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Archive for December, 2010

ASH-UK warns on tobacco in shops

Thursday, December 16th, 2010

cigarettes tobacco shopASH UK is pleased that the Secretary of State acknowledges that tobacco packaging is used to recruit new smokers and his commitment to consult on plain packaging.  However, this should not stand in the way of the implementation of measures already on the statute books to put tobacco out of sight in shops.

READ THE FULL ASH PRESS RELEASE BELOW Public Health White Paper  –  A step in the right direction

Responding to the Public Health White Paper launched 30 November 2010, ASH broadly welcomed the emphasis placed on prevention and health improvement and the ring-fencing of money for public health.
ASH supports in principle the setting up of a PHS and the proposal to shift public health services to local authority control with a ring-fenced budget.

However, it is essential that the commitment that the PHS will work closely with the NHS to deliver public health interventions and to promote uptake of prevention opportunities in clinical practice, is followed through in implementation.

ASH welcomes the Health Secretary’s commitment to reducing health inequalities by improving the health of the poorest people in society fastest.  Research shows that the best way of doing this is to help those who are most disadvantaged to stop smoking since smoking accounts for half the difference in life expectancy between rich and poor.  [1] [2]

The Health Secretary’s announcement that there will be a new tobacco control plan launched in the New Year is also welcomed. ASH is pleased that the Secretary of State acknowledges that tobacco packaging is used to recruit new smokers and his commitment to consult on plain packaging.  However, this should not stand in the way of the implementation of measures already on the statute books to put tobacco out of sight in shops.

Deborah Arnott, Chief Executive, said: “Consultation on plain packaging for tobacco products is to be welcomed but it should be as well as, not instead of, putting tobacco out of sight in shops. It’s an anomaly that brightly coloured tobacco displays which are already illegal on a bus stop or a billboard are still allowed in shops.  The Government must confirm that the legislation to put tobacco out of sight will be implemented as planned from October 2011 without further delay, or the strength of its commitment to improving the public health will be put in doubt.”

Small Cigarette Packs Invade Bulgarian Market

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

Marlboro cigarettesThe international cigarette maker “Marlboro” will introduce on the Bulgarian market cigarette boxes with 10 pieces each, instead of the common 20.

The information is listed in the tobacco products registry of the Finance Ministry. The brands “Red” and “Gold” will cost BGN 2.70 compared to BGN 5.20 for the 20-pack.

“Philip Morris Bulgaria” told the daily “Dnevnik” they are generally against such practice, but the sales of smaller packages have been very successful in Bulgaria thus the decision to start making them as well.

With the participation of “Philip Morris” in the smaller packaging segment of the cigarette market in Bulgaria, the only companies remaining outside it are now “Imperial” and “Karelia.”

“Dnevnik” cites cigarette makers’ data showing small cigarette packaging is sharply increasing to reach soon 5% of the market, compared to 3% in the beginning of the year, and to just 0.3% in the fall of 2009.

The Bulgarian Bulgartabac “King” brand has the largest share among boxes with 10 cigarettes.

The cheapest 10-cigarette packages are offered by “King” as well – “King’s Tobacco,” by British-American Tobacco – “Viceroy,” and by the Bulgarian “Femina”for the price of BGN 2.20.

Other brands such as British-American Tobacco’s “Pall Mall,” and Japan Tobacco International’s (JTI) “Winston” go for BGN 2.40 and a 10-cigarettes pack of “Camel” sells for BGN 2.50.

JTI is introducing in Bulgaria the “LD” brand with 19-cigarette boxes for BGN 4.

Currently, the cheapest cigarettes are the “Goldfield” brand, sold at the Lidl supermarket chain, for BGN 3.99 for 20 pieces.

At the moment, 18 EU Member States have a ban on smaller cigarette packaging over the opinion they encourage cigarette use.

Romania, Italy, Spain, France and others, mandate 20-cigarette packs while Belgium, Hungary, the Netherlands, Germany, and Greece, among others, allow no less than 19.

Regional re-organisation and management changes

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

British American Tobacco is proposing to reduce the number of Regions in its management structure from five to four with effect from 1st January 2011. As a result, a new region will be formed, Eastern Europe, Middle East & Africa (EEMEA). The Group’s Asia-Pacific and Americas Regions will remain unchanged, as will the Western Europe Region (WE) apart from the inclusion of the South Eastern Europe (SEE) Area with effect from 1st January 2011 as described below.

It is proposed that EEMEA will be formed from all the previous Africa & Middle East (AME) Business Units plus Russia, Ukraine, Moldova, Belarus, Caucasus and Central Asia. Andrew Gray currently Regional Director AME, will be the Regional Director. The WE Region will include all its current business units plus the South Eastern Europe Area, consisting of Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia, Montenegro, Albania and Kosovo. Jack Bowles, currently Regional Director WE, will continue as the Regional Director.

