CAMPAIGN NEWS - 18 August 2014

Progress updates on

 

Smoke-free Environments (Tobacco Plain Packaging) Amendment Bill 2013, Australia and the United Kingdom

Main provisions of the Smoke-free Environments (Tobacco Plain Packaging) Amendment Bill 2013 set out requirements to restrict the appearance of tobacco products and packages. The Bill provides for regulations to be made under the new section 31A.(1) In brief, the section set out broad criteria for future regulations for tobacco plain packaging.

Section 31A Standardised packaging of tobacco products

“(1) A tobacco product –

“(a) must comply with regulations under this Part; and

“(b) if sold or offered for sale,—

“(i) must be contained in a package; and

“(ii) must be packaged in a quantity that complies with regulations under this Part.

“(2) The package for a tobacco product—

“(a) must comply with section32 (1) (which relates to messages and information); and

“(b) other than part of the package that is wrapping or lining may display the brand or company name for the product, but only in accordance with regulations under this Part; and

“(c) must comply with regulations under this Part in all other respects.”

Current policy stage of the Bill

In August 2014, the Health Select Committee completed its deliberation on the Bill, with the Committee report published on Parliament website on 6 August 2014. Following the Committee stage; the Bill will go through Second Reading and the date will be set by the newly appointed Health Minister after the General Election in September 2014.

The Health Committee supports the passage of the Bill, with only one vote opposing the policy regime. There are no major alterations to the clause of the Bill and suggestions of the Committee are mainly literal one. Key recommendations include (2):

  • “Tobacco Standardised Packaging”

    • The Select Committee has recommended that the title of the Bill be changed by substituting the term “Tobacco Standardised Packaging” for the term “Tobacco Plain Packaging”

  • Restrictions on sale of certain tobacco products in small quantities

    • The Select Committee has recommended retaining the principal Act to restrict the minimum quantities in which tobacco products may be sold.

Australia: Emergent product developments after implementation of plain packaging

At the stage of regulation-making, it is important to consider the latest product developments in Australia after the implementation of plain packaging. (3) Some relevant examples are summarised as followed:

SHIFT TO PROMOTION THROUGH GREATER ATTENTION TO THE NAMES OF BRANDS, BRAND EXTENSIONS AND VARIANTS

  • Changes in brand names

    • There were changes in variant names with lengthen descriptors that ‘evoke the sensation or feature’ previously connoted by that color, e.g., Pall Mall Amber became Pall Mall Smooth; Peter Stuyvesant New York Blend and Marlboro Silver Fine Scent.

RENEWED EMPASIS ON VALUE FOR MONEY

  • New Super-value packs
    • An extra cigarette was offered (e.g. 25+1) at a substantially lower price than other value brands that were commonly sold in the size of 25 or 20 sticks.
  • Pack with 'extra' cigarettes
    • New pack sizes of 21, 22, 23 and 26 cigarettes were offered as ‘bonus’ cigarettes for value brands that were traditionally sold in packs of 20 or 25 sticks
    • Extra length cigarettes

INTRODUCTION OF NOVEL CIGARETTE TYPES

Introducing novel cigarette types are an international trend made by tobacco companies. This trending is supported by the annual reports of the tobacco companies. Products innovation includes:

  • Menthol hybrids
  • Mint leaf ‘fusions’

United Kingdom: Consultation on the introduction of regulations for standardised packaging of tobacco products

The UK Government has just completed its consultation on the introduction of regulations for standardised packaging of tobacco products.(4) The drafted regulations restrict the packaging of tobacco products to a specified standard colours, both externally and internally; permit a specified text in a standard typeface; and also restrict the layouts of individual cigarettes to appear as white with a cork effect/white tip with text indicating the brand name (also in a specified typeface and location).

Apart from the new regulations, the United Kingdom is also consulting on its intention to transpose the new European Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) into UK law by 20 May 2016. Certain new requirements of the TPD are applicable to standardised packaging and labelling and some of which have already been included in the current drafted regulations. The relevant TPD requirements include:

  • Larger graphic health warnings to cover 65 per cent of the front and back of packets of all tobacco products
  • Requirements for the ingredients that can be included in tobacco products and a prohibition on characterising flavours (except for menthol flavoured tobacco that will be permitted on the market until 2020)
  • Tracking and tracing requirements for tobacco products
  • Labelling on the packaging and the tobacco product itself shall not include any element or feature that:
    • promotes a tobacco product or encourages its consumption by creating an erroneous impression about its characteristics, health effects, risks or emissions
    • includes any information about the nicotine, tar or carbon monoxide content of the tobacco product
    • suggests that: a particular tobacco product is less harmful than others, aims to reduce the effect of some harmful components of smoke, has vitalising, energetic, healing, rejuvenating, natural, organic properties or has other health or lifestyle benefits
    • refers to taste, smell, any flavourings or other additives or the absence thereof
    • resembles a food or a cosmetic product
    • suggests that a certain tobacco product has improved biodegradability or other environmental advantage

References

  1. Health Select Committee. Smoke-free Environments (Tobacco Plain Packaging) Amendment Bill. Wellington: New Zealand Parliament; 2014 5 August 2014.
  2. McSoriley J. Digest No. 2162. Smoke-free Environments (Tobacco Plain Packaging) Amendment Bill 2013 (2014 No 186-2). Wellington: New Zealand Parliamentary Library; 2014 5 August 2014.
  3. Scollo M, Occleston J, Bayly M, Lindorff K, Wakefield M. Tobacco product developments coinciding with the implementation of plain packaging in Australia. Tobacco Control 2014
  4. Department of Health of the United Kingdom Government. Consultation on the Introduction of Regulations for Standardised Packaging of Tobacco Products. London; 2014 26 June 2014.

 

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