The Framework Convention Alliance for Tobacco Control

Netherlands’ minister denies intensive contact with industry

Anti-smoking groups, MPs and doctors are pressuring the Netherlands’ health minister to clarify her contacts with the tobacco industry.

The pressure stems from a TV documentary called Minister for Tobacco, which features interviews with pro-smoking campaigners, tobacco industry lobbyists and emails sent by the minister Edith Schippers. This showed Schippers had ‘intensive’ contact with the tobacco industry since she became an MP in 2003.

November & December 2011 tobacco control pictures

Every month Framework Convention Alliance members work hard in the fight for global tobacco control.

Click an image below to see what our members were busy with in November and December 2011.


Ecuador leading Latin America in tobacco taxation

Young people in Ecuador release blue balloons to symbolise clean air at the launch of the Ecuador Breathes Better campaign earlier this year. (c) FES

 Ecuador has become a Latin American leader in tobacco taxation after increasing taxes on 24 November.

Increasing the price of tobacco products is recognised as the most effective way to cut consumption.

The increase is in the form of a specific tax of US$0.08 on each cigarette unit, applied to all brands and packaging, which translates to an average increase of 20 per cent in the final price.

Papua New Guinea Health Minister Fights BAT

The Ministry of Health of Papua New Guinea (PNG) is refusing to attend meetings called by British American Tobacco (BAT) to establish a government-industry committee that would vet all policy and legislative matters concerning tobacco control.

In recent weeks BAT, via PNG’s Minister for Finance & Treasury, proposed to the National Executive Council (NEC) the creation of a government-industry committee.

Violations of ad bans grow in Uruguay/Crece en Uruguay la violación a la prohibición de publicidad

Illegal Point of Sale advertising in Uruguay/Publicidad ilegal en los puntos de venta en Uruguay (c) CIET

Vea la versión española abajo.

A world leader in tobacco control, Uruguay is now seeing an upsurge of illegal advertising at points of sale (POS).

Under Uruguay’s tobacco control law, a POS is the only place where tobacco can be legally advertised. But the law says that advertising must be inside the POS and must be contiguous to a health warning image of the same size and visibility.

A recent forum organised by the NGO Research Centre on the Tobacco Epidemic (CIET) noted that violations of the advertising law are growing. For example, local tobacco company Montepaz had launched an aggressive campaign for its two major brands that includes – using brand elements such as colours and logos - ads outside the point of sale and in various articles of merchandise. These violate the tobacco control law.

Lessons learned fighting the industry in Brazil

ACT-Brazil team in a recent photo. (c) ACT-Br.A year ago, the Brazilian agency that regulates tobacco, ANVISA, proposed restrictions on tobacco additives and advertising at point of sale (POS). That provoked the tobacco industry into action. It organised groups including bar and restaurant associations to protest the proposals via mass media campaigns.

Soon after, the Ministry of Finance proposed to fast-track a bill on price and tax measures. Seeing an opportunity, the industry used its influence with members of Congress to add amendments to the Finance bill that would weaken the ANVISA regulations, along with other tobacco control measures.

In the following interview, ACT-Brazil Director Paula Johns, a member of the FCA Board, describes the current situation.

Australia approves plain packaging!

An example of Australia's plain packaging. (c) Government of Australia. The Australian Parliament on Monday passed legislation that will make that country the first in the world to require plain packaging of tobacco products.

“Today, one of the most momentous public health measures in Australia’s history has been delivered by the Australian Parliament — legislation requiring the plain packaging of tobacco products,” said Health Minister Nicola Roxon.

“Plain packaging means that the glamour is gone from smoking and cigarettes are now exposed for what they are: killer products that destroy thousands of Australian families," she added.

FCTC consistent with human rights – article

Tobacco control and human rights are “not in conflict but are mutually reinforcing”, according to an article published in the International Journal of Law in Context.

The article was written by Oscar A. Cabrera and Lawrence O. Gostin. It covers topics such as human rights provisions in the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), the right to access information, smoke-free places, and bans on advertising, promotion and sponsorship.

"Given the tobacco industry's efforts to capture more consumers in developing countries, states need to intervene to protect the human rights of their citizens against the negative effects that these strategies will have on their health, life and standard of living," write the authors.

Nepal tobacco package warnings lead Asia

A volunteer from Nepal's Resource Centre for Primary Health Care (RECPHEC) attempts to educate a smoker in Lalitpur city about the country's new tobacco control law. © RECPHEC

Nepal now has some of the largest graphic warnings on tobacco packages in the world, including on smokeless tobacco packages.

The government of the South Asian country passed its tobacco control legislation in May 2011. It includes a ban on smoking in public places and graphic warnings covering 75 per cent of each side of cigarette packages and the packages of other tobacco products.

The other products include gutkha ( a sweetened mixture of chewing tobacco, betel nut and palm nut), khaini (chewing tobacco) and surti (tobacco leaves). 

The real reason PMI is leaving Uruguay

People in Uruguay's capital Montevideo walk among an installation of cigarettes set up for the meeting of the FCTC Conference of the Parties in 2010. (c) Perfil.

In October, tobacco giant Philip Morris International (PMI) announced it was closing its operations in Uruguay. The company blamed “excessive tax and regulatory measures and expanded smuggled cigarette market that have damaged profitability”.

But the NGO, Centre for Investigation into the Tobacco Epidemic (CIET), says PMI is simply trying to maximise profits. "PMI has lost no market share in our country (they acknowledge having 21.7 per cent of the market, a percentage that nearly doubles the share of previous years), so its profits certainly did not drop," says a CIET media release.