Clear The Air News Tobacco Blog Rotating Header Image

May 31st, 2008:

End Of Duty-Free Tobacco Can Curb Smoking

Updated on May 31, 2008 – SCMP

Today is the World Health Organisation’s World No Tobacco Day. This year’s theme is to press for a tobacco-free younger generation.

Most smokers start on their habit before they reach 18, leading to a lifetime’s tobacco dependence. Smoking tobacco is the leading preventable cause of death in the world. Regular smokers shorten their own lives, on average, by 15 years.

The smoking habit kills between a third to a half of all users eventually. Youngsters do not think of that when they start smoking. The diseases caused by smoking generally surface only later in life so have little deterrent effect on the young. In the last century 100 million people died of smoking-caused diseases, my own father being among them. These diseases include emphysema, cardiovascular diseases, and lung and mouth cancers.

The current global death rate from tobacco-related health problems is thought to be about 10,000 people a day.

Most smokers are feeding an addiction to nicotine and feel bad if they do not continue doing so.

It is not only smokers who are putting themselves at risk from their habit. Those in the vicinity of smokers, the so-called passive smokers, can also be killed.

Two-thirds of the world’s smokers live in only 10 countries, led by China, India, Indonesia and Japan.

I have seen many schoolchildren smoking in Hong Kong on the way home from school.

Clearly more needs to be done to alert them to the grim reality of the severe damage they are doing to their bodies.

It would be appropriate to abolish the duty-free allowances on tobacco products.

The government loses out twice by these duty-free allowances – by the loss of tax on those sales and later by covering the medical costs of the many smokers who end up in hospital. Tobacco products should be priced at a prohibitively high rate, to deter use and especially to deter young people from smoking. Schoolchildren should not be able to afford to buy cigarettes.

We also need to regulate to get smokers away from the open frontages of restaurants and bars, where their exhalations poison the air for others.

Today’s older generation should make every effort to limit the incidence of tobacco dependence in the young and the measures I have proposed can be a start in that direction.

For how much longer can it be thought acceptable to have 10,000 deaths from smoking each and every day?

Paul Surtees, Mid-Levels

Unbranded Cigarette Packets Plan

Unbranded Cigarette Packets Plan In New Crackdown On Smoking

Proposals to put heavy restrictions on marketing
Consultation paper opens 12-week national debate

John Carvel, social affairs editor – The Guardian – Saturday May 31, 2008

Under government proposals issued for consultation today, tobacco companies would be obliged sell cigarettes in plain packets, stripped of corporate logos, emblazoned with health warnings.

Further restrictions on the marketing of tobacco products in England have been drawn up by ministers to stop adults smoking and discourage young people from taking up the habit. These include:

· Banning the sale of cigarettes in pack sizes of less than 20, in an attempt to make smoking less accessible to young people who can only afford a pack of 10.

· Banning cigarette vending machines or converting them to take tokens that could only be purchased with proof of age.

· Restricting the display of tobacco products in shops, possibly by requiring they are placed under the counter.

· Banning the advertising of cigarette papers and other smoking paraphernalia.

The proposals are in a consultation paper entitled The Future of Tobacco Control that is being issued by the Department of Health to trigger a 12-week national debate.

A spokeswoman said the government is definite about wanting to restrict the display of tobacco products and limit access to vending machines – measures proposed by the devolved government in Scotland last week. But ministers are more open-minded about the other ideas. She said the proposals were targeted mainly at young people, who were considered to be more susceptible to brand advertising.

Dawn Primarolo, the public health minister, said: “Protecting children from smoking is a government priority and taking away temptation is one way to do this. If banning brightly coloured packets, removing cigarettes from display and removing the cheap option of a pack of 10 helps save lives, then that is what we should do – but we want to hear everyone’s views first.”

Dr Vivienne Nathanson, head of science and ethics at the British Medical Association, said: “It is good news that the government has taken many of our recommendations on board. It is essential that cigarettes are made more inaccessible to children and one way to do this is to ban 10-packs of cigarettes and to get rid of tobacco vending machines.”

Harpal Kumar, chief executive of Cancer Research UK, said: “Two-thirds of smokers start before the age of 18. We need to aim to stop today’s children from starting to smoke and becoming part of these unacceptable and wholly preventable statistics.”

But the Tobacco Alliance, which represents more than 16,000 independent retailers across the UK, said: “Seeing tobacco on display in shops is not a significant cause of youth smoking and banning it will not solve the problem.” A poll for the alliance found 94% of people believed the main reason under-18s started smoking was because friends and family smoked, and because teenagers regarded it as an act of rebellion.

Simon Clark, director of the smokers’ lobby group Forest, said: “Banning point-of-sale display will make smoking even more attractive to teenagers. Worse, it will drive many smokers towards cheaper counterfeit and smuggled cigarettes … yet again, freedom of choice and personal responsibility are being sacrificed by politicians who think they know best.”

Consultation on the future of tobacco control

Download (PDF, 3.06MB)