In addition, Peter Taylor, Group Operations Director, has decided to retire at the end of May 2011 and he will be succeeded by Des Naughton, currently Regional Director, Eastern Europe. Des will become Group Operations Director Designate on 1st January 2011 and work closely with Peter and the Global Operations and Research & Development teams.

Commenting on the proposed changes, Nicandro Durante, Chief Executive Designate, said: “This is an important step in our plans to reduce complexity in our management structures and achieve a better balance in the scale of the resulting four Regions.

“I would like to wish Andrew and Des the very best of luck and thank Peter for his outstanding contribution to the productivity savings we have achieved since he took on his current role in 2003. Peter has also led the revitalisation of Group Research & Development, which will help us respond to the challenges that lie ahead. I wish Peter a long and happy retirement after his 30 years in the Group.”

Tobacco firms’ use of YouTube probed

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010

Cigarette smokingThe tobacco industry may be using websites such as YouTube to get around a ban on advertising cigarettes, a study says. Researchers in New Zealand studied the video-sharing site and found a number of pro-tobacco videos “consistent with indirect marketing activity by tobacco companies or their proxies”.They say governments should consider regulating such content on the net.

Tobacco companies have always denied using the net to promote cigarettes.

“Tobacco companies stand to benefit greatly from the marketing potential of Web 2.0, without themselves being at significant risk of being implicated in violating any laws or advertising codes,” the researchers wrote.

Amanda Sandford, research manager at anti-smoking group Action on Smoking and Health (Ash) said the study’s findings were “disturbing but fairly typical of tobacco industry activity”.

“As soon as one avenue of promotion is closed, companies will seek out alternative means of promoting their product and will do anything to get round advertising restrictions,” she told BBC News.

“It indicates that their key audience is young people. There is a need for much stronger control over what appears on the internet.”

But Catherine Armstrong, a spokesperson for British American Tobacco, one of the firms studied in the report, said it was “not our policy to use social networking sites such as Facebook or YouTube to promote our tobacco product brands”.

“Not even the authors of this report claim we have done so,” she said. “Using social media could breach local advertising laws and our own International Marketing Standards, which apply to our companies worldwide.

“Our employees, agencies and service providers should never use social media to promote our tobacco brands.”

Several tobacco firms signed up to a voluntary agreement to restrict direct advertising on websites in 2002.

YouTube said that it does not “accept any paid-for tobacco advertising anywhere in the world”.

New Rules Take Effect For Tobacco Industry

Monday, December 13th, 2010

tobacco rules take effectsNew rules are in place a year after Congress gave the Food and Drug Administration authority over tobacco. Most of the rules are aimed at keeping tobacco products out of the hands of young people. For example, it’s now against the law anywhere in the United States to sell cigarettes to anyone under 18.

RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning. I’m Renee Montagne.

STEVE INSKEEP, host:

And I’m Steve Inskeep.

New rules regulating tobacco products go into effect today. It’s been a year since Congress gave the Food and Drug Administration authority over tobacco. Most of these rules are aimed at keeping tobacco products out of the hands of young people. It is now against the law, anywhere in the United States, to sell cigarettes to anyone under 18. NPR’s Brenda Wilson says that’s not all.

BRENDA WILSON: Here’s the list of don’ts. No loosies can be sold. That’s anything less than a full 20 cigarette pack. No free cigarette samples or gifts with logos on them. No industry sponsorship of any music or sporting events.

The new rules also make changes to tobacco packaging aimed at kids. For one, the size of labels on smokeless tobacco that say things like this product can cause gum disease now cover a third of the package. And to clear up any confusion among adults, Dr. Lawrence Deyton, the director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products explains that labels such as light, mild or low tar have been banned on all tobacco products.

Dr. Lawrence Deyton (Director, FDA Center for Tobacco Products): It’s a very big step. We all recognize that hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of Americans have used those products for a long time, expecting some kind of lessened risk in their tobacco use. And that just has not been proven to be the case. The morbidity, mortality, the death related to tobacco use is not different among products.

WILSON: Companies have a month for products with the older labels to move off the shelves. But Bill Phelps, a spokesman for Philip Morris, says his company is ahead of schedule.

Mr. BILL PHELPS (Spokesman, Philip Morris): We have removed the terms that are prohibited under the FDA Law. And for the most part, our packs have seen minimal changes.

WILSON: Words, however, have been added, he says, to assist store clerks in identifying different products.

Mr. PHELPS: A pack might say gold or silver. A typical store will have about 120 different cigarette packings. And so it’s important that the retail clerk can communicate with that consumer, also identify that pack, and hand it to the adult smoker.

WILSON: But industry opponents, such as Matt Myers of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, says these changes aren’t innocuous and that the packaging being adopted is intended to mislead consumers.

Mr. MATT MEYERS (Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids): It’s not illegal for a retailer to give a consumer who asks for what used to be a mild light. Our concern, however, is the tobacco industry is color coding the cigarettes. Not just to that they’ll be able to identify the cigarette, but lighter colors have been shown in studies done by the tobacco industry, to communicate safety.

