The UK’s largest tobacco company has warned it will take legal action against the government if it introduces a law forcing the firm to package cigarettes in plain white cartons.
Branded packs are in effect the tobacco industry’s only remaining form of advertising in the UK and the smoking lobby has vowed to fight moves to phase them out. Senior executives in the leading tobacco firms fear other nations will follow the UK’s lead if it passes a law ensuring all cigarettes sold here are contained in plain white cartons.
The Observer has obtained a letter from Imperial Tobacco to the Department of Health and members of the Lords, in which the company says amendments tabled to the current health bill passing through parliament, outlawing branded packets, will do nothing to make smokers more aware of the health risks or reduce the appeal of smoking. Imperial, which makes Lambert & Butler, Embassy and Regal, says it believes that “plain packaging for tobacco products is unnecessary, unreasonable and unjustified”. And it gives the government notice that it will seek a judicial review of any legislation barring branded packs.
The letter states: “Imperial Tobacco is also concerned about the continued erosion and potential expropriation of our valuable intellectual property rights … Regulation that requires plain packaging will expropriate valuable corporate assets in which the company and its shareholders have invested for more than a century and risks placing the UK government in breach of a range of legal and treaty obligations that relate to intellectual property rights, international trade and EU law.”
The tobacco firms have always believed that moves to ban branded cigarette packets were unlikely, but they are now becoming seriously alarmed that the government will make it a reality.
“The health community is only beginning to understand what tobacco manufacturers have known for decades: the package matters more than the product, especially when you are pitching to children,” said Martin Dockrell of Action on Smoking and Health. “The industry learnt long ago that one cigarette tastes much like another, and it is only when you put the product in the packet that you position the brand as ‘sophisticated’ or ‘cool’.”
An article published by Australian researchers in the British Medical Journal suggests brand plays a significant role in promoting smoking. The researchers conclude: “Without brand imagery, packs simply become functional containers for cigarettes, rather than a medium for advertising. Reports from Canada and Australia have commented upon how generic packaging, which removes brand logos from packs, increases the prominence of health warnings.”
Imperial’s own research also confirms the importance of branding. In a presentation to investors in 2006, Imperial discussed the introduction of its “Celebration” range of Lambert & Butler packets. One of the company’s executives told the conference: “They were introduced as a four-month special edition, replacing the original pack until February 2005. The effect was very positive. Already the number 1 brand, our share grew by over 0.4% during this period – worth over £60m in additional turnover. Often in marketing, it is difficult to isolate the effects of individual parts of the mix. But in this case … the pack design was the only part of the mix that was changed.”
Half measures are not enough. We urge the government of Pakistan to impose a complete ban on tobacco advertising; to withdraw the Statutory Regulatory Order allowing creation of Designated Smoking Areas as a prelude to creation of 100 percent smoke-free environments and to raise tobacco taxation.
The acting representative of the World Health Organisation, Ahmad Shadoul, expressed these views while addressing participants of a ‘Youth Hike for Tobacco Control’ that started from Trail 3 and ended at Gokina on the Margallas here on Sunday.
The hike, which was organised by the Tobacco Control Cell of the Ministry of Health, in collaboration with the National Volunteer Movement of the Ministry of Youth Affairs and WHO, was aimed at sensitising young people about the fact that they are the primary target of the tobacco industry in Pakistan.
The hike also served to awaken the country’s policy-makers from their deep slumber. The Ministry of Health has been delaying withdrawal of the controversial order on DSAs in spite of the existence of scientific evidence, and strong objections raised by WHO, the National Alliance for Tobacco Control, the Coalition for Tobacco Control and other members of the anti-tobacco lobby.
“Youth is the backbone of every nation,” Ahmad Shadoul stated, before moving on to explain how the multibillion dollar tobacco industry targets young people by falsely associating use of tobacco products with qualities such as glamour, energy and sex appeal. “In order to survive, the tobacco industry needs to replace those who quit or die with new young consumers. The industry does this by creating a complex tobacco marketing net that ensnares millions of young people worldwide, with potentially devastating health consequences,” Shadoul said.
The WHO chief said recent studies prove that the more young people are exposed to tobacco advertising, the more likely they are to start smoking. He said “When one form of advertising is banned, the tobacco industry simply shifts its vast resources to another channel.”
Other prominent officials at the hike included Additional Secretary Youth Affairs Naeem Baig; Director General Implementation of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Shaheen Masud, and Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Dr. Babar Awan who was on his regular hike but then joined the participants to give visibility to the tobacco menace and the health hazards associated with it.
