Today of all days, the message is “stub it out”.
World No Tobacco Day is upon us again and this year the World Health Organisation is pushing the importance of plain packaging. That means restrictions or bans on logos, colours, brand images and promotional material on standardised packs of cigarettes that can, however, carry graphic health warnings.
“WHO is recommending plain packaging to the world, recommending the world to get ready for plain packaging because it reduces the glamour of tobacco products and that is totally appropriate for a product that kills needlessly up to 6 million people per year,” said Douglas Bettcher, Director of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Department for the Prevention of Noncommunicable Diseases.
In 2012, Australia became the first country to force manufacturers to strip all branding from cigarette packets, most now sold over the counter from blank fronted cabinets. Other countries have followed its lead.
China – the world’s largest producer and consumer of cigarettes – has stepped up its battle on tobacco. Beijing is celebrating a year since its public smoking ban.
“There are still some areas where people… try to escape it – in private bars and so on – but by and large it has been very good. We have to keep going. We have to educate everybody to make sure they understand the dangers of smoking and second-hand smoke but Beijing has been doing very well,” said Bernhard Schwartlander, WHO China Representative.
However few cigarette packs display clear warning labels explaining health risks in China – a country where the powerful state-owned tobacco monopoly controls the overwhelming majority of the domestic market.