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May 31st, 2016:

Plain cigarette packaging increases motivation to quit, says anti-smoking group

The National Council Against Smoking (NCAS) believes that the stripping of cigarette package branding, directly affects the the sale of the tobacco products.

NCAS Executive Director, Yussuf Saloojee says that a case study in Australia proves that plain packaging is effective in reducing the rate of smoking.

According to Saloojee, Australia introduced the plain packaging laws in 2012 and tobacco usage has fallen to its lowest levels.

Plain packaging increases the motivation of smokers to stop smoking and deters young people from starting.

— Dr Yussuf Saloojee, NCAS Executive Director

Saloojee suggests that current packaging in South Africa entices impressionable youth into believing that smoking is a ‘glamorous’ thing to do.

He says that the cigarette industry spends excessive amounts of money trying to sell their brand and promote the habit to young people.


Mapped: The countries that smoke the most cigarettes

To mark World No-Tobacco Day, we’ve mapped the world according to cigarette consumption.

Those countries shown in darker colours smoke the most; those in lighter ones the least.


As with alcohol consumption, Eastern European countries dominate. Montenegro, where 4,124.53 cigarettes are smoked per adult per year, according to 2014 figures from the World Health Organisation (WHO), is the top of the pile, while Belarus, Macedonia, Russia, Slovenia and Bosnia also make the top 10.

The 20 countries that smoke the most

  1. Montenegro
  2. Belarus
  3. Lebanon
  4. Macedonia
  5. Russia
  6. Slovenia
  7. Belgium
  8. Luxembourg
  9. China
  10. Bosnia and Herzegovina
  11. Czech Republic
  12. Kazakhstan
  13. Azerbaijan
  14. Greece
  15. South Korea
  16. Austria
  17. Jordan
  18. Ukraine
  19. Estonia
  20. Hungary

Lebanon and China are the most tobacco-dependent non-European countries. Few regular visitors to Greece will be surprised to see it at 14th. Other popular summer holiday destinations not far from the smokers’ summit include Croatia, Turkey and Italy.

Britons, conversely, consume far fewer cigarettes – just 827.48 per adult per year – placing it 73rd on the list. The US is slightly higher, at 58th.

Residents of Guinea should be proud of the fact that they smoke the least of all those countries to feature in the WHO’s list. The Pacific nations also fare well, with the Solomon Islands, Kiribati and Vanuatu among the 10 most tobacco-free countries.

There is also a clear relationship between wealth and tobacco consumption. Many of the world’s poorest countries can be found in the lower reaches of the rankings. Those with no data appear in grey on the map above.

The 20 countries that smoke the least

  1. Guinea
  2. Soloman Islands
  3. Kiribati
  4. Rwanda
  5. Samoa
  6. Democratic Republic of the Congo
  7. Vanuatu
  8. Suriname
  9. Malawi
  10. Tonga
  11. Mozambique
  12. Nepal
  13. Afghanistan
  14. Lesotho
  15. Trinidad and Tobago
  16. Burundi
  17. Tanzania
  18. Liberia
  19. Niger
  20. Sao Tome and Principe

Tobacco scenes on screen should carry R-rating, say researchers

There’s something about Audrey Hepburn’s impossibly long cigarette holder that oozes elegance and class.

The use of tobacco on-screen has long been a device used to help craft characters, from the effortlessly cool Danny Zuko in Grease to the womanising executive Don Draper in Mad Men.

But New Zealand researchers are calling for an R rating for TV shows and films containing tobacco imagery, after a study that shows there has been little change in on-screen smoking in the past 10 years.

“While tobacco imagery cannot be banned in any meaningful way, legislation could be introduced requiring programming with tobacco imagery to be R-rated,” the authors concluded.

The research, led by Louise Marsh of the University of Otago, examined tobacco imagery on New Zealand television over a week-long period in October 2014 – 10 years after a similar study in 2004.

There was “virtually no change” in the number of programmes with tobacco imagery, but there was a small reduction in the number of scenes with imagery, said Marsh, who works in the university’s department of preventive and social medicine.

Marsh argued the lack of change did not reflect the decline in smoking in New Zealand, and might encourage normalisation of smoking.

But longstanding film reviewer Graeme Tuckett said an R-rating would achieve nothing. “The whole idea of ratings has almost become redundant, because so many people watch things online.”

Films had typically reflected reality, and smoking was rarely portrayed as “cool” any more, he said.

“In the 30s, 40s and 50s, cigarette companies definitely paid for extensive product placement in film and TV to make smoking look really cool.

