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

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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.

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Confidential Facebook Documents Seized By The UK Parliament

Lawmakers from seven countries are preparing to grill a Facebook executive in charge of public policy.

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Facebook, data
A Facebook logo is displayed at a start-up companies' gathering in Paris, France. VOA

Britain’s parliament has seized confidential Facebook documents from the developer of a now-defunct bikini photo searching app as it seeks answers from the social media company about its data protection policies.

Lawmakers sought the files ahead of an international hearing they’re hosting on Tuesday to look into disinformation and “fake news.”

Facebook, India, Fake News, Hate Speech, Russia, Sheryl Sandberg
An advertisement in The New York Times is displayed on Sunday, March 25, 2018, in New York. Facebook’s CEO apologized for the Cambridge Analytica scandal with ads in multiple U.S. and British newspapers. VOA

The parliament’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee has “received the documents it ordered from Six4Three relating to Facebook,” Committee Chairman Damian Collins tweeted on Sunday. “Under UK law & parliamentary privilege we can publish papers if we choose to as part of our inquiry,” he said.

The app maker, Six4Three, had acquired the files as part of a U.S. lawsuit against the social media giant. It’s suing Facebook over a change to the social network’s privacy policies in 2015 that led to the company having to shut down its app, Pikinis, which let users find photos of their friends in bikinis and bathing suits by searching their friends list.

Facebook, India, Fake News, Hate Speech, Russia, digital
A Facebook panel is seen during the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, in Cannes, France. VOA

News reports said the UK committee used its powers to compel an executive from Six4Three, who was on a business trip to London, to turn over the files. The files had been sealed this year by a judge in the U.S. case.

Also Read: Social Media Laws Should Be Tightened: Germany

Lawmakers from seven countries are preparing to grill a Facebook executive in charge of public policy, Richard Allan, at the committee’s hearing in London. They had asked for Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to appear in person or by video, but he has refused. (VOA)