On June 20, ministers from 10 countries assembled in Paris to commence a common drive for introducing plain cigarette packaging. The underlying objective of this drive is to end high smoking rates among young people.
A joint statement was issued by the representatives of nations as far afield as Australia, New Zealand, Uruguay and South Africa.
The statement emphasised how there’s significant scientific proof to justify the health benefits of plain cigarette packaging.
They said such packaging was found to be effective in decreasing the appeal of the product for customers, particularly amongst young people and women. They also said plain packaging is found to boost the effectiveness of health warnings on packets.
While hosting the conference, Marisol Touraine – the French Health Minister, said the conference’s aim was to pave the way for a tobacco-free world. She emphasised how this will help the generation born today to become a generation without tobacco.
While talking on French radio, she told that smoking claims 78,000 lives every year in France. She added further that by 2030, 8 million smokers would die across the world every year if no steps were taken.
According to the statistics of WHO, one person dies every six seconds at present due to tobacco. This turns out to be almost six million people every year.
How Effective Will this Plain Cigarette Packaging Really Be?
Marisol Touraine said that with plain packaging, she aims to prevent young people from being initiated to smoking. She believes that for these people, plain packaging will have a significant impact.
Recently, many countries have passed laws to launch plain cigarette packaging. However, the powerful tobacco lobby has fiercely opposed such legislations.
In 2012, Australia showed the way by introducing plain packaging legislation. France, Britain and Ireland followed the move shortly afterwards.
Some studies in Australia have shown that the introduction of plain packaging triggered a drop in the rate of young smokers. However, the tobacco industry attributes high tobacco excise duty for this drop.
France and Britain are set to introduce plain cigarette packaging from 2016. It’s interesting to note here that in Europe, France plays home to one of the highest rates of under-16 smokers.
Last year, Touraine had announced that it would ban smoking in cars with passengers under 12 and in playgrounds, apart from enforcing the plain packaging legislation in 2016.
These developments and announcements drew heavy protests in several regions of France from the tobacconists.
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