Tobacco advertising

State funded trougher advocates banning tobacco without understanding the consequences

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I abhor the state funded troughers who have built little niches for themselves and in many cases little empires off of the back of advocating law changes for their pet hates.

One such bludging ratbag is Professor Richard Edwards from Otago university.

He has produced a treatise suggesting the banning of tobacco as the final step in the war against tobacco. He suggests massively tightening up tobacco control processes and ultimately banning the product altogether.

I oppose this, not because I am a fan of smoking or tobacco, but because these wowsers are manipulating public policy against their pet hate and once they have finished with tobacco they will move on to the next ‘evil’, which is looking more and more likely to be sugar.

His justifications?are:

To assess the feasibility of the introduction of a policy of this nature, the broader context need to be considered. In many ways this appears highly favourable. For example,

  • Smokers are a steadily shrinking minority, albeit still a substantial one. In the 2013 census only 15% of adults were regular (daily) smokers, and 62% of adults had never been regular smokers;
  • An extraordinarily high proportion of smokers regret having started, and around half have tried to quit in the last year;
  • There is widespread public support for the Smokefree 2025 vision and ?endgame? ideas to achieve it. For example, in a recent survey 79% supported the Smokefree 2025 goal, 71% agreed that they want to live in a country where hardly anyone smokes, and 50% agreed with a ban on tobacco sales in 10 years time (1);
  • Use of tobacco among politicians, teachers, health professionals the media and other opinion formers, decision makers and influential occupational groups is low and decreasing (2);
  • The Government has recently introduced strong tobacco control measures with overwhelming parliamentary support. These include large increases in tobacco taxation and the point of sales display ban (passed 117-3 in July 2011);
  • The tobacco industry is largely viewed as a pariah, and has little public or political support. For example, 65% of smokers (higher among M?ori and Pacific smokers) think the industry should be more tightly regulated (3).

Note how the anti-tobacco industry has created pariahs and demonised smokers…they will do this to those who enjoy sugar and use sugar in products. Instead of Philip Morris or British American Tobacco being evil corporates it will Coca Cola, Pepsi, Chelsea and Frucor. They will be labelled drug dealers, diabetes causing poisoners and much the same titles currently put against the tobacco industry.

His main suggestion?is to ban tobacco altogether:

However, there is a theme in New Zealand?s current political discourse which favours minimal intervention and has a low threshold for labelling regulatory or legislative interventions as manifestations of a ?nanny state?. If a policy to end tobacco sales became viewed in this way then it could quickly become politically unpalatable and implementation unfeasible. Indeed, if seen as too radical and punitive, a proposal to end tobacco sales could conceivably intensify and expand the breadth of opposition to tobacco control. If so, advocacy for such a measure might be counter-productive by discrediting and derailing less radical tobacco control approaches and even the Smokefree 2025 goal itself.

Overall the social and political environment appears favourable. However, the small risk of a political and publish backlash suggest that if advocacy for a policy ending tobacco sales is to be successful and not counter-productive, then its merits must be carefully explained and debated.

Ending tobacco sales could also greatly reduce the current tobacco control policy agenda, saving legislative time and resources. Measures such as licensing of retailers, restrictions on location of retail sales and increases in tobacco taxation would be redundant if the products cannot be legally sold. Nevertheless, assuming importation or cultivation for personal use was permitted, policies mandating smokefree outdoor public places and smokefree cars would remain relevant.

He helpfully has an image from Bhutan, but fails spectacularly to understand what has happened in Bhutan since the total ban on tobacco products.

For a professor who deals in information you would think he wouldn’t have failed?to mention that Bhutan had to lift their blanket ban due to skyrocketing criminal trade. A simple Google search could’ve told him that.

Bhutan ? the only country to have banned the sale of tobacco

Bhutan ? the only country to have banned the sale of tobacco

Bhutan?s second parliament is likely to set the history of ?ban lift? as it takes steps to do so one after another. Very recently the country lifted ban on import of furniture and alcohol.

Now the country?s Upper House resolves that ban on import of tobacco must end. In a majority resolution on Monday (3 February 2014), the house said ban on import and sale of tobacco products must end to control the black market.

