GENEVA: Recent moves to introduce plain (standardized) packaging of tobacco products can save lives by reducing demand for tobacco products, say the World Health Organization (WHO) and the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Secretariat (WHO FCTC).
Plain packaging of tobacco products restricts or prohibits the use of logos, colours, brand images and promotional information on packaging other than brand and product names displayed in a standard colour and font style.
“Plain packaging reduces the attractiveness of tobacco products. It kills the glamour, which is appropriate for a product that kills people,” says WHO Director-General Dr Margaret Chan.
“It restricts tobacco advertising and promotion. It limits misleading packaging and labelling. And it increases the effectiveness of health warnings,” she added.
Plain packaging is recommended in WHO FCTC guidelines as part of a comprehensive approach to tobacco control that includes large graphic health warnings and comprehensive bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship.
In December 2012, Australia became the first country to fully implement plain packaging.
Between December 2012 and September 2015, there was an additional 0.55 percentage point fall in smoking prevalence among those aged 14 and above attributable to the packaging changes, according Australia’s post-implementation review.
This equates to more than 108,000 people quitting, not relapsing or not starting to smoke during that period.
On 20 May 2016, France and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland each began implementation of plain packaging. Ireland is also preparing to introduce the measure, while other countries are exploring the option.
Tobacco-related illness is one of the biggest public health threats the world has ever faced.
Approximately one person dies from a tobacco-caused disease every six seconds, equivalent to almost 6 million people a year.
This is forecast to rise to more than eight million people a year by 2030, with more than 80percent of these preventable deaths occurring among people living in low-and middle-income countries. (ANI)