For thy sake tobacco, I would do anything but die.
Charles Lamb, (1775 1834)
A farewell to Tobacco

Money talks. Frequently it finds its voice only when it is given to others. Consider Senators Mitch McConnell (R KY) and Richard Burr (R N.C.). Senator Burr, having received $534,000, has the distinction of being the recipient of more money from cigarette companies than any other member of Congress, according to statistics compiled by the non partisan Center for Responsive Politics. His colleague (and the minority leader of the Senate) Mitch McConnell has received $456,000. The money that cigarettes have paid the two men, as well as some of their colleagues, makes them understandably sensitive to the well being of their donors and they have expressed their gratitude by letting Europe know that it can’t follow in Australia’s footsteps and impose restrictions on how its donors are portrayed to the public. But first, a bit of history.

In August 2012 the High Court of Australia issued an opinion that was exceedingly unfriendly to the package in which the cigarette is delivered. The court, depriving individual cigarettes of that which causes them to standout from their competitors, said all cigarettes had to be sold in uniform packages. Company logos can no longer be displayed on packages. All printing on the packages must use identical fonts and the package must have a dark brown background. To add insult to injury, the Australian Court said graphic health warnings have to cover 90 percent of the back of the package and 70 percent of the front. That ruling was especially distressing for the cigarette because it came just a few months after the United States Federal Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit had approved rules issued by the Food and Drug Administration that required graphic displays of warning images on cigarette packs. It also approved the rule that required graphic warnings to be placed on the top half of the front and back of each pack. In its opinion the court said We can envision many graphic warnings that would constitute factual disclosures… A non exhaustive list of some would include a picture or drawing of a nonsmoker’s and smoker’s lungs displayed side by side a picture of a doctor looking at an x ray of either a smoker’s cancerous lungs or some other part of the body presenting a smoking related condition a picture or drawing of the internal anatomy of a person suffering from a smoking related medical condition a picture or drawing of a person suffering from a smoking related medical condition. Australia plus the 6th Circuit created an air of gloom among cigarettes that no amount of smoke could dispel. The U.S. Circuit Court for the District of Columbia dispelled it.

Ten days after the Australia Court ruled, the D.C. Court declined to approve the graphic warnings the FDA had required. Among one of the more catchy images it refused to approve was a picture of a man with cigarette smoke coming out of the tracheotomy hole in his throat. Saying that many “of the images chosen by FDA could be misinterpreted by consumers.” It suggested, as one example, that the tracheotomy image could be construed by the consumers as suggesting that receiving a tracheotomy “is a common consequence of smoking.”

Since two courts had arrived at differing conclusions it was widely assumed that the U.S. Supreme Court would weigh in and let the cigarette know which court got it right. It was not to be. On April 22, 2013, the Supreme Court let it be known it would not resolve the differences between the two Courts of Appeal. Although the domestic threat is at bay until the FDA comes up with new rules, the cigarette’s need for vigilance goes on and it is in Europe that it enlisted the aid of those it has supported.

In December 2012 the European Commission proposed significant restrictions on tobacco branding and flavoring. On the theory that for a cigarette to be fully appreciated, it should taste like tobacco and not like peppermint, it banned flavorings such as menthol. On the theory that cigarettes are harmful, it said graphic warnings on the front of the package that now take up 30 percent of the package must be increased to 75 percent. The rules also require that the packages include the kinds of graphic warnings favored by the 6th Circuit and not favored by the D.C. circuit

On June 7, 2013, it was reported that Senators McConnell and Burr along with Senator Rand Paul (R Ky.) and Kay Hagan (D N.C.) had written to the European Union warning of dire consequences should the Union adopt the regulations on cigarette packaging it was proposing. The senators said the proposed regulations would violate international trade rules and adversely affect trade relations with the United States. It’s good they explained. Otherwise one might have thought it had to do with all the money the cigarette companies pay them in order to preserve their friendship.
Christopher Brauchli can be emailed at brauchli.56 For political commentary see his web page at

Pinboard: bookmarks for jm tagged ‘cigarettes’

European lawmakers reject tight restrictions on e-cigarettes В» a public participation forum for the fda center for tobacco products and its federal advisory committee (tpsac)
The Law Society will attend a meeting of the Oireachtas Health Committee today to outline its strong opposition to the Government proposals to introduce legislation that will require tobacco products to use plain packaging. The society s director general Ken Murphy will be its principal representative at the meeting today to discuss its submission on the legislation, and to discuss its concerns that a plain packaging regime will undermine registered trade mark, and design, systems and will amount to an expropriation of brand owners intellectual property rights .

Speaking ahead of the meeting, Mr Murphy told The Irish Times the views contained in it represent those of the Law Society as a whole, and its 10,000 members, and have been endorsed by the society as a whole, rather than the committee.

Mr Murphy also said the purpose of the Law Society submission was not to protect the tobacco industry, rather the wider effect and impact such a law would have on intellectual property rights, trade marks, in other areas.
There is a real concern also that plain packaging in the tobacco industry is just the beginning of a trend that will severely undermine intellectual property owners rights in other sectors such as alcohol, soft drinks and fast foods.

Judging by some reactions on Twitter, “endorsed by the society as a whole” may be over egging it a little.