According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “tobacco-related illness is one of the biggest public health threats the world has ever faced.” Every year WHO and World No Tobacco Day select a theme to bring attention to this issue, and this year it is plain packaging, which if implemented throughout the world, will help to reduce the “demand for tobacco products.”
Australia became the first country in the world to require all cigarettes to be sold in plain packaging in 2012, but other countries have looked at it as far back as 1989. Although it is not yet in force, Ireland passed their Standardized Packaging of Tobacco Act in 2015, making it the first country in the European Union to require plain packaging. France, Great Britain and Northern Ireland have also “begun implementation of plain packaging.”
Removing colors, specialized fonts, logos and brand images removes the attractiveness of the product, especially for youth. Since the introduction of plain packaging in Australia, studies have shown that the change in packaging has “increased negative perceptions and feelings about the pack and about smoking.” Smokers were more likely to hide the pack, reduce their smoking and increase their attempts on quitting.
In the short time since its implementation, the results of plain packaging in Australia have been impressive. Between December 2012, when plain packaging went into effect, and September 2015, smoking fell “an additional 0.55 percentage” points, or “more than 108,000 people “quitting, not relapsing or not starting to smoke during that period.”
Imagine the worldwide health benefits if plain packaging for tobacco products was instituted. As “more countries defy the industry’s tactics and implement plain packaging to reduce demand for tobacco products” the goal of improving the health of these countries and reducing tobacco harm is more and more within reach.
Click HERE for the World No Tobacco Day information.