Clear The Air News Tobacco Blog Rotating Header Image

Sheila Duffy: Restricting tobacco industry will improve our health

Published on Tuesday 11 October 2011 21:00

THIS week should see the end of a bitter and protracted struggle in Australian politics, with the senate finally passing legislation to introduce plain, standardised packaging for cigarettes and tobacco products.

This is a landmark victory for the Australian government and public over the tobacco industry – in a struggle that comes to these shores at the end of this year, when the UK government starts a consultation on introducing similar legislation.

The tobacco industry spends millions each year on branding, gimmicks and revamped packaging to entice new young smokers and to target particular groups – for example, by producing “fashion accessory” pack designs to appeal to women.

Clever branding also perpetuates myths about the harmfulness of the products. Most people would associate what used to be called “light” brands with a reduced risk to health, but the available evidence shows the rates of developing lung cancer for those who smoke low-tar “light” brands is the same for those who smoke “normal” cigarettes.

Marketing strategies and branding attempt to link the lethal product with culturally desirable attitudes and imagery. This perpetuates the outdated notion that a product responsible for a quarter of adult deaths a year in Scotland is desirable.

At the recent United Nations summit on non-communicable diseases, leaders from all over the globe identified the “fundamental conflict between the tobacco industry and public health” and recognised tobacco as a global epidemic.

The summit passed a declaration calling for all states to commit to implementing the World Health Organisation’s framework convention on tobacco control – a key part of which is the consideration of plain and standardised packaging.

Plain packaging will not stop all tobacco-related deaths on its own. But as part of a wide range of tobacco-control measures, including support for smokers trying to quit, it will go a long way to improving the health and prospects of our nation.

• Sheila Duffy is chief executive of anti-tobacco charity ASH Scotland.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>