The Framework Convention Alliance for Tobacco Control

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.

Gates promotes tobacco taxes in report to G20

Raising tobacco prices is the most effective way to curb consumption. FCA reminded delegates at September's NCD Summit that they are losing billions of potential tobacco tax dollars. © FCA.

Another gathering of Presidents and Prime Ministers has heard about the benefits of tobacco taxes.

On Thursday the report of US businessmen and philanthropist Bill Gates to leaders of the so-called Group of Twenty (G20) countries – leading global economies – was released. It calls on them to address the current economic crisis and meet their commitments to tackle global development challenges.

Gates also showcases the potential of tobacco taxes to generate additional revenue and cut future health costs.

Tobacco giant involved in smuggling in a dozen countries - report

A group of investigative journalists is reporting that Japan Tobacco International (JTI) was implicated in smuggling carried out by its distributors in a dozen countries. 

According to the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, "Mobsters were doing business with the firm's Russian distributorship while shipping tons of illegal cigarettes into Europe. Workers felt endangered. Accused smugglers and criminals ran some of its Middle East partnerships."

WTO panel cites FCTC in trade dispute

For the first time, a World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute resolution panel has pointed to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) as evidence of the scientific merit of a public health regulation.

While the case did not centre on the FCTC or on the question of how trade law relates to it, the decision is seen as significant by legal scholars.

Neither Indonesia nor the United States, the two parties to the dispute, are Parties to the FCTC.