“It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a modern-day heroic character smoking.

“[Smoking] is one of those things that’s naturally on its way out, and trying to legislate it could be counter-productive.”

While the overall depiction has remained steady, the number of scenes featuring tobacco and under-18s had tripled, Marsh said.

One positive she could see was that the level of anti-smoking advertisements, such as those for Quitline, had almost tripled.

An Otago University professor supported the proposed R-rating, arguing that TV remained a powerful influence for normalisation.

“Having tobacco and smoking images on [TV] increases the risk that smoking will remain a ‘normal’ activity,” associate professor of public health George Thompson said.

“The removal or countering of smoking and tobacco images in the media is a major neglected area for tobacco control, and a tobacco and smoking R rating appears to be a practical and effective way of intervening for health.”

New Zealand, Norway Plan to Require Plain Packs for Tobacco

New Zealand and Norway intend to force tobacco companies to remove branding on cigarette packets and other tobacco products as more countries follow the lead of Australia across the world.

The New Zealand government, which aims to become a smoke-free nation by 2025, is proposing plain cigarette packaging with all tobacco imagery removed and with prominent and gruesome health warnings covering at least 75 percent of the front of the packs. The Norwegian government will send a bill to parliament in June that would strip tobacco products of logos, Health Minister Bent Hoeie said at a conference in Oslo Tuesday.

Australia has led the way in plain packaging after legal challenges failed to overturn new tobacco branding laws there. The U.K., Ireland and France were the first European countries to back the measure, which prompted legal challenges from cigarette makers including Philip Morris International Inc. and British American Tobacco Plc.

“The louder they scream, the more effective the measure must be,” said Douglas Bettcher, a World Health Organization director who spoke in Oslo on the occasion of World No-Tobacco Day. “The tobacco industry’s nightmares are in fact lifesavers.”

Brand names will be allowed in New Zealand but regulations will standardize printing and placement, Associate Health Minister Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga said. The regulations are expected to take effect after legislation is passed later this year, he added.

New Zealand announced last week that the tax on tobacco will be increased by 10 percent each year for the next four years, driving the price for a standard pack of 20 cigarettes up to around NZ$30 ($20).

Norway will require cigarettes and snus — a form of smokeless tobacco — to be sold in dark green packs. Young people in the country have been smoking less though their use of snus has increased dramatically in the past decade, according to the government.

“It will look like the addictive and dangerous product it is,” Norwegian Health Minister Hoeie said. “We are moving toward a smoke-free generation. Someday tobacco will look as unbelievably outdated as smoking in airplanes.”


The World Health Organization ( WHO ) is calling on countries to halt a tobacco epidemic by adopting plain packaging.

Tobacco use has continues to be a major public health issue across the WHO South-East Asia region, in which nearly 246 million people in 11 countries of the region continue to smoke tobacco and close to 290 million use it in smokeless forms, data shows.

Tobacco has caused the deaths of 1.3 million people across the region every year, or equivalent to 150 fatalities per hour.

“The message isn’t getting through: Tobacco kills. A good way to amplify it and disrupt the psychology of tobacco consumption is making the plain packaging of tobacco products, also known as standardized packaging, mandatory,” WHO South-East Asia regional director Poonam Khetrapal Singh said in her remarks during the celebration of World No Tobacco Day on Monday.

The WHO says the aesthetic impact of plain packaging is significant as studies show that it has a tangible effect on the desirability of tobacco products.

Plain packaging, it explains, means branding and promotional information is removed from tobacco packaging and replaced by graphic-health warnings, dull color combinations, a brand name and a product or manufacturer’s name in standardized font.

Tobacco companies are increasingly relying on market presence in developing economies, including those of the South-East Asia region as smoking levels decline in high-income countries, the WHO says.

“This presence must be resisted. Tobacco’s impact goes beyond public health, stymieing the growth prospects of developing economies and burdening taxpayers and health systems whose finite resources could be better used elsewhere,” said Singh.

She said 11 member countries of the WHO South-East Asia region, including parties to the WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, had developed and implemented tobacco control legislation. However, children, youth and adults continued to be subjected to pro-tobacco messages from the media and also encounter product advertising at outlets where tobacco was sold, she added.

“Commitment to stop the tobacco epidemic must be renewed,” said Singh.

The 7th Session of the Conference of Parties to the Framework Convention is set to be held in India in November this year.

