OTCs in Action Episode 11: Stigma, statutes and OTCs stub out smoking

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Q: What’s the difference between the 1960s and the 2000s?

A: In the 2000s, a guy goes into a chemist shop and shouts, “Give me a box of condoms!” … and then whispers to the shop assistant, “Oh, and slip in a packet of cigarettes, too.”

Although smoking is stigmatised in many countries in the new millennium, tobacco use still kills approximately 6mn people each year, according to the World Health Organization. It is the leading global cause of preventable death and OTC smoking cessation products can help people quit. This week, OTCs in Action takes a look at recent government initiatives to extinguish smoking – and spotlights nicotine replacement therapy* sales trends in those countries.

Brazil’s National Anti-Smoking Law will take effect this month, prohibiting smoking in enclosed spaces; banning the promotion of tobacco products and requiring warnings to cover a significant part of cigarette packs. Nicholas Hall’s Global OTC Database DB6 reports mid-year sales of NRTs increased by 14% to US$20mn (MAT June 2014) in Brazil.

China is considering raising cigarette prices and taxes and the State Council has issued a draft regulation to ban indoor smoking, limit outdoor smoking and end tobacco advertising. China has more than 300mn smokers and cigarettes are very inexpensive. OTC sales of NRTs increased by 8% to US$25mn.

France unveiled plans to require plain cigarette packaging, increase prices for tobacco and ban smoking in cars containing children. Although the Government more than doubled reimbursement rates for NRTs for those aged between 20 to 25, sales of OTC NRTs declined by 6% to US$82mn, owing to increased use of generics and rising use of e-cigarettes.

India announced that health warnings covering at least 85% of cigarette packs will be mandatory by April 2015. Sales of OTC smoking control products increased by 22% to US$12mn. The diminutive sales figure reflects that fact that most tobacco consumption in India is in the form of chewing tobacco and paan.

Russia’s ban on smoking in most public paces enacted in 2013 was extended to include transportation and leisure-oriented locations last summer. An estimated 40% of Russian adults smoked in 2011 and cigarette prices are among the cheapest in the world. Sales of OTC smoking control products were up by 38% to US$20mn in the mid-year results.

In the brilliant 2005 film, Thank You for Smoking, tobacco executive BR says: “We don’t sell Tic Tacs, we sell cigarettes. And they’re cool, available and *addictive*. The job is almost done for us.”

Maybe not so cool or available anymore.

For more info, Nicholas Hall’s OTC INSIGHT publications for Latin America, Europe, Asia-Pacific and North America have just published market reports on the smoking control trends in their regions. http://www.insight.nicholashall.com

*Does not include e-cigarettes

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