WILSON: Myers says the government should follow New York City’s example and hit back with a marketing campaign of its own.

(Soundbite of TV advertisement)

Unidentified Man: Tobacco companies are now using colored packaging, because deceptive labels like light and low tar have been banned. Don’t be fooled. All cigarettes contain the same poisons that make you sick and kill you.

WILSON: The tobacco industry is suing the city, not for the TV ad, but for graphic images of throat and lung cancers that can be seen on posters wherever cigarettes are sold. Meanwhile, the FDA says it is examining the industries new packaging efforts more closely.

Brenda Wilson, NPR News.

Chewing Tobacco Maker Agrees To $5M Settlement

Thursday, December 9th, 2010

tobacco productsThe maker of Skoal and Copenhagen smokeless tobacco has agreed to pay $5 million to the family of a man who died of mouth cancer in what is believed to be the first wrongful-death settlement won from a chewing tobacco company.

A legal expert said the case could open the door for more lawsuits against makers of chewing tobacco, an industry that drew fewer legal battles during the 1990s than cigarette manufacturers.

U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Co. will pay the award to the family of Bobby Hill of Canton, N.C., who began chewing tobacco at 13. He died in 2003 at 42.

Attorney Antonio Ponvert III, who represented Hill’s relatives, told The Associated Press about the agreement Tuesday. Regulatory documents confirmed the deal.

Steven Callahan, a spokesman for Altria, which acquired U.S. Smokeless Tobacco last year, said the company admitted no liability and does not make any health claims about its products.

Ponvert and Mark Gottlieb, director of the Tobacco Products Liability Project at Northeastern University in Boston, both said the Hill family settlement is the first case of its kind.

Gottlieb predicted more lawsuits targeting smokeless tobacco would follow, calling the settlement “a wake-up call” to plaintiffs’ attorneys “that there are a lot of victims of smokeless tobacco use out there, and it’s possible these cases can be successful.”

Smokeless tobacco companies managed to fend off most previous lawsuits. In the past, lawyers focused more on cigarette makers because of stronger evidence to back up their claims, even though smokeless tobacco is harmful as well, Gottlieb said.

“So this is an unusual instance and runs counter to what had been the sort of the playbook for tobacco litigation,” Gottlieb said. The settlement shows that “perhaps there is a new strategy afoot in terms of dealing with some of these types of cases.”

But, Gottlieb added, Altria may have simply concluded it was cheaper to settle than risk a larger award at trial.

Callahan said the case involved unique circumstances because it was a settlement offer made before Altria acquired the company.

“And we have no intention of settling cases like this in the future,” he said.

Ponvert said his case was bolstered by previously undisclosed letters from the 1980s that the company sent to minors thanking them for their business and offering free samples. The company even sent a can opener to one child to help open the chewing tobacco, he said.

“It was just this unbelievable trail of incredibly damning documents,” Ponvert said.

The family’s case also was stronger because Hill was a longtime user of chewing tobacco who did not drink or smoke cigarettes, factors tobacco companies point to as causing the cancer, Ponvert said.

Hill’s wife, Kelly, filed the lawsuit in 2005 after her husband died of cancer of the tongue, Ponvert said.

Through her attorney, she declined to comment.

Hill had multiple surgeries to remove his tongue. Mouth cancer victims typically lose parts of their mouth, either through surgery or because the tissue wastes away.

“It’s a really sad and a really gruesome way to die,” Ponvert said.

For many years, smokeless tobacco has carried warning labels. Rules that took effect in June require larger labels listing the risks of chewing tobacco, including cancer, gum disease and tooth loss, and stating that smokeless tobacco is not a safe alternative to cigarettes.

The Altria spokesman said the company supported legislation enacted last year that allowed the FDA to regulate tobacco and required the larger warning labels.

U.S. Smokeless Tobacco was headquartered in Greenwich before being acquired by Altria, which is also the parent of Phillip Morris USA, the nation’s largest cigarette maker.

Tobacco Display Legislation Introduced in Parliament

Wednesday, December 8th, 2010

tobacco legislationAssociate Health Minister, Tariana Turia has said that there is a need to get more serious about the risks of smoking and the harms caused by smoking.

Therefore, legislation was today introduced in the parliament in an attempt to discourage smoking by removing displays of tobacco products in dairies and other retail outlets.

She asserted that the Government was quite serious about the reduction of the harms caused by smoking. She said, “It’s harder to quit when you walk into a shop and are confronted with the instant temptation of tobacco on display”.

She asserted that most of the smokers wish that there was some way which could help them quit smoking. There is a strong link between displays and young people taking up smoking.

Some evidences have shown that tobacco displays prompt impulse purchasing. A time would come when a person would be able to walk into the local corner shop `without being confronted with images of tobacco enticing customers to take up a habit which is unhealthy, addictive, and costly’.

The Health Select Committee will now be asked for a sanction following which the committee will call for public submissions.