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U.K. passes cigarette-packaging law

| March 17, 2015

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.

Vietnam’s anti-smoking law to take effect May 1

| April 25, 2013

Vietnam’s law on the prevention and control of smoking takes effect on May 1, 2013, according to the Health Ministry, according to a story in VietnamPlus.

The law, with five chapters and 35 clauses, regulates measures aimed to reduce the demand for tobacco, control supply and prevent tobacco harm, said the ministry at a conference in Hanoi on April 23.

According to Deputy Minister of Health Nguyen Thi Xuyen, in the coming time, the implementation of the law will focus on enforcing the smoking ban in agencies, government offices, schools, hospitals and a number of public places.

Regulating cigarette advertisement, promotion and funding will be another focus, she added.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), Vietnam is one of 15 countries with the most smokers in the world. About half of all male adults (15 years old and above) in the country are smokers.

Earlier, on January 25, 2013, the Prime Minister approved the national strategy to combat tobacco’s negative impacts by 2020.

California lawmakers kill bill to ban smoking inside homes

| April 18, 2013

A bill to bar millions of Californians from smoking inside their own homes was rejected Wednesday by an Assembly committee.

Assembly Bill 746 would have made California the first state to venture into personal bedrooms and living rooms with smoking restrictions. It targeted condominiums, duplexes and apartments, according to a story published in The Sacramento Bee.

Assemblyman Marc Levine, D-San Rafael, proposed the measure to ensure that people who live in structures that share walls, ceilings, floors or ventilation systems with neighboring units are not subject to secondhand smoke.

The bill was rejected 5-2 by the Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee despite several amendments, including one that would have delayed fines from being issued until 2015.

Landlords already can prohibit smoking in their rental units, through a law enacted last year, but Levine’s bill would have imposed a mandatory ban statewide.

AB 746 would have permitted outdoor smoking near apartments or condos, but only in an area at least 20 feet from any housing unit and 100 feet from a playground, school or pool. The bill’s critics questioned who would enforce it, how, and what impact the bill would have on habitual smokers or on people with disabilities who could not easily leave their residences to smoke.