Will plain packaging help in reducing tobacco smoking?

Australia in 2012 became the first country to introduce plain packaging of tobacco products and there were 108,000 fewer smokers over that period

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France, tobacco store, cigarettes. Image source: HuffingtonPost
  • Almost 6 million people a year die prematurely from tobacco-related illnesses
  • In 2012, Australia became the first country to introduce plain packaging of tobacco products
  • Ireland, Norway, Singapore, Belgium and New Zealand are also planning to implement this measure

The type of plain packaging of tobacco products proposed by the WHO stands in sharp contrast to wrappers featuring rugged cowboys smoking in the great outdoors.

Sample packages are black, with large warnings that smoking kills and graphic images of people dying from cancer.  Douglas Bettcher, the WHO’s director for the prevention of non-communicable diseases, says the point of plain packaging is to reduce demand for tobacco by reducing the attractiveness of these products.

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“It very clearly labels tobacco for what it is, the only legally available product worldwide that when used as intended kills up to half of its users,” said Bettcher.

Many people may be vaping nicotine through e-cigarettes, smoking. Image source: post-gazette.com
Many people may be vaping nicotine through e-cigarettes, smoking. Image source: post-gazette.com

The WHO reports almost 6 million people a year die prematurely from tobacco-related illnesses. The number is projected to rise to more than 8 million by 2030, with more than 80 percent of these preventable deaths occurring in developing countries.

Packaging

Australia in 2012 became the first country to introduce plain packaging of tobacco products, along with new and enlarged health warnings. France and Britain have since followed suit.  The WHO says other countries including Ireland, Norway, Singapore, Belgium and New Zealand are also planning to implement this measure.

Benn McGrady, an Australian lawyer and technical officer at the WHO, says Australia conducted a 34-month review between December 2012 and September 2015 to gauge the impact of plain packaging.

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“Over that period there was approximately a 2 percentage point reduction in the prevalence of smoking in Australia. Zero-point-55 percentage points is attributable to the packaging changes,” he said.

McGrady added there were an estimated 108,000 fewer smokers over that period as a consequence of the changes to packaging and labeling. (VOA)

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  • Vrushali Mahajan

    This should be done in India too. India is a country with great amount of smokers right from an early age. Initiatives should be taken to do so.

  • Shubhi Mangla

    I think i a country like India this won’t be that beneficial. Almost everyone knows that smoking kills but still they don’t give it up. Large warnings that recently came to be printed failed to make goo efforts too.

  • devika todi

    this is a step taken in the right direction. smoking has been glorified for long. in India, consumption of tobacco is also supported heavily. the government should definitely take measures to ensure that the public is well educated on these matters. the consumption of such products degrades the quality of health and poses as a risk to the consumer’s life.
    while we are on it, maybe we can stop the influential personalities from advertising for products that are dangerous to health, like tobacco.

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  • Vrushali Mahajan

    This should be done in India too. India is a country with great amount of smokers right from an early age. Initiatives should be taken to do so.

  • Shubhi Mangla

    I think i a country like India this won’t be that beneficial. Almost everyone knows that smoking kills but still they don’t give it up. Large warnings that recently came to be printed failed to make goo efforts too.

  • devika todi

    this is a step taken in the right direction. smoking has been glorified for long. in India, consumption of tobacco is also supported heavily. the government should definitely take measures to ensure that the public is well educated on these matters. the consumption of such products degrades the quality of health and poses as a risk to the consumer’s life.
    while we are on it, maybe we can stop the influential personalities from advertising for products that are dangerous to health, like tobacco.

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McDonald’s Reveals Plan to Open More Drive-Thru Restaurants in UK

McDonald's reopened 39 restaurants in England and Ireland last week

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McDonald's
McDonald's plans to open more number of UK branches. Pixabay

Fast-food giant McDonald’s revealed a plan to open all of its drive-thru restaurants in the UK in the coming weeks and has”not forgotten” about people in the north of England, it was reported on Monday to World and International News.

The company reopened 39 restaurants in England and Ireland last week as it prepared to get back up and running with new safety measures in place, but all of the English locations were in the south east, reports the Metro nwespaper.

In a message to customers, McDonald’s Chief Executive Paul Pomroy said: “To help us test the new procedures and to slowly restart our supply chain, the pilot restaurants in the UK are all located close to our head office and to one of our distribution centres in the south east.

“I promise I have not forgotten about any part of the UK or Ireland. We are taking our time to test the new ways of working in our restaurants, ensuring that we can continue to help our teams to work safely, and to get back to the communities we have proudly served for so many years.”

Pomroy further said that McDonald’s will make a further announcement this week about reopening more restaurants and expanding its delivery service.

McDonald's
The workers on each site will be reduced to ensure safety, McDonald’s has said. Pixabay

Last week, Police were called to a drive-thru McDonald’s in Peterborough on the first day it reopened after easing of the COVID-19 lockdown because the queue at the outlet went out of hand.

Also Read: COVID-19 Restrictions Cause Disruption in Vaccination Programs: WHO, Other Organisations

Six of the 30 new drive-thrus that have opened across the country were in Peterborough.

The fast-food giant has brought in social distancing measures to keep workers safe, with staff receiving temperature checks before each shift.

The number of workers on each site will be reduced to ensure safety, the company has said. (IANS)

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COVID-19 Restrictions Cause Disruption in Vaccination Programs: WHO, Other Organisations

Vaccination Programes have been disrupted because of the restrictions imposed in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic

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Vaccination
A health worker injects a man with Ebola vaccine in Goma, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Aug. 5, 2019. VOA

Nearly 80 million children under age 1 are at higher risk of preventable diseases such as measles, cholera and polio because of the disruption of routine vaccination programs, according to a report released Friday by the World Health Organization and other global organizations.

Immunization campaigns have been disrupted in half of the 129 countries surveyed around the world in March and April, according to data produced by the WHO, UNICEF, the Sabin Vaccine Institute, and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. Of the 68 countries, 27 have suspended their measles initiatives. Thirty-eight countries have suspended campaigns to vaccinate children against polio.

The COVID-19 pandemic is “walking back progress” that was made in vaccinating children around the world, putting children and their families at greater risk of diseases that routine vaccinations can prevent, Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, said.

“More children in more countries are now protected against more vaccine-preventable diseases than at any point in history,” Berkley said in a statement. “Due to COVID-19, this immense progress is now under threat, risking the resurgence of diseases like measles and polio. Not only will maintaining immunization programs prevent more outbreaks, but it will also ensure we have the infrastructure we need to roll out an eventual COVID-19 vaccine on a global scale.”

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Experts said a decline in vaccinations in one country could have consequences for other countries.VOA

Fearing doctor visits

Routine immunization has been hindered for many reasons.

Some parents are no longer taking their children to clinics and hospitals out of fear of exposure to the virus, while others are unable to do so because of lockdowns.

The delivery of vaccines and required protective equipment has been delayed in many countries because of a cutback in commercial flights and chartered plane availability.

Health care workers also have been relocated to help fight the pandemic, leaving fewer to administer vaccinations.

UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore said that to combat this decline in immunizations, countries need to intensify efforts to find and track unvaccinated children, address gaps in delivery and develop innovative solutions.

The consequences if countries are unable to give routine immunizations, “can be deadly,” Fore said.

Also Read: National Capital Delhi Makes a Gradual Comeback

Experts are concerned that deaths from normally preventable diseases could surpass coronavirus deaths if vaccination efforts are not reinstated.

Berkley, of Gavi, requested $7.4 billion for vaccination efforts over the next five years.

Experts said a decline in vaccinations in one country could have consequences for other countries.

Dr. Kate O’Brien, director of WHO’s Department of Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals, said inoculation efforts should be viewed as a “global public good” because “pathogens do not recognize borders,” and if one country is at risk of an outbreak, all countries are at risk. (VOA)

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COVID-19 Makes it Difficult to Manage Cancer Care: Oncologist

Dr Abhishek Shankar said that coronavirus has made it difficult to manage the cancer care delivery system

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pink-ribbon-cancer care
Coronavirus outbreak has made it difficult to manage cancer care. Pixabay

By Dr. Abhishek Shankar

A recent report– ‘Cancer Care Delivery Challenges Amidst Coronavirus Disease – 19 (COVID-19) Outbreak’ published in the journal of Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention has pointed out that cancer patients are more susceptible to coronavirus than individuals without cancer as they are in an immunosuppressive state because of the malignancy and anticancer treatment. Oncologists should be more attentive to detect coronavirus infection early, as any type of advanced cancer is at much higher risk for unfavorable outcomes.

Author, Dr Abhishek Shankar, assistant professor in the department of radiation oncology at Lady Hardinge Medical College said that coronavirus has made it difficult to manage the cancer care delivery system.

“As we are having a lockdown in the whole country, patients can’t travel from one place to another. About 95 percent of the cancer care services are restricted to the urban areas but we also know that 70 percent of the people live in rural areas. So, there is a lot of disparity in cancer care. For cancer patients, stress is more disturbing for the patient rather than cancer itself,” Dr Shankar told ANI.

Cancer care
Dr. Shankar added that in this situation, it is very difficult to manage these people as they are unable to come to the hospital as we are running only emergency services. Pixabay

Also Read: Having a Child with Cancer Doesn’t Impact Parents’ Separation: Researchers

He added that in this situation, it is very difficult to manage these people as they are unable to come to the hospital as we are running only emergency services.

Talking about the report, Dr Shankar said, “We have published the paper on cancer care delivery, although guidance is that you shouldn’t delay and you should continue with the treatment. But there are many challenges that are coming right now. We have also advised cancer patients about the precautions they should take. Also, patients need to verify social media messages coming in from a credible source like the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and WHO.”Furthermore, he suggests that persons suffering from cancer should get treated from nearby hospitals and try avoiding the delay.

The cancer specialist remarked that it is a dilemma for healthcare professionals as well as patients because there is an issue regarding what to follow and what not to. “To date, there is no scientific guideline regarding the management of cancer patients in the backdrop of coronavirus outbreak,” Dr Shankar informed.