Bhutan had gained fame for being the first country to completely ban on manufacturing, import and sale of any tobacco products. However, the government also received harsh criticism for sending a monk behind bar for years on charge of carrying tobacco products worth Nu 120.

After public outcry over the harshness of the law, the first elected parliament of the country showed some leniency towards tobacco consumers. Many send to jail for selling tobacco were subsequently released on king?s order.

Read more »

Tobacco, sugar, what’s next? It appears to be energy drinks

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Came across this article on?autoblog.com?about a move to ban energy drinks from sales under 18s in some EU?countries,? and what this might mean for motorsport sponsorship.?

After all we all know from the tobacco playbook that banning sponsorship is the first tactic in trying to stamp out unfavored products by those who hate free choice and fun.

Like it or not, when it comes to brass tacks, motorsports is a business. To keep racing, the teams need to make money, and, generally speaking, the winnings from a victory aren’t going to cover the expenses. The reality is that teams need sponsorship to survive. For decades, much of that funding in the top rungs came from tobacco advertising (like the Winston Cup or Michael Schumacher’s Marlboro-sponsored?Ferrari). But today, that’s illegal in most places, and energy drink companies have so far been happy to fill the void. An intriguing editorial on?Asphalt and Rubber?warns teams not to get too used to this recent stream of funding, though, because the same fate could befall these caffeinated drinks in the future as did cigarettes in the past.? Read more »

Plain packaging could cause a domino effect

The domino effect has already started as I have been highlighting with plain packaging.

Already troughers the world over who are slowly winning the war with big Tobacco are finding out that they cushy jobs and large troughs are being replenished less and less with government money.

Instead they are now targeting food manufacturers, what they call Big Sugar, the alcohol industry and fast food giants in a bid to restrict what we enjoy more and more.

Plain packaging is the biggest and most destructive tool they’ve dreamed up, and the evidence to support it just isn’t there. Yet they continue top push forward.

Around the world though people are starting to wake up tot he tactics of these wowsers and troughers. They didn;t really mind while tobacco companies were being bashed, ignoring principles of freedom of expression, self responsibility and intellectual property, but now they are in the gun with the same tactics they are realising that this is a fight that has to be won against plain packaging.

Otherwise the domino effect will take over.

Proposals by the Scottish Government requiring plain packaging for tobacco products will result in the removal of all trade marks, other than the brand name in standardised plain font, from packets of cigarettes.

The rest of the packaging will comprise health warnings and a uniform colour (in Australia this is “drab brown” which is calculated to be unpleasant to the eye).

I have been looking at this issue in the context of research I have been carrying out for clients, Philip Morris International.

The Scottish Government’s decision to legislate for plain packaging is part of its stated objective to have a smoke-free Scotland by the 2030s. Smoking tobacco is harmful to health. I think we all get that now. But the Government wants to save us from ourselves. The Government’s thinking is that the lure of tobacco packaging may be too much for us to resist and wish to take from us the temptation it presents.

Leaving aside the uncertainty of whether plain packaging will achieve the Government’s objectives of reducing smoking, it is worth giving consideration to whether it would mark the start of an approach where the Scottish Government would attempt to impose plain packaging on any items deemed to be unhealthy – for instance alcohol, fizzy drinks and fast food. Public health campaigners are unlikely to stop at tobacco.

Stirling University recently won a prize for research showing that children must be protected from commercial marketing of not only tobacco, but also alcohol and “junk” food. ?

If we step back from the Scottish and UK debate we can see the potential for plain packaging to spread. Australia introduced plain packaging on tobacco products a couple of years ago and there the debate has moved to other products perceived by the Australian Government as being so harmful to health. The first in line are seen to be alcohol and “junk” food which the World Health Organisation (WHO) says are “prime candidates [for] stronger regulatory controls”.

However, other countries may introduce plain packaging of alcohol or other products before tobacco depending on their particular public health or other policy priorities. If Australia wins its WTO case any goods considered harmful to public health, and not just tobacco, will be vulnerable to de-branding.

Another country already considering plain packaging of non-tobacco products is Indonesia. As a major tobacco exporter, it has threatened to retaliate against Australia (and New Zealand if it follows its neighbour) by imposing plain packaging on wine imports.