Naeem Baig called upon the media act as a watchdog and point out the flaws and violations of the anti-tobacco ordinance. He also said that the young hikers will act as role models and anti-tobacco ambassadors. The event started with registration of participants, who also received T-shirts and P-caps. The participants were carrying placards inscribed with slogans like ‘Sheesha smoking is not cool, it’s killing you,’ ‘Protect yourself from secondhand smoke’ and ‘Don’t be duped: Tobacco kills in every form.’
Earlier, Shaheen Masud told young people that tobacco is the only consumer product that kills up to 50% of its regular users when used as intended by its manufacturers. “The tobacco industry spends millions of rupees in the country annually in marketing their deadly products. Their activities are intended to bring young and hopefully lifelong tobacco users into the fold. The transition from high school to college is a critical period to adopt healthy habits and lifestyles. Unfortunately, during this vulnerable period, many of our young people fall victim to aggressive marketing by the tobacco industry and become regular smokers. Almost 1,200 young Pakistanis take up smoking everyday,” Shaheen said.
Sadly, tobacco use among females in Pakistan is also rapidly increasing. The boy-to-girl tobacco use ratio is shrinking at an alarming rate. Shaheen attributed this increase to popularity of ‘sheesha,’ water-pipe smoking of fruit-flavoured tobacco. She also removed the misconceptions about ‘sheesha.’ “It is generally thought that ‘sheesha’ smoking is not hazardous to health because its nicotine content is less than that of cigarettes, and that addition of fruit flavours make it healthier. Another factor adding to its popularity is its social acceptability and portrayal as a symbol of modernization. In reality, the ‘sheesha’ smoker may inhale as much smoke during one session as a cigarette smoker would inhale consuming 100 or more cigarettes and therefore poses a similar threat to health as smoking,” she informed.
Tobacco is a global pandemic infiltrating the poorest nations in the world. It kills 5 million people every year around the world. In Pakistan, there are an estimated 22-25 million smokers. Tobacco use in Pakistan is common and 55% of the households have at least one individual who smokes tobacco. In Pakistan, about 100,000 people die annually from diseases caused by tobacco use, which does not only occur in the form of cigarettes but also includes ‘beedis’ (hand rolled cigarettes), ‘huqqa’, ‘shisha’ and chewing tobacco.
Researchers found that smoking cut the people youth. For example they observed that smokers and people with premature aging disease suffer same cell defect.
Cigarettes smoke causes the same cellular defect seen in people with Werner’s syndrome – a rare genetic disease that makes people age very fast.
Statistics show that smokers can die about 10 years before their time. Now researchers may have found a key to this process, giving them unexpected new paths to treatment.
The key comes from the observation that smokers aren’t the only people who age too fast. In their 20s, people with a rare genetic disorder called Werner’s syndrome get gray hair, thin skin, and hoarse voices.
They soon develop diabetes, hardening of the arteries, and weak bones. In their 40s or 50s, they tend to die of heart disease and cancer.
Smokers also age prematurely and tend to die of heart disease and cancer. That’s mean that between this rare disease and smokers there are a link.
Werner’s syndrome is caused by a mutation in a gene called WRN. The gene makes the WRN protein that protects and repairs DNA in every cell of the body.
Researchers collected lung cells from cigarettes smokers with emphysema. The cells had too little WRN protein. The smokers’ WRN genes were normal, but something was keeping them from making enough WRN.
When the researchers cultivated lung cells in the laboratory, they found that cigarette smoke extract decreased the cell’s WRN production — and made the cells age more quickly.
Source: Cigarettesworldnews ®
People who are exposed to secondhand smoke may be more likely to have cognitive impairments than their peers, discount cigarettes smokers, a new study showed.
This study doesn’t prove that secondhand smoke exposure causes cognitive impairment, but it does show that cognitive impairment was more common among nonsmokers and former smokers with high levels of cotinine, a nicotine-related chemical, in their saliva samples.
The study included 4,809 adults of 50 year-old and older from England. They provided saliva samples and took various tests of mental skills, including memory and attention, between 1998 and 2002. Participants were considered cognitively impaired if their overall test score was in the bottom 10% of the group.
Never smokers with the highest salivary levels of cotinine were 70% more likely to be cognitively worsen than never smokers with the lowest salivary levels of cotinine. Former smokers with the highest salivary cotinine levels were 32% more likely to have cognitive impairment than former smokers with the lowest salivary cotinine levels.
Researchers found that not only secondhand smoke can cause cognitive impairment but also age, sex, education, diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease play a very important role in cognitive decline.
This study raises the strong possibility that secondhand smoke causes cognitive decline, but further research is needed to establish a causal effect.
Source: Ourcigarettesnews ®