France, land of gauloises, eyes ‘no-brand’ cigarettes – business insider

PARIS (Reuters) France is considering a move to brandless packets to curb smoking, instituting one of the world’s toughest anti tobacco policies in the home of chain smoking singer Serge Gainsbourg and no filter Gauloises cigarettes.

Health Minister Marisol Touraine is due to present a law next month that would stop cigarette manufacturers from printing their distinctive logos on packages, Le Figaro newspaper reported on Friday.

Plain packaging, with the cigarette brand written in small lettering under a graphic health warning, would be among a raft of radical measures to curb smoking, including a ban on using e cigarettes, or “vaping”, in public places, Le Figaro said.

Australia pioneered plain packaging for cigarettes in 2012 and Britain, New Zealand and Ireland all plan similar bans.

In a statement, France’s Health Ministry said it was studying several options to curb smoking.

“We are far from the point of taking any decisions and no particular course of action has been determined so far,” the ministry said.

With its cafe culture and chain smoking Nouvelle Vague movie stars, France earned a reputation as a smokers’ paradise after World War Two. Iconic dark tobacco brands like Gitanes, favored by Gainsbourg, who smoked up to five packs a day, and Gauloises, preferred by philosopher Jean Paul Sartre, grew hugely popular, in part thanks to their stylish packaging.

While the reputation sticks, smoking rates in France have since plummeted. Less than a third of the population now lights up regularly, which is about average for the European Union and down sharply from nearly 60 percent in the 1960s.

Tough anti tobacco laws were introduced in 1991 which banned smoking in public places, forced cigarette manufacturers to display health warnings on packets and forbade large scale advertising on billboards and TV.

Advocates of plain packaging argue that stripping packets of eye catching logos is effective in reducing smoking among young people. Currently, one in three French people aged 15 to 19 is a smoker, according to the Health Ministry.

As French smoking rates have declined, so has the country’s once vibrant tobacco industry. The state owned Seita brand that produced Gauloises and Gitanes was bought by Britain’s Imperial Tobacco in 2008, and much of its production moved abroad.

In April, Imperial Tobacco announced the closure of the largest Gauloise cigarette factory in France, prompting the factory’s 327 workers to go on strike and hold five managers hostage on the worksite, near Nantes, this week.

The managers were released on Thursday after a day of captivity.

(Reporting by Nicholas Vinocur Editing by Catherine Evans)

Liquid nicotine for e-cigarettes pilfering notable brand names like thin mint, tootsie roll

RICHMOND, Va. Owners of brands geared toward children of all ages are battling to keep notable names like Thin Mint, Tootsie Roll and Cinnamon Toast Crunch off the flavoured nicotine used in electronic cigarettes.

General Mills Inc., the Girl Scouts of the USA and Tootsie Roll Industries Inc. are among several companies that have sent cease and desist letters to makers of the liquid nicotine demanding they stop using the brands and may take further legal action if necessary. They want to make sure their brands aren’t being used to sell an addictive drug or make it appealing to to children.

The actions highlight the debate about the array of flavours available for the battery powered devices that heat a liquid nicotine solution, creating vapour that users inhale. The Food and Drug Administration last month proposed regulating electronic cigarettes but didn’t immediately ban on fruit or candy flavours, which are barred for use in regular cigarettes because of the worry that the flavours are used to appeal to children.

It’s growing pains for the industry that reached nearly $2 billion in sales last year in the face of looming regulation. E cigarette users say the devices address both the addictive and behavioural aspects of smoking without the thousands of chemicals found in regular cigarettes.

There are about 1,500 e liquid makers in the U.S. and countless others abroad selling vials of nicotine from traditional tobacco to cherry cola on the Internet and in retail stores, often featuring photos of the popular treats. Using the brand name like Thin Mint or Fireball conjures up a very specific flavour in buyers’ minds, in a way that just “mint chocolate” or “cinnamon” doesn’t.

“Using the Thin Mint name which is synonymous with Girl Scouts and everything we do to enrich the lives of girls to market e cigarettes to youth is deceitful and shameless,” Girl Scouts spokeswoman Kelly Parisi said in a statement.

The issue of illegally using well known brands on e cigarette products isn’t new for some. For a couple of years, cigarette makers R.J. Reynolds Tobacco and Philip Morris USA have fought legal battles with websites selling e cigarette liquid capitalizing on their Camel and Marlboro brand names and imagery. The companies have since released their own e cigarettes but without using their top selling brand names.

“It’s the age old problem with an emerging market,” said Linc Williams, board member of the American E liquid Manufacturing Standards Association and an executive at NicVape Inc., which produces liquid nicotine. “As companies goes through their maturity process of going from being a wild entrepreneur to starting to establish real corporate ethics and product stewardship, it’s something that we’re going to continue to see.”

Williams said his company is renaming many of its liquids to names that won’t be associated with well known brands. Some companies demanded NicVape stop using brand names such as Junior Mints on their liquid nicotine. In other cases, the company is taking proactive steps to removing imagery and names like gummy bear that could be appealing to children.

“Unfortunately it’s not going to change unless companies come in and assert their intellectual property,” he said.

And that’s what companies are starting to do more often as the industry has rocketed from thousands of users in 2006 to several million worldwide, bringing the issue to the forefront.

“We’re family oriented. A lot of kids eat our products, we have many adults also, but our big concern is we have to protect the trademark,” said Ellen Gordon, president and chief operating officer of Tootsie Roll Industries Inc. “When you have well known trademarks, one of your responsibilities is to protect (them) because it’s been such a big investment over the years.”

Michael Felberbaum can be reached at