29 June 2020

ENSP Secretariat would like to thank everyone for notifications concerning the ensp.org Internet domain. We apologise for the disruptions in the work of the website and delivery issues of the ENSP Newsletter.


The website is available online again: http://ensp.network/; and if you haven't   received any of the past ENSP Newsletters, you can always access previous editions at http://ensp.network/the-network/.

Call for participants!

We are happy to invite young individuals, members of youth and student associations and youth advocacy groups from the WHO European region to participate in the ENSP Youth group contest. The purpose of this contest is to inspire young people to get in action, raise their voice against the targeted tactics of the tobacco industry, break the chainrefuse to become the next generation of smokers and novel tobacco product users in Europe and claim a tobacco free future for them and the generations to come. 

Starting from 1st of July 2020, you are invited to use your imagination and creativity and produce materials such as posters, infographics or videos to present your message and support one of the themes mentioned below:

  • Denormalisation of cigarettes and Novel tobacco products (e-cigarettes, heated tobacco products) use by youth. 
  • Smoke free campuses, smoke free schools-smoke free places for youth and the next generations.
  • Awareness of the health impact of smoking and novel tobacco use. 
  • Counteracting Tobacco Industry tactics to recruit new generation of users.
From 15 September to 10 October 2020 all submissions will be posted on ENSP Facebook and Twitter pages to be voted from those that already are members of the pages or will be before or after voting for their favourite campaign material. This will account for the 50% of the final score of each campaign.

In the second phase, the ENSP Youth Group Campaign committee will evaluate and rate the material (50% of the final score) in terms of the creativity, the message and the content. The 2 scores will be added to emerge the winners of the competition.

Submit your proposal electronically until 15 September 2020 to: 

ENSP Fact Sheet Series 2020 
"COVID-19 pandemic and smoking behaviour"  
now available in Romanian and Albanian

Both Romanian and Albanian versions of the Fact Sheet Series #1/2020 are now available on the ENSP website. In this new fact sheet, ENSP summarised the evidence for smokers and novel tobacco users and made recommendations to be followed in the context of COVID-19 pandemic.

Discover the fact sheet in 4 languages...

European Commission publishes its annual reports for 2019

The European Commission has published its annual activity reports. In terms of tobacco control, there are several highlights of the year 2019 that include activities under the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) and the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). Measures have been taken regarding the assessment of characterising flavours in tobacco products as well as the tobacco products’ tracking and tracing.
The EC states that these actions "will support enhanced collaboration in the following areas: 1) tobacco product regulation and disclosures of the contents of tobacco products, including in the area of novel tobacco products; 2) strengthened regulation/bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship, with special regard to cross-border advertising; 3) identification of best practices in existing tracking and tracing systems for tobacco products and of key requirements for the establishment of a Global Information Sharing Focal Point."

Read the full report...

News from around the world

Tobacco Industry exploits East-European coutries during COVID-19

In the context of COVID-19 health crisis, in order to improve their public image and win access to politicians, the tobbaco companies use different means to approach local health entities.

Euronews reports on how Philip Morris International and Imperial Tobacco both donated money in Ukraine.

In the Balkans, Philip Morris International subsidiary, Papastratos, gave 50 ventilators to Intensive Care Units of the Greek hospitals to help them cope during the pandemic. If smoking does predispose people to having adverse outcomes during Covid-19 it is a funny position to be giving ventilators but selling a product that leads to worse outcomes,” said Constantine Vardavas of the University of Crete’s school of medicine to The Bureau of Investigative Journalism.

Moreover, the Romanian Red Cross accepted a financial donation — by Philip Morris International.

Although critics say it is part of a PR effort to lobby governments to loosen tobacco controls and it is a fact that smoking increases the risk of serious illness, especially in times of COVID-19, both Philip Morris International and Imperial Tobacco denied any wrongdoing and said authorities had asked for their help.


