraph.
There was widespread surprise in January when a junior health minister, Jane Ellison, said MPs would be given a vote on the plans during the current session of parliament, which is due to end on March 30. Ellison said standardized packaging was a “proportionate and justified response” because of the health risks associated with smoking.
However, many observers had assumed that the legislation would not be introduced until after May 7, when the UK is due to go to the polls in a general election, and there seems to have been confusion within the government’s ranks.
The cabinet is split over the plans and at least two senior cabinet ministers were said not to have been forewarned of the announcement.
Some opponents of standardized tobacco packaging are aggrieved that the government has not yet published the report on its 2014 consultation on the measure.
And one Conservative MP has warned that the government must publish the report quickly “[i]f the consultation process is not to be dismissed as a sham…”
Whatever happens, the vote is likely to go in favor of standardized packaging because the issue is backed by the opposition Labour Party and the Conservative Party’s coalition partner, the Liberals.
An EU ‘high level working party’ is due to meet on Thursday to discuss electronic cigarette taxation.
According to a note from the general secretariat of the Council of the EU, item five on the meeting’s agenda reads: ‘Tax treatment of new tobacco products and related products, such as electronic cigarettes and novel tobacco products’.
A representative of the presidency is due to make a presentation before there an exchange of views is held.
Imperial Tobacco Canada has entered the debate about electronic cigarettes, which are not approved for sale in Canada but which are available for purchase.
In a letter published in the Montreal Gazette, Caroline Ferland, vice president corporate and regulatory affairs, said Imperial fully supported the introduction of a regulatory framework that would allow the legal introduction of electronic cigarettes into the Canadian marketplace. ‘We feel it is of utmost importance that this framework puts product quality and consumer safety as a priority, while reflecting the unique nature of the product – that they are not tobacco products and should thus not be regulated in the same way’ she said.
‘Currently, any nicotine-containing e-cigarettes must be approved by Health Canada before entering the market. At this time no such products have received regulatory approval, yet nevertheless products are being sold across the country due to a lack of enforcement.
‘We encourage Health Canada to act quickly in implementing a regulatory framework that allows the commercialization of such products.’
In various parts of the world, smokers have been seen as smelly and not normal, whatever that might mean, and now a councilman in Seoul, South Korea, apparently feels that those who smoke on sidewalks are socially disorderly.
According to a story in The Korea Times, Seoul Metropolitan councilman, Nam Jae-kyung, of the ruling Saenuri Party, is pushing to ban smoking on city sidewalks and streets where school buses operate.
Nam has submitted a bill to the council’s Health and Welfare Committee calling for such areas to be added to the no-smoking zones outlined in the city’s Road Traffic Act.
“I am ultimately pushing for all streets to be designated as no smoking zones,” Nam said.
“Smoking in the streets is not only a matter of health rights, but of maintaining basic social order.”
The revision bill will be discussed by the council in March and, if passed, could go into effect in mid-April.
At least some medical doctors in the UAE are skeptical about the results of a survey that apparently showed tobacco smoking was ‘falling out of favor’. They believe that some respondents lied to those conducting the survey.
A story by Anam Rizvi and Jennifer Bell in The National Newspaper did not mention who carried out the survey and gave few details of the results, but it said that 76 percent of respondents had said they did not smoke cigarettes or shisha.
And of those who did admit to smoking, few admitted to smoking every day: 16 percent in the case of cigarette smokers and only three percent in the case of shisha smokers.
It is possibly little wonder then that doctors find the survey results hard to swallow – and it’s possibly even less surprising that, given the stigma attached to smoking, smokers resorted to the odd fib.
“People may deny smoking in a general survey but they don’t lie in front of a doctor,” Dr. Sajeev Nair, a specialist pulmonologist, was quoted as saying.
“Smoking is very prevalent in the UAE. My colleagues and I often discuss whether more people are smoking nowadays compared to earlier, and we think that it is increasing slowly among the younger people.”
Nair estimated that between 70 and 75 percent of his patients were smokers.
Sri Lanka’s Cabinet of Ministers has approved legislation to compel tobacco companies to include on their cigarette packs health warnings taking up 80 percent of the packs’ surface [presumably the front and back surfaces], according to a number of local reports.
The law is due to be enacted by Parliament during the 100 day program of the new government.
In May last year, while dismissing a challenge filed by the country’s leading tobacco-products manufacturer against the government’s requirement for the inclusion of graphic warnings on cigarette packs, a court reduced the size of the warnings from 80 percent to 50-60 percent.
Speaking at a weekly Cabinet press briefing yesterday, Health Minister and Cabinet spokesman, Dr. Rajitha Senaratne, said that the earlier decision about the size of the health warnings had been made by the former health minister, and, therefore, the court had been able to nullify that decision.
This time, he said, the government would ensure that the legislation requiring 80 percent pictorial warnings would be legitimized through parliament, in which case no court would be able to strike it down.