Glasgow Central MP Anas Sarwar has already urged ministers to intervene to keep Scotch out of any dispute with Indonesia if Scotland or the UK adopt plain packaging of tobacco. But how would they make the case that alcohol should be treated any differently?

The troughers don’t care if they start a trade war…for them all these products are bad…if countries retaliate with more plain packaging rules then they will be ecstatic…it means they are getting their way.

With the benefit of the Australian experience in mind, it is important for us to view the UK plain packaging debate, not just as an issue for the tobacco industry, but as a wider issue. How far should Government protect us from ourselves in making choices which may not be objectively the best for us? And are we prepared for the consequences if other countries and cultures choose to extend it to products that we hold dear?

At this stage, tobacco is the first product which the Scottish Government has chosen to regulate in this way. However, experience suggests regulation of other products almost always follows. How far are we prepared to accept the application of plain packaging to products which we may enjoy but know that they are unhealthy?

I think the provision of better information on the contents of food and alcohol is a great step forward. Previously, I really didn’t appreciate the fat and salt content in my favourite brand of crisps. I can now make an informed view on whether I should indulge myself.

But do we want or need to be protected from “junk” food which has a high sugar, fat or salt content? Of course it does not stop with “junk” food and alcohol. What about plain packaging for services seen as harmful to us? Might betting shops and tanning salons across Scotland all have to be rebranded an unpleasant colour to help us resist putting on a line or 30 minutes on a tanning bed? I certainly hope not.

Personal responsibility needs to make a comeback.

As an intellectual property lawyer and a consumer I see the value in our being able easily to distinguish brands which we like and value, from their lesser competitors. That is the essential function being performed by the trade marks which are placed on products and services. The concern I, and other IP lawyers have with this debate is that none of these industries wishes to participate in it. These companies do not wish to be seen to be aligned with the tobacco industry, instead always seeking to point to the clear blue water between the nature for their products as compared to tobacco. But the concern with this approach is that this first domino will be knocked over and by then the other dominos may already have been lined up and be ready to go.

They better get involved…because sooner or later they will be fighting the very same tactics.

Read more »

They are coming for your food now with tobacco tactics

As I predicted the calls are growing for controlling food manufacturers like tobacco manufacturers…they are coming and they will use the same tactics.

Any food manufacturer who now thinks that plain packaging is only about tobacco really does have their head in?the?sand.

The food industry should be regulated like the tobacco industry as obesity poses a greater global health risk than cigarettes, say international groups.

Consumers International and the World Obesity Federation are calling for the adoption of more stringent rules.

These could include pictures on food packaging of damage caused by obesity, similar to those on cigarette packets.

The Food and Drink Federation said the food industry was working to make healthy options for consumers.

The two organisations – CI and WOF – said governments around the world should impose compulsory rules for the food and drink industry.

They said global deaths due to obesity and being overweight rose from 2.6 million in 2005 to 3.4 million in 2010. ? Read more »

Told you plain packaging will extend beyond cigarettes, now it will be a trade weapon

I’ve been talking about it for ages, and commenters and other including politicians scoffed…Don’t be silly Cam, plain packaging legislation is for tobacco only.

Except it gives the antis a toehold and now we are seeing the results of that. On top of that tobacco producing countries can use it to conduct a trade war against our exporters.

New Zealand’s wine and dairy producers will be forced to export their products without branding in retaliation for Government’s introduction of plain packaging of cigarettes, tobacco firms are warning MPs.

A senior Indonesian official has been reported saying New Zealand exporters will pay a price for draconian law changes which will require tobacco producers to sell their products in plain packs with standardised fonts and colours.

Tobacco firms and lobbyists repeated the warning to a Parliamentary committee yesterday.

Emergency Committee for American Trade president Cal Cohen told MPs that plain packaging was likely to lead to restrictions of trademarks for other goods such as wine and dairy.

Tobacco giant Phillip Morris pointed to a letter by Indonesia’s former Minister of Trade Gita Wirjawan to New Zealand’s Ministry of Health, in which he said plain packaging breached WTO rules and would have an impact on New Zealand exports.

Wine and dairy…ouchy…I wonder what Fonterra and all the exporters of dairy products think about that…especially those exporting branded baby formula to China.

What about sugar containing products…will they be the next victims in the war of business?

