Thursday, August 27, 2009

Light, Low-Tar, Mild - Plain Tactics

A study published online in the Journal of Public Health found that while it is important to ban misleading health descriptors such as ‘light’, ‘low-tar’, and ‘mild’, it is also important to ban other tactics used to undermine the impact of the elimination of these terms. For example, the study demonstrates that the industry has used descriptions of taste, such as ‘smooth’ and ‘full flavor’, and elements of package design (e.g. color-coding) on cigarettes formerly labeled ‘light’, ‘mild’ or ‘low tar’ to continue to mislead consumers.

The study was conducted in Ontario, Canada, where tobacco companies were court-ordered to stop using misleading descriptors by August 2007. More than 600 smokers and non-smokers were asked about their perceptions of packs with varying terms, colors, and design.

Study Findings

• Respondents were more likely to rate packages with the terms ‘light’, ‘mild’, ‘smooth’ and ‘silver’ as delivering less tar and having lower health risk compared with ‘regular’ and ‘full flavor’ brands.

• Respondents rated packages with lighter colors and a picture of a filter as significantly more likely to deliver less tar and lower health risk.


• Perceptions of risk and tar delivery are strongly associated with package design elements such as other descriptors, tar levels, and colors.

• Current regulations banning misleading terms have failed to remove misleading information from tobacco packaging due to the industry’s use of other package design elements.

Key Messages

• Laws regarding misleading information should encompass misleading design innovations by the tobacco industry.

• Laws regarding misleading descriptors should give a governmental agency the authority to adopt new rules to quickly address innovative ways the tobacco manufacturers adopt to continue to mislead consumers.

• Enforcement of the law should include all aspects of package design that may mislead consumers such as other descriptors, colors, and tar levels.

Full study available in English from:
http://jpubhealth. oxfordjournals. org/cgi/reprint/ fdp066v1

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Too Busy to Blog

Being formal in Kobe, Japan

Having Fun in Palawan

Tobacco and illegal drugs have kept me busy past six weeks that’s why I did not have time to update my three blogs. Nope, I did not use those substances, on the contrary, I involved myself in a series of workshops to prevent and control tobacco and illegal drugs, which took me to Kobe, Japan and Puerto Princesa, Palawan, among other places.

In Kobe, I attended the Regional Workshop on Monitoring Secondhand Smoke Exposure conducted by the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. In the next months, I will be a part of a cross-country study measuring secondhand smoke (SHS) exposure in nine (9) East and Southeast Asia, namely: Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. The study will measure SHS in selected public places such as government offices, hospitals, secondary schools; restaurants and entertainment venues. Air nicotine and particulate matter (PM2.5) will be measured in key locations in each place. In conjunction with the collection and analysis of the data, a dissemination strategy will be implemented to distribute messages to media outlets and others to generate attention on the need for strong smoke-free legislation.

In Palawan, I facilitated the Health Promotion Implementation Review and Planning workshop for the Dangerous Drugs Prevention and Treatment Program of the Department of Health. This gauged where we are now and what we will do next in promoting drug abuse prevention.

Anyway, I’m not complaining with the additional workload that will keep me tremendously busy in the days and weeks ahead. I just hope I will not have to sacrifice doing my blogs.