ASH Daily News for 25 September 2019


  • Tobacco giants still marketing cigarettes despite plain packaging legislation


  • USA: Massachusetts to ban sale of all vaping products for four months
  • USA: California issues advisory notice to stop vaping

Tobacco giants still marketing cigarettes despite plain packaging legislation

New research from the Tobacco Control Research Group at the University of Bath has found that tobacco companies are deploying a variety of tactics to get around plain packaging legislation. Standardised (plain) packaging was designed to rid tobacco companies of their last remaining method for tobacco advertising. No branded packs could be printed from 20th May 2016 and all cigarettes and roll-your-own tobacco had to be in plain packaging from 20th May 2017.

The study reviewed data from several sources—retail, trade and industry reports, articles and adverts, routine tobacco pack purchases and commercial tobacco sales data—and found that companies have:
• Made product name changes that smokers would relate to the old branded packs.
• Used a lengthy ‘sell-through’ period to their advantage by offering retailers financial incentives to keep branded packs on the market for as long as possible.
• Introduced features to cheaper brands that are usually confined to more expensive brands due to concerns about smokers down-trading, such as flavour capsule variants.
• Offered additional sticks in packs to avoid being ‘constrained’ by a minimum pack size of 20.
• Refocused marketing efforts on products exempt from the legislation, including cigarette filters, roll-your-own tobacco accessories, cellophane and paper multipack outers, cigars and pipe tobacco.

Lead author, Dr. Karen Evans-Reeves from the University of Bath, said: “Although compliance with removing branded packs was generally good, the study revealed that tobacco companies engaged in activities that undermined and continues to undermine the legislation. Major tobacco companies will always try to find a way to market their products. Based on the number of innovations we found in this study, we would encourage all governments considering implementing plain packaging legislation to consider how tobacco companies have adapted to the legislation in other countries and where possible, close any remaining loopholes.”

Kruti Shrotri, tobacco control manager at Cancer Research UK which funded the study, said: “As expected, the tobacco industry continues to use every tactic they can to promote their deadly products and push up their profits. And at the same time, funding for services to help people quit smoking continues to be slashed. It’s time that a levy is introduced to make the tobacco industry pay for the damage they cause to public health.”

Source: Medical XPress, 24 September 2019

BMJ Open. A prospective longitudinal study of tobacco company adaptation to standardised packaging in the UK: identifying circumventions and closing loopholes. September 2019

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USA: Massachusetts to ban sale of all vaping products for four months

On Tuesday 24th September, the Massachusetts state governor announced that Massachusetts will place a four-month ban on all sales of vaping products. Officials say the halt will allow time to properly investigate recent vaping-related health concerns.

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker said that the state will “temporarily pause all sales of vaping products so that we can work with our medical experts to identify what is making people sick and how to better regulate these products to protect the health of our residents.”

Source: Washington Post, 24 September 2019

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USA: California issues advisory notice to stop vaping

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) issued a new advisory notice on Tuesday 24th September, which recommends “everyone to refrain from vaping, no matter the substance or source, until current investigations are complete”.

The announcement follows a number of deaths and illnesses linked to vaping. State and federal public health officials have yet to identify the specific element making people sick. But the CDPH reports that almost all people with lung damage from vaping say that they vaped the cannabis products THC and/or CBD in cartridges, waxes, oils, and other forms.

Source: The Guardian, 24 September 2019

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