Daily Archives: June 3, 2009

Burr stands tall for tobacco

Walk into U.S. Sen. Richard Burr’s office, and you’ll notice the framed tobacco leaves on the wall. Sit down for a chat, and he’s likely to tuck a pinch of dip under his lip before settling into his favorite chair, spit cup at his side.

Vinton OKs 20-cent cigarette tax

Smokers who shop for cigarettes in Vinton will be paying 20 cents more a pack come Aug. 1 when the town implements its first tax on the tobacco product.

India from evidence to action

The Government of India’s response to onscreen tobacco imagery grew from its 2003 ban on tobacco promotion and advertising, embodied in the comprehensive Tobacco Control Act (TCA) that prohibits advertising and regulates production, supply and distribution of cigarettes and tobacco products. Because India’s film market is relatively isolated from the pervasive tobacco imagery in US films compared with most other countries, WHO commissioned a thorough study of tobacco and India’s indigenous cinema industry in 2003, before the passage of the TCA. Among its findings are the following:


The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC), the first global health treaty negotiated under the auspices of WHO, came into effect on 27 February 2005. By April 2009 the treaty had been ratified by over 160 countries. Article 13 of the WHO FCTC obliges Parties to enact comprehensive bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship within five years of ratification. Article 13 also calls specifically for a ban on cross-border advertising, enabling countries that have enacted national restrictions on advertising and promotion to prevent the entry of banned advertising and promotion into their territories.
According to the definitions in Article 1 of the WHO FCTC, a comprehensive ban on all tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship applies to all forms of commercial communication, recommendation or action and all forms of contribution to any event, activity or individual with the aim, effect or likely effect of promoting a tobacco product or tobacco use either directly or indirectly. In November 2008, the Conference of the Parties to the WHO FCTC at its third session adopted the guidelines for implementation of Article 13. Reflecting the broad definition (above) of advertising and promotion, these guidelines contain specific reference to depictions of tobacco in entertainment media, including movies, and makes specific recommendations to address this issue.
The Article 13 guidelines recommend that a comprehensive ban on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship should cover:
• all advertising and promotion, as well as sponsorship, without exemption;
• direct and indirect advertising, promotion and sponsorship;
• acts that aim at promotion and acts that have or are likely to have a promotional effect;
• promotion of tobacco products and the use of tobacco;
• commercial communications and commercial recommendations and actions;
• contribution of any kind to any event, activity or individual;
• advertising and promotion of tobacco brand names and all corporate promotion; and traditional media (print, television and radio) and all media platforms, including Internet, mobile telephones and other new technologies as well as films. Components of the WHO FCTC and Article 13 guidelines are specified below, with commentary as to how these may impact smoking in the movies.
• Article 13(4)(a): Prohibits advertising, sponsorship and promotion “by any means that are false, misleading or deceptive or likely to create an erroneous impression about its characteristics, health effects, hazards or emissions …” Of more than 950 films with tobacco released by the US film industry since 1999, almost none include characters suffering from a tobacco-related disease. One recent example is Constantine (Time Warner, 2005: R-rated). Like the Germany-UK production The Constant Gardner (2005, R-rated), it features a smoker with lung cancer. Films occasionally feature one character warning another about smoking, but these warnings are usually defied or minimized by the smoking character.
• Article 13(4)(b): “[R]equire that health or other appropriate warnings or messages accompany all tobacco advertising and, as appropriate, promotion and sponsorship …” In May 2007, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) proposed adding descriptors such as “pervasive smoking” or “glamorized smoking” to some ratings, absent a “mitigating context”.xiv Such content descriptors fail to convey the harmful effect of the film’s smoking imagery. It is the cumulative exposure to smoking in films – not the amount of smoking in a particular film – that best predicts the effect on adolescents. The recommended approach is to precede any film with tobacco imagery, in any distribution channel, with an effective anti-tobacco spot message. The Article 13 guidelines recommend that Parties should “[r]equire the display of prescribed antitobacco advertisements at the beginning of any entertainment media product that depicts tobacco products, use or images.”
• Article 13(4)(d): “[R]equire … the disclosure … of expenditures by the tobacco industry on advertising, promotion and sponsorship not yet prohibited …” In order to ensure that tobacco companies are not marketing their products through product placement in movies, Article 13 guidelines also recommend that Parties should: Implement a mechanism requiring that when an entertainment media product depicts tobacco products, use or imagery of any type, the responsible executives at each company involved in the production, distribution or presentation of that entertainment media product certify that no money, gifts, free publicity, interest-free loans, tobacco products, public relations assistance or anything else of any value has been given in exchange for the depiction. Examination of marketing expenditure reports from the tobacco companies to the US Federal Trade Commission from the late 1980s to the early 1990s suggests that the tobacco companies did not disclose all spending on product placement as required by US law. More recently, the MPAA denied that its member companies, the major studios, are engaged in tobacco product placement; but these assurances do not extend to non- MPAA studios nor to the production companies contracted by studio distributors to make films.
• Article 13(4)(e): “[U]ndertake a comprehensive ban or, in the case of a Party that is not in a position to undertake a comprehensive ban due to its constitution or constitutional principles, restrict tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship on radio, television, print media and … other media …” This would imply that the film media is part of the comprehensive ban called for by the WHO FCTC. In addition, the Article 13 guidelines specifically recommend that the comprehensive ban should cover traditional media (print, television and radio) and all media platforms, including Internet, mobile telephones and other new technologies as well as films. Thus, additional consideration of bans, restrictions and other policy interventions as described above need to be part of compliance with the WHO FCTC.

Court Can’t Quit DOJ’s Tobacco Case

In 92 pages last week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit dug into one of the largest civil racketeering cases the Justice Department has ever brought, the mail and wire fraud suit against major cigarette manufacturers. The judgment on that judgment has been mixed.

Smoke and mirrors: relationship between cigarette and acne

A recent study indicates that there is a significant association between cigarette smoking and the development and severity of acne lesions. According to one expert, acne patients who withdraw from cigarette smoking can improve their acne condition.

Senate to vote on FDA regulating tobacco

The Food and Drug Administration would be able to regulate tobacco products under a bill the Senate is expected to take up as soon as today and which Sen. Richard Burr hopes to rewrite before it passes.

Tobacco Bill Could Snuff Out Smokeless Strategy

For anyone considering putting a menthol cigarette in their mouth during a long conference call, Reynolds now offers the perfect product. Snus, which means snuff in Swedish, is a flavored mini-teabag of pasteurized tobacco, sold chilled in tins.

Cigarettes Without Smoke, or Regulation

During 34 years of smoking, Carolyn Smeaton has tried countless ways to reduce her three-pack-a-day habit, including a nicotine patch, nicotine gum and a prescription drug. But stop-smoking aids always failed her.