Calls for plain packaging to be introduced for tobacco products

In Australia, which has some of the strictest tobacco legislation in the world, a law was passed two years ago that requires all cigarettes to be sold in the same plain packaging, with the name of the brand in the same font on every box. there seems to be no difference between say, a pack of Marlboros and a pack of Lucky Strike.

At present, tobacco products sold in this country must carry a government health warning, and most also carry a graphic photograph of diseased lungs to illustrate the dangers of smoking.

Anti tobacco group argue that these warnings do not do enough to deter people smoking or prevent young people taking up the habit. They argue that the distinctive branding which tobacco companies use to market their products are responsible for enticing new smokers. For example, a pack of Benson and Hedges is sold in shiny silver packaging, a cigarette brand called Vogue uses the name of a well known fashion magazine appealing to women, etc.
With cigarette advertising banned, the only option available for companies to market their products is through the packaging.
Until last year, the government appeared to oppose any requirement for plain cigarette packaging.
But Jane Ellison , the under secretary for public health, said that she was inclined to proceed with laws to standardize cigarette packaging and told ministers that if the rate of smoking by children was reduced even by 2 %, 4,000 fewer children would take up the habit.
New restrictions across Europe will increase the size of mandatory health warnings on cigarette packages. In February, the European parliament approved regulations to permit picture and text health warnings that would cover 65 per cent of the front and the back of the packs, and 50 percent of the sides.

Anti-spam law creates headaches in Canada

ImageCanadians have been bombarded in recent weeks by emails with subject lines like “urgent action required.” The body of the messages encourages them to click on a link.

Although the messages strongly resemble spam, they are actually the opposite. The flow of emails is a result of a change in the law that require companies, people and social media postings to first seek the recipient’s consent.


The rules have generally been welcomed by consumer advocates, but some lawyers and others argue that while spam regulation is necessary, it is incredibly complex. They say that they will hamper the ability of Canadian companies and charities to promote their products and services and that they will do little to stem the inbox arrivals of true spam operations.

Under the new law, sending a single commercial email without permission could result in fines of as much as 1 million Canadian dollars.

Mr Hains, never imagined the changes would effect a newsletter which he sent to volunteers of an annual bicycle race in the village of Terra Cotta, Toronto.

Less than a week before  the law came into effect, just 147 people of the 1,2000 agreed to stay on, after he sent out a pleading email asking for their consent.

Mr Hains’ low success rate is typical. Antoine Alywin, a lawyer specialising in privacy law at Fasken Martineau Du Moulin in Montreal, says only about 20% of people are likely to agree to continue to receiving emails, potentially eroding the value of email lists as marketing assets.

Some companies are offering prizes to encourage people to opt in, such as wireless cameras from D-link to a Mustang offered by the Ford motor company of Canada.

In the EU, spam cost companies 2.4 billion in lost productivity last year, by some estimates. Spam is often used for sinister purposes such as Trojan horses, financial cons and delivering worms and viruses. It seems that the chance of successful legal harmonisation even in respect of, what may be labelled ‘morally neutral’ regulatory agendas are rather slim. 

In 2005, spam still accounted for two-thirds of all emails: UK office of Fair trading, 2005.