An End-Date for Tobacco Sales

Give the finger to tobacco companies.ASH supports setting a target date for ending commercial tobacco sales.

Several proposals have been advanced to protect children from tobacco by one or more of the end-date strategies below, or by combining any or all of them. Children are the “new smokers” targeted by the tobacco industry for decades.

End-dates have the potential to go beyond medium steps that chip away at smoking rates. Health authorities then can work backwards, setting milestones of increasing tobacco tax to make tobacco less affordable, regulating contents and additives, ending remaining forms of tobacco advertising, supporting smokers with quitlines and mass media public education campaigns, and extending smokefree places laws.

End-dates are not about criminalising smokers but about ensuring future generations of children grow up tobacco-free.

End-Date Strategies

  • Aspirational target

This involves setting an end-date by which governments aim to end commercial sale of tobacco and reduce its use to near-zero. See New Zealand government’s 2010 decision to adopt 2025 target – and hear discussion of this on ABC Radio National’s Health Report 8/10/12.

  • Birth year cutout: “Smokefree generation”

This strategy names a cutoff birth year – with retailers not permitted to sell tobacco to anyone born after that year. For example, Singapore’s Tobacco-free Generation 2000 proposal (under consideration in Tasmania) would see legislation to end commercial sale to anyone born from the year 2000 onwards; so from 2018 the minimum legal age to purchase or be sold tobacco would rise every year. Exemptions could be granted by Smoker Licensing.

  • Smoker licensing

Under this scheme, it would only be legal to sell tobacco to a person with a licence to smoke – operated by “smart card” purchased on condition of tested understanding of risks and agreed consumption limits. New paper from ASH director Prof Simon Chapman: The case for a smoker’s licence.

  • Regulating contents: “Death by design”

This would reduce tobacco appeal by prohibiting tobacco flavourings and additives, reducing nicotine, eliminating vented filters and regulating tobacco content in line with all other consumer product regulation.

  • Reducing availability: “Sinking lid”

Under this proposal, number and type of tobacco sellers would be progressively reduced by a “cap and trade” strategy, with a timetable to reduce and end commercial sale.

  • Limiting profit

A system of price-cap regulation that would set a maximum pre-tax price for tobacco products to address market failure and excess profits. Capping tobacco company profits could save UK millions: BBC report 15/1/13.

News: Australia

Government blueprint would ramp up regulation

February 2013: National Tobacco Strategy adopted by all Australian governments spells out nine steps in five-year campaign to cut smoking and exposure. Includes regulation of contents, reduced affordability, renewed mass media campaigns, ending smokefree places and promotion loopholes, tightening retail outlets, preventing tobacco industry interference. Telegraph 1/2/13

Forum asks: can we do it?

December 2012: Forum in Hobart of Australian tobacco control experts debates best options for ending tobacco sales. The forum, organised by the Public Advocacy Institute WA, opened by Tasmania’s Health Minister who expresses concern about her state’s above-average smoking rate. Anne Jones of ASH was among the presenters, outlining options for “Protecting children from tobacco – and the tobacco industry”.

Tasmania considers starting commercial phaseout by 2018

2012: Tasmania could lead the world into phasing out commercial sale of cigarettes. The Tasmanian government is considering a proposal to end tobacco sales to anyone born from 2000 onwards – progressively raising the legal smoking age from 2018 onwards. Al Jazeera 16/9/12, including Health Minister Michelle O’Byrne

Tasmanian Upper House turns up the heat on tobacco

2012: Tasmania’s Legislative Council unanimously passes a motion supporting new measures to protect children from tobacco. The state’s Children’s Commissioner is reviewing the proposal. The motion from independent Ivan Dean proposed for Tasmania:

  1. Supporting a tobacco free generation of children born this century;
  2. Banning flavourings, additives and filtering (including menthol) in tobacco products sold in the state;
  3. Progressively reducing availability of tobacco products;
  4. Requiring evidence-based, monitored and evaluated anti-tobacco education and smoking cessation programs in all government schools on an ongoing basis. SMH 22/8/12

Compelling case for abolition of tobacco

2012: Stanford Professor Robert Proctor, author of the definitive tobacco history The Golden Holocaust, makes a compelling case for abolition of tobacco – particularly to end targeting and addiction of children. ABC Radio Newcastle 18/7/12.

News: International

Scotland commits to under 5% smoking by 2034

April 2013: The Scottish government has committed to reduce smoking to under 5% by 2034 – with strategies including plain packaging. Scotsman 2/4/13

Sweden urged to commit to 2025 tobacco end-date

March 2013: Sweden should follow New Zealand’s example and phase out smoking completely by 2025, representatives from several lung cancer groups in Sweden have argued. They also suggest several measures to reduce smoking further in the leadup to a 2025 ban, including plain packs with prominent anti-smoking warnings and free quit programs. The Local, 13/3/13

Global noose tightens on big tobacco

March 2013: Laws and regulations are tightening on the tobacco industry worldwide, not just in the wealthier countries. Wall St analyst examines the industry’s uncertain future. Tobacco Unfiltered 15/3/13

Brazil bans all tobacco flavours and additives

2012: In a world first, Brazil legislates to ban all tobacco flavours and additives – because they lure young people into smoking. Included are menthol, honey, fruit, chocolate, other sweeteners and colours. The law takes full effect March 2014. Framework Convention Alliance 23/3/12

NZ sets 2025 for ending tobacco sales

2010: Government of Aotearoa/New Zealand endorses end-date of 2025 to reach near-zero smoking. More at ASPIRE2025.

Finland commits to end-date

2010: Finland government adopts 2040 end-date for tobacco use. Xinhuanet 21/8/10

Resources

ASPIRE2025

New Zealand research partnership supporting the NZ government’s aim of ending tobacco by the year 2025.

Bring on the end but not a total ban now

Comment by Prof Mike Daube of Curtin Uni and ACOSH. The Conversation

Case for a smoker’s license

Sale of tobacco is subject to trivial controls compared with other dangerous products that threaten public or personal health or safety. Prof Simon Chapman of University of Sydney outlines likely benefits and objections to a proposal with potential to reduce tobacco use. PLOS Medicine 13/11/12

Case for abolition of tobacco

2012 ABC Radio interview with Stanford Professor Robert Proctor, author of definitive tobacco history The Golden Holocaust, who makes a compelling case for abolition of tobacco – particularly to end targeting and addiction of children. ABC Radio Newcastle 18/7/12

Imagining things otherwise: new endgame ideas for tobacco control

Prof Ruth Malone assesses the end-date options in Tobacco Control. 2010 paper

Need for new strategies to combat the epidemic

Prof Ron Borland’s argument (updated 2012) for a Regulated Market Model 2012 paper

Tobacco control in Australia: looking for an endgame?

2012 presentation by ASH Chairman Dr Matthew Peters outlines various strategies and makes case for ending tobacco by regulation of its contents.

Towards an endgame for tobacco

ASH Australia Chair Dr Matthew Peters weighs up the options and pitches for content-regulation model. 2012 paper for RACGP

What are the elements of the tobacco endgame?

George Thomson and University of Otago colleagues warn end-date strategies “need clear goals, plans and timetables” plus governments’ “sustained commitment”. 2012 paper

Where to now for tobacco?

Following 2012 High Court go-ahead for plain packaging, ASH discusses next steps including consideration of end-dates. Open Forum 22/8/12