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Dalli looks to make tobacco products less attractive

| February 17, 2012

The European Commissioner for Health, John Dalli, told a conference last week that it was necessary to ensure that tobacco products, and cigarettes in particular, were produced and presented across the EU in such a way that they did not encourage or facilitate the uptake of smoking by young people.

Dalli was speaking at a conference on pictorial health warnings and standardized packaging for tobacco products held in Brussels on Wednesday under the aegis of the Smoke Free Partnership and the Belgian Foundation against Cancer.

He said the key issue was the need to reduce “the attractiveness of cigarettes”.

“Cigarette packages are increasingly used as marketing tools. Slim, colourful, attractive packages are available on the market,” he said.

“Such appealing packaging can mislead people into believing that these products are harmless products like any other, when clearly they are not.”

Dalli then turned briefly to the additives used in some cigarettes.

There were now vanilla flavored and strawberry flavored cigarettes that could make it easier to smoke earlier in life, he said.

“There are also pink coloured and slim shaped cigarettes that could make smoking appear much more alluring and seductive, in particular to young girls,” he added.

“But tobacco is tobacco – even if it is presented in an appealing way.

“So we need to take further action to make tobacco less appealing – in particular to young people – and to ensure that people know exactly what they can expect from tobacco in terms of bad health.

“It is in this spirit that I am considering different possibilities to improve the rules on health warnings and packaging so that people get accurate, effective information about tobacco products.

“Tobacco packages should look dissuasive, not appealing. When people look at a package of cigarettes, they need to get the message that this product can harm their health.”

Dalli said also that he was considering how to regulate additives in tobacco products, more stringent regulation on “access to tobacco”, and how to address new types of nicotine products on the market, such as electronic cigarettes.

UK rogues’ league published

| February 15, 2012 | Reply

Newtownabbey in Northern Ireland was ‘top’ of the UK’s league of towns for the consumption of illicit cigarettes at the end of last year, according to a Press Association story quoting the results of a survey commissioned by Philip Morris.

About 66 per cent of the cigarette packs bought in Newtownabbey between October and December were illicit.

Lisburn, with a 43 per cent illicit rating, ranked second in the UK-wide survey, and it was followed by Crawley (close to London’s Gatwick airport), with 31.6 per cent, Coventry, with 30.3 per cent, and London, with 28.5 per cent.

According to the analysis of the last quarter of 2011, the illicit trade is on the rise. Almost 15 per cent of the cigarettes smoked across the UK between October and December had not had UK duty paid on them, compared with just over 10 per cent during the previous three months.

And things could get worse. The UK is currently considering the issue of plain packaging, which many observers believe would increase the illicit trade.

Plain packaging put through the HOOPS

| February 5, 2012

The UK’s Hands Off Our Packs (HOOPS) campaign has made two videos available online.

HOOPS, which is being managed by Forest and which was launched officially last week at a party in London, is aimed at countering efforts to have so-called ‘plain packaging’ imposed on tobacco products in the UK.

The HOOPS website is at: www.handsoffourpacks.com.

FDA to appeal against graphic warning ruling

| February 4, 2012

The US government is appealing against a federal judge’s ruling that has overturned a requirement for graphic warning labels to be included on cigarette packs, according to a Bloomberg News story.

The Food and Drug Administration has filed a notice of appeal in the US District Court in Washington seeking to overturn Judge Richard Leon’s February 29 decision that the government’s requirement violates the tobacco companies’ rights to free speech.

The US Court of Appeals in Washington is already scheduled to hear arguments on April 10 on the government’s challenge to a ruling Leon issued in November that cancelled a September 22 deadline for tobacco companies to begin including the graphic images.

It is unclear whether the three-judge panel will consider the latest appeal on April 10.

The graphic images – nine in all – would have had to have taken up the top halves of the front and back of all cigarette packages and the top fifth of all advertising.

However, the requirement was challenged by R.J. Reynolds Tobacco, Lorillard, the Liggett Group, Commonwealth Brands, and Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Co Inc on the grounds that it would force them to engage in anti-smoking advocacy against their own legal products.

In a statement posted on its website, Reynolds said that Judge Leon had agreed with the tobacco companies that the proposed warnings violated the First Amendment by forcing manufacturers to distribute an anti-smoking policy message.

The court cited data included in the FDA’s regulation that showed the graphic warnings would have little to no effect in reducing tobacco use. In particular, the FDA’s analysis of the regulation estimated that the warnings would likely cause no statistically significant change in US smoking rates.

The court noted also that the chief expert report relied on by the FDA conceded that the goal of such graphic warnings ‘is not to promote informed choice but rather to discourage consumption of tobacco products’.

India preparing something to chew on

| February 3, 2012

The Indian Health Ministry seems set to codify a ban on gutkha, pan masala and other chewable forms of tobacco, according to a story in the latest issue of the BBM Bommidala Group newsletter.

For some time, the situation regarding these products has been confusing with the sale of chewable forms of tobacco seemingly illegal but not specifically banned.

Now, the ministry seems to be set on acting on the basis of a Supreme Court of India observation that these products are classified as food items, to which the addition of tobacco is illegal.

What the outcome will be is difficult to say, but the banning of products widely used and generally thought to be addictive will be an interesting social experiment.

It has to be assumed that illicit sales will increase and that some consumers of these products will turn to smoking.

Neither of these would seem to constitute a positive health outcome.

Siemens motors united under Simotics name

| February 2, 2012

The Siemens Drive Technologies Division has combined all of its electric motors under one brand name, Simotics, a move designed to integrate its portfolio and improve clarity for customers.

The range of motors encompasses low-voltage induction motors, motors for motion control applications, DC motors, and high-voltage motors.

“Siemens motors represent reliability, energy efficiency, dynamic response, and precision born out of more than 125 years of experience in electric motor construction,” said Doug Keith, president of the division.

“Having our entire portfolio under one brand name helps to position Siemens as a single source for integrated drive train solutions, thus saving costs for the customer.”