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March 5th, 2008:

Quit Calls For Plain Cigarette Packaging

The Sydney Morning Herald – March 5, 2008

Anti-smoking group Quit Victoria has called for the introduction of plain cigarette packaging to reduce the ability of tobacco companies to promote their product.

Quit executive director Fiona Sharkie said graphic health warnings on cigarette packets, introduced two years ago, had shown that smokers were influenced by what they saw on packaging.

She said all cigarette packets should have a standard colour, shape and format, with brand colours and logos removed.

“We know smokers are influenced by the images they see on the pack, so we need immediate action to stop the tobacco industry from using the pack itself as free advertising space to promote their deadly products,” Ms Sharkie said in a statement.

“Graphic health warnings are a strong deterrent to smokers and it’s about time the tobacco industry stopped using the remainder of the pack to water down and distract smokers from these important health messages.”

Ms Sharkie welcomed the federal government’s review of graphic health warnings and said she hoped the importance of plain packaging would be considered as part of the review.

Calls to the Quitline rose by almost 15 per cent following the introduction of graphic health warnings on cigarette packets two years ago, with Victoria’s Quitline receiving more than 50,000 calls from people interested in quitting smoking since March 1, 2006.

Tobacco Opportunity Squandered

Opportunity squandered

Updated on Mar 05, 2008 – SCMP

John Tsang Chun-wah failed to use his budget to increase tobacco duty to protect community health and help pay for the burden of care created by disease caused by tobacco. He continued the recent tradition, of financial secretaries, of adopting a firm tobacco industry-friendly position, which facilitates the promotion of cheap tobacco to youth.

Monitor columnist Jake van der Kamp accuses me of failing to protect the pockets of the poor who generally have the highest prevalence of smoking (“Moralising on smoking is also a bad habit. Stub it out”, January 4). However, there is nothing more regressive than fostering an epidemic of disease and premature death among a vulnerable sector of the population, especially when it has its origins in children and adolescents. Applying higher tobacco duty isn’t “moral high-mindedness” as van der Kamp claims, but an essential duty of care towards young people.

It is clear that the treasury now dictates public health policy and refuses to apply fiscal measures even when they are clearly needed. It is able to do this regardless of the evidence-based advice of the Department of Health and the Food and Health Bureau.

As we struggle to contain the need and demand for health care perhaps the government auditor could now adjudicate on the bizarre incongruity of government actions.

Anthony J. Hedley, department of community medicine, University of Hong Kong

Tobacco Statistics Update

Increase in Hong Kong’s tobacco excise duty received in 2007 $ 132,961,161 over 2006

In UK in 7 months after their complete ban with tobacco tax at $62 a packet and free quit lines many people have given up

In Hong Kong with Smoking exemptions and tax of $ 16 a packet the smoking rates have increased dramatically after our ‘ban’.

A 100% increase in local excise tax woud stop 40% of our youth smoking.

ASH Action: Protecting Children From Tobacco

A growing alliance of health, medical, child welfare, educational, church, social equity, community and research organisations want to see children protected from tobacco.

We’d like to see the selling of tobacco products made more responsible
and brought into line with other dangerous and addictive products.

ASH Action: Protecting Children From Tobacco