The former minister, now the Indonesian Director General for International Trade Co-operation, made a similar warning in a local news report: “If the cigarettes we export there are not allowed to have brands, then the wine they sell here shouldn’t also.”

New Zealand’s exports to Indonesia were worth nearly $900 million, half of which came from dairy. Food and beverages made up 70 per cent of total exports.

Trade Minister Tim Groser said New Zealand was “exercising its normal rights” through the plain packaging legislation.

He told the?Herald: “I’ve met numerous Indonesian officials since we initiated that action and no concern has been expressed to me personally.

“So I would be very surprised if I hear talk in the future of that.”

Be surprised Groser…it will happen. The health busybodies will move from tobacco to sugar, to alcohol to dairy…they will use the same tactics, the same denigration and on top of that use state funding and taxpayer money to do it all.

If tobacco producing countries retaliate they will use the very same arguments Groser is advancing…that?[insert country]?was “exercising its normal rights” through the plain packaging legislation against alcohol…which from a muslim country like Indonesia is perfectly defensible on religious grounds without any pesky scientific evidence, which is severely lacking in tobacco legislation.

Corporate New Zealand better gear up for a war with the state funded health busybodies, it is coming whether they like it or not and their silence against plain packaging simply emboldens them toa ttack harder.

No supporting evidence but the daft poms look at plain packaging too

As with climate change governments are being hoodwinked into policy changes without any reliable or accurate scientific data to support their contentions.

We are seeing this particularly in the health arena with the foisting of plain packaging on consumers of tobacco products. But the same people who are lobbying for tobacco control also have their trotters deep into other health troughs, usually in areas of obesity.

Now in Britain their government has fallen for the latest assaults and decided to look at plain packaging, again without any sensible evidence.

Standardised plain packaging for cigarettes is to be introduced in England, following a comprehensive review of the evidence which found unbranded packs could cut the number of children starting?to smoke.

Public health minister Jane Ellison told the House of Commons that she would introduce draft regulations swiftly “so it is crystal clear what is intended” ? although there will be a short consultation.

Sir Cyril Chantler, who was asked to look at the potential benefits, particularly to children, of plain packaging after the government postponed a decision last summer, made “a compelling case that if standardised packaging were introduced, it would be very likely to have a positive impact on public health,” Ellison said.

Weasel words like “very likely” and “potential benefits” are the key indicator to their being no actual evidence, rather it is emotive and subjective agenda being pushed by state funded researchers on a jihad against big tobacco. When they finally kill of them, they will turn their guns onto “big food”, and yes they are already calling it that…along with “big sugar”.

The Guardian editorial is unusually forthright about where this will lead to. ?? Read more »

The Advertising Dichotomy

The health nazis have succeeded in shutting down advertising for a legal product,?essentially?expunging the products from public view in every store that is legally allowed?to?sell them. Even specialist shops selling the product must not carry any product related signage or even mention words associated with the product.

The government collects billions in tax revenue from these products. Millions more than the health costs of the users of the products. The product is of course tobacco.

However right next door to the supermarkets and dairies and specialist stores that are forbidden to advertise a legal product are booze stores, often emblazoned with a sponsors product, their stores are virtual advertising billboards. The argument goes that these are legal products that most people use responsibly and that the makers, and purveyors of the product are entitled to advertise.

The rules for tobacco and alcohol are ridiculously?separate. Why?

Now we have further potential meddling with alcohol with suggestions that minimum pricing be introduced.

Other MPs have begun floating supplementary order papers (SOP), including alternatives to the split purchase age proposal, which would allow 18-year-olds to buy alcohol in bars but not off-licences like bottle-stores and supermarkets until they are 20.

Maori Party MP Te Ururoa Flavell has written an SOP that would ban all alcohol advertising except inside on-licence premises. His SOP also proposes empowering the health minister to set a minimum price per unit of alcohol and to further tighten the proposed default trading hours of 8am to 4am for on-licences to 10am to 3am.

“No matter how you look at it, alcohol harm is a huge issue and it is sapping our communities of their greatest potential,” Mr Flavell said.

Bizarrely the politicians too are entertaining that taxation?believed?against beverages based on alcohol content and are setting arbitrary and?illogical?limits.

