FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Packaging Cancer

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% of the back of the package and 70% 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% of the package must be increased to 75%. 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@post.harvard.edu.

More articles by:

December 19, 2018
Carl Boggs
Russophobia and the Specter of War
Jonathan Cook
American Public’s Backing for One-State Solution Falls on Deaf Ears
Daniel Warner
1968: The Year That Will Not Go Away
Arshad Khan
Developing Country Issues at COP24 … and a Bit of Good News for Solar Power and Carbon Capture
Kenneth Surin
Trump’s African Pivot: Another Swipe at China
Patrick Bond
South Africa Searches for a Financial Parachute, Now That a $170 Billion Foreign Debt Cliff Looms
Tom Clifford
Trade for Hostages? Trump’s New Approach to China
Binoy Kampmark
May Days in Britain
John Feffer
Globalists Really Are Ruining Your Life
John O'Kane
Drops and the Dropped: Diversity and the Midterm Elections
December 18, 2018
Charles Pierson
Where No Corn Has Grown Before: Better Living Through Climate Change?
Evaggelos Vallianatos
The Waters of American Democracy
Patrick Cockburn
Will Anger in Washington Over the Murder of Khashoggi End the War in Yemen?
George Ochenski
Trump is on the Ropes, But the Pillage of Natural Resources Continues
Farzana Versey
Tribals, Missionaries and Hindutva
Robert Hunziker
Is COP24 One More Big Bust?
David Macaray
The Truth About Nursing Homes
Nino Pagliccia
Have the Russian Military Aircrafts in Venezuela Breached the Door to “America’s Backyard”?
Paul Edwards
Make America Grate Again
David Rosnick
The Impact of OPEC on Climate Change
Binoy Kampmark
The Kosovo Blunder: Moving Towards a Standing Army
Andrew Stewart
Shine a Light for Immigration Rights in Providence
December 17, 2018
Susan Abulhawa
Marc Lamont Hill’s Detractors are the True Anti-Semites
Jake Palmer
Viktor Orban, Trump and the Populist Battle Over Public Space
Martha Rosenberg
Big Pharma Fights Proposal to Keep It From Looting Medicare
David Rosen
December 17th: International Day to End Violence against Sex Workers
Binoy Kampmark
The Case that Dare Not Speak Its Name: the Conviction of Cardinal Pell
Dave Lindorff
Making Trump and Other Climate Criminals Pay
Bill Martin
Seeing Yellow
Julian Vigo
The World Google Controls and Surveillance Capitalism
ANIS SHIVANI
What is Neoliberalism?
James Haught
Evangelicals Vote, “Nones” Falter
Vacy Vlanza
The Australian Prime Minister’s Rapture for Jerusalem
Martin Billheimer
Late Year’s Hits for the Hanging Sock
Weekend Edition
December 14, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
A Tale of Two Cities
Peter Linebaugh
The Significance of The Common Wind
Bruce E. Levine
The Ketamine Chorus: NYT Trumpets New Anti-Suicide Drug
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Fathers and Sons, Bushes and Bin Ladens
Kathy Deacon
Coffee, Social Stratification and the Retail Sector in a Small Maritime Village
Nick Pemberton
Praise For America’s Second Leading Intellectual
Robert Hunziker
The Yellow Vest Insurgency – What’s Next?
Nick Alexandrov
George H. W. Bush: Another Eulogy
Patrick Cockburn
The Yemeni Dead: Six Times Higher Than Previously Reported
Brian Cloughley
Principles and Morality Versus Cash and Profit? No Contest
Michael F. Duggan
Climate Change and the Limits of Reason
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail