Tuesday July 23, 2019

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.

Next Story

Perth Relies on Recycled Water to Cope up with Climate Change in Australia

Perth is a city of two million people, and Clare Lugar from Western Australia's Water Corporation said it has had to get used to climatic changes

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drought, climate change .australia, recycled water
More than 95 percent of New South Wales, Australia's most populous state, is officially in drought. Wikimedia Commons

As drought-hit towns across New South Wales and Queensland edge closer to completely running out of water, federal and state governments in Australia are trying to come up with ways to guarantee supplies into the future. But on the other side of the continent, the city of Perth is leagues ahead in its water efficiency following a long-term decline in rainfall. Part of its survival plan relies on recycled water from toilets, a move that many consumers elsewhere still consider to be unpalatable.

Since 2017, residents in the Western Australian city of Perth have been drinking water recycled from sewage. It is filtered using a process called reverse osmosis, which is similar to forcing water through a giant sponge. It is then disinfected with ultra-violet light at a treatment plant, pumped into natural aquifers, and extracted.

Perth is a city of two million people, and Clare Lugar from Western Australia’s Water Corporation said it has had to get used to climatic changes. “We know from the mid-70s onwards Perth’s rainfall has been declining by about 20 percent, and that has had a huge impact on our water sources that are dependent on the climate.”

australia, drought, climate change
FILE – The drought-affected Darling River sits well below its banks at Pooncarie, a town in outback western New South Wales, Australia, April 25, 2019. VOA

Lugar said convincing residents of the benefits of drinking recycled sewage did take time. “So, it is only a small percentage of the water that comes into the plant is actually from our toilets. But getting over that perception, that kind of image you might be drinking the water that you flushing down the toilet – that was probably one of our big challenges initially,” said Lugar.

Two desalination plants supply about half of Perth’s water. Aquifers are also crucial, but recycling produces only two percent of the total. But that figure is soon expected to rise. Ian Wright, an expert in environmental science at Western Sydney University, believes other parts of Australia should embrace recycling.

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“In Sydney that is probably 150 liters per day per person of waste water that is completely wasted, and, yes, we have the availability of desalination on the coast, but Canberra does not have desalination and then the poor drought-stricken towns like Tamworth and Dubbo, and Broken Hill, they could really, really use that now,” he said.

Australia is the world’s driest inhabited continent. Water is precious, and, in many places, scarce. More than 95 percent of New South Wales, Australia’s most populous state, is officially in drought, and the next three months are forecast to be drier than average. (VOA)