Tobacco Asia

Volume 20, Number 3

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26 tobaccoasia / Issue 3, 2016 July / August By TobaccoChina Online As global tobacco control turns increasingly harsh, governments in all countries adopt policies to increase tobacco taxes and prices, ban tobacco products, and require the printing of large graphic health warnings, signs, etc. on cigarette packets. Since Australia became the first country to im- pose plain packaging for cigarettes in November 2011, the gravity of global tobacco control gener- ally shifted onto simplifying cigarette packaging. Cigarette packaging – the most visible way of ad- vertising that is the closest to consumers – became an arena for an epic struggle between tobacco companies and anti-tobacco groups. At least 45 countries around the world adopted some type of legislation on printing graphic health warnings and signs on cigarette packaging, and the laws of nearly 20 countries specifically pro- vide that health warnings and gruesome graphic pictures of smoking-related disease shall cover no less than 50% of each packet. Recently, India's legislation requiring such large-sized health warnings sparked protests from interested parties including tobacco companies and tobacco growers. The new EU tobacco prod- ucts directive went into effect May 2016, mean- ing that all tobacco packaging and hand-rolled cigarette containers must include large and graphic pictorial health warnings, which will cover 65% of the packaging, with additional warning mes- sages on every packet. Moreover, the theme of the World No Tobacco Day 2016, which falls on May 31, is "Get Ready for Plain Packaging". All such developments indicate that the printing of graphic health warnings is a universal theme of global to- bacco control. In China, Duan Tieli, deputy director-general of the State Tobacco Monopoly Administration (STMA), told news media in March 2016 that "to print graphic health warnings and signs on cigarette packaging does not conform to traditional Chinese Despite government efforts to tighten tobacco controls, simplifying cigarette packaging with picture health warnings proves to be quite difficult in China due to stiff corporate resistance and cultural traditions. Gory Warnings/Plain Packaging: Won't Be Scaring China Anytime Soon. Why? The printing of picture health warnings on cigarette packaging will not be a panacea for cracking the hard nut of tobacco control.

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