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

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Agencies

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.

Next Story

Brexit Deadlocked: “The Only Option Is To Find A Way Through Which Allows The U.K. To Leave With A Deal”

Brexit minister Steven Barclay said after the results were announced that the default position was still that Britain would leave the EU on April 12 without a deal, the nightmare scenario for many international businesses.

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A pro-Brexit protester demonstrates outside the Houses of Parliament in London, Britain, April 1, 2019. VOA

Britain was no nearer to resolving the chaos surrounding its departure from the European Union after parliament failed on Monday to find a majority of its own for any alternative to Prime Minister Theresa May’s divorce deal.

After a tumultuous week in which May’s divorce strategy was rejected by lawmakers for a third time, despite her offer to quit if it passed, the future direction of Brexit remains mired in confusion.

In a bid to break the impasse, lawmakers on Monday voted on four last-minute alternative Brexit options for what is the United Kingdom’s most far-reaching policy change since World War II. All were defeated.

Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn speaks after a round of voting on alternative Brexit options at the House of Commons in London, Britain, April 1, 2019 in this still image taken from video.
Britain’s opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn speaks after a round of voting on alternative Brexit options at the House of Commons in London, Britain, April 1, 2019 in this still image taken from video. VOA

The option that came closest to getting a majority was a proposal to keep Britain in a customs union with the EU, which was defeated by three votes.

A proposal for a confirmatory referendum on any deal got the most votes, but was defeated by 292-280.

Brexit minister Steven Barclay said after the results were announced that the default position was still that Britain would leave the EU on April 12 without a deal, the nightmare scenario for many international businesses.

“The only option is to find a way through which allows the UK to leave with a deal,” Barclay told parliament.

He hinted that May could put her deal to a fourth vote this week in the hope of securing an orderly exit before European elections are held from May 23 onwards.

“If the house were to agree a deal this week, it would still be possible to avoid holding European parliamentary elections,” Barclay said.

Sterling Falls

Sterling fell almost 1 percent to $1.3048, after the vote results were read out by the speaker, John Bercow, to stand around 0.5 percent lower on the day.

Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow announces the results of a round of voting on alternative Brexit options at the House of Commons in London, Britain, April 1, 2019, in this still image taken from video.
Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow announces the results of a round of voting on alternative Brexit options at the House of Commons in London, Britain, April 1, 2019, in this still image taken from video. VOA

Last Friday, the third defeat of May’s own withdrawal agreement left one of the weakest British leaders in a generation facing a spiraling crisis over Brexit.

Her government and her Conservative Party, which has been trying to contain a schism over Europe for 30 years, are now riven between those who are demanding that May pilot a decisive break with the bloc and those demanding that she rule out such an outcome.

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If May were to throw her weight behind either camp, she would risk tearing her party apart and bringing down the government. Some Conservative lawmakers have warned they will support a motion of no confidence if she accepts calls for a Brexit that maintains many of the existing close economic ties with the EU.

Britain had been due to leave the EU on March 29 but the political deadlock in London forced May to ask the bloc for a delay. As things stand, Britain will now depart at 2200 GMT on April 12 – unless May comes up with another viable option. (VOA)