Civil society demands banning menthol products in the US 

On June 17, The African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council (AATCLC) and Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) held a virtual press conference announcing their joint complaint against the FDA, represented by Pollock Cohen, LLP. The complaint requests that the court compel the FDA to fulfill its mandate to take action on FDA's own conclusions that it would benefit the public health to add menthol to the list of prohibited characterising flavors and therefore ban it from sale.

This lawsuit brings to the forefront the lack of action from the FDA to fulfill its mandate concerning whether menthol products should be taken off the shelves. In 2009, Congress passed — and President Obama signed into law — the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. The act created a flavor ban in cigarettes but excluded menthol, subject to further research. In 2011, the FDA's Advisory Committee concluded that the "Removal of menthol cigarettes from the marketplace would benefit public health in the United States."

Despite this conclusion, and several statements of support in the interim, the FDA has not begun the rule-making process of removing menthol from combustible cigarettes. The plaintiffs are asking the court to direct the FDA to take action.

"By continuing to delay, the FDA and the U.S. government are failing to protect the health of U.S. citizens, particularly African Americans, and the U.S. is also falling behind the global trend as countries around the world are increasingly banning menthol," said Kelsey Romeo-Stuppy, Managing Attorney at ASH.

Hungary - the latest Party to join the Protocol

The WHO FCTC Secretariat has announced Hungary as a new Party to the Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products.

There are currently 60 Parties to the Protocol. 

Tobacco Advertising will be soon banned in Germany

Starting with January 2022, the Tobacco Advertising will be banned in Germany, according to a draft law seen by AFP on Thursday, following a U-turn by the governing conservatives. Barron's explains that although tobacco advertising is outlawed in the media, Germany is the only European Union country that still allows street posters and cinema advertising.  After long negotiations, the proposed law plans to end free distribution of cigarettes at events and limit advertising in cinemas to films aimed at adults. Moreover, the advertising ban will be widened to include electronic cigarettes by 2024.


World Trade Organisation supports Australia's Law on Plain Packaging

The Appellate Body of the World Trade Organization (WTO) issued on June 9 a final ruling affirming that Australia’s pioneering law requiring plain packaging for tobacco products is entirely consistent with WTO agreements. This ruling is yet another victory for Australia and global health and a resounding defeat for the tobacco industry, which has fiercely fought plain packaging laws. This ruling puts to rest any remaining questions about plain packaging under international trade law.
In 2012, Australia was the first country in the world to implement a plain packaging law for tobacco products. The law requires tobacco products to be sold in plain packages free of colorful branding or marketing from tobacco companies. This ruling upholds Australia’s action in every respect, rejects all of the arguments the tobacco companies have made in their challenges to Australia’s law and confirmed that the evidence shows tobacco plain packaging laws “are apt to, and do in fact, contribute to Australia's objective of reducing the use of, and exposure to, tobacco products.”


Following Australia’s lead, 15 countries have since adopted tobacco plain packaging laws, and many other governments are in the process of formally considering the policy (see up-to-date list of countries that have adopted or are considering such laws). 

As more countries around the world consider plain packaging, tobacco companies have tried to use the ongoing WTO appeal to argue that governments should delay the decision to move forward with plain packaging. Australia's decision confirms that plain packaging laws are both scientifically and legally sound, according to Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids.


New policy brief tackling the tobacco tax

In light of the profound effect COVID-19 is having on public health, public health systems and economies, The Union has released a policy brief calling on countries to raise tobacco tax to simultaneously improve the health of the populace, reduce health inequities, and lessen the burden on health care systems.


The brief outlines three recommendations to generate critical funding for future pandemics and emergencies:

  1. Raise tobacco tax: a win-win solution to effectively strengthen public health emergency response;
  2. Resist industry pressure to reduce or maintain current tobacco tax;
  3. Establish a health defence fund.

Read the full document...

Now also indexed in PubMed Central. Learn more...
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