Britain sets an example by kicking the butt; Is India ready for it?




A lot of Brits must be getting really worried, and the feeling is completely justified. The ban on cigarette packs on counter shelves which was there for just the big businesses, have been extended to small retailers too. The offenders can be fined as much as £5,000 and imprisonment up to 6 weeks to 2 years. Tobacco sales account for 30% of such establishments.

With this move, English have successfully removed tobacco from all sorts of advertising. The idea is simple, keep the cancer sticks out of sight and thus out of mind too.

‘Two-thirds of smokers start before the age of 18, so it is vital that everything is done to put tobacco out of sight to protect future generations,’ Hazel Cheeseman, policy director at Action on Smoking and Health (Ash) was quoted in an English newspaper.

But this is not all. UK has decided a firm crack down on the global killer. Later this year smoking will be banned in cars carrying children. This will be followed by sale of cigarettes in unbranded packs apart from the EU ban of Menthol tobacco and cigarette packs of 10. The last measure is taken to curb the growing percentage of young smokers, menthol being one of their favorites.

Even without the law, or maybe because of that the population of smokers in Britain is showing a downward trend. Smokers between 11 to 15 years of age plummeted from 9% to 3% between 2003 and 2013. Even veteran puffers are kicking the butt. Between 2007 and 2015 percentage of adult smokers decreased from 25% to 18%.

The fall of the ‘Power Wall’ as the cigarette pack displays are called in industry jargon has snatched the last inch of advertising space form tobacco companies. Film industry, one of the biggest and most efficient promoters of smoking is also showing the practice a cold shoulder. Disney has already announced a ban on the depiction of smoking in PG 13-rated films.

In the midst of all this, big tobacco companies are losing a lot of sleep as lucrative markets slip out of their grip. They can’t afford a global sway against tobacco with similar laws being followed everywhere. The markets in China and India are huge. The ongoing controversy, dubbed by media as Tobaccogate in India shows that the big fish of the tobacco world are not acquiescing to the dictates of governments.

But the world seems to have taken up arms against Tobacco. New Zealand has decided to become completely tobacco free by 2025. UN is also under a lot of pressure to launch a campaign against tobacco, similar in scale and reach to the AIDS/HIV campaign.

The way people respond to the new British laws and what the rest of the world learns form them will have a major role to play in making the world tobacco free.