“[…] It provides an opportunity to emphasize the importance of plain packaging and open discussions on its uptake in the region. Plain packaging is one of the easiest ways to help our friends and family live longer and healthier lives and is an initiative that will only gain momentum,” said Singh. ( ebf )

Sudarsan’s sand art on Odisha beach on World No Tobacco Day

On the occasion of ‘World No Tobacco Day’, internationally acclaimed Odisha-based artist Sudarsan Patnaik along with his students created a sand sculpture at the Puri beach to spread awareness about the dangerous consequences of smoking.

In the sculpture, tobacco has been termed as “Killer”, as it leads to heart attacks, strokes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, emphysema, and cancer.

Patnaik took to twitter to share the image of the beautiful sand art. “On the occasion of #WorldNoTobaccoDay my students created SandArt at PuriBeach in Odisha today,” he tweeted along with the pic.

Notably, World No Tobacco Day is observed around the world every year on May 31. It is intended to encourage a 24-hour period of abstinence from all forms of tobacco consumption around the globe. The day is further intended to draw attention to the widespread prevalence of tobacco use and its negative health effects.

Tobacco foes fight youth-targeting tactics

Big Tobacco is frequently accused of searching for new ways to hook younger smokers.

Tuesday, May 31 is both World No Tobacco Day and the statewide launch of the Seen Enough Tobacco campaign.

Anthony Billoni, Director of Tobacco-Free WNY, says his group is working to raise awareness of youth-targeting strategies used by the tobacco industry.

“We know that tobacco kills one in two users, so they’re basically killing off half of their customer base,” Billoni said. “They call the youth ‘replacement smokers,’  replacement tobacco users.’”

Seen Enough Tobacco is using social media, digital advertising and a children’s book titled “Jack and Jill (and Tobacco)” to get its message out to the community. The
campaign’s new website,, is a resource for learning how to protect children from tobacco marketing.

A recent CDC study reports that smoking among U.S. high school students is at its lowest level in 22 years. However, according to Billoni, tobacco companies are working
harder than ever to appeal to young people.

“The fact is that still, kids are becoming addicted,” he said. “A low number is not a zero number. We still are concerned about kids that are yet to become addicted that are getting addicted, and that’s what we’re working toward.”

Billoni also noted that 􀃖gures showing a decline in tobacco usage are skewed by a rise in electronic cigarette usage, most of which contain nicotine as well. E-cigarettes were originally marketed as a smoking alternative which help smokers quit, but a trend in recreational e-cigarette use among teens presents an issue.

Many young people who do not smoke cigarettes choose to “vape” and Billoni fears that, once addicted to the nicotine in e-cigarette juice, they will eventually turn to cigarettes. Big Tobacco reportedly spends over $500,000 a day in New York State marketing in places where opponents say children can see the targeted messages.

Top 10 facts about tobacco

TODAY is World No Tobacco Day, which has been celebrated on May 31 every year since it was created by the World Health Organisation in 1988.

  1. The word tobacco comes from a Caribbean language but it is unclear whether it meant a tube of tobacco leaves or the pipe they were smoked in.
  2. The island of Tobago was once called tavaco or tobaco, possibly for its cigar-like shape.
  3. The annual tax revenue from tobacco in the UK is more than £12 billion
  4. Around a third of the world’s adult population are smokers.
  5. It was been calculated that every cigarette a person smokes reduces their expected life span by 11 minutes.
  6. Worldwide, 15 billion cigarettes are smoked every day.
  7. In 1604 King James VI wrote A Counterblaste To Tobacco, attacking the practice of smoking.
  8. He described it as a “Custome lothsome to the eye, hatefull to the Nose, harmefull to the braine, dangerous to the Lungs.”
  9. In 1665 pipe-smoking was compulsory among pupils at Eton as a defence against the plague.
  10. Rodrigo de Jerez, a crewman of Columbus, was the first known European smoker. He was thrown in jail for it as exhaling smoke was seen as satanic.

WHO asks China to nationally extend Beijing anti-tobacco law

World Health Organization called on the Chinese government on Monday to enforce a strict national level anti-tobacco law following the “successful” implementation of the model legislation in Beijing

The World Health Organization called on the Chinese government on Monday to enforce a strict national level anti-tobacco law following the “successful” implementation of the model legislation in Beijing, which has been “smoke-free” for a year.

“It is time to extend the same protection from second-hand smoke Beijingers now enjoy to the rest of the country, through the adoption of a strong national smoke-free law,” said WHO representative in China Bernhard Schwartlander.

A year on, the law’s success is “proof” something can be done to protect citizens from smoke, Efe news quoted him as saying.

