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Axa, one of the world’s largest insurance companies, announced today that it is selling all 1.8 billion euros (£1.3bn/USD2.0bn) of its tobacco industry shares, saying it made no sense to invest in a sector that killed more than six million people each year.

The tobacco industry has suffered another crushing defeat after losing a UK high court battle on the standardised packaging rules due to come into force today (20 May 2016). Plain packs will be the same shape, size and drab brown colour, displaying graphic health warnings across 65 percent of the front and back surfaces and with written warnings down each side. Branding is banned.

The European Court of Justice today ruled that the EU Tobacco Products Directive [TPD] is valid, rejecting the multiple legal challenges it has attracted since its adoption in 2014. The TPD, drawn up to increase protections for public health, will now come into force on 20 May 2016.

New research identifies 31 factors that national tobacco control programmes need in order to be sustainable. Published now in the BMJ's Tobacco Control, authors at The Union draw on ten years’ experience assisting governments around the world to build programmes to reduce tobacco use. The study develops an Index of Tobacco Control Sustainability to be used by countries to establish their current level of sustainability and to identify priority areas for development.

After a two-year battle, a ground-breaking development for public health has seen graphic health warnings on tobacco packaging in India quadruple in size. Harrowing images of the health consequences of tobacco use must now be displayed across 85 percent of the surface area of all tobacco packets -- a measure proven to help users quit and prevent others taking up the habit.

The government of Brazil, in partnership with The Union, has launched an online observatory to protect and strengthen tobacco control policies by monitoring tobacco industry interference -- the first such government-run initiative in the region.

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