Taking action on smoking and health
New timeline documents (comparing Scotland and Australia) released by health charity ASH Scotland on World No Tobacco Day (31 May) have revealed the tobacco industry’s tactics to oppose plain cigarette packaging in Australia – and may give a window into the future of Scotland’s debate on the issue.
The charity’s recent report, Dodgy Cigs, revealed the way that misleading reports and unjustifiable conclusions have been used by tobacco companies to oppose plain packaging in Australia, the first country to introduce the policy in 2012.
The timelines follow the route that this policy took, from the quick release of tobacco industry misinformation claiming that plain packs didn’t reduce youth smoking or that illicit tobacco rose, through to recent scientific evaluations debunking those reports and showing that plain packs are effective.
ASH Scotland’s Chief Executive, Sheila Duffy, said:
“We know plain, standardised packaging will work to protect young people from tobacco. And we know that Big Tobacco will do everything in their power to oppose it.
“Elsewhere in the world, the tobacco companies have used misinformation to sow doubt about the effects of plain packaging, claiming in particular that it could cause rises in illicit tobacco. Those claims simply haven’t been borne out by the facts.
“The tobacco industry will do what it can to rubbish plain packaging, long before official, reliable and scientifically robust information is available. We must be wise to this when Big Tobacco-funded reports and press releases appear. Tobacco companies and their supporters may make the same claims their colleagues made in Australia, with the same lack of evidence – we shouldn’t let them get away with it.”
These new timelines are released after a UK High Court judge struck down tobacco industry opposition to plain packaging, agreeing with the UK Government that the tobacco companies’ evidence on plain packaging “didfall below acceptable standards” during the consultation on the policy, and that it “either ignores [or] airily dismisses the worldwide research and literature base which contradicts evidence tendered by the tobacco industry”.
World No Tobacco Day is organised and supported by the World Health Organization, and this year has the theme “get ready for plain packaging”, encouraging governments all over the world to follow the UK’s lead to protect young people with plain packs.
For further information please contact ASH Scotland on 0131 225 4725 or email@example.com . Out of hours mobile 07776 142 299
Notes for Editors
The full Dodgy Cigs report is available at www.ashscotland.org.uk/dodgycigs. Print quality timelines are available for Australia and for Scotland.
Extracts from the recent High Court judgement are below. The full judgement can be seen at https://www.judiciary.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/bat-v-doh.judgment.pdf
“In my judgment the Government was entitled to conclude that the tobacco company’s evidence did fall below acceptable standards during the consultation. The conclusions which have arisen from the US courts about the sharp discord between what the tobacco companies think inside their own four walls and what they then say to the outside world (especially through experts), are so damning and the evidence of the discord so compelling and far reaching that it is not at all surprising that the WHO concluded that there was an evidence base upon which to found their recommendations to contracting states to apply vigilance and demand accountability and transparency in their dealing with the tobacco companies.” [Para 21, page 18]
“As a generality, the Claimants’ evidence is largely: not peer reviewed; frequently not tendered with a statement of truth or declaration that complies with the CPR [Court Procedural Rules for England and Wales]; almost universally prepared without any reference to the internal documentation or data of the tobacco companies themselves; either ignores of airily dismisses the worldwide research and literature base which contradicts evidence tendered by the tobacco industry; and, is frequently unverifiable.” [Para 23, page 18]
Action on Smoking & Health (Scotland) (ASH Scotland) is a registered Scottish charity (SC 010412) and a company limited by guarantee(Scottish company no 141711). The registered office is 8 Frederick Street, Edinburgh EH2 2HB.
ASH Scotland acknowledges with thanks the support of the British Heart Foundation and the Scottish Government in developing our website.