World No Tobacco Day occurs every year on May 31st and is designed to highlight the health risks that come with tobacco use along with petitioning to governments to produce effective policies to reduce its consumption. Each year has a different focal point; 2015’s was to stop illicit trade of tobacco products; this year the theme is product packaging with the aims being to:
- Highlight plain packaging role as part of multisectorial approach to control of tobacco
- Globalization of standardized packaging
- Support society against the oppressive industry interference of tobacco companies attempting to disrupt political processes against tobacco products.
WNTD and WHO are joining forces to promote the idea of plain tobacco packaging in all countries; similar to the landmark decision by Australia in 2012 to standardize tobacco packaging. Tobacco products must follow strict rules; the products must be in dark brown packets covered in large health warnings that can easily turn a weak stomach. They must also lack any promotional text from tobacco companies and names must be in small plain font below health warnings. Last year Ireland, France and the United Kingdom implemented the standardized packaging which began this month.
Many people will be wondering whether reducing attractiveness of packaging will actually contribute to fewer tobacco sales and thus fewer smokers; the Cancer Council Australia’s Tobacco Issues Committee have reported that smokers have commented on disliking the new packaging, as well as believing the unchanged recipe tastes worse. This is proof how this years campaign to ensure that tobacco products globally adopt the plain package policies is valid and important to promote.
This is a great start in reducing the attraction to smoking, making sure people really are aware of the health warnings. However this is a small step in controlling tobacco usage, which is one of the leading risk factors for noncommunicable diseases, greater access to stop smoking programs along with increasing the legal purchasing age would also contribute to the cause. If anyone reading this does smoke, consider the risk that it is doing to not only yourself but your family and people around you; 80% of smoke is unseen, and it is this percentage that is most harmful as non smokers inhale this second hand causing lung damage that is not there own choice. Consider the effect an unnecessary habit is causing, you will find you like being smoke free a lot better.