“Enforcement is good, compliance is good, public support is high, and Beijingers are breathing easier as a result. We applaud Beijing for its very strong leadership,” he said.

The WHO considers the law exemplary as it fulfills all parameters indicated by the organisation, including a smoking ban in indoor workplaces, public transport and indoor or other suitable public places.

The UN health agency also said it should be compulsory at the national level for cigarette packages to carry pictorial warnings of the health dangers of tobacco.

According to WHO data, China is the world’s largest producer and consumer of tobacco, with 315 million smokers, 11 percent of whom are aged between 13 and 15 years old.

One million Chinese lives are lost every year due to smoking-related ailments, while 700 million are passive smokers, of whom some 100,000 die annually.

Besides the anti-smoking law in Beijing, Chinese authorities have also increased the tax on tobacco, causing sales to fall between 3.3 to 5.5 percent.

On World No Tobacco Day, UN urges plain packaging of tobacco products to save lives

As the global community marks World No Tobacco Day, the United Nations is advocating for the use of plain packaging of tobacco products in an effort to save lives by reducing demand for such products, which kill nearly 6 million people every year.

“Tobacco use is one of the largest causes of preventable non-communicable diseases, including cancers, heart and lung disease,” UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in hismessage on the Day, which is observed annually to highlight the health risks associated with tobacco use and to advocate for effective policies to reduce tobacco consumption.

“On this World No Tobacco Day, I call on Governments around the world to get ready for plain packaging,” he added.

As laid out in the World Health Organization (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, the plain packaging of tobacco products entails restricting or prohibiting the use of logos, colours, brand images or any promotional information other than brand and product names displayed in a standard colour and font.

Noting that tobacco also “diverts valuable household income,” Mr. Ban said that plain packaging reduces the “attractiveness of tobacco products, restricts tobacco advertising and promotion, limits misleading labelling, and increases the effectiveness of health warnings.”

In his message, the UN chief also highlighted that Sustainable Development Goal 3 aims to “ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.”

As part of that approach, he noted that Governments have committed to strengthen the implementation of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in all countries to reduce the proportion of people who use tobacco.

The Framework Convention on Tobacco Control entered into force in February 2005. Since then, it has become one of the most widely embraced treaties in the history of the UN, with 180 Parties, covering 90 per cent of the world’s population.

Along those lines, Dr. Margaret Chan, WHO Director-General, noted in hermessage on the Day that tobacco packaging is a form of advertising and promotion that often misleads consumers and serves to hide the “deadly reality of tobacco use.”

“Now, WHO is drawing attention to the role of plain packaging of tobacco products as part of a comprehensive approach to tobacco control, including comprehensive bans on advertising, promotion and sponsorship and graphic health warnings. We do this for a very good reason: plain packaging works,” she stressed.

WHO: World No Tobacco Day 2016 – Get ready for plain packaging

Dr. Chan highlighted that new evidence from Australia, the first country to fully implement plain packaging, shows that changes to tobacco packaging there led to more than 100,000 few smokers in the country in the first 34 months since implementation in 2012.

“The evidence tells us that plain packaging reduces the attractiveness of tobacco products,” Dr. Chan said. “It restricts tobacco advertising and promotion. It limits misleading packaging and labelling. And it increases the effectiveness of health warnings.

The Director-General said that the strength of the evidence had been “rigorously tested,” including recently in the High Court of England and Wales, which rejected all 17 of the industry’s challenges to the United Kingdom plain packaging law.

In doing so, the court stated that some of the tobacco industry evidence was “wholly untenable and resembled diatribe rather than expert opinion,” Dr. Chan said.

The decision came in the same week that arbitrators revealed that they refused to hear a Philip Morris claim against the Australian law on grounds that the company had engaged in an abuse of process in bringing the claim.

“These results are a cause for celebration, but governments must remain vigilant,” the Director-General said.

“We have seen over and over again how industry, fuelled by its deep pockets, has been able to develop new strategies in an attempt to protect profits generated from its deadly products. In the case of plain packaging, it has been the target of a massive tobacco industry misinformation campaign dating as far back as 1993,” she added.

WHO had stood up against that campaign, replacing falsehoods with the facts, Dr. Chan said.

“While plain packaging represents a power tool for tobacco control, it also builds upon other measures that governments have at their disposal to curb tobacco use. It is recommended that plain packaging be used as part of a comprehensive multi-sectoral approach to tobacco control,” the Director-General said.

“On this World No Tobacco Day, we are telling the world to get ready for even more comprehensive tobacco control,” she concluded.