The U.K. House of Lords on March 16 approved a bill requiring cigarettes to be sold in standardized packaging.
The House of Commons on March 11 voted 367 to 113 in favor of the law, which passed through the House of Lords without a vote. Starting in May 2016, cigarettes must be sold in packages of the same shape, size and design, with the only difference between packages being the name of the brand and the graphic health warning displayed on the cartons. The U.K. is the third country to introduce plain-packaging legislation; Ireland introduced a similar bill earlier this month, and Australia implemented plain packaging in 2012.
While various health organizations have championed the legislation in the belief that standardized packaging will render cigarettes less appealing to smokers, particularly minors, tobacco companies—who fear a significant loss of profits once the law is implemented—have threatened legal action against the U.K. government. Opponents of plain packaging also point to the potential uptick in cigarette smuggling and illicit trade that could occur as a result.
The upper house of the state of Tasmania, Australia, is due to debate whether sales of cigarettes should be banned in the case of people born after 2000, according to a story by Daniel McCulloch for the Examiner.
Ivan Dean, a member of the Legislative Council, has introduced a private members bill that would amend the state’s Health Act to ban the sale of cigarettes to individuals born after 2000, starting in 2018.
The bill is scheduled to be debated on March 24.
In his story, which was relayed by the TMA, McCulloch described how tobacco company representatives had said that while they supported regulation on cigarette sales, they were against backing a generational smoking ban.
Imperial Tobacco Australia spokesperson Andrew Gregson said that Imperial had always supported sensible, practical and rational regulation, but the bill in question wasn’t any of those.
Tobacco products were purchased by adults exercising freedom of choice, but it was quite rightly illegal to sell them to minors.
Gregson warned that such a ban would increasingly push cigarette sales into illegal markets.
KT&G’s overseas sales are expected this year to surpass its domestic sales for the first time, according to a story in The Korea Herald.
The company said in an e-mail interview with the Herald that because various factors, including a fall in the number of smokers, had taken their toll of the domestic market, it was seeking stronger overseas sales.
‘The experts inside and outside KT&G agree that this year will be KT&G’s turning point for its overseas sales to top the home sales,’ the company was quoted as saying.
There will have to be a considerable shift in emphasis because last year KT&G’s domestic-to-overseas sales ratio stood at 6:4.
However, the value of its cigarette exports, WON533.1 billion, was up by 30.2 percent on that of 2013.
Currently KT&G’s focus is on the Indonesian market, which has a cigarette market twice the size of South Korea’s.
Indonesia was said to be experiencing economic growth and to have an open market policy.
At the same time, some markets in the Middle East were described as more challenging because of their political instability.
KT&G said it planned to set up additional overseas operations and facilities, potentially in Africa and Central and Latin America, where it does not have local bases yet.
A US legal scholar and tobacco control expert says he has developed a research-based roadmap that allows for the immediate regulation of e-cigarettes.
Writing in the March issue of Food and Drug Law Journal, Eric N. Lindblom, JD, senior scholar at the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law, said his proposal would minimize the threats that electronic cigarettes posed to public health while still enabling them potentially to help reduce smoking.
‘This approach could help to heal the current split in the public health community over e-cigarettes by addressing the concerns of both sides,’ Lindblom said.
‘We already know that using e-cigarettes is less harmful than smoking, but more harmful than not using any tobacco or nicotine at all, and that’s enough to figure out how to regulate them both to protect and promote the public health.’
Lindblom’s piece ‘Effectively Regulating E-Cigarettes and Their Advertising – And the First Amendment’, was relayed by medicalxpress.com at: http://medicalxpress.com/news/2015-03-e-cigarettes-expert.html.
A study carried out in Karnataka, India, has suggested that tobacco-producing districts are wealthier than those not producing tobacco, according to a Press Trust of India story relayed by the TMA.
The Indian government is considering implementing Articles 17 and 18 of the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control that aim to phase out tobacco cultivation by 2020.
The study, ‘Tobacco economics in India: The voice of farmer and other stakeholders’, was conducted jointly by the Associated Chambers of Commerce of India and the think-tank, Thought Arbitrage Research Institute.
It was said to have shown that wealth indicators such as per capita income, monthly per capita expenditure and gross district domestic product of the tobacco growing districts of Mysuru and Hassan were significantly superior to those of non-tobacco producing districts. Mysuru and Hassan together account for about 75 percent of tobacco output in Karnataka.
The study said that the likely immediate economic impact of a decline in the tobacco industry in these districts would be substantial because farms there tended to be small, production costs were high, and relatively few alternatives were available to tobacco producers.
A drastic reduction in tobacco growing in these districts might lead to dramatic changes in the structure of farming overall, employment, income and the socio-economic balance of the districts, it added.
The UK’s upper house has approved a bill that will require cigarettes and roll-your-own tobacco to be sold in England only in standardized packaging from May 2016, according to a Newsweek story relayed by the TMA.
The approval sets the UK government on a collision course with tobacco companies, which have threatened to sue.
One well-positioned observer has said that UK taxpayers, who have already suffered years of austerity, could be forced by the courts to hand over £12 billion to the tobacco companies.
Imperial Tobacco’s spokesperson Simon Evans said his company had “no choice” but to defend its rights in court.
Evans said there was no credible evidence that standardized packaging would meet its objectives. The standardized packaging law in Australia, the first country to introduce such a requirement, had resulted in consumer down-trading and an increase in illegal trade.