To my mind we should either treat alcohol the same way we treat tobacco, or the reverse should be the case.

Personally I don’t care how large tax rises are on tobacco and alcohol, I use neither regularly and if I do it is so infrequent that i don;t really care what the price is.

For me this is personal choice issue and I fail to see why the government should intervene and restrict the sale, advertising of legal products and control and affect how the majority of people use the products because there are stupid people intent on self destruction.

As far as tobacco, gambling and alcohol are concerned, I consider taxes on those products to be a tax on stupidity and I welcome all those people who partake as they?lessen?the load for others. ?But my?tolerance?for further intervention by the government is at an end.

Thank you smokers

? NZ Herald

When Winston Peters bribed the old farts with his Gold Card I suggested that the real heroes of our society were not the greedy old people who continually vote themselves more taxpayer largesse. rather it is smokers. They kill themselves off faster, don’t generally get to enjoy the pension and they also commit the ultimate sacrifice in modern society, that of voluntarily paying way more tax for the privilege of enjoying their chosen habit.

It is them who should get the Gold Card not Winston’s greedy pensioners.

A Treasury report has admitted that smoking saves the Government money because smokers die earlier and pay more in tobacco tax than their health problems cost.

The regulatory impact statement on tobacco taxes prepared ahead of the Budget said smokers’ shorter life expectancies reduced the need for superannuation and aged care.

“When the broader fiscal impacts of smoking are considered … smokers are probably already ‘paying their way’ in narrowly fiscal terms.”

In last week’s Budget, Associate Health Minister Tariana Turia introduced tobacco levies that will increase the price of a 20-pack of cigarettes to more than $20 in four years.

The charges would increase the Government’s tax take from tobacco from $1.3 billion to around $1.7 billion by 2016.

The Treasury document acknowledged that the revenue gathered in tobacco taxes already exceeded the health costs of smoking.

A University of Otago study in 2007 estimated that the direct cost of smoking to the Ministry of Health was $300 million to $350 million.

A sensible editorial

? NZ Herald

The Herald editorial today is sensible in its attack on plain?packaging?as the silver bullet in stopping fools from smoking:

Diehard smokers must be accustomed to the legislative insult by now. Banished from public places, taxed mercilessly, assailed with simple health warnings, assumed to be helpless victims of tobacco companies, they are now to be saved from branded packaging.

The Government has been persuaded to follow Australia’s decision requiring cigarettes to be sold in plain packs.

The theory seems to be that if all brands are forced into the same style of packet – perhaps a dirty light brown, dominated by health alerts and grisly pictures, the manufacturer identified in small type of a standard font – smoking will lose much of its remaining appeal. This must be the insult to trump them all.

It is utterly ridiculous to suggest plain packaging wills top idiots from killing themselves slowly.

The tobacco industry has suggested that they will?initiate?a legal challenge to the proposed legislation. The Herald thinks differently:

In a vigorous response to proposed plain pack legislation in Australia the industry went so far as to threaten to slash the price of cigarettes if it was passed. Price, not packaging, is the most effective weapon against smoking, as the anti-smoking campaign well knows.

Fortunately, the price response was only a threat. When the legislation was passed, one company found a less harmful way to reply. Winfield put a line of cigarettes on the French market in packets branded with a leaping Kangaroo and carrying the slogan, “an Australian favourite”.

Humour is the proportionate response for a heavy-handed policy that will probably have minimal effect on the industry’s profits or the incidence of smoking. Plain packs seem unlikely to bring the anti-smoking campaign much closer to its goal of a smokefree New Zealand by 2025. That goal, endorsed by the Government, could require much more drastic steps, especially in taxation.

The tobacco lobbyists seem blessed with a special kind of stupid…instead of being creative they go for corporate legalese as the solution.

If I was a tobacco company I would have announced that they welcomed the plain packaging rules. The legislation would remove the costly need to brand marketing and consequently allow them to make even more money from selling tobacco products because plain packaging is much cheaper. It is after all the rationale behind plain packaging of supermarket home brands. They could also standardise their offerings as well removing the need to brand testing and they could also further increase profits by using lower quality tobacco, since branding is gone, so too should taste and flavour. All in all they could even lower the price of cigarettes and make bigger profits.

Plain packaging won’t stop idiots smoking.