The World No Tobacco Day falls on May 31
obacco is unlike any other product on the market - the only legal consumer product that kills, when used as intended by the manufacturer.
Every year, more than 6 million people die because they use tobacco. Another 600,000 non-smokers die from exposure to second-hand smoke. This makes tobacco one of the leading preventable risk factors for non-communicable diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, chronic lung disease and diabetes.
A cigarette pack is the most important promotional vehicle for reaching potential and current smokers. If you remove the misleading elements of tobacco packaging, the only thing remaining would be– “A LETHAL, ADDICTIVE AND USELESS product that kills six million people a year or makes the user sick and miserable, lose productive life and many more disasters. Plain packaging helps smoker realise the grim reality of tobacco products!
What does Plain Packaging mean?
Plain Packaging restricts or prohibits the use of logos, colours, brand images or promotional information on packaging other than brand names and product names displayed in grim colour and font style.
The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) recommends that countries should adopt plain packaging. The guidelines for implementation of Article 11 (Packaging and Labelling of tobacco products) and Article 13 (Tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship) are provided in the FCTC.
What are the objectives of introducing Plain Packaging?
It is to;
Reduce the attractiveness of tobacco products;
Eliminate the effectiveness of tobacco packaging as a form of adverting and promotion;
Eliminate package design techniques that may suggest that some products are less harmful than others; AND
Increase the visibility and effectiveness of health warnings.
Research findings, surveys and focus group studies show that plain packaging achieves its objectives. Since the adoption of the guidelines to Articles 11 and 13 of the WHO-FCTC, three systematic reviews of the evidence from studies conducted, establishethis conclusion.
The findings of a research conducted in Australia, and published in the BMJ Open shows that:
Smokers who smoke cigarettes from a plain rather than a branded pack are;
81 percent more likely to have thought about quitting at least once a day and to rate quitting as a high priority in their lives;
70 percent more likely to say that they find cigarettes less satisfying; and
66 percent more likely to think that their cigarettes are of poorer quality.
"A cigarette pack is the most important promotional vehicle for reaching potential and current smokers. If you remove the misleading elements of tobacco packaging, the only thing remaining is – “A LETHAL, ADDICTIVE AND USELESS product that kills six million people a year or makes the user sick and miserable, loses productive life and many more disasters. Plain packaging helps smoker realise the grim reality of tobacco products!"
Australia and Europe lead plain packaging movement
In December 2012, Australia became the first country to fully implement tobacco plain packaging, and globalisation of plain packaging is now under way.
France, Ireland and the United Kingdom have all passed laws requiring the use of plain packaging from May 2016; and other European countries are at advanced stages in the policy process. For example, Norway and Slovenia are preparing laws to impose plain packaging.
WHO Recommendations for plain packaging
The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that plain packaging be used as part of a comprehensive approach to tobacco control, which includes comprehensive bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship and other tobacco packaging and labelling measures, such as health warnings.
For any country that is taking a comprehensive approach to tobacco control, plain packaging is a suitable policy.
The WHO Regional Office for Europe supports the plain packaging movement through bilateral work and by convening leading countries to confront potential legal challenges from the tobacco industry together.
Countries can expect substantial opposition to plain packaging from the tobacco industry, but they should rest assured that the evidence base justifies introduction of plain packaging as
part of a comprehensive approach to tobacco control.